by Teesta Setalvad
Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi is a “national hero” who “fought for independence from the British” and whose reputation has been tarnished by previous governments and who should figure prominently among the new list of national heroes to be taught in all government schools.
So urges a controversial letter dated November 15, 2014 addressed to Smriti Irani, cabinet minister for Human Resources Development, and posted on the home page of savetemples.org, the website of the “Mission to Save Hinduism and Hindu Temples”. Touted as a ‘Project of Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF) USA’, the mission operates out of the ‘Save Temple Office’ opened in Hyderabad city in June 2012.
The letter urges that the Modi government should encourage teaching about national heroes “who sacrificed their life in order to guarantee freedom for the future generations.” According to the letter Godse is one such.
“…It is time to teach about their heroism, their love for Bharath, their struggles with British rulers, their imprisonment, their hangings and/or suffering. Their martyrdom is unparalleled and unmatched. They cheerfully sacrificed their life for the sake of the people of Bharat to enjoy their unbridled freedom with dignity and pride.” Others, who figure in this letter along with Godse who deserve to be taught about are Balagangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal, Subhash Chandra Bose, Veer Savarkar, Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru, Sukhdev, Chandrasekhar Azhad, Vasudev Balwant Phadke and the Chapekar brothers.” Needless to say, Gandhi does not figure in the list; nor does Jawaharlal Nehru, or even Sardar Patel.
It appears that the Save Temple project is funded entirely through saffron dollars raised in the US. The appeal for donations towards the end of the letter informs potential donors that the GHHF is exempt from the US federal income tax rules. It is not clear whether the Save Temple Project is registered under FCRA.
The letter also stated that most of the books written by Marxists, Muslims and Western historians “are so slanted, abusive, hateful, repulsive and intolerable to the true history of India, so derogatory to the national freedom fighters, so demonizing to Sanatana dharma, so negligent of the contributions of great emperors to establish Hindutva, and so boastful of the Muslim aggressors as contributors to the Indian culture”. The letter extols the virtues of Subramanian Swamy for “calling for the burning of the writings by Nehruvian historians.”
The letter adds that, “We feel that it is time to fire all these left wing historians who have stabbed the Mother India for many decades and employ those scholars who appreciate the richness of the Sanatana Dharma into National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), National Censor Board and other agencies. It is time to reclaim what is lost, revamp the whole school curriculum, and rewrite the history debunking these leftwing Nehruvian historians.”
This letter comes at a time when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s brand of history writing is attempting a complete capture of India’s institutes of higher learning and research, and also at a time when the RSS backed Shiksha Bachao Andolan is planning a national level conference at Ujjain of 200 ‘academics and experts’ to ‘review’ the emphasis and focus of the previous Radhakrishnan, Mudaliar and Kothari Commission reports. Supremacist and exclusivist brands of ‘history writing’ are making their political advantage felt with their unquestionable hold on the Modi government.
In this letter sent to Smruti Irani today, the Global Hindu Heritage Foundation has also, chosen specifically to advise the Modi government to misinform Indian children about the three sites of perpetrated conflict that have had specific import for the politics of communal mobilisation in India since the mid- 1980s, that is Faizabad-Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura. The issue of the site where the Babri Masjid, a 400 year old Mosque stood is at present before the Supreme Court of India after the Mosque was illegally demolished on December 6, 1992. The other two sites, at Mathura and Kashi, have been at the heart of the BJP-RSS-VHP-Bajrang Dal mobilisation that aims to ‘re-claim’ or ‘destroy’ the Mosques that stand cheek by jowl to temples at these sites. Presently they are governed by the Places of Worship Act, 1991 have also mentioned in a Supreme Court directive, generally protecting their status. An infamous slogan of far right in India since 1992 when the 400 year old Mosque was demolished has been,’ Abhi to bas yah jhanki hai, Kashi Mathura baki hai’ (This gives but a glimpse, Kashi/Banaras and Mathura still remain [as the objective]).
