Srijan Foundation’s Official Stand On Donation Made To “IndiaSpend” In The Financial Year 2014-15

Matter in Issue:

In financial year 2014-15 Srijan Foundation has made a donation of Rs. 20,000 to IndiaSpend in good faith presuming that “IndiaSpend” was doing a noble unbiased work in terms of data collection and it’s publication, which will help in addressing social issues in more concrete terms. But recently we came across some news articles published on well known news media portals questioning the method of data collection of “IndiaSpend” and in particular raising objection on a report titled, “Cow Related Violence” published on the official website of “IndiaSpend”. After taking a careful reading of that report we came to the conclusion that the report was fundamentally flawed and represents only one side of the story in cases related to cow violence. The most unfortunate part of the story is that the same report has also been quoted by international news media platforms like “Washington Post” to paint a highly unwarranted image of Hindus globally. And due to that report (“Cow Related Violence”) not only repute to “IndiaSpend” comes in jeopardy but Srijan Foundation has also been targeted on social media and other platforms for donating to “IndiaSpend”. Although the donation which we have made was in good faith, with no purpose whatsoever to promote any biased reporting against Hindus.

Our Response:

After taking careful reading of the report titled “Cow Related Violence” and analyzing the news articles which question that report. We realized that the said report was fundamentally flawed and painted a highly unwarranted image of Hindus. Therefore as a result Srijan Foundation has raised strong objection to “IndiaSpend” on that report through a mail and ask them to return our donation which we have made to them in Financial Year 2014-15.

Srijan Foundation is crystal clear in it’s approach on this issue, we do not want our name to be unnecessarily dragged into any controversy by getting projected our affiliation with “IndiaSpend”. We stood firmly by our decision of demanding return of our donation from “IndiaSpend”.

Response from “IndiaSpend”.

The response which “IndiaSpend” send us in reply reads as follows :

“Thank you for reaching out and I do appreciate the candidness of your mail.

First and foremost, the reports that you refer to are no longer on our website as we have ceased publication of the violence tracker.

In general, (since you have appended them) we don’t agree to any of these `articles’ mentioned here and believe they are more flawed than the flaws our database was accused of !

Our objective is to point out gaps in data collection or data gathering and we have done that in this case. And now that project is over.

It is not our intent or desire to be anti-Hindu (or be perceived) as anti-Hindu or any religion for that matter.

Finally, if you do believe we should `return’ the donation we will do so.

From an accounting perspective, there is no returning donations as far as we can see since the financial year in question is long over with audited results submitted to both Income Tax and the Charity Commissioner, Mumbai.

What we can do is make a donation to your trust for the same amount and go through the same process in reverse.

Do let us know if that is what you would like us to do..

Am happy to speak on the phone and explain as well. ..”

Note: We have appended the screenshots of our mail conversation on this issue with this note of clarification.

School of Happiness meets SurManjari

The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence…Denis Waitley

The future of children is shaped by the love and care that is bestowed upon them, the environment in which they grow up and the guidance and direction that are provided to them to develop and excel. However not all the children are fortunate enough to fulfill their dreams, nor find the best of circumstances to live the life of their dreams. For them, earning their bread and butter becomes the primary objective of their life and they are forced to help their parents very early in life.

These children also have a dream to fly high, they have their passion for arts and science but they hardly get the moral and financial support to pursue those. But there is hope; social organizations like Srijan Foundation and SurManjari strive to recognize the potential in these children and dedicate their time and resources in uplifting these children of the economically weaker sections of the society.

School of Happiness was started way back in 2001 in Kishangarh, New Delhi by Srijan Foundation, with an aim to nurture these little children and help them grow in their chosen area of interest. It is a non formal after-school which the children attend to develop their skills in English speaking, in extra curricular activities like music, dance, sports etc. The School also helps the children develop technical skills to cope up with the needs of the time.

The school has been participating and excelling in several events thanks to the hard work, belief and constant encouragement from Rahul Dewan, the founder of Srijan Foundation and Retired Army Officer Col Ramakrishnan who has been at the fore front of the School of Happiness.

It is with similar intentions that the Skill’UP’LittleMore project was started by SurManjari which happens to be the Social Welfare wing of Factorize.  SurManjari  is a Music Education and Music Therapy Foundation which offers music education and Applied Music and Rhythm Therapy [AMRT] to people of all ages and stages. Conceptualized by Ruma Chakravarty, the Skill’UP’LittleMore project is an effort towards the holistic development of children from the weaker sections of the society. This project is considering a few creative & self-development courses to get the children trained & certified in those courses from reputed institutes as per feasibility. In normal circumstances, these children may not be able to opt for those skills or certification. In the words of Ruma, “The idea is to open some possibilities for the children and give them a direction, which they might be able to extend to mainstream studies/ degrees or profession when they grow up”.

SurManjari’s first batch of students is from the School of Happiness whom Ruma Chakravarty proudly calls as ‘angels’. The classes started in June 2018 for a batch of 10-15 children. The classes happen on weekends and it takes tremendous effort both from the teacher and the students to keep the program going. The children are learning fast and enjoying it too. For them learning is fun and they love the time they spend at the school.

