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Sita Ram Goel
Sita Ram Goel
Sita Ram Goel
Born(1921-10-16)16 October 1921
Punjab Province, British India
Died3 December 2003(2003-12-03) (aged 82)
Occupation
  • Historian
  • Writer
  • publisher
Alma materUniversity of Delhi
PeriodLate 20th century
GenreHistory, Politics, Comparative Religion
SubjectHinduism, Dharmic traditions, Christianity, Islam, Communism, Indian politics, British Imperialism
Notable worksHow I Became a Hindu
The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India
History of Hindu–Christian Encounters, AD 304 to 1996
Catholic Ashrams
Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them

Sita Ram Goel (16 October 1921 – 3 December 2003) was an Indian historian, religious and political activist, writer, and publisher known for his influential contributions to literature pertaining to Hinduism and Hindu nationalism in the late twentieth century. His work has been both celebrated and criticised for its bias towards Hindu nationalism and its controversial portrayal of other religions, particularly Islam and Christianity.[1][2]

In his later career, Goel transitioned into a role as a commentator on Indian politics, aligning himself openly with Hindu nationalism, a stance that has generated significant debate and scrutiny among scholars and observers of Indian society and politics.[3][4]

Life

Early life

Sita Ram Goel was born to a Hindu family in Punjab, in 1921; though his childhood was spent in Calcutta. The family looked upon Sri Garibdas, a nirguna saint comparable to Kabir and Nanak, as its patron saint and his verses, "Granth Saheb",[5] were often recited at their home.[6]

Goel graduated in history from the University of Delhi in 1944. As a student, he was a social activist and worked for a Harijan Ashram in his village. His sympathies for the Arya Samaj, the Harijans and the Indian freedom movement, along with his strong support for Mahatma Gandhi, brought him into conflict with many people in his village;[7] Goel also learned to speak and write Sanskrit during these college days.[8]

Works

Hindu View of Christianity and Islam (1993)

In 1993 the MP Syed Shahabuddin, who in 1988 asked for the ban on The Satanic Verses,[9] demanded a ban on Ram Swarup's book Hindu View of Christianity and Islam.[10] Goel and Swarup went into hiding because they feared that they could get arrested. The court accepted a bail and the authors came out of hiding.[11][12] Arun Shourie and K. S. Lal protested against the ban.[11][12]

Colin Maine's The Dead Hand of Islam

In 1986, Goel reprinted Colin Maine's essay The Dead Hand of Islam [1]. Some Muslims filed a criminal case against Goel, alleging that it violated Sections 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code and similar articles of the Indian Customs Act.

The judge discharged Goel and referred to the earlier court precedent "1983 CrLJ 1446". Speaking of the importance of that precedent, the judge in his discussion said: "If such a contention is accepted a day will come when that part of history which is unpalatable to a particular religion will have to be kept in cold storage on the pretext that the publication of such history would constitute an offence punishable under Sec. 153A of the Penal Code. The scope of S-153A cannot be enlarged to such an extent with a view to thwart history. (...) Otherwise, the position will be very precarious. A nation will have to forget its own history and in due course the nation will have no history at all. (...) If anybody intends to extinguish the history (by prohibiting its publication) of the nation on the pretext of taking action under the above sections, his act will have to be treated as malafide one."[13]

The Calcutta Quran Petition

Goel published The Calcutta Quran Petition with Chandmal Chopra in 1986. On 31 August 1987, Chopra was arrested by the police and kept in custody until 8 September for publishing the book with Goel. Goel absconded to avoid arrest.[14]

Hindu Temples – What Happened to Them

There were proposals in November 1990 in Uttar Pradesh to ban Goel's book Hindu Temples - What Happened to Them.[15]

Legacy

Sita Ram Goel has been described by Koenraad Elst as an "intellectual kshatriya".[16] David Frawley said about Goel that he was "modern India's greatest intellectual kshatriya", and "one of India's most important thinkers in the post-independence era". According to Frawley, "Sitaram followed a strong rationalistic point of view that did not compromise the truth even for politeness sake. His intellectual rigor is quite unparalleled in Hindu circles..."[17]

Books and booklets

English

Author

Editor

Prefaces, introductions or commentaries

Hindi

Author

Translator

See also

References

Citations

  1. ^ "Sita Ram Goel: The man who exposed Nehruvian fallacies and won our hearts with his mind". Firstpost. 16 October 2021. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  2. ^ "For the RSS, Denouncing and Appropriating Ambedkar Go Hand in Hand". The Wire. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  3. ^ Davis, Richard H. (2008). "Tolerance and Hierarchy: Accommodating Multiple Religious Paths in Hinduism". In Neusner, Jacob; Chilton, Bruce (eds.). Religious Tolerance in World Religions (2nd ed.). Templeton Foundation Press. pp. 361–362. ISBN 978-1-59947-136-5. Retrieved 23 January 2012.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Schmalz, Mathew N. (2006). "The Indian Church: Catholicism and Indian Nationhood". In Manuel, Paul Christopher; Reardon, Lawrence Christopher; Wilcox, Clyde (eds.). The Catholic Church and the nation-state: comparative perspectives. Georgetown University Press. p. 217. ISBN 978-1-58901-115-1. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  5. ^ This is a separate collection of hymns by Garibdas and a few other Bhakti saints. Not to be confused with holy-book of The Sikhs
  6. ^ Goel, Sita Ram, "How I became a Hindu" Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Chapter 1
  7. ^ Goel, Sita Ram, "How I became a Hindu", Chapter 2
  8. ^ Goel, Sita Ram, "How I became a Hindu", Chapter 3
  9. ^ Shahabuddin, Syed. "You did this with satanic forethought, Mr. Rushdie." Times of India. 13 October 1988.
  10. ^ In Syed Shahabuddin's letter to P.M. Sayeed, Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs on 20 August 1993. Sita Ram Goel:The Calcutta Quran Petition., Chapter 1.
  11. ^ a b S.R. Goel, ed.: Freedom of Expression, 1998
  12. ^ a b K. Elst: "Banning Hindu Revaluation", Observer of Business and Politics, 1 December 1993
  13. ^ Freedom of expression – Secular Theocracy Versus Liberal Democracy (1998, edited by Sita Ram Goel) ISBN 81-85990-55-7
  14. ^ Elst, 1991.
  15. ^ "Elst 1991". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  16. ^ e.g. in India's only communalist: In commemoration of Sita Ram Goel; Edited by Koenraad Elst; Voice of India, New Delhi. (2005)
  17. ^ "David Frawley Books - How I Became A Hindu My Discover Of Vedic Dharma - Journalistic Work (Page8)". hindubooks.org.
  18. ^ "Hindu Society Under Siege".
  19. ^ "How I Became Hindu".

Sources

Further reading