Monday, January 31, 2011


Ten Key Points of the HAF Report on Caste Ten Key Flaws with the HAF Report on Caste

Editor's Note: First statement is made by HAF the second statement to refute is made by concerned scholars of Hindu community. Editor will add minor corrections and modifications only in the second.

1. The key message of this report is that caste-based discrimination is not intrinsic to Hinduism, and that the solution lies within the eternal teachings of Hinduism. FALSE: The process and methodology by which the HAF report was produced directly contradicts the first key point that solution lies within the eternal teachings of Hinduism.
The report has been produced by lay people and academics without the involvement of those knowledgeable about the subject. HAF Report calls for re-analysis and rejections of teachings of Hinduism. Such analysis should not be endorsed by an advocacy organization like HAF.

2. The report acknowledges that caste-based discrimination is a complex ongoing problem in India that is distorted by political maneuvering. FALSE: Two out of twelve Presidents of India are from the so called “lower caste” of HAF report. Some discrimination!!! HAF Report has itself caused dissensions and political maneuvering in the Hindu community. Besides, HAF has not defined nor explained what is meant by caste based discriminaton and what constitutes it.

3. HAF believes that caste-based discrimination in India is a domestic issue that should only be handled by the Government of India, and that the U.S. Congress, United Nations or any non-Hindu foreign body has no locus standi to interfere in this matter. FALSE: By acknowledging and announcing caste issue as a human rights issue (a notion that was opposed by even the secular Indian government), already the report is being bandied about on Christian missionary and Islamic web sites. It is suspected to be used by US Congress and UN Human Rights Council to interfere in Indian and Hindu affairs. This statement by HAF is disingenuous.

4. HAF fully acknowledges that there have been and are on-the-ground efforts by Hindus in India to eradicate caste-based discrimination. FALSE: If the efforts are being made in India, then what is purpose of HAF report now? Also, while the report spends pages and pages listing incidents of alleged and unsubstantiated caste-based discrimination, it does not give due attention to the grassroots work being done by many Hindu organizations and leaders—an odd oversight for a purported Hindu advocacy organization that claims to be providing a Hindu perspective in this report.HAF is unwittingly siding with the "caste, curry, cow stereotype" critics of Hindus.

5. This report is a tool to counter countless school textbooks that represent caste as a rigid and hierarchical system that is inseparable from Hinduism. False: At numerous places the report HAF itself has equated caste as birth-based and hierarchical which is what is taught in textbooks, one such example “The caste system, as it has developed in the Indian subcontinent, is a birth-based hierarchy”. Page 12 Why deny and sugarcoat the reality of Jati, Varna and Kula as practiced in India by using Western derogatory terms in a copy-cat manner, if HAF is representing Hindus, to protect their interests and take on the advocacy role? If you have advocates like this, you don't need adversaries.

6. “Caste” is derived from the Portuguese word “casta” and is not equivalent to the varna/jaati tradition in Indian society; HAF is NOT suggesting an end to the varna/jaati tradition, but an end to caste-based discrimination and birth-based hierarchy. FALSE: Throughout report HAF has conflated Varna with caste, one such example is “Since members of all the four castes are the children of God, they all belong to the same caste” page 143. Why then use the word "caste" at all if it is not equivalent to that which is practiced in Hindu society. The statement no.6 is one of the glaring example of conceptual confusion in the HAF report.Besides, one can easily grasp the Christian influence in writing this report from the phrase
"children of God."

7. HAF acknowledges the substantial role played by the British colonial regime in solidifying a rigid caste system in Indian society. FALSE: The HAF report is likely to rigidify the caste mindset of the Western world even further, as this report has brought a receding problem to the fore for no apparent reason so far away from India in the USA. Some Americans are likely wonder if Hindus in USA practice Caste system. Why blame the British for demographic recording of census of the Jati, Varna and Kula if HAF too conflates these with "caste" like the British did?

8. Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste presents “a” Hindu perspective on caste-based discrimination, not “the” only Hindu perspective. FALSE: One false perspective improperly produced by a Hindu Advocacy Organization that has presence in mainstream US media and that which is in contact with and influences the US Congress will cause major harm to the Hindu causes and interests. HAF perspective is not even "a" Hindu perspective as it is heavily influenced and contaminated by the non-Hindu and anti-Hindu elements.Do not be surprised if Americans all over start asking for your caste after this report becomes part of the American mainstream.

9. Prior to its release, this report was peer reviewed by approximately a dozen external reviewers, whose suggestions may or may not have been incorporated. FALSE: The process has been opaque with no disclosure of who these “reviewers” were and which comments were rejected and why. This statement ignores the criticism by 100+ scholars at World Association of Vedic Studies (WAVES; an academic body with high reputation) Conference in August 2010. HAF is also refusing to participate in the 2011 WAVES Conference being organized on this topic.

Some of the reviewers have withdrawn from and severely condemned the process and the Report because HAF told them that only cosmetic edits and no significant substantive changes would be accepted. Without revealing the qualifications, training, experience
and the status of the "reviewers," the mere number "dozen" has no meaning.

10. The statements by 13 religious leaders and organizations are not endorsements of HAF’s report, but rather statements against caste-based discrimination provided to HAF prior to their review of the report. Some of these same respected leaders have endorsed the report after its release.
FALSE: No major Hindu religious leader has endorsed the report. But, on the contrary, the following leaders have asked HAF to withdraw the report: Swamiji Dayananda Saraswati (Convener of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, who was listed as one of the endorsees of the Report), Dr. Pranav Pandya (Head of All World Gayatri Pariwar), Sri Puthige Swamiji of Udupi, Swamiji Ramdev, and Pujya Pejavar Swamiji (one of the heads of the Udupi Matha) has also expressed displeasure about the HAF report. Also, elsewhere on this blog there is a description of one who was noted to be a hyporcrit with example of his "caste-based" discrimination on the American soil well illustrated.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


PIO Hindus - Gateway to White Imperialism


Radha Rajan

Editor's note:

The typos are not corrected. The Editor and the author will correct the typos
shortly in a day or two.

The suutra from Aapastamba Dharmasuutra should read as follows. I will get the text on vigilonline corrected of typos by morning.RR

Ap2.11.29.15/ strībhyaḥ sarva.varṇebhyaś ca dharma.śeṣān [pratīyād ity eke- ity eke //[1]

The Hindu American Foundation’s pretentious, cut-and-paste document on what this malevolent group terms ‘caste-based discrimination and birth-based hierarchy’ has mercilessly exposed several self-important Hindus and Hindu groups in the US and in India. It also exposed yet again those Hindus at home, scholars and their satellites who insist on playing at politics without the mandatory political sense which would demarcate the line that PIO Hindus and globe-trotting sanyasis may not cross on issues which define Hinduism; issues which today belong in the domain of international politics of religion and which if allowed to be raised by foreign entities even if they are PIO Hindus, challenge Hindu sovereignty on Hindu bhumi. One particular scholar and his satellites tried frantically to get HAF to see reason and withdraw the report, predictably with no success.

The HAF report has once again brought to the fore the writer’s contention that there are foreseen and unforeseen consequences to Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s continuing involvement as Convener Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha (HDAS) with foreign agencies including politically ambitious PIO Hindus, religious leaders of Abrahamic faiths including Patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Jewish Rabbis, and international bodies like the UN.

Such interactions and reaching out to other faiths and religions in themselves are desirable and have been undertaken in the past; what is cause for serious concern is that Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati participated in these exchanges as Convener Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha on foreign soil. This august body which comprises Hindu religious leaders heading ancient peethams and sampradayas is by definition inward looking and communicates with non-Hindu and non-Indian religions only on Indian soil and only when these religions seek their audience or in times of extraordinary crisis.

The little understood, well-hidden motive of these foreign entities in inviting Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati to conferences between leaders of Hindu religion and non-Hindu and non-Indian monotheist religions is to only to draw the HDAS into these international discussions with a view to making resolutions and declarations signed at these conferences, binding upon all acharyas and dharmagurus of the HDAS, and by extension, on all Hindus.

Ironically the very same PIO Hindus who first persuaded Pujya Swamiji to undertake these international missions on behalf of the HDAS, and those scholarly Hindus who attempted, through foolish, counter-productive slander and cut-and-paste dossiers on foreign websites like Medha Journal and Sulekha, in a short-sighted attempt to silence this writer’s apprehensions and critique of Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati needlessly dragging the HDAS into international politics of religion, are today expressing harsh criticism against the HAF for doing the same; partly because the report is shoddy and evil-intended but partly because HAF is now (undeservedly) competing with these reputed and established scholars for recognition as a preeminent American Hindu intellectual group.

Not surprisingly there is deafening silence from the movers and shakers behind the Global Foundation for Civilisational Harmony who gave the first push which carried the HDAS into this quicksand. There is only sadness that the writer’s apprehensions about how because of Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s international missions as Convener HDAS, the HDAS may be misused by vested interests at home and abroad have been proved right.

The HAF report on "caste" is an attempt by a section of American Hindus to engage with foreign powers and their agents on issues which concern only Hindus in India; issues which these Hindus who have abandoned the Hindu bhumi do not have the right to raise or discuss combatively with Hindus at home; leave alone claim to represent or speak on behalf of Hindus with any alien government or foreign entity.

HAF’s PIO Hindus, if they really want to end the obnoxious practice of untouchability must first surrender their foreign passports, surrender their egos at the feet of any great mahatma or dharmaguru who is already working towards this end, must go live in our villages among the victims of untouchability and among the village people, build bridges between them and bring about the change they desire by dedicating their life to achieving at least some measure of success. That is the Hindu way and the way of Amritlal Thakkar (Bapa), Acharya Vinobha Bhave and Baba Amte. It is not for Christmas-time Hindus coming to India for 10 days every two years to hector us about our customs and tradition.

