VHP and United Way (fwd)

J.B. Sharma JSHARMA at Hermes.GC.PeachNet.EDU
Fri Nov 4 21:02:07 UTC 1994

Dear Folks,
 Individual political leanings are a personal imperative, and even 
though I may not agree with the words of David Ludden I have no 
objection to his points of view. I agree with the observations that 
if Dileep Karanth's postings have invoked consistent vitriolic 
responses for politicizing the net, the silence in this case is a 
damning indictment of these brokers of pristine scholarly exchange. 
This also renders legitimacy to Dileep's postings, as this
time political stances have been espoused by formal Indological 
scholars from reputed institutions. A debate is never complete 
without all the points of view being duly considered.

 Here is my point of view on VHP of America; I have been looking for 
a place where my son can begin his Hindi and Sanskrit lessons. Last 
month I found out that VHP has a temple and cultural center in 
Atlanta, along with a "Bal Vihar" where children can learn Hindi and 
Sanskrit. VHP-A has cultural shows religious festivities etc, which 
help a lot of Indian-American families to maintain their culture 
while being very productive members of the new world. So Ludden has 
painted me and many others like me as a frothing in the mouth fanatic
and would like to campaign to malign/remove the institution which 
allows us a place of fellowship, and my son a place to learn the 
memories of his ancestors. To say that this is against the grain of 
America is an understatement. 

  VHP-A is a purely religious organisation. It consists of Hindu 
diaspora in North America and consists of people who wish to preserve 
Hindu Dharma in their lives. Not all Hindus following Dharma are 
necessarily members of VHP (like myself). It is no diffrent than 
the Baptist Convention, World Jewish Congress or any other religious 
organization. It is a lie that VHP-A fundraises for violence in 
India and can open up a defamation suit. These untruths have been 
pushed on some networks, where in the same breath money is solicited 
for buying AK-47's, grenades with explicit price lists ! And now, 
this has the endorsement from the head of the dept in South Asian 
Studies at UPenn ! 

 Religious violence in India is steeped in its history, and some of 
VHP-I 's stances are symptoms of the disease, but not the disease 
itself. I do not support the goons who tore down an unused mosque; the 
time for heroics was when Babar attacked. Of course, in retaliation 
hundreds of beautiful Hindu temples were destroyed in Pakistan and 
Bangladesh nary a sound was uttered in the media, or by these brokers 
of fairness. 

 The Turkish conquest of India perhaps a holocaust unparalelled 
in the history of man (Will Durant); a systematic attempt to 
annihilate the Hindu culture remained in progress for centuries. In 
Modern India, Hindu people have tasted a breath of freedom and 
empowerment of destiny after centuries of slavery. The trauma of 
being at the recieving end of severe atrocity needs to be exorcised 
such that the suppressed rage and grief of centuries does not become a 
destructive force. However so long as this halocaust is not openly 
discussed, India will continue to be haunted by the cries of the 
millions slaughtered over time. A healing purpose similar to this is 
served by the Jewish halocaust memorial in Wasington DC. There are 
those of course say that this just never happened, and folks of this 
ilk deny the Hindu Halocaust as well. The horror of it is that it is 
still happening as thousands of Kashmiri pandits have been driven out 
of their ancestral land, and I have not heard of any concern for this 
event which is the most dangerous to the fabric of Indian society.

 The unsightliness of Indian history is no reflection on the millions 
of law abiding and productive Muslims who continue to make 
contributions in all spheres Indian life. It is for the well being of 
the entire subcontinent that the history of the past thousand years 
be clearly visited and publicly discussed. This would go a long way 
to defuse the acrimony accumulated over centuries, and scholars such 
as on this list have the wherewithall to impart a noble impulse to 
that end. But I am coming to see that many scholars of South Asia are 
out of touch of the realities on the ground, and are more attached to 
a certain paradigms around which revolve peer review, funding, 
tenure, promotion etc. These folks get very upset if anything other 
than feeding on the cadavers of ancient Indian literature is 

 Last of all, I do agree with the observation of Peter Claus of the 
relevance of scholarly discussions of modern India, as there remains 
an organic graft between the past, present, and the future of its 
culture. Because of the ancient unbroken traditions traditions of 
india are rooted in its past, a group such as this can contribute to 
shed light to guide its future. Thanks to Lance Nelson for being the 
instigator of the discussion. This forum has introduced me to issues 
I would have never known otherwise.

All the best,
J.B. Sharma 


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