Category Archives: South Asia(n)

Mumbai Attacked by Terrorists, Again

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taj-mumbai1

[Taj Palace Hotel, Mumbai]

Mumbai, India has been hit by another terrorist attack. Details remain sketchy but a group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility. It appears the terrorists approached the city via boat, whether hijacked or an accomplice vessel, and switched to smaller dinghies to come ashore. After landing, they attacked multiple targets throughout Mumbai.

Unlike previous attacks, the terrorists used small arms and grenades rather than high explosive devices. Early reports focused on the explicit targeting of foreigners at the Oberoi Trident and Taj hotels. However, busy locations frequented by Indians, such as the Chhatrapati Shivaji train station and the Nariman House residential and business complex were also attacked. Nariman House is the location of Chabad Lubavich’s Mumbai center.

Indian authorities report the terrorists appeared highly trained and knowledgeable of the layout of the hotels and other targets. According to the BBC, an unidentified Indian commando stated, “Not everybody can fire the AK series of weapons, not everybody can throw grenades like that,” he said. “By using such weapons and explosives, it is obvious that they would have been trained somewhere.” 140 people are reported dead and I expect this number to rise over the days as buildings are secured and cleared of terrorists.

Here are reports and commentary from around the web:

Excellent coverage may be found at the website for The Hindu and India Express newspapers and Desi Pundit blog.

The Hindu: Terrorists Used Hijacked Vessel

Even as special forces continued to battle the terrorists, investigators have been working to piece together the sequence of events that led up to the massacre that started on Wednesday night.

Based on the continuing interrogation of arrested Lashkar terrorist Ajmal Amir Kamal, investigators believe the 12 terrorists who left Karachi on a merchant ship hijacked a fishing boat to facilitate their final assault on Mumbai.

According to Kamal, the group hijacked the Porbandar-registered Kuber to avoid detection by Indian Navy and Coast Guard patrols, which had a considerable presence in off Mumbai.

While one group of terrorists used the hijacked boat to land at Sassoon Docks on the eastern coast of Mumbai, a second group used a fibreglass lifeboat to row west to the Cuffe Parade fisherman’s colony.

Before leaving the fishing boat, the terrorists beheaded its captain, who Gujarat authorities have identified as Balwant Tandel, from Una village in the Union Territory of Diu. There is no word on the fate of the remaining crew of five.

The Hindu: Premature Action, Israeli Experts

Israeli security experts have said that the Indian security forces were premature in storming the besieged Nariman House.

“Indians should have sanitised the area and first collected intelligence about the terrorists before launching flushing out operations,” a media report here said, quoting the experts.

“In hostage situations, the first thing the forces are supposed to do is assemble at the scene and begin collecting intelligence,” a former official in Israel’s famed anti-terror agency Shin Bet told The Jerusalem Post.

“In this case, it appears that the forces showed up at the scene and immediately began exchanging fire with the terrorists instead of first taking control of the area,” he said.

Foreign Policy: Who are the Deccan Mujahideen?

One must always be suspicious when a “new” terrorist organization crops up. Today’s horrific attacks in Mumbai were claimed by a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen. But one India journalist claims the pattern of the attacks suggests that Lashkar-e-Taiba, a nasty Islamist organization based in Lahore, Pakistan, and with a significant presence in Kashmir and links to al Qaeda, may be to blame.

Here’s where it gets interesting — and I stress here that I am just speculating. Lashkar-e-Taiba’s main goal is to expel India from Kashmir. In the past, some have accused elements of the Pakistani military and intelligence services of having ties to the group. Pakistan’s government has always hotly denied such accusations.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has in recent weeks moved closer to the United States, made some significant gestures toward India, and moved to shut down the political wing of the ISI, Pakisan’s powerful intelligence service (that’s the unit that tries to steal elections). How likely is it that some angry “rogue elements” of the ISI, aligned with Kashmiri jihadists and a team of Indian domestic extremists, sought to head off these moves? I have no idea, but it’s definitely a theory worth exploring.

