As the much-awaited Bhoomi Puja takes place tomorrow at Ayodhya, an essay commemorating the outstanding contribution made by the fine scholar and historian Sita Ram Goel to Hindu civilisational resurgence
One of the greatest rewards in life is to undergo humbling experiences. They teach the invaluable lesson of modesty, patience, and patient modesty lest our half-grown Inner Flower bloom a crooked smile prematurely without acquiring the tempered confidence that culminates by itself into a full blossomed beam of serenity.
It is said that a hallmark of second-rate and mediocre writing is to imbue it with anecdotes from one’s own life, but in this specific case, I don’t mind being guilty of the crime. Quite some time ago, I met a nondescript elderly gentleman at a public gathering. When I was introduced to him later, it resulted in the aforementioned humbling experience. He was a man of sparse words. But what I later heard about him is something I will treasure forever. He was an unassuming farmer and one of the things that he did almost like a sacred duty was to buy the books of the late Sita Ram Goel, Ram Swarup and in general, Voice of India publications, and gift them to random people. He also bought and gifted books written by people who trod in the path Sita Ram Goel had pioneered, and actively made an effort to meet such people.
Apart from the substantial, trailblazing body of Sanatana civilisational work, this endures as one of the greatest legacies of Sita Ram Goel: that there are still scores of folks like this sublime farmer working quietly in their unique ways, caring not for fame or fortune or even an acknowledgement from the world that they exist. To borrow the words of Sri Sureshvaracharya, such souls embody the noble sentiment of na khyati laabha pujartham—no desire for renown, profit or adulation.
Sita Ram Goel was the real deal.
His writing, uniformly, consistently, still remains the primordial Farmer’s Call that the Sanatana culture has perhaps irreversibly lost:
Rise, rise early to the rhythm of the Sun
Your plough is your food and your weapon,
Water the brown earth, cultivate consciously
For nothing grows on untilled land but weeds,
Furrow out the weeds and crush the pests and
Guard your soil with ruthless vigil—
You’ll build a whole civilisation on your land and
The culture that unfolds therefrom will
Nurture your civilisation.
If that sounds like an exaggeration it’s because it’s true, a truth in an era drugged by technology where even the notion of true grandeur, sublimity and heroism sounds like fiction and where even lived reality is simply a theoretical interpretation. However, truth obeys no masters and in this case, the truth of Sita Ram Goel’s legacy can best be described in Thoreau’s memorable phrase: Sita Ram Goel held a “plough instead of a pen,” and when the occasion demanded it, he could and did transform the plough into a sabre.
Together with his mentor and Guru Ram Swarup, Sita Ram Goel, was arguably the pioneering if not the original narrative-setter of the Sanatana civilisational discourse at a time when it was sorely, urgently needed. Their work gave the Santana society not only the requisite scholarly and intellectual arsenal but supplied the vocabulary as well. Both undoubtedly had illustrious predecessors in this space beginning roughly with Swami Dayananda Saraswati who for the first time made a thorough study of the core doctrines of Islam and Christianity, a work continued by successive giants like Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, and Veer Savarkar. However, Sita Ram Goel’s distinction lies in the fact that none of these colossuses had to contend with that ultimate nightmare unleashed on the Sanatana society after India attained “independence.” Indeed, Sita Ram Goel, Ram Swarup and other likeminded luminaries fought the real freedom struggle after India became nominally free.
The second dimension of this distinction is the fact that Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel were the pioneers in an entire century who critically scrutinised and exposed the severe reality of the core doctrines of Islam, Christianity and Communism in a no-holds-barred fashion. This included a rigorous study hallmarked by first-rate scholarship and rooted in the Hindu philosophical standpoint. In spite of their other merits, the studies of Swami Dayananda Saraswati et al did not contain this dimension and had emerged largely as reactions rather than the stone-cold logical precision demanded by such a work.
Although Sita Ram Goel’s critiques of monotheisms—especially Islam—build upon the copious scholarship on Islam from the West, his final analysis is quite original because it emanates from the Sanatana philosophical perspective, something totally absent in the Western scholarship of Islam.
The fact that his serious, scholarly studies and prolific writing on these subjects began after he retired from his business when he was aged 61, is stunning.
