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Books > Hindu > Gods > God Politics (God in Political Battlefield)
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God Politics (God in Political Battlefield)
God Politics (God in Political Battlefield)
Description
About The Book

The language of politics in the world in general and India in particular has heavily dominated by the identity aspects of religion. Globally, terrorism has been linked to a religion and in India the identity issues revolving around Ram Temple, Lord Ram and Holy Cow have dominated the political chessboard. This book takes a broad look at the multifaceted ensemble called Religion and political phenomenon constructed around religion's identity. It begins with the elaboration of religion as value and a human institution and then goes on to understand the life and teachings of some Prophets. How religion has been seen and understood in the social arena has been elaborated in different periods of Indian society.

From early twentieth century the word Hindutva has been coined for a particular type of politics. A regular confusion does take place around different terminologies-Hindu, Hinduism, Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra. Lately, the 'men of God' have come to be prominently noticed in the social field, mostly not for right reasons. There are types and types of them specializing in accumulating wealth, being involved in sex scandals and other criminal acts including the one's related to terrorist violence. This book does look at few aspects of some of them. Many a debate have also been generated around the versions of Lord Ram's story and the place of Cow in Hindu belief system. The book also attempts to outline the possible role of religions in contemporary times and finally points out that it is the alliance of attainments of human society; values of religions; civilizations, which is at the root of human progress.

About The Author

Former Professor IIT Mumbai, Ram Puniyani is a well-known writer activist. His books include Communal Politics, Contours of Hindu Rashtra, Second Assassination of Gandhi, Terrorism: Facts versus Myth. He is recipient of Indira Gandhi National Integration Award (2006) and National Communal Harmony Award (2007).

Preface

This book is the compilation of essays and articles engaging with the social phenomenon where the identity of religion is in the fore- front of political phenomenon. The theme of the book revolves around the issues that have mainly been prompted by the abuse of religion for political and material goals. On regular basis issues keep cropping up about some or the other identity related issue, some attack intimidation of minorities, some attack on oil rich gulf country accompanied by the language of religion. These contributions are responses to those issues and also an attempt to unravel the truth behind the phenomenon masquerading as religion.

The book covers most of the issues raised during last three decdes. Though the focus is on India, it does engage with some global phenomena which affect the politics here.

Introduction

I

We are living in times when interpretation of events have taken a sharp turn from the earlier decades. Currently, most of the political phenomena are going on in the garb of religion. The language of religion and other identities have come to the fore of social affairs. The issues related to the needs of the people, the issues related to the rights of people have taken a back step in the face of severe onslaught of identity politics.

The twin phenomena of terrorism and communalism are in the center of the political stage. The process of social transformation for better society has also been stalled if not reversed as far as the social values are concerned. It is in this context that we see the People's movements in current times. The major people's movement in our country has been around the problems of workers, low caste, women, adivasis, and minorities. Globally the issues pertained to enhancement of the rights of working classes, the issues related to overcoming injustices to nationalities, ethnic and linguistic groups in the main.

The decades of 1950s to 1970s were the times of dynamic changes all through, with people raising in their flags of rebellion against the injustices at various levels. There were also the issues were related to nationalities and ethnicities. The political space was available to people for expressing economic, social and gender issues.

Around the end of 1980s the things started changing for the worse. Till then the bipolar nature of the world gave enough space to the people to march for their demands, rights and strengthening of human rights in general. Various crucial changes took place which had far reaching effect on the nature of polity and the expression of people's aspiration.

The first major setback was the collapse of socialist states. These states had overcome the colonial oppression and feudal system through communist revolutions and brought in centralized socialist economic system. This also meant the total control of communist parties on all the affairs of society, economy, foreign policy, political power structure etc. This was very much necessary as colonial powers were ruling the colonies in alliance with the local feudal powers and yielding only minimal social and political reforms. The result was that the rising bourgeoisie was not strong enough to lay the foundations of industrial society on its own. The state had to step in to introduce and sustain the material modernization, under the supervision and control of the party bureaucracy. In the world dominated by capitalist production and regulated by market forces, these states began well with solid foundations for infrastructure, and the planning controlled from top. These plannings have failed over a period of time due to the lack of feed back mechanisms.