Hindu nationalists will castigate in the most unsparing and harshest possible language HAF or any other foreign group which intends to raise the issue of untouchability or any other issue with us, or with the Indian government, or with the seamless network comprising US, UK, EU and the UN. The borderless entity comprising the US, UK, EU and UN have declared these issues to be legitimate reasons for interfering in the domestic affairs of any country on grounds of humanitarian intervention.

The western world has repeatedly used these issues as instruments of their foreign policy against target nations and peoples to serve their geo-strategic objectives culminating either in forcible regime change or installing a puppet regime through a bogus democratic process. The EU and individual countries of Europe, even as this column is being written is camped in Delhi awaiting government permission to watch the trial of Dr. Binayak Sen whom they describe as a ‘human rights defender’; and such is the potential of the human rights industry to catapult non-entities and rank opportunists into national limelight that one enterprising Supreme Court advocate declared in a prime time newsroom discussion that corruption was a human rights issue.

India’s secular intellectuals have not even whimpered in protest only because they do not perceive this brazen interference in our internal affairs as an affront to our collective dignity and a challenge to national sovereignty. Instances of such watchdog interference by the US, UN and EU into India’s strictly internal affairs have increased in the regime of the Roman Catholic Italian Sonia-led Congress-led UPA government. Similar watchdog inspection teams from Europe, EU and the US, in the guise of monitoring India’s commitment to protect human rights, pluralism and freedom of religion have now been allowed to visit areas under the murderous stranglehold of Christian terrorist insurgencies in the North-east, Mao-Christian insurgencies in the red belt including Kandhamal, and Jihadi terrorism in J&K.

Beginning with these intrusive visits, whether the intent by these bodies is to keep Hindus in a continuing state of political disempowerment, attempting regime change as they did in 2004 or installing puppet regimes as the incumbent government which came to power in 2009, the end result is that the native political paradigm and attendant social arrangements are sought to be altered, and reasserting India’s Hindu face and ethos in the polity are sought to be curtailed and repressed, to fall in line with Christian political principles.

Moves are already afoot to equate our varna, jaati, and kula vyavastha with Abrahamic caste and racism moving in the direction of forcing Hindu majority India to give up its native social arrangements and time-tested customs and tradition; this move is necessary if India has to be pushed in the direction of post-Hindu India, a delusion that is already being discussed seriously in some circles. This is typical of Abrahamic ‘give a dog a bad name and kill it’ tactic to weaken and then remove the enemy and HAF has accepted to play the role of useful idiot in this long-term and far-sighted Abrahamic mission.

HAF has made common cause with Hinduism’s enemies and has drafted this eminently unreadable caste report which is certain to be used as a weapon against us if only because it has been authored by people who claim to be Hindus and Dollar Hindus at that. Not that the threat will impress Hindu nationalists or our traditional mathathipathis and dharmagurus of ancient sampradayas; HAF and the agencies that HAF seeks to influence will sooner than later realize that Hindu India will not be pressured or coerced by any outside agency, least of all American and other PIO Hindus to sneak into this country in the dark, riding the human rights horse to redefine Hindu dharma simply to gain acceptance in White Christian circles and fulfill their political ambitions in the US or UK.

Taking a leaf out of HAF and the older Indian Muslim Council USA, a new PIO group, whose religious affiliation and economic ideological orientation is yet unclear, calling itself Save India from Corruption has issued a clarion call to the world (!) to hold support rallies in Los Angeles, Washington DC and New York on the 29th and 30th of January, 2011. It is now clear that India will be saved as always only by the white man carrying the burden for us; this time around he will first depute dark-white expat Hindus and Muslims to prepare the ground for pious humanitarian intervention.

Ironically, military invasion and occupation of countries including Serbia and Iraq and the genocidal, 13 year long total economic blockade against the people of Iraq was also sanctioned by the UN in the guise of humanitarian intervention. Humanitarian intervention in the name of human rights can mean anything that America and its allies want it to mean and the UN has so far demonstrated that it has no other option but to go along with whatever the US wants in shaping the world to an order where America remains the only pole while the rest of the world is divided broadly into vassal states, slave states and enemy states.

There is no scope for neutrality in this US-crafted world order and Hindu organizations are yet to realize that they cannot protect the Hindu nation and Hindus without sound knowledge of geo-politics and politics of religion and without active and even combative involvement in national politics. Scholars like Dr. Kalyanaraman who as conscience keepers of Hindus insist on stirring with their big toe the quagmire of politics of religion without the pre-requisite sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’, have emboldened HAF to remain intractable on the issue of withdrawing the report in its entirety.

This scholar, by insisting that HAF heed Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s advise to remove the report from the HAF website and to go in for "wider consultations" before publishing the final report, has unfortunately sent the signal that Hindus here will acknowledge HAF’s right to author such a document as long as they have Pujya Swamiji’s sanction to undertake this exercise - sanction which Swami Dayananda Saraswati gave HAF not in his individual capacity but as Convener HDAS.

When Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati issued a statement "of support and endorsement" as HAF put it, in May 2010, using the very words caste-based discrimination and birth-based hierarchy on behalf of the HDAS, it became an important testimonial to the bona fide of HAF to author the report; but the fact remains that Pujya Swamiji had not placed the report before the HDAS nor sought HDAS mandate to issue the statement.

Pujya Swamiji therefore erred in asking HAF to merely remove the report from the website which gave HAF the time, the elbow room and the excuse to publish it again after going through the motions of "due consultations’ with other PIO Hindus; instead, Pujya Swamiji ought to have asked HAF to remove his statement on "caste-based discrimination" and "birth-based hierarchy" which he had issued as Convener HDAS, not only from the HAF website but also from the report.

When Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati advised HAF to go in for more consultations and when Dr. Kalyanaraman insisted that HAF should heed Pujya Swamji’s advice to seek the views of other Hindus, rewrite the report and then publish it again, neither Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati nor Dr. Kalyanaraman had been authorized by member acharyas and dharmagurus in the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha to speak on their behalf on this issue.

It needs to be emphasized that while HAF has removed the report from their website, the statements issued by sundry Hindu religious leaders, including the one by Swami Dayananda Saraswati as Convener HDAS, have not been removed.

In the eye of HAF’s simulated storm over the caste report is Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati, a much sought after religious leader among PIO Hindus in the US. Several groups of PIO Hindus have emerged as the Hindu intellectual face in America; while some among them like HAF and CAPEEM are merely Hindu advocacy groups dabbling in human rights and the content of history text books in America, some others like WAVES organize annual seminars and conferences and invite Hindus from around the world to present papers on aspects of our dharma and dharmic heritage, customs and traditions.

Every PIO Hindu group in America, with access to Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati wants the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha to take up their pet cause or personal agendas. US Hindu Alliance (USHA) while strongly opposing the HAF report on caste, in their statement issued on 3rd January, 2011, nevertheless wants to use Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati as entry point to push the American or White Christian political talking points into the HDAS -

In September of this year, I, Kanchan Banerjee and Maheshbhai Mehta went to meet Swamiji to discuss certain issues. One of the issues discussed was the need to articulate a Hindu view on controversial issues ranging from homosexuality and surrogacy to euthanasia and caste.

In recent years some of these Hindu groups have jostled for space in the US to emerge as the voice of Hindus in America in the fond hope that the American political establishment and other international bodies will engage with them on all things Hindu. Inevitably, considering the formidable resilience of the American Political Glass Ceiling against the clamoring hordes of non-White, non-Christian and non-Male political aspirants knocking on the glass, politically ambitious PIO Hindus now turned to interfering in the internal affairs of Hindus in India.

The soaring objective now is to emerge as the Voice of Hindus in India by cultivating and then working through the good offices of globe-trotting religious leaders in their interactions with important international bodies. Global Foundation for Civilizational Harmony, HDAS, and now the newly-formed Vivekananda International are emerging as facilitating bodies for such collaboration between some Hindus here and PIO Hindus abroad; collaborations with the objective of engaging in global politics. The same group of collaborative Hindus operates in and with these organizations but in a tightly closed circle comprising fewer than five individuals.

Conscious of the immense potential of the global human rights industry, and the immense potential of India’s "caste’ arrangement to attract the attention of powerful White Christians, the HAF, one such politically ambitious PIO Hindu body has now metamorphosed into a human rights advocacy group, with no nobler intent than using India’s varna, jaati and kula vyavastha as entry card to be allowed to sit as Hindu Americans at the foot of the high table of global politics.

HAF solicited this invitation to the global White Christian high table by coining the catchy phrases "caste-based discrimination" and "birth-based hierarchy" which they have so far not dared to explain, describe or define. These phrases lie at the very core of the HAF report but HAF is unable to reply to pointed questions by the writer if these phrases mean untouchability or something else. If it is something else, HAF has so far not cared or dared to tell us what it is.

The issue of locus standi or adhikara was raised in the course of the heated debate on the HAF report but was not pursued with intellectual rigor to a definitive understanding. The objections that were first raised by Hindu nationalists to the HAF caste report are not only on grounds of ignorance or worse, downright villainy in misrepresenting our traditions, but also on grounds of adhikara.

