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Spreading like the jasmine

I planted a little jasmine vine in a corner of the window box that ran the entire length of my living room balcony. It thrived, creeping up the grill gradually. I planted geraniums in the rest of the window box, and some impatiens at the other end. They all existed side by side, and I had a lovely window box for maybe three years.

By and by, the geraniums stopped growing. They stopped producing flowers. The impatiens at the far end just withered away. I called the building gardener to tell me what was going on. He laughed at my puzzlement. “Amma, the jasmine is killing all the other plants”! He loosened the soil and showed me how the dense root system of the jasmine had insidiously spread to the very end of the window box – all 10 feet of it – and choked the roots of the defenseless geraniums and impatiens.


Something similar is happening in India right now. Religion, like the jasmine vine, is spreading its roots stealthily, pernicious, unseen under the soil, strangulating other important aspects of nationhood. Everyone has forgotten that it was planted for its beautiful white, fragrant flowers, meant to uplift our souls. And we have failed to prune it, so its roots are proliferating and choking us, encouraged by politicians. Something that could have enriched our lives as Indians has been subverted by an unscrupulous few.

Hindus talk about India being a Hindu Rashtra. This is a form of ethnic nationalism, defined by a shared culture, heritage and common ethnic ancestry. They say Sanatana dharma is a collection of the teachings of this land; there is no such thing as Hinduism, anymore than there is a religion called Americanism. ‘Hindu’ just referred to a geographic region, not a religion, until the 19th century, so this is a Hindu Rashtra, they say. However, much has happened in the last few centuries to make India a mixture of many ethnic groups. We cannot be a purely Hindu country now, especially since ‘Hindu’ is now viewed as a religion and not an ethnic label. How can they disregard the history of two millennia and try to turn the clock back?

Hindus’ fears are fuelled by those Christians who are involved in activities like the US–sponsored Joshua Project. This seems to be a detailed plan backed by the former American president, Bush, to spread Christianity in India. To quote from Wikipedia, ‘The Joshua Project (formerly part of AD2000), is an organization seeking to highlight the ethnic people groups of the world with the least followers of Christ. Joshua Project maintains ethnologic data to support Christian missions and is based in Colorado Springs, USA. Focusing on ethnicity, they maintain a database of “unreached peoples” listed by country and language.’ India is on this list. Hindus fear that if the Joshua Project is successful, India will become a pawn in the hands of the US, a new form of colonialism. Americans don’t like yoga being taught in schools because they worry that their children may be introduced to Hindu concepts in the guise of exercise. Isn’t the Joshua Project doing the same with poor, needy people who are too desperate to notice what is being done?

Muslims worry about their minority status, and fear makes some of them join fundamentalist groups. These groups of Indians are controlled and used by enemies of India to destroy India. What is happening? I see their businesses thriving. I see their children getting educated. I see young women in burkhas sitting alone enjoying an idli-vada breakfast at the Shiv Sagar near my house. I see girls with hijabs riding scooters even after dark. I don’t think what is happening to Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh is likely to happen to Indian Muslims, because India doesn’t have a state religion. Nor will they be driven out of any state like the Kashmiri pandits, a minority community, were driven out of Jammu & Kashmir. A recent book by Hasan Suroor, titled ‘India’s Muslim Spring’ says that Muslim youngsters today have a strong sense of belonging to India. Isn’t that the way it should be?

Each of these three religious groups is working against the country. This is like having an autoimmune disease, the body producing antibodies against its own self. The enemy is in the country, destroying it from within. Do they even realize what they are doing to the country?

India does not need to be saffronised, christianised or islamicised. We never hear of Jains, Buddhists and Parsis going on about their religion or trying to undermine India, using religion as an excuse. The Sikhs did it for a while in the seventies and eighties, but not anymore. Maybe the rest of us should learn a lesson or two from them about how to keep our religion to ourselves, work sincerely at whatever we do, and get on with life.

So, all you young entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of nation-building, please work to create an India that doesn’t make a big deal out of religion. I know most of you are not concerned about religion now, but when you’re in your forties, you’ll find yourself exploring religion. That’s when you should take care to put India first, so the country is not destroyed by religious exclusivism. So many of the world’s problems are caused by religion, started by middle-aged or old people, who recruit young people to do their dirty work for them!

