|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, 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 who 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 29 and 30 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 3 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 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 lay 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
Ap188.8.131.52/ stribhya? sarva.var?ebhyas ca dharma.se?an [pratiyad ity eke- ity eke //
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 counselled 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.
 Text of Aapastamba Dharmasuutra (AP) based upon Buhler’s Edition (Bombay Sanskrit Series Nos. LIV and L), 3rd ed. 1932. Variant reading is in parenthesis after the end of each sutra, according to Kashi Sanskrit Series No.93 (K) edited by A. Chinnaswami, Benares 1932.
The author is Editor, www.vigilonline.com