Koenraad Elst’s interview on Ayodhya Verdict

Koenraad Elst has been my most reliable resource when it comes to the whole RJM issue. He has written several books on this topic and all of them are splendid.

As soon as the verdict was out I was visiting his blog everyday to understand his response. He did write one.

I have always wondered why Indian don’t seem to pay much attention to the issues that affect their life the most. The media too seems very frivolous. Most of the experts who write in papers and who come on television generally seem very moronic. There are very few people like Mr. Elst who are intellectually honest and competent.

I was very happy to find the 6 part interview of Mr. Elst with respect to the Ayodhya verdict. No TV channel invited this authority for any tv debate, they instead invited some sundry Hidutva-vaadi.

Whole interview can be seen here.

Ayodhya verdict for dummies

I am very pleased with the Ayodhya verdict.

The Allahbad highcourt special bench had a dedicated website to release the verdict and unlike other government websites it dint die despite the whole load it must have faced.

Here are some salient points I drew up from the opinions of all three judges. (It is important to consider the opinions of all three of them unlike the TV channels which cited only Justice Khan’s verdict. Some have commented on the religion of judges and thats ridiculous.)

1. Who built the mosque?

Justice Khan: The mosque was built by or under the orders of Babar.

Justice Agarwal: The plaintiff have failed to prove that the mosque (building) was built by Babar or Mir Baqi. But it existed before 1766.

Justice DVS: It was built by Babar against the tenets of Islam. Thus we can not call it a mosque.

2. Whom did the land belong to when mosque was built ?

Justice Khan: Not sure whom it belonged but no evidence suggested that it belonged to Babar or whoever was carrying out his orders.

Justice Agarwal: It was worshiped by Hindus. But this does not affect anything since whoever built the mosque was the soul monarch and hence above all the laws applicable that time.

Justice DVS: Hindus worshiped the place and it was a place of pilgrimage for them since time immemorial.

3. Holy place of Hindus?

Justice Khan: Yes. The whole premises was considered holy by Hindus even before the mosque was built but not sure if any specific part was considered to be birth-place of ram.

Justice Agarwal: Yes. The place under the dome is believed to be the Janmasthaan of Lord Ram.

Justice DVS: Yes. The place is Ram Janamsthaan.

4.  Was there a temple in the place of mosque?

Justice Khan: No. No temple was demolished to build the mosque. But it was rather built over the ruins of a temple. Some material of the ruins was used to build the mosque. The ruins existed long before the mosque was built.

Justice Agarwal: Yes. The structure was built after a non-muslim building i.e. a Hindu temple was demolished.

Justice DVS: Yes. The ASC has proved that the demolished structure was a massive Hindu religious structure.

Note: Justice Khan admits that the place was important an holy for Hindus even before the mosque. He holds that there was a temple as well but he says it was in ruins. Does that mean Hindus kept their holy place in ruin? What for?

My Comments

I never thought of RJM as an issue of faith of millions etc. the way BJP and other Hindu organizations portrayed it neither a blot on secular nature of India the way congress and media portrayed it.

For me it was a people’s movement. It’s objective was not to correct historic wrongs but instead to show anger at the fact that Islamic iconoclast is not even acknowledged by our mafia historian, media and government. The issue had lost its steam immediately after the dome was demolished. People had given a way out to their anger and they had shown that even Hindus can get violent if their grievances are ignored as always.

This explains why people happily accepted the verdict today and there wasn’t any violence neither celebrations. The RSS seems to have learned it’s lessons as well as evident from Mohan Bhagwatji’s statements.

I am very happy about the point marked in red above. I feel the whole issue gathered steam only because this truth was denied by everyone. This one point kicks out any moral high-ground that secularists use to take by questioning the existence of temple in first place.

Losers

I wouldn’t count Waqf Board as losers solely because they were mere pawns in the game. As per me the real losers here as below

1. People who made comments such as “no matter who wins the nation is going to lose”, “let us build school, hospital etc. at the site”, “don’t care about the verdict but there should not be riots”, “verdict should be such that it will not cause riots”.

