Half The World …

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, European History, Feminist Issues, History, language, Media by Anuraag Sanghi on December 21, 2007

Bodhisattva - Ajanta Cave PaintingEvolutionary vs. Revolutionary

Belief systems in the world can clearly be classified into 3 kinds.

First , are the pagan practices like Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Babylonian et al. These were eclectic and evolutionary religions with many layers and differences. Of all these evolutionary religions, none exist today.

Then came the second layer of religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These religions had an individual agent of change – and these religions trace their birth, growth and existence to that one individual (and his followers). These were reform religions – a response to oppression and exploitation in the respective societies. I am not including Zoroastrianism and Baha’i religions as these have minor followings (mostly in India).

Third is the dharmic system of India. Unlike the Desert Bloc, India did not have religions. What the West recognizes as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism are non-unitary systems. Jains recognize 24 Tirthankaras and the Buddhists have more than a 100 Bodhisattva. These more than 100 preachers were at the forefront of anti-slavery crusade between 2000BC and 500BC. Indic rulers (like The Hittites, Mittanis and the Elamites) confronted and had to compete with slave owning Asura societies – especially in the Middle East.

The Problem With Religions

The problem with religions


Historically, India had no religions. Modern religions are a construct of the Middle East – and given birth to the 3 major religions of the world. Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In India, the belief structure centres around Dharma – धर्म.

The difference between dharma and religion? Major!

For one, religion is about worship. There are many other differences also – in method of worship (how you worship), object of worship (what you worship), frequency of worship (e.g. every Sabbath; five times a day), language of worship (what you say, in which language), etc.

The cornerstones of modern religions from the Desert Bloc are One God, One Book, One Holy Day, One Prophet (Messiah), One Race, One People, One Country, One Authority, One Law, One Currency, One Set of Festival are the root of most problems in the world. From this Oneness, we get the One Currency, One Language logic  – a fallacious syllogism. Once you accept One, you will accept all others.

Indian worship practices are infinite. Even non-worship to is acceptable – for instance, the Charvaka school of Indian philosophy was atheistic and did not prescribe worship. Structure and deviation from worship practices are a non-issue in Indian dharmic structure. Dharma has no equivalent in the ‘Desert Bloc’ vocabulary of religions. Dharma is the path of righteousness, defined by a matrix of the contextual, existential, moral, pragmatic, professional, position, etc. Dharma is more than moral and ethics.

The really big difference is the holy books – Judaism, Christianity and Islam have one Holy Book each. No deviations. Indian dharma tradition has thousands which are more than 1000 years old – at last count.

The Desert Religions

Judaism, Christianity, Islam were all born within 500 miles of each other and share a common culture and history. Judaism can be said to have been born when Moses led the Hebrew slaves from the Pharoah (across the Red Sea) – to ‘freedom’, that is ‘free’ to enslave other peoples. This possibly happened around 500 BC at the latest to 1500 BC at the earliest. His earliest followers were the Hebrews and they were a significant part of the Middle Eastern history all through till today. The very same Hebrews and Jews continued with slavery.

The next major religious reformer in the Middle East was Jesus Christ. For the first 300 years, Roman slaves were the major believers in his teachings. Emperor Constantine earned the loyalty of his Christian troops and won the war for Roman throne by his win over Maxentius at Milvan Bridge. Prior to Maxentius, for the previous 30-40 years, Christians had been persecuted by “rule of four’ Tetrarchy reformists in Rome, headed by Diocletan. Hence, the Christian slave soldiers of Constantine were eager for victory – as the persecution under Maxentius would have been worse. Yet the biggest users of slaves in history has been the Western Christian world – especially from 1500-1900.King Constatine

Liberated slaves were the founders and rulers of Islamic dynasties, (in India, the Slave dynasty – builders of Qutub minar). Thus all the three “desert religions” were first adopted by the slaves and only after gaining significant numbers of adherents, these religions became mainstream and commenced militant proselytising, conversions – and enslavement.

Slave Religions Promote Slavery

The 3 ‘desert religions’ instead of reforming slave societies, just enabled the transfer of slave titles. Freedom meant old slaves became the new slave masters. Slavery (capture, kidnap, sequestration, transport, trade and transfer, re-capture of human beings) continued in the “desert bloc” till the 20th century.

When the followers of Mani (a teacher of Buddhist and Christian teachings) were encouraging the slaves to revolt and declare themselves free, administrators of the teachings of the “Lord of lords, and King of kings.” (Revelation 17: 14) at the Council Of Gangra, 325 AD, approved of slavery. Arabs slave traders were active in Congo – till they were replaced by Europeans.

