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- Zakir Naik is a controversial Muslim Preacher who is in news now for allegedly inciting killing and violence in the name of Islam.
- Naik has often been in the news, primarily because of his speeches and their content.
- But he says that he is a messenger of peace and does not mean to harm innocent people.
“I did not inspire any terrorists. Suicide bombings targeting innocent people are condemnable. My statements have been taken out of context. I am a messenger of peace,” said Zakir Naik to the reporters after his Peace TV channel got banned in Bangladesh.
According to him, his statements on terrorism and suicide bombings reported by the Indian media were “tampered and doctored.” He had applied for permission from Indian authorities to air Peace TV through his Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) in 2008, but the request was denied “possibly because the channel was Islamic.”
“I am not running away. As per my travel plans, I am supposed to come to India by next year, not before that,” Naik said. Even though Naik said he had not been contacted by any Indian investigating agency, Mumbai-based intelligence sources told BenarNews that all angles related to the televangelist, including his speeches, were being probed.
PM Modi had said “preachers of hate and violence are threatening the fabric of our society”, with reference to Zakir Naik. Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu has also hinted at his agitation against Naik due to his inappropriate speeches.
After the IS attack on Bangladesh, India had been feeling threatened. The heat on Naik is coming during a heightened sense of a threat from the Islamic State (IS) in India following the attack in the Bangladeshi capital, which killed 29 people, including an Indian hostage.
Until recently, New Delhi had denied that the Middle East-based terror outfit had any significant presence in India, but officials on Friday confirmed that the Dhaka attack had forced security agencies to make “certain procedural changes.”
“Naturally, security has been enhanced [after the Dhaka attack]. Several checks have been instituted along the Indo-Bangla border to prevent intruders into our cantonments and protect installations,” Wing Commander S.S. Birdi, spokesman for the defense ministry in Kolkata, capital of West Bengal, which borders Bangladesh, told BenarNews.
Bangladesh, after the Dhaka Attack, is still in mourning and wishes to make certain things clear to its scarred people. In Bangladesh, authorities on Friday moved to regulate weekly sermons in mosques across the Muslim-majority country amid a stepped-up campaign to combat Islamist extremism.
The state-run Islamic Foundation has prepared and delivered a sermon to more than 300,000 mosques in the country. It invokes verses from the Quran to prevent Bangladeshis from joining the path of radicalism, foundation chief Shamim Mohammad Afzal told Agence France-Presse.
“It is not mandatory, but we hope imams will follow our sermon or take inspiration from it,” Afzal said to Benar News, adding, “Our core message is [that] there is no place for terrorism in Islam. We want to make sure our children cannot be brainwashed to commit an act of terrorism.”
Meanwhile in India, Indian security agencies have made at least two IS-linked arrests since the Dhaka attack.
The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested a civil contractor, identified as Naser Yafai Chaus, 31, who hails from the Parbhani district of Maharashtra state, on Thursday.
While the department would not confirm the basis for Chaus was arrested, sources said he allegedly had contact with an IS handler in Syria.
On Tuesday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) claimed to have arrested Naimathullah Hussaini alias Abu Darda from Hyderabad, alleging that he was involved in recruiting youngsters from the south Indian city for the IS.
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More than 40 suspected IS operatives have been arrested in India since the formation of the terror outfit in 2014.
At least 23 Indians have left for Iraq and Syria to fight alongside the IS, which has called Hindu-majority India an enemy nation in its propaganda material, according to intelligence agencies.
However, the figure could be higher, analysts warned after reports emerged that 21 Muslims missing from different districts of south India’s Kerala state over the last month may have joined the IS.
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D.C. Pathak, former chief of India’s Intelligence Bureau, told BenarNews that the IS threat to India was real.
“They have come near our homes. They are knocking at our door,” Pathak said in reference to the recent Dhaka attack. “It is time to fend it with vigour.”
Moushumi Basu of the Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the Indian government should acknowledge IS a threat.
