At the outset I extend my grateful thanks to the very kind invitation extended by Dr.Andrea Luithle-Hardenberg and her very concerned efforts to persuade me to attend this distinguished International Tuebingen Workshop on a very important topic The Jaina and the British.  However I would not be able to make the trip to the University of Tuebingen to participate in this important Conference as   medically advised. Therefore, I extend my heartfelt apologies to the organizers of the workshop. I have great pleasure in extending my greetings to the distinguished scholars participating in this Conference.

I took German as a second language almost as an intuitive choice.  Little did I know  that I would be having an opportunity to translate Dr.Alsdorf’s book asked by my mentor in Jain studies, Dr.A.N. Upadhye a great Prakrit Jain   scholar   a former President of the All-India Oriental Conference and also General Editor of the renowned Bharatiya Jnana Pitha publications. Moortidevi Jain grandthmala

It has launched me on a German voyage of Indology-not an indologist myself- but  translator  of  eminent Indological authors such as Ludwig  Alsdorf, and Colette Caillat,(I translated from French her Le Jinisme, published as Jainism (Macmillan,1974) which brings me to this Tuebingen Seminar!  I read Albert Schweitzer’s My Life and Thought and was much impressed by his book Indian Thought and Its Development, and particularly his observation on the pioneering role of Jain ahimsa in human history.

I am proud to state that My translation of  Dr. Ludwig. Alsdorf’s German Beitraege zur Geschichte von Vegetarismus und Rinderverehrung in Indien (History of Vegetarianism and Cow Veneration In India)  has been  published (Routledge, London)  in Feb.2010 edited by Dr. Bollee

Dr. Schweitzer speaks in glowing terms of the principle of Ahimsa non-violence as laid down by Jainism: “The laying down of the commandment not to kill and not to damage is one of the greatest events in the spiritual history of mankind. Starting from its principle, founded on world and life denial of abstention from action, ancient Indian thought and this is a period when in other respects ethics have not progressed very far reaches the tremendous discovery that ethics know no bounds. So far as we know this is for the first time clearly expressed by Jainism.”

The principle of ahimsa (non-violence) and the prescription of strict vegetarianism are the prime and unique characteristics of Jain religion and ethics. That the concept of ahimsa was foreign to Vedic culture is shown by the eminent Indologist Prof. W. Norman Brown in his Tagore Memorial Lectures, 1964-65, Man in the Universe:

“Though the Upanishads contain the first literary reference to the idea of rebirth and to the notion that one’s action-karma determines the conditions of one’s future existences, and though they arrive at the point of recognising that rebirth may occur not only in animal form but also in animal bodies, they tell us nothing about the precept of ahimsa. Yet that precept is later associated with the belief that a soul in its wandering may inhabit both kinds of forms. Ancient Brahmanical literature is conspicuously silent about ahimsa. The early Vedic texts do not even record the noun ahimsa nor know the ethical meaning which the noun later designated… Nor is an explanation of ahimsa deducible from other parts of Vedic literature.  The ethical concept which it emdodies was entirely foreign to the thinking of the early Vedic Aryans, who recognised no kinship between human and animal creation, but rather ate  meat  and  offered animals   the sacrifice to the gods.”  (pp.53-54)

Therefore Prof. Brown concludes: “The double doctrine of ahimsa and vegetarianism has never had full and unchallenged acceptance and practice among Hindus, and should not be considered to have arisen in Brahmanical circles. It seems more probable that it originated in non-Brahmanical environment, and was promoted in historic India by the Jains and adopted by Brahmanic Hinduism.”

I propose  to  discuss  Jain minority issue as it has evolved in the last hundred years. The remarkable thing about the Jain minority issue is that it was duly noted by the contemporary British rulers as far back as in 1909.  Even more significantly the Census of India has been counting the Jains as a separate religious community right from the first census in 1873. With the dawn of the Indian freedom the Jain community did present its claim for minority status to the Constituent Assembly during the formation of the Indian Constitution.

It would be also most relevant to refer here to the two one anna coins minted during the East India Company regime in 1818 depicting Bhagwan Mahavira and Bhagvan Parsvanatha.

Then I would like to refer to the Imperial Gazeteer showing the British India:

an Empire map in 1909  in which prevailing religions are shown as Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains. This I think as a most remarkable acknowledgment by the British India of Jainism as a distinct religious entity in India.

Yet the Jain leaders continued their efforts and made several representations to the non-statutory National Commission for Minorities for their designation as a national minority.  Later with the enactment  of  National Commission for Minorities  Act in 1992 Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) were notified as minorities omitting inexplicably the Jains. But  due to their persistent representations   finally the NCM recommended for the inclusion of the Jain community but it was not notified thus by the Government.

The entire constitutional, legal and political process of the recognition of the Jain minority status is rendered confusion worse confounded by the interpretative ‘Hindutva’ parameters whether, political, religious and judicial-particularly as evidenced in the latest Supreme Court judgement in my Petition (Bal Patil & anr Vs. Union of India) which has in its obiter dicta stated that the “Hinduism is the common faith of India” and  “Jainism is a special religion”.

As an   extreme  example I can cite the case of  my complaint against the Editor, The Hindu-a prominent Indian daily- re: a report as follows:

“The Central Government’s reported move to give Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims will deprive current SCs (among the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists) of their job and education quotas, according to Vijay Sonkar, President of All India Scheduled Caste Reservation Protection Forum.” Despite my complaint to the Press Council of India and the Press Council’s direction to The Hindu Editor The Hindu has not yet published my rejoinder.

Another example relates to  misrepresentation  of  Jain Digambar community  by Mr Soli Sorabjee, the former Attorney General of India, and an eminent jurist. He has tendered apology in a civil suit of defamation filed by me for having defamed the Jain Digambar religious community through comments in a column in  an  English  daily in Mumbai in 2003. Mr.Soli Sorabjee had written in his “Out of Court” column in Times of India that “The urge to bare one’s body springs from different compulsions. a certain sect of Jains- Digambars- who move about uncovered in public invoke their right of religious freedom.”

As the concerned English daily failed to publish a rejoinder objecting to its defamatory implications and as there was no response even after a complaint was lodged with the Press Council of India I filed a defamation suit in the City Civil Court. In the recent hearing on the matter it was pleaded on behalf of Mr.Sorabjee that when writing the impugned observations he had no intention to hurt or insult the religious susceptibilities of the Digambar Jain religious community, and if inadvertantly it has caused any hurt he regrets the same. Satisfied with this expression of regret I withdrew the defamation proceedings against Mr.Sorabjee, but defamations proceedings against the concerned English paper, its publishers, and the editor continue.

I am always puzzled why most historians, commentators, when they begin their search start with the phrase: ‘Jainism like Buddhism…, I cannot make out why nobody ever begins with the  phrase :’Buddhism like Jainism…, Sometimes I wonder,  forgive my impertinence, if there is an unwritten conspiracy to somehow bury Jainism in the historical fossils as if it is a relic of some forgotten credo of no consequence in the history of religions.

Apart from a few exceptions, most histories and encyclopaedias of world religions fail to mention Jainism as an independent religion. There are pervasive misconceptions about the origin of Jainism, about its relation to Vedic-Brahmanic Hinduism, about Mahavira being the founder of Jainism, about Jainism being an offshoot of Buddhism or Hinduism, or a reformist sect of Hinduism. There are misrepresentations galore. Jainism is overshadowed by Hinduism and Buddhism and, if noticed at all, is mentioned in passing as one of the ancient Indian religious movements   subsidiary to Buddhism.

Almost all the scholars agree that Jainism has pre-Aryan roots in the religious and cultural history of India. As Dr. A. N. Upadhye remarked – “The origins of Jainism go back to the pre-historic times. They are to be sought in the fertile valley of Ganga, where they flourished in the past, even before the advent of Aryans with their priestly religion, a society of recluses who laid much stress on individual exertion, on practice of a code of morality and devotion to austerities, as means of attaining religious Summum Bonum.” (Jainism by Colette Caillat, A.N. Upadhye & Bal Patil, Macmillan, 1974)

In fact, the Jain system of thought is so wonderfully consistent with modern realism and science that one may easily be tempted to question its antiquity, about which, however, there is now no doubt. as   Dr. Walthur Schubring observes, “He who has a thorough knowledge of the structure of the world cannot but admire the inward logic and harmony of Jain ideas. Hand in hand with the refined cosmographical ideas goes a high standard of astronomy and mathematics.” Dr. Hermann Jacobi also believes that “Jainism goes back to a very early period, and to primitive currents of religious and metaphysical speculation, which gave rise to the oldest Indian philosophies. They (the Jains) seem to have worked out their system from the most primitive notions about matter.”

In the Buddhist scripture Majjima Nikaya, Buddha himself tells us about his ascetic life and its ordinances which are in conformity with the Jain monk’s code of conduct. He says, “Thus far, SariPutta, did I go in my penance. I went without clothes. I licked my food from my hands. I took no food that was brought or meant especially for me. I accepted no invitation to a meal.”  Mrs. Rhys Davis has observed that Buddha found his two teachers Alara and Uddaka at Vaisali and started his religious life as a Jain.

Such is the context of the pervasive impact of the misleading Indian historiography from the deleterious effects of  which  even the most eminent historians, both right and left are not immune. One of the consequences of this failure is the continuing hold of misleading stereotypes of the nature of Indic religious thought and practice. I think this has a vital bearing on the devastatingly damaging impact of the misconceived Indological and ‘Oriental’ stereotypes on the Indian ethno-religious historiography so as to necessitate a paradigmatic revaluation.

This misinterpretation of history is compounded by what the doyen of Indian Indologists, Dr.R.G. Bhandarkar noted as to how “India has no written history. Nothing was known till within recent times of the political condition of the country, the dynasties that ruled over the different provisions which composed it, and the great religious and social revolutions it went through. The historical curiosity of the people was satiated by legends. What we find of a historical nature in the literature of the country before the arrival of the Mahomedans comes to very little.” P. i-ii (Early History of the Dekkan Down to the Mahomedan Conquest, 2nd Ed. 1983)

Such  is  the common strategy of the historians, philosophers and academicians in dealing with the Indic Sramanic religious traditions. Issues are obscured, by introducing irrelevancies and thus an attitude of contemptuous prejudice is provoked by exciting ridicule.

The Jain demand for minority status is now a century old. When in British India the Viceroy took a decision in principle that the Government would give representation to “Important Minorities” in the Legislative Council, (Petition dt.2nd September,1909,) Seth  Manekchand  Hirachand, acting President of Bharatvarshiya Digambar Jain Mahasabha, thus appealed to the Viceroy and Governor-General of India, Lord Minto, for the inclusion of the Jain community as an Important Minority. The Viceroy responded positively to this petition informing that in giving representation to minorities by nomination the claim of the important Jain community will receive full consideration’. Seth Maneckchand’s Petition was transferred to the Government of Bombay and the Secretary to the Govt. of Bombay stated in his reply dt.15th October, 1909.2

“I am directed to inform you that a number of seats have been reserved for the representation of minorities by nominated and that in allotting them the claim of the important Jain Community will receive full consideration.”

The  National  Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 does not make any reference to religious minority community but defines minority for the purpose of the Act to mean a community notified as such by the Central Government, whereas, in one way or the other, Jain community has been declared as a religious minority by the various High Courts and by  the State Governments pursuant to the definition given in the State’s Act or other wise. 

It may be mentioned that the Jain community has been declared as minority religious community under the various state enactments by invoking their authority under Art. 30  of the Constitution of India. But under the provision of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians have been declared which lays down that minority for the purpose of the Act of 1992 means a community notified as such by the central government. There are no guide lines for such declaration.   The Jain community has already been declared a minority religious community in Karnataka, M.P., U.P., Jharkhand, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal, Maharashtra and Delhi. In Calcutta, Delhi, Mumbai and Madras Jains have been recognized as a minority by the respective High Courts of that State. In other part of the country condition of the Jains is the same. Thus there is proper identification on a State basis.

At the dawn of the Indian freedom the President of the Constituent Assembly Dr. Rajendra Prasad had nominated Mr. Kasturbhai Lalbhai, a Jain industrialist as a Jain representative to Minority Advisory Committee to the Constituent Assembly.