Only 4-5 months down the line they got an opportunity to recite the Durga Vandana on Durga Sapthami (7th day of Navratri) at the Minto Road Durga Puja, thanks to the enthusiasm  of Col Ramakrishnan and the efforts of Ruma Chakravarty.   The children enjoyed the event thoroughly and apart from the recitation participated in a few fun activities too. Post the event they had stories to tell to their friends and an experience to narrate. These kind of little exposures go a long way in building the confidence in children along with imbibing in them the love for their culture.

There is a long way to go for these children to get fully trained and certified in the Hindustani Classical Music programs but the day is not far thanks to the dedication of the students, the faith and patience of Ruma, and the continued support of Col Ramakrishnan.

These attempts at giving back to the society go a long way in shaping the future of the nation…kudos to those who spare a thought for the less fortunate.

Less Known Temples of Kerala – 3: Thirunavaya, Trippadam, Hanuman Kshetram

The three temples  are near one another and can be comfortably covered within two hours. ;    (between kottakkal & kuttipuram on Mangalore  – Cochin rd ‘ 19 km from kadampuza ). Ed visited these temples in June 2011. PS Roads in Kerala have innumerable turns , bends , forks, and junctions. Of course there are no sign boards where you need them. However people are helpful enough.

      Thirunavaya :

    Vishnu Kshetram on the banks of Bharatha Puza. It is approximately 19 Km from Kadampuzha. On the bank of the river steps have been built and maintained for convenience of pilgrims. Pitru Karma and kria ceremonies are conducted here, and many who are unable to go to Kashi or Gaya come here. You will also see many ladies performing ‘ tarpanam’, an unusual site, as normally it is the men folk who perform these ceremonies.

There is a seperate sanctum for Lakshmi. The story goes; when Adi Sankara visited this spot he found that people of the area were arrogant on account of the vast wealth they possessed.  He saw that the reason was living in the vicinity of the idol of Laksmi whose right hand with an open palm facing downwards was below the hip  level. This ensured that any one who prayed to her was showered with wealth, deserving or not. So Adi Sankara prayed to the mother goddess to revert to her normal abhaya hasta, which she did. This ensured that undeserving persons did not get wealth.

Across the Bharatha puza is a temple for Brahma. However there are no boats or bridge to cross over for a darshan of Brahma.

Trippadam ;

       Trikanangode ; Siva Ksehtram; Markandeya Moksha Sthalam

Markandeya was destined to live for only 16 years. When he found his parents sad and unhappy on the last day of life on earth he went to Trikanangode , the abode of Paramasivan, for help. He was chased by Yama dhootas and fled towards the shrine. The AAL  in front of the temple split and gave way and allowed him to pass.

Markandeya entered the temple premises and in to the sanctum sanctorum and embraced the the Linga and prayed. The Yama dhootas could not enter the area and went to complain to Yama who himself came on the scene and summoned the young lad to come out.  When Markandeya refused Yama who by then had grown angry and frustrated bloated as he was with the power he wielded over all beings, threw the the pasak kayaru at the boy. The noose wrapped around the boy and the the Linga. When Yama pulled the pasam the Siva Linga was displaced and out came Lord Siva himself , angered by the the action of yama who had dared to take away the life of his bhakta.

     It is said he covered the distance to Yama in three steps, and slew him with his trisulam. Then he went to the temple pond and washed away the stains . There is a temple at the original site and the three small temples depicting the three steps taken by Siva, near the present  main temple.

The main pujas in this temple are : Japa of Mritunjaya Mantram’, Uma Maheswara Puja ‘& Maha Rudra Yagna

Rama Temple at Alathiyoor

(12 Km from Tirur)

        It is a temple for Rama but over a period of time Hanuman has gained  pradhanam. There is a separate enclosure for Lakshmana.

     Here one will find a strange looking Hanuman idol, with hands folded and head tilted as if listening carefully. The sthala puranam Rama spoke to Hanuman personally and in confidence and gave him some special signs by which he could identify himself to Sita  as the special dhoota of Rama. He related to Hanuman incidents not known even to Lakshmana, who was standing at a distance. Hanuman with folded hands is listening carefully to Rama. The sight of Hanuman with folded hands and attentive demeanour cannot but bring tears in to ones eyes.

Easter: Christa Purana still moves faithful to tears

Christa Purana still moves faithful to tears

Ashley D’Mello | TNN

Mumbai: Avelino Rejoice Dhakul, 81, never fails to bring tears to people’s eyes when he renders the Passion of Christ from the Christa Purana, describing scenes from the crucifixion at the Good Friday service at St Francis Xavier Church, Vile Parle.

Dhakul, who has been singing solo for the last 25 years, is keen that others should step up to carry on the torch, but he says sadly, “I have no luck so far.’’

Singing of verses from the Christa Purana, which is written in the old Marathi script, is a looked-forward to ritual during the season of Lent in some of the old churches of suburban Mumbai, although the last three decades have seen a slow fading of this tradition.
Lent, commemorates 40 days of fasting and abstinence, before the death of Christ on Good Friday. The singing involves a mournful incantation of the verses, which detail the life and death of Christ. This is done during the Passu ceremony when the body of Christ is lowered from the cross for veneration by the congregation.