HAF has deservedly been condemned for violating two of Hinduism’s core principles -

The end purpose of any thought or action must always be to serve the larger interest of the society on whose behalf we claim to speak and act

Taking along with us as many sections of society when we are thinking and acting towards an objective

Let us look at the issue of adhikara or moral authority vested in different sections of society to raise or discuss -

Issues concerning dharma,
Interpreting dharma in specific contexts, and
Hindu customs and traditions
Ap2.11.29.15/ stribhya? sarva.var?ebhyas ca [pratiyad ity eke- ity eke //[1]

This is the last sutra from Aapastamba Dharmasutra and it translates as -

From women [and from] people of all varnas the rest of the dharmas [are to be known. So say some, so say some].

HAF had the impertinence to ask our Acharyas and Dharmagurus to discard those teachings and texts which HAF thought was not in line with what the US, EU and UN-defined human rights charter. Accordingly, one of them declared that Manu Smriti was not ‘Hinduism when practiced genuinely’ and besides, this person claimed, no one, not even he had read the Manu Smriti. Neither Manu nor Aapastamba cooked these sutras in their brain as original fiction. They, among many others merely codified into sutras and crisp principles, dharma as it as practiced in the society of their times.

But what is of astoundingly great importance in the sutra quoted above is the unique-to-Hinduism dharma in practice - that authority was wide-spread across Hindu society and the right to speak authoritatively on dharma was not restricted, like in the Abrahamic religions, to the Pope, Archbishop, Patriarch or the Maulvi.

After the brilliant exposition which codified dharma of the times, Aapastamba concluded with the sutra quoted above which can be expanded to mean that it is not possible for one individual or one generation to say everything about dharma; whatever else needs to be known, whatever has not been touched upon in this work, and whenever questions arise in every yuga and in different times within that yuga, about what is correct conduct or what is dharma, we should ask the women in our society to tell us what is dharma, we should ask the wise people in all varnas to tell us what is dharma and what is correct action.

This is the Hindu way, this is dharma in action, and this is how our Acharyas, mahatmas and all wise men counseled Hindus. Every varna and all jaatis within a varna and all women had their unique place in Hindu society, a place that was inviolable in dharma and which could not be usurped or taken away from any Hindu without attracting the severest strictures from the elders in society.

When a society moved away from the path of dharma, the knower of dharma would work patiently within that society to bring about the desired change through persuasion, through leading by example and living an exemplary life. Changes to customs and tradition were never sought to be implemented by force or by external agents or by those who did not belong to that society. When, in the rarest of rare cases, changes to customs had to be made by an external agent, then he or she had to be a mahatma or a wise person. Our Ithihaasas and Puranas are narratives of such mahatmas and the life of our saints and rishis are also testimony to how Hindu society has always functioned.

HAF has failed and failed thoroughly to prove its Hindu credentials because -

The report on caste that it has authored does not serve the larger cause, is not in the larger interest

HAF did not attempt to take different sections of PIO Hindu groups and individuals before starting and during the process of writing the report

HAF no longer belongs to the bhumi or society it is seeking to change; therefore Hindus on Hindu bhumi dismiss the report has being brazen interference, tainted by White Christian influence in our internal affairs and deny them any authority to speak to us or address us on this or any other issue

HAF therefore lacks the competence, the moral authority and the stature to write this report. Above all it has demonstrated that it is not accountable to any authority in the community on whose behalf it has arrogated to itself the right to speak and act. Hindus on Hindu bhumi, Hindu nationalists and right-thinking Hindus in every corner of the earth denounce this report as being worthless and unworthy of those that call themselves Hindus.

If HAF fails to heed the voices of caution and good sense, it cannot protect itself from charges of villainy, evil intent and rank opportunism.

Radha Rajan

30th January, 2011 (Date in US)

[1] Text of Aapastamba Dharmasuutra(AP) based upon Buhler's Edition (Bombay Sanskrit Seires Nos.LIV and L), 3rd ed. 1932.

Variant reading is in parenthesis after the end of each suutra, according to Kashi Sanskrit Series No.93 (K) edited by A.Chinnaswami, Benares 1932.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Summary of Major Issues with the HAF Report on Caste


Executive Summary

 A Brief History
 The Political Implications of the Report
 Substantive Flaws in the Contents of the Report
 What now?

Executive Summary

Many Hindu community activists and intellectuals are dismayed and appalled at the damage being caused by this report to Hindu interests. The main issues with the report are as follows:

o Authors of the report are not qualified to reject portions of scriptures / change smritis.
o Report will be used by anti-Hindu groups to enhance their conversion activities.
o Serious substantive flaws and misleading use of facts and statistics in the report.
o Lack of transparency and refusal to collaborate with community.
o Lack of the awareness of the geo-political impact caused by the report.
o Influence of radical groups in the writing and the content of the report.
A Brief History

• In August 2010, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) made a presentation on Hinduism & Caste at the World Association of Vedic Studies (WAVES) Conference in Trinidad and Tobago. Scholars at the Conference cautioned HAF on the prematurity of the Report and advised wider collaboration.

• In December 2010, HAF released a “human rights report on caste” entitled “Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste.” The report was found to be problematic and dangerous in its grave factual errors, its radical anti-Hindu positioning and HAF’s stated intention to use the report as a briefing document for Congress, UN, the media, and the educational system.

• Hindu Community leaders, activists and intellectuals have been dismayed by the report and offered sincere constructive criticisms, which were shared with HAF in hopes of persuading HAF to withdraw the report and work with the wider community in rewriting the report if HAF still insisted upon issuing a report.






• Respected AchAryas and pITAdhipathis from India, including Swamiji Dayananda Saraswati (Convenor of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha and one of the apparent endorsees as claimed by HAF), Dr. Pranav Pandya (Head of All World Gayatri Pariwar), Sri Puthige Swamiji of Udupi, and Swamiji Ramdev have issued letters calling upon HAF to withdraw the report and to reach consensus among all Hindu leaders before issuing any subsequent report. Pujya Pejavar Swamiji (another one of the heads of the Udupi Matha, renowned for his tremendous social work on behalf of Harijans) has also expressed displeasure about the HAF report. Letters are posted at:

• Earlier endorsements of the report were also withdrawn as more people came to learn about the full content of the report and the related issues.

• Over the past 4-5 weeks, several community leaders suggested various initiatives to bring about collaboration and consensus on the issue of the report. HAF has rejected and / or ignored any such initiatives.

• In a recent India Abroad article, in discussing Swami Dayananda’s letter to HAF, the Managing Director of HAF said that HAF “was under no obligation to fulfill [Swami Dayananda’s] request.” Is this an appropriate stance for a self-styled Hindu advocacy organization?

• The only thing that HAF has done is to remove the report temporarily.

HAF invited a three-author team to “rewrite” the report; two of those three members have withdrawn from the process because HAF refused to accept any of their substantive edits as they only wanted “cosmetic changes”; one of the authors has issued a public statement denouncing HAF’s conduct and its arrogant attitude towards swamijis.

The Political Implications of the Report

• The report will:

• be exploited by anti-Hindu groups to weaken Hindus politically.

• only fuel the alarming spread of evangelism and conversion by missionaries who equate Hinduism primarily with caste in their propaganda.

• facilitate the calls for UN and foreign intervention in the affairs of India / Hindu society under the ruse of protecting human rights.

• be brandished by non-Hindus to undermine the significant progress made by the Hindu community and the government of India in eradicating caste-based discrimination.

Substantive Flaws in the Contents of the Report

• Calls caste-based discrimination a uniquely Hindu problem and calls upon Hindus to re-analyze and reject certain scriptures that, according to HAF, promote birth-based hierarchy and / or caste-based discrimination.

• In calling for a Hindu “priesthood” open to all, regardless of birth, HAF ignores the long and complex historical basis of practices of the various mathas, sampradayas, paramparas and temples that comprise Hindu religious life.

• The policy statements of Navya Shastra – a group that explicitly calls for the creation of a new Hindu scripture and / or a comprehensive reinterpretation of the existing Dharmashastras – are adopted as HAF’s own throughout the report; some prominent Navya Shastra members have specifically called for excising the Ramayana and the Mahabharata from Hinduism because of their alleged caste biases. Why does HAF seek the endorsement of anti-Hindu groups like this?

• While it would not be fair to attribute the views of NavyaShastra to HAF, it is also troubling that HAF’s Human Rights Coordinator recently called the Ramayana a racist narrative in the context of calling for reinterpretations of Hindu sacred texts.

• Many of the incidents of caste violence documented in the HAF report are not supported by any particular citations and are often simply incident reports that have not been proven in a court of law; no evidence that HAF has independently verified or vetted these incidents / statistics, which is irresponsible for a “landmark” report on such a sensitive and complex issue.

• Wrong to blame Hindu society, Hindu Dharma, and Hindu Shastras for law and order issues in India (especially for social ills that mostly came to prominence during the time of Islamic and British colonialism of India, when Hindus were largely disenfranchised).

• This group has pointed out some of the data errors and inaccuracies in the report. One of them is denoting all crimes against backward classes as Caste conflict related.

• HAF Report praises Periyar E. V. Ramasamy Naicker, a virulently anti-Hindu Dravidian activist from Tamilnadu, (who says such things as if you see a snake and a Brahmin, kill the Brahmin first) is cited in the report as a great reformer of Hindu society.

What now?

• Since all efforts have failed for meaningful dialogue and collaboration with HAF, it is unfortunate that critics have no option but to make Hindus all over the world aware of the dangers of this report. HAF supporters, members, and donors need to know what is at stake, as does the larger Hindu community whose interests are affected by the report.