The presence of Soviet Union was a good counter check to the imperialist designs of the US and its other allies. It is due to this that some countries did get their freedom from colonial yoke, under the banner of socialism. This period of two superpowers, the era of cold war saw a competition between the imperialists and the Soviet block. It is during this competition that countries like India strove a path of non alignment, which was criticized by the US block and welcomed by Soviet block. During this period the United Nation also flourished and despite limitations came up with valuable interventions in the world, including its charting out of the values for the global associations, Charters for Human Rights, Minority Rights and a whole such series. Many countries saw the flourishing of liberal values in gay abandon. The language of politics was revolving around the issue of rights, ethnic rights, national rights and attempts to improve the lot of the people.

II

The decade of 1980s saw a rapid turn around in many a fields. The socialist economies collapsed under the weight of inner contradictions of lack of proper control, lack of inner democracy and external pressures of the arms race and western assertions. The Iranian revolution, coming to power of Ayatollah Khomeini, the defeat of US puppet, Raza Shah Pehlavi and the imperialist lust for oil made it focus its attention on West Asia, where already the seeds of problems were sown with the promotion of Zionism and formation of Israel. US, seeing rise of its power with the collapse of socialist states, changed its swan song to 'oil is too important to be left to the natives in West Asia', took up the tactics to control and dominate this oil zone, The language which was devised was 'Islam, the new threat', succeeding the slogan of 'Communism, threat to freedom and democracy'. The ideological propaganda was unleashed in full swing to demonize Islam and Muslims. With collapse of socialist state multiple changes took place and this was the major transition in the language of global politics.

The foremost of this was the emergence of US allies as the only super power in the world. Its policies now had no brakes and it went on to undermine the authority of United Nations, an attempt towards democratic relations amongst the nations of the world. Now US felt its might can go unchecked and it launched its economic offensive in the form of globalization at a new level in which the adverse impacts of its implementation were too severe, the welfare measures by states were downgraded and privatization became the mantra which the industrial houses were to take full advantage of by plundering the industrial sectors run by the public sector. The type of economy unleashed was the one where GDP rises high along with social differentiation, riches for the top few and pauperization for the bottom majority.

Unemployment started rising, underemployment was the key and the biggest victim of this was the agricultural sector. The farmers' suicides have become a common problem and in a way an expression of the major part of the problem of the way globalization is rampaging the lives the people. The economic disparity, economic deprivation is also leading the people to desecration and some of them get drawn to the rising breed of Babas, Acharyas and Sri Sris. The rise of religiosity in society and a proactive promotion of events around religion are significant. Amongst the middle classes the rising fondness for Yoga, the discourses of long robed ones with bald head or flowing manes seems to be the core around which the tense nerves are calmed.

A section from the -deprived groups formed the ideal fodder to recruit the foot soldiers of the violence which is unleashed by communal forces. The economic instance heightens the identity politics in a subtle way. It is during this period that social strife assumed a religious language, wearing the cloak of religion.

III

The global phenomenon of terrorism has affected all the nations in some way or the other and the global war on terror, is the overarching slogan for hiding the imperialist ambitions for oil. Terror as such is not an abstract concept. Today it is a product, a retaliation against the global imperialist policies, the ethnic aspirations gone sour and also a response to the communal violence. Lately one is also witness to the competitive terrorism, resorted to by majoritiarian groups. Most in- terestingly terrorism, though not well defined, has been brought to the fore as a religious phenomenon. The turning point in such insane acts of violence came with the formation of AI Qaeda by CIA through ISI of Pakistan by indoctrinating the youth in madrassas. The cancer sown in these madrassas, used initially to fight Soviet occupation by US is visiting us in different forms and at different places. This is the additive point in demonizing of Muslims and Islam. The global conflicts, war against Afghanistan, Iraq and the threat to Iran, Syria are stalking the global consciousness while the UN has been effectively emasculated by the superpower.