There’s another more straighforward explanation for today’s attacks — revenge. A group calling itself the “Indian Mujahideen” has claimed responsibility for attacks in a number of different cities over the past several months. The Indian Mujahideen sent a warning in September expressing anger over recent raids by the city’s antiterrorism squad (ATS). Today’s message from the Deccan Mujahideen appears to be identical…

Abe Greenwald (Contentions): Return of the Root Cause

The Chief Minister of Mumbai, Vilasrao Deshmukh claims that “British citizens of Pakistani origin” were among the armed terrorists who took over various sites in the city. If true, this puts a new twist on Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that “external forces” were responsible for the attack. Time and Newsweek can publish all the articles they want about a “mounting sense of persecution” among Muslims in India, but if Indian businessmen (and foreign tourists) are being slaughtered by loyal subjects of the Crown, I’d say the media’s emphasis is a little off-base.

Islamic terrorists don’t need a regional excuse; Western journalists do. Nothing demonstrates this better than the shell game playing out in India this Thanksgiving weekend. One of the terrorists who seized the Oberoi Trident hotel told an Indian news station by phone, “We love this as our country but when our mothers and sisters were being killed, where was everybody?” and then his colleagues went and set off bombs to kill all the neglectful Indian lawmakers in . . . a Jewish outreach center.

Martin in the Margins: Mumbai and the Theology of Death

At lunchtime today, I listened to an insensitive, boneheaded Radio 4 presenter asking the Indian ambassador whether, given that the Mumbai attackers were probably Islamists, his government should now start attending seriously to the grievances of its Muslim population, as Britain had to do after 7/7. It’s enough to make you weep. In something he wrote after 9/11, but which I can’t find right now, Christopher Hitchens recalled asking some Chilean exile friends whether they were tempted to launch a similar attack on America, after the CIA-backed overthrow of Allende. They were horrified at the thought. Genuine radicals, those whose radicalism arises from a love of humanity and rage at inequality and injustice, don’t tend to see the mass murder of innocent people as a legitimate tactic. The murderers of Mumbai, like the Baader-Meinhof killers that I wrote about the other day, were not reacting to ‘grievances’, unless they were grievances imagined in their twisted theology of victimhood, but acting out the logical dictates of a nihilistic and death-loving ideology.

ZWord: The Mumbai Terrorist Attack

We’re continually being told that a solution to the Palestinian question will bind up the wounds inflicted on the pride of certain sections of Muslim opinion by the existence of a state for Jews. It’s never been a very convincing view and every attack like this makes it less so. A solution to the Palestinian question must be found for the sake of the Palestinians themselves and not because it would cool the ardor of radical Muslim opinion in India, Pakistan, Indonesia or anywhere else. To put it another way, does anyone really believe that the coming into existence of a Palestinian state would have convinced the Mumbai terrorists not to attack the Jewish centre?

UPDATE:

Indian troops have stormed the Chabad house. Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, were among the murdered. JTA notes:

Conflicting reports following the takeover of Mumbai’s Chabad-Lubavitch house in the terrorist attacks in India, which left more than 140 dead, prompted confusion and anxiety surrounding the fate of the house’s occupants, including the Holtzbergs.

Four Israelis were among those freed from the Trident-Oberoi luxury hotel along with other hostages late Friday morning, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry…

On Thursday afternoon, Indian commandos surrounded the Nariman House, where Chabad is located, with plans to storm in and release the hostages. There reportedly were four terrorists holed up inside with six hostages. Indian special forces reportedly killed one terrorist in the building.

Earlier Thursday, the hostage takers released the Holtzberg’s 2-year-old son and the building’s cook, who said that the couple was alive but unconscious…

The Chabad house is located at 5 Hormusji Street in Mumbai. India is a popular destination for young Israeli backpackers, who often make the trip after their army service. The Holtzbergs moved to Mumbai from Brooklyn, New York in 2003 to do Jewish outreach work in India.

