Marxism: The ‘Atheistic’ Religion

The key of understanding Marxism is to recognize that it’s an ‘atheistic’ religion which fills the void for people who were either disillusioned with the religion or didn’t have any religion at all. Raymond Aron quite succinctly observed that Marxism fills the void of the religion. By religion, it should be understood strictly in Abrahamic sense and not in Dharmic sense. Every Abrahamic religion comes with its own conception of history and a destined utopia which can either occur in this world or beyond it. However, it doesn’t matter whether Utopia is conceived to be occurring in this world or beyond it as Utopia by definition is a concept of imagination and bereft of empirical reality.

The way Marxism sees present is through the lens of material history shaped by the series of class struggles – between feudal lords and bourgeois, bourgeois and proletariat, and ultimately achieving the goal of Communist society which is the end of history as there is no concept of class. In Marxist conception of the world, conflict is primary as it shapes the direction of the history. So, Marxism is a philosophy of antagonism which gives it the ability to create conflicts by applying it in any other conditions by changing the participating actors. While Marx borrowed this idea of conflict from Hegel who was obsessed with the dialectic of thesis and anti-thesis in non-material world, the true exposition of this idea–in the sense of praxis as Marx conceptualized Marxism–was expressed by Abrahamic religions.

In Islam, the actors in the scheme of conflict are believers and Kafirs/infidels. The goal of taking the message of Allah to each and every individual which is the end goal of Islam at collective level, which is possible only via the path of conflict between the believers and infidels. But the similarities don’t end here. In Marxist scheme of things, a bourgeois is the personification of abomination. He is the cause and manifestation of every evil due to which a bourgeois deserves no sympathy. He is the primary obstacle in the progress of history to its final stage by his insistence on holding whatever dear to him. In Islam, a kafir is the primary hindrance in taking the message of Allah to each and every human. As a bourgeois commits great crime by merely rejecting the wisdom of Marxism, non-acceptance of Islam by a kafir is a crime in itself against Allah which deserves every form of punishment.

In Marxism, Allah is replaced by Dialectic Materialism. As Allah is the one who moves everything and the principal agent of cause, Dialectic Materialism as an impersonal force moves everything and causes the changes in material factors ultimately effecting changes in superstructure (religion, culture, law etc.) as well. But in terms of the final utopia, at the collective level, the similarities are even greater. The goal of Marxism is establishment of a Communist society having no existence of class, state or money. Here, class is central as state and money are the products of Capitalist and Feudal mode of production which will have no meaning in the absence of class and private property. As there is no existence of class, the process of dialectic materials stops as we have achieved the end of the history.

The corresponding end of the history in Islam is Dar-Ul-Islam where the entire world is under the command of Allah without the presence of any Kafirs. In this world, there is absence of distinction between believers and Kafirs as there are no Kafirs left to necessitate the differentiation, similar to the Communist society having no concept of the class. Turning our attention to the individual level, a Marxist doesn’t feel responsible for even killing millions of people since he believes that he is merely acting as per the scheme of Dialectic Materialism and accelerating the world towards the end goal by removing the obstacle. A momin doesn’t feel any remorse for killing Kafirs, rather takes pride in being a Gazhi as he believes that he is merely acting on the behalf of Allah for achieving the end goal which absolves him of any individual responsibility for his actions. It’s difficult to say though whether Islam is the most successful version of Marxism or the opposite.

Denigration of Hindu Deities, Atheism and Liberal ‘Right’

Armin Navabi on Twitter started abusing Hindu goddess Maa Kaali few days ago for the very simple reason that as an Abrahamic, this is how he was supposed to denigrate Hindus but he did it with the cover of atheism. But the response of Leftists pretending to be the friend of Hindus (commonly known as Liberal Right) to such wretched act of denigration of our goddesses clearly shows that this group is ultimately an adversary of Hindus which needs to be attacked with all ferocity along with their atheistic kins from the Western world whom they essentially worship to seek recognition from them. I’ll elucidate the patters of response which we witnessed and how problematic they’re in the reality.

The first group of people includes specimens such as Kushal Mehra, Harsh Madhusudan, Abhijit Iyer-Mitra etc. who profess to be a Charvaka but have the audacity to define how our gods and goddesses should be defined along with their gunas. This group found that there is nothing wrong if Armin Nawabi found Maa Kali ‘sexy’ because they find Maa Kali having similar attribute as well. It also includes raita girls whose understanding of Hinduism can be written on the backside of a postcard but they assume that they know everything. First of all, to find Maa Kali sexy, one must not be a practicing Hindu who has never worshipped any of our goddesses. Amongst all the bhakts of Devi-s throughout the history, nobody could find that our Devi-s are sexy but if this is the sudden realization which dawns upon you, you’re a pathetic sick creature having your neck deeply buried in Freudian world of perverse sexuality. This group of people needs to shut up their mouth because you don’t have an iota of understanding of what you’re talking about.

A similar group of people believes that women in Ancient India roamed naked and indulged in orgies because we have nude sculptures on some of the temple walls. Ergo, if one desceibes Hindu goddesses as ‘sexy’ or ‘hot’, it shouldn’t cause any concern. Also, any attempt to enforce restriction on sexuality is an Abrahamic thing accentuated by Victorian morality. While I don’t want to dwell on the actual significance of such sculptures, J D Unwin in his seminal work ‘Sex and Culture‘ in which he studied all the major civilizations around the world including many tribal groups, he found that one of the important aspects of building civilization is to restrict the sexuality of its members so that they can focus on much important aspects of civilization building instead of being consumed by the single desire. Our Smriti-s lay down strict code of conduct when it comes to sexuality, and the projection of your libertine and hednoist thought on Ancient India is nothing more than an attempt to rationalize the current behaviour.

