About the book:
A feature of the current Indian intellectual scene that strikes an outside observer (as I consider myself) is its excessive inhibition. There appear to be certain boundaries that most Indian intellectuals will not venture to cross, choosing rather to work within a self-imposed framework bounded by taboos. One of these taboos is raising questions about the claims of certain religions and their icons on humanistic grounds; this is simply not done. another is a re-examination of the role of Mahatma Gandhi in modern history, especially his position as the pre-eminent leader of Indian nationalism. A few others have been brought forward and discussed in this book. This is not a healthy situation. It is fifty years since India became independent - a passage of time long enough to allow a re-examination of her past. Is this calls for breaking some taboos, it is time we did so even if it makes some people unhappy. A few ruffled feathers cannot be allowed to stand in the way of truth and progress. As Sri Aurobindo put it: We should be absolutely unsparing in our attack on whatever obstructs the growth of the nation, and never be afraid to call a spade a spade. Excessive good nature will never do . in serious politics. Respect of persons must always give way to truth and conscience. What India needs especially at this moment is aggressive virtues, the spirit of soaring idealism, bold creation, fearless resistance, courageous attack; of the passive tamasic inertia we already have too much. This spirit of aggression is what I have tried to bring to the collection of essays presented in this volume. It is an attempt to be an `intellectual Kshatriya' - borrowing a phrase from my friend and colleague David Frawley. I have held no one to be above criticism, nor treated any subject as taboo. This I believe was the spirit of the Vedic Renaissance (or Hindu Renaissance) that stirred the souls of thinkers like Maharshi Dayananda Saraswati, Bankima Chandra Chatterji, Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda. This was the moving spirit during the early phase of the national movement. It is time what we regained the spirit of the Vedic Renaissance, for, if present trends of moral weakness and expediency are allowed to continue unchallenged, the nation may be headed towards a moral and cultural abyss from which there is no return. As the great Greek historian Michael Psellus recorded in his Fourteen Byzantine Rulers, it was such loss of vigor that turned the once mighty Byzantine Empire into an effete bureaucracy. If newly independent India is to avoid a similar fate, the first step is to recapture the Vedic spirit which demands a willingness to ask uncomfortable questions and take unpopular positions. Failure to do so has resulted in an intellectual climate filled with shuffling insincerities and shallow evasions as Sri Aurobindo put it. These, as the same sage tells us, are the weapons of the weak.