Being Hindu

Being Hindu adopts a longue durée view of history and attempts to contextualize the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its progenitor, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), as political phenomena by examining certain medieval state structures and instances of advocacy and popular mobilization in the colonial period. Further, it studies the politics of Narendra Modi and the policy initiatives undertaken by him as the prime minister of India to highlight their apparent cultural and moral underpinnings. Its eventual objective is to make a case for the historical authenticity of the Hindu mode of politics that emerged in post-Independence India. The attempt, in other words, is to demonstrate that it is a thing in its own right and not a cynical invention of hostility towards religious minorities, an irrational or ‘fascist’ mindset, or sundry anxieties, but has precedents in frameworks and practices going rather far back in history. The BJS and the BJP are thus shown to be locatable in a long tradition of Hindus organizing their political practice or politics through cultural resources and a cultural imagination distinctive to them. Narendra Modi, similarly, brings an inclusive Hindu catholicity and sangathanist outlook to his politics and developmental agenda. Being Hindu, in this way, relates a brief history of the political expressions of being Hindu over slightly more than eleven centuries—from the ascension of Aditya I, the first of the imperial Cholas, in 870 CE until our own time and age.

Decolonizing Hinduism

History writing, especially of the subcontinent during the colonial era, is filled with preconception and misconception. Colonial historiography stripped Hinduism of its Hindu-ness and India of Bharat. Colonial historicity, according to the author, is merely descriptive and random interpretations of myths rather than engaging with the idea of mythmaking. Decolonizing Hinduism is an attempt to address that. In the book, the author places ecology, astronomy and timescale (yuga cycle) at the heart of the Hindu belief system.

 

These important dimensions of Hinduism are not taught in our history classes. Instead, perceptions about Hinduism are limited to polytheism, idol worship and caste system. The book tries to rescue Hinduism from these biases and give voice to a uniquely indigenous version of Hinduism. He does so by demystifying the deeper concepts of Hinduism and history with allegories drawn from modern technological innovation in the field of capitalist economy, artificial intelligence, quantum physics, block chain, etc., to make them interesting.

Rearming Hinduism

Rearming Hinduism is a handbook for intellectual resistance. Within its pages, Vamsee Juluri delivers a sharp and comprehensive examination of Hinduphobia pervasive in contemporary academia, media, and popular culture. Juluri not only exposes the Hinduphobic narrative’s denial of the profound truths and beauty within Hindu philosophy but also challenges its disregard for the inherent integrity and sacredness of the natural world. This book fearlessly dismantles prevalent misconceptions about nature, history, and ancient civilizations propagated by modern media while debunking Hinduphobic myths surrounding Aryans, invasions, and ritual practices. Through this critique, Rearming Hinduism draws connections between Hinduphobia and a culture marked by exploitation and self-destruction, suggesting that a revitalized Hindu perspective may offer a potent counterforce. It urges readers to envision the present through the lens of timeless principles, thereby uplifting our understanding of our land, time, and the enduring values of sanatana dharma.

Reclaiming Bharatavarsha

Reclaiming Bharatavarsha is a collection of topical and exploratory essays organized around three broad themes. The first explores various facets of classical Bharatavarsha, which is defined as India before the advent of alien Islamic invaders and British colonisation. The second delves into the condition of an India under successive alien regimes. The impact of these regimes on our culture and society is contrasted with the conditions prevailing in the preceding classical era. The third studies the imprint of these bouts of foreign rule on contemporary national life. The three themes taken separately are complementary, and together they offer a scope for comparative analyses of the politics, culture, society, customs, and literature of different eras in the life of this ancient land.

 

From selected episodes drawn from the Puranas and the Mahabharata to the sacred history of the banana, from the 17th-century Bengali arrack to woke cinema, from the 1962 war with China to hair dyes, the book offers an eclectic mix of atypical essays, the narratives of which are filled with rare anecdotes and vivid details, all of which are backed by scholarly research.

 

The book also has a contemporary context—the unprecedented transformation of India over the last decade. A major outcome of this transformation is the surge in interest for recovering India’s national and civilizational past. This collective resurgence is an expression of cultural self-confidence, which had fallen by the wayside for centuries. Reclaiming Bharatavarsha is a humble addition to this national endeavour.