Bringing the dressing customs and habits even if they’re incorrect into the discussion, the intention is to obfuscate the issue. Whatever may be the dressing habits, there is clear separation between how a deity needs to be approached viz-a-viz any humans. The sexually suggesting epithets are strictly applied to the humans as the realm of sexuality is limited to human affairs in which gods are not included. If one uses similar epithet for a deity, it also implicitly means that the person harbours similar feeling for the deity which is not how the devotees approach and worship their deities.

Next comes the freedom of expression group which is the most reprehensible group amongst all them. They believe that they’ve the right to offend others even if they’re attacking objects which hold the highest significance for them but if they’re paid in kind by Hindus, they start showing themselves as victims of bullying and abuse which was done eventually by Armin Navabi as well. They also threaten Hindus that if you don’t take the punches lying down, they’ll double down the attack on you. Of course, it’s justified by saying how tolerant, pluralistic and open-minded Hinduism has been to the extent of saying that there is no rule in Hinduism at all. It’s very similar to the secularist argument when Hindus start acting in assertive manner, they’re reminded about how tolerant their religion is, which is otherwise considered grotesque and primitive on other occasions. Hindus won’t take such attempts of our Devi-s being denigrated without paying in kind and if this results in intensifying the attack, we are equally capable of retorting to that as well.

Next category of Hindus is what I call ‘Ostrich Hindus‘. Ostrich Hindus believe that if they ignore the attack on Hinduism and our deities, the aggressors will eventually decrease the intensity of their offence in the event of not getting attention. But they fail to understand that the truth is exactly opposite. If Hindus don’t act when they’re mocked and attacked, it only sends the signals that Hindus don’t take themselves seriously, are incapable of standing up, and unsure of protecting their Dharma. Such non-action provides incentive to the aggressors to further strengthen their attack as they’re facing no opposition whatsoever.

They justify their belief in the superior tactical value of non-action by saying that a response by Hindus will make them look intolerant who are incapable of taking criticism. However, this response makes us ask regarding the analysts and judges for whom we want to appear pacifists. This group includes the very atheists who launch the attack on Hinduism, Abrahamics, Leftists and Marxists. This entire group has launched institutional attack on Hindus through every means possible in the history, and still continues to do so. This group definitely wants meek and feeble Hindus who don’t act as it means no opposition for them to achieve the end of decimating Hinduism which they consider to be superstitious, patriarchal, misogynistic, oppressive, bigoted and violent. A society caring for getting the approval of enemy is probably the worst strategy.

Finally, an atheist can’t be a friend of Hindus. If you’ve swallowed the nonsense of being culturally Hindu, it’s as absurd as the position of spiritual but not religious. Hindu culture exists because Hindu Dharma exists. The day when Hindu Dharma doesn’t exist, Hindu culture will stop existing. If you’re a Hindu identifying yourself as atheist, it’s your prerogative but you’re not within the fold of Hinduism. If it creates cognitive dissonance, let it be. In the wild goose chase of finding allies, Hindus have compromised to the extent of accommodating reprehensible beef eaters as Hindus but this only harms Hinduism by showing that it’s a system without rules. If you can’t honour your gods and goddesses or can’t defend when they’re being attacked, you’re a mass of tissues whose existence on this earth is of no value whatsoever.

Modernity, Fundamentalism and Traditions

Preserving and adhering to traditions as the core of our life from traditionalist viewpoint throws an interesting challenge of identifying what can be constituted as tradition while what can’t fall in this category. This conundrum is rooted in the fact that society has to adapt and evolve at every stage giving birth to the new practices which get gradually acquired as tradition if it’s resilient enough to be transmitted across generations. But if one takes an extreme approach of finding the primordial and considering it to be the only real tradition, the result is fundamentalism (not in negative sense) where it’s accepted that every new innovation or practice after a cut-off time is invalid.

The best example of this fundamentalism in Hindu society is Arya Samaj which considers Vedas and the allied disciplines such as Astika Darshana-s to be the only valid tradition while rejecting the rest as interpolation, fit to be rejected. It decides a cut-off time in terms of collection of text which is not strictly related to time but to a particular mode of thought. In this framework, Ramayana and Mahabharata remain only historical tales, and Purana-s are summarily rejected with various derogatory epithets assigned to them. The outcome of this attempt is not a resurrection of ‘primordial’ tradition or truth, but obliteration of the actual traditions while creating a new fiction.

Explaining it in terms of analogy, in the beginning, a tree is merely a seed. Gradually, it becomes a plant and ultimately a tree which has its numerous branches and leaves. If a person with fundamentalist zeal decides to apply the principle of fundamentals, he will consider the tree to be of no importance in the search of primordial seed. The seed definitely existed in the beginning but it has outgrown it, and the current state is no less real than what it existed earlier. But taken to the another extreme, we come to the perspective that tradition is ever evolving and changing which means the tradition itself has no value whatsoever as each generation has to find its own truth and ways for fulfilling its goal. This is what we call the modernist view.

In the modernist view, change and progress are to be enforced because rejection of the past mode of thought and life is essential. Roger Scruton had argued once that since modernity insisted on rejecting the tradition and past, Postmodernism rejecting modernity was continuation of modern thought since modernity had become crystallized as tradition itself since the days of Enlightenment in Europe. Another crucial change in this period was a constant attempt to change the values of society in top down manner because certain values such as unlimited individual liberty, rejection of religious values, elevating the concept of secularism to almost a theology etc. were considered as progressive. Thus, even if the society didn’t require it, these values were imposed from the top culminating in changing the society in totality.

