Thoughts on economics and liberty

Tag: Hinduism

I always said that BJP are fake Hindus. Now there’s CLEAR proof.

The BJP President, Gadkari, has said:  "I don't go the temple. I don't perform puja," According to him, "Hinduism is a way of life. It is not about a religion".

That means you don't need to understand the Vedanta, don't need to understand Vedic metaphysics, but just because you claim to be a "Hindu" you can become one. 

True, the Vedanta does not require anyone to go to temple or perform puja, but Hinduism is NOT such a meaningless concept as Gadkari seems to think. And I doubt if he has the slightest clue about the Vedanta or the Vedas.

I do know only this by now, that when it suits these people, they make the most ghastly aggressive claims about Hinduism – such as the ones that Golwalkar made, or the actions of Advani the nautanki, dressed up as Ram, going about India in a "chariot", leading to the demolition of the Babri Masjid and mass-killing of thousands of people across India.

And when it comes to banning books, these BJP types are the first to block liberty (including the alleged free market supporter – Modi). These were the people who forced Jha to publish his book Myth of the Holy Cow outside India. And till today there is NOT ONE SERIOUS BOOK that refutes the evidence that Jha has provided. These are the people who forced Deepa Mehta to film Water in Sri Lanka. And these are the people (ABVP, the BJP's youth branch) who beat up a professor in Delhi and stopped all discussion about the Ramayana in Delhi university.

I won't go into more detail, but it is increasingly clear that BJP is driven by a weird concept of Hindutva that has NOTHING to do with Hinduism. Gadkari says that Hindutva "is a debatable subject." I don't knwo what it is. All I know is that it has nothing to do with Hinduism but everything to do with aggressive jingoism clothed as Hinduism.

No matter which eminent writer of Hinduism I read, I'm unable to find anything that would justify the FOOLISH HALF-BAKED AGGRESSIVE INTOLERANT ACTIONS of BJP.

Hence I have long concluded that BJP leaders are FAKE Hindus, and are using the PRETENSE of Hinduism to fool millions of Indians.

Many BJP leaders are pure goondas; most are at least pure opportunitists.

But no one can fool everyone all the time. That's why BJP's attempts to fool India are doomed.


See also this blog post: Swatantra party reached out to Hindus in a way that Jan Sangh couldn’t

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A super-confused Hindu swami’s view on “Vedantic socialism”

I had discussed Vedic socialism here and shown that it doesn't make sense. Now I've been provided a reference to Vedantic socialism – an essay by Swami Rama Tirtha. [More about Rama Tirtha here]

I've never come across a more confused "Swami"!

To me it is increasingly clear that Hindu thought is 100% compatible with capitalism, not socialism. Anyone who tries to prove otherwise is undertaking a wild-goose chase.

Key extracts, with my comments indented

First of all as to the name, Socialism, Rama would prefer to call it Individualism.

[Sanjeev: So far so good]

The word Socialism gives prominence to the idea of the rule of society, but Rama says the right spirit of Truth is to assert the supremacy of the individual against all the world, all the universe. Then there is no worry, no anxiety. This is what Rama calls Individualism, let people call it Socialism, if they wish.

[Sanjeev: that's where this Swami goes so wrong! You can't mix up names of two extremely contradictory things]

This is Vedantic teaching from the stand – point of the individual. 

We see again that the end of so called Socialism, being simply to bring down Capitalism, is so far identical with the end of the Vedanta, which means simply to strip you of all sense of possession, and to cast to the winds all sense of property, all selfish possession. That is the Vedanta and that is Socialism. The ends agree.

[Sanjeev: This is very incorrect. Capitalism DOES NOT require anyone to have possessions (or a sense of possessions). It leaves you free to choose whether you want possessions or not. The main thing is CHOICE.]