• WAVES Board of Directors has agreed to hold a conference on caste during the summer of 2011. WAVES has invited HAF to participate. WAVES will be inviting wide participation in the discussion of this sensitive and complex issue. It is the hope of the conference organizers that this conference can be one of several steps to move towards consensus and collaboration on the issues related to caste in India today.


Can caste distinctions among Hindus rise to the level of Human Rights Violations as alleged by “Hindu-Amerian Foundatiion” (“HAF”) and their Christian and U.S based Human Rights Watch allies?


Seshachalam Duttta, Ph.D.

Edited and slightly modified by Shree Vinekar

The Hindu-American foundation (HAF) has published a report on Caste Discrimination in India without ever defining what exactly they mean by this, which evoked a storm of protest from Hindu Intellectuals here in America and in India. The reaction of the writers of the HAF report and HAF officials to the criticism is extremely Un-American, let alone compatible with the Hindu part of their ethics. They have forgotten the American part of their identity which would require them to accept the criticism in the sense “disagree without being disagreeable”. They could have taken the criticism in the spirit of democratic right of dissent. Instead an associate of Mihir Meghani of HAF talked down to Sandhya Jain, a renowned Indian journalist by saying, she is “talking from both ends of her mouth”. Such profanity and diatribe doesn’t prove their (HAF’s) case but shows undignified, vulgar, and uncouth conduct in an otherwise serious debate. Rajiv Malhotra, a well meaning person for Hindu causes received similar treatment. Many called for the withdrawal of the report. For my part, I assert the right of HAF to express their view point but ask them to accept the criticism with dignity and modesty, and make it a part of the document by providing honest, cogent and convincing rebuttals that would be acceptable to informed Hindu thinkers. I too supported HAF in the past by becoming a donor and admired some of the Hindu causes they advanced like the Textbook revision of California Schools. To call this HAF report a landmark document, however, is mere indulgence in self flattery in the light of enormity of literature on the subject.

Turning to the debate on Caste in Hinduism, it goes back to centuries and we have published three articles on the subject in during 2009 and 2010 and also an article on Indian Secularism,- as to how it was distorted by Caste in India. Criticism of the Varna goes back to the times of Adi Shankara who wrote Maneesha Panchakam equating the Brahmin to Chandala (the dog eater). There is not much meat in the dog to eat but obviously some did eat it then as do some people of the world do so even now. RSS dedicated 85 years for a single ideology of Sanghatana of Hindu Society which means removal of caste and language barriers, although without success for Hindus at large.

The serious criticism of the report by HAF results from the objection to the message of Human Rights Violation through Caste prejudice in India. The challenge to this report is: Are there human rights violations in India in any form, let alone caste based? What Human Rights are violated in India? Does every social prejudice rise to the level of Violation of Human Rights? If, hypothetically, a Brahmin says that he is superior to people of all other Hindu castes what right is violated, unless the assertion translates into immediate material benefit for him at the cost of inflicting sizeable disadvantage for others? This is the centrality of the debate we should address now. To give an American parallel, Jewish people believe that they are the chosen people of God and hence they are born at a higher level. Evangelists seem to agree. Is there is a Human Rights Violation in this assertion? If not, then the assertion that Brahmin is of superior birth and twice born is no different. In order to evoke the issue of Human Rights, at least some of the rights guaranteed and guaranteeable by the State have to be violated. The phrase “Human Rights” attained currency during the cold war era attributing the suppression of fundamental rights by the totalitarian governments. Failure of law enforcement in any individual litigated cases does not fall under this category. HAF document starts with the accusatory assertion that widespread Human Right Violation by caste based discrimination and birth based hierarchy exist in India. The HAF report is mainly challenged on this mendacious statement alone.

Flatly we assert there are no human rights violations in India, Period.

Let us compare the existing Human Rights status in the U.S and India. It will show the mole in the eye of the Human Rights watch groups of USA and their new ally in HAF. Until well after 1967 more than half the states in the United States had miscegenation laws forbidding the marriage between different races. Such laws were to be repealed in Alabama as late as in the year 2000 and not surprisingly 45% of Alabama citizens voted against the repeal of the law. In contrast, India never had forbidden marriage between any caste groups or races or religious groups. Civil Rights legislation gave affirmative action privileges to “Blacks” in 1965 passing the bill by only one vote majority in the U.S Senate, which thank “God” gave equal treatment to Blacks aka African Americans on paper. In a bitter fight Republicans tried to nominate Robert Bork to the Supreme Court who held the view that the “Civil Rights Legislation” was “unconstitutional.”

At no time voting rights of any groups or gender were abridged in India since its independence in 1947 or after the formation of the Indian Republic in 1949. All under-developed communities including tribes and former untouchables were given special treatment in employment and education for the past 70 years with no political opposition. India has been far ahead of the US in implementing affirmative action and is not satisfied with lip service or hypocrisy in this area. Legislative quotas were established for the representation of the backward castes. In the U.S, by contrast, residents of District of Columbia which has higher population than that of Delaware, or Rhode Island or Connecticut cannot elect their own Senator. Why (?), because the population of the District is heavily black and if permitted that would add two unwanted black senators to the Congress. We should tell these bigoted groups in US who preach Human Rights to India to shut up and not talk about Human Rights in India with Indians and Hindus. They can only be noisy and impress the uninformed people in the West by using such bombastic words and phrases.

The HAF report has several flaws in detail. The proverbial Devil is in the details of the report. Dalits is a derogatory and inflammable epithet initially deployed by Southern Baptist evangelists and missionaries in India. Dalits or Harijans do not belong to a caste; it is a political term. Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes are categories in the Governmental schedules and thus called because how they are reflected in these schedules; these are not all erstwhile “untouchables” as distortedly stated in the report, but by law they (Dalits) are free to integrate into the rest of Hindu groups except they have incentives to keep their identity separate for the Governmental benefits and reservations, and quotas.

Another anomaly of the report is titling the HAF Report as “Hinduism –not cast in caste”. With all the breast beating over the evils of Caste system among Hindus in this report, there is a section of the report addressing caste discrimination among Christians by Benjamin. What is the issue here: - Caste in India or caste in Hindu Society? Do the writers know that Khatri Sikhs marry Khatri Hindus or Khatri Sikhs not Aurora Sikhs? And, there are untouchables among Sikhs with whom they share food but with whom they do not intermarry? In some parts of the world a Sunni washes his hand if he had to shake the hand of a Shia as noted in the publication of ‘Shia Revival'. These are the subjects for social reform and not the issues for the Human Rights Groups to interfere with. However, they seem to arrogate themselves to deliver judgment on other Nations and HAF has seemingly happily joined them.

The HAF report talks of the Human rights of women in India particularly the so-called Dalit women. The report relies on shoddy statistics of the so called Human Right Groups and billion dollar Evangelist propaganda machine that 30,000 Dalit women were raped in India. The report tends to show, if the number is anywhere correct, that the members of highest caste (Brahmins) raped the lowest! This is the unconscious memory of the Whites in America who routinely raped their “negro” slave girls and women for centuries and they are projecting the same paradigm, they are familiar with in their own culture and history, on India. Are there no rapists among the Dalits? What is the statistical breakdown of such number. Poverty is predominantly an issue of class not caste.

Let us look at the facts of the status of women in India.

Government action protecting women went to the opposite extreme as in, say, the justice in Alice in Wonderland—“sentence first and verdict later.” Treatment of Ambati brothers in Bangalore is a case in point. All it takes in India is for a woman to call the police and lodge complaint and instantly everybody cited in the report is arrested. Dr. Ambati from Andhra Pradesh was an exceptional prodigy who graduated in Biomedical Sciences from Johns Hopkins at age 17 and became a physician at 21 and finished Neurosurgery specialization at Harvard. He married a girl in Bangalore and returned to India. He was honored at Andhra University and while attending the ceremony, on the report of his estranged wife, police arrested him and took him to Bangalore. She named her brother-in-law, father-in-law and mother in-law in the complaint. The police arrested all the four, seized their passports. Even though they were all employed in the U.S and the cause for legal action was in the jurisdiction of New York court, it took several weeks to get them released, this in spite of the fact that the Prime Minister of India honored Ambati by receiving him. After two years in courts it came out that the father-in-law of Dr. Abati was demanding ransom who was then arrested and charged. The noise created by mendacious activists in India is driving the Government to illogical extremes. I have other horror stories from unpublicized cases in Bangalore where the police arrested the father and the mother of bridegroom on the simple complaint of an irate daughter-in-law and police demanded bribes to let them go! Now if HAF wants Governmental action to protect the women and minorities; what sort of action they have in mind? They seem to live in distant past divorced from grass-root reality.

Let us look at the status of woman India and compare it to that in U.S for the edification of HAF and Human Right Activists. In 1970 fifty percent of medical students and graduates in India were women. When this writer taught at an American medical school in 1970, there were only two girls in a class of hundred medical students. In 1967 there was not a single woman gynecologist within a radius of 30 miles of the University of Illinois (Urbana). HAF trustees are mostly physicians and should better know the status of women physicians in India. If they care to look into the Journal of New England Medicine of 1967-70, they can find how Americans treated their women medical graduates. Women were discriminated in admissions into Medical Schools with elaborate justifications. Then, when they were admitted they were discouraged to go into specialties like Surgery and Gynecology. Letters to the Journal report how women residents in gynecology were asked to do abortions in residency programs in New York. In 1965 women could not get a credit card on their own without co-signing of their applications by their husbands. So, HAF, please don’t preach Indians on how to treat their women!

