I have always wondered why we Indians are corrupt lazy & suffer from some kind of self demeaning humility. Apparently docile but enigmatically at times brutal callous unresponsive and miserable. Were we always like this? or we have become like this through years of foreign domination ? Why were we dominated in the first place? Why couldn’t we defend ourselves? Now who or what is this ‘WE’ ? There was never a ‘WE’ before the British takeover. We were fragmented. Under the hood we are still fragmented. There are many questions. Why couldn’t the Hindus defend themselves against the Muslim invaders? How these minority foreigners were able to conquer and rule for hundreds of years over the Hindu majority? Is it because the Hindus themselves were bitterly fighting against each other? Think of Rastrakutas, Gurjara-Pratiharas, Chalukyas, Cholas they were all busy trying to expand their hegemony. Or Hindus are so laid back and docile that they easily submit to any aggression? Our great defect is a want of manliness. Our slavish constitution, blind superstition, extravagant mythology, the subtelties of verbal distinctions of our philosophy, the languid softness of our poetry, our effeminate manners, our love of artifice and delays, our submissive temper, our dread of change, the delight we take in puerile fables, and our neglect of rational history, are so many proofs of the absence of the more robust qualities of disposition and intellect throughout the mass of the nation.
What others said?
Alberuni comparing the Hindus with the Greeks, said that the former had no one to bring the sciences to a classical perfection. Therefore, he went on to say, the scientific theories of the Hindus were in a state of utter confusion, devoid of order, and in the last resort always mixed up with the silly notions of the crowd. Alberuni compared Hindu mathematics and astronomy to a mixture of pearls and sour dates or dung, and observed that both kinds of things were equal in their eyes because they could not raise themselves to the methods of a strictly scientific deduction. So, even today we will find professors of physics loaded with amulets, secularists poring over horoscopes and palms, and politicians refraining from submitting their election nominations except on auspicious days.
Francisco Pelsaert, an assitant (then called factor)in the Dutch East India Company during his stay in Agra from 1618 to 1627 records the conditions of the inhabitants of that city under Jahangir’s rule.
Francisco Pelsaert: ‘The manner of life of the rich in their great superfluity and absolute power, and the utter subjection and poverty of the common people-poverty so great and miserable that the life of the people can be depicted or accurately described only as the home of stark want and the dwelling place of bitter woe Nevertheless,(strangely)the people endure patiently, professing that they do not deserve anyting better.(!!)….
There are three classes of the people workmen, peons or servants and shopkeepers. For the workmen there are two scourges, the first which is low wages. The seocnd scourge is the opression of the Governor, the nobles, the Diwan, the Kotwal, the Bakshi and other royal officers. If any of these wants a workman, the man is not asked if he is willing to come, but is seized in the house or in the street, well beaten if he should dare to raise any objection, and in the evening paid half his wages, or nothing at all.
Peons or servants are exceedingly numerous in this country. The wages are paid by the moguls only after large deductions, for most of the great lords reckon 40 days to the month, and pay from 3 to 4 rupees for that period; while wages are often left several months in arrears; and then paid in worn-out clothes or other things. If however, the master holds office or power, the servants are arrogant, oppressing the innocent, and sinning on the strength of their master’s greatness(we know this very well!). Very few of them serve their master honestly; they steal whatever they can; if they buy only a pice-worth of food, they will take their share or dasturi(commission).
Whatever he may deal in – species, drugs, fruit, cotton goods, cloth, or anything else – the shopkeeper is held in greater respect than the workmen, and some of them are even well-to-do; but they must not let the fact be seen, or they will be the victims of trumped-up charge, and whatever they have will be confiscated in legal form, because informers swarm like flies round the governors, and make no difference between friends and enemies, perjuring themselves when necessary in order to remain in favour. Further, they are subject to a rule that if the King’s nobles, or governors, should require any of their goods, they must sell for very little-less than half price; for to begin with, they must give great weight for for small coins, the difference being 20%, then clerks, overseers, cashiers, and others all know very well how to to get their share; so that in such circumstances the unfortunate shopkeeper may be robbed in a single hour of the profits of a whole month, athough they bear the general cost. This is a short sketch of the life of these poor wretches, who, in their submissive bondage, may be compared to poor, contemptible earthworms, or to little fishes, which, however closely they may conceal themselves, are swallowed up by the great monsters of a wild sea’.
