Sunday, March 18, 2012

Banned Books of India Archive

Last week I read through an article in the Hindu titled, You can't read this Book by Hasan Suroor. It had a list of books that had been banned in India, first by the British and then by their Indian successors. In most cases the ban is on the import of the book, and as Salman Rushdie said in this hard hitting speech yesterday at the India Today Conclave, 2012, the Indian Customs department by a "sleight of hand" ban the import of the book without proscribing reading it. You can find the notifications of the Indian Custom department here, here,  here and here inter alia. I thought it might be a good idea find electronic copies of these banned books, already freely available on the internet, because the juvenile import bans by the Indian government trample on our right to freedom of expression and the moment we stop fighting for our rights, we lose them.

We are free to disagree to a small or large degree with any of the following books and are completely entitled to hold such opinions and take up the matter with the publisher/author. I personally am not in agreement with many of the views mentioned in the books below and do not endorse any opinion by the belowmentioned authors, however, throttling of the right to freedom of expression should not be tolerated. If have full right to be offended by any of these books, but violently acting on such feeling is not permitted. 

Do remember Voltaire famous statement: "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

Here's a list of the books famously banned in India and links to their electronic copies for reading and download (if available). Please feel free to email me the links/copies of other banned books on mail [at] arjunsheoran [dot] com, that you know of or find, so that they can be included on this archive - this is a work in progress.

  1. An Area of Darkness by V.S. Naipaul (epub format)
  2. Rangeela Rasool by Pt Chamupati (1924) 
  3. Hindu Heaven, Max Wylie (1934)
  4. The Face of Mother India, Katherine Mayo (1936) (Available Online here as well with complete photographs)
  5. Old Soldier Sahib, Frank Richards (1936) (Order Hard copy Online here)
  6. The Land of the Lingam, Arthur Miles, (1937)
  7. Mysterious India, Moki Singh (1940)
  8. The Scented Garden (Anthropology of the Sex Life in the Levant), Bernhard Stern, translated by David Berger (1945) (order hard copy here)
  9. What has Religion done for Mankind, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (1955)
  10. Rama Retold, Aubrey Menen (1955)
  11. Dark Urge, Robert W. Taylor (1955)
  12. The Ramayana, Aubrey Menen (1956)
  13. Captive Kashmir, Aziz Beg (1958)
  14. The Heart of India, Alexander Campbell (1959)
  15. The Lotus and the Robot, Arthur Koestler (1960)
  16. Nine Hours to Rama, Stanley Wolpert (1962)
  17. Unarmed Victory, Bertrand Russell (1963)
  18. Nepal, Toni Hagen (1963) (watch a Documentary on Nepal by Toni Hagen)
  19. Ayesha, Kurt Frishchler, translated by Norman Denny (1963)
  20. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D.H. Lawrence (1964)
  21. The Jewel in the Lotus (A Historical Survey of the Sexual Culture of the East), Allen Edwards (1968)
  22. The Evolution of the British Empire and Commonwealth from the American Revolution, Alfred Le Ray Burt (1969)
  23. A Struggle between Two Lines over the Question of How to Deal with U.S. Imperialism, Fan Asid-Chu (1969)
  24. Man from Moscow, Greville Wynne (1970)
  25. Early Islam, Desmond Steward (1975)
  26. Nehru: A Political Biography, Michael Edwards (1975)
  27. India Independent, Charles Bettelheim (1976)
  28. China’s Foreign Relations Since 1949, Alan Lawrence (1978)
  29. Who killed Gandhi, Lourenco De Sadvandor (1979)
  30. Understanding Islam through Hadis, Ram Swarup (1982)
  31. Smash and Grab: Annexation of Sikkim, Sunanda Datta-Ray (1984)
  32. The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie (1988)
  33. Soft Target: How the Indian Intelligence Service Penetrated Canada, Zuhair Kashmeri and Brian McAndrew (1989)
  34. The Polyester Prince, Hamish McDonald (1998)
  35. The True Furqan, “Al Saffee” and “Al Mahdee” (1999)
  36. Islam: A Concept of Political World Invasion, R.V. Bhasin (2007 – Maharashtra)
  37. The Price of Power: Kissinger and Nixon in the White House by American journalist Seymour Hersh excerpts 
  38. Lajja, by Taslima Nasrin (Download the Hindi Translation

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Yes, India is a Hindu Rashtra (Haan, Bharat Ek Hindu Rashtra Hai)

This an unauthorised rough translation of a very powerful piece written in Hindi by activist and journalist Bhanwar Meghavanshi from Rajasthan. His post is available is available on his blog.

I can claim for sure that India is a Hindu nation. A majority of people will not agree with me and they are entitled to their opinion, but my experience tells me that even though the Preamble to India's Constitution states that we are a "secular" nation and government books state that we are a secular state, in reality we are a Hindu nation.

