Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Smarter Hindu of 18th century and timid Hindu of 21st century

By Satish Chandra

The documentary revealed how two members of the Shore Committee turned disloyal. In the ultimate analysis, this recurring historical fact boils down to religion. Hinduism gives ultimate freedom in pursuit of life and happiness, and a Hindu is more likely to watch his own interest at the cost of his society’s.

The Hindus, including the legendary Rajputs, have displayed individual acts of heroism. Often they lacked in leadership. Courage is a trait one is born with, but leadership is institutionally cultivated. A few years ago, while talking with a liberal British professor of history, I said, “On a one to one basis, for every smart British, there was a smarter Hindu even in the 18th century India. But the Hindus immediately lose this edge when compared to other groups. Perhaps any group of two English men was stronger than every group of two Hindus in a population of 330 millions! The British ruled India because of the divisiveness of the Hindus. If it were not the British, then French or Dutch may have taken over India.” He was speechless.

Tolerance defines Hinduism

In every media reporting and government communiqué on Komagata Maru, the word used for Indians was Hindus. Kazimi remarked that Hindustan was the name of the country during the Mughal period, so its people were called Hindus. Islam and Christianity of foreign soil had taken roots in India by the 19th century. I rolled back to the pages of history when India was a 100 per cent Hindu nation. Its hallmark was tolerance for other religious practices. The erstwhile Hindu kings and princes let the Jews, early Christians of St. Thomas and Parsees come, live in freedom and flourish in India. In recent history, the European trading companies and Christian missionaries established their posts and churches on the coast of India. Islam alone entered India with the sword.

The more I contemplate, the more I am convinced that the ideal of secularism can only become a reality under the Hindu religious states. The current practice and interpretation of secularism in India are anti-Hindus. More communal riots have erupted in India since partition in 1947 than in the 100 years before it. This was aptly acknowledged by a Muslim leader in 1993 when the Muslims fled to Nepal after the communal riots in Mumbai. He said, “The Muslims are safer in the Hindu kingdom of Nepal than in secular India!”

Perennial Causes

There are two main reasons for the failure of any militant course by Indians against the British. They are evident from the Komagata Maru episode and in the case of the Gadaris (means revolutionaries) returning to India from the US both in 1914. One, the US and the Canadian governments openly colluded with the British in spying over the meetings and infiltrating its membership. Neither the Gadar Party in San Francisco nor the Shore Committee in Vancouver had taken measures to counter the massive espionage by the government machineries. The declassified documents show how easy it was for the Americans and Canadians to exchange information between authorities in the USA, Canada, England and India.

The other reason is the presence of Jaichands (means proverbial traitors) amongst the Hindus. They betray by essentially thinking for themselves rather than of the nation at large. The documentary revealed how two members of the Shore Committee turned disloyal. In the ultimate analysis, this recurring historical fact boils down to religion. Hinduism gives ultimate freedom in pursuit of life and happiness, and a Hindu is more likely to watch his own interest at the cost of his society’s. On the other hand, Islam instills community over individual. That is why no one has betrayed Bin Ladin even for a $50 million bounty put out by the US Government on his head. The Jehad works on absolute loyalty to Islam.

Some Demographic Findings

It is pertinent to examine some demographic data on 376 Indian passengers in Komagata Maru. The website:, the most comprehensive and reliable source of material on the Gadar Party and Komagata Maru and Punjabi issues is professionally maintained by Tejinder Singh Sibia of UC Davis. The list has 372 passengers. Perhaps, four kids were not included. It has only three pieces of data on each person, namely, first name, district and village. That interestingly shows that the village identity, which is becoming extinct today, was more important 100 years ago than the last name. At least, 95 per cent Indians lived in the villages at that time vs. 75 per cent today.

All the 372 passengers were from Punjab. The united Punjab before the 1947 partition of India had 19 districts. Some districts were at least twice the size of present districts in India. Six of them are now in Pakistan. Ambala and Hissar are parts of a new State of Haryana carved out of Punjab in 1965. The maximum number of 74 Punjabis came from Ferozepur district. Four districts had only one person each. It included Faridkot district that covered my home town Bathinda!

From the names, 20 are clearly identified as Muslims; 18 of which came from one district Shahpur. It may be noted that in the late 19th century particularly after the 1857 Indian Revolt, the Hindus and Muslims had come very close as they fought against the British. Many Hindus had names like Ram Bakhash, Iqbal, Ram Deen, etc., This list contains 4-5 such names.

