Saturday, May 30, 2009


Democratic Republic of India
(Part II)


Seshachalam Dutta and Shree Vinekar

(The readers are encouraged to read the Part I of this article on )

Indians are proud to declare theirs is the largest democracy in the World --undisputedly so. The question in this article is - is it the best, or how good is Indian Democracy, not how large. The answer is depressing for all of us, who grew up dreaming during British occupation of India, that one day we would form a great democracy, the envy of the world. Westerners claim that democracy is inherent to their culture with the beginnings of Roman State- albeit it was limited to a few thousand elite, the rest being slaves. Indian political theorists claim that we had even richer history of democracy from Vedic times as illustrated in village panchayats.
(See )
However, current trends in Indian constitutional democracy are disheartening.

The real threat to Indian democracy is from the new breed of politicians who are taking advantage of the institution of democracy to create dynasties, a form of demonarchy such as that perpetuated by the Nehru Dynasty. There was an interesting editorial in Wall street Journal prior to UPA's election to power in India. The editorial starts with a quote from Jawaharlal Nehru: “HISTORY TELLS US THAT HEREDITY BREEDS FOOLS IN POLITICS AND EMPIRES.” What a profound quotation! The editorial was in reference to Sonia Gandhi of India who claims entitlement to power, because her mother-in-law, Prime Minister Indira, died in her lap! The editorial cites others as well, Sukarno Putri of Indonesia for one who has a similar hold on the literate and semiliterate citizenry of Indonesia. She claims that her father shows up in her dreams to advise her. Then, of course, we have Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Benazir Bhutto, all from fledgling democracies. Little did poor Jawaharlal Nehru dream that heredity breeding fools would apply to his family too after his demise! It is unthinkable that Jacqueline Kennedy would even remotely be proposed to succeed her fallen husband or Itzak Rabin’s wife to succeed her assassinated husband. Indian politics so deteriorated after Nehru’s death that Socialist Party leader Ram Manohar Lohia called Indian Democracy “A Brahmin-Baniya Oligarchy.” We will explore whether he was correct or hyperbolic. There are four conditions that are required for demonarchy: 1. Government control of media 2. Dictatorial laws, and/or non-enforcement of law and order, 3. Control of economy (centralized), and 4. Manipulation of electoral process: For example, by first appointing candidates from top to bottom by party hierarchy at the apex and then electing them. All these conditions prevail in Indian democracy which makes it demonarchy.

Let us examine demonarchy of Nehru/Gandhi dynasty first. Kuldip Nayar outlines the events surrounding Nehru’s terminal days and the succession to the prime minister’s position. One of his loyalists, Kamaraja Nadar, approaches Nehru and asks whether he should install his daughter as the Prime Minister (P.M.). Nehru was supposed to have said “not now” which implied “later.” Nehru could not degrade himself to ask that his daughter be chosen to succeed him. He had the dignity and cognizance of his place in Indian History and reputation in the world. Then the Congress party operatives elected Lal Bahadur Shastry to Prime-minister-ship as a stop-gap. After his untimely death in a short time Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi was elected as the P.M. with the help of party operatives. She had no legislative experience. The socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia called her a sugar doll – gudia ki daal (it would melt away if he licked it!). She was not a natural democratic leader by popular assent, although she mastered political intrigue under the tutelage of her father for 17 years. The very first time she encountered a threat to her power, she resorted to tyranny by declaring the state of Emergency, the only emergency being nothing but a threat to her power.

Nehruvian Democracy Vs Jeffersonian Democracy

Jeffersonian constitutional democracy sets the constitution as supreme law of the land, which is pledged to be protected and defended by the president, legislature and judiciary severally. It is a sacred document that embodies civil liberties and basic human rights that protects the minority, even a single man, in the land against the tyranny of majority rule and against the might of the overbearing Government. The US constitution had been amended only 27 times in 200 years’ history. (The amendment on child labor is still not ratified after 82 years!). The founding fathers of the U.S could envision such a constitutional democracy because of inherence in their culture of tolerance for -in fact, respects for - minority positions. People who lightly talk of spreading the democracy all over the world forget that it should be ingrained in the culture and be defended by patriotic people with eternal vigilance; America is still in the process of achieving the ideal set by the founding fathers.

Indian constitution has the same lofty ideals as the American written by Thomas Jefferson including its preamble and the fundamental rights. But Nehru, as unchallenged leader of his Congress party, and the leader of modern India wielding enormous power since Emperor Ashok and commanding enormous adulation of his countrymen, never established democratic traditions; it is not that he did not know how to construct a democracy but he was impelled to secure unchallenged power. His generation of leadership, though was educated in the West, was weak and helpless to stand up to him. He was so drunk with power after suffering a stroke in 1963 and having ruled for 17 years, he would not give up his power. TIME magazine reported once that Lohia “gracelessly” remarked whether India needed an invalid as its P.M., when the P.M. did not gain his gait after a stroke. While Gandhiji was an example of complete self-sacrifice, none emulated him amongst his followers, alas, except ironically Nelson Mandela of South Africa who abdicated power after one term. Leaders of India had a different story. Media were controlled by the state with only one government owned radio station. Every day the news papers carried photo opportunity of the P.M. creating a myth that only he could carry out the foreign affairs, for he alone knew the world. His sister was appointed ambassador to the Soviet Union. The Ministry of External affairs under the single-handed and tight-fisted control of Jawaharlal Nehru was not subject to audit nor the treaties with other countries subject to ratification by the parliament, precisely the root cause for the problem India is facing today with Manmohan Singh’s agreements with the U.S regarding the nuclear treaty. Travel to outside world under Nehru regime was a privilege for a few and not a right. Passport could be denied with no explanation! The senior author waited four months to get a passport in 1962 to study abroad. It is not that Nehru did not know the rights enjoyed by the free world that he had to be forced by the decision of Supreme Court to admit that Citizens of India are entitled to the freedom to travel abroad. His Government tried to restrict study abroad on need basis, with exception made for two of his grandsons who were privileged to study as under-graduates in England with no special distinction, as though India then could not provide quality undergraduate training in India. All other “commoners” were to prove their merit to pursue only post-graduate training before being “licensed” by the Nehru-Gandhi “democratic” government to qualify for the passport. Such double standards are the order of the day in implementing lofty “equality” establishing policies of the UPA government even today and are not considered a form of nepotism even by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty when it comes to judging the privileges extended to their own family members. Of course, the concept of “conflict of interest” is absent even on the ethical scene of Indian politics.

