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Honesty, Idealism, Magnanimity and Non-violence – Watch- words of Hindus

Sanatana Dharma encompasses ideals such as justice, honesty, altruism, chivalry and non-violence and since the dawn of civilization Sanatanis (Hindus) living in Bharath, upheld and practiced these ideals in their daily lives. Foreign travellers speak of the high integrity, magnanimity and compassion which the Hindus possessed.

Megesthenes the Greek ambassador lived in the court of Chandragupta Maurya, who ruled the kingdom of Magadha during 322-298 B.C. He observes that the average Hindu was law abiding, frugal in their habits and simple in manners. They never drink wine except at sacrifices. The simplicity of their laws and their contracts is proved by the fact that they seldom go to the court of law. They have no suits about pledges or deposits, nor do they require seals or witnesses but make their deposits and confide in each other. Their houses and property are generally unguarded. They hold truth and virtue in high esteem. Continuing, he says that Hindus neither ravaged an enemy’s land nor cut down its trees. Therefore, the cultivation was never interfered. It is said that famine never visited India nor scarcity for food felt as there was double rainfall each year. The Hindus treated diseases more by diet than by medicine through ointment and plasters were used. People practiced fortitude by undergoing toil and suffering pain.

Fa-Hien the Chinese traveller who visited India during 5th century A.D. says “Throughout the whole country the people do not kill any living creatures nor drink intoxicating drinks; they do eat onions or garlic and do not keep pigs and fowls or sell live cattle in the market”. He mentions houses of charity and dispensaries run by the people belonging to Vaisya caste, where maimed, diseased, crippled, orphans, widowers and childless were fed and treated. Fa-Hien also speaks about the existence of rest houses for travellers and free hospitals. “No passport system existed, those who want to go may go and those who want to stop may stop”, he adds.

Hindus known for their courage, honesty and learning

Another Chinese traveller Huien Tsang who visited India during 630 A.D. says that Hindus were remarkable for their courage, honesty and love for learning. They are not deceitful or treacherous in their conduct. They are faithful in their oaths and promises. He also speaks of their personal hygiene– “floors of the houses were purified with cow dung and strewn with season flowers. They bathed daily, smeared their bodies with sandal and washed hands before meals. I-Tsing who visited India around 671 A.D. also speaks of the high personal hygiene of the Hindus.

Regarding justice and honesty of the Hindus, Al Idrisi in his work, Nazhatu I Mushtak– writes “The Indians are naturally inclined to justice and never depart from it in their action. Their good faith, honesty and fidelity to their engagements are well known and they are so famous for these qualities that people flock to their country from every side; hence the country is flourishing and their condition prosperous. If a man met another to whom he had earlier lend something and if he wished to get it back, he used to draw a circular line upon the ground where his debtor was standing and the latter could not leave this circle without returning back his creditor what he owed or obtain remission from him.

Altruistism of high order

Not only the Hindus were known for their sense of justice but also altruism of high order. For instance, during 12th century there lived in Kalyan (Bidar district in Karnataka) an idealistic Veerashaiva couple, Aaidakki Marayya and his wife Lakkamma. Aaidakki Marayya’s profession was to gather rice grains scattered on the ground. (many rich people used to donate rice to the poor who used to collect it in their torn clothes, as a result there was seepage of rice which used to fall on the ground) Once Aaidakki Marayya engrossed in his thoughts brought more rice than the usual measure. His wife Lakkamma reminded him that greed for grains excess to their needs was against their dharma and insists upon his taking back the excess rice and scattering it where he had picked it from. This shows the high idealism of Lakkamma. Speaking of extravagance Gandhiji said- ‘nature has given enough for all of our wants but not for our greed. If everybody took enough for his wants then there would be no pauperism in this world.’

Display of Magnanimity against arch rivals

In 1519 A.D., Mahmud Khilji, the ruler of Malwa invaded the territory of Medini Rai, an ally of Rana Sangram Singh, the ruler of Mewar. For this audacity on the part of Mahmud, Rana decided to teach him a lesson and in the ensuing battle defeated Mahmud and took him as prisoner. As Mahmud was wounded and bleeding, Rana had him removed with care to his own camp, where his wounds were carefully dressed and properly treated. He was then removed to Chittoor, where he remained a prisoner for three months. The Maharana used to treat Mahmud with great courtesy and friendship, so far at times as to make him sit on a portion of own seat in the Durbar. One day while the Mahmud was so seated, an attendant brought some flowers and the Maharana taking up, a bunch was about to give it to Mahmud, when the latter said “there were two ways of giving a thing, you hold your hand up and bestow it on an inferior or keep your hand low and tender it to a superior”. “The latter course was out of question as I am your prisoner”, said Mahmud and added that he is not ready to extent his palm like a suppliant merely for a bunch of flowers. The Maharana was pleased to hear this from Mahmud and generously said that half the kingdom of Malwa went with the bunch of flowers. Mahmud was filled with joy and gladly extended his palm and took the flowers. The third day the Maharana bade farewell to Mahmud and sent him with an escort to Mandu and seated him on the throne.

Respect for women

Abdur Rahim Khan-i- Khan, the adopted son of Akbar was once sent to fight Rana Pratap, for his refusal to submit before the Mughals. Abdur Rahim with 20,000 soldiers went on a rampage in Mewar and thousands of Rajput men and women died fighting for their honour and liberty. Though Mewar bled it did not surrendered. One evening prince Amar Singh, son of Pratap, in a surprise raid carried away a part of the Khan’s harem. But Pratap reprimanded him and said- “The honour of women is dear to us and to lay hand on women is to denounce god and is against the Rajput code of conduct”. “Never again my son, should you be guilty of such a lapse”, Pratap advised his son. Pratap himself apologised to the ladies for the mistake made by his son. He extended to them honours customary to be shown to honoured guests in Rajput house and sent them back under heavy military escort to the Mughal camp. Abdur Rahim was overwhelmed by the Rana’s gesture.

Keeping one’s word

The Portuguese who came to India for trade were also involved in other criminal activities like taking Indians as captives for ransom or to use them labourers. Once Correa, as a leader of a trading party took among their captives an old Brahmin who did not had any capacity for work. The said old Brahmin offered Correa three pounds for his liberty and asked that as he had no friend he might be allowed to fetch the money himself. As Correa had no use of that old Brahmin he agreed after making the Brahmin swear by his sacred thread that he would not cheat Correa of the money he had promised. A few days later the old Brahmin to the amazement of Correa returned with half the money and eight fowls in lieu of the rest. It is said that Correa overwhelmed by the Brahmin’s honesty refused to take anything from him.

Compassion Unlimited

Non-violence is a character ingrained in Hindus. When the British East India Company was calling the shots, its servants who were ill paid used to shoot doves and pigeons for food. The Hindus would implore them not to do this and would as a last resort offer them money to spare the poor birds. This method of persuasion was so successful that it became a regular practice for insolvent young company servants who were in indebtedness and in order to supplement their meagre salary used to take out a gun near some rich Hindu’s house and talk loudly and ferociously about the number of pigeons they would massacre that afternoon till the Hindu ran out in tears in his eyes and money in his hands.

Probably the very idealism which Hindus possessed became a liability and the country had to face successive invasions, deaths, destruction, loot and rape of its citizen by waves of barbarians, jihadists and colonialists.

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Perpetrators of India’s Partition

Today we find Muslim communalists in India posing as the protectors of Dalits and accusing the BJP as a communal party. Many Muslim leaders talk as though they (Muslims) did a great sacrifice by remaining in India and not going to Pakistan after partition. Many people in India especially the power-hungry politicians and majority of those in the media believe in this fabricated myth as in the history text books written by Marxist historians the blame for India’s partition is squarely put on the Hindu nationalists and the British and the Muslims are portrayed as the aggrieved and innocent. But a thorough examination of facts reveals that the very existence of anti-patriotism among the Indian Muslims was responsible for the partition of India. What the Britishers did was to exploit and aggravate the problem. But the problem was there even before the arrival of the Britishers.

The Genesis of Muslim Separatism

The separatist and intolerant tendencies of the Muslims in India were dormant even before the establishment of British rule in India. During the Medieval period, though the Hindu rulers and the people accorded a generous treatment to Muslims, they did not reciprocate the same. For example, the Zamorin of Calicut gave orders that in every family of fishermen in his dominion; one or more of the male members should be brought up as Mohammedans. The Hindu reformers and teachers emphasized that Hinduism and Islam were two different paths leading to the same goal. They preached that Ram and Rahim, Krishna and Karim, Ishwar and Allah, were different names of the same god. An earnest attempt was made to bring about unity between the two communities by deprecating priestly ritualism and formalities and emphasizing inner religious devotion. Not only were the foreign Muslims honoured and respected, but even Indian converts to Islam were shown regard and a treatment which was better than that meted out to lower castes among the Hindu themselves. The Muslims on the other hand, believed in their superiority and branded the Hindus as an inferior people, feeble and unprogressive. If a Hindu, who was converted to Islam, showed any inclination to revert to the religion of his forefathers, he was, according to the law of the Sultanate, put to death, and if any Hindu preached that Hinduism and Islam alike were true religions, he was liable to capital punishment. Moreover, according to the Quranic injunction it is not permissible for a Muslim male to marry a non-Muslim woman without first converting her to Islam; nor it was permissible for a Muslim woman to be given in marriage to a Hindu, unless he himself became a Muslim. Further, by the orders of the Quran, Muslims were prohibited from showing any respect or consideration for their non-Muslim ancestors. This Quranic injunction made it impossible for Indian Muslim, most of them who were converts from Hinduism, to have anything to do with their Hindu ancestors, or to have legitimate pride in the ancient history of this country.

Religious Fanaticism and Aggression

The Muslims of India though living in this country for centuries unmolested by the Hindus and having full religious freedom could not develop any friendly feeling with their Hindu counterpart or consider India as their motherland. The main reason for this was the religious fanaticism of the Muslims. The Muslims always insisted on their separate identity and never regarded themselves as Indians first. To them a Muslim foreigner was a nearer kith and kin than a Hindu neighbour. They were more sensitive to the misfortune of their Turkish co-religionists than to the murder of their Hindu brethren at Jallianwallabagh. The Indian Muslims searched for their national roots elsewhere and to some extent found them in the Afghan and Mughal periods of India. This search for their culture roots led the Indian Muslims to Islamic history and to the periods when Islam was a conquering and creative force in Baghdad, Spain, Constantinople, Central Asia and elsewhere. After the collapse of the Muslim power in India with the arrival of the British, the Indian Muslims began to derive their temporal and spiritual inspiration from the Turkish Empire and its Khalifa.

In contrast the Buddhist of China and South East Asia knew that their Lord (Buddha) was born in India, but never sought to glorify or emancipate India; they were exclusively concerned with national matters of the country in which they lived. Speaking on the Hindu-Muslim question, Nobel Laureate Rabindranth Tagore opined that it was almost impossible for Hindu-Muslim unity to become an accomplished fact as the Muslims could not confine their patriotism to any one country. The poet said that he had very frankly asked many Muslims whether in the event of any Mohammadan power invading India, they would stand side by side with their Hindu neighbours to defend their common land; he could not be satisfied with the reply he got from them. (The Times of India, April 18, 1924)

Spewed Venom on Hindus

All prominent Muslim intellectuals were rabid communalists who had nothing but contempt towards India and Hindus. In a speech on 16th March 1888, Syed Ahmed Khan said that the Hindus and Muslims were not only two nations but as two warring nations who could never lead a common political life should ever the British quit India. Mohammad Iqbal said to be the originator of a separate Muslim State was inspired by the spirit of Pan Islamism. He proposed the formation of a Muslim State in the North-West part of India. Mohammad Ali Jinnah considered as the father of Pakistan at the Lahore session of the Muslim League in March 1940 said that the Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literatures and it is a dream that Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality.

