In this series of articles, we are introducing the book ‘How I Became Hindu’ by Shri Sita Ram Goel, to readers old and new. Late SR Goel is one of the leading intellectuals & writers of Independent Bharat, whose work was subsequently marginalised & suppressed by the left-leaning academic establishment. We are grateful to VoiceOfDharma.org for making this treasure trove of books/articles available for the common public.
9. Nightmare Of Nehruism (Part e)
One day in late 1981, I put it to Ram Swarup, “I have completed sixty years of my life. I have done whatever I was destined to do for my family. If you feel that I can be of help to the cause of Hindu Dharma, I can retire from business and take to writing again. I should like to devote the rest of my life to informing Hindu society about its own great heritage, as also about the dangers it faces. Only I would have to consult my sons, and find out if they can spare, me for a work dear to my heart” Ram Swarup gave his consent.
I placed the proposal before my sons the very next day. Their response was more than positive. One of them observed, “You can do business as well as this other work. Business is something which we also can manage. But you alone among us can undertake the other work. We are prepared to take over the business whenever you want to be free from it. We can always consult you if we have any problem.” I was very happy to hear that from them. The VOICE OF INDIA was born that day, though Ram Swarup suggested that name several days later.
My next problem was how to resume writing on subjects relevant to the new situation. I had lost the habit of writing on serious subjects, having written nothing except business letters and account books over the past fifteen years. It was quite a struggle to rearrange appropriate ideas in my mind, and put them down on paper. For several weeks, all I could create were heaps of torn sheets. But I was keeping the company of Ram Swarup. It was not too long before my pen started writing coherent sentences.
Strangely enough, Shri K.R. Malkani, editor of the Organiser, had never given me up as a writer. He had continued to write letters to me all these year, suggesting subjects on which I could contribute articles to his weekly. I had thought that it was very kind of him, though I had never replied to his letters. Now I went to his office, and asked him if he would consider a few series which I had in my mind. He agreed immediately.
That is how those series started, one after another How I Become A Hindu, Hindu Society Under Siege, An Experiment with Untruth, Defence of Hindu Society, history of Heroic Hindu Resistance to Islamic Invaders. I was now spending several afternoons every week in the office of the Organiser, seeing proofs, meeting other visitors, and talking to Shri Malkani. I was my old self once again. Now I found it difficult to believe that I had been a businessman for more than fifteen years.
I discovered it in due course that my series in the Organiser were being noticed in the secularist circles. A secularist scribe whom I chanced to meet at a friend’s place asked me in a resentful tone, “How many series do you plan to write?” I told him, “One hundred, unless I die or become bed ridden in the meanwhile.” And I meant it. I had many themes in my mind. I was spending long hours at my desk, scanning source materials and writing articles.
What encouraged me most at this time was the spate of letters I received from the readers. They came to my own address as well as to the editor of the Organiser. They came from all parts of Bharat, and also from abroad, particularly the UK and the USA. All of them were full of praise for my knowledge of facts, and my capacity to put them across in a proper perspective.
I felt grateful to the readers. I also felt embarrassed once in a while when I was compared to some stalwart of Hindu awakening in the recent past. One letter was very brief, and was addressed to the editor. It said that “Sita Ram Goel is the most wonderful thing that has happened to the Organiser”. I must confess that I felt flattered.
And then it happened again. The blow that came was not as swift and sudden as last time. But it was a blow all the same. The only difference was that this time it did not leave me shattered, as it had done on the previous occasion.
I was reviewing H.V. Seshadri’s book, The Tragic Story of India’s Partition, in a series captioned Muslim Separatism: Causes and Consequences. As the proofs came one day, I found that some of the significant passages regarding sufis were missing from the composition by the printing press. I picked up the typed copy, and saw that those passages had been crossed out with red pencil. I turned to Shri Malkani, and asked him if he had done it. He would not look me in the eyes, but muttered, “We have to live with them.” I observed, “I was also trying to see that they learn to live with us.” He did not reply.
Shri Malkani was sacked soon after. I do not know the whole story. All I came to know much later was that his failure to stop me from writing regularly in the Organiser was one of the reasons for the sorry outcome. But at that time I did not suspect it that I had something to do with his departure from a weekly which he had served for three score years, so much so that the Organiser had come to mean Malkani and Malkani the Organiser. The ways of party bosses are always inscrutable.
Shri V.P. Bhatia who took over as the next editor turned out to be as fine a gentleman as Shri Malkani. But what could he do in the face of pressure from the politicians? He did not cross out passages from my articles. But he did drop broad hints that my articles were no more wanted.
I have a thick skull when it comes to picking up hints. Even so I understood that something had gone wrong somewhere. I told Shri Bhatia that I would stop as soon my current series, Perversion of India’s Political Parlance, came to an end. I did. But I wanted to know what had happened.