Whats Going On Here

‘Caste systems’ (by different names) are prevalent all over the world, in all societies, based on colour, race, income, wealth, education, social status, political position, et al. Most such ‘caste systems’ have no force of the state behind it or are legal. They are the burakumin in Japan today and the African Americans in Europe and USA.

The most ‘respected’ caste system is the British nobility which exists even today – a caste system, approved by law. In India, colonial administration encouraged and increased divisions within society.British Lords Stole From The World

In order to ‘whitewash’ their own ‘dark’ history, the West is now (speciously) equating the Indian caste system with slavery. In 1919, under the Treaty Of Versailles, Western Nations set up the ILO – along with the League Of Nations. Post WW2, it was co-opted as a specialized agency of the UN in 1946. Western propaganda efforts using the ILO, have seen some success. This leading light of Dalit Christians blindly accepts Western propaganda that slavery was abolished 200 years ago in the West – and casteism is equal to slavery!

Slavery (capture, kidnap, sequestration, transport, trade and transfer, re-capture of human beings) continued in the “desert bloc” till the 20th century with the legal backing and the full might of the of the State.

In Indic territories, slavery was an inherited institution – and last seen in the Hittite rule around 1000BC. There is no record of sale and purchase of human beings in the last 3000 years in the Indic Bloc. Faced with West Asian reluctance to give up slavery, Indo Aryan rulers disengaged politically from West Asia and Middle East from around 1000 BC. Possibly, the slave revolt of Egypt by Moses itself was a result of the liberalising laws of the Hittites. Hence the fade out of the Indic rule from the Middle East – but the continuation of Buddhist influences, trade and peoples contact.

Competing With Slave Societies

After the slave revolts in the Middle East, India spearheaded major anti-slavery movements – like Buddhism Manicheanism, etc. More than a 100 Bodhisatvas and 24 Jain Tirthankaras were major figures in India’s anti-slavery reforms in the Middle East. Modern history, influenced by Western historiography, recognizes only the “ahimsa twins” – Gautama Buddha and Vardhamana Mahavira. Both of these were princes of royal blood – Prince Siddharth and Prince Mahavira.

Their first adherents were the rulers and their methods of proselytising was also aimed at the ruling class. Ashoka, The Great, sent missions with his daughter Sanghamitra to Sri Lanka – where Buddhism was established.Guru Nanak - First Sikh Guru

Guru Nanak Dev came from from the upper caste family and his focus was to end feuding on the basis of caste and creed. His first converts were from upper class families – cutting across religions (hence the opposition from some of the Mughal Kings).

Gandhiji was from the upper caste and the first item on his reform agenda was end to the “bhangis” carrying faecal refuse on their heads. His initial focus was social reform and less of anti-British activities.

Yet, from the time of Hittites to now, for 4000 years, Indic culture did not accept slavery.

The Two Halfs

There is a major difference in the Indic reform idiom compared to the Desert Bloc. Half the world today follows Indic dharmic systems and culture. The other half follows the “desert religions”. Our future lies in understanding both the halves. The development trajectories of these two halves has been significantly different. The motivations, behavioural and acceptable civilizational norms for these blocs are different – and mostly opposite.

Do we understand this adequately?

24 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Parag Tope said, on December 21, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    There’s a portion of your argument that I strongly disagree with.

    Your argument is based on the presumption that Buddhism and Jainism were “reform” religions. They certainly took that role in the last 300 years at the early onset of rigidity in Hindu thought.

    At an abstract level Buddhism and Jainism are proxies to modern “liberal” thought – where the discourse is of collective responsibilities through personal sacrifices. Hinduism on the hand represents a more “conservative” approach, where individual responsibilities are the primary focus; when individuals follow a “righteous” path, the society takes care of itself.

    These are logical arguments and debates that have existed in societies for many millennia , especially in Indic societies. These debates complement each other and are not necessarily in conflict. However, in western thought, the arguments became orthogonal, where “greed is good-capitalism” and “communism” became their extreme positions.

    Sikhism has a slightly more complex history – but follows a similar pattern from the 1400s to the 1700s. Sikhism’s precursor was the Bhakti movement and of traveling saints (liberal proxies) who were attempting to address the onslaught of Islam on India… Many of Marathi speaking Santa Namdev’s compositions from the 1300s are included in the Guru Grantha Saheb.

    I could argue that Indic “liberalism” and “conservatism” are complementary thoughts, rather than conflicting or “reform” or “broken” ideas (though you don’t use the word “broken”, reform automatically suggests that something needs fixing)

    For Europe this debate is modern and more radical. Conservatism and Liberalism – became state sponsored, and therefore more vitriolic in their respective preservations, to eventually become political ideologies, rather than individual choices.