During the Khilafat movement the Moplahs (Muslims of Kerala) committed terrible atrocities against their Hindu neighbours which included ripping open the stomach of pregnant Hindu women; this in spite of the Hindus giving support to their movement. None of the leaders of the Muslim community condemned this action of the Moplahs and instead denied the atrocities and even tried to shift the blame on Hindus. The Muslims animosity and hatred against Hindus was such that they even did not spare Gandhiji. One of the leading men of the Khilafat Movement, Mohammed Ali made a statement in 1924 at Aligarh where he said that however pure Gandhi’s character may be, from his (Mohammed Ali) point of view he (Gandhiji) is inferior to any Mussalman even though that Mussalman may be of bad character. Many dismissed this statement as press fabrication. Later when he was asked to clarify Mohammed Ali reaffirmed that statement he had made. Mohammed Ali’s contempt for India was such that he preferred to be buried in Jerusalem rather in India.

The Muslim leaders were so intolerant that they found fault even with progressive leaders like Tilak, Lajpat Rai, Aurobindo, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Gandhiji just for being pious Hindus in their personal life, for taking pride in their historical and mythical heroes and for praising their motherland. Contrast this attitude of the Muslims with that of Hindu nationalists; who all believed in the concept of Akhand Bharat and proclaimed that all those who live in India were Hindus. It should be remembered that the formation of Hindu Mahasabha and R.S.S. took place only to counter the aggressive attitude of the fanatical Muslims who at the drop of a hat used to organise communal riots.

Appeasement Policy of the Congressmen

The Congress leaders from Gokhale to Gandhi presumed that by a policy of generosity they could win over the Muslims; but the Muslims demands was insatiable. The Muslim demanded certain rights which they were not prepared to concede to others. They wanted the right to convert Hindus to Islam but objected to the Shuddi movement of Arya Samaj (a movement to bring back converted Muslims to their ancestor’s faith). The Muslims demanded the right to self-determination but tried to deny the same right to minorities in Muslim majority provinces. The Muslims were against parliamentary system because they wanted to dominate the political life of the country and reimpose their rule in India. Deep inside their hearts the Congressmen knew the real character of the Muslims but acted as liberals in public as they wanted their support to fight against the Britishers. According to Gandhiji it was Hindu’s cowardice that had made the Mussalman a ‘bully’ leading to Hindu Muslim riots and the parents of middle class Hindus, themselves timid, continue to transmit their timidity to their children. (Harijan, January 6th, 1940) The Congressmen knew that it was impossible to live with Muslims peacefully in united India and hence agreed to partition. Sardar Patel’s argument was that if two brothers cannot stay together, they better divide. If they are forced to stay together, they tend to fight every day. It is better to have one clean fight and then separate than have bickering’s every day. C Rajagopalachari also supported partition and so also Ambedkar. But Ambedkar was of the view that there should be mutual transfer of population, Muslims living in India to migrate to Pakistan and Hindus living in Pakistan migrating to India so that Hindus could live in peace and free from Muslim aggression. But the Congress party under the leadership of Gandhiji and Nehru allowed the Muslims to stay behind in India to showcase their secular credentials thought they did not have such credentials. For instance, when Moti Lal Nehru’s daughter wished to marry Syed Hussain, the editor of a newspaper Independent, Moti Lal Nehru threatened that he would commit suicide. Gandhiji later persuaded Syed Hussain to forget about his marriage and to leave the country. Similarly, when Gandhiji’s son embraced Islam Gandhiji ostracized him and was reconciled to him only when he was brought back to the Hindu fold under Birla’s influence.

Reasons behind Muslims remaining in India

In the elections of 1945-46 the Muslim League captured an over whelming majority of Muslim seats in all the provinces which shows that Muslim living all over India supported Pakistan. For most of the gullible Muslims who supported partition of India, Pakistan meant the very place they lived. Only later they realised that they have to leave their home, job and start a new life if they had to go to their dream land Pakistan. Hence except the rich and powerful most of the Muslims stayed back. Moreover, the Muslims living in India were never threatened by the Hindus to convert nor their women’s honour outraged. Moreover, the mullahs had other sinister designs. The Jamait-ul-ulema was opposed to Pakistan, as it would affect its propagation of Islam. Maulana Madani delivering a speech on 19th September 1945 in Delhi on the occasion of the formation of the Azad Muslim Parliamentary Board to fight the last constitutional battle against the demand of Pakistan said that at the termination of the Muslim rule, there were about 25 million Muslims in India. Within a period of less than a century their number increased up to 100 million. The missionary work of the Jamait has a great share in this increase. The great object of an overall spread of Islam in the whole of India cannot be realized by appealing to passion of hatred and antagonism. It is the non-Muslims who are the field of action for the tabligh (spread of Islam) and form the raw material for this splendid activity.

Muslims are not friends of Dalits

With regards to the Muslim pretension of being friends of Dalits, way back in 1947 Ambedkar had cautioned Dalits to be vary of Muslims intentions. On November 27th 1947 in a press release Ambedkar said that it would be a fatal for the Scheduled Castes, whether in Pakistan or in Hyderabad to put their faith in the Muslims or the Muslim League. It has become a habit with the Scheduled Castes to look upon the Muslims as their friends simply because they dislike the Hindus. This is a mistaken view. The Muslim wanted the support of the Scheduled Castes but they never gave their support to the Scheduled Castes. Jinnah was all the time playing a double game. He was very insistent that the Scheduled Castes were a separate entity when it suited him but when it did not suit him he insisted with equal emphasis that they (Scheduled Castes) were Hindus. After the formation of Pakistan Ambedkar invited the Scheduled Castes to come to India as they were subjected to forcible religious conversion.

It is high time that Hindus become aware of the real facts that had taken place in our history, especially our younger generations and very importantly those working in the media and public life.

References

  1. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, Vol 8 and Vol 17- part I, Publishers- Dr. Ambedkar Foundation, Ministry of Social, Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, New Delhi

  1. P.D.Kaushik- The Congress Ideology and Programmes- 1920-1947, Allied Publishers Pvt Ltd, 1964

  1. Ram Gopal- Indian Muslims: A Political History (1858-1947), Asia Publishing House, 1964

  1. Ziya ul Hasan Faruqi, The Deoband School and the demand of Pakistan, Asia Publishing House, 1963.

  1. Gauba K.L., The Consequences of Pakistan, Lion Press, Lahore. 1946

  1. Srivastava A.L,Medieval Indian Culture, Shiva Lal Agarwala & Company, Agra

  1. B.L.Grover, S.Grover- A New Look at Modern Indian History, S.Chand & Company Ltd, New Delhi, 1993

This article was first published in http://www.pragyata.com/mag.

http://www.pragyata.com/mag/trail-of-tears-493



The Hindu Holocaust

Today the whole world recognizes the word holocaust with the killing of Jews by the Nazis. Historian J.L.Mehta in his work Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India Vol-I use the word holocaust for the death and destruction of Hindus under the hands of Mahmud of Ghazni and Muhammad of Ghori. But considering the devastating rape and ravages done to Hindus and Hindu society on a scale unprecedented in the history of mankind it would be appropriate to call the period from the invasion of Sindh by Muhammad Bin Qasim till the establishment of Bangladesh as an independent country as the period of Hindu holocaust.

Difference between Jewish holocaust and Hindu holocaust

  • While the holocaust of the Jews took place for some seven to eight years; that of the Hindus took place for several centuries, which could be divided into two phase. The first phase from 713 A.D. (conquest of Sindh by Muhammad bin Qasim) to 1761 (third battle of Panipat) wherein atrocities were committed on Hindus by foreign Muslims and the second phase from 1761 to 1971 (when Bangladesh became an independent country) wherein atrocities were committed on Hindus by the descendants of the victims of Muslim mayhems taken place during the first phase.
  • While the holocaust of the Jews meant the death of Jewish men, women and children, that of the Hindus saw not only killings of Hindu men, women and children, but also rape and enslaving of Hindu women, slavery of Hindu children, forcible conversion and destruction of Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries (including the famous Nalanda University) and destruction of Hindu/Buddhist literary works.
  • While the death toll due to the Jewish holocaust comes around six millions (60 lakhs) the death toll of the Hindus even by rough estimate could not be less than sixty millions (six crores).
  • While the Jewish holocaust was caused due to the injunction of Hitler as he believed that the Jews were of inferior race, the holocaust of the Hindus were caused due to the sanction of the religious scriptures of the Muslims which considers all non-Muslims as inferior and therefore no right to live.
  • Aftermath the holocaust the Jews learnt a bitter lesson; with the holocaust museums around the world reminding of the Nazi atrocities and the need to prevent such happenings in the future. But none such museums exists in India for the present generation of Hindus to become aware of the horrors experienced by their forefathers. Even history text books under the influence of Marxist historians have whitewashed the atrocities committed by the Muslims on Hindus. With power hungry politicians with their appeasement policies ruling the roost in India, the day would not be far away when the Hindus would have to face another holocaust; this time the whole Hindu race could be wiped out completely.

The Quranic injunction on non-Muslims

The Quranic law divides all non-Muslims into two classes, namely those who are according to it, the possessors of some kind of revealed scripture (ahle-Kitab) and those who are not and are idolators (Kafirs and Mushriks). The first group consisting only of Jews and Christians is permitted by the authority of the Quran to enjoy partial toleration in a Muslim state on payment of an invidious tax called the jiziya; but the other consisting of polytheists is not eligible for any kind of toleration whatever. Subsequently a third group of non-Muslims that is of those who resembled the possessors of revealed books (musahab ahl-i-kitab) was recognized and the Zoroastrians were placed under this category. The latter too were allowed to live in a Muslim country on payment of the jiziya like the Jews and Christians. Of the four early and authoritative commentators on the shara or the Islamic law who became founders of the four well-known schools of Muslim law, three namely, Malik Ibn Anas (715-795 A.D.), Ash-Shafi (767-820 A.D.) and Ahmad bin Hanbal (780-855 A.D.) lay down in unmistakable terms that idolators have no right to live in a Muslim country (i.e., one either ruled by Muslims or peopled by Muslims) and that they must either embrace Islam or suffer death. But the fourth commentator named Abu Hanifah (699-766A.D.) is of the opinion that idolators might be given besides the choice between Islam and death one more alternative, namely permission to live as Zimmis (living under a contract) or as inferior citizens with an obligation to pay the jiziya (poll tax) and to submit to certain political, legal and social disabilities.

As the Quran and the Hadis did not really permit Muslim rulers to allow Hindus to live under a Muslim government but to give them the choice between Islam and death the ulama pressed the sultans from time to time that the Quranic law should be enforced and that either the Hindus should be compelled to embrace Islam or they should be butchered in cold blood. For instance during the reign of Iltutmish (1211-1236) the ulama made a united demand that the Hindus should be confronted with the Quranic injunction of Islam or death. The Sultan referred the question to his wazir Nizammul- Mulk Junnaidi, who though concurring with the ulama’s interpretation of the law, said that at the movement India has newly been conquered and the Muslims are so few in number. If the above orders are applied to the Hindus it is possible that they might combine and rebel. However after a few years when in the capital and in the regions and the small towns, the Muslims are well established and the troops are larger it will be possible to give Hindus the choice of death or Islam. Similar demand was made by Qazi Mughis-ud-din of Bayana during the reign of Ala-ud-din Khalji (1296-1316). He said that God has himself commanded their (Hindus) complete degradation inasmuch as the Hindus are the deadliest foes of the Prophet. The Prophet has said that they should either embrace Islam or they should be slain or enslaved and their property should be confiscated to the state. Because of the vast numerical superiority of the Hindus and their military and economic strength the Quranic law could not be enforced completely. Hence the sultans allowed the Hindus to live as Zimmis, i.e., the people living under contract as second class citizens by paying a special tax called jiziya.

