Friday, October 30, 2009


by Bill Warner (Sept. 2007)

Courtesy: CSPI

Since September 11 we have asked the question: "What is the real Islam?" The answers from Muslims and Westerners are contradictory and make us confused.

There is one way to gain clarity and surety about Islam—our best rational approach is the scientific method.

Let us start with the fact that the complete doctrine of Islam is found in three texts: Koran, the Sira (Mohammed’s biography) and Hadith (stories and anecdotes about Mohammed)—the Islamic Trilogy.

The Koran is confusing as it is arranged, but it can be made straightforward by scientific analysis.

The first step is to put the verses in the right time order, collect and categorize all of the similar stories. It is at this point that the missing parts, or holes, in the document become apparent. The life of Mohammed fills in and explains all the gaps and all the confusion falls away. Mohammed is the key to the Koran and Islam.

The doctrine breaks down in time into Mohammed in Mecca (the early part) and Mohammed in Medina (the later part). In essence, there are two Korans, one written in Mecca and the second Koran written in Medina .

The two Korans are the first grand division of Islamic doctrine.

What is intriguing is that the two Korans include contradictions. "You have your religion and I have mine" 109:1 is a far cry from "I shall cast terror in the hearts of the kafirs. Strike off their heads…" 8:12. The Koran gives a way to solve these contradictions—the later verse is "better" than the earlier verse. But the earlier verse is still true. All the verses from the Koran are true because they are the words of Allah.

The Koran defines an Islamic logic that is dualistic. Two things which contradict each other can both be true. In a unitary, scientific logic, if two things contradict each other, then at least one of them is false. Not so in dualistic logic. [THE KEY INSIGHT! NSR]

All of the doctrine refers to two classes of people—Muslims and non-Muslims, kafirs. The doctrine that applies to kafirs is political in nature and is rarely neutral or positive. The part of the doctrine that applies to Muslims is cultural, legal, and religious.

The second grand division of Islamic doctrine is into religious Islam and political Islam.

It is surprising how much of the doctrine is political. Approximately 67% of the Meccan Koran and 51% of the Medinan Koran is political. About 75% of the Sira is about what was done to the kafir. Roughly 20% of the Hadith is about jihad, a political act.

Even the concept of Hell is political, not religious. There are 146 parts of the Koran that refer to Hell. Only 4% of the people in Islamic Hell are there for moral reasons, such as murder, theft or greed. In 96% of the cases the person is in Hell because they did not agree with Mohammed. This is a political charge. In short, Islamic Hell is primarily a political prison.

In summary, Islam is an extremely political doctrine. It has to be. Mohammed preached the religion of Islam for 13 years and garnered 150 followers. Then in Medina , he turned to politics and jihad and became the first ruler of all Arabia . When he died, he did not have a single enemy left to speak or act against him, a very political result.

The Koran says in 14 verses that a Muslim is not and cannot be the friend of the kafir. This is pure dualism. The dualism of the Koran has no universal statements about humanity. The entire world is divided between Islam and the kafirs. The only statement about humanity as a whole is that all humanity must submit to Islam.

Ethics are the membrane between religion and politics. Two sets of ethics are laid out in the Trilogy. One set is for Muslims and the other set is for the kafirs. Examples: a Muslim should not steal from another Muslim, a Muslim should not kill another Muslim, a Muslim should not cheat a Muslim.

The kafir can be treated in one of two ways. They can be treated well or they can be robbed, killed, or cheated if it advances Islam. On more than one occasion Mohammed said to deceive the kafir. Jihad as a political method killed, robbed and enslaved the kafirs. This is a dualistic ethical system. Islamic dualism is hidden by religion. The "good" verses of the Meccan Koran cover the verses of jihad in the Medinan Koran. Thus religious Islam shields political Islam from examination. [Sic: The same holds to a degree with Gandhi: his 'saintliness' shielded his politics. NSR]

Scientific analysis shows us that there is a political Islam as well as a religious Islam. To argue about religion is fruitless, but we can talk about politics. We need to discuss political Islam, a system of ethical and political dualism.

Bill Warner is the director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam (CSPI)



Courtesy: CSPI Center for the Study of Political Islam

What’s going on here?
• Muslim hijackers fly airplanes into the World Trade Center, killing themselves and thousands of New Yorkers

• A Danish cartoon showing the prophet Mohammed with a bomb-shaped turban sparks deadly riots throughout the world

• No daily newspaper is complete without new reports of Islamic violence or terrorist plots

• Islamic influence and recognition are quickly spreading through the U.S., Europe and the rest of the world

• Our security and way of life seem increasingly threatened

What’s going on here?
It’s the most pressing, vital question of our time. Answering it is crucial to our understanding of the world in which we live, and in defending and protecting our way of life.

Up until now, the answers have been unsatisfactory. We can’t understand Islamic doctrine without understanding its sacred foundations -- the three texts that inform and direct virtually every thought and act in the Muslim world.

Through a new, simpler and more complete system, the Center for the Study of Political Islam offers these sacred texts to the general reader. You want answers. You want understanding. Here they are.

What’s going on here? Find out

The CSPI Method:

All of Islam’s political doctrine is found in three sacred texts, the Trilogy:
• The Koran -- the words of the Islamic god Allah, as reported by Mohammed
• The Sira -- the life of Mohammed
• The Hadith -- the traditions of Mohammed, governing every aspect of daily life, great and small

By seeing through the eyes of Mohammed, your view of Islam will be transformed:

• Media accounts of Islam will be seen in a new light
• The history of Islam will make sense
• The very words you use to discuss Islam will be new and more accurate
• You will become your own expert, able to discuss political Islam with anyone

For the first time all of these books are easily understood
The reading level is that of a weekly news magazine. If there is a technical word, it is defined.

Each paragraph is referenced to the source text. You see exactly what Mohammed did and said, and if you desire corroboration or more information, you can easily look it up.

Islam can only be truly known by understanding all three texts, which for the general reader has not been previously possible.

Why these books are so unique
Up to now, the knowledge of the Trilogy has been available only to a few scholars and Islamic imams, in a form virtually impossible for the general public to access. Scholars at CSPI have made these texts understandable for the first time.

Now you can learn about political Islam from the only source that counts -- Mohammed himself.

CSPI Publications:


The Primary Doctrine Texts
Detailed and complete knowledge-the Trilogy.

Mohammed's life-the Sira
Mohammed and the Unbelievers

The Traditions of Mohammed-the Hadith
The Political Traditions of Mohammed

The Koran
A Simple Koran: Readable and Understandable

An Abridged Koran

Special Interest Books
The Submission of Women and Slaves

Six Views of Islam Books
Mohammed, Allah, and the Christians

Mohammed, Allah and the Jews

Mohammed, Allah, and Hinduism

Mohammed, Allah, and the Intellectuals

Military, law enforcement and intelligence
Mohammed, Allah, and the Mind of War

Political Islam
Mohammed, Allah, and Politics


Primary Doctrine Books

Mohammed & The Unbelievers

The Political Traditions of Mohammed

A Simple Koran

An Abridged Koran

Self-Study Course

A Self-Study Course on Political Islam

Thirteen Lessons on Political Islam

Thirteen Talks on Political Islam

Special Interest Books

The Submission of Women and Slaves

Six Views of Islam

Mohammed, Allah, and the Christians

Mohammed, Allah and the Jews

Mohammed, Allah, and Hinduism

Mohammed, Allah, and the Intellectuals

Mohammed, Allah, and the Mind of War

Mohammed, Allah and Politics

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Thursday, October 29, 2009


For freedom and free speech, and freedom from Islam and what is worse, cultural relativism.

Geert Wilders

October 29, 2009

Quoted verbatim from "Bharata Bharati" web site

Posted by Namaachi in arrogance of power, cultural relativism, culture, ethnographic mapping, ethnography, free speech, indian history, islam, islamic history, jihad, koran, legitimizing power, nehruism, relativism, relativist, secularism, shariah.

Tags: secularism-nehruism, theology, terrorism, human rights, politics, islam, free speech, muslim, sharia, kafir, koran, obama, geert wilders, jihad, jihadi, muhammad, poet, holland, U.N. human rights council, shariah, shariah courts, religious politics, danish cartoons
“Criticism of religion is the very measure of the guarantee of free speech – the literal sacred institution of society”. – Jonathon Turley

“We have to elect brave leaders. Real leaders. We enjoy the privilege of living in a democracy. Let us use that privilege by replacing weak leaders with heroes. Let us have fewer Neville Chamberlains and more Winston Churchills! In short, ladies and gentlemen, my main message of today is that we have to start fighting back. No defence, but offence. We have to fight back and demonstrate that millions of people are sick and tired of losing, of giving in, of appeasing. We must make clear that millions of freedom loving people are saying: enough is enough.” – Geert Wilders

Geert Wilder’s speech at Columbia University in New York City. Wilders may be the next prime minister of Holland.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a privilege and a great honour for me to speak at this fine academic institution, which gave the world so many Nobel Prize winners. As a Dutchman, I am proud that your first Nobel laureate, in 1906, was of Dutch descent: The youngest President of the United States: Theodore Roosevelt.

I thank Columbia University for inviting me, and I also thank the US border police for allowing me to enter this great country of democracy, liberty and free speech. Ladies and gentlemen, today, the dearest of our many liberties is under attack all throughout Europe. Free speech is no longer a given. What we once considered a natural element of our existence, our birth right, is now something we once again have to fight for.

I would not qualify myself as a free man. Five years ago I lost my personal freedom. Since then I am under 24-hour police protection. In addition some people tried to rob my freedom of speech: A Dutch Islamic organization tried to stop the appearance of my documentary ‘Fitna’. Because of ‘Fitna’ the most radical Dutch imam claimed 55000 Euros in compensation for his hurt feelings. The State of Jordan is possibly going to issue a request for my extradition, to stand trial in Amman. I have been charged in France.

In my own country, the Netherlands, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal overruled the decision of the Dutch public prosecutor not to prosecute me. So, now I have to stand trial in my own country, next January.

But, it is not about me. I am not the only European who fights for freedom of speech, there are so many more: The Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard made a Muhammad-cartoon and all of a sudden we were in the middle of the so called ‘Danish cartoon crisis’. The Italian author Oriana Fallaci had to live in fear of extradition to Switzerland because of her book "The Rage and the Pride." An Austrian politician, Susanne Winter, was sentenced to a suspended prison sentence because she spoke bluntly about the prophet Muhammad. The Dutch cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot was arrested by 10 police men because of his drawings. And the Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh was brutally murdered in the streets of Amsterdam by a radical Muslim.

Last February, I was invited by two brave members of the British House of Lords – Lord Malcom Pearson and Baroness Caroline Cox – to show ‘Fitna’ in the British Parliament. But upon my arrival at Heathrow airport I was denied entry into the UK, on grounds that I would threaten community harmony and therefore public security.

