Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hiranyagarbha Sukta - A Nirishwara-vaadi (Non-Theistic) inquiry

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The background of this post lies in these two articles published long ago.

Readers can find entire Hiranyagarbha Sukta posted and discussed in second link provided above. The recurring phrase in Hiranyagarbha Sukta goes like this - 

कस्मै देवाय हविषा विधेम ? (to) which god, (our) oblation offered/goes/given? 

The phrase comes after description OR characteristic OR act which pertains to creation OR existence of this world (I will not use the word Universe, simply because I do not know whether it is a "uni"verse or not)... 

हिरण्यगर्भः समवर्तताग्रे भूतस्य जातः पतिरेकासीत | स दाधार पर्थिवीं दयामुतेमां कस्मै देवायहविषा विधेम || 

Now, the verb used for Hiranyagarbha's entry in our frame of inquiry is "Sama+vartana" - Sama + vartana - vartana (rotation), Sama refers to even, symmetrical, equal.. Samavartana means during course OR point of a symmetrical cycle (or existence, sustenance and dissolution, perhaps). Which point? Beginning (Agre) Samavartataagre - At the beginning of a symmetrical cycle. 

So हिरण्यगर्भः समवर्तताग्रे means Hiranyagarbha (one with a golden womb - something like sun) first arose upon the samaavartana (of? perhaps world). This is origin of our concept of Pralaya and new genesis. But the clause is not complete. Hiranyagarbha itself is an adjective. A description. But of whom? This is answered in second clause of the first line - 

भूतस्य जातः पतिः एक आसीत   One Lord of all beings who exist

So, in my understanding, sages are saying that the "One lord of all beings that exist, who is a Hiranyagarbha, came into being (aasit) at the beginning of this symmetrical cycle."

What did he do?

स द आधार पृथ्वी द्युः उत् इमा  He gave support to earth and skies (thus making this world which is fit for life to exist). 

So the entire verse comes to mean as following:
हिरण्यगर्भः समवर्तताग्रे भूतस्य जातः पतिरेकासीत | स दाधार पर्थिवीं दयामुतेमां कस्मै देवायहविषा विधेम ||  

"One lord of all beings that exist, who is a Hiranyagarbha, came into being at the beginning of this symmetrical cycle. He (then) gave support to earth and skies (thus making this world which is fit for life to exist). Who is such a radiant being (deva) to whom we should offer our havi (offerings, oblation in yagna)"

They are asking this question to Prajapati. Prajapti is another name OR earlier name of Brahmadeva (creator). He is perhaps the most supreme force described in Vedic literature. Yet, he is not this "lord of all that exists" and who "supported earth and heavens". They are asking Prajapati this question, so they are perhaps sure that Prajapati is not the one. 

This entire Sukta (known as Hiranyagarbha Sukta, Rigveda 10.125) is question inquiring who this eka Bhootasya Jaata pati (one lord of everything that exists) is?

The answer comes 4 suktas later in Naasadeeya Sukta (RV 10.129). In the last verse, where they doubt whether even Prajapati knows the answer to this question or not. Perhaps even Prajapati (who is ultimate repository of all knowledge of this world because he created this world) does not know because perhaps there IS NO such "Eka Bhootasya Jaata pati (One lord of everything that exists). 

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Critique on Savarkar's ideas - Hindutva in proper perspective

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Regarding Savarkar's definition of "Who is Hindu".

The original definition from his famous "Hindutva", for the consideration of reader, goes like this - 

आसिन्धु सिन्धु पर्यन्ता यस्य भारत भूमिकाः
पितृभूः पुण्यभुः च एव, स वै हिन्दुरीति स्मृतः 
One who considers this land from Indus to southern ocean (poetic way of saying entire Indian subcontinent, no need to take it literally) as "India" and regards this country as  his "pitRu bhumi" (land of forefathers) and Punya-bhumi (difficult to translate this one), he is "Hindu"

About Fatherland - It is translation of original sanskrit word - Pitrubhumi (Land of Pitaras - forefathers). India is land of my forefathers. Ever since human being entered Indian subcontinent from Africa 1 lakh years ago, all my ancestors were from this subcontinent. So India is my pitrubhumi (Purkhon ki zameen in common hindi). All the places, rivers, mountains which I consider valuable and am ideologically and emotionally attached to, are in Indian subcontinent. Hence, India is my Punyabhumi as well. All those who share opinion with me are Hindus. 