Sardar Patel in his letter of 25th August 1946 addressed to Sir Bhagchandji Soni,  President,  All  India Digamber Jain Mahasabha assured the Jain community that “in free India there would be no restrictions upon the religious liberty of any community and there need be no apprehensions in this regard”

On 25th January, 1950, a Jain delegation was led to the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and other central leaders to draw their attention to the anomalous position of the Jains under sub-clause (b) of Clause 2 of Article 25 and a petition was submitted.  Jawaharlal Nehru clearly assured the delegation that the Jains are not Hindus and on 31-1-1950, his Principal Private Secretary, Mr.A.V. Pai wrote the following letter:

“This Article merely makes a definition. This definition by enforcing a specific consitutional arrangement circumscribes that rule. Likewise you will note that this mentions not only Jains but also Buddhists and Sikhs. It is clear that Buddhists are not Hindus and therefore there need be no apprehension that the Jains are designated as Hindus. There is no doubt that the Jains are a different religious community and this accepted position is in no way affected by the Constitution.”

It is also a matter of pride for the Jain community  that the official Indian Constitution copy in the Lok Sabha– Parliament of India- includes the following picture of Mahavira’s message of Ahimsa:

It is, however, pertinent to note in this context the insidious impact of the Hinduisation process  on  the  Jaina population. Hinduism has never been a proselytizing religion like Christianity and Islam but the way the Hindutva propaganda is operating that Jains are Hindus the result is a surreptious conversion of Jains by their misleading enumeration as Hindus in the census. This is glaringly evident in the Census figures.

Ever since I became involved with the question of the Jain religious community as a minority I have not ceased to wonder what it is in Jainism that makes the Hindutva fundamentalists who are determined to absorb Jainism into its  labyrinthine  bosom , and other innocent fellow-travellers to make Jains part and parcel of their hybrid melange of diverse religious beliefs and practices. This peculiar acquisitive trend is not only confined to the well-defined agenda of the champions of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ or the Hindu nation conceived as such by  Sawarkar  Asindhu Sindhu Paryanta yasya Bharatbhumika pitrubhu punyabhu sarvaih hindu iti smritah i.e. “One who considers the country or nation spread between the Sindhu river and the sea as his Fatherland and Holy Land is verily a Hindu.”-the godfather of the concept of   Hindutva  but also their fellow-travellers.

How did  this  modern  myth of Hinduism begin? It had its origin in the Orientalism created by the colonial Sanskrit scholars in the 19th century. As Richard King   has  discussed in his book Orientalism and Religion :Postcolonial Theory, India and The Mystic East’

As he  notes succinctly  regarding the Constitutional clubbing of the Buddhists,Jains and Sikhs in Article 25 Expl.II which he thinks unacceptable because:

“First, it rides roughshod over religious diversity and established group- affiliations. Second, such an approach ignores the non-Brahmanical and non-Vedic elements of these traditions…In the last analysis, neo-Vedantic inclusivism remains inappropriate for the simple reason that Buddhists and Jains do not generally see themselves as followers of sectarian denominationsof ‘Hinduism’.”  (pp108-09)

This colonial construction of ‘Hinduism’ contributed according to Richard King to the merging of the Brahmanical forms of religion with Hinduism which is notable in the “tendency to emphasize Vedic and brahmanical texts and beliefs as central and foundational to the ‘essence of Hinduism and in the modern association of ‘Hindu doctrine’ with the various brahmanical schools of the Vedanta…”p.102

The historiographical ambiguity and the confusion worse confounded caused by such  orientation  caused  is well documented in Prof D.N. Jha’s address to the  66th session  of the Indian History Congress as  its General President: Looking for a Hindu Identity (

The 8 August, 2005 Judgment of the 3 Judges Bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Chief Justice R. C. Lahoti, Justice D. M. Dharmadhikari and Justice P. K. Balasubramanyan, in the Bal Patil Case (CA 4730 of 1999), written by Justice Dharmadhikari has not only declined to act on the recommendation of the National Commission for Minorities for the declaration of Jain community as a religious minority community on par with Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Zoroastrian (Parsi) but also its obiter dicta place Hindu religion above all other religions.

The Supreme Court bases its rejection of the Jaina claim for minority status on the 11 Judges Bench decision in the T.M.A. Pai Case [2002(8) SSC 481] which was related to the scope of Article 30 of the Constitution on the right of a linguistic, religious or cultural minority to establish and administer educational institutions of its choice.

In the judgment, the Supreme Court opined: “Thus, ‘Hinduism’ can be called a general religion and common faith of India whereas ‘Jainism’ is a special religion formed on the basis of quintessence of Hindu religion.”

As noted by Syed Shahabuddin (IFS (Retd.), Ex-MP, Supreme Court Advocate, President, AIMMM) in his article commenting on this judgement published in the Milli Gazette Nov.3, 2005 and The Tribune, Nov.25, 2005 :

“His historiography is full of flaws…All constitutional safeguards and assurances under the Constitution and in international law shall be reduced to zero if the distinct identity of any religious group, howsoever small, is denied and any group is forced to relate to Hinduism as a sect or sub-sect. The Sikhs and the Jains and the Buddhists will not accept Hindu hegemony on the ground that they are all branches of the same tree, which has sprung from the same soil. Dharmadhikari J.’s views clearly reflect the Hindutva philosophy. It is time that the Supreme Court frees itself of any lurking intellectual subservience to the Hindutva philosophy.”

However, the late eminent jurist L.M. Singhvi, the Founder President of the World Jain Confederation,  has  observed: “The judgment in Bal Patil case is a judgment of three judges which goes against the judgment of 11 judges and many previous judgments of larger benches on the basis of which Jains must be recognised as a distinct religious minority, distinct and separate from the Hindus. Indeed, inclusive reference to Jains and Sikhs in Article 25 of the Constitution clearly indicates that Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists despite being separate and distinct were accepted as minority religions. Pt.Jawaharlal Nehru himself clarified many a times that Jains are an ancient minority. They have been recognized as a minority by notifications in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.”

The real issue now is declaration of national minority status for the Jain religious community in India.  Jains have been declared a minority in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, West Bengal, Uttaranchala  and  Jharkhand  States . The total population of the Jain minority declared minority thus  comes  to  3,678, 551. The total Jain population in India is 4,225, 053. Thus the percentage of the Jain minority population comes to 88%.  Yet being less than 50% to constitute a minority population in the whole of India is no longer taken into account.

The question is : Are all the benefits only meant for the national minorities so-called? I do not mean any disrespect to the national minorities so designated under the National Minorities Commission act. But I am constrained to take a strong exception to the blatantly discriminatory manner in which  the Jains declared as a minority in various States such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Uttaranchala, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan comprising  88% of the total Jain population in India the Jain minority students in these States are specifically excluded from the benefit of the Pre and Post-Matriculation Scholarships announced under the Prime Minister’s 15-Point Plan in co-operation with similar State Government packages because Jains are not a National Minority!!. I am constrained to state that this smacks of being Jain Apartheid.

A meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on 19th December, 2008   approved a proposal to introduce the Constitution 103rd Amendment Bill to define minority. ” This Bill is about the power to define a minority. The Supreme Court directed the Centre to decide the issue of giving minority status to Jains in Bal Patil vs. Union of India in 2005. A number of orders have  been  passed by the Supreme Court in this behalf,” Home Minister, P.Chidambaram said.

It is inconceivable however that this amendment will be passed in the Indian Parliament because the main national minorities, Muslim, Christian and Sikh are not willing to arrive at a definition of minority status on the basis of State population because Sikhs are a majority in Punjab State as recently ruled by the Supreme Court of India and Christians are a majority in North-Eastern States Mizoram, Meghalaya and Muslims are a majority in Jammu & Kashmir. Besides the passage of  this  Bill will require two-thirds majority.

Thus Jains, Budddhists and  Zoroastrians (Parsis)  remain  the national  religious minorities in the real sense of the term’’

Irrespective of any other test the Government of India and the Minority Affairs Ministry in co-operation with the National commission for Minorities should have followed  the following  Indian Army signpost in the Himalayas which is so utterly secular in character:

Thus Jain minority matter has reached a decisive stage testing whether the Government of India has the courage to distinguish the real constitutional and  demographic  religious minorities  from the ones declared already.


I give below urls to a few of my articles on Jainism and related issues:

The History of Vegetarianism and Cow-Veneration in India
By Ludwig Alsdorf, Translated by Bal Patil. Edited by Willem Bollee. Series: Routledge Advances in Jaina Studies. List Price: $135.00

Bal Patil!/bal.patil?ref=profile


Telefax 91 022 29655533, Mobile 91 022 98692 55533

Email, Website:


The Rise, Decline And Renewals Of Sramanic Religious Traditions Within Indic Civilisation
With Particular Reference To The Evolution Of Jain Sramanic Culture
And Its Impact On The Indic Civilization

(A  Paper presented in the Conference on Religions in Indic Civilisation in New Delhi, December, 18-21, 2003, Organised by the Centre for theStudy of Developing Societies in collaboration with International Association for the History of Religions and India International Centre.)

Gujarat State Freedom of Religion Bill

Bal Patil & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors. Supreme Court Decided on 08/08/2005

Indian Supreme Court Judgement Obiter Dicta Places Hindu Religion Above All Religions

History of Vegetarianism and Cow-Veneration | Indologica
BAL PATIL is an independent researcher, journalist and Chairman of the Jain Minority Status Committee, Dakshin Bharat Jain Sabha, a century old Jain


Posted by: Bal Patil | March 1, 2009






As the Secretary-General of All India Jain Minority Forum, New Delhi, an ex-Member of the Mahararashtra State Minority commission and an activist for Jain minority right on par with the other national minorities such as Muslim, Christian, Sikh , Buddhist and Zoroastrians (Parsis) I welcome Mr.T.S. Subramaniam’s article in The Hindu, July 4, 2007 Metamorphosis of a Mahavira image: How a seventh century Jain sculpture became an Amman idol in rural Tamil Nadu published in the Hindu today. The Jains with a rich cultural, religious and historical heritage owe a debt of gratitude to him and Mr.K.T. Gandhirajan for discovering this precious heritage. Permit me to provide some important historical evidence on this topic as follows.


There are umpteen instances of Hindu conversion of Jain heritage.The famous Jagannatha temple is another instance. As Edward Thomas,Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, London has noted in his JAINISM OR THE EARLY FAITH OF ASOKA Lecture delivered at the Royal Asiatic Society on Feb.26, 1877, notes: “Incidentally it may be mentioned that the title of “Jagannatha is an appellation given by the modern Jainas to their Tirthankara Parswanatha in particular.”Edward Thomas has quoted Dr.Stevenson how the famous Vithoba at Pandharpur in Maharashtra is a converted Jain image .As noted by Thomas:


“Dr.Stevenson, in a subsequent article (J.R.A.S. Vol.VII 7 p.5) followed up his comparison of the later images of Vithoba with the normal ideals of of the Jaina nude

statues. One of his grounds for these identifications is stated in the following terms: “The want of suitable costume in the images in the images (of Vithoba and Rakhmi), as originally carved, in this agreeing exactly witgh the images the Jainas at present worship, and disagreeing with all others adored by the Hindus” – who, “with all their faults, had always sense of propriety enough to carve their images so as to represent the gods to the eye arrayed in a way not to give offence to modesty.”


“The author (Dr.Stevenson) then goes on to relate how the Brahmanists of later days appropriated the sacred sites and adapted the very images of the local gods to their own purposes. His description is most graphic of the way in which the nude statues of Vithoba and Rakhami at Pandarpur, were clothed in apopropriate Hindu garments and made to do duty for the Brahmanical Krishna and Rukmini” (Pp.14-15).