The Vedanta preaches equality, and so must the end of true Socialism be no deference, no respect, no regard for any outside possessions.
[Sanjeev: Socialism DOES NOT preach an end to the "regard for any outside possessions" – it preaches EQUALITY of possessions. Big difference in these two ideas. This Swami is super-ignorant. And by no means does socialism seek a situation of "no deference". This article was written in the 1890s, I'm now informed, so he wouldn't have known about Stalin and Nehru. But the socialists did not ever follow a society without "deference".].
This seems to be rather terrible and something very severe but there can be no happiness under the Sun unless a man gives up all sense of property and possessions, clinging and attachment. But Socialism simply wants a man to give up all this, whereas the Vedanta furnishes a great reason for doing the same. 
[Sanjeev: Nowhere does socialism want man to "GIVE UP" the sense of possessions! What is this "swami" talking about! Socialism is about ensuring equality of possessions. The socialists thought that it was going to be a quicker way to increase wealth if everyone had equality of wealth as well. They were not preaching poverty!]
So called Socialism has been merely a study of the surface of things and comes to the conclusion that mankind should live on terms of equality, fraternity and love. 
[Sanjeev: This swami was not born then, but millions of people were to be killed in ocialist USSR/China/N.Korea – not a sign of "love"]
The Vedanta studies the phenomena from the indigenous point of view. According to it the possession of any individual property is a most sacrilegious deed against one’s Atma or inner Self. 
[Sanjeev: This Swami first says that Rama talks about individualism. Ram rajya was NOT the land of poverty but of prosperity. India takes pride that in its past it was the "golden sparrow" of the world. And here we have a "learned" Swami talking about total renunciation – and denial of individual property – as the main plank of Hinduism. I'm done with this man. Nothing to add. Vedantic socialism is simply not a tenable concept. It not only doesn't understand socialism as a concept, it also doesn't understand the Vedanta.]
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Does Hinduism cause corruption?

Extract from the draft DOF – for comment.

*  *  *

I have argued (e.g. in BFN) that India’s corrupt governance can be attributable to the system of governance which fosters corruption. Some people have claimed, however, that Hinduism fosters corruption. This is clearly false since Hindus who work in the West have a lower rate of criminality than others.

But if this thesis turns out to be true, it would mean that India will remain corrupt as long as Hindus exist in India. So let me examine its key arguments further. N. Vittal and S.S. Gill have both suggested that Hinduism doesn’t treat corruption as a moral failing. N. Vittal writes:

Any number of examples are given in the puranas where a sinner having led a life of sin can get redemption by taking the name of Lord Narayana in his last moments as in the case of Ajamila. In social terms this has come to be accepted. People who lived a life of sin like the prodigal sons return to the straight and narrow path at some stage usually late in life. The sholka Vridha nari pativrata vridha veshya tapaswani probably represents the cynical acceptance of how people change in life from vice to virtue.

At another level, the very basis of Hinduism which believes in rebirth shows that every soul is given innumerable opportunities to improve itself on its onward path. There may be set backs for sins committed but then virtue is also earned. This endless cycle of birth and death leads to the ultimate goal of Moksha. The emphasis of our saints on getting out of the birth and death cycle also is an attempt to persuade people to come to the right path as early as possible. Punarapi jananam punarapi maranam punarapi jananai jathare sayanam iha samsare bahu dustare kripaya pare pahi murare said Adi Shankara in Bhaja Govindam reflecting the toils of repeated births and death.[1]
S.S. Gill states that ‘the numerous deviant actions of …[Hindu] gods are an integral part of Hindu folklore. And it is reasonable to infer that their influence on public morality could not be very wholesome. Such incidents, and there are any number of them, were bound to lower the importance of means used in achieving one’s ends. And coupled with a relatively relaxed concept of sin, their overall impact on social ethics was to enlarge the areas of permissiveness.’[2]
No doubt, Hinduism allows sins to be washed away merely by taking a dip in the Holy Ganges or by bribing the god/s at the local temple. Such cheap forgiveness sits uneasily with the theory of karma, but is widely accepted for the cathartic relief that this provides. (Note that all religions have some methcanism or other to allow an affordable catharsis from guilt). Recall that in chapter 1, I had noted that the Srimad Bhagavatam talks about saama the process of pacifying; daanathe process of giving money in charity; bheda the principle of divide and rule; and danda the principle of punishment.[3]Vivekananda commented favourably on these four principles which were also emphasised in Kautilya’s Arthashastra,albeitin a slightly different form: sama, dama, bheda, danda. Dama represents a two-sided transaction, a trade. Through it we motivate others to do something for us. Daana, on the other hand,is one-sided, without an expectation of a return. Vivekandanda’ model translates thus: persuade, provide economic incentive, divide and rule, and punish. The problem, of course, is this that a focus on economic incentives can, without ethical self-restraint, justify even bribery!
Indeed, Vivekananda asked: ‘Is not doing work, though mixed with good and evil, better than doing nothing and passing an idle and inactive life, and being like stones?’[4] Even evil action, this could be taken to mean, in an extreme case, is presumably preferable to taking no action! To confound matters, he added: ‘Show your heroism; apply, according to circumstances, the fourfold political maxims of conciliation, bribery, sowing dissensions, and open war, to win over your adversary and enjoy the world – then you will be Dharmika (righteous)…. Of course, do not do any wrong, do no injure or tyrannise over anyone, but try to do good to others as much as you can.’[5] (This statement implies that one of India’s major Hindu gurus preached bribery? I hope this is a mistranslation, given its inconsistency with Vivekananda’s overall message.)
Nevertheless, such things do suggest a level of confusion, and some Indians perhaps find ready justification for their own corruption. Enlightened Hindus do insist that Hinduism is an ethical religion. The way out is for Hindu leaders to excommunicate corrupt Hindus and hand them over to the police. Only then can this issue be finally resolved. The other method to resolve it is, of course, for political system reforms to be introduced, as outlined in BFN. If corruption drops rapidly (as it should) then Hinduism would be exonerated.

