One remarkable thing about people on internet is that they love to prove even totally random strangers wrong! The good consequence however is that bullshit does not go uncontested. 20 years back, this garbage by Sagarika Ghose would have got published in a newspaper, read by thousands and some would have also believed it. Today it is not the case.
The case in point here is the piece that Sagarika wrote recently : Ashoka Example. Now, in past she wrote something like Elf Spotting and no one actually bothered because it was just some meaningless rambling which made not sense to any one. This piece however has got so many things which can very easily be proved wrong. Here she meddles with history and distorts facts as usual. I think she does not mean much of malice, she simply is ignorant who genuinely believes in what she writes.
However important question that needs to be asked is: why should anyone waste their time proving her wrong ? Isn’t it a well established fact that she is an incompetent journalist ? Well, it is fun to prove random strangers wrong.
Lets dissect her article para by para.
A ruler stood on the battlefield surveying the wages of war. A personal choice was made or perhaps a politically strategic decision was taken that changed a country’s history forever. Ashoka turned his back on conflict, embraced Buddhism, and gave his kingdom efficient governance for 4 decades.
I am not sure how the decision changed country’s history. In reality Buddhists were simply killed of by Muslim invaders later. Ashoka changing his mind after seeing the cruelty of war is probably less true than SRK’s Asoka movie. I would imagine in a brutal world of those times, men killing men was not a big deal and common sense tells me that reality could be different from poetic imagination. It turns out that Ashoka’s friend got killed by mistake and Ashoka revoked the order to war, his campaign nevertheless was almost over. He later converted to Buddhism and the Buddhist monks then exaggerated the accounts of the war and its cruelty to attribute Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism to his so called change of heart and so on.
Ashoka was the first Indian king to have a “state religion” and he was fairly intolerant of other religions as well. In fact Ashokavandana narrates a story where Ashoka beheads a thousand Ajivakas for painting Buddha in a form that he did not approve. The Ashokavandana book in fact narrates this incident with great pride to show how committed Ashoka was to Buddhism. Honestly compared to the Islamic barbarian who invaded India later, Ashoka clearly appears like a Red Cross volunteer.
History books chronicle the roads, edicts and Ashoka’s philosophy of dhamma. The pre-transformation Ashoka, the apparently heartless warrior before the Kalinga war, does not get a mention in textbooks. History judges Ashoka by his post-Kalinga war transformation, and he remains one of history’s greatest examples of a genuine change of heart.
Well none of the history textbooks bother to mention that Ashoka was the first king to have a state religion either. Also, the genuine change of heart does not seem to be a real change of heart but rather conversion from one kind of despot to another.
Ambedkar, Nehru and Gandhi and other leaders of the freedom movement looked to the past to re-interpret the future. For Ambedkar, Buddhism became the modern manifesto of the Dalit cause, he saw Dalits as the original Buddhists. An ancient faith became the modernising, egalitarian agenda for social justice in a new democracy.
Ambedkar was never ever, not once part of any freedom movement. He was a staunch supporter of British rule in India. Putting him into bucket of a freedom fighters is absolute rubbish. Also, Ambedkar, a scholar he was, was extremely clear as to why he converted to Buddhism. This is what he wrote, a piece that will probably make Sagarika faint because it does not comply with her Nehruvian garbage:
“There can be no doubt that the fall of Buddhism in India was due to the invasions of the Musalmans,” writes the author. “Islam came out as the enemy of the ‘But’. The word ‘But,’ as everybody knows, is an Arabic word and means an idol. Not many people, however, know that the derivation of the word ‘But’ is the Arabic corruption of Buddha. Thus the origin of the word indicates that in the Moslem mind idol worship had come to be identified with the Religion of the Buddha. To the Muslims, they were one and the same thing. The mission to break the idols thus 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, Gandhar and Chinese Turkestan, as it was of the whole of Asia….” [Source]
Ambedkar then goes on to describe more horrors that Islam unleashed on Hinduism and Buddhism. He explains in no uncertain terms why Buddhism appeals to him.
