Sunday, November 30, 2008

Asad, Talal. “Religion, Nation-State, Secularism,”

#Asad, Talal. “Religion, Nation-State, Secularism,” in Nation and Religion: Perspectives on Europe and Asia, ed. Peter van der Veer and Hartmut Lehmann (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 178-96.

178-looks at “the limits of this way of understanding the public character of religion”

-recently scholars have had a “sense that the Enlightenment’s view of the place of religion in modern life needs to be revised”, especially because of the re-emergence of religion; there is an idea of the end of the “secularization thesis”, an idea examined by J. Casanova in Public Religions in the…

179-defenders of the secularization thesis have said that religious people are simply rebelling against modernity—as if modernity requires secularization; but Casanova said not necessarily, especially if religion emerges “in ways that are consistent with the basic requirements of modern society, including democratic government.”’ As long as “deprivatization” of religion “furthers the construction of civil society” and liberal values; but if not (gives examples of Egypt and Iran) “then political religion is indeed a rebellion against modernity and the universal values of Enlightenment.”—Asad says this idea is not entirely “coherent” because if deprivatization of religion is indeed carried out, then what’s its affect on secularization?; it has an affect on how things are run: economics, science, education, etc.

-says when religion is deprivatized, the structural differentiation of institutions (religion, economy, science, etc.) “no longer holds,” so the idea of secularization fails

*180-Habermas had pointed out “the central importance of the public sphere for modern liberal society”, but others have pointed out how that public sphere has excluded groups (cf Habermas and the Public)—similar to the critiques of pluralism (cf A critique of Pure tolerance and The Ethos of Pluralism)—and liberals respond that it’s not perfect but still an ideal, but “the point here is that the public sphere is a space necessarily (not just contingently) articulated by power. And everyone who enters it must address power’s disposition of people and things.”

-it’s not just “ability to speak, but to be heard”—“If one’s speech has no effect whatever, it can hardly be said to be in the public sphere, no matter how loudly one shouts.”; restrictions are imposed by laws (libel, copyright, etc.) and convention (secrecy for business, and morals) externally, as well as intrinsically via “the time and space it takes to build and demonstrate a particular argument”

*181-need to look at how “the experience of religion in the ‘private’ spaces of home and school is crucial to the formation of subjects who will eventually endorse a particular public culture.”

*-and so, “if the adherents of a religion enter the public sphere, can their entry leave the preexisting discursive structure intact?”’ “Thus the introduction of new discourses may result in the disruption of established assumptions structuring debates in the public sphere. More strongly, they may have to disrupt existing assumptions in order to be heard.” And may “threaten the authority of existing assumptions. And if this is the case, what is meant by demanding that any resulting change must be carried out by moral suasion and negotiation and never by manipulation or force?”

*-and questions why secularists think religion shouldn’t play a part in personal choices while politics does, especially through the law—even if we take for granted that there is a “secular self” that law liberates and religion coerces (the secular view), how can we prove only religion coerces---“the juridification of all interpersonal relations constrains the scope for moral suasion in public culture.”

*182-and representatives of deprivatized religion must act similar to politicians—target a peoples’ morals, “desires and anxieties”

183-can nationalism be looked at as religion? And “Is that how religious spokespersons can derive their authority in the public sphere, by invoking the national community as though it were a religious one?”—this idea was presented as early as 1926 by Carlton Hayes in essays on Nationalism

*-though Asad thinks religion is distinct from politics; politics (184) emerged from religion, but, more importantly, it has been treated differently (eg what separated church and state in 17th ce Europe was Tractarian and Ultramontanism insistence that church needed freedom from “the constrains of an earthly power”)—which also created “a redefinition of the essence of religion as well as national politics”

*185-the new def of rel emerged in 19th ce with the idea of “society”: “that all-inclusive singular space that we distinguish conceptually from variables like ‘religion,’ ‘state,’ ‘national economy,’ [etc.]”—a concept that didn’t exist prior to 19th ce (cf making a social Body p. 7—says 18th ce ideas of “body politic” combined with “the great body of the people”

*-so we should not just generalize and say secularism is just a new Christianity, we should see how it emerged with the specific idea that it would be a new morality for all “dives ‘religious’ allegiances”, must put it into context

-Grnealogy of secularism goes back to Renaissance doctrine of Humanism, then to Hegel who thought it was “a harmony between the objective and subjective conditions for human life resulting from ‘the painful struggles of History’”—for Hegel the Secular was the “embodiment of Truth” (in The Philosophy of History)

186-originally, the word saecularisatio meant the “legal transition from monastic life (regularis) to the life of canons (saecularis)”, after Reformation it meant “the transfer of ecclesiastical real property to laypersons, that is, to the ‘freeing’ of property from church hands into the hands of private owners, and thence into market circulation.” (cf Geschichtiliche Grundbegriffe v. 5, p. 789)

*-but the modern idea is the true “ground from which theological discourse was generated”; though in the past secularism produced religion which was oppressive, while modern secularism makes “enlightened and tolerant religion”—so separation between religious and secular is “paradoxical” because “the latter continually produces the former”

-the idea of Nationalism needs the modern concept of secular, in which people “make and own their history”; though it’s not a “truth revealed through the human senses”; (187) As Benedict Anderson pointed out nationalism is in an ideological construct “no less ideological than the one it replaces”, but it takes Christian ideas of time and the hierarchy of spaces, which are “broken down by the modern doctrine of secularism into a duality; a world of self-authenticating things in which we really live as social beings and a religious world that exists only in our imagination.”—and “is presented as commonsensical, that is, as accessible to all members of the nation”