The report brings in the statements of several modern Hindu religious leaders in support of their document. Several, who did not care to read it withdrew their endorsements which would have had no weight even if they did not, for the bulk of Hindus would not care any way. The one such holy man that I know is Chinna Jeer Swami from Andhra. His statement of “equality” of all Humans is restricted to Vaishnavites only. Not unlike the phrase “all men are created equal” meant only the white men for many scores and decades in the US. I have written about his promoting Yajnas in the U.S. on in great detail. He has a huge entourage who came to perform Yajna and they would not eat food served by Non-Brahmins. The latter are not allowed even to touch the cooking vessels. Such practice of “untouchability” is not illegal in America but should not be tolerated by Hindus giving them the status of Acharyas. Endorsement of HAF report by people like them is purely hypocritical. May be their followers would be fooled by such endorsements but those who know the characters will discount such endorsements as mendacious. If HAF report can stand on its own feet, why in the world does it need endorsements by such people?

Finally, HAF report raised the alarm of several critiques that it could be taken advantage of by anti-Hindu Evangelists. I too have some concerns about it when they start quoting Bhagavat Geeta with no legitimate purpose but to make Hinduism the religion of the book. The document starts with the Verse in Geeta Sammoham Sarva Bhooteshu Naame Dweshiosti naa priyaah: Meaning that in Shri Krishna’s words, “ No one is dear to me nor do I dislike any one.” For a Muslim, Allah is God of Justice and Mercy and for a Christian, God is God of Love. I did not see any comments by the Acharyas on this verse in HAF report. If God doesn’t care for any one and no one is dear to him, why anybody should worship Him. This is excellent opportunity for Evangelists to brainwash Hindus by crying out all the time ‘God loves you—God Loves ya—Jesus Loves you’. This verse was not presented in proper context. All the author should have done, was to read into Geeta further to find whom God loves.

For instance, Geeta Chapter 7 verse 17

Teshaamjnanee nityayukta ekabhaktir vishishyate/ priyohi jnaaninotyartham aham sacha mama priyaah meaning I am supremely dear to a man of wisdom as he is DEAR To ME.

Again Chapter 12: Verses 14 to 20 ends with the phrase Sa me Priyah (such person is dear to me) , similar thought is emplied in verse 13 also.

The central theme of Geeta is Bhakti (Devotion to God). Krishna says, “Sarvadharmaan Parityajya Maamekam Sharanam Vraja/ Aham Twaam Sarva paapebhyo mokshayishyami, Maa shuchah. Restore faith in me I will save you from all sins, do not grieve.” According to Ramanuja Tradition this is the message (Charana Shloka) in Geeta, meaning you need no further reading. I am astonished that Jeer Swami missed it. So I ask the HAF: Don’t try to impress us by bringing these Acharyas. You may Join the Human Rights group but dare not take them to my birth Country, my motherland, (Matrubhumi) to pass judgment on my people. And, never to punish my people. India is quite capable of delivering justice. Remember my country is not a Banana Republic to be pushed around by HAF or by their newfound friends in the U.S.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Hindu American Foundation’s motivated ‘report’: Cast in hubris and deception –

Radha Rajan

Posted on January 7, 2011 by "Bharar Bharati." (courtesy Bharat Bharati with permission of the author.)

At the outset the writer places on record that she has not read even a page of the report except to read the “statements of support” and encouragement issued by Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Sri Sri Ravishankar and Swami Chidananda Saraswati of Parmarth Niketan, among 13 others, and has no intention of reading it anytime either; the writer’s outright rejection of this document is based on the intent, as articulated by HAF in an email sent to some of us informing us of this report. One does not have to read every page of this less-than-mediocre report to discredit it on grounds of dubious intent and on the issue of locus standi, not to speak of poor understanding of Hindu society and international politics of religion. – Radha Rajan
A bunch of American PIOs belonging to an all-American advocacy group for the minority Hindu community in America, calling itself the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), along the lines of the Indian Muslim Council USA (IMC USA) has issued a ‘report’ on caste in India; an exercise for which this group has neither the competence nor the locus standi. The issue of moral authority does not even arise.

Hindu nationalists will reject any attempt by Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs), who for whatever reason no longer reside on Hindu bhumi, to define or describe Hindu dharma with the intention to change, amend or redefine it; this presumptuous ‘report’ therefore has to be publicly discredited not only because it has the audacity to call for eradicating what it calls ‘caste’ in India, but also because it arrogates to itself the authority to educate Hindus on this soil about what constitutes “Hinduism when practiced genuinely”. And HAF offers the Bhagwad Gita (and the Bhagwad Gita alone) as the Hindu bible for “Hinduism when practiced genuinely”.

The HAF is attempting to semiticise dharma, not only with its one book prescription but also by daring to label aspects of dharma ‘right’ and ‘wrong’; with breezy insouciance the HAF declares that while it would like to issue short responses to sharp criticisms of the report already beginning to be heard both from within the country and without, its first three comments are ‘read the report, read the report, read the report’ in its entirety before commenting upon it.

At the outset the writer places on record that she has not read even a page of the report except to read the “statements of support” and encouragement issued by Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Sri Sri Ravishankar and Swami Chidananda Saraswati of Parmarth Niketan, among 13 others, and has no intention of reading it anytime either; the writer’s outright rejection of this document is based on the intent, as articulated by HAF in an email sent to some of us informing us of this report. One does not have to read every page of this less-than-mediocre report to discredit it on grounds of dubious intent and on the issue of locus standi, not to speak of poor understanding of Hindu society and international politics of religion.

Besides, the operative part of the report as described in the introductory email sent by an HAF member to several Hindus in India and elsewhere, makes abundantly clear the total confusion and/or deliberate intellectual sleight of hand which uses ‘caste’, ‘caste discrimination’ and untouchability interchangeably; the non-Indian political purpose for undertaking this exercise; and the intent behind seeking to redefine our dharma.

The introductory email is revealing in that HAF cannot speak about caste without the suffix ‘problem’; this group’s intent is underscored by repeated use of the phrase ‘caste problem’. Readers are urged to read the excerpts from this introductory statement attentively.

1. There is a very personal story here.

2. The report is five years in the making and rests on … profound soul-searching of HAF team members as devout and proud Hindus.

3. That 13 of today’s leading religious and spiritual luminaries submitted statements of support and encouraged HAF to proceed should not be taken lightly or overlooked.

4. Caste is not intrinsic to Hinduism.

5. Hinduism, when practiced genuinely, can be the solution to the caste problem.

6. We also have 13 major Hindu religious and spiritual leaders and organizations who say essentially the same thing.

7. We need to say what we are because caste has become a major international issue.

8. And allow you as a leader to get into the caste debate when you meet your local Congressmen when he votes on Dalit Freedom Network’s bill in Congress or when your reporter asks what you are doing about human rights of Hindu Dalits.

9. HAF hopes to have credibility and standing to speak out and say that yes, jaati arose in Hindu society, but caste discrimination has not been supported by major Hindu religious leaders and organizations, or by Hindu scriptures.

10. In fact, Hinduism can be the solution to the caste problem if people follow the Hinduism that you and I know – the religion of the Bhagavad Gita.

11. When people use the Manu Smriti to attack Hinduism, they don’t know Hinduism because it’s not a text that anyone I know has read – have you?

(Excerpts from introductory note [press release] on HAF report)

Hindu nationalists like the writer will not dignify this group of self-important American PIOs with an intellectual argument on jaati, kula and varna; the HAF report has boiled the three fundamental principles of dharmic Hindu society in the melting pot called ‘caste’. Contrary to the bizarre claim made by this bunch of PIOs that caste is not intrinsic to Hindusim, jaati, kula and varna are not only intrinsic to Hinduism, they are in fact the cornerstones of our society; a self-respecting and respectful Hindu does not wish away aspects of his dharma or apologize for it.

While individuals or individual families may give up by choice, their jati, kula, varna, gotra, bhumi and even their mother for their own reasons, as indeed have innumerable English-educated, upwardly mobile and deracinated Hindus around the world, the very idea of shaking or dislodging the three cornerstones of jaati, kula and varna of an entire society is diabolic because this is actually an attempt to denude Hindu society of all civilisational values contained in jati, kula and varna dharma. Forces which know very well the place and role of jati, kula and varna in Hindu society, want to discredit and eventually destroy them, so that they can fill the ensuing vacuum with one of the Abrahamic monotheisms or Abrahamic economic ideologies.

It is jati, kula and varna which makes Hindu society diverse and Hindu dharma an ever-relevant and dynamic principle. Without them, we would be just another intolerant monotheist culture. Hindu society remains largely autonomous, power is broad-based and culture is diverse only because of jati, kula and varna. To melt them all down to Portuguese ‘caste’ and then destroy it is Abrahamic evil intent; and this group of American PIOs is playing right into its hands.

Fear of being confronted by accusations of discrimination and hierarchy by their Christian inquisitors in the US has compelled American Hindu PIOs to travel a tortuous path and arrive at the erroneous conclusion that caste is not intrinsic to Hinduism, and Hindus should all give up caste and follow the Hinduism of the Bhagwad Gita. Simpler would have been for HAF to pose the counter question to the local Congressman and the local reporter if they had rid their personal lives, their polity, and their societies of hierarchy and all discrimination before launching the Hindu Inquisition!

PIOs may choose to live in the political margins of countries not built on the foundations of dharma, but that is not the destiny of Hindus who reside on Hindu bhumi; because unlike ‘problem’ which is the preferred suffix to caste in the HAF report, jati, kula and varna bear the suffix dharma in practice – jati dharma, kula dharma and varna dharma. To ask Hindus to give up jati, kula and varna is to actually ask Hindus to give up their dharma.