I can understand that no one wants riots. But, justice matters unless you are a submissive, docile moron willing to live a pointless life at the mercy of rulers and powerful. That is what some of the urban, educated and young people are in my opinion. Justice matters and courts responsibility is to deliver natural justice even if it is not popular.

The morons who are ready to give away anything by fearing riots are those who always give bone to the barking dog by encouraging the dog to bark in future. These are the people I guess vote parties like Congress in power.

2. Media Whores. The disappointment that Rajdeep, Barkha and Ghosh were showing that the verdict was a sadistic pleasure for me to watch and read. These are the people who don’t seem to know what the courts are really meant for.

I have some master pieces here.

If you have read my summary of verdict above it is clear why Mr. Diptosh from CNN-IBN thinks Mr. Khan = Reason. The real reason is Mr. Diptosh = Whitewashing History.

And exactly 4 hours before this guy made above “sweeping remarks” he found the verdict complex enough to sit and read with his lawyer friends. (It took him less than 4 hours to make above conclusion).

Barkha Raises doubts whether court should bend before the threat of violence.( in other words of course).

3. Left Liberals. The other biggest losers in the process seem to be the left liberals. These were the people who questioned the existence of temple first, when Archeological Survey of India found temple evidence they questioned ACS itself. Sophistry is their methodology.

Following people were witness in the case :

Witness No: 63 – R.S. Sharma;(b) – Witness No: 64 – Suraj Bhan;(c)Witness No: 65 – D.N. Jha;(d)Witness No: 66 – Padma Bhushan Romila Thapar ;(e)Witness No: 70 – ‘ Padma Bhushan’ Irfan Habib;(f)Witness No: 95 – K.M. Shrimali;(g)Witness No: 99 – ‘ Satish Chandra;(h)Witness No: 102- ‘Gyanendra Pandey

I refer to these people as mafia historians. These people once ruled the intellectual landscape of the country. These communist historians today find themselves isolated and discredited. After-all they were programmed for self-destruction. These people’s response to the verdict is predictable and on par with their usual line of argument.

Weekend Re-reading

Came across a very old interview of Dr. Koenraad Elst. A person I admire the most. His intellectual rigor is even better than my other idol Dr. Arun Shourie. The whole interview can be read here.

Q: Let’s put it this way. Going by your own thesis, why has this “Hindu civilisation” failed to produce scholars/intellectuals who respect the tradition of dialogue and accommodation? There is an impression that the RSS volunteers, the self-proclaimed “torch-bearers of this civilisation”, are mostly inward-looking and even their “baudhik pramukhs” are found wanting as far as intellectual rigour is concerned. No wonder, we fail to produce an Edward Said, a Noam Chomsky or even a Huntington!

A: The Indians need not be so modest. Allow me, as an outsider, to have a higher opinion of India’s intellectual performance. Huntington’s notion of a “Clash of Civilisations” was already used by Girilal Jain, who died the year before Huntington gained fame. Have you ever cared to read the works of the late Ram Swarup? He was soft-spoken and avoided hurtful language, yet his observations on the deeper issues underlying the communal problems in India were razor-sharp. The RSS reduces everything to the typical nationalist discourse of “the Motherland vs the anti-national forces”. But there is more to Hindu revivalism than that.

And I would trade Edward Said’s books any time for those of your own Arun Shourie. Said’s “Orientalism” wrongly dismisses criticism of Islam as a colonial ploy. In Belgium alone, there are plenty of Christian refugees from Turkey and Lebanon, and they know who chased them out. Said, however, has become the leading apologist for Islam in the West.

