ARISE ‘O’ INDIA17/12/2006 23:58:15 K. Ramakrishan
ARISE ‘O’ INDIA
Book review by K. Ramakrishan
The author of book ‘Arise O India’, Francois Gautier is a celebrated French journalist and writer and was the political correspondent in India and South Asia for ‘Le Figaro’, France’s largest circulated newspaper. A devotee of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother he lives in Auroville, the city of dawn, the international city founded by the Mother. He is an avid observer of happenings in India. He has published his impressions in leading newspapers and magazines. The book is dedicated ‘To India who gave me so much’ contains the author’s 17 thought provoking essays.
In the essay ‘who are Hindus?’ he analysis the origin of Hindus and Hinduism and writes; ‘Finally, it is difficult to understand Hinduism if you do not grasp the concept of Shakti, the divine feminine energy. Because of the influence of British thought, it is nowadays fashionable in India to always highlight the downtrodden condition of Indian women and its underprivileged place in Indian society. As a result, Western correspondents are always keen to do stories on female infanticides in Bihar, child marriages, or sati cases in Rajasthan. But who knows that no country in the world has granted such an important place to women in its spirituality and social ethos? Thus in India-and its true that it is often a paradox, as women, because of later Muslim influences, have often been relegated to the background-the feminine concept is a symbol of dynamic realization. She is the eternal Mother, who is all Wisdom, all Compassion, all Force, Beauty and Perfection.’
Gautier argues that to understand India and Hinduism, ‘one then has to go beyond the cliches of paganism and the accusations of sects that have been applied to Hindus, particularly after the coming of Christian missionaries to India who had a vested motive to show Hinduism in a light....’ He Alexandra David-Neel, the French explorer, writer and mystic about the remarkable role that gods play in India: “because the images or statues are like a battery which is charged over the ages by the adoration of the devotees, who in turn can draw energy, inspiration, or grace from these statues.” She continues “As battery, the energy in the statue will not get discharged, as long as the faithful continue to worship it by their cult and adoration.’’ And she concludes: “Gods are thus created by the energy given out by the faith in their existence.”
Quoting Sri Aurobindo, Gautier irrefutably places the Genius of Indian politics “There always was a strong democratic element in prevalent. -Muslim India, which certainly showed a certain similarity with Western parliamentary forms, but these institutions were Indian”. And states ‘It is to be noted that these Indian Republics existed long before the Greek ones, although the world credits the Greeks with having created democracy; but as usual History is recorded through the prism of the Western world and is very selective indeed. One should also add that none of these Indian republics developed an aggressive colonizing spirit and they were content to defend themselves and forge alliances amongst them.’
The author states that the four masterpieces to embody India’s Genius in literature are the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharatha. Describing the Bhagawad Gita as ‘the supreme work of spiritual revelation in the whole history of our human planet, fir it is the most comprehensive, the most revealing the highest in its intuitive reach, he writes, ‘no religious book ever succeeded to say nearly everything that needs to be known on the mystries of human life: why death, why life, why suffering” why fighting? Why duty?’
In the essay ‘Islam and the Muslim Invasions”, Gautier raises pertinent questions such as: What is the Genius of Islam? What is the strength of Islam? Why did Islam crush Hinduism so mercilessly? The limitation of Islam, etc. He cites two reasons for the decline of Indian civilization; ‘the foremost is that in India, spirit failed matter. At some point her yogis started withdrawing more and more in their caves, Her gurus in their ashrams. Her sannyasins in their forests. Thus slowly great tams overtook matter, an immense negligence towards the material, an intense inertia set in, which allowed for the gradual degradation of the physical, a slackening of the down to earth values, an indifference towards the worldly, which in turn permitted successive invasions, from Alexander to the Muslim and finally the European, the repe of the land of the Vedas.
‘The second reason and the one which has been most commonly invoked, including by Muslim apologists because it is so obvious, is the fossilization of the caste system and the gradual take over of India by an arrogant Brahmin and Kshatriya society.’
About the Muslim invasions of India he categorically states ‘Let it be said right away: the massacres perpetuated by Muslims in India are unparalleled in history, bigger than the Holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis; or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks; more extensive even than the slaughter of the South American native population by the invading Spanish and Portuguese.’