And this is what HAF has dared to do; and this it has dared to do by hiding behind a few Hindu religious leaders, neo-vedantins all of them, and some of them busy in international circuits; but not a single Mathathipathi, Adeenam or Mandaleswar of ancient lineage has endorsed the report in their names. The writer would have been extremely surprised if even one of our traditional religious leaders had lent the names of their Mathams to “support or encourage” the attempt by HAF to discredit and disown aspects of our dharma. Which is why the writer was surprised to see the statement of Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati, in his capacity as Convener of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, appended to this document.

As listed in the points above, HAF wanted a written document to show the local Congressman, the local small-time tabloid reporter, and maybe, just maybe, the self-anointed global busybody the US Congressional Committee on this that or the other, and glory of glories, maybe even the Secretary General of the United Nations, exactly where this group of patriotic American PIOs stands on the issue of caste when it falls upon them to engage these dignitaries in debate (read offer exculpatory self-flagellating apology) over Hindu India’s ‘caste problem’.

To cap it all, HAF states that it intends to conclude its engagement with local non-Hindu nosy Americans with the Parthian shot that they should not judge Hinduism on the basis of Manu Smriti, a text which this American PIO holds has not been read by “anyone I know – have you”? This writer has and places on record that for self-respecting Hindus Manu Smriti and all other Smritis, Itihaasa and Puranas hold the same place in Hindu dharma as does the Bhagwad Gita. We reject outright the one prophet (Srikrishna), one book (Bhagwad Gita) and one god (God of Krishna or God as Krishna) prescription.

Now let us see if we understand this group of self-flagellating American PIOs correctly –

HAF sent some of its members to live in India among the Dalits to gather first-hand information about the ‘caste problem’ so that it can prepare a dossier which can be used by all of them as the defining document on caste in India which will serve as handbook in all their engagement with their government, local political representatives, and local media. And it is here that HAF has intentionally blurred the lines between caste and caste discrimination and between caste discrimination and untouchability.

If HAF had wanted to prove ‘caste discrimination’ it should have sent its members, not to live among the Dalits but to live with Brahmins, Goundars, Mudaliars, Pillais, Reddys, Naidus, Lingayats, Vokkaligas, Saiva Vellalars, Rajputs, Thakurs and Kayasthas. But HAF lived for a while among the Dalits and wrote a document allegedly not about the unforgivable sin of untouchability but about the “caste problem”. If this document is about untouchability then it cannot be about caste; and if it is about caste discrimination, it cannot be about untouchability; not unless this document is about questioning the very character of Hindu society as a whole. To speak of untouchability and the “caste problem” interchangeably is some intellectual acrobatics!

What we get is a confused-thought khichdi cooked in the kitchen of “personal story” and “profound soul searching of HAF team members as devout and proud Hindus”; what this group is implying is that HAF undertook to documenting what it calls the ‘caste problem’ as a soul-cleansing personal cathartic exercise on behalf of all soul-dead Hindus on Hindu bhumi. Having completed their catharsis, HAF is now insisting that Hindus on Hindu bhumi give up their castes as sign of having tasted the guilt flavour of their khichdi and insist that they have come forward to condemn our jati, kula and varna dharma in the name of caste.

And like those pesky salesmen selling us lemons in gilt foil, HAF is selling us the idea of “caste problem” wrapped in the statements of support and encouragement of “13 of today’s leading religious and spiritual luminaries”! Now that should hopefully silence vocal critics like the writer.

HAF’s intent was not to live among the Dalits to ameliorate their condition; or live in their midst to find ways and means of ending untouchability at least in one village or rural community; or to improve the quality of life and share with them ideas about ways for sustained social and economic growth. Dear me, no; their intent was to document instances of “birth-based hierarchy” (whatever that means), compile a handbook on the nature of victim-hood of the Dalits in the name of “caste discrimination” and present it as a handy manual on India’s ‘caste problem’.

That this document may well fall into the hands of busybodies like the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and the UN Commission for Human Rights should have been considered by this group before embarking on this misadventure; but so compelling was their ambition to meddle in the internal affairs of this country that this possibility was either overlooked or they actually welcomed it. The HAF authors of this outrageous report on caste are thus no different from Angana Chatterjee, Akhila Raman, Teesta Setalvad or John Dayal and Cedric Prakash. They are submitting my religion, my country and my society to external audit; to entities who have neither the locus standi nor the moral authority to demand such an audit in the first place.

The HAF may protest all it wants to the contrary, but it is almost certain that this anti-Hindu ‘report’ will be the document which our adversaries will cite in every forum at home and abroad, including as HAF admits, in inter-faith summits, a favourite pastime with a section of American and British Hindu PIOs and some globe-trotting sanyasis. As stated by this HAF member in his first email informing us all about the report, HAF undertook to study the issue of caste in India because, “we need to say what we are because caste has become a major international issue. With the new US Congress having majority Republicans, many of whom are Christian conservative tea party candidates, caste will be raised again by Christian missionary groups who claim to represent Dalits but only represent missionaries”.

This is a problem which PIOs, if they choose to continue to want to live in the US as American citizens, must deal with as being internal to their country. Hindu PIOs having to deal with Christian loonies in the US is not India’s problem, much less the problem of Hindus on Hindus bhumi. What is cause for greater concern is that American PIOs seem to accept the fact that “caste is a major international issue” and rather than making any effort to challenge the right of the US or anyone else as to why it is a major international issue and challenge their self-claimed right to meddle in the internal affairs of Indian Hindus, this bunch of PIOs is begging to be invited to the Christian High Table by redefining dharma to suit their international geo-political agenda.

The PIOs who authored this half-baked report claim audaciously, “caste is not intrinsic to Hinduism”; and then proceed to claim even more audaciously and mendaciously that “we also have 13 major Hindu religious and spiritual leaders and organizations who say essentially the same thing”. And this is their fig-leaf! They claim that 13 major Hindu religious and spiritual (what is spiritual in Hindu dharma without being religious?) leaders have validated their report which says caste is not intrinsic to dharma, no one reads Manu Smriti and only the Bhagwad Gita is the American Hindu PIO acknowledged exegesis of “Hinduism practiced genuinely”.

To test the truth of their statement that not only had 13 Hindu religious and spiritual leaders given them statements of support and encouragement, but that these religious leaders through these statements are essentially saying the same thing as the HAF, the writer read the statements of three religious leaders with curiosity. The first question that pops in our minds is – did the 13 religious leaders offer these statements of support and encouragement after they read the document or much before, merely because they are overseas Hindus and an affluent constituency?

The second thing that strikes us is that there is not a single religious leader belonging to traditional mathams who has offered support and encouragement in his name or in the name of his sampradaya. Considering what this report has attempted to do, the writer would have been surprised if the mathathipathi of the Ahobila Matham, Pujya Pejawara Swami of the Udipi Matha or the Kanchi or Puri Sankaracharya or any of the Mahamandaleswars would have signed a document which reduces jati dharma, kula dharma and varna dharma to caste and then proceeds to discredit it.

Sri Sri Ravishankar is a popular invitee to inter-faith summits and he conducted his own well-publicized, patented version of the truth-and-reconciliation exercise with Dalits and upper-caste Hindus in Delhi, the political capital of the country; which would surely have drawn the attention of the American Embassy, the European Union, and perhaps even the United Nations. One must wonder if this truth and reconciliation exercise was not triggered by the HAF intention to come to India to document “caste problem” and this intention, by HAF’s own admission, is more than five years old. Perhaps Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Delhi exercise was intended to be a page in the HAF report – that Hindu society has seen the error of its ways and is turning over a new leaf.

As for Swami Chidananda Saraswati of Parmarth Niketan, this was the sanyasi who participated in the infamous inter-faith meet in Shri Advani’s house in New Delhi with the Catholic clergy in the wake of the murder of Pujya Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and who offered to rebuild in any one village all the churches and prayer houses burnt down by enraged tribal people. So, the writer was curious to read what Swami Chidananda-ji had to say about the “caste problem”.

While Pujya Swami Dayananda-ji issued a statement, Swami Chidananda’s endorsement did not come as a statement but as a report of an interview. And nowhere does the HAF expose its dubious and even duplicitous intent more than in the questions posed by their member to the Swamiji. To a pointed question on why Gujaratis who have been residing in the US for several years and even decades have still not given up their caste consciousness and why do they still perform the marriages of their children only within their caste and if Pujya Swamiji approves of this caste discrimination, Swamiji neatly sidesteps the question.

This was not about Dalits or about untouchability; and nothing about soul-searching by “devout and proud Hindus”. This was about the caste consciousness of American Gujarati Hindus; and this consciousness was not a problem in itself ,but a problem with the politically ambitious American Hindu PIOs who did not want the taint of caste upon their names simply because their Christian Inquisitors had given caste a bad name!

They would have liked nothing better than to showcase their lives to the US Congressional Committee as being exemplary for its castelessness, where everyone married everyone else. But Swamiji knowing full well that he was treading a minefield and that he may be asked to explain any answer not confirming todharmic traditions, sidestepped the question on caste and told the interviewer that ideally, marriages stand a better chance of starting off well if there are many factors of cultural compatibility between partners and that is why generally Gujaratis married Gujaratis and Punjabis married Punjabis!!

