Author Archives: skandaveera

Kanyā haraṇa in Itihāsa

Searching for victims of heroes in itihāsa is an old preoccupation of the enemies of the spirit of old lore (purāṇa vairi-s). That is a way of undermining the qualities that the civilization sees as heroic, and replace in collective psyche their images with icons of lower stature, representatives of qualities that prevent higher civilizational aspirations. While the enterprise is a big one, highlighting victims of heroes of epics helps (a) bring a doubt about their character and loftiness of the heroes (b) highlight defects in collective morality that sees the heroes as heroes.

When epics are not dominant in the collective consciousness, villains of epics can be directly highlighted as martyrs – Mahiśa, Rāvana etc. When epics come more into the fore, as happened recently during the lockdown thanks to the epics telecast on Doordarshan, villains of epics for their moral decrepitude cannot be highlighted by the purāṇa vairi-s because they then start looking like villains themselves.

Though for decades Rāvana was praised and Rāma was called an Aryan invader in some regions, now in most parts that line is not publicly acceptable – a rapist and an abductor of women cannot be called a martyr instead of a villain given the recent public anger for crime against women.

So the purāṇa vairi-s take to a different set of victims. Those that are not inherently negative characters but fell “victims” due to the poor moral compass of the heroes and society that produces those heroes. Sīta, Draupadi etc.

We learned recently that Subhadra was a victim of misogyny, forcefully taken away and married by Arjuna, and that her victimhood is not even mentioned in discourse. So it makes occasion to look at her case.

It is also a good occasion to look at kanyā haraṇa itself. Subhadra was not an isolated case of kanyā haraṇa, in fact kṣatriyas are “permitted” as an alternate method of getting wife, apart from the known brahma and gāndharva modes.

A simple survey of epics reveals easily, the fact that heroes of epics are men who always stood for protecting not just woman but woman’s right to make her choice. That becomes a topic in itself, so we can limit the current topic to kanyā haraṇa.



Needless to say, it is not an appreciable practice to take a girl by force. Yet, it was a “permitted” thing for kṣatriyas. At this point it needs to be understood that smṛti/dharma ṣāstra is not prescriptive – it does not say “do this, do that”. It says “this is the nature of things, doing this has such result, and this is therefore the most doable or most avoidable thing”.

In that sense if seen, the dharma ṣāstras do not say “kṣatriyas should do this” but “it is a practice among kṣatriyas to do this”.

The different modes of marriage are mentioned in dharma ṣāstra texts. One instance is Manusmṛti (starting from verse 3.27). Brahma is the best mode of marriage. Arṣa, daiva prājāpatya are good modes where there is a family level agreement. Gāndharva is allowed for kṣatriyas where there is a mutual consent between the man and the woman, and no formal approval from parents is sought. Rakshasa is a discouraged mode where the girl is taken by force.

Why would such a marriage be allowed in a civilized society, and why it is sanctioned without prohibition? Why is no penalty imposed on the man? That too in a civilization that has practices  like swayamvara, where woman’s choice is given primary importance? There are multiple reasons for this.

  1. Ultimately it is the woman that is the loser. Bride has no legitimate status if the marriage is not legitimized. The girl can leave the man when she is freed, in case of abduction and captivity. The fate of a girl isolated after abduction is kept in mind, and therefore it is nevertheless listed a marriage while heavily discouraged.
  2. It is also possible that the abduction happens with girl’s consent. Though this is still haraṇa, it is still a right thing.

The possibilities in life are many, and when it comes to the question of which of the choices is “right” and which is not, the pedagogy of dharma  ṣāstras also gives us simple tests: any action that begets negative consequences is not in line with dharma. In cases where there are uphill tasks, facing lot of struggle and suffering but eventually results are positive, the choice is in line with dharma.

Yudhiśṭhira’s choices in dice game are shown to have negative results, and he is shown as expiating for his wrongs. So the lesson there is clear as to whether one should stake property and humans in a dice game, whether one should play without being adept, whether a game should be used to decide anyone’s fate at all.

Kanyā haraṇa episodes also have such lessons, in which case the choice has positive results and in which case it has negative results.

We know of at least three instances of kanyā haraṇa in itihāsa. First is Bhīśma taking the three princesses of Kāśī raja. Second is Kṛṣṇa taking Rukmiṇi. Third is Arjuna taking Subhadra.

These three happened in three different circumstances, and the merit and permissibility of kanyā haraṇa is different in all three.


Case 1 – Ambā (Adi Parva Section 102)

Bhīśma wanted brides for his brother Vicitravīrya. Given Vicitravīrya was not known to be a great prince, by character or power or charm, not many kings came  forward to give their daughters.