The Christa Purana is part of the religious and cultural tradition of Catholics in Mumbai, Goa and Mangalore. Written by an English Jesuit missionary, Thomas Stevens, who studied at Oxford and settled in Goa in the 17th century, the writing follows the Hindu puranic style and is regarded as an epic.

Dhakul states that most youngsters do not want to learn to sing the verses in the Purana. “The singing on Good Friday can sometimes last almost two hours, and most youngsters stay away from such a task,’’ he says. “The interest in singing in Marathi is also not strong any more. Youngsters prefer to sing hymns in English.’’

But for the D’Mello brothers at St Andrew Church in Bandra, Conrad (39) and Anselm (36), who sing, the experience is different. “The tradition of singing the Purana is still strong in our family but it has slowed down in Bandra over the last decades,’’ says Conrad. “We have the puran tradition since my great-grandfather’s time and probably even before that, we sang the puran verses regularly at home when we were growing up in Bandra.’’

Even among the Catholics of Vasai who speak and write in Marathi, the tradition is fading. Bishop Thomas Dabre of Vasai explains why.

“The Purana is no longer popular in Vasai because it is written in old Marathi, which is sometimes difficult to understand. The churches now use modern hymns,’’ he says.
Efforts to revive the epic are under way. Fr Simon Borges of Kurla has helped produce a CD of songs from the puran. The issue has also been taken up by Major Leon Fonseca, executive committee member of the East Indian Association. “We are discussing ways and means of preserving this centuries-old tradition. It should not be allowed to die,’’ he says.

Pune bishop
The bishop of Vasai, Thomas Dabre, has been appointed bishop of Pune by the Vatican. A Marathi scholar and a well-known Catholic theologian, Bishop Dabre is an authority on Indian mysticism and Sant Tukaram. One of his main thrusts has been interreligious dialogue and communal harmony.

Featured image Source:

Islam and Peace:Muslims must speak in one voice against extremism

An article courtesy  TOI, of  17 March.

It is very very rare to see such frank opinions on extremists, root cause for extremism, especially when linked to a religion with more than its share of violence and man made tragedies.

Even brave souls like MJ Akbar have not been so forthright in in voicing their opinions.

We wish those who should read it, do so, and introspect.


Build The Peace Consensus

Muslims must speak in one voice against extremism

Sadia Dehlvi 

The trail of terror continues with cricketers as the latest target. The Mumbai and Lahore attacks, public executions and the murder of over a thousand civilians in the Swat valley by Taliban-style terrorists are horrifying examples of atrocities committed by militant groups thriving on political Islam.

Global Muslim communities urgently need to condemn the agenda of political Islam that distorts religious scriptures to legitimise violence. This ideology of Islamism is threatening to replace a moderate and spiritual Islam, leading to the destruction of many societies and, in particular, oppression of women and minorities.

Muslims have a moral responsibility to engage in the social, political and economic development of the societies they live in. Global Muslim societies would do well to imitate the exceptional efforts of Indian clerics in denouncing terrorism and delinking it with Islam. Sincere moral outrage needs to be expressed at Taliban atrocities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, political kidnappings and assassinations, militancy in Kashmir, Shia-Sunni killings in Iraq and Pakistan, fatwas condoning suicide bombings in the Israel-Palestine conflict and other atrocities affecting innocent lives.

Muslims require an international consensus on combating extremism. Our credibility is lost when we express selective outrage, as in the aftermath of the Danish cartoons controversy.

Political Islam draws its lifeblood from the ideology of fighting the oppressor, but has clearly become the oppressor itself. Though some Islamist groups have renounced violence, accepted the principles of democracy and marginally improved their stand on women and minority rights, they remain socially conservative.

In Jordan, the Islamist party does not support the rights of women to file for divorce. In Kuwait, the Islamists fought against the right of women to vote. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood will not allow a woman or a person from a minority community to become head of state. Unfortunately, militant Islamist groups thrive in the political vacuum created by oppressive regimes in most Islamic countries.

Muslims must stop blaming the problem of extremism on catastrophic policies of foreign countries. For, two wrongs simply do not make a right. It is primarily a Muslim problem, threatening both Muslim and non-Muslim societies. We need to acknowledge that there is a problem of theology when extremists talk of going straight to heaven after taking innocent lives.

The roots of all modern militant Islamic movements can be traced to one man, Abdul Wahab from Nejd in the Arabian Peninsula. He set out to ‘purify’ Islam, believing that Muslims had drifted away from true religion. Wahab’s followers destroyed many sacred sites that he
considered linked to idolatry. Attacking the arts for being frivolous and dangerous, Wahab sanctioned the rape, murder and plunder of those who refused to follow his injunctions. He was considered a heretic by most, for Mecca and Medina were then centres of contemplative Islam, inhabited by Sufis from all over the world.

In 1774-75, Wahab negotiated a deal with the then nomadic tribe of Saud, forebears of the current royal family, in exchange for support to their quest for political domination. Most Saudis reject the name Wahhabi; they either call themselves Muwahuddin — Unitarians — or Salafi, referring to salaf, the venerated companions of the Prophet. In this blinkered view, no other version of religious truth can exist.

This new face of Islam has nothing to do with Sufis, music, poetry, miracles or the countless devotional customs of Muslim cultures across the world.

