HINDUTVA: THE GREAT NATIONALIST IDEOLOGY
By Mihir Meghani
Source - http://www.bjp.org/
In the history of the world, the Hindu awakening of the late
twentieth century will go down as one of the most monumental events
in the history of the world. Never before has such demand for
change come from so many people. Never before has Bharat, the
ancient word for the motherland of Hindus - India, been confronted
with such an impulse for change. This movement, Hindutva, is
changing the very foundations of Bharat and Hindu society the world
Hindu society has an unquestionable and proud history of tolerance
for other faiths and respect for diversity of spiritual
experiences. This is reflected in the many different philosophies,
religious sects, and religious leaders. The very foundation of this
lies in the great Hindu heritage that is not based on any one book,
teacher, or doctrine. In fact the pedestal of Hindu society stems
from the great Vedic teachings Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudha Vadanti --
Truth is One, Sages Call it by Many Names, and Vasudhaiva
Kutumbakam -- The Whole Universe is one Family. It is this
philosophy which allowed the people of Hindusthan (land of the
Hindus) to shelter the Jews who faced Roman persecution, the
Zoroastrians who fled the Islamic sword and who are the proud Parsi
community today, and the Tibetan Buddhists who today face the
communist secularism: persecution of religion.
During the era of Islamic invasions, what Will Durant called the
bloodiest period in the history of mankind, many Hindus gallantly
resisted, knowing full well that defeat would mean a choice of
economic discrimination via the jaziya tax on non- Muslims, forced
conversion, or death. It is no wonder that the residents of
Chittor, and countless other people over the length and breadth of
Bharat, from present-day Afghanistan to present-day Bangladesh,
thought it better to die gloriously rather than face cold-blooded
slaughter. Hindus never forgot the repeated destruction of the
Somnath Temple, the massacre of Buddhists at Nalanda, or the
pogroms of the Mughals.
Thus, the seeds of todayUs Hindu Jagriti, awakening, were created
the very instance that an invader threatened the fabric of Hindu
society which was religious tolerance. The vibrancy of Hindu
society was noticeable at all times in that despite such barbarism
from the Islamic hordes of central Asia and Turkey, Hindus never
played with the same rules that Muslims did. The communist and
Muslim intelligentsia, led by Nehruvian ideologists who are never
short of distorted history, have been unable to show that any Hindu
ruler ever matched the cruelty of even a RmoderateS Muslim ruler.
It is these characteristics of Hindu society and the Muslim psyche
that remain today. Hindus never lost their tolerance and
willingness to change. However Muslims, led by the Islamic clergy
and Islamic societyUs innate unwillingness to change, did not
notice the scars that Hindus felt from the Indian past. It is
admirable that Hindus never took advantage of the debt Muslims owed
Hindus for their tolerance and non-vengefulness.
In modern times, Hindu Jagriti gained momentum when Muslims played
the greatest abuse of Hindu tolerance: the demand for a separate
state and the partition of India, a nation that had had a common
history and culture for countless millenia. Thus, the Muslim
minority voted for a separate state and the Hindus were forced to
sub-divide their own land.
After partition in Pakistan, Muslim superiority was quickly
asserted and the non-Muslim minorities were forced to flee due to
the immense discrimination in the political and religious spheres.
Again, Hindus did not respond to such an onslaught. Hindu majority
India continued the Hindu ideals by remaining secular.
India even gave the Muslim minority gifts such as separate personal
laws, special status to the only Muslim majority state -- Kashmir,
and other rights that are even unheard of in the bastion of
democracy and freedom, the United States of America. Islamic law
was given precedence over the national law in instances that came
under Muslim personal law. The Constitution was changed when the
courts, in the Shah Bano case, ruled that a secular nation must
have one law, not separate religious laws. Islamic religious and
educational institutions were given a policy of non- interference.
The list goes on.
More painful for the Hindus was forced negation of Hindu history
and factors that gave pride to Hindus. Hindu customs and traditions
were mocked as remnants of a non-modern society, things that would
have to go if India was to modernize like the west. The self
proclaimed guardians of India, the politicians of the Congress
Party who called themselves secularists, forgot that it was the
Hindu psyche that believed in secularism, it was the Hindu thought
that had inspired the greatest intellectuals of the world such as
Thoreau, Emerson, Tolstoy, Einstein, and others, and that it was
Hindus, because there was no other land where Hindus were in a
significant number to stand up in defence of Hindu society if and
when the need arose, who were the most nationalistic people in
When Hindus realized that pseudo-secularism had reduced them to the
role of an innocent bystander in the game of politics, they
demanded a true secularism where every religious group would be
treated the same and a government that would not take Hindu
sentiments for granted. Hindutva awakened the Hindus to the new
world order where nations represented the aspirations of people
united in history, culture, philosophy, and heroes. Hindutva
successfully took the Indian idol of Israel and made Hindus realize
that their India could be just as great and could do the same for
In a new era of global consciousness, Hindus realized that they had
something to offer the world. There was something more than
tolerance and universal unity. The ancient wisdom of sages through
eternity also offered systems of thought, politics, music,
language, dance, and education that could benefit the world.
There have been many changes in the thinking of Hindus, spearheaded
over the course of a century by innumerable groups and leaders who
made their own distinct contribution to Hindu society: Swami
Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Gandhiji, Rashatriya Swayamsevak
Sangh, Swami Chinmayananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, International
Society for Krishna Consciousness, Muni Susheel Kumarji, Vishwa
Hindu Parishad, Bharatiya Janata Party, and others. Each in their
own way increased pride in being a Hindu and simultaneously showed
Hindus their greatest strengths and their worst weaknesses. This
slowly shook the roots of Hindu society and prompted a rear-guard
action by the ingrained interests: the old politicians, the
Nehruvian intellectual community, and the appeased Muslim
The old foundation crumbled in the 1980s and 1990s when Hindus
respectfully asked for the return of their most holy religious
site, Ayodhya. This demand promptly put the 40-year old apparatus
to work, and press releases were chunked out that spew the libelous
venom which called those who represented the Hindu aspirations
RmilitantS and Rfundamentalist,S stigmas which had heretofore found
their proper place in the movements to establish Islamic law.
Hindus were humble enough to ask for the restoration of an ancient
temple built on the birthplace of Rama, and destroyed by Babar, a
foreign invader. The vested interests were presented with the most
secular of propositions: the creation of a monument to a national
hero, a legend whose fame and respect stretched out of the borders
of India into southeast Asia, and even into Muslim Indonesia. A
hero who existed before there was anyone in India who considered
himself separate from Hindu society. The 400-year old structure at
one of the holiest sites of India had been worshipped as a temple
by Hindus even though the Muslim general Mir Baqi had partially
built a non-functioning mosque on it. It was very important that no
Muslims, except those who were appeased in Indian politics, had
heard of anything called Babri Masjid before the pseudo-secularist
apparatus started the next to last campaign against the rising
Hindu society. It was also important that no Muslim had offered
prayers at the site for over 40 years.
Hindus hid their true anger, that their most important religious
site still bore the marks of a cruel slavery that occurred so very
recently in the time span of Hindu history. It was naturally
expected in 1947 that freedom from the political and economic
chains of Great Britain would mean that the systems and symbols
that had enslaved India and caused its deterioration and poverty
would be obliterated. Forty years after independence, Hindus
realized that their freedom was yet to come.
So long as freedom to Jews meant that symbols of the Holocaust in
Europe were condemned, so long as freedom to African- Americans
meant that the symbols of racial discrimination were wiped out, and
so long as freedom from imperialism to all people meant that they
would have control of their own destinies, that they would have
their own heros, their own stories, and their own culture, then
freedom to Hindus meant that they would have to condemn the
Holocaust that Muslims reaped on them, the racial discrimination
that the white man brought, and the economic imperialism that
enriched Britain. Freedom for Hindus and Indians would have to mean
that their heros such as Ram, Krishna, Sivaji, the Cholas,
Sankaracharya, and Tulsidas would be respected, that their own
stories such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata would be offered
to humanity as examples of the brilliance of Hindu and Indian
thinking, and that their own culture which included the Bhagavad
Gita, the Vedas, the temples, the gods and goddesses, the art, the
music, and the contributions in various fields, would be respected.
Freedom meant that as the shackles of imperial dominance were
lifted, the newly freed people would not simply absorb foreign
ideas, they would share their own as well.
In India, something went wrong. The freedom from Britain was
supposed to result in a two-way thinking that meant that non-
Indian ideas would be accepted and that Indian ideas would be
presented to the world. So long as the part of India giving to the
world was suppressed, the freedom was only illusory and the
aspirations of the freedom hungry would continue to rise in
The freedom could have been achieved if a temple to Rama was built
and the symbol of foreign rule was moved to another site or
demolished. The battle was never really for another temple. Another
temple could have been built anywhere in India.
The humble and fair demand for RamaJanmabhoomi could have resulted
in a freedom for India, freedom from the intellectual slavery that
so dominated India. This freedom would have meant that all Indians
regardless of religion, language, caste, sex, or color would openly
show respect for the person that from ancient times was considered
the greatest hero to people of Hindusthan. For the first time,
Hindus had demanded something, and it was justifiable that a
reasonable demand from an undemanding people would be realized.
Imagine if the Muslim leadership had agreed to shift the site and
build a temple in Ayodhya. How much Hindu- Muslim unity there would
have been in India? India could then have used that goodwill to
solve the major religious, caste, and economic issues facing the
But some of the vested interests in politics and in the Muslim
community saw that such a change would mean that their work since
1947 would be overturned and that this new revolution would
displace them. Rather than join forces and accept the rising tide,
the oligarchy added fuel to the greatest movement in Indian
history. One that on December 6, 1992 completely shattered the old
and weak roots of Indian society and with it, the old political and
intellectual structure. The destruction by the Kar Sevaks of the
dilapidated symbol of foreign dominance was the last straw in a
heightening of tensions by the government, and the comittant anger
of more and more Hindus to rebuffs of their reasonable demands.
The ruthless last-ditch effort of the powers-that-be was the
banning and suppression of the leaders of the Hindu Jagriti. The
effort of the rulers reminds one of the strategy of all ill-fated
rulers. Throughout history, when monumental upheavals have taken
place, the threatened interests have resorted to drastic measures,
which in-turn have hastened their own death.
Hindus are at last free. They control their destiny now and there
is no power that can control them except their own tolerant ethos.
India in turn is finally free. Having ignored its history, it has
now come face to face with a repressed conscience. The destruction
of the structure at Ayodhya was the release of the history that
Indians had not fully come to terms with. Thousands of years of
anger and shame, so diligently bottled up by these same interests,
was released when the first piece of the so-called Babri Masjid was
It is a fundamental concept of Hindu Dharma that has won:
righteousness. Truth won when Hindus, realizing that Truth could
not be won through political or legal means, took the law into
their own hands. Hindus have been divided politically and the laws
have not acknowledged the quiet Hindu yearning for Hindu unity
which has until recently taken a back seat to economic development
and Muslim appeasement. Similarly, the freedom movement represented
the supercedence of Indian unity over loyalty to the British Crown.
In comparison to the freedom movement though, Hindutva involves
many more people and represents the mental freedom that 1947 did
The future of Bharat is set. Hindutva is here to stay. It is up to
the Muslims whether they will be included in the new nationalistic
spirit of Bharat. It is up to the government and the Muslim
leadership whether they wish to increase Hindu furor or work with
the Hindu leadership to show that Muslims and the government will
consider Hindu sentiments. The era of one-way compromise of Hindus
is over, for from now on, secularism must mean that all parties
Hindutva will not mean any Hindu theocracy or theology. However, it
will mean that the guiding principles of Bharat will come from two
of the great teachings of the Vedas, the ancient Hindu and Indian
scriptures, which so boldly proclaimed - TRUTH IS ONE, SAGES CALL
IT BY MANY NAMES - and - THE WHOLE UNIVERSE IS ONE FAMILY.
End of article by Mihir Meghani
Source - http://www.bjp.org/
Jai Maharaj, Jyotishi
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Jains anguished at animal sacrifice at Girinar Hills
By Our Staff Correspondent
MYSORE, JAN. 20. Members of Sri Digambara Jain Samaj here have
expressed anguish over reports of animal sacrifice at Girinar Hills in
Gujarat, which is associated with Bhagawan Sri Neminatha Tirthankara.
The community members observed a fast on Thursday to protest the cult
of animal sacrifice at Girinar Hills, which is gaining in prominence
in recent times.
Girinar Hills is a sacred pilgrim centre for Jains for it was here
that Sri Neminatha attained his salvation having preached non-violence
and compassion. It is customary for the Jain community members to
visit the spot at least once in their lifetime.
Out on a mission
As she takes yet another daring step, this time to set right the
disharmonious political system of Assam, Indira Goswami, the
celebrated writer, talks about her experiences to NITI PANTA.
BE IT a life threat for her controversial writings or a face-to-face
encounter with the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), nothing
daunts this intrepid explorer to continue writing on social or
political issues that the State has been grappling with for so many
years. One of the most celebrated writers in the vernacular and a
Jnanpith Award winner, Indira Goswami, talks about her experiences as
she takes yet another daring step to contribute to solving a
disharmonious political system of Assam.
Q: You are penning a book on the United Liberation Front of Assam
(ULFA). How did the idea hit you?
A: I accidentally visited the ULFA transit camp around 12 years ago.
Since I've had a great association with students all my life, some of
the students in Assam invited me for a talk by Bishnu Rabha, where I
discovered that those students were ULFA members. I was also invited
to visit their transit camp, which terrified me at first but I was
touched to see them involved in welfare activities despite having
taken up arms. A few days later, I learnt that all the boys I met were
killed in a military encounter, except for one, who was imprisoned and
continued to write to me. This incident inspired me to pen a book on
their life, which is still in progress.
Q: From a caste riddled world in "The Shadow of Kamakhya", and an
impassioned plea against animal sacrifice in "Chhinamasta" to life of
ULFA militants. It's a complete transition.
A: Most of my writings have a humanist theme. Animal sacrifice has
been an age-old tradition in Assam and surprisingly no one has ever
protested against such gruesome practices in the name of religion.
There was a hue and cry when I wrote against such an inhuman practice.
Although the priests of the Kamakhya temple protested the theme of my
novel and one of my old publishers even refused to publish my book, I
had the support of a large section of Assamese society and people like
Anuradha Barpujari - editor of a weekly. ULFA too has been a serious
problem in Assam for 25 years and there has been so much bloodshed. We
Assamese have witnessed a lot of killing in our State and I personally
have lost some of my colleagues and a close friend. This has to end
somewhere. All that is required is awareness among people which can be
effectively brought about by writing on such social and political
Q: You now play an intermediary between the Centre and ULFA.
A: It was a personal desire to help in this situation and if this one
step could change things I was most willing to take the plunge. I
don't like to be termed as a `mediator' but have simply requested the
government to talk to the militant group and my role ends here. Q:
There have been several attempts for negotiations earlier. Sanjay
Hazarika and even singer Bhupen Hazarika have sent appeals but in
A: It is for the first time in 25 years that ULFA has agreed for talks
with the Centre. I am not aware of the strategy of other people or do
not know why attempts of people like Sanjay Hazarika or Bhupenda
failed to show results. I saw ULFA Chief, Paresh Barua, who approached
me for the same - probably because I have known them for some time
Q: Do you think your effort will bring results? Is your strategy any
A: My strategy is a simple appeal to the government written after
consulting senior professors and my colleagues in Delhi University and
it requests the government to invite ULFA for negotiation.
Q: Are you positive about the negotiations taking place? How has the
government reacted to your plea?
A: The State government has agreed to support me, though the Centre's
approval is still awaited. Since ULFA is ready to negotiate it makes
things easier for the government. Q: Don't you think regional writing
is yet to make a mark in Indian literature?
Well regional writing has come a long way though it's still underrated
by Indian publishers. I can vouch that there are any number of
regional books through which publishers can popularise good writing.
I personally feel that English writers in India don't cover the
experience of real India. Without knowing the regional languages they
cannot write with a true sense of feeling.
Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Thursday, Jan 13, 2005
Cuttack temples set to restart animal sacrifice
At least two goats are sacrificed every year, they say
Sacred places are turning into slaughterhouses, says social
CUTTACK: Notwithstanding the fact that animal sacrifices have stopped
in all Cuttack temples during Durga puja, the oldest Kali temple in
Bidyadharpur locality of Cuttack city is all set to restart the age-
old practice from this year.
“At least five persons have wished to offer sacrificial goats at the
altar of the Goddess on Friday night when the rituals of Kali puja
would begin around 12 O’clock midnight”, said the temple priest
Santosh Kumar Chatterjee.
Kali puja in Bidyadharpur is believed to be the oldest in Cuttack and
arguably began much before the Durga puja concept invaded into the
Like Durga puja, Kali puja too began here by Bengali communities.
Following instructions from the district collector in 2003, the age-
old practice to propitiate the Goddess here had reportedly stopped. In
fact the local administration had claimed that no animal sacrifices
are done at any of the places of worship in the city.
But Chattarjee who has been associated with the Kali temple of
Bidyadharpur since 1973 pointed out that although, the number of the
goats sacrificed at the altar had reduced marginally, the practice was
never discontinued. “At least two goats of the local puja committee
are sacrificed every year”, he said.
Chatterjee said never ever the district administration has stopped us
from doing so. We have also not received any communiqué form the local
police station in this regard. “In fact a senior officer of the local
police station offered a goat for sacrifice last year which has
encouraged other common people to come forward to do the same”, he
asserted. Local puja committee head Mahendra Kumar Panda when
contacted said: “animal sacrifices in the Kali temple here is an age-
old practice and it has been continuing for the past 500 years”. How
can we stop it now, he asked?
But the Chauliaganj police station inspector S.N. Behera when
contacted, he claimed that animal sacrifices are not done at
Bidyadharpur temple. It has been stopped since long, he said.
Meanwhile, People for Animal, a State-level social organisation which
has been campaigning against the animal sacrifices in places of
worship has taken strong note of the ill-practice. “In the name of
animal sacrifices to propitiate the Goddess, the sacred places of
shrines are turning out to slaughter houses which is sending a wrong
message in the society”, said Sanjib Das, the member secretary of the
Karnataka - Bidar
‘No’ to animal sacrifice sparks violence in Bidar
People prevented from sacrificing goat
Four police personnel injured in stone throwing
Village residents allege police
BIDAR: Violence erupted after a few people were prevented from
performing animal sacrifice on the premises of a temple in Karpakpalli
village of Humnabad taluk in Bidar district on Monday.
The police said that they had prevented the people from sacrificing a
goat on the Gali Maramma temple premises. The ritual was part of a
three-day “jatra”. Irked by this, they started throwing stones at the
police. The police lobbed teargas shells and resorted to lathi-charge
to disperse the crowd. Four police personnel were injured and two
police vans damaged in the stone-throwing incident.
Superintendent of Police A. Subramanyeswara Rao said here on Tuesday
that the police had not fired in the air to disperse the mob. No
arrests had been made in connection with the violence. But cases had
been registered against more than 50 persons. The situation in the
village was under control, he added.
Additional police personnel from Humnabad, Bidar and Chittaguppa have
been deployed as a precautionary measure. Police officers have been
stationed there to assess the situation.
Deputy Superintendent of Police P.A. Korwar held a meeting in
Karpakpalli on Tuesday, urging the residents to maintain the peace.
The village residents said that they had not performed any animal
sacrifice. They alleged that the police had stopped them from
performing puja. The police had resorted to lathi-charge unnecessarily
and even women had been beaten up, they added.
About a month ago, some associations appealed to the people of the
village not to perform animal sacrifice during the “jatra”.
They had also sought the help of the police in this regard.
The police held meetings with the people of the village and asked them
not to perform animal sacrifice. The local police were told to take
steps to put an end to animal sacrifice in the village.
Opinion - Letters to the Editor
Ban animal slaughter
Sir, — It has become a fashion to condemn sacrifice of animals in
yajnas and temples. This is looked at by some groups as cruelty to
animals. If the whole country becomes vegetarian and adopts ahimsa as
a policy such a stand is justifiable. On the other hand, when millions
of animals are reared to be killed for being consumed as food, it is
sheer hypocrisy to criticise animal sacrifice.
There is greater need to condemn seafood export and meat export,
killing of cows and beef-eating. If animal sacrifice is done as per
religious beliefs, it should not be condemned unless we ban all animal
slaughter for any other purpose.
Should we ban animal sacrifice in temples?
DO WE need to ban the practice offering animals and birds as sacrifice
during prayer in Hindu temples?
Does the State have the authority to police and ban animal sacrifices
of one religious group while allowing another to perform offering of
animals at prayer time.
Lord Krishna while listing the types of devotees based on the kind of
offering/kind of rituals one performs categorises them into (1) satvic
(peaceful, compassionate and calm), (2) rajasic (aggressive and
restive) and (3) tamasic devotees (very selfish and not concerned
about hurting others for one's own joy) based on the sankalpa
(intention), devatha invoked (name and form of the god invoked),
offering to the Lord and the method of prayer.
Not all devotion is satvic; therefore not all offerings are satvic.
From time immemorial the practice of offering animals during worship
as sacrifice is prevalent.
If one is allowed to kill a bird or an animal for his personal
consumption, there can be no extra harm to the animal or bird if it is
killed for the sake of offering.
The only thing that must be debated is the sensibilities of the satvic
person, who may be offering his prayers at that time, being offended
by the offering of animals or birds by those who choose a non-satvic
method based on his sankalpa and nature.
This is certainly very important. Just as smoking in public places is
banned, offering animal sacrifice in temples where predominant style
of praying is satvic is perfectly in order and needs to be done.
Just as certain places are reserved exclusively for smokers, certain
temples where traditionally animal sacrifices are done should be
allowed to continue the practice.
We should accept the fact that it takes all kinds of people to make
the world and we should frame rules and regulations taking this fact
If persons from other faiths can offer animals, if we can display
skinned animals sometimes with its tail intact in meat shops in public
shopping area in villages and small towns, how can we prevent animal
sacrifice in village temples where it is a time immemorial tradition?
What is necessary is proper regulation so that the majority of the
temples where the persons offering prayers choosing the satvic method
are free from animal sacrifices and allow the practice to continue
where traditionally it is much prevalent.
Hinduism is an all-inclusive way of life and therefore cannot exclude
non-satvic methods of offering prayers.
Sacrificing an age-old practice
According to popular belief, the animal or bird sacrifice is only a
symbol of their `Nerthi Kadan' (thanksgiving), which, if not
fulfilled, would be construed as `unpardonable'.
THOUGH NOT far away from the Temple City, the Pandi Muneeswarar
temple, `Pandikovil' in local parlance, is located in an area free
from the humdrum of the urban life. Surrounded by lush green
paddyfields, an eerie silence prevails in and around the temple
complex now despite hundreds of devotees continuing to throng the
"Animal or bird sacrifice is not allowed here!" screams a notice
board, put up by the temple administration at the entrance to the
complex, which had been a scene of ritual killings for decades
Some of the devotees, who shun slitting or hacking animals and birds,
continue with the symbolic puja by offering pongal, flowers and money
to the deity. Still many are at a loss to understand how they can
propitiate the temple deities -- Pandi Muneeswarar, Andi and
Samayakaruppasamy -- without offering them goats or roosters.
Till August 30, scores of goats and fowls were sacrificed,
particularly on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays by the devotees who
thronged the shrine from different parts of the State, including towns
and villages in Madurai, Tiruchi, Virudhunagar, Theni, Ramanathapuram,
Sivaganga and Chennai districts, as a mark of fulfilment of their vow
to the deities. The blood-splattered mud floor around the Pandi
Muneeswarar temple stands a testimony to the age-old practice.
Now that the ritual has come to a grinding halt, the crowd of devotees
comprising mainly small and medium farmers and farm workers has also
grown thinner, thanks to the Government's order on August 28 banning
animal and bird sacrifice in temples. As it has been publicised, the
immediate provocation for the ban was the sacrifice of 500 buffaloes
at a village shrine in Tiruchi district recently. The Chief Minister,
Jayalalithaa, has written to the district authorities, asking them to
prevent the killing of animals and birds in the name of seeking the
blessings of gods. Calling for stringent action against the
`violators', she has pointed out that the Tamil Nadu Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals Act, 1950, and its subsequent amendment, also
banned such cruel acts on the temple premises.
The Government clamped the ban close on the heels of the Madras High
Court ordering notices to the Home Secretary and the DGP on a public
interest petition seeking the ban.
But ritual killings are not confined to the Pandi Muneeswarar Temple
alone, though it is a well-known fact that animal and bird sacrifice
is common in the State, more particularly in the southern districts.
It is practised in other parts of the country and prevalent among
different religious sects in many parts of the subcontinent from time
immemorial, historians point out.
The village deities, otherwise known as `folk gods', with regional
character, are installed mostly in roofless outdoor temples. As many
of these deities attract people in the lower strata of society, the
devotees have a `direct access' to them.
Unlike classical temples, where pujas are held as per `agamas', meat,
cigar and liquor are permitted for worship here.
As the relationship between the devotees and the deities is `personal'
without even a minimum role for intermediaries including the temple
priests, people believe that their god will help them fulfil any wish.
Childless couple seek the deity's grace to bless them with children
while unmarried persons plead for fixing elusive weddings.
Solution is also sought for family problems arising out of socio-
economic conditions. According to popular belief, the animal or bird
sacrifice is only a symbol of their `Nerthi Kadan' (thanksgiving),
which, if not fulfilled, would be construed as `unpardonable'.
Animal sacrifice, followed by common dining, is part and parcel of the
worship at the folk shrines. Till the enforcement of the ban, if
affordable sections sacrificed goats, the poor and downtrodden offered
the less expensive roosters.
Separate enclosures were installed near the temple for cooking the
carcasses returned to the devotees after the sacrifice was performed.
However, the head and a leg of the goat would be handed over to the
butcher, who slaughtered the animal. A fixed fee was also collected
from the devotees for chopping off the heads of goats, besides
skinning and de-boning the meat.
The Government's action has been given a new twist as it has come
close on the heels of its decision to support the demand for a ban on
cow slaughter. Several opposition parties have dubbed the move as yet
another proof of the ruling party's `pro-Hindutva slant', even while
systematically depriving the Dalits and backward communities of their
age-old cultural rights.
The ban will only pave the way for performing the sacrifice
clandestinely within four walls, they claim, citing the example of a
ruling party MLA, who reportedly offered `annadhanam' with the meat of
goats slaughtered near his residence in Dindigul district.
But the ban has been hailed by animal and bird lovers, apart from some
religious personalities, who claim that no book says ritual killing is
But there are many, who believe that the age-old custom will disappear
only through persuasion and education rather than through an official
Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Monday, Sep 08, 2003
Special issue with the Sunday Magazine
From the publishers of THE HINDU
RIVERS: JULY 01, 2001
Requiem for a river
M. T. Vasudevan Nair
The author is a winner of the Jnanpith award and is a Malayalam film-
maker and writer.
When the bridge across the River Bharatapuzha was completed in 1954,
the late Edasseri who had blazed literary trails with his poetic
force, looked at it with wonder and later wrote the poem "Kuttipuram
Bridge". It is a famous work, often quoted in the context of the eco-
aesthetics of Malayalam poetry. The poet marvelled at the engineering
skill. The bridge cost twenty-three lakhs of rupees, a formidable sum
at that time. He could visualise the thousands of vehicles about to
fly through the new highway. But he did not conceal his subtle fear
that the serenity of the riverside village might vanish in the near
future. The poem concluded on an apprehensive note:
S. Ramesh Kurup
"Oh Mother Perar, will you also change
Into a miserable gutter eventually?"
Perar or Nila (pet names of Bharatapuzha) did not turn into a gutter.
The poet never foresaw the calamity of sand-mining and he could not
imagine it as the desert strip, which it is now. Huge thickets grow on
the small mounds in the sand bed in several places. One can even see a
large casuarina grove right in the middle of the river between
Kuttipuram and Tirunavaya. They are partially hidden only during the
few days of heavy monsoon.
The river had inspired many of our major poets like Vallathol, P.
Kunhiraman Nair and Edasseri. For the commoners it was the sacred
Dakshina Ganga. Vallathol established the illustrious Kerala Kala
Mandalam on its banks in the village of Cheruthuruthy. A whole lot of
writers, singers and Kathakali artistes grew up in the villages close
to the river from Kalpathy to Ponani. So the river was often described
as the cultural stream of Malabar.
I have seen the terrifying form of the river during the floods of 1942
and 1944. We were safe in the ancestral house as it was built on an
elevated area beyond the stretch of paddy fields. The elders said the
worst flood was in 1924 when waters touched the foot hills.
The flood of 1944 is vivid in my memory. I was sent to the provision
shop to get something in the afternoon and instead of the short cut
through the fields I returned by the road bordering the river. The
river was alarmingly full. Elders were watching from several points.
Somebody shouted to me: "Run, boy, run. Any moment the water may rush
in through a breach." I ran at a terrific speed. By the time I reached
the steps to the house, water had gushed into the field. This flood
lasted for four days. There were so many relatives in the house who
had vacated from their riverside houses.
R. Prasanna Venkatesh/Wilderfile
We all took our daily baths from the steps below the main gate. During
the heavy monsoon the river hissed during the days and roared at
night, threatening to cut across and overflow. Yet we were not afraid
of the river. The dark misty mountains in the distance and the
ascending rolls of thick rain clouds were giving the necessary
warnings. Of course the flood damaged the dwelling of low lying areas.
Plantains and vegetables of those greedy farmers who encroached the
riverbed and did unauthorised cultivation, suffered. The villagers
generally kept the flat lands on either side of the river as flood-
plains. This minimised the force of the flood and incidentally
collected and stored large quantities of fertile top soil.
Bharatapuzha once boasted of a water transport system from Palakkad to
Ponani. Twin boats carrying agricultural produce to Ponani port used
to halt for the night at our ferry point. The oarsmen cooked their
food on the banks and rested till daybreak. From our courtyard we
could hear their friendly quarrels late in the night. An occasional
Mopla ballad also floated in the night air.
The whole village, except the very old, took their bath in the river
during summer. The water in the tanks was not good enough while
compared to the crystal clear running water, even though it was not
deep. The families without their own wells made their private water
holes in the riverbed for potable water.
During the summer, guests and relatives came to all the upper middle
class house from distant villages or towns like Calicut or Trichur.
For the adolescent males it was a festive occasion to watch discreetly
the sophisticated maidens chaperoned by elders going to certain
protected areas of the river for their evening ablutions.
The cattle also enjoyed a bath in the river - there were areas marked
for cattle - after a hot day's toil. If you could drive the cattle to
the river without their taking a bite from the paddy fields on either
side of the bund, then the grownups deemed you fit to enter the farm
work. (If you could read Ezhuthachan's Ramayanam without faltering,
your Malayalam education was complete!)
For me, the moonlit riverbed in the summer is a distant, but vivid
dream. We were never allowed to go there as it was a favourite
playground for the celestials. Villagers who got down at Pallipuram
Railway Station from a night train had to be careful while crossing
the river. If you did not disturb them, they would not bother you.
That was the perfect understanding between divine beings and mortals.
Our family deity was in Kodikunnath Temple, six kilometres away across
the river. We all believed in a legend that at some time in the past
there was only a poor widow and three children in our house. She used
to keep cows and every morning she would take the milk to the temple.
In return she got enough cooked rice for the day. Once the river was
full and the boatman did not dare to make it across. The widow
returned and told the children that there would not be any rice till
the river subsided. She gave boiled milk to the children and put them
to bed. At midnight someone knocked on the front door and she opened
it. There was an old woman on the door step all covered up and
drenched. The nocturnal visitor placed a brass vessel full of rice in
front of the widow and commanded: "Wake the children and feed them!"
Then the figure vanished. After the flood receded, on the fourth day
the widow went to the temple with the usual milk. She had kept the
rice vessel also with her to discuss the incident with the priest. The
priest was astonished. The vessel had been missing from the sanctum
sanctorum for the last three days.
So we all grew up loving and adoring the Mother Goddess who once
brought rice to our hungry ancestor.
We have a grandmother too, the mother of Kodikkunnath Goddess. She is
in the temple Muthassiar Kavu (grandmother's temple) near Pattambi.
According to one legend the Grandmother Goddess and her three
beautiful daughters (including the mother of Kodikkunnath) were
strolling along the river bed on a summer night. They saw a dance
festival by the Harijans and the youngest daughter was so carried away
by it, that she refused to go along when it was time to leave. The
mother ordered her to be with the Harijans and perform as their
guardian deity. This is the popular belief on the origin of Kanakkar
Kavu (Kanakkar is a sect of Harijans).
On another occasion the two sisters quarrelled after witnessing the
ritual of an animal sacrifice. As the younger one was so much
engrossed in the gory scene, the elder one parted company and settled
down in Kodikkunnath. The younger sister shifted to Kodungallur where
blood sacrifices were a common ritual until the immediate past.
Coming to the present, hundreds of lorries now wait in queue at every
point of access in every Panchayat all along the river. Roads are laid
right into the midrib of the river for quick mining and loading. The
thickets have grown into mini jungles in many places. They shield the
gamblers during the day and the illicit distillers at night.
It is not an unusual spectacle now in April and May to see, while
travelling through some villages by the river, long queues of women
with their coloured plastic pots waiting patiently for the water
lorry. The sub-soil water has receded so much that the wells on the
river belt have gone dry.
The river Bharatapuzha set the stage for many battles and historical
spectacles like Mamankam in the past. Noisy scenes are enacted even
now on the riverbed over territorial rights of mining and loading and
validity of official licenses. Long rows of heavy lorries block every
access to the river. You can no longer get a panoramic view of the
river. Instead, it is a vast scattering of mining pits.
To us, the river was another benevolent Mother Goddess. She discreetly
guarded our intimate dreams. Her deep chasms painfully received the
frustrations and shame of some of the erratic children. The departed
dear ones accepted the rituals of our obeisance under her watchful
eyes and left peacefully for their heavenly abodes.
The river which has often inspired me and which has witnessed my
growing up, affectionately tolerating my contradictions within, is
breathing her last.
I feel one of my filial bonds is about to be cruelly snapped. The
village is losing a colourful historical past, a nostalgic glory and a
cultural legacy. Yes, we have lost all of them, almost.
A case for satvic food
CHENNAI, OCT. 15. How can food have any relevance to a person's
According to scriptures, eating is akin to conducting a homa, and
technically we are observing vaishvanara yagna when we are consuming a
meal. It is in the pit of the stomach that hunger, a sensation akin to
fire, is produced. This can be quenched only when we partake of food.
However, the nature of the ingredients of the food is important and
careful adherence to vegetarian meal is more in consonance with a
seeker's spiritual journey. In the Ramayana, sage Viswamitra sought
from Dasarata the assistance of Rama and Lakshmana to protect a yagna
from the evil forces which were showering entrails into the
sacrificial fire. Similarly, we are guilty of indulging in meaty food
in our daily diet which is but a reflection of the evil forces in our
spiritual life, said Sri Vidyasagara Madhva Theertha in his address at
the Indian Vegetarian Congress.
One should resist the temptation of eating meat, polluting the system
in the name of nutrition. Don't the Vedas sanction animal sacrifice,
some ask. Saint Madhwacharya argues against superficial study of
scriptures and prescribes analysis by exclusive application of "maha
vyakarna," the superior grammar. It will then be found that the cow
that is to be sacrificed is nothing more than a composition of flour
and ghee (clarified butter). Detailed analyses are found in the works
of the exponents of the Madhwa school of thought, such as Sri Vijendra
Theertha and Sri Narayana Panditacharya.
Some argue that whatever is offered to God should be consumed by the
seekers. Since the Vedas sanction animal sacrifice, consumption of
animal flesh is considered a just course of action by some. A few
others compromise when caught in a dilemma over meat — while adopting
animal sacrifice at yagnas, they are strict vegetarians in their food
habits. However, Sri Madhwacharya argues that there cannot be two sets
of rules for yagnas. The sacrificial fires at the visible homakunda
and the invisible fire pit (the stomach) are in principle the same.
The Vedas are for the uplift of people and as such they will not
advocate anything retrograde in a person's quest for liberation. To
the evolved, there is no dichotomy.
Over eons, violent modes of worship have been replaced with more
satvic methods. The scriptures have to be read and interpreted
carefully in both letter and spirit, and harmful practices should be
Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Friday, Oct 15, 2004
Beef eating: strangulating history
While one must respect the sentiments of those who worship cow and
regard her as their mother, to take offence to the objective study of
history just because the facts don't suit their political calculations
is yet another sign of a society where liberal space is being
strangulated by the practitioners of communal politics. [text Tag=blue-
tint][/Text]PROF. D. N. JHA, a historian from Delhi University, had
been experiencing the nightmares of `threats to life' from anonymous
callers who were trying to prevail upon him not to go ahead with the
publication of his well researched work, Holy Cow: Beef in Indian
As per the reports it is a work of serious scholarship based on
authentic sources in tune with methods of scientific research in
history. The book demonstrates that contrary to the popular belief
even today a large number of Indians, the indigenous people in
particular and many other communities in general, consume beef
unmindful of the dictates of the Hindutva forces.
It is too well known to recount that these Hindutva forces confer the
status of mother to the cow. Currently 72 communities in Kerala - not
all of them untouchables - prefer beef to the expensive mutton and the
Hindutva forces are trying to prevail upon them to stop the same.
To begin with the historian breaks the myth that Muslim rulers
introduced beef eating in India. Much before the advent of Islam in
India beef had been associated with Indian dietary practices. Also it
is not at all tenable to hold that dietary habits are a mark of
A survey of ancient Indian scriptures, especially the Vedas, shows
that amongst the nomadic, pastoral Aryans who settled here, animal
sacrifice was a dominant feature till the emergence of settled
agriculture. Cattle were the major property during this phase and they
offered the same to propitiate the gods. Wealth was equated with the
ownership of the cattle.
Many gods such as Indra and Agni are described as having special
preferences for different types of flesh - Indra had weakness for
bull's meat and Agni for bull's and cow's. It is recorded that the
Maruts and the Asvins were also offered cows. In the Vedas there is a
mention of around 250 animals out of which at least 50 were supposed
to be fit for sacrifice and consumption. In the Mahabharata there is a
mention of a king named Rantideva who achieved great fame by
distributing foodgrains and beef to Brahmins. Taittiriya Brahman
categorically tells us: `Verily the cow is food' (atho annam via gauh)
and Yajnavalkya's insistence on eating the tender (amsala) flesh of
the cow is well known. Even later Brahminical texts provide the
evidence for eating beef. Even Manusmriti did not prohibit the
consumption of beef.
As a medicine
In therapeutic section of Charak Samhita (pages 86-87) the flesh of
cow is prescribed as a medicine for various diseases. It is also
prescribed for making soup. It is emphatically advised as a cure for
irregular fever, consumption, and emaciation. The fat of the cow is
recommended for debility and rheumatism.
With the rise of agricultural economy and the massive transformation
occurring in society, changes were to be brought in in the practice of
animal sacrifice also. At that time there were ritualistic practices
like animal sacrifices, with which Brahmins were identified. Buddha
attacked these practices. There were sacrifices, which involved 500
oxen, 500 male calves, 500 female calves and 500 sheep to be tied to
the sacrificial pole for slaughter. Buddha pointed out that aswamedha,
purusmedha, vajapeya sacrifices did not produce good results.
According to a story in Digha Nikaya, when Buddha was touring Magadha,
a Brahmin called Kutadanta was preparing for a sacrifice with 700
bulls, 700 goats and 700 rams. Buddha intervened and stopped him. His
rejection of animal sacrifice and emphasis on non-injury to animals
assumed a new significance in the context of new agriculture.
The threat from Buddhism
The emphasis on non-violence by Buddha was not blind or rigid. He did
taste beef and it is well known that he died due to eating pork.
Emperor Ashok after converting to Buddhism did not turn to
vegetarianism. He only restricted the number of animals to be killed
for the royal kitchen.
So where do matters change and how did the cow become a symbol of
faith and reverence to the extent of assuming the status of
`motherhood'? Over a period of time mainly after the emergence of
Buddhism or rather as an accompaniment of the Brahminical attack on
Buddhism, the practices started being looked on with different
emphasis. The threat posed by Buddhism to the Brahminical value system
was too severe. In response to low castes slipping away from the grip
of Brahminism, the battle was taken up at all the levels. At
philosophical level Sankara reasserted the supremacy of Brahminical
values, at political level King Pushyamitra Shung ensured the physical
attack on Buddhist monks, at the level of symbols King Shashank got
the Bodhi tree (where Gautama the Buddha got Enlightenment)
One of the appeals to the spread of Buddhism was the protection of
cattle wealth, which was needed for the agricultural economy. In a way
while Brahminism `succeeded' in banishing Buddhism from India, it had
also to transform itself from the `animal sacrifice' state to the one
which could be in tune with the times. It is here that this ideology
took up the cow as a symbol of their ideological march. But unlike
Buddha whose pronouncements were based on reason, the counteraction of
Brahminical ideology took the form of a blind faith based on
assertion. So while Buddha's non-violence was for the preservation of
animal wealth for the social and compassionate reasons the counter was
based purely on symbolism. So while the followers of Brahminical
ideology accuse Buddha of `weakening' India due to his doctrine of non-
violence, he was not a cow worshipper or vegetarian in the current
Despite the gradual rigidification of Brahminical `cow as mother'
stance, large sections of low castes continued the practice of beef
eating. The followers of Buddhism continued to eat flesh including
beef. Since Brahminism is the dominant religious tradition, Babur, the
first Mughal emperor, in his will to his son Humayun, in deference to
these notions, advised him to respect the cow and avoid cow slaughter.
With the construction of Hindutva ideology and politics, in response
to the rising Indian national movement, the demand for ban on cow
slaughter also came up. In post-Independence India RSS repeatedly
raised this issue to build up a mass campaign but without any response
to its call till the 1980s.
While one must respect the sentiments of those who worship cow and
regard her as their mother, to take offence to the objective study of
history just because the facts don't suit their political calculations
is yet another sign of a society where liberal space is being
strangulated by the practitioners of communal politics. We have seen
enough such threats and offences in recent past - be it the opposition
to films or the destruction of paintings, or the dictates of the
communalists to the young not to celebrate Valentine's Day, etc., -
and hope the democratic spirit of our Constitution holds the forte and
any threat to the democratic freedom is opposed tooth and nail.
Prof. RAM PUNIYANI
A member of EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai
Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Tuesday, August 14, 2001
Volume 21 - Issue 06, March 13 - March 26, 2004
India's National Magazine
from the publishers of THE HINDU
The spread in the South
Hindutva has percolated to the nooks and corners of South India, and
the routes taken have often been socio-cultural and educational rather
than political. Reports from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
At the Mahamaham in Kumbakonam, the VHP makes its presence felt during
the holy dip in the Kumbeshwara temple tank on March 6.