Dictatorial laws of India

Nehru ruled the country by the same arbitrary laws by which British controlled India, including the notorious preventive detention act, by which anyone could be arrested. It is under this act that he arrested and kept Sheik Abdullah of Kashmir, his friend whom he called "Lion of Kashmir," in jail for years. Of course, Abdullah could not be defeated after his release. It is the same law used indiscriminately by his daughter Indira in arresting and throwing Jaya-Prakash Narayan in Jail, a man regarded as one of the founding fathers of Indian democracy, venerable leader respected by her own father as his equal. Indira Gandhi arrested student leaders from the college classes without revealing their hidden locations or their fate to their parents. Nehru dared not go that far as it would tarnish his image as a Great democratic leader in the world. But he was very close. He surreptitiously let the dirty job be done by state governments without ever criticizing them publicly. Chief Minister of Bombay, ignoble Morarji Desai, opened fire on unarmed protesters during Nehru regime and was later rewarded with the Ministerial post by the Congress High Command and later as a P.M. by Janata Government! Communist party was banned in several States (not by central government, though!). The members and affiliates were arrested and in extreme cases released and shot in forests as terrorists (in encounters). This continued for years during Nehru’s and the subsequent Nehru-Gandhi regime. Consequently, the communists won the election contesting from jails in Andhra! An event rarely heard of in the history of any democratic country!

The political immaturity of the Indian leadership is evident in that not a single voice was raised by the other opposition parties not subjected momentarily to such treatment. After Gandhiji’s assassination several RSS leaders and intellectuals were arrested, many lost their jobs, and the rest were released after prolonged incarceration. Guruji Golwalkar wrote to Nehru that he was unfairly, illegally, and without due process kept in Jail even without any charges being filed or affording any trial. Nehru simply referred him to the Home Ministry as though he had nothing to say about the incarceration of a leader of one million followers. The communists and socialists regaled in the pleasure this man was sinking in jail, not knowing that when the bells toll they toll for them too and their time would come. When their day came nobody was there to raise voice.

Indira Gandhi used a very rare legal provision, never used before her time in Independent India, “the law of sedition,” violation of which is a very serious offense. It was enacted by the British. Lokamanya Tilak was punished by the British charging him under this law although Tilak protested that “Swarajya” did not have the connotation of sedition. When Bindranwala, who was indeed a true seditionist, was killed along with other terrorists in Amritsar, an Indian correspondent of a foreign paper reported that some of the victims were shot in an assassination style while their hands were tied behind their backs. The law of sedition ridiculously states that such a serious allegation can only be leveled after verifying facts with the Government officials (“Collector”!). No other modern democracy would accept such a law. Provisions of search and seize in this law justified by Indira included ransacking the Indian Express office and Printing Press in Delhi during the emergency. The leaders of Janata who succeeded Indira Gandhi found all this "no big deal." The reason perhaps is that they had a similar mind-set. Such practices in Communist China caught international attention but in the democratic Republic of India these atrocities went unnoticed without any ado. The word democracy can thus be seen to provide a cover for many injustices. Such state of affairs tempts one reconsider democracy in India as a masquerading form of demonarchy.

Indian Socialism:

While Indian political leadership was not allowed to develop, flourish, and to be perpetuated by using the tactic of controlling the media and all means of communication, and also by exercising arbitrary laws, there was more pernicious factor in setting back Indian democracy and paving the way for dynastic succession. That was the tactic of controlling the economy without facilitating free enterprise. Nehru was an ideologue but not necessarily an idealist. He was excellent in creating slogans. His most powerful slogan was “socialism.” Later many African countries used this slogan. His practice of socialism can be summarized from his own observation of Sir Stafford Cripps, who according to Nehru enunciated a strategy, “tell the poor that they will get wealth distributed from rich and tell the rich they would be protected from the poor.” The poor never got anything of substance in 60 years from the government of India, no effective land reforms, welfare, any advancement, or betterment until recently when the economy was liberalized. However, monopolistic capitalism was encouraged, with only one car manufacturer for a long time and later second one headed by the members of the Nehru-Gandhi family, licensed to produce cars, and only one major drug company was licensed to package the drugs produced in the West. Still with all liberalization and propaganda, government tight control of the economy is transparently evident even today. During Nehru’s rule, one had to register a purchased radio and get a license to use it! Even today, Government permit is needed to open a gas station (“petrol pump”) in India. One of the grand schemes of Nehru to socialize the farmland was by bringing the farms under cooperatives, which would have eliminated any free enterprise remaining. This initiative failed because of wide spread opposition. Still the entire production and distribution, and all entrepreneurial activity were tightly controlled by the Indian Government leading to wide-spread corruption. This set India decades behind China economically. It will continue to cause India to lose its race with China in the competitive world economy. Only recently is a beginning made to minimally use private initiatives in building infrastructure in India which is in a dismal state in comparison to China, leave alone the evening entertainment for the hard working foreign born business executives. Solid good infrastructure and quality of life for their employees are two main factors attracting multinational manufacturing industries and other multinational corporate headquarters or business establishments to India. Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has failed terribly in these two areas namely the building of infrastructure, improving the standard of living for all citizens and not just a few (one third), to compete with non English speaking China that can easily learn English.

With the rise of Janata Party and the agitation for separation of Punjab, Indira Gandhi bemoaned the rise of the middle class as responsible for the growing strength of Janata Party and its viable opposition. Early on Nehru was very much aware of the overall social and economic structure of India. On a visit to Mongolia, a reporter asked him whether India would become Communist. His answer was that it was not possible, because India was essentially a feudalistic country. The ruling class was thus the landed aristocracy with no interest in democratic reform but only loyalty to the idolized leader. India had no Jefferson or Jeffersonian concepts of democracy.

With centralized economy and with Government as major employer, press depended on the favors from the Government as a major source of revenue and thus lost its freedom to report unbiased. Together with the state controlled radio, all means of communication were so monopolized that the only way public dissent was frequently expressed was by massive demonstrations, at times violent, leading to burning of buses and trains, naturally, joined by antisocial elements confusing the issue of meaningful dissent. Even today every party organizes bundhs (forcibly closing shops and disrupting traffic) in India. There are instances in which the ruling Congress party organized such demonstration in the states ruled by opposition party and removed the government by presidential decree claiming the breakdown in law and order! The main media in India, especially English language ones, are seen as the stooges of the ruling Congress Party, and the Government, behaving so for the entire period of Congress rule, indicating a sign of lachari even in the press.

Congress High Command Structure:

The structure of the one and only one organization, the Indian National Congress, under whose banner diverse groups fought the British, had only one controlling command center called “High Command” which was totally undemocratic not unlike the Soviet inner cabinet. The leaders at the top in Delhi including, Gandhiji, Nehru, Patel and a few others controlled the party. There was no grass roots democracy. The party commanded from top to bottom. While the High Command was justified to fight the enemy, the British, it was never intended or justifiable as a model for democracy. The continuation of this structure led to idolatry of the then freedom fighting self-sacrificing leaders evolving in the current dynastic rule. Later the high command was replaced by the Congress Working Committee. There were no organizational elections in the congress party for the last 25 years. The Working Committee acting as High Command virtually rules the party and the Country. The power is so concentrated in a few hands that from one State, U.P., 9 of the 13 Prime Ministers were elected.