Under the patronage of Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism went from strength to strength. Abul Ala Mawdudi, a journalist who translated the Quran outside the classical paradigms, propagated the Wahhabi ideology. He founded the political party Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan, making jihad central to Islamic discourse. Addressing non-Muslims as infidels, he grouped Muslims into ‘partial’ and ‘true’ Muslims. Mawdudi’s ideas of Islam as a revolutionary doctrine to take over governments and overturn the whole universal order deeply influenced Syed Qutub of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

These groups have been motivated by political upheavals and the rejection of traditional scholars. Syed Qutub’s brother happened to be among the teachers of Osama bin Laden.

The extremism now found in Mecca and Medina, the heartland of Islam, is the Wahhabi ideology that the Saudis have spent millions in promoting through their outreach programmes. There is no tolerance for Shias, Sunni Sufis or other Muslim traditions, leave alone non-Muslims.

Unfortunately, there is no collective Muslim protest against the Saudi regime for bulldozing graveyards, destroying the cultural and religious heritage of the holy cities, imposing a certain segregation of the sexes inside the Prophet’s mosque at Medina, radical sermons or distribution of radical literature outside Saudi mosques, many of them issuing calls for death to whoever they view as infidels or innovators of Islam.

The problem of Muslim extremism began in the Muslim world and the responsibility of resolving it lies with us.

The inability to present Islam as a peaceful religion is a collective failure of global Muslim communities. We could begin by increasing the decibel in condemning violence and sectarianism and standing up for women’s rights.

We should stop demonising the ‘other’ as infidels and show increased support for democratic movements in Muslim countries. It is time for the devout, silent and peace-loving Muslim majority to speak for Islam.

Let our voices be louder than the radical voices claiming to represent us.

The writer is a Delhi-based commentator.

Sadia Dehlvi is a renowned Delhi based media person. She is a prominent face on prime time television debates dealing with the issues of Muslim communities.

A well-known columnist and writer, Dehlvi is frequently published in frontline Urdu, Hindi and English newspapers and magazines. She has been the editor of Bano, a popular woman’s journal in the Urdu language with the Shama group of Publications. Dehlvi has produced and scripted a number of documentaries and television programs.

For over thirty years Sadia Dehlvi has engaged in voicing concern on issues regarding heritage, culture, women and Muslim communities. She is currently working on a book on Delhi’s Sufi history. Her surname ‘Dehlvi” means someone from Delhi reflecting her family’s long association with Delhi

Who destroys our forests? The forest department!

Starvation killing jumbos

N D Shiva Kumar | TNN

Of 105 elephants that died in 2007-08, post-mortem of 22 was done after 10 to 25 days of death.

Due to the delay, between 2002 and 2008, the bodies of 23 elephants decomposed and the reason for deaths couldn’t be ascertained.

Five elephants died due to dehydration and starvation


Bangalore: Elephants are starving to death.

Around 137 of them died over two years (2006-2008), and most due to starvation, dehydration and infection. This is a cause of concern as Karnataka has only 5,500-6,000 elephants.

Post-mortems have revealed that they died due to infection, diseases like peritonitis, diarrhoea, encephlyomyconditis, cardiac arrest, starvation and dehydration.

The number of deaths drastically increased after 2006. Between 2002 and 2006, 24 elephants died, 32 in 2006-07 and 105 in 2007-08.

Nobody cares for them

Of the 105 elephants that died in 2007-08, over 70% died before completing even half their lifespan, which is normally 55-60 years.

Also, 61 were below 20 years old and 21 between 21 and 30 years old.

Shockingly, forest department officials made no effort to find out the reasons for the outbreak of infection.

Displeasure over attitude of officials
The Public Accounts Committee led by Congress leader Siddaramaiah highlights these aspects in its report. The committee expressed shock and displeasure at the attitude of forest officials.

“It’s a serious issue of concern. The department made no efforts to find out the reasons for the outbreak of the epidemic. This is shocking.’’ The committee felt delay in the information to officials about elephants’ death was due to improper vigil (beat system).

Causes of deaths
Inadequate food and water holes and failure to manage and develop grassland were cited as major causes of death. The authorities registered 2,987 forest crimes between 2001 and 2008. Referring to this, the committee felt camps to prevent illegal hunting had not been set up properly.

More camps had been set up in areas less prone to illegal hunting and few camps in crime-infested areas. For long, animal rights activists have been asking the government to save elephants. It seems the effort is just not there.

Corrective measures
Study by Wildlife Society on reasons for major outbreak of epidemic and diseases Tighten beat system, conduct postmortem of dead animals and record reasons for death Ensure speedy disposal of pending cases

No peace even in death

Of 105 elephants that died in 2007-08, post-mortem of 22 was done after 10 to 25 days of death.

Due to the delay, between 2002 and 2008, the bodies of 23 elephants decomposed and the reason for deaths couldn’t be ascertained.

Five elephants died due to dehydration and starvation

Forest dept felled twice




Jayashree Nandi | TNN

Bangalore: Who destroys our forests? The forest department!

The latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has revealed non-compliance of the administration of Forest Conservation Act, 1980 by the forest department, which has led to several hundred hectares of forest land diverted for non-forest use.

