DUJSAS - Vol 1, Issue 1

Page 1

North Carolina Consortium of South Asian Studies

Duke Undergraduate Journal

of South Asian Studies

ISSN: 2155-6229



An Assessment of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan







45 54

Volume 1, Issue 1 (Fall, 2010)

The Persecution of Dalit Christians

A Madras Governor’s Conflicted Legacy

The Shifting Paradigm of Islam in Pakistan

INQILĀB AL-ADAB: Sajjad Zaheer and the Progressive Literature Movement

KRSNA AS GOD AND WORLD: A Study in the Theodicy and Ontology of the Bhāgavata Purāna




Ari Schriber


Karthik Soora


Andrew Dibble


As outgoing Director of the North Carolina Consortium for South Asian Studies (NCCSAS), I am pleased to have the opportunity to introduce this remarkable new interdisciplinary journal, the Duke Undergraduate Journal of South Asian Studies, which is sponsored by NCCSAS and by Diya, Duke’s South Asia-focused student group. The journal showcases outstanding scholarly papers written by undergraduate students from universities all over the country. It is the successor to Sanscript, an undergraduate magazine of commentary and critique produced by Diya that was targeted at the local South Asian community. This new journal is the brainchild of Sandeep Prasanna, a rising senior at Duke who served as editor of Sanscript for two years before taking this major step to transform the journal into the only undergraduaterun, student-focused academic journal of South Asian studies in the country. He is currently serving as editor-inchief and has worked with extraordi-

nary energy and organizational skill to make his vision a reality. Faculty who teach South Asia-focused courses at universities and colleges across the country are encouraged to nominate exceptional papers submitted by students in their courses for publication in the journal. Papers are reviewed by an editorial board made up of Duke students and faculty, and students are given the opportunity to revise and polish their papers for publication. As South Asia continues to rise in global importance, we are very excited to be able to play a role in developing future scholars of South Asia by providing a venue for students to present their research and writing to a broader audience.

Katherine Pratt Ewing

Professor of Cultural Anthropology

Note from the Editor It is my great pleasure to introduce you to the first issue of the Duke Undergraduate Journal of South Asian Studies (DUJSAS). This is a project that has been waiting to see fruition for several years: undergraduate research on South Asia-related topics has been growing and has been in need of a visible and accessible forum for students to showcase their work, spur debate, and encourage others to contribute.

auditorium for two nights. Diya sponsors academic programs, collaborates with religious communities on campus, and coordinates with the greater South Asian community in the Research Triangle. Duke is also home to three nationally acclaimed South Asian dance groups and hosts several talented performers of South Asian origin throughout the year. This journal grew out of that campus and regional culture.

This is an exciting time to be developing new South Asian Studies initiatives. The field generally concentrates on the nations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, as well as the region of Tibet. Here in the Research Triangle region of North Carolina, the South Asian community is flourishing. So is the interest in South Asian trends, culture, religion, politics, and economics. The North Carolina Consortium of South Asian Studies (NCCSAS), a joint effort of Duke University, the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University, was established recently as an interdisciplinary center for professors and students to come together and promote the field of South Asian Studies through robust research and teaching programs.

We were thrilled to find that same vibrant culture throughout the nation’s universities. You will find that our final selections here are interesting, engaging, and varied. They reflect the richness of South Asia and the vigor of undergraduate interest in the region. It is our hope that the articles within this journal don’t only edify but also engender more research, motivating other undergraduates to contribute to the bodies of academic literature in South Asia-related fields. South Asian Studies can only grow larger. We are excited to be a part of that growth.

At Duke, the South Asian students’ association, Diya, plays an important role in campus life. Their annual cultural show Awaaz is the largest student-run production at Duke and sells out the university’s biggest

Editor-in-Chief Co-President, Duke Diya

Sandeep Prasanna


The information provided by our contributors in their essays is not independently verified by DUJSAS. The materials presented may represent the personal views of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of DUJSAS or the Duke University community. Submissions were solicited from undergraduates or recently graduated alumni from universities around the country. Essays were blind-reviewed by a panel of undergraduates and South Asian Studies faculty faculty. DUJSAS can be found at the North Carolina Consortium for South Asian Studies at the John Hope Franklin Center in Durham, N.C.

“The Forgotten Mission”:

An Assessment of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan


i. Robert Wirsing, India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute: On Regional Conflict and its Resolution, (New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 2. ii. Karl Th. Birgisson, “United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan,” in The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis, ed. William J. Durch (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993), 275. iii. Victoria Schofield, Kashmir in conf lict: India, Pakistan and the unending war, (London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2003), 70. iv. Amberish K Diwaji, “The UN Stand,” Blood in the Snow: Ten Years of Conflict in Kashmir, http://www.rediff.com/news/1999/dec/15blood.htm v. Pauline Dawson, The peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (London: C. Hurst ; New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 31. vi. Pauline Dawson, The peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (London: C. Hurst ; New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 34. vii. Pauline Dawson, The peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (London: C. Hurst ; New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 319. vii. Pauline Dawson, The peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (London: C. Hurst ; New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 45. ix. Rosalyn Higgins, United Nations Peacekeeping, 1946-1967: Documents and Commentary, vol. 2, (London, New York [etc.] issued under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs by Oxford U.P., 1969-1981), 352. x. United Nations, “UNMOGIP Background,” http://www.un.org/en/ peacekeeping/missions/unmogip/ background.shtml xi. Robert Wirsing, India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute: On Regional Conflict and its Resolution, (New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 71.

“The study of boundaries is dangerous...because it is thoroughly charged with political passions and entirely encumbered with afterthoughts...the failing is permanent.”i The above quote is an astute observation made by a geographer anticipating the cartographic chaos that would ensue with the end of World War II. The departure of the British colonial powers from their Indian empire in 1947 left the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in precisely such cartographic chaos.

India ensured though military pressure that other princely states like like Junagadh and Hyderabad joined the Indian republic, but it merely gained a tenuous hold on Jammu and Kashmir.ii Despite having gained the support of the Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten, and the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, India was wary of Pakistan’s irredentist intentions.iii Therefore, India sought international recognition of Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to the Indian Republic under the Instrument of Accession of October 1947.iv Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, an ethnic Kashmiri Pandit, approached the United Nations on January 1, 1948, with the complaint that Pakistan was aiding the separatists. This claim was the catalyst that eventually led to the creation of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). The UNMOGIP has been rendered ineffective after the Shimla Agreement of 1972, but needs to be retained to symbolize the continued struggle of Kashmiris. THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED NATIONS MILITARY OBSERVER GROUP IN INDIA AND PAKISTAN To investigate India’s claims of Pakistani irredentism, the UN created the United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP). The UNCIP reached Kashmir in July 1948 when it sought to impose a cease-fire and an eventual truce on a conflict that had conflagrated into a full-fledged war between India and Pakistan. This would pave the way for a plebiscite to be held thereafter to determine the political future of Jammu and Kashmir. On January 1, 1949, the Commanders-in-Chief of the Indian and Pakistani armies agreed to a cease-fire. On the following day, the UN Secretary General Trygve Lie sent the Belgian Lieutenant General Maurice Delvoie as Military Adviser (later renamed Chief Military Officer) to the UNCIP to ensure cease-fire.v On July 18, 1949, India and Pakistan began talks on the cease-fire line and soon after, on July 27, 1949, the representatives of both countries signed the Karachi Agreement, agreeing to a cease-fire line under the supervision of the Truce Sub-Committee of the UNCIP.vi This armistice disallowed military reinforcements along the cease-fire line but kept open the option of redistributing defenses.vii The two countries agreed to allow the UNCIP to position its military observers wherever it deemed fit. Lieutenant General Delvoie successfully requested the UN Secretary General for 40 observers to be dispatched to Jammu and Kashmir as part of a United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).viii

Shortly afterwards, the UNCIP Principal Secretary and the Secretary General decided that the observer group should focus solely on its military function of maintaining the cease-fire along the agreed cease-fire line. They determined the political responsibility of organizing a fair and neutral plebiscite was beyond the UNCIP’s scope. As a result, the Secretary General scrapped the UNCIP, leaving behind the UNMOGIP as the only UN agency in Kashmir.ix

The UNMOGIP was tasked to “observe and report, investigate complaints of cease-fire violations and submit its findings to each party and to the Secretary-General.”x The UNMOGIP was not given the authority to declare responsibility or disciplinary action. Rather, it was merely allowed to issue awarded cease-fire violations (ACFV) or, “awards,”xi that is a report on whether the complaint of violation was indeed justified.

The UNMOGIP control headquarters rotated between Srinagar in Indian-occupied



Kashmir from April to September, and Rawalpindi in Pakistan for the rest of the year.1 This rotation facilitated UNMOGIP’s communication and collaboration with the respective military chiefs.xii Besides the headquarters, the observers comprising the UNMOGIP were meant to rotate every three monthsxiii so as to prevent observers from inadvertently gaining any bias or “spirit of partisanship”xiv that would interfere with the performance of their duties. PERFORMANCE OF THE UNMOGIP FROM 1949-1971 With the initial cooperation of both parties, the UNMOGIP started off strongly. Lieutenant General Delvoie was able to observe both the Indian and Pakistani positions well from “low-flying planes, as well as by car and by jeep.”xv He was also able to elicit detailed information from both parties, which allowed the UNMOGIP to carry out its functions effectively. Both armies provided complete information on their military positions in the region as “top secret information” to the UNMOGIP.xvi Additionally, both armies amiably provided accommodation, transport, wire and radio communications to the UNMOGIP. xvii

Sylvain Lourie, a former member of the United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan, commended the contribution of the United Nations to ameliorating the conflict in Kashmir in his article, titled “United Nations and the Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan” and published in 1955. He writes that the UNMOGIP was successful at “keeping a rather precarious ceasefire from degenerating into open conflict.”xviii Besides the UNMOGIP’s impartiality, he attributes this to the cooperative spirit of both armies and a mutual desire to claim the moral high ground for not violating on the agreed cease-fire line (CFL).xix He lauds the growth of an “embryonic institution (into) a well-established agency” as a result of the “ad hoc” adaptation the observers made in response to local conditions.xxAcknowledging that the United Nations had little success in bringing about a resolution to the conflict, Lourie stresses that the UNMOGIP had played an important role in at least maintaining a cease-fire in the long interim between its inception and the second Indo-Pakistan war of 1965.xxi Indeed, one might argue that the UNMOGIP reached the peak of its operational excellence during the war in 1965. Pakistan launched Operation Gibraltar in August 1965. Inspired by the Umayyad Caliphate’s eighth-century conquest of Spain, the President of Pakistan, General Ayub Khan, authorized a covert operation to instigate an insurgency among Kashmiris in Indian administered Kashmir.xxii However, India soon alleged that the Pakistanis had crossed the cease-fire line to encourage sedition among Kashmiris.

UNMOGIP Chief Military Observer General Robert Nimmo was given up-to-date and complete details by his observers which allowed him to report accurately to the UN Secretary General these findings. General Nimmo insisted that he “could not presume to act as political arbiter.”xxiii Thus, he used the information provided by his military observers on the ground to confirm that the infiltrators into Indian Kashmir were in fact Pakistanis from the army and relayed this information to the Secretary General.xxiv

The then-UN Secretary General of the United Nations, U Thant, received General Nimmo’s brief about Pakistani violations in crossing and firing across the ceasefire line. In response, U Thant prepared a statement which pointed blame at Pakistan for violation of the ceasefire. However, U Thant refrained from sending out this statement to the governments of India and Pakistan, afraid that he would affect Pakistani perceptions of UN neutrality. The Indian defense minister at the time, Yashwantrao Balwantrao Chawan, writes in his diary that U Thant personally helped establish a cease-fire in 1965.xxv That UNMOGIP could determine promptly what the situation was and effectively elicit UN mediation despite Pakistan’s launching a covert operation bore testimony to the mission’s



1. The headquarters of the Pakistani army were located in Rawalpindi. xii. Karl Th. Birgisson, “United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan,” in The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis, ed. William J. Durch (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993), 279. xiii. Paul Beersmans, Jammu and Kashmir: The Disputed Paradise (Deurne: Continental Publishing, 1999), 19. xiv. Sylvain Lourie, “United Nations and the Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan,” International Organization 9, no. 1 (Feb., 1955), 26, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2704961 xv. Karl Th. Birgisson, “United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan,” in The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis, ed. William J. Durch (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993), 278. xvi. Sylvain Lourie, “United Nations and the Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan,” International Organization 9, no. 1 (Feb., 1955), 29, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2704961 xvii. Karl Th. Birgisson, “United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan,” in The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis, ed. William J. Durch (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993), 279. xviii. Sylvain Lourie, “United Nations and the Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan,” International Organization 9, no. 1 (Feb., 1955), 30, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2704961 xix. Sylvain Lourie, “United Nations and the Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan,” International Organization 9, no. 1 (Feb., 1955), 31, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2704961 xx. Sylvain Lourie, “United Nations and the Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan,” International Organization 9, no. 1 (Feb., 1955), 31, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2704961 xxi. Sylvain Lourie, “United Nations and the Military Observer Group in and Pakistan,” International Organization 9, no. 1 (Feb., 1955), 20, http:// www.jstor.org/stable/2704961 xxii. Memoirs of Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan. Karachi: Oxford University Press. xxiii. Rahmatullah Khan, Kashmir and the United Nations (Delhi: Vikas Publications, 1969), 2. xxiv. Robert Johnson, A Region in Turmoil: South Asian Conflicts since 1947 (London: Reaktion, 2005), 143. xxv. R. D. Pradhan and Yashwantrao Balwantrao Chavan, 1965 war, the inside story: Defence Minister Y.B. Chavan’s diary of India-Pakistan war (New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 2007), 85, 86.

xxvi. Rosalyn Higgins, United Nations Peacekeeping, 1946-1967: Documents and Commentary, vol. 2, (London, New York [etc.] issued under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs by Oxford U.P., 1969-1981), 365. xxvii. Ministry of External Affairs India, Kashmir and the United Nations (New Delhi, 1964), 26. xxviii. Rosalyn Higgins, United Nations Peacekeeping, 1946-1967: Documents and Commentary, vol. 2, (London, New York [etc.] issued under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs by Oxford U.P., 1969-1981), 364. xxvix. Rosalyn Higgins, United Nations Peacekeeping, 1946-1967: Documents and Commentary, vol. 2, (London, New York [etc.] issued under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs by Oxford U.P., 1969-1981), 347. xxx. Rosalyn Higgins, United Nations Peacekeeping, 1946-1967: Documents and Commentary, vol. 2, (London, New York [etc.] issued under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs by Oxford U.P., 1969-1981), 426. xxxi. Sumit Ganguly, The Crisis in Kashmir : Portents of War, Hopes of Peace (Washington, D.C. : Woodrow Wilson Center Press ; Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1997), 164.

effectiveness in 1965.

Rahul Roy-Chaudhary writes in The Security Council and the India-Pakistan Wars that in 1965, Pakistan was less eager to work with UNMOGIP since it planned sedition in Indian administered Kashmir. Pakistan even requested to General Nimmo that the observer team be withdrawn.xxvi India meanwhile was displeased with UNMOGIP for not reporting Pakistani attempts at sedition and with the UN for not declaring that Pakistan lacked locus standi in Jammu and Kashmir.xxvii In light of the increasing hostilities, the Security Council authorized the Secretary General in 1965 to expand the UNMOGIP from the initial number of 40 proposed by the Chairman of the United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan. However, he only expanded temporarily. Even then, Pakistani President Ayub Khan raised issues with expansion. He worried that a cease-fire

followed immediately by withdrawal of all armed Pakistan personnel to the Pakistan side of the cease-fire line and the consolidation of the cease-fire line through the strengthening of the United Nations Military Observer Group would result in restoring India’s military grip over Kashmir.xxviiii

In spite of intensifying hostilities in the 1965 war, the Secretary General recognized that operating beyond the cease-fire line where much of the conflict was occurring was a supererogation of UNMOGIP’s authority. The UNMOGIP is thus limited in its terms of reference and function to the cease-fire line in Kashmir, and the Secretary-General assumes no authority on his part to extend the scope of UNMOGIP’s function beyond the CFL...Therefore, in the absence of any Security Council resolution expanding the scope and authority of UNMOGIP, it was necessary to set up a new operation in order to carry out fully the directive of the Security Council in paragraph 2 of its resolution 211(1965)xxix

xxxii. Paul Beersmans, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010.

The Security Council passed Resolution 211 on September 20, 1965, which stated that the Secretary General was required to “provide the necessary assistance to ensure supervision of the cease-fire and the withdrawal of all armed personnel.” Thus, the Secretary General decided to create the United Nations India-Pakistan Observation Mission (UNIPOM).xxx The Secretary General’s announcement of the formation of UNIPOM was met with criticism from both sides of the border for various reasons. This demonstrates the difficulty the UN faces in expanding the scope of activity of UNMOGIP. UNIPOM was disbanded about a year later.

The war of 1965 ended when India and Pakistan signed the Tashkent Agreement on January 10, 1966. The Tashkent Agreement reflected the primacy of the cease-fire line, as stipulated in the earlier Karachi Agreement. Hence although this agreement was mediated by the Soviet Union, it received the approval of the United Nations Secretary General.

The Prime Minister of India and the President of Pakistan have agreed that all armed personnel of the two countries shall be withdrawn not later than February 25, 1966, to the position they held prior to August 5, 1965, and both sides shall observe the ceasefire terms of the cease-fire line.xxxi

Belgian Captain Commander (Retired) Paul Beersmans who served as an observer from 1978 to 1979, clarified in a phone interview with this author that UNMOGIP cannot be held responsible for wars which occur. As he put it, “We are not armed and we are not a force. We do not even have helmets. We only deal with the military issue. We do not deal with the political question.”xxxii

In a phone interview from France, Lieutenant Colonel Brian Cloughley, former Chief Operations Officer of UNMOGIP from 1980 to 1982, similarly commended the success



of UNMOGIP in fulfilling its mandate. Explaining General Nimmo’s relative success at eliciting greater UN involvement at the time of the 1965 war, he justed that the “Secretary General has bigger fish to fry, thus getting the attention of the Security General is crucial. A great deal of the mission’s acceptance depends on the caliber of the commander.”xxxiii

Despite this moderate success, Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche wrote in a letter to U Thant that UNMOGIP’s “work has been least appreciated and it has received least attention from UN headquarters.”xxxiv THE END OF MULTILATERALISM

The Tashkent Agreement only ensured a tenuous peace in the subcontinent. In 1971, India and Pakistan went to war for the third time in twenty-four years of nationhood. This time, though, the two countries went to war over East Pakistan. Still, this war had huge ramifications on the Kashmir dispute. As the political scientist Sumit Ganguly writes in The Crisis in Kashmir, with the creation of Bangladesh, India emerged as the major regional power and Pakistan’s irredentist case for Kashmir was weakened. This war sapped Pakistan’s military, political and moral capital and struck a huge blow to its national psyche. xxxv

Emerging from the debacle of the 1971 war, Pakistan submitted to signing the Shimla Agreement with India on July 2, 1972. The crux of this agreement was that India and Pakistan “resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them.”xxxvi Indians celebrated this agreement since India managed to restore the status quo ante of Kashmir as a bilateral rather than multilateral issue. Given India and Pakistan’s unequal positions on the negotiating table, scholar Imtiaz H. Bokhari called this agreement an “asymmetrical negotiation.”xxxvii The Suchetgarh Agreement of 11 December 1972, which followed up on the Shimla Agreement, declared that the original cease-fire line would become the Line of Control established by ground position of respective armed forces as of December 17, 1971.xxxviii This favored India as it had made inroads beyond the originally demarcated ceasefire line.xxxix While the physical differences in the two lines were minimal, by declaring a Line of Control, India rendered UNMOGIP and the Karachi Agreement redundant. Thus, India stopped making complaints of cease-fire violations after 1972.xl

This Indian attempt to shut out UNMOGIP was not unprecedented. It had similarly attempted to enforce UNMOGIP in 1965 to operate along the cease-fire line that would have reflected the respective troop positions after the 1965 war. However, in 1965, India was foiled by the Secretary General who sought Pakistani agreement to any change to the status quo. The Shimla Agreement marked the culmination of India’s efforts to freeze out the United Nations, and its agency in Kashmir, the UNMOGIP. This was a turnaround since India had originally sought UN help in 1948.

By 1972, India seemed to have decided that the “machinery” of the Security Council prioritized “the politics of power alignments” over the legitimacy of its claim, to borrow words from India’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Vengalil Krishnan Krishna Menon’s record 8 hour long speech to the UN Security Council in 1957.xli India saw the UN’s sustained impartiality as a tacit bias towards Pakistan. Thus, India decided to not involve UNMOGIP or even the UN furthermore in the Kashmir dispute. Many Indians such as former Indian foreign secretary Jyotinder Nath Dixit harbored regrets about India’s original petition to the United Nations. They feel that if India had waited for another week before submitting its original petition to the UN Security Council in January 1948, it would have decisively seized control of Kashmir. By inviting the UN, India inadvertently gave the dispute an international, as opposed to bilateral, dimension. Indians felt that this diplomatic blunder inadvertently strengthened Pakistan’s irredentist THE FORGOTTEN MISSION


xxxiii. Brian Cloughley, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010. xxxiv. United Nations. Items-in-Peacekeeping operations - India/Pakistan - United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), 11. xxxv. Sumit Ganguly, The Crisis in Kashmir : Portents of War, Hopes of Peace (Washington, D.C. : Woodrow Wilson Center Press ; Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1997), 60. xxxvi. Sumit Ganguly, The Crisis in Kashmir : Portents of War, Hopes of Peace (Washington, D.C. : Woodrow Wilson Center Press ; Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1997), 166. xxxvii. Sumit Ganguly, The Crisis in Kashmir : Portents of War, Hopes of Peace (Washington, D.C. : Woodrow Wilson Center Press ; Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1997), 62. xxxviii. Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, “The Security Council and the India-Pakistan Wars,” in The United Nations Security Council and War: The Evolution of Thought and Practice since 1945, ed. Vaughan Lowe et al., 340 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008) http://books.google.com/ books?id=U-tJB8sWfjwC&lpg=PA5 37&ots=DcdjnHa98P&dq=suchet garh%20agreement&pg=PA538#v =onepage&q=suchetgarh%20agre ement&f=false xxxvix. Karl Th. Birgisson, “United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan,” in The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis, ed. William J. Durch (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993), 281. xl. William J. Durch, ed., The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993), 281. xli. Mr. V. K. Krishna Menon’s Marathon Speech Lasting for Eight Hours on Kashmir at the United Nations Security Council’s Seven Hundred and Sixty Second Meeting on 23rd January 1957, http://www.un.int/india/ind30. pdf xlii. Robert Wirsing, India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute: On Regional Conflict and its Resolution, (New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 191-2.

2. India had objected to having 18 American observers in the UNMOGIP in February 1954. Nehru felt that they “can no longer be treated by us as neutrals in this dispute and hence their presence appears to us as improper.” (Howard B. Schaffer, The limits of influence: America’s role in Kashmir, (Washington, D.C: Brookings Institution Press, 2009), 47.) This was shortly after the United States had promised to offer Pakistan military aid. UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld did not want to upset relations with India and therefore managed to strike a deal with India that these observers should be allowed to carry on as observers till the end of their terms and thereafter they would not be replaced. xliii. David Horner, “Australian Peacekeeping and the New World Order,” in Australian Peacekeeping: Sixty Years in the Field, ed. David Horner, Peter Londey and Jean Bou (Cambridge; Port Melbourne, Vic.: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 40. xliv. Brian Cloughley, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010. xlv. United Nations. Items-in-Peacekeeping operations - India/Pakistan - United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), 16. xlvi. Peter Londey, “Inventing Peacekeeping,” in Australian Peacekeeping: Sixty Years in the Field, ed. David Horner, Peter Londey and Jean Bou (Cambridge; Port Melbourne, Vic.: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 22, 23. xlvii. Brian Cloughley, e-mail message to author, May 6, 2010. xlviii. Brian Cloughley, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010. xlix. Pauline Dawson, The peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (London: C. Hurst ; New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 299.

claims.xlii “THE SRINAGAR ROD AND GUN CLUB”: INDIA’S DIPLOMATIC MANEUVERING Many scholars such as Robert Wirsing, Victoria Schofield, and Pauline Dawson attribute India’s denial of UNMOGIP access to its forward positions along the Line of Control as the main hindrance to the UNMOGIP in its task of assessing the quantum of forces on both sides. What they miss is that arguably even more damaging to the UNMOGIP was India’s efficacy at undermining its reputation in diplomatic circles.

Spurred by the success of persuading New Zealand to withdraw its observers in 1976, India pressured the Australian High Commission in New Delhi to withdraw its contingent of 7 observers in December 1984.xliii Cloughley asserted that “the Indians made a high powered push to emasculate the mission by removing the last native-born English speakers.”xliv Cloughley stressed that there were some extremely good English-speaking Scandinavian and other nations’ observers serving during his stint. Yet, he believed that India’s tactical move to force out native-born English speakers from the mission cannot be underemphasized. Since the lingua franca of the Indian and Pakistani army officers is English, the observers themselves need to have an excellent command of the English language to be able to effectively make contact with both sides and do their job. Cloughley stressed that there were some extremely good English-speaking Scandinavian and other nations’ observers serving during his stint, yet they were the exception rather than the norm. Cloughley’s observation affirmed a recommendation Ralph Bunche had made to U Thant in 1965 about the need for better screening of observers with regards to the fluency in English.xlv

Australia’s loss was a blow to the beleaguered mission, given Australia’s long history of involvement. This, coupled to the United States (another original participating country) withdrawal in the 1950s, severely diminished the capacity of the mission. Peter Londey writes in Australian Peacekeeping: Sixty Years in the Field that Australia’s involvement went beyond sending observers to the mission.2 Australia provided a UN mediator for the conflict in 1950, Sir Owen Dixon, and the aforementioned Lieutenant General (then Major General) Robert Nimmo as Chief Military Observer.xlvi However, by the early 1980s, Cloughley shared:

The phrase coined by GHQ in Delhi, and used frequently on the diplomatic circuit by the otherwise humorless Australian defense adviser and his highly intelligent but essentially Delhi house-trained high commissioner, was that the UN Mission in Kashmir was the Srinagar Rod and Gun Club. I have to say that I was mildly amused by the description ... but, having been involved in the psychological operations business, realized its deadliness. There is nothing so effective in psychological operations than stabbing giggling fun at what you wish to destroy.xlvii

Australia’s turnaround in diplomatic perceptions of the UNMOGIP was a testimony to India’s brilliant diplomatic maneuvering. Disparaged thus, UNMOGIP found it harder to attract future UN member contributions to its team of observers. Cloughley pointed out from personal experience that despite India’s official exclusion of the mission, “The soldiers and officers of the Indian army were nothing less than extremely efficient and considerate. There was perfect courtesy.”xlviii India also continued to provide logistics and transport supplies to the UNMOGIP.xlix PAKISTAN’S POSITION AFTER 1972

Pakistan’s stance towards the UNMOGIP was starkly different. Pakistan continued to emphasize the primacy of the UNMOGIP. Moreover, despite signing the Shimla Agree8


ment, Pakistan continued to refer to the Karachi Agreement. An UNMOGIP observer explained the contrast between the two armies thus:

We regularly visit Pakistani headquarters units and pickets along the line of control (to monitor military activity). We know a great deal about Pakistani troop deployments; (while) we know nothing about Indian deployments because we are not allowed to move about in their forward areas.