Types of atrocities faced by the Hindu

Mass killings

Muhammad bin Qasim’s first act of religious zeal after the capture of Sindh was to forcibly circumcise the Brahmanas of the captured city of Debul; but on discovering that they objected to this sort of conversion he then proceeded to put all above the age of seventeen to death and to order all others with women and children to be led to slavery. Utbi in his Tarikhi Yamini writes about the massacre, plunder and destruction that followed the victories of Mahmud of Ghazani. He remarks that the victors slew the vanquished wherever they were found, in jungles, passes, plains and hills. He further adds that the blood of the infidels flowed so copiously that the stream was discoloured notwithstanding its purity and people were unable to drink it. A contemporary Muslim writer observes about the consequences of Muslim victory in Gujarat in 1197- “Most of the Hindu leaders were taken prisoners and nearly fifty thousand infidels were dispatched to hell by the sword. More than twenty thousand slaves fell into the hands of the victor. Victorious campaigns of the Muslims were generally followed by the massacre and enslavement of the Hindus on a massive scale. Tarikh-i-Wassaf, written at the beginning of the medieval period gives an example of such massacre and enslavement after Alauddin’s campaign in Gujarat. The author narratives- the Muhammadan forces began to kill and slaughter on the right and on the left unmercifully throughout the impure land for the sake of Islam and blood flowed in torrents. They took captive a great number of handsome and elegant maidens amounting to 20,000 and children of both sexes more than the pen can enumerate. According to Amir Khusrav who was an eyewitness during the siege of Chittor in 1303, after its capture, Alauddin gave orders for the slaughter of his enemies and about 30,000 Rajputs were killed in one day. The invasion of Timur in 1398-99 had a disastrous effect on the political, social, cultural and economic condition of north India. Dozens of big towns were sacked and devastated, hundreds of villages razed to the ground and totally wiped out and millions of innocent men, women and children put to the sword. For instance he ordered the killing of nearly one lakh Hindu prisoners before marching to Delhi as he feared that they might trouble him during his conflict with the army of Delhi. The male prisoners were used as beasts of burden to carry the spoils on their heads for their victors to their homelands; many of them died of hunger and fatigue on the way. Thousands of Hindu women were enslaved, dishonoured and humiliated. Even the so called tolerant ruler like Akbar was guilty of massacring Hindus in thousands. For instance he invaded Chittor in 1567 and just because the Rajputs offered stiff resistance to his invasion, after securing Chittor he ordered a general massacre and about 30,000 Hindus were slaughtered. After the third battle of Panipat about 9000 Marathas were slaughtered in cold blood. According to an eye witness every Afghan soldier killed hundred to two hundred Maratha for the sake of gaining religious merit to their mother, father, sister and wife through killing of Kafirs. Barbarous cruelties were perpetrated on the Hindus not only in the north but in the south also. Ibn Batutah gives a graphic account of such cruelties perpetrated by the Sultan of Madura in the south. He cites an example of a Hindu whose head was cut down with those of his wife and young son of seven years of age by the Sultan of Madura. He observes that on another day the same Sultan got the hands and feet of a Hindu cut off. Another historian Farishta has narrated in his works the blood curdling tales of wholesale rapine and cold-blooded massacre of the Hindus by the Muslims. The Sultanate period was on of long crusade against Hindu religion and culture. K.M.Munshi a distinguished writer and renowned scholar writes about this period- “ It was one of ceaseless resistance offered with one relentless heroism of men, from boys in teens to men with one foot in grave, flinging away their lives for freedom; of warriors defying the invaders from the fortress for months; of women in thousands courting fire to save their honour; of children whose bodies were flung into the wells by their parents so that they might escape slavery; of fresh heroes springing up to take the place of the dead and to break the volume and momentum of the onrushing tide of invasion”.

The mass killings continued even in the twentieth century when demanding the formation of Pakistan the Muslim League gave a call for Direct Action Day during which there was abductions, forced marriages, rapes, compulsory conversion to Islam of scores of Hindus. An estimate twenty lakh people perished most of them Hindus after India was partitioned. In 1971 nearly nine million refugees were driven from East Pakistan of which the majority were Hindus. The ethnic cleansing done in Serbia in recent times pale into insignificance when compared to that done in East Pakistan. Whereas the culprits of the Serbian ethnic cleansing were booked for their crimes and punished those who did it in East Pakistan went unpunished. Even in independent India where there is a Hindu majority they are always at the receiving end when communal riots break out. As Babasaheb Ambedkar writes the Muslims spirit of aggression is his native endowment and is ancient and in this exhibition of the spirit of aggression the Muslim leaves the Hindu far behind.

Social, Economic and Cultural Discrimination

Islam invariably aspires for the conquest and extermination of the indigenous religion and culture of the country it invades. Under the Muslim domination the Hindus fretted and chaffed at the loss of their political power. Their political subjection was followed by social degradation. They were treated with severity and reduced to a state of abject poverty and had to live like helots within the empire. Sheikh Hamadani in his book Zakhirat-ul-Muluk explains the policy of the Muslim State and the duties of the ruler towards the non-Muslims, the Zimmis. He lays down twenty conditions to be imposed by the Muslim rulers on the Zimmis and make their lives and property dependent on their fulfillment of the terms. Among these twenty conditions the following deserve mention.

  • In a country under the authority of a Muslim ruler, they (Zimmis) are to build no new homes for images or idol temples
  • They are not be rebuild any old buildings which have been destroyed
  • Muslim travellers are not to be prevented from staying in idol temples
  • Infidels may not act as spies
  • If the Zimmis are gathered together in a meeting and Muslims appear, they are to be allowed at the meeting
  • Zimmis are not to ride on horses with saddle and bridal
  • Zimmis are not to possess swords and arrows
  • They are not to wear signet rings and seals on their fingers
  • They are not to build their homes in the neighbourhood of the Muslim
  • They are not to mourn their dead with loud voices
  • They are not to buy Muslim slaves
  • Zimmis should not propagate the customs and usages of polytheists among Muslim, etc.

If the Zimmis infringe any of these conditions it shall be lawful for Muslims to take their lives and possessions. In the reign of Sultan Alauddin Khilji, Qazi Mughisuddin of Bayana advised the Sultan to follow rigid anti-Hindu policy. He said –“Hindus are the deadliest foes of the Prophet. The Prophet has said that they should either embrace Islam or they should be slain or enslaved and their property should be confiscated to the state. When the Sultan consulted the Qazi about the policy to be followed for the Hindus, he answered- “They (Hindus) are called Khirajguzars (tax and tribute payers) and when the revenue officer demand silver from them, they should without question and with all humility and respect give gold. If the revenue and tax collector chooses to spit into the mouth of a Hindu, the latter must open his mouth without hesitation. Other restrictions were also imposed on Hindus like they were not allowed to wear fine clothes, ride on horseback or possess arms. Sometimes they were not permitted to chew betel or wear the same kind of dress as Muslims. Vidyapati, who was the famous poet of Mithila in the 15th century A.D. has given a graphic and gruesome account of the religious and social oppression of the Hindus by the Muslims. He observed that the Turks forced the Hindus to work without pay, placed the leg of the dead cow on the heads of the Brahmans, licked the sandalwood mark on their foreheads, tore off their sacred thread, broke temples and build mosques in their place, abused and assaulted the Hindus.

Rape and enslavement of Hindu women

Muslim rulers and nobles of India were sexual sadists known for their low morality and were debauchees par excellence. Kaiqubad the grand-son of Balban was 17 year old when he succeeded to the throne in 1287 A.D. He had been brought up under the strict guardianship of his grandfather Balban where casting a glance at a fair face or to taste wine was a taboo. When Kaiqubad became the Sultan, his pent up desires and passion found expression in unrestrained indulgence in wine, women and gaiety. So much so that musicians, singers, jokers, jesters and beautiful dancing girls from different parts of the kingdom thronged his court. Due to over indulgence Kaiqubad was struck with paralysis when he was just 20 and was kicked to death by a Khilji soldier and thrown to river Jamuna and the Slave dynasty came to an end. Mubarak Shah son of Ala-ud-din Khilji who ascended the throne in 1316 A.D overthrew all decency and royal dignity to the winds and sometimes appeared in the court in a state of drunkenness, accompanied by the dancing girls and vulgar slave boys who misbehaved with the courtiers and put everyone to shame. The Sultan adorned himself with the garments and trinkets of women and appeared in assemblies. Historian Barani says that sometimes the Sultan would run naked among his courtiers. The Muslim rulers and nobles were notorious for maintaining big harems.Khan Jahan Maqbul, the Prime Minister of Sultan Firoz Tughlaq is said to have maintained 2000 women of various races and nationalities in his harem. The ruler of Bahamani Kingdom, Firoz Shah had a harem of 800 women of various nationalities like Arabians, Georgians, Turks, Europeans, Chinese, Rajputs, Bengalis and others. He was reputed to be a master of many languages and was able to converse with each of his mistress in her own language. Sultan Mahmud of Gujarat was so strict in maintaining peaceful atmosphere in the harem that if any lady laughed at or derided the other, both were killed. During his early days, Akbar if he found any married women interesting, he used to ask her husband to divorce his wife in his favour. Non-compliance meant death or banishment. At the age of 25 Akbar had no less than a thousand divorcees in his harem. They were all once wives of Muslim and Hindu noblemen of his court. Mughal historian Abul Fazl says that Emperor Akbar had a harem of 5000 women supervised by a separate staff of female officers and eunuchs were appointed to guard them. Unauthorized entry into harem by any man was punishable with severing of legs and throwing out the trunk to wolves for a feast. The whole Muslim society was characterized by low morality and sensuality and even learned scholars and theologians were addicted to wine and women. One Maulana Shams Asadi was so much over sexed that he even neglected his obligatory prayers and ran after slave women. This type of atmosphere led to the worsening of the position of Hindu women during the Muslim rule over India. It was a fashion among the Turks, Pathans, Afghans and Mughals to take a wife from a Hindu family. Young Hindu girls were forcibly taken away and married to Muslims. Before the arrival of Muslim invaders Hindu women participated freely in social activities and functions. Rajput women took part in battles and in other outdoor activities even till as late as the fourteenth century. From paintings, sculpture, coins and references of foreign writers we find no evidence of the existence of purdah among the Hindus. Alberuni who was in India in the beginning of the eleventh century does not mention child marriage among the Hindus. But with the arrival of Muslim invaders purdah and ghoonghat was adapted by the Hindu women to save their honour from the lustful eyes of the Muslims. Except those belonging to the lower classes, Hindu women did not move out of their house. To safeguard the chastity of their daughter’s new rules were made to enforce early marriage.

During the military expeditions and invasions of the Muslims when the Rajputs had no hope of victory they fought to the last man and died in the battle. Before that last fight they collected their women, young ones, the middle aged and also those sixteen years old and made them enter the burning pyre, the act which was called Jauhar. This was to prevent the victorious Muslims from dishonouring them. Jauhar became a normal feature of the Rajput society only with the coming of the Muslims in India. Such sacrifices of life for the sake of honour and chastity are probably not found in the history of the other countries.

After the defeat of Dahir and capture of Sindh by Muhammad bin Qasim, Parmal Devi and Suraj Devi the two daughters of the deceased raja Dahir were taken captives and sent to Baghdad for introduction into the Caliph’s harem. According to Utbi after the defeat of Jaipal, Mahmud Ghazni took five lakh people including beautiful women as slaves. Ibn Batutah refers to the forcible conversion, mass enslavement and the inferior status of the Hindus as Zimmis. He gives several references to the humiliating treatment accorded to the Hindu female captives of the highest rank. Referring to the Id ceremony at Delhi in the Sultan’s palace he observes. “Then enter the musicians, the first batch being the daughters of the infidel rajas- Hindus- capture in the war that year. They sing and dance and the Sultan gives them away to the amirs and aizza. Then come the other daughters of the infidels who sing and dance and the Sultan gives them away to his brothers, his relations, his brother-in-law and the malik’s sons. When Muhammad bin Tughlaq sent his presents to the Emperor of China, they included one hundred male slaves and one hundred female slave songstresses and dancers from among the Indian infidels. Guru Nanak refers to the invading army of Babur as a ‘marriage party of sin’ and bemoans that “not even the ladies of the nobles were spared dishonour. With heads once of luxuriant tresses and partings adorned with red, they suffered now the shears of brutality; their throats were filled with choking dust; they wandered in a pitiful condition”. In recent times to force Hindus out of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) a systematic massacre of Hindus was started by the Muslims in 1950 and according to government figures more than 50,000 Hindus were butchered, thousands of Hindu women were abducted and raped and inhuman and barbarous crimes were perpetrated against them. To prevent young Hindu girls from being sent away to West-Bengal for the safety of their honour and to make the humiliation of the Hindus complete, a ‘Girls Release Duty’ was imposed on all Hindu girls leaving East Pakistan. Their hopeless guardians had either to pay this undignified tax or leave their sisters and daughters to the mercy of Pakistan goondas.