Whispers from the Past

Whispers from the Past is an overture to the history and culture of classical Kashmir, which for over a thousand years was one of the most creative places in the world. Through the book, the author hopes to acquaint the reader with Kashmir’s contributions to art and aesthetics, including drama, music, painting, sculpture, sciences, yoga, tantra, literature, and philosophy. The region’s culture was premised on the idea that universal consciousness binds humanity together, and knowing this at the individual’s level is fundamental to self-understanding and for creative growth. Classical Kashmiri artists appreciated great art not merely from its inherent cleverness points of view but for its capacity to inspire audiences to the source of creativity itself, and this entailed devotion to excellence and a robust tradition of criticism. The book explores the currents of intellectual life and the lives of prominent royals, writers, and sages, showing how Kashmiri scholars and travellers came to influence not only southern regions but also far-away lands beyond the Himalayas. It showcases Kashmir’s famed storytelling tradition through abridged tales from the Panchatantra, Kathā-sarit-sāgara, and Yoga Vāsiṣṭha, the last of which is arguably the greatest book of imagination and wisdom ever written on the conundrums of consciousness with unequalled clarity. Kashmiri aesthetics and the search for meaning in life resonate with modern sensibility

My Freedom of Expression

My Freedom of Expression is a collection of 22 articles published in recent years mostly by the Statesman newspaper. The anthology—varied in its themes ranging from Indic civilization to democracy, scientific temper to religious bigotry and identity to governance—is an exploration of what holds India back to become a global leader. The author picked some of contemporary’s most contentious topics, such as global warming, scientific marvels, the mysteries of life and the universe, cultural and religious superstitions, illusions and prejudices in the practise of science, and the importance of religion in society, and dissected them one by one with a rationalist knife. So what his writings essentially do is show a mirror to society. By being both accessible and arresting at once, the book deserves a place in everyone’s library.

Kashi

Kashi: The Valiant History of a Sacred Geography tells the story of the most sacred of all Hindu holy cities through the prism of sacred geography as is extensively documented in the Sthala Purana. The book features a summary of the Kashi Khanda from the Skanda Purana, an ancient text on the divine origin and leela surrounding the kshetra of Kashi. The history of this kshetra is enriched by the accounts of warrior sadhus, sages, kings, queens, devotees and ordinary citizens who dedicated their lives to preserving and reviving this sacred geography by doggedly building and rebuilding temples, taking up arms against invaders, meticulously documenting Kashi’s history and lore, and tenaciously sustaining pilgrimage routes and practices covering the holy sites of this pivotal city.

 

In particular, the lesser-known story of the warrior sadhus who defended the Kashi Vishwanath temple from marauding invaders is explored through the lens of sacred geography. Studied in this light, Kashi is both a spatial and metaphysical contestation. The current controversy and litigation over the Gyanvapi site cannot therefore be satisfactorily resolved without taking recourse to the idea of sacred geography, which has since time immemorial informed Hindus and indigenous societies worldwide about their identity and the relevance of space and place, culture and metaphysics, civilization and the development of nationhood.

Invaders and Infidels

Invaders and Infidels: From Sindh to Delhi: The 500-Year Journey of Islamic Invasions is a work of gripping history, which tells the story of the origins and trajectory of Islamic invasions into India. It begins with the first Muslim conquest and ends with Babur’s invasion of Hindustan, spanning the period of the Delhi Sultanate which was in power for almost 320 years. This epochal story encompasses a vast sweep of events, which changed the history of India forever, and introduced it to an alien faith and a religious despotism such as the country had never experienced before. It comprises major and minor sagas of great heroism, untold savagery, stout resistance, brutal intrigues and epic tragedies.

 

Embedded in this narrative are two major themes, largely overlooked in the inherited Indian historical and cultural memory. For more than three hundred years, alien Muslim invasions into India were largely fleeting, transitory and unstable. However, the lasting legacy of these Muslim invasions is the permanent destruction and disappearance of Classical India. Invaders and Infidels will fascinate anyone interested in the story of pre-Medieval India, a gateway era in the history of this ancient culture and civilisation.

Snakes in the Ganga

Snakes in the Ganga unveils uncomfortable truths concerning India’s vulnerabilities:

  • Intense warfare against India’s integrity is the work of a wellorchestrated global machinery driven by a new ideology.
  • Marxism has been reincarnated as critical race theory in US academia and serves as the framework to address America’s racism. This has been recklessly mapped on to India: Caste is equated with Race. Marginalized communities of India are considered as Blacks and Brahmins as the Whites of India. Groups claiming grievances (like Muslims and LGBTQ+) are artificially clubbed together.
  • Popularly called the woke movement, the mission is to dismantle Indian civilization and heritage by waging an uncompromising war against India’s government, educational institutions, culture, industry, and society.
  • Harvard University is ground zero of these social theories developed in collaboration with Indian scholars, activists, journalists, and artists. This represents a clear and present danger to India’s sovereignty and national security.
  • Several Indian elites are hoisting Harvard as the vishwa guru with their money and family names. Some private universities within India are importing wokeism that has serious repercussions for India’s stability.
  • Indian corporates are bringing the latest Western rubric of environmental, social, and governance ratings into their workplaces. This is aligned with the global social justice movement.
  • China has exploited this latest infrastructure as a passage to India.
  • Wokeism has penetrated some of the Indian government’s policies. For instance, the National Education Policy 2020 is propagating Harvard’s liberal arts.
  • An entire ecosystem of ideologies, institutions, and young leaders is emerging for the recolonization of India.