In Studies in South Indian Jainism M.S. Ramaswami Ayyangar and B.Sheshagiri Rao (Madras, 1922) the authors have noted :


“The vast Jain remains in south India of mutilated statues, deserted caves and ruined temples at once recall to our mind the greatness of the religion in the days gone by and the theological rancour of the Brahmins who wiped it out of all active existence. The Jains have been forgotten: their traditions have been ignored: but the memory of theat bitter struggle between Jainism and Hinduism, characterised by bloody episodes in the South, is constantly kept alive in the series of frescoes on the wall of the Mantapam of the Golden Lily Tank of the famous Minakshi Temple of Madura. These paintings illustrate the persecution and impaling of the Jains at the instance of the arch-enemy of Jainism, Tirujnanasambandara. As though this was not sufficient to humiliate that unfortunate race , the whole tragedy is gone through at five of the twelve annual festivals at the Madura temple. It is indeed sad to reflect that, beyond the lingering legends in secluded spots and the way side statues of her saints and martyrs, Jainism in south has left little to testify to the high purposes, the comprehensive proselytizing zeal and the political influence which she inspired in her fiery votaries of old.” (Pp.79-80)


The authors Studies in South Indian Jainism attribute the Jain influence in idol worship and temple buidling on a grand scale. “The essence of Brahminism was not idol worship. How came it then that the Dravidians built large temples in honour of their gods? The answer is simple. The Jains erected statues to their Tirthankaras and other spiritual leaders and worshipped them in large temples. As this method of worship was highly impressive and attractive, it was at once imitated. Especially after the advent of Appar and Sambandar, a period of miracles and piety was inaugurated and it was at this time that the whole country was studded with temples. (n.Tamilian Antiquery, No.2, p.23) It is further curious to note that, in the temples so constructed, a niche was given to each of the saints who in any way contributed to the revival of Saivism. In the great temple of Madura, as many as sixty-three Nayanars or Saiva devotees have been given a niche, each of them. One wonders if the saivaites had not borrowed this custom from the Jains who worshipped their saints in the way described , long before these Nayanars flourished. By far the most important of the Jain influnces that led either to the intellectual or moral uplift of the Dravidians was the establishment throughout South India of Matams and Patasalas to counteract the effect of Jain centres of learning and propagandism.” (Ibid. Pp.77-78)


The authors also note that the period immediately following the age of Kural is characterised by the growth of classical literature, mainly under the Jain auspices. “This age is generally called the Augustan age of Tamil literature, the period of the predomancne of the Jain in intellect and learning though not in political power. It was during this period second century A.D. that the famous Tamil epic Silappadikarm is supposed to have been written.” (p.46)


The great Tamil classic Kural by Saint Tiruvalluvar, as noted by the authors: ”Almost every religionist has claimed the author as belonging to his faith. Tamil literary tradition attributes the authorship of Kural to to Valluvar; but there are strong reasons for believing that the author was a Jain…One other evidence in favour of the Jain origin of Kural might be adduced. The commentator of Nilkesi, a Jain work, calls Kural , Emmottu our own Bible. That shows that the Jains generally believed that Valluvar was a member of their community.”

Prof. A. Chakravarti , an eminent Jain scholar and commentator on Kural has identified the author of Kural as no other than the great Jain Muni Elacharya Sri Kund Kunda, well-versed in Sanskrit and Prakrit who propagated Jainism in the in about first century A.D. Tamil land . From the Pattavalis edited by Hoernle and Klatt (Indian Antiquery,Vols. XX and XXI) the date of Kunda Kunda can be ascertained as Ist century A. D.


As regards the far-reaching influence exercised by the Jain scholars on ancient Tamil literature the authors note : “The Jains had been great students and copyists of books.

They loved literature and art for their own sake. The Jain contribution to Tamil literature forms the most precious possesion of the Tamils. The largest portion of the Sanskrit derivatives found in the Tamil language was introduced by the Jains. They altered the Sanskrit words which they borrowed in order to bring it in accordance with Tamil euphonic rules. One great pecularity of of Jain Tamil literature is that in some of the works which have become classical , Kural and Naladiyar, for example there is no mention of any God or religion. Not only Tamil literature but Canarese literature also owes a great deal to Jains. In fact they were its originators. ‘Until the middle of the the twelfth century it is exclusively Jain and Jain literature continues to be prominent for long after. It includes all the more ancient and many of the most eminent of Canarese writings’ Thus Rev.f. Kittel.” (p.76 Ibid) Not only in literature but also in vegetarian way life, idol worship and temple buidling the Jains influence in South India is evident. As noted by the authors “How far this Jain respect for the life of living beings, a respect shown in daily practice, has influenced the Vedic rites and ceremonies can be seen from the fact that animal sacrifice in certain religious functions were completely stopped, and images of beasts made of flour were substituted for the real and veritable ones required in conducting Yajnams. Tamil poets have received inspiration in this matter from the Jains and passages might be cited from Tamil literature to indicate the extreme abhorrence with which Dravidians, a large section of them at any rate, regard eating of flesh.” (Ibid.p.77)




Even more significant is the assimilation of the Jaina motives by the Shankaracharya mathas as shown by the eminent historian K.A. Nilkanta Shastry and V. Ramasubramaniyam ‘Aundy’ in their article The Ascendancy and Eclipse of Bhagwan Mahavira’s Cult in the Tamil Land published in the Mahavira and His Teachings (under the Chief Editorship of Dr.A.N. Upadhye, former General Editor of Moortidevi Granthamala of Bharatiya Jnanpith (assisted by Bal Patil) on the occasion of 2500th Mahavira Nirvana Anniversary, 1974). The authors state: “It is necessary at this stage to state briefly what a Sankara mutt was and how it copied the Jaina church in its technique of organization. It was a legally constituted body, Pitha, headed by a bachelor hermit (Brahmachari sanyasin) exercising absolute control over all the Hindu hermits of the entire quarter. This pontif and his local representatives, practising asceticism themselves,were to tour their respective regions supervising the religious rites (Samskaras) and daily practices (Dinacharyas) of the four varnas…But the most important and epoch-making innovation was their advice to all performers of Vedic sacrifices to substitute vegetable offerings for live animal victims. The ‘Manimekhalai’ one of the five great Tamil epics, tells us that some orthodox Brahmins of that age were performing sacrifices, involving the killing of many animals, including the cow. One Brahmin boy, it is said, successfuly set free a cow,an intended victim, and he was , therefore, hounded out of the locality as well as the community by other Brahmins. Where actual blood had been spilt in certain atharvanic rituals, the Sankara-mutt recommended coloured

mineral water (aarati) and breaking of cocoanuts and ash-gourds. Where intoxicants such as soma juice, had been used, they substituted ‘panchagavya’ and ‘madhuparka’ . In food habits too, vegetarianism and prohibition were strictly enforced , with penalties of ex-communication for other transgressions. Ahimsa, satya, triple baths every day and free teaching of Sanskrit were rewarded with ecclesiastical honours and grants. Except for the doctrinaire difference, the pattern of the mundane aspects of the mutt was but a replica of the Jaina church.” (pp.329-30)


It is pertinent to quote Edward Thomas to show the arch-influence of the Jain Mathas since pre-historic times. The deeper impact of Jainism right from the term “matha” which has a peculiar Jaina connotation is explained in his unique scholarly paper entitled JAINISM or THE EARLY FAITH OF ASOKA (Ibid. op.cit.)in which describing the etymology of the term Mathura as an ancient seat of Jainism. Edward Thomas explains” The modern version of the name of the city on the Jumna is Mathura. Babu Rajendralal has pointed out that the old Sanskrit form was Madhura (J.A.S. Bengal, 1874, p.259) ,but both transcriptions seem to have missed the true derivative meaning of Matha (“a monastery, a convent or college, a temple, etc. from the root matha ‘to dwell,’ as a hermit might abide in his cave. The southern revenue terms have preserved many of the subordinate forms, in the shape of taxes for ‘Maths’. Rajputana and the N.W. Provinces exhibit extant examples in abundance of the still conventional term, while the distant Himalayan retain the word in Joshi-Math, Bhairav-Math etc” Further Thomas states: “This said Mathura on the Jumna constituted, from the earliest period a ‘high place’ of the Jainas and its memory is preserved in the southern capital of the same name -Madura- of Ptolemy, whence the sect, in aftertimes, disseminated their treasured knowledge, under the peaceful shelter of their Matams (colleges), in aid of local learning and the reviving literature of the Peninsula.” (pp.3-4) In a Note on the above E.Thomas mentions quoting Caldwell from his Grammar of the Dravidian Languages: “The period of predominance of the Jainas (a predominance of intellect and learning -rarely a predominance in political power) was the Augustan age of Tamil literature, the period when the Madura college, a celebrated literary association, appears to have flourished and when the Kural the Chintamani and the classical vocabularies and grammar were written.” With such glorious heritage all that remains of Jainism in South India at present in the words of the authors: “The vast Jain remains in south India of mutilated statues, deserted caves and ruined temples at once recall to our mind the greatness of the religion in days gone by and the theological rancour of the Brahmins who wiped it out of all active existence. The Jains had been forgotten; their traditions have been ignored; but, the memory of that bitter struggle between Jainism and Hinduism, characterised by bloddy episodes in the south is constantly kept alive in the series of frescoes on the wall of the Mantapam of the Golden Lily Tank of the famous Minakshi Temple at Madura. These paintings illustrate the persecution and impaling of the Jains at the instance of the arch-enemy of Jainism, Tirujnanasambandar. As though this were not sufficient to humiliate the unfortunate race, the whole tragedy is gone through at five of the twelve festivals at the Madura temple.”(Studies in South Indian Jainism by Ramaswami Ayyangar & B.Sheshgiri Rao.p.79)


KALABHRAS (3rd Century AD) PALLAVAS (575 AD to 882 AD)


During the rule of Kalabhra kings, Jainism attained supermacy in Tamil Nadu. As followers of Jainism they prohibited animal sacrifices in rituals. Pallavas (575 AD to 882 AD)


During the Pallava period also Jainism flourished in Tamil Nadu. Kanchipuram, the capital of Pallavas was the centre of learning for all Indian religions. A part of Kancheepuram was called Jina Kanchi. Great Jaina Acharyas such as Sri Vamana~charya and Sri Pushpa~dantha Acharya were the leading lights of Jaina teachings at Kanchipuram. During this period Jains made a great impact on the northern parts of Tamil Nadu by constructing temples and educational centres. Such educational centres were called “samana pallis”. Reminescent of the glorious past even today the school in Tamil is called “palli”.




The earliest inscription about Chera kings are found in Pugalur, wherein it is learnt that the Chera kings of Sangam period ordered making of stone beds for the use of Jain monks, who as an ascetic vow sleep only on barren floor. The Tamil epic “Silap~padhi~garam” was written in this period by Illango adigal, the prince and brother of Chera king Senguttuvan. During chola rule also Jainism continued to flourish. Early Chola rulers contributed generously to the upkeep of Jain temples by gifting land and money. A university exclusively for women was established (730 AD) by Jain nuns at Vedal in Thiru~vanna~malai district. Great Tamil works on literature and grammar were authored during this period.

In Pandia kingdom also innumerable Jain cave temples, stone beds and dwellings for monks, inscriptions and stone images of worship were created, the remains of which are still seen in and around Madurai and south Tamil Nadu. During 6th and 7th century AD, religious conflicts resulted in systematic extermination of Jains and decline of Jainism in southern parts. However, in northern parts, Jainism didnot face such harsh conditions and continued to subsist.




This is originally a Jain temple converted by Ramanujam/Sankaracharya around 8th century A.D onwards along with 1000s other dravid temples.


.Complete idol is covered to hide its original identity. Balaji has been photographed on many occassions without Jewellary and it is found to be a Jain Standing Tirthankara Neminath which many brahmins believe and admit. Archaelogical scientists, honest historians have proved this to be a Jain temple.

Millions of people visit Balaji temple but no one know reality about this temple. It is truly a Dravid temple, which is confirmed by Archaelogical department as Jain temple. Many brahmins silently believe and agree that it is originally Jain temple converted by Ramanujam and Sankaracharya as 1000s of other dravid Jain temples converted, rechristened by Avatar philiosophy. No Historian can ever claim that there was any god by name Lord Venkateshwara.


Many historians world wide believe – any given old temple in southern part of India is originally a Jain temple. However it may have changed its name. Archaeological Senior officers (who chose not to comment much due to political dominance ) firmly believe that originally complete dravid population was Jain who were not fighters like aryans, and believers of Ahimsa, whose heritage was stolen by cunning aryans who came to India around 3500 years ago. For example Thirukural was product of dravid civilization ( written by Jain Saints) but later it was labelled as Hindu literature at the time Hinduism was not known with its present name around 1st century B.C.when sacrifice of animals and vaidic religion was in vogue.