[1] Paper presented by N. Vittal at Institute of Secretariat Training and Management, New Delhi, on 8 January2002, []

[2] Gill, S.S., The Pathology of Corruption, New Delhi: HarperCollins, 1998, p.8-9.

[3] []

[4] Complete woks, p. 451, vol 5

[5] The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Calcutta: Advaita Ashram, 1989 [1990], vol 5, p. 448.

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Why is Hinduism afraid of proselytisation? Only a fraud is afraid of scrutiny

Continuing the discussion on tolerance. – this is an extract from my draft manuscript DOF. Comments sought. 

In an article in the Times in 1896, Vivekananda was quoted as saying: ‘India was once a great missionary power. Hundreds of years before England was converted to Christianity, Buddha sent out missionaries to convert the world of Asia to his doctrine.’[1] Elsewhere, he noted: ‘Buddhists never killed, but converted three quarters of the world at one time by pure gentleness.’[2]Many Indians take pride that Buddhism – a religion that has influenced vast populations across the world for thousands of years, was started by an Indian, in India.
Indians are also happy that Hinduism spread to places like Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Similarly, within India, Hinduism steadily assimilated (converted) local tribal groups over thousands of years. No doubt, Hinduism, in this process itself changed, becoming more eclectic. A typical example is found in Thailand where the Hindus created the new Ayodhya (Ayutthaya) near modern day Bangkok. ‘The god-kings of Ayutthaya and their people incorporated many beliefs and practices of Hinduism, Mahayanan Buddhism, ancient Thai spiritism, Mon occultism, and Chinese mysticism and ancestor worship into their religion.’[3]
Hindus are undoubtedly proud to have converted others, but they don’t like being similarly converted. In an interview on May 11, 1935 Gandhi said a surprising thing to a missionary nurse (surprising given his broadly liberal views) that he strongly objected to proselytism. Indeed, he said: ‘If I had power and could legislate, I should certainly stop all proselytising.’[4] [This fear of getting converted is not merely found among Hindus; even Christians prefer to convert others than to be converted. For example, the ‘pope has spoken out repeatedly against the efforts of evangelical Protestants to convert Catholics.’[5] No doubt, what’s good for the goose is not good enough for the gander]
In an article in Des Moines News (28 November 1893) Vivekananda is reported to have said: ‘I have often been asked in this country [USA] if I am going to try to convert the people here. I take this for an insult. I do not believe in this idea of conversion. Today we have a sinful man; tomorrow according to your idea he is converted and by and by attains unto holiness. Whence comes this change?’[6] Consistent with this, he declined to convert anyone, writing in a letter in May 1894 that ‘I was never a missionary, nor ever would be one’.[7]
But Vivekananda agreed to the dictates of liberty. He didn't like proselytisation. He also harboured concerns about specific Christian missionaries – concerns he raised in some of his letters. But he tolerated it and did not oppose those who tried to convert Hindus. In an article in The Detroit Free Press in 1894, he is quoted as having said: ‘I belong to the Hindu religion… We never indulged in missionary work. The fundamental principles of our religion forbid that. Nor do we say anything against any missionaries whom you send from this country [USA] anywhere.’[8] A question was put to him by The Hindu (Madras) in February 1897: ‘Question: Does the spirit of Hinduism permit the proselytism of strangers into it?’ He replied, unambiguously: ‘Proselytism is tolerated by Hinduism.’[9]
His therefore held a liberal position. We may dislike something but we must live with it as long as we are not harmed. Indeed, only through competition and challenge by others can the innate strength of any idea be tested. The more persuasive religion will win the debate. I believe that certain elements of the Hindu philosophy are persuasive, and such elements will survive. Those who oppose proselytisation deny others the right to judge the truth for themselves. Some say that the poor can’t make reasoned choices in this matter. Then why allow them to vote, a decision that more directly affects people’s lives?