Shockingly, compensatory reforestation has not been carried out on 5,73,297 acres in Karnataka and Rs 17.09 crore fine has not been recovered from 23 user agencies.

Forest land of 483.52 acres were transferred by the revenue department without the Centre’s approval. Though renewal of lease in two cases was rejected by them, 24.09 hectares were not resumed. In 22 other cases, proposals of renewals of lease were not sent to the Centre by the PCCF despite lapse of 1 to 45 years!

And if this was not enough, the records in the forest department at Bangalore, Shimoga, Chikmagalur, Sirsi and nine other divisions headed by DCFs were checked by the auditor general’s office.

Seven user agencies had sought approval for utilization of 342.35 hectares for non-forest purposes. But over 391.71 hectares of forest land were utilized prior to obtaining an approval from the government.

This included 49.36 hectares utilized in excess of that approved for diversion in two cases in Bidar and Mangalore.

Way off the mark

In 19 cases of diversion of forest land for non-forestry purposes like irrigation, wind power, mining, road work and others involving an area of 3,198 hectares, compliance with conditions by Centre were not ensured despite a lapse of 2 to 27 years from the date of clearance.


Of 594.10 hectares of forest land approved (December 1995 to September 1996) for settlement of displaced families of Sea Bird project in Karwar, only 182.94 hectares utilized

Out of balance area of 411.16 hectares, 277 hectares where felling was done, reforested subsequently at Rs 45.49 lakh without resuming land

Centre not informed

Forest land of 483.52 acres were transferred by the revenue department without the Centre’s approval

In 22 cases, proposals to renew lease were not sent to the Centre by the PCCF despite lapse of 1 to 45 years

Unsung :Girl tops exam, beats disability

Girl tops exam, beats disability

Visually Impaired Is An Ace

Ikram Khan | TNN

Bangalore: She can’t see but is showing the way. Sumaiya Khan, 15, topped the exams at St Michael’s High School (RT Nagar) and promises to continue her sterling performance in college next year.
Sumaiya was adjudged the best student after securing 94% in her preparatory exams.

The gutsy lass, who has coped with darkness since birth, is looking to achieve distinction in the SSLC exams. “I’m studying eight hours a day and hope to get more than the preparatory exam marks,” she said.

“She is a brilliant girl. What amazes me is her focus and determination to challenge and beat the best. I’m confident she will do our school proud this year,” said school principal Naushad Nazir of head girl Sumaiya.

Her mother Nikath, a nursery teacher at the same school, said Sumaiya was a lot easier to teach, simply because she was always willing to learn and compete with normal children.

“She chose to study in a normal school and from the day she started, she has managed to top the class. She has won many debates and singing competitions. She loves challenges and that helps her scale new heights,” said Nikath.

After winning the Best Visually Challenged Student, a state award conferred by the National Federation of the Blind, a couple of years ago, Sumaiya was the lone child who made it to the final list of Horlicks Wiz Kids International School competition.

“I was selected from among 6,000 students and the onus was on me to make Bangalore proud. I gave it my best shot and all my teachers and friends were delighted and appreciated my effort,” said Sumaiyya. She made it to the final 12 round of the talent and quiz test.

Sumaiya was stood first in the International Chinthana Science exam and did well in the Winnova Genius Talent Search. Her favourite subject is social studies and she aims to give the civil services exam a shot. Knowing her steely resolve, her parents Abdullah Khan and Nikath are confident she will do well there too.


Top French honour for Pondy Sanskrit scholar


Top French honour for Pondy Sanskrit scholar

Bosco Dominique | TNN

BIRTHDAY GIFT: S Sambanda Sivacharyar, Sanskrit scholar and research assistant of French Institute of Pondicherry

Puducherry: He has been working more than 10 hours a day for the past five decades, collecting palm leaf manuscripts in different scripts from various parts of country and categorising them after researching their content.

On his 83rd birthday, S Sambanda Sivacharyar, Sanskrit scholar and research assistant at the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP), got the pleasant news that he had been selected by the French government for one of the oldest and prestigious civil awards ‘Ordre des Palmes Académiques’ for his contributions to the study of the languages, texts, history and cultures of the Indian subcontinent.

The scholar, who joined IFP in 1969, extensively collected and studied Saiva manuscripts on palm leaves under the guidance of pandit N R Bhatt. He was instrumental in publishing critical editions of the Saivagamas, one of the 28 main texts (agamas) of Saivasiddantha (philosophy and scriptures of the Saivas), tracing the historical evolution of its doctrines and the Saiva ritual system dating back several centuries.

He is currently in charge of the upcoming edition of Suksmagama of the IFP, which has one of the richest collections of palm leaf manuscripts on Saivasiddhanta.

The institute’s palm leaf manuscript collections have been included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.

The researcher said palm leaf manuscripts available in the institute were in several scripts including Tamil, Grantha, Telugu, Malayalam, Tigalari, Sarada, Nadinagiri and Newari.

His work primarily focussed on cataloguing the manuscripts based on their contents and transliterating the contents from one script to another, Grantha to Devanagiri script, for instance, enabling present generation researchers to access and understand ancient contents.

