Sagarika Ghose must go to school

On 17 September, 2014 in an op-ed on Times of India titled Rename secularism. Call it ‘dharma’ or righteous administration,’ senior columnist and former news anchor Sagarika Ghose claimed among other things:

Secularism should be renamed as dharma or doctrine of righteous administration.

I do not understand Ms Ghose’s obsession to experiment with India’s pristine heritage; about eight years ago she made an appeal through her blog to publicly re-write the Purushasukta, which she claimed to be an essentially unmerited hymn. Now she wishes to make a cocktail of secularism and dharma like one of gin and tonic—I suspect she took the title of her own book a little too literally.

For those who may not know—including Sagarika Ghose and her ilk—both the concept and the term “Dharma,” which is a central concept in the Indic belief systems of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism, has no equivalent or even close translation in Western languages.

The Sanskrit noun dharma is a derivation from the root dhṛ, which mostly is said to mean “to hold, maintain, keep, uphold” and so on. However, both its meaning and theoretical reach have changed from time to time.

In almost all schools of thought which fall under Hinduism, dharma denotes conduct that is deemed to be in concurrence with Rta-the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the universe and everything within it. In this context dharma also includes duties, laws, virtues which can make way for what can loosely be called the righteous and virtuous way of living.

Among the Buddhist schools of thought, dharma (dhamma) means “cosmic law and order”, but can also be applied to the teachings of the Buddha.

In Jainism dharma refers to the teachings of the Jinas as well as teachings related to moral codes of conduct.  

For Sikhs, the word dharm means the “path of righteousness”.

On the other hand, secularism is a concept which states that the government and its institutions should be detached from influences of religious institutions and people. One expression of secularism is a state declaring itself dispassionate on matters of belief; hence it should not play any role in matters of religion or religious practices of its people.

Had Sagarika Ghose been aware of the multiple meanings of Dharma and the vast corpus of material on it, she wouldn’t have advocated this unwanted cocktail. However, Sagarika’s irregularity is the essence Indian secularism which her fellow-travellers always vociferously defend, and prevent the public from examining and exposing its speciousness.

In the TOI piece, she also states :

Both cults — self-appointed champions of secularism and self-appointed champions of Hindutva — feed off each other. It suits the Hindutva agenda to project secularism as an elite irreligious Marxist fad. It suits the secularists to castigate any policy that does not make special place for minorities, as wrong. It’s the failures of silly secularism that created the Hindutva cult in the first place.

It surprises me that Sagarika Ghose, a history graduate of St.Stephens lacks even basic knowledge of Indian history. It is not Hindutva which projects secularism as an influential Marxist trend.

The original posterboy of Indian secularism, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s idea of governance was influenced to a large extent by ‘Fabian Socialism’ and the example of the erstwhile Union of Socialist Soviet Republic. Nehru in many of his writings had confessed his admiration towards the Soviet intellectuals and it is widely accepted by scholars that Nehru’s espousal of the undefined ‘scientific temper’ was the result of this admiration.

Furthermore it was under the premiership of his daughter Indira Gandhi that a history professor of Marxist leanings, Nurul Hasan, became the education minister. It was not surprising because, to continue in office, Indira Gandhi wanted, and obtained the support of the Communist Party of India.

A notable point to remember would be that it was Nurul Hasan who successfully pushed for the creation of the ICHR in 1972. The ICHR was meant ‘to give a national direction to an objective and scientific writing of history and to have rational presentation and interpretation of history’. Remarkably, this objective was exactly identical to that of the Soviet Union which was also known to ‘direct’ research, with the belief that all academic work follows the Marxist model. Similarly, most of those who ran the ICHR were Marxists or pro-Marxists and it was these scholars who further strengthened the inaccuracy of Indian secularism.

It also shows gross ignorance on Sagarika Ghose’s part to say ‘silly secularism created the Hindutva cult.’ First, Hindutva is not a cult but a home grown movement which took scholarly sustenance from the customs set by many great philosophers and sages like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda, and Gopal Ganesh Agarkar. This ideology that is falsely branded by Sagarika Ghose’s own “silly secularists” as Nazism, had stalwarts like Madan Mohan Malaviya , and KM Munshi as its followers.

ram   sawmi viviekanand  agarkar

The man who coined the term, Hindutva, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar himself wrote:

Prophets and poets, lawyers and law-givers, heroes and historians, have thought, lived, fought and died just to have it spelled thus. For indeed, is it not the resultant of countless actions — now conflicting, now co-mingling, now co-operating — of our whole race? Hindutva is not a word but a history. Not only the spiritual or religious history of our people as at times it is mistaken to be by being confounded with other cognate terms like “Hinduism,” but a history in full.

As regards its comparison to Nazism, we again turn to Savarkar:

After all there is throughout this world so far as man is concerned but a single race—the human race kept alive by one common blood, the human blood. All other talk is at best provisional, a makeshift and only relatively true. Nature is constantly trying to topple the artificial barriers you raise between races. To try to prevent the commingling of blood is to build forts on sand. Lust has proved more powerful than the commands of all the prophets put together. … The central unity of man from pole to pole is true, all else only relatively so. 