You go to the various cities, towns and villages of southern Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh and there you'll find that our presumably secular nation is being made a mockery of by these boards where it is written -'' Welcome to this ____ Village of a Hindu nation.'' Everyone sees such boards, but doesn't it hurt anyone's eyes to look at such boards and doesn't make anyone think that this is an open mutiny against our constitutional commitment to secularism, which can be placed in the category of treason. Say, in a village you find that it is written -"Muslim nation. . . Or Christian nation. . . Or Sikh nation. . . Welcome to such and such a village.'' How would you feel? Won't your mouth have an astringent taste seeing this? The above words do may not sound good to you, but when similar words greet you to a Hindu nation then you find them quite pleasant.

Come on, lets leave these things. A few mad religious fanatics from some army or members of a Commando force must have put these the boards. Nothing will happen because of this! We are a great secular democracy and will continue being so. Of course, we'll remain so! I am in hundred per cent agreement with your views and desires. But everywhere I see I find the features of a Hindu religious nation. Is it that my secular eyes have been afflicted by cataract of the theocratic state and the swinging of the lathi (staff) at the RSS Shakha in my youth is having an effect on my thoughts once again? I do not know, but something is happening, and it is a little difficult to tell what's going on.See my simple definition of the secular nation state is a nation that will not favor any religion, will not promote her or will not run the country on the basis of the ways and traditions and customs and beliefs of a particular religion. This is my understanding of secularism. But this is a secularism of thought. Secularism of principles and of behaviour is some other kind of secularism. Come, lets have a look at this pseudo-secularism and if you feel like it, to be the sacrificial offering to such a secularism.

Lets start with the schools where there is solid knowledge to create the citizens of tomorrow. In these schools you'll not just find pictures and statues of Goddess Saraswati, which in any case are there, but also, Sarawati Temples have been built in uncountable number of schools! And these are government schools (Not RSS's Shishu Mandir schools). Here the morning begins with prayers to Goddess Sarawati like "veena vadini var de" thus the Mother Sharde i.e., the Goddess Saraswati, is prayed for the wisdom and knowledge. Can a devout person tell me how educated this Goddess of Learning Sarawati herself was? Have there ever been found any written poetry, chants, hymn etc. written in any book or text, ever. Is there any book written by Ma Sharde anywhere? Probably not. I feel like asking that in a country where the Goddess of wisdom and knowledge is present, who is worshipped and prayed to every single day, why does that nation have the most ignorant, illiterate and uneducated people? That's what I am baffled, shocked, and upset that why is there so much illiteracy in the in the country of Goddess Saraswati and poverty in the country of Goddess Lakshmi? Why does the nation in which the Goddess of wealth stays is also a country where there are long queues to become become eligible for  schemes for the BPL? Why weren't the Yavanas, Mughals or the Turks afraid of the raudraroop of the Goddess who killed the demon Mahishasur. Why are hundreds of thousands of years of slavery and thousands of defeats etched and recorded on the shield of our "advanced" Hindu nation?
Actually lets chuck it. Lets come back to the moot point. So the moment you step out of your house, and take a few steps, in fact, even without getting out of one's house and taking those few steps one feels that India is a Hindu nation. I want to say to my communal friends, why waste time every morning and evening spinning wheels? Go work on some other good cause. This country is already a Hindu nation; how much more Hindu will you make it?Here, every government department's building is inaugrated with a bhoomi poojan and government programmes are started by the lighting of a lamp. Coconuts, incense sticks, putting of tilak, etc everything is done and often operated by the Pandits who direct the entire proceedings. Its also common that dignitaries are welcomed and honoured with turbans and saffron coloured clothes from religious institutions with religious chants.

From school assemblies to Legislative Assemblies, surya namaskars are done and mantras of Om Namah Svitri Suryanarayanay, Rviee Namah, Namah Suryay are being chanted. All kinds of babas are holding katha (story) sessions or or teaching yoga, and from our Union Ministers are standing on their heads doing shirsaasan on the tunes of these religious babas.

In order to manage, administer and take care of temples government run Devasthanam Boards are working. One can build a temple or a shrine at any public place, without taking anyone's permission. Where ever and when ever one wants, thousands of tonnes of ghee is poured into yagnas to create smoke and it is considered a pious thing! If you have a joint Hindu family you shall be exempted from tax. There is an subsidy to visit Kailash Mansarovar. All religious trusts are tax-free. Your day, the brahm mahurat, can be started at 4 AM, and you can blow trumpets at religious sites, and depending on their ability and devotion can disturb the sleep of irreligious people.

In the name of your feelings you can riot about anything; to save a dead cow you can murder living Dalits; in the name of living cows you can take away the livelihood of nomad communities; the government could take over land in the name of gau shalas (cow sheds). Yes, you're free to do all this. No one will say anything.
If you want you can attack a minority area and burn their shops and then then walk scot free taking the benefit of being from the majority community. In this country, to be a Hindu is beneficial and to be a political Hindu is even more beneficial.
Governmental and private offices have our God-Goddesses established. Our executive, press, judiciary and legislature are increasingly and more intensely becoming Hindu. Our behaviour smacks of the Hindu nation. So I often say and would like to tell you that notwithstanding how many times we write the word ''secular'' in our Constitution, we were and will remain a Hindu nation. Because in our eyes, India is a Hindu nation.

Bhanwar Megvanshi

(The author is the