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Digital Version – Myth busting book on beef eating #Download

India: Digital version of historian D.N.Jha’s myth busting book on beef eating by Hindus and Buddhists in ancient times

 

In The Myth Of The Holy Cow, the author reveals that in ancient times, Hindus and Buddhists ate beef. According to him, the cow earned its status as the holy animal of Hinduism only in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The book states that hindus regularly used cows both as part of dietary traditions and as offerings to God.

The_Myth_of_Holy_Cow_- Download book 

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Open letter to Justice Katju – Happy New Year and Get Well Soon !

1st Jan’ 2015

Dear Justice  Makrand Katju

Greetings !!

Your recent post on Gay and Lesbian Relationships (LGBT) ,    created a lot of ruckus,    as you tweeted , sadly ,               you were called a homophobic also, and then your CLARIFICATION further aggravated the ire. I am writing to you, as to why it happened . Why were you labeled homophobe, Sexist and   misogynist

According to you, homosexuality is a  ‘unnatural ‘and “modern” phenomenon and must be ‘cured’ to give way to reproductive heterosexuality.In your opinion, at the heart of heterosexual bonding, companionship, love, lies procreative sex and the desire to keep the human race going. Therefore, you question , “Will a gay relationship or marriage serve nature’s requirement of continuing the species?”

So what is ‘natural’. It will mean, not only humans but all species who exists on planet earth . And we have seen that homosexuality is found in mammals, birds and even insects. Also  I hate to break your conviction that homosexuality  is “unnatural” and “not a disease”, the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 and the World Health Organization in

1992 did accept homosexuality as a ”normal” variant of human sexuality. That apart, if one reads the history of sexual practices across the world, one realises that same-sex sexual practices have been  there since times  immemorial and that sexual identity-based categories are only an early 20th century invention of American-European psychologists and sexologists.

 

Now before, you jump one me saying s AHA, dont give me western evidence on homsoexuality as , According to you, homosexuality is a “modern” phenomenon and must be ‘cured’ to give way to reproductive heterosexuality.

But hold on Sir, Unlike most civilizations of its time, the Indian society during the Vedic age and even before had an open mind-set on matters of homosexuality and “queer” issues. The statues  of different temples justify the presence and acceptance of homosexuality in ancient India. Khajuraho temple in Madhya Pradesh, the Shiva temple in Bagali, Karnataka, the Rajarani temple in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha are a testimony to this fact

 

on the southern wall, shows a woman facing the viewer, standing on her head, engaged in intercourse, although her partner is facing away from the viewer and their gender cannot be determined. She is held by two female attendants on either side and reaches out to touch one of them in her pubic area.

on the southern wall, shows a woman facing the viewer, standing on her head, engaged in intercourse, although her partner is facing away from the viewer and their gender cannot be determined. She is held by two female attendants on either side and reaches out to touch one of them in her pubic area.

 

Men havings ex in Khajuraho, 13th CE

Men havings ex in Khajuraho, 13th CE

At the Lakshmana temple in Khajuraho (954 CE), a man receives fellatio from a seated male as part of an orgiastic scene.

At the Lakshmana temple in Khajuraho (954 CE), a man receives fellatio from a seated male as part of an orgiastic scene.

I would like to add that Hinduism and homosexuality are not strange bedfellows. Hindu texts have not shied away from addressing homosexuality The Hindu mythology has many incidents showcasing fluidity of sex, where same-sex interactions have often served a sacred purpose. And sometimes, the gods themselves have been part of these transformations and unions.Add to this, a portion of the Kama Sutra is dedicated to the fulfillment of sexual desires and encompasses the full range of human sexuality.

 

 

Homosexuality has never been considered a crime in Hindu culture. In fact, Lord Ayyappa was born of Hari-Hara (Vishnu and Shiva).Homosexuality, not a crime in any Smriti. Everyone has male and female elements. According to their dominance, tendencies show up and may change.

 

The androgynous form of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati better known as “Ardhanarishwar” is worshipped in full galore Ardhanarishwara means ‘The Lord who is half a woman, and half man’.

In the Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu takes the form of Mohini, a beautiful enchantress, in order to trick the demons into giving up Amrita after the manthan. But Lord Shiva falls for Mohini, and they have a relationsip, with Shiva being fully aware of the real identity of Mohini. The result of this union was a son (Lord Ayyappa).

Shikhandi, in Mahabharata, was born a girl, Shikhandini, to Drupada, the king of Panchala. She was the reincarnation of Amba, who was rendered unmarriageable by Bhishma. She was granted her wish to be the cause of Bhishma’s death, and was reborn Shikhandini. But since a divine voice told Drupada to raise Shikhandini as a son, she was taught warfare. On the wedding night, Shikhandini’s wife discovered that her “husband” was female, and insulted her. Shikhandini fled, but met a yaksha who exchanged his sex with her. She then became a man, Shikhandi, whom during the Kurukshetra war, Bhishma recognised as Amba reborn and refused to fight ‘a woman’. After his death, Shikhandi’s masculinity was transferred back to the yaksha.

When Arjuna spurned the amorous advances of a nymph, Urvashi, she cursed him to become a ‘kliba’, or a ‘hijra’, a member of the third gender. Lord Krishna then tells Arjuna that this curse would be the perfect disguise for Arjuna during his last year of exile. Arjuna takes on the name Brihannala and dresses in women’s clothes for a year.

You also believ that the role of the woman in a heterosexual union is that of being a mother-homekeeper and the role of the man is that of the protector-giver.

 

With such a patriarchal statement, I wonder what are you trying to say . We all know Violations of women’s sexual and reproductive health rights are often deeply engrained in societal values pertaining to women’s sexuality.

Patriarchal concepts of women’s roles within the family mean that women are often valued based on their ability to reproduce.

Early marriage and pregnancy, or repeated pregnancies spaced too closely together, often as the result of efforts to produce male offspring because of the preference for sons, has a devastating impact on women’s health with sometimes fatal consequences. Women are also often blamed for infertility, suffering ostracism and being subjected various human rights violations as a result.

Patriarchy also controls women‟s reproductive power. In a  patriarchal society women don‟t have control of reproduction, or to use contraception, terminate  pregnancy and prefer to girl child

Further patriarchy not only forces women to be mothers of sons, it also determines the condition of their motherhood. This ideology of motherhood is considered one of the bases of women‟s oppression because it  creates and strengthens the  divide between  private and public, it restricts  women‟s mobility and growth   and it reproduces male  domination.