A multi-pronged approach
"Tamil Nadu today is under the spiritual rule of Jayalalithaa." This
is a pious declaration made by P.C. Ramasami, Minister for Hindu
Religious and Charitable Endowments in the Jayalalithaa-led All India
Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government in the State, at
Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district on March 6 after a ritual "holy dip"
to mark the Mahamaham festival. About 10 lakh devotees are estimated
to have taken a dip in the tank of the Kumbeshwara temple, along with
"priests carrying trishuls". The Sankaracharya of the Kanchi mutt,
Jayendra Saraswati, inaugurated the festival, which is described as
the "Kumbh Mela of the South" and is held once in 12 years. Numerous
Saivite and Vaishnavite mutt heads participated in the festival.
Ramasami told mediapersons that under the Jayalalithaa regime 2,822
temples had been renovated. The Minister's observations are indicative
of not only the government's priorities, but also the congenial
atmosphere in the State for the Sangh Parivar to exploit the
religiosity of the faithful to advance its communal and political
The Hindutva forces were helped by the fact that they had the
Bharatiya Janata Party in power at the Centre and two successive
friendly governments in the State, the first headed by the Dravida
Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), an ally of the BJP until recently, and the
second by the AIADMK, an erstwhile ally of the BJP which is keen to
build bridges with the Sangh Parivar. The Sangh Parivar has been
largely successful in its attempt to make the best of the situation
because of the competitive political lines taken by the DMK and the
AIADMK in support of the Hindutva forces in order to make electoral
gain. Political observers criticised the Dravidian parties' tactical
line as a significant deviation from rationalism and self-respect, the
cornerstones of the Dravidian movement founded by `Periyar' E.V.
Ramasami. The Dravidian parties' competitive political support to the
Sangh Parivar gave legitimacy to the actions of the Hindutva forces
and contributed to their growth. Jayalalithaa's AIADMK has been the
more enthusiastic of the two in supporting the Hindutva cause. While
in power the DMK extended only passive support to the Parivar, without
concealing its reservations on issues such as a common civil code and
the construction of a temple in Ayodhya. The AIADMK government has had
no qualms in not only supporting many of its causes but also wresting
the initiative from the Hindutva forces by launching certain
legislative measures that even BJP-led governments in other States did
not resort to.
When, in 2002, the Jayalalithaa government brought in an Ordinance,
later made into a law with legislative approval, banning "forcible"
religious conversions through "financial allurement" or otherwise, the
move drew protests from many parties, including the DMK, then an ally
of the BJP at the Centre. The anti-conversion law was seen as one more
of the many pro-Hindutva measures taken by the Jayalalithaa government
since it came to power in 2001. These included the provision of
substantial financial assistance to renovate temples, grant of pension
to poojaris, and the `Annadhanam' scheme to feed poor Hindus in
temples. The government also introduced a scheme to conduct spiritual
classes in over 150 Hindu temples. Jayalalithaa also arranged for a
mass wedding ceremony for a hundred Hindu couples.
Even during her first term as Chief Minister, in 1991-96, she took
several measures that pleased the Hindutva forces. Apart from
renovating temples, she started Vedic colleges to benefit the priestly
class. She brought in an Ordinance to facilitate government
interference in minorities-run educational institutions, but had to
withdraw it amid protests. Her support to the kar seva at Ayodhya,
expressed at a meeting of the National Integration Council in November
1992, a fortnight before the demolition of the Babri Masjid is only
too well known.
Another controversial move by her government was the directive to the
administration to enforce strictly the law against animal sacrifice in
temples, which had been in cold storage for five decades (Frontline,
October 10, 2003). The Hindu orthodoxy had for long been demanding a
ban on such sacrifices on the grounds that the practice "polluted"
places of worship, most of which were even denied the status of
temples. The government's move to enforce the Act met with stiff
resistance, particularly from the oppressed people such as Dalits.
They claimed that it violated their constitutional right to worship
and sought to interfere with the form of worship of the disadvantaged
sections. The government order was also challenged in the Madras High
Court. The government, however, kept on justifying its action with the
support of the heads of religious mutts and State BJP leaders.
Ultimately, Jayalalithaa was forced to bow to the people's wish and
even annul the Tamil Nadu Animals and Birds Sacrifices Prohibition
The State government's willing cooperation in implementing some of the
priority issues on the Hindutva agenda has helped the Sangh Parivar in
the task of consolidation in the past five years. For instance,
Vinayaka Chaturthi processions organised in Chennai by the Hindutva
forces, which had in the first few years led to violent confrontations
with religious minorities, have spread to other places in the State.
Even the activists of the two principal Dravidian parties are now seen
in the Chaturthi processions with their own Vinayaka idols decorated
with party flags. Although their potential to cause violence has shown
a significant fall in recent years, the processions still cause
Another major step taken by the Hindu Munnani and the Vishwa Hindu
Parishad (VHP) was to organise non-Brahmin poojaris of village temples
and secure governmental assistance for them. This was done in
pursuance of their plan to wrest control of thousands of village
temples, meddle with the existing forms of worship and ensure the
loyalty of lakhs of people in rural areas. According to A.
Sivasubramaniam, a researcher, the idea is to Brahminise these temples
by robbing Dalits and other backward communities of their natural
rights over these places of worship built by their ancestors mostly in
honour of slain heroes.
The VHP claims that it has built 120 temples in Dalit areas of Tamil
Nadu, where "persons from all communities can worship". It further
claims that because of this action untouchability has been "reduced to
a great extent in these areas". In fact, what Dalits in Tamil Nadu and
other States are demanding is not separate temples, but a reassurance
that their constitutional right to enter the mainstream temples will
be honoured. Dalits in many parts of the State have launched struggles
to assert their right to temple entry, but on no occasion has the VHP
or its allies thought it necessary to intervene on behalf of these
helpless people. In many parts of the State, the Parivar's workers are
not sympathetic to Dalits' struggles against casteist oppression; they
often depend upon leaders of the oppressive castes to carry out their
Education is another area in which Hindutva forces have made
substantial headway in recent years. In Tamil Nadu about 150 schools
are functioning under the guidance of the Vidya Bharati Akhil
Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan, a Sangh Parivar organisation that aims at,
among other things, evolving "an integrated system of education in
conformity with the aims of Indian culture and its ideals of life". Of
these schools, 24 are Hindu Vidyalayas run by the VHP. Other schools
are under the control of many organisations, including the Vivekananda
Educational Society and the Vivekananda Educational Trust, both based
in Chennai. There has been a substantial increase in the number of
schools run by these institutions during the past five years. For
instance, schools under the Vivekananda Educational Society increased
from 10 in 1998 to 16 in 2003. Last year, the Society added a
residential school run on the "gurukula" model.
Most of these schools, located in the suburbs of Chennai, cater to
middle-class families. Over 17,000 students of the schools run by the
Vivekananda Educational Society are trained in music, dance, yoga,
physical exercise and so on. Besides Hindi, Tamil and English, they
are taught Sanskrit as a compulsory fourth language. In the name of
moral instruction they are taught Hindu epics and the Puranas.
An interesting practice in these schools is that the applications of
the students writing public examinations are taken to a temple nearby
and placed "at the feet" of the deities, invoking their blessings. All
students, irrespective of their religion, are compelled to participate
in this ritual. Teachers and students are expected to attend camps in
the name of "refresher courses" or "in-house training". At a certain
stage, students are taken to the Vivekananda Kendra in Kanyakumari for
a 21-day camp run on the lines of a `shakha' of the Rashtriya
Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). This camp is believed to serve the purpose of
recruiting cadets for the RSS. All schools have a prayer hall
displaying pictures of Hindu deities. One significant development with
regard to the Vidya Bharati schools in recent years is that they have
been increasingly using textbooks prepared by the National Council of
Educational Research and Training (NCERT), unlike in the past when
they used them only for the 10th and 12th standards. This may be
because NCERT books have now been doctored to suit the needs of
saffronised education. These schools, with the assistance of a trained
RSS worker, organise thiruvilakku poojas for women in temples and lend
space for holding RSS camps.
In university education, too, attempts are being made to introduce
subjects such as Vedic Astrology and Vedic Mathematics. However, these
face stiff resistance at university bodies such as the Academic
Council, the Senate and the Syndicate. For instance, when the
University Grants Commission's suggestion to start courses in Vedic
Astrology and Vedic Mathematics came up for implementation,
representatives of the Madurai University Teachers Association in the
various university bodies protested against the move and stopped it.
In the University of Madras, an M.A. degree course in Natya (Dance and
Theatre) was sought to be introduced with the blessings of Sangh
experts. At a meeting of the Academic Council, the proposal was
opposed on the grounds that the project had no scientific basis and
contained retrograde features in the name of "incorporating the
learning advantages of the centuries-old guru-sishya parampara along
with research and training methodologies of modern education". The
Vice-Chancellor had to shelve the proposal pending detailed
There is no doubt that the increased activities of the Sangh Parivar
in recent years portend dangerous consequences for the communal
harmony in the State. However, these efforts do not seem to have
enabled the BJP to expand its political space in a big way. Its
influence does not appear to have spread to areas other than its
traditional strongholds, Kanyakumari and Coimbatore districts.
A switch in strategy
The supreme confidence, if not the menace, in the statements was
unmistakable, as the leader of the Marad Arayasamajam, the Sangh
Parivar's fishermen's organisation in the communally volatile Marad
village in coastal Kozhikode, introduced himself to Frontline in his
office in October 2003: "I was born here. I was brought up here. I am
a fisherman and have been a member of the Arayasamajam from the
mid-1970s. I have held all the important positions in the Samajam,
except that of the president. I rose through the Rashtiya Swayamsewak
Sangh (RSS). When my work proved a hindrance for everyday RSS `shakha'
activity, I joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, a party in which I have
held several important local responsibilities. Now I am the secretary
of the Arayasamajam. I have no hesitation in saying that all members
of the Arayasamajam (the entire fishing community at Marad) are RSS
supporters. Nobody sings a different tune here. Our activities are
fully supported by our leadership."
In Thiruvananthapuram, a Ganesha festival procession organised by the
For months on end, after nine fishermen, eight of them Hindus, were
brutally done to death in a frenzy of communal revenge killings at
Marad in May last year (Frontline, November 7, 2003), T. Suresh, the
leader of the small Hindu fishing community in the village, literally
became the face of the Sangh Parivar in Kerala, making demands, posing
threats, rejecting proposals and keeping the State government
machinery on tenterhooks before agreeing to proposals that eventually
launched a peace initiative in the Muslim-majority village in north
Kerala. The Muslim families that fled the village fearing reprisals
have since returned and the tenuous peace holds. The Arayasamajam
office in the village is a veritable fortress secured by Sangh cadre.
During the strife it was the virtual government in the village, where
political parties feared to tread.
The Arayasamajam leader and the men who surround him perhaps symbolise
what the Hindutva combine is up to in Kerala.
The violence at Marad in May was a clear indication that the
intervention of a large number of majority as well as minority
communal organisations had started showing its ugly results in Kerala.
The leader of the Hindu fishermen in Marad was a symbol of a growing
body of men and women in Kerala who "bore the same vision and the same
dream and moved forward as one" in their belief that a "Hindu Kerala
is not a myth", that each one of them has to "take such a glorious
vision to heart" to bring to reality a Kerala that will become a
"laboratory for the Hindu way of life and vision, if not immediately,
soon, in future".
Recently, the Sangh Parivar announced an ambitious target for such men
and women: of spreading the activities of the Parivar to all regions
in the State by 2006, the birth centenary year of RSS leader Madhav
Sadashiv Golwalkar. The focus of its recent activities has been on
extending its influence among all sections of Hindus, especially
Dalits, fisherfolk and Adivasis, and gaining acceptance in the State
through persistent socio-cultural interventions (Frontline, December
2, 2002 and February 28, 2003).
In Kerala, the RSS-led growth of the Sangh Parivar has overshadowed
the activities of its political arm, the BJP, especially in the years
since the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The number of RSS `shakhas'
has increased from 4,300 in 2001 to 4,800. Its organisers claim that
the `Sangh' is active in all the 14 districts of the State, the
weakest links being the Christian belt of the high-range Idukki and
Wayanad districts and the predominantly Muslim areas of north Kerala.
According to RSS activists, over 10,000 locations have been
"identified" for active work and in 1,329 of them daily drills and
discussions take place for an hour each in the morning, evening and
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), too, has established its
organisational network in all parts of the State, resorting to emotive
actions such as the distribution of tridents and the controversial
construction of a temple within the Idukki dam area. More important, a
myriad RSS-backed socio-cultural organisations promoting communal
ideas in the field of education, literature, theatre, science and arts
and actively involved in the renovation and protection of temples have
made a visible presence in the State within a short period.
The Kshetra Samrakshana Samiti, a Parivar unit with the declared aim
of "building a temple-based organised society" and a "temple-based way
of life", actively promotes the renovation of small family temples
dotting the State and has gained control of the management of the day-
to-day affairs and conduct of festivals of a number of big ones.
`Balagokulam', a mass organisation for children with over 1,300 units
in the State, organises the high-visibility "Srikrishna Jayanti rally
and celebrations" in various cities and towns every year. Thousands of
children participate in the event. In addition, it runs Balasamskara
Kendras (children's cultural centres) at five centres; `Sowrakshika',
an organisation for the protection of children's rights; Mayilpeeli, a
magazine; and `Amrita Bharati Vidya Peetom', a centre for the
promotion of Sanskrit and Hindu culture.
Balagokulam claims a membership of over 26,000 children, who attend
weekly catch-them-young classes. The aim is to groom them as
leadership material for other Hindutva activities. As part of its 30th
anniversary, Balagokulam has announced the establishment of an
`International Sri Krishna Centre' in Kerala, to be developed as a Sri
Krishna pilgrimage centre in the State.
The Bharatiya Vichara Kendra, an intellectual forum for debate with
political opponents, was established in Kerala in 1982 after a sudden
spurt in RSS activity following frequent clashes between the Communist
Party of India (Marxist) and RSS activists in north Kerala. It has
more than 30 units in the State and brings out a magazine. Among other
activities, it conducts Gita, Yoga and Sanskrit classes.
Perhaps the most prominent and effective Sangh Parivar organisation is
the one that is involved in education, the Bharatiya Vidya Niketan. It
runs about 375 schools in all the districts with no government support
and purely on the initiative of the local Parivar cadre. Fifteen
schools, the majority of them in districts that have a sizable Muslim
or Christian population, follow the syllabi of the Central Board of
Secondary Education (CBSE), with English as the medium of instruction.
The rest follow the State syllabus. Teachers are required to undergo
special training under a five-point programme, which includes physical
education, Sanskrit, yoga, value education and art and culture, all
meant to acquaint them, and eventually their pupils, "with the Hindu
way of life". Key organisers in such schools are from the RSS, even
though the organisation does not have any direct involvement in its
In addition to Janmabhoomi, a daily newspaper, and Kesari, a weekly,
the Parivar has 10 regular publications in the State. The Swadesi
Science Movement, which has as its declared objective the development
of an "Indian approach to science" (it recently organised an
international conference on Ayurveda), and `Tapasya', an organisation
promoting art and culture, are also prominent Sangh Parivar
In the past few years, the Hindutva combine's voluntary activity has
had a new focus: the tribal and coastal areas of Kerala. Providing
free medical aid and education and running informal, single-teacher
schools for tribal children are some of the activities it undertakes
there. A 33-bed hospital at Kalpetta in the predominantly tribal
Wayanad district, for example, offers free food, medicines, in-patient
facitlity and diagnostic services to the tribal people. The Vanvasi
Kalyan Ashram has established its units in 52 tribal areas of the
State and is now engaged in meeting the "challenge" of Christian
missionary activity in those areas, offering competitive healthcare
and educational facilities.
Early last year, the attack on an American missionary, Joseph William
Cooper, in Thiruvananthapuram, almost coincided with the two-day
`Vanavasi Sangamom' organised by the Sangh Parivar at Mananthavadi in
Wayanad district, to promote the all-India game plan of "Hinduising"
tribal people. The high-profile conference, attended by top Sangh
Parivar leaders, was itself preceded by events orchestrated by the VHP
and other Hindutva organisations to "celebrate the reconversion of (a
few) Adivasis to Hinduism". The Matsya Pravartaka Sanghom, another RSS
family unit, recently started a mobilisation initiative, organising
`Sagara poojas' (worshipping the sea) and Hindu maha sammelans at
select centres in the coastal areas and near freshwater lakes.
This is but an example of the vast infrastructure the RSS-led Hindutva
organisations have established in Kerala, which it considers a sunrise
region for interventions tailored to bring about a fundamentalist
shift in the thinking of Hindus. But the Hindu community, whose
loyalties are divided among various political parties and coalitions,
castes and caste-based political groups, has so far given no
indications of helping the Parivar realise its dream.
For three days from January 24, the RSS held a "Pranteeya Karyakarthru
Sibiram" in Kollam, its first in 25 years in Kerala, where the
Hindutva vision and dreams were reiterated. Nearly 16,000 delegates,
ranging from leaders of 4,800 shakhas in Kerala to the top leadership
including Sarsanghchalak K.S. Sudarshan, participated in it. The
address to the delegates of the conference by P. Parameswaran,
director of the Bharatiya Vichara Kendra, was a clear exposition of
the Sangh Parivar's vision of the challenges it faced in Kerala and
its long-term prospects in the State. The following are certain
significant excerpts from his speech:
1.Compared to other States, Kerala has a "substantial population of
Muslims, organised Christian missionary activity and support for deep-
rooted, `anti-national' Communist way of thinking". The State's Hindu
population came down in a decade from 57 per cent to 55 per cent,
while the Muslim and Christian populations increased to 23.34 per cent
and 19.32 per cent. "Even while we take pride in the fact that Hindus
form 55 per cent of the population, we should not forget that the
`other side' is 45 per cent. Even though Hindus are described as the
majority, they should remember that they are neither organised nor
strong. That is why they do not have influence or participation in any
sector in the State."
2.The formation of united Kerala (from the erstwhile Malabar, Cochin
and Travancore regions) "had also created an imbalance in terms of
population", along with changes in the structure of government and
politics of the State. (From then on) Hindu society lost the position
and influence it had before. It lost its predominant position in the
economy, politics and the educational sector in the State. "Other
sections" came to prominence. "Minority community organisations
transformed themselves into political parties. An organisation that
was once described as a "dead horse" (the Muslim League) increased its
number of seats, its position and influence. It gained the strength to
shake Kerala to the core. It threw ordinary laws to the winds. The
result was that along with their pre-eminence in the politics of the
State, they gained in the fields of education, industries as well as
economically. Land came under their control. The state of Hindus
became pathetic. They did not get even the benefits due to 55 per cent
of the peopulation."
3.Though the RSS has grown in strength in Kerala with its extremely
complex social climate, it is unable yet to put the stamp of Hindutva
in all walks of life, even though "anti-Hindu, anti-national" forces
remain strong but divided among themselves. It is unable yet to spread
the message of Hindutva among such forces that continue to fight among
4.The intention of the Sangh Parivar is not to create a Hindu
organisation, but the strengthening of Hindu society... to have its
influence in all fields of life, including the economy and education.
Its aim is to bring about a social transformation by organising Hindus
in all walks of society and grow as an organisation of Hindu society.
5.The Parivar finds it encouraging that the Hindu revivalism taking
place all over India "is finding its echo in Kerala too"; that "people
who once sabotaged such efforts were seeing them with respect now";
that "a new spiritual climate" is developing in the State; that the
number of `spiritual gurus' is growing in Kerala ; that the number of
believers too is growing; and that "the various religious and cultural
activities it organised in the hundreds of temples in the State are
being widely welcomed. It believes in cooperating with the spiritual
revival efforts controlled by organisations that have no link with the
Parivar. "Ours is not an isolated stream, but a huge Ganga that
accepts all such efforts."
6.The Sangh Parivar believes that the present climate is ideal for its
growth in Kerala. It believed that the people are waiting eagerly to
accept the Hindutva message. Critics have disappeared and the sound of
criticism has vanished. "Kerala today has two political coalitions
which are bereft of ideas and are ideologically in a state of vacuum
and need not be a hindrance for the Sangh Parivar's activities."
Parameswaran's statements are the clearest exposition yet of the
concerns, goals and strategies of the RSS in relation to Kerala from
its own leaders. Clearly, it is because its political goal often
seemed so elusive in Kerala that the Hindutva combine had, ever since
the 1990s, subtly shifted its fight onto a new battlefield - that of
winning the hearts and minds of Hindus through non-political,
religious and socio-cultural mediation, using a vast network of
organisations. It is a platform where it finds itself left to its own
winning deeds by secular formations, including the Left parties and
Mutts as political players
What will be the likely role of the mutts in Karnataka in determining
the outcome of the elections in the State? Though defined legally as a
religious establishment headed by a pontiff, the mutt plays a role
that extends well beyond the purely religious. The mutts in Karnataka
are sharply divided along caste and sectarian lines. They have emerged
as major and not-to-be-ignored political players in the present
milieu, offering direct or indirect support to political parties and
The Madhwa mutts in the coastal belt have been vehicles for the spread
of Hindutva, both as an ideology and as an electoral force. There are
eight Madhwa mutts, which are the joint custodians of the Krishna
temple in Udupi - the Palimar, Adamar, Krishnapur, Puttige, Shirur,
Sode, Kaniyur and Pejavar mutts. The reigning pontiffs of the mutts
conduct worship at the Udupi temple by a system of rotation. The two
most prominent mutts that have long been the standard-bearers of the
Hindutva cause are the Pejavar and Adamar mutts. The pontiff of the
Pejavar mutt, Sri Vishwesa Tirtha Swamiji, is a founder-member of the
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and has been associated with the Ram
Janmabhoomi movement from its inception. He was present in Ayodhya
when the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992 and is a prominent figure
on all Sangh Parivar platforms both in Karnataka and elsewhere in the
Speaking to Frontline from Udupi, the octogenarian head of the Pejavar
mutt said he actively propagated the message of Hindutva and spread
the aims of the Ayodhya movement by addressing meetings, rallies and
samaveshas (mass meetings). "I speak about it and answer questions. If
there is any wrong writing on these issues in newspapers, I reply
immediately. I know from the reactions at my meetings that the message
has spread very well in Karnataka." As a margadarshi for the VHP, he
had ensured that his mutt worked with the VHP on many activities, he
said, although the mutt also worked through its own organisations,
particularly in providing education and healthcare in tribal areas and
inaccessible hilly regions.
The Pejavar mutt, in particular, has given active patronage to the
samavesha, which has, in recent months, become the most popular method
of Hindu mass mobilisation in the coastal belt. Following the Gujarat
riots, the samavesha has become a frequent event, spreading now from
the cities to small towns and villages of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada
districts. "The town or village is first covered with plastic saffron
flags of the VHP. The meeting is usually held near a minority-
dominated area. Leaders of the VHP, like Pravin Togadia, spit fire and
venom in their speeches, which threaten the minorities and exhort
Hindus to build a Hindu Rashtra," said H. Pattabhirama Somayaji,
Professor of English at University College, Mangalore. "Mutt leaders
like the Pejavar Swamiji are frequent speakers at these meetings. In
fact, in the last 10 years the mutts have become the standard bearers
of Hindutva rather than formal political parties. Political leaders
depend more and more upon the Swamijis to get their message across."
With the emergence of the mutts as the rallying points for Hindutva in
this region, the distinction between the religious and the political
as different spheres of public activity has all but disappeared. "Most
religious functions have been saffronised," said Somayaji. Take
paryaya, a ceremony held every two years to mark the passing on of the
authority to conduct worship in the Krishna temple amongst the
pontiffs of the eight Madhwa mutts. From a ceremony confined to a sect
of Madhwa Brahmins in Karnataka, paryaya has virtually become a State-
level function for all Hindus and a major expression of the power and
prestige of the mutt concerned. This year's paryaya ceremony was
attended by a galaxy of persons prominent in public life in the State.
Even the myriad `little traditions' of Hinduism, like the Bhootakulas
- a popular form of spirit worship practised in the villages of
Dakshina Kannada district by members of the lower castes - have been
permeated by the colour, sound, speech and symbolism of Hindutva, said
"I have lived here for the past 50 years and was saddened to see the
Udupi Krishna temple founded 7,000 years ago by the great
Madhwacharya, flying the flag of the VHP," said G. Rajashekhar, an
employee of the Life Insurance Corporation of India and an active
member of the Souharda Vedike, an organisation that has been fighting
communalism. According to him, the Pejavar Swamiji welcomed and
blessed Pravin Togadia at a mammoth samajotsava held recently in
Udupi. The banners at the rally glorified Gujarat Chief Minister
Narendra Modi, and Togadia and hailed Dara Singh, the murderer of the
Australian missionary Graham Stains and his two sons, as the "saviour
of Hinduism". "We protested to the District Commissioner, after which
Dara Singh's name was removed from the banners," said Rajashekhar.
"The Pejavar Swamiji says he condemns the violence in Gujarat. Why
does he then continue to patronise Hindutva outfits that supported
Vishwesa Thirtha Swamiji of the Pejavar mutt with Karnataka Chief
Minister S.M. Krishna in Bangalore in February.
The Pejavar Swamiji told Frontline that though he might share a
platform with Modi or Togadia, he did not hesitate to disagree with
them publicly on some issues. "I argue with them and oppose them
whether it is the Gujarat violence or the issue of war with Pakistan
which Togadia supports and I oppose, or with Giriraj Kishore Acharya
who recently said that the life of a cow was more precious than the
life of a Dalit. I opposed them on all these issues," he said.
Although until very recently each Madhwa mutt had its own location of
caste influence, in recent years the mutts have tried to propagate
Hindutva across the caste divide. Mahatma Gandhi refused to enter the
Krishna temple on a visit to Udupi in the 1930s because untouchability
was practised there. Today, however, the mutts realise that for
Hindutva to have any relevance for the lower-caste segments of the
population, it has necessarily to be given political articulation and
distanced, at least in its rhetoric, from Brahminism. The mutts
realise that they cannot do this on their own and must associate
themselves with the political outfits of the Sangh Parivar, which use
the samaveshas as fora to make the call for the unification of Hindu
One of Hinduism's attributes was its sanction for a plurality of forms
of religious practice. This non-threatening and accommodative element
of Hinduism is being erased systematically by the votaries of
Hindutva. Today, economically vulnerable castes like fisherfolk,
weavers, carpenters, barbers, cobblers and potters are being drawn
into the ambit of a militant Hindutva worldview. "It is clear from the
attendance at their rallies that the appeal of the Hindutva parties is
no longer to elitist Hindus but to Hindu society at large," says
Rajashekhar. Here too it is the Pejavar mutt that has shown the way.
Its pontiff has considerable influence with leaders both at the Centre
and in the State.
An influence far greater than that of the Brahmin mutts is exerted by
the Veerashaiva or Lingayat mutts on social and political life in
Karnataka. Veerashaivism grew out of a revolutionary 12th century
reform movement started by Basava against the stranglehold of
Brahminism on religion and society. Lingayats, or the followers of
Basava, are converts from various castes, and all castes have their
The mutt became the functional nucleus of Basava's philosophy where
religion met its social purpose of providing free education and food
to all sections of the social order regardless of caste. Veerashaiva
mutts, which spread and consolidated themselves in the last decades of
the 19th century and in early 20th century, grew with state patronage
after Independence. Today, many Veerashaiva mutts are powerful
commercial entities that run hundreds of educational institutions.
They also control bulk votes and are therefore sought after by
"The Veerashaiva mutts have, by and large, resisted the growth of
Hindutva in Karnataka as their founding philosophy is anti-
Brahminical," said K. Marulasiddappa, a well-known Kannada writer and
literary critic. On the other hand, the need for state patronage and
cordial relations with the party in power exerts a contrary pull on
them, which is why some Veerashaiva pontiffs have been less outspoken
than others against the politics of the Sangh Parivar. Some of the
major Veerashaiva mutts, like the Tumkur Siddaganga mutt, the Mysore
Suttur mutt, the Chitradurga Sirigere mutt, the Sanehalli mutt and the
Nidumamidi mutts and Belimath in Bangalore, the Gadag mutt and the
Muragha mutt in Chitradurga, have not endorsed the politics of
Hindutva. Some of the pontiffs of these mutts have actively opposed
it. "However, the hard fact is that it is caste, and not politics,
that eventually determines which party or candidate a particular mutt
supports," said Marulasiddappa.
"Political Hindutva is the new face of Brahminism, which the vaidika
mutts are spreading," Sri Veerabhadra Chennamalla Swamiji of the
Nidumamidi mutt told Frontline. "While on the one hand they say that
Hindu society is one, they embrace casteism, patriarchy and
untouchability. They are using Dalits and Sudras for vote bank
Scoffing at the samaveshas organised by the Sangh Parivar, where
"ready-made crowds comprising VHP, RSS and Sangh Parivar activists"
are ferried, the Swamiji, who is a frequent speaker on anti-communal
platforms, believes that a majority in all religions are peace-loving
and will defeat the designs of the communal forces.
"Lingayats believe in casteless, classless, secular principles," the
pontiff of the Gadag mutt, Sri Jagadguru Tontada Siddalinga
Mahaswamiji, told Frontline. The Swamiji was a recipient of Communal
Harmony Award 2001, instituted by the Government of India.
"Lingayatism differs radically from Hinduism. We are naturally against
the Hindutva concept and oppose its onslaught against the people at
large. On the other hand, the Vedic mutts, which are Hindu mutts,
support the Sangh Parivar and indirectly the BJP," he said.
Several leading Veerashaiva mutt heads were associated with the
founding of the VHP at its first Dharma Sansad in 1984, according to
Sri Shivarudra Mahaswamy, the pontiff of the Belimath Maha Sansthana
in Bangalore. "At that time, the VHP focussed on social reform within
Hinduism, which we supported. It was only after the Ram Janmabhoomi
movement started that these swamijis became disenchanted and left," he
told Frontline. The Swamiji himself stayed on in the VHP. He was
present in Ayodhya during the destruction of the Babri Masjid ("none
of us knew this would happen," he claims) and slowly began distancing
himself from the Sangh Parivar after that. "The final break with the
VHP for me came with Gujarat. I was the only Lingayat swamiji who
participated in all their functions, but after Gujarat I left out of
conviction. They think they are building a Hindu society - they are
only building hell," he said. Although wary of the BJP, the
Veerashaiva mutts are likely to support Lingayat candidates if they
are fielded by the party. The electoral outcome, particularly in north
Karnataka, will be influenced strongly by the way Lingayats vote.
The only religious caste leader of the Vokkaligas is the Swamiji of
the Adichunchungiri mutt, a powerful establishment with assets running
into crores of rupees. The Swamiji is as much of a political figure as
a religious one and is known to be close to the ruling Congress(I),
although he also accepts invitations to speak on Sangh Parivar
platforms. At a recent samavesha in Bangalore, the Swamiji is reported
to have said that just as Muslims and Christians have their own
countries, Hindus need theirs. He later retracted the statement,
claiming that he had been misquoted.
With his sizable wealth and vote base, the swamiji is much-sought-
after by political parties. Except on the coast, where the BJP will
have the backing of a sizable section of the mutts, in the rest of the
State the major non-Brahmin mutts appear to be tilting towards either
the Congress(I) or the Janata Dal(S). This will certainly have an
impact on the electoral chances of the BJP in this region.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Ashvamedha (Sanskrit: अश्वमेध aśvamedhá; "horse sacrifice") was
one of the most important royal rituals of Vedic religion, described
in detail in the Yajurveda (TS 7.1-5, VSM 22–25 and the pertaining
commentary in the Shatapatha Brahmana ŚBM 13.1–5). The Rigveda does
have descriptions of horse sacrifice, notably in hymns RV 1.162-163
(which are themselves known as aśvamedha), but does not allude to the
full ritual according to the Yajurveda.
Gayatri Pariwar have been organising performances of a modernised
version of the sacrifice, not involving actual animal sacrifice, since
The Vedic sacrifice
The Ashvamedha could only be conducted by a king (rājā). Its object
was the acquisition of power and glory, the sovereignty over
neighbouring provinces, and general prosperity of the kingdom.
The horse to be sacrificed must be a stallion, more than 24, but less
than 100 years old. The horse is sprinkled with water, and the
Adhvaryu and the sacrificer whisper mantras into its ear. Anyone who
should stop the horse is ritually cursed, and a dog is killed symbolic
of the punishment for the sinners. The horse is then set loose towards
the North-East, to roam around wherever it chooses, for the period of
one year (or half a year, according to some commentators). The horse
is associated with the Sun, and its yearly course. If the horse
wanders into neighbouring provinces hostile to the sacrificer, they
must be subjugated. The wandering horse is attended by a hundred young
men, sons of princes or high court officials, charged with guarding
the horse from all dangers and inconvenience. During the absence of
the horse, an uninterrupted series of ceremonies is performed in the
After the return of the horse, more ceremonies are performed. The
horse is yoked to a gilded chariot, together with three other horses,
and RV 1.6.1,2 (YV VSM 23.5,6) is recited. The horse is then driven
into water and bathed. After this, it is anointed with ghee by the
chief queen and two other royal consorts. The chief queen anoints the
fore-quarters, and the others the barrel and the hind-quarters. They
also embellish the horse's head, neck, and tail with golden ornaments.
The sacrificer offers the horse the remains of the night's oblation of
After this, the horse, a hornless he-goat, a wild ox (go-mrga, Bos
gavaeus) are bound to sacrificial stakes near the fire, and seventeen
other animals are attached to the horse. A great number of animals,
both tame and wild, are tied to other stakes, according to a
commentator 609 in total (YV VSM 24 consists of an exact enumeration).
Then the horse is slaughtered (YV VSM 23.15, tr. Griffith)
Steed, from thy body, of thyself, sacrifice and accept thyself.
Thy greatness can be gained by none but thee.
The chief queen ritually calls on the king's fellow wives for pity.
The queens walk around the dead horse reciting mantras. The chief
queen then has to mimic copulation with the dead horse, while the
other queens ritually utter obscenities.
On the next morning, the priests raise the queen from the place where
she has spent the night with the horse. With the Dadhikra verse (RV
4.39.6, YV VSM 23.32), a verse used as a purifier after obscene
The three queens with a hundred golden, silver and copper needles
indicate the lines on the horse's body along which it will be
dissected. The horse is dissected, and its flesh roasted. Various
parts are offered to a host of deities and personified concepts with
cries of svaha "all-hail". The Ashvastuti or Eulogy of the Horse
follows (RV 1.162, YV VSM 24.24–45), concluding with:
May this Steed bring us all-sustaining riches, wealth in good kine,
good horses, manly offspring
Freedom from sin may Aditi vouchsafe us: the Steed with our oblations
gain us lordship!
A coin created by Samudragupta I to commemorate the Ashvamedha ritual.
 The tethered horse is depicted on the left; the queen, carrying
ritual equipment, is on the rightThe priests performing the sacrifice
were recompensed with a part of the booty won during the wandering of
the horse. According to a commentator, the spoils from the east were
given to the Hotar, while the Adhvaryu a maiden (a daughter of the
sacrificer) and the sacrificer's fourth wife.
The Shatapatha Brahmana emphasizes the royal nature of the Ashvamedha:
Verily, the Asvamedha means royal sway: it is after royal sway that
these strive who guard the horse. (ŚBM 184.108.40.206 trans. Eggeling 1900)
It repeatedly states that "the Asvamedha is everything" (ŚBM 220.127.116.11
trans. Eggeling 1900)
Known historical performances
Pusyamitra Sunga is said to have performed the Ashvamedha rite after
he toppled Mauryan rule in 185 BC.
A historically documented performance of the Ashvamedha is during the
reign of Samudragupta I (d. 380), the father of Chandragupta II.
Special coins were minted to commemorate the Ashvamedha and the king
took on the title of Maharajadhiraja after successful completion of
There were a few later performances, one by Raja of Kannauj in the
12th century, unsuccessfully, as Prithviraj Chauhan thwarted his
attempt and later married his daughter. The last known instance seems
to be in 1716 CE, by Jai Singh II of Amber, a prince of Jaipur
Performances in Hindu epics
illustration of the Ramayana by Sahib Din, 1652. Kausalya is depicted
slaying the horse (left) and lying beside it (right)Performances of
the Ashvamedha feature in the epics Ramayana (1.10–15) and
In the Mahabharata, the sacrifice is performed by Yudhishtira (Book
14), his brothers guarding the horse as it roamed into neighbouring
kingdoms. Arjuna defeats all challengers. The Mahabharata says that
the Ashvamedha as performed by Yudhishtira adhered to the letter of
the Vedic prescriptions. After the horse was cut into parts, Draupadi
had to sit beside the parts of the horse.
In the Ramayana, Rama's father Dasharatha performs the Ashvamedha,
which is described in the bala kanda (book 1) of the poem. The
Ramayana provides far more detail than the Mahabharata. The ritual
take place for three days preceded by sage Rishyasringa and
Vasista(1.14.41,42). Again it is stated that the ritual was performed
in strict compliance with Vedic prescriptions (1.14.10). Dasaratha's
chief wife Kausalya circumambulates the horse and ritually pierces its
flesh (1.14.33). Then "Queen Kausalya desiring the results of ritual
disconcertedly resided one night with that horse that flew away like a
bird." [1-14-34]. The fat of the sacrificed horse is then burnt in
ritual fire and after that the remaining parts of the body with spoons
made out of Plaksha tree branches(1.14.36,38-39). At the conclusion of
the ritual Dasharatha symbolically offers his other wives to the
presiding priests, who return them in exchange for expensive gifts
(1.14.35). The four sides of the Yagna alter is also donated to
priests who had done the ritual and it is exchanged by them for gold,
silver, cows and other gifts(1.15.43-44).
The ritual is performed again towards the end of the poem, but in very
different circumstances. It figures centrally in the uttara kanda
(book 7) where it leads to the final major story in the poem. In this
narrative, Rama was married to a single wife, Sita, who at the time
was not with him, having been excluded from Rama's capital of Ayodhya.
She was therefore represented by a statue for the queen's ceremony
(7.x). Sita was living in Valmiki's forest ashram
with her twin children by Rama, Lava and Kusha, whose birth was
unknown to Rama. In its wanderings, the horse, accompanied by an army
and Hanuman, enters the forest and encounters Lava, who ignores the
warning written on the horse's headplate not to hinder its progress.
He tethers the horse, and with Kusha challenges the army, which is
unable to defeat the brothers. Recognising Rama's sons, Hanuman sends
them to Ayodhya where they are reconciled with their father, who also
accepts Sita back at court. Sita, however, no longer wishes to live,
and is absorbed by the earth. It is never stated whether the sacrifice
was completed, but after Sita's death Rama is said to have repeatedly
performed the Ashvamedha using the golden statue as a substitute for
his wife.
Some historians believe that the bala kanda and uttara kanda were
latter interpolations to the authentic form of the Ramayana, due to
references to Greek, Parthians and Sakas, dating to no earlier than
the 2nd century BCE
Main article: horse sacrifice
Many Indo-European branches show evidence for horse sacrifice, and
comparative mythology suggests that they derive from a PIE ritual. The
Ashvamedha is the clearest evidence preserved, but vestiges from Latin
and Celtic traditions allow the reconstruction of a few common
The Gaulish personal name Epomeduos is from *ek'wo-medhu- "horse
+mead", while ashvamedha is either from *ek'wo-mad-dho- "horse+drunk"
or *ek'wo-mey-dho- "horse+strength". The reconstructed myth involves
the coupling of a king with a divine mare which produced the divine
twins. Some scholars, including Edgar Polomé, regard the
reconstruciton of a PIE ritual as unjustified due to the difference
between the attested traditions (EIEC s.v. Horse, p. 278).
Vedanta and Puranas
The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (a mystical appendix to the Shatapatha
Brahmana and likely the oldest of the Upanishads) has a creation myth
where Mṛtyu "Death" takes the shape of a horse, and includes an
identification of the Ashvamedha with the Sun:
Then he became a horse (ashva), because it swelled (ashvat), and was
fit for sacrifice (medhya); and this is why the horse-sacrifice is
called Ashva-medha [...] Therefore the sacrificers offered up the
purified horse belonging to Prajapati, (as dedicated) to all the
deities. Verily the shining sun [ye tapati] is the Asvamedha, and his
body is the year; Agni is the sacrificial fire (arka), and these
worlds are his bodies. These two are the sacrificial fire and the
Asvamedha-sacrifice, and they are again one deity, viz. Death. (BrUp
1.2.7. trans. Müller)
The Upanishads describe ascetic austerities as an "inner Ashvamedha",
as opposed to the "outer" royal ritual performed in the physical
world, in keeping with the general tendency of Vedanta to move away
from priestly ritual towards spiritual introspection; verse 6 of the
Avadhuta Upanishad has:
"Through extreme devotion [sam-grahaneṣṭi] he [the ascetic] performs
ashvamedha within [anta]. That is the greatest sacrifice [mahā-makha]
and the greatest meditation [mahā-yoga]."
According to the Brahma Vaivarta Purana (185.180), the Ashvamedha
is one of five rites forbidden in the Kali Yuga.
In Hindu revivalism
In the Arya Samaj reform movement of Dayananda Sarasvati, the
Ashvamedha is considered an allegory or a ritual to get connected to
the "inner Sun" (Prana) Dayananda in his Introduction to the
commentary on the Vedas rejected the classical commentaries of the
Vedas by Sayana, Mahidhara and Uvata as medieval corruptions "opposed
to the real meaning of the Vedas" (p. 443) in order to arrive at an
entirely symbolic interpretation of the ritual: "An empire is like a
horse and the subjects like other inferior animals" (p. 448). Thus,
VSM 23.22, literally "he beats on the vulva (gabha), the penis (pasas)
oozes repeatedly (ni-galgaliti) in the receptacle" is interpreted not
in terms of the horse and the queen, but in terms of the king and his
subjects, "The subjects are called gabha (to be seized), kingly power
called pasa (to be penetrated)" (p. 454). This interpretation is
apparently based on a verse from Shatapatha Brahmana .
Following Dayananda, Arya Samaj disputes the very existence of the pre-
Vedantic ritual; thus Swami Satya Prakash Saraswati claims that
"the word in the sense of the Horse Sacrifice does not occur in the
Samhitas [...] In the terms of cosmic analogy, ashva is the Sun. In
respect to the adhyatma paksha, the Prajapati-Agni, or the Purusha,
the Creator, is the Ashva; He is the same as the Varuna, the Most
Supreme. The word medha stands for homage; it later on became
synonymous with oblations in rituology, since oblations are offered,
dedicated to the one whom we pay homage. The word deteriorated further
when it came to mean 'slaughter' or 'sacrifice'."
arguing that the animals listed as sacrificial victims are just as
symbolic as the list of human victims listed in the Purushamedha
(which is generally accepted as a purely symbolic sacrifice already in
Other commentators accept the existence of the sacrifice but reject
the notion that the queen lay down with the dead horse. Thus Subhash
Kak in a blog posting suggests that the queen lay down with a toy
horse rather than with the slaughtered stallion, due to presence of
the word Ashvaka, similar to Shivaka meaning "idol or image of
All World Gayatri Pariwar since 1991 has organized performances of a
"modern version" of the Ashvamedha where a statue is used in place of
a real horse, according to Hinduism Today with a million participants
in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh on April 16 to 20, 1994. Such modern
performances are sattvika Yajnas where the animal is worshipped
without killing it,, the religious motivation being prayer for
overcoming enemies, the facilitation of child welfare and development,
and clearance of debt, entirely within the allegorical
interpretation of the ritual, and with no actual sacrifice of any
animal, nor any sexual connotations.
