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Mar 24, 2010, 1:09:54 AM3/24/10
A 1998 post:


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
them also.

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
torn down.

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
not bring.

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
must compromise.

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

End of article by Mihir Meghani

Source - http://www.bjp.org/

Jai Maharaj, Jyotishi
Om Shanti

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Mar 24, 2010, 7:07:05 AM3/24/10
> Since newsgroup posts are being removed
> by forgery by one or more net terrorists,
> this post may be reposted several times.

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
millennium city.

Like Durga puja, Kali puja too began here by Bengali communities.

Age-old practice

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?

Police denial

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
social organisation.


Karnataka - Bidar
‘No’ to animal sacrifice sparks violence in Bidar
Staff Correspondent

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.

V.V.S. Sarma,


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
into consideration.

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.

K. Ananthan

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
ultimate goal?

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
given up.

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
Dietary Traditions.

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.

Not tenable

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
community identity.

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
Brahminical sense.

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.

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
Act, 1950.

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.

S. Viswanathan

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
Shiv Sena.

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
"recruitment agencies".

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
the Congress(I).

R. Krishnakumar

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
Lingayat converts.

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
political parties.

"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.

Parvathi Menon


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[1] 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
sacrificer's home.

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.[2]

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.
[3] 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 trans. Eggeling 1900)
It repeatedly states that "the Asvamedha is everything" (ŚBM
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
the sacrifice.

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[4]

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[5].

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].[6] 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).[7]

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[citation needed]). 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.[citation needed]

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[8]

Indo-European comparison

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:[9]

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),[10] 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)[11] Dayananda in his Introduction to the
commentary on the Vedas[12] 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 [13].

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'."[14]
arguing that the animals listed as sacrificial victims are just as
symbolic as the list of human victims listed in the Purushamedha[15]
(which is generally accepted as a purely symbolic sacrifice already in
Rigvedic times).

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
Shiva"[citation needed]

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.[16] Such modern
performances are sattvika Yajnas where the animal is worshipped
without killing it,[17], the religious motivation being prayer for
overcoming enemies, the facilitation of child welfare and development,
and clearance of debt,[18] 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. [19] ”

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.[2]

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








See also

Horse sacrifice
Animal sacrifice

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 [1]

^ 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) [2]


^ [3] 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
Staff Reporter

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
`yaaga kartha'.

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

and/or www.mantra.com/jai

Mar 24, 2010, 7:46:48 AM3/24/10
A 1998 post:

By Mihir Meghani

Source - http://www.bjp.org/

Source - http://www.bjp.org/

Since newsgroup posts are being removed


Mar 24, 2010, 11:18:10 AM3/24/10
On Mar 24, 7:46 am, use...@mantra.com and/or www.mantra.com/jai (Dr.

Jai Maharaj) wrote:
> A 1998 post:
> By Mihir Meghani
>    Source -http://www.bjp.org/
> Freedom meant that as the shackles of imperial ...
> read more »

Hinduism allows religious fervor without fanaticism.
Hinduism respects all spiritual traditions.
Garv Se Kaho Hum Hindu Hain !


Mar 24, 2010, 12:38:09 PM3/24/10
Kali (demon)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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.[1]
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." [2]

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.[3][4]

Puranic accounts

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."[5] 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)".[6] The Bhagavata Purana describes him as a sudra wearing
the garments of a king.[7] 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.[8][9]
During the Mahabharata, king Nala exorcises the disembodied spirit of
Kali to a vibhitaka tree,[10] the nuts of which were used to create
the dice for the vedic dice game.[11] 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.
[12] Still others more commonly state that Shiva drank alone.[13]) 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."[3]

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.[14] 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.

Markandeya Purana

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.[15] 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.[16]

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.[17] (See

Bhagavata Purana

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.”[18] 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.[7]
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”.[19] 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.”[19][20]

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?"[21][22]

Kalki Purana

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.[5]


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".[5] 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."[23] 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.