Forcible conversions

Muslim rulers converted Hindus to Islam in large numbers. Sikandar the Butshikan of Kashmir converted thousands of Hindus to Islam and expelled those who refuse to be converted. Jala-ud-din of Bengal (1414-1430) forcibly converted hundreds of Hindus and persecuted the rest. Firoz Tughluq and Sikandar Lodi were the instances of Delhi Sultans who indulged in mass persecution and conversion of Hindus. According to Muslim historian Afif during the time of Firoz Tughlaq a Brahmin who was publicly performing the worship of idols in his house was tied hand and foot and was burnt alive before the palace gate because he refused to change his faith and embrace Islam. Sikandar Lodi also put to death a Brahmin named Bodhan who ventured to say that both Hinduism and Islam were true religions.

During Aurangzeb rule, the experiment of mass conversion was first tried in Kashmir. Sher Afghan Khan, the emperor viceroy in Kashmir set about converting Kashmir’s Brahmins by sword. In desperation some of them went to Anandpur and sought the help of Guru Tegh Bahadur. The Guru asked them to tell the emperor that they will embrace Islam if Tegh Bahadur was first converted. The Guru was summoned to Agra and on his refusal to embrace Islam and perform miracles he was killed on November 11th 1675 at Delhi. Earlier his disciples, Mati Das’s body was cut with a saw, while that of another disciple, Bhai Dayal Das was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil under the orders of Aurangzeb for refusal to convert themselves as Muslims.

In 1789 Sambhaji died after being tortured by Aurangzeb. Not satisfied with this Aurangzeb who had taken his (Sambhaji) son Shahu as prisoner issued an order that Shahu be converted to Islam during the month of muharram in 1703. The news spread like wildfire throughout Maharashtra and a deep shadow of gloom pervaded the whole atmosphere. Shahu and his mother were prostrate with grief and in that helpless state they turned to Aurangzeb’s daughter Zinatunnisa who pleaded for Shahu with her father. Aurangzeb relented at last but at a price and the price was that two prominent Marathas should offer themselves for conversion in place of Shahu. Even in those days when unselfish patriotism was a rare virtue there were people who could die without a groan for their king and for their country. Two sons of Pratap Raogujar, Khande Rao and Jagjiwan, brother-in-law of Rajaram, who were captured at Raigarh along with Shahu and lived with him in the imperial camp offered themselves for conversion to save Shahu. They were accordingly converted on May 16, 1703 and renamed Abdur Rahim and Abdur Rahman.

Even as late in 1789 thousands of people in Kerala were circumcised and made to eat beef by Tipu who had issued a proclamation directing the inhabitants of Malbar to embrace Islam. Later in 1921 the Moplahs (converted Muslims of Kerala) forced their Hindu neighbours to embrace Islam and killed those who refused. All kinds of pressure were exerted on the Hindu population in order to compel them to embrace Islam. Criminals who embraced Islam were acquitted and government posts were conferred upon converts who were besides rewarded in many other ways. Islam did not permit the conversion of Muslims to Hinduism or the reconversion of Hindu converts to Islam. Those guilty of the offence of seducing Muslims from their religion were awarded the capital punishment. The same punishment was inflicted for reconverting Hindu converts to Islam.

Religious discrimination

Not only during the course of war or a campaign but also in peacetime Hindu temples were razed to the ground and their images broken to pieces. They were also forbidden from building new temples and repairing the old ones. Muhammad bin Qasim carried out the destruction of temples after his conquest of Sindh but made an exception to a temple at Multan as it was frequented by a large number of pilgrims and used to get good income. Nevertheless he satisfied his desire by tying a piece of cow’s meat around the neck of the idol of the temple. Minhaj-us-Siraj tells us Mahmud of Ghazani became famous for having destroyed as many as a thousand temples and his great feat was to break the idol of Somanath into four pieces and placing one at the entrance of his palace and another at the entrance of the mosque in Ghazni to be trodden upon by Muslims. It is said that Mahmud was requested by the priests not to break the main idol in return for immense wealth. But Mahmud spurned the offer and said that he would rather like to be known as ‘Mahmud the idol breaker, (butshikan) than the idol seller (but-farosh). Qutbuddin Aibak is also said to have destroyed nearly a thousand temples. Firoz Tughlaq writes in his Fatuhat-i-Shahi how he rode to the village of Maluh where the Hindus had gathered to worship by the side of a tank and a fair was being held and he not only put down Hindu worship and destroyed the idols but also ordered the worshippers to be put to death. He also razed to the ground temples in places like Mandrail, Utgir, Narwar and Nagarkot and erected mosques and carvan sarais in their place. The pieces of the broken images of Hindu idols were brought from Nagarkot and were given away to Muslim butchers to be used as meat weights.

The literature of the Vaishnavas in Bengal has given a description of the miserable plight of the Hindus in Bengal. According the accounts given the Muslims used to break the images of the gods into pieces and throw away the articles of worship. They used to burn the Shrimad Bhagavat and other holy scriptures, forcibly take away the conch shell and bell of the Brahmanas (two necessary articles of worship) and lick sandle paints on their bodies. They urinate like dogs on the sacred Tulsi plant and deliberately pass faeces in the Hindu temples. They throw water from their mouths on the Hindus engaged in worship. According to Jayanand’s Chaitanyamangala if the King of Gaud hears the sound of a conch shell in any house, its owner is made to forfeit his wealth, caste and even life. Outrages committed on the Hindus by two Qazis, Hasan and Husain in the reign of Sultan Alauddin Husain Shah (1493-1519) of Bengal is well described by Vijay Gupta in his works. He says that the Hindus were beaten mercilessly, sacred thread of the Brahmans torn away and saliva was spat in their mouths. Consequently many Hindus embraced Islam to get rid of this ignominious fate. Some of the Hindus embraced Islam to escape the much hated tax of jiziya. Barani a famous historian of the Sultanate period eagerly yearned that the Hindu slaughtering swords of Islam should not be put to their scabbard until the whole of Hind had embraced Islam. He desired that Muslim rulers should not allow the infidels to keep their temples, adorn their idols, and to make merry during their festivals with beating of drums and dhols, singing and dancing. Aurangzeb reimposed the jiziya and pilgrim’s tax on the Hindus and ordered the wholesale demolition of temples in all parts of the empire. He instructed the governors of all provinces that they should destroy the schools and temples of the infidels and put an end to their educational activities as well as the practices of the religions of the kafirs. The result was that universally respected temples, including those of Vishwanath and Gopinath at Banaras, that of Keshavrai at Mathura and many others were razed to the ground. Aurangzeb appointed a darogah to supervise the activities of the army officers who were charged with breaking images and destroying temples. Cart-loads of broken images were brought to Delhi and Agra from all the provinces and buried under staircases of Jami mosques of these and other towns.

Results of the holocaust

  • According to Babasaheb Ambedkar the fall of Buddhism in India was due to the invasion of the Musalmans. Islam came out as the enemy of the ‘But’. The word ‘But’ is an Arabic word and means an idol and also refers to Buddha. The Muslims identified idol worship with the religion of the Buddha and to break the idols became the mission to destroy Buddhism. Islam destroyed Buddhism not only in India but wherever it went. Before Islam came into being Buddhism was the religion of Bactria, Parthia, Afghanistan, Gandhara and Chinese Turkestan. It all these countries Islam destroyed Buddhism. Further Ambedkar quotes Vincent Smith who points out that the furious massacre perpetrated in many places by Musalman invaders were more efficacious than orthodox Hindu persecution and had a great deal to do with the disappearance of Buddhism in several provinces of India.
  • According to A.L.Srivastava during the period 1200-1803 A.D. the Hindu society deteriorated morally and materially. The government during the Sultanate and Mughal period was tyrannical and repressed the people and did whatever it could to demoralize them. The government did not tolerated manly virtues of courage, honesty and frankness and resistance to oppression. The result was that the Hindus as a people developed a character of low cunning, deceit and flattery in order to get on in the world. In short they suffered a great deal of moral and intellectual degeneration. The historian Jadunath Sarkar justly holds the medieval Muslim government responsible for the Hindu degeneration of that age and considers it the greatest disservice done to this country.
  • During the centuries of Muslim domination the Hindus race’s instinct for self-preservation, combined with the individual’s need for a guarantee of personal safety intensified the rigidity of the caste system. The proselytizing zeal of Islam strengthened bonds of conservatism in the orthodox circles of the Hindu society. The Hindu became more orthodox in their outlook and practice than what they were in the past. To fortify their position against the propagation and spread of Islam, the Hindus increased to a great extent the stringency of many social taboos and castes rules and regulations. New rigid rules of conduct, diet, marriage and religious rites and ceremonies were prescribed. The stiffness and rigidity of the caste system served as a strong cordon for Hinduism from being submerged entirely in Muslim culture. Had there been so such caste system in India, the whole of the Hindu race might have embraced Islam as other nations in Asia and Africa had done.
  • The Indian Muslims (Hindu converts) during the rule of the Turks and later Mughals had little share in the administration of the country, not admitted into the aristocracy of the conquerors and not given a share of their social and economic privileges. His only consolation was that he professed the same religion as his rulers and could pray with them on Fridays. His constant desire was to be treated on a footing of equality with his foreign co-religionist and to share their power and wealth. To attain his life’s ambition he had to imitate foreign ways and style of living and even to abjure his ancestors. It was an irony of fate that owing to these reasons he was cut off from those who had once been his kinsmen, dead or alive and was like an alien in his own motherland. It was this inferiority complex along with his economic and educational backwardness that made the Indian Muslims claim separate homeland and which led to the establishment of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

References

  • Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Writings and Speeches, Vol- 3, Vol-17 part I, Published by Dr. Ambedkar Foundation
  • Anil A Athale – Let the Jhelum Smile Again, Aditya Prakashan, Mumbai
  • Bal Raj Madhok – Portrait of a Martyr – A Biography of Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerji, Rupa & Co, New Delhi
  • J.S.Grewal- The Sikhs of the Punjab, The New Cambridge History of India II, Cambridge University Press, 1995
  • J.L.Mehta- Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India Vol -I, Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd, Delhi
  • Murray T Titus – Indian Islam, Oxford University Press, 1930
  • B.N.Luniya- Life and Culture in Medieval India, Kamal Prakashan, Indore
  • A.L.Srivastava- The Sultanate of Delhi, Shiva Lal Agarwala & Co, Agra
  • A.L.Srivastava- Medieval Indian Culture, Shiva Lal Agarwala & Co, Agra
  • A.L.Srivastava- The Mughal Empire, Shiva Lal Agarwala & Co, Agra

Carvakas/Lokayata – The Empiricists of Ancient India

Indian Materialism is known to us today in its four names; Brhaspatya, Nastikamata, Carvaka and Lokayata. It is known as Brhaspatya because of the ascription by tradition of the authorship of the classic work on Indian materialism namely Brhaspatisutras to Brhaspati. But as to who this Brhaspati was and whether he was at all a historical figure- controversy still persists. Scholars like Macdonell and B.M.Barua consider Brhaspati to be only a mythical founder of the system, the real historical founder according to them being Carvaka and Ajita Keshakambalin. S.K.Belvalkar and Tucci on the other hand are in favour of accepting the historical foundership of Brhaspati. The name Nastikamata is applied to Indian materialism as it does not believe in the Vedas and in the other world. As some scholars believe Carvaka the founder of Indian materialism, it is called as Carvaka darshana. Some are of the view that Carvaka was the disciple of Brhaspati. Carvaka is referred in the Mahabharatha as a rakshasa, a founder or propagator of materialism. Others feel that the name Carvaka is derived from caru- a name given to Brhaspati and identify Carvaka with Brhaspati. According to S.N.Dasgupta Lokayata was the name by which all Carvaka doctrines were generally known. Lokayata meant a system of philosophy based on Loka (this world). It did not recognize the concepts of heaven, hell or salvation. It was called Lokayata because it was prevalent among the people. According to S.Radhakrishnan Lokayata is the Sanskrit word for materialism and Indian materialists were in general called Lokayatikas.

