Billions and Billions of Demons by Richard C. Lewontin

What follows is the review of Carl Sagan’s book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark published by Richard Lewontin in January, 1997.

“But the Solar System!” I protested.

“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently: “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or my work.”

—Colloquy between Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet

I first met Carl Sagan in 1964, when he and I found ourselves in Arkansas on the platform of the Little Rock Auditorium, where we had been dispatched by command of the leading geneticist of the day, Herman Muller. Our task was to take the affirmative side in a debate: “Resolved, That the Theory of Evolution is proved as is the fact that the Earth goes around the Sun.” One of our opponents in the debate was a professor of biology from a fundamentalist college in Texas (his father was the president of the college) who had quite deliberately chosen the notoriously evolutionist Department of Zoology of the University of Texas as the source of his Ph.D. He could then assure his students that he had unassailable expert knowledge with which to refute Darwinism.

I had serious misgivings about facing an immense audience of creationist fundamentalist Christians in a city made famous by an Arkansas governor who, having detected a resentment of his constituents against federal usurpation, defied the power of Big Government by interposing his own body between the door of the local high school and some black kids who wanted to matriculate.

Young scientists, however, do not easily withstand the urgings of Nobel Prize winners, so after several transparently devious attempts to avoid the job, I appeared. We were, in fact, well treated, but despite our absolutely compelling arguments, the audience unaccountably voted for the opposition. Carl and I then sneaked out the back door of the auditorium and beat it out of town, quite certain that at any moment hooded riders with ropes and flaming crosses would snatch up two atheistic New York Jews who had the chutzpah to engage in public blasphemy.

Sagan and I drew different conclusions from our experience. For me the confrontation between creationism and the science of evolution was an example of historical, regional, and class differences in culture that could only be understood in the context of American social history. For Carl it was a struggle between ignorance and knowledge, although it is not clear to me what he made of the unimpeachable scientific credentials of our opponent, except perhaps to see him as an example of the Devil quoting scripture. The struggle to bring scientific knowledge to the masses has been a preoccupation of Carl Sagan’s ever since, and he has become the most widely known, widely read, and widely seen popularizer of science since the invention of the video tube. His only rival in the haute vulgarisation of science is Stephen Jay Gould, whose vulgarisations are often very haute indeed, and whose intellectual concerns are quite different.

While Gould has occasionally been enlisted in the fight to protect the teaching and dissemination of the knowledge of evolution against creationist political forces, he is primarily concerned with what the nature of organisms, living and dead, can reveal about the social construction of scientific knowledge. His repeated demonstrations that organisms can only be understood as historically contingent, underdetermined Rube Goldberg devices are meant to tell us more about the evolution of human knowledge than of human anatomy. From his early Mismeasure of Man, which examined how the political and social prejudices of prominent scientists have molded what those scientists claimed to be the facts of human anatomy and intelligence, to his recent collection of essays, Eight Little Piggies, which despite its subtitle, Reflections on Natural History, is a set of reflections on the intellectual history of Natural History, Gould’s deep preoccupation is with how knowledge, rather than the organism, is constructed.

Carl Sagan’s program is more elementary. It is to bring a knowledge of the facts of the physical world to the scientifically uneducated public, for he is convinced that only through a broadly disseminated knowledge of the objective truth about nature will we be able to cope with the difficulties of the world and increase the sum of human happiness. It is this program that inspired his famous book and television series, Cosmos, which dazzled us with billions and billions of stars. But Sagan realizes that the project of merely spreading knowledge of objective facts about the universe is insufficient. First, no one can know and understand everything. Even individual scientists are ignorant about most of the body of scientific knowledge, and it is not simply that biologists do not understand quantum mechanics. If I were to ask my colleagues in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard to explain the evolutionary importance of RNA editing in trypanosomes, they would be just as mystified by the question as the typical well-educated reader of this review.

Second, to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out. People believe a lot of nonsense about the world of phenomena, nonsense that is a consequence of a wrong way of thinking. The primary problem is not to provide the public with the knowledge of how far it is to the nearest star and what genes are made of, for that vast project is, in its entirety, hopeless. Rather, the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth. The reason that people do not have a correct view of nature is not that they are ignorant of this or that fact about the material world, but that they look to the wrong sources in their attempt to understand. It is not simply, as Sherlock Holmes thought, that the brain is like an empty attic with limited storage capacity, so that the accumulated clutter of false or useless bits of knowledge must be cleared out in a grand intellectual tag sale to make space for more useful objects. It is that most people’s mental houses have been furnished according to an appallingly bad model of taste and they need to start consulting the home furnishing supplement of the Sunday New York Times in place of the stage set of The Honeymooners. The message of The Demon-Haunted World is in its subtitle, Science as a Candle in the Dark.

Sagan’s argument is straightforward. We exist as material beings in a material world, all of whose phenomena are the consequences of physical relations among material entities. The vast majority of us do not have control of the intellectual apparatus needed to explain manifest reality in material terms, so in place of scientific (i.e., correct material) explanations, we substitute demons. As one bit of evidence for the bad state of public consciousness, Sagan cites opinion polls showing that the majority of Americans believe that extraterrestrials have landed from UFOs. The demonic, for Sagan, includes, in addition to UFOs and their crews of little green men who take unwilling passengers for a midnight spin and some wild sex, astrological influences, extrasensory perception, prayers, spoon-bending, repressed memories, spiritualism, and channeling, as well as demons sensu strictu, devils, fairies, witches, spirits, Satan and his devotees, and, after some discreet backing and filling, the supposed prime mover Himself. God gives Sagan a lot of trouble. It is easy enough for him to snort derisively at men from Mars, but when it comes to the Supreme Extraterrestrial he is rather circumspect, asking only that sermons “even-handedly examine the God hypothesis.”

The fact that so little of the findings of modern science is prefigured in Scripture to my mind casts further doubt on its divine inspiration.

But of course, I might be wrong.

I doubt that an all-seeing God would fall for Pascal’s Wager, but the sensibilities of modern believers may indeed be spared by this Clintonesque moderation.

Most of the chapters of The Demon-Haunted World are taken up with exhortations to the reader to cease whoring after false gods and to accept the scientific method as the unique pathway to a correct understanding of the natural world. To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test. So why do so many people believe in demons? Sagan seems baffled, and nowhere does he offer a coherent explanation of the popularity at the supermarket checkout counter of the Weekly World News, with its faked photographs of Martians. Indeed, he believes that “a proclivity for science is embedded deeply within us in all times, places and cultures.” The only explanation that he offers for the dogged resistance of the masses to the obvious virtues of the scientific way of knowing is that “through indifference, inattention, incompetence, or fear of skepticism, we discourage children from science.” He does not tell us how he used the scientific method to discover the “embedded” human proclivity for science, or the cause of its frustration. Perhaps we ought to add to the menu of Saganic demonology, just after spoon-bending, ten-second seat-of-the-pants explanations of social realities.