187-“To insist that nationalism should be seen as religion, or even as having been shaped by religion is, in my view, to miss the nature and consequence of the revolution brought about by the Enlightenment doctrine of secularism…”, and just “draws on” religious language; “How could it be otherwise?” [PROB—does not see the connection and has a strict def of rel—calls it the “vernacular” meaning]; says Enlightenment thinkers say causes are “felt” differently, and nationalism doesn’t “feel” like religion

-“…religion consists of particular ideas, sentiments, practices, institutions, traditions—as well as followers who instantiate, maintain, or alter them.”—we must understand and their meaning and do the same with secularism

188-people have been referring to the contemporary Islamic revival (as-sahwa, “the awakening”) as “cultural nationalism”, a “continuation of the familiar story of Third World nationalism”’ ignoring muslim claims to religious foundations

-though there are overlaps with Arab nationalists—opposition to the “West”—(189) but they have different values for conduct

*190-the Islamic society (ummah) “is ideologically not ‘a society’ onto which state, economy, and religion can be mapped. It is not limited nor sovereign: not limited, for unlike Arab nationalism’s notion of al-umma al-arabiyya [“Arab nation”], it can and eventually should embrace all of humanity, and not sovereign, for it is subject to God’s authority. It is therefore a mistake to regard it as an ‘archaic (because ‘religious’) community that predates the modern nation.”

-though admits not all muslims have this pure classical view, and they translate it into contemporary political situations—but it still marks them off from Arab nationalists and other western-derived discourses—eg they don’t have “individual’s right to the pursuit of happiness and self-creation”

-though Islamism “seeks to work through the nation-state which has become so central to the predicament of all Muslims. It is this statist project and not the fusion of religious and political ideas that gives Islamism a nationalist cast.”, note #26 says idea of Islamic state is not in beginning of Islamic history, cf Asad’s article in muslim world 87 (1997): 183-195.

*191-secularims says religion msut only be private and make “no demands on life”; while secularism and thus the nation-state, through laws that regulate every aspect of life, from birth to death, make all social space “defined, ordered, and regulated” and therefore all is political. So attempts “by Muslim activists to ameliorate social conditions—through, say, the establishment of clinics or schools in underserviced areas—must seriously risk provoking the charge of political illegitimacy and being classified Islamist” and when Muslim political groups are democratically elected, they are called antidemocratic (eg in Algeria 1992 and Turkey in 1997)

-“Islam cannot be reduced to nationalism” even though it is in a secular world

192-religion is separated from the state in modern constitutions, (though note #28 says it’s not in US constitution, only in its Supreme Court interpretations, cf The Myth of Separation); but its place in society ‘has to be continually redefined by the law because the reproduction of secular life within and beyond the nation0state continually affects the clarity of that space.”—it “undermines established boundaries”

193-Asad calls for “An anthropology of the secular as practical experience”

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mines, Mattison. “Courts of Law and Styles of Self in Eighteenth-Century Madras: From Hybrid to Colonial Self,

Mines, Mattison. “Courts of Law and Styles of Self in Eighteenth-Century Madras: From Hybrid to Colonial Self,” Modern Asian Studies 35, 1 (2001): 33-74.

Summary: 33-“public representations of individuals and how these were affected by British East Indian Company courts judicial proceedings, and the law in Madras city during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Company records reveal that this was a period of dramatic transformation in self-representation, just as it also was in Company rule. My purpose is to trace the transformation of the manner in which individuals represented themselves and others and what this process reveals about the constitution of Madras society and Company rule by and after the establishment of an independent judiciary at the end of the eighteenth century. Most particularly, in this paper I seek to demonstrate how the transformation of E. Indian Company courts of judicature from interested courts, strictly controlled by the Company, to independent courts is associated with changes that greatly affect the manner in which individuals—both British and Indian—thought of themselves and others in Madras city public life. This transformation was of a piece with the establishment of independent judiciaries in England and North American at the time and indicates how Madras too was influenced by these political developments.”

-“the self exposes the dialogical processes of its history, which are always expressive of how a person fits and interacts within a set of relationships that sustain his or her self awareness. Self representation, therefore, voices an individual’s explanation of his or her social relations in a particular context and at a particular moment and presents that person’s perspective on the social rules that govern them. A self-representation, then, always expresses a point of view, a piece of argument uttered for a purpose, and so is, in a sense, a ‘still-life’ that pre-serves traces of co-respondents, the person or persons the individual is addressing, and of the counter interpretations that the representation is designed to address…[It is] a component of the dialogical heteroglossia [cf Bakhtin 1981] that characterizes ordinary life, including arguments about the ‘rules of the game’.”

35-article looks at 2 18th and 1 19th century representations—2 represent 2 eras—when court was administered by Company, then, after Recorder’s Court (est 1798) which was superseded by Supreme Court (est 1802), there were professional lawyers and judges and other regulations changed the Company—putting it more “in the role of an administration of law and Company employees in the role of government servants.”