You further add in your Facebook post that “it is not men who pursue women, but women who pursue men. It is the Life Force which drives women to pursue and catch a mate, who will then look after her while she is performing nature’s serious and vital function of continuing the species”.

Also, procreation is just one reason why humans have sex. The other reasons are many like the pleasure of emotional, physical intimacy. Similar to the fact that food is not eaten just for survival but also because it gives pleasure. If procreation was the only reason then people would stop having sex after having progeny .

The icing on the cake is fact when you say  you are not in favour of criminalising homosexuality but its not natural ?

 

The  AHA moment, where i ask you-

Is it natural to be normal?

If yes, why would we need laws to maintain something natural?

In other words, if heterosexuality was normal, why would we need Section 377 to curtail same-sex intimacy

And them comes your gem —

Women who remain single are prone to have psychological problems.

Seriously, did you know that single women are not dependent on any man to provide for them .  Infant many single women are providing  for men . Should those men be shot because they decided to live off the woman and hence go against the nature? Also did you  know that single is not necessarily divorcee or widow ,there are , particularly those who are single by choice. There is no dearth oft such women as they are now occupying jobs that were traditionally considered male domains or unfit for females. You rarely saw a woman waitressing a decade ago for instance; as this occupation was considered socially “inappropriate” for an Indian girl (airhostesses were regarded as glorified waitresses).As the job market has exploded, more women have become economically independent and are enjoying the freedom of living on their own terms. They don’t need to succumb to the social pressure to marry and live up to traditional expectations that disregard their individuality.

So, Justice Katju, Please WAKE- UP from your sexist slumber , and see the reality of woman empowerment.

 I sincerely hope you find a psychologist soon, because now you are now definitely ,  prone  to   developing psychological  problems.

Happy New Year and Get well soon

 

Feminist and Human rights activist

 

Kamayani Bali- Mahabal

 

PS-  not so exhaustive  list of temples  you must visit for evidence collection

  • Also at Khajuraho, – At the Lakshmana temple in Khajuraho (954 CE), a man receives fellatio from a seated male as part of an orgiastic scene.
  • At the Shiva temple at Ambernath, constructed in 1060 CE, a badly weathered relief suggests an erotic interest between two women.
  • At the Rhajarani Temple in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, dating from the 10th or 11th century, a sculpture depicts two women engaged in oral sex.

A 12th century Shiva temple in Bagali, Karnataka depicts a scene of apparent oral sex between two males on a sculpture below the sikhara.

  • At Padhavli near Gwalior, a ruined temple from the 10th century shows a man within an orgiastic group receiving fellatio from another male.
  • An 11th century lifesize sandstone sculpture from Orissa, now in the Seattle Art Museum, shows Kama, god of love, shooting an arrow at two women who are embracing one another.
  • ( Friends do add on the travel itinerary, as there are many more , in comments section 🙂

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Shaitan ki khala: Washing Brains the ISIS Way? #Vaw

[A take on the attempted brainwashing of our young minds and the sexist nature of some religious speeches]

 Guest Post By  Asthma Anjum Khan 

[Boy, O, boy, don’t tell me, but can we make this “condemning” our Common Collective Ummah Sport? Condemn, condemn, condemn! And don’t stop. Condemn some more, thank you.]

This happened a few years ago.

It was the usual hurried Jumma. My 12 year old boy looked solemn in his long, pale white kurta. His usual fervor for the special Jumma lunch [Daal Gosht with piping hot fried rice] was absent and I found him sitting at the corner of our large mahogany bed. He seemed contemplative, very unusual for him. When asked to join, he looked up and asked, Mom, why do you work? And before I could react and open my mouth to say Whatttt and look gawky; I heard this next.

And why don’t you stop working?

That was a barb totally out of the blue. Never before in all these years was I questioned this way. My little son had seen his mother rushing from work to home and vice versa, since he opened his eyes into the world and understood things. Trying not to lose my composure, I waited for him to make an elaboration. He began. Today Moulvi sahib was saying in his khutbah that women who work outside home are from Shaitan. They are going to hell. He paused for my reaction but continued however. Working women are not good women, he was telling.

After an awkward and difficult pause, he asked. Mom, is it true? At this I sure lost my cool. Does he believe the man who told him this? The cold reply he gave was:

I want an answer.

 


Juma at Jami Masjid, Firoze Shah Kotla
Sadly I had to give an explanation to that angry young man, my own son. I told him how a woman is well within her Islamic rights to work, if she chooses to. I told him how many of our pious women were financially independent and earned their own money. H.Khadeejah RA, the wife of Prophet P.B.U.H. was prominent among them. H.Zainab bint e Jahash RA [and H.Umme Salmah RA] used to tan leather with their own hands and thus earned their own money. Being financially better capable than her husband another Zainab RA, the wife of H.Abdullah bin Masood RA was urged to help her husband and children. This was double the charity, for a woman is not required to spend on her family. H.Umme Shifaa used to look after the affairs at the market place and was appointed by none other than H.Umar RA. The examples are too numerous to count.

Coming back to the tense situation that had all of a sudden developed at home, I looked at the young man, My son, My child, who questioned me after 12 years of living together, of growing together. I was made to stand in the dock; had to beat a retreat and look back pensively towards my last 15 years of tiptoeing struggle of balancing home and work. Where had I gone wrong? More than the abrupt impulsive question what was surprising was the sense of conviction with which I was questioned. That kind of chilled me to my very bones. How did the shift occur?

It was the Jummah khutbah where he had heard this. The new Moulvi had spoken. The working women are friends of shaitan. Listen more, those who ride bikes become the handy devices of his. I had to assure my child that there was no such thing and even in the olden times women had made their outings riding the camels. [Isn’t it pure common sense that women need a means of conveyance to move around?]. He didn’t take much time to be convinced; being a sensible and compassionate child. What had worried me more was the kind of sway that speaker had held over him, however briefly. How could he achieve this feat within minutes of his weekly speech and nullify my work of 12 long years? This was what worried me most.

I began wondering if a few minutes of passionate speech can make my little son tend to change his thinking track, even if momentarily then what about those who are brainwashed seriously with and for a certain purpose? It was too horrific to imagine. The kind of sway these semi-literate preachers hold over some of their young immature audience is worth watching. These guys do traditional Daras e Nizamiya and it is supposed to add to their knowledge, with little or no modern education. From impoverished and mostly illiterate backgrounds these young fellas study in madrasas sometimes located in decrepit buildings with little or no sun shine or fresh air, perhaps signifying the closed state of mind they develop there. [Of course, every rule has some exceptions; hence there are some Imams who work hard to bring the errant boys on to the right track.]

