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What It Is To Be An Indian ?


A country needs a people who are proud of their own culture and civilisation to move forward. That is what true nationalism – not jingoism – is about. It also requires an intelligentsia which reflects this pride in its newspapers, books, paintings, sculpture, sports even. But for this purpose, both intellectuals and grass root people have to be groomed in the intricacy, the subtlety and genius of their own culture, while not being blind to its faults. We have thus to educate the children of India and this is why this book is addressed to all Indian youth, wherever they are from, from whichever strata of Indian society they originate, whatever is their first language. It will endeavour to teach them why it is a great privilege to be born an Indian today and what travails, pitfalls and genocides, their culture had to endure throughout the centuries. Then only will each Indian ask himself this question: ”what can I do for my country” ? “In what way can I contribute to this great nation which is India”?

The core of the book

What is it to be an Indian today? What is meant by Indian-ness, this natural inner space, which automatically confers certain qualities ?

Firstly and foremost: “I accept you; I accept that you may be White or Black, Red or Yellow, Christian, Buddhist, or Muslim”. Not only that, “but I am even ready to go and worship in a church or a mosque, besides my temple.” “I accept that my Gods are avatars, incarnations of the Divine, but so are Jesus Christ, and also Buddha and even Mohamed”. This is why India has always been a country of freedom, where all persecuted religious minorities in the world have found refuge over the centuries, whether the Jews, the Parsis, the Syrian Christians, or today the Tibetans.

This accepting of the other is an extraordinary statement and a marvellous instrument towards world peace, at a time when the two great monotheist religions of the world, Islam and Christianity, still say: “there is only one true God in the world – mine- and if you worship any other god, you are an Infidel and a Pagan and it is my right to convert you by any means, or even to kill you”. The 11th September 2001 attacks are nothing but a consequence of that dangerous theorem.

What else ? “I have inherited from my ancestors the tools to become a better man, whatever my religion, ethnicity and profession: a better Christian, a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better carpenter, or CEO, IT engineer, or sailor”. What are these tools ? Hata-yoga, India’s gift to the world, which has been copied and imitated everywhere (although Time magazine did a story on yoga without mentioning the name “India” once). What else ? Meditation, this extraordinary technique of coming back to one’s Self, of settling the mind and the body, which is today practiced by millions around the world – another bequest of India to humanity. Pranayama, the science of respiration, perfected by Indians for three millenniums. “Does the breath have any religion”, asks Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living movement, which has spread today in 140 countries ?

The book will be divided in four parts:

Part I : The Greatness that was India. The Vedic period – spiritual, scientific, social and cultural genius of ancient India.

Part II : The assaults on India’s body. Islam, Christianity, the British. Today’s onslaught: Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Islamic problems, globalization.

Part III. The greatness that has survived. How Vedic India has survived as a civilization, in spite of the different Holocausts. What is to be an Indian today, the innate qualities which Indian children should imbibe (see above).

Part IV. India, the spiritual leader of the world. Highlight the present Renaissance taking place here – including the industrial and Internet revolution. Project India as the next superpower and the spiritual leader of the world, as envisioned by Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

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