To conclude Tirupati balaji temple is wonderful temple belonging to all devotees, it can be run the way it is going. But at least its true history and identity has to be made known.

Most of gods elsewhere in Hinduism whose abhisekham is performed in public view, same way Tirupati’s rituals need to be done in open with public view. As we all believe god are not property of brahmins alone, but they belong to devotees.


Why Tirupati Lord venkateshwara’s face has to be hidden. When no face of Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord siva, Lord brahma, Lord Ganesha are hidden. This looks quite weird hiding face of god to mislead its real identity.

We would all love to have our god let it be Brahmin or Jain , it has to be in open for everyone.

Let us ask those brahmins to perform all pooja, abhisekham openly, not to hide with curtains or by closing doors. There is absolutely no need to keep God in private if this is real .


This is one of reason only 2 % of complete structure is visible to devotees, which doesn’t happen with Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Lord Hanuman, Lord Ganesha in other parts of India. God’s identy is hidden only in such temples when temple would have been converted from Jain temple and their naming is done on fabricated, non-historical avatars.

Can we request temple authorities to reveal its true identity and to see full face and posture of god Can we have real photograph without artificial projected hands, face and other parts.


From ages Dravid history has been mutilated, wrongly potrayed by so called responsbile vested interests of society, politics and even government. It is Aryans whose history, mythology and wrong facts are superimposed over dravid history, who were immigrants to India. Dr Santhalingam, senior director of Archaelogical survey and his assistant, and ASI has unpublished researched facts which clearly state that , Every old temple in south was once jain temple, presently known with different identity created by brahmins, few such examples out of 1000s of Dravid Jain temples converted to Brahmin temples are:


1) Madurai Meenakshi temple
2) Kanchipuram kamakshi temple (Kanchipuram has more than 100 temples)
3) Varadaperumal temple ( kanchipuram)
4) Thiruvanmalai Arunachalam temple
5) Mylapore kapaliswara temple
6) Nagaraja temple nagercoil
7) Thirumala Balaji temple
, ( total resemblance to thirumalai jain temple in Arni district)


Dr. Santhalingam expressed that due to political circumstances these facts cannot be disclosed or published, but facts remain same. He also said Thiruvalluvar was a Jain saint who wrote the famous Tamil classic Thirukural He has done enough research but unable to publish same.Even Tamil was evolved from Dravid Jain civilization born out of Brahmi language. Enough evidences are avaialable from epigraphyAccording to him Aryan Brahims invaded jain temples and converted them as their source of livelihood.




Posted by spari | on February 17th, 2009 | Category: Hinduism, Jainism

*** DRAFT ***

Mahaveera — that is the name given to the accomplished ones, by the Samanars. Mahaveera means “Great Warrior”.

Like the Siddhars of Southern India, the Aghoris of Northern India and Kerala, the Nagas of the Himalayas, the Native American tribes of North and South America, the Aboriginal tribes of Australia, and so on — the Samanars were those people for whom the pursuit of the Spirit was a single-minded goal, and thus the spiritual path was not for the weak, timid, or wavering, but the path of a warrior. The spiritual warrior.

While common society endowes the title of “great warrior” on war heroes, these spiritual traditions recognized only those who had mastered themselves as the True Warriors. That is, not a conquest of lands and peoples, but the conquest and the mastery of oneself — of all the six senses, of the mind and body. Such a person was worshipped by spiritual aspirants, as a source of inspiration and guidance, as the accomplished one, or the perfected one, so that they may achieve the same. They were critical thinkers and meditators beyond anything humanly imaginable in the todays modern world.

While many religions considered the body as profane or sacrilegious, these indigenous spiritual traditions consider the body as sacred as the mind, the spirit, and the cosmos. By incisive critical thinking they arrived at the assertion, that the body is made of the same spirit-matter (the superconscious element) that permeates everything visible and invisible around you. It is with this conviction they pursued, and ulitimately saw the True nature of Man (and hence the name seers).

Samanar 4Just like some sadhus decorates and adorns their begging bowl with sacred marks, and treat it with the respect they would give to their gurus, others decorate and honor the body as a sacred vessel (which to the bystander may seem unholy). For example the Siddha aims at the perfection of the body – not as in building muscles, but as in activating all the energy centers in the body (such as the seven chakras of the Kundalini and bringing to perfect harmony the various energy currents in the body). By doing so, the Siddha merges the body-spiritual with the Cosmic Consciousness (God or whatever you may call it), thereby awakening the individual to one’s true nature, not as the body, but as something pure, infinite, the eternal, immanent and transcendent, and experiencing a beauty like never seen before.

This is probably why the enlightened sagess look upon us like children, and take pity on us — of how we quarrel and fight over petty things, when there is something beyond, and so much more to be realized. And with that benevolence, they leave us so much material before they leave the wordly plane. Irony is instead of following that spiritual material we create religions out of them, discarding the spiritual core. Like throwing away the banana and fighting over the peel (the superfical coating housing the spiritual core).

I will refrain from referring to Samanars as Jains (or for that matter, say Siddhars and Aghoris as Hindus), as they were beyond any religious affiliation. In fact, it’s the other way around: Jainism arose out of the collective experiences of Samanars and other similar enlightened sages. Similarly, Hindu culture arose out of the collective experiences of Rishis, Siddhars, Aghoris, Samanars, Buddhas, and many other sages. We even owe to them some of most popular expressions of God like Shiva, Sakthi, Vishnu. It is they who saw, expressed, decorated, and adorned their visions (darshan) of God in a number of ways that would be inspiritional to humankind.

Hindu culture has adopted a number of elements from Samanars (among a long list of other spiritual traditions). The concept of ahmisa (non-violence) for example, was exemplified first by the Samanars, probably to levels beyond any other spiritual tradition.

I just happened to find one samanar cave (Site 3) back in 2002. Little did I know that there were so many more like this gem, all around the locality where I live. Thanks, to a friend who called upon me for walkabout tour of the area.



  Following the pattern set by several Indian states that include Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, the Gujarat state assembly has not simply passed an anti-conversion law but recently amended its contents, classifying two distinct Indian religious identities – Jains and Buddhists – as Hindus. Not only is such a classification an unwarranted assault on these distinct religions but it also amounts to a violation of the principles of plurality as guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.The state of Gujarat has a population of close to five-and-a-half lakh Jains. It is a state with the third largest Jain population in India, the first being Maharashtra, with a Jain population of 13,01,842, and the second, Rajasthan, with 6,50,493 Jains, according to the 2001 census. The total population of the Jain religious community in India is 42,25,053. This means that there is one Jain among every 243 Indians. Though few in number, Jains are to be found in 34 out of 35 Indian states and union territories. Moreover, Jains are the only real religious minority after the Buddhists because they are a minority in every state. For instance, Sikhs, the other national minority, are a majority in Punjab and Christians, otherwise a minority, are a majority in the eastern Indian states while Hindus are a minority in Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir and the eastern states.

Since the first census conducted under the British in 1873, Jains have been regarded as a significant religious community along with Christians, Muslims and Sikhs.

Ironically, it is the Gujarat government’s Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill 2006 that has suddenly awakened the Gujarat Jain community, which belongs mainly to the Shwetambara sect, to the dangers of being subsumed by the majority. (There are two major sects, the Digambara and Shwetambara, among the Jains, just as there are Shias and Sunnis among Muslims and Catholics and Protestants among Christians.) This section of the Jains, the Shwetambaras, have so far taken the position that while they remain Jains as far as their religious identity is concerned, they are Hindu by culture, whatever that means. There have also been some contradictions in their stance vis-à-vis their minority status itself: while they have been ambivalent in claiming this status in general, the religious heads of their educational trusts, like the Tapovan Trust, have not dithered in securing educational minority status for their institutions!

Before commenting on the constitutional and legal aspects of the Gujarat government’s bill classifying Jains and Buddhists as Hindus, relying (inaccurately) on Article 25, Explanation II of the Constitution, it would be useful to discuss the current religio-Hindutva environment in India and the historiographical context in which these two Sramanic-Indic religions – Jainism and Buddhism – arose in ancient India. There has been near irreparable damage done to the religious identity of these two major religions by a conscious attempt at “Hinduisation” of these faiths or appropriation within the “all-Hindu” fold, in large measure attributable to a Vedic-Brahmanic influence. Prior to independence and the adoption of the Constitution, the ideologues of a “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu state), including Veer Savarkar, consciously appropriated anti-Brahmanic religions like Jainism and Buddhism as part of Hinduism.

Thereafter, right from India’s birth as a republic and our adoption of the Indian Constitution, a significant section of the Jain community has been disturbed by their inclusion along with Sikhs and Buddhists in Explanation II of Article 25 of the Constitution within the “Hindu” definition, done, ostensibly, to carry out certain reforms of religious institutions.

On January 25, 1950, a delegation of Jains met the then prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and other central leaders to draw their attention to the anomalous position of Jains under sub-clause (b) of Clause 2 of Article 25 and a petition was submitted to him. Jawaharlal Nehru clearly assured the delegation that Jains were not Hindus and their separate status would be preserved.

Six days later his principal private secretary, AV Pai replied to the petition where he said: “It is clear that Buddhists are not Hindus and therefore there need be no apprehension that the Jains are designated as Hindus. There is no doubt that the Jains are a different religious community and this accepted position is in no way affected by the Constitution.”

Addressing a public meeting in Allahabad on September 3, 1949, Nehru had said: “No doubt India had a vast majority of Hindus but they could not forget the fact that there are also minorities, Moslems, Christians, Parsis and Jains. If India was understood as a “Hindu Rashtra” it meant that the minorities were not cent per cent citizens of the country” (The Statesman, September 5, 1949).

It may be recalled that the then deputy prime minister of India, Vallabhbhai Patel, in his letter of August 25, 1946 addressed to Bhagchand Soni, president, All-India Digamber Jain Mahasabha, assured the Jain community that they need have no concerns about their religious rights and promised that “in free India there would be no restrictions upon the religious liberty of any community and there need be no apprehensions in this regard”.

It is important to note in the foregoing context that during the pre-independence period, in a decision of the erstwhile Madras High Court, the acting chief justice, Kumar Swami Shastri, held in Gateppa vs Eramma & Others (AIR 1927):

“Were matters res integra, I would be inclined to hold that modern research has shown that the Jains are not Hindu dissenters but that Jainism has an origin and history long anterior to the Smritis and Commentaries which are recognised authorities on Hindu law and usage. The Jain religion refers to a number of previous Tirthankaras and there can be little doubt that Jainism as a distinct religion was flourishing several centuries before Christ. In fact, Jainism rejects the authority of the Vedas, which form the bedrock of Hinduism, and denies the efficacy of the various ceremonies which Hindus consider essential. So far as Jain law is concerned, it has its own law books of which Bhadrabahu Samhita is an important one. Vardhamana Neeti and Aradhana Neeti by the great Jain teacher, Hemchandra, deal also with Jain law.”

In Hirachand Gangji vs Rowji Sojpal (AIR 1939, Bombay 377), a judge of the Bombay High Court, Rangnekar observed:

“It is true that the Jains reject the scriptural character of the Vedas and repudiate the Brahmanical doctrines relating to obsequial ceremonies, the performance of Sraddhas and offering of oblations for the salvation of the soul of the deceased. Amongst them there is no belief that a son by birth or adoption confers spiritual benefit (…) Hindus in their conduct towards the dead, omitting all obsequies after the corpse is burnt or buried. Now it is true, as later historical researches have shown, that Jainism prevailed in this country long before Brahmanism came into existence or converted into Hinduism. It is also true that owing to their long association with the Hindus, who formed the majority in the country, the Jains have adopted many of the customs and even ceremonies strictly observed by the Hindus and pertaining to Brahmanical religion.”

