Islam and the Bhagavad Gita

François Gautier

In the last 30 years, I have spoken against Islam and Islamic fundamentalism numerous times in my books as well as in my articles and conferences. Thus, I have been often branded as an Islamophobe or a hardline pro-Hindu. Yet, when I came to India, I was innocent: I did not know the difference between a Muslim and a Hindu. And as a journalist, I had the same prejudices and ideas about India as any other Western correspondent. In fact, I embraced the same ideas : ‘Secularism, the Congress is the only party that can unify India, Hindus too can be fundamentalists’, etc.

But then, I started covering Kashmir during the 90s, when separatism bloomed and violence set fire to the Valley. It is there that I saw the first Hindu leaders (such as doctors, lawyers or All India radio broadcasters) whom I had interviewed previously, assassinated in the most savage manner. And then, when Benazir Bhutto gave her famous speech of ‘Azad Kashmir’, every mosque in Srinagar and the Valley repeated that cry, telling Hindus : ‘Convert or die’. And in a few weeks, 350,000 Kashmiri Hindus left their ancestral houses and land, for no other crime than being Hindus – and that too without firing a shot in self-defense – becoming refugees in their own country – a first in the world.
Thus, my eyes were opened and I lost my innocence. Since then, covering many other countries, I witnessed the same phenomenon in Bangladesh, Pakistan or Afghanistan, of Hindus being the target of hatred, as Jews have been for centuries. This set me to study Indian history and I quickly realised that great Hindu heroes such as Shivaji Maharaj or Maharana Pratap, had been bypassed in Indian history books, to a single paragraph : Shivaji Maharaj, who alone with his wits, extraordinary courage and a few hundred men, defeated the most powerful army of the world of his time, is a ‘plunderer’; and Maharana Pratap, is described as a ‘small chieftain’, although he is the only Rajput to have fought the Mughals and to have held Akbar’s army at bay in the Haldighati battle.

The irony is that tyrants such as Aurangzeb, who were monsters not only towards Hindus but also with his own family – Aurangzeb poisoned his own father, beheaded his brother Dara Shikoh, imprisoned his son – are lauded in history books as ‘firm but just emperors under whom arts flourished’ (Aurangzeb actually banned music in his court, because it was un-Islamic).

My wife and I are teachers of the Pranayama and meditation techniques of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, which we have been practicing for the last 25 years and which have changed our lives, giving us energy, enthusiasm and commitment. We do this free, as a seva, to partake of this great gift to humanity that originates from India.

During the last Shivaratri celebrations, we taught in Sri Sri’s Bangalore Ashram a Pranayama course to a batch of Iranians. Our group, which had many girls and ladies, some of them who always covered their heads, was reserved at first, but as the course progressed, there grew a bond of affection and warmth between us all. We could perceive so much love and humanity in all of them. And by the end of the course, we all danced and hugged each other.

It is not because I have fought Islam that I did not know before this course that Muslims are as much as the others, decent human beings, warm, family oriented, hospitable. I remember when I drove to India by road from Paris, crossing many Muslim countries. My best friend was then a Muslim French Moroccan. He would say ‘Assalam-o-Alaikum’, and doors would open, smiles were flashed, we would be dined, entertained, respected. This universal brotherhood of Islam is not found in the Hindu world.

So this set me thinking : Islam was born in Iran and since Khomeini’s takeover, though it has a Shia majority, Iran has an image of a hard-core Islamic Nation, where the Sharia reigns supreme and which is ready even to use a nuclear weapon to impose the supremacy of its faith. Yet these people we taught were the opposite and showed values of refinement and love that are today missing in the western Christian world.

I do understand even more now that most Muslims are good, witness the many human right organizations, journalists or intellectuals that fight for their rights as refugees, at the moment. Yet the stumbling block remains the Koran, a wonderful scripture, no doubt, but which was written for people and mentalities of 1400 years ago, when realities were harsh, punishments even harsher and survival a matter of life and death.

Nobody has read the Koran properly, except the Islamic terrorists of today : It does say that the Infidels should be slayed, that Islam must be the world religion, that women can be stoned if unfaithful, or that being gay is a crime punishable by death.

Logic would say that Muslim scholars of international repute should get together and reform the Koran, as Christians have done, so that it becomes adapted to the 21st century world. Problem is that nobody dares touch it or question it for fear of death. Problem is that even within the most moderate, educated and enlightened Muslims, logic and good sense stops when it comes to the Koran.
Thus, I will continue fighting Islam, in the spirit of the Bhagavad Gita : So many of my brothers and sisters are in the opposite camp. I have come to love them and respect them too.

Yet, I know that willingly or unwillingly, consciously or unconsciously, by accident or by karma, they are born in a religion that is harming the world, that is on the side of the anti-human and anti-Divine forces. Therefore, it must be challenged, even if it is with love in the heart – and not hatred.

– François Gautier
(François Gautier is a journalist based in India and served as the ‘South Asian’ correspondent for multiple reputed French-language Dailies. A prominent Hindutva activist, he talks of a ‘Hindu Holocaust’ in medieval times and advocates Indigenous Aryan theories. He is also the Founder of ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum’ that seeks to portray Indian history in a correct nationalist manner.)