Of course, that was a ridiculous and politically motivated claim by the UK government. I was allowed to show “Fitna” and deliver a speech in the US Senate, in New York, in Florida, in California, in Copenhagen, in Rome, in Jerusalem and next month in the Senate of the Czech Republic. But the British government refused my entrance into the UK, a fellow EU-country. Well, I think it was a splendid American idea, back in the 18th century, to kick the British out.

Last week, my appeal against the refusal by the British government, took place in London; and I won. Freedom finally prevailed! A UK Court ruled that the decision of the British Home Secretary to ban me was unjust, illegal and a violation of freedom of speech. Fortunately the British judges are a lot wiser than the British government. So, last Friday I went to London and met with my friends Lord Pearson and Baroness Cox and we agreed to show “Fitna” in the House of Lords, next March.

But let me tell you what also happened during our press conference. A Muslim mob demonstrated outside, shouting: “Shariah for the Netherlands”, “Enemy of Islam Geert Wilders deserves capital punishment”, “Freedom go to hell” and “Islam will dominate the world”. Welcome to Europe today!

You can see all this for yourself on YouTube. This is exactly what we are fighting against. And it gets even worse. A few days ago British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported that an Islamic group indeed launched a campaign to impose shariah law in Britain, they will meet later this month in London for a procession to demand the full implementation of shariah law.

Before I want to speak about Islam, I first would like to say this: I have nothing against Muslims. There are many moderate Muslims. The majority of Muslims in our Western countries are law abiding people, who want to live a peaceful life. I know that. Therefore, I make a clear distinction between the people and the ideology, between Muslims and Islam.

What is happening in Europe should not come as a surprise. The reality is that where Islam roots, free speech dies. There is not a single Islamic country in the world where people are really totally free to say what they think. Ever since the so called prophet Muhammad ordered his men to kill the poet Asma bint Marwan, the brave woman who warned her people against this murderous cult, radical Muslims think they have a license to kill anyone, who dares to criticize Muhammad’s word or actions. Free speech is Islam’s enemy. Islam is a threat to the Europe of Socrates, Voltaire, and Galileo.

As I said, there are many moderate Muslims. But there is no such thing as a moderate Islam. Islam’s heart lies in the Koran. The Koran is an evil book that calls for violence and murder – Sura 4, Verse 89 and Sura 47, Verse 4 -, terrorism – Sura 8, Verse 60 – and war – Sura 8, Verse 39. The Koran describes Jews as monkeys and pigs – Sura 2, Verse 65 / Sura 5, Verse 60 and Sura 7, Verse 166. It calls non-Muslims liars, miscreants, enemies, ignorant, unclean, wicked, evil, the worst of creatures and the vilest of animals.

The problem is that the provisions in the Koran are not restricted to time or place. Rather, they apply to all Muslims, from all times. Apart from the Koran, there is also the life of Muhammad, who fought in dozens of wars, who spread Islam with the sword, sold imprisoned women and children as slaves, who was in the habit of decapitating Jews and who married and consummated the young girl Aisha before she was ten years of age. The problem is that, to many Muslims, Muhammad is “the perfect man”, whose life is the model to follow. But the facts show that the so-called Prophet was not a perfect man but a murderer and a pedophile. And inspired by him jihadists with the promise of a carnal paradise slaughtered innocent people in Washington, New York, Madrid, London, Amsterdam, Bali and Mumbai.

Ladies and gentlemen, some time ago an interview was held in France with the French Muslim student Mohamed Sabaoui, who said the following, and I quote: “Your laws do not coincide with the Koran, Muslims can only be ruled by shariah law”, and “we will declare the town of Roubaix an independent Muslim enclave and impose shariah law upon all its citizens, and “we will be your Trojan Horse, we will rule, Allah Akbar”. End of quote.

Make no mistake: Islam has always attempted to conquer Europe. Spain fell in the 8th century. Constantinople fell in the 15th century. Vienna and Poland were threatened, and now, in the 21st century, Islam is trying again. This time not with military armies, but through migration and demography.

For the first time in world history there are dozens of millions of Muslims living outside the Dar al-Islam, the Islamic world. Europe now has more than 50 million Muslims. It is expected that one fifth of the population of the European Union will be Muslim within 40 years.

In 1974 no one took the Algerian President Boum├ędienne all too serious when he said to the UN general assembly: “One day millions of men will leave the southern hemisphere of this planet to burst into the northern one. But not as friends. Because they will burst in to conquer, and they will conquer by populating it with their children. Victory will come to us from the wombs of our women”. End of quote.

And Libyan dictator Gaddafi said: “There are tens of millions of Muslims in the European continent and the number is on the increase. This is the clear indication that the European continent will be converted to Islam. Europe will one day be a Muslim continent”. End of quote.

Indeed Gaddafi is telling the truth here, through the Islamic concept of migration – called Al Hijra – Europe is in the process of becoming Eurabia. In Europe churches are emptying out, whereas mosques are shooting up like mushrooms. Muhammad is the most popular name among boys in many European cities. Medieval phenomena as burkas, honor killings and female genital mutilation are becoming more and more prevalent. In the UK, by now 85 shariah law courts are active, the same country where Islamic organizations asked to stop the commemoration of the Holocaust, and a minister is pleading to change the Red Cross logo, because it might offend Muslims. In Austria, history teachers avoid teaching on the Austrian wars against the Islamic invaders. In France school teachers are advised to avoid authors deemed offensive to Muslims, including Voltaire. In Norway, children are made to sing Islamic songs as “Allah Akbar” and “Little Muslim, do you pray?” In Belgium, a man almost died after being beaten up by Muslims, because he was drinking during the Ramadan. Jews are fleeing France in record numbers, on the run for the worst wave of anti-Semitism since World War II. The rise of Islam also means the rise of shariah law in our judicial systems. In Europe we have it all: Shariah testaments, shariah mortgages, shariah schools, shariah banks, as I said in the UK there are even 85 shariah courts. Islam regards shariah law to be above all man-made laws, including our constitutions. As you know, shariah law covers all areas of life, from religion, hygiene and dietary laws, to dress codes, family and social life and from finance and politics to the unity of Islam with the state. Shariah law does not recognize free speech and freedom of religion.

According to shariah law, killing apostates is a “virtue”, but the consumption of alcohol is a crime. The introduction of shariah law elements in our societies creates a system of legal apartheid. Shariah law systematically discriminates groups of people. I never understood why the leftist and liberal politicians are ignoring all this. Historically they were the ones fighting for the rights of women, gays, non-believers and others. All groups that would be the first to pay a high price if and when Islamic values would become dominant. Their silence is frightening. Now, I am fighting their fight. I fight to protect those groups. I fight against the Islamization of our societies and therefore for the protection of the rights of women, homosexuals, Christians, Jews, apostates, non-believers and kafirs: the non-Muslims. I want to protect these victims for shariah law. And we all should. If we ignore the problem it will not go away, if we don’t act now, shariah will be implemented more and more, slowly but gradually and that would mean the end of freedom of speech and democracy in Europe. This is what is at stake, nothing less than our freedom and democracy.

And please make no mistake: Islam is also coming for America. Last July, during a conference in Chicago, organised by Hizb-Ut-Tahrir, the international movement aiming to create an Islamic state under shariah law across the world, the American imam Jaleel Abdul Adil promised to fight “until Islam becomes victorious or we die in the attempt”. When asked: “Would you get rid of the United States Constitution for shariah?” he answered: “Yes, The Constitution would be gone”.

America is facing a “stealth jihad”, the Islamic’ attempt to introduce Shariah law bit by bit. Allow me to give you a few examples of Islamization in the United States: Muslim taxi drivers at Minneapolis airport refused over 5,000 passengers because they were carrying alcohol; Muslim students are demanding separate campus housing; Muslim women are demanding separate hours in gyms and swimming pools; schools are banning Halloween and Christmas celebrations – indeed, schools are taking pork off their cafeteria menus to avoid offending Muslim students. Ladies and gentlemen, be aware that this is only the beginning. If things continue like this, you will have the same problems as we are currently faced with in Europe.

It is my opinion that Islam is more an ideology than a religion. To be precise, Islam is a political, totalitarian ideology, with worldwide aspirations, just like communism and fascism, because like those ideologies Islam does not intend to assimilate in our societies but wants to dominate and submit us all. In Islam there is no room for anything but Islam. I think the great Winston Churchill was fully right when he, in his book The Second World War, called Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf the new Koran of faith and war.

But, ladies and gentlemen, Islam is not the only problem. There is a second problem, a problem that is called cultural relativism. Our entire Western elite, whether they are politicians, journalists or judges, has lost its way. Their sense of reality has vanished. Those cultural relativists believe that all cultures are equal. They think that the Islamic culture is equal to our culture which is based on Christianity, Judaism and Humanism. Our culture adheres to freedom, human rights and the equality between men and women and not to violence and hatred.

To the cultural relativists, I proudly say: Our Western culture is far better than the Islamic culture. And we should be proud of that and defend it. Unlike most countries where the Islamic culture is dominant, we have a rule of law, a democracy, a functioning parliament, freedom of speech and a constitution that protects us against the government.

It is clear that not everyone sees the danger. I quote a prominent American, who recently won a Nobel Prize: “Throughout history, Islam had demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance”, and “Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism, it is an important part of promoting peace”, and “We celebrate a great religion, and its commitment to justice and progress”. End of quote. I strongly have to disagree with this assessment. Islam has nothing in common with tolerance or peace or justice!

President Obama also celebrated the fact that when the first Muslim-American was elected to Congress, he took the oath using the same Koran that one of the Founding Fathers – Thomas Jefferson – kept in his personal library. It is interesting to know that Thomas Jefferson in 1801 was about to wage war against the Islamic ‘Barbary’ states of Northern Africa to stop the pillaging of ships and enslavement of more than a million Christians.

The ambassador of these Muslim nations told Thomas Jefferson and John Adams that Muslims find the justification for their slaughter and enslavement of kafir in the Koran. Now I ask you, dear friends, could it be that Thomas Jefferson did not keep a copy of the Koran because he admired Islam but because he wanted to understand the ruthless nature of his enemies?

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe in democracy, I believe in the American people and the choices it makes, and normally, as a politician from Holland, I would never judge your President. But these remarks of President Obama, do not only affect America, but Europe too. I am afraid that President Obama’s remarks could be a turning point in history. I fear that serious geo political changes are looming, changes that will alter our foreign policies, our view on free speech, changes that will alter the West, our way of life, and for the worse and not for the better.

In a matter of fact, it is already happening right now. Recently the United States joined Egypt in sponsoring an anti-free speech resolution in the UN Human Rights Council. You know that council that itself is an insult to human rights since the worst human rights offenders of the world like Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan are its members. The Obama administration and Europe supported a resolution to recognize exceptions to free speech to any negative religious stereotyping. This appeasement of the non-free Arab world is the beginning of the end. An erosion of free speech and your own First Amendment. This UN resolution is an absolute disgrace.