Bhīśma comes to know of Kāśī raja who announces a swayamvara for this three daughters Ambā, Ambikā and Ambālikā. There is no invite to Hastināpura. Bhīśma took a vow to remain unmarried and childless for life, and he was among the most eligible bachelors in Bharata. Vicitravīrya does not have a good name and gets no invite.

This angers Bhīśma, and he barges into the swayamvara, challengs the court to stand him in a battle if someone wants to stop him from taking the three brides for his brother Vicitravīrya, the heir of Hastināpura throne. Given Bhīśma’s standing as a warrior none could face him. Sālva king challenges Bhīśma to get Ambā his lover, and fails. Bhīśma comes to Hastināpura with the three princesses. Ambikā and Ambālikā get married to Vicitravīrya, soon to be widowed. Ambā reveals her love for Sālva and Bhīśma sends her to Sālva. Sālva having lost her in a fair fight, declines to own up Ambā.

Ambā is left nowhere. She demands that since Bhīśma used his power to get her from her father as well as her lover, he must marry her. Bhīśma is bound by vow, and declines. Then Ambā requests Bhīśma’s teacher Paraśurāma to persuade Bhīśma, he too fails. Ambā does tapas for Rudra, leaves her body, a part of her becomes Ambā river and another part takes rebirth as Sikhandi who becomes the cause of Bhīśma’s death.

This is a kanyā haraṇa, and the wrongs committed here are many:

  1. Woman belongs to the man who won her. This is itself  breached when Bhīśma used his power to win brides for his ineligible and incapable brother. A woman can live with a man who sought and won her, but not with a man who needs proxies to get her. It was not a case where Vicitravīrya sought the girls and stood, while Bhīśma’s power came to rescue.
  2. Bhīśma ignores the fact that Kāśī raja announced a swayamvara and not a contest. Unlike Draupadi or Sīta “swayamvara” which was more a contest and the girl goes to one who clears a test, Kāśī raja announced a self-choice where the girl picks the man she wants to marry. Bhīśma’s show of power to overrule a self-choice is the second wrong.
  3. When Sālva challenged Bhīśma, it does not occur to him whether Ambā could also have been interested. Ambā gets her chance to talk only after reaching Hastināpura.

Eventually since Bhīśma could not break his vow, Ambā’s life is ruined and she became the cause for Bhīśma’s death.

The lessons here are clear: one cannot forcefully take a woman when her interest is elsewhere. Show of power style representation is not acceptable for marriages. Given the negative consequences Bhīśma and Hastināpura has, this case of kanyā haraṇa, its method, motive all stand wrong.


Case 2 – Rukmiṇi  

Kṛṣṇa’s story is too famous, but a quick recollection helps conclusions. Vidarbha princess Rukmiṇi has Kṛṣṇa in her heart. Her brother Rukmi a friend of Kṛṣṇa’s enemies, is keen on getting her married to the man he likes and not the man his sister likes.

Rukmiṇi, intent on marrying Kṛṣṇa, sends a messenger. Agni Dyotana, a respected and  learned man, goes to Kṛṣṇa and conveys the longing Rukmiṇi has for Kṛṣṇa, the constraints she has and asks him to take Rukmiṇi from Vidarbha. Kṛṣṇa waits at the outskirts  of capital where Rukmiṇi comes to pray to her deity, comes on a chariot and takes her. The chariot is pursued by Rukmi, Kṛṣṇa stops and instead of killing his to be brother-in-law he shaves Rukmi and dispatches him back to Vidarbha.

This is a classic story of heroism, romance, love. It is not only read with great interest as a story, there is a practice in several regions to chant the episode by girls with the belief they will get married to a suitable and good man.

The antecedent and consequent are also clear: when the girl is interested, go to any length to get her. Yes, this too is a kanyā haraṇa – a stealing of Vidarbha princess from Vidarbha perspective. Yet this is always mentioned only in a positive sense.


Case 3 – Subhadra  (Adi Parva sections 221, 222)

Arjuna goes on an expiation exile and as part of it reaches Dwaraka. He sees Subhadra Kṛṣṇa’s sister, and has an instant attraction for her. Kṛṣṇa suggests that Arjuna abducts Subhadra and marries her.

Arjuna picks her, just like Kṛṣṇa picked Rukmiṇi, from outside the temple on a hilltop outside the capital. He reaches Indraprastha and their marriage happens. Yādavas in Dwaraka are enraged and Kṛṣṇa pacifies them saying Arjuna is the best possible groom they can ever hope to get for Subhadra, and they give their acceptance to the marriage.

The difference however, is this was not a case of girl taking the initiative. This was also not a case of Arjuna getting Subhadra’s acceptance before he takes her. This is also not an episode that is as celebrated as Rukmiṇi haraṇa.