Antiquity of Lokayata

Some scholars of the view that Indian materialism is the oldest philosophical school as all other schools in their respective systems try to refute the truths established by this school thus admitting its priority. It is also a fact that the word darshan in its primary sense means perception and the materialists maintain that the word darshana was first originated by the followers of Brhaspati. Buddhist and Jaina texts refer to a number of materialist philosophers who lived at the time of Buddha and Mahavira and even earlier. Sixty two such heterodox thinkers are mentioned and among them the most prominent were Purana Kassapa, Makkhali Gosala, Ajitakesa Kambali, Pakidha Kaccayana, Nigantha Nataputta, Sanjaya Velathi Putta, Bhaguri, Purandara, Jabali, Kambaksvadhara, etc. In Mahabharatha there are references to haitukas who did not believe in the other world. They were learned in the Vedas, in other sastras, made gifts, performed sacrifices, hated falsehood and went among people explaining their views. This shows that even in the Vedic circles there were people who did not believe in anything except what exists in this world. Buddhists sources mention that Brahmins were well versed in the Lokayata learning. This shows that there were in the Vedic circle many moral and learned people who believed in heretical view that is, disbelief in the doctrine of immortality or in a world beyond the present. The Mahabharatha also contain clear and simple elucidations of various materialistic theories such as Svabhavavada or naturalism, Yedricchavada or accidentalism and Parinamavada or evolutionism. According to B.A.Saletore, the development of Lokayata School took place after the six century B.C. and before 4th century B.C. as Kautilya in his Arthashastra (4th century B.C.) refers to them. The Sukraniti gives a long list of the science and arts that were studied and in this it counts the nastika sastra as that which is very strong in logical arguments. Medhatithi in his commentary upon Manu also refers to the tarka vidya (science of logic) of the Carvakas.

Extinction of Carvaka Texts

All our information about Indian materialistic doctrines is drawn from the brief accounts of the system and numerous references to its doctrines occurring in the works of its opponents and critics belonging to both heterodox (Jains and Buddhists) and orthodox (Samkya and Mimamsa schools), poets, philosopher thinkers, dramatists, etc. Some of the works which provide information about Indian materialism are Sarva Dharshana Sangraha of Madhavacharya, Saddarshana Samuccaya of Haribhadra Suri, Sarva Siddhantasara Samgraha attributed to Samkaracarya, Sarvadarshana Kaumudi of Madhava Sarasvati, Sarvamatasamgraha, Tattvasamgraha of Shanta Raksita, Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Padma Purana, Vishnu Purana, Manu Smrti, Kautilya’s Arthashastra, etc. Many of the above mentioned works quote with acknowledgement the sutras, karikas and shlokas pertaining to the materialistic school of thought and this shows that there once existed at least two works of the Indian materialists namely Brahspati Sutras and Lokayata Sastra. With regards to the reasons of the non-availability of the texts of Carvakas, it can be explained in two ways.

  1. When the doctrines of a system become the beliefs of the common man, one does not need to read books to get convinced of them and hence feels no need to preserve the existing ones even, not to say of writing new ones. With the passage of time (through continuous disuse and negligence) the existing works are sure to become extinct. This may be the case with regards to that works on materialism in India. For the fact that materialism enjoyed considerable popularity here is clearly borne out by the general complaint of the orthodox thinkers about the growing materialism among the masses. The impression that is given by their writing further confirms that in fighting against materialistic doctrines they were fighting against the beliefs of the common man. Not only the very name Lokayata (meaning prevalent among the people) given to the Indian materialism is indicative of its popularity but there is historical evidence also to prove its popularity among the masses.
  2. The second explanation for the extinction of the once existent works on Indian materialism is that the opponents of the system who wanted to free people from the ‘evil’ influence of the system burnt and destroyed them or it may be contended that the once popular doctrines of materialism were so much reacted against by their opponents that the intellectual climate changed and forced the materialists to burn their own works in order to escape persecution at the hands of the reactionaries.

Karnataka, epicenter of the Carvakas?

According to B.A.Saletore the Lokayatas were more common in western India especially in the region of Karnataka proper than elsewhere; that they possessed five well known centres in Karnataka from where they radiated their influence and that they were very vigorous from the tenth century A.D. to fifteenth century A.D. This statement is made based on the information provided by the inscriptions found in places like Gunderi, Beguru, Balligamve, Somanathapura and Nagarakhanda which were the strongholds of the Carvakas in Karnataka. Accordingly the Carvakas were Hindus and scholars of different creeds and even secular rulers were proficient in the doctrines of Lokayatas. For instance a record dated 1148 A.D. says that the Pandya prince of Ucchani, Vira Pandya was well versed in Lokayata doctrines. As the doctrines of Lokayata was given a place among the various philosophies and acknowledge with respect both by the Hindus and Jainas for more than five centuries in Karnataka, the pontiff of Sringeri, Madhvacharya Vidyaranya mentions the doctrines of the Lokayatas in detail in his work Sarvadarshanasamgraha.

Epistemology- Senses, the only reliable source of knowledge

According to the Carvakas theory of knowledge, the only way of realizing truth was by direct perception of evidence of sense. The idealists held that there were three sources (pramanas) of knowledge, viz., perception, inference and sabda or sacred utterance (of the Vedas). The Carvakas did not recognize sabda as a source of knowledge because they questioned the validity of the Vedas. With regards to inference, the Carvakas held that inference always depended on perception. For example smoke comes from fire. We know by perception that it is true. But an inference that wherever there is fire there is smoke or that wherever there is smoke there must be fire need not be true. According to the Carvakas inference may be correct when they are concerned with certain manifestations of nature, but they may be wrong when applied to certain other phenomena. Inferences are related sometimes to the past and sometimes to the future. In the case of the past they may be correct, but as far as the future is concerned, inferences may prove to be wrong. So inference is not always a reliable method. Those aspects of the phenomena which are incapable of being observed and explained by direct perception are of doubtful validity. That is why the Carvakas argued that the only reliable source of knowledge was perception.

Metaphysics- Denied existence of God and Soul (atma)

The Carvakas recognize perception as the only means of valued knowledge. As God cannot be perceived, the Carvakas deny the existence of God and are atheists. They also reject the law of karma and moksha or liberation. Just as God cannot be perceived, the so called atma or soul cannot be perceived and hence the Carvakas does not recognize the existence of the soul. They identify the soul with the body which is endowed with consciousness. The body according to the Carvakas is composed of four materials like the earth, water, fire and air. The sense organs and consciousness are produced by their atomic arrangements just like intoxicating liquor is produced by molasses when it undergoes fermentation. While Dhurta Carvakas hold that there is no soul apart from the body, the Sushikshita Carvakas on the other hand hold that there is a soul apart from the body as the constant knower and enjoyer of all experiences but it is destroyed along with the body at death. The Carvakas no not recognize the transmigration of soul as if it was true then the soul would remember the experiences of the past life just as a person remembers the experiences of his childhood or youth.

Severe critics of Vedas and Brahmanas

The Carvakas vehemently criticized the priests and their crafts and maintained that the Vedic mantras chanted by the priests for sacrifices had no divinity whatsoever. Some mantras did not convey any meaning, some were ambiguous and some contradictory. Some spoke of results which were never realized. Hence the Vedas were not only human compositions but worse they were composed by buffoons, knaves and demons. Vedic rituals and animal sacrifices were all meaningless. The priests say that the animals sacrificed in the yajna attain heaven. If so why did they not send their own parents to heaven by sacrificing them in the yajnas? The priests tell us that the offerings made in this world on death anniversaries of the ancestors satisfy their hunger and thirst in the other world. If so an extinguished flame in one lamp should burn when oil is poured in another. The priests tell us not to injure life but they find an exception for themselves when eating the flesh of the animal burnt in sacrifice. All these therefore are the devices of greedy Brahmins to earn wealth by cheating the common folks.

Lokayata, precursor of Tantrism?

According to Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, Lokayata was the popular and obscure beliefs and practices that are broadly referred to as Tantrism. That the Lokayatikas were opposed to the Brahmanical rituals does not necessarily mean that they were opposed to rituals as such. In the Buddhist text Saddharma Pundarika there is a mention of Lokayata-mantra-dharaka which shows that they were practicing some kind of spell. Their conflict with Brahmanism arose as they wanted to stick to their own rituals and these rituals were rooted in a set of beliefs which was in direct conflict with orthodox Brahmanism. Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya opines that original Tantrism like its more philosophical version known as Samkya was atheistic and materialistic and spiritual and other worldly ideas were subsequently superimposed on it.

Were the Carvakas hedonists?

Materialism as a philosophy doctrine definitely denies the concept of divine reward or retribution. It does not hesitate to declare that there is no pleasure obtainable beyond this world but it not synonymous with hedonism. In Greece Epicurus (342-271 B.C.) had been a victim of this libel. Epicurus and Epicureans had all along preached a doctrine of self-sufficiency and plain living. But their opponents persistently branded them as heedless hedonists. This shows the deep rooted misconception regarding the identity of materialism and hedonism. According to M.Hiriyanna, the Carvakas did not believe in any spiritual values and was content with the worldly ones of sensual pleasure and wealth. Hence they were represented as discarding morality and preaching hedonism. But no serious thinker could conceivably have inculcated such a teaching. The only thing the materialist could have meant is that there are no higher values, in the sense accepted by the generality of Indian philosophers. The Carvakas repudiated the authority of the Vedas which according to the orthodox is the source of belief in such values. According to the Carvakas different parts of the Vedas are irreconcilably at variance with one another and that it is therefore impossible to make out what it really teaches.

Gist of Carvaka’s Teachings

The overall position of the Carvakas as presented by Madhavacarya’s work may be briefly summed up as follows- The Carvakas (Lokayatikas) are the materialists explaining the origin and development of everything through a harmonious combination of four elements of earth, air, water and fire in various proportions. They are naturalists (Svabhavavadins) who reject supernaturalism with all that it implies i.e., God, soul (apart from the body), life beyond the present one (transmigration), existence of heaven and hell (except in this world in the form of natural pleasurable and painful existence), karmaphala and adrusta (fate), etc. They believe in manly strength and the efficacy of human endeavor in the attainment of happiness, even though they are realists enough to realize the difficulty in attaining unmixed happiness. They advise us to avoid as well as endure pain (by way of making efforts) in order to get happiness. Activities such as growing of crops, building of houses, cooking and the like have their hazards. We are not to be afraid of them. The life of the body torturing ascetic and the fraudulent priests duping simple folk deserves nothing but condemnation. One of the main reasons of rejecting the authorities of the Vedas by them is that the Vedas sanction sacrifices, performance of which involves killing and obscene rites. An ordered society is needed for the realization of the aim of human happiness; hence the Carvakas are the followers of Arthasastra and Niti. Of the four values; dharma, artha, kama and moksha recognized traditionally in India, the Carvakas recognize only two values kama (happiness) and artha (wealth). Dharma is a vague concept, understood generally however in the sense of religious duty. The Lokayatikas do not have any place for religion in their system and hence none for dharma as well. As regards to moksha understood generally as a state of freedom from the misery and suffering (involved in life) marked by desirelessness, the Carvakas hold that one who has got manly strength ought to strive for it, for desires together with the efforts to realize them constitute life.