However, for much of his life, Sita Ram Goel, the fine scholar and an insightful historian, was scorned, sidelined, shunned, and shunted out of public discourse for the crime of telling the truth about the selfsame public discourse, which in his time was an ongoing apologetics for the excesses of Nawab Nehru’s illicit ideological exercises in softcore Communism disguised as secularism.
Unable to bear the scorching intensity of his relentless, brutal truth-telling, the small but influential cabal of Nehru’s official courtiers and his bejewelled concubines in the Communist parties resorted to what Koenraad Elst calls “strangling through silence” – that is, they pretended that Sita Ram Goel never existed. For the longest time, no media house or publication or platform as much as exhaled his name. Indeed, his essay entitled Nightmare of Nehruism must be made mandatory reading for anybody who truly cares about the unbroken Sanatana civilisational heritage, and how just one deracinated Prime Minister can inflict such all-encompassing ruin on his own culture. In Goel’s own words,
There were deadlier, real-life costs to pay for this abrasive truth-telling. Sita Ram Goel was arrested for the same reason: writing the naked truth about the Islamic creed.
His publishing house, Voice of India had printed an innocuously titled work, Understanding Islam through Hadis, a brilliant work of insightful scholarship authored by Ram Swarup. Quite obviously, the brazen arrest was targeted political harassment by a seemingly invincible Congress Party at the zenith of its despotism. So invincible that it was permanently held hostage in the rabid fist of the worst of the bigoted Muslim clergy. Today it might sound unbelievable to learn that this was a time when toxic Islamic weeklies like Radiance, the mouthpiece of the fanatical Jamat-e-Islami could and did hold the entire Delhi Administration hostage, and brought it down to its knees through unabashed bullying to the extent that the Delhi Government transgressed even Court orders which had acquitted Sita Ram Goel. Guess who had graced the editorial board of Radiance? Former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, the arch pervert, Khushwant Singh and Indira Gandhi’s stooge, P.N. Haksar.
Undaunted, Sita Ram Goel went ahead and published an even more audacious work, the classic Calcutta Quran Petition. It was a direct challenge to what Goel diagnosed as a grave threat to freedom in India and especially to the safety and survival of the Hindu society: in his own words, "Islam imposes an Emergency on India." Along with a friend Chandmal Chopra and a few others, he decided to pay back in the same coin: using the same provisions of the Indian Penal Code, which the Islamists and their secular appeasers routinely used to get inconvenient books, films, and other material banned.
Accordingly, Chandmal Chopra and his associates filed a petition to ban the Quran under the provisions of Sections 153A and 295A of the IPC and Section 95 of the CrPC. Although the origins of the petition were in Calcutta, the spooked Congress Government at the Centre made itself a party to the case and unleashed a fresh round of hounding Goel who was forced to abscond to avoid arrest.
A more lionhearted, real-life example of Kshatra is hard to find in an "independent" India that was still reeling under the twin-emasculations of Gandhian stupor and Nehruvian tyranny.
Sita Ram Goel also hails from that largely extinct breed of scholars who were brutally, publicly honest about their own lives, work, convictions, and failings. His intellectual and spiritual autobiography, How I Became a Hindu belongs to that category. In an era of supercharged political correctness and a sickening tenor of conformity, it is almost impossible to find people like Sita Ram Goel who had the guts to openly admit that he wanted to join the Communist Party of India because his “ego got inflated to a point where I could see nothing beyond my own morbid mental constructions.” And from there, he traces his journey back to the mothership of Sanatana Dharma in painstaking detail giving us rich details about the climate of that period interspersed with great anecdotes.
Sita Ram Goel’s family’s mooring in the Vaishnava tradition, the company of saints, and sadhus in his childhood, his devotion to the Mahabharata and other sacred Sanatana literature helped in this journey of homecoming later in life. It also made him realise the feminine, nourishing aspect at the heart of Sanatana Dharma. That realisation was accompanied by the observable reality that his scholarly study of Indian history revealed to him: that Kshatra, (the warrior-spirit) was integral to Sanatana Dharma, and Kshatra was what had provided the motivation for resisting the centuries’-long barbaric assaults by Islam, and Kshatra was how Sanatana Dharma had eventually triumphed over the alien conquerors, and had acted as a rugged shock-absorber throughout.