Guest post by a noted Bangalore based psychiatrist and author Dr Shyamala Vatsa


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12 thoughts on “Spreading like the jasmine

  1. The unwavering belief in the authenticity of an idea over the authenticity of people is perhaps the most erosive effect of religion. It astonishes me that people submit to the idea of a higher power, never realizing that all they needed to do was believe in themselves and their fellow people to make the most of what surrounds them.
    Dr. Vatsa, thank you for addressing this issue, for I too believe that entrepreneurs, especially young entrepreneurs can restore peoples' faith in people.

  2. ou are not telling anything new. All know. As a DOCTOR YOU HAVE DIAGNOSED THE MALADY. But you have not suggested any remedy..Repeating the causes of malady ad infinitum would in no way enhance our confidence.. Simply repeating & reflecting another's thought concept idea no matter how well expressed, displays a lack of understanding in depth of the problem. Religion when it enters the social strata, goes on boring like jasmine roots other plants out of existence. A parrot can do as much.We should aspire to be more than parrots . We must think & bring out a SOLUTION

  3. I agree that it's a mere diagnosis. I'm hoping some reader will suggest possible ways to deal with this. As you say, the problem is 'religion entering social strata', the way I've put it is, we should 'keep our religion to ourselves', i.e. private.

  4. I'm so glad you've tuned in to what I'm trying to say! And I love the way you've expressed it. Thank you for reading.

  5. Shyamala Vatsa . Religion can never ever be private& personal.It is a legalized madness…all for profit. Its commodity is FEAR.. As a psychologist you may be aware, Religion is the universal obsessional neurosis of man-kind arose out of oedipus complex…out of relation to father.oNCE A DOCTRINE HOWEVER IRRATIONAL ihas gained power, millions will believe it (like islam) rather than feel isolated & ostracized . We cannot transmute some incoherent mixture of words like in an holy book, into sense merely by introducing the THREE letter word GOD to be its grammatical subject.. The fact is there is a supreme power & NOT A SUPREME BEING., an invisible principle & not a personal god. Revelations are all fiction.The universe is an automatic engine, what fuel it uses nobody knows. People call it GOD. God was invented to explain mysteries & religion goes on piling up mysteries once the science debunks them.. Till such time MAN becomes ATHEISTIC there is no escape from religious tyranny.

  6. Let me be brutally honest: The idealistic naivety of the author and her twisted analogies can fool illiterate and poor masses but never can it fool the careful reader particularly those who aren't brainwashed by the propoganda created islamist buttlicking communist educated elite spit on their negationist NCERT textbooks which the Indian masses memorize and blindly accept without any introspection.

    What is happening here is that the elephant in the room is ignored while the ant is being blamed for all faults in India. Going by the facts, the parasitic weed aka Jasmine plant is not indigenous religions but the imported Islam. i.e. the exact opposite to what the author connivingly reverses. After mother India was disected by this terrorist ideology, It wiped out 20 -30% non-muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh after silent genocides the world and hypocrite secularists ignored. But it was allowed to grow from mere single digits to an alarming double digits thanks to open defiance of family planning and illegal immigration from bangladesh all connivingly supported by the so called same "secularists" in the name of votebank politics. As muslim demographics take over, you can expect India to be another islamic shithole like pakistan or Afghanistan where atheists and apostates are murdered by law. At the present rate of demographic change, this is a true possibility in the coming decades thanks to pseudo-secularists.

    I would even support India becomes Buddhist nation or a sikh to counter this abrahamic bigotry masquerading as "secularism" in India which paints a false picture of "muslims" being the perpetual victims and hindus/buddhists/other as the permanent agressors. In fact I would gladly support India becoming a hindu/Dharmic nation only to shut up the hypocrite leftists. If muslims, christians, secularists and others have their own nation, why can't hindus also have one in the very birthplace of hinduism. Parasitic invader foreign ideologies have no place imposing their tentacles on 80% of the population through their so called secular agents. If the so called secularists wish to force down their twisted version of secularism down the throats of others, they can try making pakistan secular, atleast that would solve the world of islamic terrorism. Just because someones a minority doesn't mean they are less aggressive or less violent, even the british and aurganzeb were minorities.

