Monthly Archives: MARCH 2017
Sabhe Ghat Ram Bole: Fanaticism, Not Atheism, Is Irreligious
30.03.17 - by harcharan bains
Fanaticism and Superstition are the biggest enemies of Religion: In fact, these are Irreligious attitudes
The biggest enemy of religion is not atheism but fanaticism. Or, better still, fanaticism and superstition. Both have truly disfigured the face of religion and de-humanised its spirit.
And fanaticism and superstition have been marketed in the name of religion to exploit innocent masses. Both fanaticism and superstition are in fact the antithesis - the very opposite - of religion. Both have been used and exploited to the hilt by commercial opportunists posing as clergy or moral police.
What passes for religion in common language is just the opposite of religion. Those who hate religion must learn to distinguish it from communalism on the one hand and from dark superstition on the other.
What is communal is fundamentally irreligious. Religion sees one-ness in all Nature. Therefore, religion unites, and it unites not only man with man, but also man and the entire Nature. It brings man in complete communion with the entire phenomena of Nature, life and all that there is.
Communalism does just the opposite: it divides. Religion reveals the basic one-ness of everything to our hearts, and in doing so, it evokes the sentiment known as love. Because communalism divides, it evokes another sentiment that is opposed to communion: that sentiment is hatred. Love is God, and both love and God are an experience of One-ness. Hatred feels bad and evil because it is an experience of divisiveness.
Let me push the envelop a little further.
Sikhism and Hinduism and Christianity and Islam and Judaism etc, as we use these terms these days, are not names of religion. These are names merely of communities. Communities are social groupings based on the ritualistic observance of practices which are misnamed religion.
Even these communities have something common in them: belief in the One-ness of entire Natural phenomena. And that belief is a religion. But belief is not experience. In most cases, religion stops at being just a belief. When it becomes an experience, it dissolves everything else into a single feeling which a fusion of joy, freedom and love. Religion is love, freedom and joy. Communities are slavery by different names. We are, most of us, slaves of one community or the other. A truly religious soul breaks these bonds and is liberated from this slavery. That is why generally great enlightened souls are not liked by members of the community they are born in. Because they deny communal identity and live by a larger experience which can only be described as "simultaneous experience of freedom, (mukti) joy (anand) and love (prem)."
"Anand bhaya meri maaye, satguru main paya" is a celebration of that love.
And what a celebration:
"Raag rattan parivar pariya, sabad gaavan aaiya ...."
Nanak celebrates life and Nature. And he does so in a state which is beyond the comprehension of miserable community-striken (or communal ) minds: Anhad shabad vajant bheri....The entire universe turns into a song as Nanak invites celestial wonders to his simple, innocent little attic . Stars and suns and skies and winds and waters and galaxies…all dance in a trance ...oh, what an illumination of enlightenment must have descended there when he sang out:
Gagan may thaal rav chand deepak bane taarika mandal janak moti.....
and then, he exults in wonder
"Kaisie aarti hoye bhavkhandana teri aarti..”
How would you confine this wondrous moment of Nanak to just the Sikhs, to just Punjab or India or just humans alone. Nanak himself turns a flute of the sublime and he is the singer and the song and the listener and he is the lover and he is the beloved..everywhere, its the same glow that unites all things living and non living
(Sabh main jyot jyot hai soye..tis te chaanan, sabh main chaanan hoye)..
And here, his followers talk about themselves as distinct from the rest of the folks.
Nanak eliminates those distinctions and holds his Sikhs by the Finger and leads them as drops into an Ocean of Oneness. Religion in its glory of liberation, love and sheer joy.
Because these great souls do not subscribe to communal identity and refuse communal rituals, they are damned as "irreligious and a danger to society. " Mansoor, Jesus, the Gurus - they were all misunderstood in their times as enemies and iconoclasts. Every religious soul is a liberated soul. Liberated from the community or society he or she is born in and from the norms of all groupings known as communities. They are revolutionaries, Nanak, Kabir, Mohammad, Jesus, Meera.