-18th century portrayals are in testimony of judicial proceedings (1730 and 1790), (36) 3rd is autobiography of an Indian businessman and civic leader of the Beeri Chetty caste from 1889. All are texts of influential Indians with British of Madras

36-Says in that area, until late 18th century, “constituted a kind of frontier society, where Zamindari rule and a rough, merchant’s sense of common law combined, and where social (37) contracts allowed for a significant degree of individualization, as suited the needs of trade and manufacture. Weakly administered, society was highly personalized, antagonisms were rife, and relationships constantly in flux, a product of personal competition and opportunistic alliances between individuals rather than of Company hegemony or even local social hierarchy, although elements of these were also part of the administrative potpourri…there was no clear and consistent social divide that set British against Indian as increasingly characterized the period after 1790.” (cf Dodwell 1926)

37-“Pre-1790, the British traded, regulated the peace, and administered through the mechanism of alliances and partnerships with Indians.” (cf Brimmes 1993, Bayly 1988), “Consequently allies and enemies were where individuals and groups made them, w/ both British and Indian needing the other, and expressions of personal eminence and respect were likely to conform to Indian custom, as context and relationships required.” (cf Salmon 1744)

-prominent British usually had Indian partner (called a dubash) who helped broker deals—“no more than a few hundred” total—and Madras society was organized around them (cf Dodwell 1926); dubash was ostensibly British servant, but (38) he could do stuff in his own interest and British was depended on him—and either of their success or failure affected both—so their relationship was built on a “shared ethical sense of social order”—“preserved in understandings of self and other.”—“and the locus of much social control was located in them. Thus, what institutional power there was…was in some large part founded on such alliances, not in bureaucratic procedures and structures, nor in formal law.”

38-as the Company developed more institutional means to control city life, “it increasingly withdrew from its pragmatic alliances with local leaders”; in the 1770s Company began to develop and implement in Madras a “municipal structure including a small police force, whose early duty it was to control the prices of basic necessities such as food stuffs, tobacco, and betel” (cf Love 1913) which “competed with and undercut the personal authority and discretion of headmen”

-Acts of Parliament also changed British-Indian relations: Regulating Act of 1773—established Calcutta as a Company capital and Warren Hastings as Indian’s first Governor General; more importantly was the Pitt Act of 1784 “which settled the system of Company government as it largely was to remain to its end in 1858.” (cf Holdsworth 1938, Fawcett 1934); “These acts sought to end abuses by Company servants by curtailing the opportunities for corruption that (39) self-interested trade and British-Indian alliances were thought to engender. Central to this effort was the establishment of an independent judiciary whose design it was that no Company servant be above the law nor able arbitrarily to control its administration.”—warren hastings was even impeached

39-“in 1790 Cornwallis excluded Indians from henceforth serving in the army’s officer corps, while simultaneously, Indian civil servants were excluded from offices in government with salaries above [500 pounds] per year.” (cf Wolpert 1993); and “in 1800, the Madras government prohibited all covenanted servants except Commercial Residents from engaging in trade.”

-so by 1790 British and Indian lives were separated, segregated and “sense of the self were sustained within relationships that were in part defined in the law rather than largely within social relationships expressed as attributes of reputation, friendship, and enmity, trust and distrust and the strong emotions attendant on these…it meant that the criteria by which social relations were estimated and regulated were no longer internal to its constituting relationships and their concomitant emotions…Interestingly, one expression of this transition from the personal to the impersonal is that the use of strong emotion and affect such as disgust, indignation, and outrage, is a defining feature of seventeenth and eighteenth-century representations of self—British and Indian alike—but is a feature missing from nineteenth-century (40) descriptions.”

*40-this created “a new hybrid Indian subject, one that might be labeled culturally, but not racially, Anglo-Indian.”; “Ironically, much of what scholars today regard as Orientalist and racist about British colonial administration had its origins here in policies and law designed to end Company abuses and the individual corruption that private trade, Company courts, and British/Indian alliances were believed to have engendered, a law designed to be impartial, to protect individual rights, but also to regulate in part by means of racial distinction.”

-Originally British East Indian Company’s interests “were to trade and to make fortunes, not spend money on administration, defense, or conquest”

-Company leased Madras c. 1640; in 1711 Madras’ Governor in Council explicitly said “quarrels” with natives “destroy” the Company’s “ends”—(41) to it was still a “suzerain power”

41-“The Company sought to encourage what it hoped would be the self-interested involvement among the local population, Armenians, Portuguese, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and others, reasoning that a well-governed Town facilitated trade and so would be attractive to all. In pursuit of this shared government, the Company incorporated the Town in 1688 with a Mayor, Mayor’s Court, and Corporation…and all the other paraphernalia of an English municipality in the seventeenth century.” (cf Fawcett 1934)

-but the residents didn’t really want to serve, so “madras remained at best only weakly integrated by institutions of government” (cf Neild 1976), (42) police were protection for-hire

42-“Under these organizational circumstances, personal relationships and reputation were essential to success, and recognizing this, the Company was ever vigilant to maintain trust in dealings and agreements under its seal. Similarly, in interpersonal relationships a reputation for reliability in contracts was equally necessary. A man who broke his trust with a powerful other might find himself sued in the Mayor’s Court, but more importantly find his name forevermore degraded and his opportunities for contracts denied.” (cf Mines 1992)—“this is not to say that all manner of extortion and crime didn’t occur, for they did, of course. Rather, it is to say that a reputation for fulfilling one’s contracts and meeting expectations was essential within a relationship for that relationship to continue.” And “there were merchants [British and Indian] who went to great lengths, including illegal ones, to gain advantage or to ruin a rival; yet within a merchant’s own relations, whether British or other, it was essential to maintain the trust of one’s partners or be wrecked.”—(43) though some men of influence expected “gifts” from trading partners

