Synthetic Pipedream

Just when you think it’s over, there’s always someone new who drums the fossilized jungle beat. I wouldn’t have been this harsh but for the fact that this was said by the generally-sensible Vijay Vikram, who’s doing some commendable work at his new portal in terms of bringing fresh and alternate shades of discourse to the jaded, corrupt, and crumbling citadel of Indian secularism. And before I kill you with suspense, here’s what he tweeted:

I love @amargov for bringing up Dara Shikoh and the Hindu-Muslim synthesis. We must never forget the India that could have been.

This idea of “Hindu-Muslim synthesis” is a pipedream at worst and sheer, romantic naiveté at best. It additionally reflects ignorance and/or poor reading of history and religion. But I wouldn’t entirely fault Vijay Vikram or Amar for propounding this synthetic theory. The roots go much deeper.

If you look at Dara Shikoh’s life, it’s entirely clear why he is rightly held up as a beacon of Hindu-Muslim synthesis (sic). Equally, if you look at Dara Shikoh’s life, it’s entirely as clear why this synthesis is an impossibility. A basic question to set the ball rolling: who can show me exactly one other person in the 150+ years of uninterrupted Mughal rule who even attempted to do what Dara Shikoh did? And no, Akbar was not a “synthesizer” in the strict sense of the word: he was merely less Islamic than the rest. His absolute and unchallenged power allowed him enough leisure to indulge his philosophical and religious fantasies. This is not to deny any of his liberal policies—abolition of Jaziya and the rest—but they need to be put in perspective: because your WC is made of gold, you can’t have your dinner sitting on it. Dara Shikoh was the only Mughal who did that and paid for it dearly, brutally, humiliatingly. The reason is precisely because of…oh well, let’s let the evidence speak :

…the villainous ways of Dara Shukoh—what became the chief cause of Aurangzeb’s wrath was the inclination of his heart to the principles (or practices] of the Hindus and the spreading of disregard of Islamic religious prohibitions (Ibahat and Ilhad). Therefore, considering it necessary to defend the faith and the State, Aurangzeb determined to go to Shah Jahan… 1

On the 23rd June 1659, Dara Shikoh with his second son, Sipihr Shikoh, and two daughters, was delivered to Bahadur Khan, and two months later the party arrived outside Delh, on the 23rd August. A week after his arrival the royal captive was paraded in the bazaars of Delhi. ‘On 29th August the degrading parade was held. To complete his humiliation, Dara was seated in an uncovered hawda on the back of a small female elephant covered with dirt…[T]he captive heir to the richest throne in the world, the favourite..son of the most magnificent of the Great Mughals, was now clad in a travel-tainted dress of the coarsest cloth, with a dark dingy-coloured turban, such as only the poorest wear, on his head, and no necklace or jewel adorning his person. His feet were chained, though the hands were free. Exposed to the full blaze of an August sun, he was taken through the scenes of his former glory and splendour. In the bitterness of disgrace he did not raise his head, nor cast his glance on any side, but sat “like a crushed twig”…A decree was obtained from the Doctors of Muslim law that Dara Shikoh deserved death on the ground of infidelity and deviation from Islamic orthodoxy. On the night of the 30th August, the executioners tore. away Sipihr Shikoh from his father’s arms, and after a violent struggle beheaded Dara Shikoh. The severed head was sent to Aurangzeb to satisfr him that his rival was really dead; and the corpse, by the Emperor’s order, was placed on an elephant and paraded through the streets a second time and then buried in a vault under the dome of the tomb of Humayun. 2

[Emphasis mine in both places]

Aurangzeb was perfectly justified in murdering Dara Shikoh because he stuck to Islam to the last alphabet. Dara was the black sheep, the apostate royale. Which is why the entire Ulema threw its weight behind Aurangzeb against the rightful heir—and Shahjahan’s favorite son—of the Mughal empire. As evidence shows, Dara’s dastardly death actually underscores the true reason why the Hindu-Muslim synthesis can’t be achieved.

Synthesis—in this context, of the religious sort—is by definition give and take. Hinduism is by definition an inclusive religion. Most Hindus won’t have a problem accepting Muhammad as say, a Guru or Sant or Mahatma. But the record on the other side reveals that the ultimate goal of Islam is to make the earth Dar-ul-Islam. Without this knowledge, it’s impossible to understand why Dara was killed or the fact that Dara Shikoh was an apostate to begin with given that Islam forbids Muslims from reading literature of other religions and recommends death as punishment for such an act. He knew Sanskrit, was learned in various Hindu religious texts in the original and had even translated the Upanishads into the Persian. And he could do all this because he had immunity from the Ulema’s wrath being the designated crown prince at one time. What are the odds that an ordinary Muslim could do this and hope to remain alive in those times?