Question is should we not try to see what is being fed to our boys on Jummahs apart from the usual Daal-Gosht fair? We should, we must.

Read about brain-washing Israel Style here.

Writing on the Wall: ISIS

I am reminded of that pic where our boys posed in T-shirts. The words on those Ts seemed like writing on the wall. Watching those boys from Tamil Nadu in ISIS T-shirts was a horror. Sheer horror. What made them do such an outrage? A pure nut case of fools rushing where angels fear to tread! I gasped for breath when, a female Islamic preacher changed her profile pic to the ISIS logo! Interestingly horrific to watch was how people were getting swept off their feet and dreamt of a Khilafah! The media begins listing the horrific crimes of the group, burning, destroying the shrines, making the Christians flee Mosul, converting churches into mosques, their being asked to pay jiziya and of course that favorite Western pet peeve of female genital mutilation which was a pure hoax. The media and the social media bahadurs begin discussing it fervently and in effect making us all stand on the back benches of the class. You did it, they accuse us; by all means they seem to. When we swear we didn’t, they say, “Oh, You, yes, you didn’t condemn it”. And lo and behold there we go on a condemning spree. [Boy, O, boy, don’t tell me, but can we make this “condemning” our Common Collective Ummah Sport? Condemn, condemn, condemn! And don’t stop. Condemn some more, thank you.]

 


ISIS T-shirt Foolies
ISIS T-shirt Foolies:

Wonder who instigated these ISIS T-shirt foolies and more wonder how could they get so easily fooled? What did they achieve by doing this? Their defence that, this way they wanted to thank ISIS for sending the Kerala nurses back home safely does not hold water. In fact it should be thrown into the water, with their Ts included. Such an irresponsible act must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

It is said, the boys must have been tutored by someone to act out such whims. Who is this someone? Such indoctrination of young minds happens because of the lack of an open, all encompassing atmosphere of dialogue and for the lack of a mature meaningful and honest leadership. There is a tremendous need to engage our youth in various positive and constructive ways. They need to be sensitized about the critically delicate political situation that exists today. They must be made aware of the serious consequences of their silly immature acts. But who is going to do that? Of course this work can’t be left to the speakers/preachers who have nothing beyond their madrasa education. In fact they themselves need to be educated first.

It’s imperative for the Muslim society that they watch their youth. We must watch who is talking to them, or trying to give them those doses of indoctrination. This may or may not lead to their radicalization but we must be alert. Giving the youth a positive and constructive atmosphere should be a priority. In place of only madrasa educated preachers, let’s have some young charismatic speakers/leaders who are well versed in both strands of knowledge, the deen and the duniya, the religion and the world. Engaging the youth in a positive healthy way is crucial.

Nay, our biggest need is this. Our young Turks are our treasure; let us not allow anyone to steal them away!

Now came the next jumma and as a third party source [ my uncle!] revealed; my angry young man goes to that finicky Moulana and gives him not just a piece of his mind, but literally a verbal thrashing. The poor Moulana was told that his mother observes hijab, works and that he feels very proud of her. Soon after, there began a round of collecting charity money. My young man pulls out a bill of 1000 from his pocket and before putting it into the box, says loudly. This is from my mother who is a teacher and who has taught me everything good I have today. Turning back to that finicky speaker, with a mischievous smile, he asked,

Am I right, Moulana?

Do I need to tell you that I had got back my boy again?!

Post Script:

Sexist Nature of Some of Our Religious Speeches:

Another very serious thing is the sexist nature of the talks by some of the Khateebs/speakers. I cringe in my seat when words like, Beware of women, don’t allow women to work, all evil things sprout from women, fall on my ears. My pet peeve: it’s a woman who makes or breaks a home; that success of a marriage depends wholly upon the wife. This one is special. They hold a woman responsible for a happy home and family, entirely absolving the men from all responsibility. How convenient! Such a patriarchal attitude! Never have read or heard of such a thing from our authentic sources of Islamic knowledge. Another favorite of such speakers is to berate women constantly about how they waste time by watching TV for hours but failing to mention hours and hours of watching cricket matches by our men folk and ah that time spent on chai chats at the nooks and corners of our neighborhoods or on the internet. While the main and obsessive thrust of these speeches is Obey your husbands, rarely ever have I heard them talk about that most beautiful saying of our beloved Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. where he says, the best among you is the one who is the best with his wife. Anyone listening?]

 

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Indian court asked to rule on whether Hindu guru dead or meditating

Indian court has been asked to rule on whether a revered Hindu guru is dead or alive – and whether it is a matter of religious faith or scientific fact

His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj is thought to have died of a heart attack in January

His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj is thought to have died of a heart attack in January Photo: ALAMY
Dean Nelson

By , New Delhi

The family and followers of one of India’s wealthiest Hindu spiritual leaders are fighting a legal battle over whether he is dead or simply in a deep state of meditation.

His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj, the founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan religious order with a property estate worth an estimated £100 million, died in January, according to his wife and son.

However, his disciples at his Ashram have refused to let the family take his body for cremation because they claim he is still alive.

According to his followers, based in the Punjab city of Jalandhar, he simply went into a deep Samadhi or meditation and they have frozen his body to preserve it for when he wakes from it.

His body is currently contained in a commercial freezer at their Ashram.

Today the group has thousands of followers around the world and owns dozens of large properties throughout India, the United States, South America, Australia, the Middle East and Europe, including its British headquarters in Hayes, Middlesex.

While he is thought to have died from a heart attack, his devotees believe he has simply drifted into a deeper form of the meditation he promotes as a pathway to self-realisation.

A statement on the group’s website reads: “His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj ji has been in deep meditative state (Samadhi) since 29th January 2014.”

According to one of his aides, who asked not to be named, “Maharaj has been in deep meditation. He has spent many years meditating in sub-zero temperatures in the Himalayas, there is nothing unusual in it. He will return to life as soon as he feels and we will ensure his body is preserved until then”, he said.

His body is held in a guarded room in a deep freezer on his 100 acre retreat in Nurmahal, Jalandhar, where only a few elders and sect doctorsare allowed to enter.