The other well-known luminary who had been shaped by a strain of the same Vaishnava tradition was Mohandas Gandhi, and Sita Ram Goel was among his staunchest admirers and followers. He outgrew his admiration for Gandhi—a fact he admits with the same blunt candour—in direct proportion to his razor-sharp understanding of the Islamic creed and the blood-soaked Muslim history of India leading up to the imposition of the Nehruvian Ummah in his own time.
It is my conviction that a Hindu must never discover Gandhi and that Gandhi-deaddiction is the first step in Sanatana civilisational rediscovery.
Sita Ram Goel’s personal civilisational rediscovery logically culminated in a solid body of work that falls in two broad categories: the first was his tireless labours at reawakening, defending, and warning the Sanatana society against the manner in which it had been thoroughly encircled both by foreign forces and by Hindus themselves, in its own homeland, its timeless, sanctified Punyabhoomi.
The second was his assiduous work at informing and inspiring Hindus about their unmatched greatness of spirit and their civilisational magnanimity and resilience. The following passage is worth its weight in gold.
Most other societies known to human history-East and West, North and South-have suffered a sudden interruption and undergone a traumatic transformation due to the invasion and victory of latter-day ideologies-Christianity, Islam, Communism. The pre-Christian, pre-Islamic and pre-Communist cultural creations of these societies are now to be met only in libraries and museums, thanks to the labours of antiquarian scholars.
Hindu culture can meet the same frightful fate if there were no Hindu society to sustain it. This is the point which is not always remembered even by those who take pride in Hindu culture.
There are Hindus who start the other way round, that is, with Bharatavarsha being a holy land (punyabhumi) simply because it happens to be their fatherland (pitribhumi) as well as the field of their activity (karmabhumi). They honour Hindu society because their forefathers belonged to it, and fought the foreign invaders as Hindus. Small wonder that their notion of nationalism is purely territorial, and their notion of Hindu society no more than tribal. For me, however, the starting point is Sanatana Dharma. Without Sanatana Dharma, Bharatavarsa for me is just another piece of land, and Hindu society just another assembly of human beings. So my commitment is to Sanatana Dharma, Hindu society, and Bharatavarsa in that order. [Emphasis added]
Indeed, Sita Ram Goel was a truly apolitical scholar whose abiding concern was Sanatana Dharma, its civilisational integrity which is inextricable from its continuity, and its intricately sublime culture, which gave the world unmatched gifts of all-round genius in every conceivable sphere of human activity.
Given the era and the oppressive climate he worked in, Sita Ram Goel justly deserves the title of being an eye-opener, almost literally, for legions of Hindus and put at least two generations on a quest of civilisational rediscovery. Over time, and especially during the mid-to-late 1980s, his work began gaining prominence despite the tight control exerted by the Nehruvian gatekeepers of public discourse. His Voice of India literally gave voice to first-rate scholars such as K.S. Lal, N.S. Rajaram, K.M. Talreja, Suhas Majumdar, Koenraad Elst, David Frawley, and Shrikant Talageri whose works no “mainstream” publisher would dare touch.
The latter part of the 1980s proved an inflexion point in the civilisational history of Bharatavarsha, especially the fateful Muhurtam when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi opened the lock at Ayodhya and simultaneously, inadvertently inaugurated a much-needed door-closing: on the opulent slavish Durbar of Nehruvian secularism.
Instantly, history became both the hero and the villain depending on whether you were an honest person or an eminent historian.
Sita Ram Goel occupies a central role in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement because he along with a handful of likeminded folks stood on the frontline in a prolonged battle that was fought on two major fronts.
The first was standing up to the unscrupulous Leftist bullies in the media, perverse intellectual pamphleteering, and academic rowdyism. Remember that it was the Leftists who transformed Ayodhya into an international crime scene through their stranglehold over all avenues of information.
One and half generations have passed which have no idea of the public discourse of that period. It was routine to read, especially in the English newspapers and magazines, all sorts of pompous "open letters," poisonous signature campaigns, and self-righteous "statements" by "eminent historians," "scholars of consequence," and "journalists of standing." They were ostensibly aimed at influencing public opinion but in reality, they were missiles aimed at the "secular" Government ruling at the Centre.