Julia Roberts may be a Vaishnavaite, but her pitrubhumi is somewhere else. She is dharmik, but not Hindu. Tarek Fatah and some Muslims like him (many are my friends) openly and proudly say that India is their Pitrubhumi and Punyabhumi, are Hindus. In their opinion, Mecca is just a place and over reverence to a place is non-islamic. On the other hand, culturally they  are of this land and identify with Ayodhya, Kurukshetra, Ramsetu etc. They do not worship those places, but then nor do many Nirishwarvadi (non-theistic) Hindus. Whatever Subramanian Swamy said in his DNA article, is what Savarkar said in 1920s. Hindutva is Dharmarthik (socio-politico-economic) concept. It should not be made OR treated as an Adhyatmik (vaguely "spiritual") concept. 

Hindu and Hindutva ARE geographical confined terms. Hindu comes from Sindhu and means Indian. With Muslim rule, it came to be associated with Indian faiths and with British rule, it was confined to Indian aastika faiths (segregating Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and tribals). GOI continued this. But people did not. Please do not think of Hindu and Hindutva as Adhyatmik terms. They are purely geographical and hence ethnocentric terms meant for describing Hindus of India. Those who have accepted some other land as their Punyabhumi and are interested only in adhyatmik traditions of Dharma, need not pay attention to what Savarkar says. It is not applicable. 

These terms "Hindu" and "Hindutva" are for denoting dharmarthik aspirations of native brown Indic people from Indian subcontinent who consider Indian subcontinent as their native land and revered land. Hindutva is a subset of Dharma. Dharma is for entire humanity. Hindus (or the ethnic group which today is known as Hindus) are the last custodians and as well as originators of meme-complex of Dharma. 

Remembered following quote from the film Good Shepherd (a fantastic film to watch, BTW)

Joseph Palmi: Let me ask you something... we Italians, we got our families, and we got the church; the Irish, they have the homeland, Jews their tradition; even the blacks, they got their music. What about you people, Mr. Wilson, what do you (WASPs) have?  
Edward Wilson: We have United States of America. The rest of you are just visiting.

Here "we" are "hindus". And "we" have and ought to have "India". Rest are welcome, but are just visitors. In future when this Nation-state based polity will crumble and the very concept of "Nation-state" will fade, "Hindu" tag will fade along with it and so will "Hindutva". So, in another words, Hindutva is also one of the few Indic responses to "nation-state" concept imposed upon India by Brits after 1857. 

Until nation-state exists, Hindus (brown indic people of Indian origin living in India and considering India as their native land and revered land) will have to ensure that their traditions and models (dharmik, aarthik, Kaamik and mokshik) are protected and implemented and their population well-versed with these traditions and models in geographical confines of "nation-state", that is today's "Republic of India".

I hate to speak in terms of skin color (too simplistic for my mind), but this will be the last time I will use this just to make myself and my understanding of Savarkar clear. 

Native Indic Indian people believing in integral India as their native land and revered land, are Hindus and the nation-state of India (with her establishments, institutions, constitution and outlook) should be built as per the traditions, values, customs and four-fold Purushartha models of Indic origin. This is "Swa-Tantra" (self system). And this is what Savarkar's Hindutva (or anybody else's Hindutva including RSS) demands.

Critique on some events in life of Veer Savarkar

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Following is an essay which formed a part of exchange with a dear friend in response to my previous "Narendra Modi is Savarkar Redux" post. Various issues which are typically raised while extending a critique on Savarkar are addressed in this post, as per my capability and knowledge. 

1. Regarding Savarkar's role in increasingly communal politics of 1937-1947 era.

India has faced two fold threats since her fall to central asian Muslims. One is against an open foreigner. And second against natives following foreign ideology OR carrying forward foreign interests. Turks and Pathans, Mughals and Pathans, British and Muslim League were the three iterations of these two antagonists of Dharma.