As Professor Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University yesterday so rightfully stated in the newspaper USA Today, and I quote: “Criticism of religion is the very measure of the guarantee of free speech – the literal sacred institution of society”. End of quote. That the weak leaders of my own continent Europe supported such a terrible resolution does not come as a surprise to me. But it’s a sad thing that for the first time in history, the American administration has taken a leading role against our right to free speech.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is one Western country that has been forced to fight the forces of jihad for its values since the very first day of its existence: Israel, the canary in the coal mine. Let me say a few words about that wonderful country. I had the privilege of living in Israel. However, in Europe being pro-Israel makes you an endangered species. Israel is a beacon of light in an area – the Middle East – that is pitch black everywhere else. Israel is a Western democracy, while Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt are medieval dictatorships.

The so-called “Middle East conflict” is not about land at all. It is a conflict about ideologies; a battle between Islam and freedom. It is not about some land in Gaza or in Judea and Samaria. It is about Jihad. To Islam the whole of Israel is occupied territory. They see Tel Aviv and Haifa as settlements too.

I am very much in favor of a two-state solution. I mean Churchill’s 1921 two-state solution, when Palestine was partitioned in a Jewish and an Arab part. Arab Palestine is now called Jordan, and therefore, there is already a Palestinian state. With eighty percent of the population having roots on the other side of the Jordan, there is no doubt Jordan is truly the state of Palestine.

Islam forces Israel to fight, and Israel is not just fighting for itself. Israel is fighting for all of us, for the entire West. Just like those brave American soldiers who landed in Sicily in 1943 and stormed the Normandy beaches in 1944, young Israeli men and women are fighting for our freedom, our civilization.

Ladies and gentlemen, Europe ought to fully back Israel to the hilt in its relentless fight against those that threaten it, whether it is Hezbollah, Hamas or a nuclear Iran. Also, because of its history, Europe certainly has the moral obligation to prevent at all cost another Holocaust against the Jewish people. But most important of all: Israel is fighting the jihad that is meant for all of us. So we all should defend Israel. We all are Israel.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is good news also! Europe might slowly be awakening. More and more people are fed up with cultural relativism and politicians ignoring the negative effects of mass-immigration and the creeping Islamization of Europe. During the European elections last June the worst cultural relativists, the socialists, lost nearly everywhere: In the Netherlands, in Belgium, in Germany, in Austria, in France, in Spain, in Italy and, perhaps best of all, in the UK.

But, my party, the Dutch Freedom Party was the winner in the recent elections for the European Parliament. Right now, in the polls, we even are number 1. If there would be elections in the Netherlands tomorrow, whether you like it or not, I could very well become the next Prime Minister of The Netherlands.

Ladies and gentlemen, time is running out, we need to act. As I already said, we need less Islam, and more freedom. We have to protect our most important right, our right to free speech. We have to protect our liberties. That is why I propose the following measures, measures to preserve our freedom:

First: We have to end all forms of cultural relativism. For this purpose we need an amendment to our Western constitutions stating that our cultural foundation is the Judeo Christian Humanistic culture, and not Islam.

Second: We have to stop the mass immigration from Muslim countries. Because more Islam means less freedom.

Third: I have a clear message to all Muslims in our societies: If you subscribe to our laws, our values and our constitutions you are very welcome to stay and we will help you to assimilate.

But, if you cross the red line and commit violent crimes or insist on the implementation of shariah law and start practicing jihad, you are not welcome anymore, then we will expel you if possible the same day.

Fourth: We have to strengthen our laws regarding freedom of speech. In Europe we urgently need some kind of American First Amendment. And, we have to resist UN-resolutions that intend to weaken our right of free speech in another attempt to appease the Islamic world.

Fifth: last but not least. We have to elect brave leaders. Real leaders. We enjoy the privilege of living in a democracy. Let us use that privilege by replacing weak leaders with heroes. Let us have fewer Neville Chamberlains and more Winston Churchills! In short, ladies and gentlemen, my main message of today is that we have to start fighting back. No defence, but offence. We have to fight back and demonstrate that millions of people are sick and tired of losing, of giving in, of appeasing. We must make clear that millions of freedom loving people are saying: enough is enough.

Ladies and gentlemen, I leave you with this: I will never give in nor give up. And we should never surrender nor compromise about freedom, the most important right we still have in our free western societies. We have to win, and I am confident: we will win! Thank you very much.

Editor's comment: Also see "Terrorism: An Indian Perspective" on this web site.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Oh, But You Do Get It Wrong!


Aditi Banerjee

Wendy Doniger (1) falsely and unfairly brands all of her critics as right-wing Hindutva fundamentalists, and (2) grossly mischaracterizes (and misquotes) the text of the Valmiki Ramayana

Wendy Doniger (Mircea Eliade Distinguished Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School and in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago) was recently interviewed in Outlook with reference to her new book, The Hindus: An Alternative History. In the interview, she (1) falsely and unfairly brands all of her critics as right-wing Hindutva fundamentalists, and
(2) grossly mischaracterizes (and misquotes) the text of the Valmiki Ramayana, calling into question her “alternative” version not just of the Ramayana, but also of Hinduism and Hindu history as a whole.

Doniger’s prominence and clout as a “definitive” authority in the discourse on Indian traditions and history give her views considerable significance. For, it is Doniger’s (and her colleagues’) versions of Hinduism and Hindu history (which are often at serious variance with traditional Hinduism as practised and understood by Hindus themselves) that form the curriculum of university courses, line the bookshelves of the “Hinduism” sections of bookstores (physical and virtual), and are given play in the Western and Indian mainstream press.

Accordingly, this latest “alternative” history could easily become known as the “canonical” history of Hinduism, because of the imbalance of power between the Western academy and the traditional institutions for learning about Hinduism (which have been marginalized and largely rendered inaccessible under British colonialism.)

Defamation of Critics

The introduction to the interview begins with a misleading quote:

“[Doniger] has continued to infuriate the Hindutva brigade with her unorthodox views on Hinduism and its sacred texts, earning for herself the epithet: “crude, lewd and very rude in the hallowed portals of Sanskrit academics.””

The quote attributed to the “Hindutva brigade” is actually from the BBC web site:

Professor Wendy Doniger is known for being rude, crude and very lewd in the hallowed portals of Sanskrit Academics. All her special works have revolved around the subject of sex in Sanskrit texts ranging from Siva: The Erotic Ascetic to Tales of Sex and Violence...Never one to shy away from sex, she threw herself into the job of translating the [Kama Sutra] ... She was particularly interested by the parts that justify adultery and the list of ways to get rid of a man ... When she was translating it (over a period of a few years and numerous Sanskrit classes), she frequently found herself having to take cold showers. [1]

The false attribution of this quote to the “Hindutva brigade” sets the tone for the rest of the interview—heaping blame on a nebulous, undefined, straw man “Hindutva Internet Brigade” for the whole continuum of criticism of Doniger’s work—criticism that has come mostly from moderate and liberal Hindus, secularists, non-Hindu scholars and even one prominent Harvard Indologist who is not known for being friendly towards Hindus. Rather than confront the actual criticisms, Doniger pretends that her only critics are Hindu extremists, and by rebuking this “enemy” she tries to deflect any criticism of her work.

Just as some politicians resort to picking on their weakest critic to discredit all of their critics, Doniger picks one stray comment on the Amazon web site to characterize all of her critics—when asked to describe the Hindu-American response to her book, Doniger exclaims, “My favourite one on Amazon accuses me of being a Christian fundamentalist and my book a defence of Christianity against Hinduism. And of course, I’m not a Christian, I’m a Jew!”

Doniger ignores the prolific response to her work by the American Hindu community, including dozens of published articles, countless public conferences, repeated calls for debate and dialogue between the academy and the Hindu-American community, and a recently published book analysing the representation of Hinduism in American universities. It is totally irresponsible for such a prominent professor, whose career is built on writing about Hinduism, to stereotype and vilify the entire Hindu-American community on the basis of the actions of a few.

Doniger’s refusal to address her critics only worsens as the interview proceeds. When asked why Hindus object to her writings, she flippantly replies:

You’ll have to ask them why. It doesn’t seem to me to have much to do with the book. They don’t say, “Look here, you said this on page 200, and that’s a terrible thing to say.” Instead, they say things not related to the book: you hate Hindus, you are sex-obsessed, you don’t know anything about the Hindus, you got it all wrong.

This is a bald lie. The first Part of the book, Invading the Sacred, documents and refutes dozens of statements by Doniger, as illustrated by the following:

•“Holi, the spring carnival, when members of all castes mingle and let down their hair, sprinkling one another with cascades of red powder and liquid, symbolic of the blood that was probably used in past centuries.” (from Doniger’s article about Hinduism in the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopaedia—Microsoft Encarta subsequently removed her entry in 2004; while we do not know this for a fact, one can reasonably conclude that Microsoft Encarta came to an internal conclusion about Doniger’s lack of scholarship and objectivity).
•From a newspaper article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, dated November 19, 2000, entitled "Big-screen caddy is Hindu hero in disguise" written by David O'Reilly, Inquirer Staff Writer:
"Myth scholar Wendy Doniger of the University of Chicago was on hand earlier this month to lecture on the Gita. “The Bhagavad Gita is not as nice a book as some Americans think,” she said, in a lecture titled “The Complicity of God in the Destruction of the Human Race.” “Throughout the Mahabharata, the enormous Hindu epic of which the Gita is a small part, Krishna goads human beings into all sorts of murderous and self-destructive behaviors such as war in order to relieve "mother Earth" of its burdensome human population and the many demons disguised as humans … The Gita is a dishonest book; it justifies war,” Doniger told the audience of about 150” (emphasis added).

Doniger may now claim that she was misquoted, but she has failed to obtain a retraction from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

•Prof. Michael Witzel, Wales Professor of Sanskrit in the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Harvard University posted the following remarks about Doniger's translations to a mailing list and called her translations "UNREALIABLE" [sic] and "idiosyncratic:"
•Doniger's “rendering of even the first two paadas [of the Rg Veda] is more of a paraphrase than a translation;”
•“In this hymn (of 18 stanzas) alone I have counted 43 instances which are wrong or where others would easily disagree.”
•“Note that all 3 translations are Re-translations. Mistakes of the type mentioned above could easily have been avoided if the work of our 19th century predecessors (and contemporaries!) had been consulted more carefully … Last point: Looking at the various new translations that have appeared in the past decade or so: Why always to Re-translate something done 'several' times over already --- and why not to take up one of the zillion Un-translated Skt. texts?” [2]
Is that specific enough?

Nor can Doniger claim ignorance of these examples, having been made aware of them through emails, various conferences, journals and mailing lists by many people, including university professors, fellow scholars, and students.

As a scapegoat tactic to discredit her critics, Doniger plays both the sex card and the race card, without offering any evidence for being discriminated against on the grounds of her gender or her race:

I think I have a double disadvantage among the Hindutva types. One is that I’m not a Hindu and the other is that I am not a male. I suppose the third is that I’m not a Brahmin, but I don’t even get there because I’m not a Hindu! I think it’s considered unseemly in the conservative Hindu view for a woman to talk about sex—that’s something men talk about among themselves (emphasis added).