This global phenomenon around Islam has created a perception where Islam, the religion of peace, has been presented as the religion of violence, the bane of human society. The Huntington thesis of 'clash of civilizations' is the doctrine guiding the policy of the major power of the world, US, and the atrocities in Iraq, and Afghanistan are being palmed off as the price to be paid to protect democratic values. One had seen the fate of ' export of socialism' by the USSR and now one is a witness to the export of democracy! Can democracy be 'imposed from outside? The very concept of democracy flows from below upwards; it is an internal phenomenon in society. Under critical scrutiny this aggression and the claims of concern for democracy do not hold any water.

IV

The global phenomenon as reflected in globalization-terrorism is getting reflected within the country in the form of rising economic distress and communalism. The communal politics began from the declining sections of society in the light of rising democratic value. The process of social transformation was started by the landlords, Nawabas, Rajas and was up held later by a section of middle class ideologues. In India they began in the face of rising industrialization, education and the upcoming of low caste and women in the social space. It found expression in targeting of each other by religious groups, namely the Hindus and Muslims. It did spread venom against the other community and communalized the social space. The same supplemented in the British designs of divide and rule leading to the partition of the country and massive violence. The violence was to come back soon and was to go to maddening heights in the decades of 1980s, the worst of which was seen in the post Babri demolition Mumbai violence, burning of Pastor Steins and the Gujarat carnage. It has marginalized the minorities into second class citizens, created their ghettoes and strengthened the conservative elements in those communities. The fear psychology of the minorities has triggered conservatism in the community to a large extent. The violence against minorities has become a regular phenomenon. Some of these are ghastly and others are low intensity scattered ones. In a way this violence and the accompanying erosion of civic norms is a big blow to the democratic values and an attack on India's Constitution. The most immediate observation is that it is creating a mass hysteria, raising the violent storms, which ensure suppression of the real issues of the people related to their worldly needs.

In India, it is RSS combine which poses the major threat to the democracy, while the minority communalism, though comparatively anaemic is able to give provocations to the majority communalism, led by RSS combine ... This combine is opposed to democracy and is using the democratic space to ensure its abolition in due course, Already there is a talk of the anti Hindu nature of our Constitution and the need to bring in one based on Hindu holy books. The communal violence and the inherent communal politics are surely the biggest threat to Indian democracy today.

V

Some of the ethnic issues have led to severe violence and currently few of them are being presented as the issues related to religion. While many nations have not been able to address the issues of ethnicities properly, a few of these have assumed severe proportions of violence. Northeastern states in India, Jafna and Srilanka are major examples of this. The issues related to Kashmir have been given the appearance of religion. While the northeastern violence and organizations like United Liberation Front of Assam, have their own quotas of problems, militancy in Kashmir has got mixed up with the global issues of imperialism-terrorism complex.

Kashmir acceded to India on the promise of autonomy, but soon the pressure of communal elements in the country resulted in suppression of the clauses related to autonomy, which in turn caused alienation of local population and with the help of weapons across the border, it assumed the forms of violence. This struggle for restoring Kashmiriyat became more complex with the AI Qaeda's intervention in the area, converting Kashmiriyat to Islam as the battle cry. The issue was made much worse with the global terrorism and the intermixing of the two.

VI

The challenge to social sciences today is to change the paradigm of analysis. The period of 60s and 70s did see a set of frameworks and scientifically accurate methods in analyzing the prevalent phenomena. A small section did tell us about the nature of socialist states and the nature of religion based nationalism. In the contemporary times the things have been very obscure as the new phenomenon of religion based nationalism is becoming more dominant, similarly the issue of terrorism also requires a much different approach than the one dished out by the propaganda mills of the dominant powers and dominant sections of society.

The major challenge is to remove the lid of language of religion on this phenomenon which is at core political, which are retrograde and are throwing the society back in time. The need was never more necessary and urgent as the popular perceptions are much distorted and these perceptions intensify the impact of oppressive politics. Today social sciences need to grapple with phenomenon of communal violence and acts of terrorism, which are major problems in contemporary scene.