43-and if a preeminent person died or left, the success of his friends was attacked and ended

-to reflect this, personal relations were often called friendships, and other common things in 18th century were rivalry, enmity and fear of murder (documented in Company’s records)

44-success relied on ties with London, Indians, dubash, other traders, and local aristocracy—a “big-man society par excellence”, “personalities loom large”, and reflected “The weakness and undeveloped nature of bureaucratically regulated institutionalized power”—even the Governor had to watch how he behaved (in 1721 a governor was removed)

45-Company had 3 sources of authority: English charter, local suzerains had authority over Indians, and the Company name (based on its trustworthiness)—men were linked in hierarchy of personal relationships (including castes and moieties)

46-first example: Chitteramah Chittee (a poor orphan of the dubash of a former governor), made a claim against a governor who was at that time just stepping down—James Macrae—in the Mayor’s Court; (147) which was judged by free merchants who from time to time used the Court to further their own factional and business interests to the disadvantage of the Company, the Governor, and the men of the Council’s so Chittee could have had a sympathetic ear

48-says Chittew was familiar with British through his father and living around several, and the fact that his accounts are “laced with emotion”, he probably gave the accounts, not his lawyer (and macrae’s response was “calm and concise”)—also at time “it was a lawyer’s responsibility to present a complaint and defense as his client represented it” (cf Paul 1991); concludes that view points are Chittee’s but the rhetoric is British—his self awareness includes “certain British understandings mixed with ‘native’ perspectives…”

51-in the court narrative, mines says Chittee “draws on the resource of the Mayor’s Court and on his knowledge of the rules of British daily practice in Madras to condemn the actions and so also the honor and integrity of the E. India Company’s highest officer…[his] complaint contains a skillful, economical argument in which he laid out in a seemingly natural manner the measure by which his father’s relationship with Macrae was to be judged”—friendship—“a relationship that carried with it the common expectations of the day about what constituted moral behavior between friends.”—and Chittee’s complaint has a “strong sense of indignation and condemnation”

*-“This evoking of common understandings of relational expectations, I argue, would have been in keeping with the attitude of the tiems, when social control was located more within the rules of practice governing social relations than within legal behavior and law. In fact, the Court makes no mention of legal technicalities or of any statute. Instead, common sense was the (52) standard of the Court. The Orator’s complaint, therefore, although it was designed to convict in part on the basis of what happened, more importantly was designed to persuade by demonstrating that Macrae was an immoral man…”

53-“in the context of the Mayor’s Court, clearly what mattered were British sentiments”

54-Ft. St. George was divided into what was called the “white” and “black” side of town and Chittee lived in the “white” part, “and it is no surprise, therefore, that his sense of self incorporated British relationships and ideas about social rules, including friendship.”, though he also noted “an Indian subaltern’s view” in calling the relationship a “tie between client and patron”; “From an Indian perspective, this embodies an ethic almost as compelling as that of friendship” [this is all PROBLEMATIC—assumes he’s not lying; assumes these ethics are not felt on both sides, assumes only Indian sees patron/client relationship, assumes b/c he lives in white town that he must think white, does not take into account indv personality or class]

-Since we know british also expressed honor in Indian terms (like having Indian leader style entourages), “The evidence suggests, therefore, that the elite expressed honor according to situation in the manner appropriate to the public context in which they find themselves.”

54-originally ruled in favor of chittee, but was overturned “without consideration of a point of law or a question of new evidence”

55-1746-49, France captured and occupied Madras; around that time Madras was placed under control of the administration of Bengal; the India Act of 1784 (from England) “removed ultimate authority from the Company’s court of Directors and transferred it to the Crown’s new Board of Control, had begun the process of turning the Company Merchants into government servants.”, and Company government in Madras was much bigger than in 1730, “and was poised at the ledge of a dramatic shift from mercantile hybridity of interests and relations to colonial separation” though still (56) “Madras was a city of personalities, alliances, and reputation; and the dominant style of leadership was still the hybrid form of the Indian big-man, seemingly little different from sixty or even one hundred years before.”

-Example 2: in 1790 Suncoo was “one of the leading Indian businessmen of the city” who, with an agreement from the Company, rented tobacco and betel farm and supplied those at a “fixed price”, also was a headman of the Komati business caste, and caste’s properties were held in his name, (57) was supposed to keep supplied warehouses for distribution

57-accused of not meeting any of his obligations, selling bad product, charging too high of prices, rarely having good warehouses, and bribing the Governor and other Board members—so petition was made to indict him

58-he said charges were trumped up

59-investigators found out the guys who started the petition wanted to take control of the beetle and tobacco trade, and petitions were dismissed, but not the charges

60-at trial, Suncoo gave no evidence besides his character: “He did not attempt to disprove the allegations against him. Such an approach would have indicated his understanding that his actions were to be judged by legal standards that were independent of constituting relationships and motivations.” (what he thought the social order was based on)

-but was found guilty, opponents and judges were “Exasperated by his weak defense”, though they did not have “solid evidence” either; and he was imprisoned for 9 years (61) until his death, and Company took his property and that of the caste “which it mistook for his personal property. All this was done illegally according to the Company’s own assessment made some thirty years later”—and the governor that dealt with Suncoo resigned

-Mines says “this case marks London’s new policy designed to quash what the new Board of Control saw as the corrupting influence of Company servants engaged in trade and personalized ties these entanglements generated”; removing Governor from being the “principal merchant of Madras and his Council members all traders”, and the criticism of the action 30 years later (62) was in the time of the “high colonial period of Company Raj” with a “well-established” independent court system

62-“In Madras, the effects of the 1784 Act become readily apparent only after 1802 when the establishment of the Supreme Court and Company records reveal that relations with Indians were now increasingly routinized by bureaucratic codes enforced by an independent court of law.”