Criticism and controversy
The earliest recorded criticism of the ritual comes from the Cārvāka,
an atheistic school of Indian philosophy that assumed various forms of
philosophical skepticism and religious indifference. A quotation of
the Cārvāka from Madhavacharya's Sarva-Darsana-Sangraha states:
“ The three authors of the Vedas were buffoons, knaves, and demons.
All the well-known formulae of the pandits, jarphari, turphari, etc.
and all the obscene rites for the queen commanded in Aswamedha, these
were invented by buffoons, and so all the various kinds of presents to
the priests, while the eating of flesh was similarly commanded by
night-prowling demons.  ”
The mock bestiality and necrophilia involved in the ritual caused
considerable consternation among the scholars first editing the
Yajurveda. Griffith (1899) omits verses VSM 23.20–31 (the ritual
obscenities), protesting that they are "not reproducible even in the
semi-obscurity of a learned European language" (alluding to other
instances where he renders explicit scenes in Latin rather than
English). A. B. Keith's 1914 translation also omits verses.
This part of the ritual offended the Dalit reformer and framer of the
Indian constitution B. R. Ambedkar and is frequently mentioned in his
writings as an example of the perceived degradation of Brahmanical
Notes and references
^ Ralph Thomas Hotchkin Griffith, The Texts of the White Yajurveda.
Translated with a Popular Commentary (1899), 1987 reprint: Munshiram
Manoharlal, New Delhi, ISBN 8121500478.
^ a b Keith, Arthur Berridale (trans) (1914). The Veda of the Black
Yajus School Entitled Taittiriya Sanhita, Oxford, pp. 615-16
^ Hoernle, August Friedrich Rudolf; Stark, Herbert Alick (1906). A
History of India. Cattuck: Orissa Mission Press.
^ Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York,
Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 103
^ Draupadi of great intelligence ... to sit near the divided animal."
Ashvamedha Parva, Section 89 
^ Translation by Desiraju Hanumanta Rao & K. M. K. Murthy
^ Online version of the Ramayana in Sanskrit and English
^ The cultural Heritage of India, Vol. IV, The Religions, The
Ramakrishna Mission, Institute of Culture
^ implicitly, in eṣa vā aśvamedho ya eṣa tapati "verily, that
Ashvamedha is that which gives out heat [tap-]"
^ Quoted in Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, A.C. (1975). "Srimad-
Bhagavatam". The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
http://vedabase.net/sb/5/7/5/en. Retrieved 2006-07-31.
^ as a bahuvrihi, saptāśva "having seven horses" is another name of
the Sun, referring to the horses of his chariot.; akhandjyoti.org
glosses 'ashva' as "the symbol of mobility, valour and strength" and
'medha' as "the symbol of supreme wisdom and intelligence", yielding a
meaning of 'ashvamedha' of "he combination of the valour and strength
and illumined power of intellect"
^ Dayananda Sarasvati, Introduction to the commentry on the Vedas,
Meharchand lachhmandas Publications; 1st ed. (1981), Sarvadeshik Arya
Pratinidhi Sabha; 2nd ed. (1984) 
^  Sh.Br 13:2:9:6 http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbr/sbe44/sbe44091.htm
^ The Critical and Cultural Study of the Shatapatha Brahmana by Swami
Satya Prakash Saraswati, p. 415
^ ibid., p. 476
^ Hinduism Today, June 1994
^ Ashwamedha Yagam in city,The Hindu http://www.hindu.com/2005/10/13/stories/2005101316990400.htm
^ Ashwamedhayagnam.org http://ww23.rr.com/index.php?origURL=http://www.ashwamedhayaagam.org/whyamy.html
^ Madhavacarya, Sarvadarsana-sangraha, English translation by E. B.
Cowell and A. E. Gough, 1904 quoted in Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya
(ed.), Carvaka/Lokayata: An Anthology of Source Materials and Some
Recent Studies (New Delhi: Indian Council of Philosophical Research,
^ B.R. Ambedkar, Revolution and Conter-Revolution in Ancient India
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashvamedha"
Ashwamedha Yagam in city
HYDERABAD: A ritual that is termed by Vedic literature among the most
powerful and beneficial yagams, the Ashwamedha Yagam, will be
performed in the city from December 11 to 18.
The event, titled Vishwa Santhi Vishwa Kalyana Yagna, will have the
founder of Aananda Ashram P.V. Sesha Sai taking responsibility as the
To be performed with the blessings of Sri Ganeshanada Bharthi
Mahaswami and several other `peetadhipathis' and Mutt pontiffs, the
Ashwamedha Yagam will be on the bright eleventh day of Margasira
maasam, coupled with Sunday and the Revati star, which falls on
December 11, 2005.
Contrary to popular perception, the said yaagam will have no animal
sacrifice. Instead, it will be a "satvik" yagam where animals will be
worshiped, according to the organisers.
Individuals and organisations interested in participating in the yagam
and other related activities can contact P.C. Sesha Sai over phone
numbers 27661613, 55581368 and 94404 22613 or email him at
shoda...@rediffmail.com, shoda...@yahoo.com and
...and I am Sid Harth
Hinduism allows religious fervor without fanaticism.
Hinduism respects all spiritual traditions.
Garv Se Kaho Hum Hindu Hain !
This article is about the Hindu demon. For other uses, see Kali
Not to be confused with the goddess Kali.
In Hinduism, Kali (IAST: káli; Devnāgari: कलि; from a root kad
"suffer, grieve, hurt; confound, confuse") is the reigning lord of
Kali Yuga and nemesis of Kalki, the 10th and final avatar of the Hindu
god Vishnu. According to the Vishnu Purana, he is a negative
manifestation of Vishnu, who along with his extended evil family,
perpetually operates as a cause of the destruction of this world.
In the Kalki Purana, he is portrayed as a demon and the source of all
evil. In the Mahabharata, he was a gandharva who possessed Nala,
forcing him to lose his Kingdom in a game of dice to his brother
Pushkara. His most famous incarnation is the Kaurava King Duryodhana.
Kali is the prototype for the demon Kroni and his incarnation Kaliyan
of Ayyavazhi mythology.
See also: The Gandharvas mentioned in Mahabharata
Damayanti speaking with a celestial swan.According to the Mahabharata,
the gandharva Kali became jealous when he was late to Princess
Damayanti's marriage ceremony and discovered she had overlooked the
deities Indra, Agni, Varun, and Yama (and ultimately himself) to
choose Nala as her husband. In anger, Kali spoke to his companion
Dvapara, the personification of Dwapara Yuga:
"I am ill able, O Dwapara, to suppress my anger. I shall possess Nala,
deprive him of his kingdom, and he shall no more sport with Bhima's
daughter. Entering the dice, it behoveth thee to help me." 
Kali traveled to Nala’s kingdom of Nishadhas and waited twelve long
years for the right moment to strike. Because Nala had rendered
himself impure by not washing his feet before his prayers, Kali was
able to bewitch his soul. Kali then appeared before Pushkara and
invited him to play a game of dice with his brother, guaranteeing
Nala’s downfall. Dwarpa took the form of the Vrisha die that would be
used in the fixed game. Kali forced Nala to lose and, each time, he
would raise the stakes higher despite the protest of his advisors and
wife. Finally, Nala lost his kingdom to Pushkara. Both he and
Damayanti were exiled to the forest.
Duryodhana as depicted in Yakshagana popular drama from
KarnatakaDuring their exile, Kali drove Nala to abandon Damayanti, who
later enacted a curse against everyone that had caused the downfall of
her husband. She eventually returned home after a short time as a hand-
maiden to the Princess of Chedi. Nala, meanwhile, saved the Naga
Karkotaka from fire (where he was cursed to suffer by sage Narada).
Intending to exorcize the devil within him, the serpent bit Nala,
injecting him with deadly poisons that forever tortured Kali. The
venom also changed Nala into an ugly dwarf named Bahuka. He later
became the charioteer of the Ayodhya King Rituparna, who was a master
mathematician and dice player.
Years later, King Rituparna revealed to Bahuka the supreme skill of
controlling the dice in exchange for horsemanship lessons. This skill
awakened Nala from Kali’s control and allowed him (with the help of
Damayanti’s curse and Karkotaka's venom) to exorcise the demon;
vomiting him in the form of poison from his mouth. Nala forced the
Kali’s trembling spirit into a Vibhitaka tree. He then counted the
fruits of the tree and left in search of his wife and later regained
his true form. Kali returned to his abode as well.
Kali was later incarnated as king Duryodhana, eldest of the one
hundred Kaurava brothers. His companion Dvapara became his uncle
Sakuni. The day Duryodhana was born, he unleashed a donkey-like scream
which the donkeys outside the home replied to. Despite the advise from
Vidura to discard the evil baby, Duryodhana's father Dhritarashtra
kept the child because demons had received a boon from Shiva that the
future king would be invincible.
The Kalki Purana describes him as a huge being, the color of “soot,”
with a large tongue, and a terrible stench. From his birth, he carried
an Upaasthi (worship) bone. The Kalki Purana says this demon "chose
gambling, liquor, women and gold as his permanent abodes." The
Sanskrit-English Dictionary states Kali is "of a class of mythic
beings (related to the Gandharvas, and supposed by some to be fond of
gambling)". The Bhagavata Purana describes him as a sudra wearing
the garments of a king. An early 20th century anti-beef eating
pamphlet protesting the slaughter of the sacred cow in India portrays
Kali as a brownish-skinned demon with a dog-like face, protruding
fangs, pointed ears, long green bushy hair and wearing a red loin
cloth and golden jewelry. (See Religion and politics)
The names of the four yugas of time—Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali—are
named after “dice throws” from a game of dice popular during the Vedic
period. Their order coincides with the favorability of each throw:
Satya is the best throw, whereas Kali is considered the worst.
During the Mahabharata, king Nala exorcises the disembodied spirit of
Kali to a vibhitaka tree, the nuts of which were used to create
the dice for the vedic dice game. Therefore, not only Kali’s name,
but his penchant for gambling and reputation as being evil comes from
this dice game.
The churning of the ocean of milk
According to a lesser known Madhva version of the legend, during the
churning of the ocean of milk, a great poison known as halahala was
produced, which Vayu, the god of wind, rubbed in his hands to reduce
its potency. Then a small portion was given to god Shiva, turning his
throat blue. The rest was collected in a golden vessel and digested by
Vayu. (One source states he drank the Kalakuta poison of Vasuki nāga.
 Still others more commonly state that Shiva drank alone.) A
little portion of poison that wasn't swallowed by Shiva became the
body of Kali. From this poison also came, "cruel objects like snakes,
wolves, and tigers."
Later, when the asura Rahu was decapitated by Vishnu's Mohini avatar,
the demon’s allies attacked her and all except Kali were killed.
Having the power to possess the bodies of immortal and mortal beings,
he entered the hearts of man and escaped death. He occasionally
entered Shiva and caused him to write evil scriptures, which created
great confusion and misconceptions. Because Kali was “invisible,
unimaginable, and present in all” the only way to correct the chaos
born from the miswritten texts was to completely renew the sacred
scriptures entirely. Thus Vishnu descended to earth as Vedavyasa, the
compiler of the sacred scriptures Vedas and the writer of the Puranas.
According to Markandeya Purana, the Brahmin Pravara was given a
magical ointment that allowed him to fly. But when he flew to the
Himalayas, the ointment was washed away from the bottoms of his feet
keeping him from returning home to his wife. During this time, the
nymph Varuthini fell madly in love with him and begged the Brahmin to
stay with her forever. But eventually, he rejected her. He prayed to
Agni who returned him home safely.
The gandharva Kali was in love with Varuthini and had been rejected by
her in the past. He saw how she hungered for the Brahmin, so he took
on the appearance of Pravara and came before the courtesan. He led her
into the bedchamber and told her to close her eyes during their shared
pleasure [sambhoga]. (Another version of this tale explains the reason
he told her to shut her eyes was because gods revert to their true
forms whenever they do the basest of things, such as eating, sleeping,
and making love (including dying for demons).) As they made love,
Varuthini noticed that his body became flaming hot and believed it was
because his Brahmin spirit was infused with the sacrificial fire.
After climax, Kali, still-as-Pravara, left the apsara and returned to
his abode. Varuthini soon became pregnant and nine months later gave
birth to a human child that not only looked like the Brahmin but
possessed his soul as well. The authors of the book Science in
Culture comment this was an example of the Sanskrit phrase "from his
semen and from her thinking," meaning the child was indeed Pravara's
child because she believed it was his.
In another version, Kali stipulates he will only marry the apsara if
she keeps her eyes closed while they are in the forest (presumably
making love). However, Kali leaves after their marriage and the birth
of their son Svarocisa. Svarocisa grows up to become a very learned
scholar of the Vedas and learns to speak the languages of all
creatures from one of his three wives. He later marries a goddess and
fathers Svarocisa Manu, one of the progenitors of mankind. (See
The Bhagavata Purana states the very day and moment god Krishna left
this earth, Kali, "who promotes all kinds of irreligious activities,
came into this world.” Thus, Kali simply came into being because
the prosperity brought by Krishna left after his death.
After setting off to wage war against the evils of the world with his
armies, Emperor Parikshit, the grandson of Arjuna, came across a Sudra
dressed as a king who was beating a cow and an ox with a club.
Parikshit immediately lead his chariot over to the scene and angrily
berated the sudra for abusing the sacred cow and her mate. However,
this was no ordinary sudra and these were no ordinary bovine, for the
sudra was Kali and the cow and ox were embodiments of the earth
goddess and Dharma. The Emperor noticed the ox was standing on one of
his legs because the other three had been broken by Kali. Dharma
explained his four legs represented "austerity, cleanliness, mercy and
truthfulness", but he had only the leg of “truth” to stand on since
the other three had been broken by kali over the preceding yugas.
Kali was intent on breaking all the legs that supported the reign of
dharma so he could effect the expansion of his own dark reign on
earth. The earth goddess cried for she had once been plentiful, but
when Krishna died and ascended to heaven, she was forsaken and all of
the prosperity left from the world. She feared evil kings like Kali
would continue to lay waste to the earth.
When Parikshit raised his sword to kill Kali, the sudra stripped
himself of his royal garments and prostrated himself at the emperor’s
feet. The emperor knew Kali tainted the world with his evil and so had
no place in it and raised his sword once more. But Kali interceded
again and begged the emperor to spare his life and allow him a place
to live within his empire. Parikshit decided that Kali would live in
“gambling houses, in taverns, in women of unchaste lives, in
slaughtering places and in gold”. And as long as Parikshit ruled
India, Kali stayed within the confines of these five places. This act
allowed Dharma to regain his legs and the earth to be relieved of much
burden. However, Parikshit was later cursed to die by snake bite after
hunting in the forest and throwing a dead snake on an unresponsive
sage practicing austerities. Upon the emperor’s death, “Kali made his
way to other places like wild fire and established his power
throughout the length and breadth of the whole world.”
In another version of the tale, Kali enters into the Emperor’s crown
when Parikshit gives him permission to reside wherever there is gold.
Upon returning home after offending the sage, Parikshit says to
himself, "Kali-yug’s abode is in gold; this was on my head; hence I
had so evil a thought that, having taken a dead snake cast it on the
sage’s neck. Therefore, I now understand that Kali-yug has taken his
revenge on me. How shall I escape this grievous sin?"
KalkiMain article: Kalki Purana
The beginning of the Kalki Purana describes Kali’s lineage starting
with the creator-god Brahma, his great-great grandfather, and ending
with the birth of his children’s children. Instead of being born of
poison from the churning of the ocean of milk, he is the product of a
long line of incestuous monsters born from Brahma's back. (See Family
Lineage below) Kali and his family were created by Brahma to hurry the
dissolution of the cosmos after the pralaya period was over. When his
family takes human form on earth, they further taint the hearts and
minds of mankind to bring about the end of Dvapara Yuga and the
beginning of Kali Yuga. During the first stage of Kali-Yuga, the
Indian caste system breaks down and god-worship is forsaken by man.
All through the second, third, and fourth stages, man forgets the name
of god and no longer offers Yagya (offerings) to the Devas. It is at
this point when god Vishnu reincarnates as Kalki in the name of the
Devas and all of mankind to rid the cosmos of Kali's dark influence.
The remainder of the tale describes Kalki's childhood, military
training under the immortal Parashurama, his marriage, his preparation
for war against Kali, and the decisive war between the two. Kalki
kicks off his campaign by performing the Ashvamedha sacrifice and
leading his armies behind the horse as it runs freely from kingdom to
kingdom. If any evil king tries to stop the horse, Kalki engages them
in combat. After defeating them, he continues to follow the horse
until all evil kingdoms are vanquished. When Kali finally faces
Kalki's forces, his entire family blood line is wiped out by the
avatar's generals and he presumably dies from wounds inflicted by
Dharma and Satya Yuga personified. Kalki, meanwhile, battles and
simultaneously kills the demon's most powerful generals, Koka and
Vikoka, twin devils adept in the dark arts.
Kali dies one-third of the way through the Kalki Purana. During the
decisive battle between Kali and Kalki’s armies, Kali tried to face
both Dharma and Satya Yuga personified, but was overwhelmed and fled
on his donkey because his chariot had been destroyed, leaving his owl-
crested war flag to be trampled on the battlefield. Kali retreated to
the citadel of his capital city of Vishasha where he discovered his
body had been mortally stabbed and burned during his battle with the
two devas. The stench of his blood billowed out and filled the
atmosphere with a foul odor. When Dharma and Satya burst into the
city, Kali tried to run away, but, knowing his family had been
destroyed, coupled with his grevious wounds, he "entered his
unmanifested years". This might lead some to believe he died, but
one version of the Kalki Purana in the book The Origins of Evil in
Hindu Mythology states Kali does not die but, instead, escapes through
time and space to live in the Kali Yuga of the next Kalpa. The author
comments, "Unlike most battles between gods and demons, however, this
apparent victory is immediately undercut, for Kali escapes to reappear
in 'another age'—in our age, or the next Kali Age." Since he had
the power to manifest himself in human form on earth, he was able to
forsake his dying corporal form to escape in spirit.
Kali is the great-great grandson of Lord Brahma. He is the son of
Krodha (Anger) and his sister-turned-wife Himsa (Violence). He is the
grandson of Dambha (Vanity) and his sister-turned-wife, Maya
(Illusion). He is the great-grandson of Adharma (Impropriety) and his
wife, Mithya (Falsehood). Adharma was originally created from Lord
Brahma's back as a Maleen Pataka (a very dark and deadly sinful
B.K. Chaturvedi, a modern translator of the Kalki Purana, states in a
foot note that the growth of this dark sinful object into Adharma
seems to, "convey the growth of Kaliyuga and its obnoxious
Kali's family lineage is told differently in the Vishnu Purana, which
is a father purana to the Kalki Purana:
The wife of Adharma (vice) was Himsá (violence), on whom he begot a
son Anrita (falsehood), and a daughter Nikriti (immorality): they
intermarried, and had two sons, Bhaya (fear) and Naraka (hell); and
twins to them, two daughters, Maya (deceit) and Vedaná (torture), who
became their wives. The son of Bhaya and Máyá was the destroyer of
living creatures, or Mrityu (death); and Dukha (pain) was the
offspring of Naraka and Vedaná. The children of Mrityu were Vyádhi
(disease), Jará (decay), Soka (sorrow), Trishńa (greediness), and
Krodha (wrath). These are all called the inflictors of misery, and are
characterised as the progeny of Vice (Adharma). They are all without
wives, without posterity, without the faculty to procreate; they are
the terrific forms of Vishńu, and perpetually operate as causes of the
destruction of this world. On the contrary, Daksha and the other
Rishis, the elders of mankind, tend perpetually to influence its
renovation: whilst the Manus and their sons, the heroes endowed with
mighty power, and treading in the path of truth, as constantly
contribute to its preservation.
In this version, Himsa is Adharma's wife instead of his granddaughter.
According to the Bhagavata Purana, Adharma is the husband of Mrishá
(falsehood), and the father of Dambha (hypocrisy) and Máyá (deceit),
who were adopted by Nirritti (Hindu god/dess of misery). The series of
their descendants is also somewhat varied from our text; being in each
descent, however, twins which intermarry, or Lobha (covetousness) and
Nikriti, who produce Krodha (wrath) and Hinsá: their children are,
Kali (wickedness) and Durukti (evil speech): their progeny are, Mrityu
and Bhí (fear); whose offspring are, Niraya (hell) and Yátaná
In this version, Mrisha is the wife of Adharma and not Himsa or
The Linga Purana enumerates Adharma among the Prajapatis (Lords of
Since Dharma is one of the major antagonists of Kali, it is important
to note this personified deity has his own line of offspring that work
against the demon and his family to bring balance to the world. The
following comes from the Vishnu Purana:
The progeny of Dharma by the daughters of Daksha were as follows: by
Sraddha he had Kama (desire); by Lakshmi, Darpa (pride); by Dhriti,
Niyama (precept); by Tushti, Santosha (content); by Pushti, Lobha
(cupidity); by Medhá, Sruta (sacred tradition); by Kriya, Danda, Naya,
and Vinaya (correction, polity, and prudence); by Buddhi, Bodha
(understanding); by Lajj, Vinaya (good behaviour); by Vapu, Vyavasaya
(perseverance). Santi gave birth to Kshema (prosperity); Siddhi to
Sukha (enjoyment); and Kírtti to Yasas. These were the sons of Dharma;
one of whom, Kama, had Hersha (joy) by his wife Nandi (delight).
Again, the Bhagavata Purana gives a different account of his
Kali’s sister-turned-wife, Durukti (Calumny), gave him two offspring:
a son named Bhayanak (Fear) and a daughter named Mrityu (Death). His
son and daughter gave him two grandchildren: a boy named Naraka (Hell)
and a girl named Yatana (Torture). Again, there are some
discrepancies here. The Vishnu Purana says Mrityu and Bhayanak are his
brother and sister. Mrityu is even represented as male instead of
Kali is the grandfather of Svarocisa Manu, one of the progenitors of
mankind. As previously mentioned, Kali had a son named Svarocisa
with the Apsara Varuthini. Svarocisa once traveld to Mt. Mandara and
was met by Manorama, a cursed-woman being chased by a demon. In the
past, she had made fun of a sage practicing Tapasya austerities on Mt.
Kailas and was cursed to be captured by a demon. When her friends
Vibhavari and Kalavati berated the sage for enacting a curse for such
a minor offence, he cursed one to be a leper and the other a carrier
of diseases. Manorama had knowledge of a powerful spiritual weapon,
but did not know how to wield it, so she taught it to Svarocisa. When
the demon leaped out of the forest and grabbed a hold of the woman,
Svarocis called forth the weapon. But the demon stayed his hand and
explained he was actually Manorama’s father, Indivara. He had also
been cursed to become a demon by the sage Brahmamitra because he tried
to covertly obtain the secrets of Ayurveda medicine without the sage’s
knowledge. The sage told him that the curse would end when he was
about to eat his own daughter. Once he regained his true form,
Indivara taught Svarocisa the Ayurveda medication, which he used to
cure Manorama’s friends. He later married the three and had three sons
with them. He learned the languages of all creatures from Vibhavari
and the Padmini vidya from Kalavati.
Despite his prosperity, Svarocis was unhappy in his life and could
hear the ducks and deer talking about him behind his back. One day he
went hunting and took aim at a boar, but a deer came through the
clearing and asked to be shot in its place. When he enquired why, the
deer told him that she was really the goddess of the forest and wished
to marry Svarocisa. So he embraced the deer and she turned into a
beautiful woman. Together, they had a son named Dyutiman, who later
became the Svarocisa Manu.
One source states, "Kali's wife Alakshmi and her sons who supervise
evil also came from Kshirasagara [the ocean of milk]." Alakshmi is
the elder sister of the goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu.
Since the Kalki Purana states his wife Durukti is his sister, Alakshmi
would be a second wife because she is not directly related to him.
There are a number of connections and similarities between Kali and
Alakshmi. First and foremost, Alakshmi’s sister is the consort of Lord
Vishnu, who sent his Kalki avatar to earth to defeat Kali. Second,
legends say she was born either from the churning of the ocean of
milk, the poison from Vasuki (who helped churn the ocean) or the back
of Prajapati. As previously mentioned, Kali is said to have
been born from the halahala poison created from churning the ocean or
from a lineage created from Lord Brahma’s back. Third, Alakshmi
takes the form of an owl. Kali's emblem on his war flag is of an
owl. Fourth, whenever Alakshmi enters a house, families fight and
turn on one another. The presence of Kali and his family on earth
causes mankind to fight and turn on one another. Finally, Alakshmi is
said to ride a donkey. Kali also rides a donkey in the Kalki
Role in modern communalism
Further information: Communalism (South Asia) and Religious violence
Anti-beef eating pamphlet (1890 CE) showing Kali (far right)
attempting to slaughter a sacred cow.
The color version ran by the Ravi Varma Press (c. 1912).Kali’s image
was used in several pamphlets circulated by various Agorakshanasabh
(“cow protection leagues”) and “wandering ascetics” as a protest
against the Muslim practice of beef-eating during the British raj.
 These pamphlets were produced in a time when Hindu-Muslim riots
over cow slaughter occurred in several areas of India; including
Azamgarh district (1893), when a total of 100 people died in similar
conflagrations throughout the empire; Ayodhya (1912-1913); and
Shahabad (1917). One such pamphlet entitled “The Present State”
showed a cow being slaughtered by a trio of "Muhammadan" butchers.
 Another portrayed Kali raising a sword above the head of a sacred
cow, whose body was illustrated to be a microcosmic paradise in which
all the Hindu gods resided. There were many different editions of this
version. For instance, one showed a woman labeled "The Hindu" waiting
with bowl-in-hand for the cow's calf to finish suckling before she
could get milk. A form of Krishna labeled Darmaraj ("Ruler of Dharma")
stood behind the cow and Kali was, again, harassing her with his
sword. Still, a different one deleted the woman and calf and instead
portrayed Dharmaraj in front of the cow pleading mat maro gay sarv ka
jivan hai ("don’t kill the cow, everyone is dependent on it"), while
Kali rebuts he manusyaho! Kaliyugi Mansahari jivom ko dekho ("mankind,
look at the meat-eating souls of the kaligyug").
Some Hindus considered Kali’s presence in the picture to be a
representation of the Muslim community. When one of the
versions of these pamphlets came into the possession of a state
official in 1893, he commented that the image “contained a
representation of a Musalman [Muslim] advancing to slay the cow ...”.
 One book states, “The Magistrate [at Deoria] found Muhammadans
excited because they heard a picture was in circulation representing a
Muhammadan with a sword drawn sacrificing a cow, and this they
considered an insult.” In 1915, a color version of this picture
ran by the Ravi Varma Press caught the attention of the colonial
censors and was presumably censored in some way.
In popular culture
Nala Damayanti (1921): This big-budget film depicts a famous episode
from the Mahabharata, starting with Narada's ascent of Mount Meru. It
shows Swarga, the Heaven of Indra, the Transformation in the Clouds of
the Four Gods into impersonations of King Nala, Swan Messengers of
Love, the Transformation of Kali into a Serpent, the Meeting of Kali
and Dwarpa and the Four Gods amidst the Blue Air.
^ a b CHAP. VII http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/vp/vp041.htm#fr_212
^ SECTION LVIII http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m03/index.htm
^ a b c d e Chapter X Samudra mathana
^ SECTION XXXI
^ a b c d e f g h i Chaturvedi, B.K. Kalki Purana. New Delhi: Diamond
Books, 2004 (ISBN 81-288-0588-6)
^ Monier-Williams, Monier, Sir.Sanskrit-English Dictionary ISBN
^ a b Canto 1: Creation, Chapter 17 http://vedabase.net/sb/1/17/en1
^ CYCLICAL TIME AND ASTRONOMY IN HINDUISM (See page. 3)
^ Glass, Marty. YUGA: An Anatomy of Our Fate. Sophia Perennis, 2004
^ "Terminalia belerica (Combretaceae) is a large deciduous tree
growing to a height of 25 – 30 meters, occurring throughout India up
to 1000 meters elevation, except in the dry regions of western
India ..." 
^ Smith, Frederick M. The Self Possessed: Deity And Spirit Possession
in South Asian Literature And Civilization. Columbia University Press,
2006 (ISBN 0231137486)
^ Mutalik, Keshav M. Jagannath Dasa’s Harikathamrutasara (Quintessence
of Hari’s Saga). Bombay: Focus (ISBN 81-7154-787-7)
^ In another version given by Shaivites, Shiva alone drank the deadly
poison, but his consort Parvati squeezed his neck to keep it from
reaching his stomach. Still, some traditions state Vayu drank first
and Shiva last and that Vayu himself is an aspect of Shiva.
^ The same source says Kali can never enter the bodies of Vishnu, his
consort Lakshmi, or Vayu.
^ Doniger, Wendy. The Bedtrick: Tales of Sex and Masquerade.
University Of Chicago Press, 2000 (ISBN 0226156427)
^ Graubard, Stephen R. and Everett Mendelsohn. Science in Culture. Ed.
Peter Galison and Stephen Graubard. Transaction Publishers, 2001 (ISBN
^ a b c Prasad, Ramanuj. Know The Puranas. Pustak Mahal, 2005 (ISBN
^ Canto 1: Creation, Chapter 18 http://vedabase.net/sb/1/18/en1
^ a b Sastri, Natesa S. M. Hindu Feasts: Fasts And Ceremonies: Fasts
and Ceremonies. Laurier Books Ltd., 2003 (ISBN 8120604024)
^ See chapters 16, 17, and 18
^ The Prema-Sagara: Or the Ocean of Love (PDF ONLY)
^ Bahadur, S.P. Gitavali: Complete Works of Goswami Tulsidas (Volume
III). India: Prachya Prakashan, 1979 (ISBN 8121506697)
^ O'Flaherty, Wendy Doniger. The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology.
University of California Press, 1980 (ISBN 0520040988)
^ a b See 55:14 http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/vp/vp041.htm#fn_212
^ See 55:13 http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/vp/vp041.htm#fn_211
^ a b c d e Pattanaik, Devdutt. Lakshmi: The Goddess of Wealth and
Fortune-An Introduction. Vakils Feffer & Simons Ltd, 2003 (ISBN
^ Krishna, Nanditha. The Book of Vishnu. Penguin Global, 2001 (ISBN
^ Chakrabarty, Dipesh. Provincializing Europe. Princeton University
Press, 2000 (ISBN 0691049092)
^ a b c d e f g Pinney, Christopher. Photos of the Gods: The Printed
Image and Political Struggle in India. Reaktion Books, 2004 (ISBN
^ a b c Gupta, Charu. Sexuality, Obscenity, And Community: Women,
Muslims, and the Hindu Public in Colonial India. Palgrave Macmillan,
2006 (ISBN 0312295855)
^ Paradox of the Indian Cow: Attitudes to Beef Eating in Early India
^ A lithograph press founded by Indian artist Ravi Varma in 1894.
^ Plot Summary for Nala Damayanti (1921)
Look up Kali in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Places of Kali – Podcast of Kali’s tale from the Bhagavata Purana.
કલિયુગનાં ચાર આશ્રયસ્થાન (Kaliyuga's mainstay) – The tale of Kali and
Parikshit in Gujarati.
Srimad Bhagavatam: Cant 1 – See chapters 16 and 17.
A very large detailed painting of King Parikshit about to kill Kali.
/ History / Myths of Origins /
Paradox of the Indian Cow:
Attitudes to Beef Eating in Early India
By DN Jha
Renowned historian writes on beef eating in ancient India and
An average Indian of today rooted in what appears to him as his
traditional Hindu religious heritage carries the load of the
misconception that his ancestors, especially the Vedic Aryans,
attached great importance to the cow on account of its inherent
sacredness. The ‘sacred’ cow has come to be considered a symbol of
community identity of the Hindus whose cultural tradition is often
imagined as threatened by the Muslims who are thought of as
beefeaters. The sanctity of the cow has, therefore, been announced
with the flourish of trumpets and has been wrongly traced back to the
Vedas, which are supposedly of divine origin and fountainhead of all
knowledge and wisdom. In other words, some sections of Indian society
have traced back the concept of sacred cow to the very period when it
was sacrificed and its flesh was eaten.
More importantly, the cow has tended to become a political instrument
at the hand of rulers over time. The Mughal emperors (e.g. Babar,
Akbar, Jahangir and Aurangzeb etc) are said to have imposed a
restricted ban on cow slaughter to accommodate the Jaina or
Brahmanical feeling of respect and veneration of the cow.
Similarly Shivaji, sometimes viewed as an incarnation of God who
descended on earth for the deliverance of the cow and brahmin, is
described as proclaiming: “We are Hindus and the rightful lords of the
realm. It is not proper for us to witness cow slaughter and the
oppression of brahmanas”.
But the cow became a tool of mass political mobilization when the
organized Hindu cow protection movement, beginning with the Sikh Kuka
(or Namdhari) sect in the Punjab around 1870 and later strengthened by
the foundation of the first Gorakshini Sabha in 1882 by Dayanananda
Saraswati, made this animal a symbol to unite a wide ranging people,
challenged the Muslim practice of its slaughter and provoked a series
of serious communal riots in the 1880s and 1890s. Although attitudes
to cow killing had been hardening even earlier, there was undoubtedly
a ‘dramatic intensification’ of the cow protection movement when in
1888 the North-Western Provinces High Court decreed that a cow was not
a sacred object. Not surprisingly cow slaughter very often became
the pretext of many Hindu-Muslim riots, especially those in Azamgarh
district in the year 1893 when more than one hundred people were
killed in different parts of the country. Similarly in 1912-1913
violence rocked Ayodhya and a few years later, in 1917, Shahabad
witnessed a disastrous communal conflagration.
The killing of the kine seems to have emerged again and again as a
troublesome issue on the Indian political scene even in independent
India despite legislation by several state legislatures prohibiting
cow slaughter and the Directive Principles of State Policy in the
Indian Constitution which directs the Indian state to “…to take steps
for… prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and
draught cattle”. For instance, in 1966, nearly two decades after
Indian independence, almost all the Indian communal political parties
and organizations joined hands in masterminding a massive
demonstration by several hundred thousand people in favour of a
national ban on cow slaughter which culminated in a violent rioting in
front of the Indian Parliament resulting in the death of at least
eight persons and injury to many more. In April 1979, Acharya Vinoba
Bhave, often supposed to be a spiritual heir to Mahatma Gandhi, went
on a hunger strike to pressurize the central government to prohibit
cow slaughter throughout the country and ended it after five days when
he succeeded in getting the Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s vague
assurance that his government would expedite anti-slaughter
legislation. Since then the cow ceased to remain much of an issue in
the Indian political arena for many years, though the management of
cattle resources has been a matter of academic debate among
sociologists, anthropologists, economists and different categories of
The veneration of cow has been, however, converted into a symbol of
communal identity of the Hindus and the obscurantist and
fundamentalist forces obdurately refuse to appreciate that the
‘sacred’ cow was not always all that sacred in the Vedic and
subsequent Brahmanical and non-Brahmanical traditions and that its
flesh, along with other varieties of meat, was quite often a part of
the haute cuisine in early India. Although the Shin, Muslims of
Dardistan in Pakistan, look on the cow as other Muslims do the pig,
avoid direct contact with cows, refuse to drink cow’s milk or use cow
dung as fuel and reject beef as food, the self-styled custodians of
non-existent ‘monolithic’ Hinduism assert that the practice of beef
eating was first introduced in India by the followers of Islam who
came from outside and are foreigners in this country, little realising
that their Vedic ancestors were also foreigners who ate the flesh of
the cow and various other animals. Fanaticism getting precedence over
fact, it is not surprising that the Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangha
(RSS), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal and their numerous
outfits have a national ban on cow slaughter on their agenda and the
Chief Minister of Gujarat (Keshubhai Patel) announced some time ago,
as a pre-election gimmick, the setting up of a separate department to
preserve cow breeds and manage Hindu temples. More recently, a
Bajrang Dal leader has threatened to enroll 30 lakh volunteers to
agitate against cow slaughter during the month of Bakrid in 2002.
So high-geared has been the propaganda about abstention from beef
eating as a characteristic trait of ‘Hinduism’ that when the RSS
tried to claim Sikhs as Hindus, it led to vehement opposition from
them and one of the Sikh youth leaders proposed, ”Why not slaughter a
cow and serve beef in a gurudwara langar?”
The communalists who have been raising a hullabaloo over the cow in
the political arena do not realise that beef eating remained a fairly
common practice for a long time in India and that the arguments for
its prevalence are based on the evidence drawn from our own scriptures
and religious texts. The response of historical scholarship to the
communal perception of Indian food culture, however, has been sober
and scholars have drawn attention to the textual evidence of beef
eating which, in fact, begins to be available from the oldest Indian
religious text Rgveda, supposedly of divine origin. H.H. Wilson,
writing in the first half of the nineteenth century, had asserted:
“the sacrifice of the horse or of the cow, the gomedha or asvamedha,
appears to have been common in the earliest periods of the Hindu
ritual”. The view that the practice of killing of cattle at sacrifices
and eating their flesh prevailed among the Indo-Aryans was put forth
most convincingly by Rajendra Lal Mitra in an article which first
appeared in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and
subsequently formed a chapter of his book The Indo-Aryans published in
1891. In 1894 William Crooke, a British civil servant, collected an
impressive amount of ethnographic data on popular religious beliefs
and practices in his two-volume book and devoted one whole chapter to
the respect shown to animals including the cow. Later in 1912, he
published an informative piece on the sanctity of cow in India. But he
also drew attention to the old practice of eating beef and its
survival in his own times. In 1927, L. L. Sundara Ram made a
strong case for cow protection for which he sought justification from
the scriptures of different religions including Hinduism. However he
did not deny that the Vedic people ate beef,  though he blamed the
Muslims for cow slaughter. Later in the early forties P. V. Kane in
his monumental work History of Dharmasastra referred to some Vedic and
early Dharmasastric passages which speak of cow killing and beef
eating. H.D. Sankalia drew attention to literary as well as
archaeological evidence of eating cattle flesh in ancient India.
Similarly, Laxman Shastri Joshi, a Sanskritist of unquestionable
scholarship, drew attention to the Dharmasastra works, which
unequivocally support the prevalence of the practice of flesh eating
including beef eating in early India.
Needless to say that the scholarship of all of the scholars mentioned
above was unimpeachable, and that none of them seems to have anything
to do with any anti- Hindu ideology. H.H. Wilson, for example, was the
first occupant of the Chair of Sanskrit at Oxford in 1832 and was not
as avowedly anti-Indian as many other imperialist scholars. Rajendra
Lal Mitra, a product of the Bengal renaissance and a close associate
of Rabindranath’s elder brother Jyotindranath Tagore, made significant
contribution to India’s intellectual life, and was described by Max
Mueller as the ‘best living Indologist’ of his time and by
Rabindranath Tagore as “the most beloved child of the muse”.
William Crooke was a well-known colonial ethnograher who wrote
extensively on peasant life and popular religion without any marked
prejudice against Hinduism. L. L. Sundara Ram, despite his
somewhat anti-Muslim feeling, was inspired by humanitarian
considerations. Mahamahopadhyaya P.V. Kane was a conservative Marathi
brahmin and the only Sanskritist to be honoured with the title of
Bharatratna. H.D. Sankalia combined his unrivalled archaeological
activity with a profound knowledge of Sanskrit. Besides these scholars
several other Indian Sanskritists and Indologists, not to mention a
number of western scholars, have repeatedly drawn our attention to the
textual evidence of eating beef and other types of animal flesh in
early India. Curious though it may seem, the Sangh Parivar, which
carries a heavy burden of “civilisational illiteracy”, has never
turned its guns towards them but against historians who have mostly
relied on the researches of the above-mentioned distinguished
While the contribution of the scholars mentioned above cannot be
minimised, the limitation of their work lies in the fact that they
have referred to isolated bits of information on beef eating
concentrating mainly on the Vedic texts without treating it as part of
the flesh eating tradition prevalent in India. Unlike their works,
therefore, the present paper seeks to draw attention to the Indian
textual evidence of cattle killing and beef eating widely dispersed
over time so as to indicate its continuity for a long time in the
Brahmanical society and to suggest that the idea of cow’s supposed
holiness does not tie up with practices current in Indian society.
The early Aryans, who migrated to India from outside,
brought along with them their earlier cultural traits. Therefore, even
after their migration into the Indian subcontinent, for several
centuries, pastoralism, nomadism and animal sacrifice remained
characteristic features of their life till sedentary field agriculture
became the mainstay of their livelihood. Animal sacrifices were very
common, and in the agnadheya, which was a preparatory rite preceding
all public sacrifices, a cow was required to be killed. In the
asvamedha, the most important of public sacrifices, first mentioned in
the Rgveda and discussed in the Brahmanas, more than 600 animals
(including wild ones like boars) and birds were killed and its finale
was marked by the sacrifice of 21 cows, which, according to the
dominant opinion were sterile ones. In the gosava, an important
component of the public sacrifices like the rajasuya and vajapeya, a
sterile spotted cow was offered to Maruts and seventeen ‘dwarf heifers
under three’ were done to death in the pancasaradiyasava. The
killing of animals including the cattle figures in several other
yajnas including caturmasya, sautramani and independent animal
sacrifice called pasubandha or nirudhapasubandha. These and
several other major sacrifices involved killing of animals including
the cattle, which constituted the chief form of the wealth of the
early Aryans. They, not surprisingly, prayed for cattle and sacrificed
them to propitiate their gods.
The Vedic gods, for whom the various sacrifices were performed, had no
fixed menu of food. Milk, butter, barley, oxen, goats and sheep were
offered to them and these were their usual food, though some of them
seem to have had their special preferences. Indra had a special liking
for bulls (RV, V.29.7ab; VI.17.11b; VIII.12.8ab X.27.2c; X. 28. 3c;X.
86.14ab). Agni was not a tippler like Indra, but was fond of animal
food including the flesh of horses, bulls and cows (RV, VIII. 43.11;
X. 91.14ab). The toothless Pusan, the guardian of the roads, ate mush
as a Hobson’s choice. Soma was the name of a heady drink but, equally
importantly, of a god and killing of animals including cattle for him
(RV, X.91.14ab) was basic to most of the Rgvedic yajnas. The Maruts
and the Asvins were also offered cows. The Vedas mention about 250
animals out of which at least 50 were deemed fit for sacrifice and by
implication for divine as well as human consumption. The animal food
occupied a place of importance in the Vedic sacrifices and dietetics
and the general preference for the flesh of the cow is undeniable. The
Taittiriya Brahmana (III.9.8) categorically tells us: “Verily the cow
is food” (atho annam vai gauh) and the Satapatha Brahmana (III.1.2.21)
refers to Yajnavalkya’s stubborn insistence on eating the tender
(amsala) flesh of the cow.