But her critics have been concerned not with her gender or race but only with the content of her scholarship. Race and sex bias are the “cards” Doniger uses to distract readers who are unfamiliar with the details of the substance of the critiques against her.

Hindu society acknowledges and celebrates any genuine scholars of Hinduism, irrespective of their gender, race or caste. For example, the late Sir John Woodroffe / Arthur Avalon is regarded by even the most traditional and orthodox of Hindu acharyas, including the late Shankaracharya of Sringeri, as one of the great Tantric scholars of modern times—despite his being neither Hindu nor Brahmin-born. In addition, Dr. Klaus Klostermaier, University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Manitoba (Canada), is highly respected in Hindu circles. Linda Johnsen, neither male, Hindu, nor Brahmin-born, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hinduism (2002) among several other books, is also highly regarded for her knowledge about Hinduism.

This respect is not just academic—non-Indian spiritual gurus have been revered by Hindus as well. Daya Mata (Faye Wright), another female, non-Hindu, non-Brahmin (by birth) of the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) was highly regarded by the most traditional and orthodox of Hindu leaders, including (I have been told) the late Shankaracharya of Sringeri, a great scholar and authority on Hinduism. Similarly, Sister Nivedita (Margaret Elizabeth Noble), female, non-Hindu, non Brahmin-born, perhaps the most prominent of Swami Vivekananda’s disciples, has been revered as a true Hindu saint by many orthodox Hindus, including Brahmins; so also has Mother (Mira Alfassa), the Frenchwoman closely associated with (and successor to) Sri Aurobindo. I could go on with a list of lesser known women of foreign birth who are equally acknowledged as true representatives of Hinduism. I have not even touched upon the scores of Indian women who have been revered by Hindus from the Vedic times to the modern day—e.g., Gargi, whose open debate with the great sage Yajnavalkya is prominently featured in the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad.

Moreover, the idea that “it’s considered unseemly in the conservative Hindu view for a woman to talk about sex--that’s something men talk about among themselves” is another blatantly false stereotype by Doniger.

Doniger’s contention that traditional Hindu women are not allowed to talk about sex is directly refuted by the celebrated account of the debate between Ubhaya-Bharati and Adi Shankara, one of the great intellects of the world, sage from the 8th Century CE, and father of Advaita Vedanta as known today. Adi Shankara was challenged to a debate by Mandana Misra, a learned and well-known Purva Mimamsa scholar. They agreed that Mandana’s wife, Ubhaya-Bharati, a renowned scholar in her own right, would be the referee and that the loser of the debate would become the disciple of the winner. After debating for many days, Mandana Misra lost and was about to become the disciple of Adi Shankara. However, Ubhaya-Bharati then challenged Adi Shankara to debate her, on the grounds that since she and her husband were one person upon being married, he would have to defeat both of them in order to win the debate.

Adi Shankara accepted her challenge. The debate went well for Adi Shankara until Ubhaya-Bharati began posing intricate questions on the science of erotics (well-accepted, in the appropriate context, as a topic of sacred discourse and knowledge in Hinduism). If it was “considered unseemly” per traditional Hinduism for women to talk about sex, the official version of the Shankara Digvijaya (accepted as authentic by the Sringeri Shankaracharya Matha) would never have mentioned Ubhaya-Bharati’s questioning of Adi Shankara. (Adi Shankara ended up satisfactorily answering the questions on eroticism, and Ubhaya-Bharati accepted her defeat.)

There is also the celebrated account given in the Yoga Vasistha of Queen Chudalai, an advanced yogini, who initiates her husband, King Sikhidvaja, as her disciple; she tests his renunciation repeatedly and instructs him on the proper attitude towards sexual union and sensual pleasure. Similarly, the famous Tripura Rahasya narrates Princess Hemalata’s initiation of her husband, Prince Hemachuda, into the secrets of samadhi and moksha. Finally, the Mahabharata recounts the famous interaction between Arjuna and Urvashi—when Arjuna rejected Urvashi’s frank invitation for sexual union, she pronounced the following curse: “Since thou disregardest a woman come to thy mansion … of her own motion—a woman, besides, who is pierced by the shafts of Kama, therefore, O Partha, thou shalt have to pass thy time among females … destitute of manhood and scorned as a eunuch."

As these examples show, not only were women allowed to discuss sex, they had the authority and scriptural and social standing to challenge and teach the greatest of sages and the most royal of men with respect to all subject matters, including sex and eroticism.

Of course, it is unfortunate that the puritanical mores of Victorian British rule have corrupted modern Hindu society, restricting the open acceptance of sex and sexuality. However, the holistic acceptance of sex and sexuality (without gender or orientation bias) inherent to Hinduism is still vibrant and alive in traditional Hinduism.

In a personal context, I can say unequivocally that despite my birth and upbringing as an American and my liberal schooling in Boston and at Yale Law School, my most honest and open discussions of sex have been with the most orthodox and “traditional” of Hindu swamis and acharyas. They helped me unlearn the associative guilt and sexual repression of Western mores. They also taught me that sexual desire is, in the appropriate context, an integral part of life and that there is nothing sinful or shameful about it, and that heightened sexual energies are not antithetical to, but can be an integral part of, spiritual development for people qualified (adhikaris) for those types of sadhana or spiritual practice.

In short, playing this race and sex card may be an attempt by Doniger to elicit sympathy—but this cannot substitute for sound scholarship. In the traditions of true academic scholarship, Doniger should let her work stand or fall on its own merits and not hide behind false victimhood.

Misrepresentations of Valmiki Ramayana

Apart from unfairly stereotyping and insulting her critics, most of the rest of the interview concerns Doniger’s take on the Valmiki Ramayana.

The “Interpolation” of Ravana’s Curse

According to Doniger:

Things were added on in Ramayana’s first and seventh book later on. For instance, in the seventh book we have a story long before the story of Rama and Sita about how Ravana raped one of the great apsaras, Rambha ... [Her husband] curses Ravana that if he ever touches a woman against her will, his head will shatter into a thousand pieces. So that story is then told in the Ramayana to explain why Ravana didn’t force himself on Sita despite keeping her in his house all those years. In the earlier Ramayana, there’s nothing about this ... This is a later idea that creeps in.”

It is incorrect for Doniger to say that the curse upon Ravana was a “later idea that [crept in]” to explain Ravana’s unwillingness to rape Sita. The relevant incident is found in Book 6 (Yuddha Kanda), almost universally recognized as part of the original Valmiki Ramayana. (It is the first part of Book 1 (Bala Kanda) and all of Book 7 (Uttara Kanda) that are, debatably, later interpolations.)

The account is given by Ravana in Sarga (Canto) 13 of Book 6 (Yuddha Kanda):

Once I beheld (a celestial nymph) Punjikasthala (by name) ... She was stripped of her garment and ravished by me. She then reached the abode of Brahma ... Highly enraged, the creator forthwith addressed the following words to me: “If you (happen to) violate any other woman hence forward, your head will be forthwith split into a hundred pieces; there is no doubt about it.” Hence, afraid (as I am) of his curse, I do not violently put Sita, a princess of the Videha territory, on my charming bed by force. [3]

There is an account of Ravana’s rape of Rambha in Book 7 (Uttara Kanda)—but it is the incident recounted in Book 6 (accepted as part of the original Valmiki Ramayana) that is explicitly offered as the reason why Ravana did not rape Sita. The effect of the rape of Rambha is more generic: “[Ravana] felt inclined no more to copulate with women who were unwilling to approach him." [4]

This is not mere nitpicking—the citation of the rape of Punjikasthala in Book 6 discredits Doniger’s contention that the curse on Ravana was a later interpolation interjected to conveniently explain why Ravana never raped Sita.

Rama as a “Sex-Addict”

According to Doniger, the concept of a “sex-addict” is introduced into the Valmiki Ramayana by Lakshmana calling Dasaratha kama-sakta, which she defines as “hopelessly attached to lust.”

It is not clear where Doniger picks up the term ‘kama-sakta’—the term does not appear upon a search of the text of the Valmiki Ramayana as given in the Titus online database, which is based on the following version of the text: G.H. Bhatt e.a., The Valmiki Ramayana, (Baroda 1960-1975), prepared by Muneo Tokunaga, March 12, 1993 (adaptations by John D. Smith, Cambridge, 1995.)

Further, neither the term nor its variants appear in the most logical place where Lakshmana would have used the words to describe Dasaratha, the passage in Book 2 (Ayodhya Kanda) when Lakshmana disparages the character of Dasaratha for banishing Rama. The relevant phrases that Lakshmana uses here are the following: nripah vipariitasheha (king with perverted mind), pradharshhitaH vishhayaiH (who is outraged by sensual enjoyments) and samanimadhaH (who is possessed of passion). [5] None of these terms translates even remotely as “sex addict / addiction”. Addiction is something more than just being overcome by lust: addiction is a “compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance…characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal." [6]

However, for the sake of argument, I will give the benefit of the doubt to Doniger and assume that the term kama-sakta has been used by Lakshmana to describe Dasaratha in the Valmiki-Ramayana. That in and of itself does not imply that Dasaratha was “hopelessly addicted to lust.” Kama-sakta simply means an attachment (sakta) to desire (kama). Kama does not itself necessarily refer to sexual desire, or even erotic or romantic desire. Dasaratha’s reluctance to allow Rama to serve as guard over Vishwamitra’s yajna, for example, or Lakshmana’s unwillingness to be parted from Rama, could equally be characterized as kama-sakta. To assume it to mean “attachment to lust” is another in a pattern of Doniger’s ex-cathedra translations in variance with traditional Sanskrit nirukta (etymology) for which she has been repudiated before.

It has been brought to my attention that, subsequent to the original interview, as published in print and on this website, Doniger’s statements were corrected to carry the following version of Doniger’s quote on October 20: “Lakshman is the one who actually says it. He says the king is hopelessly attached to sensual objects. But Rama himself says (at 2.47.8) that the king is kama-atma, entirely consumed by kama.” The deletion of the term kama-sakta and the addition of the new reference is not explained, other than as a "typo".

To offer Doniger leeway that she almost never offers her critics, I will accept the “corrected” statement—but her argument still fails. The relevant reference—found in Sarga 53 of the Gita Press, Gorakhpur version and in Sarga 47 of the Titus database version (mentioned above)—is part of a scene where Rama reminisces about his father to Lakshmana during the first night of his banishment from Ayodhya. Here is the exact reference:

anaathaH caiva vRiddhaH ca mayaa caiva vinaakRitaH | kim kariSyati kaama aatmaa kaikeyyaa vasham aagataH ||

vRiddhascha (aged); anaathashcha ((and therefore) helpless); mayaarinaacha (deprived of my presence); kim karishhyati (what will he do); kRitaH (dominated as he is); kaamaatmaa (by his passion (for Kaikeyi)); aagataH (and who has fallen); kaikeyiivasham (into clutches of Kaikeyi).