-Suncoo’s rival had 2 examples of self representation that showed a mixture of Indian and British forms—especially by establishing public acknowledgement that he would be the patron of the Hindu social god—public, government acknowledgement was a new british institution

*65-“In fact, this new kind of society could not allow for racial mixing without obscuring its distinction between Indian subject and British ruler.”—gone were the ethical standards of personal relationships, “now Indians were to be judged by the British who from their position of institutionalized superiority could reward or ruin them.”

-Example 3: in an auto-biography written by P. Somoosoonthrum Chetty in 1889, (66) he never “addresses the British as if he and they shared the same ethical space and so could judge one another by the same criteria.”, and relationships are seen as employee/employer and heated emotions aren’t explicit though they “do seethe beneath [his] words”

69-his account stresses justice and law—not trust and friendship, emotions or enmity

70-Conclusions: in 18th century there is “a shared notion of what is appropriate”—compared to 19th ce which are “emotions are suppressed beneath a routinized order of law and public civility” (they are there, but “no outpouring” of it), and in Hindu temples where personalities still rueld, there was much corruption, and the identity of a “big-man” was limited to temple patronage

*71-“sense of self was of course still sustained in social relationships, but now these were publically regulated not by personal moral obligation and emotions, but by the impersonal rule of law and bureaucratic structures—even, we see, extending to the protection of individual rights against the collective interests of family”

*-“the self is not a fixed understanding…it is a dialogical historical process, importantly configured by the ruels of relationships and so by changes in public law and government administration.”, “the individual has a diminished role in construing social order.”

72-concludes: “Here was a clear motivation for seeking independence.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sahu, Sunil K. “Religion and Politics in India: The Emergence of Hindu Nationalism and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),” in Religion and Politics in

Sahu, Sunil K. “Religion and Politics in India: The Emergence of Hindu Nationalism and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),” in Religion and Politics in Comparative Perspective: The One, the Few, and the Many, eds. Ted Gerard Jelen and Clyde Wicox (Cambridge, UK; NY: Cambridge University Press 2002), 243-265.

SUMMARY: Examines the rise of BJP’s power in Indian government. Gives details about the history of the party, and the historical factors that are in play in Indian politics since the late 19th century. Conclusion predicts that, despite the BJP’s ostensible affiliation with Hinduism, Indian government will remain secular.

243-“…the official ideology of the early Indian state, and of the dominant Congress party, was secular nationalism. Hindu nationalist parties and organizations [e.g. BJP, the Ram Rajya Parishad, and the RSS]…were of marginal importance before and after India’s independence.”, and for 50 years after as well

-but since the 1980s, “…there has been a resurgence of Hindu nationalist ideology made manifest by the [BJP], and a concomitant decline in the consensus on secular nationalism.”

-BJP got 2 seats in 1984 parliamentary election, and “161 seats in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of parliament) in 1996, and formed a government that lasted only thirteen days. In March 1998, the BJP formed a minority government after winning 178 seats in the Lok Sabha. In elections held in October 1999, the BJP increased its numbers to 182 seats, and with its allies it secured a comfortable majority (302) in the Lok Sabha.”

-“These three elections over a four-year period have changed the nature of party politics in India. The (244) Congress party is in a state of disarray, suffering a humiliating defeat in the election of 1999, when it won only 114 seats in the Lok Sabha. In the golden jubilee year of India’s independence, Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the first prime minister since independence who was not associated with the Congress party…1998 will go down in history as the year of ‘Hindu Restoration’ in India.”—with the BJP for the first time giving the country “a conservative rightist alternative to the liberal centrist national governments”

244-India: greater than 82% are Hindu, 12% Muslim, Christians and Sikhs are 2% each; Buddhist and Jains are less than 1%; “India’s Muslim population is the fourth largest in the world”

-Muslims and Sikhs “have feared being overwhelmed” by the Hindu majority—that’s why Pakistan was created

245-Muslims and Hindus “lived side by side for more than one thousand years, but in the first half of the twentieth century there were hundreds of communal riots before independence and intense violence between the two following the partition of India in 1947. There after, the two communities lived in relative peace until the mid-1960s. Since the Muslims had lost most of their political leaders to Pakistan, Indian Muslims supported and voted for the secular Congress party on the understanding that the Congress government would maintain Muslim Personal Law and other aspects of Muslim culture. However, with the emergence of political action along religious and ethnic lines in the late 1960s, the Hindu-Muslim conflict escalated and violence against Muslims increase, culminating in the destruction of Babur’s mosque by a mob of Hindu fanatics on December 6, 1992.”

-Hinduism started around 2000 BCE and is “one of the most complex religions in the world”

-It’s the source of Jainism and Buddism—reform movements from the 6th century BCE; and Sikhism from 15th century

-no “identifiable founder or religious text”; 3 main deities: “Brahma (the creator of the universe), Vishnu (its preserver), and Shiva (its destroyer), but beyond the core is a bewildering diversity.”