We should agree with Vivekananda and disagree with not Gandhi on this matter. Everyone must always remain be free to choose his or her own beliefs. Conversion is the ‘contract’ which confirms a change in our supplier of spiritual services. Just as we must be free to change our coffee shop, we must be free to switch religion (or to not have one at all). Not only should we be free to convert others, but free to change our religion as many times as we wish. Since most theistic religions believe in one God, they are presumably supplying the same God but in different packaging. So what’s the big deal, anyway? For a government to prevent proselytisation would amount to preventing competition in the religious market, and prevention of advertising by the various suppliers. If an honest sales pitch is made and the offer voluntarily accepted, a government can have nothing to say about religious conversion. That God himself wanted robust competition is a valid deduction, as Justinus Febronius (1701-1790) pointed out:
God is all powerful. God is able to lay down certain laws of science which hold good for all people at all times and under all conditions. If follows that it would have been easy for Him, had he desired to do so, to guide the minds of men in such a fashion that they all of them would have had the same opinions upon the subject of religion. We know that He did not do anything of the sort. Therefore, we act against the express will of God if we try to coerce others by force to believe that which we ourselves hold to be true.[10]
No liberty to make unethical ‘spiritual’ claims
While the right (or privilege) to preach and convert others must be staunchly defended, it must be tempered by accountability (morality). Religious claims and conversions must be tested for good faith. Deliberate fraud and misrepresentation of the goods sold (e.g. fake claims of miracles, cheap magic tricks) are unconscionable, more so in spiritual matters where honesty must be given the highest value. Religious organisations, like any other business, are not free to perpetrate fraud on the gullible.
All missionary work must specifically exclude magic tricks, opportunistic exploitation, or direct bribery. Misleading or deceptive religious preaching must be prohibited, including the spread of hatred towards other religions or their god/s. A religion which genuinely believes in ethics and morality will have no objection to such regulation. Only fraudulent religions will oppose this suggestion. Indeed, it is in the interst of ‘good’ religions to have such state regulation for no religion can ensure that all its priests (or missionaries) will behave ethically.
Co-regulation may be a better option in this matter. Major religious groups could agree to a code of conduct which the state can enforce on their behalf. This may include a requirement that all religious claims and conversions arising therefrom be vetted for quality assurance by an independently certified process. For instance, all conversions could be registered by an All Faith Integrity Assurance Body. This would only apply to conversions, not to ‘original’ beliefs. Mass conversions or conversions of those below 18 would be rejected outright. In addition, a privately established telepathic and spiritual fraud prevention agency (funded by various religions) could also be established. There is currently a big racket being perpetrated by ‘religious’ people.[11] That needs to be severely controlled.


In sum, if Hinduism wants to assert its claims to tolerance, it will have to give every other religion the freedom to preach and convert Hindus, albeit under a regime of ethically based constraints. If Hinduism can stand the test of open debate and competition, its survival is surely desirable. Else, if it is a mere fraud, why bother to preserve it?

[1] The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Calcutta: Advaita Ashram, 1989 [1990], vol 5, p.191.

[2] The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Calcutta: Advaita Ashram, 1989 [1990], vol. 7, p. 43.

[3] The History of Ayutthaya: Social & Political Developments. []

[4] The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 61, pages 46-47.

[5] Kevin Sullivan, in a Washington Post Foreign Service report on Sunday, July 28, 2002 []

[6] The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Calcutta: Advaita Ashram, 1989 [1990], vol. 3 p.483.

[7] The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Calcutta: Advaita Ashram, 1989 [1990], vol. 7 p.467.

[8] The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Calcutta: Advaita Ashram, 1989 [1990], vol. 7, p.287.

[9] The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Calcutta: Advaita Ashram, 1989 [1990], vol. 5, p.208-09.

[10] Hendrik W, van Loon (1926). Liberation of Mankind. London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. [1954 reprint], p. 295. Van Loon hasn’t provided citations, so it is possible that Febronius is not being quoted verbatim.


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