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.

Monday, September 05, 2005

by Sandhya Jain,

A friend recently offered a profound insight, viz., the Rand Corporation headquarters at Santa Monica, visible on its website, is shaped like the "Jesus fish," the secret sign by which Early Christians recognised each other and under which they organised to overthrow the Roman Empire.

Today, the Jesus fish is the symbol of Bible-thumping fundamentalists in America, who stick it on their cars to proclaim adherence to a rabid Christian identity that has little tolerance of "Others."

This makes Rand's decision to classify the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a New Religious Movement (NRM), given to espousing a "militant religious philosophy based on exclusivity and hate," understandable. NRM is an artificial Western concept in religious studies, to which Rand-CIA expert Mark Juergensmeyer has given a sinister twist in pursuit of a political agenda. This form of hate propaganda originated in Marxist and Christian circles and is now making rapid strides in Christian discourse. Rand espouses the White Settler ideology that hates and demonises all individuals and groups that resist evangelical thrusts in their homelands.

Chronologically, the Rand report is part of a "seeding" by the less famous American Terrorism Research Centre (TRC) last September. Those familiar with the art world would know that "seeding" is a process by which clever fakes of famous artists are "planted" in remote places and "discovered" later. I have found reputed colonial scholars using this modus operandi to plant obnoxious "evidence" about beef-eating in India. Interestingly, TRC is closely associated with the American Government. It listed RSS, which does not possess arms, among "Known Terrorist Groups Operating in India," mostly Islamic, but also Christian, Sikh and Maoist. No justification was given for the classification.

Even a layman can distinguish "terrorism" from alleged involvement in incidents of violence. Rand analysts studying "religious motivations in international politics and... how states have sought to take advantage of or contain religious violence," should have scrutinised evangelical America and radical Islam.

The report, "Exploring Religious Conflict," is intellectually and factually inadequate. It insinuates that RSS was involved in Mahatma Gandhi's assassination because it was "banned for a few years by the Indian government because of its acts of violence and terrorism and its exhortation to followers to resort to terrorist methods in the promulgation of its religious ideas." One expected this statement to be accompanied by annexures detailing RSS literature to this effect; there are none.

Though RSS is ranked as an NRM along with the more celebrated Al Qaeda, no instances are cited of RSS members smashing airplanes into crowded buildings or masterminding synchronised bomb blasts in world capitals. Undeterred, the CIA-funded experts have lumped RSS with mad cults like the Branch Davidians of Waco and Christian and Jewish groups that possess arms and espouse terrorism to achieve political goals.

RSS has been targetted because of its association with the BJP, which came to power at the Centre seven years ago. Although BJP has since diminished in power and status, RSS' stature has grown. Rand claims, with no credible evidence, that RSS indulged in violence against Muslims and Christians, and is a "threat to the idea of India as a secular state." It fails to explain why Washington is adamant about worldwide conversion if it is secular!

Washington is maligning RSS because the latter is not amenable to its geo-political vision and is the only organised group in Hindu society to consistently combat conversion activities. Rand clubs RSS with violent NRMs on the basis of two defining characteristics - a high degree of tension between the group and its surrounding society; and a high degree of control by leaders over members, as witnessed in ritualised acts of mass suicide and homicide by Branch Davidians, Heaven's Gate, and Aum Shrinrikyo.

These fringe sects have certainly indulged in horrendous acts of violence, but it is laughable to apply these yardsticks to RSS. There is no tension between RSS and surrounding Hindu society; nor do its leaders exercise totalitarian control over members. Anyone doubting this should note BJP president LK Advani's defiance of the RSS desire that he step down from his position, and former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel's refusal to end his tirade against Mr Narendra Modi.

Despite its intellectual juvenility, the Rand report is dangerous because it is likely to be used by the US State Department at its next annual International Religious Freedoms Report. This brings us to the interesting fact that no terrorist groups or individuals have been listed from Pakistan (haven of Wahabi madarsas and ISI-run training camps) or Bangladesh (heard of Bangla Bhai?). According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, India's terrorism casualties in the decade 1994-2005 (facts, not cosmic hallucinations) are Jammu and Kashmir (31,782); North-east (13,933); Naxalites (5,041); Punjab (175) and Others (6); making a staggering total of 50,937 victims. These were human beings who became statistics in our struggle against foreign-funded criminals.

Naturally Rand will not dare scrutinise American fanatics like Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition (surely an NRM), who makes no pretense about his espousal of violence to achieve political ends. The renowned tele-evangelist publicly asked the US Government to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for posing "a terrific danger" to America by "exporting Communism and Islamic extremism." Addressing his "The 700 Club" show on August 22, 2005, Robertson proclaimed that if Chavez feared America was plotting to assassinate him, "we really ought to go ahead and do it... It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war."

Though Robertson issued a formal apology following public outrage over his remark, it seems likely that he endorses assassination as a means of achieving political goals. He remains America's leading religious evangelist and was a contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, which shows he is part of the political elite and that separation of religion and politics is quite porous in America! Worse, Robertson is a vigorous advocate of the politics of Ugly America; he favours action against Mr Chavez because Venezuela controls 10 per cent of American oil imports, denial of which could hurt its economy. President Chavez had threatened that his country would stop oil exports if anything happened to him.

It is hardly surprising that all so-called threats to US security and national interests listed by the Rand report turn out to be countries and societies threatened by American imperialism! India emerges as a nation America needs to "control" to realise its global ambitions, and her Westernised Oriental Elite (WOE unto us) is more than willing to play ball. RSS is one of the few organised bulwarks against this nefarious design; hence the demonization as violent, terrorist, totalitarian.

Interestingly, CIA-Rand says that the Hindu-Bauddha cosmic battle between Good and Evil is a perennial struggle to exit the Wheel of Existence with its continuous cycle of rebirths and achieve Nirvana. Now this metaphysical battle of the Indic traditions never, ever, becomes the manifest physical conflict that perennially accompanies the spiritual quest in Abrahamic faiths (both heretical and mainline sects).

Yet the analogy has been invoked to label Ayodhya as a "battlefield" - a clear signal to the Muslim community not to accommodate Hindu sensitivities on Ram Janmabhoomi. The CIA knows that Hindu dharma's divine battlefield is Kurukshetra; Ayodhya was where we achieved the perfect kingdom under a perfect king, hence 'Ram rajya.'

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