According to the subsequent Brahmanical texts (e.g. Grhyasutras and
Dharmasutras) the killing of animals and eating of beef was very much
de rigeur. The ceremony of guest-reception (known as arghya in the
Rgveda but generally as madhuparka in subsequent texts) consisted not
only of a meal of a mixture of curds and honey but also of the flesh
of a cow or bull. Early lawgivers go to the extent of making flesh
food mandatory in madhuparka --- an injunction more or less dittoed
by several later legal texts (AsGS, I.24.33; KathaGS, 24,20; SankhGS,
II.15.2; ParGS, I.3.29). A guest therefore came to be described by
Panini as a goghna (one for whom the cow is slain). The sacred thread
ceremony was not all that sacred; for it was necessary for a snataka
to wear an upper garment of the cowhide (ParGS, II.5.17-20).
The slaughter of animals formed an important component of the cult of
the dead in the Vedic texts as well as in later Dharmasastra works.
The thick fat of the cow was used to cover the dead body (RV, X.14-18)
and a bull was burnt along with the corpse to enable the departed to
ride with in the nether world. The funerary rites included feeding of
the brahmins after the prescribed period and quite often the flesh of
the cow/ ox was offered to the dead (AV, XII.2, 48). The textual
prescriptions indicate the degree of satisfaction obtained by the
Manes depending upon the animal offered---- the cow’s flesh could keep
them contented for at least a year! The Vedic and the post-Vedic
texts also often mention the killing of animals including the kine in
several other ritual contexts. The gavamayana, a sessional sacrifice
performed by the brahmins was, for example, marked by animal slaughter
culminating in an extravagant bacchanalian communal festival
(mahavrata) in which cattle were slaughtered. There was, therefore, a
relationship between the sacrifice and sustenance. But this need not
necessarily mean that different meat types were eaten only if offered
in a sacrifice. Thus in the grhamedha, which has been discussed in
several Srautasutras, an unspecified number of cows were slain not in
the strict ritual manner but in the crude and profane manner.
Archaeological evidence also suggests non-ritual killing of cattle.
This is indicative of the fact that beef and other animal flesh formed
part of the dietary habits of the people and that the edible flesh was
not always ritually consecrated, though some scholars have argued to
the contrary. Despite the overwhelming evidence of cattle killing,
several scholars have obdurately held that the Vedic cow was sacred
and inviolable on the basis of the occurrence of the word aghnya/
aghnya in the Atharvaveda and the use of words for cow as epithet or
in simile and metaphor with reference to entities of highest religious
significance. But it has been convincingly proved that if the Vedic
cow was at all inviolable, it was so only when it belonged to a
brahmin who received cows as sacrificial fee (daksina). But this
cannot be taken to be an index of the animal’s inherent sanctity and
inviolability in the Vedic period or even later.
Nor can one make too much of the doctrine of non-killing (ahimsa) in
relation to the cow. Gautama Buddha and Mahavira emphasized the idea
of non-violence, which seems to have made its first appearance in the
Upanisadic thought and literature. But despite their vehement
opposition of the Vedic animal sacrifice, neither they nor their
followers were averse to eating of meat. The Buddha is known to have
eaten beef and pork and the texts amply indicate that flesh meat very
well suited the Buddhist palate. Asoka, whose compassion for animals
is undeniable, allowed certain specified animals to be killed for his
kitchen. In fact, neither Asoka’s list of animals exempted from
slaughter nor the Arthasastra of Kautilya specifically mentions cow as
unslayable. The cattle were killed for food throughout the Mauryan
Like Buddhism, Jainism also enthusiastically took up cudgels for non-
violence. But meat eating was so common in Vedic and post-Vedic times
that even Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, is said to have eaten the
meat of a cockerel. Perhaps the early Jainas were not strict
vegetarians. A great Jaina logician of the eighth century,
Haribhadrasuri, tells us that the monks did not have objection to
eating flesh and fish, which were given to them by householders,
though there is irrefutable textual evidence to show that meat eating
became a strong taboo among the followers of Jainism. The
inflexibility of the Jaina attitude to meat eating is deeply rooted in
the basic tenets of Jaina philosophy, which, at least in theory, is
impartial in its respect for all forms of life without according any
special status to the cow. Thus, although both Buddhism, and, to a
greater extent, Jainism contributed to the growth of ahimsa doctrine,
neither seems to have developed the sacred cow concept
Despite the Upanisadic, Buddhist and Jaina advocacy of ahimsa, the
practice of ritual and random of killing animals including the cattle
continued in the post-Mauryan centuries. The law book of Manu (200 BC-
AD 200), which is the most representative of the legal texts and has
much to say on the lawful and forbidden food, contains several
passages on flesh eating, which have much in common with earlier and
later Brahmanical juridical works. Like the earlier law books, it
mentions the animals whose flesh could be eaten. Manu’s list includes
the porcupine, hedgehog, iguana, rhinoceros, tortoise and the hare and
all those domestic animals having teeth in one jaw only, the only
exception being the camel (V.18); and, it is significant that the cow
is not excluded from the list of edible animals. Eating meat on
sacrificial occasions, Manu tells us, is a divine rule (daivo vidhih
smrtah), but doing so on other occasions is a demoniac practice (V.
31). Accordingly one does not do any wrong by eating meat while
honouring the gods, the Manes and guests (madhuparka ca yajne ca
pitrdaivatakarmani), irrespective of the way in which the meat was
procured (V.32, 41). Manu asserts that animals were created for the
sake of sacrifice, that killing on ritual occasions is non-killing (V.
39) and injury (himsa) as enjoined by the Veda (vedavihitahimsa) is
known to be non-injury (V.44). In the section dealing with rules for
times of distress, Manu recalls the legendary examples of the most
virtuous brahmins of the days of yore who ate ox-meat and dog-meat to
escape death from starvation (X.105-9). Manu’s latitudinarian attitude
is clear from his recognition of the natural human tendency of eating
meat, drinking spirituous liquor and indulging in sexual intercourse,
even if abstention brings great rewards (V.56). He further breaks
loose the constraints when he says: “the Lord of creatures (Prajapati)
created this whole world to be the sustenance of the vital spirit;
both the immovable and the movable (creation is) the food of the vital
spirit. What is destitute of motion is the food of those endowed with
locomotion; (animals) without fangs (are the food) of those with
fangs, those without hands of those who possess hands, and the timid
of the bold. The eater who daily even devours those destined to be his
food, commits no sin; for the creator himself created both the eaters
and those who are to be eaten” (V.28-30). This injunction removes all
restrictions on flesh eating and gives an unlimited freedom to all
desiring to eat animal flesh and since Manu does not mention beef
eating as taboo one can infer that he did not treat cow as sacrosanct.
Manu contradicts his own statements by extolling ahimsa (X.63), but
there is no doubt that he permitted meat eating at least on ritual
occasions (madhuparka, sraddha etc) when the killing of the cow and
other cattle, according to his commentator Medhatithi (9th century),
was in keeping with the Vedic and post- Vedic practice
(govyajamamsamaproksitambhaksyed… madhuparkovyakhyatah tatra
Yajnavalkya (AD 100-300), like Manu, discusses the rules regarding
lawful and forbidden food. Although his treatment of the subject is
less detailed, he does not differ radically from him. Yajnavalkya
mentions the specific animals (deer, sheep, goat, boar, rhinoceros
etc) and birds (e.g. partridge) whose flesh could satisfy the Manes (I.
258-61). According to him a student, teacher, king, close friend and
son-in-law should be offered arghya every year and a priest should be
offered madhuparka on all ritual occasions (I.110). He further enjoins
that a learned brahmin (srotriya) should be welcomed with a big ox or
goat (mahoksam va mahajam va srotriyayopakalpayet) delicious food and
sweet words. This indicates his endorsement of the earlier practice of
killing cattle at the reception of illustrious guests. Yajnavalkya,
like Manu, permits eating of meat when life is in danger, or when it
is offered in sacrifices and funerary rites (i.179). But unconsecrated
meat (vrthamamsam, anupakrtamamsani), according to him, is a taboo (I.
167, 171) and any one killing animals solely for his own food and not
in accordance with the Vedic practice is doomed to go to hell for as
many days as the number of hair on the body of the victim (I.180).
Similarly Brhaspati (AD 300-500), like Manu, recommends abstention
from liquor (madya), flesh (mamsa) and sexual intercourse only if they
are not lawfully ordained which implies that whatever was lawful
was permitted. The lawgivers generally accept as lawful all those
sacrifices, which, according to them, have Vedic sanction. The
sacrificial slaughter of animals and domesticated bovines, as we have
seen, was a Vedic practice and therefore may have been fairly common
among the Brahmanical circles during the early Christian centuries and
even well into the later half of the first millennium AD. It would be,
however, unrealistic to assume that the dharmic precept of restricting
animal slaughter to ritual occasions was always taken seriously either
by brahmins for whom the legal injunctions were meant or by other
sections of society. It is not surprising, therefore, that
Brhaspati, while discussing the importance of local customs, says that
in Madhyadesa the artisans eat cows (madhyadese karmakarah silpinasca
The evidence from the epics is quite eloquent. Most of the characters
in the Mahabharata are meat eaters and it makes a laudatory reference
to the king Rantideva in whose kitchen two thousand cows were
butchered everyday, their flesh, along with grains, being distributed
among the brahmins (III.208.8-9). Similarly the Ramayana of
Valmiki makes frequent reference to the killing of animals including
the cow for sacrifice as well as food. Rama was born after his father
Dasaratha performed a big sacrifice involving the slaughter of a large
number of animals declared edible by the Dharmasastras, which, as we
have seen, sanction ritual killing of the kine. Sita, while crossing
the Yamuna, assures her that she would worship her with thousand cows
and a hundred jars of wine when Rama accomplishes his vow. Her
fondness for deer meat drives her husband crazy enough to kill Marici,
a deer in disguise. Bharadvaja welcomes Rama by slaughtering a fatted
calf in his honour.
The non-vegetarian dietary practices find an important place in the
early Indian medical treatises, whose chronology broadly coincides
with that of the law books of Manu and Yajnavalkya, and the two epics.
Caraka (1st-2nd century), Susruta (3rd –4th century) and Vagbhata (7th
century) provide an impressive list of the variety of fish and flesh
and all three of them speak of the therapeutic uses of beef. The
continuity of the tradition of eating flesh including that of the
cattle is also echoed in early Indian secular literature till late
times. In the Gupta period, Kalidasa alludes to the story of Rantideva
who killed numerous cows every day in his kitchen. More than two
centuries later, Bhavabhuti (AD 700) refers to two instances of guest
reception, which included the killing of a heifer. In the 10th
century Rajasekhara mentions the practice of killing an ox or a goat
in honour of a guest. In the 12th century Sriharsa mentions a
variety of non-vegetarian delicacies served at a dazzling marriage
feast and refers to two interesting instances of cow killing,
though, in the same century Somesvara shows clear preference for pig
flesh over other meat types and does not mention beef at all.
While the above references, albeit limited in number, indicate that
the ancient practice of killing the kine for food continued till about
the 12th century, there is considerable evidence in the commentaries
on the kavya literature and the earlier Dharmasastra texts to show
that the Brahmanical writers retained its memory till very late times.
Among the commentators on the secular literature, Candupandita (late
13th century) from Gujarat, Narahari (14th century) from Telengana
in Andhra Pradesh, and Mallinatha (14th-15th century), who is
associated with the king Devaraya II of Vidyanagara (Vijayanagara),
clearly indicate that, in earlier times, the cow was done to death for
rituals and hence for food. As late as the 18th century Ghanasyama, a
minister of a Tanjore ruler, states that the killing of cow in honour
of a guest was the ancient rule.
Similarly the authors of Dharmasastra commentaries and religious
digests from the 9th century onwards keep alive the memory of the
archaic practice of beef eating and some of them even go so far as to
permit eating beef in specific circumstances. For example, Medhatithi
(9th century), probably a Kashmirian brahmin, says that a bull or ox
was killed in honour of a ruler or any one deserving to be honoured
and unambiguously allows eating the flesh of cow (govyajamamsam) on
ritual occasions. Several other writers of exegetical works seem
to lend support to this view, though some times indirectly.
Visvarupa (9th century), a brahmin from Malwa and probably a pupil
of Sankara, Vijnanesvara (11th century), who may have lived not
far from Kalyana in modern Karnataka, Haradatta (12th century),
also a southerner (daksinatya), Laksmidhara (12th century), a
minister of the Gahadwala king, Hemadri (late 13th century), a
minister of the Yadavas of Devagiri, Narasimha/ Nrsimha (14th
century), possibly from southern India, and Mitra Misra (17th
century) from Gopacala (Gwalior) support the practice of killing a cow
on occasions like guest-reception and sraddha in ancient times. As
recently as the early 20th century, Madana Upadhyaya from Mithila
refers to the ritual slaughter of milch cattle in the days of yore.
 Thus even when the Dharmasastra commentators view cow killing
with disfavour, they generally admit that it was an ancient practice
and that it was to be avoided in the kali age.
While the above evidence is indicative of the continuity of the
practice of beef eating, the lawgivers had already begun to discourage
it around the middle of the first millennium when the Indian society
began to be gradually feudalized leading to major socio-cultural
transformation. This phase of transition, first described in the epic
and Puranic passages as kaliyuga, saw many changes and modification in
social norms and customs. The Brahmanical religious texts now begin to
speak of many earlier practices as forbidden in the kaliyuga –
practices which came to be known as kalivarjyas. While the number of
kalivarjyas swelled up over time, most of the relevant texts mention
cow killing as forbidden in the kali. According to some early medieval
lawgivers a cow killer was an untouchable and one incurred sin even by
talking to him. They increasingly associated cow slaughter and beef
eating with the proliferating number of untouchable castes. It is,
however, interesting that some of them consider these acts as no more
than minor behavioural aberrations like cleaning one’s teeth with
one’s fingers and eating only salt or soil.
Equally interesting is the fact that almost all the prescriptive texts
enumerate cow killing as a minor sin (upapataka) and none of them
describe it as a major offence (mahapataka). Moreover the Smrti texts
provide easy escape routes by laying down expiatory procedures for
intentional as well as inadvertent killing of the cow. This may imply
that that cattle killing may not have been uncommon in society and the
atonements were prescribed merely to discourage eating of cattle
flesh. To what extent the Dharmasastric injunctions were effective,
however, remains a matter of speculation; for the possibility of at
least some members eating beef on the sly cannot be ruled out. As
recently as the late 19th century Swami Vivekananda was alleged to
have eaten beef during his stay in America, though he vehemently
defended his action. Similarly in early twentieth century Mahatma
Gandhi spoke of the hypocrisy of the orthodox Hindus who “do not so
much as hesitate or inquire when during illness the doctor …
prescribes them beef tea.” Even today 72 communities in Kerala--
not all of them untouchable perhaps--- prefer beef to the expensive
mutton and the Hindutva forces are persuading them to go easy on it.
Although cow killing and beef eating gradually came to be viewed as a
sin and a source of pollution from the early medieval period, the cow
and its products (milk, curds, clarified butter, dung and urine) or
their mixture called pancagavya had been assuming a purificatory role
from much earlier times. The Vedic texts attest to the ritual use of
cow’s milk and milk products, but the term pancagavya occurs for the
first time in the Baudhayana Dharmasutra. The law books of Manu,
Visnu, Vasistha, Yajnavalkya and those of several later lawgivers like
Atri, Devala and Parasara mention the use of the mixture of the five
products of the cow for both purification and expiation. The
commentaries and religious digests, most of which belong to the
medieval period, abound in references to the purificatory role of the
pancagavya. The underlying assumption in all these cases is that the
pancagavya is pure. But several Dharmasastra texts forbid its use by
women and the lower castes. If a sudra drinks pancagavya, we are told,
he goes to hell.
It is curious that the prescriptive texts, which repeatedly refer to
the purificatory role of the cow, also provide much evidence of the
notion of pollution and impurity associated with this animal.
According to Manu (V.125) the food smelt by the cow has to be
purified. Other early lawgivers like Visnu (XXIII.38) and Yajnavalkya
(I.189) also express similar views. The latter in fact says that while
the mouth of the goat and horse is pure that of the cow is not. Among
the later juridical texts, those of Angirasa, Parasara, Vyasa and so
on, support the idea of the cow’s mouth being impure. The lawgiver
Sankha categorically states that all limbs of the cow are pure except
her mouth. The commentaries on different Dharmasastra texts reinforce
the notion of impurity of the cow’s mouth. All this runs counter to
the ideas about the purificatory role of the cow.
Needless to say, then, that the image of the cow projected by Indian
textual traditions, especially the Brahmanical- Dharmasastric works,
over the centuries is polymorphic. Its story through the millennia is
full of inconsistencies and has not always been in conformity with
dietary practices prevalent in society. It was killed and yet the
killing was not killing. When it was not slain, mere remembering the
old practice of butchery satisfied the brahmins. Its five products
including faeces and urine have been pure but its mouth has not been
so. Yet through these incongruous attitudes and puzzling paradoxes the
Indian cow has struggled its way to sanctity. But its holiness is
elusive. For, there is no cow- goddess, nor any temple in her honour.
 Nevertheless the veneration of this animal has come to be viewed
as a characteristic trait of modern day non-existent monolithic
‘Hinduism’ bandied about by the Hindutva forces.
 L.L. Sundara Ram, Cow Protection in India, The South Indian
Humanitarian League, George Town, Madras, 1027, pp.122-123, 179-190.
 Siva Digvijaya quoted in Sundara Ram, op. cit. p.191.
 Sandria B. Freitag, “Contesting in Public: Colonial Legacies and
Contemporary Communalism”, in David Ludden, ed., Making India Hindu,
Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996, p.217.
 Idem, Collective Action and Community: Public Arena and the
Emergence of Communalism in North India, Delhi: Oxford University
Press, 1990, Chapter 6; Gyan Pandey, ‘Rallying round the Cow’, in
Subaltern Studies, Vol.. II, Ranajit Guha, (ed.), Delhi: Oxford
University Press, 1983, pp. 60- 129.
 Frederick J. Simoons, “Questions in the Sacred-Cow Controversy”,
Current Anthropology, 20(3), September 1979, p.468.
 The Times of India, 28 May 1999, p.12.
 Frontline, 13 April 2001.
 Rajesh Ramachandran, “A Crisis of Identity”, The Hindustan Times,
7 May 2000.
 W. Crooke, The Popular Religion and Folklore of Northern India, 2
Vols, Delhi: 4th reprint, Munshiram Manoharlal, 1978.
 W. Crooke, ‘The Veneration of the Cow in India’, Folklore, 13
 Sundara Ram, Cow Protection in India, Madras: The South Indian
Humanitarian League, 1927, p.8, passim.
 H.D. Sankalia, “ (The Cow) In History”, Seminar No. 93, May 1967.
 “Was the Cow Killed in Ancient India?” Quest, (75), March-
April 1972, pp. 83-87.
 J.C. Heesterman translates a passage of the Kathaka Samhita
(8.7:90.10) relating to the agnadheya as: ‘they kill a cow, they play
a dice for [shares in] her, they serve her up to those seated in the
assembly hall’: Broken World of Sacrifice, Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1993, p.283, note 33.
 Louis Renou, Vedic India, Varanasi, reprint, Indological Book
House, 1971 p.109.
 R.L. Mitra, Indo-Aryans: Contributions to the Elucidation of
Ancient and Medieval History, 2 Vols, Varanasi: reprint, Indological
Book House, 1969, p.363.
 A.B. Keith, Religion and Philosophy of the Veda and Upanisads,
Delhi: Indian reprint, Motilal Banarsidass, 1970, p.324; P.V. Kane,
History of Dharmasastra, II, pt.2, Chapter
 J. C. Heesterman, op.cit., pp. 190-93, 200-02.
 For different views see Hanns-Peter Schmidt, ‘Ahimsa and
Rebirth’ in Inside The Texts Beyond The Texts: New Approaches to the
Study of the Vedas, M. Witzel (ed.), Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1997,
pp. 209-10; Cf. J.C. Heesterman, ‘Vratya and Sacrifice’, Indo-Iranian
Journal, 6 (1962), pp. 1-37.
 William Norman Brown, ‘The Sanctity of Cow in Hinduism’, Madras
University Journal, 27.2 (1957), pp. 29-49.
 Medhatithi on Manu, V.27, 41 see Manava-Dharma-Sastra, ed., V.N.
Mandalik, Bombay, 1886, pp.604, 613.
 Brhaspatismrti cited in Krtyakalpataru of Laksmidhara,
trtiyabhaga, ed., K.V. Rangaswami Aiyangar, Baroda Oriental Institute,
 Contra Francis Zimmermann (The Jungle and the Aroma of Meats,
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987, p.180ff) asserts that
only consecrated meat was eaten and Hanns Peter Schmidt seems to be in
agreement with him
(‘Ahimsa and Rebirth’, op.cit., p.209). But the evidence from the
Buddhist Jatakas, Kautilya’s Arthasastra, and Asokan inscriptions etc
does not support this view.
 Brhaspatismrti, 128b, Gaekwad Oriental Series, Baroda, 1941.
 For further references see S. Sorensen, An Index to the Names in
the Mahabharata, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, 1963, pp.593-94.
 R. L. Mitra, op.cit., vol.I, p. 396.
 Caraka Samhita: Sutrasthanam, II.31, XXVII.79: Susruta Samhita:
Sarirasthanam, III.25; Astanga Hrdayam: Sutrasthanam, VI.65.
 Meghaduta, with the commentary of Mallinatha, ed. and tr., M. R.
Kale (ed. & tr.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1979, I.48.
 Mahaviracarita, Rampratap Tripathi Shastri (ed. with Hindi tr.),
Allahabad: Lok Bharati Prakashan, 1973. III.2. Uttararamacarita, with
notes and the commentary of Ghanasyama, P.V. Kane and C. N. Joshi (ed.
and tr.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1962, Act IV.
 Balaramayana, of Rajasekhara, Ganagasagar Rai (ed.) Varanasi:
Chowkhamba, 1984. I.38a
 Naisadhamahakavyam, with the commentary of Mallinatha, Haragovind
Shastri (ed.) Varanasi, Chowkhamba, 1981 XVII.173, 197.
 Naisadhacarita of Sri Harsa, K.K. Handiqui (tr. with
commentaries), Poona, Deccan College, 1965, p.472.
 Naisadhamahakavyam, p. 1137.
 Meghaduta, Kale’s edn, p.83.
 Medhatithi on Manu, V.26-7,41. See Manava-Dharma-Sastra (with the
commentaries of Medhatithi, Sarvajnanarayana, Kulluka, Nandana and
Ramacandra), V. N. Mandalika (ed.), Bombay: Ganpat Krishnaji’s Press,
1886, pp.604, 613.
 Visvarupa on Yajnavalkya, I. 108. See Yajnavalkyasmrti (with
the commentary Balakrida of Visvarupacarya), Mahamahopadhyaya T.
Ganapati Sastri (ed.), Delhi: 2nd edn, Munshiram Manoharlal, 1982, p.
 Mitaksara on Yajnavalkya, I. 108. See Yajnavalkyasmrti with
Vijnanesvara’s Mitaksara, Gangasagar Rai (ed.), Delhi; Chowkhamba
Sanskrit Pratisthan, 1998, p.54.
 Haradatta on Gautama, XVII.30.
 Krtyakalpataru, Niyatakalakandam, trtiyabhagam, K.V. Rangaswami
Aiyangar (ed.), Baroda: Oriental Research Institute, 1950, p.190
 P. V. Kane, History of Dharmasastra, III, Poona: Bhandarkar
Oriental Research Institute, 1973, p.929.
 R. L. Mitra, op.cit., p.384.
 Mitra Misra on Yajnavalkya, I. 108.
 Palapiyusalata Gourisayantralaya, Darbhanga, Samvat 1951.
 Atrismrti, verse 314 in Astadasasmrtyah (with Hindi tr by
Sundarlal Tripathi, Khemraj Shrikrishnadas, Venkateshwar Steam Press,
Bombay, Saka 1846.
 Romain Rolland, The Life of Vivekanada and the Universal Gospel,
Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta, Eleventh Impression, August 1988, p.44 fn.
 M. K. Gandhi, An Autobiography or The Story of My Experiments
with Truth, Navajivan Trust, Ahmedabad, 1927, reprint 2000, p.324.
Gandhi saw a five-footed “miraculous” cow at the Kumbha Mela at
Allahabad in 1915, the fifth foot being nothing but “a foot cut off
from a live calf and grafted upon the shoulder of the cow” which
attracted the lavish charity of the ignorant Hindu (ibid., p.325).
 India Today, 15 April 1993, p.72.
 Visnusmrti, LIV.7; Atrismriti, verse 297, etc.
 A.L. Basham, The Wonder That Was India, Delhi, Rupa & Co., 27th
Impression, 1996, p.319.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with
For other uses, see Kali (disambiguation).
"Kalika" redirects here. For other uses, see Kalika (disambiguation).
"The black one" redirects here. For the 2005 drone metal album, see
Black One. For the male choral group, see The Black Ones.
Kali (Sanskrit: काली, Bengali: কালী, both Kālī), also known as Kalika
(Bengali: কালিকা, Kālikā), is the Hindu goddess associated with
eternal energy. The name Kali comes from Kāla which means black, time,
death, lord of death, shiva etc. kAli means "the black one". Since
Shiva is called Kāla - the eternal Time, Kālī, his consort, also means
"the Time" or "Death" (as in time has come). Hence, Kali is considered
the goddess of time and change. Although sometimes presented as dark
and violent, her earliest incarnation as a figure of annihilation
still has some influence. More complex Tantric beliefs sometimes
extend her role so far as to be the "ultimate reality" or Brahman. She
is also revered as Bhavatarini (literally "redeemer of the universe").
Comparatively recent devotional movements largely conceive Kali as a
benevolent mother goddess.
Kali is represented as the consort of god Shiva, on whose body she is
often seen standing. She is associated with many other Hindu goddesses
like Durga, Bhadrakali, Sati, Rudrani, Parvati and Chamunda. She is
the foremost among the Dasa-Mahavidyas, ten fierce Tantric goddesses.
Kālī is the feminine of kāla "black, dark coloured" (per Pāṇini
4.1.42). In the Mundaka Upanishad Kali is mentioned as one of the
seven tongues of Agni, the Rigvedic God of Fire (Mundaka Upanishad
2:4), thus giving rise to Kali's tongue, seen in images. It appears as
the name of a form of Durga in the Mahabharata 4.195, and as the name
of an evil female spirit in Harivamsa 11552.
Kāla means black and also time, death, lord of death, shiva etc. kAli
means "the black one". Since Shiva is called Kāla - the eternal Time,
Kālī, his consort also means "the Time" or "Death" (as in time has
come). "कालः शिवः । तस्य पत्नीति - काली । kālaḥ śivaḥ । tasya patnīti
- kālī" - [from Shabdakalpadrum]. The association is seen in a passage
from the Mahābhārata, depicting a female figure who carries away the
spirits of slain warriors and animals. She is called kālarātri (which
Thomas Coburn, a historian of Sanskrit Goddess literature, translates
as "night of death") and also kālī (which, as Coburn notes, can be
read here either as a proper name or as a description "the black one").
Kali's association with blackness stands in contrast to her consort,
Shiva, whose body is covered by the white ashes of the cremation
ground (Sanskrit: śmaśāna) in which he meditates, and with which Kali
is also associated, as śmaśāna-kālī.
According to David Kinsley, Kali is first mentioned in Hinduism as a
distinct goddess, related to war, around 600 CE. Scriptures like Agni
Purana and Garuda Purana describe her terrible appearance and
associate her with corpses and war. The oldest mention of Kali dates
back to Rigvedic age. The 'Ratri Sookta' in Rigveda actually calls her
as Goddess 'Ratri' and regards Ratri as the Supreme force in the
universe. In the Tantras, she is regarded as the Shakti (Power) of The
Great Mahākāla (a form of Lord Shiva). Her portrayal on dead bodies in
crematorium symbolizes her presence in the hearts of devotees who have
killed their Earthly desires and want Supreme Consciousness in the lap
of the Ultimate Mother, Kali. In another form, she is regarded as the
destroyer, the Mahakali as Kali Tantra says-"kāli kālanāt" meaning
Kali is the one who finishes. Kalika Purana depicts her as the "Adi
Shakti" (Fundamental Power) and "Para Prakriti" or beyond nature.
Goddesses play an important role in the study and practice of Tantra
Yoga, and are affirmed to be as central to discerning the nature of
reality as are the male deities. Although Parvati is often said to be
the recipient and student of Shiva's wisdom in the form of Tantras, it
is Kali who seems to dominate much of the Tantric iconography, texts,
and rituals. In many sources Kali is praised as the highest reality
or greatest of all deities. The Nirvana-tantra says the gods Brahma,
Vishnu, and Shiva all arise from her like bubbles in the sea,
ceaselessly arising and passing away, leaving their original source
unchanged. The Niruttara-tantra and the Picchila-tantra declare all of
Kali's mantras to be the greatest and the Yogini-tantra, Kamakhya-
tantra and the Niruttara-tantra all proclaim Kali vidyas
(manifestations of Mahadevi, or "divinity itself"). They declare her
to be an essence of her own form (svarupa) of the Mahadevi.
In the Mahanirvana-tantra, Kali is one of the epithets for the
primordial sakti, and in one passage Shiva praises her:
At the dissolution of things, it is Kala [Time] Who will devour all,
and by reason of this He is called Mahakala [an epithet of Lord
Shiva], and since Thou devourest Mahakala Himself, it is Thou who art
the Supreme Primordial Kalika. Because Thou devourest Kala, Thou art
Kali, the original form of all things, and because Thou art the Origin
of and devourest all things Thou art called the Adya [primordial
Kali]. Resuming after Dissolution Thine own form, dark and formless,
Thou alone remainest as One ineffable and inconceivable. Though having
a form, yet art Thou formless; though Thyself without beginning,
multiform by the power of Maya, Thou art the Beginning of all,
Creatrix, Protectress, and Destructress that Thou art.
The figure of Kali conveys death, destruction, and the consuming
aspects of reality. As such, she is also a "forbidden thing", or even
death itself. In the Pancatattva ritual, the sadhaka boldly seeks to
confront Kali, and thereby assimilates and transforms her into a
vehicle of salvation. This is clear in the work of the Karpuradi-
stotra, a short praise to Kali describing the Pancatattva ritual
unto her, performed on cremation grounds. (Samahana-sadhana)
He, O Mahakali who in the cremation-ground, naked, and with
dishevelled hair, intently meditates upon Thee and recites Thy mantra,
and with each recitation makes offering to Thee of a thousand Akanda
flowers with seed, becomes without any effort a Lord of the earth. 0
Kali, whoever on Tuesday at midnight, having uttered Thy mantra, makes
offering even but once with devotion to Thee of a hair of his Sakti
[his female companion] in the cremation-ground, becomes a great poet,
a Lord of the earth, and ever goes mounted upon an elephant.
The Karpuradi-stotra clearly indicates that Kali is more than a
terrible, vicious, slayer of demons who serves Durga or Shiva. Here,
she is identified as the supreme mistress of the universe, associated
with the five elements. In union with Lord Shiva, who is said to be
her spouse, she creates and destroys worlds. Her appearance also takes
a different turn, befitting her role as ruler of the world and object
of meditation. In contrast to her terrible aspects, she takes on
hints of a more benign dimension. She is described as young and
beautiful, has a gentle smile, and makes gestures with her two right
hands to dispel any fear and offer boons. The more positive features
exposed offer the distillation of divine wrath into a goddess of
salvation, who rids the sadhaka of fear. Here, Kali appears as a
symbol of triumph over death.
 In Bengali tradition
Kali Puja festivalKali is also a central figure in late medieval
Bengali devotional literature, with such devotees as Ramprasad Sen
(1718–75). With the exception of being associated with Parvati as
Shiva's consort, Kali is rarely pictured in Hindu mythology and
iconography as a motherly figure until Bengali devotions beginning in
the early eighteenth century. Even in Bengali tradition her appearance
and habits change little, if at all.
The Tantric approach to Kali is to display courage by confronting her
on cremation grounds in the dead of night, despite her terrible
appearance. In contrast, the Bengali devotee appropriates Kali's
teachings, adopting the attitude of a child. In both cases, the goal
of the devotee is to become reconciled with death and to learn
acceptance of the way that things are. These themes are well addressed
in Ramprasad's work.
Ramprasad comments in many of his other songs that Kali is indifferent
to his wellbeing, causes him to suffer, brings his worldly desires to
nothing and his worldly goods to ruin. He also states that she does
not behave like a mother should and that she ignores his pleas:
Can mercy be found in the heart of her who was born of the stone? [a
reference to Kali as the daughter of Himalaya]
Were she not merciless, would she kick the breast of her lord?
Men call you merciful, but there is no trace of mercy in you, Mother.
You have cut off the heads of the children of others, and these you
wear as a garland around your neck.
It matters not how much I call you "Mother, Mother." You hear me, but
you will not listen.
To be a child of Kali, Ramprasad asserts, is to be denied of earthly
delights and pleasures. Kali is said to not give what is expected. To
the devotee, it is perhaps her very refusal to do so that enables her
devotees to reflect on dimensions of themselves and of reality that go
beyond the material world.
A significant portion of Bengali devotional music features Kali as its
central theme and is known as Shyama Sangeet. Mostly sung by male
vocalists, today even women have taken to this form of music. One of
the finest singers of Shyama Sangeet is Pannalal Bhattacharya.
In Bengal, Kali is venerated in the festival Kali Puja - the new moon
day of Ashwin month which coincides with Diwali festival.
Slayer of Raktabija
In Kali's most famous myth, Durga and her assistants, Matrikas, wound
the demon Raktabija, in various ways and with a variety of weapons, in
an attempt to destroy him. They soon find that they have worsened the
situation, as for every drop of blood that is spilt from Raktabija,
the demon reproduces a clone of himself. The battlefield becomes
increasingly filled with his duplicates. Durga, in dire need of
help, summons Kali to combat the demons. It is also said that Goddess
Durga takes the form of Goddess Kali at this time.
The Devi Mahatmyam describes:
Out of the surface of her (Durga's) forehead, fierce with frown,
issued suddenly Kali of terrible countenance, armed with a sword and
noose. Bearing the strange khatvanga (skull-topped staff ), decorated
with a garland of skulls, clad in a tiger's skin, very appalling owing
to her emaciated flesh, with gaping mouth, fearful with her tongue
lolling out, having deep reddish eyes, filling the regions of the sky
with her roars, falling upon impetuously and slaughtering the great
asuras in that army, she devoured those hordes of the foes of the
Kali destroys Raktabija by sucking the blood from his body and putting
the many Raktabija duplicates in her gaping mouth. Pleased with her
victory, Kali then dances on the field of battle, stepping on the
corpses of the slain. Her consort Shiva lies among the dead beneath
her feet, a representation of Kali commonly seen in her iconography as
In the Devi Mahatmya version of this story, Kali is also described as
a Matrika and as a Shakti or power of Devi. She is given the epithet
Cāṃuṇḍā (Chamunda), i.e. the slayer of the demons Chanda and Munda.
 Chamunda is very often identified with Kali and is very much like
her in appearance and habit.
Bhadrakali (A gentle form of Kali), circa 1675.
Painting; made in India, Himachal Pradesh, Basohli,
now placed in LACMA.In her most famous pose as Daksinakali, it is said
that Kali, becoming drunk on the blood of her victims on the
battlefield, dances with destructive frenzy. In her fury she fails to
see the body of her husband, Shiva, who lies among the corpses on the
battlefield. Ultimately the cries of Shiva attract Kali's
attention, calming her fury. As a sign of her shame at having
disrespected her husband in such a fashion, Kali sticks out her
tongue. However, some sources state that this interpretation is a
later version of the symbolism of the tongue: in tantric contexts, the
tongue is seen to denote the element (guna) of rajas (energy and
action) controlled by sattva, spiritual and godly creatures who served
One South Indian tradition tells of a dance contest between Shiva and
Kali. After defeating the two demons Sumbha and Nisumbha, Kali takes
up residence in a forest. With fierce companions she terrorizes the
surrounding area. One of Shiva's devotees becomes distracted while
performing austerities, and asks Shiva to rid the forest of the
destructive goddess. When Shiva arrives, Kali threatens him, claiming
the territory as her own. Shiva challenges Kali to a dance contest,
and defeats her when she is unable to perform the energetic Tandava
dance. Although in this case Kali is defeated, and is forced to
control her disruptive habits, there are very few other images or
other myths depicting her in such a manner.
Another myth depicts the infant Shiva calming Kali. In this similar
story, Kali again defeated her enemies on the battlefield and began to
dance out of control, drunk on the blood of the slain. To calm her
down and to protect the stability of the world, Shiva is sent to the
battlefield, as an infant, crying aloud. Seeing the child's distress,
Kali ceases dancing to take care of the helpless infant. She picks him
up, kisses his head, and proceeds to breast feed the infant Shiva.
This myth depicts Kali in her benevolent, maternal aspect; something
that is revered in Hinduism, but not often recognized in the West.
Ekamukhi or "One-Faced" Murti of Mahakali displaying ten hands holding
the signifiers of various Devas
Main article: Mahakali
Mahakali (Sanskrit: Mahākālī, Devanagari: महाकाली), literally
translated as Great Kali, is sometimes considered as a greater form of
Kali, identified with the Ultimate reality of Brahman. It can also
simply be used as an honorific of the Goddess Kali, signifying her
greatness by the prefix "Mahā-". Mahakali, in Sanskrit, is
etymologically the feminized variant of Mahakala or Great Time (which
is interpreted also as Death), an epithet of the God Shiva in
Hinduism. Mahakali is the presiding Goddess of the first episode of
the Devi Mahatmya. Here she is depicted as Devi in her universal form
as Shakti. Here Devi serves as the agent who allows the cosmic order
to be restored.
Statue from Dakshineswar Kali Temple, West Bengal, India; along with
her Yantra.Kali is portrayed mostly in two forms: the popular four-
armed form and the ten-armed Mahakali form. In both of her forms, she
is described as being black in color but is most often depicted as
blue in popular Indian art. Her eyes are described as red with
intoxication, and in absolute rage, her hair is shown disheveled,
small fangs sometimes protrude out of her mouth, and her tongue is
lolling. She is often shown naked or just wearing a skirt made of
human arms and a garland of human heads. She is also accompanied by
serpents and a jackal while standing on a seemingly dead Shiva,
usually right foot forward to symbolize the more popular Dakshinamarga
or right-handed path, as opposed to the more infamous and
transgressive Vamamarga or left-handed path.
In the ten-armed form of Mahakali she is depicted as shining like a
blue stone. She has ten faces and ten feet and three eyes. She has
ornaments decked on all her limbs. There is no association with Shiva.
The Kalika Purana describes Kali as possessing a soothing dark
complexion, as perfectly beautiful, riding a lion, four-armed, holding
a sword and blue lotuses, her hair unrestrained, body firm and
In spite of her seemingly terrible form, Kali Ma is often considered
the kindest and most loving of all the Hindu goddesses, as she is
regarded by her devotees as the Mother of the whole Universe. And,
because of her terrible form she is also often seen as a great
protector. When the Bengali saint Ramakrishna once asked a devotee why
one would prefer to worship Mother over him, this devotee rhetorically
replied, "Maharaj, when they are in trouble your devotees come running
to you. But, where do you run when you are in trouble?"
According to Ramakrishna, darkness is the Ultimate Mother, or Kali:
My Mother is the principle of consciousness. She is Akhanda
Satchidananda; indivisible Reality, Awareness, and Bliss. The night
sky between the stars is perfectly black. The waters of the ocean
depths are the same; The infinite is always mysteriously dark. This
inebriating darkness is my beloved Kali.
Throughout her history artists the world over have portrayed Kali in
myriad poses and settings, some of which stray far from the popular
description, and are sometimes even graphically sexual in nature.
Given the popularity of this Goddess, artists everywhere will continue
to explore the magnificence of Kali's iconography. This is clear in
the work of such contemporary artists as Charles Wish, and Tyeb Mehta,
who sometimes take great liberties with the traditional, accepted
symbolism, but still demonstrate a true reverence for the Shakta sect.
Classic depictions of Kali share several features, as follows:
Kali's most common four armed iconographic image shows each hand
carrying variously a sword, a trishul (trident), a severed head and a
bowl or skull-cup (kapala) catching the blood of the severed head.
Two of these hands (usually the left) are holding a sword and a
severed head. The Sword signifies Divine Knowledge and the Human Head
signifies human Ego which must be slain by Divine Knowledge in order
to attain Moksha. The other two hands (usually the right) are in the
abhaya (fearlessness) and varada (blessing) mudras, which means her
initiated devotees (or anyone worshiping her with a true heart) will
be saved as she will guide them here and in the hereafter.
She has a garland consisting of human heads, variously enumerated at
108 (an auspicious number in Hinduism and the number of countable
beads on a Japa Mala or rosary for repetition of Mantras) or 51, which
represents Varnamala or the Garland of letters of the Sanskrit
alphabet, Devanagari. Hindus believe Sanskrit is a language of
dynamism, and each of these letters represents a form of energy, or a
form of Kali. Therefore she is generally seen as the mother of
language, and all mantras.
She is often depicted naked which symbolizes her being beyond the
covering of Maya since she is pure (nirguna) being-consciousness-bliss
and far above prakriti. She is shown as very dark as she is brahman in
its supreme unmanifest state. She has no permanent qualities — she
will continue to exist even when the universe ends. It is therefore
believed that the concepts of color, light, good, bad do not apply to
her — she is the pure, un-manifested energy, the Adi-shakti.
 Mahakali form
The Dasamukhi MahakaliKali is depicted in the Mahakali form as having
ten heads, ten arms, and ten legs. Each of her ten hands is carrying a
various implement which vary in different accounts, but each of these
represent the power of one of the Devas or Hindu Gods and are often
the identifying weapon or ritual item of a given Deva. The implication
is that Mahakali subsumes and is responsible for the powers that these
deities possess and this is in line with the interpretation that
Mahakali is identical with Brahman. While not displaying ten heads, an
"ekamukhi" or one headed image may be displayed with ten arms,
signifying the same concept: the powers of the various Gods come only
through Her grace.
Shiva in Kali iconography
In both these images she is shown standing on the prone, inert or dead
body of Shiva. There is a mythological story for the reason behind her
standing on what appears to be Shiva's corpse, which translates as
Once Kali had destroyed all the demons in battle, she began a terrific
dance out of the sheer joy of victory. All the worlds or lokas began
to tremble and sway under the impact of her dance. So, at the request
of all the Gods, Shiva himself asked her to desist from this behavior.
However, she was too intoxicated to listen. Hence, Shiva lay like a
corpse among the slain demons in order to absorb the shock of the
dance into himself. When Kali eventually stepped upon her husband she
realized her mistake and bit her tongue in shame.
The Tantric interpretation of Kali standing on top of her husband is
The Shiv tattava (Divine Consciousness as Shiva) is inactive, while
the Shakti tattava (Divine Energy as Kali) is active. Shiva, or
Mahadeva represents Brahman, the Absolute pure consciousness which is
beyond all names, forms and activities. Kali, on the other hand,
represents the potential (and manifested) energy responsible for all
names, forms and activities. She is his Shakti, or creative power, and
is seen as the substance behind the entire content of all
consciousness. She can never exist apart from Shiva or act
independently of him, i.e., Shakti, all the matter/energy of the
universe, is not distinct from Shiva, or Brahman, but is rather the
dynamic power of Brahman.
