Prozelytization and Secularism

In the article, Proselytization In India: An Indian Christian’s Perspective, C.Alex Alexander does a brilliant job in putting forwards a message for secularism in the Indian Context.

In my opinion, most Christians born and raised in India’s diverse milieu are innately liberal and pluralistic in their outlook. Therefore, they should now raise their voices against the divisive activities of the evangelical Christians, especially those that are bankrolled by the Western churches. Failure to do so is likely to do harm both to the religious freedom of India’s minorities and the territorial integrity of that nation. The peripatetic foreign missionaries certainly have no stake in preserving the territorial integrity of India. But, Indians of all religions do. Besides, separatist movements in Northeast India have been suspected of deriving support from foreign missionary groups. Given the sordid history of Western Christianity, eternal vigilance is indeed prudent.

Alexander continues…

If India is to maintain its hard-won nationhood and regain its past level of religious tolerance, all Indians of goodwill must do everything possible now to stifle the voices of religious fundamentalists. Muslim and Christian clerics must learn to tone down their assertions of monotheistic superiority as well as refrain from denigrating religions that do not subscribe to their views of salvation. They must come to terms with the fact that the Hindu perception of God in myriad forms is just as sacred and inviolate to them as the monotheistic concept is to the followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The Christian evangelists and the literal Islamists must also realize that they cannot continue to maintain their exclusive monopolies for marketing the road maps to heaven. Likewise, Hindu organizations should not allow their legitimate concerns about insensitive and duplicitous missionary groups to degenerate into generalized bashing of minorities through acts such as indulging in mass distribution of tridents or creating a climate of suspicion against all minorities. Pluralistic Indians of all religious faiths have an urgent need now to close their ranks and drown out the rhetoric of religious fanatics if they truly want to allow India to emerge as an economic and political power. Otherwise, India will remain a weak and soft State much to the glee of the Western nations.

This article was really something attracting a lot of comments from the readers. But unfortunately, I think his ideas will fall on deaf ears. Read the full article.

Tejo Mahalaya?

I have received this forwarded email quite a few times now. Normally I would read and then press the delete button, but I did a google search on this one. The content of the forward is as follows.

The Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal built the Taj Mahal. It was built in 22 years (1631 to 1653)by 20,000 artisans brought to India from all over the world. Many people believe Ustad Isa of Iran designed it. This is what your guide probably told you if you ever visited the Taj Mahal. This is the story I read in my history book as a student in India. No one has ever challenged it except Professor P.N.Oak, who believes that the whole world has been duped. In his book Taj Mahal: The True Story, Oak says the Taj Mahal is not Queen Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb but an ancient Hindu temple palace of Lord Shiva (then known as Tejo Mahalaya). In the course of his research, Oak discovered the Shiva temple palace was usurped by Shah Jahan from then Maharaja of Jipur, Jai Singh. ShahJahan then remodeled the palace into his wife’s memorial. In his own court chronicle, Badshahnama, Shah Jahan admits that an exceptionally beautiful grand mansion in Agra was taken from Jai Singh for Mumtaz’s burial. The ex-Maharaja of Jaipur still retains in his secret collection two orders from Shah Jahan for surrendering the Taj building.

Using captured temples and mansions, as a burial place for dead courtiers and royalty was a common practice among Muslim rulers. For example, Humayun, Akbar, Etmud-ud-Daula and Safdarjung are all buried in such mansions. Oak’s inquiries begin with the name Taj Mahal. He says this term does not occur in any Moghul court papers or chronicles, even after ShahJahan’s time. The term “Mahal” has never been used for a building in any of the Muslim countries, from Afghanistan to Algeria. “The unusual explanation that the term Taj Mahal derives from Mumtaz Mahal is illogical in at least two respects. First, her name was never Mumtaz Mahal but Mumtaz-ul-Zamani,” he writes. “Second, one cannot omit the first three letters ‘Mum’ from a woman’s name to derive the remainder as the name for the building.”