This is the glaring, fundamental contradiction that prevents accomplishing the said synthesis.

Which brings us back to the proponents of the Hindu-Muslim synthesis yarn. Here’s one such well-known yarn-spinner. The Hindu-Muslim Synthesis Story is simply a variation of the Grand Theory of Composite Culture and the Hindu-Muslim Syncretic Epic Romance conceived by Nehru and nurtured by our Marxists. Thanks to the Brainwashing-as-history Project, this Grand Theory became widespread and successful—its success can be gauged by the fact that even sensible folks like Vijay Vikram and Amar accept it without critical scrutiny. Actually, the Dara Shikoh episode is seductive if it’s taken at face value. And it’s precisely what our secular brigade wants: to prevent an honest and open examination, which will compel us to face really brutal truths and expose their game.

It’s curious how those who use Dara’s example of an “India that could have been” never pause and think about the magnanimity of hundreds of Hindu kings who allowed their Muslim subjects to practice Islam without fear, favor or state interference. This despite knowing that kings of their religion had vandalized temples, converted, and killed Hindus. This was the India that actually was. Synthesis in every sense of the word was practiced by Hindu rulers. Somebody needs to show us exactly one counterpart in a Muslim king. Again, if you hold Akbar as an example, here’s what will ensue: for all his liberal policies, Akbar was careful not to seriously antagonize the Ulema. Granted that he allowed his numerous Hindu wives practice Hinduism but why did only a Jahangir become his successor? And what about his other children who all became Muslims despite being born to Hindu mothers? You can’t call this synthesis: partial synthesis is no synthesis.

In the end, this kind of wishy-washy “analysis”—or even an expression of hope, which is what Vijay Vikram’s tweet is according to my humble deduction—ignores the basic tenets of both Hinduism and Islam. Knowledge of these tenets is mandatory if you need to be taken seriously. The reason the “enlightened” democracies of Europe, and the USA today can’t make sense of the behaviour and attitudes of their Muslim immigrant populations lies precisely in its inability to look at the root of the problem: the core tenets of Islam, which precludes the sort of synthesis that Vijay Vikram speaks about. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Salman Rushdie, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, et al are contemporary equivalents of Dara Shikokh minus his knowledge of Hinduism.

Here’s the thing—if the Hindu-Muslim synthesis could have happened, it would’ve already happened in some form or the other. 800 years is a long time for something like that to not have happened. Think about it.


References:

1. Masir-i-Alamgiri (or A History of the Emperor Aurangzib-‘Alamgir) Chapter 1, Page 2. Translated from the Persian by Sir Jadunath Sarkar

2. Aurangzib Vol 2, Page 211 by Sir Jadunath Sarkar

266 comments for “Synthetic Pipedream

  1. cricfan
    January 20, 2012 at 6:57 AM

    Syncretism involving Dharmic faiths appears to be a fancier word for Digestion. As Rajiv Malhotra points out: Monotheistic faith [tiger] eats Ahimsa-driven Hinduism [deer]. Inside the tiger, deer digested into stronger tiger DNA, deer = turned into a pile of s**t.

    Excerpts from a longer comment [notation: BD = Being Different, Rajiv Malhotra's amazing new book]:

    There is an initial period in all UTurns and digestions in which it appears that both sides are equally impacted with a sort of merger of the two. So the orthodoxy complains from each side because of what are seen as compromises. This is what Christian orthodoxy at Swami Vivekananda’s time complained about.

    But one must assess the encounter based on long term impact and not just short term. This applies also to many similar movements today that in the short run seem to be spreading dharma into the west – i.e. the sort of things celebrated in [the book] “American Veda” – but that in the long run are part of the digestive tract into Western Universalism.

    After Swami Vivekananda’s era, the RK Mission / Vedanta Society in USA under Swami Parmananda changed into digestible form. This swami became immensely popular among liberal white Americans with his “sameness” message, even though he imagined that he was digesting Christianity into dharma.

    If X = dharma and Y = Christianity, what happened was: X + Y= Y enhanced. The X got digested into Y and enhanced Y in the process. Let me explain further. It is the history centrism of Christianity that prevents it from getting digested, and that in turn digests the other.