Traditionalism is neither fundamentalism nor modernity. It accepts that a society which doesn’t grow will eventually die as challenges of no two generations are similar. However, the change in this framework is not for the sake of change but for ensuring the survival of society through adaptation. To illustrate, I’ll quote from Mahabharata on the evolution of monarchy. In Shanti Parva, it’s explained that in the beginning, there was only rule of the law but no executive authority to implement the law. As society grew more complex, this arrangement was insufficient to provide safety and security to the citizens culminating in Matsya-Nyaya. Consequently, people decided that they’ll elect a king who will enforce the law and in the return, citizens will pay one-sixth of their produce. As we can see, it was not done because someone told them that having a monarch is superior value, but an adaptation mechanism for coping with the existing challenge.

Traditions are like the bark of the tree. It’s sufficiently rigid to protect the tree but it also provides space for the generation of new ideas provided they’re rooted in the fundamental truth which has already been discovered by our ancestors and confirmed later by generations of seers and Yogis. When the authors of the Dharmashastra-s wrote Smriti-s, they addressed the existing need of legislation and jurisprudence through innovation but without severing the ties from existing traditions by accepting Shurti-s as the valid source of law. Thus, a traditionalist doesn’t reject all the changes because it can’t happen in the reality, but honours the tradition because it contains the truth imperceptible to an average human.

Allama Iqbal, RSS and Imam-e-Hind

“Hai Raam Ke Wujood Pe Hindustan Ko Naaz
Ahl-e-Nazar Samajhte Hain Uss Ko Imam-e-Hind”
The above couplet written by Allama Iqbal around 1905 before he migrated to Europe for his higher education receives special affinity from RSS and BJP leaders. In one of the articles, Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee had mentioned this couplet to show how the Muslims of India loved Bhagwan Rama. This couplet is almost taken as the final proof of Muslim community’s love for Bhagwan Rama by the people of variety of Indresh Kumar and Muhammad Aarif Khan.
When Iqbal refers Bhagwan Rama as Imam-e-Hind, should Hindus be feel happy about it or vehemently oppose any such characterization of our most revered Bhagvan? In Sunni Islam, Imam is simply a person who is the leader of a mosque. In the most mainstream tradition of Shia Islam believing in the existence of 12 Imams, Imam is the leader of Ummah. However, the 12 Imams are neither suffixed nor prefixed with any word in the way Iqbal did. The question emerges of what was the sectarian affiliation of Iqbal? Iqbal had adopted Ahmediya sect in 1897 which he renounced later somewhere around 1931. Ahmediyas refer Imam in the very same sense as Sunnis do. In either way, reducing the status of our Bhagvan to a leader of mosque is downright insult to Dharma and a falsification of existence of divinity in Kaffir sects. Any Hindu must reject such characterization of Bhagvan Rama.
Iqbal’s life is a classical case study of how a Muslim finds his Muslim roots when he grows in contrary to the adherents of other faiths. Before 1905, Iqbal was a nationalist who only cared about Muslims of India being secured and Muslims being the legitimate ruler of the land. When he migrated to Europe, he gradually started shunning all such heretical influences and adopted the view that the interests of Muslims in India can only be secured if they get special status and privileges, in order to counter the advantage which Hindus will have in a democratic nation due to their numerical advantage. He openly said that secularism is incompatible with Islam as Islam is not only a religious system, but a political and legal system which can only accept Shari’a for the fulfillment of its objectives. This is the view which he expressed as the President of Muslim League in 1930.
There is a lesser known strand of thoughts of Iqbal which is not as famous as his demand for Pakistan. Considering that Islam believes that the whole world belongs to Allah, accepting the concept of nation was incompatible with Islam. Iqbal could clearly see that if Muslim community started accepting the existence of nations, Ummah would merely remain a figment of imagination. To convince the other Islamic nations such as Turkey and Arab Islamic nations of need of Ummah, he frequently toured to such countries. Yet, he didn’t get much success due to existing political realities. As a method of compromise, Iqbal advocated for a commonwealth of Islamic nations which will serve as transition stage to Ummah and nucleation sites for achieving the goal of Islam. With this objective in mind, Iqbal embarked on the objective of creation of Pakistan which will provide leadership to the Muslim world in achieving Ummah.
Ignoring the theological differences between Islam and other religions to take one rare couplet from the early days of an Islamic ideologue is not a wise thing to do even if one wishes to prove a political point. Iqbal didn’t praise Bhagwan Rama but insulted him by reducing his status to Imam which he would have never done with even Islamic Caliphates. There is a reason why amongst all the available ideologues of Pakistan, Iqbal is called ‘Spiritual Father of Islam’ instead of reading too much in a couplet.

Why Hindus Shouldn’t Call Themselves Pagan

With the revival of pre-Christian religious practices of Europe and America by modern pagan movement, there is increasing tendency of use of pagan word by Hindus to identify themselves. This is also a result of growing contact with the universal terminologies and seek common cause with them. Ram Swarup, one of the finest Hindu thinkers of the previous century was hopeful about regeneration of polytheistic and pantheistic religions of Europe and America and Hindus acting like their guide for their spiritual rejuvenation. I won’t be exploring the modern paganism movement and its relationship with Hinduism, but validity of use of the word pagan by Hindus to describe themselves.