Gurbani is religion. But Gurbani is beyond communities and social groupisms. So are all scriptures in their truest essence.
Followers of all prevalent religious groups - Sikhs, Muslims, Jews, Christians etc - are too blinded by community-pride at best and communal ego and vanity at worst to understand religion. Religion is not a matter of groups or communities. That should not be difficult to understand. But that is precisely what it has been reduced to. Guru Nanak and ancient seers before him had repeatedly emphasized the true nature of religion as nothing but a direct communion of the individual with the cosmic reality (Atma with param-atma...but atma and paramatma are the same. This play-acting of merger is described as Leela) .
When Guru Nanak disapproved of the Brahminical or Islamist clergy and rituals, he was not declaring the need for a new religious grouping. Those who claim that Guru Nanak did not start new religion are ironically right. But by not starting a new religion, they perhaps mean that he remained a part of the religious grouping he was born in: Hinduism. That is ridiculous.
Nanak is too large for any "ism" to contain him. Sikhs or Hindus, Muslims or Christians -- they are all too small for enlightened and powerful souls like Nanak. He was merely debunking the relevance of religious groupings per se. He was proclaiming independence of Hinduism, Islam as one proclaims freedom from slavery. But by declaring his independence from these prisons, he was not creating a new prison for himself or others. he was simply breaking walls. His followers belong to humanity, not to any one religious grouping. They are Sikhs as they are students in the school of love, joy and freedom. A true is not just another member of a new community. He is beyond communities, including his own. He loves Nanak and like Nanak, he must challenge prisons and pull them down. Surely, Nanak did not do this because these prisons were small and he needed a larger or better prison. He just proclaimed himself free and independent of all prisons, old or new. He was emphasizing the true nature of religion as a matter of personal pursuit of truth.
A Sikh is not merely a member of a new community, like there are members of old communities. A Sikh is non-community creature. He is a world citizen. This world is his village. This world belongs to him - every inch equally strongly. And he belongs to everyone - Hindu, Muslim, Christian or anyone. In fact, he does not recognise Hindus or Muslims or Christians or Sikhs. he recognises only human beings, only living creatures, only glowing and living particles-- a particle is merely a part - a part that is, of a larger Truth. All creatures, including humans, are particles of that Truth.
Nanak exults in this dance of particles which are all energy dancing different dances under one choreographed pattern.
( jal tarang aur phem budbuda, jal te bhin na hoyee.......sabh ghat Ram samaana re ....Sabhe ghat Ram bole, Ram ,Rama bole, Ram bina ko bole re...)
The pursuit of religion and investigations of science both end in identical conclusions. Science searches and examines Truth through the slow , heavy and weary "ploddings of intellect" while religion pursues the same Truth through intuitive revelation. In religion, to know truth is to live truth, and to live truth is to be one with truth. And truth here does not mean an opposite of 'falsehood or lies" but a 'quickening impulse which falls in love with what it sees and becomes at once ONE with what it loves.
And what it loves is all that there is, and there is nothing beyond.
It is in this sense, and in this sense alone, that love is God.
It is not possible to be religious and fanatical and unscientific at the same time. Both science and religion in their purest and highest forms are human endeavours in a single pursuit: the pursuit of truth as revealed through nature. Guru Nanak in fact raised Nature to the status of Godliness itself. And nature does not mean just trees and forests and rivers and seas but the entire cosmos at large. In Religion, Truth, God and Nature are interchangeable "entities". I use the word "entities" in a very loose sense because all three in their true essence are infinite and cannot be reduced to definitions or entities.
Religion, like science, is nothing but an attempt to understand and love the unity in the vast and infinite diversity of Nature.
Everything, in science as well as in religion, is born of the same single force or energy and every single atom or cell or sub atomic or sub-cellular or sub microbial reality is
interconnected with everything else that surrounds it in the entire universe.