Although Punjab Police initially confirmed his death, the Punjab High Court later dismissed its status report and local governmental officials said it was a spiritual matter and that the guru’s followers cannot be forced to believe he is dead.

Now his wife and son have filed a court application calling for an investigation into the circumstances of his death and for his body to be released for cremation.

His son Dilip Jha, 40, claims his late father’s followers are refusing to release his body as a means of retaining control of his vast financial empire.

 

Read more here –  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/10860998/Indian-court-asked-to-rule-on-whether-Hindu-guru-dead-or-meditating.html?

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Sins in the name of secularism

Apr 30, 2014 12:21 AM , By Hasan Suroor

Flag of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a na...

Flag of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a national political party in India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The narrative in which Muslims see themselves as victims of secularism has about as much validity as the Sangh Parivar’s charge of Muslim appeasement. Muslims are not victims of secularism but of a certain kind of secular politics

On the eve of the 2004 general election, held against the backdrop of the Gujarat riots, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies widely predicted to win, a group of leading South Asian scholars discussed the alarming resurgence of the Hindu Right and its implications in a book somewhat rhetorically titled Will Secular India Survive?

The authors made it clear that they did not presume to be the “arbiters of India’s secular destiny” which historian Mushirul Hasan noted would “ultimately be settled in the rural hinterland and dusty towns and not on the campuses of Delhi or at the India International Centre.” But they had an upbeat message. They believed that “India’s millions” were too deeply wedded to the idea of “pluralist co-existence” to allow any attempt to subvert it. The country’s complex cultural diversity and its long tradition of people of different faiths living together despite periods of often violent dissonance were the biggest safeguard against it becoming a “Hindu India.”

2014 and fading moderate voices

Prof. Hasan, who edited the volume, summed up their underlying message with a quote from Andre Beteille, the distinguished sociologist: “The social and political turmoil in the country does not make the case for secularism weaker, it makes it stronger. Indian intellectuals will do little good to themselves or their country if they espouse secularism in fair weather and disown it in foul weather.”

It was not exactly a fashionable view to take at a time when the supposedly better informed psephologists and media pundits were declaring game over for secular politics. In the event, though, the “ivory tower” academics proved closer to the mark as the BJP lost not only the 2004 election but also went on to lose the next one, in 2009, and its Hindutva agenda hasn’t quite recovered since.

Ten years on, an intense debate on the future of secularism is raging again in the face of an increasingly toxic election campaign in which moderate voices are struggling to be heard. One doesn’t know how those scholars would respond if they were to be asked the same question today, and most likely, secular India will survive “Modiwad” to live another day. But there is a new disturbing trend: the public discourse on secularism has hardened and become coarser (on social media sites, secularists are routinely mocked as “Sickular” and “sickularists”). More and more people across all communities see it as a failed idea and blame it for encouraging competitive sectarianism. Rather than promoting harmony and coexistence as it was intended to, Congress-style secularism is seen to have ended up as a divisive force instead.

There are echoes here of the debate on British multiculturalism which many believe has prevented ethnic minority groups from integrating into the wider society and led to cultural ghettoisation. But there is an important difference. Whereas in Britain, minority groups love multiculturalism and see it as a mark of success of their campaign for the right to preserve their cultural identity, Indian secularism is despised in almost equal measure by minorities, especially Muslims, as its traditional detractors on the Hindu Right.

Convergence of religious Right

The increasingly outspoken Muslim attacks on secularism, almost echoing the language of the Sangh Parivar, is a relatively new development. It has gone beyond murmurs of disillusionment or a show of protest against political abuses of secularism, and is now verging on a wholesale rejection of the idea of secular polity itself. There is even loose talk whether Muslims should launch a brand new party of their own to protect their interests having been “betrayed” by the Congress and other secular groups. On the face of it, the increasing convergence of the Hindu and Muslim Right on this issue might sound strange but it is no coincidence that they are singing from the same hymn sheet.

The truth is that the Muslim Right which hijacked the community’s leadership after independence was never really comfortable with the idea of secularism which it associated with anti-religiosity but found it a convenient means of advancing its own sectarian agenda. Religious issues which were of no importance to millions of ordinary Muslims were raised in the name of secularism. And if these demands were not met it was claimed that secularism had failed to deliver. It will be instructive to look at the list of Muslim “causes” espoused in the past 60-odd years and see how many of them had anything to do with the community’s “secular” interests as opposed to religious matters. The Sachar Committee’s findings are as much an indictment of the Indian state as of the Muslim leadership for failing to address the community’s problems.

The irony is that many of the Muslim leaders waxing eloquent about the failure of secularism today have been complicit in its abuse in return for official patronage. It is with their help that the Congress and groups like the Samajwadi Party were able to ply their trade in what Shahid Siddiqui, editor of Nai Duniya and former Member of Parliament has described as “electoral secularism.” Now that they are being challenged by a new generation of Muslims who want an end to the old ways of doing politics, they are trying to portray themselves as victims.

The danger of blind rage

In a way, it is just as well that secularism is rid of fair-weather friends. What is more worrying is the intensely anti-secularism mood in the wider Muslim community which feels it has been used by the secular political class to fight its own battles with Hindu nationalists. Few will quibble with that argument and the sense of frustration and anger this has generated among Muslims is understandable. But the difficulty is that they are confusing the Congress brand of distorted secularism with the idea of secularism itself. They are making the same mistake that they throw at non-Muslims who wilfully or otherwise confuse the al-Qaeda version of Islam with true Islam. The result is that in their blind rage they are in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Secularism, let’s remember, was an important reason why so many Muslims happily chose to stay back in India and though often the ride has been bumpier than they may have expected at the time they have never regretted their decision to live in a secular state. For all its flawed implementation and abuses, the fact that there is a constitutional regime designed to give minorities protection and that there are secular laws they can invoke to seek justice are nothing to be scoffed at.

The narrative in which Muslims see themselves as victims of secularism has about as much validity as the Sangh Parivar’s charge of Muslim appeasement. At the risk of labouring the point, I repeat that they are not victims of secularism but of a certain kind of secular politics; and, more often than not, they themselves have been guilty of abetting the sins committed in the name of secularism.

If today the nation is debating threats from communalism it is because secularism matters to the vast majority of Indians. I’ve heard it said in Muslim circles that the choice of secularism was not a favour done to them, but even as “accidental” beneficiaries they should cherish it because as a minority in a Hindu-majority India, they need it more.