    Imagine a Hindu and a Christian who agree to accept each other’s faiths and combine both – as happens in many marriages when they raise the kids with both religions. Here is the resulting set of ideals and practices in the combined version:

    From Christianity: Nicene Creed = history centrism of Original Sin + Jesus’ virgin birth + Jesus’ exclusivity as ONLY redeemer/saviour + Jesus’ sacrifice to redeem all sins of those who accept him + …

    From dharma (as commonly taught today, lacking any items that resist digestion): Pranayama, vegetarian diet, namasker, symbols, certain holidays, etc.

    Now imagine the person who fully performs both lists of items above. Who is he in terms of faith?

    He is a Christian enhanced with certain Hindu practices digested. Some are good for his health, others are nice symbolically making him seem very liberal and open minded in order to impress naive Hindus.

    Accepting Jesus as the one and only SAVIOUR (from Original Sin) is the game changer in favor of Christianity. You can get all the namaskars you want, all the bindis and dhotis being worn, all the sitting on the floor and eating with hands, all the celebrations of Hindu rituals and holidays. IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE TO THE SOLIDLY ENTRENCHED CHRISTIAN. Such a hybrid is a Christian. Hinduism is made redundant because it becomes a subset of the Christian, i.e offers nothing else that is not already digested.

    This is why I request people to re-read chapter 2 until history centrism is very well understood.

    Whats the remedy for us? This question is what drove me for 20 years because I lived in the crisscrossed world of Hinduism and Western religious ideas. This is how my R & D led to the differences explained in BD. These differences are what resist getting digested. They cannot be tolerated by the Nicene Creed. So long as you hang firm to these differences you cannot be digested into Chritianity. This makes it important for gurus to teach these differences to western and Indian followers.

    As I explain in my TV interview in Delhi last November (see video), we are either BEING DIGESTED or we are BEING DIFFERENT. These are mutually exclusive.

    So do not accept that person X “has become very Hindu friendly” on the basis that s/he does yoga, has an image of a deity, turned vegetarian, does namasker, dresses like traditional Indians, has a guru, and so forth. Ask the HARD QUESTIONS. Dont settle for attempts to evade these questions.

    But before you can do this kind of encounter (like the one I had with Mark Tully, and the one I was prepared to have with Clooney but he chose to not take me on), you need to do lots of homework. This includes the purushartha of studying the other (purva paksha) and the anubhava (experience) of dozens of encounters as your way to practice and learn from experience. Every guru ought to go through this tapas.

  2. cricfan
    April 12, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    Just reading a few chapters of ‘Breaking India’ by Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan is shocking. just shocking. Synthesis is farthest from the minds of the evangelical christian church. It is in fact the exact opposite, the anti-synthesis.

    One by one, Yoga, Bharatha Natyam, epic works of art and literature, and all the good spiritual gifts given by Hinduism (specifically those from ancient Hindu Tamizh works) to the world are being carefully torn apart, brick by brick, verse by verse, asana by asana, raaga by raaga, mudra by mudra, and being given a thorough re-branding – with active help from converted and brainwashed Dravida-racist Tamizhs. An entirely different historical and racist narrative is already being created and taught in Tamizh Nadu schools, and a generation of people have already grown to believe this as fact – just like Pakistani school textbooks, only it’s more subtle and sounds good (Who doesn’t like it if they are told they are special and cool and unlike the other boring kids in the class)

  3. neelkanth
    March 30, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    @Rashmi, Your guruji seems to say something similar to what Paramahansa Yogananda has said. Looks like we are heading towards much trouble before things become better. I agree with you that every hindu must work for sanatan dharma in some way. Thanks for your reply, your post gave hope.

  4. Loneranger
    March 30, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    Rashmi – What is so enlightening or illuminating by “man kind will learn its lesson through wars, famines, drought and floods” ?
    Many famines and floods have happened before and quite a lot of lessons were learnt. What is new this statement that you are awed and gushing about some fake godmen? The fundamental truth of human kind is we all learn by falling.

  5. Rashmi
    March 30, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    Neelkanth at least in India we all(esp Hindus) should gain Knowledge worldly, vedas, Yoga and gain spiritual strength(acquired by practice of Yoga, n Agnihptra). Then debate All such Islamic preachers with experience , logic, science publicly. I appreciate the effort of Agniveer in this matter. Teach them show them by proofs how our blood is same.

    These 20 years are not good for humanity my Guru ji has said. Lot of bloodshed n loss of human beings will happen. However yogis have said of spiritual revival of India. World will not collapse as people are foretelling as per Inca civilisation , for the creation to dissolve another 1 Arab 96 crore years are left. We are in 7th manavantar, 28 chaturyugi in kaliyuga of this chaturyugi, 7 more to Go . The creation is always based on eternal laws of universe well explained in vedas.

