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In fact, there have always been Hindu activists outside the RSS Sangh, working as individuals or in smaller organizations. Today, the modernization of Indian society and especially the spread of the internet has facilitated the mushroom growth of new forms and networks of Hindu activism. Most supposed experts refuse to see the existence of Hindu activism outside the Sangh and instead reduce any Hindu sign of life to "Hindutva" thus incidentally flattering the Sangh. One reason is purely political: in the struggle against Hindu activism as a whole, it is simply more useful to extend all prevalent criticism of the Sangh, e. It implies that if you hear a Hindu complain about, say, Christian missionary demonization of Hinduism, you must stop him for he is about to commit murder if not genocide. In the Indian media, this kind of innuendo is frequent enough.

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In fact, there have always been Hindu activists outside the RSS Sangh, working as individuals or in smaller organizations. Today, the modernization of Indian society and especially the spread of the internet has facilitated the mushroom growth of new forms and networks of Hindu activism.

Most supposed experts refuse to see the existence of Hindu activism outside the Sangh and instead reduce any Hindu sign of life to "Hindutva" thus incidentally flattering the Sangh. One reason is purely political: in the struggle against Hindu activism as a whole, it is simply more useful to extend all prevalent criticism of the Sangh, e.

It implies that if you hear a Hindu complain about, say, Christian missionary demonization of Hinduism, you must stop him for he is about to commit murder if not genocide. In the Indian media, this kind of innuendo is frequent enough. The main reason, however, seems to be that India-watchers have settled for a conspiratorial explanation of the existence of Hindu activism.

In their construction, you first have the Sangh, or its historic core, then you get Sangh propaganda, and as a result of this, you get a belief among large numbers of Hindus that they are suffering various injustices, historical and contemporary. This is the dominant paradigm in Hindutva studies: a Hindutva conspiracy has created for itself a large constituency by means of mendacious propaganda.

The existence of multiple independent sources of Hindu activism makes this Hindutva conspiracy theory harder to sustain. It becomes more likely that they had independently noticed a really existing state of affairs, which then aroused their indignation. For example, in numerous media and academic accounts, the Ayodhya controversy is introduced with the explanation: "Hindu nationalists claim that the Babri mosque had been built in forcible replacement of a Hindu temple", or something to that effect.

In fact, that "claim" has been made in all the historic sources that speak out on the matter: Muslim, Hindu and European. Before the controversy became politically important in the s, it was accepted by all competent authorities, e. So, the temple vandalization scenario was not a piece of propaganda deliberately floated to plant false consciousness in the minds of the Hindu masses.

It had very solid historic credentials, and consequently, divergent people with no mutual organizational connection or common ideological allegiance could independently act upon it.

For another example, the "Hindutva claim" that the Indian state imposes some and tolerates other injustices against the Hindus, can simply be verified. Well, has this expulsion taken place or not? Moreover, no Indian or Kashmiri government has seriously attempted to resettle the expelled Hindus in their homeland.

One need not be duped by a Hindutva conspiracy to notice this fact as well as the injustice of this fact. Consequently, non-Sangh Hindus as well as Sanghis have spoken out against this injustice. If the Sangh had not existed, Hindus would still speak out against this injustice. When the Pope came to India in , the Indian media loudly denounced as "Hindutva paranoia" the assertion that the Church was out to destroy the Indian religions by converting their adherents to Christianity.

But of course it is official Church doctrine that only Christians are saved and that out of charity, all Pagans must be converted. And when the Pope finally opened his mouth in Delhi, he said in so many words that the Church was in Asia in order to "reap a rich harvest of faith", modern Church parlance for the harvesting of Pagan souls. He merely restated a generally known fact, one from which any Hindu could draw his own conclusions without anyhow being compromised with "Hindutva paranoia".

For yet another example, the "Hindutva claim" that the absence of a Common Civil Code amounts to "pseudo-secularism", or indeed to a simple absence of secularism in the Personal Law dimension of the Indian state, would have to be acknowledged as more than just a Hindutva claim.

It is something that Hindus of all kinds including those hostile to the Sangh, and people of all denominations, can see. Indeed, were it not for the widespread assumption that anything coming from the RSS-BJP must be "Hindu fundamentalist" or "Hindu fascist", all international observers would readily concede this point.

By definition, a secular state is one that has laws applying to its citizens regardless of their religion. The usual insistence that "Hindu nationalists want to abolish secularism" and its implication that the Indian state is indeed secular, cannot stand scrutiny on this score. But admitting this much would upset the entire conceptual framework of Hindutva studies. Anyone desiring to uphold the dominant construction of Hindu nationalism, viz.

