There is a controversy on the issue of controversy of changes to California sixth graders books with respect to Hinduism. There are many blogs which are commenting on it so I thought I might as well take it up too! There are two that I have read and commented on – Amardeep Singh and Intentblog.
But I will weigh in this controversy with a view to show the behavior of the various ‘actors” in the entire drama – specially with respect to the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT)
Aryan Invasion Theory was put forward by Fredrich Max Muller – an indologist of dubious intentions. And this is what BBC says about this Aryan Invasion theory:
The theory was not just wrong, it included unacceptably racist ideas:
– it suggested that Indian culture was not a culture in its own right, but a synthesis of elements from other cultures
– it implied that Hinduism was not an authentically Indian religion but the result of cultural imperialism
– it suggested that Indian culture was static, and only changed under outside influences
– it suggested that the dark-skinned Dravidian people of the South of India had got their faith from light-skinned Aryan invaders
– it implied that indigenous people were incapable of creatively developing their faith
– it suggested that indigenous peoples could only acquire new religious and cultural ideas from other races, by invasion or other processes
– it accepted that race was a biologically based concept (rather than, at least in part, a social construct) that provided a sensible way of ranking people in a hierarchy, which provided a partial basis for the caste system
– it provided a basis for racism in the Imperial context by suggesting that the peoples of Northern India were descended from invaders from Europe and so racially closer to the British Raj
– it gave a historical precedent to justify the role and status of the British Raj, who could argue that they were transforming India for the better in the same way that the Aryans had done thousands of years earlier
– it downgraded the intellectual status of India and its people by giving a falsely late date to elements of Indian science and culture
For more about his intentions and thoughts you can go to “The Life & Letters of Right Honorable Friedrich Mueller” Here are some excerpts:
1. In a letter of 1866 A.D. he writes to his wife: ‘This edition of mine and the translation of the Veda will hereafter tell to a great extent on the fate of India, …it is the root of their religion and to show them what the root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has spring from it during the last three thousand years.’ (Vol. 1, Ch. XV, page 346).
2. In another letter he writes to his son: ‘Would you say that any one sacred book is superior to all others in the world? …I say the New Testament, after that, I should place the Koran,27 which in its moral teachings, is hardly more than a later edition of the New Testament. Then would follow according to my opinion the Old Testament, the Southern Buddhist Tripitaka, the Tao-te-king of Laotze, the Kings of Confucius, the Veda and the Avesta.’ (Vol. II, Ch. XXXII, page 339).
3. On 16th December 1868 A.D. he writes to Duke of Argyle, the Minister for India: ‘The ancient religion of India is doomed and if Christianity does not step in, whose fault will it be?’ (Vol. I, Ch. XVI, page 378.)
4. letter written by him to N.K. Majumdar: ‘Tell me some of your chief difficulties that prevent you and your countrymen from openly following Christ, and when I write to you I shall do my best to explain how I and many who agree with me have met them and solved them… From my point of view, India, at least the best part of it, is already converted to Christianity. You want no persuasion to become a follower of Christ. Then make up your mind to work on yourself. Unite your flock – to hold them together and prevent them from straying. The bridge has been built for you by those who came before you. STEP BOLDLY FORWARD, it will break under you, and you will find many friends to welcome you on the other shore and among them none more delighted that your old friend and fellow labourer F. Max Muller.’ (Vol. II, Ch. XXXIV, pages 415-416.)
The problem is that the very right to “define” vocabulary has been hijacked to start with. And then.. using that unlimited latitude, these people have defined mythological/social terms in their own way… and termed them as historical fact. Using these historical stories borne out of definitional piracy – an entire campaign has been created.
When you argue about the absurdity of Aryan Theory.. they will talk about that the indigenous theory is an act of a fundamentalist.. and when you say that yes, indigenous thoery is falsehood.. they jump on the other side of the line claiming there is enough “evidence” of AIT being true!
Its this constant “Lie Dance” that is being performed in the public arena by these leftist and pseudo secular folks time and again!
My beef (pun intended) with all this – that I do not even consider Hinduism a religion – religion is a construct of the West.. it was only when someone came and said I am “X” to us .. that we became a “Y”! Before that I dont see in any scripture that there was a Valmikism or Vasisthism or Tulsidasism or whatever? They were as, if not more, accomplished in spiritual sense as Buddha, Guru Nanak Dev or Jesus or others were! What were these guys then? Hindus? That word NEVER occurs ONCE in entire Mahabharata or Ramayana or Vedas..
So, I subscribe to the “open-source” nature of exploratory spiritual journey that all the Vedic Rishis subscribed to AND adhered to.
Having said that.. for reasons outside my control.. I have been – in todays world – that is dominated by Western influence .. and so PRONE to categorization – have fallen into a BOX called “Hindu”.
Now, that is ok with me.. but it becomes inconvenient when I am walking down the street and someone comes and hurls abuses at me because I somehow think that what Krishna says in Gita is the most profound thing I have read or heard. For he wants me to swear by Jesus or Mohd… ONLY! I love Jesus and others.. but as is my wont.. I would say that all are equally worthy of reverence.. but that just does not satisfy the bully. I HAVE to FALL in a BOX or I am dead!
Its the same act that has gone in on this controversy by “holier-than-thou pseudo secularists”… either I and others FALL IN A BOX called “opposition to AIT is fundamentalism” or we get a Middle Finger. Nothing short of that will do!! NOTHING!
Hues in this world are NOT possible anymore!! And that is the real tragedy of our age! Black or White.. Box X or BOX Y.. life out of box has ceased to become a choice. And these folks who have a factory load of labels with “Fundamentalist” written on them, HAVE ENSURED THAT BOXES REMAIN FULL!!!
Finally in the end I personally need to charter my own private course. And this is what I think of it:
I am convinced beyond doubt that ultimately it will be our OWN understanding that will help our kids to understand the range of religious thoughts in their correct perspectives as they grow up. Just that the age to engage with them on such a dialog has reduced!
Also, I cannot side with people who want to “framework” Hinduism in to a religion! That will mean creating another Box. I would rather provide my kids the freedom to learn all philosophies.. and REMAIN free! They should have the compassion in their heart to love Jesus, Krishna, Sufis, Ram, Guru Nanak Dev, without having to cut out any one of them from their world-view.
Once they learn to live in freedom they would feel claustrophobic at the site of a “Box”, so the fear of “conversion” that, I know, many Hindus have here in the US will not be a possibility, because they would rightly ask “Conversion from “whom” to “whom”???
“Jithe Hai ikko;
Othe Safaat ki te Jaat ki?”
Where there is only one..
Of what importance is my achievements and caste?”
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