Wainhouse et al. write in International Peacekeeping at the Crossroads: National Support-Experience and Prospects that being severely diminished in the military, political and economic realms by the 1971 war, the UNMOGIP was critical of Pakistan. Pakistan feels that the Kashmir issue is a “temporary de facto” and not “de jure” arrangement. UNMOGIP gives Pakistan hope of reaching a satisfactory solution eventually. Thus, the continued presence of the UNMOGIP is of symbolic value to the Pakistanis.

Pauline Dawson summarized the contrast in perception of UNMOGIP succinctly, “The UNMOGIP has become of political rather than operational value to Pakistan, and a political rather than operational irritant to India.”

As such, Pakistan continued to report Indian cease-fire violations to the UNMOGIP. The Shimla Agreement did not restrict the Indian and Pakistani Armies from troop buildups along the Line of Control.li Thus, the Indian and Pakistani armed forces were left “eyeball-to-eyeball.” Retired Captain Commander Beersmans writes that with an “overabundance” of Pakistani reports of violations, especially since the 1990s, the observers have not been able to perform their preemptive functions of “field tasks, field visits and field trips.”lii These preemptive tasks are aimed at ensuring there is no buildup of troops or weapons on either side to reinforce defenses. However, as Wirsing points out, “reporting the violations exerted little if any impact on their frequency.” Reported incidents grew from about 24 in 1954 to 2000 in 1961, proving frequency of violations was unchecked by reports.liii And, as the next section explains, Pakistan unavailingly sought UNMOGIP’s authority in the Siachen Glacier issue. “CARTOGRAPHIC AGGRESSION”: THE SIACHEN GLACIER ISSUE The Siachen Glacier lies in the Karakoram Mountains. The Siachen area is highly inhospitable being extremely glaciated and frigid. Temperatures routinely drop below -20 degree Celsius.liv Thus, the Siachen glacier area was terra incognita for the longest time. Neither India nor Pakistan had any sovereignty over or even presence in this area. Yet, this quiescent and idyllic natural zone, hitherto an “inaccessible no man’s land,”lv soon became the world’s highest battlefield zone, a battlefield at over twenty thousand feet above sea level.lvi

The cease-fire line in the Karachi Agreement ran from near Chhamb in Jammu north for almost 500 miles and then northeastward before terminating at map coordinate NJ 9842, which lies at the southern tip of the Saltoro Range.lvii The negotiators deemed it unnecessary to draw a line beyond NJ 9842 due to the inhospitable terrain, where the Siachen Glacier is located.lviii Thus, they “merely mentioned that the line should continue “thence north to the glaciers,”lix an ambiguous phrase which sparked a scramble for this territory.

The conflict over this area started in an unlikely manner. In the 1970s, Pakistan allowed mountaineers to scale the majestic peaks of the Siachen Glacier area. India perceived that Pakistan had subtly staked an international claim on the area. Established international atlases such as the one produced by the US Defence Mapping Agency, National Geographic Society’s Atlas of the World, University of Chicago’s Historical Atlas of South Asia and the Time Atlas of the World began to reflect the Line of Control beyond NJ9842 to the Karokaram Pass in the Chinese border in favor of the Pakistanis.lx India was distressed by this development and deemed Pakistani claims on this area to be “cartographic



l. David W. Wainhouse and others, International Peacekeeping at the Crossroads: National Support-Experience and Prospects (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973), 89. li. Pauline Dawson, The peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (London : C. Hurst ; New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 283. lii. Paul Beersmans, Jammu and Kashmir: The Disputed Paradise (Deurne: Continental Publishing, 1999), 28. liii. Robert Wirsing, India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute: On Regional Conflict and its Resolution, (New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 71. liv. Pauline Dawson, The peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (London : C. Hurst ; New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 288-290. lv, Robert Wirsing, Pakistan’s Security under Zia, 1977-1988: The Policy Imperatives of a Peripheral Asian State, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 146. lvi. Robert Wirsing, Pakistan’s Security under Zia, 1977-1988: The Policy Imperatives of a Peripheral Asian State, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 143. lvii. Robert Wirsing, Pakistan’s Security under Zia, 1977-1988: The Policy Imperatives of a Peripheral Asian State, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 146. lviii. Pauline Dawson, The peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (London : C. Hurst ; New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 288. lix Edward W. Desmond, “The Himalayas War at the Top of the World,” Time, July 31, 1989, http://www.time.com/ time/printout/0,8816,958254,00.html lx. Robert Wirsing, Pakistan’s Security under Zia, 1977-1988: The Policy Imperatives of a Peripheral Asian State, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 153. lxi. M. Bahadur, “Siachen Glacier Operations: The Buildup to Operation Meghdoot,” Bharat Rakshak, http:// www.bharatrakshak.com/IAF/History/ 1990s/Siachen01.html

lxii. Robert Wirsing, Pakistan’s Security under Zia, 1977-1988: The Policy Imperatives of a Peripheral Asian State, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 146. lxiii. Robert Wirsing, India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute: On Regional Conflict and its Resolution, (New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 73. lxiv. Robert Wirsing, India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute: On Regional Conflict and its Resolution, (New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 73. lxv. Jawed Naqvi, “Was Indira Gandhi Low on Oxygen on Oxygen in Leh to Have Ordered Siachen Fiasco?”, Dawn, March 23, 2009, http://www. dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawncontent-library/dawn/the-newspaper/ columnists/was-indira-gandhi-lowon-oxygen-in-leh-to-have-ordered-siachen-fiasco lxvi. Edward W. Desmond, “The Himalayas War at the Top of the World,” Time, July 31, 1989, http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,958254,00.html lxvii. Pauline Dawson, The peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (London : C. Hurst ; New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 289. lxviii. Robert Wirsing, Pakistan’s Security under Zia, 1977-1988: The Policy Imperatives of a Peripheral Asian State, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 164. xix. Robert Wirsing, Pakistan’s Security under Zia, 1977-1988: The Policy Imperatives of a Peripheral Asian State, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 170.


India took the phrase “thence north to the glaciers” to mean that the cease-fire line runs till the Chinese border, validating that the Siachen Glacier area belongs to them. On the other hand, Pakistan claimed that there was no stipulation in the Karachi agreement of any point beyond NJ 9842, rendering India’s claim void.xlii Moreover, Pakistan pointed out that India had neither clarified the status of this area at the Tashkent Conference nor at the Shimla Agreement. Hence, Pakistan was free to interpret the trajectory of the Line of Control as it deemed fit. In August 1983, Pakistan complained to the UNMOGIP that the Indian army had sent a reconnaissance patrol to the Siachen Glacier, and also constructed a camp there. However, the Indians rebuffed UNMOGIP as it felt that Pakistanis had no claim there.lxiii Shortly after, an UNMOGIP observer flew with the Pakistan air force to monitor “debris...left behind by the departing Indian patrol.”lxiv India declared this flight an illegal encroachment into its territory. UNMOGIP did not receive any further complaints after that till 1986, even during the tensions caused by Operation Meghdoot. In 1985, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhilxv had ordered Operation Meghdoot (Cloud Messenger) and managed to secure India about 1000 square miles of territory in the Siachen glacier area,lxvi which Pakistan claims as its own. Regardless of the legal technicalities, the UNMOGIP has been frozen out, since its own status in this area is undefined.lxvii The UNMOGIP continues to recognize the Karachi agreement of 1949. Therefore, it lacks the mandate to investigate or even position its observers in this area, since it lies beyond the NJ 9842, the agreed end point of the [what?] in the said agreement.lxviii In his book Pakistan’s Security under Zia, Robert Wirsing explains the symbolic value of Siachen to Pakistan,

What seemed, in fact, most at stake in the Siachen dispute during the Zia period was Pakistan’s fundamental right to deny the permanence of the existing Indo-Pakistani boundary in Kashmir, the Line of Control, and to continue to contest the political status of Indian-controlled Kashmir.lxix

lxx. Robert Wirsing, India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute: On Regional Conflict and its Resolution, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 191-2. lxxi. Robert Wirsing, India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute: On Regional Conflict and its Resolution, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 208. lxxii. “80 Years On, UNO Building is still Kashmir’s Political Shrine,” South Asian News Agency, http://www. sananews.net/english/2010/05/01/80yrs-on-uno-building-is-stillkashmir%E2%80%99s-political-shrine/ lxxiii. “80 Years On, UNO Building is still Kashmir’s Political Shrine,” South Asian News Agency, http://www. sananews.net/english/2010/05/01/80yrs-on-uno-building-is-stillkashmir%E2%80%99s-political-shrine/

He also writes in India, Pakistan and the Kashmir Dispute that the two sides view a possible expansion of the UNMOGIP’s duties into the Siachen glacier differently. A Pakistani diplomat who was interviewed expressed strong agreement while the then Indian Foreign Secretary Jyotinder Nath Dixit expressed his reticence towards further “UN intervention.”lxx

In the words of an anonymous Indian Major General, the Siachen battlefield has grown out of proportions to become a “monster,”lxxi one in which the UNMOGIP is unable to play any role. “A POLITICAL SHRINE”: KASHMIRI PERCEPTIONS OF THE UNMOGIP

Amidst the grand strategies and clashes of the postcolonial Indian and Pakistani nationstates, the common Kashmiri of the valley has been in many ways the real victim of the longstanding conflict. To such disenfranchised and powerless Kashmiris, the UNMOGIP has become something akin to a “political shrine.”lxxii During the 1920s, the British occupied the building UNMOGIP currently occupies. According to historian and National Conference member Muhammad Yousuf Taing, “People used to go to residence of British officials much before 1947 complaining about the atrocities committed by the Dogra rulers. Many a time Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah (later leader of National Conference and Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir) too was part of the delegations.”lxxiii 10


After the British left, this building’s political significance gained a new life. Kashmiri politicians and citizens organized protests outside the UNMOGIP office, demanding a fair and free plebiscite to determine their political future, desperately hanging onto the shred of hope offered by the UN Security Council’s resolutions of 1948. Kashmiris have also vociferously pleaded for UN enquiries into alleged human rights violations perpetrated by the Indian army, which has had a growing extensive presence in the Valley since 1948. For the more politically savvy, this building has long represented a way to announce their struggle to the outside world. Commenting on the delivering of petitions, which have increased since the 1990s, Beersmans said, “There is no harm in receiving an envelope. We do not open it, much less view it or respond to it. UNMOGIP effectively acts as a postman to the Security Council.”

Sajad Lone, the leader of the People’s Conference and a nonviolent advocate of Kashmiri separatism, explains what this building signifies for most Kashmiris,

This institution is like an island. We know it exists, we know it is powerless and this island somehow keeps aloof. We never come across any press statements or don’t know of any activities in this island. But politically it is an indicator of the existence of a dispute...Valid or not valid, the UNMOGIP is an important institution and I believe that the whole concept of sentiment has a deep psychological linkage with this institution. We know it is powerless, it has not been able to stop human right violations. It has not been able to resolve the Kashmir conflict but it represents the international dimension of the Kashmir issue.lxxiv

A Kashmiri political activist Junaid Azim Mattu concurred with Lone’s assessment of UNMOGIP,

There is an overwhelming consensus on the dormancy and uselessness of UNMOGIP at the same time. I think the separatist leadership rallies around the UNMOGIP, both philosophically and literally, to vindicate their own representational relevance. The UNMOGIP office in Srinagar has become a citadel of delusion for the population. But as far as the separatist leadership is concerned, they are well aware of its futility and irrelevance. They just need a Point B they can march towards.lxxv

Lone affirmed Junaid’s observation, explaining that he recently submitted his Achievable Nationhood memorandum to UNMOGIP. However, Kashmiri political blogger Sameer Bhat expresses cynicism about submitting memoranda to UNMOGIP.

Kashmiris must have submitted a million memoranda in the last sixty years to the observers... The surprised blue-capped officers would step out of their sleepy office, over-hung by Chinar trees, and gingerly accept our pleas from inside the iron-grilled gate. No one knows what they did to our heart-felt epistles. That is still a multi-lateral mystery. Recycling can’t be ruled out.lxxvi

Given the Indian state’s ambivalence towards UNMOGIP, it is unsurprising that it tries to block protests outside this building. Lone expressed that,

The state is very strict and sensitive about protests outside this UN building. The lathi blows are harder. The police usually ensures the protesters don’t reach there, they allow them to go only if the crowd is big enough and stopping the crowd can create real law and order problems.lxxvii

Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy criticizes the Indian state for “barricading [UNMOGIP] in style and splendor.”lxxii However, Cloughley asserted that, “It is not in any way at all part of UNMOGIP’s job to collect petitions from Kashmiris.”lxxix And, reaffirming what his wife Margaret Cloughley wrote in her book Letters from a Kashmir THE FORGOTTEN MISSION


lxxiv. Sajad Lone, e-mail message to author, April 27, 2009. lxxv. Junaid Azim Mattu, e-mail message to author, April 30, 2009. lxxvi. Sameer Bhat, “Stone Age,” Kashur Kot, http://sameerbhat. blogspot.com/ lxxvii. Sajad Lone, e-mail message to author, April 27, 2009. lxxviii. Arundhati Roy, “Azadi,” Outlook India, September 1, 2008, http:// books.google.com/books?id=QDEEA AAAMBAJ&lpg=PA22&ots=YpTVEs TWma&dq=outlook%20india%20U NMOGIP&pg=PA19#v=onepage& q&f=false lxxix. Brian Cloughley, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010.

3. Refer to newspaper articles such as B.L. Kak, “Peacekeepers turn Spies?” Sunday (Calcutta), 30 June 1985 and “Snooping in Peace: UN Observers in Kashmir Accused of Spying,” The Week (Cochin), 12 August 1990. lxxx. Brian Cloughley, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010. lxxxi. Sumit Ganguly, The Crisis in Kashmir : Portents of War, Hopes of Peace (Washington, D.C. : Woodrow Wilson Center Press ; Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1997), 170-71. lxxxii. Pauline Dawson, The peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (London: C. Hurst ; New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 290. lxxxiii. Pauline Dawson, The peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (London: C. Hurst ; New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 291. lxxxiv. Pauline Dawson, The peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (London: C. Hurst ; New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 291. lxxxv. Wajahat Ahmad, “Kashmir and the United Nations,” August 27, 2008, http://www.countercurrents.org/ahmad270808.htm lxxxvi. Tim McGirk, Rebel threat to raze mosque in Kashmir: Tense stand-off as Indian security forces surround Muslim militants, Independent, 18 October 1993, http://www. independent.co.uk/news/world/ rebel-threat-to-raze-mosque-in-kashmir-tense-standoff-as-indian-security-forces-surround-muslim-militants1511525.html lxxxvii. “Kashmir Indians Yield at Shrine,” New York Times, August 7, 1994, http://www.nytimes. com/1994/08/07/world/kashmir-indians-yield-at-shrine.html lxxxviii. Robert Wirsing, India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute: On Regional Conflict and its Resolution, (New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 329. lxxxix. M.L. Kak, “UNMOG chief exceeds brief, Delhi alarmed,” Tribune News Service, October 30, 2001, http://www.tribuneindia. com/2001/20011031/j&k.htm xc. Paul Beersmans, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010. xci. Brian Cloughley, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010.

Memsahib, Cloughley said he was pleased to have the Indian army guarding the UNMOGIP complex from besieging mobs. “They were very good soldiers – and they didn’t like Kashmiris.”lxxx UNMOGIP IN “HIBERNATION” UNMOGIP is increasingly frozen out since what started out as a traditional conflict between two state armies has morphed into a hydra-headed conflict with myriad non-state actors involved. Many militant Kashmiri groups emerged in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, including the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front and the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.lxxxi This militancy gained strength from the burgeoning ranks of disaffected youths seeking desperately to break the political deadlock.

The UNMOGIP has been increasingly frozen out, since what started out was a widespread perception that the Kashmir state elections in 1987 were rigged heavily. Voters were intimidated and ballot boxes were believed to have been rigged by the Congress-National Conference alliance. This caused many young Kashmiris to feel further disenfranchised.lxxxii This rigged election compounded the misery Kashmiris felt from the continued elusiveness of an impartial plebiscite that would allow them to determine their political futures. Thus, many Kashmiris became extremely disillusioned with the political processes and turned to violence.

Moreover, the separatist group Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front kidnapped the newly officiated Home Minister’s daughter and demanded that 5 of its militants be released as ransom.lxxxiii The separatists succeeded in this demand and reveled in what they considered to be a moral victory. The Indian state felt the need to reassert its strength and therefore imposed a state of curfew in Kashmir. The police brutally cracked down on dissenters and protestors, which further stoked the rage of the Kashmiris. This culminated in an unprecedented 500,000 people marching to the UNMOGIP office in Srinagar to call for a plebiscite, but to no success.lxxxiv However, one Kashmir watcher says that even the intense political events of 1989 and the militancy of 1990 have not been able to shake UNMOGIP out of “hibernation.”lxxxv

In a throwback to the Golden Temple incident almost a decade earlier, in October 1993, armed Kashmiri militants took refuge in what Muslims widely consider to be Kashmir’s holiest mosque, the Hazratbal Mosque in Srinagar. Devotees believe that this mosque contains a hair of the Prophet Mohammed.lxxxvi The Indian army surrounded the mosque, ready to lay siege. A bloodbath looked imminent. According to various news reports, UNMOGIP observers went beyond their mandate of monitoring the Line of Control either to observe the Indian army siegelxxxvii on holy Hazratbal mosque in Srinagarlxxxviii or the “regular press briefings of the state authorities.”lxxxix While the veracity of those reports is doubtful, the UNMOGIP still came under criticism from the Indian state.

Paul Beersmans responded to suggestions that UNMOGIP was observing the Indian army’s siege of the Hazratbal Mosque with incredulity. “We operate under strict rules and are not allowed to observe such issues beyond the Line of Control. The media may have seized upon a UN vehicle passing through the area.”xc Cloughley agreed with Beersmans’ assessment. He spoke of the Indian media’s “amusing” campaign against UNMOGIP. xci He pointed to the Indian media’s allegations of spying.3

In 1999, however, the Indian media could not blame UNMOGIP for inaction. India and Pakistan went to war in 1999. Fought initially over a town called Kargil, this war is commonly referred to as the Kargil War. Unlike the Siachen glacier, this area was clearly demarcated under both Karachi and Shimla agreements as part of Indian-administered Kashmir. Cloughley reveals in his book War, Coups & Terror: Pakistan’s Army in Years of Turmoil that India coerced UNMOGIP into closing its field station in Kargil. Moreover, 12


India had lodged objections to UNMOGIP conducting patrols in Astore, Skardu, Minimarg, Gultari, or Dalunang. Cloughley points out that the core purpose of UNMOGIP observers is to “observe and report on the quantum of forces” on both sides of the Line of Control.xcii Thus, UNMOGIP observers would have detected the buildup of Pakistani forces approaching Kargil, and would have also been able to confirm India’s claims to the UN Security Council that Pakistan was guilty of incursions along the Kargil-Dras sector. xciii Speaking to this writer on the phone, Cloughley called it “a delicious irony” that the Indian restrictions on UNMOGIP worked to Pakistan’s advantage and that “New Delhi [had] shattered the very element of what could have helped them.”xciv

In a similar vein, journalist Sanjay Dutt argues in his book War and Peace in Kargil Sector that since UNMOGIP is unlikely to be abrogated, it would aid India’s cause to use UNMOGIP towards monitoring the Line of Control and report breaches to the international community.xcv

However, in the highest echelons of Indian government, the future involvement of UNMOGIP is a nonstarter. After emerging victorious in Kargil, India made further moves to restrict UNMOGIP. India withdrew the right of UNMOGIP observers to fly directly from Srinagar to Rawalpindi. UNMOGIP observers were required to fly via Delhi, a hassle for what is an annual rotation of their control headquarters. Besides air, the Indian government also closed the land route of the Jhelum Valley road connecting Srinagar with Rawalpindi.xcvi Major-General Hermann Loidolt, head of UNMOGIP, must have felt frustrated with these further restrictions on what was already a heavily constrained mission. He lashed out at a press conference on October 29, 2001:

All of us are aware of the situation in Kashmir and the games that both parties are playing with this tormented country. (These games) may be a diversionary maneuver on the part of Pakistan, to make India the real enemy instead of the U.S., or it may be the (result of the) dawning of the next election in India. Kashmir was an issue for the U.S. to solve.xcvii

Although Loidolt expressed his fear of rising hostilites in the region and the need for an increased UN presence there, his call went unheeded.xcviii At the press conference, Loidolt also unwittingly described the Line of Control as the “border between Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir.”” These remarks drew the ire of both India and Pakistan. The latter was riled by the suggestion of a border dividing Jammu and Kashmir, while India interpreted Loidolt’s remarks as an official UNMOGIP recognition of Pakistani claims on Kashmir.xcix Facing heavy Indian criticism about UNMOGIP’s continued presence in Srinagar, Loidolt responded, “The UNMOGIP’s mandate is indefinite and its termination would require a decision by the Security Council. There is no particular resolution of the Security Council or the General Assembly requesting reports on UNMOGIP.”c

Remarks in recent years by prominent Indian officials such as Rajeshwar Dayal, a former Indian Foreign Secretary and Permanent Representative to the UN, and Kanwal Sibal, the then Indian Foreign Secretary, to the effect that the “UNMOGIP ha[d] overstayed its welcome. The law of diminishing returns has set in”ci and “We have not recognized any role by UNMOGIP. So, I do not know what statements they have been making”cii reflect official Indian disregard for the mission.

Presently, Cloughley pointed out that the efficiency of Indian diplomats in New York in “harping on bilaterism” negates a greater role for the mission and the UN at large.ciii Paul Beersmans argues that UNMOGIP has become a “forgotten mission.”civ Yet, UNMOGIP’s continued presence, albeit a token one, rankles India for its failure to decisively end the Kashmir dispute. India has not made a formal request for UNMOGIP withdrawalcv to THE FORGOTTEN MISSION


xcii. Brian Cloughley, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010. xciii. Brian Cloughley, War, Coups & Terror: Pakistan’s Army in Years of Turmoil (New York: Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2009), 94. xciv. Brian Cloughley, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010. xcv. Sanjay Dutt, War and Peace in Kargil Sector (New Delhi: APH Publishing, 2000), 4, http://books.google. com/books?id=XlHplc3pr1IC&lpg=P A4&dq=un%20military%20observer %20group%20in%20india%20and%2 0pakistan&pg=PA4#v=onepage&q =un%20military%20observer%20gro up%20in%20india%20and%20pakist an&f=false xcvi. M.L. Kak, “UNMOG chief exceeds brief, Delhi alarmed,” Tribune News Service, October 30, 2001, http://www.tribuneindia. com/2001/20011031/j&k.htm xcvii. Praveen Swami, “Distant Thunder,” Frontline, November 10, 2001, http://www.thehindu.com/fline/ fl1823/18230340.htm xcviii. Mahendra Gaur, Foreign Policy Annual, 2002 : Events And Documents (New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House, 2005), 311, http://books.google.com/ books?id=AXWXBpUuzuAC&lpg=P A311&dq=HERMANN%20LOIDOL T&pg=PA311#v=onepage&q=HER MANN%20LOIDOLT&f=false xcix. Praveen Swami, “Distant Thunder,” Frontline, November 10, 2001, http://www.thehindu.com/fline/ fl1823/18230340.htm c. Praveen Swami, “Distant Thunder,” Frontline, November 10, 2001, http://www.thehindu.com/fline/ fl1823/18230340.htm ci. Pauline Dawson, The peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (London : C. Hurst ; New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 311. cii. Kanwal Sibal, interview by Outlook India, Outlook India, September 25, 2002, http://www.outlookindia. com/printarticle.aspx?217355 ciii. Brian Cloughley, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010. civ. Paul Beersmans, Jammu and Kashmir: The Disputed Paradise (Deurne: Continental Publishing, 1999), 28.

cv. Sanjay Dutt, War and Peace in Kargil Sector (New Delhi: APH Publishing, 2000. cvi. M.L. Kak, “UNMOG chief exceeds brief, Delhi alarmed,” cvii. Tribune News Service, October 30, 2001, http://www.tribuneindia. com/2001/20011031/j&k.htm cviii. Praveen Swami, “Distant Thunder,” Frontline, November 10, 2001, http://www.thehindu.com/fline/ fl1823/18230340.htm cix. Mahendra Gaur, Foreign Policy Annual, 2002 : Events And Documents (New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House, 2005.

avoid drawing unnecessary international attention to a mission which is unlikely to be withdrawn.