“Aged and (therefore) helpless, deprived of my presence, what will he do, dominated as he is by his passion for Kaikeyi and who has fallen into the clutches of Kaikeyi.”

As with the phrases described above (uttered by Lakshmana in anger), Kama-atma does not necessarily mean “entirely consumed by kama.” For example, the illustrious commentary on the Ramayana by Sivasahaya, Raamayana Siromani¸ gives the following example of using the term kama-atma in a non-sexual context: kaama aathmaa: kaama - abhishEka vishayiNi ichchhaa (desiring the matter of crowning) aathmaa - aathmani manasyEva yasya sah (one who had this in mind)—i.e., “the king who desired in his mind the crowning [of Rama]." [7]

Falling prey to love (Rama’s description) or being overcome by lust (Lakshmana’s description) does not make one a sex addict; if it did, then any of us could be accused of the same! Sex was explicitly discussed and celebrated in ancient Indian / Hindu texts, as an accepted integral part of life—discussions of being overcome by desire, therefore, do not automatically translate into one being characterized or condemned as a sex-addict. These epithets were uttered in anger and anguish by Dasaratha’s sons at the time of their separation from their family and kingdom—the epithets are indicative of their pain and anger and are not meant to be psychoanalytical judgements of Dasaratha’s character, particularly in a socio-cultural context where intense sexual enjoyment was not viewed as a vice—c.f., the accounts of Karadama rishi and Devahuti in the Srimad Bhagavatam, Yayati and Sarmishta in the Mahabharata, and Kacha and Devyani in the Mahabharata, where long periods of intense sexual union were described without any condemnation or sense of shame.

In any case, it is not necessary to get entangled into the technicality of semantics to challenge Doniger’s central thesis, which is summarized in the following excerpt from the interview:

You also suggest that because Rama is afraid of turning into a sex addict like his father, he throws Sita out after enjoying sex with her?

You have a chapter in Valmiki’s Ramayana where Rama was so happy with Sita, they drank wine together, they were alone, enjoying themselves in every way, indulging in various ways, not just the sexual act. And in the very next chapter he says I’ve got to throw you out. So I’m suggesting: what is the connection between those two things? And what does it mean that Rama knows that Dasaratha, his father, disgraced himself because of his attachment to his young and beautiful wife. So I’m taking pieces of the Ramayana and putting them together and saying these are not disconnected.

So you are saying his fear of following in his father’s footsteps is making him betray his own sexuality?

Yes, I am. Or even of being perceived that way.

Note the internal contradiction in Doniger’s position—her characterization of Rama hinges on a passage found in Book 7 (Uttara Kanda), and she has elsewhere in the interview dismissed that same Book 7 as a later interpolation!

In any event, the passage describing Rama and Sita’s “indulgence” is from Sarga 42 of Book 7 (Uttara Kanda), where Rama and Sita are enjoying their reunion after Sita’s abduction. As described therein, during this period of two winters (i.e., two years, although in some versions, an additional half-shloka is included providing that this interlude lasted 10,000 years), Rama and Sita would spend the second half of every day together in Rama’s Ashoka-grove, enjoying heavenly music and dance and partaking of gourmet food and intoxicating drinks. Rama and Sita are compared to other divine couples:

Taking in his hand the pure nectar of flowers as intoxicating as the Maireyaka wine, Sri Rama … made Sri Sita drink it, just as Indra does Sachi ... Seated in the company of the celebrated Sita, [Rama] shone with splendour like Vasishta seated along with Arundhati. Sri Rama, steeped in joy like gods, afforded delight thus day after day to … Sita, who resembled a divine damsel. [8]

Doniger conveniently leaves out the fact that it is in this chapter that Rama discovers that Sita is pregnant. Delighted at this revelation, Rama asks her to tell him which desire of hers he should fulfil. This is Sita’s response: “O Raghava! I wish to visit the holy penance-groves and to stay, O Lord!, at the feet of sages ... living on the banks of the Ganga ... This is my greatest wish that I should stay even for one night in the penance-grove of those who live only on fruits and (edible) roots." [9] Rama readily acquiesces to this wish, promising that she will be taken for a visit there the very next day.

Doniger claims that “in the very next chapter [Rama] says [to Sita] I’ve got to throw you out.” This is another totally false statement by Doniger. It is in Sarga 45 (after two intervening sargas / chapters, wherein Rama learns of the negative gossip surrounding Sita and thus decides to banish her) that Rama orders Lakshmana to take Sita to the forest and leave her there. This is just one more instance of Doniger’s casual disregard of the facts, unbecoming of a distinguished professor with a named chair at the University of Chicago.

Of course, it is the two sargas / chapters that Doniger skips over in her “alternative” narrative that provide the reason for Rama banishing Sita: Rama is informed that he is being rebuked by the people of Ayodhya as follows: “Why does not Sri Rama censure [Sita], who formerly had been forcibly carried away by Ravana? ... Such conduct of our wives shall have to be suffered by us also, since whatever a king does, the subjects follow." [10] The pernicious rumours are about Sita’s chastity / purity, not about Rama’s excessive lust.

When this gossip is confirmed by others, Rama summons his brothers to him, and informs them of his decision to leave Sita, providing the following explanation for his decision: “As long as the word of infamy circulates, so long one does fall in the lower regions (hell). Infamy is censured even by the gods and fame gains credence in the world." [11] It is the fear of losing his good name (as the result of the infamy surrounding Sita’s chastity by the gossip-mongers of Ayodhya) that impels Rama, not fear of being chastised as a sex-addict.

Nowhere is it mentioned that Rama feared he might fall victim to the “vice” of sex and that he therefore abandoned Sita – this again appears to be an example of the kind of fanciful creation for which Doniger and many of her students, now academicians at leading American universities, have become well-known. There is no connotation of illicit or excessive indulgence in the description of Rama and Sita’s blissful interlude together in Sarga 42—to the contrary, Rama and Sita are depicted as a divine couple with the dignity and radiance of Indra and Sachi, Vasishta and Arundhati. Rama is full of tenderness for Sita upon discovering her pregnancy. It clearly breaks his heart to send Sita away—after giving Lakshmana the command, “[Rama] the noble one with His eyes closed, taking leave of His brothers, entered His own apartment, with his heart agitated by sorrow, deeply sighed as an elephant." [12]

In Doniger’s own words, she is “taking pieces of the Ramayana and putting them together” to come up with this far-fetched explanation. But, one cannot play connect-the-dots with various scenes from a vast text such as the Valmiki Ramayana, stripping out the proper sequence and removing the contextual background of the critical passages, and then call it a valid textual interpretation.

Even if Doniger is reading into the text certain psychological motivations she wants to attribute to the characters, her characterization appears to be illogical--if Rama sent Sita away simply because he didn’t want to become / be characterized as a sex addict, why did he not make arrangements to claim his future heir(s), whom he knew Sita carried in her womb?

Construction of Hindu Temples

Doniger suggests that Hindus did not have a prominent temple-building movement—because building temples requires “a lot of money, land, a whole system of building temples, which the Hindus did not have at first”—until the Bhakti movement gathered momentum “to organize Rama or Shiva worship.” She makes a superfluous reference to the fact that the Kama Sutra does not discuss temple worship—one wonders why the Kama Sutra would be a relevant reference for discussion of temple construction, but then one recalls the BBC quote at the beginning of this note about Doniger’s strange predilection for the Kama Sutra.

This is really the topic for another article, but it is worth quickly noting here that the Sathapatha Brahmana portion of the Shukla Yajur Veda, dating back to at least 1500 BCE, describes a special form of tabernacle, distinct from the Agni-shala of the household, for which a special fire-priest, the Agnidhra, was designated. Through the kindling of the fire, the tabernacle became the dwelling place of the Vishvedevas (all the gods). This is a prototype for later Hindu temples, where icons replaced the sacred fire as the focus of worship. In other words, if one wants to be polemical, one can definitely argue that the genesis of formal temple construction vidhis – rules and methods – certainly pre-dates the advent of Buddhism.

Further, details of (at least Vaishnava) temple construction, the consecration of images for worship, and the actual procedures and rituals for temple worship are set forth in the ancient Vaikhanasa and Paancharatra Agamas. The Vaikhanasa Agama dates back to at least the 3rd or 4th century CE, and its Kriyaa Paadha discusses temple construction and image consecration while its Charyaa Padhaa focuses on the associated rituals of worship.

There are many examples of temples from these ancient times. A few are quickly identified here: The early phase of Chalukyan temple building began in the last quarter of the 6th century and resulted in many cave temples, including a Vaishnava temple dating back to 578 CE. The second phase of Chalukyan temple building at Aihole, celebrated as one of the cradles of Indian temple architecture, dates back to approximately 600 CE. Similarly, the Pallavas constructed rock-cut temples dating from 610–690 AD and structural temples between 690–900 AD, including the rock-cut temples at Mahabalipuram, the Kailasanatha temple in Kanchipuram, and the Shore Temple built by Narasimhavarman II.

Doniger’s Larger Narrative about Hinduism

The story Doniger wants to tell about the Ramayana fits into her larger narrative about the character of Hinduism. Her overarching narrative is captured in her statement: “That’s why Hinduism is such a wonderful religion. It’s because people are allowed to have their own texts … there was no one who said there was only one way to tell the Ramayana ... And no one would say that you got it wrong.”

Of course, there is great diversity in Hinduism—after all, over three hundred versions of the Ramayana co-exist peaceably within the pantheon of Hindu literature. There are no unnecessary battles about which version is the definitive version—Hinduism does not subscribe to the notion of One Book or One Prophet, which is the predominant characteristic of the Semitic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

It is misleading to say, in a scholarly context, that just because multiple versions of a story exist, “no one [can] say that you got it wrong.” For, there is a significant difference between creating a new version of a story—e.g., Tulsidas retelling the Ramayana in his Sri Ramacharitamanasa, which does not purport to be the “original” or “corrected” version of the Valmiki Ramayana—and offering an academic explanation or interpretation of an existing story (the Valmiki Ramayana) that takes liberties with and/or misquotes the text. It is the difference between artistic interpretation and scholarly rigour. For a scholar, it is not sufficient to demonstrate that a constructed narrative or story is possible by stringing together disparate phrases and passages; rather, a scholar must show why her preferred version is more persuasive than other versions—why it is a more coherent narrative or a more insightful explanation. This is particularly important when the scholar’s preferred version sharply diverges from the canonical traditions of interpretation. This is not fundamentalism—this is what it means to be a scholar!

