[Advaita-l] A news item

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 12 11:47:00 CDT 2012

> dharma in saying, "It is the Bible that inspired Hitler (read Hitler's
> God). History shows that for 2000 years Jews have been harassed by
> Christian extremism of which Holocaust is just a high peak. And even
> remotely linking Gita to Nazism is a blatant lie and missionary
> propaganda."

Apparently, my writing that "an unsavory association has been foisted upon
the gItA" is too subtle a usage of language to be appreciated!
I have no wish to repeat what numerous others have said about the role
of European Christianity in the lead up to Nazism. I also have no wish to
rail against the contemporary Christian churches and get all hot under the
collar about it. I will continue to call Nazism Hitler's sampradAya, because
like it or not, there are any number of supremacist groups in the country
in which I live, all drawing inspiration from Hitler. As far as I can see, there
is nothing particularly Christian about these groups, but in any case, this
list is not for discussing those kinds of issues. The only reason I even
brought up the news item about Himmler on Advaita-L is the following.
Educated Indians of all varieties today, whether their sympathies lie with
the Hindutva crowd or the secular crowd, like to quote what one or the
other European/American worthy has said about the gItA and other texts.
If we like to quote the fact that Oppenheimer quoted the text in relation to
the first test of the nuclear bomb in the New Mexico desert, and if we like
to quote the fact that Emerson and Thoreau took the sthitaprajna ideal to 
heart, we also need to be aware that misguided (to put it mildly) leaders
of Nazism also quoted the gItA to suit their own purposes. The authors
quoted in the article may well have their own motivations, but I am not 
particularly interested in them. What I am more concerned about is the
kernel of historical fact about how Himmler read the gItA that has come
out from this. What makes this relevant for us from another perspective
is that there were and are quite a few influential intellectuals in India 
who were willing to cast their lot with Hitler's Germany for pragmatic,
political, or worse, philosophical reasons. There were and are quite a
few influential brown sahibs who think they are white. Enough said.

Rather than just call this a blatant lie and refuse to deal with it, we need
to be aware of details and we need to learn how best to defend our texts
and our traditions from this kind of misuse. Merely thinking of it all as
propaganda by "the church" is not really an answer. The bigger danger,
in my eyes, is that we ourselves, by and large, seem to have lost all
patience for the values enshrined in our own texts and traditions. Only
my co-moderator, Jaldhar, seems to have got my point. Perhaps some
of the silent majority on this list got it too.

Beyond emphasizing that we need to internalize our own texts a lot more
effectively, I never intended this thread to transform itself into anything 
else and I would appreciate cooperation from everyone who has weighed
in so far with comments on this topic.

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