How this way of thinking is equated with Hitler’s Master Race belief and the ‘eternal class struggle’ of Marxism is what I cannot comprehend. Now one of the most vital contributions of Marxism to Indian thought is a form of stubborn secularism steeped in cultural rootlessness. Sagarika Ghose is more than welcome to read this admirable piece to understand and value the contributions of Hindutva. I will cite a relevant portion for the reader’s benefit:

For any student of social science, studying the women empowerment in a society that is in transition from pre-modernity to modernity, one of the vital indicators would be the marriage age of the girls. Legal prohibition of marrying off the girl children in the name of custom and tradition plays an important role in making women achieve education and get empowerment in the society….Towards this ,social reformers in India fought a very tough battle. Important pioneers who paved the way for stopping the child marriage were among them were Hari Singh Gour  who through his repeated appeals to recognize the  standards of modern clinical psychology was able to pass the law that raised the age of consent for girl children from 12 to 14.  That war for raising the marriage age of women and prohibition of child marriage was further taken up by Harbilas Sarda…….Hari Singh Gour was member of the Legal Advisory Committee of the Hindu Mahasabha. Harbilas Sarda was a proponent of pan-Hindutva.

It has been the fashion among several Indian secularists to declaim Hindutva without reading its primary source material—Savarkar’s Essentials of Hindutva. Such ignorance makes many of the Indian secularists similar to the creationists of USA who deprecate evolution without ever reading the Origin of Species.

Further in the article, Sagarika Ghose continues to display her ignorance:

The diktat by Swami Swaroopanand that Shirdi Sai Baba should not be worshipped as the Saint was ‘nothing but a Muslim fakir’ runs counter to the religious democracy of Hinduism.

If she had been following news reports, she would have known that the first people to disagree with the Swami were Uma Bharti who declared herself as a Sai devotee and MG Vaidya of the RSS who opined that it is for the devotees to decide who they want to worship. But then again why would she pay attention to ideologues of the Hindutva kind when it suits her to simply shelve them?

Anyway, moving onto what Ms Ghose further said:

Dharma is independent of any particular cult; dharma rises above the clashing cultist dogmas of secular vs Hindu. Dharma means not only total religious neutrality but upholding the law at all times through tough executive action. This means bringing to justice and punishing those attacking Wendy Doniger and M F Husain, as well those attacking Salman Rushdie or Taslima Nasreen.

In this statement, Sagarika Ghose follows the standard set by the secular commentariat where they sneakily cast the philosophical, religious and cultural aspects of Indic standpoints together into one basket and scream ‘wolf!’ whenever the ‘H’ word is uttered.

As far as comparing the issue of Wendy Doniger to Salman Rushdie/Taslima Nasreen, it is the same age old silly process of balancing radical Islam with the “rise of Hindu nationalism.” Many of us know that Doniger still occupies her place in Hindu studies and her books have been published in India recently. Is there an instance where Wendy Doniger had to be placed under constant security like Rushdie and Taslima, or is Doniger’s life under threat like the latter two?  As the American satirist Bill Maher would say ‘this balancing for balance’s sake, is absolute ****.’

And finally:

Dharma or righteous administration must be rooted in the thinking of Tagore and Gandhi. Both were deeply learned in scriptures, but both respected religious differences equally deeply. One was a humanist with a strong sense of Vedas and Upanishads, the other was a practising pragmatic politician, rooted in sanatan dharma. Theirs is the dharma that the modern pluralist must espouse, a dharma that passionately believes in multiplicity of faiths.

Let me rephrase an oft-quoted refrain which has now attained the status of a maxim: Ignorance thy name is Sagarika.

Any student of history and philosophy will know that Rabindranath Tagore’s principles were considerably influenced by the teachings of the Brahmoism whose core belief like that of  Hindutva was based on the same Vedic structure deemed as awkward by many scholars of the secular kind.  As far as Gandhi is concerned this statement of his says it all:

I am a proud staunch Sanatani Hindu. The Geeta is the universal mother. I am unable to identify with orthodox Christianity. I must tell you in all humility that Hinduism, as I know it, entirely satisfies my soul, fills my whole being, and I find a solace in the Bhagavadgeeta that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount. When disappointment stares me in the face and all alone I see not one ray of light, I go back to the Bhagavad Gita….

To quote a Hindi movie dialogue of the late, great Raaj Kumar: those whose own houses made of glass do not throw stones at others. The reason for the quote is this gem Sagarika Ghose tweeted on 17 May 2014:


In conclusion, I respectfully suggest Ms Sagarika Ghose to kindly go back to school—in other words, start reading primary texts on Indian history and philosophy. If that’s too hard, she can write a balancing sequel to her TOI piece titled ‘Rename secularism. Call it Iman or khilafa.’