In Ratilal Panachand Gandhi vs State of Bombay (1954, ’56 Bom. LR 1184 (SC)) the Supreme Court, taking a wider view of fundamental rights and a more realistic view of what religion is and how its nature and content should be determined, laid down:

“It may be noted that ‘religion’ is not necessarily theistic and in fact there are well-known religions in India like Buddhism and Jainism which do not believe in the existence of god or of any intelligent first causes. Religious practices or performances of acts in pursuance of religious beliefs are as much part of religion as faith or belief in particular doctrines” (Religion, Law and the State in India by J. Duncan M. Derrett, 1968).

When the National Minorities Commission arrived at its recommendation that the Jain community be declared a minority religious community this was done in consideration of the following: 1) the relevant constitutional provisions 2) various judicial pronouncements 3) the fundamental differences in philosophy and beliefs (theism vs atheism, principally) vis-à-vis Hinduism, and 4) the substantial number of the Jain population in the country who resolved to recommend to the government of India that Jains deserve to be recognised as a distinct religious minority and that, therefore, the government of India may consider including them in the listing of “minorities”. The commission’s recommendation was issued on October 3, 1994.

So far Jains have been declared a minority in Maharashtra (which has the largest population of Jains in India), Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal. I am currently pursuing the issue of national minority status for Jains in the Supreme Court of India.

Hindus and Jains are fundamentally different. Scholar, social reformer and freedom fighter, Lokmanya Tilak said: “In ancient times innumerable animals were butchered in sacrifice. But the credit for the disappearance of this terrible massacre from the Brahmanical religion goes to the share of Jainism” (Bombay Samachar, December 10, 1904).

Thus instead of saying that the Jains assimilated so-called Hindu culture or customs it would be more appropriate to say that the Hindus of modern India have adopted Jain culture. There was no such thing as Hindu during Vedic times. It is significant to note that Jains do not believe in the most characteristic Hindu-Vedic-Brahmanic ritual, Sraddha (ceremonies performed to honour the dead).

Impact of so-called Hindu cultureThe principle of ahimsa (non-violence) and the prescription of strict vegetarianism are the prime and unique characteristics of Jain religion and ethics. They could not have developed in Vedic-Brahmanic Aryan culture. There is ample evidence to show that meat-eating was not a taboo among immigrant Aryans. However, abstention from meat came naturally to the native inhabitants of India because of the region’s climate. That the concept of ahimsa was foreign to Vedic culture is demonstrated by eminent Indologist, W. Norman Brown, in his Tagore Memorial Lectures, 1964-65, Man in the Universe

“Though the Upanishads contain the first literary reference to the idea of rebirth and to the notion that one’s action – karma – determines the conditions of one’s future existences, and though they arrive at the point of recognising that rebirth may occur not only in animal form but also in animal bodies, they tell us nothing about the precept of ahimsa. Yet that precept is later associated with the belief that a soul in its wandering may inhabit both kinds of forms. Ancient Brahmanical literature is conspicuously silent about ahimsa. The early Vedic texts do not even record the noun ahimsa nor know the ethical meaning which the noun later designated… Nor is an explanation of ahimsa deducible from other parts of Vedic literature. The ethical concept which it embodies was entirely foreign to the thinking of the early Vedic Aryans, who recognised no kinship between human and animal creation but rather ate meat and offered animals (in) sacrifice to the gods (pp 53-54).  

Therefore Brown concludes: “The double doctrine of ahimsa and vegetarianism has never had full and unchallenged acceptance and practice among Hindus, and should not be considered to have arisen in Brahmanical circles. It seems more probable that it originated in non-Brahmanical environment and was promoted in historic India by the Jains and adopted by Brahmanic Hinduism.” 

Hermann Jacobi, the renowned German Indologist, said: “In conclusion, let me assert my conviction that Jainism is an original system, quite distinct and independent from all others; and that, therefore, it is of great importance for the study of philosophical thought and religious life in ancient India.”

However, the personal law Acts, the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, the Hindu Succession Act 1956, the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956 and the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956, all apply to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs – as is declared by their opening provisions.

All four Acts clarify that the “expression ‘Hindu’ in any portion of this Act shall be construed as if it included a person who, though not a Hindu by religion, is nevertheless a person to whom this Act applies by virtue of the provisions contained in this section.”

Clearly, this is a rule of interpretation that cannot, by any dint of imagination, be treated as a definition of the word “Hindu” in general. Nor can it ever be stretched to claim that in law Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism are one and the same religion. It is necessary to differentiate between “Hindu by religion” and “Hindu for the purpose of application of laws” – the latter expression referring to those non-Hindus who share with Hindus certain laws. This is true of the so-called “definition” of the expression “Hindu” in Article 25 of the Constitution as well as in the Hindu law Acts of 1955-56 and the legislation relating to Hindu religious endowments.

Thus the provision of Explanation II in Article 25 has no religious connotation. Instead of saying the same thing four times of four different religious communities – Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs – Article 25 (2)(b) says it once, for the Hindus, and then adds that the same provision be read in the Constitution for three other communities as well – the Buddhists, the Jains and the Sikhs. The authors of the Constitution did not intend to merge the Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs into the Hindu religion nor were they indeed competent to do so. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism remain, under the Constitution and the law of India, four different faiths, and their followers, four different religious communities.

Although Sikhs and Buddhists have been distinctly recognised as religious minorities and notified as such, the Sikhs, being unsure of their constitutional position, made a strong representation to the Constitution Review Commission headed by former chief justice of India, MN Venkatachaliah, that the anomalous position of the Sikhs, along with Buddhists and Jains, being included in the definition of Hindus in Explanation II of Article 25 (relating to religious freedom) be amended and got a recommendation to that effect.

As regards Buddhists, the case is not very different. Buddha is almost universally adopted by Hindu theology as an incarnation of Vishnu. Philosopher and educationist, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, himself had no philosophical or theological difficulty in calling Buddha a Hindu.

It is a well-attested historical Indological fact that Buddha was a junior contemporary of Mahavira (the 24th Jain prophet erroneously called the founder of Jainism) during the sixth century BC. Moreover, no less a person than Indian Buddhist, Bhikshu Dharmanand Kosambi (father of the eminent scholar-historian-archaeologist, DD Kosambi) has written, on the basis of Buddhist scriptures, that Buddha was for some time a disciple of Mahavira in the initial stages of his search for an ascetic/renunciatory discipline. But finding the Jain renunciatory practice too severe, Buddha left to search for his own Middle Path.

Hermann Jacobi also believes that “Jainism goes back to a very early period and to primitive currents of religious and metaphysical speculation which gave rise to the oldest Indian philosophies. They (the Jains) seem to have worked out their system from the most primitive notions about matter.”

In the Buddhist scripture, Majjima Nikaya, Buddha himself tells us about his ascetic life and its ordinances, which are in conformity with the Jain monk’s code of conduct. He says: “Thus far, Sariputta, did I go in my penance. I went without clothes. I licked my food from my hands. I took no food that was brought or meant especially for me. I accepted no invitation to a meal.” Buddhism scholar, CAF Rhys Davids has observed that Buddha found his two teachers, Alara and Uddaka, at Vaishali and started his religious life as a Jain.

In Digha Nikaya’s Samanna Phal Sutta, the four vows of Lord Parshvanath (who flourished 250 years before Mahavira’s liberation) have been mentioned. The Anguttara Nikaya Attakatha contains references to Boppa Sakya, a resident of Kapilavastu, who was Buddha’s uncle and who followed the religion of the Nigganathas i.e. Jains.

Critical and comparative study has brought to light several words such as “asrava“, “samvara” etc that have been used by Jains in the original sense but which have been mentioned in Buddhist literature in a figurative sense. On the basis of these words Jacobi concluded that Jainism is much older than the religion of Buddha and it is therefore incorrect to assume that Jainism is an offshoot of Buddhism.

As regards Hinduism being the “parent faith” of India, this is the most deep-rooted Hindu shibboleth from which even Radhakrishnan was not immune. Within such misrepresentations no exception is made even for Buddha or Buddhism. It is incredible but true that in his foreword to the book brought out to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana (death), S. Radhakrishnan stated: “The Buddha did not feel that he was announcing a new religion. He was born, grew up and died a Hindu. He was restating with a new emphasis the ancient ideals of the Indo-Aryan civilisation” (2500 Years of Buddhism, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1956). 

Notwithstanding several such irreconcilable inconsistencies and reservations on the meaning of the term “Hindu”, in practical terms the majority of those residing in India – those who believe in the Vedas and those who do not believe in them (such as the Jains, the Sikhs and the Buddhists) – are all clubbed together as Hindus on the specious consideration that they all follow a Hindu way of life and hence are taken to be followers of Hinduism. This is precisely where the crux of the minority problem, its communalisation, lies. Merely because Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs have grown together through the centuries side by side with Brahmanic Hindus and, inevitably, other religious and ethnic minorities, and there is thus an intermingling of custom, tradition and culture, this cannot mean that the non-Hindu or non-Vedics have forsaken their individual religious and ethnic identities.  

The whole terminological muddle and the fundamentalist division in the Indian context can be traced to the desperate and impossible quest of fanatic elements within the original Vedic-Brahmanic i.e. those committed to the so-called Hindutva philosophy to fraudulently gobble minorities like Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs as part of their grand design to create a Hindu Rashtra as a theological counterpoint to the dominant minority, the Muslims in India. This was accomplished, in a skilful bit of constitutional draughtsmanship, by distinguished members of the Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee comprising stalwarts like Vallabhbhai Patel, BR Ambedkar and KM Munshi when Article 25, relating to religious freedom and, in particular, Explanation II (which included Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs in the definition of Hindus) was finalised without proper discussion.

Article 25 and religious freedom A careful reading of Article 25 as a whole makes it crystal clear that there is no reference to the Hindu religion except with regard to Hindu religious institutions of a public character in sub-clause (b) of Clause (2). It is also clear that the provision for social welfare and reform or throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus also specifically refers to the Hindu religion. It is therefore impossible to fathom what constitutional purpose the founding fathers had hoped to serve by construing the reference to Hindus to include a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religion. Why was it necessary to drag in these three – the Sikh, Buddhist and Jain religions – and club them together with the reference to Hindus?

Granted, the founding fathers were keen to provide social welfare and reform, to throw open Hindu religious institutions or temples to all classes and sections of Hindus, they were moved to end untouchability by law or hoped to bring about other unspecified social or religious reforms vis-à-vis the Hindu religion.

This concern does not however explain the rationale of including the other three religions of Indian origin under the specious umbrella of the Hindu religion. Jainism and Buddhism do not recognise or propagate casteism. In fact, Mahavira, the reformer of the ancient religion of Jainism, specifically spread the message of a casteless society and also spoke out against the slaughter of animals in sacrificial Vedic yajnas. Buddha did the same. Sikhism too does not propagate untouchability.

The question thus remains: What constitutional purpose was sought to be fulfilled by the inclusion of Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists as Hindus? As B. Shiva Rao’s classic exposition, The Framing of India’s Constitution: A Study, reveals, Article 25 relating to religious freedom, and particularly its Explanation II, was finalised by the Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee without proper discussion. The real conundrum is why the founding fathers resorted to this devious means of social welfare and reform of Hindu religious institutions through a blatant invasion of admittedly distinct Sikh, Buddhist and Jain religious identities.

Clause (b) of Article 25 and its specious Explanation II is truly a religious Pandora’s box. There is no reason why the religious institutions of the Sikh, Buddhist and Jain faiths should be treated on par with the Hindu religious ones to push forward Hindu social welfare and reform. It is nothing but a surreptitious if clumsy attempt to take away the religious freedom guaranteed by that very same Article under a phoney Hindu pretext.

It is an extremely unconvincing and untenable endeavour that cannot be sustained by constitutional rationalisation and only confirms suspicions that the particular clause was not discussed threadbare. Nor does it appear from the Constituent Assembly debates that Jain, Buddhist and Sikh protagonists were given a fair opportunity to discuss its implications.

If our constitutional stalwarts, even its very architect, Ambedkar, who had earlier publicly burnt the Manu Smriti (one of the most controversial works of Hindu literature on Hindu law and ancient Indian society, widely criticised for its discrimination of women and codification of the caste system), could be such unwitting victims of the so-called Hindutva tradition that they would obliterate the separate religious identities of well-defined religious minorities (albeit under the constitutional cover of certain limited objectives) one can well understand the logic behind the Frankensteinian spread of Hindutva today, intent as it is on eliminating smaller religious denominations such as Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. While Sikhs and Buddhists cannot be easily dealt with, given the militant and uncompromising character of the one and the universal impact of the other, Jains alone are left to fend for themselves within their non-violent creed.