Kali in Traditional Form, standing on Shiva's chest.While this is an
advanced concept in monistic Shaktism, it also agrees with the Nondual
Trika philosophy of Kashmir, popularly known as Kashmir Shaivism and
associated most famously with Abhinavagupta. There is a colloquial
saying that "Shiva without Shakti is Shava" which means that without
the power of action (Shakti) that is Mahakali (represented as the
short "i" in Devanagari) Shiva (or consciousness itself) is inactive;
Shava means corpse in Sanskrit and the play on words is that all
Sanskrit consonants are assumed to be followed by a short letter "a"
unless otherwise noted. The short letter "i" represents the female
power or Shakti that activates Creation. This is often the explanation
for why She is standing on Shiva, who is either Her husband and
complement in Shaktism or the Supreme Godhead in Shaivism.
To properly understand this complex Tantric symbolism it is important
to remember that the meaning behind Shiva and Kali does not stray from
the non-dualistic parlance of Shankara or the Upanisads. According to
both the Mahanirvana and Kularnava Tantras, there are two distinct
ways of perceiving the same absolute reality. The first is a
transcendental plane which is often described as static, yet infinite.
It is here that there is no matter, there is no universe and only
consciousness exists. This form of reality is known as Shiva, the
absolute Sat-Chit-Ananda — existence, knowledge and bliss. The second
is an active plane, an immanent plane, the plane of matter, of Maya,
i.e., where the illusion of space-time and the appearance of an actual
universe does exist. This form of reality is known as Kali or Shakti,
and (in its entirety) is still specified as the same Absolute Sat-Chit-
Ananda. It is here in this second plane that the universe (as we
commonly know it) is experienced and is described by the Tantric seer
as the play of Shakti, or God as Mother Kali.
Kali and Bhairava (the terrible form of Shiva) in Union, 18th century,
NepalFrom a Tantric perspective, when one meditates on reality at
rest, as absolute pure consciousness (without the activities of
creation, preservation or dissolution) one refers to this as Shiva or
Brahman. When one meditates on reality as dynamic and creative, as the
Absolute content of pure consciousness (with all the activities of
creation, preservation or dissolution) one refers to it as Kali or
Shakti. However, in either case the yogini or yogi is interested in
one and the same reality — the only difference being in name and
fluctuating aspects of appearance. It is this which is generally
accepted as the meaning of Kali standing on the chest of Shiva.
Although there is often controversy surrounding the images of divine
copulation, the general consensus is benign and free from any carnal
impurities in its substance. In Tantra the human body is a symbol for
the microcosm of the universe; therefore sexual process is responsible
for the creation of the world. Although theoretically Shiva and Kali
(or Shakti) are inseparable, like fire and its power to burn, in the
case of creation they are often seen as having separate roles. With
Shiva as male and Kali as female it is only by their union that
creation may transpire. This reminds us of the prakrti and purusa
doctrine of Samkhya wherein prakāśa- vimarśa has no practical value,
just as without prakrti, purusa is quite inactive. This (once again)
stresses the interdependencies of Shiva and Shakti and the vitality of
Gopi Krishna proposed that Kali standing on the dead Shiva or Shava
(Sanskrit for dead body) symbolised the helplessness of a person
undergoing the changing process (psychologically and physiologically)
in the body conducted by the Kundalini Shakti.
In the later traditions, Kali has become inextricably linked with
Shiva. The unleashed form of Kali often becomes wild and
uncontrollable, and only Shiva is able to tame her. This is both
because she is often a transformed version of one of his consorts and
because he is able to match her wildness. The ancient text of Kali
Kautuvam describes her competition with Shiva in dance, from which the
sacred 108 Karanas appeared. Shiva won the competition by acting the
urdva tandava, one of the Karanas, by raising his feet to his head.
Other texts describe Shiva appearing as a crying infant and appealing
to her maternal instincts. While Shiva is said to be able to tame her,
the iconography often presents her dancing on his fallen body, and
there are accounts of the two of them dancing together, and driving
each other to such wildness that the world comes close to unravelling.
Shiva's involvement with Tantra and Kali's dark nature have led to her
becoming an important Tantric figure. To the Tantric worshippers, it
was essential to face her Curse, the terror of death, as willingly as
they accepted Blessings from her beautiful, nurturing, maternal
aspect. For them, wisdom meant learning that no coin has only one
side: as death cannot exist without life, so life cannot exist without
death. Kali's role sometimes grew beyond that of a chaos — which could
be confronted — to that of one who could bring wisdom, and she is
given great metaphysical significance by some Tantric texts. The
Nirvāna-tantra clearly presents her uncontrolled nature as the
Ultimate Reality, claiming that the trimurti of Brahma, Visnu and
Rudra arise and disappear from her like bubbles from the sea. Although
this is an extreme case, the Yogini-tantra, Kamakhya-tantra and the
Niruttara-tantra declare her the svarupa (own-being) of the Mahadevi
(the great Goddess, who is in this case seen as the combination of all
The final stage of development is the worshipping of Kali as the Great
Mother, devoid of her usual violence. This practice is a break from
the more traditional depictions. The pioneers of this tradition are
the 18th century Shakta poets such as Ramprasad Sen, who show an
awareness of Kali's ambivalent nature. Ramakrishna, the 19th century
Bengali saint, was also a great devotee of Kali; the western
popularity of whom may have contributed to the more modern, equivocal
interpretations of this Goddess. Rachel McDermott's work, however,
suggests that for the common, modern worshipper, Kali is not seen as
fearful, and only those educated in old traditions see her as having a
wrathful component. Some credit to the development of Devi must also
be given to Samkhya. Commonly referred to as the Devi of delusion,
Mahamaya, acting in the confines of (but not being bound by) the
nature of the three gunas, takes three forms: Maha-Kali, Maha-Lakshmi
and Maha-Saraswati, being her tamas-ika, rajas-ika and sattva-ika
forms. In this sense, Kali is simply part of a larger whole.
1947 TIME Magazine cover by Boris Artzybasheff depicting a self-
hurting Kālī as a symbol of the partition of IndiaLike Sir John
Woodroffe and Georg Feuerstein, many Tantric scholars (as well as
sincere practitioners) agree that, no matter how propitious or
appalling you describe them, Shiva and Devi are simply recognizable
symbols for everyday, abstract (yet tangible) concepts such as
perception, knowledge, space-time, causation and the process of
liberating oneself from the confines of such things. Shiva,
symbolizing pure, absolute consciousness, and Devi, symbolizing the
entire content of that consciousness, are ultimately one and the same
— totality incarnate, a micro-macro-cosmic amalgamation of all
subjects, all objects and all phenomenal relations between the "two."
Like man and woman who both share many common, human traits yet at the
same time they are still different and, therefore, may also be seen as
Worshippers prescribe various benign and horrific qualities to Devi
simply out of practicality. They do this so they may have a variety of
symbols to choose from, symbols which they can identify and relate
with from the perspective of their own, ever-changing time, place and
personal level of unfolding. Just like modern chemists or physicists
use a variety of molecular and atomic models to describe what is
unperceivable through rudimentary, sensory input, the scientists of
ontology and epistemology must do the same. One of the underlying
distinctions of Tantra, in comparison to other religions, is that it
allows the devotee the liberty to choose from a vast array of
complementary symbols and rhetoric that which suits one's evolving
needs and tastes. From an aesthetic standpoint, nothing is interdict
and nothing is orthodox. In this sense, the projection of some of
Devi's more gentle qualities onto Kali is not sacrilege and the
development of Kali really lies in the practitioner, not the murthi.
A TIME magazine article of October 27, 1947, used Kālī as a symbol and
metaphor for the human suffering in British India during its partition
In New Age and Neopaganism
An academic study of Western Kali enthusiasts noted that, "as shown in
the histories of all cross-cultural religious transplants, Kali
devotionalism in the West must take on its own indigenous forms if it
is to adapt to its new environment." The adoption of Kali by the
West has raised accusations of cultural misappropriation:
"A variety of writers and thinkers [...] have found Kali an exciting
figure for reflection and exploration, notably feminists and
participants in New Age spirituality who are attracted to goddess
worship. [For them], Kali is a symbol of wholeness and healing,
associated especially with repressed female power and sexuality.
[However, such interpretations often exhibit] confusion and
misrepresentation, stemming from a lack of knowledge of Hindu history
among these authors, [who only rarely] draw upon materials written by
scholars of the Hindu religious tradition. The majority instead rely
chiefly on other popular feminist sources, almost none of which base
their interpretations on a close reading of Kali's Indian background.
[...] The most important issue arising from this discussion – even
more important than the question of 'correct' interpretation –
concerns the adoption of other people's religious symbols. [...] It is
hard to import the worship of a goddess from another culture:
religious associations and connotations have to be learned, imagined
or intuited when the deep symbolic meanings embedded in the native
culture are not available."
Gerald Gardner was reportedly particularly interested in Kali whilst
he was in the far east, before returning to England to write his
seminal works on Wicca.
^ Encyclopedia International, by Grolier Incorporated Copyright in
Canada 1974. AE5.E447 1974 031 73-11206 ISBN 0-7172-0705-6 page 95
^ Mahābhārata 10.8.64-69, cited in Coburn, Thomas; Devī-Māhātmya —
Crystallization of the Goddess Tradition; Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi,
1984; ISBN 81-208-0557-7 pages 111–112.
^ a b D. Kinsley p. 122.
^ D. Kinsley p. 122–123.
^ a b D. Kinsley p. 124.
^ Karpuradi Stotra, Tantrik Texts Vol IX, Arthur Avalon (Sir John
Woodroffe), Calcutta Agamanusandhana Samiti, 1922.
^ D. Kinsley p. 124–125.
^ D. Kinsley p. 125.
^ D. Kinsley p. 126.
^ D. Kinsley p.125–126.
^ a b D. Kinsley p. 128.
^ MantraOnNet.com:Text & Images of Kali
^ D. Kinsley p. 118.
^ Devi Mahatmyam, Swami Jagadiswarananda, Ramakrishna Math, 1953.
^ D. Kinsley p. 118–119.
^ Wangu p. 72.
^ Kinsley p. 241 Footnotes.
^ D. Kinsley pp. 119, 130.
^ McDermott 2003.
^ D. Kinsley p. 119.
^ D. Kinsley p. 131.
^ Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls By June McDaniel p.257
^ The Art of Tantra, Philip Rawson, Thames & Hudson, 1973.
^ Sankaranarayanan. S. Devi Mahatmya. p 127.
^ David Gordon White (ed.), Tantra in Practice, ISBN 81-208-1778-8
^ Sri Ramakrishna (The Great Master), Swami Saradananda, Ramakrishna
Math, 1952, page 624, Sri Ramakrishna: The Spiritual Glow, Kamalpada
Hati, P.K. Pramanik, Orient Book Co., 1985, pages 17–18.
^ Tantra in Practice, David Gordon White, Princeton Press, 2000, page
^ Tantra in Practice, David Gordon White, Princeton Press, 2000, page
^ Tantra in Practice, David Gordon White, Princeton Press, 2000, page
^ Hindu Gods & Goddesses, Swami Harshananda, Ramakrishna Math, 1981,
^ a b Tantra (The Path of Ecstasy), Georg Feuerstein, Shambhala, 1998,
pages 70–84, Shakti and Shâkta, Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe),
Oxford Press/Ganesha & Co., 1918.
^ Tantra in Practice, David Gordon White, Princeton Press, 2000, page
463–488, Shakti and Shâkta, Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe), Oxford
Press/Ganesha & Co., 1918.
^ Impact of Tantra on Religion & Art, T. N. Mishra, D.K. Print World,
^ Krishna, Gopi (1993)Living with Kundalini: (Shambhala, 1993 ISBN
^ Tantra (The Path of Ecstasy), Georg Feuerstein, Shambhala, 1998,
Shakti and Shâkta, Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe), Oxford Press/
Ganesha & Co., 1918.
^ The Trial of Kali, TIME Magazine, October 27, 1947.
^ McDermott, Rachel Fell, "The Western Kali", in Hawley, John Stratton
& Wulff, Donna M., Devi: The Goddess in India, p. 305.
^ McDermott, Rachel Fell, "The Western Kali", in Hawley, John Stratton
& Wulff, Donna M., Devi: The Goddess in India, pp. 281–305.
Shakti and Shâkta, Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe), Oxford Press/
Ganesha & Co., 1918
Sri Ramakrishna (The Great Master), Swami Saradananda, Ramakrishna
Devi Mahatmyam, Swami Jagadiswarananda, Ramakrishna Math, 1953
The Art of Tantra, Philip Rawson, Thames & Hudson, 1973
Hindu Gods & Goddesses, Swami Harshananda, Ramakrishna Math, 1981
Sri Ramakrishna: The Spiritual Glow, Kamalpada Hati, P.K. Pramanik,
Orient Book Co., 1985
Hindu Goddesses, David R. Kinsley, University of California Press,
Kali (The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar) Elizabeth U. Harding, Nicolas
Impact of Tantra on Religion & Art, T. N. Mishra, D.K. Print World,
Indian Art (revised), Roy C. Craven, Thames & Hudson, 1997
A Dictionary of Buddhist & Hindu Iconography (Illustrated), Frederick
W. Bunce, D.K. Print World, 1997
Tantra (The Path of Ecstasy), Georg Feuerstein, Shambhala, 1998
Oxford Concise Dictionary of World Religions, John Bowker, Oxford
Tantra in Practice, David Gordon White, Princeton Press, 2000
Encountering Kali (In the margins, at the center, in the west), Rachel
Fell McDermott, Berkeley : University of California Press, 2003
 Further reading
Shanmukha Anantha Natha and Shri Ma Kristina Baird, Divine Initiation
Shri Kali Publications (2001) ISBN 0-9582324-0-7 - Has a chapter on
Mahadevi with a commentary on the Devi Mahatmyam from the Markandeya
Swami Jagadiswarananda, tr., Devi Mahatmyam Chennai, Ramakrishna Math.
Elizabeth Usha Harding, Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar ISBN
Devadatta Kali, In Praise of The Goddess, The Devimahatmyam and Its
Meaning ISBN 0-89254-080-X
David Kinsley, Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the
Hindu Religious Traditions ISBN 81-208-0379-5
Rachel Fell McDermott, Encountering Kali: In the Margins, at the
Center, in the West (ISBN 0-520-23240-2)
Ajit Mookerjee, Kali: The Feminine Force ISBN 0-89281-212-5
Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Kali Puja ISBN 1-887472-64-9
Ramprasad Sen, Grace and Mercy in Her Wild Hair: Selected Poems to the
Mother Goddess ISBN 0-934252-94-7
Sir John Woodroffe (aka Arthur Avalon)Hymns to the Goddess and Hymn to
Kali ISBN 81-85988-16-1
Robert E. Svoboda, Aghora, at the left hand of God ISBN 0-914732-21-8
Dimitri Kitsikis, L'Orocc, dans l'âge de Kali ISBN 2-89040-359-9
Lex Hixon, Mother of the Universe: Visions of the Goddess and Tantric
Hymns of Enlightenment ISBN 0-8356-0702-X
Neela Bhattacharya Saxena, In the Beginning is Desire: Tracing Kali's
Footprints in Indian Literature ISBN 818798161X
The Goddess Kali of Kolkata (ISBN 81-7476-514-X) by Shoma A.
Encountering The Goddess: A Translation of the Devi-Mahatmya and a
Study of Its Interpretation (ISBN 0-7914-0446-3) by Thomas B. Coburn
Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna
Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar (ISBN 0-89254-025-7) by
Elizabeth Usha Harding
In Praise of The Goddess: The Devimahatmyam and Its Meaning (ISBN
0-89254-080-X) by Devadatta Kali
Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious
Traditions (ISBN 81-208-0379-5) by David Kinsley
Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine (ISBN 0-520-20499-9) by David
Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Worship in West
Bengal (ISBN 0-195-16791-0) by June McDaniel
Encountering Kali: In the Margins, at the Center, in the West (ISBN
0-520-23240-2) by Rachel Fell McDermott
Mother of My Heart, Daughter of My Dreams: Kali and Uma in the
Devotional Poetry of Bengal (ISBN 0-19-513435-4) by Rachel Fell
Kali: The Feminine Force (ISBN 0-89281-212-5) by Ajit Mookerjee
Seeking Mahadevi: Constructing the Identities of the Hindu Great
Goddess (ISBN 0-791-45008-2) Edited by Tracy Pintchman
The Rise of the Goddess in the Hindu Tradition (ISBN 0-7914-2112-0) by
Find more about Kali on Wikipedia's sister projects:
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Goddess as Kali - The Feminine Force in Indian Art
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Share this Page with a friend The worship of a mother goddess as the
source of life and fertility has prehistoric roots, but the
transformation of that deity into a Great goddess of cosmic powers was
achieved with the composition of the Devi Mahatmya (Glory of the
goddess), a text of the fifth to sixth century, when worship of the
female principle took on dramatic new dimensions. The goddess is not
only the mysterious source of life, she is the very soil, all-creating
and all consuming.
Kali makes her 'official' debut in the Devi-Mahatmya, where she is
said to have emanated from the brow of Goddess Durga (slayer of
demons) during one of the battles between the divine and anti-divine
forces. Etymologically Durga's name means "Beyond Reach". She is thus
an echo of the woman warrior's fierce virginal autonomy. In this
context Kali is considered the 'forceful' form of the great goddess
Kali is represented as a Black woman with four arms; in one hand she
has a sword, in another the head of the demon she has slain, with the
other two she is encouraging her worshippers. For earrings she has two
dead bodies and wears a necklace of skulls ; her only clothing is a
girdle made of dead men's hands, and her tongue protrudes from her
mouth. Her eyes are red, and her face and breasts are besmeared with
blood. She stands with one foot on the thigh, and another on the
breast of her husband.
Kali's fierce appearances have been the subject of extensive
descriptions in several earlier and modern works. Though her fierce
form is filled with awe- inspiring symbols, their real meaning is not
what it first appears- they have equivocal significance:
Kali's blackness symbolizes her all-embracing, comprehensive nature,
because black is the color in which all other colors merge; black
absorbs and dissolves them. 'Just as all colors disappear in black, so
all names and forms disappear in her' (Mahanirvana Tantra). Or black
is said to represent the total absence of color, again signifying the
nature of Kali as ultimate reality. This in Sanskrit is named as
nirguna (beyond all quality and form). Either way, Kali's black color
symbolizes her transcendence of all form.
A devotee poet says:
"Is Kali, my Divine Mother, of a black complexion?
She appears black because She is viewed from a distance;
but when intimately known She is no longer so.
The sky appears blue at a distance, but look at it close by
and you will find that it has no colour.
The water of the ocean looks blue at a distance,
but when you go near and take it in your hand,
you find that it is colourless."
... Ramakrishna Paramhansa (1836-86)
Kali's nudity has a similar meaning. In many instances she is
described as garbed in space or sky clad. In her absolute, primordial
nakedness she is free from all covering of illusion. She is Nature
(Prakriti in Sanskrit), stripped of 'clothes'. It symbolizes that she
is completely beyond name and form, completely beyond the illusory
effects of maya (false consciousness). Her nudity is said to represent
totally illumined consciousness, unaffected by maya. Kali is the
bright fire of truth, which cannot be hidden by the clothes of
ignorance. Such truth simply burns them away.
She is full-breasted; her motherhood is a ceaseless creation. Her
disheveled hair forms a curtain of illusion, the fabric of space -
time which organizes matter out of the chaotic sea of quantum-foam.
Her garland of fifty human heads, each representing one of the fifty
letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, symbolizes the repository of
knowledge and wisdom. She wears a girdle of severed human hands- hands
that are the principal instruments of work and so signify the action
of karma. Thus the binding effects of this karma have been overcome,
severed, as it were, by devotion to Kali. She has blessed the devotee
by cutting him free from the cycle of karma. Her white teeth are
symbolic of purity (Sans. Sattva), and her lolling tongue which is red
dramatically depicts the fact that she consumes all things and denotes
the act of tasting or enjoying what society regards as forbidden, i.e.
her indiscriminate enjoyment of all the world's "flavors".
Kali's four arms represent the complete circle of creation and
destruction, which is contained within her. She represents the
inherent creative and destructive rhythms of the cosmos. Her right
hands, making the mudras of "fear not" and conferring boons, represent
the creative aspect of Kali, while the left hands, holding a bloodied
sword and a severed head represent her destructive aspect. The
bloodied sword and severed head symbolize the destruction of ignorance
and the dawning of knowledge. The sword is the sword of knowledge,
that cuts the knots of ignorance and destroys false consciousness (the
severed head). Kali opens the gates of freedom with this sword, having
cut the eight bonds that bind human beings. Finally her three eyes
represent the sun, moon, and fire, with which she is able to observe
the three modes of time: past, present and future. This attribute is
also the origin of the name Kali, which is the feminine form of
'Kala', the Sanskrit term for Time.
Another symbolic but controversial aspect of Kali is her proximity to
the cremation ground:
O Kali, Thou art fond of cremation grounds;
so I have turned my heart into one
That thou, a resident of cremation grounds,
may dance there unceasingly.
O Mother! I have no other fond desire in my heart;
fire of a funeral pyre is burning there;
O Mother! I have preserved the ashes of dead bodies all around
that Thou may come.
O Mother! Keeping Shiva, conqueror of Death, under Thy feet,
Come, dancing to the tune of music;
Prasada waits With his eyes closed
... Ramprasad (1718-75)
Kali's dwelling place, the cremation ground denotes a place where the
five elements (Sanskrit: pancha mahabhuta) are dissolved. Kali dwells
where dissolution takes place. In terms of devotion and worship, this
denotes the dissolving of attachments, anger, lust, and other binding
emotions, feelings, and ideas. The heart of the devotee is where this
burning takes place, and it is in the heart that Kali dwells. The
devotee makes her image in his heart and under her influence burns
away all limitations and ignorance in the cremation fires. This inner
cremation fire in the heart is the fire of knowledge, (Sanskrit:
gyanagni), which Kali bestows.
The image of a recumbent Shiva lying under the feet of Kali represents
Shiva as the passive potential of creation and Kali as his Shakti. The
generic term Shakti denotes the Universal feminine creative principle
and the energizing force behind all male divinity including Shiva.
Shakti is known by the general name Devi, from the root 'div', meaning
to shine. She is the Shining One, who is given different names in
different places and in different appearances, as the symbol of the
life-giving powers of the Universe. It is she that powers him. This
Shakti is expressed as the i in Shiva's name. Without this i, Shiva
becomes Shva, which in Sanskrit means a corpse. Thus suggesting that
without his Shakti, Shiva is powerless or inert.
Kali is a particularly appropriate image for conveying the idea of the
world as the play of the gods. The spontaneous, effortless, dizzying
creativity of the divine reflex is conveyed in her wild appearance.
Insofar as kali is identified with the phenomenal world, she presents
a picture of that world that underlies its ephemeral and unpredictable
nature. In her mad dancing, disheveled hair, and eerie howl there is
made present the hint of a world reeling, careening out of control.
The world is created and destroyed in Kali's wild dancing, and the
truth of redemption lies in man's awareness that he is invited to take
part in that dance, to yield to the frenzied beat of the Mother's
dance of life and death.
O Kali, my Mother full of Bliss! Enchantress of the almighty Shiva!
In Thy delirious joy Thou dancest, clapping Thy hands together!
Thou art the Mover of all that move, and we are but Thy helpless toys
Kali and her attendants dance to rhythms pounded out by Shiva (Lord of
destruction) and his animal-headed attendants who dwell in the
Himalayas. Associated with chaos and uncontrollable destruction,
Kali's own retinue brandishes swords and holds aloft skull cups from
which they drink the blood that intoxicates them. Kali, like Shiva,
has a third eye, but in all other respects the two are distinguished
from one another. In contrast to Shiva's sweet expression, plump body,
and ash white complexion, dark kali's emaciated limbs, angular
gestures, and fierce grimace convey a wild intensity. Her loose hair,
skull garland, and tiger wrap whip around her body as she stomps and
claps to the rhythm of the dance.
Many stories describe Kali's dance with Shiva as one that "threatens
to destroy the world" by its savage power. Art historian Stella
Kramrisch has noted that the image of kali dancing with Shiva follows
closely the myth of the demon Daruka. When Shiva asks his wife Parvati
to destroy this demon, she enters Shiva's body and transforms herself
from the poison that is stored in his throat. She emerges from Shiva
as Kali, ferocious in appearance, and with the help of her flesh
eating retinue attacks and defeats the demon. Kali however became so
intoxicated by the blood lust of battle that her aroused fury and wild
hunger threatened to destroy the whole world. She continued her
ferocious rampage until Shiva manifested himself as an infant and lay
crying in the midst of the corpse-strewn field. Kali, deceived by
Shiva's power of illusion, became calm as she suckled the baby. When
evening approached, Shiva performed the dance of creation (tandava) to
please the goddess. Delighted with the dance, Kali and her attendants
This terrific and poignant imagery starkly reveals the nature of Kali
as the Divine Mother. Ramaprasad expresses his feelings thus:
Behold my Mother playing with Shiva,
lost in an ecstasy of joy!
Drunk with a draught of celestial wine,
She reels, and yet does not fall.
Erect She stands on Shiva's bosom,
and the earth Trembles under Her tread;
She and Her Lord are mad with frenzy,
casting Aside all fear and shame.
... Ramprasad (1718-75)
Kali's human and maternal qualities continue to define the goddess for
most of her devotees to this day. In human relationships, the love
between mother and child is usually considered the purest and
strongest. In the same way, the love between the Mother Goddess and
her human children is considered the closest and tenderest
relationship with divinity. Accordingly, Kali's devotees form a
particularly intimate and loving bond with her. But the devotee never
forgets Kali's demonic, frightening aspects. He does not distort
Kali's nature and the truths she reveals; he does not refuse to
meditate on her terrifying features. He mentions these repeatedly in
his songs but is never put off or repelled by them. Kali may be
frightening, the mad, forgetful mistress of a world spinning out of
control, but she is, after all, the Mother of all. As such, she must
be accepted by her children- accepted in wonder and awe, perhaps, but
accepted nevertheless. The poet in an intimate and lighter tone
addresses the Mother thus:
O Kali! Why dost Thou roam about nude?
Art Thou not ashamed, Mother!
Garb and ornaments Thou hast none;
yet Thou Pridest in being King's daughter.
O Mother! Is it a virtue of Thy family that Thou
Placest thy feet on Thy husband?
Thou art nude; Thy husband is nude; you both roam cremation grounds.
O Mother! We are all ashamed of you; do put on thy garb.
Thou hast cast away Thy necklace of jewels, Mother,
And worn a garland of human heads.
Prasada says, "Mother! Thy fierce beauty has frightened
Thy nude consort.
The soul that worships becomes always a little child: the soul that
becomes a child finds God oftenest as mother. In a meditation before
the Blessed Sacrament, some pen has written the exquisite assurance:
"My child, you need not know much in order to please Me. Only Love Me
dearly. Speak to me, as you would talk to your mother, if she had
taken you in her arms."
Kali's boon is won when man confronts or accepts her and the realities
she dramatically conveys to him. The image of Kali, in a variety of
ways, teaches man that pain, sorrow, decay, death, and destruction are
not to be overcome or conquered by denying them or explaining them
away. Pain and sorrow are woven into the texture of man's life so
thoroughly that to deny them is ultimately futile. For man to realize
the fullness of his being, for man to exploit his potential as a human
being, he must finally accept this dimension of existence. Kali's boon
is freedom, the freedom of the child to revel in the moment, and it is
won only after confrontation or acceptance of death. To ignore death,
to pretend that one is physically immortal, to pretend that one's ego
is the center of things, is to provoke Kali's mocking laughter. To
confront or accept death, on the contrary, is to realize a mode of
being that can delight and revel in the play of the gods. To accept
one's mortality is to be able to let go, to be able to sing, dance,
and shout. Kali is Mother to her devotees not because she protects
them from the way things really are but because she reveals to them
their mortality and thus releases them to act fully and freely,
releases them from the incredible, binding web of "adult" pretense,
practicality, and rationality.
We hope you have enjoyed reading the article. Any comments or feedback
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It'll be nice if a political party actually follows Hindutv principles.
Interview with SWAMI AGNIVESH
By YOGINDER SIKAND
2008 NOVEMBER 21
Swami Agnivesh is the president of the Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha
(‘World Council of the Arya Samaj’). A well-known social activist, he
has played a leading role in the struggle against communalism in India,
including against Hindutva terrorism, about which he talks in this
interview with Yoginder Sikand.
Q: How do you explain the recent wave of bomb blasts that have taken
place across India? How can this dangerous phenomenon be tackled?
A: Clearly, behind such attacks is a certain ideology at work whose
major objective is to create hatred between the different communities.
That, rather than just killing innocent people, is the real objective of
those behind these dastardly and cowardly acts. These forces, who could
be both internal as well as external, and who could include extremist
Hindus, extremist Muslims or others, clearly do not want people of the
different communities to live in peace with each other.
Among the various steps that should be taken to counter this form of
terrorism is for people to isolate the forces within their own
respective religious communities that seek to foment communal hatred. If
a Hindu name emerges as being behind a certain terrorist attack, it is
for Hindus, in particular, to fiercely condemn such a person or
organization, not just as a criminal but also as anti-Hindu. And the
same holds true for how Muslims should respond if the person or outfit
behind a terror attack bears a Muslim name. Terrorism cannot be tackled
simply by the government machinery without this sort of social or public
mobilization against it. In this, it is particularly crucial that we
desist from branding or associating any particular community with
terrorism, because terrorism does not know any barrier of community. It
is wrong to associate t with any religion. It is also crucial, as I
suggested, that if a person claiming to belong to a particular community
engages in an act of terror, those others who also belong to the same
community must fiercely condemn his act as not just being a crime but
also a gross violation of the religious teachings of the community in
question. Only then can these elements be denied any social sanction or
And this is now beginning to happen. A number of leading Muslim clerics
have issued fatwas against any form of terrorism, no matter what the
religion of the perpetrator. And so I would like Hindu leaders to also
begin to say the same thing. Recently, I issued a statement on behalf of
the Arya Samaj appealing to all Hindu religious leaders not to support
those Hindutva activists who have been accused in the Modassa and
Malegaon terror attack cases. I appealed to them to expose Hinduvta
terrorists, for they are giving the entire Hindu community a bad name. I
pointed out that numerous Muslim ulema or religious leaders have
organized mass rallies and have issued fatwas condemning all forms of
terrorism, including that engaged in by self-styled jihadist groups.
Recently, I attended a huge inter-faith conference in Madrid to denounce
all forms of terrorism, which was organized by the King of Saudi Arabia.
I suggested that Hindu religious leaders should also do the same and
forcefully condemn all forms of terrorism, including that done in the
name of Hinduism or by Hindus, as anti-Hindu, anti-religion and anti-human.
I made the same point at the National Integration Council meeting that
was recently held in Delhi, where I said that leading Indian maulvis are
issuing fatwas against all forms of terrorism and organizing mass
rallies, some of which I have also addressed, to denounce it, and I
asked why Hindu religious leaders were not doing the same.
Q: What has been the result of this appeal of yours to Hindu religious
leaders? Are they coming out to forcefully condemn terror engaged in by
Hindutva groups, just as many Muslim clerics are now openly speaking
against terrorism done in the name of Islam?
A: Unfortunately, many Hindu religious leaders continue to remain silent
on this. To remain silent on such a heinous matter can, in some cases,
be construed as tacit approval. But I am still making efforts to make
them realize the gravity of the situation.
Q: In recent years there is a growing tendency in some circles to
associate Islam, in particular, with terrorism. How do you see this
A: I think this is completely unfair. It is a product of the imperialist
agenda of certain Western powers that need to create the spectre of
radical Islamism as allegedly posing an immense threat to the West so as
to help the West justify its continuing hegemony, its global power and
its control over West Asian oil resources. Using this warped logic, and
without any evidence, America has attacked and devastated Afghanistan
and Iraq and seems to be bent on taking on the whole Muslim world.
George Bush openly calls for a ‘crusade’, and thus seeks to lend
credence to the thoroughly bankrupt theory of the ‘clash of
civilisations’. The Western media has been forcefully propagating this
thesis, and now, especially after 9/11, large sections of the Indian
media are also parroting the same bogus theory.
To repeat, to seek to associate terrorism with any religion or community
is completely wrong. I think, and I have said this publicly, that George
Bush is the world’s No. 1 terrorist. It was the Western establishment
that, along with its client regimes, created the Taliban and armed
Saddam, and the Bin Laden family is a business partner of the Bush
family. In the same way, the Congress, under Indira Gandhi, propped up
Bhindaranwala, but he later turned into a Frankenstein. Likewise, the
first victim of terrorism in free India, Mahatma Gandhi, was killed by a
Hindu, not a Muslim. It was not a Muslim who killed Indira Gandhi or
Rajiv Gandhi. And so you can easily see through the falsity of the
slogan, ‘All Muslims may not be terrorists, but all terrorists are
Muslims’ that is so frequently mouthed today.
Q: What do you have to say about the recent revelations about some
Hindutva groups being involved in fomenting terrorism in India?
A: Yes, this phenomenon exists and the media is gradually bringing it to
light. Hindutva ideologues have been consistently seeking to equate
Islam and Muslims with terrorism but now that evidence is surfacing of
the close involvement of radical Hindutva outfits in terrorism they are
saying that terrorism must not be sought to be associated with any
religion. But this is precisely what they were doing all this while with
regard to Islam. They are saying that the so-called Sadhvi who has been
arrested in connection with the Malegaon blasts should not be called a
‘terrorist’. Rather, they say, she should be termed as an ‘accused’
because the charges against her have not been as yet proved by the
courts. But if that is the case, then why do they refer to the Muslims
nabbed by the police, but against whom the courts have not passed their
verdicts, as ‘Islamic terrorists’, without demanding the same sort of
proof? You can call them ‘suspects’ or ‘accused’, but why jump to the
conclusion that all of them are actually terrorists without the charges
against them being proven?
There is ample evidence to show that Hindutva groups have been involved
in planning and executing acts of terror, but, unfortunately, for its
own political purposes, the Government has done little to curb this and
has sought to play this down. Nor has the media given this the serious
attention that it deserves. Such terror attacks obviously help the
Hindutva lobby as they widen the Hindu-Muslim chasm, which, in turn,
makes it easier to play on Hindu sentiments in order to win Hindu votes.
One cannot rule out the possibility of Hindutva elements in being behind
some of the other blasts besides the ones in Malegaon, Modassa, Nanded,
Kanpur and so on that are now coming to light. Blasts could have been
done by any group, Hindu or Muslim or whatever, but it is wrong to jump
to a conclusion without proper investigation.
But let me come back to the Malegaon terror case. I recently held a
press conference where I pointed out that a television channel,
Sudarshan TV, which is very close to the RSS, reported the Malegaon bomb
blast almost as soon as it had happened, before other, large channels
reported it. This might be additional evidence of Hindutva radicals
being behind the terror attack. And, of course, other possible evidence
is also emerging. If the so-called Sadhvi and the army officer and
others who are accused are found to be guilty, they must be socially
ostracized by the Hindu society. If this so-called Sadhvi, dressed in
the saffron robes of a sanyasin, is really involved in this blast it is
a matter of great shame for Hindus. Hindutva terrorists are a blot on
the name of Hindu society. It seems that they have taken upon themselves
the task of giving Hinduism a bad name, to give it the shape of
terrorism. In actual fact, they are enemies of Hinduism and the Hindu
society. They want to divide and thereby destroy the country, using
terror for building their vote-banks.
Q: Do you think there is any ideological link between radical Hindutva
A: The roots of the notion of Hindutva go back to Savarkar, who coined
the term in the 1920s. Before that, he appeared to champion Hindu-Muslim
solidarity, but following his stay in jail in the Andaman Islands his
views completely changed, and he then started claiming that the Hindus
and Muslims of India were, in effect, two different nations. He appealed
to Hindus to militarise themselves. He argued that those who did not
follow religions that were born in India were not real patriots or
genuine Indians. And so, according to this poisonous thesis, Muslims and
Christians were to be considered as not true Indians, deserving of, at
best, second-grade citizenship.
This thesis of Hindutva gave a handle to the proponents of a separate
Muslim state of Pakistan. I am convinced that if there was no Hindutva,
there would have been no separate Pakistan, and India would have
remained one. And the millions of Muslims who stayed behind in India
after the Partition I consider to be much more patriotic than the
Hindutva-walas, because the former were offered the dream of a seeming
utopia, of ‘heaven’, if they migrated to Pakistan, but they refused to
migrate, and, instead, they stayed on in their homeland. And this they
did despite all the immense threats, challenges and fear that they were
forced to face, and despite the repeated anti-Muslim pogroms and
pervasive discrimination. Who, then, can dare question their patriotism?
So, let me unhesitatingly say, yes, the ideology of Hindutva, as we know
it, is inextricably linked to terrorism, in both theory as well as in
practice. And I would go further and say that Hindutva is even worse
than that—it is sheer fascism. Let me also say that the greatest victims
and sufferers of Hindutva fascism will not be Muslims or Christians,
but, rather, Hindus themselves.
Q: Why do you say that?
A: I say this because history clearly tells us that if any form of
fascism is not combated by the community or people in whose name it
claims to speak, it will eventually destroy that people or community.
Thus, when Hitler went about massacring the Jews the German Christians
remained silent, and because they did not oppose his Nazism they had to
face huge loss of German life in the Second World War. When
Bhindaranwale and his henchmen went about killing Hindus, many Sikhs
remained quiet, and eventually more Sikhs than Hindus were killed by the
Khalistanis. In Kashmir, self-styled Islamist extremists have killed
many times more Muslims than Hindus. Likewise, because radical Islamist
groups in Pakistan were fanned by the state, and there was no effective
Muslim protest against them, they now pose a potent threat to the peace
and prosperity of the people of Pakistan, the vast majority of who are
Muslims, and many Pakistani Muslims have fallen victim to them. So, I
find that there is no reason to believe that if Hindus do not speak out
and assertively protest against Hindutva fascism they would not have to
suffer immensely later. It will prove to be a disaster for them, and,
besides this, it would only give India a bad name. I firmly believe that
all forces, groups and people that are genuinely concerned about the
welfare of India, must stand up against Hindutva fascism.
Q: What do you feel about the way the government has gone about seeking
to tackle the problem of terrorism?
A: There is no uniform approach across the country. So, for instance, we
witnessed the state-sponsored genocide and massive wave of terror in
Gujarat in 2002, that caused the deaths of vast numbers of innocent
Muslims. The way this genocide was launched, with such precision, made
me suspect that one cannot rule out the possibility that the burning of
the coach of Sabarmati Express might have been orchestrated by Modi
himself to fan anti-Muslim hatred and garner Hindu votes.
But the role of the state in such heinous violence targeted against
innocent people, which is a form of terrorism, did not start with Modi.
The nefarious role of top bosses in the Congress Party in orchestrating
the large-scale massacre of Sikhs in 1984 is well-known. So, various
governments have sought to fan violence against minorities for their own
political purposes, and no discussion of terrorism in India can leave
out this crucial dimension.
We also have to talk of and speak out against other forms of terrorism.
The killing of some 3000 innocent people in America on 9/11 was a
terrible crime, and it must be condemned, but the West does not want us
to talk of other forms of terrorism in which Western powers and elites
are directly implicated. Some 7000 children die in India daily, mainly
due to poverty, which is caused by a skewed and totally inhuman notion
of ‘development’ propagated by Indian and Western elites. Is this not a
form of terrorism also? In some senses, it is a worse form of terrorism,
not only because it is of a far greater magnitude but also because it
causes prolonged pain and suffering to its victims, unlike those who die
in an instant in a terrorist attack. Some twenty-five thousand
dowry-deaths of women are recorded every year in India. Is this not also
a form of terrorism? Is not female foeticide a form of terrorism?
The point I am making is that all forms of terrorism, whether in the
name of religion, community, nation, gender or whatever, needs to be
sternly condemned and struggled against. Let us not be selective in our
approach, because terrorism anywhere is a danger to humanity everywhere.
First Published: 00:47 IST(23/3/2010)
Last Updated: 00:48 IST(23/3/2010)
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue MG Vaidya hinted on Monday
that the BJP, which had been drifting away from Hindutva, was back on
track under Nitin Gadkari, the RSS choice for BJP president.
However, the gesture is being seen more as an approval for greater RSS
control over the BJP under Gadkari.
For Gadkari’s idea of a corporate or NGO-type BJP is not too different
from the hi-tech politics L.K. Advani and his aides espoused. However,
while Advani wanted an autonomous BJP, Gadkari, the RSS hopes, will be
Gadkari in turn pledged allegiance to Hindutva, the Sangh's favourite
theme. Welcoming 100 young professionals as BJP volunteers, he said
that while the "language" of each generation changed, Hindutva
remained "the soul" for the BJP.
Vaidya contrasted BJP under Gadkari with the party in 2009. “When
Sudheendra Kulkarni said the BJP should break with the RSS, I said
they should break with Hindutva, and the chord with the RSS will
automatically snap,” Vaidya said, referring to Advani's former aide.
"After 2009, they say Hindutva is their soul. The soul is invisible
but gives urja (energy). It's good that the same urja is being
remembered in 2010,” Vaidya added.
He said Hindutva was not religion but the essence of Indian values and
all those who upheld these were Hindus.
On the Babri mosque demolition, he said, "A sign of sampradyik
gundagardi (communal rowdy-ism) has been obliterated. There can be a
mosque nearby, but only a temple will come up at the spot."
Sangh young band swings to jazz
(From top) Anuradha Paudwal, Anup Jalota, Louis Armstrong, Duke
New Delhi, March 22: Anuradha Paudwal, Narendra Chanchal and Anup
Jalota are passe. The Sangh’s young guns would rather sway to Louis
Armstrong and Duke Ellington.
The bhajan singers are a generation removed from the jazz greats and
could, therefore, qualify as more “contemporary”. But someone in the
RSS or the BJP decided it was time to stack away the Jai Siya Ram and
Prabhu Tero Naam CDs and play What A Wonderful World and When The
Saints Go Marching In.
But Armstrong’s gravelly voice and Ellington’s ragtime blues for the
The disconnect would seem unbridgeable if you imagined swayamsevaks in
over-sized khaki shorts swinging to jazz instead of intoning mantras
But when 50-odd youths got together to pledge allegiance to the RSS
and the BJP in Delhi, they chose jazz as the background score.
The new band calls itself the United Volunteer Association, or UVA. Or
better still, Yuva.
Yes, it is the BJP’s answer to the Congress’s effort to foreground
Rahul Gandhi and his youth brigade.
Gone with the bhajans are the khaki shorts. The UVAs wear saffron T-
shirts and black trousers.
They are not 50-year-olds with paunches but young IT professionals,
entrepreneurs and students with less ample waistlines and a general
look of fitness.
Nitin Gadkari, the 52- year-old BJP president, whose girth is not
exactly an advertisement for health freaks, was the guest of honour at
the launch of UVA in New Delhi’s Mavlankar Hall today.