To contest for an election either at the level of State legislature or at the Center (parliament), candidates are selected at state level and approved at the center which retains the tight-fisted overall control. The selected candidates are given “tickets”, a process unheard of in the U.S. or other democracies. There were charges that these tickets were sold and the state congress party leader in Andhra Pradesh made millions in 1995. By this practice, if one party is in overwhelming majority it can control the entire leadership of the country. There are no primaries to select or elect the candidates freely nor re-runs when multiple candidates contest. Democracy is “just in name” and if not a “farce” in the Democratic Republic of India.

Political system creating Desperate Destitution at every level:

The so called Socialist Government of India by planned economy is almost a sole monopolistic employer commanding the power to distribute jobs as political patronage with very little free enterprise as an alternative. What little free enterprise was there had to submit to the control of the State and thus the politician in power directly and indirectly controlled all private enterprises for they had to obtain licenses to start and operate a business. Even after liberalization, one cannot open a gas station without a Government license. Early on, the political patronage controlled and interfered with all employments as well as business permits and even college admissions. Once employment is obtained, the person was still subject to the control of the state since he could be at will, without any reason, be transferred from place to place, a process reversed by begging his benefactor for whom he and his family is expected in gratitude to vote his/her way or bribe in cash or kind. Such large-scale transfers were started during British days, un-heard-of in any free country, which affect every employee top to bottom, teachers, doctors, clerks, and bankers, except mailmen. The consequences of “dislocation” are that the affected person can never establish lasting social or even family relationships or own investments or a home in any community. Children of such transferable job-holders developed only superficial relations with their peers, which is unhealthy psychologically during the formative period of their personality. In the U.S people forgo a job promotion in order to avoid moving for their school-age children. This kind of control on a citizen breeds desperate destitution (“laachari” alluded to in Part I of this article on and sense of servility (“dasyu vritti”) stripping man’s dignity, leaving the helpless feeling in him/her that the only way to survive is to beg on ones knees. Such laachari or desperate destitution is so endemic and ubiquitous in the British and post-colonial India that it has become an inherent ego-syntonic feature of the Indian National Character to the point that it is confused with humility (Namrata). Obsequiousness is thus seen as a virtue while it is a symptom of a toxic political system afflicting every individual in India in some measure, through unconscious cultural internalization, whether he/she knows it or not. Such “Dasyu vritti” seen in the blood and bones of majority of Indians stemming from “laachari” must not be confused with “Vinaya” or “Namrata.”

Sons of Indira Gandhi as Successors:

When Indira Gandhi was defeated after the emergency, Sen. Patrick Moynihan exulted in praise of Indian Democracy. That excitement was short-lived because of an inept Government that succeeded her. She came back to power and got an amendment to the constitution altering the preamble to the constitution stating that “Republic of India shall have a Socialist Government with a purpose to distribute wealth.” In actuality no sane Indian would be opposed to the slogan of “Gareebi Hatao” or “eradicate poverty.” By implication she created an illusion for her psychological warfare with her political rivals to make them look like they obstinately preferred to keep India poor. Indian constitution was thus on a course to be amended 94 times by the Congress government in 58 years after the birth of the Republic. Her earlier amendment exempting her election to the office to judicial review was rejected by a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of India which stated that a right to amend did not include destruction of the constitution and the amendments should conform to the preamble! So she cleverly decided to change the preamble itself to make “socialism” as the over-riding governing principle of the constitution and subject to interpretation to suit the ruling congress party. “Socialism” a buzz word slogan, used by her father, was thus included in the Constitution without defining it just as the buzz word “Secular” was used in the Indian Constitution without defining it, subject to being interpreted variously and indeed entirely idiosyncratically on the Indian political scene. Harold Laski, the author of the “Grammar of Politics,” will not recognize any true "socialism" in the Indian democracy, nor will he recognize “democracy” as the form of government in India, although Jawaharlal Nehru is said to have chosen Laski as his idol. Indira Gandhi practiced socialism by nationalizing banks and capitalism by financing her son’s unsuccessful adventures into free enterprise, including Maruti Car manufacturing. Unable to raise private sector capital Sanjay made a run on the banks and obtained unsecured loans after nationalization of banks. He vindictively retaliated against those who previously questioned the loans. In short he terrorized the bureaucracy at the Center. Nothing said herein needs to be interpreted as the authors being opposed to pristine socialism or secularism which are essentially lofty guiding principles if not corrupted by the politicians and the judiciary.

During and after the emergency, Indira’s youngest son Sanjay Gandhi was next to her directing the Government. Politicians from different states courted him. When he came to Andhra Pradesh (A.P.) a Congress M.P. and later Minister of Parliamentary Affairs (K. Raghuramaiah) introduced him to a public gathering saying, “I served your father, I served your mother, and I am ready to serve you the rising son of India.” Such was the Indian sycophancy, an illustration of “laachari.” Sanjay Gandhi was shoe-in for the post of P.M. But fate had it otherwise. He died in reckless adventures with aircraft flying. Also, Indira Gandhi, soon thereafter, was assassinated.

After Indira’s death the most capable successor to the post of P.M. in the cabinet was P.V. Narasimha Rao. He was a poet, an author, linguist, statesman, and a diplomat of considerable experience. He was, however, not to succeed Indira Gandhi as it would break the succession to dynasty. The cronies of Indira Gandhi, within hours of her death, while her body was still warm, before her cremation was complete, inducted her other son Rajiv Gandhi to the position of P.M.

Who was Rajiv Gandhi?

Rajiv Gandhi, who along with his brother went to England to study, married an Italian and was content to be a pilot. Although he was the older of the two, he was initially not a candidate for the throne. He was, in stark contrast with P.V. Rao, a mediocre student and showed no signs of any distinction. In the records of Government of India listing of the Prime Ministers of India, it is stated (with some pride) that Rajiv never was interested in “studies”- which were defined in this document as “mugging for the examinations,” disparagingly implying that sincere students interested in studies are “muggers” and the elite chosen to rule the country and hold the helm of the national affairs was a cut above them during his formative years for neglecting his “studies.” Obviously, his concept of education and learning was limited to “Mugging.” Two of the remarkable tragedies during his brief rule were interfering in the free elections in Kashmir sparking years of terrorism, and another, sending troops to Sri Lanka to control the Tamil Freedom Movement in which effort several Tamils were killed and which finally resulted in his assassination. He was also accused of promoting the retaliatory killings of Sikhs in Delhi after his mother’s assassination.