Concern about the fate of the Chabad rabbi and his wife mounted throughout the day, with the Brooklyn-based organization issuing calls for prayer to Jews the world over. The National Council of Young Israel also sent out an alert asking Jews to pray for the rabbi and his wife.

“One friend of Gavriel Holtzberg reported receiving an e-mail from the Mumbai rabbi at 11:30 p.m. local time,” Chabad.org reported. “The Israeli Consulate was in touch with Holtzberg, but the line was cut in middle of the conversation. No further contact has since been established.”

On Thursday morning, according to the Jerusalem Post, the Chabad rabbi’s toddler son was rushed from the house in the arms of one of the Jewish center’s employees, Sandra Samuel.

“I took the child, I just grabbed the baby and ran out,” said Samuel, 44, who was identified as a cook.

Analysis from Bill Roggio (Long War Journal)

The Oneness Movement

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As regular readers know, I am interested in cults, especially political cults but religious ones as well. I’m not sure how I discovered the Oneness Movement or O.M. I must have been looking for something on Youtube. If you are not familiar with these nuts, here is what they are all about.

Their leader Sri Bhagavan (original name Vijaykumar Naidu), claims he is Kalki, the final avatar of Vishnu and can “enlighten” us mere mortals through his touch or gaze. The cult is also known as Kalki Deeksha movement. He and his wife, Sri Amma (Padmini), offer classes (level 1 and level 2) for thousands of dollars to facilitate the “enlightenment” process. It is an old scam that never ends to bring in new suckers.

Loved and worshipped by millions, Sri Amma Bhagavan are avatars for enlightenment and God realisation. They are one single avataric consciousness in two bodies. They represent the Divine feminine and the Divine masculine. Together Amma and Bhagavan power the process of enlightenment of the individual seeker as Yin and Yang, stillness and movement, Prakruti and Purusha.

The new twist for this cult is claiming spiritual awakening or deeksha is a “neurobiological process” and adding strange accoutrements like a golden orb to the standard Hindu cosmology:

The phenomenon of the Oneness Blessing/Oneness Deeksha is sourced in the descent of the “Golden Ball of Divine Grace”, a mystical golden orb of light, into which Sri Amma Bhagavan had impregnated their divine consciousness since early childhood through a very esoteric process. In July 1989, this Golden Ball of divine grace descended into many children of the Jeevashram School founded by Sri Amma & Bhagavan. With the descent of the Golden Ball these children were instantly transported into deep mystical states of consciousness and experienced profound transformation, thus heralding the birth of a phenomenon Sri Amma Bhagavan had been waiting for over nearly four decades.

The Golden Ball of Divine grace embodies the divine intent of Sri Amma Bhagavan, namely ‘to set man totally and unconditionally free’ and it is this intent that powers the Oneness Blessings/Oneness Deekshas worldwide. Oneness Blessing/Oneness Deeksha is essentially the process of facilitating the descent of this Golden Ball, which naturally activates a neurobiological process in the receiver’s brain, thus culminating in a spiritual awakening. In addition, it also activates the seven energy centers (chakras) in the subtle body and the dormant spiritual energy (kundalini), which constitutes the basis of every form of transformation in life, mundane as well as spiritual.

How people fall for this nonsense is actually rather sad. In one devotee’s words:

‘Diksha’, or baptism as we know it in the West, is a hands-on transference of Divine energy that brings about a state of oneness, or enlightenment. In the past, only a very few have been blessed with this state. Now, for the first time in human history, enlightenment is being made available to everyone through the grace if Sri Bhagavan (See picture). Sri Bhagavan, or Kalki as he is often called, is an Avatar who has the mission of bringing enlightenment to the world at this critical time.

Bhagavan says that you cannot attain a full state of enlightenment through your own efforts, although you can get close. Full enlightenment is a state that must be given to you!

