On Monday, a controversy broke out when a video of a faculty from UPSC training academy – Vision IAS made rounds on social media wherein a faculty was seen calling the ‘Bhakti Movement’ as a cult inspired by the rise of Islam in India. It was learnt that on many such instances during her lectures, blatant Islamic propaganda and political brainwashing was often being peddled. When rightfully called upon by netizens over the communization and politicization of studies in the coaching centre, the institute issued an apology although siding with the concerned lecturer as their ‘esteemed faculty’.
Blame it on her ignorance or accuse her of peddling lies in the name of education, the subtle brainwashing exercised by Vision IAS faculty Smriti Shah stooped the lowest levels of Hinduismia. Her lectures are laden with assumptions derived out of a simplistic understanding of texts, rose-tinted understanding of culture while relating the assertion of identities as a political move. Not only the IAS training academy is accused of furthering political propaganda through its lectures, but the uncovering of layers has also exposed the rot of Hinduphobia that runs deep to the core of IAS education in this country.
Here are a few instances where lecturer Smriti Shah is being openly criticised over her credentials as a ‘tutor of hate’ all over social media.
Shaping Bhakti Movement as ‘Cult’
One fine day when a lecturer at Vision IAS academy, Smriti Shah asked her students about the origins of the Bhakti Movement, she prompted them saying “It was nothing but Islam arriving in India in the seventh century. It was very liberal and talked about equality. There was no caste system either.” She further elaborated that how the ‘Bhakti Cult’ was started as a reaction to the rise of ‘Liberal Islam’ accommodating its ideas of voicing against the discrimination and universal brotherhood”
Here, the cruel episodes of destruction and pillage of Hindu structures by Islamic Invaders were not mentioned, whereas, Smriti went on to say, “Islam had not arrived in India yet, but it had started showing its influence. It was free from any rigidity and casteism. There was a speciality of Islam that talked about complete devotion to one God (Allah). They were talking about the concept of one God.” Far from reality, furthermore, she painted the bottom-Up socio-cultural Bhakti movement within the Hindu fold as a singular ‘Cult’
Here, Smriti was seen peddling a narrative similar to controversial Indologist Wendy Doniger’s myth that the ‘Bhakti Movement’ was shaped by the principle of ‘absolute devotion to God’ in Islam. Many scholars in retaliation have proved that the social upliftment led by the religious movement was carved out of the principles from Hindu philosophies of Advaita Vedanta and Smartism. During the movement which spanned from the 7th to the 17th century, people from all strata expressed different variations of the absoluteness of the ‘Universal Divine’ and thus new regional deities such as Vitthala, Jagannath, among others emerged and stories related to them were being told.
The churn in the Indic society was definitely a reaction to Islam – wherein the poet-saints found new ways to connect with God as existing temples were being destroyed on a monumental scale as well as building new ones was not encouraged. Bhakti Poet Sant Tukaram in the 17th century has written, ” At the zenith of Kaliyug, will emerge astride Kalki and he will destroy the mlecchas (Muslim Invaders). Until the flag of Dharma flies again, (you) take solace in the name of Hari,”
Far from what Smriti propagated, The Bhakti Movement was an independent churn in the Hindu society to reorganise Dharma so as to fight the attempts of rampant Islamic conversions by force. However, this lecture of hers was not a single instance when she was found confirming the Islamist narrative of shaping the Bhakti Movement.
Polyandry, Draupadi and ‘purchasing’ wives
Another video of Smriti Shah which was making rounds on the internet was during her lecture on the concept of family and its evolution in India. Making sweeping generalizations while taking an example on the topic of polyandry, she narrated “In the agricultural communities from Punjab and Harayana, the livelihood depends on land. If you have five sons, you have to ‘purchase a wife’. You must have that much money to ‘purchase’ a bride for each of your sons. Once you get the bride, the chances of property division are also high, since now there would be five different families. To avoid the fragmentation of land-holding, you instead purchase one bride for all your sons.”
She stated further, “Polyandry solves two purposes, one – you have to purchase one woman instead of five and the second being your economic assets would be retained. Now when you question that this is illegal, the reference is then made to Draupadi, your culture,” “When Draupadi went Sati, she (the bride) will also go.” she added. Not only did the lecturer make misogynistic comments about ‘purchasing’ women, but she also generalize the regions of Punjab and Haryana by connecting unrelated events to social stigmas prevalent centuries ago to essential practices in Hinduism.
The Quintessential Diwali Gyan
Of what was written on the whiteboard, the students were seen being sermonised on ‘Walmartization’ this time. ‘The practice of giving gifts’ added Smriti Shah is not ‘our culture’. “We never had this culture of giving gifts during Diwali. It was always about lighting diyas and cleaning your homes because Laxmi Ji arrives. Nowadays, that Sonpapdi (Sweet) Box travels from one household to another until the date the expiry date doesn’t come.”