-“There are regional variations as each cultural-linguistic area has its own tradition and local gods. Hindus worship different gods and goddesses, which are limited portrayals of the unlimited – ultimate reality that is formless, nameless, and without personality. Not all Hindus believe in the same things: some worship one god, others many; some go to the temple to worship, others to small shrines in their homes; some revere holy men and saints (yogis and gurus), others particular trees, animals, and stones.”

-all have “a core of common beliefs…based on ancient scriptures and sacred writings such as the four Vedas, the Upanishads, and the tow great epics, Ramayana and Mahaabharata.”

-believe in “doctrine of birth, rebirth and reincarnation or transmigration of souls.”

-“The Upanishads talk about the unity of the individual soul (atma) with the ultimate reality (Brahman). The goal of Hindus is to escape from the bondage of individual existence, which is temporary and painful and to be one with the Brahman.”

-karma (action) is “the moral law of causation” that “determines the sequence of rebirth”

246-to get free from rebirth, they follow the rules of dharma (duty or conduct) which is related to their caste; there are four castes which are hierarchical in the law of spiritual progression and social relations. From high to low: Brahmanas (priests and scholars), Kshatriyas (political rulers and soldiers), Vaishyas (merchants and cultivators), and Sudras (artisans and laborers)—and the castes are subdivided into greater than 3 thousand occupational groups; outside caste is untouchables: around 150 Million, subjected to oppression

-Islam “is far more unified than Hinduism”

-brought to India in early eighth century, “well-entrenched” by the 13th when the Delhi Sultanate was founded (1206)”

-16th century, Mughals—dynasty of Turkish rulers, ruled most of India from 1526—1707, formally ending with British rule in mid 19th century

-like Hinduism, it’s “an all-encompassing way of life”

247-“During the Mogul era, many Muslim rulers forced Hindus to convert to Islam, destroyed and desecrated Hindu temples and schools, and forbade public worship of Hindu idols and the building of new temples or repair of old ones…there was mutual hostility between religious leaders of both communities, but there was mutual acceptance among ordinary citizens.”

-some Muslim rulers (especially Akbar) had policy of tolerance

-both cultures “deeply influencing each other”, eg Indian Muslims developed “their own form of occupation-based caste distinction”; Muslim culture influenced Indian “art and architecture, literature and cuisine, and, more recently, cinema and popular culture.”—by early British rule, they were living peacefully side by side

-but in late 19th century, Hindu reform and revivalist movements and Hindu extremism created tensions; Hindu and Muslim religious symbols were used (even by the Congress party) to mobilize people

-“The British policy of divide and rule increased religious hostility, by introducing a system of ‘communal’ and ‘special’ representation, and separate electorates had sown the seeds of communal politics, which seriously undermined the congress’s effort to speak for Hindus as well as Muslims and become the sole voice of Indian nationalism. The disproportionate benefits derived by Hindus but not by Muslims from the introduction of English education further contributed to the problem.”

248-Sikhs “demanded a creation of a Punjabi-speaking province in the 1960s and a separatist movement for Khalistan (Land of the Pure) in the 1980s.

-Sikhism was established by Guru Nanak (a Hindu) at beginning of 16th century when Muslims were securing power. It’s reformist and monotheistic; emphasized unity of Godhead, forbids worship of idols, opposes caste system—though closer to Hinduism than Islam

-Mughals persecuted them and executed 2 gurus—leading to a Sikh martial tradition

-Sikh gurus were also rulers of kingdoms so there’s no separation of religion and state in its tradition; Brit annexed Sikh kingdom in the 19th century and Sikhs were loyal to British—getting them land and jobs

-After the Amritsar Massacre (1919)—379 Indians killed and 1200 wounded by British troops—Sikhs started supporting the Congress

-w/ reforms of 1947, Sikhs lost the previous British privileges—and “Because they were not adequately compensated for their losses, this grievance gave birth to the agitation for a separate Punjabi-speaking province…”, (249) this movement was politically led by the organization Akali Dal who based the demand on linguistic and ethnic, not religious, differences. A move “consistent with the Congress government effort, in the 1950s and early 1960s, to reorganize states along linguistic lines.”

249-But the successionist movement of the 1980s differed because violent radicals emphasized faith—and a faith-based state in a constitutionally secular India was unacceptable—Sikh violence in Punjab “was India’s most important political issue in the mid-1980s”

-The Congress tried to divide and weaken Akali Dal, but they reacted by mobilizing w/ violence and civil disorder

-Sikh terrorism killed 20-50 people per month from 1982-87 so Mrs. Gandhi ordered a raid on their holiest shrine to flush out terrorists and weapons—576 people killed and parts of the temple destroyed—so they assassinated her on 10/31/84, got her own sikh bodyguards to do it—sparking violence throughout India

250-her son, Rajiv Gandhi, became prime minister, signed accord in 1985, but many more years until peace was established

-the British had intentionally polarized Indians along “religious and communal lines”—separate electorates for Muslims in 1909, 1919, 1935; so Congress sought to end this; violence after partition took around 1 million lives

-44th amendment (1976) says all people get equal rights, and “neutrality” toward religion, but supports Hindu and Muslim temples and education institutions, and subsidy for hajj

-but religious freedom was institutionalized in some cases, (251) in others it had government involvement (eg Hindu temples had to be open to untouchables), and while Constitution says state won’t discriminate based on many things, including caste, there were reserved seats for scheduled castes and tribes federal and state legislatures, and the Hindu Code Bill (1955-56) codified law for Hindus but not Muslims and Christians (in “marriage, succession, guardianship, adoption, and maintenance”)