After a few months, I ran into a big boss of the RSS. I had been told that he had something to do with the ban on my writings. I asked him straight, “Why have you stopped my series in the Organiser?” He said, “kabhi kabhi likhiye (write once in a while).”
The cat came out of the bag when I chanced to meet another big boss of the RSS after a few months. He was on his way to attend a Vishva Hindu Parishad rally in the USA. As I put the question to him, he pointed his finger at me, and barked; “You … you go out and attack Islam. How will then any Muslim come to us?” His tone was sharp. In fact, there was a touch of temper in his voice. I had met him earlier, once or twice, and thought that he was politeness personified.
Now I was meeting a different man the big boss of the Hindu movement. Even so, I asked him, “But do you really want the Muslims to come to you?” He started, “As a strategy…” I did not care to hear him any further, and walked out of his room. I had been sick of this word strategy ever since I turned away from Communism. I had seen this word strewn like autumn leaves in Marxist Leninist literature.
In any case, there was no room for complaint, now that I knew the party line put forward. The only thing that was not quite clear to me was the RSS-BJP clamour that the secularist parties were pampering the Muslims for cornering their votes. To me it looked like another case of the kettle calling the pot black.
I have never bothered about party bosses or moneybags, having seen quite a few of them from close quarters. They are lured by power or lucre or both, most of the time. Nor have I ever been an aspirant to any privileged position. So I went ahead. I knew that Hindu society was much larger than many RSS-BJP put together. I decided to go to my people with the truth as I saw it. I was open to correction, but not to craftiness glorified as strategy. The response has been rewarding.
I could function this time because I had my own money. A few friends from Delhi, Calcutta, and Madras gave me some more. All I was looking for now was scholars who could tell the truth straight. Fortunately, I met some of them soon, Dr. Harsh Narain, A.K. Chatterjee, Prof. K.S. Lal, Koenraad Elst, Rajendra Singh, Sant R.S. Nirala, and Shrikant Talageri. More scholars are sure to join us as time passes. Meanwhile, Girilal Jain, Arun Shourie, Swapan Dasgupta and some others have been keeping the flag flying on their own. Hats off to them.
The first problem I faced as a publisher was the Emergency imposed by Islam ever since its advent in Bharat. One has all the freedom to praise Islam, its prophet, its scripture, its heroes, and its “contribution to Bharatiya culture”. But one is not free to ask a few questions or present the real facts relating to these very subjects.
The Vedas, the Epics, the Puranas, and every other book which Hindus hail as holy can be discussed, even denounced. So also every Hindu God and Goddess, every Hindu hero, every Hindu tradition, and every Hindu social institution. But saying that Muhammad was not the last prophet, that the Quran is not the final revelation, and that Islam is not the only true religion continues to cause trouble.
Such statements invited death penalty so long as Islam had a monopoly of military power in this country. After that, they have been inviting clauses of the law code, and street riots if the law happens to be negligent once in a while.
It was not long before I was visited by officers of the Crimes Department, and not only from Delhi. I was accused of causing communal discord, and threatening the peace of the land. I was arrested, and ordered to seek bail.
The Station House Officer in Delhi who locked me up for twenty four hours, was mighty pleased with his performance. He boasted loudly that he had prevented a big street riot in Delhi. He invited me to accompany him and see for myself the missiles which the local Muslims had piled up on the roofs of their houses, apart from the firearms inside. When I asked him why he had not got the missiles removed and the firearms flushed out, he snarled, “Address your question to the big bosses of the political parties. I am only a small fry trying to earn my daily bread.”
I had been arrested in the classic case of Ram Swarup’s documented study, Understanding Islam through Hadis: Religious Faith or Fanaticism? This book had been published in the USA in 1982, thanks to the efforts of Shri Arvind Ghosh of Houston, Texas. VOICE OF INDIA had brought out Bharat’s reprint in 1983. There had been loud talk in the book market at Delhi that this book was going to be banned. I had waited with bated breath. But nothing had happened for two years.
So I had got it translated into Hindi, and sent the printed sheets of two thousand copies to the binder. A Muslim mob had materialized outside the binder’s shop, and threatened to burn down the establishment. The Station House Officer, I had mentioned, had appeared on the scene in a matter of minutes, and carried away all the sheets as well as the binder. In the next few hours I had been picked up.
The Delhi Administration which was under Congress rule at that time, appointed two screening committees, one after another, to examine the Hindi translation and find out if it had departed from the English original, or if the English original itself contained any objectionable matter. Both the committees came to the same conclusion there was nothing objectionable, either in the English original or in the Hindi translation; both of them had only summarized faithfully an orthodox Islamic scripture.