INC was focusing only on British. Muslim league which represented the antagonistic aspirations of political Islam (evident from all actions of Pathan lobby since 1500s), was the elephant in the room which everyone chose to ignore (many still do). And this elephant "Islam", was singularly focused on Hindus. Savarkar and Mahasabha was the only Indic voice which spoke in favor of Hindus. 

I do not know how to remain secular when Moplah riots are happening (similar to recent Assam riots) and 100,000 Hindus were killed. We can of course disagree but, wait until you see the buildup of 1947 like conditions in India. I assume you do not live here (I am sorry for this assumption, but it is important one since we are talking on purely aarthik issues, not dharmik or adhyatmik issues). If you visit many parts of country, you will witness a buildup. On ground, you will be surprised to see Hindus support the thoughts of Savarkar, even if they do not know his name. A very harsh Greeshma Ritu is coming. 1947 like scenario is slowly building up in India. You will hear similar voice from other regions of India (or may be same region), as years progress. 

Regarding Savarkar's role in elimination of caste-discrimination

Regarding Savarkar's efforts on eliminating Jaati discrimination and jaati pyramid, you need to read a lot. Savarkar consistently worked on it on grassroot level for more than 4 decades. Entire Ratnagiri district and parts of Konkan were completely free of untouchability (noted by Ambedkar himself) before Ambedkar burnt manusmriti. And all this when he was under arrest in Ratnagiri. This work continued until his death. He performed Upanayana on thousands of ex-untouchable children, organized sahabhojans, opened temples with dalit priests (properly trained), organized gatherings for women, gave scholarships to dalit students. It is not a red herring, but one of the essential aspects of Savarkar's life. 

Regarding Mahatma Gandhi Assassination

Regarding MKG, what killed MKG were his own Karma helped by nelson's eye of Brit-INC establishment towards his security. Savarkar was staunch critic of Gandhi since India House days (MKG was much senior to Savarkar then). Savarkar's Hindutva criticizes MKG's inaction garbed under dharmik terms of Satya and Ahimsa. And it does so in harsh manner. This is not the proof to attribute the guilt of MKG's murder (and planning) to Savarkar. MKG's murder was an operation of and by Godse et al. Godse was also RSS swayamsevak at a time. Apte was a recruiter for RAF. Savarkar had supported Hindu recruitment in army (and was derided by INC as recruit-veer). An ideology does not kill a person.  It is men who kill men. Ideology kills Ideology. So it is unfair to blame Hindutva for murder of Gandhi. 

Regarding Savarkar being "reactionary" and not "original" in his ideas, approach and actions

Finally, about Savarkar (and Hindutva) being reactionary, lacking in original ideas - Just because a voice is reactionary, does not belittle its importance.  One may shy away from his name because it has been made a hot potato, but that makes one a hypocrite. But fact of the matter is that Hindu Mahasabha  (or something similar) will rise again, if state of affairs continue. You are right that HMS like organizations are reactionary. Because dharma, in its nature, is accommodating. But there are levels of accommodation, we are prepared to accept. And when accommodation transforms into bootlicking or compromise, there will rise a reactionary voice (followed by a fist) which will at least try and bring senses to society.

Reactions are as strong and important as actions. Entire movement of Marathas and later Sikhs was reactionary throughout. "Eminent historians" have thrashed them for being "merely reactionary" and hence "lacking original ideas of governance", but that does not change the fact that India is still a Hindu majority because of that "reaction". Original ideas was not their job. Their job was to free India using whatever means available and dilapidated society ready to crumble. Same is the case with Vijaynagar (better manifestation, but equally reactionary). For implementing original idea, the previous damaging idea has to be undone. Until ground is leveled, every force (however well meaning and rich in original ideas) has to focus its energies on leveling. Savarkar's case (along with that of HMS) is similar. He had to attempt mobilizing a society which was being nicely and sequentially sedated, at short notice against a superior and well-entrenched enemy.