“IFP has about 8,000 bundles of palm leaf manuscripts mostly on Saivasiddhanta followed by grammar, palmistry and Thevaram in various scripts. We have categorised a little more than 25% of our collection and brought out several publications on Saivasiddhanta. transliterating the contents from ancient scripts to Devanagiri script,” Sambanda Sivachariar told TOI. He said in ancient times, Tamil-speaking people used Grantha script to write Sanskrit and most of the manuscripts on religious text were written in Grantha.

“The use of Grantha to write Sanskrit declined subsequently in the last century and Devanagiri became a widely popular script for Sanskrit,” he said.

Born on January 6, 1927 in a family of temple priests, Sambandan learnt temple rites at the tender age of seven from his father and the Vedas from eminent scholars before joining the Ahobila Math Sanskrit Padashala, Madurantakam. He studied at Raja’ College, Thiruvaiyaru and Mylapore Sanskrit College.

Before joining the IFP, he worked at the manuscript library of Theosophical Society and the Government Manuscript Library, Chennai and was also closely associated with the Saraswathi Mahal Library, Thanjavur, Thiruvanandapuram Manuscripts Library and Mysore Oriental Research Library in 1950s.

He has to his credit the establishment of a printing press with Grantha and Devanagiri scripts and printed and published many books on Agamas. Presently, he is editing an almanac, ‘Thiru Koil Anushtana Vakya Panchangam’ for the past 15 years and running a publishing company, which comes out with books on temple rituals.

“Who Hijacked Jamia” : A different muslim perspective on the issue

This is a wonderful article by Arif Mohammed Khan, citing the poor leadership offered to the Muslim community from self-proclaimed muslim bodies such as the Personal Law Board, Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat and Jamaat-e-Islami. These organisations he says hijack the core muslim agenda, often backed by shameless political patronage, just as had happened in the Shah Bano case.

Khan talks about the boycott of sane voices in the muslim community such as Mushirul Hasan, who was boycotted for expressing his opinion that banning Satanic Verses would only increase its sales. Ofcourse this same fundamentalism has entered the hindu mindset as well now.

Khan goes on to seal the case with:

The most important Muslim organisation operating from the Jamia neighborhood is the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and its affiliates. During their agitation against the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Shah Bano case, the members of AIMPLB made public exhortations to break the legs of Muslims who differed with their stand. Their supporters went to the extent of suggesting that Supreme Court judges are not competent to interpret Muslim personal law….
Such activities of these Muslim outfits are as much a source of consternation to common Muslims as they are to other Indians. Occasionally some Muslims raise their voice but they lose nerve when they see the political promiscuity and influence enjoyed by these extremist elements.

We would invite the muslim readers of this article (or the artile at Indian Express, who agree broadly with the case Mr. Khan presents , to comment and have your opinion heard. This would help raise the level of discourse on what the muslim community feels about the current Jamia Nagar case, and in general on the agenda of the conspiracy theorists who are abound, and mostly whose voices are heard.

——— The article as appear in Indian Express ————–

“And fear tumult or oppression, which affects not in particular only those of you who do wrong. And know that God is strict in punishment.” (Quran, 8.25)Ibn Katheer commenting on this verse has quoted a Prophetic tradition saying that “if a people, despite being strong and numerous, do nothing to stop those men among them who do wrong, then they will be surrounded with punishment”.

History is full of instances showing how a small group of people or individuals by their odious acts have inconvenienced the communities they belong to.

Today the Muslims as a community are passing through a difficult period on account of the activities of terrorists who shamelessly use religion to justify their crimes.

A common Muslim, like his compatriots, is busy earning his daily bread and raising the family. With increased awakening about modern education, good numbers of Muslim families from rural areas have moved to urban centres to ensure education for their wards. A casual survey of the families living in Jamia Nagar will show that the majority of them hail from villages and depend for their income on rural sources. In many cases it is only the mothers and children who are living here, while the men spend most of their time in native places to arrange the necessary means for the family to carry on in Delhi. Their only concern is a safe and peaceful environment congenial for academic pursuit.On the other hand, attracted by this large population, more than two dozen Muslim outfits have established themselves in this neighbourhood taking upon them the responsibility to lead and organise the religious and social life of the community. They include organisations like the Personal Law Board, Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat and Jamaat-e-Islami. None of these organisations is known for promoting social reform or education. Most of the time they are competing with each other in crying wolf and pressing the need to fight against imagined threats to the Muslim religion and identity. Occasionally they also succeed in securing positions of power for their nominees and this political patronage helps them to widen their network in the community.

If we look at some important events of the past then an idea can be formed about the activities and mindset that is promoted by these organisations.

After the official ban on The Satanic Verses, Mushirul Hasan, the present vice chancellor and then teacher in the history department of Jamia, said in an interview to a weekly that a ban on the book would only boost its sales and increase the circulation of the objectionable writing. His remarks were not in support of the book, its contents or the writer, yet they provoked an angry and violent protest inside the campus. The Muslim outfits worked overtime to instigate and excite the feelings resulting in a situation where despite continuing on the rolls of the university Mushirul Hasan could not enter the campus for more than three long years.During the war in Afghanistan, public expressions of solidarity with Osama bin Laden were made and posters in his support were pasted in the area by some self-appointed champions of Muslim interests. This was done despite the knowledge that Osama and Al-Qaeda were directly involved in Terror activities in Kashmir. I remember having met many Muslims from Jamia Nagar who expressed their utter indignation over the episode and felt sorry for not being able to oppose these undesirable activities.