Impact of Carvaka school of thought

  • The chief importance of the Carvaka system for us lies in the evidence it affords of the many sidedness of philosophical activity in India in ancient times and of the prevalence of a great deal of liberty of though as well as of freedom of expression.
  • Skepticism or agnosticism is the expression of a free mind that refuses to accept traditional wisdom without a through criticism. Philosophy as critical speculation claims to live chiefly on free though and the more it can satisfy the skeptic the sounder it can hope to be. By questioning the soundness of popular notions, the skeptic sets new problems, by the solution of which philosophy becomes richer. Carvaka saved Indian philosophy from dogmatism to a great extent. Every system of Indian thought tried to meet the Carvaka objections and made Carvaka a touchstone of its theories. The value of Carvaka philosophy therefore lies directly in supplying fresh philosophical problem and indirectly compelling other thinkers to give up dogmatism and become critical and cautious in speculation as well as in statement of view.
  • As the Lokayatikas captured the hearts of the cultured as well as the common people all become earnest in working out their immediate earthly welfare. The result of this movement was the origination and propagation of different arts and sciences. Vatsyayana mentions some 64 names of Indian fine arts which flourished in this period of Indian materialism.
  • According to S.Radhakrishnan the materialist theory had a good deal to do with the repudiation of the old religion of custom and magic. Liberal efforts at improving existing institutions sanctioned by time and embodied in the habits of people will remain ineffectual if the indifference and superstitions of centuries are not shaken up by an explosive force like the Carvaka creed, he adds. Materialism signifies the declaration of the spiritual independence of the individual and the rejection of the principle of authority. Nothing need be accepted by the individual which does not find its evidence in the movement of reason. It is a return of man’s spirit to itself and a rejection of all that is merely external and foreign. The Carvaka philosophy is a fanatical effort made to rid the age of the weight of the past that was oppressing it. The removal of dogmatism which it helped to effect was necessary to make room for the great constructive efforts of speculation.
  • The Carvaka philosophy with its bold independence of spirit was thought provoking and infused critical spirit into Indian philosophy.

References

  1. Balakrishna S. Pandit- A Simple Study of Indian Philosophy, Surjeet Book Depot, Delhi, 1969
  2. Dakshina Ranjan Shastri- A Short History of Indian Materialism, Sensationalism and Hedonism, Book Land Private Ltd, Calcutta, 1957
  3. Damodaran- Indian Thought- A Critical Survey, 1967
  4. Surendranath Dasgupta- History of Indian Philosophy, Vol- III, Cambridge University Press, 1952
  5. Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya – Lokayata- A Study in Ancient Indian Materialism, People’s Publishing House, 1968
  6. Hiriyanna- The Essentials of Indian Philosophy, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London, 1949
  7. Jadunath Sinha- Introduction to Indian Philosophy, Lakshmi Narain Agarwal, Agra, 1949
  8. K.Mittal- Materialism in Indian Thought, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt Ltd, Delhi, 1974
  9. Radhakrishnan- Indian Philosophy Vol-I, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London, 1941
  10. Ramakrishna Bhattacharya- Studies on the Caravaka/Lokayata, Anthem Press, London,2011
  11. A.Saletore- Historical Notices of the Lokayatas, pp: 386-397, Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Vol-xxiii, Silver Jubilee Volume, B.O.R.I., Poona
  12. Satishchandra Chatterjee, Dheerendra Mohan Datta- An Introduction to Indian Philosophy, University of Calcutta, 1948

Tantra- A Brief Introduction, Part III

Tantra means a discipline or a system. The meaning includes the sense of a logically worked out self-consistent discipline. The discipline is both in the field of philosophy or metaphysics and in the field of religion or practical life. In other words Tantra means a philosophical discipline as well as a religious and cultural one1.

Tantric method of Worship

Tantras are essentially sadhana shastras. Sadhana be it spiritual or otherwise is that which produces siddhi or result sought for. The term sadhana comes from the root ‘sadha’ that is to exert, to strive and sadhana is therefore striving, practice, discipline, worship in order to obtain fruits thereof. In religious context it means spiritual advancement with its results of happiness either in this world or in heaven and liberation or moksha, which is free from cyclic orders of karma and rebirth2.

Tantric sadhana consists of two parts ritual worship (puja) and meditation (yoga). Both are of equal importance to every tantric. Even the siddha or avadhuta recognized to be so highly spiritual that he can afford to disregard rules applicable to ordinary tantrics continues to perform his daily puja along with his yogic practices3.

Types of Sadhakas (adepts)

The Tantras have classified mankind according to their pravrittih or bhava that is natural aptitudes and dispositions. According to Tantras these tendencies, dispositions and reactions to specific situations, environment and circumstances are the products of our past deeds in previous births and rebirths. Tantra places special emphasis on bhava suddhi or citta suddhi. Purification of mind, body, intellect and emotion is essential and indispensable for spiritual progress and such purification is to be attained by the specific sadhana known in Tantra as Bhuta Suddhi. Thus Tantra has classified mankind under three broad heads according to the pravrittih of the individuals, namely

  1. Pashu or man with animal disposition
  2. Vira or man with heroic disposition and
  3. Divya or man with divine disposition4

Seven Acharas

Closely associated with the bhavas, the Tantras have enjoined seven acharas or stages. An aspirant must rise step by step through the different acharas of self-realization till he reaches the seventh or the highest stage of ‘Life Divine’. The seven acharas mentioned in the Kularnava Tantra are Vedachara, Vaishnavachara, Shaivachara, Dakshinachara, Vamachara, Siddhantachara and Kaulachara5.

In the first stage cleanliness of the body and mind is cultivated. The second stage is that of devotion (bhakti). The third stage is that of knowledge (jnana). Dakshina which is the fourth stage is that in which the gains acquired in the preceding three stages are consolidated. This is followed by Vama which is the stage of renunciation. The sixth stage namely Siddhanta is that in which the aspirant comes to the definite conclusion after deliberate consideration as to the relative merits of the paths of enjoyment and that of renunciation. By pursuing the pursuing the path of renunciation the aspirant reaches the final stage of Kaula. This is the stage in which Kula or Brahman becomes a reality to him.

The first three of these seven; namely Veda, Vaishnava and Shaiva belongs to the pashubhava, Dakshina and Vama belong to the virabhava and the last two belongs to divyabhava6.

S.K.Ramachandra Rao gives a different interpretation to the seven acharas. According to him –

  1. Vedachara prescribes non-violent Vedic rites, on contemplation of the divinities in one’s body and on the repetition of the seed syllable ‘Aim’- all these being performed only in day time.
  2. The Vaishnavachara is an extension of the first one, but relying to a greater extent on the sacred mythology contained in the puranas, advocating the observance of vratas (like fasting, vegetarian diet, celibacy, avocation that is free from violence, restraint in speech, etc.), worship of personal gods (ishta devata, mostly Vishnu) during day time and repetition of sacred formulae (japa) during nights.
  3. The Shaivachara is likewise an extension of the Vedachara, with a sectarian variation relying on the smrtis as well as on Puranas which glorify Shiva; it advocates the observance of vratas and worship of personal gods (mostly male).
  4. The Dakshinachara popular in the southern region of the country, accepts female forms of divinities (Bhagavati) but conducts worship in accordance with the prescriptions of the Vedachara. It permits worship in the night in cemeteries, on the banks of rivers, but prohibits the use of liquor, meat, etc. and no sexual rites are allowed in any manner.
  5. In the Vamachara the female form of divinity is worshipped with the five makaras (wine, meat, fish, sexual union and parched grains) in the dead of the night and in communities of initiated male and female devotees.
  6. The Siddantachara adopts the Shaivite philosophy and while the usual tantric rite are performed, great importance is attached to Bhairava (terrible form of Shiva) the form which the devotees seek to assume.
  7. The Kaulachara while incorporating the details of Vamachara defies all rules and restrictions pertaining even to the sectarian rites. There is nothing that is barred for the devotee here: no place, no time and no conduct.

While votaries of the Vedic tradition hold the Vedachara as excellent and the Kaulachara as the least, the followers of Kaula sect hold the Kaulachara as the most excellent and the Vaishnavachara the least meritorious and is silent about Vedachara7.

Puja Sadhana

The importance of puja cannot be exaggerated. From the time of his initiation till the end of his life, every tantric is bound by the duty of performing his daily puja. Tantrics divide their ritual practices into three groups, nitya, naimittika and kamya. Nitya covers the group of rites regarded as being compulsory for a tantric to perform every day. Naimittika rites are observed on particular occasions and kamya rites are performed to fulfill a special wish or to avert a great misfortune8.

In nitya puja performances of ritual practices include both outward and inner worship (bahya and antara puja). This include reading shastras, practicing austerities (tapasya), ratiocination of the bija mantra (japa), recitation of the hymns (stotra patana), purification of both body and mind (bhutasuddhi and cittasuddhi), installation of vital energy to the deity (pranapratisthana)9, worship of yantra, mandala, performing of nyasa, mudra and pancha makaras.

Diksha

The Tantra is obviously not attractive to the common man as it involves extraordinary effort and possession of attitudes which is different from and sometimes contrary to those which are normally held. Hence Tantrik practices are revealed only to the really serious. Thus initiation (diksha) is made an indispensable prerequisite for Tantrik practices. The importance of a teacher in the Tantra is very great and a text says that there can be no salvation without initiation and there can be no initiation without a teacher. The expression diksha is a compound of two ideas; di means ‘to give’ or ‘to endow’ divine qualities and ksha means ‘to destroy’ or ‘to remove’ the sins and obstructions thereby freeing the individual from phenomenal fetters. Diksha is a personal transmission of unseen but enormous power from the teacher to the pupil as effectively as possible and as confidentially as feasible10. Diksha or initiation has been considered to be the secret part of Tantra sadhana. The tantric mysteries are revealed only to the initiates. According to Sharada Tilaka initiation is that which gives spiritual knowledge (divya jnana) and brings the annihilation of baser propensities (papa). When a sadhaka takes initiation he comes to know the art of stopping further increase of samskaras. This art is known as Madhu Vidya. Diksha burns out all karmas, severs the bond of maya and brings the attainment of spiritual knowledge. Through initiation the Guru imparts the practical lesson to make use of mantra and yantra. Mantra is imparted during initiation and mantra which has not been received from a guru bears no fruit. Kularnava Tantra speaks of three kinds of diksha.

  • Sparsha Diksha- initiation by touch,
  • Drka Diksha- initiation by sight and
  • Manasa Diksha- initiation by thought11.

Mantra

A mantra is any combination of letters believed to be of divine origin and used in order to evoke divine powers and to realize a communion of man with the divine source and essence of the universe12 .The expression ‘mantra’ is derived from two Sanskrit roots, man signifying ‘to reflect’ and rati signifying ‘to protect’. The significance is that the mantra is a sacred word or formula that is capable of protecting the person who thinks of it or utters it. The very process of thinking or uttering is said to generate a saving power: it protects the person from existing or possible errors, calamities and misadventures13. Mantras are grouped into three varieties;

  • Male- when they end with words such as ‘hum’, ‘phat’ and ‘vashat’.
  • Female- when they end with words such as ‘vaushat’ and ‘svaha’ and
  • Neutral- when they end with words with ‘namah’.

Male mantras are especially employed in magical rites, in the worship of ferocious divinities including goddesses and in sorcery. They are said to be vigorous and quick in effect but their spiritual value is minimal. The female mantras find use in enterprises with concrete benefits as objectives and the neutral mantras have spiritual progress as their goal.

Mantras are also classified on the basis of the number of syllables they contain. If there is a single syllable it is called pinda mantra, if there are two syllables it is called kartari. If the number of syllables ranges from three to nine it is called bija mantra and if the number of syllables exceeds nine but is not more than twenty it is called mantra. If the syllables are more than 20 the mantra becomes a mala mantra (string mantra) 14. The repetition of a mantra is known as japa and there are three varieties of japa.

  1. Vachika (uttered)- audible to others
  2. Upamsu (muttered)- audible to oneself only and
  3. Manasa (thought) – in entire silence, visualizing the deity of the mantras15.

Mantra sadhana is the main theme of Tantra. It is the life force of Tantrik cult. With the help of mantra a sadhaka attunes his individual existence with cosmic vibration and gets drenched in the divine effulgence. He becomes one with the divine being after losing his individuality. The realization of the non-dualistic existence is the main aim of mantra sadhana16.