Contents

Acknowledgementix
Prefaceix
Preludeiix
Introductionxix
Section -A
Religion: A Social Phenomenon
1Religion through Ages3
Section - B
Pioneers of Human Thought: The Founders
2Jainism: Pioneering Non Violence29
3Gautama Buddha: Pioneer of Social Justice33
4Peace for the Planet: Prophet Muhammad37
5Sikhism: A Religion or a Sect?41
6Adivasis: Are they Hindus?45
Section - C
Indian Society and Religion
7Rational Thought in Indian Tradition51
8Pluralism: Core of Indian Society60
9Gandhi, Religion and Politics72
Section - D
Hindu, Hindutva, Hinduism
10Communal Fascism in India: Hindutva-Religion or Politics?83
11Freedom Movement and Hindu Right98
12Religious Nationalism and Changing Profile of Popular Culture110
13Fundamentalism and Women's Rights127
14Social Justice must Precede Reconciliation134
15Hindu Nation, Hindu State and Hindutva138
16Religious Minorities: Political Dilemmas144
Section - E
Godmen or Religio-enterpreneures?
17Arrest of Shankaracharya by Tamil Nadu Police155
18Happenings at Asaram Bapu's Ashram158
19Yogi and the Profane Laws162
20Baba Ramdev: Yogi or Commissar?166
21Bhagwan Satya Sai: Faith Marginalizes Reason169
22Swami, Celibacy and Sex Scandals173
23Jehadi and Sadhvi177
24Swami, Sangh and Terror Links180
25Invading Secular Space185
26Holy Garb: Profane Agenda188
Section - F
Blind Faith to the Fore
27History, Faith and Tolerance195
28Cow in Contemporary Political Chessboard199
29Cow's Urine as Medicine: Faith's Leap into Blind Alleys203
30Pleasing Gods with Public Money207
31Sabarimala Makar Jyothi: Man-Made 'Divinity'211
32Lord, May I Come in?215
33Lord Ram: Through Different Prisms218
34Lord Ram: Abused for Political Goals222
Section - G
Religions Today
35The Hate Other Ideology229
Epilogue
Civilizations, Religions: Clash or Alliance?235
Post Script243
References 252

God Politics (God in Political Battlefield)

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2012
ISBN:
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About The Book

The language of politics in the world in general and India in particular has heavily dominated by the identity aspects of religion. Globally, terrorism has been linked to a religion and in India the identity issues revolving around Ram Temple, Lord Ram and Holy Cow have dominated the political chessboard. This book takes a broad look at the multifaceted ensemble called Religion and political phenomenon constructed around religion's identity. It begins with the elaboration of religion as value and a human institution and then goes on to understand the life and teachings of some Prophets. How religion has been seen and understood in the social arena has been elaborated in different periods of Indian society.

From early twentieth century the word Hindutva has been coined for a particular type of politics. A regular confusion does take place around different terminologies-Hindu, Hinduism, Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra. Lately, the 'men of God' have come to be prominently noticed in the social field, mostly not for right reasons. There are types and types of them specializing in accumulating wealth, being involved in sex scandals and other criminal acts including the one's related to terrorist violence. This book does look at few aspects of some of them. Many a debate have also been generated around the versions of Lord Ram's story and the place of Cow in Hindu belief system. The book also attempts to outline the possible role of religions in contemporary times and finally points out that it is the alliance of attainments of human society; values of religions; civilizations, which is at the root of human progress.

About The Author

Former Professor IIT Mumbai, Ram Puniyani is a well-known writer activist. His books include Communal Politics, Contours of Hindu Rashtra, Second Assassination of Gandhi, Terrorism: Facts versus Myth. He is recipient of Indira Gandhi National Integration Award (2006) and National Communal Harmony Award (2007).

Preface

This book is the compilation of essays and articles engaging with the social phenomenon where the identity of religion is in the fore- front of political phenomenon. The theme of the book revolves around the issues that have mainly been prompted by the abuse of religion for political and material goals. On regular basis issues keep cropping up about some or the other identity related issue, some attack intimidation of minorities, some attack on oil rich gulf country accompanied by the language of religion. These contributions are responses to those issues and also an attempt to unravel the truth behind the phenomenon masquerading as religion.