 

Is India for sale?

 

In this paperback edition, the back matter has been trimmed to shed some weight in the interest of portability. Readers can, however, still access it by scanning the QR code printed after the last chapter.

Bharat Rising

India became politically independent in 1947, but for economic freedom it had to wait for another four decades until P.V. Narasimha Rao, in tandem with Dr Manmohan Singh, chaperoned the country’s liberalization process in the summer of 1991. In 2014, another seismic revolution unravelled, the contours of which are still being drawn. For the first time, a ‘new India’ had not just seen an alternative model of governance that is truly divorced from the Nehruvian ethos but also initiated a process of democratization and decolonization of the largely ‘elitist, insular and compromised’ Lutyens’ world.

 

Argumentative and deeply researched, Bharat Rising combines the narrative style of journalism and the rigour and discipline of academia. It is as much about the resetting of Lutyens’ world as it is about a new India shedding its traditional distrust, if not distaste, for the country’s civilizational and cultural past.

Ram Janmabhoomi

A civilization that forgets its struggles is condemned to repeat its mistakes and spiral into a self-destructive cycle. The battles for freedom and the resistance against occupation and atrocities all too often recede from collective memory, overshadowed by the weight of oppression and systematically orchestrated efforts, to erase the Hindu identity through manipulated narratives. The sacred geography of Bharat, the cradle of Hindu dharma and the ancestral home of the Hindu people, has borne witness to relentless invasions, leaving scars on the collective psyche.

 

The Ram Janmabhoomi movement stands as a poignant testament to the devastation inflicted upon the roots of Hindu civilization and the arduous battle to reclaim it. In an era dominated by weaponized narratives, where the perpetrators of atrocities are romanticized as victims and the victims are crowned as oppressors, this book reminds of the facts and the inconvenient truths—of the blood, sweat and tears that many Hindus shed in fighting the good fight. It is a call to ensure that every Hindu born in an age, removed from those trials and tribulations, never forgets the sacrifices made by those who went before them. For if we forget, we are complicit in normalizing the obliteration of our great civilization.

Waiting for Shiva

Few places in the world carry the heavy burden of history as effortlessly as Kashi, or Varanasi, has. The holy city embodies the very soul of our civilization and personifies the resilience that we have displayed over centuries in the face of numerous adversities and fatal attacks.

 

Waiting for Shiva: Unearthing the Truth of Kashi’s Gyan Vapi recreates the history, antiquity and sanctity of Kashi as the abode of Bhagwan Shiva in the form of Vishweshwara, or Vishwanath. Shiva himself assured his devotees of salvation if they leave their mortal coils in the city. The book delves into the history of this self-manifested swayambhu jyotirlinga shrine of Vishweshwara, which for centuries has been both a refuge for the devout and a target of the bloodiest waves of iconoclasm. However, each time an attempt was made to obliterate the temple by demolishing it, it managed to rise and prosper. Every iconoclastic storm was followed by an episode of persistence, tenacity and stubborn resolve. Shrines fell and shrines rose, but the Hindus of Kashi never gave up—not even once.

 

Waiting for Shiva documents these cataclysmic events in the temple’s history. The final death blow was dealt in 1669 by the Mughal despot Aurangzeb, who demolished the temple and erected few domes on the partially destroyed western wall to call it a mosque. The temple complex was desecrated and left strewn with ruins as a grim reminder of the humiliation and insult that Hindus had to face as a consequence of their holiest shrine being torn down to smithereens. The area that is now called the Gyan Vapi mosque and the surrounding land that lies adjacent to the new temple of Vishwanath, which came up towards the end of the 18th Century, has always been one of intense contestation. Bloody riots overran Varanasi over this issue multiple times in the past. During the colonial era, the doors of the British courts were knocked at to settle the occupancy issue, and they adjudicated the matter several times. Post-Independence, too, the desire to ‘liberate’ the complex has been seething in the Hindu imagination. A new suit filed in 2021 before the Varanasi civil court reopened a long-festering historical wound. Despite several appeals right up to the Supreme Court to dismiss the plaint, a survey by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was ordered, which would lay bare the truth in its findings by the end of 2023.

 

Vikram Sampath’s latest offering retraces the long history of this bitterly disputed site and the dramatic twists and turns in the checkered past of this hoary shrine. Piecing together numerous documents and accounts—Vedic and Puranic texts, Sanskrit literary sources, Agama shastras, Jataka tales, Persian accounts, travelogues of foreigners, archival records and copious legal documents detailing the contestation from the British era to modern Indian courts—the book recreates, for the first time with facts and cogent arguments, this stormy history right up to the present times. The long-suppressed secrets that lay hidden in Gyan Vapi finally finds a voice through this book.