This constitutional subterfuge, or terminological sleight of hand, was very much in evidence in the then law minister, Ambedkar’s comments during the clause by clause discussion of his Hindu Code Bill in Parliament from February to September 1951 when various eminent members, Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs in particular, took serious objection to the term “Hindu” comprising Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains. They objected to its communal and discriminatory character and were strongly critical of its indirect, circuitous definition of who a Hindu is. Some members very clearly stated that the bill, in whatever form it was passed, should not be forced on any section of the Hindu community or on the Sikhs or Jains.

Ambedkar tried to brush aside these objections in a magisterial manner by saying that the:

“peculiarity about the Hindu religion, as I understand it, that it is one religion which has got a legal framework integrally associated with it… it would not be difficult to understand why Sikhs are brought under the Hindu religion, why Buddhists are brought under the Hindu religion and Jains are brought under the Hindu religion… In this country although religions have changed the law has remained one… The Jains come and ask: ‘What are you going to do to us? Are you going to make us Hindus?’ The Sikhs say the same thing. The Buddhists say the same thing. My answer to that is this: I cannot help it. You have been following a single law system and it is too late now for anyone to say that he shall reject this legal system wholesale… That cannot be done. Therefore, the application of the Hindu law and the Hindu code to Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs is a historical development to which you and I cannot give any answer” (Dr Ambedkar and the Hindu Code Bill, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, Volume 14, Part Two, 1995, pp 886-888).

Ambedkar’s contention of the historical and hegemonic operation of Hindu law in India was categorically rebutted by Hukam Singh and BS Mann. BS Mann quoted JD Mayne’s Hindu Law and Usage, which says:

“As regards the village communities, the Punjab and the adjoining districts are the region in which alone they flourish in their primitive rigour. This is the tract which the Aryans must have first traversed on entering India. Yet it seems to have been there that Brahmanism most completely failed to take root and the religious element has never entered into their secular law.” 

Commenting on this, Mann said: “If I have enjoyed emancipation from Manu for so long a time, will it not be tyranny of the times if I have to submit now to a modern Manu? Let me give credit to Manu that at least he was original in many respects, but my modern Manu – Oh, what a fall has he had!”

This misinterpretation of history is compounded by what that doyen of Indian Indologists, RG Bhandarkar, wrote: “India has no written history. Nothing was known till within recent times of the political condition of the country, the dynasties that ruled over the different provisions which composed it and the great religious and social revolutions it went through. The historical curiosity of the people was satiated by legends. What we find of a historical nature in the literature of the country before the arrival of the Mahomedans comes to very little” (Early History of the Dekkan Down to the Mahomedan Conquest, 2nd Ed. 1983, p. i-ii). 

Tara Chand’s seminal work entitled Influence of Islam on Indian Culture brought out the impact of Islam on Indian religious and cultural life. In its preface he stated:

“The history of India which furnishes a striking illustration of the impact of many divergent cultures which were gradually transformed by a process of mutual adjustment surely needs the attention of a student of sociology and history who endeavours to understand the interaction of human mind and the effects of cultural contacts as presented in the customs, religion, literature and art of a people.”

Misleading stereotypes about JainismApart from a few exceptions, most histories and encyclopaedias of world religions fail to mention Jainism as an independent religion. There are pervasive misconceptions about the origin of Jainism, about its relation to Vedic-Brahmanic Hinduism, about Mahavira being the founder of Jainism, about Jainism being an offshoot of Buddhism or Hinduism, or a reformist sect of Hinduism. There are misrepresentations galore. Jainism is overshadowed by Hinduism and Buddhism and, if noticed at all, is mentioned in passing as one of the ancient Indian religious movements subsidiary to Buddhism.

Such is the pervasive impact of misleading Indian historiography; its deleterious effects are noticeable in the work of even the most eminent historians, both right and left wing. One of the consequences of this failure is the dominance of misleading stereotypes about the nature of Indic religious thought and practice. I believe this has a vital bearing on the devastating impact of misconceived Indological and “oriental” stereotypes in Indian ethno-religious historiography, enough to necessitate a paradigmatic revaluation.

In her Representation of Jainism and Buddhism in Indian History Textbooks, Tara Sethia of the history department, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, has noted how “In reviewing six leading college textbooks on Indian history, however, I find a very different message. In this paper I will demonstrate that in these textbooks the coverage of Jainism and Buddhism is less than adequate; and their representation in historical narrative is often superficial, impertinent, misleading and at times even reminiscent of orientalism. This is a particularly vexing situation given the emerging scholarship pertaining to India as well as world history. Recent scholarship about India has questioned the orientalist approach in the Indological discourse. Over the last few decades, specialised studies about India have increasingly become far more inclusive in both content and approach. Historians are becoming increasingly interdisciplinary in their analysis…”Further, “For instance, it will be reasonable to expect to learn about Jainism and Buddhism from an Indian history textbook in terms of the following. What was the historical milieu of their ‘founders’ and the larger context in which these ‘religions’ emerged and subsequently evolved? How are Buddha and Mahavira represented in Indian history? What do we learn about their world view, key concepts and fundamental teachings or lessons? What do we learn about their followers, patrons and persecutors? What has been their larger historical significance in terms of the historical change and impact within and outside India? Equally important is the question of how this information about religious traditions is integrated in the larger scheme of historical narrative about India.”“Indian history has acquired something of a religio-cultural bias. Whole chapters devoted to the teachings of Buddha, the mathematical and musical theories of ancient India or Hindu devotional movements are standard fare in most Indian histories” (Keay, p. xix).

Chandragupta Maurya and JainismBut such distortions are not confined to orientalist interpreters of ancient Indian history. I quote below an excerpt from The Age of Mauryas by the eminent historian, Romila Thapar: “Chandragupta is said to have accepted Jainism in his later years, and in fact to have abdicated the throne and become a wandering ascetic dying through slow starvation in the orthodox Jain manner. Considering the difficulties that he faced in making himself king and building an empire, it is hardly likely that he would have abdicated at the end of his reign in order to become a wandering ascetic. It is possible though that he accepted the teachings of Mahavira and became a Jaina. This interest may be excused as originating in the fact that he was of low origin, a Vaisya, and by accepting Jainism he eluded the contempt of the higher caste nobility. The teachings of Mahavira were at this period regarded more as an offshoot of Hinduism, an extreme discipline, and the Jainas themselves as a sub-sect of the earlier religion, we can discountenance the above idea. The interest it would seem was largely intellectual. Accepting Jainism did not raise one’s social prestige in the eyes of high caste Hindus whose social ethics were already being determined by caste rules” (emphasis added).  

I am aware that this is an earlier historical reading by the eminent liberal progressive historian, Romila Thapar. I am also aware that that her readings of ancient Indian history have progressed from her A History of India (Pelican, 1966) to Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300 (Allen Lane, 2002). 

In A History of India (Volume I) Thapar has perceptively noted that “much of the early history of India was reconstructed almost entirely from Sanskrit sources i.e. from material preserved in the ancient classical language” (p. 18). In her latest version, “substantial changes in the readings of early Indian history” are made. Mauryan India is Thapar’s special field of historical study. That is why one is forced to question her cavalier and even presumptuous remarks – so unhistorical in character – regarding Chandragupta. 

I quote once again the particular sentence: “This interest may be excused as originating in the fact that he was of low origin, a Vaisya, and by accepting Jainism he eluded the contempt of the higher caste nobility.”

I simply fail to understand this judgemental remark on what Chandragupta did, making a totally unhistorical presumption on his alleged inferiority complex as a Vaisya and the even more questionable presumption that he did so to elude the contempt of “higher caste nobility”. One is almost led to wonder whether Chandragupta’s soul materialised by some transmigratory power before Romila Thapar to make the guilty confession, stating: “Well, Madam, you know how embarrassing it was to be a Vaisya with such glittering nobility around me!” 

I only make an issue of such “historical” interpretations or misinterpretations in order to demonstrate how even personal historiography from historians apparently unaffected by any transparent cultural bias can go astray. But since the issue has been raised it must be dealt with in a rational historical manner. Here I can do no better than to quote the celebrated historian, Radha Kumud Mookerji.

Radha Kumud Mookerji has commented at length on the theory of the base birth of Chandragupta in his Chandragupta Maurya and His Times (1943):

“The theory of the base birth of Chandragupta Maurya was first suggested by the derivation which a commentator was at pains to find for the epithet Maurya as applied to Chandragupta by the Puranas.”

After explaining how the commentator on the Puranas was wrong in obtaining, grammatically, Maurya from Mura, and how it is impossible “to derive by any grammar Maurya as a direct formation from Mura”, Mookerji states: “The derivative from Mura is Maureya. The term Maureya can be derived only from masculine Mura, which is mentioned as a name of a gotra in a Ganapatha in Panini’s Sutra (IV. I, 151). The commentator was more interested in finding a mother than in grammar! The only redeeming feature of the commentator is that not merely is he innocent of grammar and history, he is also innocent of any libel against Chandragupta. For he has not stated that Mura, the supposed mother of Chandragupta, was a Sudra woman or a courtesan of the Nanda king… Thus even the commentator of the Purana cannot be held responsible for the theory of Chandragupta’s low origin” (pp 9-10).

Mookerji also makes an earnest invocation that is echoed by all those in pursuit of serious history: “Heavens save us from commentators who supplement texts by facts of their own creation!” This is precisely the watchword in my humble efforts to trace the evolution of the Sramanic religious tradition of Jainism and Buddhism and its impact on the Indic civilisation.

Further, to press home the conclusion drawn from Jain and Buddhist sources, Mookerji notes that the “Mahavamsa (a Ceylonese Buddhist account from about the fifth century AD) states that Chandragupta was “born of a family of Kshatriyas called Moriyas (Moriyanam khattiyanam vamse jatam)” and that the Buddhist canonical work, Digha Nikaya (II, 167), mentions the Kshatriya clan known as Moriyas of Pippalivana.

Even more monumental evidence, according to Mookerji, derived from both the Buddhist and the Jain tradition, connects the peacock, mayura, with the Moriya or Maurya dynasty. Thus the Ashoka pillar at Nandangarh has been found to bear at its base, below ground, the figure of a peacock, while the same figure is repeated in several sculptures on the Great Stupa at Sanchi associated with Ashoka. Therefore Mookerji concludes that the “Buddhist and Jain tradition are at one in declaring for him (Chandragupta) a noble birth” (pp 14-15, ibid).

The date of the foundation of the Maurya dynasty by Chandragupta is believed to be about 322 BC. This was determined on the basis of known dates of corresponding individuals or events such as the invasion by Greek king, Alexander the Great, which brought the Greeks into contact with India, or historical fragments of Greek traveller and geographer, Megasthenes’ Indica. Chandragupta Maurya’s ascension to the throne and his historicity is an important landmark or even a high watermark in the vague almost non-existent ancient Indian historical accounts. 

I emphasise the significance of the Chandragupta Maurya dynasty in ancient India because Chandragupta’s role was also crucial in the spread of Jain religious and cultural traditions in the whole of South India. In a remarkable monograph, Jainism or the Early Faith of Asoka with Illustrations of the Ancient Religions of the East From the Pantheon of the Indo-Scythians with A Notice on Bactrian coins and Indian Dates (read at the meeting of the Royal Asiatic Society, February 26, 1877, published Trubner & Co, London, 1877), Edward Thomas describes Chandragupta’s Jain Sramanic faith.

Thomas also quotes Abul Fazl, “accomplished minister of Akbar… known to have been largely indebted to the Jaina priests and their carefully preserved chronicles”, from Fazl’s Ain-i-Akbari, “three very important entries, exhibited in the original Persian version quoted below, which establish: (1) that Asoka himself first introduced ‘JAINISM’ into the kingdom of Kashmir, (2) that ‘Buddhism’ was dominant there during the reign of Jaloka (the son and successor of Asoka), and (3) that Brahmanism superseded Buddhism under Raja Sachinara…” which evidence he uses “to infer that Asoka’s conversion to Buddhism occurred late in his life or reign” and that the “annals of Kashmir, on the other hand, more emphatically imply that either he did not seek to spread, or had not the chance or opportunity of propagating his new faith.”  