Nearly every present-day scientist would agree with Carl Sagan that our explanations of material phenomena exclude any role for supernatural demons, witches, and spirits of every kind, including any of the various gods from Adonai to Zeus. (I say “nearly” every scientist because our creationist opponent in the Little Rock debate, and other supporters of “Creation Science,” would insist on being recognized.) We also exclude from our explanations little green men from Mars riding in space ships, although they are supposed to be quite as corporeal as you and I, because the evidence is overwhelming that Mars hasn’t got any. On the other hand, if one supposed that they came from the planet of a distant star, the negative evidence would not be so compelling, although the fact that it would have taken them such a long time to get here speaks against the likelihood that they exist. Even Sagan says that “it would be astonishing to me if there weren’t extraterrestrial life,” a position he can hardly avoid, given that his first published book was Intelligent Life in the Universe and he has spent a great deal of the taxpayer’s money over the ensuing thirty years listening for the signs.

Sagan believes that scientists reject sprites, fairies, and the influence of Sagittarius because we follow a set of procedures, the Scientific Method, which has consistently produced explanations that put us in contact with reality and in which mystic forces play no part. For Sagan, the method is the message, but I think he has opened the wrong envelope.

There is no attempt in The Demon-Haunted World to provide a systematic account of just what Science and the Scientific Method consist in, nor was that the author’s intention. The book is not meant to be a discourse on method, but it is in large part a collection of articles taken from Parade magazine and other popular publications. Sagan’s intent is not analytic, but hortatory. Nevertheless, if the exhortation is to succeed, then the argument for the superiority of science and its method must be convincing, and not merely convincing, but must accord with its own demands. The case for the scientific method should itself be “scientific” and not merely rhetorical. Unfortunately, the argument may not look as good to the unconvinced as it does to the believer.

First, we are told that science “delivers the goods.” It certainly has, sometimes, but it has often failed when we need it most. Scientists and their professional institutions, partly intoxicated with examples of past successes, partly in order to assure public financial support, make grandiose promises that cannot be kept. Sagan writes with justified scorn that

We’re regularly bombarded with extravagant UFO claims vended in bite-sized packages, but only rarely do we hear of their comeuppance.

He cannot have forgotten the well-publicized War on Cancer, which is as yet without a victorious battle despite the successful taking of a salient or two. At first an immense amount of money and consciousness was devoted to the supposed oncogenic viruses which, being infectious bugs, could be exterminated or at least resisted. But these particular Unidentified Flying Objects turned out for the most part to be as elusive as the Martians, and so, without publicly calling attention to their “comeuppance,” the General Staff turned from outside invaders to the enemy within, the genes. It is almost certain that cancers do, indeed, arise because genes concerned with the regulation of cell division are mutated, partly as a consequence of environmental insults, partly because of unavoidable molecular instability, and even sometimes as the consequence of a viral attack on the genome. Yet the realization of the role played by DNA has had absolutely no consequence for either therapy or prevention, although it has resulted in many optimistic press conferences and a considerable budget for the National Cancer Institute. Treatments for cancer remain today what they were before molecular biology was ever thought of: cut it out, burn it out, or poison it.

The concentration on the genes implicated in cancer is only a special case of a general genomania that surfaces in the form of weekly announcements in The New York Times of the location of yet another gene for another disease. The revealing rhetoric of this publicity is always the same; only the blanks need to be filled in: “It was announced today by scientists at [Harvard, Vanderbilt, Stanford] Medical School that a gene responsible for [some, many, a common form of] [schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, arterio-sclerosis, prostate cancer] has beenlocated and its DNA sequence determined. This exciting research, say scientists, is the first step in what may eventually turn out to be a possible cure for this disease.”

The entire public justification for the Human Genome Project is the promise that some day, in the admittedly distant future, diseases will be cured or prevented.

Skeptics who point out that we do not yet have a single case of a prevention or cure arising from a knowledge of DNA sequences are answered by the observations that “these things take time,” or that “no one knows the value of a newborn baby.” But such vague waves of the hand miss the central scientific issue. The prevention or cure of metabolic and developmental disorders depends on a detailed knowledge of the mechanisms operating in cells and tissues above the level of genes, and there is no relevant information about those mechanisms in DNA sequences. In fact, if I know the DNA sequence of a gene I have no hint about the function of a protein specified by that gene, or how it enters into an organism’s biology.

What is involved here is the difference between explanation and intervention. Many disorders can be explained by the failure of the organism to make a normal protein, a failure that is the consequence of a gene mutation. But intervention requires that the normal protein be provided at the right place in the right cells, at the right time and in the right amount, or else that an alternative way be found to provide normal cellular function. What is worse, it might even be necessary to keep the abnormal protein away from the cells at critical moments. None of these objectives is served by knowing the DNA sequence of the defective gene. Explanations of phenomena can be given at many levels, some of which can lead to successful manipulation of the world and some not. Death certificates all state a cause of death, but even if there were no errors in these ascriptions, they are too general to be useful. An easy conflation of explanations in general with explanations at the correct causal level may serve a propagandistic purpose in the struggle for public support, but it is not the way to concrete progress.

Scientists apparently do not realize that the repeated promises of benefits yet to come, with no likelihood that those promises will be fulfilled, can only produce a widespread cynicism about the claims for the scientific method. Sagan, trying to explain the success of Carlos, a telepathic charlatan, muses on

how little it takes to tamper with our beliefs, how readily we are led, how easy it is to fool the public when people are lonely and starved for something to believe in.

Not to mention when they are sick and dying.

Biologists are not the only scientists who, having made extravagant claims about their merchandise, deliver the goods in bite-sized packages. Nor are they the only manufacturers of knowledge who cannot be bothered to pick up a return package when the product turns out to be faulty. Sagan’s own branch of science is in the same business. Anxious to revive a failing public interest in spending large amounts on space research, NASA scientists, followed by the President of the United States, made an immense fuss about the discovery of some organic molecules on a Mars rock. There is (was) life (of some rudimentary kind) on Mars (maybe)! Can little green men in space machines be far behind? If it turns out, as already suggested by some scientists, that these molecules are earthly contaminants, or were produced in non-living chemical systems, this fact surely will not be announced at a White House press conference, or even above the fold in The New York Times.

Second, it is repeatedly said that science is intolerant of theories without data and assertions without adequate evidence. But no serious student of epistemology any longer takes the naive view of science as a process of Baconian induction from theoretically unorganized observations. There can be no observations without an immense apparatus of preexisting theory. Before sense experiences become “observations” we need a theoretical question, and what counts as a relevant observation depends upon a theoretical frame into which it is to be placed. Repeatable observations that do not fit into an existing frame have a way of disappearing from view, and the experiments that produced them are not revisited. In the 1930s well-established and respectable geneticists described “dauer-modifications,” environmentally induced changes in organisms that were passed on to offspring and only slowly disappeared in succeeding generations. As the science of genetics hardened, with its definitive rejection of any possibility of the inheritance of acquired characteristics, observations of dauer-modifications were sent to the scrapheap where they still lie, jumbled together with other decommissioned facts.

The standard form of a scientific paper begins with a theoretical question, which is then followed by the description of an experimental technique designed to gather observations pertinent to the question. Only then are the observations themselves described. Finally there is a discussion section in which a great deal of energy is often expended rationalizing the failure of the observations to accord entirely with a theory we really like, and in which proposals are made for other experiments that might give more satisfactory results. Sagan’s suggestion that only demonologists engage in “special pleading, often to rescue a proposition in deep rhetorical trouble,” is certainly not one that accords with my reading of the scientific literature. Nor is this a problem unique to biology. The attempts of physicists to explain why their measurements of the effects of relativity did not agree with Einstein’s quantitative prediction is a case no doubt well known to Sagan.