251-the Nehru/secular view was similar to Gandhi’s Hindu-based, non-violent and equality view, but the “militant” RSS saw Gandhi’s view as “appeasement” and though the government gave non-Hindus special protection—former RSS member killed Gandhi in 1948 and after that they were marginalized

252-RSS “is at the core of Hindu nationalism”, est 1925, “drew its ideology from the writings of V. D. Savarkar, who argued that ‘virtually everyone who has ancestral roots in India is a Hindu and collectively they constitute a nation.’”—saw Muslims and British as the Other; diversity within Hinduism is “either downplayed or completely ignored”

-125 thousand branches, “a youth wing and 3 thousand full-time instructor-propagandists”; (VHP), Akhil Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (largest trade union organization), and BJP—(253) all subscribe to this ideology, Hindutva

253-BJP: 17 million; RSS 2.5 M; ABKS 8 M; ABM: 4.5 M; VHP: 2.8 M

-BJP was preceeded by Bharatiy Jana Sangh (est 1951, a Hindu Nationalism group), focused on cultural issues and worked to reunite India and Pakistan; usually focused on Hindu heartland and Northern states; its head maintained ties with militant RSS, limiting its appeal to moderate Hindus and only won a few seats in parliament

254-in 1967 it joined in an anti-Indira Ghandi-coalition and got more parliamentary seats, and participating in the anti-Congress Camp in the 1970s “finally gave the party the acceptance it needed”; in 1977 it merged with three other by 1980 and the Jana Sangh contingent left the Janata party to form the BJP with the realization “that the old image of a party that gave narrow Brahminic interpretation of Hinduism had limited its appeal.”—and (255) got to expand its base to be a truly national party”

255-BJP “adopted the ideology of Gandhian socialism,” though it has shifted emphases a number of times with six distinct periods

-Phase I: the moderate BJP (1980-6); to change its image, it distanced itself from RSS and moved towards Ghandian socialism, while the Congress party started appealing for Hindu votes, campaigning against Sikh extremism

-Phase II: BJP’s tow-track strategy (1986-9); mainstream anti-Congress opposition and “carved out a base of its own through the mass mobilization of RSS and VHP.”—(256) based around the Shah Bano case and the re-opening of the Ran Jan Mabhoomi temple in 1986 after being closed for 37 years

256-Phase III: the militant BJP (1990-2): In 1989 they demanded that the Ram Jan temple “be handed over to ‘the Hindus’,” and asserted that it be re-built on the spot of a god-king’s (Rama) birthplace on which they believed Mughal emperor Babur built a mosque (Hindus have called for the temple to be torn down at least since the late 19th century); up to 110 million Indian Hindus and many other Hindus worshipped bricks and sent them there as building materials, at the same time Indian TV had TV series of (257) Indian epics, with around 100 million “devoted viewers,” creating more interest in Hinduism

257-BJP supporting the United Front government made it seem like part of the establishment—gaining support of “emerging middle class in small towns”

-1980s had big mobilizations for Muslims—Iranian Revolution, Zia ul-Haq’s Islamization of Pakistan, and conversion of Scheduled caste Hindus to Islam in Meenakshipuram in Tamil—caused uniting of Hindus w/ “shared hostility toward Muslims”

-in 1990, government stopped BJP leader from making chariot journey (like Lord Rama), so BJP withdrew support from government, they got several states in parliament in 1991 (on a Hindu, anti-Muslim platform) but because they got Uttar Pradesh (where the Ram Jan temple was), they couldn’t pressure central government to hand over Babri mosque to Hindus, so they changed their strategy

258-Phase IV: A “Responsible” national party in search for power (1992-98); Dec 1992 Hindus destroyed Babri mosque leading to “worst communal violence…since partition”; and neither BJP nor VHP could control the movement—so had to distance itself from Hindu organizations (esp RSS and VHP); in the 1993 elections it lost its states, so it backed off the Ram jan movement officially; then platform of anti-corruption and good government

-in 1996 it became the largest party in parliament, and continued to make alliances with regional parties on a middle of the road platform

259-Phase V: the BJP in Power (March 1998-99 elections); tested 5 nukes in 1998—promoting Pakistan to do the same, leading to US sanctions, though Indian public like it; banned controversial Hindu nationalist theater production and Satanic Verses, and withdrew recommendation for mandatory Sanskrit at schools—demonstrating its flexibility, of not being strict Hindu Nationalists

-Phase VI: BJP’s caretaker government and its victory in the 1999 elections; India had several good events for its image: inflation decreased, it won the Kargil war with Pakistan, (260) then it’s smaller group NDA got the majority in the Lok Sabha

261-today, Punjab is peaceful, Sikh nationalism is very low

-BJP’s appeal was not so much religious but its “superior organization” and appeal to middle and upper class groups

262-but contradictions in Constitution on secularism remain

-India conformed with the GATT treaty, liberalizing Indian economy (against the RSS’ wishes); denounced anti-Christian violence; (253) though it stil relies on RSS electoral presence

263-and it has also fragmented making it lose some power

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Jaffrelot, Chistophe. “The Vishnu Hindu Parishad: A Nationalist but Mimetic Attempt at Federating the Hindu Sects”

Jaffrelot, Chistophe. “The Vishnu Hindu Parishad: A Nationalist but Mimetic Attempt at Federating the Hindu Sects” in Charisma and Canon: Essays on the Religious History of the Indian Subcontinent, ed. Vasudha Dalmia, Angelika Malinar, and Martin Christof (New Delhi: Oxford Unviersity: 2001) 388-411.

