Tag Archives: Hindu

How The Hindu Way by Shashi Tharoor repudiates myths built by the perpetrators of Hindutva

Book review by Debraj Mookerjee

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Title: The Hindu Way – An Introduction to Hinduism
Author: Shashi Tharoor
Publisher: Aleph; 2019

​At sixty-four (though he does not look his age), the last thing you wish to remind readers about Shashi Tharoor, diplomat, litterateur and now politician, is that he was once a prodigy. But indeed, he was. An outstanding achiever in college, he graduated with history in 1975 from St Stephen’s College, Delhi, where he was elected president of the student union, and also helped found the Quiz Club. By 1976, he had an MA in International Relations from The Fletcher School at Tufts University in the US. In 1977, he earned a master’s in law and Diplomacy, and in 1978, at age 22, he was awarded a Ph.D. at Tufts. After a three-decade old career with the United Nations, Tharoor decided it was time he tried his hand in politics. At the UN he has played referee; it was time to actually start playing the game by taking to the field. Sought by all political parties, he decided to join the Indian National Congress. He has since won two consecutive terms to the Indian Parliament from his parent state of Kerala.

The Hindu Way, his twenty-first publication, embodies a bit of everything that represents him. It reveals the extent of his scholarship and knowledge, especially on a subject that is difficult and complex and diverse (Hindu philosophy presents deep challenges even to lifelong scholars). It marks out the territory he wishes to reach by way of an international readership that might be interested in discovering the tenets of Hindu thought. And most significantly, it foregrounds Tharoor the politician. More on the third and final assertion later, for that is almost the real story within this story. And nothing​, ​ please​, ​ on the numerous controversies that have underlined his journey through public affairs; this is a book review, not a vanity piece.

Among his numerous nonfictional works, perhaps the most interesting and widely regarded ​is​ the 2016 book that emerged from the 5 million YouTube views his Oxford debate participation of 2015 earned, wherein he tore into the colonial exploitation of India with panache, marshalling facts and subtle arguments to disrobe all pretence that British rule in India might have donned.  An Era of Darkness (2016) published in the UK as Inglorious Empire (2017) solidified an opinion held by many – Tharoor’s years spent with the UN were not wasted; he brings great nuance and arguments into the public sphere with linguistic elegance that is matched by few. In 2018, he published Why I am a Hindu. The Wikipedia entry on the work is spot on, “Tharoor intended the book to be a repudiation of Hindu nationalism, and its rise in Indian society, which relied upon an interpretation of the religion which was markedly different from the one with which he had grown up, and was familiar with. In seeking to address this concern, he wanted to position the debate as one within the Hindu faith, and therefore wrote about his own personal identification with the religion.” Read more

How Urdu writers depict the Mahatma

Rare studio photograph of Mahatma Gandhi taken in London England UK at the request of Lord Irwin 1931

Mahatma Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi opposed the Partition that came as an edging of  India’s Independence movement. In 1947, he told Rajendra Prasad,”, “I can see only evil in the plan.” Rajendra Prasad went on to become the first President of India and the pacifist father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was shot by Nathuram Godse, the fanatic Hindu nationalist. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, gave in to the Partition as he saw it as a necessary step to accommodate the growing divisions with Jinnah, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, and the Muslim League.

Urdu with the Nastaliq script was adopted as the national language of Pakistan and Hindi written the Devanagari script became the national language of India.

Hindi and Urdu both started as dialects of Hindustani. Both the dialects continued to diverge both linguistically, politically and culturally. Hindi drew words from Sanskrit, and Urdu from Arabic, Persian and Chagatai, an extinct Turkic language. Culturally, Urdu was associated with Muslims and Hindi with Hindus. Read more

The Hindu Prize shortlist announced

The Hindu Prize is one of India’s most prestigious literary awards.

This year, works by Anita Nair, Shovon Chowdhury, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, Shashi Deshpande, Ashok Srinivasan and Deepti Kapoor have been shortlisted. One of the six novelists will win The Hindu Prize 2014.

Rupi-BaskeyShovon Chowdhury: The Competent Authority

Shashi Deshpande: Shadow Play

Deepti Kapur: A Bad Character

Anita Nair: Idris, Keeper of the Light

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar: The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey

Ashok Srinivasan: The Book of Common Signs

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Persian Ramayanas

RamayanaThere are no less than 23 Ramayanas in Indo-Persian Literature, writes Rana Safvi in Tehelka

The Ramayana, one of the most ancient and sacred stories of India, was originally composed in Sanskrit by Valmiki and later translated to Awadhi by Tulsidas. However, besides the famous Sanskrit and Hindi versions, there are no less than 23 Ramayanas in Indo-Persian Literature. Some of these were translated from the original Sanskrit, while others were based on the Ramayana of Tulsidas. According to Abul Fazl, these translations were ordered by Emperor Akbar to dispel the fanatical hatred between Hindus and Muslims as he was convinced that it arose only from mutual ignorance.

This statement is as relevant today as it was then for all communities. It is important we read each other’s scriptures and make an effort to understand other religions, cultures and beliefs. Ignorance makes one more susceptible to hatred and propaganda by bigots and fanatics.

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