As to assertions without adequate evidence, the literature of science is filled with them, especially the literature of popular science writing. Carl Sagan’s list of the “best contemporary science-popularizers” includes E.O. Wilson, Lewis Thomas, and Richard Dawkins, each of whom has put unsubstantiated assertions or counterfactual claims at the very center of the stories they have retailed in the market. Wilson’s Sociobiology and On Human Nature rest on the surface of a quaking marsh of unsupported claims about the genetic determination of everything from altruism to xenophobia. Dawkins’s vulgarizations of Darwinism speak of nothing in evolution but an inexorable ascendancy of genes that are selectively superior, while the entire body of technical advance in experimental and theoretical evolutionary genetics of the last fifty years has moved in the direction of emphasizing non-selective forces in evolution. Thomas, in various essays, propagandized for the success of modern scientific medicine in eliminating death from disease, while the unchallenged statistical compilations on mortality show that in Europe and North America infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and diphtheria, had ceased to be major causes of mortality by the first decades of the twentieth century, and that at age seventy the expected further lifetime for a white male has gone up only two years since 1950. Even The Demon-Haunted World itself sometimes takes suspect claims as true when they serve a rhetorical purpose as, for example, statistics on child abuse, or a story about the evolution of a child’s fear of the dark.

Third, it is said that there is no place for an argument from authority in science. The community of science is constantly self-critical, as evidenced by the experience of university colloquia “in which the speaker has hardly gotten 30 seconds into the talk before there are devastating questions and comments from the audience.” If Sagan really wants to hear serious disputation about the nature of the universe, he should leave the academic precincts in Ithaca and spend a few minutes in an Orthodox study house in Brooklyn. It is certainly true that within each narrowly defined scientific field there is a constant challenge to new technical claims and to old wisdom. In what my wife calls the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Syndrome, young scientists on the make will challenge a graybeard, and this adversarial atmosphere for the most part serves the truth. But when scientists transgress the bounds of their own speciality they have no choice but to accept the claims of authority, even though they do not know how solid the grounds of those claims may be. Who am I to believe about quantum physics if not Steven Weinberg, or about the solar system if not Carl Sagan? What worries me is that they may believe what Dawkins and Wilson tell them about evolution.

With great perception, Sagan sees that there is an impediment to the popular credibility of scientific claims about the world, an impediment that is almost invisible to most scientists. Many of the most fundamental claims of science are against common sense and seem absurd on their face. Do physicists really expect me to accept without serious qualms that the pungent cheese that I had for lunch is really made up of tiny, tasteless, odorless, colorless packets of energy with nothing but empty space between them? Astronomers tell us without apparent embarrassment that they can see stellar events that occurred millions of years ago, whereas we all know that we see things as they happen. When, at the time of the moon landing, a woman in rural Texas was interviewed about the event, she very sensibly refused to believe that the television pictures she had seen had come all the way from the moon, on the grounds that with her antenna she couldn’t even get Dallas. What seems absurd depends on one’s prejudice. Carl Sagan accepts, as I do, the duality of light, which is at the same time wave and particle, but he thinks that the consubstantiality of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost puts the mystery of the Holy Trinity “in deep trouble.” Two’s company, but three’s a crowd.

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

The mutual exclusion of the material and the demonic has not been true of all cultures and all times. In the great Chinese epic Journey to the West, demons are an alternative form of life, responsible to certain deities, devoted to making trouble for ordinary people, but severely limited. They can be captured, imprisoned, and even killed by someone with superior magic.

In our own intellectual history, the definitive displacement of divine powers by purely material causes has been a relatively recent changeover, and that icon of modern science, Newton, was at the cusp. It is a cliché of intellectual history that Newton attempted to accommodate God by postulating Him as the Prime Mover Who, having established the mechanical laws and set the whole universe in motion, withdrew from further intervention, leaving it to people like Newton to reveal His plan. But what we might call “Newton’s Ploy” did not really get him off the hook. He understood that a defect of his system of mechanics was the lack of any equilibrating force that would return the solar system to its regular set of orbits if there were any slight perturbation. He was therefore forced, although reluctantly, to assume that God intervened from time to time to set things right again. It remained for Laplace, a century later, to produce a mechanics that predicted the stability of the planetary orbits, allowing him the hauteur of his famous reply to Napoleon. When the Emperor observed that there was, in the whole of the Mécanique Céleste, no mention of the author of the universe, he replied, “Sire, I have no need of that hypothesis.” One can almost hear a stress on the “I.”

The struggle for possession of public consciousness between material and mystical explanations of the world is one aspect of the history of the confrontation between elite culture and popular culture. Without that history we cannot understand what was going on in the Little Rock Auditorium in 1964. The debate in Arkansas between a teacher from a Texas fundamentalist college and a Harvard astronomer and University of Chicago biologist was a stage play recapitulating the history of American rural populism. In the first decades of this century there was an immensely active populism among poor southwestern dirt farmers and miners.

The most widely circulated American socialist journal of the time (The Appeal to Reason!) was published not in New York, but in Girard, Kansas, and in the presidential election of 1912 Eugene Debs got more votes in the poorest rural counties of Texas and Oklahoma than he did in the industrial wards of northern cities. Sentiment was extremely strong against the banks and corporations that held the mortgages and sweated the labor of the rural poor, who felt their lives to be in the power of a distant eastern elite. The only spheres of control that seemed to remain to them were family life, a fundamentalist religion, and local education.

This sense of an embattled culture was carried from the southwest to California by the migrations of the Okies and Arkies dispossessed from their ruined farms in the 1930s. There was no serious public threat to their religious and family values until well after the Second World War. Evolution, for example, was not part of the regular biology curriculum when I was a student in 1946 in the New York City high schools, nor was it discussed in school textbooks. In consequence there was no organized creationist movement. Then, in the late 1950s, a national project was begun to bring school science curricula up to date. A group of biologists from elite universities together with science teachers from urban schools produced a new uniform set of biology textbooks, whose publication and dissemination were underwritten by the National Science Foundation. An extensive and successful public relations campaign was undertaken to have these books adopted, and suddenly Darwinian evolution was being taught to children everywhere. The elite culture was now extending its domination by attacking the control that families had maintained over the ideological formation of their children.

The result was a fundamentalist revolt, the invention of “Creation Science,” and successful popular pressure on local school boards and state textbook purchasing agencies to revise subversive curricula and boycott blasphemous textbooks. In their parochial hubris, intellectuals call the struggle between cultural relativists and traditionalists in the universities and small circulation journals “The Culture Wars.” The real war is between the traditional culture of those who think of themselves as powerless and the rationalizing materialism of the modern Leviathan. There are indeed Two Cultures at Cambridge. One is in the Senior Common Room, and the other is in the Porter’s Lodge.