The word pagan in Western world has two meanings. The first meaning comes from Old Testament in which the word is used to describe idolaters. When Moses comes down from Mount Sinai, he sees some of the people worshipping golden calf and asks for the killing of these idolaters. The other meaning of the term comes from its root word in Latin Paganus which means rural or rustic. To understand why polytheists of the Roman society were called Pagans, the reason lies with the spread of Christianity in Rome. Christianity in Rome was an urban phenomenon sustained by the state patronage in the beginning and to save from Christian persecution, quite a few of them took shelter in rural areas. Christians called them pagans as they were practicing polytheism but concentrated in rural areas. In both the definitions, the term has a negative connotation rooted in Abrahamic worldview to assess and label the people of other faiths.

Are Hindus pagans? If we accept the Old Testament meaning of the term, Hindus are undoubtedly pagans and it’s the reason why a formidable philosopher like Ram Swarup called Hindus pagans. The Christian meaning of the term doesn’t actually denote Hindus but as typological similarly, Hindus can be called pagans as the elements of nature worshipping and different forces of nature are present in Hinduism. Yet, the similarity ends there as there is no equivalent of ज्ञानकाण्ड in pagans religions which seldom went beyond the mechanical rituals. Nor there is any equivalent tradition of योग in either of the pagan religions. But, some people can argue that for global solidarity with other pagans of the world, Hindus can call themselves pagans.

Now, we have reached the crux of the issue around the usage of the term. Pagan is a word rooted in the theology of Abrahamic religions which assigned pejorative meaning to the culture it managed to conquer. As a confident civilization which was never conquered by Christianity and much more sophisticated and older than Christianity, why should we use words like pagan which was assigned to us by dominant power in a particular historical period? Adopting the characterization of a society by its rival society shows that the rival society or culture has an advantage over us and they’re dictating how we see ourselves. It’s not based on how as a group we would like to define ourselves and it’s more problematic as it’s a negative definition (negative definition in the sense a definition based on negation or what one is not).

One more question around the subject will be why the modern followers of pagan religions such as Druids, Wicca or Celts call themselves pagans? The answer is not straightforward. European pagans prefer calling themselves Ethnic Religions and their biannual conference is known as World Council of Ethnic Religions. The others prefer the term as they started practicing their ancient religions as a revolt against Christianity and prefer to retain the historical connotation behind the term and its suppression by Christianity. As a confident, enduring and sophisticated civilization rooted in Dharma, calling ourselves pagans is probably an insult to our ancestors who never adopted the terminology given by their rivals. The term Hindu is not equivalent as it has evolved to mean a religious group now and applies only to us, not to different set of people around the world.

The Genesis of Communist-Congress Collaboration in Post Independence India

Communist movement in India since its inception with the foundation of Communist Party of India on October 17, 1920 in Tashkent has been a movement of contradiction, opportunistic considerations and confusion. Their history can’t be understood without considering their relationship with Indian National Congress which was the principal organization of Indian Freedom movement. After a series of conspiracy cases filed by the British government against the Indian Communists in the 1920s which gave them the popularity which they didn’t deserve, their relationship with Congress started gestating through the medium of trade unions. Communists joined the ranks of Indian National Congress to give its decisive Left-wing orientation in which they were largely successful due to the rise of leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose.

The contradiction between the aims of Indian National Congress and Communist Party of India which was functioning as the vassal of Communist Party of Soviet Union again became prominent during the Second World War with the entry of Soviet Union into the war. CPI was obliged to follow the Communist International directive under which they had given their unconditional support to Soviet Union and Allied Forces as it had become the People’s War. During the 1942 Quit India Movement, CPI collaborated with British authorities in India to sabotage the nationalist movement in order to ensure that British didn’t face any issues related to internal disturbance to focus completely on the People’s War. The chasm which developed between Indian National Congress and CPI during this period was not too easy to be bridged.

Under the directives of Communist International, when India gained independence in August 1947, CPI maintained that it was a cosmetic independence since the imperialist bourgeoisie (British) had transferred the power to the National bourgeoisie (Congress). In CPI’s analysis, since the power was not handed to CPI which is the official representative of the proletariat, independence can never be a real independence. In Communist terminology, the masses can only be represented by the Communist parties as they’re the only organization capable of alleviating the suffering of the masses. Nehru who was their favourite leader was called a stooge of American imperialism who was working against the interests of the people.

In this backdrop, the Second Congress of Communist Party of India was organized in Kolkata between February 26, 1948 and March 6, 1948. In this Congress, the official party-line of CPI was elucidated along with the future plan of action. CPI reiterated that Indian independence is a fiction; Congress is the party of National Bourgeoisie; and CPI must launch a struggle against the Congress government to achieve complete independence. The next question was about the methods to achieve the goals of people’s revolution. Armed insurgency against the Indian nation was adopted as the chosen path to achieve the desired outcome. Communists who had mobilized peasants in states such as Telangana, West Bengal and Tripura by giving false promises, were to be used as the foot soldiers of Communism. B T Ranadive who was the General Secretary of Communist Party of India was thrilled about the prospects of achieving the goal of Communists in India.

It would be imperative to note the reason behind CPI adopting the method of armed revolution. After Indian independence, Nehru hadn’t got any opportunity to hobnob with Soviet Union nor given any positive signal about the nature of relationship which India will have with Soviet Union. In absence of any formal policy, CPI applied Zhdanov Doctrine in Indian context according to which the world was divided in Soviet Camp and Imperialist Camp represented by America. If a nation is not formally in Soviet Camp, by definition, the nation must be in the imperialist camp led by the US. Communist International had conveyed the same to CPI based on which it decided to embark on the path of armed revolution.