    We all have to work of revival of india through vedic heritage explained everything scientifically and practice of vedas. Nityananda bahagwaan of ganeshpuri had made 40 caves in kasragad in kerala, while building these caves he had said great souls are going to take birth again to guide man kind into Dharama. Swami samamrath of Akkal kot when asked by the devotee about sanatan dharma in this age, he had said, Sanatan Dharma’s golden period will come again. All of us have to propagate vedas/Upanishads and ask preachers of Islam why truth has only changed five time 1400 years ago in middle east. Why yogis still say vedas are the only truth in spite of emergence of Christanity/Quran/Bible. Why scholars/wise people admire vedas and upnishads not Quran / bible.
    Nothing will happen on its own but we also have to work towards this.

    Paramhansa too said man kind will learn its lesson through wars, famines, drought and floods in Autobiography of yogi.

  6. neelkanth
    March 30, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    Rashmi, if you have a guru, please ask him what is going to happen to this virus known as Islam (it is not a religion).

  7. Rashmi
    March 30, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    Dear Sandeep,

    seeing the world getting torn apart by our ideologies,beliefs, religious extremesim, and natural n man made disasters, this article is very relevant Harmonising Cultural Diversity: A Scientific Perspective by
    Thillayvel Naidoo.
    The link to read is http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1700.

    Few things i would quote from the article “Swami Prabhavananda’s edition of Srimad Bhagavatam contains what for me is an amazing contention on the meaning and purpose of religion and its intellectual counterpart philosophy. Serious students of the two related subjects can never challenge the statement that forms a profoundly beautiful starting point for studies in the science of religion. Srimad Bhagavatam says, “Religion is not for the purpose of securing a place in heaven. It is an enquiry into Truth, and its ideal is the knowledge and the realisation of Truth”.

    Infact i have realised at the feet of perfected one or the one who is sthitprajana the differences doesnot matter. A yogi who has perfected himself see God in all, serve all and never preaches hatred.He tells all what he has experienced n how we all can achieve n prosper.
    At this moment i rememinded of few words of paramhanasa yogananda ji from autobiography of yogi , ” TRUE KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. TRUTH IS NO THEORY, NO SPECULATIVE SYSTEM OF PHILOSOPHY, NO INTELLECTUAL INSIGHT, TRUTH IS EXACT CORRESSPONDENCE WITH REALITY. FOR MAN TRUTH IS AN UNSHAKABLE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS REAL NATURE.

    THE WISDOM GARNERED BY INDIA, THE ELDEST BROTHER AMONG NATIONS, IS A HERITAGE OF ALL MANKIND.

    DISTICTION BY RACE, NATION OR RELIGION ARE MEANINGLESS IN THE REALM OF TRUTH WHERE THE ONLY QUALIFICATION IS THE SPIRITUAL FITNESS TO RECEIVE.

    OUR ANCIENT RISHIS WHOSE MINDS WERE PURE RECEPTACLES TO RECEIVE THE DIVINE KNOWLEDGE OF THE VEDAS, WERE THE MEMBERS OF THE HUMAN RACE ONLY, BORN ON THIS EARTH, RATHER THAN SOME OTHER, TO SERVE HUMANITY AS A WHOLE.”

    My Guru ji always says Vedas are equally applicable to all.

  8. cricfan
    March 29, 2011 at 3:07 AM

    @loneranger:

    let me get this right.

    A person who lacks any sense of proportion, has no faith whatsover in the judicial system, is prone to making wild allegations without any proof, is so lazy as to cite dubious references (without even reading them) to deny mass plunder and killings purely because they belong to one particular community, wants to hawk his “noble” ideas to “impressionable young minds”. Dude, are you for real ?! Hilarious. Please keep them coming.

  9. Malavika
    March 28, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    @loneranger

    For someone supposedly teaching people democracy, you have a lot of time to troll on the web.

    You are a liar and a supporter of Aurangazeb and assorted evil folks. And you are not fooling anyone here with your glib non sense about being ‘liberal’.

    No one here hates people(Muslim , or any one else), people here are knowledgeble enough to see that Islam gives divine sanction to hate the ‘other’ and dehumanizes the ‘other’. Why are you not bothered about hatred for Kaffirs?

  10. Loneranger
    March 28, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    Cricfan – If we were to go by saying nothing is proven in the court of law, then hardened criminals will be called innocent unless proven in court of law. We are talking about an issue here wherein religious minded extremists are trying to use voilent means to acheive their goal. Whether the extremists are from muslims or hindus or any other religion , it is irrelevant because they are misguided and need to be educated to let go of the path of voilence. Unlike you and your friends here who sit and pontificate on net, we have meetings and get togethers with those impressionable young minds who we feel will take the path of voilence. We meaning me and my friends here since we feel that any kind of hate is wrong be it based on any real or imaginary reasons. We try to educate them on what democracy is and show them their notion will not lead to any solution or benefit for anyone.