In contrast, Pakistan maintains the usefulness of UNMOGIP, believing that it can “play a vital role in promoting confidence building” as well as “assist in the promotion of the peace process as well as the protection of human rights in Kashmir,” according to Pakistan’s deputy chief of mission Masood Khalid.cvi

Pakistan claims that Indian reluctance to allow the UNMOGIP to function stems from a fear of not being able to prove their allegations against Pakistan. After the Kargil War, Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz had called for a greater UNMOGIP role:

In our view, here the role of UN observers is also critical [in determining whether there are crossings across Line of Control]. If India maintains there’s no real problem in Kashmir, why don’t they allow the UNMOGIP to visit the area? They [UNMOGIP observers] should go, patrol and see for themselves whether incursions have at all taken place or whether it is just a smoke-screen created to eliminate Kashmiri mujahideen. cvii

cx. Praveen Swami, “Distant Thunder,” Frontline, November 10, 2001, http://www.thehindu.com/fline/ fl1823/18230340.htm cxi. Praveen Swami, “Distant Thunder,” Frontline, November 10, 2001, http://www.thehindu.com/fline/ fl1823/18230340.htm cxii. Pauline Dawson, The peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (London : C. Hurst ; New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 311. cxii. Kanwal Sibal, interview by Outlook India, Outlook India, September 25, 2002, http://www.outlookindia. com/printarticle.aspx?217355 cxiii. Brian Cloughley, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010. cxiv. Paul Beersmans, Jammu and Kashmir: The Disputed Paradise (Deurne: Continental Publishing, 1999), 28. cxv. Paul Beersmans, Jammu and Kashmir: The Disputed Paradise (Deurne: Continental Publishing, 1999), 17.

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf added, “If India is genuinely concerned about cross-LOC infiltration, we ask that it agree to a viable mechanism to monitor this on both sides. The UNMOGIP could be enlarged for this purpose.”cviii

Former President Pervez Musharraf’s suggestion for enlargement is unlikely to materialize. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that UNMOGIP currently faces challenges executing its mandate with its small size. UNMOGIP’s strength of only 44 observers makes it one of the smallest peacekeeping forces in the world.cix UNMOGIP received a fillip when its numbers were temporarily boosted for the 1965 war. The political scientist Sumantra Bose notes in Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace that

[a] skeletal UNMOGIP of forty-five observers still operates on the line of control, but its white four-wheel-drive vehicles flying the blue standard of U.N. peacekeeping are a forlorn, less than token presence alongside hundreds of thousands of heavily armed troops massed on either side of the LOC.cx

UNMOGIP is further hamstrung by day to day constraints. Beersmans shares his insights in Jammu & Kashmir: The Disputed Paradise that out of the total strength of 44, only about 35 are actively deployed at any given time. The shortfall was due to about five observers being permanently deployed at UNMOGIP headquarters, and a few more still in the training phase, getting ready to leave for a subsequent deployment and a few more claiming “compensatory time off.”cxi These 35 actively deployed observers have to man approximately 765 kilometers of the cease-fire line.cxii Moreover, the observers are distributed over twelve posts in two countries. Thus, all the stations of the mission cannot be manned simultaneously.cxiii

Recognizing the manpower limitation, Cloughley stressed that during his tenure, he had recommended an expansion of UNMOGIP by about 20 observers for an optimal size of about 60 observers, to no avail.cxiv With the seemingly intractable Kashmir conflict dragging on, countries are finding it less worthy to bear the expenses of contributing observers to the mission, albeit, a cost shared with the United Nations’ “Special Missions and Inquiries” Fund.cxv Beersmans pointed out in the interview, “Belgium withdrew in 2005 due to an internal political question between the Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs on who would pay for the observers’ presence in Kashmir.”cxvi

Belgium’s withdrawal marked the end of its continuous participation from the start of UNMOGIP in 1949. Presently, none of the original participating countries contribute to 14


UNMOGIP, an indictment of the lack of enthusiasm felt towards the mission. Sameer Bhat, the Kashmiri political blogger mentioned above, cynically describes the observers making up the “meaningless” UNMOGIP: “bored military personnel from Chile, Croatia, Philippines, Korea, and Uruguay are stationed at UNMOG. God knows no one ever listens to these countries, leave alone military observers on deputation from these countries.”cxvii CONCLUSION Indicating its lame duck status, UNMOGIP calls for an annual international day of peace on September 21, urging the parties to respect a cease-fire and prevent any violence.cxviii UNMOGIP is stuck in an existential rut at this stage. UNMOGIP cannot adopt an “activist” approach and build up its mandate given stiff Indian opposition. Neither can UNMOGIP adopt a “deactivist” approach for that would elicit protests from Pakistan. cxix N.D. White notes that the static status quo has hindered political progress: “Peacekeeping has had the effect of making provisional measures permanent by hindering the peacemaking process.”cxx Cloughley concluded,

UNMOGIP is redundant, the fifth wheel on the coach. However, from the point of view of international procedure, it would set a very dangerous precedent for the mission to be folded up, given what it represents in the wider sphere of international affairs; that Kashmir is still a dispute and still on the books of the UN.cxxi

This paper has demonstrated how UNMOGIP has been rendered completely ineffective after the 1972 Shimla Agreement. To judge whether India and Pakistan’s claims on Kashmir are legitimate is a formidable challenge, and beyond the scope of this paper. Yet what is tough to rebut is that UNMOGIP’s very continuity is a powerful symbol of the struggle of the Kashmiri people, a struggle for their as-yet undecided political futures. By shutting down UNMOGIP’s operations, the UN would be reneging on its commitment to the Kashmiri people made in 1948 and the sacrosanct principles enshrined in the United Nations charter.

cxvi. Masood Haider, “UNMOGIP can help build Trust, Says Islamabad,” Dawn, February 3, 2005. cxvii. Sartaj Aziz, Interview by Imtiaz Ali, The LOC isn’t exactly Demarcated, Outlook India, June 14, 1999. cxviii. Pervez Musharraf, “The Most Dangerous Dispute in the World,” Outlook India, September 24, 2003, cxix. Robert Wirsing, India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute: On Regional Conflict and its Resolution, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 295. cxx. Sumantra Bose, Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005), 166. cxxi. Paul Beersmans, Jammu and Kashmir: The Disputed Paradise (Deurne: Continental Publishing, 1999), 18. cxxii. Paul Beersmans, Jammu and Kashmir: The Disputed Paradise (Deurne: Continental Publishing, 1999), 18. cxxiii. Brian Cloughley, War, Coups & Terror: Pakistan’s Army in Years of Turmoil (New York: Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2009), 94. cxxiv. Brian Cloughley, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010. cxxv. Karl Th. Birgisson, “United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan,” in The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis, ed. William J. Durch (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993), 278. cxxvi. Paul Beersmans, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010. cxvi. Masood Haider, “UNMOGIP can help build Trust, Says Islamabad,” Dawn, February 3, 2005, http://www. dawn.com/2005/02/03/top11.htm cxvii. Sartaj Aziz, Interview by Imtiaz Ali, The LOC isn’t exactly Demarcated, Outlook India, June 14, 1999. cxviii. Pervez Musharraf, “The Most Dangerous Dispute in the World,” Outlook India, September 24, 2003. cxix. Robert Wirsing, India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute: On Regional Conflict and its Resolution, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 295. cxx. Sumantra Bose, Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005), 166. cxxi. Paul Beersmans, Jammu and Kashmir: The Disputed Paradise (Deurne: Continental Publishing, 1999), 18. cxxii. Paul Beersmans, Jammu and Kashmir: The Disputed Paradise (Deurne: Continental Publishing, 1999), 18.

Monish Shah is a junior at Yale University, where he is double majoring in Economics and History. He has had opportunities to conduct research at the Center for Nonmarket Strategy at the IE Business School in Spain and at the Prime Minister’s Office in Singapore over the past two summers, giving him excellent opportunities to delve into his interests in global business and geopolitics. Monish enjoys traveling, meeting people, playing soccer and watching comedies.

cxxiii. Brian Cloughley, War, Coups & Terror: Pakistan’s Army in Years of Turmoil (New York: Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2009), 94. cxxiv. Brian Cloughley, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010. cxxv. Karl Th. Birgisson, “United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan,” in The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis, ed. William J. Durch (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993), 278. cxxvi. Paul Beersmans, Personal Interview. May 6, 2010.



BIBLOGRAPHY Ahmad, Wajahat. “Kashmir and the United Nations.” August 27, 2008. http://www.countercurrents.org/ ahmad270808.htm Aziz, Sartaj. Interview by Imtiaz Ali. The LOC isn’t exactly Demarcated, Outlook India, June 14, 1999. http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?207619 Bahadur, M. “Siachen Glacier Operations: The Buildup to Operation Meghdoot.” Bharat Rakshak. http:// www.bharatrakshak.com/IAF/History/1990s/Siachen01.html Beersmans, Paul. Jammu and Kashmir: The Disputed Paradise. Deurne: Continental Publishing, 1999. Bhat, Sameer. “Stone Age.” Kashur Kot. http://sameerbhat.blogspot.com/ Birgisson, Karl Th. “United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan.” In The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis, edited by William J. Durch 273-284. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993. Bose, Sumantra. Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005. Cloughley, Brian. War, Coups & Terror: Pakistan’s Army in Years of Turmoil. New York: Skyhorse Publish ing Inc., 2009. Dawson, Pauline. The peacekeepers of Kashmir: The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan. London: C. Hurst ; New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994. Desmond, Edward W. “The Himalayas War at the Top of the World.” Time, July 31, 1989. http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,958254,00.html Diwaji, Amberish K. “The UN Stand.” Blood in the Snow: Ten Years of Conflict in Kashmir. http://www.rediff.com/news/1999/dec/15blood.htm Dutt, Sanjay. War and Peace in Kargil Sector. New Delhi: APH Publishing, 2000. Embassy of India, Washington, D.C. “Pakistan’s Aggression against India.” A Comprehensive Note on Jammu and Kashmir. Embassy of India, Washington, D.C. “The United Nations.” A Comprehensive Note on Jammu and Kashmir. Ganguly, Sumit. The Crisis in Kashmir: Portents of War, Hopes of Peace. Washington, D.C. : Woodrow Wilson Center Press ; Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1997. Gaur, Mahendra. Foreign Policy Annual, 2002 : Events And Documents. New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House, 2005. Haider, Masood. “UNMOGIP can help build Trust, Says Islamabad.” Dawn, February 3, 2005. http://www.dawn.com/2005/02/03/top11.htm Higgins, Rosalyn. United Nations Peacekeeping, 1946-1967: Documents and Commentary. Vol. 2, London, New York [etc.] issued under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs by Oxford U.P., 1969-1981. Horner, David. “Australian Peacekeeping and the New World Order.” In Australian Peacekeeping: Sixty Years in the Field, edited by David Horner, Peter Londey and Jean Bou, 33-59. Cambridge; Port Melbourne, Vic.: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Johnson, Robert. A Region in Turmoil: South Asian Conflicts since 1947. London: Reaktion, 2005. Kak, M.L. “UNMOG chief exceeds brief, Delhi alarmed.” Tribune News Service, October 30, 2001. http://www.tribuneindia.com/2001/20011031/j&k.htm Khan, Rahmatullah. Kashmir and the United Nations. Delhi: Vikas Publications, 1969. Londey, Peter. “Inventing Peacekeeping,” in Australian Peacekeeping: Sixty Years in the Field, edited by David Horner, Peter Londey and Jean Bou, 11-32. Cambridge; Port Melbourne, Vic.: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Lourie, Sylvain. “United Nations and the Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan.” International Organization 9, no. 1 (Feb., 1955): 19-31. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2704961 McGirk, Tim. “Rebel threat to raze mosque in Kashmir: Tense stand-off as Indian security forces surround Muslim militants.” Independent, 18 October 1993. Ministry of External Affairs India. Kashmir and the United Nations. New Delhi, 1964. Mr V. K. Krishna



Menon’s Marathon Speech Lasting for Eight Hours on Kashmir at the United Nations Security Council’s Seven Hundred and Sixty Second Meeting on 23rd January 1957. http://www.un.int/india/ind30.pdf Musharraf, Pervez. “The Most Dangerous Dispute in the World.” Outlook India, September 24, 2003. http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?221524 Naqvi, Jawed. “Was Indira Gandhi Low on Oxygen on Oxygen in Leh to Have Ordered Siachen Fiasco?” Dawn, March 23, 2009. http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/ the-newspaper/columnists/was-indira-gandhi-low-on-oxygen-in-leh-to-have-ordered-siachen-fi asco Pradhan, R. D. and Yashwantrao Balwantrao Chavan, 1965 war, the inside story: Defence Minister Y.B. Chavan’s diary of India-Pakistan war. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 2007. Reddy, B. Muralidhar. “No Role for UNMOGIP: India.” The Hindu, September 19, 2003. http://www.hin du.com/2003/09/19/stories/2003091903971100.htm Roy, Arundhati. “Azadi.” Outlook India, September 1, 2008. Roy-Chaudhury, Rahul. “The Security Council and the India-Pakistan Wars.” In The United Nations Secu rity Council and War: The Evolution of Thought and Practice since 1945, edited by Vaughan Lowe et al., 324-345. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Schaffer, Howard B. The limits of influence: America’s role in Kashmir. Washington, D.C: Brookings Institu tion Press, 2009. Sibal, Kanwal. Interview by Outlook India. Outlook India, September 25, 2002. http://www.outlookindia. com/printarticle.aspx?217355 Swami, Praveen. “Distant Thunder.” Frontline, November 10, 2001. http://www.thehindu.com/fline/ fl1823/18230340.htm The Blue Helmets: A Review of United Nations Peace-Keeping. 3rd ed. New York : United Nations Dept. of Public Information, 1996. United Nations. Items-in-Peace-keeping operations - India/Pakistan - United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). United Nations. “UNMOGIP Background.” http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/unmogip/ background.shtml Schofield, Victoria. Kashmir in conflict: India, Pakistan and the unending war. London; New York: I.B. Tau ris, 2003. Wainhouse, David W. and others. International Peacekeeping at the Crossroads: National Support-Experi ence and Prospects. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973. White, N.D. Keeping the Peace: the United Nations and the Maintenance of International Peace and Se curity. The Melland Schill Monographs in International Law: New Frontiers in History. 2nd ed. New York: Manchester University Press ND, 1993. Wirsing, Robert. India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir Dispute: On Regional Conflict and its Resolution. New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1994. Wirsing, Robert. Pakistan’s Security under Zia, 1977-1988: The Policy Imperatives of a Peripheral Asian State. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991. “80 Years On, UNO Building is still Kashmir’s Political Shrine.” South Asian News Agency. http://www. sananews.net/english/2010/05/01/80-yrs-on-uno-building-is-still-kashmir%E2%80%99s-politicalshrine/ “Kashmir Indians Yield at Shrine.” New York Times, August 7, 1994. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/08/07/world/kashmir-indians-yield-at-shrine.html



Minority Rights:

The Persecution of Dalit Christians


1. Multiple Marginalities: An Anthology of Identified Dalit Writings, ed. Badri Narayan and A. R. Misra (New Delhi Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 2004), 227.

Vāstvik Dāstā (Real Slavery) To say to an untouchable That you are free and a citizen of this country; and that

2. CIA World Factbook: India. https:// www.cia.gov/library/publications/theworld-factbook/geos/in.html

You are in possession of all the rights of a citizen.

3. Judith M. Brown, “Indian Christians and Nehru’s Nation-State” in India and the Indianness of Christianity: Essays on Understanding – Historical, Theological, and Bibliographical – in Honor of Robert Eric Frykenberg, ed. by Richard Fox Young (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publications, 2009), 217.

And then never allow him To experience the truth by providing him with equal opportunities Is it not an act of cruel deception on your part? This is untouchability

4. Constitution of India, http://indiacode.nic.in/coiweb/welcome. html; http://lawmin.nic.in/coi/ coiason29july08.pdf, 7.

Which is the real slavery And which is tolerated

5. Monica Melanchthon “Persecution of Indian Christians,” Dialog: A Journal of Theology 41, no. 2 (2002): 104.

Because the untouchable Has no knowledge of it.

6. Constitution of India, http://indiacode.nic.in/coiweb/welcome. html; http://lawmin.nic.in/coi/ coiason29july08.pdf

– Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (From “Slaves and Untouchables”1) Against the backdrop of British colonialism, India gained independence from the United Kingdom on the 15th of August, 1947, and was declared the Republic of India on January 26, 1950.2 Unlike the chain of developments occurring in India’s neighbor Pakistan, the Indian National Congress – the dominant political party spearheading the independence movement – declared India to be a “secular nation-state, where religious minorities had not only rights to religious freedom, but were equal citizens under the constitution.”3 India’s founding fathers, namely Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi, envisioned India to be a forward-looking, advanced, democratic state whose citizens participated equally in all spheres of life, irrespective of sex, race, caste or creed.4 However, this utopian dream of a secular India free of the tyranny of ethnic and religious prejudice was in the past and is in the present nothing but a dream. Till this day, religious and caste discrimination in India means that India is not the safe haven for all of its citizens as envisioned by Gandhi and Nehru. There are millions of Indian citizens who, as members of a minority religious group or caste, suffer immensely. The plight of Indian Christians is especially acute, given their smaller numbers relative to the Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh populations and because of the way Christian missionaries and schools are perceived by some Hindus as undermining the existing caste system.5 Yet, amongst all the various Christian groups in India, the group that has suffered the most is the Dalit Christian community. This paper is a study of the rights and status India’s Dalit Christian citizens. In this paper I argue that Dalit Christians have not been accorded their full rights by the government and have suffered from immense discrimination in the past sixty or more years. Nevertheless, there is indeed evidence that the government of India government is taking steps to ensure the eradication of the injustice being done against Dalit Christians. Any study of minority rights in a nation-state cannot be complete without an analysis of the country’s constitution. Therefore, in order to fully understand the plight of Dalit Christians in India, we must take a close look at India’s Constitution. DALIT CHRISTIAN CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS The first Constitution of India came into effect on January 26, 1950. It has been modified many times since with the most recent version available publicly online.6 A close study of the document reveals that despite many modifications since 1947, the Constitution of India today remains true to the spirit of Nehru and Gandhi with respect to religious MINORITY RIGHTS


7. Constitution of India, 7. 8. Constitution of India, 13. 9. Ibid. 10. Constitution of India, 13 – 14. 11. Brown, 218. 12. Background Note: India. Bureau of Central and South Asian Affairs, U.S. State Department, November 2009. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/ bgn/3454.htm 13. Robert Eric Frykenberg, Christianity in India: From Beginnings to the Present (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 468. 14. Clifford Bob, “‘Dalit Rights are Human Rights’: Caste Discrimination, International Activism, and the Construction of a New Human Rights Issue,” Human Rights Quarterly 29 (2007): 168

minority rights. Part III of the Constitution, titled “Fundamental Rights,” contains Article 15 under the subheading Right to Equality which states: “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.”7 It then further delineates that all Indian citizens have equal opportunity in matters of public employment.

Articles 25 to 28 of the Indian Constitution come under the heading of Right to Freedom of Religion. Article 25 affirms that “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.”8 Moreover, the State is prevented from making any law “regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice.”9 Furthermore, Article 26 describes all permissible activity religious institutions can undergo: Subject to public order, morality and health, every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right—

15. James Massey, Dalits in India: Religion as a Source o Bondage or Liberation with Special Reference to Christians (New Delhi: Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 2009), 15. 16. John C.B. Webster, Religion and Dalit Liberation: An Examination of Perspectives (New Delhi: Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 2002), 11.

(a) to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes; (b) to manage its own affairs in matters of religion;

(c) to own and acquire movable and immovable property; and (d) to administer such property in accordance with law.10

Thus, India’s Constitution affirms the rights of its religious minorities on a level at par with any major functioning democracy, like, for example, the United States. But minority rights in paper are far from a reality in practice. Perhaps this has to do with the relatively small numbers of minority groups, such as India’s Dalit Christians, as compared to other major demographic entities. STATISTICS ON INDIA’S CHRISTIAN POPULATION According to Judith M. Brown in her essay “Indian Christians and Nehru’s Nation-State,” Christians comprised approximately 2.3 percent of the Indian population in 1951, numbering a bit above 8 million. Brown notes, “Christians had been one of the fastest-growing minorities on the Subcontinent from the later nineteenth century.”11 This put them demographically smaller than the Muslim population, but larger than the Sikh minority. More than 50 years later, Indian Christians have stayed at 2.3 percent of the overall population of the country, which was estimated to be 1.17 billion in 2009.12 This means that the Indian Christian population in 2009 is roughly 27 million. Moreover, most of these Christians are Dalit. But what does the term Dalit mean? Who can be categorized as Dalit and who cannot? And, most importantly, how many Dalit Christians are there in India? THE DEFINITION OF THE TERM “DALIT” The word “dalit,” derived from the Western Indian language Marathi, means “crushed,”13 “broken up,” “ground to pieces,” or “oppressed.”14 In his book Dalits in India: Religion as a Source of Bondage or Liberation with Special Reference to Christians, James Massey notes that “the present usage of the term “Dalit” goes back to the nineteenth century when a Marathi social reformer and revolutionary Mahatma Jotirao Phule used it to describe the outcastes and untouchables as the oppressed and broken victims of the Indian caste-ridden society.”15 The premier Dalit historian John C.B. Webster adds further that “increasingly, those whom others have called Untouchables, Depressed Classes, Harijans (‘children of God’), or Scheduled Castes are adopting ‘Dalit’ as a name for themselves.”16 Webster claims that Dalit is “a caste rather than a class label; it applies to members of those menial castes which have borne the stigma of untouchability because of the extreme impurity and pollution connected with their traditional occupations. One becomes a Dalit by birth into one of these stigmatized castes and one cannot escape one’s caste (and thus 20


being a Dalit) by moving up into the middle or professional classes.”17 For those who are stuck under the label of “Untouchables,” the term Dalit “has become an expression of hope”18 and political self-consciousness.19

The term “dalit,” from what we can ascertain so far, is unlike any other term used to describe the Christian group we’re analyzing. In his book Christianity in India: From Beginnings to the Present, historian Robert Frykenberg writes that “Dalit, in short, has become the term of choice for those who are in a state of perpetual rebellion against untouchability.”20 Even Gandhi’s label “harijan” (meaning “child of Hari [Krishna]”) for the untouchables did not work out. Dalit was the preferred term. Yet, the Indian government, till this day, recognizes Dalits as “Scheduled Castes” or “Scheduled Tribes” instead of what they should actually be called: Dalits. Nevertheless, the Indian government recognizes the fact that those people who merit inclusion under the title of “Scheduled Castes/Tribes” lack the same opportunities accorded to those outside of this victimized group. In a country plagued with quotas to distribute opportunities within a diverse population, “Scheduled Caste” citizens enjoy some government benefits and welfare aimed towards improving their lot. DALIT CHRISTIAN DEMOGRAPHICS

The official Census of India puts the population of “Scheduled Castes” at 166,635,700,21 while the number of people belonging to “Scheduled Tribes” equals 84,326,240.22 However, the exact number of Dalit Christians (or Muslim Dalits) is not known. In fact, according to James Massey, only those Dalits who profess Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism, but not Christianity or Islam, are recognized by the Government of India under the Presidential Order 1950 (amended in 1956 and 1990) as Scheduled Castes.23 When India was under British rule, Dalit Christians and Muslims “were placed in a different political constituency from other Dalits.”24 This same paradigm was incorporated into the statutes of independent India. This means that even today Dalit Christians and Muslims are not eligible for “Scheduled Caste/Tribe” benefits. It also seems likely that the close to 240 million people labeled “Scheduled Castes and Tribes” in the Government Census of India are comprised of Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs exclusively. So how many Dalit Christians are there in India?

John C.B. Webster, in his book Religion and Dalit Liberation: An Examination of Perspectives, claims that Dalit Christians “constitute less than 10 per cent of the Dalit population.”25 This means that the Dalit Christian population, according to Webster, could lie anywhere between 16 million and 24 million, considering that the official census of India proposes the number of people belonging to “Scheduled Castes” and “Scheduled Tribes” at 240 million. Since Webster’s research focuses on statistics on the Dalit population only and there are no official statistics available on Dalit Christians and Muslims, a solid estimate on the number of Dalit Christians using Webster’s research alone is difficult to obtain. However, by analyzing the breakdown of the Indian Christian population and figuring out the subset of Indian Dalit Christians, we might be able to reach a more realistic statistic. The Poor Christians Liberation Movement26 states that Dalit Christians account for 70 percent of India’s Christian population.27 The authors of the book Culture and Customs of India also put the Dalit Christian population as 70 percent.28 Since there are roughly 27 million Christians in India, 70 percent of this would be approximately 20 million. Nevertheless, the lack of official records on Dalit Christians exacerbates the plight of Christian Dalits in modern India. Without any demographical insight, how can the Indian government even attempt to solve the problems faced by Dalit Christians? DALIT CHRISTIAN LIBERATION MINORITY RIGHTS


17. Ibid. 18. Massey, 16. 19. Frykenberg, 10. 20. Frykenberg, 468. 21.http://www.censusindia.gov.in/ Census_Data_2001/India_at_Glance/ scst.aspx 22. Ibid. 23. Massey, 14. 24. Webster, 29. 25. Webster, 33. 26. The Poor Christian Liberation Movement is not to be confused with the Dalit Christian Liberation Movement. According to sociologist Rowena Robinson, the Poor Christian Liberation Movement “that might well be an organization floated by the Hindu Right itself, tends to express views in concurrence with those of the BJP-led political regime” (Robinson, 193). The Dalit Christian Liberation Movement does not have any connection with the BJP. 27.http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/ articleshow/496862.cms 28. Carol E. Henderson, Cultures and Customs of India (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2002), 40.

29. Rowena Robinson, Christians of India (New Delhi: SAGE Publications, 2003), 187. 30. Note that the basic law on Scheduled Castes goes back to the policies of the British Raj. 31. Robinson, 187-188. 32. Massey, 97. 33. It’s ironic that Dalit Christians face discrimination within the Indian Christian community despite the fact that the majority of Indian Christians are Dalit.