But the facts on the ground show increasingly that concerned Hindus are emancipating themselves from this identification of their own work with Hindutva. Some of these start from philosophies different from the nationalistic RSS narrative, others are not ideologically different but want to provide an alternative mode of action to complement or replace an RSS working-style in which they have become disappointed.

For indeed, the BJP election defeats in and and the steady decline in RSS shakha attendance since highlight a longer-standing disappointment in Hindu revivalist circles with the Sangh Parivar and its version of Hindu nationalism. The media construed the BJP defeats as "proof that the Indina masses are turning away from Hindu nationalism", when in reality, the former BJP voters have only turned their backs on the betrayers of Hindu nationalism.

Far from abolishing the Hajj subsidies, a financially marginal but highly symbolic instance of "Muslim appeasement", the Vajpayee government actually increased the Hajj subsidy hence the nickname given him by his Hindu critics, "Hajpayee".

On each of its distinctive old campaign themes, they had acted just like non-BJP governments had done before and have done since. As former swayamsevak Shrikant Talageri argued in already, the BJP has proven that "more foreign agency, anti-nationalism and injustice are possible in India in the name of Hinduism and Hindutva than in the name of Islam and Christianity or Secularism and Leftism. And more dangerous since it is cloaked in the garb of Nationalism". Talageri notes that this government policy was rooted in long-standing RSS mores, viz.

While the RSS undoubtedly started out as politically nationalist, its occasional self-description as "cultural nationalism" implies a claim on cultural awareness that proves hollow. The RSS has never abandoned the working style introduced by its founder Dr.

Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, who had been formed by the Revolutionary movement and adopted its secretiveness, discouraging written communication in favour of personal communication through travelling office-bearers. A lot of physical locomotion is a status symbol in the RSS hierarchy, but motion is not action. The numerous RSS self-praise brochures boast about mass campaigns with millions marching, but these have rarely translated into the realization of their stated goals.

Thus, the anti-cow-slaughter campaign of the late s achieved nothing, and the Ayodhya campaign in spite of its unprecedented magnitude has not realized the construction of the projected temple even twenty years later. Though it is part of Hindutva culture to deny failure vide the way the California Hindu parents tried to present the disappointing court verdict in the textbook case as a victory , inevitably at least some people had to draw the logical conclusion from these failures and try something new.

This disillusionment with the Sangh is triggering the emergence of new independent centres of Hindu activism. Between such non-Sangh foci in India and similar-minded NRI initiatives, there is little structural connection except for exchanges on internet forums: the loose network is their more modern alternative to the organizational rigidity typical of the Sangh.

In my experience, Western observers who have started believing their own shrill rhetoric of "Hindu fascism" tend to be surprised and shocked and indignant when they see apolitical Hindu dignitaries, praised in East and West for their spiritual qualities and leadership, interact on a friendly basis with the Sangh.

After an earthquake, Sangh relief workers are the first to arrive in the disaster area. It helps explain why most criticisms of the Sangh among Hindus are restrained by an acknowledgment of its undeniable merits. But now it is dawning upon an increasing number of Hindu activists that all this charity is no substitute for ideological clarity.

Therefore, while they may maintain contact with the Sangh, their initiatives and inspiration are clearly separate and distinct from the Sangh and its ideological line. Many Hindu activists who criticize the Sangh accept the intention of Sangh workers to serve Hindu society, and leave them to pursue this goal by their own lights.

Also, sometimes they cannot bypass the relative omnipresence of the Sangh network. Some Hindu activists, however, have totally given up on the Sangh. They feared that the RSS with its penchant for control would take the movement over, then with its equally typical craving for certificates of good conduct would abandon and dissolve the campaign in an attempt to prove its "secularism" and "reasonableness".

In the event, the Amarnath campaign, in contrast with so many Sangh campaigns, was successful: the original plan for pilgrim facilities was implemented overruling the Muslim objections. The most pressing occasion for Hindu self-organization cocnsists in threats to their physical security. During the Khalistani terror campaign, Hindus in Panjab started a local "Shiv Sena", disappointed in the way the RSS failed to react in kind when its cadres were targeted for murder by the Khalistanis.

On its website its request for donations is strengthened with this warning: "Else keep ready for your doom. It has been alleged that the Malegaon bomb attacks in were committed by such an ad hoc Hindu terrorist group. However, these rare cases of erratic and counterproductive Hindu violence should not obscure the actual need for self-protection in areas where Hindus are indeed prey for anti-Hindu mobs and militias, such as the Bengal border, where illegal Bangladeshi immigrants are trying to push out the Hindu villagers.

That is where one sane and disciplined Hindu group for self-protection has come into being: the Hindu Samhati, founded in February by Tapan Ghosh. Until November , and ever since graduating in Physics and spending three months in jail as a pro-democracy activist during the Emergency, he had been an RSS whole-timer for 31 years.