P.V.N Rao, a non-dynasty leader, succeeded Rajiv Gandhi, who for the first time in the history of Independent India led India to liberalizations of economy, partly because of his own political philosophy as well as efforts and partly propelled by the World Bank conditioning the liberalization. With all his brilliance, he was perhaps the most monumental of the P.M.s India has seen. He needs to be given his due credit for initiating the process for Indian “abhyudaya,” but sadly he shared the common trait with almost all other modern congress leaders, that of “corruption.” He was accused of corruption, tried, and disgraced. In this manner the history of India will, we are afraid, deface him rather than recognize him as the father of economically strong modern day India.

Cronies of Nehru Family, who themselves have no ability for leadership, ganged behind Sonia Gandhi, the wife of Rajiv, and elected her as the Head of the party. Anyone opposed to her was removed from the party for ‘disciplinary reasons’.

They arranged Darshan (holy viewing) of her by crowds in Delhi. To show that she was the leader, they arranged dancing before her residence. One man stood on a bus and declared that he would commit suicide if Sonia was not elected a premier (P.M.). But Sonia does not or cannot give press interviews or hold a press-conference. When she came to the U.S no press correspondent including any reporter of Indian press was allowed to talk to her for the fear of exposing her. Her only claim for leadership, - in fact entitlement, - is that she is the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi and the latter died in her lap! When B.J.P Government fell, she claimed the post of premier but because of certain constitutional challenges she was made to withdraw her application by the President Abdul Kalam, for which he is paying a price of not being supported by her party for the second term.

Although she is not the Prime Minister, she acts as one, by sitting next to the current Prime Minister. Virtually she is in control.

Sonia has a son and a daughter, both of whom are spoken for leadership. A congress leader in A.P. recently called for Sonia’s son to be elected as the leader of the party. That is where the Nehru Dynasty stands at the moment. The Indian media have been wooing Sonia’s son and daughter for many years now and building for last many years the groundwork for her succession. Thus the dynasty will be perpetuated regardless what the people want or by asserting that the dynasty is what the people actually want.

Mini Demonarchies of India:

If the dynasty is acceptable at the center, where, because of the distance from the states mystery can be maintained, the process can be effective in the states as well. In Andhra, N.T. Rama Rao was succeeded by his son-in-law and new attempt is made to induct his son into politics. Laalu Prasad Yadav of Bihar went to jail on corruption charges and his wife kept the court and held the fort until he returned. M.G. Ramachandran was the Tamilnadu Chief Minister succeeded by his wife Janaki Ramachandran and the “other woman” (his mistress) Jayalalitha succeeded the latter claiming that she was the wronged woman (Wikipedia). (Shashi Tarror in New York Times). We have the other established case of Sheik Abdullah succeeded by his son Farooq in Kashmir, and in Orissa Navin Patnaik succeeded his father Biju. In Tamil Nadu, Karunanidhi is trying to anoint his son Stalin as his successor and grooming his daughter of a second wife to be a Central Minister. In Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar of Nationalist Congress Party is grooming his daughter by making her a member of Rajyasabha. Even in Shivasena of Maharashtra aspiring to establish national presence two rivaling mini-dynasties have recently emerged. So the phenomenon of using democracy to build dynasties keeps on going. This is also the plight of many other fifty some political parties that are emulating the Congress party or UPA. The phenomenon is also seen on the Bollywood scene. That brings us to closing the circle by asking the question: Is monarchy in the eyes of the beholder because of the deep-seated fascination for the same in the population of the immature democracies or are there small groups who are exploiting the fascination for monarchy in the immature population to gain and retain the power in some influential families by manipulating the population at large and by manipulating the political system they call democracy?


The people of India despite all the abuses they suffered under the political systems of the British and the succeeding Indian aristocracy represented by Congress is resilient. Over 70% of Indian electorate vote compared to about 50% in the U.S. The liberalization of economy has changed the picture of India rapidly. As Indira Gandhi feared the rise of Janata Party because of the emergence of a large middle class, entrepreneurship is rising, foreign investment and urbanization is changing the political landscape of India very rapidly with expanding middle class. The state does not control the fate of people, not so much as it did before. While the power is in the same segment of population still, challenge to it is bound to come. It is no longer easy to amend the constitution as no one party is likely to have absolute majority in the foreseeable future. Once the hold of the “Congress” is gone, because of the inability to dole out patronage, the power lost will never be regained by Congress or UPA. Thus in Bengal, congress could not defeat Communist party for the last 30 years. At least in India communists did not practice demonarchy as in North Korea! In the state of U.P from which nine of thirteen prime ministers were elected, a power house of politics, congress was the distant third. In Tamilnadu, congress has no hope of returning to power but content to court the regional party for alliance. The rise of regional parties according academic politicians in the U.S Universities is leading to speculation that India may break away and disintegrate like Yugoslavia and this issue will be discussed further in a sequel to this, a future article. Because of all this it is imperative and important to support the National parties which were built by the sacrifices of so many great leaders, be it Congress, Communist, or BJP. It is, therefore, inappropriate for the leaders of B.J.P to argue that Sonia is the problem of Congress party alone and it is an internal matter for the Congress party. Who leads a National party and by what process is of National Importance. If such national party retains power term after term, it is a reflection of immature democracy and affects every Indian’s image. Demonarchy cannot be allowed to replace democracy in India. It is up to the major parties to reexamine their mode of thinking and advance democracy. Why do the parties proliferate? Why did Congress split into two [Congress (O) and Congress (I)], and Communists also into two separate parties ( CPI and CPI(M))? The answer lies in the unfortunate fact that in India democratic thinking, tolerance of dissent, and respect for minority opinion were never practiced as a part of the Indian political culture, for just conducting elections on large scale is misconstrued as democracy and thus, mature democracy is a whole new culture for India. In the name of party discipline, anyone criticizing the leader or his policy is removed. This is not any different than the Communist parties of Soviet Union or China. Meanwhile, if the youth of the country learns to distinguish between propaganda and truth, rhetoric and relevance, democracy can be secured and demonarchy can be averted. In short, the youth of India should reflect how the ruling party in India of billion people is beholden to a foreigner (Italian) with Mafia connections such as with Ottavio Quattrocchi, after the country being ruled by the British for 200 years. Regardless of political affiliation, all Indians, and even Indians without any political inclinations or ambition, would find this state of affairs an embarrassment. Only a Pollyanna in Politics would justify it as a reflection of broadmindedness of the Indians and take pride in such picture.