To undermine secularism in a fit of anger will be politically suicidal akin to turkeys voting for Christmas. Besides, nothing will please the BJP more. Secularism must be nurtured and restored to good health if only to deny its detractors the pleasure of seeing it buried.

[email protected]

 

Read more here — http://m.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/sins-in-the-name-of-secularism/article5960269.ece/

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Modi- ‘God’s Chosen One’ Now Preaches Free Religion #NOMOre_2014

Big Modi Rebranding Attempt in Little-Known Book: ‘Whatever the religion… we are children of God’, writes Modi in a book on religion published recently

VISHAL DUTTA & NISTULA HEBBAR AHMEDABAD | NEW DELHI

Aforeword in a little-noticed book, published recently by a small publisher, showcases perhaps the most dramatic example of Narendra Modi’s rebranding effort.
“Whatever the religion, we are all children of God — immortal spirits…”, that’s a representative sentence from the foreword written by Modi for The Idea of One Religion by JS Thakur and GD Singh. The book is published by Bhopal-based Mausam Books and it mostly concentrates on Swami Vivekananda’s discourses.
Modi has been called the poster boy of hardline Hindutva and regularly faces questions on why he refused to wear a skullcap. In his stump speeches, he’s talked about the ‘pink revolution’ (export of buffalo meat). His critics always look for quasi-Hindu religious motifs in his speeches.
A paragraph such as the following therefore stands out, and raises the interesting question whether it is part of BJP PM candidate’s effort to change a wider audience’s perception of himself.
“A man may not have entered a temple or a mosque, or a synagogue or a church or a gurudwara, nor performed any religious ceremony, but if he feels God within him, he is thereby lifted above the vanities of the world; we may call that man a holy man, a saint or whatever you wish.”
In the foreword, Modi, apart from praising the book, writes about the “religious man” and the nature of God.
GD Singh, one of the book’s authors, told ET that he and his coauthor approached Modi through the BJP leader’s secretariat because the authors felt “Modi was the right choice for writing a foreword on religious unity”. “He’s wrongly maligned for sectarianism,” Singh said.
Singh said they approached Modi about two months ago and the foreword arrived 40-45 days back. He told ET that Modi’s secretariat told the authors that the Gujarat CM wrote the foreword himself. ‘Worship Must be Unbound’ 
In the foreword, Modi writes, “any attempt to bring all humanity to one method of thinking in spiritual matters has been a failure and will always be a failure”. “…Our worship needs to be unbounded and free”.
The contrast in spirit between these and much of what Modi has said on or is generally associated with matters religious is striking.
Although people close to the BJP PM candidate say he’s an admirer of Vivekananda, few of Modi’s public interventions so far has been as sharply aligned to a general idea of religion as a non-divisive issue as the words in this book.
Modi’s various interviews during the course of the 2014 election campaign have been interpreted as a conscious attempt to “soften” his image. But nothing he’s said so far is so distinctly different from the first iteration of Brand Modi.

Read more here — http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Client.asp?Daily=ETM&showST=true&login=default&pub=ET&Enter=true&Skin=ETNEW

 

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Political hate speech flourishes in India

Religious hardliners are having a field day as loopholes in law threaten India‘s secular democracy.

Last updated: 18 Mar 2014 10:33

Glorification of Hinduism in the political arena inevitably morphs into vilification of “the other” [AP]

Two recent decisions by India’s Supreme Court have brought back the focus on political hate speech. On January 30, the court decided to review a set of controversial rulings – popularly known as the Hindutva Judgements, which hate-mongering politicians have been using with impunity. Then, on March 12, the court, while stopping short of cracking down on political hate speech, asked the Election Commission to examine ways of eradicating this malaise.

However, a pitched battle is being waged over this between free speech libertarians and liberals, and the reasons are obvious. The libertarians swear allegiance to the Hindu Right, which comprises the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the more virulent and fundamentalist organisations like the RSS (Rahtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). The latter two are the BJP’s conscience keepers and are pulling out all stops to make Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi India’s next prime minister. Despite his rhetoric of development, neither has Modi desisted from unabashedly flashing his communal card, and nor has the BJP eschewed its pandering to Hindu majoritarianism.

The liberal camp, on the other hand, is manned mostly by staunchly secular authors, artists and academics who want to safeguard their right to creativity, fearless expression and polemical inquiry.

Keeping in mind that India is going to witness one of the most viciously polarised elections ever, it becomes both expedient and imperative to critically examine the issue of political hate speech not from the prism of freedom of expression, but from that of electoral politics. 

One needs to step away from Justice Holmes’ dissent in Abrams, “… the best test of truth is the power of thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market” which is the most-cited refrain of those opposing any restrictions on freedom of expression. Since it is not the free competition of amarketplace of ideas, but a bazaar where religious and cultural majoritarianism hold sway, one ought to go by Judith Butler and Katherine Mahoney, both of whom challenge the traditional view of restrictions upon hate speech as contradictions or unjust restrictions on the freedom of expression.  According to these two scholars, hate speech must be understood as hateful propaganda, primarily carried out by a dominant social and political group, rather than the mere expression of individual opinions. And history bears witness to this propaganda leading to cataclysmic consequences, most common being genocide and communal conflagrations.

Hindutva’s legacy

Hindutva is a term that was coined by Veer Savarkar, one of the RSS’ founders, in his 1923 essay “Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?” in which he expounded on his doctrine of “cultural nationalism”. It essentially meant that a person’s “Indianness” was to be determined not by geography but by a homogenised culture, a Hindu culture.  This anthropological concept had concrete political moorings, and it soon became the principal poll plank of the militant Hindu Right. Time and again, communal passions have been whipped up, and legions of zealots unleashed on mosques and hapless minorities. The Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992- with senior BJP and RSS leaders leading from the front. Communal carnage of an unprecedented level was seen in Bombay (rechristened Mumbai) in 1993, instigated by Hindu demagogues’ incendiary diatribe, as the Justice Srikrishna Commission said in Chapter III of its report.  And of course, there wasGujarat 2002, for which Modi is yet to be held accountable.

Glorification of Hinduism in the political arena inevitably morphs into vilification of “the other”- Muslims and Christians, primarily the former.  Therefore, courts have to be extra cautious in getting the context right and not conflate religion with a religion-tinged political ideology. This is where the Supreme Court erred in the Hindutva judgements. Its theological meanderings misled it into ignoring the instigative potential of the speeches in question and holding that Hindutva and Hinduism are one and the same – “a state of the mind, a way of life” synonymous witth Indianisation, and could not be equated with the narrow fundamentalist Hindu religious bigotry. Thus it ended up giving a veritable judicial imprimatur to political hate speech.

