Move over Intelligent Design, here comes Bhartiya Creationism!!
Published on February 13, 2007
Even as the intelligent design controversy rages on, California recently witnessed a concerted push by a coalition of three Hindutva (Hindu supremacist) groups -- Hindu Education Foundation, Vedic Foundation and the Hindu American Foundation -- to doctor sixth grade social science textbooks. Their strong ideological and organizational links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in India makes them all the more dangerous, for any success here would provide a much-needed fillip to the RSS family of organizations in India . Fortunately, interventions by a group of Indologists led by Professor Michael Witzel and strong mobilizations by the South Asian community resulted in a resounding defeat for the Hindutva groups.
As repeatedly pointed out by groups at the forefront of the California struggle, the edits proposed by the Hindutva groups sought to negate the "great pluralism within Hindu practice, as well as the religious diversity within Indian society" . For this purpose, the Hindutva forces hired the PR firm Ruder Finn which has a reputation of targeting liberals, feminists and Jews and mobilizing public opinion for American intervention in the Balkans . However, "His Divinity, Dharm Chakrvarti" Swami Prakashanand Saraswati, the spiritual leader of the Texas-based Vedic Foundation has dug them such a deep hole that even Ruder Finn –- with all its ruthlessness -– would have a hard time salvaging any respectability for its clients. Saraswati's magnum opus, "The true history and the religion of India", reeks of megalomania from start to finish and is bound to be an embarrassment for any practicing Hindu .
If Saraswati were one of those dime-a-dozen Swamis, his book could have been dismissed as a failed attempt at humor. However, as the Vedic Foundation’s aggressive posturing in California demonstrated, they are out to mythologize history and science. In the last few decades, the rationalist currents in Indian philosophy have gradually been supplanted by the ideology of Hindutva and the megalomania of the Vedic Foundation nicely dovetails into the Hindutva agenda . What follows is a fictional account of a tete-a-tete between Prakashanand Saraswati and a Hindutva activist; except for questions #6 and #7, Saraswati’s responses are taken almost verbatim from his book.
Q1: The Western mind seems incapable of comprehending the significance of our sacred places and rivers. Why would anyone want to take a dip in the dirty waters of say, the river Ganges, they ask .
A: The holy rivers or places that come in the Puranas eternally exist as the Divine personalities, or the Divine existences in the Divine abode of the supreme God. Their representation in the from of rivers or places on the land of India is a kind of holy manifestation of the Divinity on the material plane for the devotional benefit of the devotees of God, just like the Vedas and the Puranas are in a book form in the material world and they are in their Divine form in the Divine world.
Q2: How different are the western religions from our Bhartiya religion ?
A: In no way could there be any comparison of the western religions (which are based on mythologies) with the Hindu Vedic religion which is eternal, universal and is directly revealed by the supreme God.
Q3: The California textbooks refer to some of our sacred texts as myths ...
A: Divine writings cannot be analyzed in a material way. How could a worldly being, possessed with the vehemence of his own passions and desires, try to argue with the writings of Sages and Saints whose entire life was a divine benevolence for the souls of the world? You should know that all of our religious writings are Divine facts, and facts always remain facts, they cannot become myths. Using the word myth for our religious history is a serious spiritual transgression.
Q4: In the California struggle, the anti-Hindu side has gotten a lot of support from scholars and academics specializing in South Asia. Is this of any consequence?
A: It is a fact that in the world almost all the academic literature in English about Hinduism, even by Hindu writers, bears the western influence, and that, none of these books represent the correct view of total authentic Hinduism. Historians forget that one cannot determine the history of Bharatvarsh on meager archaeological findings of coins, toys and pots. Whereas the general history of Bharatvarsh is already written in its scriptures and the Puranas whose texts and the philosophical descriptions are the outcome of the Gracious and benevolent minds of eternal Saints.
Also, arguing about the proven facts of the Bhartiya history (which are re-authenticated by our great Masters) by a worldly person (even if he is a higher degree holder) who is attached to his intellectual, emotional and sensual enjoyments of a pure worldly nature, is like a school going science student, who has read some science fiction stories, happens to visit NASA Research Institute and sneaks into the research chamber and starts telling the scientists how they are. But, this is the age of the freedom of speech, anyone could say anything; still the fact remains the fact and the fiction remains the fiction.
