“Producing Priests”

Volume 26 – Issue 14 :: Jul. 04-17, 2009 issue of Frontline published a special feature on the University system–exposing the sham of de novo “deemed” universities–in India. Among other articles, Meera Nanda‘s “Producing Priests” stands out, as it touches the subject that most Indians are afraid of discussing critically in public media. Meera begins eloquently–rightly so–and I quote,

What is good for the market is proving to be good for the gods in India. The more material acquisitions the middle classes make, the more pujas and homas they feel compelled to perform. Every vahan (vehicle) must have its puja, as must every tiny plot of bhoomi (land) before anything can be built upon it. Every puja, in turn, must have an astrologer or two and a vastu shastri, too. And then, every astrologer and vastu shastri worth his/her name must know how to work a computer, speak in English, and be “scientific” about it all.

Watching India’s thriving god market, one cannot help asking a simple question: where are all these seemingly modern pujaris, astrologers, vastu shastris and other retailers of rituals coming from? How does the supply of ritualists keep pace with the bottomless demand 21st century-Hindus have for religious rituals of all kinds?

That was pretty much what ignited my interest in her forthcoming book, “The God Market: How Globalization is Making India More Hindu”, and I, now, am eagerly waiting for the book to land in my hands. A little search led me to the full Introduction of the book (by Meera herself).

The same issue (of Frontline) also published a boxed feature by A. G. Noorani that busts the il-famous cleverly made-up quote (by Dr. M. M. Joshi). In his party’s manifesto for the past elections, Dr. Joshi quotes from a “speech” delivered by Macaulay “in the British Parliament” on February 2, 1835,

I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such high calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation. —Lord Macaulay, on Feb .2 1835 in English parliament (according to Dr. Joshi).

Historical evidences say this:

Macaulay came to India in June 1834 and became Law Member in the Governor-General’s Executive Council. He returned to England early in 1838.

Funny, no?! 🙂

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