The diversity within Hinduism and Hindu society is one of its greatest strengths, but the danger of saying that there is no one Hindu identity is concluding that therefore there isn’t any Hindu identity. Diversity should not be falsely treated as a lack of unity; to the contrary, e pluribus unum (from many, one). Actually, in the Hindu framework, it would be from one, many—c.f., Bhagavad Gita (15:1): “There is a banyan tree which has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.” In other words, from One Truth flower many expressions of that same truth, from one root of dharma flower the hymns, traditions, philosophical doctrines and sacred lore that comprise the tree of Hinduism. Or, to give a musical analogy, within one scale or raaga, many variations may be improvised.

In concrete fact, unity underlies every instance of diversity in Hinduism over the eons—that is why, for example, Adi Shankara Bhagavadpada, spiritual titan and amongst the greatest intellects of the world established the four seats of his monastic order on the four corners of India—Jyotirmath / Badrinath in the North, Puri in the East, Dwaraka in the West and Sringeri in the South—he also installed Namboodris from the deep south of Kerala as officiating priests in the Himalayan temple of Badrinath (a practice that continues to this day).

In closing, there does exist an easily recognizable non-fundamentalist Hindu identity, built upon a body of history, sacred texts and philosophical and ritualistic traditions that span several thousands of years. This Hindu identity is diverse and multidimensional but also internally consistent—a consistent scale, as it were, upon which millions of Hindus improvise their own variations.


Aditi Banerjee received a B.A. in International Relations, magna cum laude, from Tufts University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. She is a practicing attorney in London and also co-editor, Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America (Rupa & Co., June 2007)


[1] Interview with Wendy Doniger, March 27, 2002,, available at

[2] Krishnan Ramaswamy, Antonio de Nicolas and Aditi Banerjee, eds., Invading The Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America (Rupa & Co., June 2007), p. 66. See also Ailes, Gregory D., Religious Studies: a Global View (Routledge 2007), p. 260.

[3] See Srimad Valmiki-Ramayana (With Sanskrit Text and English Translation), Gita Press, Gorakhpur (Sixth Edition 2001), Book Six, Canto 13, verses 4-15, (Volume 2, pp. 266-267).

[4] Srimad Valmiki-Ramayana (With Sanskrit Text and English Translation), Gita Press, Gorakhpur (Sixth Edition 2001), Book 7, Canto 26, Verse 58 (Volume 2, p. 769).

[5] Srimad Valmiki-Ramayana Book 2, Canto 21, Verse 3.

[6] See the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition at

[7] 'See Sivasahaya,Raamayana Siromani, Parimal Publications, New Delhi, Volume 2, p. 722.

[8] See Srimad Valmiki-Ramayana (With Sanskrit Text and English Translation), Gita Press, Gorakhpur (Sixth Edition 2001), Book 7, Canto 42, Verse 19 and 24, (Volume 2, p. 819).

[9] Id. , Verses 33-34, (Volume 2, p. 820).

[10] Id., Canto 43, (Volume 2, p. 821).

[11] Id., Canto 45, Verse 13 (Volume 2, p. 825).

[12] Id.Canto 45, Verse 24-25 (Volume 2, p. 825).

This article has been prepared with valuable inputs from:

His Holiness Swami Sarvananda Saraswati, Vedantacharya of the Shankara Advaita sampradaya; Chancellor, Bhartishreepeetham University, New Delhi; President, All India Quami Ekta Committee, New Delhi; Board of Directors, OISCA International, Tokyo, Japan; Chairman, Bhajan Sukhsewa Mission, U.S.A., U.K., Canada, France; Devi Upasaka, Sri Vidya authority, and orator.

Swami Sanmayananda Saraswati, sannyasin in the Shankara Advaita tradition, founder of Nallepilly Narayanalayam Ashramam in Kerala, and ardent devotee of Guruvayoor Krishna.

Bhagwat Bhaskara Sri Krishna Chandra Shastri (Thakurji), renowned Vaishnavism and Sanskrit scholar from the Sri Vaishnava (Ramanuja) sampradaya, world-renowned orator on Hinduism regularly featured on Aastha TV with audiences of 10,000 – 100,000 for his public discourses on Hinduism (Bhagwat Saptah)—Sri Thakurji is saddened both at the tone and nature of the contents of Prof. Doniger’s interview and will soon publish a rejoinder in the media.

Dr. Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari Sadagopan, President, Networked Multimedia Services; retired executive IBM Research; Kaimkarya Ratnam and Sri VaishNav Srinidhi, recognized exponent / authority of Sri Vaishnavism (Ramanuja sampradaya) known for his knowledge of Carnatic music, author of innumerable e-books on Sri Vaishnavism and diverse Hindu spiritual topics.

Nagendra S. Rao, spiritual advisor / counsellor (to many, including me); community resource with a syncretistic Advaita and multicultural perspective; long-time close disciple of the late Shankaracharya of Sringeri, Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha Mahaswamigal; co-founder and former Director of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF); sometime executive consultant on global strategy planning with IBM.

Dr. MG Vasudevan, retired engineer; Sanskrit and Ramayana scholar; freelance writer on the Ramayana, including an e-book on “The Roles of Lakshmana,”—he has provided many of the citations in this paper.

Rajiv Malhotra, renowned intellectual on Hinduism and traditional Indian culture; prolific author of scholarly studies on academic Hinduism programs at leading US universities; founder and president of Infinity Foundation; appointee to the Asian-American Commission for the State of New Jersey, where he serves as the Chairman for the Education Committee.

Dr. Prabhu Shastry, teacher of scriptures and spiritual texts at Bharata Vidya Bhavan, London; freelance Sanskrit teacher in London.

Sri K. Balasubramanian, Devi Upasaka; renowned practitioner / exponent of Sri Vidya & Sri Chakra puja.

Please visit to learn more about the larger issues discussed in this note.




Dr. Vasantee Dixit

Long long ago, as the earth was cooling and as the crust was forming, the volcanic activities within the earth broke the crust into pieces. These became the future Continents. The pieces started drifting away from one another. The largest twin pieces moved away from the main land mass, to the west of present Asia, Europe, and Africa, forming the future Americas. It was separated from the rest of the continents by vast oceans on either side, the Atlantic on the East, and the Pacific on the West.

Man emerged from the African continent and started migrating in all directions in search for food, and shelter, and also to explore new territories. He walked on the land, up and down the mountains, labored through the deserts, making way through the dense vegetations of the forests, rowing the river waters and ventured out on the sea in his small boats. He could not go out too far into the ocean but could stay close to the coast. He could not go any significant distance into the oceans as he was powerless to face strong winds, storms, and water currents. Hence he could not reach the large continents of the Americas (North and South) for many centuries through the water routes. However, he had inhabited most other continents and islands over thousands of years. (See Dr. Stephen Oppenheimer’s work on his web site "Journey of Mankind" adapted from "Out of Eden.").

Of course, he was not sure of his destination, as he reached places by chance, or was thrown away by sea storms or water currents to unknown shores. Reaching north, he found multiple channels through the mostly frozen land, the Bering Strait, which were connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. These landed man on the New Land which was unnamed then.

Many millennia later when Man could build large sturdy ships, and studied the winds and the tides, and the positions of the stars and planets in the sky and their movements, and learned about the directions, he started traveling long distances through the sea even to China in the East, and to the New Lands in the West. These ancient civilizations with maritime skills studied astronomy in depth. This is evident when one finds out how much the Mayans (see below in the next chapters) knew about not only the stars but also the movements of the earth and also of the galaxies and knew how to accurately calculate these.

Men who reached the new land via the Bering Strait settled there on the new land, and explored its seemingly endless expanse. They gradually trickled down to the South through the narrow isthmus to the southern land south of the equator.

There already were a few men that were accidentally thrown ashore by the storms or those who relayed from island to island to reach the southern continent of the twin continents (the South America). They were all the native people of the land who were later called Indians or Red Indians (because of reddish dark color of their skin). They were of medium height with strong lean body with hairless face, high cheek bones, sharp intelligent eyes, and wide mouth.

Amerigo Vespucci sailed as the charto-grapher (cartographer) with Vasco da Gama. In gratitude for his dedication, Vasco gave the name “America” to the continent newly re-discovered by him.


Indians in South America formed different ethnic and warrior groups. They pledged their loyalty to strongest group. Inca (the “Sun People”) worshipped INTI, the “Sun.” They called their chief “Sapa.” Sapa means “Sole” or “Unique one,” the best of Inca. Sapa claimed to be the son of Inti himself, and his worshipped him as their God.

One of their great warriors Sapa was Pachucut Yupanqui Sapa, who controlled the region chiefs and with them formed an empire. It was called Tahuay Tinsuya. It was a domain of seven to nine million people which belonged to several ethnic groups, nearly one hundred groups.

With them, Sapa built roads, makeshift bridges, royal palaces, magnificent temples, plazas and residential complexes.

Cuzco was the capital of the Empire and was midway from its borders of Amazon province and the sea. Inca Empire extended for 2500 miles occupying almost entire length of Andes, the pacific shore desert and argentine grassland. The land was rich in gold and silver.

Sapa Huayna Capa was a great warrior and ruled with justice and great responsibility. His spies were all over and they relayed information from their respective areas via messengers. His noblemen headed different departments, such as discipline and justice, farming and fruit cultivation, roads and bridges, buildings, maintenance of temples and orphanages, military and religious ceremonies.

Saddling the Yurubamba river were two ridges of Andes; their people were called Huayna Picchu (Peak) and Machu Picchu. High in the clouds were Sapa’s dwellings, the beautiful stone works of white and blue granite from the Andes.

A Sun Temple, a Moon Temple, and an Observatory peeping over the expanse of the empire, reaching the horizon and a few dwellings of Sapa’s officers and guards were on the mountain top. A narrow steep paved path precipitously hanging on the cliff led to the royal palace. Among the luxuriant vegetation, ferns, orchids, and colorful tiny wild flowers adorned the scenic path.

According to his routine Sapa Huayna, first thing in the morning, he prostrated in front of the image of Inti in the Sun temple, and he did the same at the Moon temple and awaited the sunrise on the cliff’s edge. He thanked Inti for his generous and never ending blessings, for his loyal subjects, plentiful harvest, sweet singing birds, and the sturdy ever young looking llamas. He was about to set for the sun temple in Cuzco where his family and noblemen must already be waiting for him for morning prayers, and then his messengers in relay hurried towards him and breathlessly said,

“Oh, great and brave Sapa, devotee of Inti, Patron of all Incas, there is an important message from the North coast spies.” “They have witnessed a floating fortress over the North Sea; it was bringing strange men with white skin and haired faces. They were attired in clothes covering all their bodies. The bearded ones came ashore and were asking questions in their strange language. Dear Sapa, I assure you, these people casted spells and cursed our Incas; for whosever they talked to took ill, soon had great heat (fever) created in their bodies; within three days the heat bubbled up and blistered all their bodies. Everyone who tired to nurse and console their unfortunate victims himself/herself soon got the malady. The curse is spreading rapidly and we do not know how to arrest it.”