Not to derive anything from the ‘past’ or refer to any religious text, exchanging gifts during festivities has always been an act of sharing love among personal relationships, households and also on a community level. It is also seen as a way to stir the economy as more money is pushed into the market when it is spent on goods during festivities like Diwali. Alike the patronizing that goes on every Hindu festival about how it should be celebrated, the tradition of exchanging gifts also doesn’t need any validation of individuals like Smriti, who look hell-bent upon denigrating Hindu culture one lecture at a time.
Bashing the ‘theory of Karma’
At the Vision IAS academy, a class presided over by Shah was assembled for a lecture on ‘Social Issues’. The lecturer didn’t miss any opportunity here to make unnecessary and unrelatable connections on the social alienation by disabled people to the theory of ‘Karma’. She said, “The major issue is of social exclusion when it comes to the disabled people. One of the major reasons behind this is the public perception and so as to correct this wrong negative connotation with respect to the disabled population, Mr Narendra Modi has suggested the use of Divyang.”
Adding further she stated, “Terming any group as Divyang, do you think it is justified? There was an issue when Gandhiji called Dalits ‘Harijans’ – They belong to nobody but only to Hari (God). Ambedkar Ji had contracted this. A similar situation was created when this issue of the concept of ‘Divyang’ was being criticised. You are not changing the public perception, this is just a pseudo attempt being made.”
In 2016, with the launch of the Accessible India campaign, PM Narendra Modi had asked to use the word Divyang ‘specially-abled’ instead of Viklang (disabled).
But even the students were stunned when the Smriti Shah unapologetically claimed that the basic reason behind this wrong perception of the disabled population is ‘our theory of Karma’. She went ahead to say, “It is said that if you are differently-abled, it is the retribution of your past Karma. If you do not disable the Karma theory, then no point in pondering over ‘Divyang’ or ‘Viklang’. The right interpretation of the Karma theory says that an individual is morally responsible for his acts and not for his fate as the way we interpret it. This lack of Scientific temper regarding the Karma theory needs to be changed.”
Listen to Owaisi, Tharoor and Mahua Moitra
Another video has also emerged of Smriti Shah, where she is openly admitting to having taught exactly similar to what Asaduddin Owaisi had remarked about the Triple Talaq Bill. She said, “Oh, by the way, Owaisi is a learned person. He is a very well qualified and educated person, a lawyer and the thought process was the same.” In 2019, when the triple talaq bill was being passed in Parliament, Owaisi had claimed that the government is trying to penalize women by banning the practice of oral triple talaq.
Owaisi ko suno, Tharoor ko suno. Fascism aa raha hai. pic.twitter.com/qGRTTVys0a— Wokeflix (@wokeflix_) February 28, 2022
She further said, “What I am trying to tell you is that a common rational person who has minimum awareness will debate on similar lines. Please listen or read to his speeches, (and) also listen to Shashi Tharoor. Also, listen to the new (MP) Mahua Moitra. What brilliantly she said that this concept of ‘Big brother’ is the first step to fascism!”
During the triple talaq issue, many ‘secular’ commentators took religious stances while arguing that the state serving a nation of Hindu majority should not interfere in the lives of its minority.
It is interesting that someone who has been employed to train IAS officers has advised the students to follow speeches of those who have clear communal undertones to what they have been spewing in public. Asaduddin Owaisi, for example, has in the past several times made communal speeches that targeted Hindus. Only recently, he extended his support to the Hijab row and said that one day, the PM of India would be a hijabi.
Asaduddin Owaisi had kickstarted his campaign for Uttar Pradesh 2022 state elections from Ayodhya claiming that the “Muslims of UP will win” and since then he had given several inflammatory speeches, instigating Muslims to choose an Islamic leader and not rely on the ‘Dallas (pimps)’ of other political parties.
The Uttar Pradesh police had on September 9 last year registered two FIRs against the AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi in connection with his public meeting in Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki. The Hyderabad MP was booked on charges of attempting to disturb communal harmony, flouting Covid norms and disrespecting the national flag.
Shashi Tharoor has himself claimed in the past that the Malabar Genocide of Hindus was a result of peasant uprising and not the genocide of Hindus by Moplah Muslims. With evidence to the contrary and the genocide being a direct consequence of the Khilafat movement, it is clear that Tharoor made these statements to whitewash the brutal genocide of Hindus.
Mahua Moitra, herself, had called for the murder of political opponents recently by terming them as “fascists”.
It is a contention that one has to deal with in the modern age. If those training IAS officers spew such hatred against Hindus and endorse those who do the same, the IAS officers that the country will get would surely be those who would not only be apathetic to the plight of Hindus but also harbour deep-seated hatred for them.