What happens to us when we receive Diksha probably cannot be understood by the human mind, but it can best be described as a neuro-biological shift in the brain. We become detached or de-clutched from our mind. We are still able to feel feelings and have old thoughts, but there is no charge there anymore, and we start to experience permanent peace and joy. It is not about becoming mindless, but rather ‘mindful’ and being totally present with reality as it is.

If you were a native African, for example, you could probably become enlightened after receiving only one Diksha. However, we in the West are holding onto so many emotional blocks and concepts about life, that it is not as easy for us to attain this state.

Here is a different perspective:

I am having a hard time getting my money refunded from the people at the Oneness Movement. They have been extremely “nice” but they are basically charging me in order to refund the money. God, I wish I never gave them the fucking money in the first place. It’s another expensive lesson, but the same one over and over – listen to myself, not any one else who claims to have some kind of “answer”.

It seemed so appealing, the thought of all my Issues dissolving after three weeks of deeksha. But the warning signs were there. Signing the waiver saying I could withstand sleep and food deprivation, the high fee and the inability to leave the ashram, being told everyone has the same questions as me so I should just go with the flow and ignore what my inner voice was saying…I am grateful for my rational over-thinking mind coming in to save the day!

But now I have to deal with these mo-fo’s to get the money back. And I am learning about cults and mind-control as I try to navigate through their system of niceties and bullshit. They have me by the balls. I want to write an expose on them before they get much larger, but who the hell has heard of deeksha? Or, as they call it now, Oneness Deeksha or Oneness Prayer. That edict came down from on high last week – maybe the authorities are getting on to the deeksha name.

It turns out many of the early devotees were likely dosed with hallucinogenic leyham without their consent, leading to the extraordinary experiences they shared together. After leaving the Oneness University many of the devotees experience withdrawals and psychosis. Some have committed suicide.

As to where all the money is going. Part of it is going to build this temple:

The rest is being invested in personal properties and businesses owned by cult leadership.

Read more:

Website of the Global Oneness Commitment, “Co-creating a happy world.”

Guruphiliac:

Deeksha is a Sanskrit word meaning “benediction;” one “Deeksha giver” explains that deeksha “initiates a neurobiological change in the brain that when complete enables the senses to be free from the interference of the mind. When the senses are unclouded by the mind’s interpretations, a natural clarity of perception occurs with accompanying spontaneous feelings of joy, inner calmness and connection to the Oneness in everything.” Ahh, smell the bliss!

[Comments are now closed. This post is five years old.]

Terror Attack in Ahmedabad (India) Kills at Least 45

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At least 45 people have been killed in the latest terror bombings to hit India. This time the target was Ahmedabad in the northwestern state of Gujarat. Hospitals, markets and busy intersections were targeted. Car bombs were used against hospitals but the majority were much smaller, simpler devices (bags of ammonium nitrate packed with ball bearings), placed in tiffins on bicycles. Seventeen separate blasts have been recorded and police continue to defuse bombs across the city.

A group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility and sent emails to television channels minutes before the blasts. The Times of India reports:

The targets were selectively chosen, with the focus of attack being chief minister Narendra Modi’s Maninagar assembly constituency. Four blasts took place in this area. Also targeted was VHP leader Pravin Togadia’s cancer hospital in the Bapunagar area as a bombs went off on either side of his hospital. There were two blasts near assembly speaker Ashok Bhatt’s house in Khadia.

The Hindu notes:

The reports pieced together by the police indicated 17 blasts in 10 different areas and all, except the minority-dominated Sarkhej and Juhapura, were in the labour-dominated eastern parts of the old city. Most of the blasts occurred in crowded and congested areas during peak evening hour traffic. About 40 minutes after the first round of blasts, bombs went off near the trauma centre of the civil hospital and the main portico of the L.G. General Hospital in Maninagar, even as the injured were being rushed to the hospitals.