Family lineage

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

Vishnu Purana

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.

Bhagavata Purana

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

Linga Purana

The Linga Purana enumerates Adharma among the Prajapatis (Lords of

Dharma Personified

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
children's names.[25]


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).[5] 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.[17] 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.[17]

One source states, "Kali's wife Alakshmi and her sons who supervise
evil also came from Kshirasagara [the ocean of milk]."[3] Alakshmi is
the elder sister of the goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu.[26]
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.[26] 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.[26][27] 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.[3][5] Third, Alakshmi
takes the form of an owl.[26] Kali's emblem on his war flag is of an
owl.[5] Fourth, whenever Alakshmi enters a house, families fight and
turn on one another.[28] 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.[26] Kali also rides a donkey in the Kalki

Role in modern communalism

Further information: Communalism (South Asia) and Religious violence
in India

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.[29]
[30] 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).[31] One such pamphlet entitled “The Present State”
showed a cow being slaughtered by a trio of "Muhammadan" butchers.[29]
[30] 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").[29]

Some Hindus considered Kali’s presence in the picture to be a
representation of the Muslim community.[29][30] 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 ...”.
[29] 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.”[29] In 1915, a color version of this picture
ran by the Ravi Varma Press[32] caught the attention of the colonial
censors and was presumably censored in some way.[29]

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.[33]


^ 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
^ 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
^ Glass, Marty. YUGA: An Anatomy of Our Fate. Sophia Perennis, 2004
(ISBN 0900588292)
^ "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 ..." [1]
^ 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.[2] 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.[3]
^ Plot Summary for Nala Damayanti (1921)

External links

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
associated issues

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[1].
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”[2].

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.[3] 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.[4]

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
policy framers.

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,[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]
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?”[8]

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[9]. 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.[10] 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, [11] 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.[12]
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.[13]

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”.[14]
William Crooke was a well-known colonial ethnograher who wrote
extensively on peasant life and popular religion without any marked
prejudice against Hinduism.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18] The
killing of animals including the cattle figures in several other
yajnas including caturmasya, sautramani and independent animal
sacrifice called pasubandha or nirudhapasubandha.[19] 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.[20]
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.[21] 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).[22] 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[24] 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.[25] 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)[27]. 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.[28]

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[29]. 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.[30] More than two
centuries later, Bhavabhuti (AD 700) refers to two instances of guest
reception, which included the killing of a heifer[31]. In the 10th
century Rajasekhara mentions the practice of killing an ox or a goat
in honour of a guest[32]. 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[33],
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[34] (14th century) from Telengana
in Andhra Pradesh, and Mallinatha[35] (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.[36]

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[37]. Several other writers of exegetical works seem
to lend support to this view, though some times indirectly.
Visvarupa[38] (9th century), a brahmin from Malwa and probably a pupil
of Sankara, Vijnanesvara[39] (11th century), who may have lived not
far from Kalyana in modern Karnataka, Haradatta[40] (12th century),
also a southerner (daksinatya), Laksmidhara[41] (12th century), a
minister of the Gahadwala king, Hemadri[42] (late 13th century), a
minister of the Yadavas of Devagiri, Narasimha/ Nrsimha[43] (14th
century), possibly from southern India, and Mitra Misra[44] (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.
[45] 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.[46]

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.[47] 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.”[48] 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.[50]

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.
[51] 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.

[1] L.L. Sundara Ram, Cow Protection in India, The South Indian
Humanitarian League, George Town, Madras, 1027, pp.122-123, 179-190.

[2] Siva Digvijaya quoted in Sundara Ram, op. cit. p.191.

[3] 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.

[4] 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.

[5] Frederick J. Simoons, “Questions in the Sacred-Cow Controversy”,
Current Anthropology, 20(3), September 1979, p.468.

[6] The Times of India, 28 May 1999, p.12.

[7] Frontline, 13 April 2001.

[8] Rajesh Ramachandran, “A Crisis of Identity”, The Hindustan Times,
7 May 2000.