II Vande Mataram II

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Saturday, May 23, 2009


Hinduness for World Peace and Harmony



Originally published on (courtesy
May 13, 2005

Abstract: This article was inspired by the dialogue between two great minds of the 20th century. Albert Einstein approached Sigmund Freud to provide a psychoanalytic model for understanding the dynamics of war and peace. These deep thinkers struggled to find solutions to man’s preoccupation with wars and man’s engagement in repeated wars throughout the history of mankind. Today we can certainly say that the technology of war fuels the economy and is supported by billions of dollars. In contrast, the technology of peace is in its primitive state. The principles to be recognized as essential for attaining and maintaining world peace are yet to be discovered by the global thinkers, political scientists, economists, and sociologists of the modern world. The actual technology of peace is yet to be conceptualized. It is the thesis of this article that some of the same principles Einstein and Freud came upon as possibly providing the solutions for this problem of War and Peace are to be found in the Ancient Indian Concepts. These concepts include “Dharmasahishnuta” and “Sanskritization.” The article begins with the basic concepts illustrated by the Vedantic Mahavakyas (Aphorisms from Vedanta) and builds the thesis that these concepts are generic and globally acceptable as well as applicable. The major religions of today, except perhaps Buddhism and Hinduism, do not seem to be equipped to face the challenge for attaining world peace except through converting the entire global population to espouse their own faith. To the contrary, such thrust for aggressive global proselytization by some major world religions actually presents a potential threat to world peace. This article was presented at the interfaith conference convened by the Baha’i group on the Oklahoma State University campus. An attempt is made to identify some common principles that would lead to a confluence of Baha’i and Ancient Hindu schools of thought.

(See “”)

Brothers and Sisters: "Namaste"

It means, “I bow to you.” This gesture means “you and I are very much alike and can be ‘one.’ We can find unity and accord.” “Essentially the divine in you and me are alike.” Thank you for inviting me to attend this meeting as a representative of Hinduism. Pardon me, at the very outset, for clarifying to you that Hinduism is not a “religion,” and also, for refraining as much as possible from using the term “Hinduism” in my brief presentation. Instead, the terms “Dharma,” “Vedanta Philosophy,” or “Sanatana Dharma,”“Perennial Philosophy” (as termed by Aldous Huxley), will be used which I will define shortly for you. The essence of all of these may be conceptualized as “Hinduness.” You will soon understand fully the implication of this position. This position is in true and complete accord with your chosen theme of the day and the noble ideal set before you by Abdu’l-Baha; to quote him, “men should live in Unity, concord, and agreement, and should love one another.”Vedanta Philosophy, from which all so called “Hindu” schools of thought and religious practices originate, dates back to approximately 8000 BC. The Rishis or Seers who developed this philosophy lived 10 thousand years ago. Some scholars believe that these insights were passed on in an oral fashion to them for 25 to 50 thousand years. This philosophy is the contemplative search of the “truths*” undertaken by the sages, seers, or “Rishis,” as they were called. These seers of the ancient time lived on the banks of the river Saraswati. This region is described by historians as the cradle of civilization. (* The words for truth in Sanskrit are: “Satyam” meaning that which has a quality of reality, and therefore, “real”- like any other reality it should be verifiable by consensual validation. Another word is “Ritam” meaning “eternal law of nature” that governs the universe. The antonyms are “asatyam” and “anritam” standing for untruths.)

Although there is archeological and geological evidence for its existence, this river no longer exists. We may leave aside any references to the scholarly, linguistic, archeological and astronomical research leading to these inferences or incredible sounding claims regarding the chronology. Suffice it to say, however, that these researchers’ findings do have some merit and need serious attention of other scholars. There is no doubt, that there is a consensus about the antiquity of this philosophy, (dating approximately 3000 B.C.) and therefore, this philosophy can be described in common man’s language as the “Mother of All Religions.” This famous adjective phrase was used by Swami Vivekananda, the young Monk representing this philosophy at the World Congress of Religions held in Chicago in 1893.This philosophy only announces the revealed “truths” and does not propound to preach “shoulds” and “should-nots.” There are no doctrines and dogmas. Therefore, this revered literature can be hardly viewed as a “religion.” The etymology of the word “religion” has its root meaning attached to a classical word referring to “binding” or “ligare - to bind” or “laws.” There is no one prophet and no one founder of this Vedantic philosophy. As this philosophy only gives guidelines and does not prescribe rules of conduct to which it attempts to bind anyone, it cannot be viewed as a “religion” in the strictest sense of the word.

The word “Dharma” usually is mistranslated as “religion.” It literally only means “unique holding principles” or “organizing principles.” The “Dharma” or the supreme and eternally abiding ethical and “holding principles” or “organizing principles” for individuals and the society springs from the Vedantic Philosophy. It contemplates on the harmonious and interrelated nature of the Universe. The Vedas begin with the recognition of the forces of nature and a deep respect for them. They inspire awe about the vastness of the cosmos and describe a detailed cosmology and cosmogony. The modern astrophysicists and mathematicians like Carl Sagan have drawn inspiration from the knowledge revealed in this ancient literature. That final or the ultimate “truth” revealed in this unwritten literature is the “all-pervading” “Cosmic Consciousness.” That may be synonymous with the “Supreme Being.” It is viewed as the ultimate cause of everything that is manifest. It is not presented as a matter of belief but an experience of a reality within the potential reach of the human mind.

Although belief in and reverence for such root cause of the Universe may be manifest in an integrated system of such expression known generally as the Hindu religion, the philosophy is more consistent with scientific exploration and permits revisions of these views if in future the science either does not ever validate the thesis or disproves it and finds another explanation. The emphasis in this system is on the facts and truths defined as “satyam” or “ritam” rather than any dogmatic belief and like any other scientific knowledge there is acceptance of the possibility that these could change with new knowledge. I will read to you some well-known “great sentences” in Sanskrit known a “Mahavakyas” or “great pronouncements” of the Vedas or Vedanta, and immediately give you their approximate English translations. We shall call these “great aphorisms.”

Vedanta means the conclusions of the Vedas. If you carefully contemplate on these you will intuitively realize how close these thoughts are to the noble ideal of your Baha’i spiritual assembly that attempts to integrate all that is good in many of the contemporary religions.

Number one Mahavakya (aphorism) “Sarvam Khalu Idam Brahman,” in Sanskrit, it means, “Everything here is verily Brahman.” Shortly, I will attempt to clarify the concept of Brahman. The realization of this truth simply translated means “Everything here is One.”This truth leads to the next “truth,” (Number two Mahavakya or aphorism) in Sanskrit, “Tat twam asi,” meaning, “You are IT,” or “IT is you.” Another version of it in Sanskrit, (Number three Mahavakya or aphorism) “So Aham,” means, “IT is I,” or, “He is I.”