Now why should not Hindus on Hindu bhumi carry this argument further and state unapologetically that it is for this very reason that arranged marriages look for as many factors of compatibility at the very beginning and that jati, kula andvarna happen to be some of them. Unless HAF has prepared this report with the understanding that the US Congressional Committee, the local Congressman, and the local reporter, now have the authority to tell Hindus who they should marry, with whom they should dine and what they will dine upon. HAF should begin telling the writer why this question on Hindu marriage was posed to the Swami in what was meant to be a statement of support and encouragement to proceed with their document on India’s “caste problem”.

The third most striking feature of the statements of these three religious leaders is that none of them mentions jati, kula, varna, untouchability or even caste by name! Given that these wondrous statements of “support and encouragement” name no names they can be speaking as much about untouchability as about the “caste problem”; and that is precisely the problem which the writer has with these endorsements.

Had Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati named jati, kula and varna by name and mentioned the practice of untouchability by name, such questions would not arise and HAF would not flaunt these statements as validation of their document. To cite just one example –

HDAS is aware that what started as rural kinship, creating a sense of security and identity in communities, developed over the centuries into entrenched social practices, particularly in deep rural areas. Consequently, complete elimination of such practices will take time. Therefore, concerted, sustained and proactive action at the grass-roots is required to rid our society of these birth-based unfair discriminations.

(Excerpt from Statement released to HAF on behalf of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha on caste issues in India

Pujya Swamiji has issued this statement on behalf of Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha which effectively means he is issuing this statement on behalf of all the traditional mathams and ancient sampradayas which constitute the Acharya Sabha. It is unimaginable that Pujya Kanchi Sankaracharya or any of the Mahamandaleswars would state that Hindu society needed to eliminate jati, kula and varna; they would not arrogate to themselves a right that was denied by Bhagwan Vishnu to Acharya Ramanuja himself.

In the paragraph quoted above, it is not clear if Pujya Swamiji is referring to untouchability, or jati, or kula, or varna. And when Pujya Swamiji is talking about “complete elimination” and ridding “our society of these birth-based unfair discriminations, is he talking about Goundars not marrying Mudaliars, Naidus not marrying Reddys, Brahmins not eating anywhere else except in their home, or is Pujya Swamiji talking about ending untouchability? All three religious leaders whom the writer has cited have not named jati, kula, varna and untouchability by name in their statements to HAF.

It is possible that Pujya Swamiji may have issued the statement long before the HAF finalized its report and stated its intention so articulately in the first email about local Congressmen, local reporters and the US Congressional Committee. Why should the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha be concerned about any of these entities and why should the Acharya Sabha issue any statement to PIOs whose intent is to redefine dharma?

As for the HAF, if it really wants to serve dharma and Hinduism, it should sit down across the table with all those entities it has cited in its mail and ask them to give up religious conversion, jihad, interfering in the domestic affairs of foreign countries like Iraq and Afghanistan considering it is their monotheism which has destroyed entire civilizations, religions, peoples, nations and countries.

When the HAF receives the assurance that Christians will give up religious conversion, that Islam will give up jihad, and that western nations will give up meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, HAF can ask Hindus to give up caste. So until such time, as devout and proud Hindus, HAF must persevere with attaining this objective and place the report in cold storage.

The author is editor of

On Jan 2, 2011 Swami Dayananda sent the following letter to the HAF president Dr. Mihir Meghani:

I have been reading some of the E-mails regarding your recent report “Hinduism: Not cast in caste”. I am very happy to learn hat different people are reviewing the report. One of them I know, is revising the whole report. So I request you to withdraw the report immediately from the website until we have a consensus among all the Hindu leaders. Thanks.

[Sd. Swami Dayananda]

See also “Political Implications of the Hindu American Foundation report on Caste and Hinduism” by Gautam Sen

See also “Trans-national Hindus: Seeking vicarious redemption!” by Sandhya Jain

Monday, January 24, 2011




The HAF Report on Caste & Its Implications:

A Critique from Members of the Hindu Community and Hindu Groups at Large

A Brief History

On August 7, 2010, Hindu American Foundation (HAF) made an invited presentation at the Eighth Biennial International Conference of the World Association of Vedic Studies (WAVES). HAF BOD member and presenter, Swaminathan Venkataraman, commented prior to his presentation that many Hindu community members will be very upset with his presentation, and that he would be ready to run away after his presentation. Many critical comments were made by scholars, and WAVES participants decided at the end of the Conference to set up a group of scholars to prepare a proper position paper on Jaati, Kula, and Varna to inform the community and society on true issues related to caste.

HAF ignored the advice of 100+ scholars at the WAVES conference to observe restraint and obtain wider collaboration and consultation before issuing any such report.

Instead, in December 2010, HAF released a “human rights report on caste” entitled “Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste.” The report is problematic on several counts. Without due regard to the huge gains made in ending untouchability and caste-based discrimination in India, this report skirts dangerously close to creating an uproar within the Hindu community, especially in taking the discussion outside India and to non-Hindus who constantly look for excuses to intervene in Hinduism’s affairs. This danger is compounded by HAF’s stated intention to use the report as a briefing document for US Congress, the media, and the educational system. Additional substantive issues regarding the report are detailed below. It is important to note that all Hindus, including our Acharyas, the community at large, scholars and community leaders critical of the HAF report, etc., overwhelmingly agree that caste-based discrimination and social practices of untouchability, etc., have no place in Hindu society today. Hindus are unified in supporting the ongoing work and efforts of Hindus to eradicate such social evils.

Many Hindus—including key community leaders and scholars—have been outraged by the nature of the HAF report and its dangers to the cause of Dharma. Many critiques were written and shared with HAF in hopes of persuading HAF to withdraw the report and work with the wider community in rewriting the report if at all HAF still insisted upon issuing a report. Further, earlier endorsements of the HAF report by prominent Hindus were also withdrawn as more people came to learn about the full content of the report and the associated issues. For example, Dr. N.S. Rajaram withdrew his earlier endorsement once he became better informed and subsequently circulated a strong criticism of the report.

HAF has remained opaque, secretive, and intransigent despite being contacted by several well-meaning individuals and groups to open up the process and include the views and opinions of the larger community. HAF’s sole argument against the report’s critics that HAF has the right to publish its own report is an odd position given HAF’s claim to be a community advocacy group. Indeed, it was not the right of HAF to write reports that was contested by the critics but only the propriety of the report and its purposes—challenges HAF has not addressed in substance to date. Also, HAF’s claim that critics of the report are bent upon destroying HAF is simply wrong. Most of the report’s critics are Hindu community leaders who are / were strong supporters of HAF’s previous good works. They are simply shocked and sorely disappointed that HAF persists in this project that is detrimental to Hindu interests.

The furor and controversy over the report has reached the highest echelons of Hindu society, including many of our most prominent and revered Acharyas. In addition to Swami Dayananda Saraswati (Convenor of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha (HDAS)), Dr. Pranav Pandya (Head of All World Gayatri Pariwar (AWGP)), Sri Puthige Swami of Udupi, and Swami Ramdev have issued letters calling upon HAF to withdraw the report and to reach consensus among all Hindu leaders before issuing any subsequent report. These letters are appended. Pujya Pejavar Swamiji (another one of the heads of the Udupi Matha, renowned for his tremendous social work on behalf of Harijans) has also expressed displeasure about the HAF report.

Over the past 4-5 weeks, several community leaders suggested various initiatives to bring about collaboration and consensus on the issue of the report. This included a proposal by the World Association of Vedic Studies (“WAVES”) to host a conference where HAF and other community members could discuss issues related to caste and the HAF report. Unfortunately, HAF refused to participate in this conference if the HAF report was going to be a topic of discussion. HAF also rejected and / or ignored many other similar overtures. This has continued to alienate an increasing number of people within the community, and raises suspicion over the motivations of HAF in preparing this report and any quid pro quo.

Not only has HAF rejected such overtures from within the community, but also HAF has shockingly defied the expressed wishes of the Acharyas. In fact, in a recent India Abroad article, in discussing Swami Dayananda’s letter to HAF, the Managing Director of HAF said that HAF “was under no obligation to fulfill [Swami Dayananda’s] request.” Is this an appropriate stance for a self-styled Hindu advocacy organization? The only thing that HAF has done is to remove the full text link of the report on its web site (while leaving online key elements of the report, including the Executive Summary, Endorsements, etc.) and stating that the report has been temporarily removed from the web site while “final edits” are being incorporated.

Below is a summary of some of the key critiques of and concerns regarding the HAF caste report.

The Political Implications of the Report

The very issuance of “a human rights report on caste” by a Hindu advocacy group is deeply problematic. This is further exacerbated by the fact that the HAF report calls caste-based discrimination “a uniquely Hindu problem” and that HAF is positioning this report as a briefing paper for the US government, international bodies, the mainstream media and the educational system. The report does not define “caste-based discrimination” or explain how it is purported to be a “human rights issue”.

Whatever good intentions may be behind the report, such a report will undoubtedly be exploited by anti-Hindu groups (including Christian evangelists, Western powers fearing the rise of an emerging superpower in India and anti-national elements within India) to weaken Hindus politically. The definition of any caste problem and its “solution” cannot be dictated by Westerners who do not have an understanding of the ground realities in India; Hindus who want to do actual good in this area should work within Hindu efforts inside India to eradicate social ills within Hindu society.

This report will only fuel the alarming spread of evangelism and conversion by missionaries who equate Hinduism primarily with caste in their propaganda. UK evangelists are already attempting to legislate against alleged caste discrimination within the UK. The issuance of such a report by a Hindu body will facilitate the calls for UN and foreign intervention in the affairs of India / Hindu society under the ruse of protecting human rights. For example, measures to explicitly denounce caste (and Hinduism by implication) have already been proposed by Navi Pillay of the UNHCR. The report will just be extra ammunition in the arsenal for such moves. It will lead to an exponential increase in sending foreign government representatives under the banner of “human rights” to the interior regions of India, causing concern for the national security of India. It is significantly notable that Indian government has already (at least in the past) objected heavily the inclusion of caste-based discrimination as a human rights abuse by the UN Human Rights Council.