This letter quite clearly exhorts the Modi government that, school text books, “should also teach children as to how Krishna Janma Sthala was destroyed, how Ayodhya was converted to Babri Masjid, how Kashi Vishwanath Temple was destroyed and built Mosque in front of the Temple, and how more than 2000 Temples were converted to Mosques.”
Other suggestions coming from the Global Hindu Heritage Foundation include the compulsory teaching of the Bhagwad Geeta in schools where the letter says a “….a mere chanting of few verses is enough to awaken the consciousness of the individual and maintain the balance between the body, mind and soul. In fact, it improves the brain capacity to absorb the knowledge; teach the individual the responsibility of their dharma; emphasize the importance of bhakti, Jnana, karma and raja yoga; equip the individual fearless and give the needed strength to face the problems at hand; encourages one to think and uphold the dharma to protect human existence; and so on. No age is bar to learn and chant Bhagavad Gita. As young as three year olds chant the divine song. Its message is unmatched, unparalleled and unrivalled.”
The Ramayana should also be taught since “ Rama’s name is on the lips of every Hindu. He taught us to be a perfect son, a perfect brother, perfect husband, a perfect enemy, and a perfect king. He taught us how to live according to dharma in the face of un-surmountable hurdles.
Unashamed in its motive to convert history teaching – from a vibrant discipline with specific disciplinary tools for interpretation, analysis, verification and authentication that include contemporaneous sources, an understanding of archaeology, and secondary sources, a thorough reading of ancient and medieval languages — to a politico-religious project, the Global Hindu Heritage Foundation says it would like to see “Rama portrayed as a living national hero and Indian history as Sanatani (upper caste) Hindu… Lord Rama, who is known for his compassion, gentleness, kindness, righteousness, non-hatred, and integrity, has served as role model for all of us to follow for millennia. His respect for father and obedience to his command was unparalleled that all humanity should emulate. Guru-Sishya relationship was emboldened in Ramayana for all of us follow, cherish and nurture, especially in the modern society…”
“…Sita, Lakshmana, Bharatha, Dasaratha, Jataayu, Vali, Vibhishana, and Lord Hanuman have shaped the mind, body and soul of Bharath for many millennia. Every character teaches us how to live a dharmic life and how to establish Ramarajya where justice is rendered without consideration for the name and fame. Ramayana taught us the richness of valor, dharma, loyalty, mutual respect, bhakti, spirituality, wisdom and Jnana to be followed in daily life to uplift the spirit of human life. The message of Ramayana spread all over Asia and even today its popularity is unabated in countries like Cambodia, Java, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Sumatra, Thailand, Mauritius, Bali and other countries.”
Indians should be taught about the ‘Hindu Holocaust’ when 80 million Hindus were stabbed by Muslims in barabaric slaughter according to the Global Hindu Foundation in a letter to the government of India’s Minister for Human Resources Development (MHRD) Smruti Irani today. Gory and unsubstantiated descriptions of Hindus who refused to convert and who were taken atop the mountains and killed with ‘blood flowing from the mountain to the streets below’ find mention in this letter from this Hyderabad based affiliate of the sangh parivar.
The website of the GHF states that it is aimed towards “ Empowering Hindus- Towards a Hindu Worldview” and the controversial letter dated November 15, 2014 addressed to Smruti Irani, cabinet minister for Human Resources Development, and posted on the home page of savetemples.org, the website of the “Mission to Save Hinduism and Hindu Temples”. Touted as a ‘Project of Global Hindu Heritage Foundation, (GHHF) USA’, the mission operates out of the ‘Save Temple Office’ opened in Hyderabad city in June 2012.