In 1948, the armed cadres of Communist Party of India started indulging in large scale violence and sabotage. Following their old methods, the peasants were turned against the peasants who had not joined Communist Party of India by labelling the latter as Zamindar even if the farmer owned merely a few acres of the land. They also tried to disrupt the rail communication by destroying railway tracks and the government was left with no choice but to crack down on rampaging Communists. Communists suffered serious blows in government repression which also included the banning of Communist Party of India by the West Bengal government in March 1950. The global Communist movement was alarmed if it could lead to complete wipe out of Communists from India which necessitated that CPI will have to abandon its people’s revolution prematurely. The message was formally conveyed by Cominform in its editorial in January 1950 to abandon its programme of armed revolution.

As a consequence of that, B T Ranadive was removed from the post of General Secretary of CPI, and C Rajeshwar Rao was the one who replaced Ranadive. In the meantime, Nehru had formally accepted the Maoist coup led by Mao Zedong as legitimate and he had also started showing favourable signs towards supporting the foreign policy of Soviet Union in East Asia. In this backdrop, the new strategy was required to exploit the situation completely for their gains. The new strategy was finally revealed by CPI in its Madurai Congress in 1954 which was a radical departure from its earlier stance. The plan of armed revolution was dropped in the favour of New Democratic Policy which included contesting elections. The other aspect of the policy was that the immediate priority of the Communist Party in India should be to fight against the imperialist and feudal elements for which cooperation with Congress is imminent. Based on this, the unholy alliance of Congress and Communists started which made India a vassal state of Soviet Union for next 40 years in terms of foreign policy while Communists established their dominance over the academic and discursive aspects of India.

Fourfold Division of Knowledge in Ancient India

Ancient India–which was the pinnacle of human civilization–excelled in the field of material advancement as much as it excelled in spiritual and religious glory. The advancement in each of the spheres of life was based on the recognition of the fundamental reality that there can’t be any separation of the religious from material for the development of the human society. The equal importance of religious and material aspects of life is manifested in the division of disciplines of knowledge in Ancient India. Our primary consideration will be the Arthashastra of Aacharya Chanakya while we will also explore different perspectives on fields of knowledge from other ancient texts.

In the first अधिकरण of Arthashastra, Acharya Chanakya names the four disciplines of knowledge as follows:

आन्वीक्षिकी त्रयी वार्त्ता दण्ड.नीतिश् च_इति विद्याः। (01.02.01)
The four disciplines of knowledge are: आन्वीक्षिकी, त्रयी, वार्त्ता and दंडनीति. Before we move further, we need to understand the meaning of the four disciplines of knowledge enumerated by Aacharya Chanakya. आन्वीक्षिकी is a word whose meaning has changed over centuries. During the time when Arthashastra was written, the term आन्वीक्षिकी was roughly equivalent to दर्शनशास्त्र (loosely translated as Philosophy). However, in the later time, the meaning of the term became restricted and it became synonymous with न्याय दर्शन and तर्कशास्त्र. In the same chapter, Aacharya Chanakya considers सांख्य, योग and लोकायत as the constituents of आन्वीक्षिकी. The absence of न्याय or मीमांसा from the list is due to the fact that मीमांसा was still considered to be the part of त्रयी (Three vedas) while the term न्याय came into the use to denote a separate stream of philosophy around first century of the common era. While लोकायत is considered to be equivalent of चार्वाक दर्शन now, it referred to the different streams of materialist philosophy which existed during that time.

Next discipline of knowledge is त्रयी which included the three Vedas viz. Rik, Yajur and Saam. The absence of Atharvaveda in the list shouldn’t surprise us because for a long time, Atharvaveda was considered a separate text from the compendium of the other three Vedas. वार्त्ता is the discipline of knowledge concerned with the fields of commerce, agriculture and cattle rearing. These three activities were typically performed by Vaishya Varna and we can consider that Vaishyas primarily specialized in the knowledge of वार्त्ता. दंडनीति refers to the subject of polity which is the discipline concerned with the theory and practice of governance. The relative importance of the दंडनीति can be understood from the reference in Mahabharata which considers that when polity sinks further, neither the Vedas can be secured nor the Dharma can be preserved as society descends in the state of chaos.

While the existence of four disciplines of knowledge was well recognized, different streams of thoughts had their own ideas about how many of them can be considered as legitimate disciplines of knowledge. Aacharya Chanakya cites the diverging views of followers of three schools: Manu, Shukracharya and Brihaspati. We will explore the views of these three schools on valid disciplines of knowledge. On followers of Manu, Aacharya Chanakya says the following:

त्रयी वार्त्ता दण्ड नीतिश् च_इति मानवाः। (01.02.02)
Followers of Manu consider only three disciplines of knowledge viz. त्रयी, वार्त्ता, and दंडनीति as valid disciplines of knowledge because आन्वीक्षिकी is considered to be a sub-field of त्रयी instead of an independent field of knowledge. Followers of Shukra believe the following:
दण्ड.नीतिर् एका विद्या_इत्य् औशनसाः। (01.02.06)
Followers of Shukracharya considered only polity to be a legitimate field of knowledge which shows that they probably belonged to the stream of materialist philosophy. Shukraniti which is a later text on polity considers the number of disciplines of knowledge to be 32 which demonstrates that the authors changed the count of disciplines of knowledge as it expanded. Followers of Brihaspati consider the following though:
वार्त्ता दण्ड.नीतिश् च_इति बार्हस्पत्याः। (01.02.04)
Followers of Brihaspati considered only वार्त्ता and दंडनीति as valid fields of knowledge which is due to their rejection of Vedas and adoption of an atheistic worldview. Their rejection of आन्वीक्षिकी is probably due to their insistence on reliance on direct perception as the only valid means of knowledge while rejecting others. Aacharya Chanakya considers all four of them to be valid disciplines of knowledge which help in the different spheres of life. Having discussed the field of knowledge mentioned in Arthashastra, we will summarize the fields of knowledge mentioned in other texts concluding our discussion.