The Practice of Sati
Francisco Pelsaert: ‘When a Rajput dies, his wife allows herself to be burnt alive, as is the practice among the banias or Khattris, and in Agra this commonly occurs two or three times a week. It is not a very pleasant spectacle, but I witnessed it out of curiosity, when a woman who lived near our house declared to her friends, immediately on her husband’s death, that she would be sati, making the announcement with little lamentation, as if her heart was sealed with grief. The woman I have mentioned then went, with music and songs, to the Governor to obtain his permission. The Governor urged many sound arguments to show that what she proposed to do was a sin, and merely the inspiration of the devil to secure her voluntary death; and, because she was a handsome young woman of about 18 yeras of age, he pressed her strongly to dissuade her if possible from her undertaking, and even offered her 500 rupees yearly as long as she should live. He could, however, produce no effect, but she answered with resolute firmness that her motive was not[the fear of]poverty, but love for her husband, and even if she could have all the King’s treasures in this world, they would be of no use to her, for she meant to live with her husband. This was her first and last statement throughout, she seemed to be out of her senses, and she was taking up far too much time; so the Governor, since governors are not allowed by the King’s orders to refuse these requests, gave his consent.
Then she hurried off with light step, as if she might be too late, till she reached the place, a little outside the city, where was a small hut, built of wood, roofed with straw, and decorated with flowers. Ther she took off all her jewels and distributed them among her friends, and also her clothes, which she disposed of in the same way, keeping only an undergarment. Then she took a handful of rice, and distributed it to all the bystanders; this being done, she embraced her friends and said her last farewells; took her baby, which was only a year old kissed it, and handed it to her nearest friends; then ran to the hut where her dead husband lay, and kissed and embraced him eagerly. Then she[or they] took the fire and applied the brand, and the friends piled wood before the door; everyone shouted out Ram Ram! (the name of their god), the shout continuing till they supposed she was dead. When the burning was over, everyone took a little of the ash of the bones, which they regard as sacred, and preserve. surely, this is as great love as the women of our country bear to their husbands, for the deed was done not under compulsion but out of sheer love. At the same time there are hundreds, or even thousands, who do not do it, and there is no such reproach as is asserted by many, who write that those who neglect it incur the reproach of their caste’.
Practice of Sati 20th Century India
Roop Kanwar (born c. 1969) was an 18-year old Rajput woman who committed sati on 4 September 1987 at Deorala village of Sikar district in Rajasthan, India. At the time of her death, she had been married for eight months to Maal Singh, who had died a day earlier at age 24, and had no children. News reports of the incident present conflicting stories about the voluntariness of Kanwar’s death. Many news reports say that she was forced to her death. However, other reports said that she told her brother-in-law to light the pyre when she was ready. Several thousand people attended the sati event. After her death, Roop Kanwar was hailed asa sati mata — a “sati” mother, or pure mother. The event quickly produced a public outcry in urban centres, pitting a modern Indian ideology against a traditional one. The incident led first to state level laws to prevent such incidents, then the central government’s The Commission of Sati Prevention Act. The original inquiries resulted in 45 people being charged with her murder; these were acquitted. A much-publicized later investigation led to the arrest of a large number of people from Deorala, said to have been present in the ceremony, or participants in it. Eventually, 11 people, including state politicians, were charged with glorification of sati. On January 31, 2004, a special court in Jaipur acquitted all of the 11 accused in the case, observing that the prosecution had failed to prove charges that they glorified sati.
Who are we?
The first humans came to India from Africa about 80,000 years ago. The mitochondrial DNA and Y choromosome test proved many tribals in south India carry the M130 gene from the first wave of migrations of modern humans form Africa. Over the first tens of thousand of years they were hunter gathterers. The gene pool was replenished by several later migrations. A period of tens of thousnads of years has left its legacy in the indegenous peoples who still all over the subcontinent. Then 10,000 years ago in estern Asia, the first signs of settled cultures emerged in villages with agriculture, trade, metalworking and handicrafts. In the culture of this time, on the edge of the Afgan plateau around 7000BC, are the seeds of Indian civilization.
The big picture is that the ancestors of Aryans were part of a huge language group who spread out from the area between Caspian and Aral seas 4000 years ago, and whose language lies at the root of modern European languages English, Welsh, Gaelic, Latin and Greek, but also Persian and the main modern north Indian languages. They were people with new technology (horse-drawn chariots) and a religion that was, in broad sense ‘Vedic’. Then, in the second millennium BC, the ‘Aryans’ were driven by climate change and population pressure to move south in several waves into Iran and India – momentous event for India and the world.
Long Lost Aryans ?