Taj Mahal, he claims, is a corrupt version of Tejo-Mahalaya, or the Shiva’s Palace. Oak also says the love story of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan is a fairy tale created court sycophants, blundering historians and sloppy archaeologists. Not a single royal chronicle of ShahJahan’s time corroborates the love story. Furthermore, Oak cites several documents suggesting the Taj Mahal predates Shah Jahan’s era, and was a temple palace dedicated to Shiva worshipped by the Rajputs of Agra city. For example, Professor Marvin Miller of NewYork took a few samples from the riverside doorway of the Taj. Carbon dating tests revealed that the door was 300 years older than ShahJahan. European traveler Johan Albert Mandelslo, who visited Agra in 1638(only seven years after Mumtaz’s death), describes the life of the city in his memoirs. But he makes no reference to the TajMahal being built. The writings of Peter Mundy, an English visitor to Agra within a year of Mumtaz’s death, also suggest the Taj was a noteworthy building long well before Shah Jahan’s time.

Oak points out a number of design and architectural inconsistencies that support the belief of the Taj Mahal being a typical Hindu temple rather than a mausoleum. Many rooms in the Taj Mahal have remained sealed since Shah Jahan’s time,and are still inaccessible to the public. Oak asserts they contain a headless statue of Shiva and other objects commonly used for worship rituals in Hindu temples. Fearing political backlash, Indira Gandhi’s government tried to have Oak’s book withdrawn from the bookstores, and threatened the Indian publisher of the first edition with dire consequences. There is only one way to discredit or validate Oak’s research. The current Indian government should open the sealed rooms of the Taj Mahal under UN supervision, and let international experts investigate.

The first link from the google query took me to dalitstan site, which didnt have anything but a news excerpt of a rebuttal of the claim. No analysis, no counter evidence or supporting evidence, just plain hoo haa about hindu fascism. A link from BBC contains information about both versions of the story, but I couldnt find a site which objectively analyses the issue. Have you got a clue?

Kahani mein twist

Few days back a Dravida Munnetra Kazhakam leader was hacked to death. I was wondering if amma’s party would be responsible, but todays news tells me that there’s Kahani mein twist. To explain Tamilnadu politics, I need to understand it first. Forget it, I give up.

Malayalam Devdas : A funny link from Times of India. Please bear with the advertisement. if you are a mallu, you might enjoy the talkshow.

Express to nowhere

The rawalpindi (directionless) express tampers with ball again. This time its a 2 match ban.

Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has been banned for two matches for ball-tampering. He was spotted apparently scratching the quarter seam of the ball on close-up television by third umpire Gamini Silva.

I have always considered Shoaib Akhtar a chucker. I dont know how and why ICC is allowing such chuckers to play. Everytime I have watched him, he bends his arm just before releasing the ball, atleast once or twice in an over.

Defence minister

Maybe we have got a good defence minister.

New Delhi May 20. The Defence Minister, George Fernandes, is all set to mark another first for a Defence Minister by spending a night underwater in a submarine.

Mr. Fernandes will stay onboard the Indian Navy killer class submarine INS Sindhuveer during his visit to the Eastern Naval Command headquarters at Visakhapatnam on May 24.

Though a bit shadowed by tehelka accusation, he seems to understand and do his job pretty well.


After reading Varsha Bhosle’s article, I was feeling uncomfortable. I knew that whatever she had written, made sense, and that made me even more uncomfortable. A quick search on the internet provided the link to Nathuram Godse’s defense in court, for the charge of assassination of Gandhi. The history we have learnt or we were fed, now I realise was a customised one. Customised according to the people who decide what I should learn, a one sided view. Indeed our freedom movement has a lot of blood stains.


How do people find time to blog regularly, after spending long time at work, then travelling, reading, surfing. I havent been able to even log on to my mt for some time now. Discipline, maybe thats whats needed. But then thoughts which are not fully formed, do they need to be expressed.

Do I want to jump into bandwagons of for and against, of “yes I agree” and “no, I dont agree”, of “yes I support” and “no I dont”. Do I have to look in one way only. Some questions remain unanswered. My thinking seems clouded now. Maybe I will wait till the cloud lifts.