Saturday, July 7, 2001
M A I L  B O X

Back to the roots

THIS refers to Aradhika Sekhon’s article: "Back to the roots" (June 16). The writer quotes examples of families which have returned to India with the aim of familiarising their children with the Indian cultural and value systems. I wonder how successful they are in their mission. However such cases are exceptions and cannot lead one to believe that there is a general reversal of the trend of making a beeline to foreign countries. NRIs do come to India occasionally to take stock of their properties and then go back.


Sangam of religions

In his column ‘This above all’ (June 16) Khushwant Singh has rightly observed that to claim that one’s religion is purest of the pure and it owes nothing to the others, is ridiculous. Every religion comes into being not out of nothing but out of something i.e. the long history of the people to whom the founder happens to belong. But that does not mean that every religion is the exact replica of another.

On the contrary, every religion is unique despite the fact that all religions take a lot from other religions and civilisations with which they come into contact. That is why Sikhism is not Hinduism, though out of 1600 names of God referred to in the Adi Granth, 14000 are of Hindu origin.

Sufis were influenced to a great extent by the Upanishadic and Vedantic mysticism.

But these facts do not in anyway undermine the uniqueness of any religion. They only refute the exclusive claim of a particular religion to the truth which is the root of all religious rancour and riots.


Espionage system

This refers to Shammi Kumar’s article "Genesis of espionage system in India" (June 23), in fact the present day espionage system has its roots in the espionage system of ancient India.

Kautilya is in favour of the appointment of women as spies. He believed women could perform the function better than men. He is of the view that the king should keep his spies in neighbouring countries also. In this way, he could remain well aware of the political conditions in those countries.

According to both Kautilya and Megasthenese (an ambassador in the court of Chandragupta Maurya), there was a network of spies through the length and breadth of the country. The king maintained a separate spy department, which kept the king informed of everything that happened in the country.


An ideal emperor

Apropos of Khushwant Singh’s write-up "What makes a man great?" (June 9), Akbar undoubtedly deserves the appellation of "great" after his name. Akbar was an ideal king. He was above religious orthodoxy and treated the Hindus very fairly. A number of them were posted at high positions. Birbal enjoyed the rare privilege of having access to the royal seraglio when the emperor happened to be there.

He banned the custom of Sati among Hindus and restricted polygamy among Muslims. He was illiterate, yet he had great respect for scholars of different languages. He established an extensive library of books on different subjects. Under his orders, many celebrated Hindu religious works were translated into Persian. He was a great patron of art and literature. He constructed an Ibaadat-Khaanah (hall of worship), where he invited priests and sages of different religions and very patiently heard their discussions on the doctrines of their faiths. He was moderate in diet and gradually ceased to eat meat.

He seldom ensconsed himself at the throne and either sat before it or stood by it while giving a public audience.