The word universe itself is a misnomer because both in religion and in science the universe we live in is a mere hamlet in a vast and limitless landscape. The Vedas and the Gurbani of Nanak in all ten incarnations refer to countless multiverses that surround the little universe in which our solar system is a small nook in a sleepy street.
Religion is nothing but a revelation of truth that surrounds us. And what surrounds us is nothing but us. And this revelation coming through a lightening flash breaks the bounds of intellect and artificial divisions. Science also breaks these artificial divisions and arrives at the essential oneness of phenomena and Nature.
All things lived together in one single impulse is awakening and that experience is loosely called love. In fact , rightly called 'love' but loosely understood and confused as desire.
Beacons No Red Flag For VIP Culture
28.03.17 - harcharan bains*
I am opposed to the importance being attached to red beacons atop official vehicles. This is nothing but tokenism. It makes no difference to the VIP mindset whether or not his vehicle carries a red light atop or not. One of the arguments advanced in favour of removing red beacons yesterday that it is a symbolic rejection of artificial distinctions between common people and the so called VIPs. Not convinced.
Tomorrow, you might even insist policemen should be without uniforms and should dress up as common people do - because in the end even their dress becomes as a symbol of authority and a distinction between them and the common people. Its all about attitude. I can't imagine a London cop misbehaving with a layman regardless of how many beacons his official car that gives you a chase carries.
I have always thought that these so-called gestures of simplicity are nothing but an attempt to confuse the masses and take their attention away from the real problems of bread and butter.
Why must the Prime Minister not travel by a bus? Why Air-force One for the US president. Well why even a White House? Why can't the US prez stay in a normal rented accommodation - just as our own Kejriwal had first claimed that he would do? Why does even a police officer have to travel by official vehicle except when he is giving robbers a chase - which sometimes he doesn't all his life?
Allowing these populist non-issues to become the focal points of governance actually detracts us from the actual issues of good governance. I don't care if the Chief Minister or the Prime Minister carries three planes instead of one while traveling from one airport to the other ( I guess he actually does) as long as his general conduct with people is as simple as that of Lal Bahadur Shastri or even Dr Manmohan Singh.
This thing about not claiming government car is also so much hog wash. Why even use a government office? Why not operate from your home? In fact, why even from your home? In a democracy, you should travel on foot or a bicycle to the homes of the aggrieved and solve their problems there.
What I really mean is that this issue of simplicity is a sham and is nothing more than a populist show-off of another kind to hoodwink people. People who are arrogant will be arrogant, beacons or no beacons, cars or no cars.
Just a point of view. No partisan issue attached here.
*(The author, a freelance journalist, has served as Advisor on National Affairs to former CM, Parkash Singh Badal. The views expressed herein are personal.)
SIDDH GOSHTTH - Relevance In Today's World
26.03.17 - OBSERVER WITH AN OPINION
Apropos the Nath Yogis of Gorakhpur, I believe one should re-read Guru Nanak's Theological debate with the 84 Siddhas.
It has become extremely relevant today as it helps us to understand how we have evolved as a sub- continental civilization, a pluralistic society and a modern democratic nation.
I think every citizen of India needs to read this 500 year old authentic recorded theological and moral debate to be found in 8 pages of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib starting at page 938 of the Granth Sahib and ending at page 946.
(The Google link is Siddh Goshtt Search Gurbani)
I have begun to understand it is not mere theology in a narrow sense-it has strong political social and historical implications
This debate of immense philosophical importance in the history of the world at large, had an unbelievably transformative influence in the shaping of India and Indian thought in the past 500 years and shows how and why we chose, yes, chose, through our rich tradition of debate and discussion, to go the syncretic way, the Sufi way, the Bhakti way, the inclusive and pluralistic way when world religions came knocking at our doors, for we had developed a capacity for embracing the infinite, the timeless, the universal to an extent which neither the Graeco Roman nor the Mesopotamian or Egyptian civilizations had , which is why they perished and we continued to flourish.