if one converts to Christianity he ceases to be an Indian. The brotherhood in Islam is confined to the Believers; that is, only to Muslims. It cannot promote universal brother-hood. I will not convert to either of these religions . I will convert to one of the religions that are born here, in this country India. Of all the various Indic religions, Sanatan Dharma, Arya Samaj, Vaishnavism. Savaism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Veerasevism, etc. Buddhism appeals to me most . It is all humanity embracing . It has no castes. I will therefore convert to Buddhism and advise all my Dalit brothers to convert to Buddhism and avoid conversion non-Indic religion. [Source]
Sagarika however then pays homage to the demi-god of liberals Mr. Nehru and since Ashoka is a non-muslim King, she is then obliged to mention at least one Muslim King and that is Akbar. Actually was there “any other” muslim King who was not an Islamic despot who butchered others in the name of religion ? Answer is NO. So they find Akbar always. I can name Rana Pratap, Shivaji, Laxmibai, Bajirav Peshva, Prithviraj Chouhan and many other Hindu kings with pride, name three Muslims kings who were not barbarians ? This like Maharashtra government’s board exam where they have category wise merit list. For example 1st rank Dalit student, 1rank among night schools and so on. The set of good muslim kings has only one candidate : Akbar.
She also tells us that Akbar’s Din-e-Illahi was a Nehruvian religion. May be Sagarika lost her time machine and thinks that Nehru appeared before Akbar on earth because for her Akbar is a modern Nehru.
Nehru’s Discovery Of India delves into India’s past to discover ways to fashion an ancient cultural unity to carry forward into a liberated India. Sometimes history bends to the present: Akbar in many textbooks is the modern Nehru, Hindu and Muslim combined in a single persona, upholder of a Nehruvian version of din-e-ilahi.
It is perfectly fine for a person to be a Muslim, it is perfectly fine for a person to be Hindu. There is neither any virtue or any sin in being either of them. However this portrayal of “Hindu and Muslim combined in same persona” as some kind of virtue is just ridiculous. A person can not be Muslim unless he believes that there is only one God. A person can not be Hindu unless he acknowledges that there are multiple Gods and Goddesses. It is called “mutually exclusive” sets.
In 2004, the NDA lost the general elections in a shock defeat. The margins were narrow. Congress won with 145, BJP lost with 138. But for ten years after that, the BJP was wiped out of urban India. Many interpreted this as the lingering effects of the Gujarat riots of 2002, crucial NDA allies like TDP left the NDA.
Just to state fact everyone was blaming reforms post totally unexpected NDA defeat. If 2002 was reason for BJP’s rout in 2004 what explains 2009 ? Also what explains the phenomenal success of BJP under the leadership of exact same man who was blamed for 2002 riots and vilified to no end by Sagarika herself ?
Today, the BJP is back with a bang in urban India, riding on the image of the prime minister as an energetic action-man, the binary opposite of Manmohan Singh. If the invitation to Nawaz Sharif had included a personal phone call rather than an official invitation, the new PM’s image would have been even further enhanced.
May be Modi should have hugged Sharif and given him a kiss. That might have solved the Kashmir problem for us. How much naive can one get ? Hold one Does anyone other than media divas care about how he was invited or what was on the menu for his dinner ? No one actually gives a damn except the left liberals who find solace in symbolism because delivering real results is well beyond their can.
After all, at the centre of the victory of the BJP, and its stunning re-capture of urban India, is the transformation of the persona of Narendra Modi and his long journey since 2002.
If the Kalinga war, described as the one of the bloodiest wars in human history, had been reported in 24*7 media its effects on Ashoka’s image would have been just as dramatic as his subsequent conversion to Buddhism, renouncing of war and commitment to victory by dhamma and not by military means.
Left liberals like Sagarika dont have to substantiate anything they say. Proof and evidence is for ordinary people like us. Just who defined Kalinga war as one of the bloodiest war in human history ? I thought world war I and II where the only two major bloody wars.
Can Modi do a 21st century Ashoka? Can a massive transformation in the polity be pushed and sustained precisely because it emanates from a Ashoka-style personal re-invention, away from memories of conflict, towards a metaphorical embrace of the gods of peace?
Hold on there for a second. Modi’s personal re-invention ? From what to what ? Modi spoke of development 10 years ago and he speaks of development even now. It is probably that people like Sagarika who described him as an “evil man” then and now that their job is threatened are trying to paint as if Modi is changed. I had heard of phrases like “guilt by association” but in this case I am not sure if it fits in any known logical fallacies. This is a pure lie, deception and wickedness.