Further, the HAF report can and will be used by others (especially by those who have interest in deriding Hindus for conversion purpose) to undermine the significant progress made by the Hindu community and the government of India in eradicating caste-based discrimination. Untouchability is already being addressed in a vigorous and sustained manner in independent India. Harijans now enjoy tremendous political power, and India’s caste-based reservations system is one of the most robust forms of affirmative action in the world. Even abuse on the basis of caste identity is a non-bailable offense.

Calling caste a “uniquely Hindu problem” also makes all Hindus and Hinduism itself culpable and implies that the easiest solution available is simply to become a non-Hindu. This is exacerbated by the fact that the report offers no basis for comparison to the rampant discrimination within Christianity and Islam (e.g., the violent Shia vs. Sunni divide in Islam and the de facto segregation in Christian churches in India and America, etc.) It is irresponsible to author an analysis on such a complex issue of purported intrareligious discrimination without doing a comparative analysis of many religions—particularly when such a self-incriminating endeavor is being undertaken by a Hindu advocacy organization!

Substantive Flaws in the Contents of the Report

We note only a few of the major substantive issues related to the HAF report here.

Reforming / Recasting Hinduism

HAF has been brashly announcing with this report its intentions to recast Hinduism for the 21st century (headline in a Guardian column about the report by one of HAF’s officers). The report terms caste-based discrimination a uniquely Hindu problem and calls upon Hindus to re-analyze and reject certain scriptures that, according to HAF, promote birth-based hierarchy and / or caste-based discrimination. There is an implicit presumption that Hinduism is also a “religion of the book” like Christianity and Islam and that thus the current practices of Hindus are essentially because of Hindus following these select scriptures. Nothing could be further from the truth! To add to this, HAF then calls upon Hindu Acharyas to explicitly deny authority to various Hindu teachings that, according to HAF, promote caste-based discrimination (without specifying what such teachings may be). It is not clear which scriptures HAF has in mind, but it is an astonishing act of hubris for HAF to arrogate to itself the adhikara (authority and competence) to decide which portions of Hindu scriptures are valid are not. As is very clearly stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam (7.11.7), the interpretation of the smritis is to be undertaken only by people who have complete knowledge of Vedas and are enlightened.

Further, in calling for a Hindu “priesthood” open to all, regardless of birth, HAF ignores the long and complex historical basis of practices of the various mathas, sampradayas, paramparas and temples that comprise Hindu religious life, which are not amenable to change by presumptuous diktat from afar and by groups that have no connection with them whatsoever. There also seems to be a lack of awareness that purohits / archakas from every section of the Hindu community are being trained in many parts of India and remarkable public acts of affirmation in the internal reformist and empowering traditions of Hinduism are being undertaken. Such initiatives evolve from within the traditions of various sampradayas and paramparas and cannot simply be adopted as a political policy position.

It is also troubling that much of the HAF report reflects views of assorted groups that are anti-mainstream Hinduism. Navya Shastra is a virulently anti-traditional Hindu group based in the US. The policy statements of Navya Shastra – a group that explicitly calls for the creation of a new Hindu scripture and / or a comprehensive reinterpretation of the existing Dharmashastras – are adopted as HAF’s own throughout the report; some prominent Navya Shastra members have specifically called for excising the Ramayana and the Mahabharata from Hinduism because of their alleged caste biases. While it would not be fair to attribute the views of NavyaShastra to HAF, it is also troubling that HAF’s Human Rights Coordinator recently called the Ramayana a racist narrative in the context of calling for reinterpretations of Hindu sacred texts.

Analytical / Factual Errors

The report is rife with factual / analytical errors, too numerous to detail herein. Hardly anything is written about the fact that crimes against SC / ST have been steadily dropping or otherwise showing the improvements being made by India in addressing issues of discrimination. Also, it is irresponsible to simply list incidents and various statistics without explaining how they have been independently verified, authenticated or vetted by HAF. In fact, many of the incidents of caste violence documented in the HAF report are not supported by any particular citations. As we all know, working with data and making sense of various reported statistics requires rigorous analysis to provide meaningful information and interpretation. The report has pages and pages of alleged caste violence incidents without offering any valuable context or analysis of the raw data (or even whether the raw data is valid).

The numerous positive values of jaati / kula (including to the poor and those of “lower castes”) have not been given any consideration to balance out the report objectively. On the other hand, the report praises as a great “reformer” of Hindu society Periyar (E.V. Ramasamy Naicker), whose DMK movement has been virulently anti-Hindu.

Finally, the causal link between caste-based discrimination and the supposed culpability of Hindu Dharma and Hindu society has not been properly established in the report. After all, even if a crime is committed, it does not mean it is necessarily motivated by caste. Moreover, there is no historical proof that the Smritis (including the Manu Smriti) (which HAF holds culpable for the ills of caste-based discrimination) were ever the law of the land. It is wrong to blame Hindu society, Hindu Dharma, and Hindu Shastras for law and order issues in India (especially for social ills that mostly came to prominence during the time of Islamic and British colonialism of India, when Hindus were largely disenfranchised). As for modern India, issues of legal enforcement and police abuse should not be conflated with religious persecution of the underprivileged in Indian society.

What now?

Since all efforts for meaningful dialogue with HAF have failed, it is unfortunate that critics have no option but to make Hindus all over the world aware of the grave dangers of this report. (While the initial report is not available on the HAF web site at this time, copies are readily available on the web and can be procured upon request.) HAF supporters, members, and donors need to know what is at stake, as does the larger Hindu community whose interests are affected by the report.

The Board of Directors of WAVES has decided to hold a conference on Jati / Varna / Kula: The Indian Caste System sometime during the summer of 2011. WAVES will be inviting wide participation in the discussion of this sensitive and complex issue. It is the hope of the conference organizers that this conference can be one of several steps to move towards consensus and collaboration on the issues related to caste in India today.

Friday, January 14, 2011


The Ramayana in contemporary Bharat

01/09/2011 13:41:39


Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

The significance of the Ramayana, whether by Valmiki, Kamban, Tulsidas, Ezuthatchan is that of a devotional prayer. Lord Rama is portrayed as the ideal hero, the ideal individual, maryadarama, and his reign in Ayodhya as the fulfillment of the Vedic ideal of a just polity, a dharmic state, with justice and equality for all. The Vedic seers saw this long before any modern ideals of a just society were formulated. It is no accident that Gandhiji spoke frequently of the Ramarajya. And Indians who are not familiar with that most ancient of Bharat’s thought on the subject may fondly imagine that justice and equality are western importations, that social philosophy somehow originated only in the West. The dharma of Ayodhya is a continuation of an ancient social philosophy.

While one could analyse this devotional epic from a modern standpoint and take it apart from various angles (and there are novelists and shortstory writers, critics and secularists and leftists etc who have done so (India is a free country!) the ideal remains intact in the Hindu ethos. Why is this so ? Afterall, there are violent episodes of war as Rama and his beleagured army of vanaras and forest dwellers fight the agents of the all powerful Ravana. It cannot simply be because of the age old human longing for the victory of good (represented by Rama) over evil (represented by Ravana).

It is because both the everyday Hindu and the intellectualized Hindu and yes the deracinated Hindu and the false secularists and the modernists all recognize that Rama is a dharmic hero. The secularists and modernists and the leftists may outwardly criticize Rama as a feudal prince at best and at worst . . . . . but they cannot shake off the feeling that he is somehow ingrained in their consciousness. He speaks to their deepest longing for a just society. Deep inside them, they know that. Deep inside them even when corrupted by their contemporary modernisms they echo Hanumanji’s prayer for the return of Rama.

In today’s India of super corrupt governance, the dharmic society and state are no longer the bugaboo they once tried to make it out to be. The Vedic ideal expressed so poignantly in the Gayatri, described as the mother of the Veda, seems to have become embodied in the Ayodhya of Bharat’s dreams. It is not an accident that Rama is from the solar dynasty, since the Gayatri is the personification of the radiance and plenitude of the sun.

The worship of the terrestrial, the atmospheric and celestial deities in the Rig Veda is possible because there is no one dogmatic God who rules over the universe, as in the monotheistic faiths with their violence and conquest over the peoples of the earth.

The three worlds are changing and dynamic and open up various possibilities. Hence the Rig Veda is a celebration of life and human society mirrors this celebration. Ayodhya is a world of plenty, of justice, peace and prosperity to all. Sarve bhavantu sukhinah (May all beings be happy !) includes the earth, and the entire universe. Includes all people in society.

The Rama of Ayodhya evokes that dharmic state of well being for all creatures and the environment. Hence, in the Malayalam version by Ezuthatchan, there is an ecstatic invocation of the radiant Rama. Almost a dozen lines call upon Rama, as the ruler not just of Ayodhya, but of the entire world !

This may not be a bad prayer afterall !And it might well be that Bharat has lasted for several millennia and will last for several more because the notion of Punya Bhumi, sacred earth, extends to the entire planet and the invocation to the Gayatri sends out a message to the entire planet for all time:

Gayatri yai dirghai namaha !

Long live Gayatri and one can add: Long live Ayodhya ! Long live the just society, the dharmic society that all Hindus can/should strive for. The Ramayana is for all time.

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university).