    England unleashed “liberalism” on India in the nineteenth century in their attempt to demolish a decadent Hinduism (yes – the nineteenth century witnessed a major retrograding of Indic values as the economy and literacy collapsed). Jainism, with its natural liberal outlook survived and even thrived during that assault. What was an intellectual debate for millennia, became something more rigid. Many Indian intellectuals accepted the English argument, that Jainism and Buddhism were “reformist” forces.

    IMO, so are you.

  2. Anuraag Sanghi said, on December 22, 2007 at 11:56 am

    Parag – Thanks for your comments.

    One – India – here refers to the Greater Indic Region (which I outlined in my earlier post).

    “This North Indian geography radiates out and spreads on the उत्तरपथ Uttarapatha (the Western world knows this as the Silk Route) to modern day Samarkand, Afghanistan, Tibet, Pakistan, Iran, Oman, Tajikstan upto the Caspian Sea. Central Asian tribes and kingdoms of Persians, Sakas /Scythians, Kushans(Kanishka, their most famous ruler), Huns, Mongols, Tartars set up empires with shifting boundaries. Hueng Tsang narrates that India ruled till east of Taklamakan desert. Sir Aurel Stern, recovered Indian language scripts from Central Asia.”

    Hence, to see the (the lack of)need from a narrow (Euro-definition of)Indo Gangetic Plain view point may be counter productive. India is not Indo Gangetic plain. Our shrinkage in view point can certainly make it.

    Secondly, if there was no need for reform, re-packaging, relaunch – how come so many people accepted it. So, a need for reform, renewal is like a re launch (now in an attractive new pack). The “ahimsa twins” had become the world’s second largest religions (Hinduism was the largest)while a number of Euro-Roman Colonies (a la Mahathir Mohammed) “were wearing wild animal skins and painting their faces”. Till the Nicean meeting of the church, Buddhism was still blanking out Christianity in the Middle East (in the form of Mani’s Buddhism – which the church referred to as the heresy of Manicheanism).

    Buddhism had reached the Anatolian plains by the time Jesus was born. Muted voices now question how much (no longer a question of , “Did he …”) did Buddha influence Jesus.

    Three – I am unsure if I get the import of this “conservative” and “liberal”, “orthogonal”.

    Four – I am unsure where “society takes care of itself” statement leads to – Hindu Vedic thought did prescribe social values for those whose reponsibility it was. For instance, the Shantiparva which talks about kingly duties in the Mahabharata. Gita starts of with the duty of the kshatriya being to take care of the kingdom and its subjects.

  3. Parag Tope said, on December 22, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    No counter argument to your definition to India. I don’t think I was suggesting anything otherwise. Also, I agree with pretty much most of your other points.

    I think I digressed 🙂
    I fundamentally disagree with the basic premise of the following part of your original post:

    “Oppression of a different nature existed in India… …it was social oppression that needed remedies…”

    IMO, this is an extremely loaded presumption. I fully acknowledge that India has had a rigid social hierarchy in recent times. But was this social oppression perpetual? Are you being anachronistic in projecting modern rigidities into the past, and that to precisely into the period of Mahavira and Buddha? Do Buddha or Mahavira specifically speak about these “social oppressions?” IMO, this is an extremely loaded presumption. India has had a rigid social hierarchy in recent times. But was this social oppression perpetual?

    Your statement is implicit in that belief. Are you making this with conviction or are simply repeating something we have always heard growing up? The core of this discussion depends on how firmly you believe this to be true.

  4. Anuraag Sanghi said, on December 23, 2007 at 8:25 am

    Parag – I have taken the liberty of combining your comments into one!

    3 points.

    1. Oppression – Is real and exists. At all times and to the oppressed, it is always suffering. Comparative lack of oppression (say, compared to Rome) as an excuse to deny oppression is the hall mark of a second rate system! The oppressive instinct may not be a badge, or may not be worn on the sleeve – but yes, YES – oppression is PERPETUAL!

    2. The “markets” for Indic ideology were vast – from Central Asia to Indonesia and from Turkey to Japan. Are you denying that oppression never existed at any point of time (you choose the time and place)in such large swathes of humanity? Your Indo-Gangetic slip is showing! 😉

    The “ahimsa twins” first addressed the oppressors to stop violence against the oppressed; and that nullified the need for violent revolt and overthrow. The reform movement started by the “ahimsa twins” was without any political agenda – and was motivated by the “suffering” that they could not accept. It was the lack of this political agenda which won them converts from both the oppressed and the oppressors. This explains the lack of the “explicit reform statement” that you are looking for!

