India That Is Bharat
The other day Satiricus read a very funny joke. It was a well-known columnist calling himself a devout Hindu and a secular Indian. Imagine a secular Indian being a devout Hindu at the same time. Was not the juxtaposition of the two opposites a joke? Secularist Satiricus must firmly tell this fellow-journalist that if he is a devout Hindu he cannot quality as a secular Indian. In fact, calling himself a devout Hindu would be a slur on his being a devout secularist. Fortunately, he saved the sorry situation by saying, “as a devout Hindu and a secular Indian I regard the intolerant stance of a fringe section of the Russian Orthodox Church (calling for a ban on the Gita) as condemnable as that of some extremist Hindus in our own country seeking a ban on the Holy Quran”.
How immeasurably impartial of him! And of course it is clear that the said columnist must have carefully studied both the Quran and the Gita before his condemnation. Unfortunately, there are some eminent ignoramuses for whom ignorance is blithe bliss. Like, for instance, the self-exiled Pakistani Anwar Shaikh, who has written books on the Quran on the one hand and the Vedas on the other. For in his book Islam: Sex and Violence he writes, “Jehad is a binding contract between Allah and Muslims”. And what is Jehad? His answer is: “Jehad is all about massacre, mutilation and misery.” In support of this stunning statement he actually quotes ‘Ibn-e-Majah”, in which the Prophet said, “He who murders another, property of the murdered becomes property of the murderer.” As if this is not enough, this execrable ex-Pakistani gives a quotable quote from Spoils of War, saying, “The worst of beasts in Allah’s sight are the ungrateful who will not believe” and again from the same chapter of the holy Quran, “It is not for any prophet to have prisoners until he makes wide slaughter.” In yet another book of his, this ex-Pakistani has been na-pak enough to club Islam and Terrorism together in the title, and quotes Spoils of War (8/11) declaring, “I will strike with terror the hearts of those who disbelieve, then smite the necks and smite of their each finger.”
Well, now, if Satiricus could not find equivalent advice in the Gita, it only means he is a typical follower of the illiterate profession of journalism. And to make the confusion in his bird-brain worse confounded, Satiricus found that this self-exiled Pakistani was followed by another self-exiled Pakistani who thought the same about the Quran, Pervez Musharraf. As the dictator-cum-president of Pakistan, he had actually edited out some ayats of Quran from school books, saying they were too violent for little children. How terrible! This proves that this second self-exiled Pakistani was actually a crypto-extremist-Hindu who not only wanted to ban the Quran but actually did ban at least some portions of it.
Anyway Satiricus, a secular Indian and a dastardly Hindu, was happy to see that this columnist, who began with even-handed condemnation of “extremist” Hindus wanting a ban on the Quran (a la Musharraf) and Orthodox Russian churchmen wanting to ban the Gita, concluded his piece with a sage suggestion for our religious leaders: “Why don’t we facilitate the setting up a befitting memorial to the Russian Orthodox Church in India as an initiative to carry forward the Hindu-Christian dialogue?” Why don’t we, indeed! This columnist seems sure (even if stupid Satiricus is not) that such a memorial would bring about a memorable change of heart among the Orthodox churchmen of Russia and they would take back their demand for a ban on the Gita. And of course what they had said about the propounder of the Gita a few years ago is history, and is not history meant to be forgotten? According to that ancient history, on November 29, 2005 Archbishop Nikon of this same Russian Orthodox Church had sent a letter to the mayor of Moscow describing Krishna as an “evil demon” and using the word “satanic”. But of course we secular Indians and deemed devout Hindus should ignore such trifles. For, this columnist assures us that it is only “a fringe section of the Russian Orthodox Church” that is indulging in all this. And we must also not ask this columnist whether the Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Church is himself in this fringe section.
Finally, a funny thought: If there is this Russian fringe headed by the Archbishop in the East, why can’t there be an equally illustrious American fringe in the West? Satiricus recalls a leading clergyman of the modern American Church declaring in a sermon in the presence of the governor of a state that those who do not believe in Christ are going to hell “with a one-way ticket”. So after setting up a memorial for the Russian Church in India, should we not set up a ticket counter for the American Church?