The Kalasha are the last surviving non-Muslim tribal community in Northern Pakistan, living at an elevation of 2000 meters among the wilderness of Hindu Kush mountain range ( in the south-west of the Chitral (Chetrar) District of the North-West Frontier Province). The non-muslim ethnic Kalasha are no more than 4000 people in the three Kalasha Valleys : Mumuret (Bumborate), Rukmu (Rumbur) and Biriw (Birir). Centuries of relative seclusion have enabled Kalasha to preserve their ancient belief system, language and culture despite an overpowering all-Islamic environment. The culture of Kalash people is unique and differs drastically from the various ethnic groups surrounding them. They are polytheists and nature plays a highly significant and spiritual role in their daily life. As part of their religious tradition, sacrifices are offered and festivals held to give thanks for the abundant resources of their three valleys. Kalash mythology and folklore has been compared to that of ancient Greece, but they are much closer to Indo-Iranian (Vedic and pre-Zoroastrian) traditions. The Chitralis are still speaking today one of the oldest Indo-European languages in a relatively undiluted form. This is not surprising in view of the remoteness of their area. There is a creator deity called Dezau (?ezáw) whose name is derived from Indo-European dheig’h ‘to form’ (cf. Vedic dih, Kati Nuristani dez ‘to create’, CDIAL 14621); he is also called by the Persian term Khodai (Khodáy, Paydagaráw, Parwardigár, Malék). There are a number of other deities, semi-gods and spirits. The Kalash pantheon is thus one of the last living representatives of Indo-European religion, along with Hinduism and Zoroastrianism. There is the prominent Indr or Varendr (Warín, Werín from *aparendra); the rainbow (indré~ CDIAL 1577) is called “Indra’s bow” as in Vedic; “when it thunders, Indra plays Polo.” Indra is attested both in Vedic and Avestan texts and goes back to Indo-Iranian deity Vatrahan the ‘slayer of vatra’ (resistance). Indra appears in various form, such as Sajigor (Sajigor), also called Shura Verin (Šúra Werín from *sura *aparendra ‘the hero, the unrivaled Indra’). Warén(dr-) or In Warin is the mightiest and most dangerous god. The location of his shrine was assigned by bow shot, which recalls the Vedic Indra’s Bunda bow. Another one of his forms is the recently popular Balumain (Ba?imaín). Riding on a horse, he comes to the Kalash valleys from the outside at winter solstice. Balumain is a culture hero who taught how to celebrate the Kalash winter festival (Chaumos). He is connected with Tsyam, the mythological homeland of the Kalash. Indra has a demon-like counterpart, Je??an (from *jye??ha? ‘the best’), who appears on earth as a dog; the gods (Devalog, Dewalók) are his enemies and throw stones at him, the shooting stars.
India Fact File
Area: 3,3000,000 sq.km Population Growth Rate:1.606%(2007) Population Density: 324 persons per sq.km (2001) Sex Ratio: 1.064 male(s)/female(2007) Ethnic Groups: Indo-Aryan, Dravidian Mongoloid, others. Religions: Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi. Languages: 18 Languages Recognized by the Indian Constitution. Literacy Rate: Total: 61.0% Male: 73.4% Female 47.8% (2001). Infant Mortality Rate: 34.61 deaths/1000 live births (2001). Population Below Poverty Line: 25% (2002) Unemployment Rate: 7.8% (2006). TRANSPORT: Railways-> 63,230 km. Roads-> 3,383,344 km. Airports-> 334 (2005) With Paved Runways: 239 With Unpaved Runways: 95 Telephones-> 49.75 million (2005) Mobile->166.1 million(2006) Internet User-> 60 million (2005).
National Anthem: Jana Gana Mana , composed by Rabindranath Tagore.
National Song: Vande Mataram composed in Sanskrit by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhya.
1. Intellectually, the European mind is outraged by the Hindus precisely in those three principles which are fundamental to its approach to life, and which it had been applying with even greater strictness since the Renaissance: that of reason, that of order, and that of measure. To these men everything about the Hindus appears to be irrational, inconsistent, unholy, and extravagant, also lush, awry, and hypertrophied beyond conception. The contradictions are formidable. There is an extreme of renunciation with its opposite in an avarice of whose sordidness no European can form any idea. There is an unnatural insistence, partly realized in practice, on chastity, accompanied by a sex-obsession and sensuality in personal life whose scale and degradation has to be seen to be believed.
2. History in India did not mean the growth of constitutions, the development of the civic ‘rights’, the vindication of individual liberty or the evolution of self-government. These were western ideas and had no meaning in India. To the Indian, power was a divine gift, to be exercised absolutely by God’s anointed, and obeyed unquestioned by everyone else. A King who was not absolute, lost (in the oriental mind) the essential quality of kingship. People, if left to themselves, set up a despot, to whose decree of life and death it submitted with the same resignation and assent that it showed towards the act of destiny. Then King was the state, his ministers were his instruments, its people were his slaves. His worst excesses and most savage cruelties were endured in the same way as plague and famine. All belonged to the irresistible and inscrutable manifestation of the divine order of the universe.