But not seeing the desired results from RSS work, who started out on his own and soon attarcted a following. It can already claim many successes on its local scale, such as protecting young couples where one of the partners is a Muslim joining a Hindu family, or ensuring the safety of Hindu festivals, which had become difficult to celebrate due to increasing Muslim harassment. The one name towering over the whole field of non-Sangh Hindu activism is that of historian and publisher Sita Ram Goel , Gandhian then Marxist in his young days, later anti-Communist and finally reborn Hindu.

In he stood unsuccessfully as a candidate for the embryonic Swatantra Party with whose founder Minoo Masani he cooperated in anti-Communist activism on a Jana Sangh ticket for the Khajuraho seat. He subsequently contributed some articles to the RSS mouthpiece Organiser, until the RSS leadership intervened to have him expelled from its pages for being too unkind to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

The stated reason was that if Nehru were ever murdered, criticism of Nehru in their own pages would cause them to get the blame. In the s Goel was re-invited to contribute, until he was again expelled, this time for being too unkind to Islam.

It is routinely assumed that the RSS preaches hatred of Islam; but I award my bottom dollar to anyone who can show me an instance from the editorials of Organiser. And I will award it again for an authentic quotation from a Sangh leader that is more anti-Muslim than the revered Dr.

As a book author and publisher, he also had to deal with the Sangh, e. So, it is not as if he boycotted the Sangh, in spite of their treatment of him. Yet his judgment of them was merciless. In writing, he diplomatically limited himself to intimating that "in the history of an organization, there comes a point when its original goal gets overshadowed by its concerns for itself". But when speaking, he was much blunter. In the presence of myself and of prominent witnesses, he said for example: "The RSS is the biggest collection of duffers that ever came together in world history" , "The RSS is leading Hindu society into a trap from which it may not recover" , "Hindu society is doomed unless this RSS-BJP movement perishes" Thus, instead of reactive anti-Muslim outbursts after every act of Islamic terrorism, he posits the need for an ideological critique of the Islamic belief system, equipped with all the methods and findings of modern scholarship: "The problem is not Muslims but Islam.

This way, a more incisive deconstruction of Islamic belief translates into less violence against actual Muslims. The converse is also true: George W. Bush and Tony Blair have spoken out in praise of Islam but killed a great many Muslims.

For them, free debate was a matter of course. Hindutva organizations, by contrast, in the Sangh as well as some new ones like the Hindu Jagruti Samiti, react to every insulting book or film or painting with calls for a ban, perfectly echoing Islamic organizations demanding a ban on the Danish cartoons or The Satanic Verses.

Their answer to the humourless RSS and its equally humourless secularist critics is to "put the fun back into fundamentalism". The HRR publishes an on-line paper and occasionally stages demonstrations on matters of Hindu concern, such as human rights in Bangladesh.

Interestingly, it has also joined hands several times with Muslim groups on matters of common interests or against common enemies. It interacts critically with the official pan-Hindu platforms and with the British multiculturalism authorities. These sometimes solicit its views, knowing that it represents a really existing and growing segment of opinion in the British Hindu community.

Typically, the HHR sometimes cooperates with Muslim organizations on matters of common concern, all while staying away from the usual Hindu platitude that "all religions essentially say the same thing". Human understanding does not require suspension of the mental power of discrimination. The second similarly inspired initiative in the diaspora is based in Houston. Quite a few Hindu individuals and local Hindu temple associations in North America also evince or acknowledge some influence from this line of thought.

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After a research stay at Benares Hindu University, he did original fieldwork for a doctorate on Hindu nationalism, which he obtained magna cum laude in He also published on the interface of religion and politics, correlative cosmologies, the dark side of Buddhism, the reinvention of Hinduism, technical points of Indian and Chinese philosophies, various language policy issues, Maoism, the renewed relevance of Confucius in conservatism, the increasing Asian stamp on integrating world civilization, direct democracy, the defence of threatened freedoms, and the Belgian question. Regarding religion, he combines human sympathy with substantive skepticism. Excerpt Posted On: 22 Jan Taking umbrage at being shown the truth has made book banning a regular event in India. Islam and birth control Excerpt Posted On: 18 Oct While popular Islamic thinking dictates birth control as a sin, its history is in fact laden with many layers. Immigration from Bangladesh Excerpt Posted On: 03 Oct Simmering communal tension in some of the border areas is one of the manifestations of the effects of large-scale illegal migration of Bangladeshi nationals who have slowly displaced or dispossessed the local population. History of Jihad, a thriller Book Review Posted On: 06 Aug The germination of Jihad and how it spread across the world is a historical fact that needs to be told.

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