We are wont to quote Iqbal and say quite off-handedly, carelessly , and as a matter of right, with a blind sense of enlightenment, as if it would remain forever true without our having to make any effort, just because it has been true in the past:
"Yunaan-o-Misr-o-Ruma sab mit gaye jahaan se
Kuchh baat hai ke hasti mit-ti naheen hamaari"
But do we realise how much hard labour, how much intellectual rigour, emotional investment, physical effort and spiritual energy went into the effort to engage, to debate, to come up with alternative inclusive narratives, to create new models of syncretism in the face of rigid orthodoxy and forces of regression, hatred, exclusion, ritualism, irrationality prevalent among some misled spiritual seekers and practitioners, who in turn influenced large sections of lay people, ready to believe them because they had learnt some magic tricks, or gained the power to perform small acts contrary to the normal laws of nature?
Do we know what it took to re-establish the simple principles of love for mankind, for truth, moderation, justice, rationality, straightforwardness and sanity in social intellectual and spiritual life whenever forces of darkness, hatred, intolerance, discrimination and violence took over?
That is the tradition you can see in action, in all its beauty and complexity, in its frank exchange of ideas, of intellectual give and take that engages, enriches and educates the audience, and the readers down the generations, as much as it does the debators.
This is the way and the path of the true seekers after Truth, whose honest expression of differences and interchange of philosophical viewpoints help society to evolve in the spirit of Voltaire's aphorism that states
"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it"
By the way, this is how Shastrarth or genuine debates ( still called Wrangling, very seriously, in the School of Theology at Oxford) used to be conducted in our country since ancient times.
Perhaps College and University Administrations and even TV anchors can learn from its courteous methodology and its liberal ambience, which efficiently yield fruitful results, with rich dividends for society at large. This is how societies evolve and create enabling environments for their members to develop and prosper in an ever-changing universe, not by sticking their heads in the mud, or by taking an untenable and regressive "my way or the highway stand" that brooks no argument. Stifling of healthy , respectful and rational debate on any or all topics from the sacred to the profane is a sure way to kill a society, a culture, a nation, or a civilisation.
The main thesis of the Siddh Gosht is that the Siddhas and Yogis, ascetics and renunciates, who roamed India in their thousands in the time of Guru Nanak i.e. the 15th and 16th centuries, believed that it was only through turning their back on social life and giving themselves up to physical and mental exertion , and yogic practices and rituals that they could attain miraculous powers and thus obtain liberation from the limitations of human life while still alive, and thus find God.
Guru Nanak on the other hand felt that it was only by contemplating the Divine and meditating in the infinite while living the life of a householder and doing useful work and earning an honest living while also contributing to society and doing good to ones fellow human beings that salvation could be achieved and God be found.
To this end he advocated contemplation of the infinite while living a good, honest and full life in the world.
In the Siddh Goshtt recorded in Raag Ramkali , composed at Achal Batala around the turn of the 16th century, Guru Nanak debated with the Yogis Charpatnath, Bhangarnath, and Loharipa. While they urged him to adopt their path of the 12 Sidhis and 6 Philosophies, he expounded the superiority of a truth oriented, honest, God-contemplative, hard working householder's life.
Here is an extract that gives one a taste of the discussion:
"Haati Baati rahey niraarey Rukkh Birakkh Udiaaney||
Kandh mool aahaaro khaayeeye Audhoo boley gyaaney||
Teerath nhaeeyey sukh phal paaayeye maiyl na laggey kaayi ||
Gorakh Poot Lohaaripa boley Jog jugat bidhi saayi ||7||"
"Haati Baati Neend na aavey par ghar chitt na dolaayi ||
Bin naavey mann tek na tikayi Nanak Bhookh na jaayi ||
Haat Pattan ghar Gur dekhaayeya sahjey sacch vapaaro ||
Khandat nidra alap aahaaro Nanak Tatt bichaaro || 8 ||"
"Stay away from the marketplaces and common pathways; live among the trees and the shrubs of the forests ||
Let roots and fruits provide you with sustenance, this is the wisdom of the renunciate ||
Bathe in sacred places of pilgrimage; in that way , no blemish will stick on you , you will remain pure ||
Lohaaripa the disciple of Gorakhnath speaks thus, and says that this is the only way and method to attain Yoga ||7 ||"
" In Marketplaces and Pathways you cannot go to sleep or lose awareness of self and you should not covet what lies in other's houses, nor wander there asking for alms||
Sayeth Nanak, without the sustenance of the Name , your mind will not be at peace, nor will your hunger leave you||
The Guru has shown the marketplaces and pathways within myself and I serenely go about my true business ||
With broken sleep and frugal diet, Nanak, meditate on the essence of things ||8||"
In essence, Lohaaripa tells Guru Nanak that complete renunciation is the only way to liberation and salvation.