Loopholes galore

The loopholes in India’s election laws exacerbate the problem. Religious electioneering is punishable as a corrupt practice, but it applies only after a candidate has officially thrown his hat into the ring.

Prior to that, he has a free pass. The BJP’s Varun Gandhi cried in 2009 – “If you want to save the Hindu religion, vote for me,” and then went on a Muslim-bashing spree. He made deft use of this lacuna.  Earlier, in2002 and 2007 , Modi and his cohorts did their bit of hate-mongering.  The Election Commission, the constitutional body in charge of superintendence and control of elections, pleaded helplessness, contending that the law permitted it only to rebuke, not penalise.

Approaching the cops proved futile because the permission of the state or central government is mandatory before commencing prosecution, and in this case, the respective governments, for reasons best termed as political skulduggery, declined. Even the Supreme Court could do little more than asking the government to remove this loophole, which hasn’t been done till date.  Only in a single case has a successful candidate’s election been cancelled. But he was a low-level party functionary and had almost cooked his own goose by campaigning in temple premises and exhorting Hindu devotees to vote for him.  No one, leave alone any political heavyweight, has been brought to justice for spewing venom in the name of Hindutva.

In February last year, the VHP’s Praveen Togadia engaged in a vicious anti-Muslim screed, was investigated, but the sanction to prosecute is still awaited.  Those whose inflammatory speeches led to the province of Muzaffarnagar to be ravaged by a communal inferno in September last year are still enjoying impunity.

There hasn’t been a graver urgency for concerted action on the part of the judiciary and legislature to rescue India’s secular democracy.

Read mor ehere — http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/03/political-hate-speech-india-201431832847177887.html

 

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Islam Will Not Teach My Son That Wife Beating’s OK

By Ranya Tabari Idliby

WeNews guest author

Sunday, February 2, 2014

One of the Quran‘s most controversial verses, Ranya Tabari Idliby was horrified to discover, was being taught to her American Muslim son. In this excerpt from “Burqas, Baseball and Apple Pie,” she interprets the verse as allegory, not instruction.

  Quran

(WOMENSENEWS)–It had been a long day, and I was looking forward to the aromatic poached salmon and red pepper soup garnished with chunky croutons that our hostess had just served. My appetite, however, was about to be arrested by a friendly warning delivered by a well-meaning mom. Her son, a year ahead of mine at school, had a quiz on the Islam unit in his history book. “I thought of you the other day; next year Taymor will be learning about Islam in history class. The book teaches that Islam sanctions wife beatings.”

I thanked her for her concern and casually scooped a spoonful of red pepper soup, hoping that I would not choke or betray my mounting panic as I pictured my son Taymor in class next year with all eyes turning to him as the teacher explained how Muslims were allowed to beat their wives. I made a mental note: “Check out fifth-grade history book.” Surely there is an easy answer to this allegation.

Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in AmericaThere could not possibly be any moral ambiguity on the issue of wife beating. Not in this day and age, I reassured myself. After all, Islam had not invented misogyny. Other faith traditions have had to address scriptures and religious laws that have been less than generous to women, I reasoned. Surely, a little time surfing the Internet for perspective and information would help me put the issue to rest before a reasonable bedtime. Late into the night, I continued staring at my computer screen, gripped by my worst fears, enraged by the vile reasoning and the injustice and cruelty that were masquerading as Islam.

Not a Lone Preacher

I watched an animated cleric revel in the delivery of his sermon, fervently parsing one of the Quran’s most controversial verses: “We must know that wife beating is a punishment in Islamic law. No one should deny this because it was permitted by the creator of man,” he defiantly warned. Now that he was warmed up, he continued:

“We shouldn’t be ashamed before the nations of the world to admit that these beatings are part of our law. . . . The Quran says: ‘And beat them’–this is a wondrous verse. There are three types of women with whom life is impossible without beatings; unless he carries a rod on his shoulder. The first type is a woman who was brought up that way . . . so she became accustomed to beatings . . . we pray Allah will help her husband later. The second type is a woman who is condescending towards her husband and ignores him. With her, too, only a rod will help. The third type is a twisted woman who will not obey her husband, unless he oppresses her, beats her, uses force against her.”

As hard as I prayed, I knew I had not stumbled on a lone preacher being aired on some radical network. He was not the only Muslim on the Internet preaching this position. I quickly learned that the troublesome verse has Muslims divided into three different categories of approach in interpretation. This first approach, embraced by the literalists and Wahhabis, is the one that had kept me up horrified late into the night.

Two Other Approaches

The second approach, embraced by apologists, tries to whitewash the verse by offering conditions and qualifiers regulating and limiting the circumstances under which a Muslim husband can beat his wife. Muslims who use this approach prefer to use euphemisms such as “tap” or “beat lightly.” They emphasize that the measure is an extreme, to be used only as an absolute last resort when all other efforts and necessary other steps have failed to hold sway. A husband, we are told, must first try to admonish his wife, then he may try leaving the conjugal bed, and only when these preliminary steps have failed can he resort to “tapping” her lightly. Again as a way of whitewashing the verse, conditions are placed on how and to what degree. A wife should not be hurt, the husband cannot break bones or cause his wife to bleed or to bruise, and he must avoid her face and other sensitive parts of her body. The “tap” should be equivalent to being hit by a toothpick or toothbrush.

I find this approach tragic and comically absurd in its desperate efforts to resolve a Quranic verse that is clearly offensive–even to those defending it. Its proponents understand that the verse is unacceptable to the social and cultural values of the 21st century, but they are not ready to make that leap which requires the rejection of a verse that is in the Quran.

Progressive and reform-minded Muslims embrace the third approach. These are Muslims who understand that, first and foremost, the Quran needs to be read as a whole in the context of the time and culture of its revelation. When there are seemingly contradictory or ambiguous verses, they read them in deference to the most important value expounded in the Quran: justice. They take heart in the fact that the Quran has an overwhelming number of verses calling on its faithful to use their heads and minds, reminding us that the Quran itself asserts that “there are some verses that are absolute and unequivocal, and others that are alligorical and equivocal.” The wife-beating verse clearly belongs to the latter.