It is, however, true that the RSS has failed to produce great minds. But then that may not be the job of a mass organisation. On the other hand, it is indeed a glaring failure of the RSS that it never produced a serious analysis of the very problems which led to its creation, apart from some sweeping nationalist slogans about “anti-national forces”. This has to do with a choice made by KB Hedgewar and MS Golwalkar against intellectual activity and in favour of mindless activism. But this mistaken party-line of the RSS matters less and less, because there is more and more Hindu self-organisation outside the Sangh Parivar framework. The “shakha” gatherings are becoming obsolete as a form of mobilisation. Hindu civilisation has always functioned in a decentralised manner, and now the “Hindu awakening” (announced so often at RSS forums) is taking place through informal networks, for example, the internet. The movement is reverting to decentralised forms of mobilisation, after the RSS interregnum of boy scout-type uniformity and centralism.

Congress, Communists and other media people have criticized RSS of so many things but none of them comes up with pertinent criticism as by Dr. Elst.

Also, I always get astonished to see all my favorite authors cross refer each other and sometimes use similar language. Elst had invoked Alice In Wonderland long before Shourie did in his classic piece after BJP defeat in 2010.

“The question is”, said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is”, said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master-that’s all.”

A lot of ink has flowed over the question how to define Hinduism.  There is no other religion for which the question of definition is so difficult.  A Roman Catholic could be defined as a person who is baptized by a priest ordained within an apostolic succession going back to Jesus, and who accepts the Nicean Creed and the authority of the Bishop of Rome.  A Muslim is defined by the Muslims themselves as one who has affirmed the Islamic creed: that there is no god beside Allah and that Mohammed is Allah’s prophet.  A Buddhist is one who has taken the triple refuge into the Buddha, his teachings and his community.  But there seems to be no accepted definition of a Hindu, neither one sanctioned by Hindu tradition nor one on which the scholarly community agrees.[Source: Who is a Hindu?]

Elst blew up the tantrums and stratagems of all the secularists, Islamist and communists on the Ram Mandir debate. Today it might me completely taboo to say anything in support Ram Mandir partly because the opponents are in power and some due to the weakness of it’s proponents like BJP.

In India, political incidents frequently pit Hindu nationalism, or even just plain Hinduism and plain nationalism, against so-called “secularism”. In practice, this term denotes a combine of Islamists, Hindu-born Marxists and consumericanized one-dimensionalists who share a hatred of Hindu culture and Hindu self-respect. What passes for secularism in India is often the diametrical opposite of what goes by the same name in the West. Recent events in the Ayodhya temple/mosque controversy confirm the disingenuous character of Indian secularism.

Dr. Elst compares the Hindu revivalism against the so called secularists and if you have your eyes open it is not difficult to see that he has a very strong point. But most of the people dont wish to see.

Genuine secular states have equality before the law of all citizens regardless of religion. By contrast, India has different civil codes depending on the citizen’s religion. Thus, for Christians it is very hard to get a divorce, Hindus and Muslim women can get one through judicial proceedings, and Muslim men can simply repudiate their wives. The secular alternative, a common civil code, is championed by the Hindu nationalists. It is the so-called secularists who, justifying themselves with specious sophistry, join hands with the most obscurantist religious leaders to insist on maintaining the present unequal system.

Likewise, legal inequality in matters of temple management, pilgrimage subsidies, special autonomy for states depending on their populations’ religious composition, and the right to found religious schools is defended by the so-called secularists (because it is invariably to the disadvantage of the Hindus) while the Hindu nationalists favour the secular alternative of equality regardless of religion. In India, sharia-wielding Muslim clerics whose Arab counterparts denounce secularism as the ultimate evil, call themselves secularists. Just as the word deception differs in meaning from its French counterpart déception(= disappointment), the word secularism has a sharply different meaning in Indian English as compared to metropolitan English.

He speaks about the Hindu view and Muslim view of temple in Ayodhya.

We could look at the Ayodhya affair from the Hindu angle. The contentious site is a Hindu sacred site, it is not a Muslim sacred site, so it should simply continue as a Hindu place of pilgrimage and be adorned with the appropriate architecture.