In Ramayana, only three disciplines excluding आन्वीक्षिकी have been considered as valid disciplines of knowledge while Mahabharata considers आन्वीक्षिकी to be the fourth discipline of knowledge. Aacharya वात्स्यायन has adopted the same stance as of Mahabharata while कामन्दक in his नीतिसार which is based on Arthashastra of Aacharya Chanakya follows the opinion of Chanakya by accepting all four as valid disciplines of knowledge. The importance of the four fields of knowledge is also reflected in how the deities were identified with them. For example, in Vishnu Purana, Lakshmi has been considered as the goddess in which the four fields of knowledge reside. The classification of fields of knowledge in distinct categories shows that the fields had grown considerably which necessitated the maintenance of categories, but it also reflects the fact that every sphere of human activity be it whether Commerce or Philosophy is necessary for the sustenance of the society.

References:

1. Arthashastra by Aacharya Chanakya (Hindi translation by Pandit Udayveer Shastri)

2. A History of Indian Logic by Satish Chandra Vidyabhusan

3. Banerji, Ambuj Nath. STUDIES IN ECONOMICS OF ANCIENT INDIA. Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, vol. 10, no. 1/2, 1929, pp. 77–113. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41682409. Accessed 1 July 2020.

Marxism and Culture: The Tale of Antagonism

The relationship between Marxism and existing culture is a puzzling one as people don’t really get the rationale behind Marxism’s opposition to culture despite the fact that Marxism is rooted in materialist conception of history and class conflict is the way forward to achieve the desired ends. To explain this, there are connected yet different concepts which are responsible for their opposition and critique of culture. The first comes from Classical Marxism while the second comes from Frankfurt School of Marxism.

Besides the concept of historical materialism, Marx devised a hypothesis which he called Base-Superstructure Theory (BST). In BST, the society is differentiated into two realms – productive forces and every other aspects of society such as religion, culture, political concepts, social norms etc. According to Marx, the productive forces (economic structure) constitute the base while everything else is superstructure and it’s the base which determines the superstructure. In BST, Marx proudly proclaimed that consciousness is the product of material realities and not vice versa.

The implications of BST is immense considering the way it has been applied. Since it’s the economic structure which determines everything else, if the economic structure is problematic, all the other aspects of the society such as religion, culture etc. are faulty since they’ve emerged out of the faulty economic base. In Marxism, the only correct economic structure is Communism and thus, all the aspects of a non-communist society must be criticised. However, the relationship between base and superstructure is not unidirectional. The superstructure serves the import function of maintaining the base by providing justification and rationalization for the existing base. So, in a capitalist society, the legal system, politics, religion, culture etc. serve the sole purpose of reinforcing the economic structure and if economic structure has to be transformed, the elements of superstructure needs to be weakened too. This is how the Marxist Cultural Studies was born.

The field of Marxist cultural studies took a major turn after the World War II though. USA had emerged as the dominant nation and contrary to the Marx’s prediction, there was no sign of withering away of capitalism in USA. A modification in the theoretical approach was required which was taken by Frankfurt School of Marxism and its most potent thinker Herbert Marcuse. Herbert Marcuse subscribed to the Freudian notion that civilization is inherently repressive of individual desires, and it imposes the cultural and social norms from the top. There is very little scope for individuality. On the other hand, Marcuse didn’t accept the BST of Marx and postulated that culture is not the part of superstructure. It was inevitable since the path of class conflict looked like a thing of past.

Marcuse developed his new approach in the book ‘The One Dimensional Man’. According to Marcuse, an industrialized society such as US is as oppressive and totalitarian as a Soviet Union and the difference lies only in the methods of enforcing the control. He argued that by the use of technology, media, law, culture and politics with economic structure in such unified way in US, the social reality was subsumed with cultural factors. Thus, unlike a two dimensional society in which social reality is opposed by culture, culture enforces the social structure using technological rationality in advanced industrial nations. The culture instead of cultivating the individual aspirations was being driven by capitalism and mass production which determined the choices of the individuals.

In a way, Marcuse accepted that Marxism is inadequate to change the social reality but he considered culture to be a separate reality and even higher than the social reality. What would be the next step? Marxists of Frankfurt School will try their best to change the existing culture by subjecting it to scathing critique while trying their best to introduce their own cultural norms as culture is now an independent entity unlike Marx’s BST. In this way, they’ll be opposing and weakening oppressive social reality. The fields of Cultural Studies and Media Studies were born in USA which undertook the task of criticizing every aspect of culture and introducing new norms. Waves of Feminism, LGBTQ movement, Safe Spaces, Microaggression, Discursive Violence, Implicit Bias, Privilege checking etc. were the outcomes of critique of the existing culture.