Q5. But, Swamiji, some people dismiss such attitudes as anti-intellectualistic ...
A: Some people have a critical nature and a leaning towards non-Godliness which is the sign of the impiousness of their heart and the biased structure of their mind. It is the nature of such people that they cannot tolerate to read or hear about the authentic and eternal Divineness of Bhartiya religion and Bhartiya history which is described in the Puranas especially in the Bhagwatam. It is thus wise to leave them to live with their own beliefs and don't try to unnecessarily argue with them to accept the right thing.
Q6: Swamiji, you write in your book: "We find that the ancient society of Greece had adopted certain social customs that were prevailing in India. Such as: the husband headed the family and the wife ran the household affairs; parents arranged and decided their children’s marriage; a girl was controlled and protected by her parents before marriage and by her husband after marriage; and many more such customs." The California textbooks say the same -- that "men had many more rights than women" – but the Hindu Education Foundation has called this a distortion of truth and the Hindu American Foundation has threatened to sue the California State Board over this (and other things).
A: I don’t take much interest in such worldly matters, puthra (son).
Q7: In two years, Texas school textbooks (dealing with Indian history) will be up for review. "Anything is possible in Bush-land" your devotees say, and a friend has claimed that the "Hindu American community of Texas has already started gearing up for quite some time now, and has been historically very well organized for over a decade." What are your thoughts on this fight closer home?
A: Puthra, the whole brahmand (universe) is the creation of our Lord. Such geographical differences don't matter to us Swamis; California or Texas or New Delhi, it's all the same for us. And if we don’t succeed the first time, we won't quit. As Swami Vivekanand said: "Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached."
Q8: Swamiji, could you comment on the Divinity of our scriptures?
A: Bhartiya scriptures are the Divine powers eternally residing in the Divine abode of God. With the will of God they are introduced in the world through Brahma who transfers this knowledge to the Rishis (Sages). Later on those Rishis reproduce them in the form of scriptures; their very first manifestation was trillions of years ago when our Brahmand (universe) along with the planetary system was originally created by Brahma. Our scriptures also reveal the various sciences (Sanskrit grammar and language, astrology, sociology, defense and medicine etc.) for the good of the people of the world in general. It is an axiom that everything that is produced by God is eternal, because God is eternal. Thus, the knowledge of God and the knowledge of the path to God are both eternal, and the scriptures containing those knowledges along with the Sanskrit language are also eternal. And the Vedas and the Upnishads themselves reveal their own eternity along with the other scriptures as well as the Sanskrit grammar also.
Q9: Papal infallibility adds an aura to the Catholic Church. Are Bhartiya scriptures infallible too?
A: Bhartiya must know that our scriptures were produced by God Himself Who is the creator of the entire universe, and they were introduced in the world by Brahma who is the creator of this very brahmand. Thus, they are the absolute truth and there could never be a mistake in their philosophy. Whatever theoretical discrepancies are found between Bhartiya scriptures and the modern science, they are only in the theories of the worldly scientists because they are the products of material minds.
Q10: What can (potential) participants in the 4-week study course (based on your book) offered by the Vedic Foundation learn about Bhartiya scriptures?
A: In the Bhartiya scriptures, sincere intellectuals find all the answers of their intellectual quest; pious scientists find the consolence of their heart and a guideline for their future research; truthful scholars find the philosophy of their liking that opens the path to God; and the selfless devotees of God find such a sure and simple path of devotion and adoration to their beloved God that fills their heart and mind with the sweetness of the devotional love. An impious mind does not accept the Divine truth.
Q11: Thanks, Swamiji, for your concise definitions of sincerity, piety, truthfulness and selflessness. But why have the scientists ignored the wealth of knowledge in our scriptures, and instead propounded such fantastic theories as the Big Bang? Are they all impious?
A: Hindu scriptures reveal the scientific axioms that are extremely helpful in the research and the development of science. But, the intelligentsia of the world as well as the researchers of the physical sciences, being skeptical of Hindu religion, never thought of using the scientific knowledge of the Upnishads and the Puranas to promote their study and researches in the right direction. Had they trusted the Divine greatness of our scriptures, the scientific achievements of the world would have been much more positive, productive and directed towards the right direction.