Abdul Halim, an activist of the banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), wanted in the 2002 Gujarat riots, was arrested for his alleged connections to the Ahmedabad blasts. Ahmedabad Joint Commissioner of Police Ashish Bhatia claimed Halim was part of network sending potential terrorists across the border into Pakistan for training.

Regarding SIMI, South Asian Terror Portal describes the organization as:

[A]n Islamist fundamentalist organization, which advocates the ‘liberation of India’ by converting it to an Islamic land. The SIMI, an organisation of young extremist students has declared Jihad against India, the aim of which is to establish Dar-ul-Islam (land of Islam) by either forcefully converting everyone to Islam or by violence.

More on SIMI from The Hindu:

Gujarat has been a high-priority target for SIMI jihadists and affiliate organisations like the Lashkar-e-Taiba ever since the 2002 communal pogrom in the State. Most SIMI cadre involved in these operations could never be arrested, raising the prospect that some, or all, are involved in Saturday’s bombings in Ahmedabad.

Maharashtra-based SIMI bomb maker Zulfikar Fayyaz Kagzi, for example, is thought to have built a sophisticated suitcase-bomb planted on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad express train in February 2006. However, an error in the timer circuit resulted in the bomb exploding only 12 hours after the scheduled detonation time, by which time train cleaning staff had deposited the suitcase in an empty corner of the Ahmedabad station.

Fayyaz is known to have caught an Iran Air flight to Tehran on May 9, 2006, and is thought to have escaped across the Zahedan border into Pakistan.

Visual Media via Times of India broadband.

Lessons of the Amarnath Shrine for Hevron Liberation?

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Did this article in the NYT escape your notice?

Land Transfer to Hindu Site Inflames Kashmir’s Muslims

The article describes tens of thousands of Muslim protesters taking to the streets of Srinigar and towns across Kashmir in opposition to the transfer of nearly 100 acres of land by the state government to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, a trust responsible for running the Hindu shrine. The VOA reports, “the new land would allow facilities for pilgrims to be built around the shrine.” As of Saturday, the protests had entered their sixth day. Protesters attacked government buildings including a police post and set vehicles ablaze. The Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) organized counter-protests in neighboring Jammu province.

Amarnath is an incarnation of the Hindu god Shiva in the form of a large ice stalagmite. Every year tens of thousands of shaivites (worshippers of Shiva) take the two-month pilgrimage and ascend a 12,700 foot peak in the Himalayas to visit the shrine. In the past few years, attacks against pilgrims by Islamist extremists have increased. As a result the Indian army has been forced to place thousands of soldiers along the route to the holy site. The transfer of land will potentially decrease the necessity of such a large troop presence. Kashmiri separatists allege the land transfer is a conspiracy to change the demography of the mainly Muslim Kashmir Valley. They fear the land would be used to settle Indian Hindus in largely Muslim Kashmir.

What is the possibility of similar land transfers in Israel? The first place that came to my mind was the Cave of Machpelah Tomb of the Patriarchs. If only Israel’s government had the will of India’s to remove the Muslim Waqf (Religious Trust) that took control of this Jewish holy site during the Arab conquest.

Jaipur Terror Bombings Kill 75 and Counting

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I woke up this morning to news of another spate of terrorist bombings in India, this time in Jaipur. News reports are coming in as I type. Seven blasts were reported with bombs detonated at Tripolia Bazar, the Hindu Hanuman temple, Johari Bazar, Manas Chowk, Badi Choupal and Choti Choupal in the old walled part of the city.

At this point, 75 people are dead. The death toll is expected to rise as more hospitals disclose casualties. Rohit Singh, the spokesman for Rajasthan state, has encouraged calm.

The NYT reports:

Mr. Singh, speaking by telephone from Jaipur, said it was too early to say who was responsible, but that the attack appeared to be intended to incited religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims. Similar terror attacks on religious sites in recent years have not succeeded in setting off sectarian violence. The Hindu holy city of Varanasi was struck by a pair of bombings in March, 2006, killing 14, and a blast killed two worshippers in one of the holiest Muslim shrines in Ajmer, also in Rajasthan, last September.