Carl Sagan, like his Canadian counterpart David Suzuki, has devoted extraordinary energy to bringing science to a mass public. In doing so, he is faced with a contradiction for which there is no clear resolution. On the one hand science is urged on us as a model of rational deduction from publicly verifiable facts, freed from the tyranny of unreasoning authority. On the other hand, given the immense extent, inherent complexity, and counterintuitive nature of scientific knowledge, it is impossible for anyone, including non-specialist scientists, to retrace the intellectual paths that lead to scientific conclusions about nature. In the end we must trust the experts and they, in turn, exploit their authority as experts and their rhetorical skills to secure our attention and our belief in things that we do not really understand. Anyone who has ever served as an expert witness in a judicial proceeding knows that the court may spend an inordinate time “qualifying” the expert, who, once qualified, gives testimony that is not meant to be a persuasive argument, but an assertion unchallengeable by anyone except another expert. And, indeed, what else are the courts to do? If the judge, attorneys, and jury could reason out the technical issues from fundamentals, there would be no need of experts.

What is at stake here is a deep problem in democratic self-governance. In Plato’s most modern of Dialogues, the Gorgias, there is a struggle between Socrates, with whom we are meant to sympathize, and his opponents, Gorgias and Callicles, over the relative virtues of rhetoric and technical expertise. What Socrates and Gorgias agree on is that the mass of citizens are incompetent to make reasoned decisions on justice and public policy, but that they must be swayed by rhetorical argument or guided by the authority of experts.

Gorgias: “I mean [by the art of rhetoric] the ability to convince by means of speech a jury in a court of justice, members of the Council in their Chamber, voters at a meeting of the Assembly, and any other gathering of citizens, whatever it may be.”

Socrates: “When the citizens hold a meeting to appoint medical officers or shipbuilders or any other professional class of person, surely it won’t be the orator who advises them then. Obviously in every such election the choice ought to fall on the most expert.”

Conscientious and wholly admirable popularizers of science like Carl Sagan use both rhetoric and expertise to form the mind of masses because they believe, like the Evangelist John, that the truth shall make you free. But they are wrong. It is not the truth that makes you free. It is your possession of the power to discover the truth. Our dilemma is that we do not know how to provide that power.

Swami Karpatri On Inability Of An Idol To Defend Itself

एक बार काशी के एक योग्य विद्वान्ने मुझसे कहा कि ‘आज दुर्गाजीकी चाँदीकी आँखोंको चोर चुरा ले गये। महाराज! यदि दुर्गाजीसे अपने ही आँखोंकी रक्षा न हुई, तब वे हम सबकी रक्षा कैसे कर सकेंगी?’ किसी एक और व्यक्तिने शिवजीपर चढ़े हुए अक्षत या फलोंको ले जाती हुई मूषिकाको देखकर यह समझ लिया था कि ‘मूर्तिपूजा व्यर्थ है, मूर्तिमें देवत्व नहीं है।’

ऐसी बातोंपर विचार करनेसे विदित होता है की यह कितनी मोटी दृष्टिकी बात है। व्यापक परब्रह्म परमात्मा सर्वत्र ही रहता है, सम्पूर्ण विश्व उन्हींमें रहता है। सोना, उठना, बैठना सम्पूर्ण कर्म उन्हींमे होता है। जिस तरह गर्भस्थ बालककी सम्पूर्ण चेष्टाएँ माँके गर्भमें ही होती हैं, फिर भी माता कुपित नहीं होती। वैसे ही जीवोंकी अनेक हलचलें उसी परमात्मामें होती हैं, क्षमाशील परमात्मा सबको ही सहन करता है।

उत्क्षेपणं गर्भगतस्य पादयोः किं कल्पते मातुरधोक्षजागसे।
किमस्तिनास्तिव्यपदेशभूषितं तवास्ति कुक्षेः कियदप्यनन्तः।।
(श्रीमद्भा० १०।१४।१२)
ब्रह्माजी कहते हैं ― ‘हे अधोक्षज! गर्भगत बालकके पादोत्क्षेपणको जननी क्या अपराध मानती है? यदि नहीं तो अस्तिनास्ति व्यपदेशसे भूषित यह सम्पूर्ण विश्व क्या अपनी कुक्षिसे बाहर है?’

भगवद्ध्यनके प्रभावसे एक ज्ञानी प्राणी भी देहाभिमानिशून्य होता है। उसके एक बाहुमें कोई कण्टक चुभाता है, दूसरे बाहुमें कोई चन्दन-लिम्पन करता है। वह उतना उदार, सहनशील एवं देहाभिमानिशून्य होता है कि न अनुकूलाचरणवालोंपर प्रहृष्ट हो, न प्रतिकूलाचरणवालोंपर कुपित हो; फिर भी अपने-अपने कर्तव्यके अनुसार ही उन सबको यथासमय फल मिलता है। जब एक देह वाले भगवद्भक्त ज्ञानीकी ऐसी स्थिति है, तब अनन्तकोटि ब्रह्माण्डनायक भगवान्का तो कहना ही क्या है। उसके तो अपरिगणित देह हैं और वह महाज्ञानी सर्वत्र असंग और अभिमानशून्य है। वह किसीके सम्मान या अपमानमें किस तरह क्षुब्ध हो सकता है? भावुक लोग शास्त्रोंके आज्ञानुसार उसकी अनन्तानन्त प्रतिमाओंका निर्माणकर मन्त्रोंसे आवाहन, प्रतिष्ठापनादिद्वारा उसकी आराधना करते हैं और अपने कर्मके अनुसार ही यथाकाल फल पाते हैं। शास्त्रके अनुसार मन्त्रों एवं आराधनाओंके अनुसार पूजा-ग्रहण करने और फल देनेके लिये ही भगवान्का उन मूर्तियोंमें प्राकट्य होता है। कोई उन मूर्तियोंका अपमान करके भगवान् का कुछ भी नहीं बिगाड़ सकता है। जिस तरह सूर्यपर न जाकर निष्ठिवन करनेसे वह सूर्यपर न जाकर अपने ही ऊपर पड़ेगा, आकाशपर मुष्टिप्रहार या तलवारका चलना बेकार है, वैसे ही भगवान् पर प्रहार या उनकी मूर्तियोंका तोड़ना बेकार है। अनंत मूर्तियोंमें रहनेवाले भगवान् विश्वमूर्ति एवं अमूर्ति भगवान् इतने उदार और क्षमाशील तो हैं ही की मूर्ति तोड़नेवालोंके कर्म ही उन्हें फल देते हैं। साधारण व्यक्ति जैसे असहिष्णु कोई भी शासक नहीं होते, फिर परमेश्वरकी तो बात ही दूसरी है। किन्हीं कर्मोंके फल अवसर के अनुसार ही होते हैं। ‘ओडायर’ की हत्या करनेवाला व्यक्ति तत्काल ही पकड़ लिया गया था; परंतु तत्क्षण ही उसे फाँसी नहीं दी गयी, न गोलीसे उड़ाया गया। बकायदे न्यायालयमें न्याय हुआ। फिर दण्ड निश्चित हुआ। यथाकाल दण्ड दिया गया। जब प्राकृत शासकोंमें भी इतनी सहिष्णुता और काल-प्रतीक्षा होती है, तब फिर परमेश्वर ही सहिष्णु और कालप्रतीक्षक क्यों न हों?