In reply, Guru Nanak points out the hidden hungers that such renunciation leaves unresolved and advocates a detached engagement .
The discussion then moves forward
EXTRACT FROM SIDDH GOSHATTH
"Darsan Bhaekh karo Jogindra Mundra Jholi khinttha ||
Baahar antar vekh sarevhu Khatdarshan ik Pantha || 8 ||
Eh bidh mann samjhaayeeye purkha baahurh chot na khayeeye||
Nanak bolai Gurmukh boojhai Jog jugat iv paayeeye || 9||
Antar shabad nirantar mudra haumai mamta duur kari ||
Kaam krodh ahamkaar nivaarey gur kai sabd su buddh pari ||
Khinthha jholi bharpoor raheya Nanak taarey ek Hari||
Saachaa Sahib Saachee Naayi Parkhey Gur ki baat khari || 10 ||
(Siddh Goshatth, Ramkali Mahla Pehla, SGGSJi Ang 929)
"Make your appearance like that of a King of Yogis, wear earrings, a patched coat , and shape your cowl into a begging bowl ||
Among the twelve schools of Yoga, ours is the best; among the six schools of philosophy ours is the most superior ||
This is the way to instruct the mind so that you will never suffer the blows of life again ||"
Nanak speaks : " The Gurmukh, the man attuned to God , understands, this is the way to attain Yoga ||9 ||
Let constant absorption the Celestial Sound of the Word deep within that be your earring
That will put an end to egotism and attachment ||
The wisdom that you attain through the Word of the Eternal Guru will help you to get rid of Desire, Anger and Ego ||
Let the realisation that the Universal Supreme soul is all-Pervasive be your patched robe and your begging bowl||
Sayeth Nanak It is thus that the One True Lord will ferry you across the dark ocean of worldly life ||
True is Our Lord and Master , and is true is his name. Analyse it and test it, you will find that the word of the Guru is true||10||"
(SGGS ji Page 929)
Once again, the Yogi points to externalities, while the Guru takes the discussion to a much higher spiritual level, at once abstract and practical. You see the Way of the Ascetic contrasted with the way of a highly evolved and balanced Seeker of the Truth - a Guru in the true sense, and you come away enthralled and elevated from reading the debate about what really matters in Man's eternal quest for meaning in Life.
May we forever feel free to have more and more of such frank and fruitful discussions in our social, political, and spiritual lives, and prove ourselves to be worthy heirs of our own rich, liberal and generous intellectual, cultural and civilizational traditions!
CAPTAIN ON COURSE, BUT…
25.03.17 - By Harcharan Bains*
The latest Punjab Assembly election earlier this year was perhaps the most significant election since the formation of the Punjabi Suba, or post-reorganisation Punjab. Punjab went through a phase of extreme angst and pain for which the government and the opposition were both equally to blame as neither placed the interests of the state above their own.
The worst opportunism was seen in painting Punjab as the "drug capital of the world.” Those who did so are now the guardians of Punjab’s pride. In four weeks, Punjab will be declared drug free. Punjab will believe it, just as it had last month believed that it was the worst drug addict in the world.