Summary: This paper looks at the development of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP). Jaffrelot argues that VHP imitates Christian organization as an ecclesiastical structure to unify Hindus to resist Christian and Muslim “aggressors” in India. Though it uses religion as a means to propagate its message, Jaffrelot believes VHP is really more of a political (Hindu nationalist) group. He cites several examples of specific swamis involved.

388-“The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP; World Hindu Council) can only be understood in relation to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Voluntter organization), of which, in many respects, it constitutes an affiliate. Not only does the movement draw its ideology from the RSS, its structure is also derived from it. Indeed, the backbone of the VHP is embodied in the figure of the pracharak, a full-time “preacher” and organizer of the RSS. These pracharaks are specially trained in Instructors’ Training camps and then at the Officers’ Training camps of the RSS…they have renounced career and family life to devote themselves more completely to the cause of Hindu nationalism. Besides, they are bound to an itinerant life because their mission is to pervade the network of RSS shakhs (branches).”

-they are like renouncers; some see them as gurus

-the RSS “constitutes a kind of nationalistic sect” because of this; and it also portrays itself as such

389-but “the VHP does not draw its inspiration from the traditional Hindu sect, except for the self-professed asceticism of its paracharaks.”

-VHP “has undertaken its mission by imitating the ecclesiastical structure characteristics of ‘semitic religions”, Christianity and Islam, so as to more effectively resist these very religions—which it perceives as posing a threat to Hinduism.”

-first project director of VHP, Shiv Shankar Apte, Maharashtrian Brahman, encountered RSS from 1940-73, became a paracharak

-in 1961 he published 3 articles calling for bringing together all groups of Hindus for “general coherence”

390-in the 1950s, Swami Chinmayananda was making sermons on jnana yajna (the sacrifice of knowledge); got “unforeseen popular success”, mostly addressed Westernized middle Classes; used English (creating outrage from Orthodox) and allowed all people access to his spiritual knowledge; disciples came from India, South East Asia, and US—van der Veer says he’s precursor of “modern guru”; “His spiritual practice rested on a discourse which valorized individual development and a moral code as a factor in social success.”; he had no precise religious tradition

391-Apte recruited him and 149 others (primarily “modern gurus”) for inaugural conference of VHP in 1964; the 2 men formed “the keystone of” VHP—“Hinduists and the modern guru.”

-main idea of VHP was Christian proselytism was threatening Hinduism, so they adopted similar proselytizing techniques, eg “the stigmatization and emulation of so-called threatening others”

-“its formation was precipitated in 1964 b/c of the Pope’s visit”—RSS spoke out against it, called it an “invasion”; (392) Apte said Christianity, Islam and Communism were trying to build empires so Hindu world had to organize “to save it from the evil eyes of these three”

393-At the inaugural conference in Allahabad (with 25K delegates), “The under-representation of spiritual masters at the head of prestigious sects suggests that the VHP attracted, above all, swamis who sought additional legitimacy or a valorizing platform. This was a question of weakness but not necessarily of an insurmountable handicap insofar as the authority of a Hindu spiritual master can be derived from a source other than official investiture at the head of a recognized sect. Knowledge of spiritual texts, an ascetic discipline, and rhetorical talent can compensate (393) for these and help make it possible to proclaim oneself as a religious spokesman.”

394-At the conference, there was a sub-committee to create a code of conduct for Hindu samskars, to simplify purification rites and to give official status to 5 Hindu festivals; the codes of conduct were explicitly explained in opposition to Christian practices; and they established its own authority as central for their whole religious network

-in 1979, they held a second conference w/ around 100K reps and more diverse religions—Dalai Lama went as well as other religious dignitaries
-For this conference, the VHP had 2 goals similar to those of the last conference: Because Christian proselytizing was threatening, end untouchability (which was a big factor in conversion) and have unification of Hinduism; (375) plus new code of conduct, identified the Bhagavad Gita as “the sacred book of Hindus, regardless of their sect.”

395-Though there were still few actual sect leaders there, just heads of asurams

396-Apte, to justify this new mass-organization, said modernization is essential for survival of Hinduism from this menace--despite India being 82% Hindu and 18% Christian and Muslim

-some people (eg Swami Chinmayananda) acknowledged the idea that the VHP (and religious organization in general) was inimical to Hinduism, but it is justified in this case; Apte also pointed out long traditions of Hindu assemblages during crises

397-The VHP helps the RSS Hindu nationalist movement “by bringing together notables and sadhus imbued with its ideology”

-men from RSS headed VHP

398-businessmen, landowners, local teachers, police and politicians are attracted to VHP because of its religious affiliation

-The VHP in 1981 established a Sadhu Sansad for its sadhus to “play a greater (399) role in the activities of national construction”

399-in 1984, the Sadhu Sansad changed its name to Dharma Sansad and had “hundreds of participants”, it met regularly

402-in the last 3 decades, there has been increased number of sadhus who are not gurus, and they are often more driven by national ideology than sectarian motivations

-but “the VHP has not been able to make exceptional inroads among the leadership of orthodox Hindusim”

403-the VHP has some meetings in a building that’s part of a temple in Ujjain—“This infiltration into a sacred space by an ideological movement aroused no objection on the part of the roughly fifty pundits officiating the temple.”

404-they also use festivals to spread their message by having special societies to oversee who comes to festival and what is performed

406-some individual sadhus have “denounced the political dimension of the movement”