Yet, we see no negative effects of this in the epic. It can be argued that since Subhadra knew Kṛṣṇa’s relation with Arjuna she had no hope of getting support and reconciled with life once she knew it was Arjuna who abducted her. This is not a valid argument, because the Yādavas including Balarāma were still around if she really wanted to protest. Yudhiśṭhira the Dharma raja himself would not approve of a match had Subhadra protested her abduction once they reached Indraprastha. To the contrary, it can be argued that Balarāma was in favour of Subhadra’s alliance with Hastināpura and Kṛṣṇa favored Arjuna as a friend and also as a better human and warrior. He sought a better man for his sister and suggested abduction because Subhadra did not make any decision. Possible arguments are many.

One question that arises in the latter argument is what happens to the consent of the girl. What is ignored while asking this question is when the consent did not matter (because the girl did not exercise it, not because the consent was overruled), what matters is getting the right man. Arjuna’s character throughout the epic is blemish less. He declines Ūrvaśī’s advances because he does not see in her a lover but an ancestor. He was the one to get whom as a son-in-law, kings conducted sacrifices and begot daughters. He declines marrying Uttara because he saw in her a student. A man of impeccable character, a man who knew exactly when to advance and when to stop, cannot be blamed for applying force on a woman without realizing where he could cross the line.

There are multiple versions in this story, and according to some accounts Kṛṣṇa advises Arjuna to abduct Subhadra. Some hold that Subhadra also had a liking for Arjuna and she went with him willingly, and was even driving the chariot. The implication in former version is that Arjuna abducted a lady who has not made up her mind (and was not against the alliance either) with the consent of her brother. The implication of the latter version is that this is another romantic story which is made out to be an issue for no reason.

But what is known is that Arjuna arranged for Subhadra’s meeting with Draupadi in a way their relation turns good. What is also known is that Subhadra is not known to have protested. What is also known is that Arjuna got a beautiful as well as affectionate wife in the form of Subhadra, and an illustrious son like Abhimanyu. There is no negative consequence coming out of this “stealing the girl” that came to Arjuna or Pānḍavās due to this that the epic narrates.

Because, unlike Bhīśma’s case, Arjuna wanted to win over his lady. Unlike Ambā’s case, this was also a great match – Arjuna was the best possible groom for a princess in that age, and had love for Subhadra. The bond between Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, Arjuna’s character, every factor   was in favour of a happy marriage for Subhadra with Arjuna. Unlike Ambā’s case, Subhadra was also not having another man in her mind and was positively inclined to Pānḍavās due to Kṛṣṇa’s relation. From Subhadra’s viewpoint the only misgiving is not taking her acceptance, which, while being a major matter today, was hardly a big issue back then. When matches were arranged by elders barring exceptions, the boy and girl both go with the match arranged by parents. Given this, and given that Kṛṣṇa’s blessing was there, Subhadra had not a major reason to be unpleasant or express it.



While there are many other situations, these three reveal a fair diversity of kanyā haraṇa phenomenon along with their correctness, acceptability and consequences in the epic.

To conclude, kanyā haraṇa was not entirely proscribed because there were cases it had merit. At the same time, it was kept as one of the last chosen methods, to be resorted to after exhausting better ways and options.

Behind the hype of Christmas

Contributed by Prabhala

Christmas is celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, who is believed by Christians to be the son of God. Christmas is a big holiday season in Europe and North America and other nations. The economics is huge. USA alone spends about 600 billion dollars in the season. Although the festival is celebrated with much fanfare and happiness in Europe and NA, the attendance at churches is decreasing in these countries. In contrast, Church attendance is 90% in Latin American and Christian African and South East Asian nations. Hence, in order to spread its gospel, the church to has identified hotspots in Latin America (Brazil), Africa (Nigeria), China and in South East Asia (Indonesia, India).

Although in India, official statistics estimate 2.5 % of the population to be Christians, general consensus places the figure at about 5-6%, while scarier estimates mention much higher figures. Predominant presence of the Christians in India is in south and north-east of the country but the church has successfully broken into North India and neighboring Nepal in spite of anti conversion laws in some states of India and in Nepal.

Churches in India get hyperactive during Christmas. All sorts of public gatherings (called Prayer and healing meetings, 2nd coming of Jesus gatherings etc.) are organized across the states (more importantly in central and south India). It is a big occasion for the churches to raise money, travel to the hinterlands of the country in the guise of singing groups and of course induce conversions. The recent arrest in Madhya Pradesh of carol singing groups trying to convert people is a case in point –

Churches go overboard in the celebrations. In the coastal states miles and miles of stars are everywhere. Pamphlets, Gifts, Books are distributed and gatherings organized. Political leaders are eager to join the celebrations to protect their vote banks.