The letter of the GHF, dated November 15, 2014 clearly emboldened by the regime in power in New Delhi, also states that students should be given a realistic picture of the brutal regimes of the past (read Muslim and Christian) when ‘Murthies were broken and remnants of Hindu statues used to build Mosques.” Students should also be taught in schools about how “how many Temples were converted to Mosques, how many Christians are converting the Hindus with deception and allurement, how minority appeasement is affecting the quality education and such similar issues should be addressed. Vast literature dealing with “Islamic onslaught” and “Goa Inquisition” should also be included to know the history of denial of fundamental rights to Hindus.”
The politicised project to completely colour and distort the teaching of the social sciences with a majoritarian and supremacist worldview, one moreover that stokes false hatreds against Muslims and Chritisans is in tune with the Shiksha Bachao Andolan (SBA) project run by Dinanath Batra.
Other subjects that the GHF feels should be taught to students through government run schools”
Great Saints of India
“…School books should include the history, message and glory of great saints of India such as Adi Sankara, Madhvacharya, Ramanujacharya, Meerabai, Kabir, Tukaram, Eknath, Gnaneswar, Namdev, Bhagawan Nityananda, Satya Saibaba, Sri Pada Vallabha, Narasimha Swamy, Samarth Ramdas, Veda Vyasa, Valmiki, Sri Aurobindo, Muktananda, Gorakhnad, Sri Prabhupada, Chinmayananda, Ramana Maharishi Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda and host of others. They have kept alive the richness of our culture in spite of the attempts destroy the ancient civilization.
“…The saints have played significant role in the preservation propagating the ideas and philosophies that were necessary to bring unity and much needed reforms to bring the appropriate changes in the society. Considering the Mughal domination of the India, the saints veered and helped bhaktas toward Bhakti marga, the path of devotion, instead encouraging them to conduct Temples pujas, especially North India.
Hindu Temples – History and relevance
“It is time to know the power, energy, and vibrations present in Hindu Temples. They are the place of worship where devotees worship their chosen Gods at different times day in and day out. Devotees go to the Hindu Temples to experience the infinite divine power through their individual prayers as well as collective worship. Hindu Temples have been built over more than twenty centuries providing opportunity to practice their social, religious and cultural milieu. Each Temple is dedicated to one of the manifestation of infinite power of the unfathomable divinity of the Almighty. Every Temple will have a sanctum sanctorum with a presiding Deity who represents the power and energy of GOD. Hindus believe that God is ever powerful, all pervasive, everywhere and everything is in God.
“…The Hindu Temples have served as centers of learning and knowledge; foci for social gathering; institutes for art, dance and music; hubs for upholding the dharmic values; nucleus for peace and nonviolence; lighthouses for philosophy and spirituality, cornerstones for worship services; promoters of age old, time tested universal values; institutes for yoga and meditation; holy places for conducting different festivals and rituals; and nexus for expressing devotion through music, singing and chanting; and centers for social services.
“…Cow is revered, respected and honored and is regarded as a holy mother. Cows milk is light and easily digestible for a child. Its products such as milk, ghee, urine, cow dung and curd, and are considered sacred and has many medicinal values that improve the health of the humans and purifies the climate. Cow is considered as Kamadhenu (wish fulfilling Deity).
Lord Krishna worshipped cows, used to play flute that attracted the cows and used assemble around him.
“…All the scriptures such as Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Mahabharata, Manusmriti, and others extoll the virtues of the cow. All the Gods reside in her and killing her is considered the most heinous crime. It is often said “jivantu avadghnyah ta me vishasya dushanih” meaning that let cows live without slaughter for their whole life-they remove poison and toxins. Many sages, many Hindu Temples and numerous Ashrams maintained Goshalas (cow shelters) for centuries recognizing the numerous benefits that accrue from the cows.
The ancient ‘Hindu Past’, its ways of relating between men and women and the Scientific achievements of Ancient India are the values that should be taught in Central government schools today.