Since Dalit Christians are not granted Scheduled Caste status, in contrast to other Dalit groups, the plight of Dalit Christians is more severe than that of other Dalits. The 1980s saw the rise of the Christian Dalit Liberation Movement which strove to fight for the same rights accorded to Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists under the Constitution.29 Why Dalit Christians are excluded from Scheduled Caste benefits is a moot point. Interestingly, Scheduled Caste benefits were not granted to Dalit Buddhists and Sikhs initially. Sociologist Rowena Robinson explains this phenomenon thoroughly in her book Christians of India: The Constitutional order of 1950, known as the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 listed Scheduled Castes and Tribes using the list employed by the Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1936.30 Consequently, the third paragraph of the 1950 Order specifies that no person professing a religion other than Hinduism may be deemed a member of a Scheduled Caste. This was amended in 1956 to include Sikh Dalits and again in 1990 in favour of Buddhist Dalits.31

33.http://www.dalitchristians.com/ Html/DCLMtocbci.htm 34. Robinson, 189. 35.http://www.dalitchristians.com/ Html/DCLMtocbci.htm

Surprisingly, a Dalit Christian’s grievance against his government is only one part of the story. It’s not just the Indian government that is discriminating against Dalit Christians. Within the Christian community, Dalit Christians are accorded a second-class status. Writing about the Dalit Christian experience, the historian James Massey claims that “Christians of Dalit background in India suffer threefold discrimination: one at the hands of members of the Indian society in general; two, from (the) Government of India, when it denies them constitutional rights which it gives to Dalits in general (ref. Presidential Order, 1950); and three from Christians of upper caste/class background.”32 One group has been particularly vocal about this injustice – the Dalit Christian Liberation. In a memorandum presented at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) in Chennai on 21 January 2000, the Dalit Christian Liberation Movement critiques the “mainstream”33 Christian community by stating: The marginalisation of Dalit Christians in our Christian minority institutions (in admissions and appointment) all along the several decades has very severely affected their social and economic mobility and progress. The degree of marginalisation is alarming and appalling since Dalits are a majority in the Catholic Church, but they are only about 6% as students and employees in most institutions. Their exclusion or marginalisation in employments has caused enormous economic loss to the community over decades. If this continues how can poverty be alleviated in the community?34

The same memorandum also juxtaposes the actions of the Church with that of the government:

It is high time that we realise that only reservation can safeguard the Dalits’ interest and opportunities against the caste-politics and caste-domination. Whether the government does it or not for Dalit Christians, the church needs to do it for them because, they are severely marginalised within the Church....So, the church cannot put the whole burden on the government, because she is owning institutions, properties, financial and material resources, powers and authority of secular nature for helping minorities, but from which Dalit Christian are excluded and alienated. The reservation we ask from the government is a case of constitutional equality irrespective of religion. But reservation for Dalit Catholics in the Church is necessary as there is a clear case of inequality within. Our elegant preaching for equality and liberation to the oppressed only goes to strengthen the plea for reservation to the oppressed. We cannot set right inequality without some norms of distributive justice. We may call it reservation ‘option’, ‘preference’ or priority. But the thing is it must be done and done without further delay.36



Three months after the presentation of this memorandum, on April 30, 2000, Marampudi Joji, one of only three Dalits amongst the 180 members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), “became the first Dalit archbishop in the Roman Catholic Church in India” and “was installed as Archbishop of Hyderabad, capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India”.37 This was indeed a huge achievement for the Dalit Catholics of India. However, Joji’s predecessor, Archbishop Samineni Arulappa, seemed to disagree with the Vatican’s choice of appointing a Dalit to the esteemed position of Archbishop and told a Catholic news service that “Rome is being taken for a ride. Rome does not know the ground realities.”38 Many members of the CBCI were embarrassed and Joji himself showed no signs of prejudice during the installation ceremony. But a comment made by S. Lourduswamy, a priest and executive secretary of the CBCI Commission for Dalits, Other Backward Communities, and Tribals, provides striking insight into the inner workings of the Indian Catholic chuch: “there are still people [in the church] who are not fully reconciled to accept and treat Dalits as equals.” The coming of the new millennium proved that Dalit Catholics, if not all Dalit Christians, were still considered outsiders by their fellow brethren in faith, even though non-Indian Christians, such as the Vatican elite, embraced them fully. THE ROLE OF DR. AMBEDKAR IN THE DALIT CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT In Religion and Dalit Liberation: An Examination of Perspectives, John C. B. Webster writes, “it is virtually impossible to ignore the figure and the views of Dr. Ambedkar in any prolonged consideration of Dalits and religion....today many Dalits are studying Dr. Ambedkar’s thought as an important, if not definitive, source of guidance for all aspects of life.”39 Although he was not a Christian, Dr. Ambedkar wrote out his thought-provoking views on Christianity. Indeed, according to Webster, some Dalit theologians “have drawn upon Dr. Ambedkar, his view of religion in general and of Christianity in particular, in preparing theological statements which go to the very heart of the Christian faith.”40 Webster notes that Dr. Ambedkar held a positive view of Christianity for the most part but did not approve of the doctrine of original sin: “The consequence [of the concept of original sin] is that the untouchable convert instead of being energized to conquer the environment contents himself with the belief that there is no use in struggling, for the simple reason that his fall is due to the sin committed not by him but by some remote ancestor of his called Adam. When he was Hindu his fall was due to his Karma. When he becomes a Christian he learns that his fall is due to the sins of his ancestor. In either case, there was no escape for him.”41 Here, Dr. Ambedkar is arguing for Dalit Christians to take matters into their own hands and struggle for their rights instead of staying passive.

Dr. Ambedkar did not seem to approve Dalit conversions to Christianity. Instead, he advocated Buddhism amongst the Dalit population shortly before he died in 1956.42 Indeed, Dalit mass conversions to Christianity were popular earlier during the British Raj, but as a consequence of the Constitutional Order of 1950, which denied Dalit converts to Christianity the benefits given to “Scheduled Castes,” and other factors, conversion stopped taking place. Yet, as noted by Webster, the 1970s, and especially the 1980s, saw beginnings of the Dalit Christian Liberation Movement.43 One example of this galvanized effort of “Dalit Christian self-assertion”44 is the dharna staged at New Delhi outside the Sacred Heart Cathedral on 18 November 1995.45 Another example of this can be found in the rally in New Delhi on August 17, 1990, when more than 100,000 Dalit Christians demanded their political rights.46 Dr. Ambedkar may not have been Christian, but his philosophies did influence generations of Dalit Christians. As noted by the historian Robert Eric Frykenberg in Christianity in India: From Beginnings to the Present, “Dr. B. R. Ambedkar generated a nationwide movement of protest, self-respect, and upward mobility among these people (untouchables).”47 This movement lives on amongst the Dalit Christians. MINORITY RIGHTS


36. http://www.dalitchristians.com/ Html/DCLMtocbci.htm 37. Anto Akkara, “India’s First Dalit Archbishop Holds ‘ No Grudge’ Over Predecessor’s Attack,” Christianity Today, May 11, 2000. http://www. christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/mayweb-only/44.0a.html 38. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ ct/2000/mayweb-only/44.0a.html 39. Webster, 35. 40. Webster, 54. 41. Webster, 59. 42. Webster, 61. 43. Ibid. 44. Ibid. 45. Robinson, 188.

48. Brown, 222. 49. “Anti-Christian Violence on the Rise in India,” Human Rights Watch, September 20, 2009. http://www. hrw.org/en/news/1999/09/29/antichristian-violence-rise-india 50. “Christians cower from Hindu Backlash in India’s East,” Reuters, Wed. September 3, 2008. http://www. reuters.com/article/idUSBOM142319 51. “Headlines November 2008,” Christianity Today, 15. 52. Christianity Today, 16. 53. Robinson, 187.

THE END OF GANDHI’S UTOPIAN VISION In 1946, Nehru wrote in a London-based Catholic newspaper that Indian Christians “form one of the many enriching elements in the country’s cultural and spiritual life. In a country where there are so many creeds, we must learn to be tolerant.”48 Flashforward into the 1990s and 2000s, Nehru’s call for tolerance has barely been heeded by many Hindus bent upon upholding the idea that India is a country for Hindus alone. Ever since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party took power in 1998, violence against Christians rose precipitously. The Human Rights Watch declares in a report published on the 30th of September, 1999, that: [a]ttacks against Christians throughout the country have increased significantly since the BJP began its rule at the center in March 1998. They include the killings of priests, the raping of nuns, and the physical destruction of Christian institutions, schools, churches, colleges, and cemeteries. Thousands of Christians have also been forced to convert to Hinduism... The Hindu organizations most responsible for violence against Christians are the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, VHP), the Bajrang Dal, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps, RSS).49

54. Robinson, 193. 55. Melanchthon, 111.

Ten years later, the situation is no different. In September 2008, another spate of antiChristian violence broke out in India in the eastern Indian state of Orissa. According to Reuters, the violence broke out in retaliation of the murder of a Hindu proselytizer “who ran a local campaign against Christian conversion.”50 Although it was not clear who was the murderer, Hindus blamed the Christians and embarked on what Nina Shea, vice chair for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, declared as a pogrom to “rid the state (of Orissa) of the Christian minority.”51 It is also important to take into context the fact that “Orissa’s population is mostly Dalit, the lowest rung in traditional Hindu society. Christianity represents relative security for a convert, since India has many reputable Christian schools, hospitals, and charities ... For that reason, many Hindus claim that converts to Christianity were bribed or tricked into it.”52 Since the formation of the Christian Dalit Liberation Movement in the 1980s,53 Dalit Christians have vexed India’s Hindu right-wing organizations (such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [RSS]) who chastise the church “for allegedly misleading poor people by converting them with the promise of social and economic uplift.”54 It seems that these Hindu groups are oblivious to the fact that it’s not in the self-interest of a Dalit Hindu to convert to Christianity since conversion will place him out of the “Scheduled Caste” quota. CONCLUSION Dalit Christians in India are struggling to hold their ground in a hostile environment. They may retain their rights as minority citizens according to the Constitution of India, but the reality of their situation on the ground is bleak. Yet the increase in persecution of Christians in the 1990s and 2000s has led to two positive developments. As noted earlier, the Indian Christian community is not homogenous. Indian Christianity is comprised of Syrian Christians, Protestants, Roman Catholics, and the majority group, Dalit Christians. According to Monica Melanchthon in her essay “Persecution of Indian Christians”: One immediate result of the persecutions is that it brought all denominations and groups of the Christian Church in India together. It fostered dialogue between the Catholics and the Protestants and also the Evangelicals and Pentecostals. All were affected by the incidents and with this came the realization that none of them on their own could tackle the problem but had to join forces with others to confront the Government and the Hindu right wing forces. It has therefore created solidarity among the Christian communities. The non-violent response of the Church and the Christian



communities has been a powerful testimony to the values and tenets of the Christian faith.55

James Massey seems to concur with Melanchthon’s argument while writing specifically about Dalit Christians:

the Dalits in order to become a full political force have to work for wider solidarity among themselves ... Christians/churches should become facilitators with an enabling role, so that Dalits may regain their lost dignity and humanity...the Christians/churches need to enable Christian Dalits specially to organise political action to obtain their basic rights.56

Persecution of Indian Christians may not decline any time soon in the future. But the best way to combat religious discrimination and bigotry is to stand firm and united. Hopefully, in the second decade of the 21st century, India’s diverse Christian population will further take concrete steps towards unity and harmony. A united Christian effort is probably the only way for Dalit Christians to gain their full rights and dignity and for other Christian groups to establish a truly ecumenical Christian presence in India.

Atif Mahmood is a senior at Duke University, where he is majoring in Religion. Within his major, he has focused on the historical and contemporary development of Judaism and Islam, with a strong emphasis on religious ethics. In 2009, Atif participated in the DukeEngage Cairo Program, where he taught English to refugees from Sudan and Somalia. His experience in Egypt led him to think about human rights, especially the rights of religious minorities. In his junior year of college, with Dr. Bruce Lawrence as his mentor, he conducted research on Christians in Pakistan, India and Indonesia. In his senior year, he will be working on a project examining the 2007-10 financial crisis through the perspective of Jewish ethics. After graduating from Duke, Atif plans to work for a few years before succumbing to the allure of higher education. A native of Islamabad, Pakistan, Atif likes hanging out with friends and watching sitcoms and movies in his free time.



56. Massey, 165.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Akkara, Anto. “India’s First Dalit Archbishop Holds ‘ No Grudge’ Over Predecessor’s Attack.” Christianity Today, May 11, 2000. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/mayweb-only/44.0a.html“Anti-Christian Violence on the Rise in India,” Human Rights Watch, September 20, 2009. http://www.hrw.org/en/ news/1999/09/29/anti-christian-violence-rise-india Background Note: India. Bureau of Central and South Asian Affairs, U.S. State Department, November 2009. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3454.htm Bob, Clifford. “‘Dalit Rights are Human Rights’: Caste Discrimination, International Activism, and the Construction of a New Human Rights Issue.” Human Rights Quarterly 29 (2007): 167-193. Brown, Judith M. “Indian Christians and Nehru’s Nation-State.” In India and the Indianness of Christianity: Essays on Understanding – Historical, Theological, and Bibliographical – in Honor of Robert Eric Frykenberg, edited by Richard Fox Young, 217-234. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publications, 2009. CIA World Factbook: India. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html Constitution of India: coiason29july08.pdf



“Christians cower from Hindu Backlash in India’s East,” Reuters, Wed. September 3, 2008. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBOM142319 DALIT CHRISTIAN LIBERATION MOVEMENT (DCLM) Reg.no. 127/91 MEMORANDUM PRESENTED AT THE MEETING OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF INDIA (CBCI) Held in Chennai, 21st January 2000. http://www.dalitchristians.com/Html/DCLMtocbci.htm Frykenberg, Robert Eric. Christianity in India: From Beginnings to the Present. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. “Headlines November 2008,” Christianity Today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/november/3.15.html Henderson, Carol E. Cultures and Customs of India. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2002. Massey, James. Dalits in India: Religion as a Source of Bondage or Liberation with Special Reference to Christians. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 2009. Melanchthon, Monica. “Persecution of Indian Christians.” Dialog: A Journal of Theology 41, no. 2 (2002): 103113. Multiple Marginalities: An Anthology of Identified Dalit Writings. Edited by Badri Narayan and A. R. Misra. New Delhi Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 2004. Robinson, Rowena. Christians of India. New Delhi: SAGE Publications, 2003. Webster, John C.B. Religion and Dalit Liberation: An Examination of Perspectives. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 2002. Akkara, Anto. “India’s First Dalit Archbishop Holds ‘ No Grudge’ Over Predecessor’s Attack.” Christianity Today, May 11, 2000. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/mayweb-only/44.0a.html



The Origins of Yale:

A Madras Governor’s Conflicted Legacy


1. Fanny Emily Penny, Fort St. George Madras, (London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., Lim., 1900) 203.

Born in America, in Europe bred, In Africa traveled, in Asia wed, Where long he lived and thrived; in London dead; Much good, some ill, he did; so hope all’s even,

4. Marguerite Eyer Wilbur, The East India Company, (New York: Richard R. Smith, 1945) 234.

And that his soul through mercy’s gone to Heaven. You that survive, and read this tale, take care

5. Bernard C. Steiner, “Two New England Rulers of Madras,” The South Atlantic Quarterly 1.3 (1902), 2 Apr. 2010 <http://books.google.com> 210.

For this most certain exit to prepare; Where blest in peace the actions of the just Smell sweet, and blossom in the silent dust. — Epitaph on the tombstone of Elihu Yale, Wrexham Churchyard, Wales1 Elihu Yale’s best known legacy was one he never saw himself: the American university that bears his name. The endowment, nine hundred pounds sterling, that helped set up Yale came from Elihu Yale’s service with the English East India Company in distant Madras, in southern India. In the twenty-first century, when colonialism and empires have come into disfavor: something of the disreputable attaches to Yale, the source of his wealth and his career in a trading company that forced exploitative treaties on native rulers, employed rapacious means to make profits, and permitted, if not participated, in the trading of slaves. Therefore, many Indians today, look upon him as being of a piece with the other English traders and officers who inaugurated the political subjugation and economic impoverishment of their country and countrymen. On the other hand, in the United States today he is celebrated, known only in his connection to the university and not in his association with the rampant corruption of the English East India Company. However, to condemn or praise Elihu Yale along these lines would be to take him out of his historical context. This paper will show that his story certainly begs a more nuanced look at the confused beginnings of the English East India Company and those early leaders who are rarely understood within the standards of their era. Yale certainly took advantage of local Indian rulers, but his aims were primarily mercantilist—not imperialist. He was a colorful character, and he took to his governorship with headstrong practicality, looking for any opportunity to make a profit for himself and his employers. Looking at Elihu Yale’s term as Governor of Madras, in the context of his own time, reveals him to be a fairly benevolent figure, especially compared with many of his contemporaries in the Company.

Elihu Yale was born in 1649 in Boston, Massachusetts. He spent most of his early life in Europe and his schooling in London led to a career in the English East India Company where he began in 1672 in the lowly capacity of a “writer”4 but rose rapidly to hold the exalted position of Governor of Fort St. George (Madras) by 1687. Frustratingly, little is known about his life during the fifteen years between 1672 and 1687, when his meteoric rise could mean either exceptionally diligent, honest service in the Company’s ranks or the skillful exploitation of connections, corruption and wheeling and dealing. Within five years of arriving at Fort St. George, Yale’s salary rose from five pounds per year to twenty, an indication both of his steady stream of promotions as well as the very low salaries that often drove officials to engage in private trade.5 The English East India Company, colloquially known as the John Company, allowed its employees to trade on their own accounts to a certain limited extent, most probably in order to appease the men they were paying so little. However, this trade could not interfere with Company business or take up space on its ships. While Company officials in southern India were forbidden from trading in pepper or calico, the primary exports of the region, they were, however, allowed to deal in some high-value small- sized items such as diamonds. Looking for additional capital to enter the diamond trade, and not one to miss an opportunity for profit, Yale married a wealthy widow, Catherine Hinmers, in 1680, six months after the passing of her husband Joseph, who had died while Second in Council in Fort St. George. Hinmers 28


already had three children with her previous husband, and eventually bore Yale three daughters and a son. With the newly acquired capital he gained from this union, Yale continued to build his fortune and climb in the Company ranks.

First arriving on Indian shores in 1608, in the late seventeenth century the English East India Company was still grappling with establishing itself. It was a phase of uncertainty and inconsistency in government policies as Company officials both in London and in India debated over the role they would play in these new territories. At this point, neither its directors and investors at home nor its officials in India envisaged a role for the Company as a state in charge of governance. Rather, they were scrambling to exert only as much power over the Indian peoples as would benefit their trading enterprise. Moreover, as Marguerite Eyer Wilbur has written in her account The East India Company published in 1945, “One of the most unpleasant phases of English colonial life in India at this period was the lack of confidence shown by the London Company in the men it appointed to positions of responsibility and trust in the Far East, and the bitter censure to which they were subjected.” 6 Yale’s three immediate predecessors, Sir William Lanham, Streynsham Master, and William Gyfford, were each appointed governor only to be asked to resign or forcibly removed “without proper investigation into the charges brought against them.”7 The Company directors seemed still unsure of what they wanted in their governors in India and, therefore, they were stricter and quicker to unseat them than they would be in later years. In 1684, Gyfford was absent from his post for a few months, so, as his Second in Council, Yale served as acting governor. When in 1687, the Mughal army led by emperor Aurangzeb attacked the English settlement at nearby Golconda, the officials at Fort St. George worried that a siege on Madras would follow. The Company directors convinced that Gyfford, considered by many a “too easy Governor,”8 could not handle the state of emergency, revoked his commission and forced him to step down in favor of Yale.

On July 25, 1687, the thirty-eight year old Elihu Yale began his term as governor during a time of both internal and external unrest for Madras. Within the fort, as mentioned above, three former governors had been pushed out and the remaining members of the local council did not like working with its newest leader. Even more urgently, beyond the walls of Fort St. George, Indian imperial forces were sweeping the region, threatening various English settlements. The Fort of Goldconda quickly fell to the Mughals in 1687, and in the following year the Mughals also captured the trading settlements of Hugli, Patna, Cossimbazar, Bizagapatam, Masulipatam, and Madopollam before, for reasons unclear in the accounts, signing a peace treaty in 1690 and returning them to the Europeans. 9 In 1688, the Marathas were also roaming the southern Carnatic region and were rumored to be planning an attack on Fort St. George. It is important to remember that at this time it was not clear, even to the British, that they necessarily either sought nor enjoyed any military advantage over Indian rulers. As such, governors like Yale often looked to establish peace agreements with local powers and preserve their own spheres of trading sovereignty rather than provoke confrontation in battle. Another source of insecurity came from the Company’s other European trading rivals as Madras was neighbored quite closely by a Dutch settlement at Pulicat, the French in Pondicherry and the Portuguese at St. Thomé. In this precarious position, Yale made the decision to use Company funds to reinforce the walls of the fort and also build a rampart around “blacktown,” the much more heavily populated native counterpart to Fort St. George. Although the directors did not sanction the building of defenses around the “native” portion of racially segregated Madras, the headstrong Yale still pressed on and oversaw the completion of this new wall. It is likely that had an enemy army indeed appeared, this rampart would have proven an invaluable defense and, rather than have his stubborn decision questioned and censured, THE ORIGINS OF YALE


6 . Wilbur 248. 7 . Ibid. 248. 8 . Steiner 209. 9 . “Elihu Yale,” (Madras Presidency Record Office: 1994) 2.

10. Penny 108. 11. “Elihu Yale” 3. 12. Penny 115. 13. Steiner 212.

the governor would have been commended for his far-sighted initiative. As it turned out, however, neither Fort St. George nor greater Madras were attacked during his term in office. The expense on the fortifications was severely criticized and contributed to the reasons for Yale’s eventual forceful removal as Governor of Madras.

Though he was governor for only five years, Yale had some significant achievements to his credit from the perspective, at least, of the Company’s interests. His most significant administrative achievement was most likely the foundation of the Madras Corporation, a governing body made up of a mayor, twelve alderman and sixty or more burgesses. Most significantly, this corporation represented a move towards the standardization of judicial practice by empowering a court made up of the mayor and aldermen to try all civil and criminal cases. Serving in the corporation could also be a stepping stone to higher office: in fact, Nathaniel Higginson, who later succeeded Yale as governor, had served as the first Mayor of Madras.

Yale’s strong hand with local rulers also helped him sign very profitable, and often extractive, treaties to the Company’s benefit. In the idiom of the time Penny wrote, “Though he was no politician, there was nothing weak or undecided about Yale; his attitude towards the shifty native was firm and confident.”10 The same opportunistic spirit that had led him to marry Hinmers seems to have motivated Yale to expand the English East India Company’s mercantile interests. He “took full advantage of every change of Government in the country to obtain new cowls or firmans.”11 During his fifteen years of service with the Company in southern India, Yale had developed relationships with these rulers and used them to extend the Company’s trading power as far as he could. Accepting a valuable firman from the Mughal court, Yale is said to have dressed in “rich native costume” and traveled to receive it in person.12 Even when he was a junior member of the local council, he had signed a firman with the ruler Harji Raja to gain trading and settlement rights in Porto Novo, Cuddalore, and Conimerro. In 1690, when Yale was governor, Rama Raja succeeded Harji, so the Governor immediately sent his brother, Thomas, to receive more concessions. With that second treaty Yale achieved a great success for the Company: fully acquiring Cuddalore, which came to be known as Fort St. David. This fort, while secondary in size and importance to Fort St. George, later became a crucial defense for the British when French forces laid siege to the Madras fort.

Yale also intervened in local conflicts to derive any benefits he could for the company’s trading interests. Thus, he supplied the Mughal commander Zulfikar Khan with weapons when his army rebelled against him and signed treaties with both the eternally inimical Mughal and Maratha empire. While these treaties were undoubtedly exploitative, signing Indian land over to the British for little in return, they demonstrated that Yale had some respect for the rulers he was dealing with. His ambition was to make a lot of money for the Company and for himself within the existing structure of the power, not by enforcing his superiority and entirely displacing the authority of local rulers.

In keeping with the practices of the era, the success of many of Yale’s efforts came with little consideration of Indian interests; however, as governor he did embark on a few socially-minded projects. Some of these expanded access to religious institutions and eventually dismantled the Madras slave trade. Yale was a particular patron of the fort church of St. Mary’s. In fact his marriage is the first recorded to have been performed there, and a large silver alms dish that Yale donated to honor the death of his son, David, was still used in services into the twentieth century. The church registers show that he also often stepped in as a ceremonial father figure for infants and brides.13 In acknowledgement of his patronage of the church, a marble plaque within now bears the motto of Yale University: “Lux et Veritas.” As the company directors learned of Yale’s interest in church matters, they also commissioned him to oversee the construction of a Protestant church 30


for “black people and Portuguese and slaves which serve them.”14 Although Yale was removed from office before this church could be built, his efforts towards to help manage the temples and mosques of the city were more successful and a new mosque was built in the Muthialpetta district of Madras during his governorship.

In perhaps his most innovative economic achievement, Yale also imported many expert weavers from neighboring regions to Madras, convincing them and their families to move by providing them houses and places for worship in a special area in blacktown called Peddanakipetta.15 These weavers helped expand both the English trade in muslin as well as the population of Madras itself, which had increased from 30,000 British and Indians in 1685 to more than 40,000 by the end of Yale’s term.16 In the establishment of the new Muthialpetta mosque and Yale’s patronage of temples and mosques to entice weavers to come to Madras, one can detect the Governor’s shrewd mercantilist agenda. Though himself a Protestant, Yale must have realized that with an element of tolerance and funding for other religions, he could keep artisans and other profit-generating Indians in Madras, putting the Company on stronger footing and adding to its yearly revenue. He also oversaw greater regulation of the police force and an official system of charitable aid for the beggars that would flow into the fort looking for relief. But one of Yale’s most lasting achievements was the building of a large new hospital in Madras, which made Western-style medical care much more widely available in the fort. In the century that followed, it was eventually opened to the general public, and, in 1835, it was converted into the Madras Medical College, at the time only the second medical college in all of India and which is still in operation today.17

Yale was a religious and philanthropic man who enacted various forms of social reform, but he did not always live by the strictest moral compass. Gossip from the small British community at the fort has survived through the centuries, painting him as a man who attended church every Sunday but also had a “looseness of life” that included keeping two long-term mistresses in his garden house, one of whom is reported to have borne him a son.18An infamous portrait that hung in the university named after him until very recently of Yale sitting while an Indian servant on a collar and leash knelt beside him has also called his morality into question. Though he did allow for the slave trade for some time, due to his respect for the Mughal emperor the Governor eventually closed this human trade run through Madras. A short biography of him from the Madras Presidency Records mentions that Yale’s term was a during a time “when slave trade was ‘great....by reason of the great plenty of the poor, by the soar [sic] famine and their cheapness.’”19 Initially, Yale sought just to regulate the trade and extract whatever revenue from it he could by placing a tax of one pagoda, the currency of the area, on every slave exported from the port of Madras. However, his relationship with local rulers had great influence on Yale’s policy in this matter. Complaints from the local Mughal governors about children being stolen and sold into slavery as well as their general objection to this trade led Yale to tighten regulation and eventually to prohibit the sale of slaves in Madras entirely. It is clear that Yale, though not necessarily a munificent patriarch or enlightened visionary, did not flaunt an assumed superiority over his Indian contemporaries but, rather, sometimes made decisions based in their interests. Despite his achievements as governor, a flurry of censures by the company’s directors on matters relating to his brother’s trading in China, the extent of his own private trade, and the building of the defensive wall around blacktown led to Yale’s untimely dismissal from office. Apart from the standard charges of conducting private trade to the detriment of the East India Company’s profits, more unusual accusations of illegal imprisonment, poisoning, and murder were hurled at Yale towards the end of his governorship and suspicions continued to follow him during the seven years he spent in Madras afterwards.