In 1990, Prof Mushirul Haq, the vice chancellor of Kashmir University, was killed by terrorists in Srinagar. Since he was an old teacher of Jamia, his burial took place inside the campus. As an academician I had held him in great esteem and during the Shah Bano controversy had sought his opinion on several occasions. I went to attend his last rites and walked almost a kilometre with the funeral procession. After reaching the burial ground suddenly the lights went out and in that darkness I was attacked with an iron rod, causing head injury. Later, inquiries revealed that the students who had organised the blackout and attack belonged to the Jamaat-e-Islami. It is important to recall that the banned organisation, SIMI, was mostly manned by young activists inspired by philosophies like that of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

The other organisation with headquarters in this area is Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat. On the slightest provocation they would call for a boycott of celebrations of Independence Day or Republic Day giving rise to communal tension. It is true that on every occasion they had withdrawn the calls, but that did not help in lessening the tension.

The most important Muslim organisation operating from the Jamia neighborhood is the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and its affiliates. During their agitation against the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Shah Bano case, the members of AIMPLB made public exhortations to break the legs of Muslims who differed with their stand. Their supporters went to the extent of suggesting that Supreme Court judges are not competent to interpret Muslim personal law.It is important to recall that during parliamentary discussion of the bill that was brought in to negate the impact of the Supreme Court judgment, almost every minister who rose to defend the measure referred to the apprehensions of threats to law and order arising on account of an aggressive and violent agitation.

Such activities of these Muslim outfits are as much a source of consternation to common Muslims as they are to other Indians. Occasionally some Muslims raise their voice but they lose nerve when they see the political promiscuity and influence enjoyed by these extremist elements.

The establishment must realise that the police can fight terrorists, not terrorism. Terrorism can be contained only by a strong political will that identifies and isolates individuals and organisations promoting a violent mindset and does not favour them with political patronage.

Extending Article 370 beyond Kashmir; Could this be a solution?

n 2004 my friend and mentor, Prasanna Lal Das, wrote an article called “Article 370 – a case to extend it beyond Kashmir“, and ofcourse as most Indians do, I was out of my wits on reading the title. To me Article 370 was clearly another case of appeasement of “kashmiri muslims”. I never read the article.

An article on Kashmir stating the problem

Today, I caught up on an article in the Indian Express titled “Beyond highway of peace” (; 18 August, 2008 ) which highlights a few points.

Separatist Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, however, said the mass protests have not surprised him. “We always saw it coming,” he said. “Amarnath land row might be the immediate cause, but the level of anger is the result of the long pent up disillusionment with New Delhi’s status quo policies,” he said.

…“New Delhi talks to us when the situation is really bad here. And when there is apparent peace, they ignore us,” he said.

It is a fact that the Centre and its various agencies on ground in Kashmir had been extremely complacent after the recent drop in militant violence and a surge in mainstream political activity.

My observations on the article

The article ofcourse like most of those appearing in media, states the problem superficially, and for that reason cannot, and does not, offer any solution.

The following few points, however, occur to me on reading this article:

  • The centre becomes complacent when things are going well, instead of constantly keeping on its toes, and regularly engaging people (or their representatives and leaders; elected or even self-appointed) in discussions and creating mini agreements
  • They are happy in finding simple answers to problems which are often coloured with their worldview (which can be rather outdated in the evolving human race) of how things *should be* instead of *how it is in reality*
  • These views are often “taught” to the politicians rather then based on *critical thinking*, *dialogue*, and *understanding people’s anxieties*

Liberating people; self-organising groups; moving beyond conventional and easy categories of success

As I have matured and grown in my spiritual pursuits, I have developed a somewhat different outlook to the reason for conflicts and in general ways of management. I have increasingly become a die-hard fan of democracy at workplace, which traditionally has been very centrally controlled and managed. Ideas of small self-organising groups of people working towards common “agreed” goals, have inspired me over the last few years. I have observed people, driven from their own collective self-interest, acting extremely responsibly and much beyond their normal abilities. I have noticed this at my workplace.

Yet, it is true that some people often are not mature enough to see the larger picture, and may not appreciate the values propagated in democratic and self-organising setups; or those who are unable to raise their mental make-up, and can remain stuck in shallow self-centered, and *taught* behaviour. These people are often not ones who can engage in *radical thinking*. Yet, these people are fewer in numbers, in my experience. Most people are not trained to think and question, in our society; however, most of these people can be inspired by greater causes of common collective long-term good.

This is the opportunity that the politicians have. They need to constantly work in liberating people, engaging them in inspired action, and training them radical thinking and questioning – doing all these things themselves. And this is where the problem lies – most of our politicians are not trained in experimenting, and in moving beyond their conventional ‘easy’ categories of answers.

Coming back to Prasanna’s article

On reading his article which presents a case to extend Article 370 beyond Kashmir to all of India’s states, is completely based on values of federalism, and liberating people, allowing them to self-determine their own rules, and how they would like to live their lives.