The ongoing inculturation in India is a serious issue. If it is not addressed in time it can tear apart the social fabric of the country. Over the years, the church has got smarter; they understand that if they accept Hindu culture, traditions merge them into Christian practices; the process of converting Hindus can be hastened. Hence, they are now using Hindu culture, customs and dressing methods to to entice Hindus into their fold. Increasingly we find that –

  1. Gradually churches are now being called temples – They are now called “Devuni Gudi” in Telugu. Church architecture is being replaced with Hindu temple architecture
  2. Candles are being replaced with Hindu Oil lamps
  3. Churches are using Hindu worship methods – Sahasranamam to Jesus
  4. Churches are now being called Ashrams
  5. Fathers and Sisters are calling themselves as Acharya and Sadhvis
  6. Bharatanatyam is being taught in Christian schools replacing Vedic mudras with Christian mudras

The above methods were deployed earlier in Christianizing Europe, Latin America and Africa.

“Christianization (or Christianisation) is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire groups at once. Various strategies and techniques were employed in Christianization campaigns from Late Antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages. Often the conversion of the ruler was followed by the compulsory baptism of his subjects. In some cases there was evangelization by monks or priests, organic growth within an already partly Christianized society, or by campaigns against paganism such as the conversion of pagan temples into Christian churches or the condemnation of pagan gods and practices.[1] A notable strategy for Christianization was Interpretatio Christiana – the practice of converting native pagan practices and culture, pagan religious imagery, pagan sites and the pagan calendar to Christian uses, due to the Christian efforts at proselytism (evangelism) based on the Great Commission. “  Source – Wikipedia

Clearly India should stand up to the continuous attempts to destroy its culture and hijack its people from their roots. The church is pulling no stops to take Christians in India away from their ethnic identities and cultural values. It is using propaganda to distance our people from their age old practices.  It is now or never for this country to stop this inculturation.


Nationalism Vs Collective National Consciousness

Author: Anil Kuppa

A lot of being talked about Nationalism these days. The Hindu Samaj and the Sanaatana Dharmi is easily falling into the rhetorical trap of what nationalism is and what is not. Neither the (a large section of) media nor the Leftist shenanigans have ever understood or have accepted the idea of Bharat. Their concept of a Nation resides in borrowed view of Oligarchy. True sense of nationalist pride of Bharat comes from its sanskriti,  losely defined as CULTURE and misrepresented again even more losely as religion , where as it is DHARMA – a natural order. We are also conveniently caught up and misled , for political considerations may be, in the ‘Muslim context’ when we try to associate ourselves to the sense of “RASHTRA”.

Nationalism or Patriotism or Rashtravadam holds its ground only when it is disassociated from the web of politics. General public does not give any credence to the sense of integrity of a politician. There is an inherent sense of dispirited delinking when a politician talks about Nationalism or Patriotism. These are slogans of a soldier. Soldier derives his sense of pride and sacrifice from his association to the Mother land…which in-turn  comes from the sanskriti that had been instilled in him through ages. There are very few counties in the world which fight wars with respect for mother land. Most countries waging wars carry mercenaries in their ranks than true soldiers. We will come to this later. The idea of this note is to arrive at a more clearer binding concept for the entire Samaj,  which can not only arouse passion / bhakti but also an awakening / jaagarukata… of a collective psyche… one which can be taken into the homes and kitchens and laps and hearts of the countless mothers who nurture our children … the future of Bharat.

There is a simmering discontent among many of our lot that history has been distorted and misrepresented over time. The blatant display of some crooks as heroes in the NCERT textbooks is causing lot of mental unrest.  In one way, it is serving as one good way to provoke a sleeping consciousness. Dr. Ambedkar is right that in peace our Hindu spirit is dilated. Well, that said, it is paramount for us to discuss our heritage and history in our homes.

I have been watching (rather attempting to show) Chanakya Serial to my grown up children. He talks of such of Akahnd bharat with compelling arguments and clarity. People like it and connect with it. I think there is an apparent paradox in the way of life a sanatana  dharmi  follows – a pursuit of liberation for the soul to be free. In that pursuit he transforms and in that process , he brings about societal transformation as an outcome – with that ‘chaitanya’. (We should focus more on he means and not the end). I think, our pursuit should be that inerasable chaitanya/consciousness towards Dharma.. a way of life. From that prism, any distortion of fact or any intellectual invasion and infraction – will look small and can be countered.

We cannot rouse a consciousness by an external agent. It is the inner call that drives and gets the society to glue. Faiths other than sanatana dharma, have been used to external source of invasion and influence on this great nation of ours. Regardless of that , none could kill the soul of this great nation. No one can ever will.  Having said that, we are at a point in time , where it is has become a grave need for the 2 living generations .. ours and our next — to raise this consciousness to such an intensity , that everything else will only pale in comparison. This is one view of mine. I hope this resonates with many.