सम्राट्, स्वराट्, विराट् या गवर्नर, कमिश्नर आदि कोई भी अपने अपमान करनेवाले व्यक्तिको स्वयं पकड़ने या तत्क्षण दण्ड देनेमें नहीं प्रवृत्त होते, किंतु उनके कर्मचारी लोग ही उसे पकड़नेमें प्रवृत्त होते हैं। वे ही न्यायाध्यक्षका न्याय पाकर यथाकाल दण्ड देते हैं। इसी तरह ईश्वरकी मूर्तियोंका अपमान करनेवालोंको तत्क्षण ही परमेश्वर दण्ड नहीं देता; किन्तु उसके कर्मचारी ही यथाकाल दण्ड देते हैं।

कितने ही अज्ञ कहा करते हैं कि ‘यदि परमेश्वर सर्वशक्तिमान् हो तो मैं उसे गाली देता हूँ, उसकी मूर्तिको तोड़ता हूँ, मेरे सामने आये या मेरा मुँह बन्द कर दे।’ परंतु सोचना यह चाहिये की यदि बड़े-बड़े तपस्वी युगयुगान्तरों, कल्प-कल्पान्तरोंकी तपस्याके पश्चात उसका दर्शन पाते हैं, फिर वह इन अज्ञोंके कहनेमात्रसे कैसे प्रकट हो या उनके कथनानुसार उनका मुँह कैसे बन्द करे? वस्तुतः जैसे सावधान पुरुष उन्मादी या बालककी बातोंपर ध्यान न देकर उसपर कृपा ही करता है, वैसे परमेश्वर भी कृपा ही करते हैं,‘जौं करनी समुझै प्रभु मोरी। नहिं निस्तार कलप सत कोरी।।’ (रा०च०मा० ७।१।५)

Horrifying Moplah Massacre of Hindus

Eminent Historian R C Majumdar had called Moplahs “a band of fanatic Muslims, poor and ignorant. . .(with) an unenviable reputation for crimes perpetrated under the impulsive religious frenzy. They were responsible for no fewer than thirty-five outbreaks, of a minor nature, during the British rule. But their most terrible outbreak, mainly due to the Khilafat agitation, took place in August 1921.”

What happened in August 1921?

Official British report described it as follows:
“During the early months of 1921, excitement spread speedily from mosque to mosque, from village to village. The violent speeches of the Ali Brothers, the early approach of Swaraj as fold in the non-cooperative press, the July resolutions of Khilafat Conference ― all these combined to fire the train. Throughout July and August innumerable Khilafat meetings were held, in which the resolutions of the Karachi Conference were fervently endorsed. Knives swords and spears were secretly manufactured, bands of desperados collected, and preparations were made to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of Islam. On August 20, when the District Magistrate of Calicut, with the help of troops and police, attempted to arrest certain leaders who were in possession of arms at Tirurangadi, a severe encounter took place, which was the signal for immediate rebellion throughout the whole locality. Roads were blocked, telegraph lines cut, and the railway destroyed in a number of places. The District Magistrate returned to Calicut to prevent the spread of trouble northwards, and the machinery of Government was temporarily reduced to a number of isolated officers and police stations which were attacked by the rebels and detail. Such Europeans as did not succeed in escaping ― and they were fortunately few ― were murdered with bestial savagery. As soon as the administration had been paralysed, the Mopalahs declared the Swaraj was established. A certain Ali Musaliar was proclaimed Raja, Khilafat flags were flown, and Ernad and Walluvanad were declared Khilafat kingdoms. The main brunt of Moplah ferocity was borne, not by Government, but the luckless Hindus who constituted the majority of the population. . .Massacres, forcible conversions, desecration of temples, foul outrages upon women, pillage, arson and destruction ― in short, all the accompaniments of brutal and unrestrained barbarism ― were perpetrated freely until such time as troops could be hurried to the task of restoring order throughout a difficult and extensive tract of country.”

Official version is verified by the following independent testimonies.

1.) A statement signed by the Secretary and Treasurer of the Kerala Provincial Congress Committee, Secretary, Calicut District Congress Committee, Ernad Khilafat Committee, and KV Gopala Menon refers to the following misdeeds of the Moplahs:

“Their wanton and unprovoked attack on Hindus; the all but wholesale looting of their houses in Ernad and parts of Valluvanad, Ponnani, and Calicut taluqs; the forcible conversion of Hindus in a few places in the beginning of the rebellion, and the wholesale conversion of those who stuck to their homes in the later stages; the brutal murder of inoffensive Hindus; men, women and children in cold blood, without the slightest reason except that they are “Kaffirs” or belong to the same race as the policemen, who insulted their Tangals and or entered their mosques; the desecration and burning of Hindu temples; the outrage on Hindu women and their forcible conversions and marriage by the Moplahs.”
The signatories add: “These and similar atrocities (were) proved beyond the shadow of doubt by the statements recorded by us from the actual sufferers who have survived.”

2.) The memorial of the women of Malabar to Lady Reading contains the following:
“It is possible that your Ladyship is not fully appraised of all the horrors and atrocities perpetrated by the fiendish rebels; of the many tanks filled up with the mutilated, but often only half dead bodies were nearest and dearest ones who refused to abandon the faith of our fathers; of pregnant women cut to pieces and left on the roadsides and in the jungles, with the unborn babe protruding from the mangled corpse; of our innocent and helpless children torn from our arms and done to death before our eyes and of our husbands and fathers tortured, flayde and burnt alive; of our hapless sisters forcibly carried away from the midst of kith and kin and subjected to every shame and outrage which the vile and brutal imagination of these inhuman hell-hounds could conceive of; of thousands of our homesteads reduced to cinder-mounds out of sheer savagery and a wanton spirit of destruction; of our places of worship desecrated and destroyed and of the images of deity shamefully insulted by putting the entrails of slaughtered cows where flower garlands used to lie, or else smashed to pieces. . .We remember how driven out of our native hamlets we wandered, starving and naked, in the jungles and forests.”
(This is only a short extract from a harrowing tale of misery.)

3.) Proceedings of the Conference at Calicut presided over by the Zamorin.
“Resolution VI. That the conference views with indignation and sorrow the attempts made in various quarters by interested parties to ignore or minimise the crimes committed by the rebel such as
A. Brutally dishonouring women;
B. Flaying people alive
C. Wholesale slaughter of men, women and children
D. Burning alive entire families;
E. Forcibly converting people in thousands and slaying those who refused to get converted;
F. Throwing half-dead people into wells and leaving the victims for hours to struggle for escape till finally released from their sufferings by death.”

(Two other items refer to looting and desecration of temples as described in the above memorial of the ladies)

4.) Typical instances of horrible outrageous on women were described in the “New India” edited by Mrs Annie Besant and “The Times of India”. Reference may be made to the brutal treatment of a respectable Nair lady at Melator and the way a large number of Hindu girls were outraged. Inquisitive readers would find these and other incidents in the appendix of Sankaran Nair’s book “Gandhi and Anarchy”.

5.) Sankaran Nair points out that “in addition to those mentioned in these articles two other forms of torture were credibly reported as having been resorted to in the case of men, namely, skinning alive, and making them dig their own graves before their slaughter.”