Gandhi ofcourse, was a big propagator of local self-determination, down to the village level, with complete ownership of local resources with the people of the region.

I feel, this is the answer to Kashmir’s, and in general, all of India’s problems; and the world’s as well.

Once again, the framework of this federalism must propagate some central core modern spiritual, humanist and civic values such as *liberty*, *equal opportunity*, *secularism* and *non-violence*. These values must be accessible and applicable to all citizens irrespective of race, religion or gender. The state must constantly train and engage leaders in dialogue and training, in action based on inspiration, and, in questioning and radical thinking. With these, the collective consciousness of people could be raised, and with it the risk of degeneration of federal values, and other motivated self-interests of local leaders taking over, is minimised.

Some quotes from Prasanna’s extremely inspiring article:

Article 370, unwittingly perhaps considering its historical circumstances, may be the brightest glint of federal expression in the Indian constitution, which otherwise remains largely unitary in character. Large sections of the Indian population (and regions that contain them) thus feel increasingly marginalized from the ‘mainstream’, and seemingly disparate phenomenon like recent disturbances in the northeast, the girding of heartland India by naxalites, the trivialization of the parliamentary process, and paradoxically enough, the continuing impasse in Jammu & Kashmir, may well be said to spring from the centralized nature of governance in India which concentrates power in the hands of a few organized interest groups and leaves the average citizen with only symbols of democratic participation like ritualized elections and awe-inspiring, monumental edifices where elected representatives apparently serve the people. Article 370, minus its current imperfections, may well be the harbinger of a ‘new India.’

it may be time to view the article in a larger national context. Does the article offer any guidelines to the governing system in the rest of India? Is there greater merit in the rest of India adopting some of the salient features of the article than in denouncing it largely on the grounds of ‘we don’t have it, so shouldn’t she’? Should we choose to be frogs in a well pulling each other down, or is it time to climb out of the holes we have dug for ourselves, and take a look at the larger world around?

The article recognizes that India is a diverse country and that a region may have special needs which may or may not be in consonance with the needs of the rest of the country. It thus leaves discretionary powers with the state and subjects all central laws/amendments to state approval before they can be implemented in a state. It transfers accountability and power to the state government in virtually all matters except those that deal with the integrity of the Indian union, and its international relationships.

Make no mistake; Article 370 was not formed to lay down the principles of center-state relationships or to directly solve the problem described above. It isn’t thus either exhaustive enough or extensive enough to cover the gamut of issues that go into center-state relations. It however does provide the springboard necessary to begin questioning the unitary model we have chosen to adopt in the whole country, bar Kashmir. And if it can work in Kashmir, why can it not work in the rest of the country too?

The other more fundamental problem with Article 370 is its state-centric, monolithic view of autonomy and local governance. In keeping with the overall unitary spirit of the constitution, the article does little to promote grassroots governance and concentrates all significant powers in the hands of the state government. The version of autonomy it thus creates is in essence a majoritarian one – it cloaks a centralized mode of governance under the garb of an autonomous one. Kashmir can thus never be truly autonomous unless it itself allows power to percolate downwards to the people. In its current avatar, Article 370 is largely a sham, and its fundamental centralizing proclivities must be given a thorough makeover before the article can truly become a template for other states.

He also puts in a word of caution, which I believe vindicates my stand of a framework which allows for common accepted civic, humanist and spiritual values of *liberty*, *equal opportunity*, *secularism* and *non-violence*, and also the need for constant training, dialogue and engagement in radical and critical thinking.

A more pertinent concern is perhaps the ability of the states to do justice to increased power, and handle it responsibly. Unfortunately, recent Indian constitutional history isn’t exactly littered with examples of farsightedness shown by states – their record is patchy at best, and downright shoddy in reality. In fact, a case may be made that but for central intervention and guidance, most Indian states, driven by narrow, parochial concerns, would have descended into anarchy a long time ago. Possibly the worst record in this regard is that of the Jammu & Kashmir legislature itself, which has shown a remarkable ability to shoot itself in the foot consistently. The recently proposed bill debarring Kashmiri women from property rights on marriage to ‘outsiders’, the legislature’s refusal to accept the amendment limiting the size of state ministries to 15% of the total elected strength, and its long standing refusal to recognize Anglo-Indians and other minorities in the state are just three examples of legislation which persistently refuses to look beyond the state. What guarantees are there that other states shan’t do the same, and perhaps worse?

The answer to both questions lies in the inchoate nature of Article 370, and in its flawed, single-state focused implementation. As stated earlier, the article is not designed to guide center-state relations, but in the case of Jammu & Kashmir, it does just that. Limiting the article to one state however produces one very significant consequence – it allows Jammu & Kashmir to create discriminatory legislation without fear of consequence (as no other state is in a position to answer it in the same coin).

And the recommendation to not seek easy answers, but to continually challenge our thinking:

At the end however, the question about India’s secular fabric will remain – will expanding the article to the entire country send wrong signals to minority communities in India? This is the most morally challenging part of the debate because like it or not, religion and religious emotions are inextricably tied to the history of the question. Needless to say, the government must be steadfastly secular in its implementation of federalism in India, and religious leaders must indubitably play an important part in the process, but there are no easy answers to the question. *The time may however have come to move away from the politics of easy answers.*