Faiths other than Sanatana dharma, are denying a dispassionate education to their lot. This is leading to distorted perceptions among many sections of youth across the world about what Sanatana Dharma is. They are  aiming at opportunistic outcomes, largely driven at anti-indianism and votebanks.  On a generational metric , they are already sowing a seed of failure. There is no doubt about it. Distorted perceptions won’t lead people to lasting peace. Even if we were to assume that the Middle East and the West fund such propaganda,  it lasts until the green buck and black gold last. However until and during such time,  we must continue to do what our aacharyaas from the saanatana  have taught us and directed us, awaken the sleeping giant of consciousness . In one way the Mandali and the Sangh is giving such direction. I want to ensure that this energy is directed in a way that it Kindles more candles for light. For this is the only culture, the sanatana dharma that has shown the difference between a conflagration and illumination; it is light that creates both. May we glow the light of truth. Om..Tat..Sat.

The Christian and Muslim faiths too are living in a paradox. Both of their expansionist pursuits are based on economic and geographic spread. Though the Hindu psyche and society looks disunited on the face of it, the inherent bonds persist. Where as the Muslim fraternity and leadership is going thru an implosion of its own kind, as seen in the middle east. Has religion or faith been a glue , why would Sunni and Shia fight like they do and being the house down on themselves?? The west has successfully manipulated this lot for economic purists of their own kind and created wars. The society as a whole is paying the price and the damages are getting exponentially collateral.

Sheer needs of survival are forcing the Muslim fraternity from the battered places to infiltrate or migrate into easy access western lands. The inherent belligerent nature and lack of societal survival skills as a tribe, they are bound to bring the house down. I see a fractured Europe very soon. If we connect the dots on a universal scale, the middle east and large parts of Europe and northern Africa will lead the world to great turmoil. The root cause for all this is the breakdown of tribal factions in the middle east ( these were mistaken for nations led by Saddam Hussien, Hosni Mobarak  and ones in Libya and other states).

All I am trying to say, is, assuming that these faiths have the power to glue cultures and societies is a myth. The moderates in these cultures gave begun to realize that. The solution lies somewhere in this spectrum  and milieu.

One thing that we must do is, take the collective  consciousness of our Sanskriti  to inculcate right from our homes.The actions should be that of convergence and penetration. The ‘kula’ sanskriti has been that of convergence and penetration. (I am referring to GURU KULA). This has been successfully distorted and misrepresented as a ‘casteist’ mis-practice. The Muslim does it in the name of a Madrasa  and protects it by the Sharia. Our secular concoction and the nefarious design of the successive governments in the best part of post independent India have denied the nurture and protection of the LEGACY OF AKHAND BHARAT. They have contaminated the sowing seeds and the soil as well. Irrespective of that, the only reason we are still conscious and aroused is because of the ineffacable sanskriti.. that which pervades all over like NOTHINGNESS – it is POORNA whichever way you see it.. and hence that is SHIVA.

We don’t carry this nuance as a badge of honor in our Dharma.sentence unclear, rephrase That has to be broken. Many ways of sanatana dharma have their schools and methods to propagate the skills and traits over time. Vedas  and Shaastra  survived  because of this structure. Knowledge and culture have sustained for ages as a result of teacher-disciple lineages and that is the best way to protect permanent knowledge and rich culture.   We must as a society give time to ‘nurture’ this structure and give strength to the roots. There are many ways of doing it . All we need is the awareness, the consciousness,  the attitude and more importantly  – the recognition of the DIRE  need. There has to be a lot of SwayamSewa in here by us.

The national rhetoric must change from “Nationalism” to “Collective Consciousness” towards Universal Good, Fairness, Justice and Level playing field for all. Nationalism as a concept is susceptible for distortion and hijack by those groups who do not demonstrate loyalty to the concept of nation. Consciousness as  a concept and cement is untouched and unknown and detested by other faiths. A Consciousness Mantra can be well advocated by almost all the Aachaaryaas we have today – like AOL Ravishankarji, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev ji and Baba Ram Dev ji. We can have a convergent universal umbilical cord to bind the entire Hindu Samaj with this.

In my humble view,  what the Sangh must advocate to its affiliates is as follows :

Substitute Provocation with Awakening (Jaagruthi) – we must relentlessly put forth facts in front of people in as simple terms as possible. No matter what is the negativity that is being propagated. The awakening should be that of the individual ‘ s sense of fairness and justice.

Substitute jingoistic Nationalism rhetoric with Collective National Consciousness of arousing / reminding people to continuously check the difference and apply discretion.  We must appeal to the self-esteem of the people , their power to judge and their sense of fairness.


Nothing beefy in beef arguments

The self-proclaimed liberal mob as usual gets to thought-street fighting the moment anything Hindu is in question. Suddenly from their hate for Hindu orthodoxy, they prefer pretending more authentic about Hindu scriptures when it comes to practices that “Hindutva” rally for, trying to show how the Hindutva hooligans are not true Hindus. Now with the cow butchering and beef eating while they tried on the one hand to uphold freedom of enmasse butchering of cows, on the other hand they tried teaching that Hinduism is not inherently opposed to it (and example here) and that ‘original Hinduism’ that the Hindutva hooligans don’t have a grasp of but the liberal intellectuals have.