Majumdar wrote that “The Congress leaders at first disbelieved the stories. Gandhi himself spoke of “brave God fearing Moplahs” who were “fighting for what they consider as religious.” Little wonder that Khilafat leaders passed resolutions of congratulations to the Moplahs on the brave fight they were conducting for the sake of religion. But when Hundreds of Hindu refugees arriving at Calicut confirmed the most terrible stories of barbarous and fanatical cruelty, a wave of horror passed over those Hindus who were not blinded by Gandhi’s new-fangled idea of Hindu-Muslim unity at any cost. Local members of the Congress and Khilafat asked for, and obtained, permission to enter the disturbed area in order to pacify the Moplahs, but they speedily returned with frank admission that they could effect nothing. When truth could not be suppressed any longer, and came out with all its naked hideousness, Gandhi tried to conciliate Hindu opinion by various explanations, denials, and censure of the authorities which were crystallized in the following resolution passed by the Congress at Ahmedabad:

The Congress expresses its firm conviction that the Moplah disturbance was not due to the Non-cooperation or the Khilafat Movement, specially as the non-corporators and the Khilafat preachers were denied access to the affected parts by the District authorities for six months before the disturbance, but is due to causes wholly unconnected with the two movements, and that the outbreak would not have occurred had the message of non-violence been allowed to reach them. Nevertheless, this Congress deplores the acts done by certain Moplahs by way of forcible conversions and destruction of life and property and is of opinion that the prolongation of disturbance in Malabar could have been prevented by the Government of Madras accepting the preferred assistance of Moulana Yakub Hassan and other Non-co-orperators and allowing Mahatma Gandhi to proceed to Malabar, and is further of opinion that the treatment of Moplah prisoners as evidenced by the asphyxiation incident was an act of inhumanity unheard of in modern times and unworthy of a Government that calls itself civilized.””

Majumdar remarks that this resolution was “unworthy of a great national organization, which launched the Non-co-operation movement as a protest against the Panjab atrocities.

On The Hoax Of Quit India Movement

What is today called as the “Quit India movement” was originally called as “August disturbances.” August disturbances were violent riots that happened throughout the country which Congress leaders disowned as a spontaneous reaction.

Later, when India became independent, Congress leaders, who then came into power, fudged history in order to show their contributions towards freedom struggle.

Here’s what Nehru said about August Disturbances to journalists: “To say that the Congress organized any movement is fantastic and absolutely wrong. Whatever happened after the arrest of leaders was spontaneous.”

He further said, “The truth is that the Congress gave no instructions for any movement.”

In his letter to Home Department in July 1943, Gandhi said:
“I have searched, and so have the friends with me, in vain, for some expression in my writings which would warrant the opinion that ‘Quit India’ move was meant as a proposal for the physical withdrawal of the British from India.” In other words, it was a mere jumla or gimmick.

Historian R C Majumdar noted that “Far from claiming any credit for achievements of 1942, both Gandhi and the Congress offered apology and explanation for the “madness’ which seized the people participating in it.”

This is the reality of “Quit India movement.”

Orientation

It struck me when Paul Samuelson said that “We’re like highly trained athletes who never run a race, and in consequence go stale.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not “highly trained” in anything. But I had devoted myself to learning things in which I never ran a race. Nor did I have any chance of winning even if I had ran (Specialisation due to division of labor being a fact of life.) As a consequence of which I turned stale.

Reader should learn from my mistake.
Be goal oriented. Do not devote yourself or your time to any knowledge or skill for mere love of that knowledge or skill. Its a luxury which only few can afford. That is those who’ve already secured themselves in the onslaught of life.

Falsifying history for political purposes

Eminent historian R. C. Majumdar warned against the nationwide exercise of suppressing the truth of mediaeval Indian history. For him, “national integration” based on a wilful blindness to recorded history of the havoc wrought by Islam in India, could lead to national suicide.

In his ‘The History and Culture of the Indian People’, Volume VI, ‘The Delhi Sultanate,’ Majumdar wrote the following:

Political necessities of the Indians during the last phase of British rule underlined the importance of alliance between the two communities, and this was sought to be smoothly brought about by glossing over the differences and creating an imaginary history of the past in order to depict the relations between the two in a much more favourable light than it actually was. Eminent Hindu political leaders even went so far as to proclaim that the Hindus were not at all a subject race during the Muslim rule. These absurd notions, which would have been laughed at by Indian leaders at the beginning of the nineteenth century, passed current as history owing to the exigencies of the political complications at the end of that century. Unfortunately, slogans and beliefs die hard, and even today, for more or less the same reasons as before, many Indians, especially Hindus, are peculiarly sensitive to any comments or observations even made in course of historical writings, touching upon the communal relations in any way. A fear of wounding the susceptibilities of the sister community haunts the minds of Hindu politicians and historians, and not only prevents them from speaking out the truth, but also brings down their wrath upon those who have the courage to do so. But history is no respecter of persons or communities, and must always strive to tell the truth, so far as it can be deduced from reliable evidence. This great academic principle has a bearing upon actual life, for ignorance seldom proves to be a real bliss either to an individual or to a nation. In the particular case under consideration, ignorance of the actual relation between the Hindus and the Muslims throughout the course of history – an ignorance deliberately encouraged by some – may ultimately be found to have been the most important single factor which led to the partition of India. The real and effective means of solving a problem is to know and understand the facts that gave rise to it, and not to ignore them by hiding the head, ostrich-like, into sands of fiction.

But his voice remained a voice in the wilderness. Fourteen years later, he had to return to the theme and give specific instances of falsification.[Ibid, Volume VII, Preface to ‘The Mughal Empire’]

It is very sad,” he observed, “that the spirit of perverting history to suit political views is no longer confined to politicians, but has definitely spread even among professional historians. . .It is painful to mention, though impossible to ignore, the fact that there is a distinct and conscious attempt to rewrite the whole chapter of the bigotry and intolerance of the Muslim rulers towards Hindu religion. This was originally prompted by the political motive of bringing together the Hindus and Musalmans in a common fight against the British but has continued ever since. A history written under the auspices of the Indian National Congress sought to repudiate the charge that the Muslim rulers broke Hindu temples, and asserted that they were the most tolerant in matters of religion. Following in its footsteps, a noted historian has sought to exonerate Mahmud of Ghazni’s bigotry and fanaticism, and several writers in India have come forward to defend Aurangzeb against Jadunath Sarkar’s charge of religious intolerance. It is interesting to note that in the revised edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, one of them, while re-writing the article on Aurangzeb originally written by William Irvine, has expressed the view that the charge of breaking Hindu temples brought against Aurangzeb is a disputed point. Alas for poor Jadunath Sarkar, who must have turned in his grave if he were buried! For, after reading his ‘History of Aurangzib’, one would be tempted to ask, if the temple-breaking policy of Aurangzeb is a disputed point, is there a single fact in the whole recorded history of mankind which may be taken as undisputed? A noted historian has sought to prove that the Hindu population was better off under the Muslims than under the Hindu tributaries or independent rulers.”

Origin And Meaning Of The Word “Hindu”

What follows in an excerpt from Swami Karpatri’s book “Vichar Piyush.”