Wife battering knows no religion. In America, 22 percent of marriages cite domestic violence as the cause of divorce. The surgeon general’s office has shown domestic violence to be the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44; more common than automobile accidents, muggings and cancer deathscombined. Every year, domestic violence results in almost 100,000 days of hospitalizations. No just God would sanction the use of violence as a basis for marriage. Muslims know that their God does not either.

 

Ranya Tabari Idliby is also the co-author of the New York Times bestseller “The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew: Three Women Search for Understanding,” an intimate dialogue on faith and identity in America. She has spoken in churches, temples and mosques, as well as at interfaith organizations, the United Nations and the State Department.

For More Information:

Buy the Book, “Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America”:

http://www.powells.com/partner/34289/biblio/9780230341845?p_ti

 

Read more here — http://womensenews.org/story/religion/140131/islam-will-not-teach-my-son-wife-beatings-ok

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#India – Modernity and Godmen #Asarambapu

asharam bapu

The recent conviction of Asaram Bapu and his son Narayan Sai for alleged rape and sexual assault charges have once again brought to the forefront the culture of power and the way it is exercised over trusting followers. The catch, however, is not merely the breach of trust of the devotees but also the refusal of the followers to believe the mountain of evidence against their revered guru. This again is not the first time such a situation has emerged. Earlier we had incidents of young men found murdered in the ashram headed by Puttaparthi Sai Baba in Ananthpur and evidence against his claims to perform magic of presenting his devotees with gifts created out of thin air. Any amount of incriminating evidence does not seem to dither the followers and devotees of godmen, and they continue to invest their faith, trust and affection in them. The sociology of faith in a deeply divided and hierarchy/status-conscious society like ours needs deeper probing and public reasoning, even if this phenomenon looks beyond reason. Divided societies would have divided reasons; specific to their own social location, though externally it would like a following that has blind faith beyond any sociological causation. To begin with, in modern societies the very idea and feeling of investing hundred percent faith and trust in anything is itself a unique and a rewarding emotion. Modern society based on critical rationality and self-doubt also makes human beings restless who become like nomads with a deep sense of homelessness. The compulsion of unrelentingly pursuing one`s own self-interest, in order to merely survive and get what is perceived to be one`s due could be an exhausting experience for most; in that to find a faith, a resting-place could be very soothing. For the bulk of the population groups and the common man to find someone whom you could trust without second thoughts could be a very uplifting experience. Since complete faith is in itself a necessity, it is not easily given up even when you offer incriminating evidence because this can be accepted only at one’s own peril: believing the evidence is as damaging to the followers as the guru himself.

Revolving Around the  Self

To the well-off sections of the society, where the followers come from higher echelons of caste and class, it is not so much about the need for faith but the dire need to protect their self-image of being distinguished and exceptional. The logic could be one where you follow a guru who is great and larger-than-life, and in following him, or realising that greatness one reassures one`s self that he or she is also unique and exceptional. As modernity propels a process of homogenisation of social roles, while all along demanding uniqueness and laying premium on individuality, one might realise this in following a sect that is different from the run-of-the-mill religiosity. Reflected glory becomes a compulsive mode for ego-gratification, and recognising that the guru could be fallible also raises doubts about ones own exceptionality. It is also these sections of  society that are looking for reasons and causation in ones life without locating them within a larger society; they need  explanations and solutions that begin and end with themselves.

Much of the discourse of the religious cults of babas and gurus place the follower exclusively at the centre of their explanations as to why things happen the way they do. This gives both a sense of control over one’s own life and also creates a justification for absolute trust in the guru. It is a reasoning that is pre-social, or for that matter post-social in nature, since society is looked as the cause or source of ordinariness, finding one’s own self hyper-separated from the social domain looks highly gratifying. While modernity and the discourse of individualism augment hyper-separation of the self from the social, discourses of religiosity and spirituality provide a similar avenue with a social justification rooted in the reality of “our modernity”. This also goes well with the new middle classes and their acquisitive nature that new market relations have shaped with their unrelenting encroachments into personal and cultural domains. Here too things begin and end with the self ‒ a neatly crafted and segregated entity that was otherwise lost in the crowd. This is precisely what Betrand Russel had advocated as the source of unhappiness and argued in his celebrated classic The Conquest of Happiness that the real source of happiness lies in impersonal interests and curiosity to learn. Urban classes, it seems steadily have lost the capacity for both. Neither they have a modern culture of hobbies, nor have they managed to retain traditional respect for knowledge. Instead, the cultural milieu is one against experimentation, which suspends into a mode of self-denial, wherein what one does not know either does not exist or is irrelevant. This creates a deep sense of vacuum in much of social life,  sucks meaning out of social and even personal interactions and opens up the everyday life to a deadly combination of insecurity and predictability. The sheer banality of everyday life has to but resort to a belief in magic and mantras; they serve the purpose of providing entertainment and quick-fix solutions (that goes well with the culture of making quick-money). Dancing and singing by the gurus provide the much sought relief from highly disciplined and regulated life.

Faith and the  Aam Aadmi

The scores of poor and marginalised who come to the gurus seem to find in them a mode of bridging the class and social exclusion that they experience as a routine. The performative meetings/spectacles held by the gurus emerge as new social spaces shared with the well-to-do, allowing them to reclaim a residual assertion of dignity and perceive a degree of social visibility and inclusion. Unlike the traditional religiosity of visiting a temple, the lively aspect of seeing a real-time godman in blood and flesh could be empowering and offer a dose of self-confidence that is in massive scarcity in societies like ours. Breaching this formidable social logic and undercurrent could well be of a different order from condemning and finding mountain of evidence against  godmen. The value of symbolism in the performative dimension for the common man, or in more recent parlance aam aadmi, is then not just restricted to the cultural domain but could transpire in the political domain as well. To get past or even negotiate with this symbolism in the political, one  has to comprehend its source in the psycho-cultural domain.