  • shashi patteri

    This is a well researched and very useful article. But the author misses the forest for the trees. There are certain circumstances in India which brings persons like Ms Ghose to positions from where they can influence the English speaking Indians. The English speaking Indians are the most influential people of the country. The prevalence of English in India is not something that happened spontaneously by virtue of 90 years of colonial rule. It is here by design. India, like all the other countries of the world are being controlled by a not so hidden power. This power manifests as U.N.O. , U.S.A. , E.U. , NATO, IMF, World Bank etc. It is this power that dictates how a country should be run. The evidence in India is liked the elephant in the room. It is everywhere but nobody wants to see it. In another 20 years the medium of education in India will be 100% English. All Indian languages will die. Even now every consumer good in India have English names. Almost everything an Indian buy has an English name. FDI is a pet name for buying Indian companies. All Indian companies are virtually owned by the foreigners. So when the rule of the foreigners is so total and complete, we should not be worrying about the propaganda of minions like Ms. Ghose.

  • Sekhars

    great summary. Sagarika got a nehruvian education. Went to abroad by the funds of Nehru and Indian govt. payroll and hasn’t done any thing by herself. These people like her husband- chore desai, burkha, karan thaper, arnav and ananya vajpayee are same clone. They have sold their soul to western cause and works for sepoys congress.

    Now the hindu nationalist will destroy these trolls which is already happening.

  • Jainesh

    Jai Shri Ram! 🙂

  • Gangaraju VP

    Dharma is the law of life which says the person to be responsible for his doings. No religion is attached to it and tolerance is in its soul.
    In other terms it is common sense which tells human not to harm himself and others.
    After the advent of other religions all those philosophies were together branded as HINDUISM.
    Ghose is a sickular who is trying to be a nice hindu(actually acting) now while everyone knows what her agenda was as a CNN IBN anchor.

  • Mangoworm

    Didn’t read because it was too long, but since it is against Sagarika and secularism, I will say bravo, fantastic article!

  • m p

    Fantastic article.

  • KrishMadathil

    Fanning majority communalism is dangerous as it may go uncontainable by government machineries.Yet,the so called liberals can refrain from provoking RW intelligentsia with their half baked knowledge on Indian history and hinduism.

  • harihara

    Nice to have
    for pastime , more confusion on isms that Sagarika is now injecting into public
    vichaara; Wonder , as bard said ( now
    with some contemporary modification)what is in a name- sewage smells as bad by
    any other name; the word dharma is as stinkingly subjective as secularism, for, you have various dharmas as you have various secularisms. . If righteousness is one characteristic of
    dharma then the question arises as what is right.For now what is right has to
    be right only if it helps to yo make easy money The FII an FDI people outside
    want indians to follow santaana rpt santaana dharma ( not sanatana dharma) as
    the righteous action, so that the santanees can become bigger and bigger market to take more and more loans and consume more
    and more, while chronically increasing their incapacity for IP so the outsider
    can sell more and more here through globalization etc. In general, the dharma
    we like as kaliness progresses in our genes is related to acquisition of sites
    and shares and in recent time to more righteous things like rapes physical,
    transactional administrative and ethical. I am sure Vivekananda and tagore would
    have left their changed their dharma from adhyatma and humanism to vyaaparik
    and santaana dharma, become investors and follow investment and acquisition
    dharma of the day. Changing names without change in meaning is worthless,
    vaagarthaviva sampruktou vagathah partipatthaye & so on

  • Vipul Gupta

    well written…mentally satisfied..

  • N.Paramasivam

    I want ICHR to be revamped with Nationalist minded persons who are well versed with Indian History for for the past 5000 years. The present members are doing very harm to our children with distorted history. I hope the concerned ministry will attend to this important task. If it is not done now, then when?

    • Politeindian

      These are exactly my thoughts too. I am going through Arun Shourie’s book “Eminent Historians, their technology, their line, their fraud” and I agree that these maggots, who pass themselves off as historians, have done incalculable damage to India, over two and half generations. They have spared no efforts to make the Hindus a self hating, rootless lot, so that they can fall easy prey to predators eager to either subjugate them into paying jizya, or to harvest souls.

      Vajpayee did a commendable job of running the country at a difficult time, and needs to be complimented for what he left behind in 2004, after having inherited the country in shambles, in 1998. But, he should have attended to this long overdue job. Not doing anything is no longer an option, if we wish to pass on our beloved country to our descendants, in its present shape.

      India is the birthplace and cradle of dharma. If India does not care for Hinduism, who will?

      “Sickularism is the last refuge of the traitor.”

    • hisotry

      Keep these EMINENT , SECULAR and INTELLECTUALS out and you will get genuine history research… it may ot may not have ahindu bent … will be truly a research….keep these folks out for 10-15 years nad most wil lretire.. we will have a better India for my children and grandchildren…
      The seculars always base the researcho n assumed facts like no temple eisted before babri masjid.. so you are just building facts to prove you view…. even at the cost of falsification of History…

  • N.Paramasivam

    Wov! What an article. Sagarika Ghouse thinks too much of herself and with a wide mouth, goes every where, like Burkha Dutt, and lecture. By this her hollowness is known to entire world. Savarkar anticipated these morons, years before, and had explained in detail. the first thing to be done is revamping NHRC, left out by Dr.Murli Manohar Joshi.