14. Ibid. 216. 15. Henry Davidson Love, Vestiges of Old Madras 1640-1800, (London: John Murray, 1913) 547. 16. “Elihu Yale” 5. 17. Fadare et. al. 73. 18. Steiner 211. 19. “Elihu Yale” 5.

20. Madras Presidency, Fort St. George, Records of Fort St. George: Letters to Fort St. George for 1691, (Madras: Superintendent Government Press, 1915) 2-3. 21. Letters to Fort St. George for 1691 3. 22. Letters to Fort St. George for 1691 7. 23. Steiner 214. 24. Ibid. 215. 25. Christian Science Monitor.

Records of letters exchanged between

Yale and his council reveal that the Company believed there were suspicious irregularities in the records of Thomas Yale’s trade in China and Elihu’s defense of his brother only led to accusations of his complicity in the illegal trade. As council members Thomas Wavell, John Cheney, William Fraser, and Thomas Gray began to lead the questioning against Yale, the Governor simply stopped calling his council to session, touching off a series of sparring letters between the two parties. In a January 6, 1690 letter the four councilmen wrote that the law required:

the Council be summoned and met once every week at least, to propose, consult, and debate the good of the place and the management of their affairs...but your Honor has not only neglected, but willfully refused to give obedience to this our Right Honorable Masters most necessary injunction. We having often humbly requested Your Honor to settle Council days in compliance to their commands, which you have both denied and slighted pretending your own business was too great...most of your actions have of late been either without our advice and knowledge or contrary to our approbations...you can’t pretend we ever refused to give our attendance upon your summons, not withstanding we must confess your continual affronts, abuses and ill language is somewhat unpleasant to us, having never been used to the like from any person but your Honor, but we are willing to bear with that and at many more ill names as you are able to contrive rather than to let the Company business suffer from any private discontentment.20

Though it is difficult to tell now whether these men were as desperate as they sound to call the Council to order or if this was simply public posturing at Yale’s expense, in a response three days later the Governor wrote back with a vengeance, referring to their letter as “scurrilous paper,” “insolent malice,” and a “venomous production.”21 He went on to explain that he had scrutinized his brother’s trading records and had he found something amiss, he would have reported it. The Governor further accused his Council of denying Thomas Yale proper legal defense. In a colonial flourish at the end of the vitriolic letter, comedic in its incongruity, Yale signed off “Your Faithful Friend to serve you, Elihu Yale.”22 Later in the year the Council wrote to Yale that his attempts at explaining his brother’s and his own innocence in the matter “were stuffed with evasive arguments and false affirmations to blind the Right Honorable Company and cloak your brother’s frauds.”23 Accusations of collusion with his brother led to greater scrutiny of Yale’s finances. Due to his extensive private trading activities—a standard though illegal practice in which almost all company men were involved at the time—this investigation revealed a fortune. At the time of the inquiry Yale was in possession of about 500,000 pagodas or 175,000 pounds sterling, when the highest annual salary he had ever collected from the Company was three hundred pounds.24

It is unclear whether Thomas Yale was indeed corrupt, and to what extent his brother was involved in his trading, but it is significant to note that the greatest plunder Elihu Yale committed was against the Company’s profits, he was certainly greedy, but he was not focused on grabbing away power from Indians. Interestingly, less than ten years after Yale was removed from office, Thomas Pitt, a man so well known for the fortune he made in illegal private trade that it earned him the nickname “Diamond,” assumed the governorship at Fort St. George. This demonstrated that even in the few years between Yale and his successor, the Company “had grown tired of the attempt to suppress what they would have termed his unlawful trading.”25 In the centuries following Yale’s term in office, the English East India Company became more tolerant of trade corruption among its officials and more focused on building its governing power within the colony, a slow shift that led to ever more exploitation of the Indian people. 32


In addition to complaints based on evidence of Yale’s illicit trading, which the Directors contended made him money that should have gone to the Company instead of his own private account, the Governor was criticized for his spending of Company funds on fortifying blacktown. This series of controversies led to deep divisions in Yale’s Council. As questioning about the blacktown rampart and trade in China escalated, the Council’s suspension continued, and accusations were traded in the letters mentioned above. Suddenly, in the middle of the controversy, three of the four Councilmen who had most vehemently opposed Yale died in quick succession. Wavell and Cheney both died in 1691, and Gray in 1692 at the young age of twenty-three. Whispered speculation swirled around the fort as people wondered whether Yale had had a hand in these untimely deaths. Residents of Fort St. George wondered if the three men “were strangely rubbed out of the world...by the same Machiavellian policy.”26 It was also not the first time suspicions of murder had attached to Yale; a story of his murdering a groom who had taken one of Yale’s horses out to ride without his permission had often been whispered around the fort.27

Although it was convenient for Yale to have his primary adversaries gone, no official charges of murder were brought against him. However, the Governor was frustrated by the accusations and asked that an honest and impartial outsider investigate these various matters. The Company sent Captain John Goldsborough to Madras to look into the issue of the rampart, and at the same time decisively sent word to Higginson that he was to replace Yale as governor. A letter dated 15 December 1692 from Goldsborough to the Directors indicates that he found Yale’s spending in blacktown to have been without merit. He wrote: “Having this forenoon viewed the mud points and walls about the blacktown made by the late President Yale, they appear to be so worn, ruined and washed away by the rains as they are altogether [useless] and of no defense as they now are.”28 A claim was made against Yale for this unauthorized expenditure and he was ordered to personally repay 4,923 pagodas to the Company.

Though the Directors had notified Higginson of his promotion a month earlier, on 22 January 1692 a dispatch from England publicly deposed Yale, citing that the Company could have been seeing greater profits from Madras had it not been for Yale’s illegal dealings and poor leadership.29 In October 1692 Higginson formally took office as Governor of Madras. Though he had been forced out of his position, Yale remained active in Madras, proving a nuisance to Higginson for much of his term. He continued to fight the various charges against him and levied some inflammatory accusations himself. In 1696, he sent a petition to King James II complaining about how he was being treated. Yale contended that he was not afforded impartial judges, that all witnesses for his defense had been threatened and sent away, and that he had been denied both legal council and a jury. He further accused those at Fort St. George of imprisoning him illegally, seizing much more of his property than had been ordered, and even attempting to poison him. He said

“they had kept him as a prisoner in the fort ever since November 1692, with a design not only to ‘stifle your petitioner’s just complaint of their un-Christian-like usage towards him but to enforce him into despair or otherwise to bring him on some distemper that may hasten his death which not long since by poison was never effected.’”30

Naturally, Higginson and his Council denied all of these charges, calling them “not only groundless, but basely scandalous,”31 and insinuated that any poisoning attempt on Yale’s life would be a result of his own “loose living.” It is likely that Yale’s complaints never received any further attention from either the Company or the King.

In 1699, Yale finally returned to London with his family, a year after Higginson gave up his post as governor. In fact, Higginson “seems to have been the first governor of Madras on record, who retired from the Presidency without a stain on his name.”32 On his return to England, it seems, his former employers also cleared Yale’s name, naming him to some THE ORIGINS OF YALE


26 Love, 555. 27. Nathaniel B. Stewart, “Elihu Yale,” (1910) 3. 28. Love 568. 29. Letters to Fort St. George for 1691 182. 30. “Elihu Yale” 8. 31. Nathaniel Higginson: Royal Governor of Madras 1692-1698, (Durham, N.C.: The Seeman Printery, Printing and Binding, 1902) 10-11.

32. Nathaniel Higginson 8. 33. Hiram Bingham, Elihu Yale: Governor, Collector and Benefactor. (Massachusetts: The American Antiquarian Society, 1938) 27. 34. Susan A. Evans, “Ancestry: genealogical account of the Evans and Yale families,” (1915) 13-14. 35. Nathaniel Higginson 13. 36. C. Lestock Reid, Commerce and Conquest, (London: C. & J. Temple Ltd., 1947) 72.

unspecified position with the title of “Governor” within the Company but not in India. It could have been that the Directors simply forgave Yale after he paid his fine. But it significant that a new East India Company had been formed at the time, which had already recruited former Governor Streynsham Master. The John Company may have been worried that Yale would also take his 27 years of experience in India to benefit the rival company if he were not somehow recognized.33

Yale had retained much of his fortune and spent it liberally in England while also managing his family’s country estate in Plas Grono, Wales. Continuing in his philanthropy, he gave an endowment to the St. Paul’s School in London that he had attended when he was a young boy and, a few years later he made a donation to the university now known as Yale. In 1710, a man named Jeremiah Dummer donated about seven hundred books to the library of the struggling Collegiate School of Connecticut located in New Haven and subsequently asked Yale to make a donation as well. The former governor sent about thirty to forty books that year but made no further endowment until 14 January 1718, when Mather wrote to him: Sir, though you have felicities in your family, which, I pray, God continue and multiply, yet, certainly, if what is forming at New Haven might wear the name of Yale College it would be better than a name of sons and daughters, and your munificence might easily obtain for you a commemoration and perpetuation of your valuable name, which would be much better than an Egyptian pyramid.34

It is unclear whether Mather ever considered naming the school after his first benefactor or if he deliberately chose not to christen his school “Dummer College.” However, by February 1721 Yale had sent an additional nine hundred pounds to the college and promised to give two hundred more per year for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, however, he died five months later and his heirs chose to make no further donations.35 Though his final donation seems small, even adjusted to today’s currency, it came at a crucial point in the development of the institution now named Yale University and gave to this man, tainted by an arguably chequered past, a noble and lasting legacy.

In reflecting on his legacy, Yale’s governing principles are too easily conflated with those of an individual far more better known for his contributions to the English East India Company: Robert Clive. Both men arrived in India, less than a century apart, at a young age and rapidly worked their way up through the Company. However, Clive pursued much more aggressive militaristic policies against Indian rulers, altering forever the history of India with his victory in the 1757 Battle of Plassey. In the years after Yale’s term as governor there, Madras continued to grow and became one of the most important English settlements in India. By the time Fort St. George celebrated its hundred-year anniversary, around the time when Clive first arrived, Madras had transformed from a small fishing village to one of the chief trading ports in India. Clive arrived in Madras in 1744 at another difficult time for the Company when various French governors, based in nearby Pondicherry, had been planning attacks on Madras and, eventually succeeded in capturing it in 1746. Although Yale’s term had also witnessed rivalry between European settlements, the eighteenth century saw far greater aggression between the Europeans in India, particularly as the French and British were locked in a war back in Europe as well—the War of Austrian Succession that ended in 1748. During the siege on Madras, Clive was among those who were able to escape to Fort St. David, after which he was judged as being “of a martial disposition” and promoted to Captain.36 Like Yale, Clive was a headstrong leader who often acted with or without approval from the Directors, his first truly audacious act being an attack on the Nawab of Arcot in 1748 for the purpose of installing his own candidate, Mohammed Ali, on the throne.37 Here the start of a significant shift, and the significant difference between Yale and 34


Clive, is evident as relations with local rulers surpassed purely commercial aims. Where Yale sought certainly exploitative treaties with these rajas and nawabs, the accounts seem to indicate that he never resorted to the full military aggression that was Clive’s primary stratagem and never sought to control any of the local kingships, as Clive did through a proxy with the Nawab of Arcot.

Clive proved even further the extent to which he was willing to exploit and plunder the Indian peoples at the 1757 Battle of Plassey. Accounts of Clive’s life seem to suggest that he did make some effort at a diplomatic peace between him and his “treacherous and ill- tempered”38 opponent, the Bengal Nawab Siraj-ud-daula. However, since these were British accounts written from a British point of view, it is impossible to determine if Clive were really as conciliatory as some histories depict him. Accounts of the “Black Hole” of Calcutta, an overnight massacre in which more than a hundred English men, women and childred died in Siraj-ud-daula’s prison, have cast upon this Nawab the reputation of being a cruel despot and, arguably, given Clive greater justification in attacking his throne. However, more recent histories suggest that the Nawab actually had not known anything about the imprisoned Europeans and also that he was the victim of “numerous [other] false stories...such as his alleged pastime of pulling the wings off birds or watching boats deliberately overturned so that he could watch the occupants drown.”39

It is likely that Siraj-ud-daula’s greatest faults were really his indecisiveness and lack of courage, which allowed for the loss of his legacy and his throne to Clive. What is clear from the texts is that Clive and Siraj-ud-daula did not reach any sort of agreement, and that prior to battle Clive secured a secret alliance with the Nawab’s head of armed forces Mir Ja’far in exchange for promising him the throne. With this treachery arranged, Clive was able to beat Siraj-ud-daula in less than a day, install Mir Ja’far, force the French out of Bengal, and acquire immense concessions from the new Nawab for himself and his employer. For the second time, Clive dramatically interfered in the sovereignty of the Indian princes and further corrupted the original commercial ideals of the English East India Company.

Between 1760 and 1765, Clive resided in England before returning to a chaotic Bengal for a second governorship. After helping to put down a “mutiny” by the new nawab Mir Kasim and the British Sepoy troops, Wilbur says Clives’s policy “was to limit the company’s conquests to Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa, and make Oudh a buffer state... By doing so he hoped to keep the company out of war, and enable it to continue as a mercantile organization.”40 While this does indicate that the Company, and perhaps Clive as well despite his previous military campaigns, was still not comfortable with or interested in ruling the subcontinent, it shows a significant change from the previous century as the John Company was in fact taking control of Indian governments. One of Clive’s reforms from this second governorship best demonstrates this, as he took for the Company full ownership of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa’s military defense and fiscal management from the Nawab, bringing Company revenues in these provinces to two million pounds annually and effectively reducing the Nawab to a figurehead. After returning to England again, Clive was the subject of a parliamentary inquiry about his military decisions and the large concessions he had received from Mir Ja’far. Like Yale, he deeply resented these accusations, and even after being cleared of most charges a discouraged Clive is reported to have taken his own life in 1774.41

There are many similarities between the stories of Yale and Clive’s careers, given that both joined the Company as young clerks and after a rapid rise to power were eventually criticized and disgraced by the Company for which they had made certain significant achievements. From the perspective of their Indian contemporaries, or that of many modern thinkers, these were also both men who promoted exploitative policies in a land that



37. Wilbur 259. 38. Ibid. 266. 39. Peter Harrington, Plassey 1757, (London: Osprey Publishing Limited, 2005) 33. 40. Wilbur 271. 41. Wilbur 272-273.

was not their own. However, Yale was a man who worked both with and against Indians to achieve his commercial ends, while Clive adopted a more marked strategy of aggression against these local leaders to fulfill his desire for power.

Given the violence, racism, and exploitation inherent in colonialism, one cannot say definitively that either colonial governor Yale or Clive was a noble man. However, Yale served at during a nascent stage of the English East India Company’s establishment in Madras, one in which Indian rulers were still accorded respect and commercial success was not equated with governing responsibility. Clive came at the time of, and helped lead the Company’s transition into a more intrusive, powerful, and oppressive force. Elihu Yale was a man who both exploited and protected his Indian subjects; he was both a strong leader and a probable conspiracy theorist. The fact that he managed to secure for his name a legacy greater than that of nearly any other English East India Company official does not mean that he should in turn be condemned by modern interpretation.

Nikila S. Sri-Kumar is a senior at Yale University, where she is double majoring in South Asian Studies and Economics. Her areas of study have included South Asian f ilm, literature, and politics as well as language studies in both Hindi and Tamil. As her family is from Chennai (formerly Madras) and she attends Yale, she has long been fascinated by the connection between Madras and the university – namely, the East India Company off icial who served as governor of the former and lent his name to the latter. Sri-Kumar hopes to apply her academic interests toward a career in development economics, focusing specif ically on South Asia. BIBLIOGRAPHY Bence-Jones, Mark. Clive of India. London: Constable & Company Limited, 1974. Bingham, Hiram. Elihu Yale, The American Nabob of Queen Square. Tonbridge, Kent: The Whitefriars Press Ltd., 1938. Bingham, Hiram. Elihu Yale: Governor, Collector and Benefactor. Massachusetts: The American Antiquarian Society, 1938. “Elihu Yale.” Madras Presidency Record Office, 1944. Evans, Susan A. “Ancestry: genealogical account of the Evans and Yale families.” 1915. Fadare, Oluwole, M. Rajan Mariappan, Deepak Narayan, and J.R. Sankaran. “Elihu Yale and the Medicine He Promoted.” Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 2004. Gandhi, Ajay. “Yale, India, and the failure of the ‘global university.’” The Hindu. May 4, 2005. Harrington, Peter. Plassey 1757. London: Osprey Publishing Limited, 2005. Lawson, Charles. Memories of Madras. Gurgaon, India: Shubhi Publications, 1905. Love, Henry Davidson. Vestiges of Old Madras 1640-1800. London: John Murray, 1913. Madras Presidency. Fort St. George. Records of Fort St. George: Letters to Fort St. George for 1688. Madras: Superintendent Government Press, 1915. Madras Presidency. Fort St. George. Records of Fort St. George: Letters to Fort St. George for 1691-1696. Madras: Superintendent Government Press, 1915. Nathaniel Higginson: Royal Governor of Madras 1692-1698. Durham, N.C.: The Seeman Printery, Printing and Binding, 1902. Penny, Fanny Emily. Fort St. George Madras. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., Lim., 1900. Reid, C. Lestock. Commerce and Conquest. London: C. & J. Temple Ltd., 1947. Steiner, Bernard C. “Two New England Rulers of Madras.” The South Atlantic Quarterly 1.3 (1902). 2 Apr. 2010 <http://books.google.com>. Stewart, Nathaniel B. “Elihu Yale.” 1910. Wheeler, J. Talboys. Early Records of British India: A History of the English Settlements in India. London: Trübner and Company, 1878. Wilbur, Marguerite Eyer. The East India Company. New York: Richard R. Smith, 1945. “Wrexham Pride in Church that Elihu Yale Attended,” Christian Science Monitor. Nov. 15, 1915.



Nationalism to Terrorism:

The Shifting Paradigm of Islam in Pakistan



INTRODUCTION Any modern or historical government whose political identity incorporates religion poses a unique challenge to its citizens. Marrying one system designed to maintain worldly well-being with another designed to maintain spiritual well-being creates a dynamic that can both strengthen or jeopardize the capabilities of a society. In contemporary times, perhaps no other religion has wrestled with this problem more so than Islam. Without the Western concept of “separation of church and state” in its historical discourses, the degree to which religion should affect the workings of a government has long perplexed Muslim theologians and political theoreticians.

Carrying into modern times, the state of Pakistan, in its over sixty years of existence, has emerged as one of the quintessential examples of this debate. Born out of a distinct identity of Islamic heritage, Pakistan has seen a tumultuous relationship develop between its politics and religion. Despite the constructive historical intentions of reviving religious identity, present-day Pakistan faces dire conditions in which its seemingly innocuous religious background has transmuted into a justification for violent terrorism. The way by which Islam transformed from the basis of national independence into a cause célèbre for militancy requires an understanding of how and why the role of religion changed throughout Pakistani history. In what follows, I will explain how three paradigm shifts in Pakistani politics caused this to happen. First, I will examine the early theoreticians of the Indian Muslim state who created the first paradigm of Islam in Pakistani in light of both historical religious roots and current political circumstances. Then, I will show how the regime of Zia ul-Haq reshaped the first paradigm into a patron-client system inculcated by the turbulent mix of religion and military. Finally, I will show how the modern religious militants were the result of a third and very costly paradigm shift from the religious groups empowered by General Zia. This analysis, I believe, will demonstrate the interconnectedness of Pakistan’s present to its early history and the need for its recognition if pluralism and stability will ever take hold.

Since the inception of Islam in seventh century Hijaz (modern-day Saudi Arabia), the question of an “Islamic state” has engrossed Muslim thinkers balancing the ostensible revelations from God with the practical needs of governance. With an exemplar—the Prophet Muhammad—whose life included religious and political rule, subsequent Islamic societies rarely have known separation between Islam and politics. Yet, problems in defining the Muslim state began just as soon as the Prophet died—disputes over his succession and how someone other than a prophet could conduct the Islamic state. While most Muslims consider the four caliphs who ruled Muslim civilization after the Prophet as “rightly guided,” their reigns were marked with doubts about how to properly choose a successor, defend oneself, and generally govern an Islamic polity. As a result, the states and empires that claim Islam as their guide have long struggled to reconcile the practical needs of governing with the lack of specific methods of governing mentioned in the scriptures of the Qur’an or Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet). While scholars and jurists could derive the broad ends of government such as just and fair rule, the way governments have implemented these ends has varied vastly. From the crisis of replacing the Prophet, to medieval dialectics about just rule, to modern notions of ruling under puritanical interpretations of Islam, debates have created an inextricable conflation of Islam and politics. In order to understand how Islam has manifested itself within the modern state of Pakistan, this history must be considered. Those in the West cannot insist upon democratic governmental reform of modern Muslim states unless they understand how the states came to exist alongside Islamic history. When notions of a separate Indian Muslim polity emerged in the first half of the 20th century, those such as Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allamah Iqbal dealt with a unique set of circumstances to which they catered 38


their ideas and goals. However, to discount the transpirations of nearly fourteen centuries of grappling with the marriage of Islam and politics would deny the ability to understand the trajectory of Islamic thought as it existed at the dawn of Pakistani statehood. ISLAMIC UNDERPINNINGS OF THE STATE IDENTITY

2 Sharif Al-Mujahid, Ideology of Pakistan (Islamabad: IRI Press, 1974), 48. 3 Al-Mujahid, Ideology, 60.

Much like the multitude of other polities that arose in the Muslim world, the conception of Pakistan is inseparably linked to the idea of an “Islamic state.” While connoting a government with some degree of basis or guidance from Islam, no historical consensus maintained exactly what this meant. When the idea for an Indian Muslim state began to emerge, the main theorists, and later those putting the ideas into practice, had substantial room for interpretation. As later Pakistani leaders and governors proved, this freedom of interpretation can help adapt to specific circumstance while also allowing for justification of certain ulterior motivations. However, the infancy of Pakistan lies not in a certain religious ruling or defense a historical geographical boundary, but rather in a simple notion of identity. With Hindu majority India still under the tutelage of Great Britain in the early 20th century, the earliest conceptions of the need for separation came in the drawing of religious lines. Hindus and Muslims had lived together for centuries in India without one or the other seriously initiating separate statehood. Still, the beginnings of what would ultimately culminate in the Pakistani state lie in those factors differentiating Muslims from the majority Hindu Indian population. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (d. 1898) was the first to concretely realize a need for Muslims to retain their heritage amidst both the Hindu majority and British imperialism1. For Khan and his like-minded contemporaries, the threat to Muslims was not a question of religious freedom in the modern sense (i.e. to practice without persecution). Rather, Islam in this sense referred also to pride in heritage, the Urdu language, and the general retention of “their distinct religio-political entity.”2 The broad social implications of this definition—a long-held universal notion of Islam—cultivated the first concrete separations of Indian Muslim identity. When the Indian Hindu majority began formulating the idea of a “uni-national and uni-cultural”3 independent state, Muslims starkly began to fear the viability of their broadly Islamic way of life.

Thereafter and until 1947, the statehood movement was inseparable from the Islamic identity and heritage of Indian Muslims. Just like any polity in its infancy, the precedents set by the first leaders and figureheads of the state live on well beyond the first generation. As for Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allamah Muhammad Iqbal provided the first paradigm for how Pakistan would become an Islamic state. The movement’s leaders first entered the discourse of statehood once the political situation in India became accepted as a threat to the Indian Muslim culture. As a “brilliant political strategist,”4 Jinnah understood that any chance of success hinged upon the continued cultivation of an Islamic identity. More so than Iqbal and later religious thinker Maulana Maududi, Jinnah kept his distance from Islamic theology to rally Muslims to the creation of a new state. Though still speaking in terms of a viable state made distinguishable by its Muslim heritage, Jinnah used religious language only insofar as it worked as a “people building force.”5 While Jinnah ultimately had the greatest influence in the establishment of Pakistan as an actualized polity, Iqbal sought more assiduously to explore the Islamic nature of the state. For Iqbal, a poet and mystically-oriented Muslim, Pakistan would surpass the simple role of providing a separate state for Indian Muslims. Mindful of the Prophet Muhammad’s paradigmatic establishment of the first Muslim ummah, Iqbal saw Pakistan as the territorial potential for a rebirth of Islam. Not only would this provide motivation for the formation of a strong new state, but it would also render Pakistan the Muslim World’s leader in orienting state function “to the higher ends of establishing God’s law.”6 Therefore, though differing on the spiritual implications of Pakistan’s establishment, both Iqbal and Jinnah successfully created the paradigm of a separate Islamic identity requiring NATIONALISM TO TERRORISM

1 Stephen Philip Cohen, The Idea of Pakistan (Washington, DC: Brookings, 2004), 25.


4 Cohen, The Idea, 28. 5 Al-Mujahid, Ideology, 61. 6 Cohen, The Idea, 29.

7. Hamid Enayat. Modern Islamic Political Thought (New York: IB Tauris, 1982), 100. 8. Enayat, Modern Islamic, 102. 9. Hussein Haqqani. Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military (Carnegie: Washington, DC, 2005), 22-23. 10. Haqqani, Pakistan: Between, 12. 11. Ibid., 23. 12. Cohen, The Idea, 7. 13. Haqqani, Pakistan: Between, 56.

a separate Islamic polity.