The book covers most of the issues raised during last three decdes. Though the focus is on India, it does engage with some global phenomena which affect the politics here.

Introduction

I

We are living in times when interpretation of events have taken a sharp turn from the earlier decades. Currently, most of the political phenomena are going on in the garb of religion. The language of religion and other identities have come to the fore of social affairs. The issues related to the needs of the people, the issues related to the rights of people have taken a back step in the face of severe onslaught of identity politics.

The twin phenomena of terrorism and communalism are in the center of the political stage. The process of social transformation for better society has also been stalled if not reversed as far as the social values are concerned. It is in this context that we see the People's movements in current times. The major people's movement in our country has been around the problems of workers, low caste, women, adivasis, and minorities. Globally the issues pertained to enhancement of the rights of working classes, the issues related to overcoming injustices to nationalities, ethnic and linguistic groups in the main.

The decades of 1950s to 1970s were the times of dynamic changes all through, with people raising in their flags of rebellion against the injustices at various levels. There were also the issues were related to nationalities and ethnicities. The political space was available to people for expressing economic, social and gender issues.

Around the end of 1980s the things started changing for the worse. Till then the bipolar nature of the world gave enough space to the people to march for their demands, rights and strengthening of human rights in general. Various crucial changes took place which had far reaching effect on the nature of polity and the expression of people's aspiration.

The first major setback was the collapse of socialist states. These states had overcome the colonial oppression and feudal system through communist revolutions and brought in centralized socialist economic system. This also meant the total control of communist parties on all the affairs of society, economy, foreign policy, political power structure etc. This was very much necessary as colonial powers were ruling the colonies in alliance with the local feudal powers and yielding only minimal social and political reforms. The result was that the rising bourgeoisie was not strong enough to lay the foundations of industrial society on its own. The state had to step in to introduce and sustain the material modernization, under the supervision and control of the party bureaucracy. In the world dominated by capitalist production and regulated by market forces, these states began well with solid foundations for infrastructure, and the planning controlled from top. These plannings have failed over a period of time due to the lack of feed back mechanisms.

The presence of Soviet Union was a good counter check to the imperialist designs of the US and its other allies. It is due to this that some countries did get their freedom from colonial yoke, under the banner of socialism. This period of two superpowers, the era of cold war saw a competition between the imperialists and the Soviet block. It is during this competition that countries like India strove a path of non alignment, which was criticized by the US block and welcomed by Soviet block. During this period the United Nation also flourished and despite limitations came up with valuable interventions in the world, including its charting out of the values for the global associations, Charters for Human Rights, Minority Rights and a whole such series. Many countries saw the flourishing of liberal values in gay abandon. The language of politics was revolving around the issue of rights, ethnic rights, national rights and attempts to improve the lot of the people.

II

The decade of 1980s saw a rapid turn around in many a fields. The socialist economies collapsed under the weight of inner contradictions of lack of proper control, lack of inner democracy and external pressures of the arms race and western assertions. The Iranian revolution, coming to power of Ayatollah Khomeini, the defeat of US puppet, Raza Shah Pehlavi and the imperialist lust for oil made it focus its attention on West Asia, where already the seeds of problems were sown with the promotion of Zionism and formation of Israel. US, seeing rise of its power with the collapse of socialist states, changed its swan song to 'oil is too important to be left to the natives in West Asia', took up the tactics to control and dominate this oil zone, The language which was devised was 'Islam, the new threat', succeeding the slogan of 'Communism, threat to freedom and democracy'. The ideological propaganda was unleashed in full swing to demonize Islam and Muslims. With collapse of socialist state multiple changes took place and this was the major transition in the language of global politics.

The foremost of this was the emergence of US allies as the only super power in the world. Its policies now had no brakes and it went on to undermine the authority of United Nations, an attempt towards democratic relations amongst the nations of the world. Now US felt its might can go unchecked and it launched its economic offensive in the form of globalization at a new level in which the adverse impacts of its implementation were too severe, the welfare measures by states were downgraded and privatization became the mantra which the industrial houses were to take full advantage of by plundering the industrial sectors run by the public sector. The type of economy unleashed was the one where GDP rises high along with social differentiation, riches for the top few and pauperization for the bottom majority.