We could look at the Ayodhya affair from a Muslim angle. Of course Ayodhya is not sacred to Muslims. It would amount to blasphemy to claim any sacredness for Ayodhya: Allah is everywhere so He doesn’t need sacred sites, and to the extent that any place on earth can be called sacred, it is Mecca, not Ayodhya. Yet, Muslim warriors have performed their duty of iconoclasm, replacing an idolatrous temple with a mosque. This creates a clear new situation under Islamic law: once a mosque, always a mosque. Muslims should fight to re-conquer the site, and in case Hindus manage to rebuild their temple, a well-planned bomb attack should remedy that anomaly.

Koenraad Elst is a rare scholar who has observed the temple issue very closely without taking sides of any stakeholders. Today both Congress as well as BJP will deny that it was Rajiv Gandhi who had the most pragmatic approach towards Ram Mandir.

One such secularist, a modern man ready to deal with the matter pragmatically, was Rajiv Gandhi. He allowed the Hindus to prepare for the construction of a new temple with the ceremonial laying of a foundation stone (shilanyas) on November 9, 1989. He pressured the Chandra Shekhar government, which was dependent on Congress support, into organizing the scholars’ debate about the historical evidence, in the full knowledge that the temple party would win such a debate hands down. The thrust of his Ayodhya policy was to buy off Muslim acquiescence with some of the usual currency of the Congress culture: maybe nominating a few more Mians as ministers, banning a few Islam-unfriendly books (hence the Satanic Verses affair), raising theHajj subsidy, providing cheap loans to the Shahi Imam’s constituency, donating government land for some Islamic purpose, things like that. Meanwhile, Hindus would get their temple. Muslims would have scolded their leaders for selling out, Hindus would have lambasted theirs for cheapening a noble cause with such horse-trading, but in the end, everybody would have accepted it.

Congress and Communists have criticized Elst to be a RSS man. Elst on the contrary happens to be a strong critique of both BJP and RSS.

The anti-intellectualism of the Sangh Parivar is a sufficiently serious problem to warrant a closer discussion.  The situation on the ground is that RSS men seldom sit down to do any thinking, but are always on the move.  As a US-based Hindutva activist told me: “When I make a phone call to an RSS office-bearer in India, he will most often not be in the Delhi office, not in Nagpur or another town, but somewhere on the way.”  And the wife of a BJP stalwart told me: “Being on the way from one place to another is a status symbol among RSS men.”  With all this physical locomotion, little time and occasion is left for concentrated mental work.

The Sangh has a basic commit ment to India and to Hindu culture, but beyond that, its ideological position is hazy and undeveloped, and therefore mal leable in the hands of ideologically more articulate forces.  It has been more influenced by dominant polit ical currents and intel lectual fashions, often emanating from its declared enemies, than one would expect from an “extremist” movement.  Like in the Congress and Janata parties, quarrels within the BJP are never about ideology.  As ex-insider Balraj Madhok writes in a comment on the Gujarat quarrels: “Personal differences rather than ideolog ical factors lie at the root of the rifts within the Sangh Parivar.”

To an extent, the BJP has its lack of ideological sophis tication in common with all non-Communist parties, most of all with Congress.  A few recycled old slogans, a picture of its long-dead leaders, some material presents for the voter (ad hoc food subsidies, writing off farmers’ loans), and there you have a complete Congress election campaign.  Mutatis mutandis, the same is true for most parties.  The simple slogans on the outside are not the summary of a profound and complica ted programme too esoteric to trouble the voters with (as in the case of the Communists).  The surface is all there is to it, at least as far as ideology is concerned. [Source]

Today, Dr. Elst is not so active. He retired from his role as India watcher long back for reason not known. He also suffered from a rare heart disease which has not restricted his activity.

Dr. Elst has written many books only few of which can be found on bookshelf of any reputed bookstore. However most of his books can be found for free on http://koenraadelst.voiceofdharma.com/books