Monday, May 15, 2006

Note to a prominent contributor to the Shivaji article on Wikipedia, who has tried to keep the article unbiased, reasonable, and informed. As does not appear surprising these days, it seems to be a foreigner who has read up on Shivaji and contributed to the article more than most Indians:

Hello Danny. I want to commend you on your contributions to the Shivaji article, and for mentioning Laine's book and the reaction to it in an objective manner. I personally found nothing in Laine's book that was deliberately irreverent; notwithstanding that he could have avoided controversy by deleting a few references which were not really necessary for the integrity of his narration. Also, although what happened with BORI was certainly despicable in the extreme, I think the whole incident was also an instructive one, because it dispelled the illusion of hero-worship of Shivaji that many of his followers like to wallow in. In India, there are many historical figures (and even current, living ones) who are regarded as gods, and any criticism of them is violently reacted to. I think these hero-worshippers need to be taught repeatedly that their 'gods' are human beings, and that their flawed character does not diminish their greatness as such. Ironically, a lot of such public reaction is not even based on devotion or hero-worship, but primarily based on political motivation and interest. I am sure that most common citizens of Maharashtra and Pune, where I am from, know or appreciate more about Shivaji than the hoodlums who desecrated BORI under the pretext of Shivaji worship. That's the most tragic part of a lot of these cultural onslaughts; that they are motivated purely by political interests rather by any kind of even fanatical but still informed conviction. In the end, the members of the Sambhaji Brigade turn out to be nothing more than being similar to the Nazi SS; common thieves and violent criminals, motivated by nothing more than political greed, without any knowledge of even what they are apparently fighting about. So much for all their exalted attitude of pseudo cultural righteousness. In the list of those who want to defend and respect their own culture, their names will not appear even at the very bottom.
Sorry for the somewhat emotional comments, but having grown up in Pune which is supposed to be a cauldron of Marathi culture and decency, such travesty does rankle and keep festering.
Keep up the good work.


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