Ashutosh Vardhana: Features offered for publication
This article is now in preparation. At present, the page contains only some of the questions, in random order, but none of the answers.
If you are aware of any questions often asked by non-Hindus, please send them to me, so that I can take them into consideration while writing this article.
If you would formulate differently the questions already listed on the site, please send me your formulations. Thank you.
A Hindu temple in Leicester or London was asked to receive a group of visitors from other religions (Christians, Muslims, Jews) and give them an insight into Hinduism and the Hindu way of life. The visit turned out to be an embarrassing disaster. The temple leaders spoke only about their finances, the cost of the building and the various social and educational services they provided. The ignorant young man who was supposed to answer questions about Hinduism, was unable to answer even the simplest questions and gave a distorted picture of the Hindu way of life. The temple was dead. It had obviously been deserted by god . The refreshments provided were offered without love. The incident is serious because this temple is regularly visited by non-Hindu school children and they will presumably receive a similar caricature of Hinduism. Other temples and Hindu organisations should also take note, just in case they fail in similar ways.
Length: 2137 words = 12,400 characters
Summary: A reflection for India and Pakistan Independence Day, 14 and 15 August
The greatest evil that has beset India and Pakistan since independence is the animosity between Muslims and Hindus. Three wars between India and Pakistan, the dispute over Kashmir, the Ayodhya dispute and its bloody consequences have brought death and suffering to thousands. Poverty remains. Ashutosh Vardhana, a Hindu writer living in England, refers to the century-old Franco-German animosity which led to many bloody wars, but was brought to an end by the creation of the Common Market and the European Union and created unprecedented prosperity in Europe. He proposes that India and Pakistan should work towards a similar economic union and focus on prosperity rather than religion and patriotism. The Kashmir problem and its terrorism would simply melt away.
Length: 597 words = 3445 characters
Summary: A reflection for India and Pakistan Independence Day, 14 and 15 August:
On 14 and 15 August 1947 Pakistan and India gained their independence from British colonial rule. Bloody conflicts and continued distrust between Hindu and Muslim communities followed. On the anniversary of this day, Ashutosh Vardhana, a Hindu writer living in England, proposes the creation of a common market for India, Pakistan, Afghanistan (etc) on the model of the European Community, which ended the centuries of war between Germany and France and brought prosperity and peace to Europe.
Length: 965 words = 5300 characters
This article can be divided into two parts:
Summary: A brief account (story, customs, significance) of the Hindu festivals of Diwali and New Year, celebrated in October or November. Diwali: 4 Nov 2002. With illustrations
Length: 453 words = 2500 characters
Summary: The Hindu festivals of Navarátri (Nine-Day Festival, 7 to 15 October 2002) and Durgáshtami (Worship of goddess Dúrga, 14 October 2002) are about to be celebrated. This festival makes us aware of the battle of good against evil and the power and dignity of woman. 7 Oct (beginning of Navarátri) or 14 Oct (Durgáshtami) would be ideal dates for publishing this article. Otherwise any day from 17 to 25 October will be fine.
Two versions of this article are available:
On 31 August this year (2002), Hindus celebrate the festival of Kríshna Janmáshtami, the birth of Lord Kríshna. Ashutosh Vardhana explains the significance of this festival.
Three versions of this feature are available:
Length: 367 words, plus Note of 62 words for non-Hindu readers
Editorial introduction: On a full moon day in July/August Hindus celebrate the festival of Ráksha Bándan which celebrates the love and loyalty which brothers owe to their sisters. Ashutosh Vardhana describes the customs of the festival and the philosophy underlying it.
Length: 2000 words = 9500 characters
In 1992 religious riots in India and Bangladesh were sparked which left several thousand dead, when a group of politically motivated Hindus tried to right a wrong committed by Muslims 500 years earlier
and demolished an ancient but unused mosque that had been erected by Muslim conquerors of the time in place of a temple which marked the birthplace of Lord Ráma. The government imposed a stand-off and put the matter into the hands of a court which in ten years was unable to produce an equitable decision. The Hindu faction then announced that, on 15 March this year, they would go ahead with the building regardless of consequences.
On 28 February a train with Hindu devotees coming from the disputed site was set alight by a gang of Muslim youths. 58 Hindus were burnt alive. This sparked off Hindu reprisals against Muslims in which more than six hundred people died both sides.
In this article, Ashutosh Vardhana, a Hindu writer from England, argues that the temple project offended against the spirit of Hinduism and is in fact blasphemy.
Length: 1294 words = 5991 characters
Summary: Monsoon Wedding: During an upper middle-class wedding of a westernised family in Delhi, the bride's father learns that his rich brother, on whom he depends financially, is a paedophile and the bride wonders whether she should confess to her arranged-marriage Indian fiancee from America, whom she meets for the first time four days before the wedding, that she has only just ended an affair with her boss, a television producer. How should the bride, the groom, the father resolve their dilemmas? What would you do?
Length: 386 words = 2047 characters
Summary: On 14 Feb 2002, a delegation of the British Stop the War Coalition called on the High Commissions of India and of Pakistan to hand in a petition urging the two governments to resolve their problems by means other than war. The delegation contained Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Westerners, and the petition was signed by about 400 members of all communities.