In case of India, since Indian culture is rooted in Sanatan Dharma, their goal can never be accomplished until they criticise the very basis which sustains the Indian culture. Every problem in India has to be necessarily linked with Sanatan Dharma and criticized without any further consideration for effecting the new cultural norms which they plan to enforce in every society which has not been conquered by Marxism. In India, the Frankfurt School of Marxism is yet taking its roots and the adherents of BST still remain the most vehement critics of Dharma.

The Planned Soviet Invasion of India and Formation of Communist Party of India

The history of Communism in India and Communist Party of India especially is a fascinating tale which has been concealed from Indians due to Marxists’ dominance in historiography. The fabrication of the fact is manifested in their official version as well since Communist Party of India considers its foundation day as December 26, 1925 while Communist Party of India (M), an offshoot of Communist Party of India considers it to be on October 17, 1920. However, none of these versions provide the actual background of the formation of the Communist Party of India. The actual intent behind the formation of CPI was to ensure the invasion of Soviet Union in India and change the colonial master of India from British to Soviet Union. Before we discuss this aspect, we will deal with Bolsheviks’ policy towards the countries which were under colonial rule.
Lenin, the man who transformed Marxism from a philosophy to a reality had kept an eye on the colonized countries of the East from as early as 1907. Marxism considers the nation to be a bourgeois concept which is a major obstacle in establish a Communist society free from the borders. Yet, as long as countries are under the colonial rule, the hope of a global communist society would remain a figment of imagination. In this context, Lenin reasoned that Bolsheviks must provide support to anti-colonial movements around the world as it will help colonized countries in reaching the stage of democracy from which the next flight for dictatorship of the proletariat will take place. This included support for global Islamic movement as well. Lenin was able to make the concession to support the movement against colonialism even if the movement didn’t have any Communist character. But, not everyone agreed with the thesis of Lenin on how Soviet Communists should take forward the Communist movement in colonies.
The first official viewpoint of Soviet Union viz-a-viz India was elucidated by K M Troyanovasky in 1918 in his Blue Book on relationship between Soviet Union and British India. After highlighting the exploitative character of British rule in India, Troyanovasky reasoned the following:
“Our revolutionary path in the not distant feature will bring forth joy, not only on the plane of struggle for national liberation from foreign domination, but also for the broad principles of the class struggle and for the socialist order.”
Troyanovasky made it clear that their goal in India won’t be limited to support of movements aiming to overthrow the colonial rule, but establishing the communist society would be ultimate aim. However, they didn’t have any contact with Indian revolutionaries with whom they could shape their expectations to the reality. Coincidentally, Hindu-German conspiracy had failed and many Indian revolutionaries residing in Berlin and UK were looking for other forces which can support them. One such revolutionary was M P T Acharya who was in close contact with Mahendra Pratap (President of Provisional Government of India in Kabul) and Virendranath Chattopadhyay. They travelled to Soviet Union in December 1918 to explore if they could gather any support from Bolsheviks but the expedition was largely unsuccessful in its attempt as none of them were ideologically Communist which didn’t make Lenin happy. Mahendra Pratap subsequently decided to not follow the orders of Lenin to go to India for spreading the Communist propaganda. He proceeded to Bukhara to win the support of Khan of Bukhara without any success and met Lenin again in March 1919 for nothing in return. Meanwhile, the First Communist International in March 1919 had declared that Soviet Union will be supporting the anti-colonial movement in India.
In the developing circumstances, emergence of M N Roy in the Communist movement gave a decisive shift to the bid of friendship between Soviet Union and ideologically novice Indian Communists. Roy had travelled to USA for joining Ghadar revolutionaries in 1915 but was indoctrinated in Marxism subsequently and was one of the founders of Mexico Socialist Party in 1918. In 1919, an American Marxist of Russian origin named Michael Borodin moved to Mexico who persuaded Roy to move to Russia to collaborate with Lenin for the success of Soviet ambitions in India. Roy met Lenin in early months of 1920 and impressed him with his ideological clarity. While Lenin was happy with any form of anti-colonial movement, Roy emphasized that the anti-colonial movement must have communist character. He termed Indian independence movement as a reactionary and bourgeoisie movement. There was debate between Lenin and Roy on the issue during 2nd World Congress of Communist International in August 1920. Though Lenin was not convinced with Roy’s argument, he was ready to work with Roy.
There were two outcomes of 2nd World Congress of Comintern with respect to India: 1. Establishment of Central Asiatic Bureau to further the interest of Soviet Union in India and 2. Organization of a conference of Near, Middle and Far East Countries in Baku in 1920. The conference started in September 1920 in which Indian delegation of 14 members were led by Abani Mukherjee which primarily consisted of Muslim soldiers of British Indian Army who had defected while they were posted in Khorasan of Iran. In the conference, a radical proposal was put forward by Abani Mukherjee to establish an armed force controlled by Soviet Union for establishing Communism in India. Interestingly, M N Roy didn’t attend the conference since he believed that it won’t produce anything substantial owing to his differences with Lenin during 2nd World Congress of Comintern. But when Soviet Union agreed for the proposal of raising an army for this purpose, M N Roy was ecstatic.
M N Roy started working on the details of executing the plan in which Afganistan was envisioned to play the central role. Emir Amanullah of Afghanistan had fought war with British India in May 1919 and the relationship of Amanullah with the latter was still strained. M N Roy devised the plan of invasion of India by Soviet Forces in which Soviet Forces will march to India via Afganistan and they will be supported militarily by the Muslims of North West Frontier. Roy expected that they will be able to establish a free Communist state on the borders from where they’ll launch the attack on rest of the India. Roy’s plan was approved by Politburo of Communist Party of Russia subsequently and it was decided that the entire activities will be conducted from Tashkent in Turkestan. Accordingly, two trains carrying arms and ammunitions including disassembled parts of the aircrafts were dispatched from Russia for Tashkent where Roy was supposed to establish a military school. It was in Tashkent where they founded Communist Party of India in October 1920 while planning for the invasion of India.
Once they established their base in Tashkent, they had to take care of some major issues before proceeding forward. These issues were: 1. Bringing the troubled regions of Central Asia under firm Soviet control 2. Training Indian Communists 3. Establishing the dominance of Soviet Union in Chinese Turkestan and 4. Persuading Emir Amanullah of Afghanistan for letting Afghanistan being used for invasion. The works on all the fronts began simultaneously but we will focus on training of Indian Communists. Roy and his comrades found it difficult to recruit Indian freedom fighters for his movement. In another coincidence, about 5000 Muhajirs (a term which means migration of Muslims from the land of Kafirs to the land of believers) were in Tashkent whose goal was to fight against the British empire from the side of Ottoman Empire. Another group was Muslim soldiers of British Indian Army which I already mentioned. Roy started military training for these people immediately and the unholy alliance between Communism and Islam in India was thus born.
Meanwhile, British had kept a keen eye on the development in Tashkent and Afghanistan to take care of any such act of aggression. The situation for Soviet Union was further exacerbated by the fact that their expeditions in Chinese Turkestan had little success after three attempts. Emir Amanullah didn’t cooperate either as he was won over by British in 1921 while Muslims were confused regarding how Soviet Union could help them while Soviet Union was crushing the Muslim rebellions in Central Asia. As a result, Soviet Union abandoned the plan for establishing Communism in India via this approach. We may pause for a moment and reflect on the fact that Indian Communists were serving as nothing but mercenaries for Soviet Union to transfer India from British colonialism to Soviet colonialism. Being the adversary of India has been the basic characteristics of Communists from their very inception.
References:
1. Soviet Russia and Indian Communism by David N Druh