He played to the gallery, unmindful of the fact that on the dais with
him was M.G. Vaidya, an 80-year old RSS pracharak who often defies the
official line on policies and issues. “I belong to a new generation
that recognises the difference between the letter and spirit (of
Hindutva). Hindutva’s spirit will not change. But it cannot be an
agenda for any political party,” he said.
He invoked lines from a Supreme Court judgment that described Hindutva
as a “way of life of people in the sub-continent”.
Terrorists have no religion: Nitin Gadkari
By ANIMarch 23rd, 2010 NEW DELHI - Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
president Nitin Gadkari has said that a terrorist has no religion and
can’t be classified as a Hindu or a Muslim.
“It is unfortunate that we identify people involved with certain
terrorist activities according to their religious affiliations,” said
Gadkari, adding that a terrorist has no caste, creed or religion.
Gadkari further said, “A god fearing Hindu will not kill an innocent
Muslim and similarly, a god fearing Muslim will not kill an innocent
Hindu, and if he is doing so, then he is a terrorist who does not
belong to any religion.”
The BJP president on Monday stressed on the need for a modern idiom to
articulate ‘Hindutva’ for the youth, adding that the Supreme Court’s
1995 description of Hindutva must be the standard.
“Hindutva cannot become any political party’s agenda. It was more a
way of life,” said Gadkari.
The Supreme Court of India in a judgement ruled that ‘no precise
meaning can be ascribed to the terms ‘Hindu’, ‘Hindutva’ and
‘Hinduism’; and no meaning in the abstract can confine it to the
narrow limits of religion alone, excluding the content of Indian
culture and heritage.
The Court also ruled that ‘Hindutva’ is understood as a way of life or
a state of mind and is not to be equated with or understood as
religious Hindu fundamentalism. (ANI)
Gadkari at the launch of UVA in Delhi. (PTI)
“No true Muslim can kill a Hindu, no true Hindu can kill a Muslim. Yet
the pseudo-secularists insist on identifying terrorists with religion.
The state should be secular, the government should be secular but an
individual cannot be secular,” Gadkari said. “Why then were Indira
Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi cremated according to Hindu rites?”
He emphasised how important it was to drive home the message that the
BJP was for “parliamentary democracy and not theocracy”.
“Youths should see Hindutva in a larger perspective, as a way of life
that is related to tolerance of all people,” Gadkari said.
But UVA convener Sanjay Kaul drove home the message of change. At the
end of his speech, the BJP activist who was part of the India Shining
ad campaign, simply said: “Hey guys, if you are interested, you know
who to call.”
A generation, it seemed, had been phased out.
A source said youth outreach would become possible only “when we start
looking, thinking and speaking like Kaul”.
Bihar BJP leaders flay Gadkari team
Shahnawaz Hussein and Shatrughan Sinha have shown resentment against
Patna, March 21: Mere months before the state goes to Assembly polls,
resentment against BJP president Nitin Gadkari is rising fast among
party members, especially after some senior leaders from the region
were “ignored” in the national executive.
The leaders have also started pouring venom against the high command.
Former Union civil aviation minister Shahnawaz Hussein did not attend
a meeting called by the newly appointed BJP chief spokesman
Ravishankar Prasad on Friday and got admitted to a Delhi hospital
yesterday complaining of chest pain.
“I will go to Mecca and Medina to know my gunah (mistake) and pray
that Allah punishes me for the same,” the Bhagalpur MP said, sulking
for being “demoted” as a junior spokesman under Prasad.
“Our leader is more pained by the treatment from Gadkari than the
chest pain,” said an aide of Hussein.
Probably, God appears to have heard Shahnawaz’s prayers, as Gadkari
called him telling: “You should speak to me if you have complaints and
not to the media. I will try to address your issues if you keep
yourself confined to party forum.”
Apparently, sensing resentment among the election-bound Bihar leaders,
Gadkari has revised his list of office-bearers. Yesterday, he included
two more “sulking” leaders — state party chief Radhamohan Singh and
state health minister Nandkishore Yadav — in the list of the special
invitees to the national executive.
But Gadkari’s damage-control exercise seems futile, as many senior
leaders, including Shatrughan Sinha, C.P. Thakur and Yahswant Sinha,
are feeling ignored.
Many of these disgruntled leaders are openly speaking to the media for
ignoring the “meritorious party workers” from Bihar by Gadkari whom
they alleged even biased towards Maharashtra.
Thakur, before leaving for Geneva to attend a convention of the World
Health Organisation, said: “Senior leaders from Bihar have been
ignored. There is a dominance of Marathis in Gadkari’s team.” Thakur,
who represented the Patna Lok Sabha seat thrice and is currently Rajya
Sabha MP, went on saying: “My contribution to the party is no less
than anyone in the BJP.”
Shatrughan, who represents Patna Saheb in the Lok Sabha and billed to
be the star campaigner in the coming Assembly elections, said:
“Leaders like Thakur, Udai Singh and Yashwant have been ignored. I
have apprised the Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj about how Gadkari
has made mistakes in making his team.”
The disgruntled leaders said around 15 leaders from Bihar had found
places in Gadkari’s team against over 40 from Maharashtra. Gadkari is
yet to select the Bihar BJP president to replace Singh, who had
completed his tenure.
All these senior leaders, including Hussein, Thakur and Shatrughan,
are apparently opposed to the elevation of a relatively junior leader,
Prasad, as the party’s general secretary and chief spokesman at their
cost. “Experience and merit have not been taken into consideration,
while forming the team. The winners and mass leaders have been ignored
while those who have not won a single election have been promoted,”
Nitish stamp in party panel
OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
Patna, March 24: Nitish Kumar’s mantra of “inclusive growth and
development” finds an echo in his party as well with the JD(U)
accommodating the dissidents besides a large number of women and
minorities in the jumbo executive committee of poll-bound Bihar.
While BJP chief Nitin Gadkari faces revolt in his party for leaving
out senior leaders from the region, dissident leaders like former
JD(U) state chief Rajiv Ranjan Singh, alias Lallan Singh, and
Prabhunath Singh have found place in the 262-member executive
State JD(U) chief Vijay Choudhary said: “We have given representation
to all with ignoring none.”
Choudhary said: “The executive committee has 42 vice-presidents, 87
general secretaries, 58 secretaries and 75 members with women and
party workers from the Muslim community given a very large
“The executive committee has highest ever number of women this time,”
Choudhary said, indicating the panel’s support to Nitish, who has been
spearheading the women’s reservation bill against the wishes of JD(U)
chief Sharad Yadav, who along with Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh
Yadav, have been opposing it.
The women’s reservation bill has split the JD(U) with Nitish taking a
line quite opposed to Sharad Yadav. Nitish’s stand, however,
embarrassed Sharad Yadav for all the five MPs in the Rajya Sabha on
the day of voting supported in favour of the bill.
Hari Prasad Sah, Nitish’s close confidant, has been made chairman of
the state parliamentary board and former MLC Vinay Kumar Sinha its
Shatrughan finds vacuum at the top in the party
STAFF WRITER 17:28 HRS IST
Lucknow Mar 23 (PTI) Days after he vent his frustration over selection
of the new team of BJP office bearers, Shatrughan Sinha today said
that there is a vacuum at the top in the absence of Atal Bihari
Vajpayee coupled with certain other factors.
In an informal interaction with reporters here, Sinha said the BJP
leadership was weakened after the retirement of Vajpayee from active
He said there were also certain other factors but declined to
The BJP leader, however, sought to put a lid on the controversy
following his outburst against party President Nitin Gadkari that
deserving candidates had been ignored in the new team announced last
I'l quit if Gadkariji says so: Shatrughan
Rakesh Verma, Hindustan Times
Patna, March 21, 2010
First Published: 23:16 IST(21/3/2010)
Last Updated: 23:17 IST(21/3/2010)
Even as the BJP mulls disciplinary action against Patna Sahib MP
Shatrughan Sinha, the party veteran in Patna on Sunday was his usual
cool and confident self.
“Why threaten me with a show cause at all? All that my friend and
party chief needs to do is tell me to quit and I would gladly do so.
My image is hardly dependent on my being a BJP member. There are a
number of options that are far more rewarding, options with more
responsibility that I would be glad to fulfill,” Sinha said.
“Nevertheless, doing so will hardly put an end to the discontent that
Gadkariji’s handpicked team has inspired among certain party seniors
whose contributions the BJP can ill-afford to ignore.”
Senior leaders such as Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, B.C. Khanduri,
C.P. Thakur, Uday Singh, Madan Lal Khurana have been left out, said
Sinha. And to rub salt on their wounds, leaders such as Radha Mohan
Singh and Nand Kishore Yadav, whose political stock Bihar’s people are
well aware of, have been inducted, he added.
“I am not upset because of my non-inclusion in Nitin Gadkari’s team.
What I am upset about is that leaders who could have played stellar
roles in the impending elections in Bihar and elsewhere have been
sidelined at the behest of self-seekers,” Sinha said.
I have never sought any position in party:Shatrughan
STAFF WRITER 13:34 HRS IST
New Delhi, Mar 24 (PTI) Actor-turned politician Shatrughan Sinha has
said he voiced his reservations over the selection of the new BJP team
because he wanted the welfare of the party and not because he was
hankering for any post.
"I never asked, never got and never sought any position for me. As far
as who got what, I can say I have got my 'Kad' (height), which
sometimes becomes a matter of concern for others," the 6-feet-2-inch
tall BJP leader said, evading a direct reply.
He was asked why he was cold shouldered by the BJP leadership in the
new team of party office-bearers announced by party chief Nitin
Gadkari on March 18.
Sinha was in the city last night to promote his son's debut film
'Sadiyaan', which stars Rekha, Rishi Kapoor and Hema Malini in the
'I am endorsing Gujarat's glory, not present govt'
STAFF WRITER 11:10 HRS IST
Mumbai, Mar 25 (PTI) Under attack for his role as brand ambassador of
Gujarat, megastar Amitabh Bachchan has hit out at his critics, saying
no politics is involved in his promoting tourism in the BJP-ruled
Bachchan said as the brand ambassador, he would talk about the Somnath
Temple, the white sands of the Rann of Kutch, old civilisations of
Harrappa, the Gir lions and try to entice as many visitors as he could
to that glorious land.
"Where is the connect with the glorification of the present
Government?" he wrote on his blog yesterday, the day when some
Maharashtra Congressmen objected to his presence at a state government
function citing his strained ties with Gandhi family and his role as
Gujarat brand ambassador.
"You want to stop me from promoting tourism in a state because you
have reason to believe that there are political connotations to the
Invite to Amitabh, section of Mumbai Cong upset
STAFF WRITER 0:44 HRS IST
Mumbai/ New Delhi, Mar 24 (PTI) Resentment brewed tonight in a section
of Mumbai's Congress over the invite to megastar Amitabh Bachchan to a
function where Chief Minister Ashok Chavan innaugurated the second
phase of Worli-Bandra sealink.
Chavan himself indicated the unhappiness in PCC over the invite to
Bachchan, a friend-turned-foe of the party, and exclusion of some
Congress leaders from the function.
"The Mumbai Congress President (Kripashankar Singh) has given some
reaction in the evening about invitations not being given to
them....", Chavan told NDTV.
Congress' coalition partner NCP is heading the ministry concerned with
India second most spam originator worldwide: study
STAFF WRITER 8:16 HRS IST
Houston, Mar 25 (PTI) Indian is the second most spam originator
worldwide, with 10.98 per cent of spam being sent globally from Indian
IP addresses, according to a study.
Brazil, Vietnam, Korea and US are among the top five countries from
which most spam was sent during the first two months of 2010, said the
study by PandaLabs, Panda Security's malware analysis and detection
The five million emails analysed by PandaLabs came from nearly one
million different IP addresses, meaning that on average, each address
was responsible for five spam messages.
And, the cities from which spam was being sent, Seoul topped the list,
followed by Hanoi, New Delhi, Bogota, Sao Paulo and Bangkok.
The spam messages themselves are used primarily to distribute malware
or sell illicit products, such as videos or photos of Brazilian girls.
'Row over presence at sea link event manufactured'
STAFF WRITER 10:10 HRS IST
Mumbai, Mar 25 (PTI) Megastar Amitabh Bachchan today said the
controversy over his presence at a function here for the inauguration
of the second phase of the Bandra-Worli sea link has been
"A fresh controversy has been rapidly manufactured on my
involvement... The media has been hounding me since the event at the
sea link has got over, through incessant SMSes and the electronic
(media) has followed me even to the theatre where we were seeing
Arshad's film," Bachchan wrote in a midnight post on his blog. Actor
Arshad Warsi's film 'Hum Tum Aur Ghost' will be released this week.
Resentment brewed in a section of Mumbai Congress over the invite to
Bachchan to the function where Chief Minister Ashok Chavan inaugurated
the sea link yesterday.
Modi warms up for date with riot probe team
Ahmedabad/Mumbai, March 24: Narendra Modi is set to make an appearance
before the Supreme Court-monitored special investigation team on the
Gujarat riots on March 27 or any other mutually acceptable date.
Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, among the battery of legal eagles
advising Modi, today confirmed that the Gujarat chief minister was
willing to appear before the SIT on March 27 or any other day, but
prior to that he would like a clarification with regard to a related
case pending in the Supreme Court.
The SIT has asked Modi to appear before it in connection with the
Gulbarg Housing Society carnage of February 28, 2002, in which
Congress leader Ahsan Jafri was killed along with 68 others, many of
whose bodies were never recovered as they had been burnt beyond
The SIT was asked by the Supreme Court to look into a complaint filed
by Zakia Jafri, widow of the leader, in which she named Modi as the
first accused in her husband’s murder.
The SIT has to report to the Supreme Court by April 30 on Zakia’s
complaint. Of the 63 people named, most have already been questioned
by the SIT.
On March 11, the SIT, headed by former CBI chief R.K. Raghavan, said
it had asked the chief minister to appear before it for questioning on
March 21, a date which Modi disputed, saying it was a “lie” planted by
The Telegraph has learnt that the SIT had asked Modi to appear before
it in the week beginning March 21.
Advocate Jethmalani today said Modi had written a letter to Raghavan,
pointing out that the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear a petition
seeking to recall its earlier order referring Zakia’s complaint to the
SIT. The plea is scheduled to be heard in the week beginning April 5.
The petition was filed by Kalubhai Maliwad, a former legislator of the
BJP who was named with Modi and 61 others in Zakia’s complaint.
“Moreover, Teesta Setalvad and other NGOs have also challenged the
composition of the SIT. Modi has said that propriety demands that
unless these pending matters are resolved, it may not be appropriate
to call him. He (Modi) said if the SIT still wants to go ahead, he is
willing to appear before it on March 27 or any other day it wishes
to,” Jethmalani said.
Asked if the SIT had responded to the letter, Jethmalani said: “No, it
hasn’t. The letter was sent either on Monday or Tuesday.”
Raghavan could not be reached for comment. He, however, told PTI that
“it (the missive) is a privilege communication between the SIT and the
witness (Modi)” and he could not comment on it.
The Gujarat government continued to be cautious. Home minister Amit
Shah said the “date and time” of Modi’s appearance had not been fixed
Asked whether the chief minister would appear before March 27, a staff
member at the chief minister’s office said: “As of now, we have not
Legal experts said Modi, who is also being advised by BJP leader and
legal luminary Arun Jaitley, cannot avoid appearing before the SIT
since it has all the powers of an investigative agency under the
Criminal Procedure Code of 1973.
The chief minister, sources said, is likely to comply with the summons
since he would prefer to be seen as a responsible, law-abiding citizen
who welcomes the investigation instead of running shy of it.
SIT summons: Modi gives a new twist but says will respond
STAFF WRITER 18:50 HRS IST
Gandhinagar, Mar 22 (PTI) Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today
said he shall respond to the SIT probing the 2002 Gujarat riots "fully
respecting" the law, as he refuted reports that he had skipped
appearance before the panel on Sunday.
"SIT had not fixed March 21, 2010 for my appearance.
To say that I was summoned on March 21 is completely false. I shall
respond to the SIT fully respecting the law and keeping in view the
dignity of a body appointed by the Supreme Court," he said in an open
Modi's letter came following reports that he had boycotted the SIT
He said, "Truth cannot be suppressed. It is now my duty to place
before you the facts that brings out the importance of understanding
what the truth really is.
Gujarat CM likely to appear before SIT on March 27
STAFF WRITER 9:35 HRS IST
Ahmedabad, Mar 24 (PTI) Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is likely
to be questioned by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation
Team, probing the 2002 riots, on March 27, SIT sources said today.
Confusion prevailed over the appearance of Modi before the SIT with
the panel chief saying he would appear on March 21. But Modi, in an
open letter, claimed he was not summoned on the date.
Sources today said he is likely to be questioned on March 27. However,
SIT Chief R K Raghavan refused to comment on the date.
"It is a privilege communication between the SIT and the witness and I
cannot comment on this," he said.
SIT has summoned Modi to depose in connection with a complaint of
Zakia Jaffery, widow of former Congress MP Eshan Jaffery who was
killed in Gulburg society riot case of 2002 along with 69 others.
SIT up and take notice
March 15, 2010
First Published: 22:40 IST(15/3/2010)
Last Updated: 22:45 IST(15/3/2010)
The hysteria that normally accompanies any move to bring about
political accountability has been refreshingly absent following the
Special Investigation Team’s (SIT) summons to Gujarat Chief Minister
Narendra Modi to depose before it. This is the first time ever that
the CM of any state has been asked to appear before an SIT. The SIT
step is in response to charges against Mr Modi and his administration
by Zakia Jaffrey whose husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jaffrey
was murdered in the Gulberg housing society during the cataclysmic
riots of 2002. Mr Modi has signalled his compliance and the new BJP
President Nitin Gadkari has taken the stand that the law must take its
The law has indeed taken a tortuous course in the Gujarat case with
various rulings indicting the administration being overturned by lower
courts. Now that the action has moved to the Supreme Court, we are
hopefully moving closer to a conclusion. The SIT seems intent on
completing its task in a professional manner, heeding neither pressure
from the establishment nor from activists who have been at loggerheads
ever since those fateful events took place. In all the mudslinging, we
have still not fixed accountability for the violence in which over
1,500 people died. That there was complicity, at least from sections
of Mr Modi’s administration, is established. The SIT has made it clear
that it has prima facie cases against then minister Maya Kodnani and
various VHP leaders. It has also left no one in doubt that the events
were not a spontaneous reaction after the Godhra train arson, but very
much ordered to a pattern.
Mr Modi is in a difficult situation. If he professes ignorance of the
reasons for and perpetrators of the violence, his administration could
be held accountable for negligence. However, given the maturity with
which the situation has been handled so far, it must be hoped that the
SIT hearings will give Mr Modi a platform to answer many questions
which are still hanging in the air. The 2002 riots proved to be one of
the most divisive and painful in independent India and threatened the
very secular ethos of the country. So, unlike the investigations into
past riots, it becomes imperative that the issue is resolved in order
that both Gujarat and India can move forward. Mr Modi has crafted the
economic success story of Gujarat. Today everyone wants a stake in the
growth of the state. Mr Modi has eventual ambitions for a greater role
at the Centre. In this context, it makes sense to wipe the slate clean
and bring a closure to a painful chapter in our history.
Communal harmony marks Ram Navami in Ayodhya
STAFF WRITER 21:9 HRS IST
Ayodhya, Mar 24 (PTI) In an example of communal harmony in this
pilgrim town, members of the Muslim community today made arrangements
for Hindu pilgrims who arrived here in large numbers to celebrate Ram
The festivities, which were celebrated without any perceptible terror
threat, saw about ten lakh devotees take a dip in the Saryu river,
with many of them offering prayers at different temples including
Kanak Bhawan, Hanumangarhi and Nageshwarnaath temples.
Senior Superintendent of Police R K S Rathore said, "There was no
extremist threat to the religious gathering of Ram Navami Mela, but we
made all possible arrangements to ensure the security of devotees.
Mulayam's remarks on women sexist, Talibani: Amar
STAFF WRITER 19:30 HRS IST
Raising the Batla House encounter issue, Amar said that when he had
demanded a judicial inquiry into it, everybody had distanced
themselves from him.
"I spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the then National
Security Advisor M K Narayanan on initiating a judicial inquiry into
the encounter at that time, but only Congress President Sonia Gandhi
supported my views. After two years, AICC general secretary Digvijay
Singh recently visited Azamgarh and while raising doubts on the
encounter demanded a judicial inquiry into it and then backtracked
from his statement," he said.
The former SP leader maintained that he did not play politics over the
issue and said what he felt was right.
Asked whether he was trying to send feelers to Congress while praising
Sonia Gandhi for supporting his views on the Batla House encounter
issue, Singh said, "I have only said the truth.
Former Goa beach shack waiter sentenced for murder
STAFF WRITER 0:55 HRS IST
Panaji, March 23 (PTI) A former beach shack waiter was sentenced to
life imprisonment by a local court today for killing a British woman
in Margao town two years ago.
Additional district and sessions judge P V Sawaikar sentenced Anand
Kambli to life imprisonment and fined him Rs 25,000 for killing Denis
Higgins, 54, was brutally killed by Kambli by slitting open her throat
with a knife over a petty dispute in her rented apartment at Margao
town on April 27, 2007.
Incidently, Kambli?s wife and minor son were sleeping in the adjacent
room when the incident happened.
Higgins died on the spot and Kambli fled from the scene, only to be
arrested a couple of days later.
Police said the accused had made an acquaintance with British lady
through his friend, who had helped her in getting a rented apartment.
Nityananda Swami files writ in Karnataka High Court
STAFF WRITER 0:50 HRS IST
Bangalore, Mar 22 (PTI) Self-styled godman Nityananda Swami, facing
allegations of involvement in sleazy activities, today filed a writ
petition before Karnataka High Court seeking quashing of cases filed
against him by the Ramanagar district police.
Nityananda, who is at large ever since the video clippings of his
alleged sleaze activities involving an actress were telecast by
private channels on May two, in his petition contended that he was
The 32-year-old Nityananda, alias Rajasekharan, charged that one of
his former discipline and driver Kurup Lenin had conspired to defame
him and his Ashram by levelling such allegations.
The whereabouts of Nityananda remained a mystery so far.
However, the followers of Nityananda at his Ashram at Bidadi on the
city outskirts claim that he has been in Haridwar attending the Kumbh
A temple where upper castes bow to Dalits
Asit Srivastava, Indo-Asian News Service
Lucknow, March 25, 2010
First Published: 11:15 IST(25/3/2010)
Last Updated: 11:16 IST(25/3/2010)
Stories of socially marginalised people not being allowed into places
of worship are common in India. In such a scenario, a Dalit family
presiding over an Uttar Pradesh temple for ages is nothing short of
It's only Dalits who have been priests of the Kali Mata temple,
dedicated to goddess Durga, in Lakhna town in Etawah, some 300 km from
Lucknow, ever since the shrine came up around 200 years ago.
"Caste divisions and discrimination may not have given Dalits a place
of respectability in society, but here as priests they are revered,"
Ram Dular Rajbhar, who owns a grocery store in the town, told IANS on
"Be it Brahmins, Thakurs or people from any of the other higher
castes, after coming inside the temple, all have to bow before the
Dalit priests and touch their feet. For others it may be surprising,
but it has become a custom for us," he added.
Situated along the banks of the Yamuna river, the temple is sought
after by the residents of Lakhna town for holding marriages,
'mundan' (tonsure ceremony of Hindu children) or other rituals
particularly performed by Brahmins or members of the upper caste.
"It's not just a temple. It's a place that is an example of social
equality," said Umesh Dixit, who owns several garment shops in Lakhna
"People in Lakhna also approach the priests to name their babies as it
is believed that names given by Dalit priests would bring good luck
and prosperity to the children and their families," he added.
According to locals, there's a story behind the custom of Dalit
priests. They say King Jaipal Singh, who got the temple constructed,
made it mandatory that the priest of the temple would only be a Dalit.
"While the construction of the temple was under way, Jaipal Singh
noticed a Dalit labourer, Chhotelal, was being assaulted by a group of
upper caste people for touching the idol that was to be placed inside
the temple," said another resident Ram Raksha Pandey, who owns an
eating joint in Lakhna.
"Jaipalji soon intervened in the matter and said only Chhotelal and
his family would be taking care of the temple after its construction.
Since then, the practice has been alive," he added.
At present two brothers, Ashok Kumar, 43, and Akhilesh Kumar, 45, who
are fourth generation descendants of Chhotelal are the priests at the
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This biographical article needs additional citations for
verification. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious
material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must
be removed immediately, especially if potentially libelous or harmful.
Maharashtra Legislative Council
Minister for PWD, Maharashtra
27th May, 1995 – 1998
National President of Bharatiya Janata Party
25th December, 2009
Preceded by Rajnath Singh
Born May 27, 1957 (1957-05-27) (age 52)
Political party Bharatiya Janata Party
Spouse(s) Kanchan Gadkari
Children Nikhil, Sarang and Ketki
Alma mater Nagpur University
Occupation Lawyer, Industrialist
Nitin Jayaram Gadkari (Marathi: नितीन जयराम गडकरी) (born 27 May 1957)
is an Indian industrialist, agriculturist, politician and the current
President of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He is best known for
the works during his tenure as a Public Works Department Minister in
the state of Maharashtra when he constructed a series of roads,
highways and flyovers across the state including the Mumbai–Pune
Background, family and education
Nitin Gadkari was born in Nagpur, India to a middle class
Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu family hailing from Nagpur district.
During his teens, he worked for Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and
student union wing of ABVP.
He started his political career as a grass root worker who laid down
red carpets prior to party programmes. He prefers to maintains a
low profile in the media. He did his M.Com, L.L.B., D.B.M. from
Gadkari was elected unanimously as the President of BJP by its
members. The induction ceremony was held on 19 December 2009 and
resumed work on 25 December 2009.
Nitin Gadkari is married to Kanchan Gadkari and they have three
children, Nikhil, Sarang and Ketki. He currently resides in Nagpur
close to the head office of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Nitin Gadkari served as the Minister of Public Works Department of
Government of Maharashtra from 1995 to 1999 and restructured it from
top to bottom..Though Gadkari did a decent job as a minister ,His
Party lost badly in assembly elections in Maharashtra for three
Up-gradation of PWD
He undertook the project to computerize all activities in the
department of PWD. He ordered complete replacement of furniture,
fixtures and office equipments with trendy ones and imposed MNC
similar codes for the department and its employees.
Support for privatization
He showed strong support for privatization when he campaigned for
investment in the infrastructure areas from private firms. He
addressed several meetings between private investors, contractors,
builders and various trade organizations and diverted large amounts of
budgeted projects towards privatization. He managed to convince the
state to allocate Rs. 700 Crores for rural connectivity. In the next
four years, 98% of the total population of Maharashtra achieved all-
weather road connectivity. It also helped to solve the malnutrition
problems prevailing in remote Melghat-Dharni area of Amravati district
which previously had no access to medical aid, ration or educational
facilities. The project aimed to connect 13736 remote villages which
remained unconnected since independence by road.
Establishment of MSRDC
Gadkari pushed for time bound completion of projects. He established
Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), a fully
government-owned company which undertook construction of 55 flyovers
in Mumbai alone costing 1500 crores. Mumbai-Pune Expressway was
another project constructed by MSRDC during his tenure.
For the first time MSRDC a Govt. owned company went to the capital
market and raised Rs. 1180 crores which was the largest collection in
the Capital Market history of India. CRISIL gave an AAA rating to
He appointed a committee to help adopt and acquire technology and
tools of international standards in construction of buildings and
bridges and changed the existing bridge codes. The contractors thus
imported computerized machinery worth 400 Crores like Vibrating
rollers, electronic sensors, Paving machines, Pilling rigs, Pre-fab
technique, etc. which were commissioned to be used for the first time
Chairman of NRRDC
Union Government appointed him as Chairman of National Rural Road
Development Committee. After series of meetings and study, Shri
Gadkari submitted the report to central Govt. and gave the
presentation to Hon. Prime Minister of India. His report was accepted
and a new rural road connecting scheme now popularly known as Pradhan
Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana was launched. The ambitious scheme is of Rs.
Other works during his tenure
He appointed a committee to study the accident-prone spots on the
roads of Maharashtra and implemented committee suggestions with the
budgetary provision of 20 crores.
Gadkari promised and completed the pledge of completing the Sagri Marg
which was a long awaited dream of the people of Konkan region in four
years of his regime.
Gadkari formulated the scientific methodology of BOT projects,
initiated traffic surveys, worked out IRR (Internal rate of return)
and made the govt. of maharashtra change the concession period of toll
During recession, he channeled 5000 crore into infrastructural
projects which strengthened the cement, steel and bitumen industry of
Gadkari implemented self-employment scheme for civil Engineers which
enabled 18,000 Engineers to work independently.
He organized the great plantation drive in Nagpur which planted 40
lakh trees in 2 years. He aimed to make Nagpur the Greenest City in
He has visited countries like Israel, Italy, France, Germany, United
Kingdom, Switzerland, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia,
United States, Canada, Brazil and Srilanka as part of the Indian
Delegation for MSSIDC, MSRDC, Govt. of Maharashtra and Govt. of
Positions served in the past and serving
Nitin Gadkari in NagpurEx Minister, Govt of Maharashtra
Chairman, Purti Group of Companies
President, Bharatiya Janata Party, Maharashtra State
Ex-Leader of Opposition, Maharashtra Legislative Council
Former Minister for Public Works Department, Maharashtra State
Member of Legislative Council, Maharashtra State
Elected to the Maharashtra Govt. Legislative Council in 1989 from
graduates constituency, Nagpur Region.
Re-elected in 1990.
Re-elected in 1996 and elected unopposed in 2002.
Inducted in the Maharashtra State Government Cabinet as the Minister
for Public Works on May 27, 1995.
Ex-Member of the High Power Committee for Privatisation, Government of
Ex-Chairman, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, India.
Ex-Guardian Minister for Nagpur District, Govt. of Maharashtra.
Ex-Chairman, Mining policy Implementation Committee, Govt. of
Ex-Chairman, Metropolis Beautification Committee, Govt. of
Ex-Leader of Opposition, Maharashtra Legislative Council, Chairman
National Rural Road Development Committee
Chairman, Review Committee of CPWD, Govt. of India.
State President of Bhartiya Janata Party, Maharashtra.
After a successful stint as PWD Minister, Gadkari took over as
President of the Maharashtra State Unit of the BJP in 2004. In 2009,
when the BJP National President Rajnath Singh's term ended in
December, Gadkari succeeded him as the youngest ever President of BJP.
Nitin Gadkari is an industrialist first and then a politician. He
is known to control these establishments in the following way.
Poly sack Industrial Society Ltd - Founder and Chairman. Nikhil
Furniture and Appliances Pvt. Ltd - Promoter and Director. Antyodaya
Trust - Founder and Member. Empress Employees Co-operative Paper Mills
Ltd - Founder and Chairman.
Gadkari is also an agriculturist. He has promoted and has interests in
the fields of water management, solar energy Projects and use of
modern tools in agriculture. Recently, he started exporting fruits to
various countries under the banner Ketaki overseas Trading Company.
He was honoured by Mumbai Bhushan Award and was felicitated by various
organizations in Mumbai.
^ Rajnath steps down, Gadkari takes over as BJP president
^ BJP's new chief seen as moderniser http://www.ndtv.com/news/india/bjps_new_chief_seen_as_moderniser.php
^ Former carpet boy as new ‘carpetbagger’ - Indian Express
^ http://www.nagpuronline.com/news/news.asp?nsr=42 Kanchan Gadkari,
wife of State President BJP Nitin Gadkari
^ Gadkari emerges as front-runner for post
^ BJP official site http://www.bjp.org/content/view/2613/463/
^ Gadkari views politics as an instrument of reforms to change the
lives of poor
Former carpet boy as new ‘carpetbagger’
Posted: Monday , Nov 16, 2009 at 0236 hrs
OpportunityDon’t Glorify NaxalismRole-Model MPs, MLAs!Vehicle called
Life In a deeply divided party, Nitin Gadkari stands out for his
relative youth, administrative and organisational skills, networking
abilities, non-controversial image and, most importantly, his
proximity to the RSS. As the likelihood of his taking over as BJP
president grows stronger, an introduction to the man who few, until
now, had known outside Maharashtra
Twenty-five years ago, a young man living a stone’s throw away from
the RSS headquarters in Nagpur’s old-fashioned Mahal locality would
ride his Lambretta scooter to the city’s newspaper offices, handing
over press statements and meeting journalist friends. He was among the
ordinary workers who would actually lay down carpets at what was then
the Jan Sangh party’s programmes.
Much water has flown down Nagpur’s Nag river since. Now 52, Nitin
Jairam Gadkari, MCom, LLB, has long ceased to courier press
statements. He issues them now. His journalist friends call on him at
his residence or office. And as it now appears more and more certain,
the man who once laid carpets at party functions could possibly find
himself walking the red carpet as the BJP’s new president next month.
Even as the BJP struggles to cope with its political downslide and
intra-party chaos, Gadkari’s sudden foray to the party’s top echelons
has surprised many. In fact, many in the party here had until two
months ago dismissed the reports as baseless. But as the weak
possibility has turned into a strong probability, party leaders have
started admitting that Gadkari’s ‘qualifications’ for the party post
are not to be scoffed at, including his age, administrative and
organisational skills, his non-controversial image and most
importantly his proximity to the RSS, which is intervening like never
before to revamp the crisis-ridden BJP.
“He fulfils all that and also has dynamism required for the top post,”
says Devendra Fadnavis, the party’s South-West Nagpur MLA and a highly
respected legislator. “Also, he is a good orator and is comfortable
with all three languages — Marathi, Hindi and English,” he adds.
Another senior party leader Madhav Bhandari echoes similar views. “He
has proved his organisational and administrative skills beyond doubt.
His performance as PWD minister during which he built 55 flyovers in
Mumbai and roads all over the state, as also his stint as chief of the
infrastructure committee appointed by then prime minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee have made him known across the country,” Bhandari says.
Gadkari’s performance as PWD minister during the Sena-BJP’s 1995-99
regime won him plenty of kudos, with people as diverse as Amitabh
Bachchan and Ratan Tata showering lavish praise. As minister, Gadkari
was known to favour quick results rather than going strictly by the
book, often telling his officers to get cracking and not to cite rules
and regulations as excuses. One of the main architects of the Pradhan
Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana, he was also the first minister to initiate
PWD works on Build-Operate-Transfer basis — then criticised as a sell-
off to private contractors and later adopted by his own critics in the
Opposition as the ideal model of development.
Bhandari also lists his urban, middle-class appeal as one of his
strengths. “Today, more than 40 per cent of India is urban and more
than 50 per cent is middle-class. So, it is important to appeal to
them,” he adds.
The huge crowds Gadkari pulled across Vidarbha for his academic
presentations last year on Vidarbha’s development plans would even put
election rallies to shame. Over 50,000 people had turned up in Nagpur.
Gadkari’s organisational skills cut across various parties, something
Gadkari often praises NCP supremo Sharad Pawar for. No wonder then if
he has tried to model his political career on that of Pawar — building
on BJP workers’ networks, running a sugar mill and having friends in
He also befriended Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray,
looking at the possibility of MNS support being needed in the post-
election scenario in Maharashtra recently. But this is not frowned
upon by the RSS. “In fact, it’s good to be politically smart. We don’t
consider it as a bad thing,” said a senior RSS leader.
It was this quality that helped Gadkari to get some prominent
Republican Party leaders like Jogendra Kawade and Sulekha Kumbhare to
support BJP early this year. His political openness led him to attempt
a compromise between two Thackeray cousins — Raj and Uddhav —to avert
the electoral disaster and even develop ties with Raj Thackeray for
possible post-election support.
However, not everyone approves. “Friendships across parties often
impede his campaigns. Be it Telgi, wheat import or his diatribe
against Vilasrao Deshmukh for giving some contracts, many of his
campaigns have finally petered out,” said a party leader who spoke on
condition of anonymity.
Gadkari has often been accused of hobnobbing with Opposition leaders
during elections, particularly the Congress’s Satish Chaturvedi in
Central Nagpur, which houses the all-important RSS headquarters. The
saffron alliance never won a battle there before the 2009 Assembly
elections. But with the party’s lesser-known Krishna Khopde
registering a massive win over Chaturvedi, Gadkari stands vindicated.
His friendships have also helped cocoon Gadkari from possible crises.
In the ongoing Yogita Thakre case — the seven-year old girl found dead
in a car in the courtyard of Gadkari’s Gadkariwada residence here —
the entire Opposition has been surprisingly silent and has shied away
from taking political advantage. Even before anything could be proved
either way, then home minister Jayant Patil gave him a clean chit in
His admirers may be calling him “non-controversial”, but Gadkari has
been through his share of sticky situations. His Purti Sugar
Industries was embroiled in a controversy for not selling power to the
state electricity board as is obligatory. Gadkari preferred selling it
to private companies.
Eyebrows were also raised a few years ago when his journalist-turned-
advisor friend Prakash Deshpande died mysteriously after falling from
a train compartment while on his way from Mumbai to Nagpur.
Speculation that linked the incident to the large amounts of party
funds Deshpande was allegedly carrying, subsided eventually.
And for all his effective networking, Gadkari has detractors within
the BJP too. His uncomfortable relationship with party general
secretary Gopinath Munde is no secret. How will Munde respond if and
when Gadkari dons the mantle of party leadership? “What choice does he
have than to fall in line? In politics, you can’t throw tantrums too
often,” said a senior Congress leader known for his understanding of
political undercurrents in Maharashtra.
But Gadkari has been compared unfavourably with Munde, particularly in
terms of mass appeal. “Today Gadkari is taking over as state party
president, but Munde is our mass leader and he will stage a comeback,”
late Pramod Mahajan had openly declared in Yavatmal three years ago
when Gadkari took over as state party chief from Munde, Mahajan’s
Today, Gadkari has not only stabilised as state chief but is now being
viewed as the top contender to head the party at the national level.
“He has proved the post-Mahajan fear that the BJP will be in tatters
in Maharashtra wrong. The BJP has gained an edge over Sena by winning
more seats in these elections,” Bhandari says.
Over the years, Gadkari has successfully put his Maharashtrian Brahmin
tag behind. The only election he has till date fought, and has always
won, is that of Nagpur Graduate constituency seat for Legislative
Council. It has led to sneers that he isn’t a mass leader who could
win direct elections. Gadkari always laughs it off.
For now, however, he is said to be the RSS’s chosen one for the top
BJP job. So, how will he deliver when he suddenly finds himself above
a battery of senior party leaders? For this Gadkari’s cryptic reply
is: “I am ready deliver whatever the party wants me to.”
Where Gadkari scores points
Is regarded as being an effective, politically astute performer in his
stint as the BJP’s state unit chief.
His performance as PWD minister during which he built 55 flyovers in
Mumbai and roads all over the state, as also his stint as chief of the
infrastructure committee appointed by the then prime minister Atal
Bihari Vajpayee cemented his reputation of having excellent
administrative and organisational skills.
Gadkari has the implicit support of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, whose
views he has echoed on a number of issues. His age, 52, is also in
keeping with the RSS sarsanghchalak’s call for younger leadership.
His urban, middle-class appeal is viewed as one of his major
strengths, as are his oratorical skills.
His ability to nurture friendships across party lines has worked to
his advantage, despite criticism from a section of the party’s
Comments (3) |
By: Aditya | 20-Dec-2009
Nitin Gadkari might be a poor choice, what with the cloud of the
Yogita Thakre case over him. What will it mean for the BJP? A non
controversial candidate, who is respected by all should have been
chosen. Perhaps Advani should have been elevated to the post again.
By: midas | 16-Nov-2009
Agree with Sumir Sharma. Both author and the editorial staff seem
unaware of the meaning of the word "carpetbeggar".
Carpetbaggers carry wrong connotation and historically not fits
By: Sumir Sharma | 16-Nov-2009
I am sorry to say that the Carpetbagger reference if it is taken from
American History does not convey any relevance. Carpetbaggers during
the reconstruction period in post Civil War period in America were
from North States who shifted to South States to take the benefit of
the new right of franchise to black to again access to legislatures in
South States. I do not how Deshpande has found the relevance for
Gadkari. It is hostrically wrong use of a term. Carpetbaggers carries
negative connotation. The people who helped Carpetbaggers to run
elections in South and they were from South, were called Scalawags
which is another derogatory and abusive term. Carpetbaggers are
accused of increasing corruption. They represented Radicals as well as
Abolitionists. Therefore, the term carries negative connotation
whereas the article presents Gadkari in positive colour. Are to
praising him or decrying him ?
WASHINGTON: An estimated 220,000 Indians have made the United States
their home illegally with a whopping 81% increase in their number in
last seven years, according to latest official figures.
The dramatic growth in the number of Indians has come about even as
immigration from Mexico continues to dominate the unauthorised
population growth, according to the Department of Homeland Security's
latest statistics on 'illegal immigrants'.
The estimated population of Indians living illegally in the United
States was 220,000 in 2007 compared to 120,000 in the year 2000, thus
recording one of the highest percentage increases.
An estimated 11.8 million unauthorised immigrants were living in
America in January 2007 compared to 8.5 million in 2000. The
unauthorised population increased by 3.3 million between 2000 and 2007
while the annual average increase during this period was 470,000.
Nearly 4.2 million (35%) of the total 11.8 million unauthorised
residents in 2007 had entered in 2000 or later. An estimated 7.0
million (59%) were from Mexico.
California remained the leading state of residence for the illegal
population in 2007 with 2.8 million, followed by Texas with 1.7
million and then Florida with nearly one million.
California's share of the national total declined from 30% in 2000 to
24% in 2007 as the greatest percentage increases of unauthorised
resident population occurred in Georgia (120%), Arizona (62%) and
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• NRIs, expats return home to earn a living
Illegal Immigration is a Crime
Under Title 8 Section 1325 of the U.S. Code, "Improper Entry by
Alien," any citizen of any country other than the United States who:
Enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place
other than as designated by immigration officers; or
Eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers; or
Attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully
false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a
has committed a federal crime.
Violations are punishable by criminal fines and imprisonment for up to
six months. Repeat offenses can bring up to two years in prison.
Additional civil fines may be imposed at the discretion of immigration
judges, but civil fines do not negate the criminal sanctions or nature
of the offense.
See: Unlawful entry a crime since '29 - Rocky Mountain News -- June
Each year the Border Patrol is making more than a million
apprehensions of people who flagrantly violate our nation's laws by
unlawfully crossing U.S. borders to work and to receive publicly-
funded services, often with the aid of fraudulent documents. Such
entry is a misdemeanor and, if repeated, becomes punishable as a
felony. Over eight million illegal immigrants live in the United
States -- some estimate even more.
In addition to sneaking into the country in violation of the
immigration law that requires that aliens be documented for legal
entry (referred to as "entry without inspection -- EWI"), others enter
with legal documentation and then violate the terms on which they have
been admitted by taking jobs that are not authorized or overstaying
the authorized period of stay in the country. The INS estimated in
1996 that about 60 percent of the then estimated five million illegal
immigrants were EWI and 40 percent were overstayers. Both types of
illegal immigrants are deportable under Immigration and Nationality
Act Section 237 (a)(1)(B) which says:
"Any alien who is present in the United States in violation of this
Act or any other law of the United States is deportable."
ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IS NOT A VICTIMLESS CRIME
Apologists for illegal immigration like to paint it as a victimless
crime. But in fact, illegal immigration causes substantial harm to
American citizens and legal immigrants, particularly those in the most
vulnerable sectors of our population--the poor, minorities, and
Illegal immigration causes an enormous drain on public funds. The
seminal study of the costs of immigration by the National Academy of
Sciences found that the taxes paid by immigrants do not cover the cost
of services received by them. We cannot provide high quality
education, health care, and retirement security for our own people if
we continue to bring in endless numbers of poor, unskilled
Additionally, job competition by waves of illegal immigrants willing
to work at substandard wages and working conditions depresses the
wages of American workers, hitting hardest at minority workers and
those without high school degrees. Ý
Illegal immigration also contributes to the dramatic population growth
overwhelming communities across America--crowding school classrooms,
consuming already limited affordable housing, and straining precious
natural resources like water, energy, and forestland.
BORDER PATROL: NECESSARY BUT NOT SUFFICIENT
The Border Patrol plays a crucial role in combatting illegal
immigration, but illegal immigration cannot be controlled solely at
the border. About half of the illegal alien population is comprised of
visa overstayers--people who entered the country legally, but became
illegal aliens by their failure to leave the U.S. upon expiration of
their visa. Once entry occurs, there is little chance of detection and
virtually no chance of deportation, except for convicted criminals.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
We need a comprehensive program to end illegal immigration; that means
ensuring that people who enter illegally or overstay their lawful
status will not be able to obtain employment, public assistance
benefits, public education, public housing, or any other taxpayer-
funded benefit without detection.
The three major components of immigration control--deterrence,
apprehension and removal--need to be strengthened by Congress and the
Executive Branch if effective control is ever to be reestablished.
Controlling illegal immigration requires a balanced approach with a
full range of enforcement improvements that go far beyond the border.
These include many procedural reforms, beefed up investigation
capacity, asylum reform, documents improvements, major improvements in
INS detention and deportation procedures, limitations on judicial
review, improved intelligence capacity, greatly improved state/federal
cooperation, and added resources. See How to Combat Illegal
WHAT ABOUT THE COSTS?
Effective control and management of the laws against illegal
immigration require adequate resources. But those costs will be more
than offset by savings to states, counties, communities, and school
districts across the nation.
Rich illegal immigrants in U.S. hide in shadows
Wed Feb 6, 2008 4:23am EST
Mike Lozano, an immigrant from Mexico, marches during an immigrant
rights rally in Boston, Massachusetts in this May 1, 2006 file photo
as part of a nationwide ''A Day Without Immigrants'' protest staged by
immigrant rights advocates.
Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder/Files
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Many illegal immigrants in the United States are
manual laborers on low wages. But there's another group that attracts
much less attention: entrepreneurs who have set up businesses, created
jobs and grown affluent.
There are up to 20,000 illegal immigrants earning upward of $100,000 a
year as entrepreneurs, and their existence challenges the stereotype
that illegal immigrants are a drain on the U.S. economy, according to
immigration lawyers and academics.
Many say they are living the "American Dream," but almost none trumpet
their achievements because they fear deportation.
One example is a 38-year-old computer engineer who overstayed his visa
after arriving from Colombia in 1999. Not long after, he founded a Web
design firm in Miami that specializes in e-commerce.
Today it's a fast-growing, tax-paying company that recently developed
a Web platform for online radio and television that could be a
"We are at a good point now, making money," said the man, who spoke on
condition of anonymity because of his immigration status. "We are
growing every month because our customers are happy. They are U.S.
companies making a lot of money from our Web sites."
But the man is near the end of a long administrative process that will
likely lead to his deportation. Then his company would close and
workers, including Americans, would be laid off.
"I have always tried to look at things in a positive way but now I am
disappointed," he said in a telephone interview.
Michael Bander, a Miami immigration lawyer who has represented the man
for six years, said his client's dilemma showed a larger flaw in the
It is not easy to determine the number of illegal immigrants who earn
six figure salaries, but there could be 20,000 of them and a
significant proportion earn up to $300,000 a year, said Jeff Passel,
lead demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington.
Advocates see the group as trailblazers for the more than 12 million
illegal immigrants estimated to be living in the United States, most
from Mexico or other Latin American countries.
"These people should be treated like heroes not criminals," said
Felipe Korzenny, professor of marketing and communications at Florida
State University. Wealthy illegal immigrants also came from India,
China, Taiwan, Israel and South Africa, he said.
Congress should address their unique situation, not least because they
have more to lose than others, said George Tzamaras, spokesman for the
American Immigration Lawyers Association.
The United States runs a Green Card residence permit program for
investors but it does not apply to those already in the country
But opponents of illegal immigration said the United States should
grant no special status according to wealth for people who break the
"They should be deported as existing law dictates. We'd like to see
their assets seized to compensate American taxpayers who are losing
billions of dollars due to rampant illegal immigration," said William
Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration.
"We need to send a strong message to people who would like to come to
the U.S. that disrespect for our laws will not lead to prosperity,"
Under existing law, people who overstay their visas must return to
their home country, and cannot re-enter for 10 years. Visas waiving
this process are increasingly rare, immigration lawyers said.
More than half of Silicon Valley start-ups between 1995 and 2005 had
one or more immigrants as key founders, according to a study by the
University of California at Berkeley and Vivek Wadhwa, founder of
Immigrant entrepreneurs launched 25 percent of technology or
engineering companies in the same period, it said.
Some can be assumed to be illegal immigrants, said Wadhwa, a columnist
and professor whose company was rated by Fortune magazine as one of
the 25 coolest in the world.
"You have to figure out what to do with the 12 million illegal
immigrants that are unskilled," said Wadhwa, who was born in India.
"But what about the few hundred thousand that help us boost our
(Writing by Matthew Bigg; Editing by Michael Christie and Eddie Evans)
Illegal Immigration: India Invades America
By William H. Calhoun (12/18/06)
An ex-Army intelligence officer recently said, "We are under attack.
And it's not just Mexico. It's all Central and South American
countries. It's India. It's China. It's most of the non-European
world. And if we do not fight back soon, America will be third-world
sewer within 30 years!."
America is currently being invaded from all corners of the world.
Mexico. China. Africa. India. They all are invading and carving out
their enclaves. And you know what? They are backed by big business and
the American government.
A perfect case in point is India. The Indian Government and American
corporations have been lobbying the US for more H-1B visas to allow
Indians to move to the United States.
American companies use the H-1B to drive down American wages. An
associate of mine who works for a high-tech company in California
(whose name I cannot say for legal reasons) recently watched about 90%
of his fellow American employees be fired from his company. They were
replaced with H-1B imports from India, who were paid about one-third
of what the Americans were making.
GW Bush has largely supported this H-1B invasion, portraying it as
sound policy. He, however, and the mainstream media always fail to
mention that large companies are using the H-1B to drive down wages
whereby they fire American employees and replace them with low-paid
foreigners. They also fail to mention that India has the largest
Muslim population, the most terrorist cells, and now the most reported
cases of HIV in the world.
At my friend's high-tech company in California, within a few months of
the firings, two of the Indian employees had already spread HIV to
three Americans, three of the other Indians had known ties to
terrorist cells in India, and the Indians would openly speak of
"exterminating the European race." Was any of this reported in the
mainstream media? Of course not. Did any of these people serve jail
time? Of course not. In essence, because of H-1B provisions, they have
more rights than American citizens. Nor is this incident isolated.
As previously reported, I was at the airport recently in Los Angeles,
and I could overhear the conversation of some younger Indians waiting
for a flight from India. These youths were obviously raised in
America, as they did not have accents, unlike their parents sitting
next to them. The Indian youth, after debating their favorite rappers,
began to discuss how recent DNA studies show that Indians are closely
related to Sub-Saharan Africans. They then began to speak approvingly
of India invading California, and went on to say that they should
"wipe out all the whites." Now, the parents, seeing that I was
listening, lightly admonished the youth, not really because of what
they said, but only because others could hear.
This is the norm all across America. After previously publishing my
experience in the Los Angeles airport, I received many emails from
patriots saying they had experienced very similar situations.
And you know what? GW Bush and Condoleezza Rice just gave these people
more nuclear technology.
The same ex-intelligence Army officer said to me, "This policy of
giving nuclear technology to India is borderline treason. The
motivating factor was big business, not national security. All of our
intelligence has shown that now it is just a matter of when, not if,
an Indian detonates a backpack nuke within the United States or sells
one to a Mexican nationalist."
And Bush has sworn to uphold the US Constitution? perduellio est
If we don't immediately lose our country via a backpack nuke, then we
most certainly will lose our jobs and standard of living. Americans'
wages are dropping every year (adjusted for inflation) due to legal
and illegal immigration. We are being ambushed from every angle.
Patriotic Americas had better wake up! We are under attack. Be
vigilant and prepare! Stop the third-world invasion!
William H. Calhoun is a writer, paleoconservative, and a farmer who
lives on his ancestral estate.
Indian illegal immigrants in US up 64 percent last decade
IANS, Feb 10, 2010, 10.29am IST
WASHINGTON: In 2009, India accounted for the third highest increase in
the number of illegal immigrants in the US in ten years, according to
a new government report, though only two percent of all illegal
immigrants were Indians.
The number of illegal immigrants in the US fell by seven percent to
10.8 million last year.
A majority of them came from Latin America, according to the
department of homeland security (DHS) report, though India with
200,000 was the sixth biggest sender of illegal immigrants to the US.
In overall numbers, Indians accounted for only two percent of illegal
immigrants. Mexico (6.7 million) topped the list with 62 percent,
followed by those from El Salvador (530,000), Guatemala (480,000),
Honduras (320,000) and the Philippines (270,000).
Between 2000 and 2009, the Mexican-born unauthorised immigrants
increased by two million or 42 percent. But the greatest percentage
increases occurred among unauthorised immigrants from Honduras (95
percent), Guatemala (65 percent), and India (64 percent).
"The number of unauthorised residents declined by one million between
2007 and 2009, coincident with the US economic downturn," said the
report based on census data and extrapolations from the total foreign
population in the country.
Beside the US and global financial crisis, other reasons the report
adduces for the drop in the undocumented population include tougher
border enforcement and a national crackdown on illegal immigrants.
The overall annual average increase in the unauthorised population
during the 2000-09 period was 250,000 with ten leading countries of
origin representing 85 percent of the unauthorised immigrant
population in 2009.
Of the nearly 11 million undocumented people living in the US in
January 2009, 37 percent, or four million, arrived since January 2000,
44 percent since the 1990s and 19 percent since the 1980s, the DHS
Between January 2008 and January 2009, the number of unauthorised
immigrants living in the US decreased seven percent from 11.6 million
to 10.8 million after growing from 8.5 million to 11.8 million between
2000 and 2007, DHS said.
An estimated 8.5 million of the 10.8 million unauthorised immigrants
living in the US in 2009 were from the North America region, including
Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. The next leading
regions of origin were Asia (980,000) and South America (740,000).
California remained the leading state of residence of the illegal
immigrants in 2009, with 2.6 million, followed by Texas (1.7 million),
Florida (720,000), New York (550,000) and Illinois (540,000).
California's share of the national total was 24 percent in 2009
compared to 30 percent in 2000. The greatest percentage increase in
the illegal population between 2000 and 2009 occurred in Georgia (115
percent), Nevada (55 percent) and Texas (54 percent).
In 2009, 61 percent of unauthorised immigrants were aged 25 to 44
years, and 58 percent were male. Males accounted for 62 percent of the
illegal population in the 18 to 34 age group in 2009 while females
accounted for 52 percent of the 45 and older age groups.
New report says illegal immigration population plummeted last year
Researchers cite recession as cause for decline; other analysts say
many opt to
By Matt O'Brien
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 02/09/2010 03:56:30 PM PST
Updated: 02/10/2010 06:45:42 AM PST
The number of illegal immigrants living in the United States dropped
by 1 million in two years, according to new estimates by the
Department of Homeland Security.
The government thinks that 10.8 million illegal immigrants lived in
the country in January 2009, down from a peak of nearly 12 million in
If the official estimates are correct, not since 2005 has the
population of illegal immigrants been as low as it was last year.
Some private researchers, however, are questioning the magnitude of
"It's very clear the undocumented population basically stopped growing
after 2006," said Jeffrey Passel, a demographer with the nonpartisan
Pew Hispanic Center. "It's plausible that the numbers have gotten
smaller. But the way that they're measuring it, if you compare this
estimate with the one two years ago, it overstates the degree of
Twice over the past two years, Passel said, the U.S. Census Bureau has
changed the way it measures immigration in its annual population
Since nearly all estimates of the unauthorized immigrant population
rely on census survey numbers, these changes might have distorted the
results. The authors of the government estimates could not be reached
for comment Tuesday.
The report cautioned that changes made to the census survey could have
affected the results.
The report, produced annually since 2005, is the government's official
tabulation of immigrants living here illegally.
Most researchers agree that no matter the size of the population,
which is notoriously hard to measure, the rate of illegal immigration
dropped sharply during the recession.
They disagree, however, on the causes.
"The number of new undocumented immigrants coming in has plummeted,"
Other researchers conclude that the drop is not because fewer illegal
immigrants are coming in, but because more are leaving.
"The illegal population is falling significantly," said Steve Camarota
of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates reducing
immigration. "The only way for that to happen is for a lot more people
to be going home."
The government demographers reached the same exact estimate — 10.8
million illegal immigrants nationwide — that Camarota concluded in his
demographic study last year.
But while most researchers cite the recession as the cause for the
decline, Camarota said border enforcement plays an important part.
"The decline in the population begins before the economy turns down,"
he said. "That suggests that, at least initially, it's because of the
stepped-up enforcement that increased during the end of the Bush
Other analysts disagree, saying that slower migration flows are a
worldwide trend associated with the economic downturn.
"It's really driven by fewer people coming in," said Jeanne Batalova,
a researcher with the Migration Policy Institute based in Washington,
"People are staying put wherever they are. They are less likely to
migrate, but if they're already in the country, the preferred
destination, they will do their best to stay and weather the storm.
That's particularly the case for undocumented immigrants."
There are no estimates of how the population of unauthorized
immigrants has changed in the first year of the Obama administration,
but demographers are likely to begin guessing later this year when the
Census Bureau releases new population estimates for 2009.
Top countries of origin for illegal immigrants in the U.S.:
Mexico: 6.65 million (up by 42 percent since 2000)
El Salvador: 530,000 (up by 25 percent)
Guatemala: 480,000 (up by 65 percent)
Honduras: 320,000 (up by 95 percent)
Philippines: 270,000 (up by 33 percent)
India: 200,000 (up by 64 percent)
South Korea: 200,000 (up by 14 percent)
States with the most illegal immigrants:
California: 2.6 million (up by 3 percent since 2000)
Texas: 1.68 million (up by 54 percent)
Florida: 720,000 (down by 10 percent)
New York: 550,000 (up by 1 percent)
Illinois: 540,000 (up by 24 percent)
Georgia: 480,000 (up by 115 percent)
Arizona: 460,000 (up by 42 percent)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Illegal immigrants from India on the rise
Experts say many come to U.S. legally, overstay visas
By JAMES PINKERTON Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
Sept. 11, 2007, 12:47PM
Sharon Steinmann Chronicle
Surinder Singh, left, recently received his U.S. citizenship while his
sister-in-law, Ravinder Kour is struggling with the process.
Share Print Share Del.icio.usDiggTwitterYahoo!
BuzzFacebookStumbleUponThe fastest-growing group of illegal immigrants
in the United States doesn't speak Spanish. They typically aren't
found at day labor sites or streaming across the Southwest border into
Instead, they're here in America working in tech companies, small
businesses, as engineers or other highly skilled jobs. And they're
coming from India.
The profile of the illegal immigrant may need to take on a slightly
more South Asian persona since a recent federal report revealed that
India had the greatest percentage increase in unauthorized immigrants
in the U.S. since 2000.
Illegal immigrants from India grew to 270,000 in 2006 from 120,000 in
2000, a 125 percent increase, according to a report late last month
from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Undocumented Indians, however, remain a small segment of the total
estimated population of 11.6 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.
Mexico tops the list with 6.6 million — up from 4.7 million in 2000 —
followed by El Salvador and Guatemala, according to the Homeland
Locally, this trend is especially relevant since Indians make up one
of the fastest-growing immigrant groups in Harris County, with 35,971
counted in the 2000 Census. They also represent a highly visible and
influential immigrant community. The Houston area has 6,629 businesses
owned by Indian-Americans, according to the most recent Census Bureau
Experts say illegal Indian immigrants are coming here legally on visas
but are overextending their stays and subsequently slipping under the
radar screen of authorities.
'The system is broken'
Immigration lawyer Bruce Coane said Indians have replaced Mexicans as
the largest group of clients at his Houston practice. He estimates
that more than 1,000 Indians in the Houston area do not have legal
status to remain here.
''The numbers are large because there are just so many coming to the
United States, and almost all of them are coming legally," said Coane,
referring to the undocumented population. ''And over time, they fall
out of legal status."
The most recent government data showed that in fiscal year 2005,
Indians received 194,611 temporary work visas to come to the U.S., the
most of any nation. India eclipsed Mexico, which had 169,786 of its
workers admitted, and the United Kingdom with 156,635.
Coane and other immigration attorneys stressed that most Indian
immigrants come here legally to work, go to school, visit as tourists
or conduct business.
''In most cases, they're trying to do everything the right way, but
because the system is broken, they fall out of status," said Coane,
referring to lengthy waits to become a permanent resident.
More than half of Indian immigrants who came to the U.S. in fiscal
year 2005 — about 102,000 — arrived on the H-1B visa for the highly
skilled. So, typically, they aren't going to be busted by immigration
agents during raids at meat-processing plants such as those owned by
Swift & Co., the site of high-profile investigations last year.
''We have not come across many illegal Indian immigrants in Houston,"
said Robert Rutt, special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement office in Houston. ''Most are Mexicans, South and
Central Americans, and some Chinese."
Lax federal oversight cited
There is debate in the Indian community about why immigrants become
illegal, and just how many reside in Houston.
''My knowledge tells me that most of the Indians we interact with are
highly educated — doctors, engineers and business owners," said Jagdip
Ahluwalia, director of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce. ''I
personally have not run into any undocumented Indians here, and I've
lived here for many years."
Faisal Amin, board member of the South Asian Chamber of Commerce in
Houston, said lax oversight of the federal guest workers program is
one reason many Indians stay here when their visas expire.
''We see an increase simply because a lot of those workers are coming
in on H1-B visas," Amin said. "And, we don't have a good way to track
that these workers are, indeed, going back to their countries when
One U.S. Department of Homeland Security official, who asked not be be
identified, agreed there isn't a method to keep tabs on guest workers.
''Once they get in, there's no exit program in place yet — they're
talking about it," the official said.
A dozen years ago, India native Ravinder Kour came to Houston with her
husband on a tourist visa. They found opportunity and stayed after
their visas expired, which turned them into illegal residents.
Meanwhile, they were raising two children who were born here.
But now Kour, a 39-year-old housewife, and her husband are hoping to
regain their legal status with the help of an immigration attorney.
''There are no jobs" in India, said Kour. ''That's why so many Indian
people are coming here."
Bad advice, bad situation
After arriving in Houston the couple decided to try to remain legally.
They were advised by an immigration lawyer to make a claim for
political asylum, which was rejected, and the couple was ordered
deported after not attending a hearing, said attorney Gordon Quan.
''They weren't trying to cheat anyone; they got bad advice," Quan
Kour is being assisted by her brother-in-law, Surinder Singh, 47, who
also came to Houston on a tourist visa. He lived the life of an
illegal immigrant until becoming a citizen in 2003.
''We can't fly, if you want to go somewhere, you have to go by car,"
Singh said. ''If you do something bad, and don't have papers, you will
be in trouble."
The Houston housewife said she constantly worries about immigration
"It's a big, big depression," Kour said.
Quan, her attorney, noted the federal government assigns a quota of
immigrant visas to each country, and with so many Indians here on
temporary work and other visas, the demand outstrips the supply.
''It's not first-come, first-serve," Quan said. ''A certain percentage
is given to each country. Since there are so many Indians that are
skilled, and being sponsored by employers, their backlog is longer
than other countries."
324 Comments 4 Recommend
Well, send them back too! 9/11/2007 12:33:55 AM
Recommend: (14) (0)
How can there not be jobs? We're outsourcing American jobs to India by
the thousands. Once again, deport. I'm an equal opportunity proponant
of deportation. 9/11/2007 2:02:02 AM
Recommend: (42) (0)
Yes, they see how easy it is for others to do so they don't think
anything of it. It's cause-and-effect. Unfortunately a lot of high-
tech companies are just as complicit as the agribusinesses are. They
take tremendous advantage of the H1-B regs. 9/11/2007 2:46:22 AM
Recommend: (25) (0)
nativehoustonians55 worte: "I wonder what the Indians say about the
illegal Hispanics?"let me enlighten you. they love the illegal
"hispanics". they employ them as lawn help, nannies, day labor odd
jobs, etc. head on down to the enclaves in and around hillcroft and
see it for yourself. besides, they aren't in our country to cry and
whine about other illegal immigrants, they are here for the
opportunity STILL afforded them by big business, small business, and
cash-paying individuals who employ them so they don't have to pay all
the associated taxes, insurance, etc. the PROBLEM is HERE. it's not
the other way around! if the OPPORTUNITY did NOT abound, we'd have NO
illegal immigration. period. you think they just threw a dart on the
mercator world map? NO! the united states, particularly houston, is
still a treasure trove of opportunity for illegal immigrants and it is
afforded by the LEGAL CITIZENS doing that business with them. you
don't hold a bone out to a dog and expect him not to chomp at it. we
only have ourselves to blame. 9/11/2007 3:49:36 AM
Recommend: (37) (0)
arantant worte: "I think we should concentrate on the hundreds of
thousands of illegal Mexican and Central American immigrants in
Houston who don't pay taxes and live off of our tax dollars."i've got
a better idea. why don't we concentrate on the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS
of individuals and businesses who employ illegal immigrants so they
don't have to pay OUR TAX DOLLARS. 9/11/2007 3:52:41 AM
Recommend: (54) (0)
I wonder how many were hired by my company. My company was crying to a
US senator that they need more H1B visas to bring in more skilled
labor from India to work for 1/2 the wages that Americans will.
9/11/2007 4:44:47 AM
Recommend: (25) (0)
I'm not reading the story because it will upset me before going to
work. The headline makes me angry enough! 9/11/2007 5:14:07 AM
Recommend: (12) (0)
Surprise! Another one sided article on immigration in the Chronicle.
No discussion of the negative consequences of unchecked immigration.
Just a bunch of spin from immigration attorneys who make all their
money off our immigration system. They get a few grand and we get
problems for decades! We must stop the madness. Tom Tancredo is the
only presidential candidate that wants to fix this problem....
9/11/2007 5:40:50 AM
Recommend: (20) (0)
We have enabled and emboldened the illegal immigrant population by our
incompetence, arrogance and greed. Now, providiing illegal immigrants
safe harbor is inconvenient. We boo hoo about health care, taxes and
some "illegal" immigrant stealing our jobs and want them all
prosecuted and thrown out. We all need to understand that by our own
actions for many years we have implied with a wink wink that
immigrants migrating here illegally was o.k. Estreet has a point, we
have no one to blame but ourselves. 9/11/2007 6:06:04 AM
Recommend: (11) (0)
oh well, that's just how the world is today. At least they are working
and contributing to the economy. Some of you people have so much
xenophobia, who DO you wish to come over and be a productive, law-
abiding, hard-working citizen? The most of them come and over and go
through the process of trying to obtain citizenship and end up getting
shafted by the government. I really don't think the government knows
who is over here and who isn't. 9/11/2007 6:33:05 AM
Recommend: (12) (0)
I can hear it now. Press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish, 3 for Indian.
English needs to be the official language of the United States.
9/11/2007 6:46:36 AM
Recommend: (14) (0)
ILLEGAL IS ILLEGAL, IS ILLEGAL, IS ILLEGAL!! WE KNOW WHERE THESE FOLKS
ARE BUT WE WON'T MESS WITH THEM BECAUSE WE DON'T WANT TO MESS WITH
THOSE EMPLOYERS WHO HIRE THEM KNOWING THAT THEY ARE ILLEGALLY IN OUR
COUNTRY. DIVERSITY, IF NOT CONTROLLED, WILL BE OUR TROJAN HORSE AND
DOWNFALL OF THE USA AS WE KNOW IT!!WAKE UP FRIENDS 9/11/2007 6:55:00
Recommend: (22) (0)
Folks, the federal governments inability/refusal to deal with this
issue is quickly reaching the point of no return. This country, or any
country for that matter can only absorb so many immigrants before
negative consequences are felt. I would make the arguement that we are
there already. The very fabric of this country is changeing right
before our very eyes ansd we are inept in our ability to make changes
to correct the problem. Folks, if something is not done soon we will,
as citizens of this great country, lose it. And quite frankly, I'm
really not concerned about what other people and other countries think
about us. It is time for the USA to take care of its own.Govchance
9/11/2007 6:56:11 AM
Recommend: (19) (0)
hey river - before too long it will be press 1 for spanish, 2 for
vietnamese, 3 for indian and 4 for english. Anglos are already the
official minority in Harris County. 9/11/2007 6:59:56 AM
Recommend: (4) (0)
river40894 wrote:I can hear it now. Press 1 for English, 2 for
Spanish, 3 for Indian. English needs to be the official language of
the United States.Not true, the vast majority of people from India
read and write English. You can thank the British for that! 9/11/2007
Recommend: (10) (0)
More great news from the immigration front, the war on the middle
class.These are the results you get from government when you underfund
and undermine an agency with incompetent leadership. Of course it's
not going to run properly, but that was then intent all along. IF YOU
VOTED REPUBLICAN FOR THE PAST 6 YEARS, REAP YOUR REWARD! 9/11/2007
Why are illegal immigrants from India here. The same reason the
Hispanics are here. They provide a pool of 'inexpensive' labor in
comparison to the going rate in this country. Whether the job is
moving lawns or coding in Java or as nurses, they reduce the wages
that must be paid. If they work in your field they reduce your pay.
9/11/2007 7:26:14 AM
Recommend: (11) (0)
minor_tiger:"Also, keep in mind that the democrats led the effort to
bestow amnesty upon those who came here illegally."I'm sorry, I
thought that was George Bush, on television, proposing amnesty for
immigrants. You keep saying Democrat this and that, but it looks like
the next president of the U.S. is going to be a Democrat. As far as
this "problem threatening us all", I don't see where you get that
because I'm not threatened by anything by someone who comes over here
and works and tries to obtain citizenship. I'm not worried about
competing for jobs in the lawn care business, or ringing up gas at the
Exxon store. Sorry that's not what I went to school for. 9/11/2007
this is just another example of how the media sugar coats social
problems(or social outrages) in our country... we all know that our
biggest problems exist with our neighbors to the south. We need to
seal our borders ... throw out the illegals, fast track the work
visas, pay rewards for reporting illegals and fine the employers to
fund the reward system. 9/11/2007 8:09:05 AM
Recommend: (12) (0)
I can't say I'm surprised by this story. I don't really care what
nationality they are, or if they're skilled. This is another example
of how America will fall from within, while our crummy gov does
nothing. 9/11/2007 8:12:35 AM
Recommend: (14) (0)
people overstay their visas, are here illegally, live under the radar,
then complain that they have to sneak around and are depressed? It was
your choice to be a fugitive. Just as it is your choice to pick up and
go home. 9/11/2007 8:12:41 AM
These people are the ones taking the high paying jobs that some
Americans can't fill. What is it? Americans can't fill manual labor
jobs or high skilled jobs.... 9/11/2007 8:19:38 AM
Recommend: (7) (0)
I have to agree with hardworkVN, if you want it bad enough, work hard
for it. Don't whine and complain because things aren't handed to you.
Sure, an illegal is an illegal, no matter how you look at it....but if
you have someone who is a law-abiding citizen and PAYING taxes,
doesn't that constitute them as someone contributing to society? I
guess sitting at home, complaining the government isn't doing anything
for them, getting free rent and a FEMA card constitutes you as a model
citizen. 9/11/2007 8:25:03 AM
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Why don't we just close our borders for a few years until we can
figure out who is here legally and who is not. No student visas, no
work visas, no green cards, nothing. Clean up the system and get on
top of this immigration fiasco. Send the illegals back to their home
countries. It must be done by the next president either Democrat or
Republican. 9/11/2007 8:31:57 AM
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What really sucks is when that H1-B Visa represents a job loss for an
American worker. 9/11/2007 8:34:35 AM
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what about the germans and russians here illegally? 9/11/2007 8:56:46
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People come here because there is work here. There is work here
because we (Americans) have priced ourselves out of our own job
market. Answer honestly, would you take a 30% cut in salary if it
meant 80% fewer "immigrants"? Or, you keep your current salary level.
Would you be willing to spend an additional 10% across the board on
EVERYTHING you buy? It's easy to toss rocks at others but we all have
to look in the mirror on this one. We want great pay and we want great
prices and we want it now. At what cost? 9/11/2007 8:58:41 AM
Recommend: (10) (0)
StrangeOne:Your concerns are very valid, and the answer to your
question as to why this is happening - Corporate Greed! A basic case
of the rich wanting more and more and more... It is not that Americans
are opting for "easy" degrees, it's plain, simple greed. Corporations
have been looking at cost cutting for years. We've now reached a point
where companies are looking to hire low paid workers, in any field -
IT, Oil & Gas, Medical, etc. etc. I've seen it many times where
American workers are asked to "train" these immigrants, only to loose
their job to same. I keep hearing how "eduacted" these people are.
Obviously they are not educated enough to read a H1B visa expiration
date! They know exactly when the visa expires, yet they overstay the
visa. The system is broke, becuase that's the way corporations want it
to be. it makes no difference if the lower wages are being paid to
field workers or white collar workers. the end result is the same:
MORE PROFITS for corporations. 9/11/2007 9:00:47 AM
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Minor-TigerGet your facts straight before posting , the Muslim
population in India is 150.000.000 and in the USA about
6.000.000 .Pancho VillaPuerto Ricans are US citizen. 9/11/2007 9:04:54
Ceedo, You are the only one who caught that. 9/11/2007 9:22:07 AM
Geez, they should go home, thats where all our jobs are anyways.
9/11/2007 9:36:45 AM
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Oh, so we don't like Indians now. Personally, I find that Indians are
among the most respectful and well-mannered people on this planet.But
back to the topic, there are more than 1 billion Indians and more than
1 billion Chinese in this world and they all want a better life, which
for many means leaving their home country.Unless the US is prepared to
institute its own version of an Iron Curtain with FBI actively chasing
and prosecuting every illegal immigrant there is nothing that can stop
immigrants coming to the US. I am originally from Russia and after
Soviet Union fell we got a lot of illegal immigrants in Russia from
China and Vietnam. There is no legal way for them to come, and you can
easily tell and Chinese from a Russian, so Russian police harasses and
abuses them mercilessly (which I find completely inhumane) and they
still stay. So, if even Russia is better fro them than China or
Vietnam, the US is the dream come true. There is nothing you can do to
stop the immigration, so my advice is to adapt. For one, the US people
need to get better education. Why the best students are usually Asian
or Indian, not white Americans? It is because immigrants and their
children have to work harder to survive and succeed, American kids
just don’t have the same drive and that is what bringing them down.
9/11/2007 9:42:04 AM
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I am confused. When I post "I", it continuously gets removed.
9/11/2007 9:42:55 AM
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Silent357, nice post. 9/11/2007 9:43:51 AM
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I am tired of the Chronicle censoring my posts ... I will cancel my
subscription to the newspaper if it is not stopped!!! I said nothing
in my post that was out of line ... period!Lets see how long this one
lasts ... 9/11/2007 9:48:24 AM
Recommend: (3) (0)
"I'm not worried about competing for jobs in the lawn care business,
or ringing up gas at the Exxon store. Sorry that's not what I went to
school for." Very well said, Silent357.To reiterate a point, kalki,
the majority of educated posts here are not against immigrants and non-
whites. C-I-T-I-Z-E-N-S of all races and creeds are welcome to live in
harmony within our borders. It is when you place the 'illegal' in
front of immigrant that I have a problem with. So don't paint us with
the racist brush. Following laws is the cornerstone to ANY successful
civilization. 9/11/2007 9:49:48 AM
Recommend: (9) (0) [Report abuse]
kalki,You need to wake up. This is not a color of skin issue. The
immigration issue is about the laws of this country. There is a legal
way to come into our country that all of our forefathers abided by at
the time of their entry. The situation is that noone, be they black,
brown or purple, should be allowed to enter and become a citizen any
other way. This is what our country was founded on. We are a proud
country of many ethnic backgrounds. English is our language. This is
AMERICA!!! 9/11/2007 9:51:48 AM
I am telling you our country is going to go down with all these
illegals. Are (illegals-Mexican, Indian,etc.)they going to pick up
arms and go fight against our enemies? Are they going to support our
flag and respect it? Are they going to learn to speak English? If not,
get out. It's that simple, a no brainer. 9/11/2007 9:52:40 AM
Recommend: (4) (0)
If the government can tell the American people how many illegal
Indians or other illegals from other countries are here on expired
visas or just plain here illegally, and where, then how come that same
government can not find and deport these illegals? 9/11/2007 9:56:15
Illegal immigrants from India rise alarmingly in US: Report
Rediff News Bureau | February 19, 2008 15:46 IST
Last Updated: February 19, 2008 16:02 IST
India may have taken giant strides in every possible sphere of life
across the world, but there are things that come as real blot to its
Quoting a US Department of Homeland Security report, mercurynews
reports that Indians are the fastest-growing group of illegal
immigrants in the United States.
The report says there are 2,70,000 unauthorized Indians in the United
States - a 125 percent jump since 2000, the largest percentage
increase of any nation with more than 100,000 illegal immigrants in
The report says though the number of Indian immigrants is low when
compared to people from Mexico, the Indian context is appalling as the
illegal immigrants mostly consist high-skilled workers. Illegal
immigrants from other countries are mostly low-skilled workers.
Mercurynews, in its report, also says if the trend continues India
will only trail only Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala in illegal
The report quoting experts says virtually all immigrants enter the US
legally and then violate the visa terms, thus becomimg illegal
"How do you get in? You come across the border, or you arrive here
with a visa," Lindsay Lowell, policy director for the Institute for
the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University told
"Indians aren't going to be walking across the border like Mexicans,"
Federal officials calculated the number of illegal immigrants by using
census estimates of the total number of immigrants from individual
countries, compiling the total number of legal immigrants using
federal immigration and naturalization records, and then subtracting
the number of legal residents from the total immigrant population to
determine the number of undocumented people, the report said.
Asked by Mercurynews about the number of illegal Indians in Silicon
Valley, Banjit Singh, an Indian-born taxi driver, said, "Here, there
is a little bit. But you go to another city or state, like Los Angeles
or New York, there are many illegal people."
Local immigration lawyers say that particularly among Indians, the ups
and downs of Silicon Valley's economy since 2001 are one reason why
Indians have fallen out of legal status.
"Most are bachelors; the way they get here is they have a job,"
Gabriel Jack, a San Jose immigration lawyer, said of many of his
"They come here as professionals, most often in the H-1B program, and
given the fluctuations of Silicon Valley, the business climate, these
guys lose their jobs. They get laid off or they wager their hands on a
start-up coming in," Jack said.
"The problem with the H-1B program is, you can't have any significant
time between jobs" without falling out of legal status.
Indians made up 44 percent of H-1B applicants in the 2005-06 fiscal
year, five times the number from second-place China, the report says.
The report says another source is relatives from India who arrive for
a visit on a tourist visa and never go home.
"America is a very attractive country; everybody who comes here wants
to stay," said Shah Peerally, a Silicon Valley immigration lawyer. "I
can tell you right now, there are nearly 1 billion people in India, of
which maybe 800 million want to come here."
The United States deported close to 500 Indians a year in recent
years, another expert tells Mecurynews.
"Unless Congress reforms the immigration system we are going to see
this high-skilled, illegal workforce emerging," said Frank D. Bean,
director of the Immigration Research Center at the University of
Demographics of Unauthorized Immigrants in the US: Countries of
Origin, States of Residence, and Employment Data, 2000-2008
Immigrant march in Los Angeles, CA, Aug. 25, 2007
Who are the unauthorized immigrants in the United States? Where do
they come from and where do they settle in the United States? After
entry, what socio-economic roles do they play in the US economy?
As of 2008, the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States
is estimated to be approximately 11.6 million. 61% of the unauthorized
immigrants in the country are from Mexico, and 25% of all unauthorized
immigrant workers reside in California. Unauthorized immigrants, as of
2008, represent 5% of the total civilian labor force in the United
States. 51% of these immigrants, compared to 21% of native workers,
hold occupations in the service (30%) and construction (21%)
industries. The following charts and tables delineate the demographic
and socio-economic background of unauthorized immigrants in the United
II. Unauthorized Immigrant Population: Countries of Origin, 2000-2008
Top 10 Countries of Origin and Percent Change, 2000-2008
2000* Population 2005 Population 2006 Population 2008 Population %
All Countries 8,460,000 All Countries 10,500,000 All Countries
11,500,000 All Countries 11,600,000 37%
1. Mexico 4,680,000 Mexico 5,970,000 Mexico 6,570,000 Mexico 7,030,000
2. El Salvador 430,000 El Salvador 470,000 El Salvador 510,000 El
Salvador 570,000 33%
3. Guatemala 290,000 Guatemala 370,000 Guatemala 430,000 Guatemala
4. Philippines 200,000 India 280,000 Philippines 280,000 Philippines
5. China 190,000 China 230,000 Honduras 280,000 Honduras 300,000 88%
6. Korea 180,000 Philippines 210,000 India 270,000 Korea 240,000 33%
7. Honduras 160,000 Korea 210,000 Korea 250,000 China 220,000 16%
8. India 120,000 Honduras 180,000 Brazil 210,000 Brazil 180,000 80%
9. Ecuador 110,000 Brazil 170,000 China 190,000 Ecuador 170,000 55%
10. Brazil 100,000 Vietnam 160,000 Vietnam 160,000 India 160,000 33%
Sources and notes:
Sources for Unauthorized Immigrant Population: Countries of origin,
2000-2008 from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS):
1. "Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the
United States: January 2008" (PDF) 226KB Feb. 2009
2. "Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the
United States: January 2006" (PDF) 577KB Aug. 2007
3. "Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the
United States: January 2005" (PDF) 221KB Aug. 2006
Supplemental documents of unauthorized immigrant populations from
1990-2000, released by the Immigration and Naturalization Service
4. "Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the
United States: 1990-2000" (PDF) 473KB Jan. 2003
5. "Illegal Alien Resident Population" (PDF) 24KB Updated Dec.
*Countries listed under 2000 were not necessarily the top ten of that
year. Countries for 2000 are listed to compare the population change
between 2000, 2005, 2006, and 2008.
**The population change between 2000 and 2008 is represented in the "%
change from 2000" column. The data in that column reflect the
percentage of change in population from 2000 and 2008 of each country
(not the percentage of population change between countries ranked in
the same positions of the chart).
III. Unauthorized Immigrant Population: States of Residence in the
United States, 2000-2008
Top 10 States of Residence and Percent Change, 2000-2008
2000* Population 2005 Population 2006 Population 2008 Population %
All States 8,460,000 All States 10,500,000 All States 11,550,000 All
States 11,600,000 37%
1. California 2,510,000 California 2,770,000 California 2,830,000
California 2,850,000 14%
2. Texas 1,090,000 Texas 1,360,000 Texas 1.64 M Texas 1.68 M 54%
3. Florida 800,000 Florida 850,000 Florida 980,000 Florida 840,000 5%
4. New York 540,000 New York 560,000 Illinois 550,000 New York 640,000
5. Illinois 440,000 Illinois 520,000 New York 540,000 Arizona 560,000
6. New Jersey 350,000 New Jersey 480,000 Arizona 500,000 Illinois
7. Arizona 330,000 Arizona 470,000 Georgia 490,000 Georgia 460,000
8. North Carolina 260,000 North Carolina 380,000 New Jersey 430,000
New Jersey 400,000 14%
9. Georgia 220,000 Georgia 360,000 North Carolina 370,000 North
Carolina 380,000 46%
10. Nevada 170,000 Nevada 240,000 Washington 280,000 Nevada 280,000
40 other states 1,750,000 40 other states 2,510,000 40 other states
2,950,000 40 other states 2,950,000 69%
Sources and notes:
Sources for Unauthorized Immigrant Population: States of residence in
the United States, 2000-2008 from the US Department of Homeland
1. "Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the
United States: January 2008" (PDF) 226KB Feb. 2009
2. "Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the
United States: January 2006" (PDF) 577KB Aug. 2007
3. "Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the
United States: January 2005" (PDF) 221KB Aug. 2006
Supplemental documents of unauthorized immigrant populations from
1990-2000, released by the Immigration and Naturalization Service
4. "Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the
United States: 1990-2000" (PDF) 473KB Jan. 2003
5. "Illegal Alien Resident Population" (PDF) 24KB Updated Dec.
*States listed under 2000 were not necessarily the top ten of that
year. States for 2000 are listed to compare the population change
between 2000, 2005, 2006, and 2008.
IV. Distribution of Unauthorized Immigrant Workers Compared to US born
Workers by Major Occupation Group, 2008
Top 20 Occupations with High Shares of Unauthorized Immigrants, 2008
Top 20 Occupations* % of Unauthorized Immigrants in Total Work Force #
of Unauthorized Immigrant Workers Total # of All
1. Brickmasons, blockmasons and stonemasons 40% 131,000 325,000
2. Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers and tapers 37% 94,000
3. Roofers 31% 76,000 246,000
4. Miscellaneous agricultural workers 30% 269,000 910,000
5. Helpers, construction trades 28% 52,000 184,000
6. Dishwashers 28% 101,000 364,000
7. Construction laborers 27% 556,000 2,055,000
8. Maids and housekeeping cleaners 27% 417,000 1,555,000
9. Cement masons, concrete finishers and terazzo workers 27% 29,000
10. Packaging and filling machine operators and tenders 26% 96,000
11. Grounds maintenance workers 25% 356,000 1,413,000
12. Packers and packagers, hand 24% 119,000 504,000
13. Butchers, poultry and fish processing workers 23% 71,000 305,000
14. Carpet, floor, and tile installlers and finishers 22% 68,000
15. Painters, constuction and maintenance 22% 173,000 791,000
16. Parking lot attendants 21% 21,000 100,000
17. Chefs and head cooks 20% 75,000 377,000
18. Sewing machine operators 20% 49,000 248,000
19. Refuse and recyclable material collectors 19% 22,000 112,000
20. Cooks 19% 427,000 2,219,000
Other "unauthorized" occupations** 9% 3,120,000 34,979,000
All other occupations 2% 1,928,000 106,407,000
Total, Civilian Labor Force (with an occupation) 5% 8,258,000
Sources and notes:
1. Apr. 14, 2009, D'Vera Cohn and Jeffrey S. Passel
"Pew Hispanic Center Research Report: A Portrait of Unauthorized
Immigrants in the United States" (PDF) 1.82MB
2. Mar. 7, 2006, Jeffrey S. Passel
"Pew Hispanic Center Research Report: The Size and Characteristics of
the Unauthorized Migrant Population in the U.S.: Estimates Based on
the March 2005 Current Population Survey" (PDF) 141KB
*Occupations included in the Top 20 Occupations with High Shares of
Unauthorized Immigrants table have at least 100,000 workers nationally
and more than three times the national share of unauthorized immigrant
**"Unauthorized" occupations have a higher percentage of workers who
are unauthorized immigrants than the national average but do not
qualify for a separate listing.