Hindu and Sikh Identity

However, it is very difficult to differentiate between the Hindus and Sikhs from their first names. As a matter of fact, in popular parlance the Hindus in Punjab are still referred to as Monay (means clean shaven) and Sikhs as Keshdhari (means retaining hair). Nearly 100 per cent of the first few generations of Khalsa (baptised/Amaratdhari Sikhs) came out of the Hindus.

After the Sikh holocaust in the first half of the 18th century their depleted population was replenished by mass adoption of Sikhism by the Hindus. The adults of 1914 era were born in late 19th century at a time when the Sikh population was boosted by the eldest males in Hindu families baptised as Sikh. This practice still continues in many Khatri families like Bhatias, Kapurs, Walias, Malhotras of Punjab who have both Hindu and Sikh members. Certainly, the pre and post 1984 Amritsar tragedy has damaged the communal ties. That is one of the main reasons for the reported decline of the Sikh population in Punjab during the last five years.

Names and Headwears

Singh is not exclusively used by the Sikhs in India. In the districts of Amritsar and Gurdaspur some Brahmins use Singh after their first name. In Bathinda district, I have personally known some Banias using Singh too. There are many local legends behind such practices. Pag/Pagari was a common headwear of males in north India having numerous styles and designs. The Hindus by and large used to stop wearing a Pagari after joining the service of the British Raj.

How Many Hindus?

The Hindus numbering 12 as has been mentioned in certain quarters has no bases. In the list, the typical Hindu names in alphabetical order with their frequencies in parentheses are as follows: Arjan (7), Bhagwan (3), Bishan (5), Chanan (7), Indar (11), Kishan (6), Lal (4), Nand (5), Narayan (6), Partap (4), Ram (5), Sundar (11). From a large group picture of the passengers standing on the ship deck one can see out of 19 persons there are only seven Sikhs. It is difficult to conclude that this sample statistically represents all 372 passengers. Nevertheless, putting the entire analysis together, I would claim that at least 100 passengers were Hindus.

Let it be made clear that the passengers were not illiterate villagers. Some were city dwellers with no village connections. Clearly identified are one physician with his wife (Dr. and Mrs. Raghunath) and two other women Kishan Kaur and Prabha. The name Chanda is unisex.

Komagata Maru in Indian Waters

Instead of returning to the originating port of Hong Kong, the British colonial authorities forced Komagata Maru to sail towards India. In order to contain the repercussions of possible violence, the ship was directed to Budge situated at the mouth of Hoogly River. It was a few miles away from Calcutta, the capital of British India till 1912.

This conspiracy further aggravated the passengers suffering from every physical deprivation for over three months. Consequently, there was a second and more violent revolt at the sea. The authorities being better equipped and positioned controlled them easily this time. Nearly 40 passengers died or were reported missing. Some were arrested, a few hanged and most put behind bars. The Komagata Maru was heavily damaged and went out of service for a while. The two local Canadian leaders Bhag Singh and Balwant Singh were hanged on trumped up charges of treason, though Balwant Singh had served the British Army with distinction. He was a Gurudwara priest in Vancouver. The trailblazer Gurdit Singh’s life was transformed once he came into contact with Gandhiji. He also served five years in prison, but lived long enough to see India free. He died on July 04, 1954, at age 94. (Concluded)

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At 1/14/2006 05:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi !

That was an interesting post.

Your blog lead me to think of India, Hinduism and India's image in the world arena.

Communists, Indian Leftists and their cohorts seem to be attacking and maligning Indians regularly. They want Indian Civilization look like a bride burning civilization.

These leftists have also been attacking Indian Muslims with ferocity. Every Imrana issues is blown full. But what about the Human rights abuses of China and Soviet union ? "mum" s the word then

It is possible that most developing countries are attacked thus be it Pakistan, India etc..

Back to my original question : To counter this, do Indians have organizations that promote India in the International arena, that boost our public image ?

India, a multicultural society, contributed immensely to Right livelihood (say our Dharma), Knowledge (right from Ship Building, Sashtras to Mathematics, Avaita), and political science (Arthashashtra for e.g.), medicine (ayurveda) over 2 millennium.

However, thanks to the invasions, colonial legacy and partially our own disunity, Indians were stuck with a "..curry and snake charmers image .." for a 100 years. Just now, we seemed to have shaken that, thanks only to Info Tech and IT pros. and info tech boom.

Be it politics or social issues, Why do Indians whip ourselves in public ? Look at the Ramdev Issue. We don't need Witzels and outsiders to smear us

Are we turning into a self hating civilization or is our media Left and anti Indian ?

More at
What is happening to the Kanchi Acharya ?

Gudia, a Muslim girl and Ramdev ji, a Hindu male !!




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