India and The Changing World Order

India and the Changing World Order breaks free from conventional boundaries, delving fearlessly into the realms of emerging civilisational, religious, and historical matters. Its purpose lies in sparking essential conversations about broader matters, such as civilisational, cultural, and social diversity issues that have been overlooked in the shaping of the post-World War II and post-Cold War global order. As the existing global order confronts unprecedented challenges, this book serves as a catalyst, fuelling a discourse that captures the essence of a rapidly evolving world.

 

Through a comparative study, the book offers fresh insights into the contrasting approaches of short-termist liberal democracies and long-termist autocratic China, shedding light on the distinctive qualities of a liberal and civilisational democracy as exemplified by India. Within its illuminating pages, the reader will uncover the critical challenges that Indian democracy faces while navigating the complexities of its relationship with both autocratic China and the liberal West. Additionally, the book examines the fundamental differences between market economics and market societies. It artfully unravels contemporary geopolitical, geo-economic, and geo-strategic issues, offering intricate analyses of India’s strategic connections with select nations and its ever-growing ties with the USA. Moreover, it dares to propose innovative solutions like astronomy-based education as a means to foster conflict resolution.

 

With an invitation that resonates deeply, India and the Changing World Order calls upon the reader to partake in a discourse that re-evaluates the past, contextualizes the present, and ultimately shapes the trajectory of our shared future.

Modian Consensus

Modian Consensus: The Rediscovery Of Bharat maps the Indian political trajectory of the last 150 years. It locates various periods of consensus that developed in Bharat from time to time and drove the policy, planning and politics of the day. Four of these consensus phases of the past have been identified as Civilisational Consensus, Gandhian Consensus, Nehruvian Consensus and Secular Consensus. The fifth and ongoing phase, the book argues, is Modian Consensus. The book examines how the politics of the day finds itself willy-nilly amidst a consensus around the politics of Narendra Modi. In the current phase, parties and politicians diametrically opposed to Modi’s ideas are compelled to follow the line of policies and programmes set by him. The impact of this consensus can be observed far beyond the domain of politics as it stands on the three postulates of cultural rootedness, assertive nationalism and welfare for all. The book explores various manifestations of Modian Consensus, including the challenges it faces and what it augurs for the future of Indian politics.

Arc of Governance

Governance is a 360-degree process; this book is an arc. “New India” dawned on 26 May 2014 when the Union government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi was sworn in by the president of the Republic of India. Its governance agenda was unveiled by the president in Parliament on 9 June 2014 with this stentorian statement: “My government is dedicated to the poor…. With a firm belief that the first claim on development belongs to the poor, my government pledges itself to the principle of sabke saath, sabka vikas…. My government will function on the mantra of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’, and we will work together to re-establish the credibility of the institutions of democracy.”

 

The government got a second mandate in 2019. This book, which is a compilation of the author’s articles and papers, will take the reader through different dimensions of governance, government, institutions, democracy and development critically, analysing the flavour of New India in them.

Invaders and Infidels

When Qutub-ud-din Aibak died in a polo game 1210, he had left behind a rickety, fledgling Muslim kingdom in Delhi. For the next eighty-odd years, its fortunes swayed wildly, witnessing a record twelve kings. It was a period of incessant palace coups and serial political murders. The death of Balban extinguishes the so-called Muslim Slave dynasty and with it ends the shortlived Turkic Muslim imperialism. It also heralds the ascent of the Afghanistan-based Khaljis, classed as “low-born.” A straight line connects the origin of the Khaljis with the military airport built by the US in Zabul in 2006. By this time, Hindu political power in northern India is in total disarray with no unifying leader who has the vision to combat and expel the alien oppressor lodged in Delhi. No Hindu ruler exploits the repeated openings and vulnerabilities provided by internecine Sultanate warfare. Book 2 of Invaders and Infidels traces the unlikely rise of Jalal-ud-din Khalji as an illsuited monarch and ends with the maiden Islamic raid of Devagiri, the gateway to southern India. The incident will have far-reaching consequences for the history of India for the next six hundred years. It is a heady tale of a period rife with bloody intrigues, aggressive campaigns of Islamic expansionism, heroic wars of Hindu resistance and squandered chances for civilizational reclamation. The narrative in this book is marked by a flair of vivid historical storytelling, juxtaposing the oscillating fortunes of both Islamic conquests and the ensuing Hindu responses. It unearths a slew of eye-opening and forgotten details about the socio-political and economic life of the era whose impact is visible even today. Written in a fast-paced and engaging style, Book 2 of Invaders and Infidels is a riveting read of a critical juncture in the history of early Muslim rule of India.

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