  11. cricfan
    March 28, 2011 at 5:37 AM

    “Bamiyan, death fatwas are all handiwork of a small misguided minority in the same way how pragya or purohit are misguided.”

    Hatemongers like loneranger and their sanctimonious cheer-leaders like gorky will be the first ones to deny or diminish the jewish holocaust (and the many massacres of natives in india by invaders) so they can conveniently rationalize holy-book-authorized mass murders and pillage that have occurred for many hundreds of years to this day and choose to pick on those who they know will not respond with violence.

    The scale of tragedy is immaterial to these people, who are devoid of any sense of proportion in their arguments. It is shocking that these people can be so utterly cold blooded and devoid of any human empathy and decency to so glibly equate mass annihilation of cultures and (just one example -) the ethnic cleansing of many, many thousands in kashmir to the criminal, ad-hoc revengeful acts (and this has not yet been proven in a fair court of law) of purohit and co. These divisive elements in the society constantly put on the agenda (see just this thread for example), mass-murder and subjugation as potential solutions and see if somebody takes the “bait”. People who think like this are praised by gorky “as admirable young men”. Appalling lack of judgment.

    There is absolutely nothing liberal about this thinking, other than taking liberties with truth (loneranger, you have yet to show common courtesy to either retract a reckless allegation you made or show an iota of evidence).
    All they can do is to cowardly side with those communities who wield the global power in this world – money and oil, and use and advocate violence as a legitimate means of resolving disputes (and we know why they do this). These are the same people who, given an option, will always and every time defend a murderer’s rights, rather than a victim’s rights.

    If these are the kind of people who belong to the so-called “left”, then being “right” is the only sensible choice.

  12. Amit
    March 27, 2011 at 11:15 PM

    “Bamiyan, death fatwas are all handiwork of a small misguided minority in the same way how pragya or purohit are misguided.”
    _

    For a small, misguided minority, they seem to have a long global reach and impact, as well as scriptural support!! How many more lies will you keep repeating, and how much dirt will you keep pushing under the carpet? So much dirt has been pushed under it that the carpet is now sitting on top of a mountain (or is that a molehill?). When your friends are ready to abrogate bigoted concepts like ‘kaffir’ and stupid Islamic blasphemy & apostasy laws, let us know.

  13. Loneranger
    March 27, 2011 at 10:55 PM

    Amit – They believe and respect an individual’s choice to lead his life according to his beliefs. They dont throw some historical wrongdoing at others to belittle them or degrade them. Bamiyan, death fatwas are all handiwork of a small misguided minority in the same way how pragya or purohit are misguided.

  14. Amit
    March 27, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    Loneranger,

    If your liberal Muslim friends eat pork, don’t believe in dogma etc., then what makes them Muslims? Do they pick-and-choose what dogma to follow and what dogma to not follow from Quran, or do they reject everything in Quran? If it is the latter, what makes them Muslims?

  15. Amit
    March 27, 2011 at 10:12 PM

    Loneranger,

    You wrote:
    “I have not supported the blasting of Bamiyan or any such monument ever. I said clearly going on and on about such issues will never solve anything. If we have to build trust in liberal muslims, we have to stop making mountain out of a molehill.”

    My response:
    And therein lies the difference. To you, destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas, death-fatwas, attacks and killing of writers – and the reason behind such acts – are a “molehill”, i.e. inconsequential – even though there are clear consequences. In other words, you want everyone to keep tolerating intolerant actions of others and not hold them accountable (to what purpose?) – you are indeed a sadist and a masochist.

    You haven’t answered the question I asked you (which seems to be a habit with you – of ignoring answering uncomfortable questions): If your Muslim friends are indeed liberal, why would it bother them if someone criticized the destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas?

    Anyway, I’m done discussing this with you – clearly, you’re not interested in answering questions that are asked of you, and keep repeating your dogma.

  16. Loneranger
    March 27, 2011 at 8:28 PM

    Amit – Yes, I meant pork. Why should I or my friends come out on the road to publicly condemn any extremists? I am not a law maker or a police man. We dont support any kind of extremists period. I have not supported the blasting of Bamiyan or any such monument ever. I said clearly going on and on about such issues will never solve anything. If we have to build trust in liberal muslims, we have to stop making mountain out of a molehill.

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