Posts Tagged ‘The Idea of India’
The Thangals And Way Of The Other Muslims
The Thangals And Way Of The Other Muslims

There seems to be little written about the Thangals of Kerala. Professor Hussain Randathani tells me that there is some original research that has been done on this line of Muslims in Kerala, but that most of it is in Malayalam and hence inaccessible to me. 

The Goddess Of The Sea
The Goddess Of The Sea

Some days later, there was a wild dance of the elements in Ponnani sea. The heavy clouds burst and brought the heavens down to meet the sea, which reached up and met it halfway, rising in mountainous waves…A fishing boat overturned. The sons of Ponnani were thrown into the water looked around in terror. All […]

The Kerala Phase Begins Or The Power Of The Feminine Divine
The Kerala Phase Begins Or The Power Of The Feminine Divine

I am finally in Kerala and beginning my work here with an exploration of the power of the female deity in Hindu, Muslim, and Christian spirituality. Each of the three religions venerate powerful goddesses (for the Hindus), saints and martyrs (for the Christians) and revered holy women (for the Muslims).

The Eunuch Goddess
The Eunuch Goddess

Note: This essay was originally published on March 21st. This is an update based on a recent meeting with historian Samira Sheikh who has generously provided me with her research into the legend and contested history of Bahuchara Mata. All updates reflect insights gained from her work. Ω A continuity of history has been erased […]

The Idea Of India Project Update: The Eunuch Goddess

Note: This essay was originally published on March 21st. This is an update based on a recent meeting with historian Samira Sheikh who has generously provided me with her research into the legend and contested history of Bahuchara Mata. All updates reflect insights gained from her work. Ω A continuity of history has been erased […]

The Idea Of India Project Update: Project Readings: Kabir: An Irrelevant Voice?
The Idea Of India Project Update: Project Readings: Kabir: An Irrelevant Voice?

A new set of translations of the works of the Indian poet Kabir are about to be published by The New York Review Of Books.  

Project Reading List: J.J. Roy Burman Gujarat Unknown
Project Reading List: J.J. Roy Burman Gujarat Unknown

Professor J.J. Roy Burman, who currently teaches at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai/Bombay, India has been a crucial guide and advisor on the current phase of The Idea Of India project.  

All Faiths Bring You To The Feet Of Haji Pir
All Faiths Bring You To The Feet Of Haji Pir

You can already see them on the roads leading up to this small town in remote Western Kutch. Pilgrims from as far away as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are slowly, determinedly making their way to the town of Naragram in the Banni region of Kutch, Gujarat. Many are on foot and carrying the green […]

Achyut Yagnik The Shaping Of Modern Gujarat & Ahmedbabad: Royal City To MegaCity

Towards the end of this work, Yagnik’s words seem to be weighed down by a terrible despair. Though the work is a broad social science study of Gujarat’s political, economic and cultural history, one can’t help but feel that it is more an attempt to understand and explain the state’s descent into cultural xenophobia and […]

Gilmartin & Lawrence Beyond Turk & Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities In Islamicate South Asia
Gilmartin & Lawrence Beyond Turk & Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities In Islamicate South Asia

It was a William Dalrymple review, ‘India, The War Over History’, in The New York Review Of Books that first bought my attention to this work. It remains on my reading list and has already been referenced in my India project writings a few times. Gilmartin & Lawrence’s Beyond Turk And Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities […]

The Shrine Of Hazrat Syed Ali Mira Datar And The Trace Of The Devil
The Shrine Of Hazrat Syed Ali Mira Datar And The Trace Of The Devil

Her face is a mask – without expression and stone hard. Her eyes stare into the distance, oblivious to the hundreds of men and women milling about the courtyard of the shrine. In the dying dusk light, under the glare of incandescent lights from the flower sellers inside the shrine complex, she lets out a […]

The Idea Of India Project Update: 2 March 2011: The Fulbright Phase Begins
The Idea Of India Project Update: 2 March 2011: The Fulbright Phase Begins

After a near nine month break I am once again turning my attention to the The Idea Of India project. This phase of the project is expected to last about nine months and will concentrate on the regions of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala and, time permitting, West Bengal. I arrived in India on February 5th, but […]

Staring At The Many Faces Of Doubt – Some That Cripple And Others That Inspire
Staring At The Many Faces Of Doubt - Some That Cripple And Others That Inspire

Doubt. If there is one word that can capture how I feel as I return to India to continue work on the The Idea Of India project, then it is the word ‘doubt’. I mean it in both the definitions of the word – as a noun that suggests a lack of conviction, and as […]

Idea Of India Project Update: May 24th 2010 Gujarat’s Faded Testaments – The Parables Of Bet Dwarka

On any given day hundreds of Hindu pilgrims can be seen standing in the courtyard of Bet Dwarka’s famous Krishna temple. On the day of the annual festival, tens of thousands will congregate here. And on that special day, as on any ordinary day, the pilgrims would have been helped to cross the three kilometer […]

Idea Of India Project Update: May 14th 2010 Gujarat’s Faded Testaments – The Sant Devidas Temple, Parab, Gujarat

We hacked, we burnt, did a lot of that. We believe in setting them [Muslims] on fire because these bastards say they don’t want to be cremated, they’re afraid of it, they say this and that will happen to them. Babu Bajrangi, VHP and Bajrang Dal leader, speaks about events in Naroda, Gujarat in 2002, […]

The Idea Of India Project Update: May 9th 2010: The Ideological Shadows On Somnath

Mahmud of Ghazni, a legendary looter, descended on Somnath from his Afghan kingdom and, after a two-day battle, took the town and the temple. Having stripped its fabulous wealth, he destroyed it. So began a pattern of Muslim desecration and Hindu rebuilding that continued for centuries. The temple was again razed in 1297, 1394, and […]

Gujarat’s Faded Testaments, April 28th 2010
Gujarat’s Faded Testaments, April 28th 2010

They were the seven minutes that changed India's future. At 7:43AM on February 27th, 2002, the Sabaramati Express, on its way from the city of Ayodhya, arrived at Godhra railway station. The train was packed with Hindu pilgrims on their way back from Ayodhya. During its standard four-minute stop a series of confrontations broke out […]

The Idea Of India Project Update: Gujarat’s Faded Testaments, 28th April 2009e

They were the seven minutes that changed India’s future. At 7:43AM on February 27th, 2002, the Sabaramati Express, on its way from the city of Ayodhya, arrived at Godhra railway station. The train was packed with Hindu pilgrims on their way back from Ayodhya. During its standard four-minute stop a series of confrontations broke out […]

Beyond Boundaries by Pankaj Mishra
Beyond Boundaries by Pankaj Mishra

This essay is reprinted here by kind permission of Pankaj Mishra. The original piece appeared in The National newspaper and can be seen here. Pankaj Mishra is the author of four books, most recently The Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond. But it was perhaps his writings […]

The Persistence of Ayodhya: Wounds & Resistance
The Persistence of Ayodhya: Wounds & Resistance

I was asked to remain confined to my room.  The men from Indian intelligence were polite but firm, and as they questioned me in a small tea shop in a neighborhood adjacent to where the Babri mosque once stood, I could see that they were unsure about what precisely it was that I represented. I […]

Distorted Histories And Holy Warriors
Distorted Histories And Holy Warriors

In the last few decades we have become accustomed to news of sectarian violence on the Indian sub-continent. In particular, there is a widening and violent rift between India’s Hindu and Muslim communities. But religious and cultural pluralism is a prominent feature of Indian life and has been her heritage for centuries. I am documenting […]