Huayna Sapa was speechless. He had never known of such floating fortress not did he hear of such illness. What is happening? Have we in anyway displeased our God Inti? Sapa prayed and made sacrifices to the Sun God. He was worried sick but knew no solution to this problem. The curse reached, his own dear, Cuzco. His whole neighborhood was disfigured by painful boils. Many died of pain and fever. Even noblemen and his family suffered. He was heart-broken when his own able son, whom he had chosen to become Sapa after him died. Sapa himself caught the curse and he too died. His noblemen selected the next best to become Sapa, his son Huascar.


Sapa Huascar was gentle and caring his name suggested (a gentle humming bird). He helped and comforted all the bereaved Incas. In past three years nearly two thirds of the Incas perished. Those who survived were depressed, lifeless, from grief and weakness. Sapa himself was not any different. As though this calamity was less disarming, a new peril lurked in the North.

Atahualpa, Sapa’s own younger brother posed danger to his throne. Atahualpa was young, dashing, (suggested by his name “Atahualpa” meaning a wild turkey cock, which was Incas’ favorite bird). He was handsome, of medium height, of athletic physique, graceful manners, red commanding eyes, and was a skilled soldier. He was loved and respected
(like the wild turkey cock) in the Andes.

Atahualpa, backed by his loyals established his own kingdom in North at Quito. He was a capable administrator and had sharp intelligence. It is said that he learned the game of chess from Spanish soldiers and mastered it in few days. He learned Spanish in three weeks and could read some of it.

When Huascar was selected as Sapa, Atahualpa had proclaimed his loyalty to him, but he did not go to pay respect to him. Not liking this, Huascar demanded his presence at his court. Atahualpa ignored this demand, considering the possibility of his assassination at Cusco, for being a rival and a threat. Instead he sent his emissary with gifts to Cusco. The angered Sapa tortured and killed the emissary and ordered to bring Atahualpa by force. Atahualpa escaped. His soldiers already grieving over their dear ones dead from Small Pox broke into a Civil War. Huascar sent his second army to fight Atahualpa, whose army defected to Atahualpa’s army and its commander was seized. As per prevailing military custom the commander was beheaded and his skull was lined with gold and through this cup Atahualpa drank the victory drink. The next batch of army sent by Huascar was not trained and was defeated in two days.

Now Huascar had only his personal guards left with him. But they were best warriors with unfailing loyalty. Atahualpa’s general then marched over Cuzco to fight the third royal army that was protecting Sapa. The seasoned veterans sent brushfire through Atahualpa’s soldier ranks lines. The soldiers ran helter skelter but Atahualpa regrouped them and brought them himself to the field. He ambushed the Sapa and captured him alive. He tied Huascar to a frame and made him watch his many wives butchered and his friends and noblemen slaughtered. He then kept Huascar prisoner in Jauja. He then declared himself Sapa Inca.

Incas perished because of smallpox and measles. Those who survived were depressed and lifeless from grief and weakness. Sapa himself was not any different. He too had lost his grown up son, the would-be Sapa. His loyal ministers and generals were taken away by the “curse” inflicted by the strangers. Not knowing the remedy, he felt totally disarmed. Making this worse, a new peril was lurking in the north. His own brother became his enemy.


Atahualpa, Sapa’s own younger brother, posed danger to his throne. Atahualpa was young and dashing (suggested by his name-Atahualpa meaning a wild turkey ‘cock’, which was Inca’s cherished bird.) He was handsome, of medium in height, athletic physique and was a skilled soldier. He was loved and respected like the wild turkey, in the Andes.

Backed by his loyal soldiers he established his own kingdom at Quito. He was a capable administrator of sharp intelligence. It was said that he learnt the game of chess from Spanish soldiers and mastered it in three weeks. He also learned to read Spanish and could write a few words in Spanish.

When Huascar was selected as Sapa, he did proclaim his loyalty to him, but did not go to pay respect to him. Not liking his attitude, Huascar demanded his presence at his court. Atahualpa ignored it, considering the possibility of his assassination at Cuzco, since he was a rival and a threat to the throne. Instead he sent an emissary with gifts, to Cuzco. The angered Sapa tortured and killed the emissary and ordered to bring Atahualpa by force. Atahualpa escaped on way to Cuzco and his soldiers broke into civil war. Huascar sent his army but Atahualpa’s loyalist defeated it and seized its commander. As per prevailing military custom, the commander was beheaded, his skull was lined with gold and through this cup Atahualpa drank the victory drink.

The next batch of army was not of trained soldiers and was defeated in two days. Now Huascar had only his personal guards left with him to protect him. But they were the best warriors with unfailing loyalty. Atahualpa’s general then marched over Cuzco to fight the third royal army. The seasoned veterans of Sapa sent brush fire through Atahualpa’s ranks of soldiers. By this unexpected attack, the frightened soldiers dropped weapons and ran helter- skelter. But Atahualpa regrouped them and led them to the field. He ambushed Sapa and captured him alive. He tied Huascar to a frame and made him watch as his many wives were butchered and his friends and noble men killed. He then kept Huascar prisoner in Jauja. He now declared himself SAPA INCA.


In 15th century the news of riches in the New Land reached Europe. The Spanish, French and Portuguese explorers with adventurous spirits sailed to find the New Land. In 1502 Spanish arrived on an island group (now the Caribbean Islands), which they named ‘Hispaniola’ i.e. Spanish Islands. They settled on the islands. With their overpowering smartness and weapon-power they soon started to govern the native people. The proud and independent natives resented Spanish invasion. They raised “Taine Indian”-a revolt.

Francis Pizzaro and his men tried to control the revolt for seven years Wasco Nuriez who had accompanied Pizzaro, crossed over to the Southern Continent via the isthmus. Beyond the narrow strip of land was the vast expanse of Pacific. Nuriez was the 1st European to witness the stormy, (so-called ‘Pacific’) ocean. He settled there and soon flourished.

In 1522 AD, Diego de Almagro was another affluent soldier who sailed to the New Land. He joined forces with priest Hernando de Liguo and sailed south along the east coast. On their way they encountered a ship whose sailors were loaded with gold. They made friends with a local Indian who furnished them with the information about the Inca people, their capital and its riches. “The Sun Temple’ in capital Cuzco was shimmering with gold.”

“Its walls were paneled with gold, the temple garden had gold plants with gold leaves and gold flowers on them, gold birds were perching on the golden branches of the trees, even there was a gold fountain with gold spout which threw gold jets, six feet high in the air. Beautiful gold ornaments, gold birds and animals decorated the palace. Bejeweled gold and silver animals were plentiful. Special craftsmen made necklaces, girdles, collars, anklets and rings for the royal and noble families. Master craftsmen also designed the temple pillars and walls that were embossed with divine images.”

Listening to this account, who will not be eager to visit the kingdom?
Pizzaro rushed back home to narrate what he had seen, with all possible exaggeration, to King Charles the 5th. But Pizzaro had to wait for 3 years after which the King financed his trip and assisted him with 160 adventurers including 67 armed soldiers, horses, bayonets, crossbows, pikes, lances and artillery.

The team arrived at the town of Tumba so excited and impatient. By
God, they only had to extend their hand and plunge it into the ocean of wealth. Pizzaro and Almagro were all ready to set out for their looting spree.
But contrary to their expectations Tumba was no more the old bustling city with energetic well groomed Indians. Small pox and civil war had totally ravaged and devastated it. So they lingered near the coast stealthily looting the Emperor’s store house.


Pizzaro set off with his tiny army to see the new Sapa. He did not fail to take a few Indian lackeys and two Indian translators.

Sapa Atahualpa was resting at his royal summer residence up in the hills near the hot springs. The way up was a narrow steep path, a climb which Pizzaro’s men found exhausting. They had already ventured crossing across the raging torrents of Urubamba-river on narrow perilous suspension-bridge, constructed of Inca’s grass rope. All the way they prayed to God Almighty to help them to other bank safely. Even the horses faltered. The path to the Royal camp though was a paved road with beautiful flagstones, bordered by shadowing trees and shrubs laden with sweet fruits. Cool refreshing water ran through the channel running parallel to the road and the colorful flowers on the plants were pleasing to the eye.

Atahualpa made them wait anxiously for a week, making display of his army strength by spreading his warriors in vast number over the hill side in the valley. Atahualpa sent an envoy to invite the oncoming visitors, Pizzaro and his men, to visit Sapa. Pizzaro welcomed the ambassador giving him a shirt and a goblet of Venetian glass. He talked about peace and friendship. He himself stayed housed in the fortress in the valley of Cajarmarca and dispatched Hernando De Soto with his group of horsemen to pay his respect to Atahualpa. Though frightened in heart, he knew from the experience of his brother Hernando Cortes in Mexico, that Incas were noble and simple minded and perhaps he can trick Incas also easily. He only had to make them feel that the Spanish were stronger and of equal status if not superior.

Besides, the Spanish had weapons and gun powder and their horses were far stronger than the llamas of the Incas. The blast of gun powder was enough to make the Incas run for their life.

The envoy rode to the Royal Residence near Hot Springs, flanked by the silent rows of Inca Army. Atahualpa was sitting on a golden stool with all his majesty in the world, surrounded by all his warriors and many of his chiefs. Feigning not to have notice the spectacle, de Soto charged chin up straight forward to Atahualpa’s throne, without alighting from his horse, bringing it so close to Sapa, that the beast’s breath stirred the tassels of his crown and the froth from its mouth dripped on his tunic. Though surprised and angered by this arrogant behavior, Sapa sat immobile and did not cower. Nor did his men showed any sign of apprehension or disgust on their faces.

Through his interpreter, Sapa reprimanded De Soto and Pizzaro for robbing his store house and for treating several of his chiefs badly. De Soto boasted that it were Inca men who behaved like women when fought with. He also added that their one horse is as valuable as entire land and they did not need Inca’s wealth. In fact, they could use their military acumen for Sapa’s benefit. He then politely invited Sapa to visit Pizzaro for discussing the strategy.

Sapa believed in the friendly invitation and thought he should not lose this chance to impress Pizzaro by his grandeur. But he made mistake in promising to meet Pizzaro at Cajarmarca, the next day. He was dreaming that with Pizzaro’s help he will be officially crowned as Inca’s Sapa.

PIZZARO was of humble birth with no military experience. He solely relied on his verbal strength to create an atmosphere to gain Sapa’s favor and get acquisition of part of Inca land which he will govern as a Governor (as promised by the Spanish Emperor). He had benefitted by years of studying the strengths and weaknesses of the Indians, during the years he lived amongst them and also from the account of his cousin Hernando Cortes about how he wrecked the Aztec Empire by kidnapping the Emperor Montezuma and exploiting the love and loyalty of his subject in acquiring the entire wealth of Mexico.

Atahualpa did not walk blindly into Pizzaro’s camp. His military strategy was that his General Rumifiari would command 5,000 soldiers to seal off the road north to Cajamarca, to take Pizzaro and his men alive, in case they try to escape and later sacrifice them to Sun God. He also planned to keep their valuable horses and breed them for future use.