    3. Between the 4th (the Nicean conference) to the 8th century (spread of Islam) the Church and Islam, reduced Buddhism to a fringe group – through persecution (the Church), conquest (Islam) and conversions based on belief. This cover-up on the spread of Buddhism, reduces the understanding of oppression.

  5. Parag Tope said, on December 23, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    1. I am a little disappointed. It is obvious that the “oppression was perpetual” record has been played a million times. Have you taken a second look at that claim?

    Buddha and Jainism was about “ahimsa” not about a “social order.” If their creation and propagation was on that model, surely the texts would speak loudly and clearly about such issues, don’t you think? I would love to see this large body of evidence either in any Jain or Buddhist texts that speak about the existence of social oppression during their early periods in India?

    2. The markets were vast, but the product was indeed “manufactured” in India… My Indo-gangetic slip shows eh? If you look close enough – you might see “other” slips as well, including the indus plain, the “deccan,” the south and the east. 🙂

    3. Agree.

    There’s an important perspective missing in your argument. I believe that perspective would largely explain the rise and the propagation of Buddhism outside of my “undergarment” areas 🙂 However, that would be a digression. Let me hear your story of the eternal social oppression being the cause for Buddhism…

  6. Jayesh said, on March 21, 2008 at 6:46 am

    “Yet, fom the time of Hittites to now, for 4000 years, Indic culture did not accept slavery.”

    Not quite true : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_India

  7. Anuraag Sanghi said, on March 21, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Jayesh – I would suggest that you read that the same Wikipedia article a little more carefully.

    Under the section, “Early period – 500 BCE to 500 CE” it says clearly, “In the early period (500BCE-500 CE), where we first have significant amount of written records mainly in the form of literature and legal or policy texts, we find features of slavery as practised to have significant differences from contemporary slave-economies such as those of Greece or Rome — such as the absence of records of regular slave markets, or the presence of legal strictures restricting abuse and exploitation of slaves.” So, if there are no records and no legal enforcement, no organized slave markets – how can there be slavery?

    Later, in the rest of the article, most of the slavery that is being talked about is Indians enslaved by invaders – as victims and not as participants.

    That does not make Indians into enslavers or slave traders. If you enter ‘slave’ and search the blog you will get a complete view of what slavery is, was and what it has meant. Egypt, Greece, Rome, Islamic Middle East, Western Europe, America – all these temporarily dominant civilisations have used slavery to rise to the top – and sowed the seeds of their own destruction.

    India, is the beacon in history of a non-slaving society. And we will do well because of that. Slavery sows the seeds of its own destruction. Lazy, effete upper classes, high cost economies, declining fertility ratios, poor family systems, social instability, low status of women and children, violence, police states, high judicial costs, high crime rates, etc

    In order to cover their record of slavery, the West has used devious means to muddy waters – the ILO, an European creation.

    Way back in the 1950’s after getting beaten black and blue, they decided to sneak in ‘employment contracts’ into the ‘slavery buckets.’ By doing this, they have ‘white washed’ their crimes and equated their bloody record with the best records in history, i.e. India and by extension Asia. Of course, they could also create an escape hatch for themselves against compensations at a later date.

    India’s record of opposition against slavery, from the time of Hittites, to Buddhist/Jain, Mani (a Buddhist preacher), also adds another layer to the Rajput opposition to Mughals. And the Rajput women committing Jauhar – and Sati. In modern era, India’s unceasing opposition to South African apartheid was another example.

    Unremitting and unceasing opposition to slavery – that is what Indian history is about. In fact, there is no Sanskritic word for a slave. Ghulam is an imported word, daas /daasi is an attendant. Slavery – such a concept does not exist.

    Similarly, the word free (that is muft, as in free lunch) does not exist in Sanskrit.

  8. Anuraag Sanghi said, on March 21, 2008 at 9:04 am

    Slavery was different – and a distinctive feature, promoted (largely) by the Western and Middle Eastern powers. It had state sanction, state protection, laws passed by the kings, emirs, emperors, parliaments and legislating authorities. The US Supreme Court (Dredd Scott Case) even prohibited slaves from approaching courts for any redress.

    There was a documented, organised, legal, sponsored industry involved in the kidnap, sequestration, transport, trade and transfer (and might I add re-capture) of slaves – with the might of the state behind it.

    But not in India.

    Like the wikipedia article that you refer to says, there are no documents or records to show slavery in India.