Thomas emphasises that the “leading fact of Asoka’s introduction or recognition of the Jaina creed in Kashmir, above stated, does not however rest upon the sole testimony of the Muhammadan author, but is freely acknowledged in the Brahmanical pages of the Rajatarangini.”

The BJP and Hindu RashtraA pertinent pointer to the implicit concept of Hindu Rashtra in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideology is available in the former prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s letter dated July 17, 2000, commenting on the Islamic scholar, Rafiq Zakaria’s book, Discovery of God, and displayed on the back cover of Zakaria’s book, Communal Rage in Secular India. Vajpayee’s appreciation states:

“Yet you have succeeded in presenting it in a fresh, simple and highly persuasive manner, with the power of your central thought that GOD IS ONE. This monotheistic thought is the defining principle of India’s age-old civilisation. Our ancient sages articulated it in these words: Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudha Vadanti (The truth is one, wise men describe it differently). They also taught us the secular canon which is the basis of our nationhood: Sarva Panth Samabhava (Equal respect for all faiths).”

It is worth noting here that as a true swayamsevak (volunteer of the RSS), Vajpayee knows what he means. Remember his proclamation: “The Sangh is my soul.” Yet he makes a glaring linguistic slip in translating panth (religious sect or order) as faith. When he received the RG Joshi Foundation’s Rashtriya Ekatmata (National Unity) award in Mumbai in 1995, Vajpayee had declared that Hindutva and Indian-ness are one and the same. The former prime minister’s well-known expertise in doublespeak notwithstanding, is there any dictionary – apart from the unique RSS glossary of Savarkarian Hindutva – that translates “panth” as “faith”? Can this be seen as anything other than a systematic linguistic sabotage of the basic structure of the Constitution?

Given the Vedic pedigree and genesis of the term Hindutva, one can appreciate Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s somewhat tortuous journey towards accepting the “synonymity” of Hindutva and Bharatiyatva (Indian-ness). But does this mean that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will change its name to the “Hindu” Janata Party? It is inconceivable that the BJP will ever take this ultimate nomenclatural ideological leap. The term “Hindutva”, for all its rigmarole about all-inclusive Hindu-ness, cannot connote the comprehensiveness, breadth or a certain secular cultural synthesis peculiar to the confluence of a medley of religions, eastern and western, that have grown together over centuries in the term “Bharatiya”. And if ever the BJP rechristens itself in reckless Hindu manifestation, it will immediately be branded as “fundamentalist” and “communal”, as the Muslim League or the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) are. It is thus easy to see why despite all its ideological compulsions to paint the Indian map a saffron colour the BJP has prudentially continued with the term “Bharatiya” and still harbours inner reservations that “Hindutva” and “Bharatiyatva” cannot be one and the same.

Yet while the BJP is willing to strike but afraid to wound the “Bharatiyatva” concept frontally (despite Vajpayee’s categorical assertion that Hindutva is synonymous with Bharatiyatva), because it is still the Bharatiya Janata Party and not the “Hindu” Janata Party its Hindutva ideology received judicial imprimatur from the Supreme Court of India in its judgement in the 1995 Manohar Joshi election petition case. The Supreme Court judgement in cases against elected representatives of the Shiv Sena and BJP, which upheld the concept of Hindutva as a “way of life of the people in the subcontinent”, reveals how even the highest judicial forum is not immune to the deceptive spell of Vedic Hindu metaphysical concepts and so-called Hindu tradition.

The judgement is at once a high watermark of Hindutva’s impact on the highest judicial echelons of the country as well as a crucial challenge to the preambular secular constitutional character of the Indian nation. In this case the Supreme Court chose to act outside its jurisdiction and to do so unnecessarily i.e. arriving at a definition of “Hindutva” and “Hinduism” – something even leading scholars have shied away from. The apex court rushed in where angels fear to tread only to open another Pandora’s box. The court did not pause to consider that if Hinduism and Hindutva per se was a way of life this could equally be true of Islam, Christanity or any other religion. In ancient times India was known as “Jambu Dvipa” or “Bharat Varsha”. As Sanskrit scholar and author Mahamahopadhyaya PV Kane says in his monumental History of Dharma Shastra, the correct word to describe our country must be “Bharatvarsha”.

It is incredible therefore to encounter such colossal ignorance of our ancient heritage and culture. Yet perhaps it is not ignorance at all. Perhaps the learned judges were simply unable to dissociate from the profound impact of their Hindu upbringing and look dispassionately at the fundamentalist manifestation of the “Hindu” spectre flaunted by the BJP. Such “faithful” aberrations at even the highest judicial level are sufficient indication of the irreparable damage being wrought on India’s secular constitutional fabric.

In a strong rebuttal of the Supreme Court’s pronouncements in an article in the Economic and Political Weekly of September 21, 1996, writers Brenda Cossman and Ratna Kapur have argued that “Hindutva continues to be a political category that at its core is an attack on the legitimacy of minority rights” and that the “Supreme Court has failed to understand the assault on religious minorities that is a constituent element of the concept of Hindutva. From its roots in the writing of Savarkar to its contemporary deployment by the likes of Bal Thackeray, Manohar Joshi, Sadhvi Ritambara and LK Advani, Hindutva has been based on the idea of Indian society fractured by the conflict between Hindus and Muslims, wherein the majority of Hindus have been and continue to be oppressed at the hands of the Muslim minority. Hindutva is a call to unite against these religious minorities; at best it is a call to assimilate these minorities into the ostensibly more tolerant fabric of Hinduism, and at its more modest assimilationist mode and in its more extreme and violent mode, Hindutva is an attack on the rights, indeed, on the very legitimacy of religious minorities. As a call to assimilate or otherwise undermine the very identity and integrity of minority communities, it is based on a total disregard and lack of respect for other religious groups.”

This is precisely the dilemma and danger the Jain community is contending with in its fight for recognition as a minority community. In a powerful theoretical exploration of Hindutva and fascism and the RSS’ ability to capitalise on such anti-secular traditions, political commentator Aijaz Ahmad says in his book, Lineages of the Present: Political Essays, that we in India need to be especially careful in our understanding of the relationship between fascism and the oppression of minorities. As Ahmad puts it, “Racism, in our case, communalism, can arise as the centrepiece of fascist demagogy and fascists can then fashion a comprehensive programme for organising the heretofore unorganised mass morbidity; countless members of the minority can undoubtedly suffer in the process and there may be even a fully fledged holocaust; but the real object of the fascists is not the elimination of the minority but the construction of a fascist state, hence the subjugation of the whole society.”

The basic ideological ambivalence in the terms “Bharatiya” and “Hindu” can be best appreciated by comparing two statements made by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, one in 1980 and the other in 1995. In 1980 Vajpayee said: “I still feel that instead of the phrase “Hindu Rashtra” we should use “Bharatiya Rashtra”. Contrast this with his statement in December 1995: “There is no difference between Hindutva and Bharatiyatva, in Hindutva alone are the roots of Bharat.”

Vajpayee’s ideological evolution over a decade and a half, his progression to “Hindutva” being indistinguishable from “Bharatiyatva”, clearly demonstrates the Bharatiya Janata Party’s inexorable march towards a “Hindu” India, thus returning full circle to Savarkar’s vision of India in his book, Hindutva:

Asindhu Sindhu Paryanta yasya Bharatbhumika pitrubhu punyabhu sarvaih hindu iti smritah” i.e. “One who considers the country or nation spread between the Sindhu river and the sea as his Fatherland and Holy Land is verily a Hindu.” It is pertinent to note that instead of “Motherland” Savarkar calls the country “Fatherland”, a peculiar definitive patrilineal concept characteristic of Vedic and “Hindu” Brahmanism that later developed into the racist and fascist Nazi concept of a pure Aryan “Vaterland“, thus making the fascist genealogy of Hindutva clearly evident.

According to this convenient portmanteau definition of “Hindu”, most Indians, except of course Muslims and Christians, comprising those who believe in the Vedas as well as those who do not believe in the Vedas (such as Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs) are lumped together as “Hindus”. As explained by Hindutva ideologue, JS Karandikar, in his Marathi book Hindutvavada: “Although Jains, Buddhists, Vedic, Burmese, Arya, Sikh, Manbhava, belong to different religious sects, Hinduism is alone the spring source of all these sects and these have grown into separate branches at various times for various reasons. This leads to the pan-Hinduistic position of Vivekananda, stating that any religion in the world has its ultimate origin in Hinduism, but we do not want to connect Christian and Islamic religions by such far-fetched relationship.”

Yet the Jains, Buddhists and the Sikhs have been counted as separate religious denominations right from the first census in India in 1873 under the Indian Census Act.

On April 11, 2006, Mahavir Jayanti day, LK Advani, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, issued a press statement in Pune under the following headings:

Ø “Communal reservations, fuelled by the politics of minorityism, could lead to fragmentation of Hindu society.Ø “Let there be a national debate on extending quota obligations to minority education institutions.”After paying his tributes to Mahavira, Advani went on to say: “I salute the Jain samaj in India which has shown how, in spite of being relatively small in number, a community can prosper in trade, commerce and various professions solely on the strength of the hard work and dedication of its members. The Jain community has always been in the forefront of philanthropic activities in education, health care, care of the destitute and the disabled, care of animals. It is also a model to all others in terms of national integration and social harmony.

Demand for “minority status” to Jains is flawed and fraught with peril: Lately I have heard a few voices – marginal and not mainstream – from within the Jain community that they be declared as a minority community. The principal reasons behind this demand are twofold:

“Firstly, those who raise this demand think that with the Congress party and some other parties announcing religion-based reservations for minorities, securing a “minority” status for the Jain community would enable its members to enjoy the benefit of quotas in education and jobs…” (Press Release issued by the BJP office, Pune, April 11, 2006).

This was definitely a prelude to the Freedom of Religion Bill in Gujarat.

Impact of the Hinduisation process on the Jain populationIn this context it is imperative to note the insidious impact of the Hinduisation process on the Jain population. Hinduism has never been a proselytising religion like Christianity or Islam but the relentless Hindutva propaganda that Jains are Hindus results in the surreptitious “conversion” of Jains through their misleading enumeration as Hindus in the census. This becomes glaringly evident if we look at the census figures.

The growth rate of the Jain population between 1951-1981 was, on an average, 24-25 per cent per decade as the community’s population doubled, over 30 years, from 16,18,406 in 1951 to 32,06,038 in 1981. This more or less conforms to the demographic pattern whereby a given population doubles, on an average, in three decades. In previous decades i.e. before 1951 the census enumeration of Jains was faulty. Hence, in pursuance of a Jain delegation’s representation to Vallabhbhai Patel, the government of India issued a direction that Jains should be properly designated as distinguished from Hindus. As a result, for the next three decades there was a reasonably dependable census enumeration of Jains.

However, in the 1991 census the Jain population is enumerated at 33,52,706, which shows a growth rate of just four per cent even as the rest of the Indian population registered a growth of about 23.8 per cent. Contrast this with the growth rate of the Jain population at 26 per cent in the very next decade i.e. from 1991-2001. This only confirms the apprehensions of the Jain community that the BJP-VHP propaganda that Jains are Hindus is taking its demographic toll.

Historiographical ambiguity of “Hindu” and HinduismTracing the genealogy of the term “Hindu”, which was in use among Europeans from the early 17th century, Will Sweetman, the distinguished scholar of Asian religions, said:

“One of the most striking advances in modern scholarship is the view that there is no such thing as an unbroken tradition of Hinduism, only a set of discrete traditions and practices reorganised into a larger entity called “Hinduism”.”

Perhaps the first to criticise the term Hinduism and to advocate abandoning its use was Canadian scholar of religion, Wilfred Cantwell Smith:

“The term “Hinduism” is, in my judgement, a particularly false conceptualisation, one that is conspicuously incompatible with any adequate understanding of the religious outlook of Hindus. Even the term “Hindu” was unknown to the classical Hindus. “Hinduism” as a concept certainly they did not have. And indeed one has only to reflect on the situation carefully to realise that it would necessarily have been quite meaningless to them.”