At this point no organization has claimed responsibility but the attack comes two days after another terrorist attack in Kashmir. However, The Hindu newspaper claims the:

Banned Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islamia (HuJI), operating from Bangladesh, is believed to be behind the serial blasts that rocked the tourist city of Jaipur…Though baffled by the attack as Jaipur was not on the terror radar, sources said the tell-tale signs of the blasts indicate HuJI’s hand. The blasts showed that HuJI, which is being mainly run from Bangladesh, has managed to establish cells in Rajasthan and that the outfit was responsible for previous major terror attacks including the New Year eve attack on CRPF camp in Rampur and serial blasts in three other places in Uttar Pradesh.

Read more:

Indian Express

JPost

Reuters

Wall Street Journal

Thoughts on the Tibet Freedom Struggle

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Personal posts at Bob from Brockley and Martin in the Margins—in addition to images of Buddhist monks hurling bricks at PLA soldiers—prompted me to write this. If you don’t frequent Bob or Martin’s blogs, you should. Also have a look at Modernityblog on Tibet and Burma.

March 10 marked the 49th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising. A series of non-violent demonstrations in Lhasa and other cities throughout Tibet were coordinated with efforts by Tibetan exiles in India to march to the Chinese border in protest of the upcoming Olympic Games in China. Solidarity demonstrations were held at major cities across the United States and around the world.

However, whether through government action, provocation by protesters, or some combination of the two, what started as a peaceful protest escalated into police violence, attacks on government personnel and facilities and communal violence by Tibetans directed against Han Chinese. Some reports allege pallets of bricks were placed at strategic locations, suggesting at least some support for violent resistance. Government media has televised images of men appearing to be monks throwing bricks and other material at police.

The Dalai Lama’s position as spiritual and political spokesperson for the movement has been unquestioned for decades. A pacifist and advocate of non-violent struggle, he has long advocated a “middle way” a willingness to abandon any discussion of independence in exchange for an offer of Tibetan autonomy.

For the exile community in India, particularly radical students, this is not enough. NYT reports:

[A] handful of radical Tibetan exile groups have said angrily that the “middle way” has achieved nothing in nearly 30 years. They have called for an Olympic Games boycott, burned Chinese flags and refused to call off a march from here to Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, which he has called impractical in opposing a mighty state intent on using force.

So the question arises of whether the Dalai Lama, who has spent the last 49 years here in India and built one of the most powerful exile movements in the world, is out of touch with his own people. Or is this monk, regarded by his followers as a reincarnation of Buddha, the ultimate political pragmatist?

There is no clear answer. Whether his doggedly conciliatory posture will ever assuage China’s government, or whether his allies will intensify pressure on China on his behalf remains a mystery.

But a hint of his influence here bleeds through the often angry, inventive protests that have gone on nearly nonstop for over a week. For all the slogans of fury — “Free Tibet” and “Death to Hu Jintao” — China’s president, the most common is a call-and-response homage: “Long live the Dalai Lama.”

NGOs and others concerned with the Tibet issue as well as labor and human rights organizations are calling for a boycott of the Olympic Games in China. China never should never have been considered in the first place, IMHO.

Bob notes a certain distance from the Tibetan struggle in his youth attributable to something he calls “Stalinophilia.” In Bob’s words, “I mean the worldview that sees state the state socialist regimes in the Peking and Moscow families as bulwarks against the “real” enemy, Western capitalist/imperialism, and therefore, dispite their evident evil, worth supporting (albeit “critically”).” Today, he finds this position “shameful” but remains critical of supporting nationalist movements.