वस्तुतिथि यह है कि, मुहम्मद और इसाके भी सैकड़ो वर्ष पूर्व हिन्दु और हिन्दू — शब्दका प्रयोग सौम्य, सुन्दर, सुशोभित, शीलनिधि, दमशील, और दुष्टदलनमें दक्ष — अर्थोंमें प्रयुक्त और प्रचलित था। सिकन्दरने भारतमें आकर  अपने मन्त्रीसे हिंदुकुश (हिंदुकूट) पर्वत के दर्शनकी इच्छा व्यक्त की थी। पारसियोंके धर्मग्रन्थ शातीरमें हिंदुशब्द का उल्लेख है। अवेस्तामें हजारों वैदिकशब्द पाये जाते हैं। सिकन्दरसे भी सैकड़ों वर्ष पूर्वका यह शब्द है। उसमें हिन्दू — शब्दका प्रयोग है। बलख नगर का नाम पूर्वकालमें हिन्दवार था। ‘स’ के स्थानपर ‘ह’ का प्रयोग प्रसिद्ध है। सप्त को हप्त, सरस्वतीको हरहवती, सरित् को हरित्, केसरी को  केहरी, असुरको अहुर — कहने की विधा और प्रथा है।

भविष्यपुराणमें हिन्दुस्थानको सिन्धुस्थान – आर्योंका राष्ट्र कहा गया है। —
“सिन्धुस्थानमिति ज्ञेयं राष्ट्रमार्यस्य चोत्तमम्।”

कालिका पुराण और शार्ङ्गधरपद्धति के अनुसार वेदमार्गका अनुसरण करनेवाला हिन्दु मान्य है। —

“बलिना कलिनाऽऽच्छन्ने धर्मे कवलितौ कलौ।
यवनैरवनिः क्रान्ता हिन्दवो विन्ध्यमाविशन्।।
कालेन बलिना नूनमधर्मकलिते कलौ।
यवनैर्घोरमाक्रान्ता हिन्दवो विन्ध्यमाविशन्।।”
(कालिकापुराण)

“यवनैरवनिः क्रान्ता हिन्दवो विन्ध्यमाविशन्।
बलिना वेदमार्गोऽयं कलिना कवलीकृतः।।”
(शार्ङ्गधरपद्धति)

“कालबलीके कुचथक्रके कारण कलिमें अधर्मसे वैदिक धर्म के आच्छन्न हो जाने पर तथा घोर आक्रान्ता यवनोंसे भारतके विविध भूभाग उत्पीड़त हो जानेपर हिन्दू विन्ध्यपर्वत चले गये।”

हिमालयका प्रथम अक्षर ‘ह्’ है। इन्दुसरोवर(कुमारी अन्तरीप) के प्रारम्भके दो अक्षर ‘इन्दु’ है। ह्  इन्दु = हिन्दु होता है।

बृहस्पति आगमके अनुसार हिमालयसे इन्दुसरोवरतकका देवनिर्मित भूभाग हिन्दुस्थान कहा जाता है। इसमें परम्परासे निवास करनेवाले और उनके वंशधर हिन्दु कहे जाते है। —

“हिमालयं समारभ्य यवदिन्सरोवरम्।
तं देवनिर्मितं देशं हिन्दुस्थानं प्रचक्षते।।”

“हि – शब्दोपलक्षित कुमारी अन्तरीप – इन्दुसरोवर – कन्याकुमारी समझना चाहिये। हिमालयसे कुमारी अन्तरीप – पर्यन्त देवविनिर्मित भूभाग को हिन्दुस्थान कहते हैं।”

वृद्धस्मृतिके अनुसार हिंसासे दुःखित होनेवाला, सदाचरणतत्पर( वर्णोचित्त आचरण – सम्पन्न), वेद-गोवंश और देवप्रतिमासेवी हिन्दू समझने योग्य है। —
“हिंसया दूयते यश्च सदाचारतत्परः।
वेदगोप्रतिमासेवी स हिन्दुमुखशब्दभाक्।।”

माधवदिग्गविजयके अनुसार सनातनी, आर्यसमाजी, जैन, बौद्ध और सिक्खादिमें अनुगत लक्षणके अनुसार ओङ्कारको मूलमन्त्र माननेवाला, पुनर्जन्ममें दृढ आस्था रखनेवाला, गोभक्त और भारतीय मूलके सत्पुरुषद्वारा प्रवर्तित पथका अनुगमन करनेवाला तथा हिंसको निन्द्य माननेवाला हिन्दु कहने योग्य है। —
“ओङ्कारमूलमन्त्राढ्यः पुनर्जन्मदृढाशयः।
गोभक्तो भारतगुरुर्हिन्दुहिंसनदूषकः।।”

सनातनशैलीमें हिन्दुकी परिभाषा इस प्रकार है —
“श्रुतिस्मृत्यादिशास्त्रेषु प्रामाण्यबुद्धिमवलम्बय श्रुत्यादिप्रोक्ते धर्मे विश्वासं — निष्ठां च यः करोति स एव वास्तव हिन्दुपदवाच्यः”

वेदशास्त्रोक्तधर्मेषु वेदाद्युक्ताधिकारिवान्।
आस्थावान् सुप्रतिष्ठिश्च स वै हिन्दूरिति स्मृतः।।
“जो श्रुति – स्मृत्यादिसम्मत धर्मोंमें आस्थान्वित और अपने अधिकारके अनुरूप सुप्रतिष्ठित है, वही वास्तवमें हिन्दु कहने योग्य है।”

भविष्यपुराण – प्रतिसर्गपर्व – प्रथमखण्ड ५.३६ में ‘सप्तसिन्धुस्तथैव च। सप्तहिन्दुर्यावनी च’ – हिन्दु – शब्दका प्रयोग किया गया है। पश्चमी देशोमें एकमात्र इसी मार्गसे जाने के कारण भारत हिन्द कहा जाने लगा एयर भारतीय हिन्दु या हिन्दू – कहलाने लगे।

अद्भुतकोषके अनुसार ‘हिन्दु’ और ‘हिन्दू’ – दोनों शब्द पुँल्लिङ्ग हैं। दुष्टोंका दमन करनेवाले  ‘हिन्दु’ और ‘हिन्दू’ – कहे जाते हैं। ‘सुन्दररूपसे सुशोभित और दैत्योंके दमनमें दक्ष’ – इन दोनों अर्थोंमें भी इन शब्दोंका प्रयोग होता है।
“हिन्दु – हिंदूश्च पुंसि दुष्टानां च विघर्षणे। रूपशालिनि दैत्यारौ. . .।।”

हेमन्तकविकोषके अनुसार “हिन्दुर्हि नारायणादिदेवताभक्तः” – “हिन्दु उसे कहा जाता है, जो कि परम्परासे नारायणादि देवता का भक्त हो।।”

मेरुतन्त्र – प्रकाश २३ के अनुसार “हीनं दुष्यति इति हिन्दू”, “पृषोदरादित्वात् साधुजातिविशेषः” – “हीनताविनिर्मुक्त साधुजाति – विशेष हिन्दु है।”