Quoting American Historian Will Durant, Gautier sums up the incredible damage done to Indian culture, civilization, human population and environment during the Muslim invasions which spanned nearly ten centuries: “The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in History. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex order and freedom can at any moment be overthrown barbarians invading from wothout and muliplying within”
However these atrocities were ‘negated’ in a thousand ways: ‘gross, clever, outrageous, subtle so that in the end, the minds of people are so confused and muddled, that nobody knows anymore where the truth is.’ What is Negtionism? ‘Negationism means that this whole aspect of Indian History has been totally erased not only from text books, but also from the memory, from the consciousness of Indian people.’ He argues.
He wonders how Hinduism has survived the onslaught of Muslim savagery: ‘it shows how deep was her faith, how profound her karma, how deeply ingrained her soul in the hearts of her faithfuls. The seeds planted by the Moghuls, by Babar, Mahmud, or Aurangzeb, have matured: the 125 million Indian Muslims of today have forgotten that they were once peaceful, loving Hindus, forcibly converted to a religion they hated. And they sometimes take-up as theirs a cry of fanaticism which is totally alien to their culture.’
About the E uropean invasions, particularly that of the Missionaries, the author states, ‘These missionaries indeed poisoned the minds of the people they converted, making them hate their own religion, their own country sometimes, cutting the from their own cultural roots’..........’Everywhere the Christians went, they stamped mercilessly on cultures, eradicated centuries old ways of life of the people they conquered. They were thus able to radically alter civilizations, change their patterns of thinking. And three generations later the children of those who had been conquered, ahd forgotten their roots, adapted Christianity and often looked upon their conquerors as their benefactors’.
Analyzing the Indian Independence movement, the author writes ‘Hinduism, true Hinduism was for Sri Aurobindo the basis for India’s and greatness, it was also the essence of nationaliam, the MEANS of liberating India and ultimately the foundation of the future if India. Unfortunately, the leaders of the Indian National Congress did not have the same vision.’ About Gandhiji, he says ‘ultimately, it must be said that whatever his saintliness, his extreme and somehow gijid asceticism, Gandhi did enormous harm to India and this harm has two the European element in his life and his Non-violence was the greatest violence to his own body. ‘In true Christian fashion he punished his body to back mail others.’
In the essay ‘India Today’ the author quotes Sri Aurobindo “India of the ages is not dead nor has She spoken Her last creative word. And that which She must seek now to awake, is not an anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the west and doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident’s success and failure, but still the ancient immemorial Shakti recovering Her deepest self, lifting Her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and vaster for of Her Dharma.” and hopes that BJP will help fulfill the prophecy of the great Maharshi.
Elaborating the dangers facing India today, Gautier writes that India’s upper-class the cream of this nation appear to enjoy Indeia-bashing “Their parameters appear to be set by what the West thinks about India, by amnesty International’s comments on their nation. They want to apply to India the same norms, which are used in the Industrialised world. And extraordinarily, amny of India’s elite ridicule what makes this country unique in the world, what no other nation in the world possesses; Dharma, true Hinduism; the knowledge passed down by thousands of sages, saints, yogis, sadhus of the Eternal Truth, that which passed down by thousanda of sages, saints yogis, sadhus of the Eternal Truth, that which gives meaning to this otherwise senseless life and which the West has totally lost: the Wheel of life, the endless rebirths and ultimately the evolutionary Ascension of man towards the Ultimate Truth.’
The author foresees India emerging as a spiritual leader of the world. In the 17 essays the reader has been taken through all the ‘dangers, threats, aggressions, pitfalls, perils, mistakes, that the land of Bharatha went through in the aftermath of the glorious Vedic epoch.’
The author appreciates the role of Hinduism, purely because of his conviction that it offers something eternal which no other religion can. He is, t the same time quite critical of its current plight and exhorts Hindus to awaken and realize the glory their Mother land.
Through these essays, the reader has been harped constantly of the fact that the Gratness that WAS India is not something of the past, that India’s Sanathana Dharma, her boundless reserves of spirituality are infact, ready to manifest themselves again.
‘India has to wake up to Her destiny, recoup her spiritualized outlook. stop looking at Herself and at the world through the Western prism of understanding, which is an artificial view, out of touch with the inner reality and which has been imposed to India by its colonizers for three centuries.’ That is the final deam of Francois Gautier.
He has done a great service to Bharat Mata through his writings, which deserve serious study.
Arise ‘O’ India by Francois Gautier. The Book available at:
Har Anand Publications Pvt. LTD.,
D-9, Anand Niketan,
Telephone: 011-24101962, 24101983, Fax: 011-25124868.