“[The government] has to take stock of the situation. It has to chalk out a proper plan to prevent Indian youth from joining such radical outfits. It has to identify and focus on resolving the issues driving our youngsters to join jihad or other forms of extremism. Simply a backlash from a recent terror attack or a knee-jerk reaction won’t solve the problem,” she added. (Benar News)
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Tenali Ramakrishna, or Tenali Raman as he is more popularly known is Birbal's equivalent in South India. A court jester and a scholar exuding great wisdom, Tenali Raman was known as one of the greatest courtiers in King Krishnadevaraya's court.
The Vijayanagar Empire ruled a large part of South India between 1336 and 1646. In the 16th century, the kingdom rose to prominence under the eminent leadership of King Krishnadevaraya. His continuous victories against his enemies ensured a successful and peaceful reign for his subjects. As a patron of art and literature, many crafts and cultural assets thrived in the empire.
Krishnadevaraya's beloved courtier, Tenali Raman is the finest example of the splendour of the Vijayanagar empire. He was born in Tenali, a town in Andhra Pradesh. He lived here until he lost his father, after which his mother brought him to Vijayanagar. He was discovered for his excellent wit and wisdom, and appointed in the court. He was one of the king's ashtadiggajas (collective name for the eight poets and scholars).
A statue of Tenali Ramakrishna near a Municipal Office in Andhra Pradesh Image source: wikimedia commons
Tenali Raman as a scholar, published great texts of wisdom, which have now become artefacts of the Kingdom of Vijayanagara. But his fame does not lie in these achievements. He is known for the mischievous jester that mythical folklore portrays him to be. Through stories, many writers have used jokes to impart wisdom and morals to many generations of people. The stories of Tenali Raman are almost legendary in the Southern peninsula.
Textbooks have been written with his moral stories in mind, and these days, many self-help book are also incorporating his wisdom. His most popular stories are, 'Mother Tongue', 'Cursed Face', 'Saluting the Donkeys' and many more. Through these stories, Tenali Raman, in some way, brought about social justice. Perhaps this is why he is most beloved by many people even today.
Keywords: Tenali Raman, Vijayanagar empire, Krishnadevaraya, Jester, Wisdom
It must be noted that different religions and societies in Southeast Asia have alternative narratives of Ramayana, one of the greatest epic.
Here are some of the versions of Ramayana!
Dasaratha Jakarta: The Buddhist Version
Interestingly, this version of Ramayana does not mention Ravana at all and in fact, there’s no mention of Sita’s abduction, too. In this version, Dasaratha is the king of Benaras and not Ayodhya. Also, Rama and Sita leaves kingdom and go to the Himalayas and not forests. Then, after twelve years, Rama and Sita return back to Benaras and get married.
Paumachariya: The Jaina Version
In this version, Lakshamana is the killer of Ravana and not Rama. Here, Rama is an ardent follower of Jainism, and so he cannot be the killer of Ravana. Also, this version states an army of warrior and not monkeys, as stated in Valmiki’s Ramayana. Another interesting feature of this version is that Ramayana is not shown as a villain, rather a magnanimous king and follower of Jainism.
Gond Ramayani: The Gond Version
Gond is an adivasi clan belonging from Madhya Pradesh in India. Interestingly, in this version, the story begins from where Valmiki’s Ramayana ended; when Sita is rescued from captivity. Also, Bhima, one of the Pandavas from the epic of Mahabharata, is mentioned in this version. Unlike Valmiki’s Ramayana, Rama is not the protagonist in this version.
Ramakien: The Thai Version
This is considered as Thailand's national epic, and is still taught in some schools in the country. In this version, Ravana is shown as a learned scholar and a noble king in this version. Also, Ravana’s pursuit for Sita is depicted as true love. There are a lot of similarities between this version of Ramayana and Valmiki’s version, but this version lays a lot of emphasis on Hanuman.