पारिजातहरणनाटकके अनुसार —
“हिनस्ति तपसा पापान् दैहिकान् दुष्टमानसान्।
हेतिभिः शत्रुवर्गं च स हिन्दुरभिधीयते।।”
“जो अपनी तापस्यासे दैहिक पापों तथा चित्तको दूषित करनेवाले दोषोंका नाश करता है तथा जो शास्त्रोंसे अपने शत्रु – समुदायका भी नाश करता है, वह हिन्दू कहलाता है।।”

रामकोषके अनुसार —
“हिंदुर्दुष्टो न भवति नानार्यो न विदूषकः।
सद्धर्मपालको विद्वन् श्रोतधर्मपरायणः।।”
“हिन्दू दुर्जन नहीं होता, न अनार्य होता है, न निन्दक ही होता है। जो सद्धर्मपालक, विद्वान् एयर श्रोतधर्म – परायण है, वह हिन्दू है।”

ध्यान रहे, अरबी कोषमें हिन्दुका अर्थ खालिस अर्थात् शुद्ध होता है, न कि चोर आदि मलिन – निकृष्ट। यहूदियोंके मतमें हिन्दूका अर्थ शक्तिशाली वीर पुरुष होता है।

What’s wrong with Indian agriculture and recent agricultural laws?

[This is written primarily for non Indian audience, however, others can benefit from it too]

Agriculture in India is a subject in state list. Which means, generally, state governments in India make laws on it, and not the union. Different states have different laws dealing with agriculture in their states. What most states have in common are “mandis” where produce by farmers is legally brought and sold. Mandis are nothing but heavily regulated markets, governed by APMC(Agricultural Produce and Marketing Committee) Act.

Let’s pause for moment and see how things have worked historically. In the 1950s and ’60s, India had severe shortages of wheat and rice. To motivate farmers to grow these two crops, union government offered what is called MSP(Minimum Support Price), which is minimum floor price at which government procures grains from farmers. [Union government procures these grains via FCI(Food Cooperation of India), and distributes it through PDS(Public Distribution System) to poor public at subsidized rate at what are called as “Ration shops.”]

Remember, this was the period when we had shortages of foodgrains.

Government was successful in its endeavours and India had what is now called as green revolution. Its a label for spurt in production of wheat and rice to such an extent that India no longer needed it from elsewhere.

Now, situation is no longer the same. Far from it, we produce wheat and rice way more in excess of our requirement. So much so, that while our requirement for PDS is only 20-30 million tonnes, we have a stock piling of around 90 million tonnes. Around ₹2 trillion worth of money is locked in these stocks without any purpose. A screwed system of incentives has come into place, as a result of which Punjab is depleting water table by growing crops which are no longer needed, polluting air of entire north India by stubble burning, and so on.

Let’s now see some other facts.
1.) Around 40%+ of Indian workforce is employed in agriculture. But the contribution of agriculture in GDP is merely 12%. Which means a large section of Indian population lives on meagre national income. Remember this also in the context of discussion on subsidy. When we’re talking of subsidizing agriculture, we’re talking about subsidizing 40%+ of India’s labor force+their families. I’ll let the reader be the judge of it whether this is feasible or not.
If India has to develop, labor force ought to move out of agriculture into other vocations.


2.) Owing to political compulsions, union government announces MSP for 23 crops. However, this MSP is only notional. Government doesn’t buy all 23 crops at MSP. It will go broke if it procures all 23 crops at MSP pan India. But the political discourse in India has always been to increase farmers income by increasing MSP and extending its ambit. Hence, every government that comes in power announces it, but it hardly has any meaning.


3.) Only 6% of farmers in India have been selling their produce at MSP to the government. Remaining more than 90% of farmers were selling their crops to the private sector. However, until now, they couldn’t sell directly to private sector legally. They had to go through mandis, where middlemen(or arthiyas as they’re called) charge their commision, state governments levy their taxes. Most of the times, buyers collude and buy farmers’ produce at throwaway price in auction at these mandis.
What union government has done with present laws is that they have made it legal for farmers to sell outside mandis to anyone they want to sell. This directly harms middlemen and state governments, because volume will go down in mandis, and their revenues, consequently, will go down.


4.) Punjab’s farmers come in the privileged 6%. They have the privilege of selling their produce to the union government at MSP and they want this privilege to continue. Not only that, they want it to be embellished from time to time. Which, in essence means that union government should keep buying stuff from them at MSP.

And surprisingly, government hasn’t even said no. They have just allowed for the creation of parallel private markets. The fear of farmers is that, eventually, mandis will go away and corporates will suck their blood. Their argument is “it has been working for us so far, why bring anything new?” But just because its working for them doesn’t mean that the system is working.
There are huge costs to this system and everyone is bearing those costs.

The racket that is running currently is as follows: union government subsidizes Punjab’s farmer by buying wheat and rice from them at MSP(Since market price is often below MSP). In addition, union government pays taxes which state government levies in mandis, and it also pays for the commision of middleman. It then stores this produce, which is of no use. Some of the produce is sold at Ration shops by the government, by giving a further subsidy.


5.) Among many problems of Indian farmers, one problem is that there is no arrangement for cold storage. So when, after harvest, farmers bring their crops to mandis, prices crash. And in lean season, when they have nothing, prices go up. Why do we not have storage facilities? Because of a law called Essential Commodities Act which authorises government to cease godowns whenever it feels there’s an emergency. Who will invest in storages in such a condition? Government can seize godowns anytime and buy at the price it wants.
Union government, therefore, relaxed the law a bit, so that private players, who have big pockets, can invest in such facilities. But the propaganda again is that corporates will suck blood out of farmers and consumers by hoarding.

Almost all political parties had promised reforms of these kinds in their election manifesto. But on seeing farmers protest, like chameleon, they have changed their colors. Everyone wants to cash in on prospective votes for future election. And the sick demand is continuation and even enlargement of what already ails Indian agriculture. Namely, giving legal status to MSP, enforcing it on even private sector, subsidizing diesel, scrapping law against stubble burning et al.[Farmers already get subsidized input, loan waivers, and even their output is subsidized by government.]

Nobody, not even union government, has the nerve to tell farmers the reality.

Who Owes What?

Philosophically speaking, government has the power to enforce private contracts because people have collectively entrusted that power to government UNDER THE ASSUMPTION that it will facilitate a free environment in which people can fulfill their contractual obligation.

When government violates that assumption and forcefully freezes an economy without consultation from stakeholders(the public), it loses every right to enforce contracts. Not only that, officials become personally liable for compensation to individuals due to any loss arising out of that decision.

Which is why, I don’t think burden of interest for period of lockdown should fall on debtors. Or that burden of rent for the period of lockdown should fall on the tenants. Such sums should be extracted from personal income of government officials.

Mises on Marxism

The essence of Marxian philosophy is this: We are right because we are the spokesmen of the rising proletarian class. Discursive reasoning cannot invalidate our teachings, for they are inspired by the supreme power that determines the destiny of mankind. Our adversaries are wrong because they lack the intuition that guides our minds. It is, of course, not their fault that on account of their class affiliation they are not equipped with the genuine proletarian logic and are blinded by ideologies. The unfathomable decrees of history that have elected us have doomed them. The future is ours.

-Ludwig von Mises