At one end as “aam admi” is susceptible to symbolism, at the other end of the spectrum, the dominant notions of power are reinforced in the extra-institutional domain. While leading spiritual gurus like Sri Sri Ravishankar reiterate the need to privatise education so that people realise its importance and thereby a meritocratic order is restored, sacred pilgrim sites such as Tirupathi work through given notions of social capital and connections. A visit to Tirupathi will allow one to realise how its daily operations are based on connections with ministers (VIP darshan is made possible through the recommendation of the minister of endowment or the chief minister’s office), and there is a self-evident display of social status and money. These everyday practices in the psycho-cultural domain reinforce the dominant notions of power in the political domain. It is therefore not surprising why Narendra Modi, with his aggressive posturing and masculine image looks powerful, and why the likes of Rahul Gandhi look uninitiated and lethargic. The dominant and the dominated, governed and those governing, the elite and the subaltern are inextricably linked through the same socio-cultural practices, disallowing not only claims to an “autonomous domain” but also making it difficult to unabashedly celebrate the cult of the subaltern. This then is an agenda as much for the political activists as cultural torch-bearers in India.

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#Sundayreading – Faith and families: the name game continues

Jan 18, 2014 11:35 PM , By Nadeem Khan
A Kashmiri Muslim girl reading the holy Quran inside Jamia Masjid, Kashmir. Photo: Nissar Ahmad

A Kashmiri Muslim girl reading the holy Quran inside Jamia Masjid, Kashmir. Photo: Nissar Ahmad
A personal account of how the millstone of being identified with a religion hangs heavy much of the time

I was born in a liberal Muslim family in 1950. There was nothing liberal about my name, though: Mohammed Nadeemullah Khan. The mixed neighbourhood where I grew up never found it worthy of notice. But some children in school found its association with a religious community a source of entertainment – at my expense. Digs on beards, lungis, skull-caps, Friday baths, and – the perennial favourite – circumcision.

It never descended to fisticuffs or a brawl; probably I was too timid, probably I needed their friendship. So, no serious damage done. Evenings of high-energy romps in my lane with friends helped flush out whatever trace of inadequacies I might have carried home. This “innocent” ragging decreased as I moved to the higher classes, and disappeared in college.

Meanwhile, the world of my private thoughts and beliefs was describing its own trajectory. The earliest I can remember is a vague, unconscious acceptance of the benevolence of all supernatural beings across the religious board. This changed during my mid-teens to a sharp appreciation of the singularities of the faith I was born into. I got into occasional fasting and prayer and recitation of the Holy Book. In my late-teens, scepticism gathered strength. I was muddled, yes, afraid, yes; but I preferred confusion and fear to unsupported certainties. This was the result of the company I kept, the books I read.

Well before I married at 27, I was a full-blown, hard-core, unrelenting atheist; which also meant I would marry someone who, at the very least, sympathised with my state of (un)belief. It thus happened that my daughter and son arrived to parents for whom any kind of unsupported belief was anathema. If they were to grow up as free-thinking persons, why, then, should they carry the mill-stone of being identified with a religion to which they bore no allegiance? I had carried its weight around my own neck, albeit mildly. I had managed by deliberately projecting a secular persona. The aggressive, intolerant fringe within and without the Muslim community had started gaining strength, and we could foresee the demonisation of the entire community on account of these lunatics. We didn’t want our two kids to have to pay for a faith they wouldn’t even be buying. So we chose religion-neutral names for them and rolled them out for easy assimilation in a name-obssessed society. The plan was that they would marry outside the concern of religion, and free themselves and their progeny of affiliation with anything except good sense.

They grew up with an indulgent irreverence for handed-down wisdom. The daughter, a 35-year-old careerist now, does not want to marry only because society expects her to. She hasn’t met the right man yet. The son, now 31, is happily married to a girl born in another (un)faith. Before he met her, I had asked him whether he would marry a Muslim. “Why not?” he replied. “All I would care for is compatibility!” It revealed to me my own insecurities that those “innocent” raggings had engendered.

It occurred to me that as a first-generation atheist I carried with me the passion of a neo-convert. My children often call me the Osama bin Laden of atheism. They are completely in consonance with the rational position, but they do not carry the same abhorrence for the faith their father does. They didn’t have to hack their way into a world of human beings out of the smoky, suffocating, spooky, soul-destroying, yet strangely mesmeric space of gods and demons and prophets. Could their neutral names have shielded them from the ravages to which I was subjected in school?

Our foresight, it appears, helped them slip past the emotional vulnerabilities of childhood and adolescence. It could not insulate them, though, from the morbid curiosity of a name-obsessed segment of society.

My daughter recently took up a job in Ahmedabad. She had been alerted to the unbridgeable polarisation that has taken place between Hindus and Muslims since the 1985 riots, and later the Godhra riots in 2002. But it was only when broker after broker showed either unwillingness or helplessness to find for her a cosmopolitan area that the dimensions of the divide hit her. “Tamey Juhapura nu ghar dekho ne ben, ek dum a one chhey!” Or try Jangpura, or Jamalpura, or any of the ghettoes. Jodhpur? No! Vastrapur, Ambawadi, Bodakdeo, Satellite? Mushkil chhey, ben, mushkil chhey.

The girl, however, was determined. She planted herself in a guest house and lived out of a suitcase till she finally landed a decent flat in Prahlad Nagar, owned by a Delhi Sikh. “Prahlad Nagar?” said the astounded Muslim autorickshaw man chatting me up from the railway station to my daughter’s flat.

“What’s a girl from a good Muslim family doing there?” Why didn’t my daughter hide behind her religion-neutral name? Because Prithviraj Chavan’s Mumbai had exposed its inadequacy to cover her culpability from end to end. Before signing a tenancy deal in Santa Cruz, she was required to go for police verification. That required identity proof. She flashed her passport which, alongside her sanitised name, carried her father’s name. The landlord was livid.

Kai tumhi? Itkya mahattvachi gosht saangat naahi?” (What did you mean by concealing such vital information?) We just don’t rent our house to Muslims. The Society rules don’t allow it.” My son did better while looking for a flat in Mumbai. He used his company-issued identity card, that didn’t carry his father’s name.

In Bengaluru some years ago, the story was the same. It had driven both my children up the wall with its “Saary Amma, Saary Saar, we cannot give our house to Muslims.”

Yet, whether in Ahmedabad, Mumbai or Bengaluru, my daughter and son have always managed to find gracious landlords, all Hindus. For them the name has been only for the purpose of identifying an individual, not to get a peep into the secret gods that animate their beings.

Yet, I don’t consider myself any worse a victim of social vagaries than all of us who share this earth with other human beings. I have earned decent money, lots of respect, and phenomenal friends — all of them Hindus! I write only to raise consciousness about the people who have suffered because of our vicious human kinks. I only desire to raise awareness about the demon that can so easily take charge of every one of us.

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Read more here —  http://m.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/faith-and-families-the-name-game-continues/

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