Yantra

Yantra is a geometrical diagram with abstract symbols inscribed on a flat surface like palm leaf, paper, etched on a metal sheet or stone slab and is an indispensible constituent of tantric sadhana17.

The Sanskrit word Yantra derives from the root Yam meaning to sustain, hold or support the energy inherent in a particular element, object or concept. The yantra is a sacred enclosure, a dwelling or receptacle of Ishtadevata (the chosen deity) and a substitute for an anthropomorphic image of the deity. A deity’s yantra bear no resemblance to the iconographic image and is its transform (para rupa), its abstract translation18.

All yantras are inscribed with mantras and the most important mantra associated with the yantra is generally inscribed in the center of the yantra, while other mantric letters are arranged in the spaces formed by the intersection of lines, either round the circle or on the lotus petals or on the outer square band of the yantra. These mantric letters are condensed with energy and are seen as vested with a spiritual power beyond human comprehension. Pronounced correctly, with the correct rhythm, intonation and mental attitude, a mantra becomes the soul of the yantra and a vitalizing force within the mind of the seeker19.

Pranapratisthana ceremony

In order to be accessible for worship, a yantra has to be infused with the vital force (prana) and this ritual is called pranapratisthana. The transfer of power to the yantra is achieved in several ways but one of the chief methods is through the breathing technique (pranayama). While the adept is in complete concentration, the devata is exhaled by pranic transmission through the right nostril as he chants an appropriate mantra. The breadth is exhaled over a red flower which he holds in his hand. The divine essence is thus communicated through the adept’s body on the flower. He then places the flower at the centre of the yantra which begins to be permeated with the spark of consciousness. Another method of infusing vital force into the yantra is by the means of symbolic finger gestures (Avahana mudra). The adept exhales his breadth on to the appropriate finger positions which he then slowly lets his closed hands descend on the yantra. Some ritual manuals also suggest a ceremony where the yantra is washed with several liquids which is symbolically suggestive of cleansing away impurities20.

After consecrating the yantra by means of pranapratisthana, the adept begins his meditation by fixing his attention (concentration) on the yantra’s periphery and finally proceeds towards the center called bindu21.

Visarjana ceremony

At the end of the puja the yantra is symbolically forsaken in a rite known as visarjana- the dissolution of the yantra. Using a finger gesture (generally yoni mudra) and pronouncing the appropriate mantra the adept dismisses the deity contained in the yantra. The deity is then brought back into the adept’s heart from where it was first installed into the yantra either by the adept’s inhaling his breadth or smelling the flower through which the deity was first installed during the pranapratisthana ceremony22.

Types of Yantra

There are three types of yantras

  • Raksha yantras- yantras for magical purposes generally called protective yantras
  • Pujana yantras or Devata yantras- yantras for actualizing divinites and
  • Dhyana yantras- yantras that facilitate meditation

Raksha yantras are of two types, beneficent ones (soumya or aghora) and the malevolent ones (krura or ghora). The former kind of yantras are employed to ward off evil, cure disease, bring about peace of mind, recover lost property, help growth of children, facilitate trade or agriculture, gain celebrity and so on. The latter kind of yantras are meant to kill the enemy or harm him in occult fashion, to confound his mind and drive him mad, to invoke misfortune on a household and so on23.

The devata yantras are also magical yantras but are deity specific and to be effective they entail the performance of certain appropriate worship rituals.  Only when they are properly attended upon do they acquire potency. In these yantras the deities are often represented by the seed syllable (bija akshara) appropriate to the deity inscribed at the central point (bindu). The mantra that is specific to the deity is supposed to be powerful and if properly communicated and assiduously recited transforms the phenomenal consciousness of the devotee into deity consciousness. The devata yantras are meant to achieve all mundane and spiritual aspiration, bring prosperity to the family and eliminate obstacles on the path of spiritual progress24.

The Dhyana yantras are devices for concentrating the mind, focusing attention and channelizing consciousness. Meditation on these yantras involves mantras and mudras. The dhyana yantra represents the field of consciousness and the mantra as the vocalized formula for repetition represents the expressive faculty of consciousness (vac) and mudra as physical posture and gesture represents the material vehicle in which the consciousness is embodied and through which it works. When a deity is also employed to preside over the yantra it is as a unifying agent25.

Mandala

Mandala is defined as ‘that which gathers the essential details’. Mandala denotes an act of concentration of all the significant details of the worlds, or of a doctrine, of one’s own constitution or of his own mind. It is also the place where such concentration is facilitated. As an act of concentration it gathers up the inner energies and as a place of concentration it brings together the outer energies26.

In tantric traditions the term mandala often refers to a space with a special structure that is enclosed and delimited by a circumferential line and into which a deity or deities are invited by means of mantras. This space is often a circle, but may also appear as a square, triangle or another shape. The various shapes and structures of mandalas are based on the traditions of the different schools, ritual applications, the deities worshipped and the practitioner’s qualifications, and goals. Mandalas are prepared from various materials including coloured powders, precious stones, fruits and leaves and fragrant substances27.

Mandalas are used in ceremonial sequences like consecrating the place of worship, placement of the ritual jar or kalasha, placement of the lamp symbolizing god or goddess, preparing the ground for making food offerings or naivedya, in the initiatory rites (diksha vidhi) and as aids in meditations. The folk design known as rangoli which has now turned out to be a purely decorative art was originally meant as a protective device; to protect the house from evil influences, to protect the place where an auspicious function is to take place from possible harm, to sanctify the ground on which worship is conducted28.

The ritual pertaining to the mandala which activate the hidden forces both within the external diagram and in the devotee’s constitution involve the proper positioning of the tutelary deities (kula devatas) captains (nayika), aids (yogini) and guards (mudra devatas). Their locations are determined according to the tantric prescriptions and the purpose for which the mandala is used. The placement of the retinue divinities is sometimes accomplished by inscribing appropriate letters of the alphabet in different areas of the mandala. The Sanskrit alphabet is regarded as the vocal epitome of the entire universe and each letter is transformed into energy when introduced into the mandala29.

Whether it is called a Chakra, Mandala or Yantra, the instrument is a sphere of influence, a consecrated ground, an arena for the play of thoughts, feelings and forces both inside the devotee and outside him. It is an instrument that is employed to activate energies, stimulate thoughts, harmonize feelings and coordinate inner and outer forces. It is rightly described as a psycho cosmogram30.

Differences between a Yantra and a Mandala

  1. A Mandala is used in the case of any devata whereas a yantra is appropriate to a specific devata. Mandala represents the microcosm and accommodates a pantheon of deities who are positioned in it according to rank. A yantra on the other land is the domain of a single deity but may include that deity’s retinue.
  2. Mandalas are used in secret as well as public ceremonies whereas yantras have more restricted use
  3. Mandalas are usually objects for temporary ritual use. The deities are invoked into them and dismissed at the end of the ritual. Yantras on the other hand are made of permanent material in which a deity has been invoked and usually kept in the temple or shrine for continued worship. But it must be added that many yantras are made for temporary use like the mandala.
  4. In yantras mantras are inscribed at the time of manufacturing it while mandalas are first constructed and only later deities are invoked into them with mantras. However later texts enjoin that yantras be first prepared and then infused with life in a special ritual called pranapratisthana with the help of mantras
  5. A general characteristic of yantra’s is that they are small in size. In contrast mandala vary in size and can be large enough to allow for priest or initiands to enter them through doors and walk around in them; for example during an initiation ceremony (diksha vidhi)
  6. With the exception of yantras installed permanently for worship in temples and mathas, yantras are generally mobile whereas mandalas are not.
  7. While mandalas can employ different colour schemes, the use of colour is less common if not irrelevant in the case of most yantras.
  8. While pictorial representation of deities can appear in mandalas, such images are generally not found in yantras31.

Mudra

Mudra is another characteristic item in Tantrik ritual. The word mudra has several meanings, four of which have a bearing on Tantrik practices.

  • It means a posture in yogic practices in which the whole body plays a part.
  • It also means the symbolic or mystic intertwining of the fingers and hands as part of religious worship.
  • Mudra is also the fourth of the five makaras and means various kinds of grains mixed with ghee or other ingredient or parched grains.
  • A fourth meaning of mudra is the woman with whom a Tantrik yogi associates himself.

According to Kularnava the word mudra is derived from ‘mud’ which means delight or pleasure. These mudras (ritual finger and hand poses) should be shown (in worship) as they give delight to the gods and make their minds melt (with compassion for the worshippers)32.

Mudras (hand poses) according to Pujaprakasha are to be made in worship at the time of japa, dhyana (contemplation) and when starting on kamya rites (performed for securing some desired objects) and that they tend to bring the deity worshipped near to the worshipper. The Nityacarapaddhati says that mudra is so called because it gives delight to the gods and also puts to flight asuras (evil beings)33.

Raghavabhatta states that the fingers from the thumb to the small finger are identified with the five elements namely akasha (sky or ether), wind, fire, water and earth and that their contact with each other tends to make the deity favourable and delighted and induces the deity to be present at the worship, and that various appropriate mudras are to be employed in worship at the time japa, in meditation and in all rites performed for securing some desired objects or benefits. It was supposed that mudras helped in enhancing concentration on the part of the worshipper34.

There is a great divergence among the tantras, puranas and yoga works on the number, names and definitions of mudras. The Sharadatilaka names nine mudras while the Vishnusamhita says that mudras are innumerable and names about 30. The Jnanarnave mentions at least 19 mudras and Jayakhyasamhita about 58 mudras35. The Kalikapurana states that there are 108 mudras, 55 for general worship and 53 on special occasions such as collecting materials, drama and acting36.

The tantric works provide that mudras should be practiced secretly under cover of a garment and not in the presence of many people and should not be announced to another as otherwise they become fruitless37.

It is likely that the mudras in the Hindu and Buddhist tantric works are based on the poses that were evolved in ancient Indian dance and drama and we find their earliest extant description in Bharata natyasastra and that also in later medieval works on dramaturgy such as the Abhinayadarpana38.

Nyasa

One of the important items in the tantric ritual and worship is Nyasa which means mentally invoking a god or gods, mantras and holy texts to come to occupy certain parts of the  body in order to render the body a pure and fit receptacle for worship and meditation. The word Nyasa literally means ‘placing or depositing in or on’ and it is done by touching the chest and other limbs with the tips of the fingers and the palm of the right hand accompanied by mantras. There are several kinds of nyasa such as hamsanyasa, pranavanyasa, matrkanyasa, karanyasa, mantranyasa, anganyasa, pithanyasa, etc.39 The tantric concept of nyasa became popular in other forms of Indian religious systems as well and we have Puranic references to this practices. The medieval digests on the Dharamasastras also show that nyasa was taken over from Tantrik works in the puranas and other texts for the rites of the orthodox peoples40.

The aim of nyasa is to stimulate the nerve centre and consequently equitable distribution of powers (shaktis) so that the spiritual adepts (sadhakas) by shaking off the discordant notes and distracting tendencies of the mind can keep the bodily centres steady41.

Pancha Makaras

For the worship of Shakti the panchamakara or panchatattva are declared to be essential. According to Mahanirvana without panchatattva in one form or another Sakti puja cannot be performed. The reason of this is that those who worship Sakti worship divinity as creatrix and in the form of the universe. If she appears as and in natural function, she must be worshipped there with otherwise as the Tantra cited says worship is fruitless. The mother of the universe must be worshipped with these five elements namely wine, meat, fish, gram and woman or their substitutes. By their use the universe (Jagad Brahmanda) itself is used as the article of worship. The Mahanirvana says that wine which gives joy and dispels the sorrow of men is fire, flesh which nourishes and increase the strength of mind and body is air, fish which increases generative power is water, cereals grown on earth and which are the basis of life are earth and sexual union which is the root of the world and the origin of all creation is ether42.