The Spaniards had a long anxious wait the next day. They stationed themselves within the building and left the courtyard vacant. Atahualpa came late in the evening so that Pizzaro’s men and horses found the path difficult to see and also fail to aim correctly after the sunset.

Only the robed Friar, Dominican was waiting in the empty square to witness the approaching grand parade witch Atahualpa was so keen on them to witness.

Flutes, drums, conch-shells and trumpets sounded. The musicians led dancers and a choral group, singing praise to their powerful Lord: “Son of Sun” the only ruler of Inca is coming, may all the living beings of earth, obey him.” A squadron of Indians wearing a livery of checkered colors like chess board, all wearing gold and silver discs around their necks or ornaments like crowns on their heads marched keeping pace with the beats of the drums. Followed Atahualpa majestically sitting on a wooden litter carried by 80 retainers in blue tunic with their badges of honor. The litter was lined with multi-colored parrot feathers and decorated with jewel-encrusted plates of gold and sliver. Atahualpa wore a collar of emeralds, a shield emblazoned with the image of the Sun God. A personal retinue of 5,000 unarmed men accompanied him-a ceremonial rather than a military array. His army of 80,000 soldiers was left outside the town, in charge of General Ruminovi.

All pomp and show exhibited by the Sapa was wasted since Friar Dominican was the only sole witness. Friar Dominican greeted Atahualpa with Bible in one hand and a cross in other. He implied he was giving a heathen a chance to accept Christianity voluntarily before any recourse to bloodshed. The Friar handed over the MISSA- a ‘Talisman’, to Atahualpa. Atahualpa threw it away and said, “Your God was a mortal put to death, but my God, (pointing to the Sun) still lives.” On seeing the insult done to ‘Missa’-the book of text for mass- the Friar ordered the ‘faithful’, “Throw yourselves upon them, forthwith I give you all absolution”. At Pizzaro’s signal, two canon balls were fired into the unarmed retinue. The horsemen suddenly came out of the building and charged forwards, cutting the flabbergasted Indians with their swords and arrows. The foot-soldiers followed with a cry of ‘Santiego’ to the sound of the trumpets. The nobles rushed to protect Atahualpa at whom the attack was focused, but only got their hands chopped by the steel swords. Pizzaro rushed forwards to save Atahualpa, whom he wanted alive to keep as a hostage. Pizzaro then dragged him to the building where he kept him under guard.

Atahualpa had blundered by bringing his men unarmed. They had no way to protect themselves against the sharp steel of the swords and blast of the canons. In two hours time, before the nightfall, 6,000 Indians were massacred in and around Cajarmara. Not a single Spaniard was injured. Atahualpa himself ordered his men not to counter attack for fear of his own life. On hearing about the massacre and capture of Sapa, General Ruminavi fled with his troop to Quito. Atahualpa’s other two veteran Generals were in Quito.

In captivity, Atahualpa was allowed to keep his family and servants with him in his closely guarded quarters. His people were still allowed to meet him, consult him and take orders from him. Atahualpa kept in touch with all that happened in his Empire. He issued orders to his generals and officials. In his captivity, he learned Spanish and could read it in matter of 20 days. He thought of buying the bearded ones offering some ransom. He agreed to fill up to his own height, with gold the 22’x10’ room in witch he stayed, and give it to them. But the greedy Pizzaro asked for double the quantity in silver too in addition. Llamas shuttled carrying loads of Sapa’s treasure: tumblers, vases, ornaments, 3ft tall idols in gold and silver besides 700 plaques of gold from the walls of the Sun temple in Cuzco; and gold models of plants, birds, animals, even the gold fountain from the temple garden. 200 loads arrived each day.

Incas called Gold mere “Sweat of Sun god” and Silver “The tears of the Moon”. For them the woven garments were invaluable. Each cloth represented 1,000 hours of labor of a skillful weaver. Their fabric was the real currency of the Empire.

Atahualpa feared that Huascar, who was captive in Cuzco, may offer even more gold for his own release and for death of Atahualpa. So he issued secret order for assassination of Huascar and his family.

In Cajarmara, the gold was melted down to 13,400 lbs. and silver to 26,000 lbs. Even after this, Pizzaro would not free Atahualpa. He insisted that the Sapa willingly accept Christian religion. Atahualpa preferred to die as an Inca Indian. According to his religion, for ever-lasting-life after death, he had to offer his whole body for mummification after death. Atahualpa wept when Pizzaro decided to burn him alive instead of killing him for this would destroy his body,-no body- no mummification; no mummification- no after-life! He lamented at the vicious decision of the Spaniard; “Oh what I or my children done to merit such a fate!” Tied onto a stake to be burned, he agreed to be Christian and requested he should be killed instead and his body be handed over to his relatives for mummification. Pizzaro ordered to strangle him, but also part of his body was burned to make him unfit for mummification. Finally he was buried as a Christian.


1/3rd of the Inca Indians had already perished due to smallpox and measles. Thousands died without a fight in Pizzaro’s deceitful killings. The weakened and frightened remainder dispersed all over the continent searching for safety.


Manca Inca, the surviving son of Huyana Capa, who assisted Huascar against Atahualpa, was installed as native ruler under Spanish control. Before Pizzaro entered Cuzco, the Inca nobles took care to hide all the mummies of their ancestors, so precious to Incas, lest they should be destroyed by the Spaniard. Arriving in Cuzco, the invaders did not respect the dignity of the local chiefs and nobles. They abused Manco, the then Sapa, and showed no regard for Inca customs. They even abducted and raped his favorite wife.

Pizzaro founded a new capital at Lima and left his brother Gonzalo in charge. His other brother Juan was left to help him. Manco tried to escape from the prison but was apprehended and brought back in chains, jailed and tortured.

When Hernando Pizzaro came back from Spain, he saw Gonsalo’s unrestrained and irresponsible ruling. He had also murdered his own Spanish people. Pizzaro then deported him.

Manca persuaded Pizzaro to release him from jail so that he could pray at the shrine of his father. He offered to give him the gold effigy of his father. He had already instructed his general to call his soldiers hiding in the forest away from Spanish gaze and champion a revolt. Accordingly the general besieged Cuzco and cut it off from outside world for a year. After the Spanish got reinforcement from Spain, in a fierce battle for the control of the fortress-like temple of Sacsahuaman, the Spanish won. The siege failed.

Inca people suffered a terrible shock from the defeat, and knowing the strength of Spanish army, lost the will to live and fight. Thus the “tahuaminsuya” dwindled. Their population reduced to three fourth of one hundredth of its size in half a century after the arrival of Spanish i.e. from 7 million to 50,000.

Inca no more survived as a cheerful, religious, hardworking and loyal warrior country. Weakened by smallpox, measles and other infections for which they had no immunity and by assault on their customs and culture making them feel worthless, the surviving Inca Indians moved lifelessly. The Indians dwelling on the east coast were exhausted carrying heavy loads from the Spanish ships to the mountains. Their women were molested and their warrior pride hurt, they became lifeless. Many toiled in the gold and silver mines. What remained of Inca were the devastated palaces, desecrated temples and the razed golden garden of the Sun temple. Inca only lived in model city of Vilcabamba.


The rumors about the golden city, “Vilcabamba” were prevalent for centuries over the whole world. The tales took various forms in the folk lore of South America. The city that once ruled independently, away from the Spanish gaze, flourished and perished in the deep jungles of the Andes (or ? of the Amazon rain forest). Some said that there was a lake in the deep forest in which lived a deity which when hungry, sent rumbling sounds up to its shores. The Incas of the city then sacrificed some animal and rowed to the lake and threw it in the water along with some gold. The story of “El Salvador” (as the Spanish called it), lured the gold-hungry Europeans and now and again they rushed into the impenetrable and snake-infested forests of Andes and Brazil.

In order to save their traditions and culture, the proud Indians established their kingdom isolated and away from the Spanish rule, where they followed their religion and customs. Their great masons built a beautiful city graced by 60 monumental circular buildings, a complex of 300 smaller residential houses. They built cross roads and canals. They built their temples high on the hills. The Inca Indians rule there, and from there they launched frequent guerrilla attacks on Spanish outposts. In this city of 2 square miles the Incas ruled for 35 yrs. After Manco, his successors continued to rule Vilcabamba. After receiving reinforcement from Spain, they finally decided to end once for all the local Inca hegemony. With difficulty, they did find the kingdom but it was empty and devastated. Knowing the strength of the invading enemy, they removed all there valuables, set fire to the city and burned the buildings down and fled with their families. They did not want the Spanish to enjoy the fruit of their hard work.

Tupac Amaru, the last stronghold of Incas, finally fell. General of Tupac Amaru was taken to Cuzco and after a short trial was beheaded... in the town square. With him ended the Inca Dynasty.

Vilcabamba fell into silence. The jungle took it in its arms under the cloak of vegetations. The Spanish-speaking local peasants gave it the name, “Espiritu Pampa”. The city was later discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. Gene Savoy, an American explorer found Vilcabamba, situated on alluvial plains between two rivers. He recognized the circular buildings as the work of Chachopoyas people who inhabited northernmost region of Peru, 500 miles North West of Vilcabamba at the altitude of 8,000 to 10,000ft.


Hiram Bingham was fascinated by the story of the golden city. From his school days he had a passion of finding it. He became professor of history of Latin America. Chronicles dictated by one of the last rulers of Inca mentioned the fabled refuge hidden in the densely forested valley of Urubamba River. While working at Yale University, he obtained funding from The National Geographic Society and also from a few wealthy colleagues from Yale University, he proceeded to Andes. He took with him a government appointed body-guard and a humble tavern keeper who himself was equally interested in finding out the historic city. Starting at Cuzco, the old Inca Capital, they started climbing the arduous mountains. The Urubamba River was swollen with the icy water cascading from the melting snow peaks, and its noisy torrents surging through the canyons in icy rapids. Deep in Peruvian Andes, Urubamba River, though now shallow, was hurrying with frightening speed. The one time prosperous empire of Inca was now but a dense forest-vegetation, infested with poisonous snakes. The snow clad rocky peaks of Andes were soaring 18,000ft above the sea level, looming 2 miles above the clouds. The party reached a make shift log bridge across the river. Bingham’s barefoot Indian servant, walked naturally over it. Bingham had to crawl behind, on all fours. Walking amidst ferns, orchids and wild flowers in the luxurious vegetations they followed a steep path for 200 ft. uphill, to reach a hut of a Peruvian family. Their 10 yr. old son volunteered to guide them to Inca stone work, via a steeper path.

Fully covered with variety of creepers and other vegetations, the buildings were barely visible. After a week’s clearing, they displayed a Royal Mausoleum, a Sun Temple, a broad plaza and a dozen other structures.

As they advanced further, trekking arduously for several days, they discovered a series of imposing ruins, including ‘Espiritu Pampa’, a vaster
Urban site, the ‘Machu Picchu’, buried under centuries of tangled growth, some 60 miles away from Machu Picchu and 6,000 ft at lower level- “VILCABAMBA” indeed!