But in the larger interests of the state, it is time to move on and away from petty blame game and alibis for failure and defeat. Both the government and the opposition – AAP and the SAD-BJP – must start afresh and not get bogged down in unseemly political bouts that serve no one’s interest except of some petty squabblers and self-seekers. Both sides would do well to keep such "advisors” at bay and follow a policy of constructive engagement.
I feel that the second tenure of Captain Amarinder Singh has hardly begun the way his last stint took off in 2002. So far he has said nothing that he should not be saying as Chief Minister and that is a good early sign. He is staying clear of confrontationism. Amarinder is now mature by a full 15 years since he was first enthroned in 2002. He was an ambitious and excited and "youthful” 60 years of age then, and he is now 75. As the good Bard said, ripeness is all.
Amarinder is important to this discussion because this election was all about him. It is his victory, and if he is not taking all the credit, it is his modesty. He has hit the ground running this time and has made an impeccable choice of officers so far. This means that he is willing go beyond the legacy of confrontation and is focusing on delivering on his promises.
It is not easy to fulfil those promises and I will be hugely surprised if he is able to fulfil even some of these though I will be happy to be proven wrong. Nevertheless, his picks have been on the mark. Suresh Arora as police chief means there will be very little focus on vendetta. Karan A Singh, who is sans any swagger, heads the civil services in Punjab, so it is likely that postings and transfers will be on merit. Tejveer Singh, the new Chief Minister’s Principal Secretary, is a very bright young man, but will he be allowed to work effectively is something that remains to be seen.
But an exceptionally brave and unprecedented decision has been to put Suresh Kumar at the top of the bureaucratic mountain as Chief Principal Secretary to CM in the emoluments though not the rank of Cabinet Secretary to the Government of India.
Personally, I do not like this new and out of box arrangement because it can lead to confusion in command about the effectiveness and role of the Principal Secretary to CM and even the Chief Secretary, but the advantages, too, will be significant. For the first time, the head of the Civil Service in the state would report to someone other than the Chief Minister, a de facto Chief Minister. How good that is, only time will tell.
The best thing – and perhaps the only good thing – about this arrangement is the person chosen to man it. Suresh Kumar is not only vastly experienced but has an unimpeachable reputation for uprightness. Few in this government can beat him in elocution and making impressive presentations. Beyond that, I have my reservations.
To me, the arrangement smacks of governor’s rule with an advisor to boot. How relevant will the people’s representatives remain? That is a test for Suresh Kumar to pass. I know the CM’s team has been handpicked by Suresh Kumar and that will ensure harmony. Yet, the arrangement itself is too untested to inspire faith.
I hear that K R Lakhanpal, a sharp, outspoken and a functioning visionary, is also being inducted into the system at a key position. That will make it one cracker of a team for the new Chief Minister. I am also watching with interest who his advisor on information will be and how much will he be allowed to breathe by a zealous bureaucracy.
The message one gets after the government’s first few decisions has had a positive impact, but sweet as these decisions sound – "drug addicts will be treated with compassion!” – Captain Singh would be the first to agree that most of these "decisions” are anything but "decisions” - mere declarations of intent. Nothing practical has so far been announced on any of his key promises, including employment to 30 lakh youth, waiver of farmers' debt etc. I am very suspicious of the move to hide inaction behind committees. If they had wanted to, they could simply have taken a cabinet decision on loan waiver and filling of vacancies and then left its implementation to officers and experts.
All the data they needed on farmers’ debt and on unemployment is already available with Suresh Kumar himself. They are going about it the other way round. Not impressed. But one could argue that the government is not even a week old yet and it is not fair to judge its performance so early. And that’s a fair argument. Captain is too seasoned a leader to make the mistake of writing off the Akalis. One also hopes he wouldn’t be hyper in his responses to well-meaning criticism. The initial signs from the palace are not bad, but again, it’s too early yet.
*(The author, a freelance journalist, has served as Advisor on National Affairs to former CM, Parkash Singh Badal. Needless to say, the views expressed herein are personal. Punjab Today invites feedback on any points raised by the author.)