The Upanishads or the conclusive discourses on Vedas known as Vedanta elaborate on these principles stating the ultimate reality is nothing but consciousness or Jnana (usually mistranslated as “knowledge” for a lack of a more apt word in English).If we want to use the word “divine” like Prophet Abdu’l-Baha does, it follows then, that at the core, the "experiencers" of this world, “You and I” are both “Divine.” This philosophy uses the word “IT” to indicate that the Supreme Being does not have a gender and therefore in human language IT assumes a neuter gender (“Tat Brahman”). (This term “IT” is also reflected in the Jewish or Hebrew tradition.) It may also be mentioned that many of the original composers of Vedic “aryas” were erudite seer women. “IT” does not have a form, shape, or any worldly qualities seen in the four dimensional nature. The “experiencer” or the “subject” in all human beings is “IT” and “IT” is divine. “IT” is all-pervasive. “IT” exists spontaneously, meaning in Sanskrit, “swayambhu,” and manifests itself as Nature. It is not even expected that IT be given any “divine” quality as “IT” without any qualities. So, the concept of “Theo” and Theology does not quite aptly fit in this paradigm.

Though once attributed this divine quality by projections of the human mind the substratum of all sentient beings is assumed to be this divine Brahman, the Universal Sentient Radiating energy or the Cosmic Consciousness. The word for Nature in Sanskrit is “Prakriti” (Physical entities and dimensions, space, matter, time and energy), and the word for the experiencer or the subject in Sanskrit is “Purusha.” (Often mistranslated as “Man” or “Male”) The spontaneously existing Brahman or “IT” simultaneously exists as subject and object. In other words, “IT” exists as Purusha and Prakriti. Therefore, “IT” is both Consciousness and Nature. The Nature originates from all-pervading Consciousness. This is kind of like a physicist saying that the elementary particles described in quantum physics or particle physics simultaneously manifest in wave-form as well as particular mass. These minute particles seem to emerge from nothing in the vacuum. Such contradictions are not shocking to those most educated and informed about Relativity and Astrophysics, or Quantum Physics. “IT” is capable of being inactive and active simultaneously. “IT” is constantly creating, and recreating, self-organizing, bringing order in and from chaos, and maintaining order and harmony, and dissolving the Universe, leading to its dissolution only for it to be re-organized again. “IT” with its infinite intelligence is constantly creating and recreating this universe in endless cycles of perceived linear time. Even time is relative and “IT” is beyond the dimension of time, not bound by the concept of the “past, present, and future,” and therefore “beginning-less and endless.” In short, that is Brahman.

The Jewish religion seems to have once used this concept of “IT” in its scriptures. Human mind has limitations in comprehending what “IT” truly is, and therefore, has a tendency to use anthropomorphism for concepts like this and assign form, gender, and qualities, to this entity. “IT” cannot be comprehended fully by anyone. So the wise among the humans may have used a more comprehensible language to convey the higher truths to the common man by assigning gender and even a human relationship like “Father,” “Pita” or “Master,” “Prabhu” “Lord” to this Entity. Human being is one of “IT’s” most refined organized creations with a rich repertoire of emotions and feelings. The highest evolved emotions are those of empathy and compassion. These too are manifestations of the same Brahman which when perceived in its active (saguna) form is experienced as infinitely empathic and compassionate toward all living beings. “IT” is therefore described as the ocean of compassion, in Sanskrit, “Karunasagar.” Human beings, the children of the Brahman, if you may conceive them to be, therefore, in their design or cosmic blueprint have the potential to become aware of this indescribable compassionate nature of the Brahman, which I attempted to describe to you as “IT.”

Some may call “IT” “God” and some may name “IT” “Allah.” The name for this very abstract concept to be perceived and experienced through deepest meditation, honest faith, and profound love or “agape” may vary in different languages and different cultures. Although “IT” can be given thousand different names “IT” cannot be accurately, fully and comprehensively described in words.

Human beings have the capacity to identify themselves with “IT.” In human being, which is the highest accomplishment of Nature, the Nature itself, if you may, becomes aware of itself. Human being has a potential to become conscious of its true nature, meaning the Universal Consciousness. This Universal Consciousness is the origin of everything that exists, including his/her “consciousness that maintains a continuity of experience” as the “experiencer” or “Purusha.” It is as if the drop of ocean water sprinkled away from the wave on the ocean realizes that it is also the ocean and is made of the same substance.

The misinformed, that take this concept literally and very wrongly, equate it in concrete terms with pronouncements like, “I am Jesus” or “I am God.” They mistakenly think it is like a delusion of a Paranoid Schizophrenic or a Manic who pronounces “I am Napoleon.” This is a mischievous and obviously a laughable misrepresentation of the Vedic truth. The Vedic philosophy on the contrary recognizes the profound truth that all human beings are divine and therefore equal. All human beings are capable of becoming compassionate like the “Infinite Compassion” inherent in the Brahman. Naturally, therefore, this philosophy sees “Ahinsa” or “Non-violence” as the essential attitude for the human being to remain in harmony with the Universe. This philosophy gave to our world the greatest proponents of Ahinsa or Non-violence like Gautama the Buddha in the sixth century before Christ and many other “Teerthankaras” or the gurus of the Jains before that. In the last century, it also gave us Mahatma Gandhi, and probably by extension, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

A culture founded on this philosophy also flourished later, since 3000 BC, on the Banks of the river “Sindhu,” whom the foreign invaders of India called “Hindu” by distorting the word Sindhu. This occurred when the new invaders discovered an ancient advanced civilization in the 16th century AD on the Indian subcontinent. In their typical “Britishism,” the British later named this culture and its integrated belief systems “Hinduism.” In the political parlance of the last three centuries, which recognized many “isms” such as “communism,” “capitalism,” etc., could it be that it was probably a well-suited word for the British vocal apparatus? As you can easily realize by now, it is a misnomer used by the uninformed and may be quite akin to describing an American manifesting the true American national character as practicing “Yankeeism.” We are historically stuck with the terms “Hindu” and “Hinduism.” It is not unlike the Native American who is stuck with the erroneous appellation, “Indian.” Such names are unnecessarily confusing but we cannot change the imprint and the course of the history. We need to be thankful that the Native Americans’ deep faith, and love for nature were not lumped together and termed “Indianism” by the British scholars making these integrated belief systems a newfound native “religion” of the New World.