While the dishonesty and bullying of liberals is notorious enough and while countering the liberal position is a meaningless exercise (for, their arguments have no root only their motivations have root in their inherent anti-Hinduness) we should definitely understand how Hinduism sees this issue and what are the various aspects involved in understanding any such issue. For that we can use some of the absurd liberal arguments as contrasting positions rather than try countering them. This is not really a case against cow slaughter in the sense of pointing out problems in cow slaughter or merits in not slaughtering. Nor is this really a refutation of liberal arguments.

“Originally in Hinduism”

One of the usual arguments is that “originally” Hinduism did not see cow killing as a taboo and that cow-worship is of “recent” origin. This is not really just about a problem of fact but worldview. Of course, neither fact nor logic favor such view.

Literature – Instructive

On fact – literature has two kinds of references, instructive and demonstrative. Instructions for a ritual tell us that certain practices were part of certain rituals. There are then allegories where there are citations for those practices really being in effect. So for instance if one quotes the procedure for aSvamedha as a proof of certain practice, one would do well to recollect how many aSvamedha rites are indeed possible, given that the whole of AryAvarta can only have one living performer of aSvamedha at any given point of time. Instructive examples from literature have very few mentions of cow killing. An overwhelming majority of paSu sacrifices do not involve cow as a paSu. Even a ritual like cow-sacrifice that one can show as example is quite remote and cannot be done as a regular or even as an occasional rite. For that matter Hindu thought is comprehensive and its various traditions have practices ranging from the most insufferable “sanctimony” to the “goriest” ones. On the one hand there is the monk who tries to avoid hurting insects, and on the other hand is the naramedhin who sacrifices human self. So to try telling what is “originally in Hinduism” to Hindus is to try showing candlelight to the sun.

Hindus in general and “those Hindutva hooligans” in particular, are well aware of the spectrum of Hindu thought, its breadth of practices. The presence of some ritual hardly indicates a general practice. What indicates a general practice is the anecdotal evidence we get from literature, not the instructive evidence.

Literature – Anecdotal


Anecdotal evidence from literature has several examples like Surabhi, Sabala, Kapila that do not tell us the story of cow-killing but of cow worship. Rituals like cow-sacrifice come out as remotest, with not many examples to recall from the whole of veda-itihAsa literature. Examples like Vishwamitra taking calf come across rather as exceptions, both by volume and by where they belong – to the forest outside the village-town living.


The bulk of literature sees cow as the nourisher, hence the mother. Protection of cow remains the theme of several allegories right from Indra-Panis of Veda (RV 10.108) to the episodes like gograhaNa of Mahabharata and where Arjuna saves brAhmaNas’ cattle from thieves (where he also breaches the no-entry norm by intruding the place of Yudhishthira & Draupadi). All these show cow as a rather precious wealth sought to be protected, not an edible to be preyed on and predated. The literature is full of instances of cow donations, praise of cattle stock as one of the greatest riches. Whether it is ghosha yAtra where dhArtarAshTra-s use the guise of surveying their cattle wealth in the forest or the go-grahaNa where the cattle grazed feely outside the town and had nominal protection from wild animals, it is clear that cow simply could not have been a slaughtered animal.

There are a lot of references to meat – vAtApi taking goat form etc. There is also the fact of evolving practices where paSu bali in many cases, over time, got replaced with a symbolic paSu to avoid killing of animals. A brief narration can be seen here and here. However most of these do not narrate cow killing or cow eating. Even instances of beef turn out to be minimal, not just cow. While the presence of meat eating and recommendations to avoid meat can be seen as half-full vs half-empty glass (there are both), beef examples are too few to indicate any norm or widespread practice.

Logic – Food

Agrarian and pastoral societies heavily depend on cow and in India where divinity is attributed to nature and not just supra-natural, it is not surprising that cow is worshiped. It is only logical that the Hindus do not see cow as their food but as a food-giver. The instances of farmers searching for their lost cows, finding their cows getting killed by butcher-thieves in slaughter houses and committing suicide unable to see the horrific butchering, is something not just of fact that the liberals hide but a natural happening that would occur to any thinking mind.

This is also in line with the way Hindus and others look at nature herself. For Hindus nature is the mother( see “Nature as Teacher and the Trustee” under this), the giver of instruments of enjoyments including their own upAdhi-s and not the one to be enjoyed herself. Mother is the food-giver, not food herself. Mother is the giver of means of enjoyment, not the one to be enjoyed. For the abrahamists nature is not divine and nature is to be enjoyed and conquered. So it is only logical to see how differently they see cow from Hindus.