YUG-YUGAANTAR (Tales of Times Past, Present and Future)
23.03.17 - Observer with an Opinion
NATH JOGIS in Punjab are most often seen wandering in the form of Snake Charmers. Baba Gorakhnath ( literally, the Holy Man incharge of Protecting Cows) the Patron Saint of the erstwhile Hindu Kingdom of Nepal, and the Gorkhas, is fabled to have kept dark rainclouds in the form of writhing snakes imprisoned under his thighs, thus preventing stopping their movement from the Bay of Bengal to the Himalayas and creating a drought leading to famine in Nepal, to teach the Nepalese a lesson when they failed to bring their annual justice offerings of fealty to his Matth in Gorakhpur. It was only when their King came down with gifts of untold gold and fed Baba Gorakhnath his favourite " khichadi" that the clouds were released and normalcy restored. So much for Climate Change in the Land of Yogis and Snake Charmers.
Baba Gorakhnath's Guru, Baba Matsyendranath, is known to have had intimate knowledge of , and control over, the subterranean world of fish, watersnakes and other aquatic species, though he is rumoured to have once fallen under the spell of Mermaids or WaterNymphs of the World of Triya (remember the eponymous Triya Charitra or the supposedly wanton, wayward, misleading, illogical and mesmerising Ways of Women), ruled and run entirely by women, from which his more clear- eyed and strong charactered Shishya, Gorakhnath, is said to have rescued him.
Gorakhpur and Eastern UP have long been under the Political hold of the Gorakhnath Matth with Swami Adwaithnath as elected Member of Parliament before his disciple, Yogi Adityanath, now 44 years of age, who has been returned 5 times in unbroken succession to the Lok Sabha as Member of Parliament from Gorakhpur, which he runs like his duchy, and which is his pocket borough.
Now that he has, in a first for his Matth's 600 year long tradition, been nominated as Chief Minister of India's most populous State of Uttar Pradesh, with a population of nearly 20 crores, of whom 18% are Muslims, it would seem, seeing present PM and RSS Prachaarak Narendra Modi's trajectory, that the Yogi, who originates from the Kshatriya caste , believed in Hindu mythology and theology to be the ruling caste, from which kings and emperors were usually drawn, is well on his way to becoming the next Prime Minister of India, which is fast turning into a Hindu Theocracy, which is what the ruling RSS BJP's goal and ideal of Hindu Rashtra really implies.
Our much- maligned religion based neighbouring country Pakistan watches in wonder, for even they till date have had no Maulana or Mullah as the head of their State or government, having confined themselves to elected members of lay civil society, or highly Westernised Army Dictators.
In fact, one would be hard put to find any such example of concentration of power of the church and the state anywhere in the Islamic World except perhaps in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where an Ayatollah is the head of State as well has the highest repository of Spiritual Power. Among the Christians, the Pope in Vatican City among Catholics, and among Protestants, the Reigning Monarch of Great Britain who is also head of the Church of England since the times of the notorious " off with her head" wife-murderer King Henry the Eighth, are the only examples that come to mind.
However, while the administrative powers of the Pope are confined to a tiny City- State, though his spiritual jurisdiction lies over the entire Roman Catholic population of the world, the Kings and Queens of England have been highly secular and worldly, and have tended by and large to leave the Church of England, under the Archbishop of Canterbury to its own devices in current times, with notable exceptions in slightly better older history.
The Jews appear to have no history of Priest -Kings, though Christ was mocked as " King of the Jews", nor really do the Buddhists, though Emperor Ashoka was a great Buddhist evangelist, and the Japanese and the Chinese saw their Emperors as the Shadow or Representative of God on Earth.
So did we, Zill-e-Subhani, or Shadow of God as the Mughal Emperors liked to be called, and in fact Akbar did try to start Deen-e-Ilahi as a separate faith of which he was very much the head, but that was a non starter, and all these can be seen as mere assertions of the Divine Right of Kings. By the way, the Nepalese also literally worshipped their Royal Family of the Bir Bikram Shahs- as long as they were in power.