But Sita Ram Goel was a seasoned warhorse who had not only seen through all such alleged scholarship as early as the 1950s but had been their most trenchant nightmare for over two decades. Back then, his fight was against their genocidal ideology of communism. Now, it was time to wield the pickaxe to hack at the roots of this propagandesque scholarship for a government-mandated reason: the Chandrashekhar government had directed a team of scholars and experts on both the pro and anti-temple sides precisely because of the brazen Leftist denial that a Ram Mandir had existed on the site of the Babri Masjid. Indeed, till 1989, international historical consensus held that the mosque at Ayodhya had been built after demolishing a Hindu temple. The Leftists had tried to break that consensus overnight and Sita Ram Goel and other scholars decisively broke the Leftists.
There is a more truthful side to the continuing Leftist lament that the “fall of the Babri Masjid was the death of secularism” in India: the fall of the Babri Masjid was the beginning of the end of the Leftist hegemony in India.
The second is related to the first. The epochal 1980s up to the fall of the Babri Masjid and later, is also notable for a resurgence that’s truly breathtaking: there was a sudden public interest in such obscure and “boring” disciplines as archeology and linguistics. For the first time since independence, the Leftists were being mortally challenged on their own turf, especially in history. It was a battle that they were destined to lose, and Sita Ram Goel’s Voice of India did most of the demolition.
Voice of India alone published the following groundbreaking works, still definitive classics in their own right.
Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them (in two volumes)
Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud
Islam vis-à-vis Hindu Temples
Ayodhya: The Case Against the Temple
Negationism in India: Concealing the Record of Islam
The Saffron Swastika (in two volumes)
Psychology of Prophetism
Indian Muslims: Who are they
Nationalism and Distortions in Indian History
The World of Fatwas
This is of course a partial but highly representative list, but the quality and volume of work produced by Voice of India during this period in this genre remains comparably unsurpassed. These works provided the solid and indisputable raw material for Hindu activist and other organisations working on the ground and in other realms. As Koenraad Elst notes:
But to speak the blunt truth bluntly, had Sita Ram Goel’s—and in general, the Voice of India—literature been studied with the depth and seriousness it deserves, the organised Hindu movement in those days wouldn’t have remained relegated to demanding just three, and then only the Sri Rama Temple. Instead, it would’ve ideally led to a thorough civilisational resurgence to liberate all ancient, early medieval and medieval Hindu temples destroyed by Islamic invaders.
Even if this endeavour took into account just Sita Ram Goel’s list, that number would stand at a whopping two thousand Hindu temples across all corners of Bharatavarsha. One can only imagine the resurgent civilisational energy that would accompany the rebuilding of all these temples. It is an observable fact of history that nothing unites Hindus as a community and society as activity around temples. Indeed, the Leftists perhaps understand this better than Hindus: this is the reason they floated that other hot air balloon much later—instead of rebuilding the Sri Rama Temple, let’s build a hospital or school or library at Ayodhya.
Let's listen to Sita Ram Goel himself:
Indeed, it is a tragic but highly accurate commentary on an ancient Dharma whose foundations rest upon such Upanishadic exhortations to integrity as
Satyam vada dharmam chara
svãdhyãyãn mã pramadaha ||
It appears that the last line, svãdhyãyã seems to be an urgent generational need for the Sanatana society today than ever before: a civilisational svãdhyãyã, if one can frame it that way.
It is only fitting to close this essay by quoting Sita Ram Goel again. When he wrote these words, the Sri Rama Temple was nowhere on the horizon of being a reality.
And when we recall these words on the anvil of the Bhumi Puja of the Sri Rama Temple at Ayodhya, we are stunned and humbled by the realisation of Sita Ram Goel’s vision. Both have happened. No Hindu has any illusions anymore about the theological reality of Islam and what it precisely translates to on the ground. And it is only a matter of time before the Sri Rama Mandir at Ayodhya becomes an architectural truth of the realised civilisational and spiritual yearning of more than a billion Hindus spanning the globe.
|| Sri Rama Jayam ||