When a baby is born in an Indian household-they invite hijra to shower the newborn with their blessings for their blessings confer fertility, prosperity, and long life on the child. But when that child grows up we teach them to avert their eyes when a group of hijras passes by, we pass on the behaviour of treating hijras as lesser humans to our children. Whenever a child raises a question related to gender identity or sexuality they are shushed down. We're taught to believe that anything "deviant" and outside of traditional cis-heteronormativity is something to be ashamed of. This mentality raises anxious, scared queer adults who're ashamed of their own identity, and adults who bully people for "queer behaviour".
Hijras are a community of people who include eunuchs, intersex, and transgender people. They worship the Hindu goddess of chastity and fertility, Bahuchara Mata. Most hijras, but not all, choose to undergo a castration ceremony known as "nirvana" in which they remove their male genitalia as an offering to their goddess. The whole community is vibrant with hundreds of people with hundreds of ways of expression, the true identity of a hijra is complex and unique to each individual. In India, hijras prefer to refer to themselves as Kinner/Kinnar as it means the mythological beings who excel at singing and dancing.
Hijras worship the Hindu goddess of chastity and fertility, Bahuchara Mata.homegrown.co.in
The hijra community works systematically, the community separates itself from the outside world and teaches lessons to the young ones in secret. Each community has a guru and the other hijras are their disciples or chela. The "hijra ways of life" are taught to the disciples in a secluded environment where they leave their families and live with other hijras in the community. More often than not hijras are thought of as nothing different from transgender and often referred to as transgender; however, scientifically these two terms denote a different class of people. Hijras are a part of the whole community of people with various identities and of spiritual and cultural values meanwhile, transgender merely refers to those people whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned to them at birth, they are a part of the community and do not represent the whole community.
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Historically and culturally the community has existed in the Indian subcontinent as long as the civilization has existed. There are mentions of hijra in The Mahabharata, a holy book of Hindus. Shikhandi who was neither male nor female is a mythological legend. In another version of Mahabharata Arjuna, one of the Pandavas was cursed to be the third gender by Urvashi, when he refused to be sexually involved with her. In a story by Padma Purana, it is seen that Arjuna transforms into a woman to take part in Krishna's mystical dance which only women can take part in. The Hijra figures are prominent in Indian Mughal History as well, referred to as Khwaja Siras and known for their loyalty to the ruler, they worked as the sexless watchdogs of the Mughal harems. They held important positions in court and various facets of administration during Mughal-era India, from the 16th to 19th century. The Hijra community is a testament to the sexual diversity that is integral yet often forgotten in Indian culture.
If the whole hijra community was looked upon with enamour and respect in our history, what happened that when we come across the community we look at them with contempt and are filled with a mixture of negative, fear, laughter, and odd emotions. It's owing to the fact that under British Raj, the Criminal tribes Act 1871 hijras were criminalized and the law was made to eradicate the whole community. However, these acts were abolished by the Indian government after independence, and by 2014, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh all had officially recognized third gender people as citizens deserving of equal rights where the third gender means individuals categorizing themselves as neither male nor female. Even though the progress is slow but in 2015 Madhu Kinnar became the first hijra mayor in India was elected in the city of Raigarh.
ALSO READ: India's first Residential Transgender
Although the hijra community was revered by society and is invited to births and weddings for religious and spiritual ceremonies, they still become victims of abuse and discrimination. Violence and hate crimes against the community have become common. They are deprived of education, job opportunities, seating in restaurants, etc. leading them to live in poor conditions barely surviving. They often have to resort to begging and prostitution to earn a daily living. The government has tried to address this issue by introducing bills for the protection of the hijra community, with prison terms and other punishments for those offending them, but there is little to no less effect on the social stigma against the community.
In India, the hijra community comes under the umbrella term LGBTQ+ and we notice that they lack voice and representation when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. We need to understand that when we fight for LGBTQ+ rights we fight for the whole community, we fight for hijras who have been victims of violence, hate crimes, and disrespect from none other than the people of our society. And although hijras are a part of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, they have an independent subculture of their own. It is worth every effort to know about them, to study about them, to befriend them, and to smile at them for they are every bit of human as we are and they have nothing but blessings in their heart.