    If this annoying pseudo-secular author is trying to implicitly say "don't won't modi cause hindus are like Jasmine", then I'd rather do the opposite. Being an atheist, I'm openly declaring my vote for Modi, hope he wouldn't be a dissapointment to indigenous religions. No honest being can take selective pro-islamist anti-hindu pseudo-secular crap seriously. It's time that some idiot atheists understand that the SOLE reason why India is *secular* and tolerant, and india as it is is BECAUSE of the Hindus. Despite hindus going overboard in spending billions of hindu taxpayer money for subsidizing haj pilgrimage (when hindu pilgrimages are taxed), allowing "Special relgiions" to have 4 wives, waqf board and other minority funds, India still suffers from islamic terrorism far more than israel.

    The only way non-muslims can end up living in equal harmony would safety if we hold out strong like Israel. not like a "dhimmi" as in Syria, Bosnia, Lebanon, Bangladesh or most other islamic nations. Hindu-buddhists are already being annhilated from once entirely hindu-buddhist regions like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia etc. and have resisted islamic oppression for more than 1000 years and the secularists wish to make this resistance meaningless. As an atheist, I find this hypocrisy to be pure evil.

    If the pseudo-secularists come back in power again, I'll go back to Canada – so will most of non-pseudo-secular Indians who refuse to buttlick abrahamic bigot minorities. Ironically indigenous faith of India are respected better in parts ofthe west than in their own country thanks AAPtards and pseudo-secular commies and congressies in India.


  7. If YourStory deviates from reporting entrepreneurial news and resorts to posting irrelevant articles that antagonizing liberation movement of hindus from abrahamic and pseudo-secular bigotry, please also post about the TRUE weed. You can start with the horrid plight of non-muslim atheists in Islamic countries, particularly our neighbors. Is it mere coincidence that all countries that kill atheists with legal power are islamic ? If you can post this, then please post about atheists too. Not every hindu wishes to be a Dhimmi who buttlicks abrahamic neo-colonial religions.

    Perhaps if these pseudo-secular anti-hindu atheists were thrown of to other south asian countries like Bangladesh or Pakistan only then will they stop cribbing against hindus who protest against unfair anti-hindu policies by the pseudo-secular votebank appeasing govt. Apparently, the same pseudo-secularists were nowhere to be seen when hordes of illegal bangladeshi muslims invade India or when special laws, provisions and funds where created for abrahamic votebanks. Now since hindus, sikh akalis and buddhists are becoming increasingly vigilant and aware of the injustice from pseudo-secularists and the danger of islamists, they go around ranting comparing them to Jasmine vines. Hypocrite selectivity at it's finest.

    There is a systematic mission for defaming hindus and hindu organizations going on in many parts of both western and eastern academia (like JNU), do not be a party to it by taking th bait. When I was at LSE, I knew another Indian origin convert "professor" (her name starts with K) who was paid to defame and put hindus in bad light by a coaltiion of communist and evangelist organizations. We had once criticized a "south Asian" organization filled with communists and Pakistani which lobbied in bringing anti-hindu and anti-India policies in the UK parliament. This professor came to know of my participation and deliberately rejected two of us though we used to topped earlier, We took the matter to dean after getting signatures of other professors and students, the dean got our reports re-evaluated and the other teacher transferred to another department. We expected more for her to be suspended for academic dishonesty, but what can we expect, even the best of universities will sell their principles in return for oil rich middle eastern funds.

  8. Deepak AK Sir You have hit the nail on the head. Pseudo intellectuals Like Arundhati Roy Mercilessly blame Hinduism for reasons best known to themselves. You have suggested one remedy. For my remedy Please read my comments above

  9. I may be late , but better late than never as they say. I just so totally agree with this post . I have been born and brought up in B’lore and have always been so proud of its cosmopolitan feel. Wherever I went , the influence went with me (The ability of the people from different societies to mingle and stay happily with each other ).
    So be it school or college, we were friends with people from various backgrounds and religion , respected their beliefs and practices.
    Now that I am a mother, I want the same exposure for my little one.
    Off late, I have come across people especially maids which suddenly converted to Christianity not for the love of Jesus Christ but for the materialistic things being offered in return. Not just in B’lore , but even in North India , where the Christian population isn’t much..
    How long will this conversion last is just for our intelligent minds to think off.
    I have friends who converted to Christianity for getting admissions into their choice of college. They finished their course and got back to their earlier religion.
    Most of the parents agree that you can’t force on your child , as it harbors more negativity. So the question is , Is this kind of indirect bribe right…?
    I think we can follow what we want , but not force it on others.

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