Indigenous Indians by K. Elst (Review -- probably a reposting)
 
 
 
BOOK REVIEW:
 
The Book: INDIGENOUS INDIANS (Agastya to Ambedkar)
          (A Voice of India Publication: ISBN 81 85990 04-2)
 
 
The Author: KOENRAAD ELST Born in Leuven, in the year 1959, Koenraad
Elst grew up in the Catholic Community in Belgium. He was active for
some years in what is known as the new Age movement, before studying
at the famed Catholic University of Leuven (KUL). He graduated in
Chinese Studies, Indo-Iranian Studies and Philosophy. He took courses
in Indian philosophy at the Benares Hindu University (BHU), and
interviewed many Indian leaders and thinkers during his stay in India
between 1988 and 1992. He has published in Dutch about language policy
issues, contemporary politics, history of science and Oriental
philosophies; in English about the Ayodhya issue and about the general
religio-political situation in India. A few of his latest books are
Negationism in India: Concealing the Record of Islam, "Ram Janmabhoomi
vs. Babri Masjid", and "Ayodhya and After".
 
The Reviewer: The Author.
 
In independent India, a lot has already been written about
national integration and the need to combat separatist
tendencies. Unfortunately, much of it is superficial repetition of
false slogans (from the secularist side) or sterile lamentations
(from the Hindu side). With this book, I hope to add some depth and
some frankness to our understanding of the problems of both social
and territorial separatism in India.
 
Today, like in 1947, the single biggest separatist threat comes from
Islam. After Pakistan and Kashmir, we are now confronted with
preparations for the islamization of the areas surrounding Bangladesh.
This book is not specifically concerned with the roots of Islamic
separatism, a large subject on which essential information has already
been provided in other "Voice of India" publications. But we have
dealt with Islamic doctrine and history in the context of the equality
debate; has Hindu society been more oppressive of its lower layers
than other societies, and is Hinduism intrinsically more unjust than
other cultures?  Claims of social equality as a result of a religion's
doctrine are now a days often made on behalf of Christianity and
Islam, as of Buddhism and Virashaivism and even of Vedism. These
claims are generally untrue, but nowhere as grossly as in the case of
Islam.
 
This book deals with more specifically with forms of ethnic, or mostly
pseudo-ethnic separatism. Indeed, important social categories like
caste and speech community are currently being misconstrued as ethnic
and even racial categories; the Dravidian race overpowered by the
Aryan race, the aboriginal pre-Aryans reduced to low-castes by the
Aryan invaders. In reality, from Agastya to Ambedkar, great Indians
have been living refutations of this ethnic cleavage of India; Agastya
was an ancient Vedic "rishi" living among the Dravidians (his name is
also claimed to have a Dravidian etymology), while Dr. Bhimrao
Ambedkar was the modern leader of the lowest castes as well as an
articulate opponent of the ethnic and racial explanation of caste.
The false ethnic redefinition of the components of the Indian nation
serves to make full use of the current vogue of aboriginal revival and
ethnic pride in implementing strategies aimed at the fragmentation of
Hindu society. Christian and secularist interests are concentrating
their efforts on denying the historical, cultural unity of India and
redefining it as a prison-house of nations.
 
This book contains some strong criticism of Church and
missionary policies. For me personally, formulating this criticism
has not been easy. I have missionaries in my family, and in a
sociological sense, I am a member of the Catholic community in my
country. Therefore, some of this will not go down well with people
near and dear to me. Criticizing Islam is simple, criticizing
Christianity is more complicated, because my own relation with it is
more complex, and because Christianity itself is a more complex
doctrine  and movement than Islam. However, Christianity in India is
not the toothless, softened Christianity which I am familiar with,
but has retained the aggressiveness and self-righteousness of the
colonial period; and even the European Churches become a little
bit aggressive again when advertizing their work among the
wretched Pagans of India. Therefore, I see no reason to mince words
and to spare the Christian establishment when it comes to exposing
its divisive and subversive role.
 
Now a days, most writings on the religio -political situation
in India contain comparisons of contemporary phenomena with Nazism
and Fascism. References to Hitler are a mighty weapon, an easy way
to kill opponents in debate, and to kill debate itself. As it is,
in this book I have myself compared some movements with Nazism,
some people with Hitler. I have not, as happens too often, reduced
them to only this Nazi-like aspect which I claim to
perceive in them; but even then, the comparison is bound to have a
disproportionate rhetorical power. At any rate, it is not me who
started the inflation of Hitler comparisons and Nazi allegations
which is hampering the debate on the Indian relgio-political
conflicts and social institutions. It is the enemies of Hindu
society, and their poorly informed pupils, who have introduced this
heavy and extreme terminology; they are not in a position to complain
when they get a taste of their own medicine.
 
The topics dealt with in this book, from anti-Brahmanism to
the continuity between Hindu and tribal culture, deserve a much
more thorough study. Hindu scholars should come forward to
investigate India's history anew, free from the anti-Hindu bias
which has dominated the field for several centuries now. Hindu
conceptual categories should be revaluated, Hindu sources of history
should no longer be dismissed out of hand (the way the Puranas had
been declared inadmissible). I hope this book will prove to be
an encouragement for such fresh research.