[9] W. Crooke, The Popular Religion and Folklore of Northern India, 2
Vols, Delhi: 4th reprint, Munshiram Manoharlal, 1978.

[10] W. Crooke, ‘The Veneration of the Cow in India’, Folklore, 13
(1912), pp.275-306.

[11] Sundara Ram, Cow Protection in India, Madras: The South Indian
Humanitarian League, 1927, p.8, passim.

[12] H.D. Sankalia, “ (The Cow) In History”, Seminar No. 93, May 1967.

[13] “Was the Cow Killed in Ancient India?” Quest, (75), March-
April 1972, pp. 83-87.

[16] 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.

[17] Louis Renou, Vedic India, Varanasi, reprint, Indological Book
House, 1971 p.109.

[18] R.L. Mitra, Indo-Aryans: Contributions to the Elucidation of
Ancient and Medieval History, 2 Vols, Varanasi: reprint, Indological
Book House, 1969, p.363.

[19] 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

[20] J. C. Heesterman, op.cit., pp. 190-93, 200-02.

[21] 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.

[22] William Norman Brown, ‘The Sanctity of Cow in Hinduism’, Madras
University Journal, 27.2 (1957), pp. 29-49.

[23] Medhatithi on Manu, V.27, 41 see Manava-Dharma-Sastra, ed., V.N.
Mandalik, Bombay, 1886, pp.604, 613.

[24] Brhaspatismrti cited in Krtyakalpataru of Laksmidhara,
trtiyabhaga, ed., K.V. Rangaswami Aiyangar, Baroda Oriental Institute,
Baroda,1950, p.326

[25] 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.

[26] Brhaspatismrti, 128b, Gaekwad Oriental Series, Baroda, 1941.

[27] For further references see S. Sorensen, An Index to the Names in
the Mahabharata, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, 1963, pp.593-94.

[28] R. L. Mitra, op.cit., vol.I, p. 396.

[29] Caraka Samhita: Sutrasthanam, II.31, XXVII.79: Susruta Samhita:
Sarirasthanam, III.25; Astanga Hrdayam: Sutrasthanam, VI.65.

[30] Meghaduta, with the commentary of Mallinatha, ed. and tr., M. R.
Kale (ed. & tr.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1979, I.48.

[31] 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.

[32] Balaramayana, of Rajasekhara, Ganagasagar Rai (ed.) Varanasi:
Chowkhamba, 1984. I.38a

[33] Naisadhamahakavyam, with the commentary of Mallinatha, Haragovind
Shastri (ed.) Varanasi, Chowkhamba, 1981 XVII.173, 197.

[34] Naisadhacarita of Sri Harsa, K.K. Handiqui (tr. with
commentaries), Poona, Deccan College, 1965, p.472.

[35] Naisadhamahakavyam, p. 1137.

[36] Meghaduta, Kale’s edn, p.83.

[37] 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.

[38] 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.

[39] Mitaksara on Yajnavalkya, I. 108. See Yajnavalkyasmrti with
Vijnanesvara’s Mitaksara, Gangasagar Rai (ed.), Delhi; Chowkhamba
Sanskrit Pratisthan, 1998, p.54.

[40] Haradatta on Gautama, XVII.30.

[41] Krtyakalpataru, Niyatakalakandam, trtiyabhagam, K.V. Rangaswami
Aiyangar (ed.), Baroda: Oriental Research Institute, 1950, p.190

[42] P. V. Kane, History of Dharmasastra, III, Poona: Bhandarkar
Oriental Research Institute, 1973, p.929.

[43] R. L. Mitra, op.cit., p.384.

[44] Mitra Misra on Yajnavalkya, I. 108.

[45] Palapiyusalata Gourisayantralaya, Darbhanga, Samvat 1951.

[46] Atrismrti, verse 314 in Astadasasmrtyah (with Hindi tr by
Sundarlal Tripathi, Khemraj Shrikrishnadas, Venkateshwar Steam Press,
Bombay, Saka 1846.