Unemployment started rising, underemployment was the key and the biggest victim of this was the agricultural sector. The farmers' suicides have become a common problem and in a way an expression of the major part of the problem of the way globalization is rampaging the lives the people. The economic disparity, economic deprivation is also leading the people to desecration and some of them get drawn to the rising breed of Babas, Acharyas and Sri Sris. The rise of religiosity in society and a proactive promotion of events around religion are significant. Amongst the middle classes the rising fondness for Yoga, the discourses of long robed ones with bald head or flowing manes seems to be the core around which the tense nerves are calmed.

A section from the -deprived groups formed the ideal fodder to recruit the foot soldiers of the violence which is unleashed by communal forces. The economic instance heightens the identity politics in a subtle way. It is during this period that social strife assumed a religious language, wearing the cloak of religion.

III

The global phenomenon of terrorism has affected all the nations in some way or the other and the global war on terror, is the overarching slogan for hiding the imperialist ambitions for oil. Terror as such is not an abstract concept. Today it is a product, a retaliation against the global imperialist policies, the ethnic aspirations gone sour and also a response to the communal violence. Lately one is also witness to the competitive terrorism, resorted to by majoritiarian groups. Most in- terestingly terrorism, though not well defined, has been brought to the fore as a religious phenomenon. The turning point in such insane acts of violence came with the formation of AI Qaeda by CIA through ISI of Pakistan by indoctrinating the youth in madrassas. The cancer sown in these madrassas, used initially to fight Soviet occupation by US is visiting us in different forms and at different places. This is the additive point in demonizing of Muslims and Islam. The global conflicts, war against Afghanistan, Iraq and the threat to Iran, Syria are stalking the global consciousness while the UN has been effectively emasculated by the superpower.

This global phenomenon around Islam has created a perception where Islam, the religion of peace, has been presented as the religion of violence, the bane of human society. The Huntington thesis of 'clash of civilizations' is the doctrine guiding the policy of the major power of the world, US, and the atrocities in Iraq, and Afghanistan are being palmed off as the price to be paid to protect democratic values. One had seen the fate of ' export of socialism' by the USSR and now one is a witness to the export of democracy! Can democracy be 'imposed from outside? The very concept of democracy flows from below upwards; it is an internal phenomenon in society. Under critical scrutiny this aggression and the claims of concern for democracy do not hold any water.

IV

The global phenomenon as reflected in globalization-terrorism is getting reflected within the country in the form of rising economic distress and communalism. The communal politics began from the declining sections of society in the light of rising democratic value. The process of social transformation was started by the landlords, Nawabas, Rajas and was up held later by a section of middle class ideologues. In India they began in the face of rising industrialization, education and the upcoming of low caste and women in the social space. It found expression in targeting of each other by religious groups, namely the Hindus and Muslims. It did spread venom against the other community and communalized the social space. The same supplemented in the British designs of divide and rule leading to the partition of the country and massive violence. The violence was to come back soon and was to go to maddening heights in the decades of 1980s, the worst of which was seen in the post Babri demolition Mumbai violence, burning of Pastor Steins and the Gujarat carnage. It has marginalized the minorities into second class citizens, created their ghettoes and strengthened the conservative elements in those communities. The fear psychology of the minorities has triggered conservatism in the community to a large extent. The violence against minorities has become a regular phenomenon. Some of these are ghastly and others are low intensity scattered ones. In a way this violence and the accompanying erosion of civic norms is a big blow to the democratic values and an attack on India's Constitution. The most immediate observation is that it is creating a mass hysteria, raising the violent storms, which ensure suppression of the real issues of the people related to their worldly needs.

In India, it is RSS combine which poses the major threat to the democracy, while the minority communalism, though comparatively anaemic is able to give provocations to the majority communalism, led by RSS combine ... This combine is opposed to democracy and is using the democratic space to ensure its abolition in due course, Already there is a talk of the anti Hindu nature of our Constitution and the need to bring in one based on Hindu holy books. The communal violence and the inherent communal politics are surely the biggest threat to Indian democracy today.