Q12: Do our scriptures discuss the science of creation?
A: Of course, they do! Our scriptures describe the origin, evolution and the creation of this universe which is apparently the manifestation of an endless, eternal and lifeless energy that works with the help of God and involves unlimited number of infinitesimal souls which remain under its bondage. They are the manifestations of the same Divine power which has created this universe and so they bear the true principles of the creation and the evolution science. According to the Bhagwatam, which represents the total knowledge of all the Bhartiya scriptures, our planetary system (along with all the celestial abodes) was originally created by Brahma 155.5219719616 trillion years ago.
Q13: Thanks, Swamiji. Such accurate estimates of the age of the universe are indeed a tribute to Vedic astronomy and mathematics. However, when Christian theories of creation have failed in the west, how can we hope for acceptance of the Bhartiya theory of creation?
A: One thing we must know is that most of the scientists, archaeologists and geologists, who directly deal with the natural phenomena all the time in their life, do not believe in God; because the dogmatic God of the Bible does not appeal to their intellect and they are mostly unaware of the universal Graciousness of the Hindu religion. So, they don’t want to bring God into their theory. However, I share Dr. Deendayal Khandelwal’s hope that "the facts brought to light in this book about creation and languages will lead to new research in the fields of anthropology and astronomy and will lead (both Indians and non-Indians) to search for new directions for research in the fields of physical sciences based on the Hindu scriptural statements." I also hope that more people will echo the thoughts of Dr. Mahesh Mehta, founder of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America: "The time has come that the scientific knowledges of the Upnishads in relation to the Creation should be considered as a guideline for further researches in cosmology."
Q14: Your thoughts on Sanskrit ...
A: Sanskrit is the language of the Divine abodes, which are inhabited with unlimited Saints who are always drowned in the felicity of the Bliss of their beloved God. Being the Divine language it is perfect by its own nature. The perfection of the pronunciation and the uniqueness of the grammar that stays the same in all the ages (from the very beginning of human civilization and up till today) are such features which themselves prove that Sanskrit is not man-made; it is a divine gift to the people of this world. Sanskrit language has never had any dialect, and in every age and in every corner of this brahmand (and the earth planet) it always remains the same. To understand the Divine greatness of the Sanskrit language, you have to know the origination and the shortcomings of the western languages.
Q15: For the uninitiated, could you describe the salient features of our religion?
A: The religion of Bharatvarsh is the direct descension of the Grace of God which is manifested in the form of our Divine scriptures. They reveal the total philosophy of each and every aspect of God and the creation of this universe, and, at the same time, they also reveal the process of God realization with all the necessary informations, whatever a devotee may need during his devotional period ... The history and the religion of Bharatvarsh are not like the history and the religion of the western world which contains the accounts and the ideologies of the material beings; this is the description of the Divine personalities, Divine acts of our Sages and Saints, Divine descensions, and the knowledge of the Divine approach to God that enables a soul to receive God realization.
Q16: Thanks, Swamiji, that was very enlightening! But why doesn't the West appreciate the Divine Divinity of our Divine culture?
A: This is the age of materialism called kaliyug that started 5,101 years ago (3102 BC). The effects of kaliyug are to despise the Divine truth and to elevate the anti-God elements in the name of God. In the last 200 years such despisations were much greater when the English regime tried to destroy the culture and the religion of India by all means, and, during that time, they deliberately produced such derogatory literatures in huge quantities that confused and misguided the whole world. Trying to impose the worldliness of their own culture upon the Hindu faith, they introduced such fictitious theories and disparaging dogmas that produced a derogatory and demeaning view of Hinduism. These publications affected the minds of Hindu writers to such an extent that they also began to think and write on the same lines.
Q17: Swamiji, you say: "Through its unbroken [1,900 million-years-old Ganges valley] civilization, India provides an unbroken Divine facility to obtain the Divine knowledge and to proceed on the path to God realization to the souls of the whole world." How do we account for our current subordinate status?