The Gorakhnath Matth even today advocates that Nepal 's status as a Hindu Kingdom be restored, but with the Maoists in power, and the increasing influence of China over Nepal, that seems a mere pipe- dream now. It remains to be seen what specific form a Hindu Theocracy takes in India, but with an ill- educated population in a nation where the roots of western democracy are not very strong, and Hindu Religious Majoritarianism has taken hold of the popular imagination for direct electoral gain in a first- past- the-post system of elections, and has also become the dominant theme of the country's political discourse, atop a network of strong religio-social and politico-cultural organisations set up quietly and patiently by the Rashtriya Swaysmsewak Sangh working almost like a parallel State all over the length and breadth of the country, rest assured, it is already knocking impatiently at India's door.
Alakh Niranjan! As the Jogi's say when they greet each other, or come to a householder's door, not so much begging, as reminding him of his moral duty to give them alms As Guru Nanak said in another context in the sixteenth century, of Babar knocking at the doors of the Sub-Continent, asking for the Kanyadaan of Bride India
" Paap ki Janj lai Kabulon dhaaya Joreen mangey daan , Ve Lalo!
Saram Dharam doey chhapp khaloey Koorh phirey pardhaan, Ve Lalo!......
Qaziaan Baahmanan ki gall thhakki Agadh parhey Saitaan, Ve Lalo!....
Khoon ke Sohiley gaaveeye Nanak, Ratt ka Junjhu paaye , Ve Lalo! "
(Babar Baani in Raag Tilang Ang 360 of the SGGS ji)
" With his Bridegroom's Party of Evil he has descended from Kabul, and demands by force the gift of the Bride, India- Hark thee, my friend Lalo !
Shame and Righteousness have fled to their hiding places, and Bald-faced Falsehood reigns supreme- Hark, Lalo!
Qazis and Brahmins have given up in despair; it is Satan himself who performs this pernicious marriage sacrament- Hark, Lalo!
The Auspicious Wedding sings are Sings of Blood, and instead of the Sacred Vermilion in the Hair- parting of the Bride, the Crimson of Gore is splattered- Hark, friend Lalo, thus sayeth Nanak ! "
( Babar Bani , Page 360 of the Adi Granth )
Sadly, instead of learning the lessons of Peace, Non- Violence, Peaceful Coexistence, Universal Brotherhood, Rationalism , Tolerance , Moderation, Syncretism, Multiculturalism, the Oneness of the Creator and Preserver of the Universe and of Mankind, taught by the Buddha, by the Bhakti Saints, the Sufis, by Kabir and Nanak, India has from time to time relapsed into ritualism , intolerance , casteism, and a bloodthirsty assertion of Brahmanical Supremacy , and that has always lead to centuries of violence, before the syncretic forces at great cost to themselves and their followers , bring peace harmony and relatively stable equilibrium to our sub continent again.
The highly violent and painful partition of India in 1947, necessitated mainly by the extreme assertion of bigoted Brahmanical Hindutva forces on the one hand and the equally destructive forces unleashed in reaction by fanatic Islamists on the other, which gave the Outgoing British the perfect excuse to fragmentise the rising power of their ex-colonised nation, is the most recent example of such catastrophes in India's millenniums old history. Our parents had to bear the brunt of colonialism and the indescribably tragic bloodbath of the Partition. We have to see the birth and unfolding of yet another tragic episode and era in our history.
But while our parents and ancestors did not have to worry about other apocalyptic events, we also have an exploding planet and an unravelling environment to deal with. Good luck, my fellow travellers, with the clouded snakes, the mermaid fish, the underwater witches, the subterranean monsters- and our brain-washed and bewitched fellow countrymen! Here's a small poem to speed you on your way: ( A Vignette of a Swearing-in Ceremony as per the Indian Constitution, in Lucknow on 20/3/2017, and its aftermath in India, including in the Indian Parliament on 21/3/17 )
Snakes may be charmed yet humans harmed
Watch out those who in crowds have swarmed
You may well be Animal farmed