Yet, the lofty visions put forth by Jinnah and especially Iqbal were not necessarily congruent with all Pakistani visions of the new state. Not only were Iqbal’s ideals ripe with history and religious destiny, but not all Pakistanis clung to Islam as their unique guiding force. The fact remained that Islam had served as the badge of identity to unify Indian Muslims, not as a spiritual drive to form a modern iteration of the ummah. Nonetheless, “the sole justification for establishing the state of Pakistan was that its people belonged to Islam,”7 and its transformation into an ideology left room for unprecedented political maneuvering. Most relevantly, the creation of the religious-political party Jama’at-e Islami and the ideas of its founder Maulana Maududi demonstrate this transformation. Though not a jurist himself, Maududi closely associated himself with them, and in contrast to Jinnah, rooted his support for Pakistan in clear religious terms. To that point, Maududi actually opposed the use of Islam as a “universalist religion” to undergird state identity at first—until he realized its necessity to create a new “Islamic state.”8 He envisioned a state in which Islam transcended identity and extended to public attitudes and the letter of the law. Yet, if Maududi created a religio-political party extrapolated from the scheme Jinnah actualized, the state elites who came later used religion in a way extrapolated from Maududi. Maududi’s vision of Pakistan as the “bastion of Islam” came to mean that any enemy of Pakistan was then an enemy of Islam.9 On his part, Jinnah appeared to ease away from using religious language when Pakistan gained sovereign statehood in 1947. Speaking just before formal independence, he remarked, “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state... I think we should keep [the idea of citizenry taking importance of religion] in front of us as our ideal.”10 Of course, while secularists hailed this as a distancing from Islam, it clearly could not erase the Islamic background of the state. On the part of Maududi, the slogan of the Jama’at portended a different ideological future: “The country is God’s rule; rule must be by God’s law; the government should be that of God’s pious men.”11 ZIA UL-HAQ AND “ISLAMIZATION” While the effects of Pakistan’s ambiguous relationship with Islam went beyond the justification for its creation, ensuing regimes sought varying relationships with Islam. Whereas someone like Jinnah always seemed to understand exactly how he “used” Islam to gain momentum for the new state, those like Iqbal and Maududi foresaw a divine manifestation in the potential creation of Pakistan. With such varying motivations, though focused on a common goal, ensuing governmental actors had a relatively wide spectrum in which to operate between religion and politics. Despite any notions about pluralism coexisting with Islam in a government left behind by Jinnah and Iqbal, the leadership of Pakistan after 1958 existed concomitantly with military power. With early military coups by Ayub Khan in 1958 and Yahya Khan in 1969, the young and still malleable Pakistani identity was placed at the mercy of military regimess. While religious salience soared at times under these regimes, as in the conflict for East Pakistan, neither Ayub, Yahya, nor Yahya’s successor Zulfikar Ali Bhutto put forth a regime suggesting a personal deference to Islam over politics.12 As an effect of this, Yahya Khan viewed Pakistani’s Islamic psyche as “a strategy for national integrity [that] the military—as an institution—had adopted.”13 However, as the “mosque-military combine” once again gained momentum and sufficient support, the subsequent leadership shifted this paradigm again to formidably alter religion’s role in governing Pakistan. When General Zia ul-Haq came to power in June, 1977, Pakistanis were outwardly under the rule of another career military veteran putting forth broad justificatory Islamic rhetoric. Yet, whereas such previous leaders had clearly defined political and military ends for which they could manipulate Pakistani Islamic sentiments, Zia demonstrated a 40


more genuinely ingrained piety for Islam. However, the essence of Zia’s outlook on the role Islam ought to play in Pakistan, though more emphatic than his predecessors, still cannot be separated from the circumstances leading up to this point. Even if Zia did have a genuine piety derived from his faith in Islam, the situation and history of Pakistan still shaped the way this piety became manifest. When Zia is described as someone placing special “emphasis on Islam,”14 this is Islam as Zia interpreted it in Pakistan in 1977—not necessarily analogous to interpretations of his contemporaries in Egypt, Iran, or any other time or place in Muslim history. Therefore, though the governance of General Zia may merit significant criticism, criticism of his “Islamization” must come from noticeable inconsistencies and patterns suggesting its use for political strategy.

In other words, if the sources of Islamic knowledge truly held the highest authority in governing,15 then its derivative principles (i.e. Shari’a law) would assumedly have consistent application, no matter how personal interests may change. Unfortunately, neither these derivative principles nor the consistency of application have gained consensus in most of Muslim history. Immediately as he came to power, Zia came to identify himself in contrast to his predecessor, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Though Bhutto actually had been elected, Zia framed him into a moral pariah of duplicitous leadership and no deference to Islam. While the accuracy of these accusations against Bhutto certainly depends on the individual judging, Zia and his military confidants more quietly resented the separation Bhutto created between his government and the military.16 While Pakistanis had certainly seen variations on this theme since the state’s inception, the aforementioned zeal with which Zia came into power expedited his sociopolitical transformation. As previously explained, Jinnah consciously invoked Islamic sentiments as a form of unifying Indian Muslims into a new polity. With a pointed concern toward the political establishment of Pakistan, he then sought to create a social environment that, while Islamic, gave deference to pluralism. Yet, simply because Jinnah attempted to ease the Islamic sentiments which transformed “Indian Muslim” into “Pakistani” does not render his previous religious invocations irrelevant. As General Zia brought his religiosity into his government, he also brought a relationship with Islam that he felt actually extended Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan.17 At the base of his construal, especially as it contrasted with Bhutto, lay his assertion that “the basis of Pakistan was Islam.”18 This statement was not just a historical reflection, rather a justification for all of Zia’s impositions in what would be known as “Islamization.” Much like Maududi, Zia presented Islam as the pinnacle source of “moral rejuvenation” that would uniquely occur in Pakistan. The laws and practices Zia would impose worked to forge an identity based on Islam, unique from India, and unarguably necessary. The practical effects of Zia’s tenure in power manifestly moved the nation toward an expanded ideological horizon. Most noticeably, Zia’s intermixing of Islam with the military that had brought him to power monumentally changed Pakistan’s mode of operation up to the present. To Zia, popular election (i.e. of Bhutto) was irrelevant if that leader did not hold Islam as the highest priority in decision making. The military served the role as the keepers of the state (and therefore Islam), and as a corps, it was superior to civilians in a position of power. This air of military superiority, no matter how manufactured, only became heightened with the Afghani “jihad” against the Soviet invasion and the everpresent Kashmir conflict. With enough external activity to keep the focus off of Zia’s aversion to democratic government, Zia began developing patron-client relationships with Islamic political groups, many of which followed the model of the Jama’at. In exchange for the increased breadth of support outwardly shown for Zia, Muslim jurists received greater influence in state affairs than in previous regimes. Even as many of the top military commanders did not share Zia’s piety, they owed their status to the claims of military



14. Cohen, The Idea, 108. 15. Haqqani, Pakistan: Between, 133. 16. Cohen, The Idea, 84. 17. Haqqani, Pakistan: Between, 131. 18. Ibid., 135.

19. Ibid., 143. 20. Ibid., 140. 21. Cohen, The Idea, 108. 22 Cohen, The Idea, 153.

power made in the name of Islam.19 As such, Zia’s confidants generally never had reason to question or subvert the manner by which the General kept the military at the forefront of politics. Similarly, with a leader who empowered them to exert religious influence more so than ever before, the religious groups and their leaders had no reason to denounce the military’s grasp on Pakistan’s internal affairs.

In light of the modern attempts at reconciling Islam and the Pakistani state, the effects of Zia’s “Islamizing” of the government are especially significant. When Zia implemented sweeping acts like a compulsory two and a half percent zakat (religiously required alms), the line between sincerity and insincerity of Islamization became dangerously blurred. For example, while zakat is one of the five “pillars” of Islam, Hussain Haqqani critically points out its plausible role in solidifying the patron-client relationship Zia enjoyed with Islamic groups.20 This act, along with the marginalization of women and reformulation of education, all contributed to remind Pakistanis that they had the privilege of living under Shari’a law and the military made it possible. Amidst the Islamic rhetoric and infusion of Shari’a law into everyday life, the germane effect of Islamization certainly had little to do with changing Pakistani’s collective faith in Islam. Compared to his predecessors and rulers of other undemocratic Muslim states, Zia may appear to have harbored many of the same manipulative attributes that resulted in his rise to power. While not necessarily false, most of his critics still would not question his personal faith in Islam.21 Still, the major long-term problem Zia created for Pakistan came from his patronage of the religious parties. When these parties, many of whom developed more militant than religious tendencies, felt empowered to exact their zeal, the political situation became irrelevant in their goals. The encapsulation of militancy in the defense of Pakistan as a duty of Islam laid the foundation for a third paradigm shift that plagues Pakistan to this day. THE MODERN PARADIGM OF ISLAM AND CONCLUSION The effects of Zia ul-Haq’s intense strive toward Islamization were far too strongly ingrained to die with General Zia in a 1988. With tensions over nuclear arms reaching their peak in the late 1990s, the military maintained a paramount role in state affairs. Especially when Pervez Musharraf took power in his 1999 military coup, notions of nurturing Pakistan’s diversity into a pluralistic government continued to pass by the wayside.22 Nevertheless, not until Pakistan became embroiled with America’s war in Afghanistan after 2001 did the third paradigm shift become evident at its worst. Ruled by a Taliban regime operating under a puritanical interpretation of Islam different in practice, though not necessarily principle from some Pakistani regimes, these were still the same Afghans who took on the role of “jihadists” against the Soviets. Accordingly, the religious sentiments that General Zia allowed to build when aiding the Afghans in 1979 had not left the collective memory of Pakistani religious groups. As it stands, secular and non-extremist Muslim Pakistanis face militants whose religious orientation completely discounts any political ramifications that their actions may have. Quite ironically, the birth of their ideology stems from conciliatory political regimes, and their current use of terror may spell the end of their toleration. The current frustration with the wanton violence inflicted by the Taliban and their ilk may start to shift the paradigm of Islamic identity once more. While the precariousness of the situation makes the trajectory of Pakistan’s stability difficult to determine, the war on terror affects Pakistanis on a widespread and personal level. Whereas General Zia shifted the paradigm of Islamic identity to encompass all facets of political rule, the current batch of Taliban preaches a puritanical form of Islam whereby violence is considered a justifiable “jihad.” Though this jihad quite radically departs from its meaning in the rest of Islamic history, the groups supporting it harbor an ideology held with the same fervor as any devoutly religious person. Of course, when this fervor creates such great myopia, these 42


dearly held tenets start to include acts of human destruction. As it stands in Pakistan, the Taliban have little concern beyond the infliction of terror against the Pakistani people. In a June 2009 Dawn article, writer Kunwar Idris criticizes the complacency of Pakistani religious figureheads when confronted with the acceptability of actions like suicide bombings (in the name of Islam, no less). In light of the religious backgrounds of many political parties, he asserts that these parties must actively condemn and isolate the Taliban. He remarks, “It is amazing why all religio-political parties are not doing it unreservedly and with one voice.”23 Implicitly, then, Idris wishes to suggest that despite the vigor with which the Taliban struggle, their myopia is not hopelessly immutable. Perhaps Idris suggests this because in the decades leading towards this extremism, Islam provided the zeal, not the ends of action. The rogue Islamic militants have helped fight the Soviets, became mobilized in East Pakistan and Kashmir, and now give their sympathies to the Taliban who fight the Americans. Through much of it, the Pakistani government kept them alive through state patronage, serving as clients to political support and military needs. Until recent increase in domestic terror attacks, the Islamic parties and militant groups proved too valuable for state authorities to dismiss. The marrying of the political goals of Generals Zia and Musharraf with the willingness of certain groups to zealously act upon anything deemed “Islamic” has resulted in a patron-client relationship too formidable to simply fade away. Though the historical political and religious actors differ greatly in approach and even morals, their ends are similar to a degree that provides a glimmer of hope—they still discernibly exist as Pakistanis. Excluding Taliban and like-minded groups, the populations of non-militant religious and very secular Pakistanis share a common foundational heritage. While perhaps this foundation has been covered up by rifts between the two groups, recent events suggest that Pakistanis may begin to see it again. Unfortunately, however, it has taken the threat of terrorism against the state for them to realize it.

If the future of Pakistan will be devoid of unwieldy zealous militants, then Pakistanis must strive to outgrow the precedent of using religious imagery left behind by Jinnah and Iqbal. This certainly does not suggest relinquishing their philosophies or in any way discount ing their status as national heroes. Rather, it will take a realization that the attempt to force Pakistan’s existence and then viability as an “Islamic state” has left it neither viably Islamic nor a state having fulfilled its potential. While a nearly conclusive argument can be made that Pakistan would not exist if not for the transformation of Islam into a common identity for Indian Muslims (the first paradigm shift), this does not justify sixty-plus years of maladjustive political maneuvering. When exacerbated by a man in power who actually harbored sincerity in faith, that precedent becomes a dangerously volatile tool for achieving ends of the state portrayed as ends of religion (the second paradigm shift). As it stands now, engaging religion disingenuously has proven so volatile that the government now fights the same groups whose development they once fostered (the third paradigm shift). The militant religious groups currently terrorizing Pakistan answer only to their own conceptions of divine will—the product of enabling religious discourse before pluralistic discourse. Islam can and should continue to flourish as the common heritage to which Pakistan owes its inception. However, if Pakistan will ever emerge as a democratic and stable Muslim nation, its citizens must protect their religion and keep it in a discourse far beyond the wars and gamesmanship that have used it as a tool of politics rather than a paradigm of morality.



23. Kunwar Idris, “Reluctance to Slate Suicide Bombing,” The Dawn, June 21, 2009, Web edition.

Ari Schriber is a senior at the University of Virginia, where he is majoring in Religious Studies and Middle Eastern Studies. His primary focus is in the study of Islam and its different manifestations in the modern world, an interest acquired at the encouragement of Professor Abdulaziz Sachedina. Additionally, he studies Arabic and politics and hopes to pursue graduate studies in the future. He would like to thank Ambassador (Ret.) Touqir Hussain, the instructor in the course for which the paper was originally written, and Jonathan Hasson and Ray Hervandi for their input and advice.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Al-Mujahid, Sharif. Ideology of Pakistan. Islamabad: IRI Press, 1974. Cohen, Stephen Philip. The Idea of Pakistan. Washington, DC: Brookings, 2004. Enayat, Hamid. Modern Islamic Political Thought. New York, IB Tauris, 1982. Haqqani, Hussain. Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military. Carnegie: Washington, DC, 2005. Idris, Kunwar. “Reluctance to Slate Suicide Bombing.� The Dawn. 21 Jun., 2009. Web.



InqilÄ b al-Adab:

Sajjad Zaheer and the Progressive Literature Movement KARTHIK SOORA RICE UNIVERSITY

1. Russell, Ralph. The Pursuit of Urdu Literature: a Select History. London: Zed, 1992. Print. P. 24 2 . Ibid p. 85 3 . Ibid p. 86 4. Narang, Gopi Chand. Urdu Language and Literature: Critical Perspectives. New Delhi: Sterling, 1991. Print. P. 37

The 20th century Hind Swaraj movement for self rule in South Asia took many forms. During the 1930s, one lesser known group chose resistance not through the sword but through the pen. The All India Progressive Writers Association (henceforth abbreviated PWA) sought to use literature to confront the religious, socio-economic, and linguistic prejudices of its time, using the medium of the Urdu language to frankly discuss issues of imperialism, poverty, and social inequality. Influenced by Marxist and socialist thought, PWA writers used their works to lay the foundation for drastic social reform efforts. The writers of the PWA, led by Sajjad Zaheer (1904-1973), intended to establish a new common culture of humanism in South Asia that would bind together South Asians into one unified whole, rising above caste, religion, and language. In a time when communal organizations such as the Hindu Mahāsabhā and the Muslim League spoke primarily to abstract ideals of faith, the PWA was revolutionary in speaking truth to the everyday realities of South Asian rural and urban life. This paper will analyze the evolution of Urdu literature as well as describe the activity, influence, and failures of the PWA. Though the PWA encompassed the many languages of South Asia, this paper will primarily focus on its Urdu works. The paper will also examine Sajjad Zaheer’s personal journal Roshnai or “the Light.” Ultimately, the author will argue that while the efforts of the PWA failed to stop partition along religious lines and the creation of Pakistan, the PWA was still revolutionary for its time, helping to mobilize the South Asian masses around a common idea of progress and bringing vital attention to the need for social reform and democratic equality. Persian, the tongue of the Mughal court, was the language of administration in the Islamic empires of the 12th to 17th centuries. Over the centuries, its vocabulary would fuse with the indigenous Hindi language of North India, to create a dialect known as Urdu. Urdu used the Perso-Arabic script and its literature drew lexically upon the vocabulary of Persian and Arabic. It was this resultant hybrid dialect that would become the lingua franca of South Asian Muslims in the modern era.

Urdu literature up to the 18th century was heavily focused on the concerns of the courtly and religious literati. Typical forms were the qasīdā, marsiyā, masnavī, ghazal, and dastān. The qasīdā was a hyperbolic style used by court poets to praise and flatter their royal patrons. The marsiyā was a traditionally Shi’a religious elegy that mourned the death of the Imam Hussein at the battle of Karbala. The masnavī is a poem written in rhyming couplets, generally either telling a tale of love or relating a rousing adventure complete with jinn and peris (men and beautiful women of supernatural powers). Ghazals are lyrical love poems written in AA, BA, CA format etc. 1 The final format, the dastān, was a form of prose that was generally written in the form of a fantasy adventure story. 2 This comprehensive examination of Urdu literature is useful because it becomes readily apparent from looking at the works previously mentioned that realist modern prose works such as short stories or novels are not listed. Urdu literature of the time was so elite-driven that literature focusing on the concerns and lives of the hundreds of millions of ordinary people had simply not yet come into being. The closest approximation would be the dastan, but that form of literature was not focused on realistic works. As Ralph Reed notes, “the dastāns can quite justly be called propagandist literature of a highly tendentious kind. Everything is in black and white - the virtuous are all virtue and the vicious all vice.”3

As time passed, later writers began to explore diverse literary forms. Mirza Muhammad Rafi, under the pseudonym Sauda, created and perfected the style of hajv or satire. Living in the late 18th century, a time period of crumbling Mughal rule, Sauda harshly criticized the hypocrisy and double standards of the Delhi elite.4 As Ralph Russell states, “the mainspring of Sauda’s satire, as of all truly great satire, is a deep compassion for 46


humanity and a keenly felt sorrow and anger at the conditions of an age which deform and degrade man from his true greatness.”5 Other 19th century writers, such as Nazir Ahmad and Abdul Halim Sharar, wrote prose works that while still heavily moralistic, brought around many of the elements of modern realistic literature. The author of Umrāo Jān (1899), Mirza Muhammad Hadi Rusva, would create the first modern Urdu novel. His tale, relating the life of a Lucknow courtesan was notable for its candor, realistic plot, and even sympathy for the main character. It was into this fledging and still hesitant literary atmosphere of the early 1900s that Sajjad Zaheer and his PWA colleagues would emerge. In December 1932, Sajjad Zaheer and his three Oxford educated compatriots published Angare (Burning Coals), a revolutionary pamphlet that shocked the cultural traditions and norms of Muslim Lucknow. As Shabana Mahmud, a prominent South Asian scholar observes, “Angare came as an act of defiance against all traditional norms. It deliberately jettisoned much of the traditional language of Urdu literature and introduced new styles. Drawing inspiration from the writings of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence, and in some cases from Marxist writings, the young writers experimented with new techniques of writing which aimed at a more direct impact in its stark and unvarnished portrayal of human existence. The stories of Sajjad Zahir and Ahmed ‘Ali railed at enslavement to social and religious practices based on ignorance, and at the disgraceful acquiescence in foreign rule, and protested against the inequalities in Indian society and its economic ills. In their stories, Rashid Jahan and Mahmuduzzafar exposed the enclosed and oppressive world of Muslim women enslaved to their husbands’ demands and outworn religious and social dogmas.”6

The conservative religious establishment issued Fātwās against Angare’s publication. On the floor of the United Provinces legislative assembly, hanging and stoning were even debated as punishments against the authors! Accordingly, the book was banned under Section 295A of the Indian penal code that prohibited the expression of sentiments against the religious sentiments of her Majesty’s subjects. All but five copies were confiscated and destroyed. 7 The authors had not predicted such a reaction; they realized more voices were needed to gather the impetus for cultural and political reform. In their letter to the city of Lucknow defending Angare, they called for the establishment of a Progressive Writers Association. This association would provide financial support for writers, allow them a bigger venue for the spread and debate of progressive ideas, and make available institutional backing. Their definition of Progressive thought encompassed anti-imperialism, democratization, cultural liberalism (including destruction of the caste system and better rights for women), social and economic relief for South Asia’s rural denizens, and the creation of a common secular South Asian culture that transcended the numerous divisions of religion, language, and race. It was a bold step, especially for those that had already crossed paths with the conservative religious establishment.

Spending the next four years meeting and persuading various writers, Sajjad Zaheer took primarily responsibility for the creation of the organization. He spent a significant portion of this time in London organizing and writing a manifesto with South Asians educated and living overseas. However, upon his return to Bombay in 1935, it became clear that the British colonial government was aware of his actions. Zaheer states that he was detained and his belongings searched upon arrival at Customs. The officials confiscated pamphlets by the Fabian society and a book by George Bernard Shaw concerning women and socialism. This event would serve to reinforce Zaheer’s socialist resolve to take a stand against the British. As he stated, What importance, after all, can be attached to possessing such views [socialism], and expressing them? Very little. It is only action that is significant: to start a movement,



5. Ibid page 38 6. Shabana Mahmud, ‘Angare and the. Founding of the Progressive Writers Association’, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 30, No. 2,. May 1996, pp. 447 7. Ibid p 450

to activate others and act oneself. We were still very far from doing any of this, but in the eyes of the imperialists and their supporters, even thought, imagination, and feeling are dangerous. They do understand the reality that thought and feeling can lead to action, and when all is said and done, their hunch is quite correct. 8

8. Sajjād, �ahīr, and Jānakīprasāda Śarmā. Rauśanāī: Tarakkīpasanda Taharīka Kī Yāde�. Nayī Dillī: Vā�ī Prakāśana, 2000. Print. p. 3 9. Sajjād, �ahīr, and Jānakīprasāda Śarmā. Rauśanāī: Tarakkīpasanda Taharīka Kī Yāde�. Nayī Dillī: Vā�ī Prakāśana, 2000. Print. p. 61 10. Ibid 64 11. Russell, Ralph. The Pursuit of Urdu Literature: a Select History. London: Zed, 1992. Print. p. 210 12. Premacanda. The Oxford India Premchand. New Delhi: Oxford UP, 2004. Print. p. xxiii

In 1936, the newly organized PWA would hold its first conference in Lucknow. Its manifesto’s stated goals were to confront reactionary culture, spread progressive thought, and protect freedom of expression. Delegates were present from Madras, Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Sindh, Bihar, and the United Provinces. 9 An All-India committee was organized; the separate branches committees for each language were organized and developed. Munshi Premchand, considered one of the finest Hindi and Urdu writers of his generation, was elected President of the Conference. In his address he explained why Progressive literature was necessary and what defined progressive literature. He criticized those who saw art only in terms of traditional wealthy elite based forms, remarking that

“if you cannot see beautify in a poor woman whose perspiration flows as, laying down her sleeping child on a mound along the field, she works in the field, then, it is your own vision that is to blame. For, behind those wilted lips and withered cheeks reside sacrifice, devotion, and endurance. Youth is not the name for poetic ecstasy and sighing over the coyness, perverseness, and vanity of the fair sex; it is the name for idealism, courage, endurance, and sacrifice.” 10

Over a period of 8 years, the association would set up branches across the subcontinent focusing on creating and disseminating progressive literature in English, Bengali, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Urdu, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, and Punjabi. The association also had backing and support from extremely prominent and influential individuals in South Asian politics. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the keynote speaker of the 1938 Urdu PWA conference, and Sarojini Naidu, a close confidant of Gandhi, presided over the session. Mohammad Iqbal, the most prominent Muslim scholar of South Asia, also expressed interest in the movement and socialism, but his untimely death ended any discussions. Abdul Haq, secretary of the Society for the Advancement of Urdu (Anjuman Taraqqi-eUrdu) enhanced the prestige and legitimacy of the movement. Finally, the Nobel laureate of South Asia, Rabindranath Tagore sent a message to the conference reiterating his support for the movement and rebuking himself for seclusion from the masses. He stated that “new writers must mix with men, and recognize that if they live in seclusion as I do they will not achieve their aims. I understand now that in living apart from society for so long I have committed a grave mistake.”11

The PWA was also notable for its successes in bringing to the fore women’s issues, caste issues, creating secular patriotic Urdu literature, and making efforts to mobilize all religious groups around a common electoral coalition.