Civilizational commonsense thus suggests that Hindus naturally do not see cow as their food.

A woman worships a cow as Indian Hindus offer prayers to the River Ganges, holy to them during the Ganga Dussehra festival in Allahabad, India, Sunday, June 8, 2014. Allahabad on the confluence of Rivers the Ganges and the Yamuna is one of Hinduism’s holiest centers. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Logic – Evolution

Those who suggest that Hinduism “originally had” beef-eating and that cow-worship is of “recent origin”, besides being factually wrong, fail to understand that Hindu sampradAya-s unlike book-cults are evolving and quoting some “ancient” text as if that is “original” only demonstrates the critic’s un-Hindu and Abrahamic thinking. Lived tradition is what is original, for Hindu traditions are experiential and not book-cults. So something being of recent origin does not make it any less Hindu. It in fact reinforces the fact that they evolve to suit the times unlike time-warped book-cults that exhort beliefs and practices that do not suit evolving human societies.

We also have wise men who say that man originally ate meat and he took to vegetable eating much later in evolution. While they tried to use it in support of meat eating, this is in fact a supporting argument for those against beef, for civilizational progress would mean you take to newer and more refined practices by leaving the older ones.

Logic – Contradiction in allegation

The beef lovers (for the sake of attacking Hinduness not really lovers of beef) first said that many Hindus do eat beef and that only a “few” sections of Hindus are against it. But it turns out that politicians, more aware of Hindu mood, though first tried this line of argument, are having to go back and not attribute such thing to Hindus.

There are multiple reasons for this. First of all it is not just the elite that keep and worship cows – the agrarian families are the ones that do it. The majority of this nation does so. Second, Muslims did not kill cows because they liked them but because Hindus hold them sacred, similar to the way they destroy temples not out of love for their own cult but because they have to offend the kafirs as a sacred duty. While this can go well with Hindu hating liberals, it cannot go well with any section of Hindus regardless of whether they themselves eat meat or even beef for that matter.

Having flunked in their attempt to divide Hindus on “practice” matter thus, some “intellectuals” now have to try digging out evidence to embarrass Hindus saying how their ancestors ate cows. But then, that falls flat for the above reasons. Both because our ancestors held cows holy and precious and because we are not book-cult followers to blindly do what our ancestors did and can do better with the knowledge they gave us.

Legal and Social

One argument we hear is that these are matters of personal choice and we should not have legal sanctions such as prohibition of cow slaughter. But the same applies to many matters of personal choice such as monogamy into which laws make socially unwelcome intrusions. How much law should mandate how much should be left to social and personal self-regulation depends on multiple factors, considering two of them here as examples.


First, whether the present social circumstances need state to interfere or whether the prevalent situation is healthy and under manageable limits. On this, matters like cow slaughter need more legal intervention today than many other matters.

Second, whether a matter is happening because of or in spite of society. If something is a problem inherent in the society and the state is trying to enforce a noble change, such as overcoming oppression and discrimination, state has a case to make acts that bring society out of such practices. By norms of civilization, especially seen from the most civilized society’s worldview namely Hindu worldview, which at least by the claims of original constitution forms the basis for Indian state, state does have a case to make enforcements against cow slaughter. It is also the case that society at large is opposed to cow slaughter and that it is done by enemies of Hindu society both for provocation and to foster an anti-Hindu environment in the country. Even because of this the state has every reason to legislate against cow slaughter and enforce it.

‘Controversy’ on Preamble of Constitution



On the occasion of Republic day 2015 GOI issued an advertisement where the first/original preamble of constitution was mentioned. Original in the sense it was the one that was created when India became a republic. It does not contain the words “socialist” and “secular” as defining features of Indian republic, which were added in 1970’s.

Opposition is up in its arms against this “omission” . BJP and some of the government representatives are indicating their willingness to debate and union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressed it.

As can be expected, media tried churning a controversy out of it. It is called an omission, then a blunder, then a graciously granted benefit of doubt calling it a possible “oversight”. This is expected because it does not contain the current version which has the words “socialist” and “secular” that were introduced during the emergency-notorious Late PM Indira Gandhi’s tenure. The two words that are so dear to the liberals, leftists, secularists and proxy-colonial elite that they have used as scarecrows for decades to protect their fiefdoms, the two words that have been added under conspicuous circumstances with no democratic procedures followed, have been “let go” by the government run by a Hindu Nationalist. How can an omission of these two words be not mischievous and simply an error! But then, one must understand the secular predicament not just in the objection but also in not invoking any matter of intent and agenda.