A: Our Divine teachings were restricted from reaching the souls of the world by extensively promulgating the adverse propagations about Bhartiya (Hindu) religion and culture by the Britishers of that time, and in this way the whole world remained bereft of the true knowledge of God realization. Thus, they deceived and misguided the whole world by such acts that damaged the spiritual growth of millions of people of the world. Its effects have gone so deep in the Hindu society that many of the followers of Hinduism are not bereft of its damaging effects and it shows up in their writings. All this has ruined the image of the Divine greatness of Bhartiya religion and history.
Q18: In your 800-page masterpiece, you describe in copious detail the damage caused to Hindu society by British rule (and also due to the Muslim invasions). I am glad that there's hardly any mention of caste in your book, all this noise about caste and caste-based discrimination is very unnerving and so anti-Hindu.
The swami flashes a knowing smile and takes off on his Pushpak Vimana, "which could fly at the speed of thought" 
Notes: 1) The California struggle's significance for the Sangh Parivar is best illustrated by the Organiser's (the RSS's English mouthpiece) keen interest in this issue, the active participation of numerous Hindutva ideologues from India, and this premature proclamation of victory by an activist during a global RSS meeting held in Ahmedabad in December 2005: "Through the Hindu Education Foundation run by the RSS in California, we have succeeded in correcting the misleading information in text books for primary and secondary classes." [The Times of India, Ahmedabad Edition, Dec 31, 2005] The political significance of this struggle was not lost on the other side as well, as numerous activist (including Dalit) groups and academics who had fought against the RSS's saffronization project in India also wrote to the Board [http://tinyurl.com/ojhhr]
2) See http://www.friendsofsouthasia.org/textbook/FOSA_CAC_Letter.html http://www.friendsofsouthasia.org/textbook is an excellent resource page for the California struggle. For a concise overview of this issue, see "History Hungama: California Textbook Debate" [http://tinyurl.com/7ul23] The South Asia Citizens Web is an excellent resource page for Hindutva attempts at writing history in India. [http://www.sacw.net/India_History/index.html]
3) Ruder Finn’s President James Harff once said, "We are not paid to be moral." That he really meant what he said is evident from Ruder Finn's activities in the past few years and their current support of Hindutva. For more on Ruder Finn, see PRWatch.org [http://tinyurl.com/p4hqw ]
4) Not surprisingly, the book has won laurels from senior Hindutva ideologues like Tarun Vijay [Editor of the RSS's Hindi weekly, Panchjanya], Vishnu Hari Dalmia (President of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad) and Mahesh Mehta (founder of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America).
5) The invention of a distant Golden Age is one of the cornerstones of the Hindutva ideology. As Christopher Jaffrelot explains, upper caste Hindus sought to maintain the basic elements of the (hierarchical) traditional social order by simultaneously stigmatizing and emulating those who allegedly threatened Hindu society. "The tension between cultural preservation and modernization was solved through the invention of a distant Golden Age which was both indigenous and in accord with modern values." Prakashanand Saraswati's fulfils both objectives -- it invents a Golden past whose accomplishments not only measure up well against the present, but were better in all respects!
6) White America is often uncritical of its own practices while sneering at others' irrationality, but that doesn't make the latter any more respectable. Institutional racism cannot be fought by glorifying irrational practices and beliefs as minority rights, as the Hindutva forces unsuccessfully attempted in California. Hindutva's cynical invocation of minority rights in California, even as their Indian buddies are celebrating one of their Nazi-loving leaders, is just one more example of their doublespeak. [Golwalkar, the second dictator of the RSS, endorsed the Nazi Holocaust and called it "a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by." For more on Golwalkar, see http://www.imc-usa.org/digest/special/2006/golwalkar.fascism.htm ]
7) As Saraswati claims (and the RSS would gladly agree): "'Bhartiya' and 'Hindu' terms are synonymous. But when an emphasis is needed to represent the spirituality of India we normally use the terms Bhartiya and Bharatvarsh. Bharatvarsh (and its short term Bharat) is the original Sanskrit term for India; and, that which is related to Bharatvarsh is called Bhartiya."
8) The Hindu Education Foundation's "resources on Hinduism" page points to this website that seeks to historify the mythical Pushpak Vimana "which could fly at the speed of thought"! [http://www.atributetohinduism.com/Vimanas.htm ]
Prof. Ajoy K. Roy, is a reputed scientist and human rights activist from Bangladesh.