Generally it is thought that in vamachara, woman play an important role. But this is only partially true in the case of those sadhakas who worship with Shakti according to vamachara rites. But among the vamacharis there are even brahmacharis, sadhakas and followers of the Nathas who never indulge in this type of Shakti worship. The Kalamukhas and the Kalavisas worship the kumaris only up to the age of nine and the Brahma Kaulas refrain even from wine and meat. All these means that this kind of worship is restricted to one section of the vamacharis namely the vira class while the pashu and divya classes are prohibited from performing it. There are still further restrictions that a sadhaka should perform this worship with his own wife (svakiya Sakti) and only in the case when there is no wife he may take some other Sakti for the purpose of ritual worship only43.

According to Tantrics the performance of the panchatattva sadhana helps one attain siddhi. The panchatattva sadhana are of various types namely pratyaksha (real type), Anukalpa (substitution type) and Divya (esoteric type). In the anukalpa type gingers is substituted for meat and coconut water for wine and in the Divya type materials are substituted by symbols. Only in the Pratyaksha type real objects are used and even here there are injunction against unrestrained indulgence of flesh, wine and woman44.

A sadhaka is to practice these rites for gaining the highest object namely the unification with Shiva or God leading to emancipation. The expression panchamakaras derive its name from the initial letters of the ingredients, madya (wine), mamsa (meat), matsya (fish), mudra (cereals) and maithuna (coitus)45 .

Thought out worldly these rites appear much abhorrent, there is a great esoteric meaning behind these. All these wine, meat, fish and woman are objects of temptation and it is very difficult to overcome them. Worship of a young damsel as a goddess and taking of wine for the purpose of concentrating his mind on the object of devotion only is something very difficult and requires the training of mind. The sadhaka has to relinquish his own desire and self and convert the various pursuits of enjoyment into instruments of spiritual discipline. The esoteric meaning of the five makaras is like this-

  1. Madya- the nectrine stream that issues from the cavity of brain is called madya or wine
  2. Mamsa- by this term we mean the control of speech which is only possible in case of the yogis
  3. Matsya- by fish we mean the system of respiration, drawn in and sent out. So the worshipper of fish means one who has controlled his vital breaths, this is called pranayama
  4. Mudra- it means the residing place of the soul in the body and one who acquires the knowledge of this charming soul is the worshipper of mudra
  5. Maithuna- the most important of all these is the practice of maithuna. It is observed-‘cohabitation is at the root of creation, preservation and destruction; it is regarded as a great principle in scriptures and it achieves all ends and confers the most difficult knowledge of Brahman. The meaning of maithuna here is the recitation of various attributes of God or unification with God.

Thus we can say that this panchamakara worship is not at all corrupt in spirit as it is supposed to be. The aims are very high and these are various instruments of spiritual discipline46.

Chakra Puja

Worship with the panchatattva generally takes place when pupils of the same guru parampara gather together in a close and small circle, each accompanied by his female partner called shakti. The lord of the chakra (chakresvara or convener) presides with his shakti in the center. The convener conducts the nitya puja including a much simpler form of suvasini puja or duti puja (worship of a woman). Each member of the group performs the rite of purifying the tattvas by drinking a little alcoholic drink and eating the cooked meat and fish. In this ritual the worshipper must purify wine, fish and flesh before he dedicates them to the deity according to prescribed rituals accompanied with proper mantras. The rest of the puja follows the same pattern as in suvasini puja. After all the rites have been completed and the food has been eaten sexual acts takes place.

Chakra Puja are of different types like Deva Chakra, Raja Chakra, Veera Chakra, Bhairavi Chakra, etc. where female agents are worshipped as the great mother by the devotee unruffled by passions and temptation of meat of birds or beasts which is nothing but sacrificing of attachment and animality. Chakra Puja is a special mode of yoga sadhana undertaken only on special occasions in which only the highly spiritually advanced persons can take part. Persons who have complete self-control and mastery over senses may gather together in a chakra and worship the great goddess in the midst of the objects of great temptations such as wine, women, etc., a fiery ordeal for a worshipper which the Tantra forbid for men of animal proclivities47.

Shava sadhana or corpse ritual

A peculiar type of Tantric ritual is shava sadhana or corpse ritual. Only a Vira type sadhaka is entitled to perform this rite. On a selected new moon day a sadhaka acquires in a cemetery a fresh dead body which is disease free and one who has died of an accident. The corpse is washed and sanctified with mantras, mudras and nyasa. The sadhaka then sits on the corpse and pours alcoholic drinks into the corpse mouth and feeds it with cooked meat. According to Vira Cudamani, the rituals also involves offering of wine and food to the 64 Yoginis and culminates with copulation performed by the sadhaka and his female partner over the corpse. It is said that the sadhaka will experience terrifying sights and sounds during the course of the rite and if he is not frightened by all these, he will have mantrasiddi- that is command over every aspect of life48.

Yoga Sadhana

The second part of tantric sadhana is yoga. Yoga is generally classified into four categories, mantra yoga, hatha yoga, laya yoga and raja yoga. Each of these forms has eight subservient called eight limbs or astanga which are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratiharya, dharana, dhayana and samadhi. The first five are known as exterior methods (bahiranga), chiefly concerned with the body and the last three are inner method (antaranga) employed for the development of the mind49.

Mantra yoga is the simplest form of yoga. This yoga is helpful for an aspirant to gain control over his mind by uttering the mantras as imparted by his guru and by concentrating on images of gods, yantras, mandalas, emblems, etc.

Human mind is controlled by prana. When the breadth is kept under control the outward movement of the mind comes to an end. In this connection Hatha yoga prescribes a number of asanas, mudras and pranayama; by practicing which an aspirant can acquire control of his mind and body.

Laya yoga is a higher form of Hatha yoga. It is specially connected with the functioning of Kundalini and that is why the tantras lay great emphasis on this form of yoga. Laya yoga corresponds to the fifth, sixth and seventh stages of the astanga yoga, namely pratyahara, dharana and dhyana. By practicing Laya yoga, an aspirant rouses his Kundalini and finds his prana merged into vishwa prana.

Raja yoga is the fourth stage in yoga and corresponds to Samadhi as mentioned in astanga yoga. In this state the sadhaka loses his own entity in paramatma which he finds pervading the universe. It is the highest form of yoga through which nirvikalpa Samadhi is attained50.

Kundalini Yoga

The Sanskrit word Kundalini means ‘coiled-up’. The coiled Kundalini is the female energy existing in latent form in every human being.  It is the infinitesimal part of the cosmic energy (Shakti) which lies asleep in the individual muladhara. The object of the tantric practice of Kundalini yoga is to awaken her and bring her up to the point just above the top of the susumna called the sahasrara chakra where the cosmic energy resides. By merging her with the cosmic energy the individual is able to obtain spiritual release from the bondage of this world and everything worldly51.

The fundamental principle of the tantra shastra is that man is a microcosm (kshudra brahmanda) whatever exists in the outer universe exist in him. All the tattvas and the world are within him and so are the supreme Shiva and Shakti52. Hence the yogin’s spine is compared to Meru, the cosmic central mountain and is called brahmadanda (Brahma’s stick). Thus the centre of the yogin’s mystic body is the centre of the world. The Susumna is inside it hollow like a bamboo. In the susumna exists the entire manifest world in concentrated form. Ranged vertically along it are the six centres called wheels (chakras) each of which is conceived as a stylized lotus inhabited by a deity and containing the constituents of both physical and sonic creation53.

The six chakras that lie along the axis of the spine are consciousness potentials and are to be understood as situated not in the gross body but in the subtle or etheric body. These chakras are-

  1. Muladhara- situated at the base of the spine
  2. Svadhisthana- situated around the prostatic plexus (near the generative organ
  3. Manipura- situated around the navel
  4. Anahata- situated near the heart
  5. Visuddha- situated behind the throat and
  6. Ajna- situated between the eyebrows

Situated four fingers breadth above the top of the head is the Sahasrara the transcendent chakra. The Sahasrara chakra is said to be the region of Shiva, pure consciousness while the Muladhara chakra is the seat of Shakti whose form here is Kundalini. Through certain prescribed discipline the Kundalini Shakti rises through the psychic centres (six chakras mentioned above) until it reaches its full flowering that is fusion with the Absolute in Sahasrara as Kula Kundalini, generally bliss consciousness (Ananda) from the union of Shiva-Shakti54.

The awakening of the Kundalini power is a physic psycho spiritual process which has the following three aspects-

  1. Generate an intense desire to attain cosmic consciousness
  2. Chanting a mantra to generate vibrations of appropriate wavelength to awaken the Kundalini to which she is attuned and send her upward to penetrate the chakra one by one and
  3. Meditation upon a yantra to attain an inner visualization of the process to guide it through its successive stages55.

Occult powers through Tantric sadhana

A sadhaka acquires siddhis or miraculous powers through tantric sadhana; especially when the Kundalini is awakened. Some of these siddhis are living without food, duplicating one’s body, rising from the dead, gaining knowledge of the heavenly worlds, of planets, stars and the whole cosmos56. The Tantric text Prapancasara enumerates eight siddhis namely-

  1. Anima- that is power of making one’s body as minute as an atom
  2. Garima- power of increasing the weight of one’s body
  3. Mahima- power to magnify one’s body
  4. Laghima- power to levitate one’s body
  5. Ishitwa- sovereignty over all things
  6. Vishitwa- power of charming
  7. Prapti- power of getting anything
  8. Prakamya- non obstruction of desire

and states that one who is endowed with these eight siddhis is a liberated soul57. Another text Sadhanamala mentions eight siddhis like-

  1. Khadga- a sword sanctified by spells for success in the battle field
  2. Anjana- collyrium which when applied to the eyes enables one to see buried things.
  3. Padalepa- ointment applied to the feet enabling one to move anywhere unnoticed
  4. Antardhana- to be invisible
  5. Rasarasayana- transforming baser metal into gold and preparing the drug of immortality
  6. Khecara- to fly in the sky
  7. Bhucara- going swiftly anywhere
  8. Patalasiddhi- diving underneath the earth

The text also mentions that by means of certain mantras the wealth of Kubera can be appropriated and gods like Hari, Indra, Brahma and others and also apsaras or heavenly damsels can be utilized as servants. Even for defeating opponents in public discussions the mantras are efficacious58.

Lakshmidhara in his commentary on the Saundaryalahari throws light on the content of 64 Tantras which in general deal with way leading to the acquisition of certain supernormal powers or siddhis. For instance Mahamaya Tantra and Shambara Tantra describes the manner in which illusory world is created by the power of Maya Shakti which is designated as Mohini Vidya. The Yoginijala Shambara Tantra describes the way to make one tattva appear as the other tattva. For instance prithvitattva appear as jalatattva or vice versa. Siddhi Bhairava Tantra, Kankala Bhairava Tantra, Kala Bhairava Tantra, etc. describes the way to acquisition of worldly treasure (nidhi vidya). There is a group of eight Yamala Tantra which deal with Kaya siddhi that is making the physical body develop super human powers59. It is said that Ramakrishna Paramahamsa had acquired occult powers through practice of tantric sadhana. He had perfected all the 64 tantric sadhanas belonging to Vishnukranta group within two years60.

Concluded

Bibliography

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  5. Ibid, pp:11,12
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  15. Ibid, pp:87,88
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  19. Ibid, p.34
  20. Ibid, pp:98-100
  21. Ibid, p.108
  22. Ibid, p.106
  23. K.Ramachandra Rao- The Yantras, pp:19,20
  24. Ibid, pp:23-36
  25. Ibid, pp:27,28
  26. K.Ramachandra Rao-The Tantra of Sri Chakra, p.iv
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  35. Ibid, p.1125
  36. Ibid, p.1128
  37. Ibid, pp:1125,1126
  38. Ibid, p.1129
  39. Ibid, p.1119
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  44. Ibid, p.165
  45. Ibid
  46. Ibid, pp:166,167
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  52. Sir John Woodroffe- cit, pp: 636,637
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  54. Ajit Mookerjee- cit, pp:11,12
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  58. Ibid
  59. Deba Brata Sen Sharma- Studies in Tantra Yoga, Natraj Publishing House, Karnal, Haryana, 1985, pp:16,17
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