[47] Romain Rolland, The Life of Vivekanada and the Universal Gospel,
Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta, Eleventh Impression, August 1988, p.44 fn.

[48] 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).

[49] India Today, 15 April 1993, p.72.

[50] Visnusmrti, LIV.7; Atrismriti, verse 297, etc.

[51] 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
Bhadrakali. (Discuss)

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.


In Tantra

Kali Yantra

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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[3]
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.[5] This is clear in the work of the Karpuradi-
stotra[6], 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.[5]
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.[7] 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.[8]

[edit] 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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11]
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.[11][12]

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.[13] 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.
[16] Chamunda is very often identified with Kali and is very much like
her in appearance and habit.[17]


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.[18] 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
as assassins.[19]

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.[20]

Maternal Kali

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.[21]
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,[22] 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.[23]

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?"[26]

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.

-Sri Ramakrishna

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.

Popular form

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.[27]

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.[28]

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.[29]

[edit] 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.[30]

The Tantric interpretation of Kali standing on top of her husband is
as follows:

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.[31]

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.[32]

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.[31]

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
their union.[33]

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.[34]


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
that year.[36]

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."[37] 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."[38]

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[citation needed].


^ 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,
pages 116–117.
^ 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,
1997, V.
^ 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
Hays, 1993
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
Press, 2000
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
[edit] 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.
ISBN 81-7120-139-3
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
Tracy Pintchman

External links

Hinduism portal
Find more about Kali on Wikipedia's sister projects:

Definitions from Wiktionary
Textbooks from Wikibooks
Quotations from Wikiquote
Source texts from Wikisource
Images and media from Commons
News stories from Wikinews
Learning resources from Wikiversity

Kali at the Open Directory Project



Goddess as Kali - The Feminine Force in Indian Art
Article of the Month - August 2000 Printer Friendly Version
PDF (Acrobat) - 382 kb

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

...Ramakrishna Paramhans

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
joined in.

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.

... Ramaprasad

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
that you may have will be greatly appreciated. Please send your
feedback to feed...@exoticindia.com.


and/or www.mantra.com/jai

Mar 24, 2010, 7:53:04 PM3/24/10
A 1998 post:

By Mihir Meghani

Source - http://www.bjp.org/

many more people and represents the mental freedom that 1947 did
not bring.

The future of Bharat is set. Hindutva is here to stay. It is up to

Source - http://www.bjp.org/

Since newsgroup posts are being removed

and/or www.mantra.com/jai

Mar 24, 2010, 7:55:51 PM3/24/10
In article <7df7b9a5-4b48-483a...@g10g2000yqh.googlegroups.com>,
fanabba <fan...@aol.com> posted:

> Dr. Jai Maharaj posted:
> > A 1998 post:
> >
> >
> > By Mihir Meghani
> >
> > =A0 =A0Source -http://www.bjp.org/
> > read more =BB

> Hinduism allows religious fervor without fanaticism.
> Hinduism respects all spiritual traditions.
> Garv Se Kaho Hum Hindu Hain !

Yes indeed.
It'll be nice if a political party actually follows Hindutv principles.

P. Rajah

Mar 24, 2010, 8:41:30 PM3/24/10
Ideology of Hindutva is Sheer Fascism: Swami Agnivesh

Interview with SWAMI AGNIVESH


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
and terrorism?

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.

P. Rajah

Mar 24, 2010, 8:41:34 PM3/24/10


Mar 25, 2010, 5:48:54 AM3/25/10
RSS hopes Gadkari will push Hindutva
Vikas Pathak, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 23, 2010

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
more pliable.

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
on patriotism.

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
Nitin Gadkari
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,”
said Shatrughan.


Nitish stamp in party panel
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

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

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'

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

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
the sealnik.


India second most spam originator worldwide: study

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'

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
“vested interests”.

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
as yet.

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

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

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
Hindustan Times
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

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

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


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

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