The far-reaching and politically damaging consequences of such an inherently deceptive connotation are documented in a clinching argument by the American historian of India, Robert Frykenberg, who argues that: “the concept of “Hinduism” as denoting a single religious community has already done enormous, even incalculable, damage to structures undergirding the peace, security and unity of the whole Indian political system. What’s more, continued popular use of this concept and popular belief in the existence of a monolithic “Hinduism” – in short, fervent adherence to any doctrine which assumes that there is one single religion embraced by the “majority” of all peoples in India – can still do even greater damage. If such usages and beliefs continue to be dogmatically and persistently maintained, there is no telling how much more harm such a notion may do to the well-being of India’s peoples.”

As famed German sociologist, Max Weber has pointed out: “Only in recent literature have the Indians themselves begun to designate their religious affiliation as Hinduism. It is the official designation of the English census for the complex of religion also described in Germany as Brahmanism.” And as explained by him further: “In truth, it may well be concluded that Hinduism is simply not a ‘religion’ in our sense of the word.”

How did this modern myth of Hinduism begin? It had its origin in the “orientalism” created by the colonial Sanskrit scholars of the 19th century. In his book, Orientalism and Religion: Post-Colonial Theory, India and ‘The Mystic East’, religion and philosophy scholar, Richard King observes:

“William Jones in his role as Supreme Court judge in India, initiated a project to translate the Dharmasastras in the misguided belief that this represented the law of the Hindus, in order to circumvent what he saw as the ‘culpable bias’ of the native pundits. In taking the Dharmasastras as a binding law book, Jones manifests the Judaeo-Christian paradigm within which he conceived of religion and the attempt to apply such a book universally reflects Jones’ ‘textual imperialism’. The problem with taking the Dharmasastras as pan-Indian in application is that the texts themselves were representative of a priestly elite (the Brahmin castes), and not of Hindus in toto. Thus even within these texts there was no notion of a unified Hindu community, but rather an acknowledgment of a plurality of local, occupational and caste contexts in which different customs and or rules applied.”

King goes on to say: “It was thus in this manner that ‘society was made to conform to ancient dharmasastras texts, in spite of those texts’ insistence that they were overridden by local and group custom. It eventually allowed Anglicist administrators to manipulate the porous boundary between religion as defined by texts and customs they wished to ban’” (author’s italics quoting from Rosane Rocher’s British Orientalism in the Eighteenth Century, p. 242).

This colonial construct of “Hinduism” contributed, according to Richard King, to the merging of the Brahmanical forms of religion with Hinduism, which is notable in the “tendency to emphasise Vedic and Brahmanical texts and beliefs as central and foundational to the ‘essence of Hinduism’ and in the modern association of ‘Hindu doctrine’ with the various Brahmanical schools of the Vedanta”(p. 102).

Hindutva ideology and infiltrationIn October 2006, during a public meeting on the Malegaon bomb blasts organised by Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai, hard-hitting speeches were made by BG Kolse Patil, former judge of the Bombay High Court, and SM Mushrif, former commissioner of police, Pune, on how the RSS has infiltrated the Indian administration.

There has long existed a strong suspicion, ever since the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, that RSS cadres have infiltrated various administrative departments in the country. This fact was also noted by Vallabhbhai Patel when the RSS was banned in the wake of the Mahatma’s assassination. Describing the antecedents of the conspiracy to murder the Mahatma and the lack of security despite the bomb explosion at a meeting that Gandhi was addressing in Delhi on January 20, 1948, Gandhi’s personal secretary, Pyarelal observes in Mahatma Gandhi: the Last Phase (1958):

“What, however, surprises one, is that in spite of the definite and concrete information of which the authorities were in possession, they should have failed to trace and arrest the conspirators and frustrate their plan. The failure was an index of the extent of the rot that had permeated many branches of the services, not excluding the police. In fact later it was brought to light that the RSS organisation had ramifications even in the government departments and many police officials, not to mention the rank and file, gave their sympathy and even active help to those engaged in RSS activities… A letter (to) Sardar Patel after the assassination of Gandhiji from a young man, who according to his own statement had been gulled into joining the RSS organisation but was later disillusioned, described how members of the RSS at some places had been instructed beforehand to tune in their radio sets on the fateful Friday for the “good news”. After the news, sweets were distributed in RSS circles in several places… The rot was so insidious that only the supreme sacrifice could arrest or remove it” (p. 756).

If the poisonous rot of RSS ideology ran so deep at the dawn of India’s freedom, one can only shudder at its hydra-headed extent and its cancerous damage to the body politic today.

There is striking evidence that even supposedly independent arms of the Indian administration, such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), are now under the RSS’ sway. According to reports, while addressing an RSS rally former director of the CBI, Joginder Singh proclaimed that the “RSS is the only hope of the nation”.

In 1964 I corresponded at length with the chairman of the Gandhi Memorial Fund, RR Diwakar, expressing shock and indignation at the revelation of a Poona editor that six months prior to the actual assassination, Nathuram Godse had divulged his plan to murder Mahatma Gandhi. Diwakar then consulted some highly placed individuals and there was a furore in Parliament. Ultimately, the government of India appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate once again the conspiracy to murder Mahatma Gandhi. Twenty years after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, the Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission of Inquiry concluded: “All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group.”

Inspiration for the RSS cadres and their paramilitary training was derived from Benito Mussolini’s fascist paramilitary groups, the Blackshirts, after RSS mentor and founder, BS Moonje visited the Italian dictator in 1931. As detailed in Marzia Casolari’s article, “Hindutva’s foreign tie-up in the 1930s: Archival evidence” (Economic and Political Weekly, January 22, 2000):

“To understand militant Hinduism, one must examine its domestic roots as well as foreign influence. In the 1930s Hindu nationalism borrowed from European fascism to transform ‘different’ people into ‘enemies’. Leaders of militant Hinduism repeatedly expressed their admiration for authoritarian leaders such as Mussolini and Hitler and for the fascist model of society. This influence continues to the present day. This paper presents archival evidence on the would-be collaborators.”

As Marzia Casolari notes: “Defining the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and, in general, the organisations of militant Hinduism as undemocratic, with authoritarian, paramilitary, radical, violent tendencies and a sympathy for fascist ideology and practice, has been a major concern for many politically oriented scholars and writers. This has been the case with the literature, which started with Gandhi’s assassination and continues up to the present day with works such as Amartya Sen’s “India at Risk”, (The New York Review of Books, April 1993) and Christophe Jaffrelot’s The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India (Viking, New Delhi, 1996). The latest book published on the subject is the well-known Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags (Orient Longman, New Delhi, 1993), which came out soon after the destruction of the Babri Masjid. As a result, the fascist ideological background of Hindu fundamentalism is taken for granted never proved by systematic analysis. This is an outcome that is, to a certain extent, explained by the fact that most of the aforementioned authors are political scientists and not historians.

“It is a fact that many of those who witnessed the growth of Hindu radical forces in the years around the second world war were already convinced of the Sangh’s fascist outlook. Particularly acute was the perception that the Congress had of these organisations and their character. There is no need to mention the already well-known opinion of Nehru who right from the beginning had pointed at these organisations as communalist and fascist. Less well known is the fact that, as shown by a confidential report circulated within the Congress most probably at the time of the first ban of the RSS after Gandhi’s assassination, the similarity between the character of the RSS and that of fascist organisations was already taken for granted…

“To demonstrate this, I will reconstruct the context from which arose the interest of Hindu radicalism in Italian fascism right from the early 1920s. This interest was commonly shared in Maharashtra and must have inspired BS Moonje’s trip to Italy in 1931. The next step will be to examine the effects of that trip, namely how BS Moonje tried to transfer fascist models to Hindu society and to organise it militarily, according to fascist patterns. An additional aim of this paper is to show how, about the end of the 1930s, the admiration for the Italian regime was commonly shared by the different streams of Hindu nationalism and the main Hindu leaders.” As emphasised by Casolari: “More generally the aim of this paper is to disprove Christophe Jaffrelot’s thesis that there is a sharp distinction between Nazi and fascist ideology on one side and RSS on the other as far as the concept of race and the centrality of the leader are concerned.”

Hope for the JainsFor the Jains in India, however, there are some encouraging judicial straws in the wind. The latest division bench judgement delivered by Dalveer Bhandari in the Supreme Court is a significant pointer that all is not lost for the Jain minority.

The judgement dated August 21, 2006, in the case of Committee of Management, Kanya Junior High School Bal Vidya Mandir, Etah, UP vs Sachiv, UP, Basic Shiksha Parishad, Allahabad, UP & Others, delivered by judges, SB Sinha and Dalveer Bhandari, emphatically states: “(The) Jain religion indisputably is not a part of Hindu religion. The question as to whether the Jains are part of the Hindu religion is not open to debate. Jains have a right to establish and administer their own institution. But only because an institution is managed by a person belonging to a particular religion the same would not ipso facto make the institution run and administered by a minority community. A minority is determinable by reference to the demography of a state. Whether an institution is established and administered by a minority community or not may have to be determined by the appropriate authority in terms of the provisions of the statute governing the field. Furthermore, minority institutions are not immune from the operations of the measures necessary to regulate their functions. To what extent such regulations would operate, however, again is a matter which would be governed by the statute.

“Minority communities do not have any higher rights than the majority. They have merely been conferred additional protection. This has been laid down by an 11-judge bench of this court. [See: PA Inamdar & Others vs State of Maharashtra & Others, (2005) 6 SCC 537.]

“The court in the said judgement also dealt with the object of Article 30 (1) of the Constitution. The court in para 97 of the judgement observed the relevant para which reads as under: “The object underlying Article 30 (1) is to see the desire of minorities being fulfilled that their children should be brought up properly and efficiently and acquire eligibility for higher university education and go out in the world fully equipped with such intellectual attainments as will make them fit for entering public services, educational institutions imparting higher instructions including general secular education. Thus the twin objects sought to be achieved by Article 30 (1) in the interest of minorities are: (i) to enable such minority to conserve its religion and language, and (ii) to give a thorough, good, general education to children belonging to such minority. So long as the institution retains its minority character by achieving and continuing to achieve the abovesaid two objectives, the institution would remain a minority institution.””

In view of the foregoing evidence I would respectfully submit that the proposed Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill 2006 as passed by the Gujarat assembly is clearly a violation of the constitutional religious identity of Jains and Buddhists and urge that it should be rejected.

(Bal Patil is a former member, Maharashtra State Minorities Commission)

The entire Middle East is in danger of exploding into a horrific inferno as the situation in Iraq escalates and grows more intense every day. When the Bush administration invaded and occupied Iraq they initiated a chain of events that conceivably could lead to complete chaos and open warfare involving any number of Middle East countries.

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The entire Middle East is in danger of exploding into a horrific inferno as the situation in Iraq escalates and grows more intense every day. When the Bush administration invaded and occupied Iraq they initiated a chain of events that conceivably could lead to complete chaos and open warfare involving any number of Middle East countries.

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Posted by: Bal Patil | January 4, 2007

100 Years Later, the Food Industry Is Still ‘The Jungle’

Food industry in need of thorough investigation. The powerful meat and produce industries can be counted on to call on their allies in Congress and the White House for help in resisting.

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Evidence is piling up that emissions from the production of synthetic compounds in non-stick cookware, cleaning products, and a host of other common products may cause cancer and other health problems.

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Posted by: Bal Patil | January 3, 2007

The Private arm of the Law

The more than 1 million contract security officers, and an equal number of guards estimated to work directly for U.S. corporations, dwarf the nearly 700,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States.

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Posted by: Bal Patil | January 2, 2007

Do We Need World Health Insurance? Health As Human Right

There has been growing recognition in the international community that health should be considered a human right, but much less attention has been paid to the ensuing legal obligation to provide international assistance, says a team of authors from Médecins Sans Frontières, led by Gorik Oooms.

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Posted by: Bal Patil | December 31, 2006


When customized moral codes and legislation are commissioned by councils of obscene wealth, average Joe and Jane can expect more than trouble. Think tanks have become the determiners of mankind
’s future, for they are paid to implement morality and behavior laws according to the governing intentions of the world’s rich.

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