After this brief digression into the history of how the people of India received the name “Hindu,” in the Western languages, which borrowed it from the Arabic, let me bring your attention to the handouts passed on to you by me. One of them documents the correspondence or the dialogue between two great minds of the last century, namely Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud. (see the URL at the beginning of this article) The Vedic sages had not experienced World Wars but nevertheless felt a deep need for Universal Peace just like Einstein and Freud felt this need. These high-minded personalities were perhaps not unlike the ancient Indian sages. Having experienced wars and destruction in their era, they too had the same sentiments and desires for the world peace as are expressed in the writings of Abdu’l Baha. The Vedantic philosophers ended all of their contemplations with the words “Om Shanti, Shanti, Shantih” meaning “Universal Peace, Peace, Peace.” The contemplation attempted to attain peace inside and outside us.Their philosophy inculcated an attitude of a “Dharmasahishnuta.” In Sanskrit it means “respect and tolerance for other religions.” This is a very ancient, perpetually upheld, value of the Hindus.

Unfortunately, it is forgotten that Christianity and Judaism came to India in the very first century CE and were tolerated by the Hindus and permitted to thrive in India for 21 centuries. In that sense, India is one of the oldest countries exposed to “original” Christianity directly delivered to India presumably by one of Jesus Christ’s apostles, Saint Thomas. He came to the West Coast of India in 52 CE and took refuge in Madras. The Jewish people also arrived in India in the first century CE. This was many centuries before the British learned anything about Christianity from English translations of Spanish Bibles.

The English speaking British brought another term ending in “ism” to India besides Hinduism. It deluded people of the World into believing that it was a brand new concept for the Hindus who had already lived in peace with the Jains, Buddhists, Christians, Jewish, Zoroastrians and even with Moslems for many centuries without any evidence of religion based wars. That word ending in “ism”, if you wonder what it is, is “secularism.” If secularism meant separation of Church and State and indifference to religion in the governmental policies and their implementation, innumerable kings in ancient India had governed with an open minded attitude towards their subjects irrespective of their religion. Though the word “secularism” was new to Indians what was entailed in the meaning of this term was not at all new as secularism was truly practiced in Indian governance for two or more millennia.

Some intolerant proselytizing practitioners of religions foreign to ancient India like Islam and Christianity, (and incidentally, there were too many of them who were welcomed and tolerated in India for many, or nearly more than one millennium,) had their own political ambitions. In 1947 they wanted separate nations with separate religious identities on the Indian subcontinent. They wanted a Moslem nation and got it, and a Christendom, a separate Christian nation, which fortunately did not materialize. Let us not delude ourselves though into believing that these ambitions are no longer strong driving forces behind proselytization in India or all over the world.

Those who stayed behind in independent India practicing other religions besides Hinduism truly needed to understand the meaning of that word “secularism” used in the Constitution of independent Republic of India. The constitution only clearly spelled out what Hindus in India had already practiced for millennia. It was the freedom of religion, freedom of worship, and the attitude of tolerance for others’ religions encompassed in the word “Dharmasahishnuta.” The intent of the constitution was to let all religions coexist in peace and harmony with respect for one another and not to permit freedom or the license to freely and wantonly convert masses of Indians to religions other than their own. Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were both Hindus and they upheld this ancient Hindu value of “Dharmasahishnuta.” Both of them were expressly opposed to proselytization, though they did not make an issue of this as they were preoccupied with other urgent matters.

No religion, once accepted in India, though of foreign origin, was considered “foreign.” This has been the tradition in India for three thousand years. That is exactly what “secularism” means in the Indian constitution and it does not have the connotation given to this word by the communists as a non-religious philosophy of the state.

Secularism in India does not mean freedom to convert Indian Hindus, Buddhists, or Jains to other religions. The right to convert others to one’s own is not a birth-right granted to non-Hindus by the Indian constitution as is openly misconstrued by the self-serving proselytizing religions who have been rampantly converting people in India and even in China for recent centuries as if the entire population in Asia and Africa is parked there for them to convert to their faith by the design of their “God” and it is therefore their “holy” “mission.” Hindus did not object to any mature adult choosing his own path not unlike the Baha’is who consider age 18 to be an index of maturity to voluntarily adopt the Baha’i faith. The conversion or change of mind is to take place voluntarily without coercion, deceit, allurements, or trickery.

Now we have all religions represented in India including those who espouse Baha’i Faith. Historically, there were no wars, like the war between the crescent and the cross, on the Indian subcontinent. There were no large-scale wars between the Buddhists and Hindus. The Vedantic philosophy permitted each human being to find his own truth at his own pace. It recognized that the same or similar truth might be voiced by different knowledgeable sages or wise prophets in many different ways. This very idea is illustrated in another ancient Vedantic “mahavakya” or “number four aphorism” in this philosophy, in Sanskrit, “Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudha Vadanti,” literally meaning “One (spiritual) Truth the Wise express in many ways.”

Such profound principles make the original People of India, the Hindus, non-proselytizers by their very nature and they abhor, and will always abhor, conversions on their land. The unique virtue of this Vedantic philosophy is that it values total freedom for the human mind and human intellect. There is no concept or word like “blasphemy” in Hindu or Vedantic philosophy. One religion, regardless of what authority it relies on, presenting itself as superior to the other, or as the “only way” is, according to this philosophy, an insult to the intelligence and reasoning ability of the human beings whose fundamental right needs to be the freedom to think from which derives the freedom of speech.

No one religion has a monopoly on “God’s word.” No one religion needs to have a political empire on this earth and, in addition, no one religion may solely claim the heaven as its fully owned territory reserved only for its believers, if heaven even exists. Such “imperialistic” religious beliefs modeled after the ambitions of the builders of the Roman or Mogul empires and their practices do not belong in the 21st century global affairs and even possibly in the real estate management of the “heaven” or in the practices of the travel agents issuing travel tickets to the paradise. Such beliefs will not lead to the concord and agreement that Abdu’l Baha envisioned. The world will need to necessarily agree that proselytization is an evil practice similar to slavery, colonization, imperialism, child labor, etc., the practices of the prior centuries. The human rights movement of the 21st century will need to acknowledge that each individual has a right to his physical, mental, and spiritual privacy and his psychological space as well as the sanctity of his social relationships that is not to be violated by the proselytizing religious groups.

The “business” of conversions is not entirely motivated by compassion but is self-serving and is rooted in a pathological grandiosity or narcissism of certain groups that have ulterior political motives unlike the imperialistic motives of the empire builders of the past and the practices of colonization of the past, “pre-20th” century period of the history.The efforts at “harvesting of souls,” owning, and maintaining millions of souls in one religious fold by promising and brainwashing gullible men and women of rewards in the so called after-life spring from irrational grandiosity. These smack of vestiges of the abolished evil socio-political practices of slavery, imperialism, and colonialism. All of these are, in the end, disguised manifestations of different kinds of human greed sometimes euphemistically sugarcoated as human compassion, piety, or philanthropy. Such practices are considered “Adharma” meaning “Not Dharma” or in disharmony with the holding principle (Dharma) of the Universe.These anachronistic ideas and undesirable practices inevitably lead also to the mutual fear of proselytizing religions and lead to their paranoia about such empire-building tendencies of each other. Such disguised paranoia could very well lead to another World War just like the paranoid grandiose racial superiority assumed by Hitler's Germany pat least partially contributed to or resulted in the Second World War.