The most prolific writer of the movement, Munshi Premchand, was especially noted because almost half of his Hindi/Urdu writings featured female characters. In the traditionally male dominated hierarchical culture of South Asia, this was quite a coup. Premchand also did his part to dispel the traditional Sāvitri archetype for South Asian women. This archetype was of a traditional submissive family centered woman who was ever obedient and attentive to the wishes of her husband and in-laws. While some of Premchand’s characters exhibited these characteristics, Francesca Orsini notes that “Premchand also explored the social and psychological conditions of an unprecedented range of women characters: windows, wronged or adjusting wives, political activists and sympathizers, actresses and prostitutes, educated women and female labourers, superstitious wives and troubled reformers, women against women, and women against men.”12 48


His story “Beṭovālī Vidhvā” (Widow and Her Children) is noted for its portrayal of the plight of widows, and the use of Hindu religious law to deny them shares in property upon the death of their spouses.13 While didactic, the story is subtly so; the narration comes across as realistic. His “Veśya” (Prostitute), instead of depicting the main character as a siren temptress of men and destroyer of families, was multidimensional. As Mādhurī states to her client Dayākṛṣṇa, “you think for a woman to expose her shame for money is something pleasant she enjoys doing! You find it quite impossible to understand that there can be any womanliness in a prostitute, you can’t imagine...how much she yearns for love or, when by good fortune she finds it, how she clings to it as for her very life.”14 Rashid Jahan’s “Parde ke Pīche” (Behind the veil) is also a fascinating and hitherto unseen look at the lives of Muslim women under Purdah. In this amusing and revealing work, Aftāb and Muhammadi frankly discuss family politics, the idiocy of their husbands, pretend to read women’s Islamic devotional works (Bahiśtī Zewar), and even talk about obtaining birth control! This work was revolutionary for its time, and fifty years later a centenary celebration for Rashid’s life and works on the Aligarh grounds is difficult to organize. A ceremony in 2005 was marred by protests from religious leaders who still decry her work “Parde ke Pīche.”15 Anand Raj Mulk’s first novel Untouchable was widely hailed for examining and criticizing the institution of caste that consigned millions of sweepers and cleaners to the rubbish heap of society. Anand’s work was in English, and it received critical praise from EM Forster who stated that Anand had “gone straight to the heart of... [his] subject and purified 16 it.” The issue deeply affected Anand; one of his female relatives had committed suicide because her family had disowned her. She had been “guilty” of sharing her food with a Muslim. Anand’s work also received attention because it tried to move past the seeming Gandhian paternalism for Dalits, untouchables, from the title of “harijan” (children of God). Anand muses at the end of the novel that the real solution to caste may be technology. There would be no need for a feces-cleaner and resultant social hierarchy if modern plumbing technology was implemented across South Asia.

One might expect, based on more commonly-held views, that the PWA consisted of university educated upper class elitist writers that only pretended to understand the issues of peasants. The author did not expect that such urban intellectuals could really empathize and understand the issues of rural peasants. However, what was apparent through an examination of the sources was a deep self-awareness of status. Many members of the PWA acknowledged their distance from those they wrote about and tried to use whatever tools at their disposal to bridge that gap. Sajjad Zaheer’s diary mentions one particularly striking moment in the Punjab when the PWA is given the opportunity to meet with members of the Panjāb Kissān Sabhā (Farmers Association). At first Zaheer’s rhetoric about meeting peasants seems somewhat stilted and forced. On his meeting in Punjab, he states “Progressive writers and their workers in other places were trying with all their might to bring the Association closer to peasants, labourers, and other Leftist people’s movements. So much so, that at times it seemed that ‘the vigour of the wine would dissolve the wine cup’. The intoxicating delight of such moments can be imagined only by those who have themselves consorted with such company.” 17

However, Zaheer’s later passage seems sincere in thought:

“being irritated and dissatisfied by its [the auditorium’s] disorderliness and indigence. It was impossible to have a serious literary discussion in such an atmosphere. But literature does not require seriousness alone...Thousands of eyes, belonging to young, middle aged, and old working people, were focused on the people who were sitting on the Jallianwala dais, with expressions of sympathy and wonder. Perhaps these people did not understand much of what the writers were saying, but they did know that they



13 Ibid 280 14 Ibid 340 15 Ahmed, Talat. Literature and Politics in the Age of Nationalism: the Progressive Writers’ Movement in South Asia, 1932-56. New Delhi: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2009. Print. p. 54 16 Ibid p 51 17 Sajjād, �ahīr, and Jānakīprasāda Śarmā. Rauśanāī: Tarakkīpasanda Taharīka Kī Yāde�. Nayī Dillī: Vā�ī Prakāśana, 2000. Print. p.104

were on their side. In their hearts there must have been the wish that the writers were speaking a language that they could fully comprehend. And perhaps the thought was crossing the minds of the writers that ‘Yes, we are sitting in their midst, but to voice what is in their hearts, in their own language, we will have to get closer to them.’” 18

18 Ibid 106 19 Narang, Gopi Chand. Urdu Language and Literature: Critical Perspectives. New Delhi: Sterling, 1991. Print p.101 20 Narang, Gopi Chand. Urdu Language and Literature: Critical Perspectives. New Delhi: Sterling, 1991. Print p. 105

The PWA at this time also made efforts to reach out in formats other than literature that were more accessible to the rural peasants. The five Hindi UP branches of the PWA tried to raise money for relief from the Bengali famine through works of theater performed by “People’s Theater Associations.” This practice became a popular fixture of PWA branches with the Bengali, Telugu, Kannada, and Punjabi branches using innovative public performances to both spread information, entertain, and also organize for progressive causes. The Urdu PWA organized a “Inqilāb Mushairā” or a public recitation of Urdu revolutionary poetry that criticized the British Raj and economic establishment.

Mushairās were generally considered the more intimate preserve of the rich, but the invitation of thousands of workers reappropriated the medium to a more widespread and mainstream audience. The PWA even went so far as to engage in the production of a film. Entitled “Dharte Ke Lāl,” it narrated the story of a family during the Bengali famine. In this manner, the Progressives spread their message, and connected with their base.

One poet that would also influence heavily influence progressive literary culture would be Faiz Ahmad Faiz. As Gopi Chand Narang astutely observes, “Faiz ... was not a rebel poet in the real sense of the word ... He ... used the classical conventions and imagery with such depth and ingenuity that his poetry reflects at once the heritage of the past and the quest and restlessness of the present.”19 This following work exemplifies those characteristics. While yet the Tavern stands with its red wine, Crimson the Temple’s high cold walls; and while My heartblood feeds my tears and lets them shine, Paint with each drop the loved one’s rosy smile.

Gopi Chand Narang notes that “in these lines, the ‘Tavern’ and the ‘red wine’, which conventionally stand for divine inspiration, represent the sources of political and social awareness here. The ‘loved one’ obviously represents the masses, or the society.” 20 Just as traditional Persian and Arab love poetry developed spiritual and metaphysical themes over the centuries, so did Faiz Ahmad Faiz reappropriate this traditionally spiritual and romantic vocabulary and format to advocate political change in the 20th century. As this chart demonstrates, the vocabulary is subtly changed to add an additional layer of meaning. When provided in context with Progressive works, the work’s subtleties are revealed.



Traditional meaning

Progressive meaning


lover/seeker of God



love/union with God

revolutionary zeal

f irāq

separation from divine

long imprisonment



the British Raj/oppressive rule of imperialism


the divine truth



madness of divine love

fervor for justice



freedom fighters



unjust ruler/dictator


Finally, one of the more notable roles of the PWA was its efforts in politics. Though suspicious of the Congress Party of India’s “bourgeois” nature, the PWA backed Congress over the Muslim league because of its secularism. It feared in the 1940s that increased communalism under the Muslim League would tear the subcontinent apart. Therefore, when Nehru launched his mass contact campaign to reach out to the Muslim electorate, the PWA played a vital role in emphasizing economic bread/butter issues for voters. As Nehru stated in his message for Congress party workers, “Indeed when we look at the vital problems facing the country, the problem of independence and of the removal of poverty and unemployment, there is no difference between the Muslim masses and the Hindu or Sikh or Christian masses in the country. Differences only come to the surface when we think in terms of the handful of upper class people.” 22 Nehru’s lieutenant Ashraf and Sajjad Zaheer led the campaign and outreach efforts. They launched an Urdu periodical, and attacked the unrepresentative nature of the Muslim League, stating that only Congress was for the poor masses of India. The campaign was successful in mobilizing several prominent Muslim organizations: the Shi’a political conference, Jamiyat al-Mominīn, and the Jamiyat al-Ulema to the side of Congress. The Congress Party did not succeed in beating the Muslim League, but did succeed in raising its vote share and winning 43% of the vote in one prominent district where it had won little before. The action, while still a loss, showed that economic appeals to the Muslim electorate did have some effect, and that the monopoly of the Muslim League upon the Muslim masses was not inevitable. However, for all of its strengths the PWA was still characterized by some glaring failures to comprehend language issues. The organization preached about how literature should be progressive and characteristic of the rural/worker experience. Yet, while the content of the Urdu PWA’s works narrated the lives of the masses, the use of Urdu was not accessible to those same masses. Obviously, illiteracy rates were extremely high in rural areas. However, discounting this fact, the Urdu that was frequently used in PWA works was extremely Persianized and literary. Even if a peasant could read, it is doubtful they would be able to comprehend many of the words used; they are extremely bookish in nature and difficult to understand. Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s poetry was representative of this trend. Darkness is gushing forward As though the veins of night were spewing blood The pulse of life is beating As if the intoxication of both worlds were snapping If this poem were recited to a normal person in South Asia, they are unlikely to comprehend much. One is left to conclude that poets that profess to speak on behalf of the masses should at least be able to speak to them. Of course not all Urdu PWA writers fell victim to this mistake, and it was definitely a blunder of which Sajjad Zaheer was aware. When he attended a conference in Faridabad, he spoke glowingly on Syed Muttalebi’s recitation of a poem in a mixture of Urdu and Braj Bhasha (rural dialect of Hindustani). As he acknowledges, “this was an altogether new experience for me. Here were 80 percent inhabitants of the very region from where the Urdu language had emerged. Yet, if Urdu poetry had been read here, it would have been utterly ineffectual and unavailing. A gentlemen from the Jamia Millia recited an Urdu poem on patriotism that was quite simple and easy to understand, but it failed completely to touch the audience. Most probably if a poem in modern Sanskrit dominated Hindi had been recited here, it would have met with the same fate...there is no doubt that if Progressive writers are to prepare literature for the majority of their compatriots, that is the rural people...then they have no option but to use their language, their traditions, and their culture...” 23



21 Ibid p. 103 22 Mushirul Hasan, ‘The Muslim Mass Contact Campaign’, Economic and Political Weekly, December 27, 1986, p. 2273

23 Sajjād, �ahīr, and Jānakīprasāda Śarmā. Rauśanāī: Tarakkīpasanda Taharīka Kī Yāde�. Nayī Dillī: Vā�ī Prakāśana, 2000. Print. p.153 24 Ibid p. 280 25 Ibid p. 195

While Urdu and Hindi are both separate languages, at the level of common speech they are both mutually intelligible (common Hindustani language). They only become incomprehensible in their literary spheres, when Persian and Sanskrit cognates begin to be used. Most rural peasants in the “cow belt” of North India speak the rural dialects of Awadhi, Bihari, and Bhojpuri in place of formal Hindi or Urdu. These, while formally under the banner of Hindustani, can almost be termed as independent rural languages. This would have increased participation from these groups in the PWA.

The PWA’s differentiation of Urdu and Hindi, while technically correct at the literary level, also had the unintended effect of reinforcing communal linguistic cleavages. At the time South Asia was racked by a heavy debate over which script (Devanagari being “Hindu” and Perso-Arabic being “Muslim”) to use after independence. Many favored the usage of both scripts with a common register of Hindustani that took words from both Urdu and Hindi. However, the PWA’s separate usage of authors into Hindi and Urdu served only to acknowledge and widen the cleavage. If the most progressive authors on the Indian subcontinent could not bridge their linguistic differences, how could they persuade the rest of South Asia? Zaheer’s journal does tell of one moment when an Urdu poet is allowed to present his work at a Hindi Kavi (poetry gathering), but this type of symbolic engagement is hardly a match for a systematic policy of linguistic unity. 24 This type of linguistic Hindi/Urdu effort, while complicated would still have been achievable. The PWA’s failure of vision in this regard is somewhat staggering. The PWA early on realized the difficulty of a multitude of languages. The Bombay branch attempted to have authors of Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, and Urdu work together on each other’s works. Sajjad describes one gathering where guest poet Josh Malihabadi read his Urdu poetry to Marathi and Gujarati speakers. He stated that “even the Marathi and Gujarati speakers and others who did not know much Urdu, were affected by his personality, his manner of recitation, and the dignity and beauty of his poetry.”25 However, while these types of transcendent moments are good for diary entries, they are not sufficient for the overall working of a literary organization. The PWA was forced to acknowledge the idealism and naiveté of its linguistic vision later on. As Zaheer writes in Roshnai,

“Writers of different languages used to participate. [However] it was not possible to discuss in detail or review a work in any one language there, because most of the participants could not join in. Therefore, when a large enough group of Urdu writers had gathered in Bombay we thought it best to have separate meetings of the different languages of the Association...consequently, writers of Urdu, Hindi, and Gujarati began to have their own separate meetings.” 26 Finally, the PWA seems to have failed to reach out to the linguistic groups of what would become modern day Pakistan. It does not seem from an examination of primary and secondary literature that Sindhi, Baluchi, Seraiki, and Pashto speakers were represented within the PWA. Speakers of these languages represent almost 30% of the modern Pakistani populace. This kind of weakness doubtless gave the communal message of the Muslim League a monopoly over the Northwestern provinces of South Asia at the time, allowing them to press for the partition of South Asia in this region without opposition from the PWA. While speakers of these languages doubtlessly understand the more commonly spoken Hindustani, literature and outreach in their own languages would have been extremely effective. The economic issues that affected these areas are still the same as those that affect the rest of South Asia. Land reform in rural areas, an important issue of the PWA, has still not taken place in Pakistan 63 years after independence. In conclusion, though the PWA made a variety of mistakes in their linguistic outreach,



they were still one of the most Progressive groups South Asia had ever seen. Their attempts to reach out to Muslim voters, create a common secular South Asian culture, and efforts to bring to light important rural and gender issues were unprecedented for their time. Though the partition they decried inevitably happened, in a time of fiery communalism and elite domination they had the courage to confront and criticize the interests of the landowning elite, Hindu Mahāsabhā, and Muslim League. Sajjad Zaheer’s name in Arabic can be liberally translated as “ally of the prostrated.” And indeed during this time period, millions of South Asians lay prostrate and helpless to interests much stronger than them. Sajjad Zaheer, though noted for his mistakes, never stopped trying to live up to his namesake.

Karthik Soora is a senior at Rice University, where he is majoring in History, Asian Studies, and Political Science and minoring in Global Health. He became interested in South Asia when he left Arkansas and “discovered” Desi culture. He has particular interests in South Asian Islam, the Partition, and issues of microfinance, environmentalism, and public health. He now studies Arabic, Urdu, and Hindi enthusiastically while avoiding the disapproving gaze of his family for neglecting his mother tongue of Telugu.



26 Sajjād, �ahīr, and Jānakīprasāda Śarmā. Rauśanāī: Tarakkīpasanda Taharīka Kī Yāde�. Nayī Dillī: Vā�ī Prakāśana, 2000. Print. p 216

KRSNA AS GOD AND WORLD: A study in the theodicy and ontology of the Bhāgavata Purāna ANDREW DIBBLE


TWO PROBLEMS OF THEODICY Here I intend to approach Kṛṣṇa as a philosophical problem. More specifically, I will frame him within two problems of theodicy found in the Mahābhārata and solved in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. The first problem contrasts obvious adharma in the world with Kṛṣṇa’s expressed purpose in the world as the sustainer of dharma.1 Much like the Western conception of God, Kṛṣṇa is the source and sustainer of the entire cosmos2—both are transcendent Gods. The question can be asked of both Gods, “If God maintains the entire universe and God is good, why does He actively allow so many bad and unrighteous things to occur?”

This first problem is evident from the character of everyday life, but becomes especially cogent under consideration of the Mahābhārata. The Mahābhārata is the story of a conflict of royal succession between two families, the one hundred Kaurava brothers who are incarnations of demons led by Duryodhana and the five Pāṇḍava brothers who are sons of god and led by Yudhiṣṭhira. After losing a rigged game of dice, Yudhiṣṭhira, his brothers, and their shared wife Draupadī endure exile for twelve years and stay in hiding for a thirteenth year, during all of which Duryodhana rules the land of Kuru. Long separation only exacerbates dour relations between the families, so the apocalyptic Kurukṣetra War begins. Kṛṣṇa, the lord of the universe, has incarnated himself to aid and advise the Pāṇḍavas. For these reasons, he incites the Pāṇḍava brother Arjuna to battle his own cousins, the Kauravas, in the Bhagavad Gītā. Kṛṣṇa, at the very least, has allowed extreme suffering for the sake of cosmic dharma quite alien to earthly justice. The Pāṇḍavas win the war because of Kṛṣṇa’s help, but their victory is pyrrhic to a fault. Kṛṣṇa allows the people of Kuru to be ruled by the morally monstrous Duryodhana while the Pāṇḍavas live in exile and does not prevent the nighttime slaughter of what remains of the Pāṇḍava army at the tail end of the war. Virtually every combatant on both sides of the conflict has fallen by its completion.

The second problem of theodicy is perhaps even more theologically divisive than the first because it relies not on the suffering Kṛṣṇa allows but on the adharma Kṛṣṇa himself commits. Kṛṣṇa tells us in the Mahābhārata the purpose of his incarnation is dharma,3 and Vidura tells his half-brother Dhṛtarāṣṭra, the patriarch of the Kauravas, “‘Kṛṣṇa here would never commit any blameworthy act; the invincible, highest lord would never deviate from dharma.’”4 Even so, Kṛṣṇa, on numerous occasions, commits or advises action that is almost certainly against dharma. I will only name a few here. When the Kaurava warrior Bhūriśravas and Sātyaki, a Pāṇḍava fighter, are in combat, Kṛṣṇa urges Arjuna to help Sātyaki. Arjuna severs Bhūriśravas’ sword arm with an arrow. As Bhūriśravas makes known before his demise, this is an act of adharma and only “‘a friend of Kṛṣṇa’s would inflict such a catastrophe on one who was distracted, engaged in fighting another.’”5 To kill Droṇa, the Kaurava general in book seven, Kṛṣṇa devises a devious stratagem, which requires invariably honest Yudhiṣṭhira to lie. While the Pāṇḍavas grieve for a fallen ally,6 Kṛṣṇa dances with joy because he successfully tricked the enemy general Karṇa into using his spear capable of killing any single opponent on someone other than Arjuna. This second problem assails “Kṛṣṇa, lord of dharma” to the point of contradiction. To adequately develop Kṛṣṇa’s character in terms of the bhakti tradition of the Bhāgavata, so that these two problems can reach closure, the ontological status of Kṛṣṇa must also be understood. The Bhāgavata does not present Kṛṣṇa as a primarily or purely transcendent God, he is immanent in nature as well. As such, everything in the world is a property of Kṛṣṇa, much in the same way a T-shirt has the property of being white or being made of cotton. Kṛṣṇa’s purpose is no longer primarily dharma, but spontaneous playfulness, līlā. In this way, goodness is not Kṛṣṇa’s immediate aim; his goodness is a result of his līlā, which is always an interaction with himself because he is everything. This will serve to KRSNA AS GOD AND WORLD


1. I use dharma as “rightness” or “justice” when applied generally and as “duty” when applied to a person, as in “Krsna’s dharma.” See James L. Fitzgerald, “Dharma and its Translation in the Mahabharata,” Journal of Indian Philosophy 32 (December 2004): 671-685 for further exposition on the varied meanings of dharma in the epic. 2. W. J. Johnson, trans., Bhagavad Gītā (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 9.5. The Gītā is a part of the Mahābhārata. 3. John D. Smith, trans., The Mahābhārata (London: Penguin Books, 2009), 6.26.5-7. 4. 5.128.22. 5. 7.118.14. 6. 7.155.

7. xli. 8. 11.32-4. 9. Bimal Krishna Matilal, “Krishna: In Defense of a Devious Divinity,” in Essays on the Mahābhārata, ed. Arvind Sharma (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2007). 10. 14.53. 11. Gītā, 3.23-4. 12. 410.

distinguish Kṛṣṇa’s goodness from the goodness of the Western God. CRITIQUE OF SOLUTIONS BASED ON THE MAHĀBHĀRATA There are a few possible responses to these two problems derivable from the Mahābhārata. The most obvious explanation for Kṛṣṇa’s behavior in the epic is that he, as the first and mightiest of the gods, came to defeat the demonic Kauravas. Smith in his introduction to the epic takes this explanation to be obvious,7 although he does not claim it justifies Kṛṣṇa’s actions in the manner of a theodicy. While demonicide appears to be a great aim of Kṛṣṇa’s, and it is a motivation consistent with the cases where he exercises adharma, it is unsatisfactory. Kṛṣṇa’s purpose may be to destroy demons in the world, so he is justified in sustaining their existence until his incarnation can accomplish the task, but that appears very roundabout. The unmanifest Kṛṣṇa could simply have never brought them into existence.

Kṛṣṇa’s divine form in the Gītā indicates that all warriors have “already been hewn down”; Arjuna is to be simply “the instrument.”8 Arjuna comes to realize the internal content of his action—his dharma—is important, but this fact does not speak on the content of Kṛṣṇa’s action. All demons will die inevitably as the result of some action, but this is concern for the results of actions, not their internal content. Kṛṣṇa must also make his actions consistent with dharma. It may be argued that Kṛṣṇa’s dharma rests in encouraging Arjuna to be his instrument, and this may be so. But dharma should in some significant way be good, even optimally good, and never bringing demons into existence seems much better than slaying them after they wreak havoc. If some force, perhaps karma or fate, superseded Kṛṣṇa and prevented him from going the easy route, that would absolve Kṛṣṇa of all wrong, but Kṛṣṇa surely possess sufficient power to accomplish dharmic goals without such adharmic overhead and resultant suffering. There must be some better way for the god of gods to accomplish his task than through subterfuge and actions that are so profusely adharmic. Kṛṣṇa appears to be pursuing a personal vendetta, even at the cost of propagating adharma. The only way it appears this response can make headway is to advance it under a divine command theory, that is the claim, “Kṛṣṇa’s will is the dharma-making feature of actions.” This position preserves Kṛṣṇa’s absolute power, and all incidences of apparent adharma are not in actuality adharma, because, at minimum, Kṛṣṇa allows every event that in fact occurs. This is probably the position inherent in the Mahābhārata, but it fails for the same reason every divine command theory fails. If Kṛṣṇa’s will arbitrarily determines dharma, independently of any reasons in the world, he does not in any way appear praiseworthy for his determinations.

Reasoning developed above counters Matilal’s attempt to reconcile Kṛṣṇa’s goodness with the lamentable outcome of the war.9 He develops a case for Kṛṣṇa lacking omnipotence by reference to Kṛṣṇa’s conversation with the sage Uttaṅka who threatens to curse Kṛṣṇa for failing to prevent the atrocities of the war.10 Kṛṣṇa responds by claiming his incarnate form restricts his power. For now, he exists as a man, and, as such, he did his best for dharma by securing a Pāṇḍava victory. This defense is insufficient, however, because Kṛṣṇa’s transcendent form is continually necessary for the maintenance of all the worlds,11 so his transcendent and incarnate forms must coexist. If Kṛṣṇa, while incarnate, is weaker than while transcendent only he frustrates his own goal of upholding dharma in times of crisis. So Kṛṣṇa, in truth, has far more potent faculties at his disposal and “his best” would almost certainly be quite different from what he actually did. Even if Kṛṣṇa is not all-powerful, the force of these problems is not mitigated, as Matilal believes.12 If Kṛṣṇa possesses sufficient power to advance dharma while producing less suffering or engaging in less adharmic action, he is morally obligated to do so. 56


Brief mention should be paid to the very real possibility that the theological aims of many of the writers of the Mahābhārata did not include justification of Kṛṣṇa’s actions. Instead, as Hudson13 has argued, a goal of the text is to make a statement about the omnipresence of human suffering. Suffering is not a phenomenon susceptible to explanation in the text; rather, it is something that must be integrated into our worldview. In Hudson’s words, the Mahābhārata offers a “tragic theodicy.” I am sympathetic to these approaches, but they are largely exterior to the problem at hand. Kṛṣṇa requires an adequate defense if he is to remain good in the face of omnipresent suffering, instead of its instigator. The text frequently offers defense of Kṛṣṇa’s actions, so we can infer its writers believed such defense to be necessary. CRITIQUE OF PHILOSOPHICAL SOLUTIONS PRIOR TO THE BHAKTI TRADITION Potentially acceptable solutions to these problems may be crafted from Indian philosophical traditions. One response involves transcendent Kṛṣṇa being distinct from the world; it is only when he becomes incarnate or creates the material world at the beginning of a kalpa age that he is efficacious. This position appears frail in light of what has been said previously, but it is strongly present in the Mahābhārata, especially the Gītā. This notion of Kṛṣṇa can be developed from (theistic) Sāṅkhya thought. Sāṅkhya purports a dualistic world of prakṛti, the material matrix of the universe, and puruṣa, individual souls. Prakṛti is composed of a flux of three guṇas: sattva (goodness), rajas (passion), and tamas (inertia). The last five sections of the Gītā describe the guṇas in detail. Once created, nothing affects prakṛti except for events within prakṛti; puruṣas, being distinct from the material world, are casually inert observers.

The Sāṅkhya response is only truly a reply to the first problem. Transcendent Kṛṣṇa is not responsible for sustaining adharma because he does not actively sustain the world. The obvious objection to this response is that Kṛṣṇa appears far too often impotent with respect to the world. This is not strictly true because Kṛṣṇa, by virtue of his omniscience, understands the natural laws of prakṛti. He could create the world in such a way that minimal adharma occurs, as many puruṣas as possible can achieve liberation, and he can incarnate at all the right times to preserve dharma and defeat demons. The seventeenth century thinker Gottfried Leibniz advanced a similar theodicy by claiming we live in the best of all possible worlds created by the benevolent Christian God. This response may preserve much of Kṛṣṇa’s power and goodness in the face of the first problem of theodicy, but it is silent with respect to the second problem. Incarnate Kṛṣṇa still deviates strongly from dharma.