Martin’s experiences are more personal than political and somewhat similar to my own. He writes, “As a teenager I had a deep interest in eastern spirituality and a romantic attraction to the countries on the old hippy trail – Tibet, Nepal, Ladakh. More recently, I went through a phase in which I was seriously interested in Buddhist philosophy, and it was the Tibetan variety that appealed to me most strongly.”

My early familiarity with Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism came through affiliation with the Vedanta Society during my late teens. The Vedanta Society teaches a monistic (non-dualist) form of Hinduism that had some appeal with Western intellectuals in the early to mid twentieth century. A lot of their teachings focus on the commonalities of world religions. Unlike Martin, my experience was largely cerebral, rather than spiritual. I did not try to join the group or become Hindu or anything like that. But I did learn a lot about India and Hinduism as well as a little about Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

Like Martin, my interests shifted from spiritual and metaphysical concerns to politics, society and culture. When I entered college I was able to explore these interests in greater depth and remember writing a paper titled “Tibet and China: Cultural Genocide?” I was reminded of it when the Dalai Lama made his recent comments on this matter. I studied Hindi and Nepali as well as some area studies courses before finishing my baccalaureate degree and had the opportunity to travel to South Asia, starting at Tamil Nadu in southern India and finishing at Nepal Ganj in Nepal’s terrai region. Throughout these studies–while I did not realize it at the time–I was moving away from the Vedantic focus on the commonalities of cultures and religions and becoming more interested in what makes us unique and different. Rather than asking “what makes us human” I was wondering “why do we see the same things so differently?”

While living in the Bay Area I occasionally found myself in arguments discussions with white Tibetan Buddhists who mentioned how the Tibetan people had known only peace prior to the Chinese occupation. While certainly against the conduct of the communists, I was quick to point out that in antiquity the Tibetans were known for their fighting abilities and were feared as dangerous warriors by the Han Chinese. The Buddhist presence in Tibet was not the result of entirely peaceful relations either. Far from it. The Buddhists took over a vast territory dominated by the Bon religion.

What we know as Tibetan Buddhism is an amalgam of Buddhism and this earlier belief system. One manifestation of this is Tibetan art. The image below looks like a protector deity often found on Buddhist tanka paintings. But this is a Bon image.

bhairav.jpg

The Government of Tibet in Exile notes:

[W]ith the increasing royal patronage of Buddhism, Bön was discouraged, and faced persecution and banishment. Practically nothing is known about Bön during the period from the eighth to the early eleventh centuries. However, with the relentless devotion and endeavour of sincere followers such as Drenpa Namkha (9th century), Shenchen Kunga (10th century) and many others the Bön, Tibet’s indigenous religion, was rescued from oblivion and re-established itself alongside Buddhism in Tibet.

While my current academic and professional work has nothing to do with South Asia I continue in my attempt to understand why people can come to very different conclusions about the same events or phenomena. These differences do not only translate into differences of interpretation but differences of perception and cognition.

More:

Bon Foundation

Statement of the Dalai Lama on the 49th Tibetan Uprising Day

Government of Tibet in Exile

Mainstream Media:

The Hindu

Hindustan Times

NYT

Times of India

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated at Political Rally

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bhutto-benazir.jpg

I woke up this morning to news of Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. Witnesses report Bhutto was shot at close range followed by an explosion which ripped through a political rally at Liaqut Bagh, a park in Rawalpindi often used for political rallies and speeches. At least twenty other people were killed in the blast. Police suspect a suicide bomber caused the explosion. In a related story, three people were killed at a political rally for Nawaz Sharif. Police would not confirm or deny any connection to the Bhutto assassination. No group or organization has claimed responsibility for either attack.

Speculation abounds regarding the perpetrators. Islamist terrorists, rogue elements in Pakistan’s intelligence services, and forces loyal to Pervez Musharraf are all potential suspects. One thing is certain, given the assassination of one of the primary candidates it is highly unlikely that elections will proceed as planned for early January 2008.

Read more:

Contentions

The Hindu

Indian Express

New York Times

Times of India

The Washington Post