2. Minutes of the Second Congress of the Communist International

Encirclement and Intrigue: Chinese Style of Geopolitics

After suffering humiliating defeat in 1962 Sino-Indian conflict, Indians have applied no efforts in understanding the Chinese psyche and their art of geopolitics which is radically different from Western geopolitical strategy based on Clausewitzian approach. Before the Sino-Indian conflict, Mao summoned his generals in Beijing for giving them historical perspective on why a war with India was necessary to knock sense in India. It was quite unusual as Mao always had nothing but contempt for history. But in the meeting, he told his generals that India and China had fought one and half war so far and a limited war is required if India needs to be kept in check. What were those ‘one and half war’ which Mao mentioned?

In the 7th Century when Tang Dynasty ruled in China, there were close diplomatic and cultural contacts with Harsha Vardhan and Tang Dynasty during which many monks and scholars frequently visited each other’s countries. The most famous one being the travel of Yuan Chwang to India. After the return of Yuann Chwang, Tang dynasty sent a diplomatic mission under the leadership of Wang Xuance but by the time his group reached India, Harsha Vardhan had died and North India was marred in the state of chaos. In the chaos, 30 members of his mission were killed which infuriated Chinese, and with the help of Tibetan king, they probably fought a war with small kingdom in Bihar bordering Nepal emerging victorious. It was not even a war but for Mao, it was a war which Chinese won resulting in better relationship with India and China in the subsequent period.

The ‘Half-war’ which he mentioned was Tamerlane’s invasion of Delhi though Timur was a Mongol. In Mao’s reasoning, as Mongols were the part of broader Chinese civilization, it can be considered as half war. In Mao’s assessment, an amicable relationship between India and China was possible provided there was a limited conflict so that India can’t act as aggressor in near future. The question is not here about Mao’s historical knowledge but of civilizational awareness. Can you expect any Indian prime minister to tell his generals about how Han Chinese were subdued during the Kushana era? Mao was essentially echoing the sentiments which is rooted in China’s unqiue style of geopolitics.

Historically, Chinese considered themselves to be a unique civilization, a heaven on this earth which shouldn’t establish equal diplomatic relationship with its neighbours. If anyone is interested in China, they let people have a glimpse of glory of Chinese civilization instead of treating them as equal partner. But there was also the harsh reality of China’s borders being vulnerable and internal conflicts leading to the decay of China. This resulted in a psyche which accepted that complete victory over an enemy leads to extreme bloodshed not conducive even for the side which attains victory. That’s why Sun Tzu asks to avoid military conflict as much as possible and explore alternate ways. Acharya Chanakya has echoed similar principle by saying that an arrow which has been shot can miss the target but intrigue can kill even a baby in womb.

Though China is a Communist country, it has not given up its ancient technique of warfare and geopolitics. Clausewitz considers war to be extension of state’s policy indicating that war is different from other means while Sun Tzu considers war to be part of state policy. As total victory is difficult for them, they have adopted the doctrine of combative coexistence with its adversaries through encirclement. It was the reason that China declared ceasefire in 1962 when it was at advantageous situation ensuring that India can never gain upper hand in negotiations. When you add the inherent imperialism of the Maoism in their geopolitical approach, the level of threat increases by multiple folds for us. We have to be wary about very realistic possibility of limited conflict between India and China since if it has to keep a rising power like India in check, such limited conflict is imminent for them.

References:

1. On China by Henry Kissinger
2. The Art of War by Sun Tzu