V

Some of the ethnic issues have led to severe violence and currently few of them are being presented as the issues related to religion. While many nations have not been able to address the issues of ethnicities properly, a few of these have assumed severe proportions of violence. Northeastern states in India, Jafna and Srilanka are major examples of this. The issues related to Kashmir have been given the appearance of religion. While the northeastern violence and organizations like United Liberation Front of Assam, have their own quotas of problems, militancy in Kashmir has got mixed up with the global issues of imperialism-terrorism complex.

Kashmir acceded to India on the promise of autonomy, but soon the pressure of communal elements in the country resulted in suppression of the clauses related to autonomy, which in turn caused alienation of local population and with the help of weapons across the border, it assumed the forms of violence. This struggle for restoring Kashmiriyat became more complex with the AI Qaeda's intervention in the area, converting Kashmiriyat to Islam as the battle cry. The issue was made much worse with the global terrorism and the intermixing of the two.

VI

The challenge to social sciences today is to change the paradigm of analysis. The period of 60s and 70s did see a set of frameworks and scientifically accurate methods in analyzing the prevalent phenomena. A small section did tell us about the nature of socialist states and the nature of religion based nationalism. In the contemporary times the things have been very obscure as the new phenomenon of religion based nationalism is becoming more dominant, similarly the issue of terrorism also requires a much different approach than the one dished out by the propaganda mills of the dominant powers and dominant sections of society.

The major challenge is to remove the lid of language of religion on this phenomenon which is at core political, which are retrograde and are throwing the society back in time. The need was never more necessary and urgent as the popular perceptions are much distorted and these perceptions intensify the impact of oppressive politics. Today social sciences need to grapple with phenomenon of communal violence and acts of terrorism, which are major problems in contemporary scene.

Contents

Acknowledgementix
Prefaceix
Preludeiix
Introductionxix
Section -A
Religion: A Social Phenomenon
1Religion through Ages3
Section - B
Pioneers of Human Thought: The Founders
2Jainism: Pioneering Non Violence29
3Gautama Buddha: Pioneer of Social Justice33
4Peace for the Planet: Prophet Muhammad37
5Sikhism: A Religion or a Sect?41
6Adivasis: Are they Hindus?45
Section - C
Indian Society and Religion
7Rational Thought in Indian Tradition51
8Pluralism: Core of Indian Society60
9Gandhi, Religion and Politics72
Section - D
Hindu, Hindutva, Hinduism
10Communal Fascism in India: Hindutva-Religion or Politics?83
11Freedom Movement and Hindu Right98
12Religious Nationalism and Changing Profile of Popular Culture110
13Fundamentalism and Women's Rights127
14Social Justice must Precede Reconciliation134
15Hindu Nation, Hindu State and Hindutva138
16Religious Minorities: Political Dilemmas144
Section - E
Godmen or Religio-enterpreneures?
17Arrest of Shankaracharya by Tamil Nadu Police155
18Happenings at Asaram Bapu's Ashram158
19Yogi and the Profane Laws162
20Baba Ramdev: Yogi or Commissar?166
21Bhagwan Satya Sai: Faith Marginalizes Reason169
22Swami, Celibacy and Sex Scandals173
23Jehadi and Sadhvi177
24Swami, Sangh and Terror Links180
25Invading Secular Space185
26Holy Garb: Profane Agenda188
Section - F
Blind Faith to the Fore
27History, Faith and Tolerance195
28Cow in Contemporary Political Chessboard199
29Cow's Urine as Medicine: Faith's Leap into Blind Alleys203
30Pleasing Gods with Public Money207
31Sabarimala Makar Jyothi: Man-Made 'Divinity'211
32Lord, May I Come in?215
33Lord Ram: Through Different Prisms218
34Lord Ram: Abused for Political Goals222
Section - G
Religions Today
35The Hate Other Ideology229
Epilogue
Civilizations, Religions: Clash or Alliance?235
Post Script243
References 252
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