Interfaith conferences interested in world peace need to pronounce proselytization and conversions as undesirable evil practices in this century. This will be a noble goal similar to worldwide disarmament of weapons of mass destruction. It is not enough to apologize for the inquisitions and persecutions undertaken by the aggressive organized religions in the past. Even at present, they need to sincerely put an end to such offensive practices as well as proselytization and conversions. This is increasingly essential in the modern world to maintain harmony with the other religious groups. Nay, it is of utmost importance.The Vedantic Philosophy is also described as “Advaita Philosophy,” meaning philosophy of “non-duality or Unity”. Whether Abdu’l-Baha used the word in that sense or not, he was in spirit very close to what the Hindus believe. “We Are all One;” in Sanskrit, “Ishavasyam idam sarvam.” “Let all attain happiness, let all attain peace, let all experience goodness, let no one suffer pain;” in Sanskrit, “Sarve sukhinah santu, sarve santu niramayah, sarve bhadrani pashyantu, na kashchit duhkham apnuyat.” “Let us live as if the entire family of earthlings is just one family;” in Sanskrit “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.”

If there were any significant unifying thoughts giving a spiritual dignity to human beings just simply as plain human beings, without insisting on imposing any religion on the human being, it was the Vedic Philosophy that gave such dignity to the humans. The Vedantic Sanskrit sentences I just read and translated may be ancient and 8000 years old but the principles, I believe, are similar to what Abdu’l Baha and the Interfaith Council and panel here would want to visualize. These thoughts provide the undercurrent of a deep understanding that would lead to world peace and harmony at least among different religious groups if not among different political and economic systems.The practice of proselytization has no place in the 21st century no matter how much virtue is attached to it in any religion. Such practices are counter to the principle of deep respect for another human being and his/her reasoning ability as well as his/her religious beliefs.

The bonds of unity and accord Abdu’l Baha envisages will need be based on a “supra-religion” ethic like the ancient Hindu principle of “Dharmasahishnuta,” meaning “tolerance and respect for other’s religions.” This principle if accepted could help form an organization similar to the UN for all religions to come together for the common good of humanity. The Hindus in India have provided such platform for Unity of various religio-spiritual pursuits throughout the ages. They have assimilated various synthesizing religions, for example, Sikhism, Deen-E-Hilai, Baha’i, etc. The bonds of love between people of all religions so dear to Abdu’l Baha cannot be established by converting the entire world to one religion. Synthesizing, assimilating, and broadmindedly tolerating diversity of schools of thoughts and religions must be viewed as an effort of the mature and cultured minds. That is the virtue of “Dharmasahishnuta.” The Bahai’s and the Hindus, therefore, could lead the way in forming the “United Religio-spiritual Organization” (URO) to pave the way for World Peace and Harmony.

However, one religion that truly offers a congenial home to all religions without insisting on conversions is indeed a welcome advance over the religious cultures of previous eighteen centuries in the Middle East and Europe. These regions of the world had repeatedly suffered because of the conflicts among the various religious groups. The persecuted like Saint Thomas and the Zoroastrians had to flee to India for a safe haven in the old days. Those persecuted in Europe fled to the New World or to Utah in the last few centuries. Mankind unfortunately does not learn from the lessons of the history.In fact, if I understand correctly, that is where the Baha’i Faith is demonstrating its great magnanimity. A magnificent Baha’i temple is built in New Delhi in India. Learning from the history, it is offering a common umbrella to all the religions of the world to unite across the national boundaries.

The religions need refuse to be the “powers” as well as the tools of the “powers.” All religions must refrain from becoming enmeshed in the power-plays of nation states and refuse to be used as their tools. All religions must separate themselves from the nation-states and refrain from imperialistic ambitions. This is the obverse of secularism to be espoused as a supreme value by all religions to mirror image secularism in their own practices. May be that was what was meant by “Give unto Cesar’s what is Cesar’s.” Religions need to learn not to interfere in the matters of the State as much as the State needs to keep its hands off of the matters of religion so long as all activities are ethical, legal, and not anti-national.

Mahatma Gandhi demonstrated clearly that “Hinsa” or Violence could be perpetrated through physical force or the force of unjust laws affecting different jurisdictions including the international domains. As Freud said in his closing comments, it is the culture and education of the human beings that will offer, in the end, the antidote for the wars. One may prefer to view this “culture and education” which strongly upholds “Peace” “shanti” and “Ahinsa” as “Dharma.” If there is Dharma within the religions, peace will follow. If there are only “religions” without Dharma (religions following adharma), there will be chaos, disorder, and even wars.What is “Dharma? It is not a religion but a “supra-religious” spiritual concept. That incidentally is a topic for another day.

The get-together of ethical, cultured, and well-educated people in this Assembly reflects presence of Dharma, a deep sense for the supra-religious ethic, the potential for self-transcendence, in this very hall. Dharma helps one to experience a deep, empathic identification with other human beings. It teaches love (agape) and builds ties among all members of the human race. Credit goes to the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Stillwater, Oklahoma. Millions and millions of such meetings need to be held all over the world. They would ultimately lead to that missing concord and agreement among the various conflicting religious groups. Regardless of religious affiliation, it is the cultural development and evolution of the mankind and “Sanskritization” (acculturation in a specific sense) of each individual through proper “sanskaras” for global thinking that will counter man’s propensities for war and destruction. The word “Sanskritization” means a process of making an individual and society “civilized” or “Su-sanskrit.”

I want to thank you for allowing me to participate on this panel and allowing me to express my views. These views are based upon the Hindu “View of Life” representing the majority of Hindus and Hinduism. I appreciate the opportunity to freely express these views in the true spirit of the Constitution of the United States and its first amendment, which also shows a great respect for “Dharmasahishnuta”, freedom of thought and speech. These principles espoused by the U.S. Constitution are indeed not very much different than those revered by the Hindus for many millennia. There could be no higher achievement for any religion than to contribute its best for achieving and maintaining world peace and harmony. Such efforts will be a humble beginning to build the technology for world peace and harmony.

Namaste. “Om Shanti, shanti, shantih,” meaning in English, “Universal Peace, Peace, Peace.”

Acknowledgment: The author acknowledges the kind editorial assistance provided by the Vedic scholar, Dr. Pramod Pathak, Ph.D., of Houston, Texas.

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