The original constitution’s preamble defines Indian union as a sovereign democratic republic. The 42nd amendment whose consequence is addition of these two additional words “secular” and “socialist” happened at the expense of democratic ideal. It is one of the most remembered amendments for the spirit in which it was done. When the Janata government formed later in 1977, the notion of basic structure was brought in so that such amendments do not occur in future. However, the Janata party and allies being socialist themselves, the government did not try enough to undo this modification of the preamble.

So understandably, invoking this amendment reminds us that it goes against a more fundamental aspect of constitutional ideal (spirit of democracy) than those introduced with it (secularism and socialism). It not only shows those responsible for such amendment in bad light but also indirectly shows who respects the constitution more. Hence the predicament in limited protest, to only let the fact of omission but not of the merit of introduction in debate.

However this event presents us with an occasion to not just see what transpired but evaluate the merit of the amendment itself. The fact that it was it was made without inviting a public debate and evaluation of the proposal does not fully explain lack of merit in the amendment – it only indicates an unjustified means, not unjustified ends. To examine the end achieved is also necessary, and in fact more important as it continues to impact policy in future.

Obviously the words like secularism and socialism were not new in 1970’s, they were well known to the original authors of constitution in 1947-50 both as desirable and as prevalent ideals elsewhere in the world. If they did not form part of preamble of the first draft of constitution, it was not merely because some of the main aspects of rights were inspired by American constitution. It was also not because these two features were not sought to be present in Indian union’s policy.

There are multiple reasons why these two words do not appear as the *defining features* of Indian union that appeared in the preamble, although they are in spirit not undesirable.

One, they are not defining features of the nation and hence cannot and should not form the defining features of the state. Secularism originates from the need for church-state divide in Christian societies and simply does not arise as a requirement in a society like Bharata where statecraft always was inspired by a tradition-agnostic moral scheme and religious traditions prospered as power-agnostic knowledge institutions of society, through ethical epistemic argumentation. Similarly socialism does not become a requirement in a society which always prospered with a fine balance between trading and skill groups and has a large privatized social security system. In fact while the state calls itself socialist, the economic model followed by society is hardly socialist. So in both these aspects the nation by its very nature inherently lives by what these ideals try to achieve and are hence redundant. Not just that, the nation has a more refined system of achieving both these goals and demonstrated their successful implementation for several continuous centuries before these concepts were even conceived in the west.

Two, secularism and socialism do not mean what they are made to mean in today’s Indian context. Neither is secularism about religious pluralism (or appeasement) nor is socialism about scuttling the nation’s productive potential to exploit a poverty vote bank.

Three, while secularism is a non-starter for our society, socialism is not a permanent ideal and can easily degenerate into a temporarily acceptable or unacceptable economic policy which cannot hence be the defining feature of a nation or a union of states. Given the longevity and stability of Indian society, such temporal aspects can never be and should never be incorporated as defining features.

Four, there is no moral locus standi for the demand that Bharata should be a secular state after the partition. Pakistan and Bangladesh are not carved for “communal” forces but for Muslims alone. Some elite try proudly claiming that Muslims got Pakistan whereas secularists got India, which is a polite way of representing a colossal fraud against the core identity of this nation, the Hindu culture and society. That hardly means the lack of willingness of Hindus to coexist: partition is entirely about the Muslims’ willingness to coexist. That means that this nation should be run according to the age old Hindu ideals of tolerance, pluralism, tradition-agnostic state, power-agnostic spiritual traditions, a nation and geo-culture duly recognized by the state and protected. That means this nation cannot be run with artificial ideals like “idea of India”, “secularism”, religious exclusivism and protection of intolerance as a right. Only then can it represent the true nature of this nation, its society and its greatness.

The authors of constitution, unlike the uprooted and politically motivated leaders of the subsequent generations, had a much better understanding of what becomes a defining feature for the nation and hence Indian union and what does not, and how to frame the preamble accordingly. Hence they chose, with due diligence and in their wisdom, not to make these two words secular and socialist, the defining features of Indian republic.

It is time there is a debate on the merit of the continuation of these in the preamble, the benefit accrued and loss incurred by the nation in these three decades since their introduction. It is time to evaluate whether there is any inherent contradiction between the secular-socialist policies and the universal worldview of Bharat, whether they go against the democratic nature of this nation, whether they created a problem or solved one. Whether making our state secular is inline with what constitution says elsewhere (such as taking control of Hindu religious institutions and giving complete freedom to minorities) needs debate. Whether undoing this inconsistent change is required to restore justice and fairness to constitution is required. It needs debate whether “secularism” made India’s religious conflict more acute, a case Prof Balagangadhara argues in this paper. The merit in advertising secularism as a solution to religious conflict when it is not by design about religious harmony but about state-religion divide should be debated. It is also required to be debated whether calling the state socialist helped making a policy that built or retarded our economic progress. It needs debate not just whether these two words should be removed but a policy of how and what the defining features of a state for Bharata should be.

 -Skanda Veera