The Delhi Administration sent the case to the Metropolitan Court, and requested that it should be dismissed. But the Jam`at-i-Islami weekly, Radiance, raised a hue and cry, accusing the author and the publisher of insulting the Prophet. The court waited for some Muslims to appear and show why the case should not be dismissed. No one appeared. So the court dismissed the case on September 28, 1991.
But the Delhi Administration issued a notification in November, 1991, stating that the Hindi translation will stand banned whenever it is published. In March 1992, the same Administration banned the English original also. By then the English original had been in circulation for nearly ten years. Meanwhile, two Bharatiya reprints had been sold out. There is a great demand for this book even now. But I remain helpless.
I will close this chapter with my comments of the Ayodhya movement. Ram Swarup had seen in this movement an opportunity to educate the Hindus about the character of Islam. As early as 1983, he had asked me to put my knowledge of history and archaeology to some use, and compile a directory of Hindu temples destroyed by the Islamic invaders and rulers down the centuries.
The Muslim monuments which had come up on the sites and/or built with materials of Hindu temples had to be highlighted. I had got busy with source materials which were voluminous and in several languages. It was going to be a big job.
Muslim leaders and Stalinist historians were raising a howl about Hindu chauvinism when it came to the notice of Arun Shourie, the Chief Editor of the Indian Express at that time, that some significant passages had been omitted from the English translation of an Urdu book written long ago by the father of Ali Mian, the famous Muslim theologian from Lucknow. He wrote an article, Hideaway Communalism, in the Indian Express of February 5, 1989 pointing out how the passages regarding destruction of Hindu temples and building of mosques on their sites at Delhi, Jaunpur, Kanauj, Etawah, Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathura had been dropped from the English translation published by Ali Mian himself.
This was a new and dramatic departure from the norm observed so far by the prestigious press. Publishing anything which said that Islam was less than sublime had been taboo for a long time. I was pleasantly surprised, and named Arun Shourie as the Gorbachev of Bharat. He had thrown open the windows and let in fresh breeze in a house full of the stinking garbage of stale slogans.
I was still more surprised when he invited me to document for his paper what I knew on the subject. I had tried to get into the prestigious press again and again with documented articles on Communism, Islam, and Christianity, but had given up after being rebuffed every time. The big press, I had been told, was meant for respectable writers. I had kept a tally of the respectable tribe.
I had discovered that most of them were the Big Liers about the Soviet Union, Red China, Bharat’s history, Hindu society and culture, and “the achievements of Islam and Christianity in this country”. The most successful among these worthies were the professional Hindu baiters. They pocketed the fattest cheques for heaping filth on everything Hindu, and that too in a press owned by Hindu moneybags.
I promised to Arun Shourie that I would send an article very soon. He asked me to write more than one and cover the subject adequately. So I wrote three articles, fully documented from unimpeachable Islamic sources, and showing that destroying other people’s places of worship was a favourite pastime of practically all Muslim rulers in medieval times, and a pious performance in Islam after the precedent had been set by the Prophet himself.
The first article was published on February 19, 1989. It was illustrated with facsimiles of six Islamic inscriptions saying that Allah and the Prophet had blessed the pulling down of Hindu temples and the raising of mosques in their places, mostly with their materials.
Arun Shourie had shown great courage. But he had counted without the secularist crowd which had access to the owner of the Indian Express. He told me on the phone that there was some trouble brewing. I have never talked to him about the nature of the trouble, and do not know if my articles had anything to do with his ouster from the Indian Express next year. All I know is that he had to slow down the publication of my next two articles. They were to appear in the weeks following February, 19. Actually they appeared on April 16 and May 21.
Meanwhile, the Ayodhya movement had gathered momentum after the 1989 General Elections in which the BJP achieved spectacular success. It was in December, 1989 that a Belgian young man, Koenraad Elst, dropped in at my office. He had picked up a copy of my book, History of Hindu Christian Encounters, from some bookshop, and had become keen to see me after reading it. We discussed the character of what was being described as Hindu awakening. I gave him some of VOICE OF INDIA publications, and he went away to Ayodhya and Varanasi.
When he returned after two weeks he expressed surprise that he had not been able to locate a single book presenting the Hindu case on Ayodhya. I told him that in late 1983 a VHP leader had collared me after a seminar, and asked if I had any proof that a temple existed where the Babri mosque stood at present. I had expected the VHP to produce some literature during the six years that had passed since then.
Koenraad Elst was, however, aware that Dr. Harsh Narain and A.K. Chatterjee had came out with positive proofs in the meanwhile. I then took him to Ram Swarup, as I do in the case of everybody who comes to me and shows sympathy for Hindu causes. On the eve of his departure, Koenraad Elst asked me if I would publish a book on Ayodhya which he planned to write on his return to Belgium, I did not take him seriously. I did not know at that time that the thirty one years old Belgian we had met was a prodigy, and that he felt so deeply about Hindus having a good case but presenting it very badly.