According to the Congress of the United States Congressional Budget
Office's Nov. 2005 report "The Role of Immigrants in the U.S. Labor
"Considerable uncertainty is inherent in estimates of the number of
unauthorized immigrants that reside in the United States and the
number that are in the labor force. The decennial census, the Current
Population Survey (CPS), and similar sources of information about the
population and labor force do not ask foreign-born people about their
legal status in the United States aside from whether they are
naturalized citizens. Thus, the number of unauthorized immigrants must
be estimated by indirect methods that introduce the possibility of
significant errors. A recent analysis, based on survey data from the
CPS and administrative data from the Department of Homeland Security
and other federal agencies, indicated that in early 2004 about 10
million foreign-born people were living in the United States without
authorization and about 6.3 million of them were in the labor force."
Congress of the United States Congressional Budget Office: "The Role
of Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Market" (PDF) 350KB
Last updated on 4/14/2009 5:01:00 AM PST
The Adivasi struggle
The long-running struggle of the Adivasis in Kerala enters a crucial
phase as the State government resists their main demand of two
hectares of land for each landless tribal family.
ONCE again, the Adivasis of Kerala are at a crossroads. These tribal
people have become more assertive about their rights and the nature of
their demands has undergone a subtle transformation. They are now more
aware of the law and the ways of the non-tribal people, politicians,
governments and the courts. They have media-savvy leaders, invisible
'friends', and funds to sustain high-profile agitations in the State
capital. They are increasingly intolerant of hollow promises and they
threaten to storm the State Assembly and camp on the streets of
Thiruvananthapuram permanently. At times they disrupt public
festivities, walk out of meetings with government representatives or
take District Collectors hostage. They have definitely become prime-
time news material. But the question is, will they fail again?
The year 1975 once seemed a crucial one for the marginalised tribal
people of the State. Although they did not have a powerful presence in
the State, their plight had struck a chord and they had found
themselves being offered the protection of a law that promised to end
exploitation by non-tribal settlers and forest encroachers, and lack
In April 1975, the State Assembly unanimously adopted the Kerala
Scheduled Tribes (Restriction on Transfer of Lands and Restoration of
Alienated Lands) Act, which sought to prevent the lands of the tribal
people from falling into the hands of non-tribal people. The Act also
sought to restore to the tribal people their previously alienated
"Refugee camps" run by agitating tribal people outside the State
Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram.
The tribal people were once in possession of large tracts of forests
in the State, especially in areas that are now in Palakkad, Wayanad,
Idukki, Pathanam-thitta, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts. To a
large extent, post-Independence governments were responsible for the
Adivasis losing their lands. Non-tribal settlers made their plight
worse as the pressure on land increased in the plains. The land-people
ratio is very high in the State.
In the majority of cases, the ignorance and innocence of the Adivasis
were used to the hilt by the non-tribal settler "farmers". Either by
using force or inducements such as a bundle of tobacco, or by offering
a low price, they made the Adivasis part with their "ancestral land".
In most cases there was no document validating such transfers and some
tribal persons were even forced to sign on blank sheets of paper. The
non-tribal people who got possession of the lands gradually became the
Over the years, alienation from their land of birth pushed the
Adivasis into poverty and dependence and forced them to search for
other forest land for food and shelter. However, the same process was
repeated in the new stretches of forest land, and these too became the
farmlands of non-tribal settlers. Political parties and successive
governments turned a blind eye to the process, as more settlers meant
more votes. (The Adivasis, who number 3.21 lakhs, account for only 1.1
per cent of the population of the State.) The social and ecological
implications of this were serious.
When the 1975 Act got the presidential assent in November that year
and was subsequently included in the Ninth Schedule of the
Constitution (which ensured that the Act would not be challenged in
any court of law), it seemed a dream come true for the Adivasis. But
it was not to be. Successive governments allowed more than a decade to
pass (during which the encroachments continued, especially in the
tribal areas of Palakkad and Wayanad districts) before framing the
rules to implement the Act. When the State government finally
formulated the rules in 1986, it specified that the Act would come
into effect retrospectively from January 1, 1982.
The rules made all transfer of property "possessed, enjoyed or owned"
by Adivasis to non-tribal people between January 1, 1960 and January
1, 1982 "invalid" and directed that the "possession or enjoyment" of
property so transferred be restored to the Adivasis concerned.
However, the Act required that the Adivasi return the amount, if any,
they had received during the original transaction and pay compensation
for any improvements made on the land by the non-tribal occupants. The
government was to advance this amount to the tribal people as loans
and recover it from them in 20 years. Only about 8,500 applications
seeking restoration were received from the tribal people, because most
of them were either unaware of the new law or afraid to accept the
offer of loans or were cheated by the corrupt encroacher-official
nexus. Hence, even after the framing of the rules, the general
atmosphere helped only to encourage the encroachers to continue to
occupy tribal land and successive governments took no action to
implement fully the 1975 Act.
THIS triggered the second important phase of the Adivasi struggle. In
1986, Dr. Nalla Thampi Thera, a non-tribal person from Wayanad
district, approached the Kerala High Court seeking a direction to the
State government to implement the 1975 Act. It took five years for the
court to give a verdict - a favourable one - on the public interest
petition. In October 1993, the court ordered the government to
implement the Act within six months. Yet the case dragged on for two
and a half years with the government continuing to seek extensions of
deadline to implement the Act.
The Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha take out a rally in Thiruvananthapuram
on October 3.
Finally, in 1996 the court fixed a final deadline of September 30,
1996 to evict the non-tribal occupants, if necessary with the help of
the police, and threatened the officials concerned with contempt of
court proceedings if they failed to implement the court directive.
However, the government responded with yet another controversial act
of amending the 1975 Act.
Meanwhile as the non-tribal settlers where getting entrenched in the
alienated land of the tribal people, the tribal people themselves were
getting increasingly disillusioned with the ability of the government
and the courts to find a remedy for their plight. Hence, although
government programmes had helped improve the lot of many tribal
people, the majority of them continued to be landless, had no means of
livelihood, and became more dependent on the non-tribal settlers for
work and wages.
As a large section of the landless tribal people had not filed
applications and were hence outside the purview of the 1975 Act, they
were ineligible for a piece of land even if the Act was implemented in
toto. By the early 1990s, the first signs of discontent were already
becoming evident in the Adivasi-inhabited areas, especially in Wayanad
district, where some extremist groups had been active for a long
On the other hand, most of the land from which the settlers were to be
evicted under the 1975 Act had by the 1990s been in their possession
for 15 to 30 years. They were cultivating the land and had constructed
buildings and other structures on them. In several cases, the next
generation of the original encroachers were in possession of the
lands. When the State government could get no more extensions of the
deadline from the High Court, the politically and economically
powerful settler-farmers activated their organisations and raised the
demand to amend the "impractical provisions" of the 1975 Act.
To the consternation of the tribal people, successive governments
started to give in to the demands of the settlers. Two ordinances
seeking to amend the 1975 Act, introduced by the United Democratic
Front government during early 1996 and later by the Left Democratic
Front government, which came to power in May 1996, did not get the
Governor's approval. As pressure from the court mounted on the
government to evict encroachers by September 30, 1996, the government
hastily introduced an amendment Bill in the State Assembly.
Whatever may have been the justification for it - the impracticality
of the provisions of the 1975 Act perhaps being the most important one
- it must have been an eye-opener for the mushrooming tribal
organisations in Kerala to see the 140-member State Assembly pass the
Kerala Scheduled Tribes (Restriction on Transfer of Land and
Restoration of Alienated Lands) Amendment Bill, 1996 almost
unanimously (there was only one dissenting vote).
The 1996 Amendment Bill dashed all hopes of the Adivasis. Most
important, it made legal all transactions of tribal land up to January
24, 1986. In other words, the government made the need for the
restoration of alienated land (as per the 1975 Act) unnecessary.
According to the government, it was the only practical alternative,
given the turmoil and the political repercussions that would have been
created had it tried to evict the non-tribal settlers. However, the
tribal people felt that the government was trying to give legal
sanctity to the alienation of their land. The agitation in front of
the State Assembly, with the Adivasis, led by their leader from
Wayanad C.K. Janu, trying to enter the State legislature, supported by
a group of Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) volunteers, was
perhaps an early indication of the gradual transformation of the
This was soon followed by one of the best known incidents in the
struggle. On October 4, 1996, a so-far unknown extremist group named
"Ayyankali Pada" (named after a Dalit leader from Kerala), stormed the
Palakkad Collectorate and held Collector W.R. Reddy hostage for over
nine hours. The incident invited a strong response from the government
against growing signs of radicalism among Adivasis and also in a way
prevented the agitation from taking a turn for the worse. Later, the
President refused to give assent to the 1996 Amendment Bill passed by
the State Assembly on the grounds that the 1975 Act had been included
in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution.
However, to bypass this difficulty, yet another Bill was passed
unanimously by the State Assembly in 1999. The Kerala Restriction on
Transfer by and Restoration of Lands to Scheduled Tribes Bill, 1999,
defined "land" as "agricultural land" (a State subject) in order to
try and get over the need to send it for presidential assent. The new
Bill also had a controversial provision to repeal the 1975 Act.
As per the 1999 Act, only alienated land in excess of two hectares
possessed by encroachers would be restored, while alternative land, in
lieu of the alienated land not exceeding two hectares, would be given
elsewhere. The thinking was that the number of applicants claiming
land in excess of two hectares would be negligible, making restoration
unnecessary. The new Bill also had a provision to provide up to 40
acres (16 hectares) to other landless tribal people - a new set of
beneficiaries - within two years. The government said that it
estimated that there were about 11,000 such families in the State.
However, the High Court rejected both the 1996 and 1999 Amendment
Bills and declared the provisions under them illegal. The State
government, in turn, went on appeal to the Supreme Court and obtained
stay orders. Several appeals against the stay orders are pending
before the Supreme Court.
It was in this context that starvation deaths were reported from the
Adivasi-inhabited areas in the State from July 2001. The outside world
came to know about it only after a group of tribal people, supported
by some naxalite groups, waylaid a mobile store run by the State
Department of Civil Supplies and took away its contents. They
distributed the foodstuffs and encouraged the tribal people who
gathered there to take home the rest of it.
On August 30, Adivasi agitators led by Janu pitched their tents
outside the Chief Minister's official residence in Thiruvananthapuram.
They were organised under the banner of the "Adivasi Dalit Action
Council", which now claims to have the support of all Adivasis in the
State. Despite two rounds of discussions with the government, the
tribal people refused to withdraw their agitation, which was more than
a month old at the time of writing.
The main demand of the Adivasis was five acres (2 ha) each to all
landless tribal families in the State. Although the government's offer
to prepare a master plan for the tribal people was welcomed by the
agitating Adivasis, they refused to withdraw the agitation until their
demand for land was met. The tribal people have lost their faith in
promises and court cases. They were sure that running after alienated
land was a futile exercise which, even if it succeeded in the long
run, would benefit only a few among them.
HOWEVER, some disturbing trends have emerged in the course of the
struggle. The Adavasi-inhabited areas have become breeding grounds for
extremist organisations espousing the tribal cause and swearing to
empower the tribal people in order to fight for their rights. There
have been sporadic incidents of violence since 1992, when such groups
encouraged the Adivasis to take the law into their own hands and
forcibly occupy government land. Since the 1990s the activities of
Hindu chauvinist organisations, Christian missionaries and voluntary
agencies, often funded from abroad, have also increased in the tribal
areas. The past decade saw the disillusioned tribal people move
tantalisingly close to extremism and communalism. Such proclivities
would certainly undermine their genuine struggle.
Yet, for the present, the most significant factor is the shifting
focus of the demands raised by the Adivasi leaders who are in the
limelight. They are no longer asking for alienated land, at least not
as emphatically as they used to in the past. Instead they demand
mainly five acres of other land each for all landless tribal families.
Another demand is the inclusion of tribal areas in the Sixth Schedule
of the Constitution in order to make them autonomous regions.
The fact that they were able to sustain their agitation by putting up
shacks outside the Secretariat, along the State capital's arterial
road, and pitching tents on the road to the Chief Minister's official
residence for more than a month itself took Kerala by surprise. Over
150 tribal families were in these camps, where food and even
facilities to continue school education of the children were being
provided by the organisers. A grand council of elders and other
leaders representing the 30-odd tribes in the State was formed under
the umbrella of the Adivasi Dalit Action Council. As a show of
strength and as part of an attempt to evolve a consensus regarding
their demands among the various tribes and organisations, it organised
an 'Adivasi Gothra Sabha' ('Adivasi Parliament') in Thiruvananthapuram
on October 3. As the government announced that it would not allow the
tribal people to establish camps permanently before the Secretariat,
Action Committee chairperson Janu declared that she was going on a
"fast unto death" before the Secretariat.
While Chief Minister A.K. Antony claimed that his government was more
sympathetic to the tribal people's cause than the previous government,
other leaders of the ruling coalition said there were vested interests
behind the agitation. There are also allegations that organisations
and political parties more sympathetic to the interests of the settler
farmers are now supporting the tribal people in order to prevent them
from demanding the restoration of alienated land, especially when the
legality of the amendments striking down the 1975 Act is coming up as
an issue before the Supreme Court.
But as Janu told Frontline, Kerala's Adivasis are not fighting the
settler farmers any longer. However, the question whether there are
vested interests behind the Adivasi agitation is overshadowed by
another one - whether the shift in demand will genuinely help the
tribal people's cause.
Volume 18 - Issue 22, Oct. 27 - Nov. 09, 2001
India's National Magazine
from the publishers of THE HINDU
Promise of land
Kerala's Adivasi Dalit Action Council ends its struggle over land and
livelihood issues following an agreement with the State government.
THE 48-day-old agitation over land and livelihood issues undertaken
for the tribal people in Kerala ended on October 16 following a seven-
point agreement between the State government and the Adivasi Dalit
Action Council. The Adivasi "refugee camps" erected by the agitating
tribal people outside the State Secretariat and the Chief Minister's
official residence in Thiru-vananthapuram and in the district
headquarters were dismantled soon afterwards. There was jubilation in
the streets, and praise for C.K. Janu, chairperson of the Action
Council, who led the agitation.
This is what the Adivasi agitation has seemingly achieved for the 3.2
lakh tribal people:
Jubilant Adivasi agitators carry C.K. Janu, chairperson of the
Adivasi Dalit Action Council, in Thiruvananthapuram.
* "Wherever possible", the government is to provide five acres (two
hectares) of land to each landless Adivasi family; at other places,
the offer is a minimum of one acre, which can go up to five acres,
"depending on the availability of land";
* A five-year livelihood programme is to be implemented in the land
thus provided until it becomes fully productive for Adivasis to
* The State is to enact a law to ensure that the land provided to
Adivasis is not alienated as had happened in the past;
* The State Cabinet is soon to pass a resolution asking the Union
government to declare the Adivasi areas in the State as scheduled
areas, bringing them under Schedule V of the Constitution;
* The government also gave a commitment that it will abide by whatever
decision the Supreme Court takes on its appeal against the Kerala High
Court order quashing the unpopular law (the Kerala Restriction on
Transfer by and Restoration of Lands to Scheduled Tribes Bill, 1999)
passed by the State Assembly in 1999;
* The government is to implement a master plan for tribal development
and the plan is to be prepared with the participation of Adivasis;
* The maximum possible extent of land will be found and distributed in
Wayanad district - at least 10,000 acres - where there is the largest
concentration of landless Adivasis.
The agitators' demand that all landless Adivasi families must be given
five acres each has not been conceded. Chief Minister A.K. Antony told
Frontline it was impossible for any government to agree to such a
demand in a State where there was so much pressure on land. But the
government had readily agreed to provide at least one acre during its
earlier round of discussions with leaders of the Action Council and
other tribal organisations (Frontline, October 26).
In effect, this is what the Action Council accepted eventually.
This does not mean that the agitation was a failure. For the first
time, landless Adivasis in Kerala have got a firm commitment from the
government on at least one acre of land. They are also to get the
protection of a new law preventing any further alienation of their
land. In Janu's own Wayanad district, the government is to make an
extra effort to find more land for Adivasis.
Perhaps the most important fallout of the latest agitation is that
both the government and the Action Council leaders have succeeded in
shifting the focus of the nearly 50-year-old tribal struggle in Kerala
from the issue of "restoration of alienated land" to one of "land for
the landless tribal people".
In short, whether Adivasis are any better off as a result of the
agitation will be known only in January 2002, when the government, as
per its promise, has to start distributing the land. The
identification of the beneficiaries would prove a major hurdle in the
Opinion - News Analysis
Behind the Adivasi unrest in Assam
The Adivasis’ fight is not so much for their recognition as a tribal
community as for the restoration of the tribal identity to which they
believe they are entitled.
— Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar
Vigilantist retaliation: Local residents of Dispur and Beltola beat up
Adivasi protesters in Guwahati on November 24.
The continuing violence in Assam over the last few days, in particular
the wanton vandalism and the crude and vigilantist retaliation that
took place in and around Dispur in Guwahati on November 24, has
rightly attracted wide and critical notice. However, any exclusive
concern with the violent events of that Saturday, in particular the
voyeuristic focus by the visual media on the shameful attack on the
person and personal dignity of a young woman by the mob that has been
unreservedly condemned by the people of the State, may obscure the
real issues: the demand of the Adivasis for classification as a
Scheduled Tribe, and the complex factors that inform the resistance to
that and similar demands.
The Adivasi, a nomenclature now adopted by the approximately 20
million strong Tea Garden Labour and ex-Tea Garden Labour community,
is not the only community in Assam seeking classification as a
Scheduled Tribe. Five other communities (the Tai-Ahom, the Moran, the
Motok, the Chutia and the Koch-Rajbongshi), all presently classified
as Other Backward Classes (OBC), have also for long been pressing for
recognition as Scheduled Tribes. The first four live predominantly in
the districts of Upper Assam while the Koch-Rajbongshi live
predominantly in western Assam, sharing broadly the same physical (and
political) space as the Bodos, the most numerous of the tribal
communities of the State. The Adivasis are, for the most part, settled
in the vicinity of the tea gardens.
Contrary to the general impression, the clashes do not bespeak any
deeply ingrained hostility between ‘tribal people and non-tribal
people,’ or between the tribal people and caste Hindus, in Assam — a
convenient distinction between supposedly irreconcilable categories
made in much of the analysis of the so-called ethnic clashes in Assam
and the north-eastern region. The Adivasis, though aspiring for
recognition as a tribal community and indeed historically belonging to
authentic tribal stock, are at present not recognised as a tribal
community. It is only in popular usage that they are referred to as
Tea Garden Tribes and ex-Tea Garden Tribes. Strictly speaking, their
fight is not so much for their recognition as a tribal community as
for the restoration of that tribal identity to which they believe they
are entitled, being the descendants of various tribal communities of
Central India who, over a century-and-a-half ago, went or were
indentured to work in the gardens of eastern India. What they are
fighting for is therefore the restoration of their legitimate cultural
Why and how did the descendants of the tribal people whose ancestors
were brought to Assam from other parts of India cease to be tribal
people in their present environment? The answer lies in the peculiar
rules that determine such recognition, according to which a person’s
tribal identity is irrevocably and forever linked to her or his place
of origin — in the present instance, the persons’ ancestral origins.
For instance, the progeny of a Munda, a recognised tribal community in
Jharkhand and other contiguous States, one of the 96 communities
listed under the category, Tea Garden Labourers, Tea Garden Tribes, Ex-
Tea Garden Labourers and Ex-Tea Garden Tribes in the official ‘Central
List of Backward Classes, Assam,’ who was taken to Assam to work in
the tea gardens over a century-and-a-half ago has lost his tribal
identity, though were such a person to return to his (now notional)
ancestral place, he would regain his tribal identity.
Such absurd rules and requirements do not however obtain in other
cases of migration. A non-tribal person moving, say, from Karnataka to
Assam continues to retain all the socio-cultural coordinates of his or
Indeed such absurd anomalies govern even the movement of tribal
communities within Assam, and in the States that were carved out of
colonial Assam after independence. For instance, the 23 recognised
tribal communities in Assam are broadly identified under two
categories: the Hill Tribes, that is, the 14 communities recognised as
‘tribal’ in the ‘hill areas,’ now comprising the two Autonomous
Districts of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills; and the Plains
Tribes, that is, the 9 communities recognised as ‘tribal’ in rest of
Assam, supposedly all ‘Plain’. Neither of the locational
identifications is accurate, indeed cannot be accurate, given the
facts of geography but that is the least of the problems.
More materially, neither of these two categories carries its tribal
identity when it moves out of its ‘designated areas.’ Thus, Census
figures for Guwahati city, very much in the Plains of Assam, which has
people from every part of the country and also from foreign parts, do
not enumerate a single person belonging to any of the 14 ‘Hill Tribe’
categories. Indeed, every Plains district enumerates zero population
of Hill Tribes.
Similarly, the Census figures for the two Hill districts do not
enumerate a single person from any of the nine designated ‘Plains
Tribe’ categories. The reality is different; however such personas
living outside their allotted spaces are for official purposes simply
While the Adivasis’ case for the restoration of their primordial
tribal status seems strongest, the issues and demands underlying the
struggle of the five other communities seeking recognition as
Scheduled Tribes are equally complex. The Koch-Rajbongshi, also known
as Sarania Kachari, historically part of the Bodo Kachari stock, lost
their tribal identity over a long period going back to the days before
the colonial conquest of Assam through a complex process of conversion
and acculturation into the Vaishnavite variety of Assamese Hinduism.
Such advantages as the conversion may have brought have lost their
relevance in post-independence India where, increasingly, the tribal
identity is getting to be perversely privileged by non-tribal
communities. Corresponding urges and expectations no doubt drive the
demands of the other communities seeking to be classified as Scheduled
The State government says it is not opposed to conceding the demands
but has pleaded its inability in view of the existing rules. There are
indications that these rigidities may be relaxed, at least in respect
of the Adivasi demand. However, if the Adivasi demand is conceded, the
demands of other communities too will have to be eventually conceded.
The issue also has national implications, in the context of the
contradictions highlighted in the presently dormant Gujjar agitation
for classification as ST.
The more immediate opposition in Assam to the extension of ST
recognition to the six communities is however likely to come from the
presently recognised Scheduled Tribes. The estimated 20 lakh Adivasis
constitute about 60 per cent of the total ST population of the State
which, according to the 2001 Census, was 3,308,570.
The addition of such a large population to the present ST pool will
undoubtedly affect existing allocations in areas such as reservation
of seats in legislative structures, higher education and jobs. Put
simply, such identity struggles carry a cost, and a price.
(For a more detailed discussion of these issues, see Manufacturing
Identities? Frontline, 7 October 2005; In the Name of Tribal
Identities, Frontline, 2 December 2005; and Separatist Strains,
Frontline, 1 June 2007.)
Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Monday, Dec 03, 2007
Special issue with the Sunday Magazine
From the publishers of THE HINDU
ADIVASI : JULY 16, 2000
Dishonoured by history
Dr. Meena Radhakrishna
The author is a social anthropologist at the Nehru Memorial Museum and
Library, New Delhi.
The following headlines will be familiar to an average newspaper
reader in the Capital:
Amar Talwar/ Fotomedia
"Haryana to flush out Criminal Tribes" (Indian Express, February 27,
1999) followed by "Bansilal orders crackdown on criminal
tribes" (Indian Express, February 28, 1999), "48 Pardi Robbers from
Guna held" (Tribune News Service, September 9, 1999), "Stoneage
Robbers - Pardhis Know No Mercy" (Express News Service, Mumbai,
November 6, 1999), "11 of criminal tribe held for dacoity in N-W
Delhi" (Hindustan Times, January 17, 2000).
In recent years, a spectre of the so called "Criminal Tribes" has
begun to haunt the middle class readers of newspapers in Delhi. There
is a marked increase in news items which claim that a gruesome murder
of an elderly couple was committed by a group of Sansis who robbed
them of all their valuables, or that a woman living alone was brutally
done to death in the dead of night by a group of Pardhis. There are
also frequent television programmes on these communities putting the
fear of the devil in the minds of the terrified spectator, and the
very words "criminal tribes" have become synonymous with criminality
of a mindless, violent kind.
Who are these so called criminal tribes - Sansis, Pardhis, Kanjars,
Gujjars, Bawarias, Banjaras and almost 200 such communities? Is it
just a descriptive label, or is it a category of some special new kind
of criminals? Such a terror in the public mind is being fanned
regarding these people that public lynchings of a hapless Sansi or
Pardhi have already become acceptable to even civilised members of our
increasingly brutalised society.
A visit to localities where most of these people drudge out their
daily lives may reveal the grossest poverty and want, shocking even to
those hardened eyes which daily witness sickly, hungry, unwashed,
unclothed children at every major crossing in the Capital. The
question then to be asked is this: if all members of such communities
are merciless robbers, why then, does the community live in appalling
conditions of poverty?
Moreover, even educated members of these communities, who constitute a
few first-generation office-goers or professionals, are subjected to
the deep suspicion and insults by the wider society when they set out
to look for jobs, and at their workplaces: there is constant,
relentless humiliation they have to suffer at the hands of
"respectable" people. Swimming against the tide each day, they
struggle to enter the virtuous cycle of education, work and
respectability which has eluded them and their children for several
generations. Since "criminal tribes" make such sensational headlines
so frequently, the phenomenon needs to be examined historically in
The people mentioned above are a staggering 60 million in number, and
fall in the category of today's Denotified Tribes. The term "criminal
tribes" was concocted by the British rulers, and entered the public
vocabulary for the first time when a piece of legislation called the
Criminal Tribes Act was passed in 1871. With the repeal of this Act
(which was condemned by Pandit Nehru as a blot on the legal books of
free India, and a shame to all civilised societies) these communities
were officially "denotified" in 1952.
Intensive research on the issue shows that about 150 years ago, a
large number of tribal communities were still nomadic, and were
considered useful, honourable people by members of the settled
societies with whom they came into regular contact. A number of them
were small itinerant traders who used to carry their wares on the
backs of their cattle, and bartered their goods in the villages
through which they passed. They would bring interesting items to which
people of a particular village and a little further away - spices,
honey, grain of different varieties, medicinal herbs, different kinds
of fruit or vegetables which the region did not grow, and so on.
Almost invariably, nomadic people were craftsmen of some kind or the
other and in addition to their trading activity they would make and
sell all sorts of useful little items like mats and baskets, brooms
and brushes or earthenware utensils. Some like the Banjaras or
Lambadis functioned on a larger scale, and moved in larger groups with
pack animals loaded mainly with salt, and their women in addition to
the salt also bartered the exquisitely crafted silver trinkets with
Some nomadic communities also became cattle traders, herdspeople or
sellers of milk products, since they bred their own cattle for
carrying their merchandise. The nomadic communities were not just
useful to the villagers on a day to day basis - they were also
acknowledged for averting the frequent grain shortages and famine like
conditions in villages where crops failed. In addition, among them
were musicians, acrobats, dancers, tightrope walkers, jugglers and
fortune tellers. On the whole, they were considered a welcome and
colourful change in routine whenever they visited or camped near a
There were several reasons for these communities first becoming
gradually marginalised, and finally beginning to be considered useless
to the settled societies. First, the network of roads and railways
established in the 1850s connected many of the earlier outlying
villages to each other as also to cities and towns.
The scale of the operations of the nomadic traders was thus
drastically cut down to only those areas where wheel traffic could not
yet reach. This was the single most important reason for the loss of
livelihood of a number of nomadic communities. Further, under newly
imposed forest laws, the British government did not allow tribal
communities to graze their cattle in the forests, or to collect bamboo
and leaves either, which were needed for making simple items like mats
and baskets for their own use and for selling. These two developments
had disastrous consequences for the nomadic traders.
There was one other major historical factor responsible for the
impoverishment of a very large number of nomadic communities. The
nineteenth century witnessed repeated severe famines - during each
successive one the nomadic communities lost more and more heads of
cattle which were the only means of transporting their goods to the
interior villages. The cattle were in fact becoming more crucial than
ever, as with increasing network of roads and railways these
communities had to travel longer distances to sell their wares. Loss
of cattle meant loss of trading activity on an unprecedented scale.
The British government gradually began to consider nomadic communities
prone to criminality in the absence of legitimate means of livelihood.
There was a parallel process taking place all along. A number of
tribal chiefs, especially in the north, participated in the 1857
events, and earned the title of traitors and renegades with the
British government. Elsewhere, hill tribes determinedly resisted the
attempts by the British to annexe their land for establishing
plantations, and to try and use them as plantation labour. A number of
tribal communities, thus, would not yield to the British armed forces
and consistently fought back, though whole habitations were burnt down
in retaliation by the frustrated British officers deputed to co-opt
them. Generally, it began to be felt that most tribal communities,
including nomadic ones, were dangerously criminal. The Criminal Tribes
Act was born in these historical circumstances.
A large number of communities were officially declared criminal tribes
from 1871 onwards. The British government subsequently ran special
settlements for them where they were chained, shackled, caned and
flogged while being surrounded by high walls under the provisions of
the Criminal Tribes Act. In the name of the homegrown science of
"curocriminology" it was declared that they would be cured of their
criminal propensities if they were given work and such an
understanding had an obvious corollary: the more they work, the more
reformed they would be. They could be thus forced to work for up to 20
hours a day in factories, plantations, mills, quarries and mines all
through the first few decades of the twentieth century. This was an
era when the Factories Act had come into existence, but the British
employers were officially able to do away with those provisions of the
Factories Act which restricted the number of hours of work in a day,
or number of days in a week, or allowed minimal facilities at the
An important point for our purposes here is that the British
government was able to summon a large amount of public support,
including the nationalist press, for the excesses committed on such
communities. This is because the Criminal Tribes Act was posed widely
as a social reform measure which reformed criminals through work.
However, when they tried to make a living like everybody else, they
did not find work outside the settlement because of public prejudice
and ostracisation. This curious logic and anomalous situation has
continued to this day.
Once more we are at a juncture when the issue of "criminal tribes"
needs to be reviewed so that the wider public, 130 years later, does
not end up supporting measures to "flush them out" of the existing
system. What needs to be emphasised here is that police harassment and
rounding up of "criminal tribes" in the last few years has not
improved the crime situation on the ground. Less obtrusively and much
less glaringly, news items of the following kind have also appeared in
print which were earlier asserting to the contrary, confirming that
the worst criminal gangs are not constituted by the members of
denotified communities: "Police still baffled by attacks on
farmhouse" (Indian Express, January 21, 1998), "Many sensational
murders remain unsolved" (Hindustan Times, November 27, 1999).
As has happened all through the history of denotified tribes,
confessions are wrested out of "busted gangs" of Bawarias or Sansis or
Pardhis through a variety of savage methods which often involve abuse
of their women. The National Human Rights Commission, in a historic
meeting held in February, 2000 has recommended repeal of the Habitual
Offenders Act, which in effect replaced the Criminal Tribes Act after
independence. The Habitual Offenders Act has spelt terror to these
communities for half a century, as they can be still summarily rounded
up whenever there is unexplained crime. The NHRC has also promised to
take steps to monitor atrocities on these communities and reorient the
police training systems to change the attitudes of the police towards
them at all levels. It has also accepted the need to protect
denotified tribes through a comprehensive package of welfare measure,
including employment opportunities.
However, no welfare measures, or recommendations by a Human Rights
Commission can create a more humane public opinion - that is an
autonomous process which has to begin to take place among thinking
citizens on their own. These communities have merely got caught in the
web of relentless historical changes encompassing colonisation,
modernisation and urbanisation and they need to be supported in their
severe ordeal and distress. In addition to being hunted and hounded by
the police, they remain on the periphery of society because of the
suspicion and active hostility of the average mainstream person.
Six crores of fellow humans wait to regain the honourable place that
they once held and lost.
Strong sense of self and place
The author is a sociologist and has worked extensively in the Narmada
valley. She has authored the book In The Belly Of The River.
How do you describe an attachment to a particular landscape? How do
you express what a place means when its sounds, smells, look and feel
are so deeply imprinted in your mind and soul that it becomes a part
of you? When you are away from it, you ache to return. Whatever its
shortcomings, this place is home and this is where you belong.
D. Nayak/ Fotomedia
Four years ago, while walking through Sakarja, a Bhilala adivasi
village along the Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh, in the submergence
zone of the Sardar Sarovar Project, I met a girl. She was driving some
goats along a narrow track up a hillside. I was hot and out of breath,
and seized the chance to stop and chat. It turned out that she was
alone, her family had moved to Gujarat where the government had given
them land. She had gone too, but after a few months at the
rehabilitation site, she returned to Sakarja to stay with her uncle's
family. When I asked why, she shrugged. "I like it here", she said,
"it's so open".
Looking around at the panorama of hills, streams,fields, and patches
of forest, I could see what she meant. "But aren't things better at
the new place?" I asked, "your family is there too". "I feel stifled
in the plains", she said, "I feel free here". And she went off nimble-
footed along the hillside, urging her goats on with shrill cries.
In the analysis of costs and benefits associated with the Narmada
dams, the discussion focuses on "oustees" and "PAPs" (Project-Affected
Persons) and the "rehabilitation package" of two acres land per adult
male. But men do not live by land alone. personhood comes from having
honour and dignity. And these qualities in turn spring from a sense of
self and place, at home and in the eyes of the world. These aspects of
what makes a person human and worthy of regard do not figure in the
discussion of the dam.
The discourse of the dam could never explain why a girl, scarcely more
than a child and clearly extremely poor, would choose to come back and
live in a village about to be drowned.
Whenever I am in the Narmada valley, I am overwhelmed by the rugged
majesty of this place. The Narmada is a beautiful river, aptly called
"the giver of bliss". At the same time, I am daunted by the hard lives
of the adivasis who stay along its banks. The land, forests and river
yield just enough to live by and, in bad years, not even that. Modest
crops of sorghum and maize, pulses and oilseeds, are the product of
unremitting toil in the monsoon months and, if the rain fails, even
this labour cannot stave off starvation. In bad times, the forests
stand the adivasis in good stead; there are tendu leaves,mahua
flowers, gums and fruit to be collected. If all else fails, adivasis
must migrate in search of work.
The effects of an uncertain and inadequate livelihood are writ large
in the people's lives. Almost every adivasi woman has known the trauma
of an infant or child dying an untimely death. Without enough food and
medical care, people suffer entirely avoidable illnesses with
phlegmatic fortitude. The absence of schools denies children a chance
to learn and improve their lives. Poverty puts people at the mercy of
a callous government bureaucracy and rapacious traders to whom
adivasis do not matter, except as people to be pushed around and
cheated. The exploitation of adivasis has a long history that can be
traced to the state's refusal to recognise adivasi rights to lands and
forests, and the almost total failure of the welfare state in this
region. Every year, crores are spent on "tribal development" but the
only people who get richer are the traders and officials with their
new Maruti cars and their rising houses in town.
Despite its hardships, this life is all there is for adivasis, and
they value it. Amidst the vicissitudes of drought, malnutrition and
exploitation, what keeps adivasis going are the certitudes of
community, their faith in the bonds of kinship, the knowledge that
relatives will help out in times of trouble. Walking along the
Narmada, one witnesses as small yet steady traffic of travellers - a
youth in a smart turban with a bow and arrow in hand going off to
visit his married sister, or a middle-aged woman carrying a pot of
buttermilk for her ailing mother. Their little courtesies indicate the
larger structures of material and emotional aid that enable adivasis
to hold their own in a hostile world.
It seems marvellous that such spartan material circumstances should
generate a vibrant life of the mind. The adivasi world is richly
imagined and interpreted through myth, story and song. The central
thread of this repertoire is the gayana, an epic poem that describes
how Narmada created the world. Will the gayana, and all the other
aspects of Bhilala knowledge and practice that are anchored on the
banks of the Narmada, survive relocation to a new place? Does it
matter that people will have to surrender so much of what they hold
dear for the sake of a dam?
Whether the dam will bring water to the thirsty people of Kutch and
Saurashtra, and I don't believe it will, we must be clear about who is
paying the price for this transfer of resources. As Arundhati Roy
asks, are we prepared to acknowledge the true "cost of living"? Our
lifestyles are made possible because adivasis in the Narmada valley
and elsewhere are forced to give up the little that they possess. To
add insult to injury, they are told that leaving their lands and river
will entitle them to an "attractive rehabilitation package" and the
gifts of development - hand pumps, schools and health centres. As the
headman of Kakadsila village asked the District Collector, "For forty
years, you didn't come to our village even once. You didn't care
whether we lived or died. Now when you want our land you come with
folded hands and make promises. Why should we believe you?"
The wisdom of this scepticism is borne out by most experiences of
resettlement. Waterlogged land, no livestock, fragmented families,
hostile neighbours, no commons to collect fuel and fodder - sums up
rehabilitation so far. Adivasis end up as urban refugees, permanent
members of an ever-growing army of footloose labour. If this is what
the future holds, no wonder that adivasis make desperate choices,
vowing to stay on in villages slated for submergence.
Though their chances of victory look increasingly grim, adivasis
continue to fight. For fifteen years, these villagers have borne the
brunt of a sustained government campaign to oust them. They have been
denied development inputs, their lands were forcibly surveyed, protest
brutally suppressed, and false cases filed against them. Now the
threat of submergence looms ever larger. "Leave now", say government
officials, "or you will drown like rats when the water comes". And
yet, despite the might of the state, people continue to fight because
their sense of self, their only vision of a good life, is rooted to
this place that they call home, the Narmada valley.
To be governed or to self-govern
Dr. Smitu Kothari
The author has been involved with PESA, is a tribal rights activist
and is with Lokayan, Delhi.
Over four years ago, without visible drama and fanfare, India's
statute books witnessed a new addition that represents one of the most
significant legislative changes in post-Independence India. Those
concerned about the social health of the country have been largely
oblivious to this historical legislative change. Even those that are
concerned about the rights of historically oppressed and discriminated
communities seem to have by and large (with a few exceptions) fallen
short of adequately responding to the enormous potential it has for
one of India's most culturally plural and diverse constituents to
secure a future that is dramatically better than today.
Prem Kapoor/ Fotomedia
I am referring to the provisions concerning self-government in
Scheduled areas (primarily adivasi areas identified for special
protection in a special schedule - section - of the Constitution)
after the enactment of the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to
the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (I will refer to this as PESA in the
rest of this essay). The provisions also question and potentially
transform the structure and powers that have been given to Panchayats.
For nearly two centuries, adivasi communities have spearheaded the
most remarkable struggles for social justice in the country. They were
among those who first resisted British colonial interests much before
the independence movement - a contribution that (despite a few rare
accounts of historic movements in a few regions) remains largely
unrecognised. Predominantly living with India's forests, they faced a
steady assault on their livelihoods when the British legislated the
crown's control over India's forests in 1865.
With one legislative change, they became trespassers in their own
forests victimised by externally motivated systems of forest
management that directly violated various facets of their economic and
cultural survival. Their forests and other resources in their areas
were increasingly seen as commodities, their lands expropriated as
private property and their growing dependence on ruthless moneylenders
linked with powerful feudal landlords and local politicians led to
massive land alienation, and permanent or seasonal migration. The
final act of violence legitimising these onslaughts of systemic
violence on a largely unsuspecting population was the imposition of an
alien judicial system and "law and order" machinery that subjugated
them further compounding their vulnerability and subservience. Their
own, highly subtle and organically embedded systems of conflict
resolution were undermined. The result of all these processes was the
erosion of their dignity, the devaluation of their identities and the
disrespect of their ways of living.
Unfortunately, after Independence too, the Indian government retained
the same laws and continued the erstwhile colonial attitudes and
policies over adivasi communities. They continued to be victimised,
their cultures and lifestyles disrespected, their resource base
exploited, with hardly any benefit accruing to them. In actual
practice, such state policy was aimed at assimilating them into the
"mainstream" on terms that they had very little say in. In effect,
while they participated in elections, the promise of democracy and
justice was largely denied to them.
In fact, in most areas there was further erosion of the relative
autonomy and dignity that they enjoyed in their communities, thanks to
the additional steamroller impact of party politics and the consequent
homogenisation of a rich heritage of cultural diversity. Participation
in the electoral process was no guarantee of their own democratic
rights being respected. Instead, elections have substantially lost
legitimacy as reliable institutions for ensuring cheap, quick,
reliable and transparent justice for rural people, especially those
belonging to disadvantaged groups.
In the first two decades after Independence, in anticipation of
policies that would change colonial attitudes and practice, there were
fewer agitations and revolts in adivasi India. It was not long,
however, before disillusionment started setting in with the
realisation that the brown sahib's governance was largely driven by
the same mentality and attitude as those who had colonised them
before. There were remarkable exceptions as a few enlightened
administrators and community leaders asserted the rights of adivasi
communities. Gradually, in a growing number of places, agitations and
mass assertions became the emergent culture of what began as mere
disillusionment. Coupled with the expressions of countervailing power
from below were efforts by a few sensitive administrators and support
groups. In the mid-1980s, people like the then Commissioner of
Scheduled Castes and Tribes, B. D. Sharma, used his constitutional
office to highlight the plight of the adivasis and the constitutional
responsibility to them. Numerous collective mobilisations
crystallised, including several demanding greater autonomy from
exploitative external forces. Another important development was the
formation of various alliances cutting across adivasi community and
General Gaur/ Fotomeida
Notable among these are the Bharat Jan Andolan (Indian People's
Movement), the National Front for Tribal Self-Rule, Adivasi Sangamam
and the Indigenous and Tribal People's Initiative all of whom
spearheaded a series of agitations representing the growing unrest in
Relenting to these widespread agitations by adivasis protesting
against continued violations of their customary and resource rights by
state and non-state actors, the Parliament set up a committee headed
by an adivasi MP, Dileep Singh Bhuria. Mr. Bhuria's report argued that
adivasi society had been marked by its own representative systems of
governance through the Gram Sabha (village council comprising the
assembly of all adult village residents), which should be legally
recognised as the primary centre of adivasi governance. Released in
1995, the report also argued that the long-standing demand of adivasi
control over productive land and forests should be conceded to and
that administrative interference in adivasi affairs should be
minimised. The government largely ignored the Bhuria Commission's
report reflecting the continuing dichotomy between the real needs of a
majority of adivasis and an exploitative governing structure.
Public agitations, including several major events in Delhi, have since