A response developed on Vedāntic thought would find healthy support in South Asia today. The radical non-dualism of Vedānta maintains the only reality is Brahman, an undifferentiated reality without qualities. Matter is an illusion and all jīva souls are ultimately equivalent to each other and Brahman. If all matter is illusory, all adharma in the world is as well; perhaps even Kṛṣṇa’s stratagems and exhortations to adharma are fables too. The greatest weakness of this position is its obvious inconsistency with the ontology of the Mahābhārata, which frequently mentions Sāṅkhya guṇas as if they have genuine reality. This aside, the Vedānta response seems to bury the problems posed here rather than confront them. The incarnate form of Kṛṣṇa is supposed to be transcendent Kṛṣṇa with a will and both beneficent and terrible qualities, not an empty illusion with nothing to pin devotion to. TURNING TO THE BHAGAVĀTA Now that a variety of responses to these problems of theodicy have been rendered insufficient, the qualities of a viable solution should be defined. The solutions above operate under the assumption that Kṛṣṇa’s actions must be justified by dharma or by avoiding KRSNA AS GOD AND WORLD


13. Emily T. Hudson, “Heaven’s Riddles or the Hell Trick: Theodicy and Narrative Strategies in the Mahābhārata,” in The Mahābhārata: What is not here is nowhere else, ed. T. S. Rukmani (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 2005), 234-6. 14. 37.21. 15. 58.25-7. 16. 9.4-5. 17. 11.7. 18. 3.15-6. 19. 3.19. 20. 3.31. 21. 2.8; 4.9.

adharma insofar as he is able. Given the strong contrast between Kṛṣṇa’s expressed intent and his many actions to the contrary, it is doubtful that a solution that operates under this assumption can succeed. Kṛṣṇa’s actions do not necessarily have to be in accordance with dharma; it is enough that they are consistently praiseworthy and he genuinely worthy of devotion. Also precipitate from the discussion above is the need for Kṛṣṇa to be incredibly powerful, if not wholly omnipotent, and bear a strong relationship to the world. Transcendent Kṛṣṇa cannot be aloof from the world, as Sāṅkhya would have it. For these reasons, it seems a satisfactory solution to these problems must steer a middle course between Sāṅkhya and Vedānta philosophies.

Why do I look to the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, a text written perhaps a millennium after the Mahābhārata, to account for these problems of theodicy? Book Ten of the Bhāgavata is the most famous of Kṛṣṇa’s biographies, so it is an appropriate text to examine for a solution to a problem centered on Kṛṣṇa that the Mahābhārata cannot accommodate. The author of the Bhāgavata frames his work as commentary on the Mahābhārata. The entire Purāṇa is narrated by Śuka, the son of Vyāsa, the traditional author of the Mahābhārata, for the benefit of Parikṣit, the grandson of Arjuna. While the first part of the Bhāgavata book ten is primarily about Kṛṣṇa’s childhood, we find mention of the Kurukṣetra with Kṛṣṇa as Arjuna’s chariot driver and the Pāṇḍavas’ exile in the forest.14 The second part of the Bhāgavata book ten makes explicit mention of events in the earlier epic, including Duryodhana’s humiliation by falling in a pool he thought was a pane of glass and the burning of the Khāṇḍava forest by Agni.15 The Bhāgavata is also a philosophical successor to the Mahābhārata because of its heavy Sāṅkhya influence through explaining the world in terms of guṇas and prakṛti and Kṛṣṇa’s creation of these factors. Its ontology strays closer to Vedānta thought than the Mahābhārata because of its emphasis on Kṛṣṇa’s immanence. This combination makes it a likely place to find a middle course between Sāṅkhya and Vedānta thinking. THE ONTOLOGY OF THE BHAGAVĀTA

Given that I consider problems of theodicy here, a discussion of Kṛṣṇa’s basic existential status, as well as his relationship to the world and souls, would seem out of place. This discussion, however, will lend a radically different picture of Kṛṣṇa’s līlā from simply “the activities of the greatest god who incarnated himself for his own enjoyment and the enjoyment of others.” This sense of līlā is certainly present in the Bhāgavata, but only as a piece of what līlā means. Unmanifest Kṛṣṇa of the Gītā is an exclusively transcendent god. He is keen to tell us, “all creatures exist in me, but I do not exist in them. And yet creatures do not exist in me... My self causes creatures to exist, and maintains them, but it does not exist in them.”16 Transcendent Kṛṣṇa of the Gītā is literally the container of the universe.17 Kṛṣṇa possesses the roles of creator, sustainer, and container in the Bhāgavata as well, but not only these. He is immanent in nature, too, and not just in the all-embracing or allpervading sense of immanence. His immanence is so strong that he is/has every extant thing, in the way in which a thing is/has its properties. It is this sense of immanence I will invoke to render all these understandings of Kṛṣṇa consistent without committing him to the radical monism of Vedānta.

Much like the Gītā, the Bhāgavata is clear Kṛṣṇa possesses, most often as Viṣṇu, a transcendent form that creates and maintains the universe from his own nature and only appears to enter the world by his yoga power.18 He is devoid of the guṇas and not subject to their transformation.19 Like Kṛṣṇa of the Gītā, the transcendent form “bears [the] entire universe within his own body.”20 This form is celebrated at length as distinct from incarnate or immanent Kṛṣṇa in hymns surrounding Kṛṣṇa’s birth. When the demon Kaṃsa comes to kill the infant Kṛṣṇa, he finds only Kṛṣṇa’s younger sister, Viṣṇu’s śakti power and younger sister Māyā incarnated.21 Viṣṇu, before appearing on earth, instructs Māyā to 58


transfer the embryo that will become Kṛṣṇa’s brother Balarāma from the womb of Devakī to that of another woman, Rohiṇī, so that Kaṃsa does not destroy him. Kṛṣṇa himself will be born from the womb of Yaśodā. The clear picture of transcendent Viṣṇu’s śakti power here is an entity distinct from him, yet subservient to his will. Kṛṣṇa’s transcendent form is then most succinctly a god whose will is distinct from the effects of his will. These effects can be summarized as his power.

The immanent understanding of Kṛṣṇa, then, dissolves this distinction between power and will: “The cause of all things exists as their essence.”22 Immanent Kṛṣṇa’s will is nothing other than what he does; his “will” is his actions. We find explicit mention of Kṛṣṇa’s immanence right alongside attributions of his transcendence: “He is the beginning and end and inside and outside of the universe. He is the universe,” just as he “is the unmanifest truth beyond sense perception in the form of a human.”23 More simply, “this universe, both manifest and unmanifest, is [Kṛṣṇa’s] body,” which is “transcendent as well as immanent.”24 Or the challenge: “Let anyone give evidence of anything that is not him.”25 Formally, Kṛṣṇa is the “material cause” of the universe: “From myself I create, maintain and destroy myself in myself by means of myself in the form of the guṇas.”25 Kṛṣṇa of the Bhāgavata, then, has three forms: a transcendent form, an immanent form, and an incarnate form. To unify these forms into one coherent entity, it is useful to discuss the relationships between them. There are many avatāra incarnations of transcendent Kṛṣṇa: the boy Kṛṣṇa; his brother Balarāma; Kṛṣṇa’s son Pradyumna, who is also the god Kāma; and Kṛṣṇa’s 16,000 forms.27 Kṛṣṇa assumes the form of the many cowherder boys and cows the god Brahma hid away to confuse him. These can probably be considered avatāras as well, or, more likely, amśas: partial incarnations. We read Kṛṣṇa, “being the form of everything,” “herded himself by means of himself” as an act of līlā and to turn the tables on Brahma.28 Because incarnate Kṛṣṇa can be any worldly being or object, even a mountain,29 by his immanence, incarnate Kṛṣṇa is really a specialized case, or a set of specialized cases, of immanent Kṛṣṇa. But something about the avatāras must make these beings special and significantly related to transcendent Kṛṣṇa. There seem to be three qualities that serve this function: they have the same power;30 the same will;31 and, being “the internal and external witness of everything,”32 the same perspective, at least when exercising their divine eye. In short, they are the same person.

The relationship between Kṛṣṇa’s three forms and his relationship to the world is now fairly clear, but his relationship to jīva souls deserves more attention. The Bhāgavata is a product of the bhakti tradition, so it is reasonable to assume Kṛṣṇa and the souls devoted to him are distinguished in some way, so that devotion is a coherent interaction, even at the ultimate level of ontology. In conversation, Kṛṣṇa tells his wife Rukmiṇī he does not desire women because he is “fulfilled by what is available in himself.”33 Rukmiṇī becomes forlorn because she takes his words to mean that he does not love her. When Kṛṣṇa tries to console her, she agrees with his original claim, “I am indeed not equal to the mighty Bhagavān. Look at the difference between you and me.”34 Kṛṣṇa later agrees what she said is true,35 but reaffirms her excellence and devotion. Some distinction must exist between Kṛṣṇa and individual souls; Kṛṣṇa is not undifferentiated Brahman equivalent to human Ātman. Is this distinction absolute? That is, does the Bhāgavata profess a dualism of individual souls as one substance and Kṛṣṇa as a second substance distinct from them? This would motivate Kṛṣṇa to engage in līlā with individuals and is consistent with Sāṅkhya philosophy. We find numerous references to Kṛṣṇa or his yogamāyā power bringing about the guṇas, prakṛti, and “creating” souls by inserting them within prakṛti at the beginning of a cosmic cycle, but there is comparatively less to support a hard monism. Nonetheless, we have reason to reject dualism. If Kṛṣṇa and souls are distinct, Kṛṣṇa cannot be the “soul of KRSNA AS GOD AND WORLD


22. 14.57. 23. 9.13; 9.14. 24. 10.29; 16.48. 25. 14.57. 26. 87.19; 47.30. 27. 69. 28. 13.19; 13.27. 29. 24.35. 30. One exception is 89.31 where Pradyumna, who supposedly is “in no way inferior” to Krsna (55.2), is not able to save an infant from death. Krsna helps Arjuna accomplish this task (89.46). At 18.27, Balarāma becomes momentarily afraid of a demon. 77.28 indicates Krsna was himself “overwhelmed by human sentiment for a moment,” but 77.30 reports this account is false, however. Krsna seems to be accorded special status. 31. A notable exception is 61.39, where Krsna does not approve or disapprove of Balarāma’s wrathful killing of his brother-in-law Rukmī, because he does not want to endanger his relationship with Balarāma or his wife Rukminī. 32. 66.38. 33. 60.20. 34. 60.34. 35. 60.49.

36. 85.5. 37. 40.9, 74.19. 38. 39.25. 39. 85.12. 40. 85.14. 41. 10.32. 42. Eric J. Lott, God and the Universe in the Vedāntic Theology of Rāmānuja: A Study in his Use of the Self-Body Analogy (Madras: Rāmānuja Research Society, 1976), 93. 43. 8.36, 23.36, 33.35, 37.23, 50.29-30, 60.2, 63.27, 68.46, 74.3, 76.1, 80.45. 44. 33.26-27, 50.10, 63.37, 74.22. 45. 16.33. 46. 38.10, 50.9, 50.15-16, 75.39, 79.22, 85.18. 47. 8.29-31. 48. 58.37; 90.49. 49. 29.24-5. 50. 29.45-6. 51. 30.31; 33.22. 52. 33.26-34.

everything,” perhaps his most common epithet in the Bhāgavata. Dualism also wholly denies the “Thou art that” Upaniṣadic credo, which would significantly alter what it means for a soul to obtain liberation. Kṛṣṇa is explicitly called the jīva soul.36 The Bhāgavata is clear that all gods aside from Kṛṣṇa are composed of Kṛṣṇa,37 and, because individual souls can be born as gods, individuals must also be composed of Kṛṣṇa.

With this, I have sufficiently motivated my earlier claim that everything in the world is a property of Kṛṣṇa. This ontology preserves necessary distinctions between individuals and Kṛṣṇa, so that devotion remains a coherent activity and Kṛṣṇa worthy of devotion, without succumbing to Sāṅkhya dualism. Kṛṣṇa as the “home of all qualities”38 is the existential substratum all worldly objects and people modify. Just as prakṛti “matter is behind the modifications of matter” (the three guṇas), Kṛṣṇa is the “imperishable entity behind perishable substances,”39 which are modes or properties of Kṛṣṇa. Material “substances do not exist until they are arranged in” Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa exists in the transformations of guṇas.40 Kṛṣṇa is ontologically “prior” to prakṛti and all creation.41 Kṛṣṇa is everything, but this “is” expresses predication, not identity or equivalence. The ontology I describe here was systematized by the eleventh century Indian thinker Rāmānuja who developed his belief in “qualified non-dualism” through a prakāra-prakārin relationship, or “modifying attribute” to “modified thing.”42 Brahman is the underlying “thing” which is known through the worldly attributes that modify it. The closest expression of this ontology in Western thought is seventeenth century philosophy of Baruch Spinoza who claimed everything exists as a mode, or property, of God, although he understood God to be non-anthropomorphic and without moral properties. RETURNING TO THEODICY AND PLAY

The bhakti tradition moved the focus of Kṛṣṇa’s character from enmity against demons or the preservation of dharma to līlā, spontaneous play. These motives are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they often exist alongside each other in the Bhāgavata. The difference between the Bhāgavata and the Mahābhārata, however, is which motive is most frequently Kṛṣṇa’s goal and which are simply side effects of or instrumental in attaining his goal. Kṛṣṇa’s goals in the Mahābhārata conflict to the point of contradiction. I have already shown dharma cannot coexist comfortably with the killing of demons as aims in the Mahābhārata. The Bhāgavata pushes these aside, and places līlā front and center; careful reading yields almost continual affirmations of līlā as the purpose of Kṛṣṇa’s incarnation.43 Kṛṣṇa has incarnated himself to uphold dharma;44 punish the wicked, including demons;45 and accomplish a third goal common in part two, “removing the burden of the world”46— its military power. Līlā easily receives the most weight. Kṛṣṇa’s actions, especially in part one, are eminently playful. As a child, Kṛṣṇa plays tricks on the gopī cowgirls and steals butter,47 makes love to them, and frequently dances and plays his flute in the company of his friends.

The three secondary goals, preservation of dharma, punishing the wicked, and reduction of military power, for the most part advance the primary goal of līlā, and the Bhāgavata probably wishes them to be treated as such. Dharma and līlā are complementary; book ten ends with the same union of purposes.48 However, this unity sometimes breaks down. When the gopī s come to greet Kṛṣṇa for the rasa (passion) pastime, Kṛṣṇa tells them their duty is to serve their husbands, and, “[w]ithout exception,” adultery does not lead to heaven.49 Kṛṣṇa is probably bluffing because he is eventually swayed by them.50 Kṛṣṇa is “lusty” and like “the king of elephants who had lost all inhibitions with his female elephants.”51 Parikṣit asks Śuka a question of theodicy regarding this episode: Why does Kṛṣṇa make love to married women and thereby commit adharma?52 Śuka absolves Kṛṣṇa by virtue of his power. Kṛṣṇa is far too powerful to be contaminated by adharma, so he is not obligated to commit dharma. However, dharma obligates a person whether they can 60


obtain personal benefit from an action or not, and Kṛṣṇa is made purely of sattva (goodness), incarnate to uphold sattva, and of upright moral character, so Kṛṣṇa’s actions should also be good.53 This explanation, then, degenerates into a divine command theory. The only way for Kṛṣṇa to avoid committing adharma is if he arbitrarily defines what dharma (or goodness) is by reference to his own actions.

This would normally be unacceptable, but in light of the ontology I have described, it accomplishes more. Dharma must also be a property of Kṛṣṇa or an abstraction from Kṛṣṇa’s apparent modifications. If we understand dharma as “the duties of a person that, if performed, obtain for him or her a better rebirth or liberation,” Kṛṣṇa, almost trivially, defines what dharma is because the world simply is his behaviors. Kṛṣṇa would have no such duties because he has neither a higher level to obtain nor the capacity to sink lower.54 The upshot of what we would call Kṛṣṇa’s adharma is twofold: Kṛṣṇa delivers the gopī s a maximally pleasurable experience, and it is devotion to Kṛṣṇa that liberates them from rebirth. Adharma, in this case, can then be considered a moral action because it results in an optimal result. Another interpretation rests in understanding the rasa pastime as super-moral.55 It is a “sacred space” where moral rules are suspended and actions can be enjoyed without regard for their consequences. The Bhāgavata, especially in this instance, redefines dharma to accommodate bhakti. The gopī s implore Kṛṣṇa: You, the knower of dharma, have declared that the occupational dharma of women consists of attending to friends, husbands and children. Then let this be our dharma when it comes to you, the source of this advice, O Lord—after all, you are the soul within all (29.32).

In this sense, devotion to Kṛṣṇa is the highest, and only, dharma, so actions that advance such devotion are also dharma. Even so, we should avoid pushing līlā and dharma/sattva too close together. Kṛṣṇa sometimes plays at the expense of dharma and sattva. Kṛṣṇa steals the clothes of bathing gopī s, and the girls are “cheated, deprived of their modesty, derided and made to perform like puppets.”56

In a later episode, Kṛṣṇa’s brother-in-law Rukmī insults him and begins to attack. Kṛṣṇa nearly slays him, but Rukmiṇī begs him to desist.57 Instead, Kṛṣṇa only disfigures his opponent; this act is called an “unrighteous deed” by a bystander.58 Kṛṣṇa attributes his adharma to Rukmī’s past karma. This, especially in light of the ontology of the Bhāgavata, is a poor excuse because Rukmī’s poor karma is also an emanation of Kṛṣṇa. It can be justified under a divine command theory, but, in this case, such a justification is dissatisfactory because Kṛṣṇa is not advancing the liberation of others. Dharma is genuinely not Kṛṣṇa’s purpose in this instance; the best explanation is that his foremost aim is not dharma. Another of Kṛṣṇa’s secondary goals, punishing the wicked, is more amiable to līlā. Much of part one of book ten consists of Kṛṣṇa slaying demons. However, Kṛṣṇa does not go looking for a fight. Demons intrude upon Kṛṣṇa’s play or threaten his friends and family; only then does he dispatch them.59 The Bhāgavata has an added twist: The demons Kṛṣṇa slays are frequently liberated or obtain much higher rebirth by virtue of Kṛṣṇa slaying them; Kṛṣṇa’s “punishment of the unrighteous is undoubtedly that which destroys their sin.”60 Kaṃsa’s sister Pūtanā attempts to kill the infant Kṛṣṇa by having him suckle her poisoned breast. Kṛṣṇa saps both her sin and life away with his lips.61 The giant snake demon Agha is killed and obtains liberation when Kṛṣṇa enters his mouth.62 Kṛṣṇa dances on the hood of the 1,000-headed snake demon Kāliya, but does not slay him because Kāliya’s wives beg him to be merciful. The wives wonder what auspicious deed their husband committed for him to be blessed by the dust of Kṛṣṇa’s feet.63 The radical asymmetry in power between Kṛṣṇa and his opponents is essential, Hospital argues. Not only are KRSNA AS GOD AND WORLD


53. 27.4; 68.47; 29.41. 54. 74.4. 55. Kinsley, 93. 56. 22.22-25. 57. 55.33-4. 58. 55.35-7. 59. The killing of the donkey demon Denuka in chapter 15 is an exception because KRSNa and Balarāma perform this task at the behest of the gopa boys who want the delicious fruit Denuka guards. The deed is still quite clearly performed for līlā. 60. 16.34. 61. 6.34. 62. 12.38. 63. 16.34.

64. Clifford G. Hospital, “The Enemy Transformed: Opponents of the Lord in the Bhagavata Purana,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 46 (June 1978). 65. David R. Kinsley, The Divine Player: A Study of Krsna Līlā (Madras: Rāmānuja Research Society, 1976), 74. 66. Kinsley, 67. 67. 30.34, 33.19, 60.29. 68. These cases may be contrasted with Mahābhārata 9.61.52-3 where, strangely, celestial beings honor Duryodhana with a rain of flowers after he enumerates Krsna’s many stratagems throughout the war. 69. 21.13, 90.15. 70. 33.16.

Kṛṣṇa’s victories playful by virtue of their effortlessness but also acts of grace.64

The last of Kṛṣṇa’s secondary goals, reducing the military power of the world, receives significant attention throughout book ten of the Bhāgavata. If we were to place this aim as primary above līlā, many of Kṛṣṇa’s actions so clearly performed for līlā, such as the rasa pastime, would not advance his true goal in the least. Because Kṛṣṇa is the supreme being, we can assume he is rational in pursuit of his goals. Līlā must possess primary status. Becoming incarnate for play, which may include reducing military might as a means, justifies becoming incarnate. Līlā, unlike all of Kṛṣṇa’s other motives in the Bhāgavata and the Mahābhārata, makes Kṛṣṇa’s incarnation an end in itself. Indeed, most everything about Kṛṣṇa—his stunning beauty, his erotic smell, his coyness and cheerfulness—is imbued with intrinsic value.65 The text makes no apology for Kṛṣṇa’s frequent mischief as a child.66 Rather mischief only inspires greater affection in his devotees. KRSNA AS GENEROUS EGOIST

71. 89.58. 72. 23.22, 41.1, 43.19. 73. 81.34. 74. 43.15. 75. 37.32. 76. 77.19. 77. 54.26-31.

The Bhāgavata’s emphasis on Kṛṣṇa’s playfulness seems initially at odds with egoism. Even if we do not consider play precisely altruistic, our impression is that play is not only with another person but for that person as well. Egoism is not meant to imply selfishness, however, so egoism and play are not inherently contradictory.

In a simplistic sense, Kṛṣṇa’s egoism follows trivially from the sheer fact that all existence is an extension of Kṛṣṇa. All of his actions are for and with himself. This does not preclude them being for others as well, but all “other” individuals are still modifications of Kṛṣṇa. The only way Kṛṣṇa’s egoism would be implausible is if he were discontent with himself. But we find ample evidence indicating Kṛṣṇa is quite content with himself, incarnate or otherwise.67 Nearly every time Kṛṣṇa slays a demon or befuddles a lesser god, a host of brahma gods rain flowers down upon him in praise.68 Normally, this would be understood as congratulations for a job well done from one god to another, and it remains that, but ultimately Kṛṣṇa is congratulating himself. Just so, nearly every righteous person or god Kṛṣṇa redeems or overcomes circumambulates Kṛṣṇa in worship. Accordingly, Kṛṣṇa worships himself. All of nature is devoted to Kṛṣṇa,69 so Kṛṣṇa, being “like a child enraptured by his own reflection,”70 continually glorifies himself. This interpretation is plausible because incarnate Kṛṣṇa explicitly worships his transcendental self.71

Kṛṣṇa’s egoism is easily understood as playful and not simply haughty. If Kṛṣṇa were haughty, he would go out of his way to make others understand his greatness. Kṛṣṇa acts, not because of any need to show off, but simply because he can act. This is why he is described as a divine actor.72 An important virtue falls out of Kṛṣṇa’s motives, which is probably Kṛṣṇa’s primary virtue: generosity. Kṛṣṇa, as “the enjoyer of abundance,” is generous “like a rain cloud.”73 Most everyone he touches obtains liberation or higher rebirth indiscriminately. Crucially, Kṛṣṇa’s virtue is not charity. He does not give because he notices someone needs his abundance, and, thus, notices some inadequacy within himself in need of correction. He gives because he is so overflowing with abundance that, much like a rain cloud, it is his nature to give.

Kṛṣṇa remains very warlike, especially in part two of the Bhāgavata book ten. Although this renders him less benign, there is little evidence for him being cruel. This character trait also allows his secondary goals of slaying demons and reducing military power to spring from his līlā. When Kṛṣṇa entered Kaṃsa’s arena he “looked magnificent, marked with drops of rut fluid and blood, and with [an elephant] tusk placed on his shoulder.”74 Kṛṣṇa kills the demon Vyoma “just as an animal is slaughtered.”75 As an egotist whose nature it is to perform, Kṛṣṇa tells us: “Heroes demonstrate their prowess—they do not waste words.”76 In his battle against Rukmī,77 every kind of weapon Rukmī raises against Kṛṣṇa cannot overcome him. Kṛṣṇa is karma and time, so everyone is in his control as “a 62


wooden doll dances according to the whim of the puppeteer,” but in play with the gopī s Kṛṣṇa becomes like “a wooden puppet controlled by them.”78 This contrast provides the notion that Kṛṣṇa is like an unconquered wanderer searching for someone who can overcome him. He has found such “opponents” in his devotees and playmates. Even war is a game, for Kṛṣṇa. IS THIS A SATISFACTORY THEODICY? Western theology has, for the most part, lined up behind a univocal God, a God that is supremely wise, but whose power is subject to principles of morality not determined by His command. Vaiṣṇavism, by the time of the writing of the Bhāgavata, has taken the opposite approach in an effort to preserve Kṛṣṇa’s omnipotence. The problem with this approach is the problem that haunts any divine command theory. God (or Kṛṣṇa) arbitrarily determining what is good (or dharma), not because of reasons in the world, but because of His command alone, transforms God into a being that is unjust to the point of cruelty. The Vaiṣṇava attempt to get around this is two-pronged. Kṛṣṇa is an immanent God, so there cannot be anything external to him, which could obligate him. Good and dharma can be nothing other than his “command.” The other prong of the Vaiṣṇava defense rests in modifying Kṛṣṇa’s character, as expressed in his līlā, so that his goodness is not arbitrary but the result of his praiseworthy character. The question that remains is whether Kṛṣṇa’s virtues (however egoistic) of generosity, playfulness, magnanimity, and reciprocal love for devotees satisfactorily account for the still-present arbitrariness and sense that good and dharma are no longer coherent now that even these moral properties are subject to Kṛṣṇa. The case of Kṛṣṇa’s disfigurement of Rukmī, presented earlier, suggests this solution is lacking. Although Kṛṣṇa’s character is playful, nothing obligates him to always act in this fashion. Even so, objective dharma independent of all persons, including Kṛṣṇa, may be unnecessary. It may be enough that dharma be understood as playful devotion to Kṛṣṇa, so that he directs his generous gaze toward the worshipper. Whether this response sufficiently answers our convictions about morality is difficult to answer. What can be said is that this attempt to reconcile a truly omnipotent God with a moral God is among the best yet offered.

Andrew Dibble is a senior at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he is majoring in Religious Studies, Philosophy, and Computer Science. He is especially active in his university’s Quiz Bowl team, in which he takes a leadership role. Andrew f inds the philosophical and mythological systems enmeshed within religious traditions particularly fascinating. Through his training in formal logic and mathematics, he seeks to scrutinize religion using proof-based methods when possible. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Andrew plans to pursue graduate level studies in either South Asia, history of modern philosophy, or religious studies.



78. 54.12; 11.7.

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