In a detailed letter written to the Minister for Human Resources Development (MHRD) Smruti Irani today, November 15, 2014, the Hyderabad based Global Hindu Foundation (GHF), has, taking a leaf out of Dinanath Batra’s nine books being taught as Supplemenatry materials to four hundred thousand students in Gujarat’s schools, urged the Modi government to take this model of teaching to the nation. This letter has been posted on the home page of savetemples.org, the website of the “Mission to Save Hinduism and Hindu Temples”. Touted as a ‘Project of Global Hindu Heritage Foundation, (GHHF) USA’, the mission operates out of the ‘Save Temple Office’ opened in Hyderabad city in June 2012.
Apart from the exhortations to teach Nathuram Godse as a ‘National Hero who fought the British’, and unsubstantiated details about a ‘Hindu holocaust by Muslims, this letter states that the following subjects should be taught in Central government schools:
“…Mahabharata is one of the greatest epics and every single character teaches us the richness of our culture and traditions, morals and ethics that surpass the time. Numerous are the characters and numerous are the lessons one can learn from Mahabharata. Yudhishtira taught us how to follow dharma in face of numerous difficulties also the weakness of (gambling) that can bring down the kingdom; Bhishma taught us how to fulfill the wishes of his father and sacrificed his life as well as keeping his word for the rest of life and maintain celibacy; King Santanu taught us danger of yielding to sensate pleasure and the weakness toward other sex; Karna taught us the consequences of blind loyalty and passion for power as well as the generous nature of dana (gift); Dhritarashtra taught us how blind love for children can cause untold misery and destruction for the humanity, also how passion for children can smog the moral and impartial judgment; Draupadi taught us how even a small weakness resulted ….can… lead to war of destruction and also taught us how to behave with the husbands; and other characters such as Pandu, Veda Vyasa, Kunti, Dushyasana, Shikhandi, Satyavati and others were equally important in teaching us the morals and code of conduct.
“….. Finally the teaching of Bhagavad Gita by Lord Krishna to Arjuna about the responsibility of a Kshatriya and in general about Swadharma is unmatched humanity in recognizing the importance of Sthitipragna.
Puranic Stories and Morals
“In Naimisharanya, the assembled sages worshipped the learned Romaharshana and said, “Please tell us the stories of the Puranas. Who created the universe, who is its preserver and who will destroy it? Please instruct us in all these mysteries.” There are 18 main Puranas and18 upapuranas that describe the various aspects of cosmology and are considered the storehouse of stories that enriched with morals and traditions; manifestations of (dasavataras) Vishnu incarnations, and the paths of karma, bhakti and Jnana yogas. In fact they even described the origin of the universe, life cycles, trials, tribulations and richness of human life, respect for living and nonliving elements and scientific nature of the universe. They talk about the worship services, numerous samskaras, formation of earth, and mathematical expressions of the universe. They give us the experiences of people through their stories, symbols and rituals. Every community has its own reality, but underneath all these realities there is an underlying theme governing the basic principles and morals that guide the human life.
Panchatantra is a collection stories that teach us how to behave in a particular situation; how to solve the problems one faces; whom to trust and not to trust; how to keep your word against all odds; how to use your intellect instead of arms; how to avoid distrust among friends; how one should not deny the shelter to a needy person; how one should work toward accumulation of wealth and how to protect it; and how one should share their wealth and to whom.
The Scientific achievements
“…It is time to create pride among our youth about our scientific achievements. It was the Yogic seers who invented many mathematical calculations such as Zero, Decimals, Phi, Geometry, Algebra, computer language and more. Arbyabhatta was the champion of Astronomy and Mathematics, Bhaskaracharya was the genius of Algebra, Acharya Kanad was the founder of Atomic Theory, Naragrjuna was the wizard of Chemical Science, Acharya Charaka was the father of Medicine, Acharya Sushruta was the champion of Plastic Surgery, Varahamihra was the eminent Astronomer and Astrology, Patanjali was the father of Yoga Sutras, Acharya Bharadwaja was the pioneer of Aviation Technology, Acharya Kapila was the father of cosmology, and many more.”