Fringe groups and right-wing apparatchiks are mis-interpreting the 2014 mandate as a victory for the gods of rage. The chilling brazen murder of 28 year old Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh in Pune allegedly by the Hindu Rashtra Sena , the unconscionable detaining of naval engineer Devu Chodankar for a Facebook post, “book policeman” Dinanath Batra’s campaign against a scholarly book on riots, all show a failure to understand the nature of a mandate given for hope, reconciliation and modern democracy. Reports that young Muslims are shaving their beards out of fear do not augur well for achche din aane wale hain.
More rubbish follows. Right wing violence or at least alleged right wing violence has nothing to do with who is in power. Nathuram shot Gandhi when Nehru was PM. Did Nehru’s apathy towards Hindus made Nathuram take such drastic step ? Ha! You get the point. Sanatan Sanstha was blamed for Margao blast when Congress was in power, same organization was blamed for Dabholkar’s murder while Congress was in power in Maharahstra. In fact the evidence is contrary. Whenever BJP is in power, right wing organizations feel that they have a political voice and tend to be far more mellow than otherwise.
Also, Devu Chodankar is not a Naval engineer but merely a marine engineer who was not arrested but he is currently absconding and faces jail for not appearing before court. Also, his post had nothing to do with Modi. The Post which I have reproduced earlier clearly shows that he was spreading rumors that the new government is planning mass genocide. In any case both the incidents have nothing to do with Modi or the central government in any way.
Attacks on minorities, free speech and on books are totally out of place when the PM himself has bowed his head to the temple of democracy, has reached out to former rival Manmohan Singh and is now set to visit the US, once the country that placed him on a blacklist.
Attacks on minorities ? I only counted one. Free Speech and Books ? Government has not banned anything as far as I know. It is Congress led government in Maharahstra that is talking about banning Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.
Sagarika is a clever twerp. When it comes to HRS or any random incident, Modi is responsible. But when it comes to Indira Gandhi it was her supporters acting in her name.
But like Indira Gandhi and the Congress roughnecks who acted in her name, Modi faces a dilemma with groups like HRS and others. They are ostensibly loyal to a majoritarian cause, some of them may even work as foot-soldiers in elections, yet they deeply damage the agenda Modi is trying to drive through the political center, away from extremes of Left and Right.
It was Indra Gandhi who imposed emergency on India. She chose her cronies. She was convicted of electoral malpractices. She was a despot who should have spent rest of her life in jail. I wish high school students are made to repeat that sentence 10 times in their civics lesson just to ensure we dont elect anyone like her ever again.
When Modi stated “pehle shauchalaya phir devalaya”, radicals like Togadia stormed into protest mode but fell silent at the positive public response to that statement. Modi’s invitation to Nawaz Sharif was bold not only for Indo-Pak peace but as a signal to domestic constituencies pushing for jingoistic wars. Those who have set themselves up as more loyal than the king, fail to realise their actions go against the very purpose for which the nation’s heart was won.
Which jingoistic constituency wants a war ? I have not heard anyone talk about a war, not in print not on TV. I think Modi should declare a journalist exchange program with Pakistan and send Sagarika to Pakistan instead as a goodwill gesture. She can build the bridges of friendship from Karachi to Mumbai.
Across his empire, Ashoka set up pillars announcing his edicts. The pillars both marked his territory and declared the stated aims of his rule. War was a thing of the past, the empire was now ruled by one who believed in the power of transformation, of the self and of governance. A ruler cannot afford to offend traditional beliefs but he can proclaim his own personal “religious” journey.
Actually in case of Modi, this own religious journey happens to be exactly same as the traditional beliefs of the country. Instead of an Ashoka who wore religion on his sleeve and erected his religious symbols everywhere (factually, things like Ashoka Chakra were not buddhist symbols in first place but Ashoka merely claimed them as Buddhist symbols) I would rather want a PM who follows whatever religion he wants without respecting anyone else’s religion yet builds roads and provides water to drink!
I genuinely hope that an incompetent journalist like Sagarika gets fired from her job and is unable to find a new job in the same profession where she has proven her incompetence beyond any doubt.