Length: 844 words = 3872 characters
Summary: In this true story, set in the North East of England, three youngsters from the Indian subcontinent work together on a computing project. They are: Uzman (Muslim from Pakistan), Aisha (Muslim girl from India) and Ashok (Hindu from India). How do they respond to the rising hostility between India and Pakistan?
Hindu festival: Why we celebrate Maha-Shivaratri,
There are three versions (Version 1 is my preferred version):
Summary: On 13 March this year (2002) Hindus celebrate the festival of Maha-Shivaratri, the great night of Lord Shiva, his wedding to Goddes Párvati, and how she managed to win him for a husband. Ashutosh Vardhana tells the story behind this great festival.
Hindu festival: Why we celebrate Holi,
Summary: On 28 March this year (2002) Hindus celebrate the festival of Holi. It is a boisterous occasion. Bonfires are lit and on this day the rules of respect are dropped and people are allowed to let rip. Ashutosh Vardhana tells the story that gave rise to the festival.
Length: 1383 words = 6378 characters
Click on images for larger versions
Length: 1471 words = 7143 characters
Summary: Society has to defend itself against terrorists and to punish them. However, by calling them 'evil' we concede that we do not understand them and are not willing to consider the causes of their actions. Calling them cowards is often plain silly. Western belief in the superiority of its civilisation matched with Muslim belief in the superiority of its secular and religious values, must lead to contempt. Contempt breeds hatred, hatred breeds violence, in both directions. We must stop calling our enemies evil and try to understand them if we want to stop the cycle of violence.
Click on image for larger version
Two articles in one file:
Summary: The author, a Hindu, was invited by his close Muslim friends in Yorkshire, England, to share the family meal with which they break their fast during Ramadan (iftar). He describes the occasion in intimate detail, relates the private joys and tribulations of an ordinary Muslim family. An opportunity for non-Muslims to see the obvious, namely that Muslims are generous, human and can suffer - like all of us.
Mission impossible: President Bush hijacks an iftar
Length: 1097 words = 6,194 characters
Editorial introduction: Iftar is the name for the modest meal which Muslim families take when breaking their dawn-to-dusk fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Only a Muslim, who has fasted, can do iftar and invite close friends for the occasion. President Bush, in ignorance of this fact, 'put on' an iftar dinner at the White House and invited 53 Muslim ambassadors (who could not decline and, being guests, had to listen politely). He abused the occasion by bragging about America's generosity to Afghanistan, disregarding not only Muslim custom but also the Biblical injunction that charity and prayer are meritorious only if done in private and not for show.
0004 Mission impossible: President Bush hijacks an iftar (full version)
Length: 2,504 words = 13,866 characters
Summary: This article contrasts the genuine iftar of a Muslim family with the for-show-only iftar laid on by President Bush for 50 Muslim embassadors. Iftar is the name for the modest meal which Muslim families take when breaking their dawn-to-dusk fast during the holy month of Ramadan. It is not a dinner party or an occasion like Christmas dinner. Ashutosh Vardhana, a non-Muslim writer living in Yorkshire, England, who has for many years enjoyed the close friendship of Muslim families, describes his very personal iftar experiences during the first two days of Ramadan. He concludes with a sideways look at the iftar charade put on at the White House for the benefit of the media.
Aufruf zum Zweifel
Taslima Nasrin gewidmet
Länge: 4,314 Wörter = 28,235 Anschläge
Der Gedankengang: Der Verfasser, ein britischer Hindu, diskutiert die aktuelle Kampagne gegen den Terrorismus von einem religiösen Standpunkt aus. Die christliche und islamische Ethik (im Gegensatz zur Hindu-Ethik) stellen die Pflichten des Menschen gegenüber Gott und der Obrigkeit (Gebot 1 bis 5: nur ein Gott, keine Bilder, keine Blasphemie, Sabbath; ehre die Eltern) über seine Pflichten gegenüber den Menschen (Gebot 6: nicht töten). Fanatismus kann untergraben werden, indem man Zweifel in die Unfehlbarkeit von heiligen Schriften und Gurus sät; und es gibt traditionelle Argumente, die diese Wirkung haben. Dieser Ansatz ist weniger gefährlich und auf die Dauer subtiler und wirksamer als Brachialgewalt.
A call to doubt
Dedicated to Taslima Nasrin
Length: 4,163 words = 23,863 characters
Summary: Christian and Muslim (unlike Hindu) ethics put man's duties towards God and authority above his duties towards men. This can be used to legitimise terrorists. Fanaticism can be undermined by sowing doubt in the infallibility of scriptures and gurus, and there are traditional ways for doing so. This approach is more subtle and effective in the long run and less dangerous than brute force.
Length: 1451 words = 8083 characters
Summary: On 15 November 2001, Hindus all over the world will celebrate the festival of Diwali, the festival of lights. It is not only one of the most popular Hindu festivals but also one of the few that non-Hindus are aware of. Ashutosh Vardhana, a Hindu writer living in England, explains the significance of the festival to Hindus and non-Hindus in topical terms. Diwali is the celebration of the victorious god, Lord Rama, returning to his capital after having waged a successful war against Rávana, the monstrous ten-headed kidnapper and terrorist, and after having installed in Rávana's country a 'broad-based democratic government'.
German translation of the above article. Deutsche Übersetzung des vorstehenden Artikels.