The script of his Ram Janmabhoomi Vs. Babri Masjid: A Case Study in Hindu Muslim Conflict, was dropped on my table by the postman exactly after a month. I could not stop after I started reading it. I took it to Ram Swarup the same evening. He read it during the night and rang me up next morning. Koenraad Elst’s book, he said, should be published immediately.
I had just published a book, Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them, Volume I, A Preliminary Survey. It carried the articles by Arun Shourie, Dr. Harsh Narain, Ram Swarup, and myself, published in the Indian Express. Two articles which Jay Dubashi had written in the Organiser on the significance of the Shilanyasa at Ayodhya simultaneously with the fall of the Berlin Wall were added to it.
I also wrote a new chapter, Let the Mute Witnesses Speak, for this book. This chapter carried a list of around two thousand Muslim monuments which, according to literary and/or archaeological evidence stood on the sites of Hindu temples and/or had Hindu sculptures embedded in their masonry. The location of these Muslim monuments was also indicated in the list, place wise, districtwise, and state wise. The list has now become famous, though it touches only the tip of the iceberg.
Soon after Koenraad Elst’s book was also ready, Ram Swarup and I went to Shri L.K. Advani for requesting him to release the two books in a public function. He agreed, though he was not quite keen about the compilation on Hindu temples in general. And he used the public function on 13 August, 1990, for announcing that he would try to persuade the VHP to drop their claims on the sites of the Vishvanath Temple at Varanasi and the Krishnajanmabhumi at Mathura, provided the Muslims agreed to give up the Ramajanmabhumi site at Ayodhya.
At the same time he chided me for using strong language (“Sitaramji to tikhe ho jate hain”). I wondered if he had read my articles in the book on temples. A friend who had known and relished my earlier style had chided me for making my style scholarly. The people present were stunned. Girilal Jain who presided over the function minced no words while pointing out that the much applauded Hindu tolerance was nothing more than Hindu cowardice most of the time. But none of this appeared in the press next morning. It was Advani’s offer which became front page news.
Dr. Harsh Narain and Koenraad Elst had documented how Syed Shahabuddin had kept shifting his ground regarding proof about the destruction of the Rama Mandir at Ayodhya. But the VHP-BJP combine was more than willing to provide more proofs. In fact, the stronger the proofs the Hindu scholars provided, the greater became the Muslim demand for something more solid.
The leaders of the Ayodhya movement had walked into the trap laid by the likes of Shahabuddin in spite of my repeated warnings that Hindus should do the questioning and make the Muslims do the answering. But these leaders were innocents abroad, having no knowledge of Islamic theology or Islamic history. Gross ignorance is quite often the straw to which optimism clings.
All this while the Muslim leaders kept looking down upon the Hindu beggars standing before them with folded hands. I was of the opinion that the building of the new Rama Mandir could wait till such time as the BJP got a mandate from the people.
The first priority, I thought, should go to educating the people about Islam. But by now the Rama Mandir at Ayodhya had became an end in itself for the VHP-BJP combine. They were prepared to try any number of tricks, tell any number of lies, and suffer any amount of humiliation, only if they could get their toy assembled at Ayodhya.
I need not narrate the rest of the story which is well-known. The leaders of the Ayodhya movement were soon proclaiming from the house tops that Islam did not permit destruction of other people’s places of worship! They took no notice of my book, Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them, Volume II, The Islamic Evidence, in which I had quoted from scores of histories, written by pious Muslim historians, to the effect that destroying Hindu temples and replacing them with mosques was a favourite pastime of Muslim rulers down to the fall of the Mughal dynasty. I had also included in this book a chapter, Islamic Theology of Iconoclasm, to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that destroying other people’s places of worship was a pious performance in Islam because the Prophet himself had destroyed all pre Islamic pagan temples in Arabia.
The leaders of the Ayodhya movement were out to flatter Islam in order to coax the Muslims to part voluntarily with the Ramajanmabhumi site. They got nowhere.
I have beard people from the Sangh parivara saying quite often that the Congress does not know how to treat the Muslims. They go about telling the Muslims that while the Congress views them only as a vote bank, the Sangh parivara honours them as human beings and honest Muslims. They are appealing to the Muslims to rally round the BJP flag.
I am reminded of a Chinese story. A landlord was in the habit of strangling his wives. Every time he strangled a wife, another woman came forward to marry him. When people told the new ones the number of women he had already strangled, everyone of them replied, “Oh! They didn’t understand the old dear.” And every one of them got strangled in her own turn.
Book: How I Became Hindu
Author: Sita Ram Goel
Published by: Voice of India
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