  9. […] or the how Sanskrit defined most languages of the world. After more than 1000 years of aggression, the Desert Bloc has only half the world as its adherents – though they have 80% of the world’s geography. The Indic belief […]

  10. […] K Behl makes an interesting observation that India discovered religion in the last few centuries. Early India never had religion. Which is exactly what the 2ndlook blog […]

  11. […] I Ching (I Ching or Yi Jing, Yìjìng, Yiqing, I-Tsing or YiChing), were more about Buddhism the religion that it had become, instead of a school of learning and thought. I Ching also recorded details of the works and life of […]

  12. […] Western concept of nation building requires the cornerstones of Desert Bloc – One God, One Book, One Holy Day, One Prophet (Messiah), One Race, One People, One Country, […]

  13. Jindal said, on September 5, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Nice article and blog~! In the context of your other population explosion related post, I ran into a Muslim lady online who asked me “What’s wrong with a Muslim man marrying four wives if he can do ‘justice’ to all of them?” I asked her, “Do you actually believe India can continue to afford two babies from a single marriage? Clearly not. So open that silly burqa and liberalize yourself”. Silence…! As you must have guessed by now, I’m a product of the Charvaka camp and still evolving. Sit with your friends and talk about cleaver ideas on spreading Charvakism to Islamistans. Coordinate on putting together all that manpower behind freelance blogs and twittering. This would certainly help develop a good deal of look-West soft power. And yes feel free to cut and paste as much as you like from faithfreedom.org – Ali Sina is a nice guy!

  14. […] religion and culture shapes half the world even today. China (Buddhism), Indonesia (considering that Mahabharata is their national epic and […]

  15. susan cherian said, on July 31, 2011 at 4:31 am

    the downplay of dravidian history
    and the fact that some people identify dravidians as the indigenous (who preceded the dravidians in india)
    is something that needs to be addressed..
    the large indic bloc makes it easier ..as it is difficult in ancient history to separate the dravidians from the other groups..
    is there a t v documentary about the dravidian history and its connections to harappa..etc

  16. […] Half The World … (via 2ndlook – View From A Square Prism) August 26, 2011 HinduIDF Leave a comment Go to comments Evolutionary vs. Revolutionary Belief systems in the world can clearly be classified into 3 kinds. First , are the pagan practices like Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Babylonian et al. These were eclectic and evolutionary religions with many layers and differences. Of all these evolutionary religions, none exist today. Then came the second layer of religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These religions had an individual agent of change – and these … Read More […]

  17. admin said, on September 9, 2011 at 12:08 pm

  18. senthil said, on September 9, 2011 at 5:28 pm


    If budhism and jainism were reform movements to fight against slave-society, do you mean, that india at that time had slave society?

    If there is no slavery in india during the time of budha, why does budhism emerge at all?

    I agree with you on the fact that when budhism started spreading, they were against acceptance of slave system.. but to say that budhism itself is started to counter slavery, IMHO may be incorrect.

  19. p p (@pinkyp18) said, on February 23, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Where would Shintoism and Native American religions fit in?

    • Anuraag Sanghi said, on February 23, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      Less than 1% of world population. Marginal, at best.

      • p p (@pinkyp18) said, on February 24, 2012 at 12:19 am

        1) Those 2 are very important in understanding Indian dharmic system. Some of their and our practices are very similar. For example, inca worship of sun, Natives also have mythological stories behind their mountains and rivers, similar to our (ex.nakki lake in mount abu).

        2) I had similar question as Senthil :

        “If budhism and jainism were reform movements to fight against slave-society, do you mean, that india at that time had slave society?

        If there is no slavery in india during the time of budha, why does budhism emerge at all?”

  20. Devendra said, on March 21, 2012 at 2:51 am

    I dont know if this is relevant or not, the ancient Druid community of england and ireland had practices very similar to hinduism – they believed in reincarnation, worshipped sun, had huge amounts of literature transmitted orally, they were very respected, held high social status and some people compare them to Indian brahmins. They performed ‘magic’ and could heal through spells

  21. Satya said, on August 27, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Anuraag Ji, Superbly explained!!

    Isn’t our current Political System & Economic System based on ‘Desert Bloc Slave Culture’ ?
    Doesn’t Slavery (capture, kidnap, sequestration, transport, trade and transfer, re-capture of human beings) exist even today in a new & improved version ‘Slavery2.0’?

    Then, it was done by Force; Today, its done by Incentive(Salary);
    How employees(Govt. & Big Corporates) are made to do what their bosses want. Control them through Promotion-Demotion-Transfer. Make then work till retirement and after that let then free with some incentives.

    What solution does BharatTantra talk about this?
    Is ‘Doing Business at Individual level’ the solution to the Economic Slave Culture ?
    Is ‘Political & Administrative Power at Village Level’ the solution to the Political Slave Culture?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: