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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Justice Nariman should retract disparaging, distorted remarks about Rig Veda: Swami Vigyananand

Supreme Court Justice Rohinton Nariman has landed in a major controversy by making a highly objectionable comment about the Rig Veda during a lecture on the topic “Great Women of History” for the 26th Justice Sunanda Bhandare Memorial Lecture today. The event was broadcast live on Facebook by legal news website Bar & Bench.

Justice Rohinton Nariman, son of senior lawyer and ex-Rajya Sabha MP Fali Nariman, said “Rig Veda says do not make lasting friendship with women because she would be like hyena”, as live tweeted by Bar & Bench (archive link).

We reached out to Swami Vigyananand, a renowned Dharmic scholar, for his thoughts on Justice Nariman’s remarks. Swami Vigyananand is a Sanyasi of Dasnami order, who after graduating from IIT Kharagpur, studied & taught Panini grammar & Hindu philosophy. He is a Post Graduate (Acharya) in Panini Sanskrit Grammar and Vedang; Vidyavaridhi (Ph. D) in Eastern Philosophy which includes six schools of Hindu philosophy (Upang) along with Buddhist, Jain, Atheist philosophy and other Hindu schools of philosophy; Vachaspathi (Doc. of Lit) Brahmana and Vedic Samhita.

Swami ji outrightly rejected Rohinton Nariman’s understanding of the Rig Veda, calling it false and disparaging. He said that one must have knowledge of Rishi Pāṇini’s grammar, Nirukta and Pratishakhya to correctly understand the Vedas. Inviting Nariman to an open public debate on the topic, Swami ji said the Judge should take back his words.

Bharat has suffered enough due to colonial mischief with our Dharmic scriptures and history. For a person occupying a high Constitutional post to continue with the same colonial mindset in a ‘free’ Bharat does not bode well. One hopes Justice Nariman understands the gravity of the issue and retracts his misleading words about the Rig Veda at the earliest.

In fact, the whole lecture delivered by Justice Nariman was disconnected from Bharatiya ethos. While talking about inspirational women from history, he did not give a single Bharatiya example. Iconic figures like Rishi Gargi, Maitreyi, Draupadi or inspirational queens who led their kingdoms against foreign invaders like Queen Didda, Rani Tarabai, Rani Durgavati, Rani Chennamma, Rani Abbakka etc. failed to find mention in his Euro-centric lecture.

Instead, he talked about Cleopatra (spoke at length about Roman succession battles), a legendary ‘Pope’ Joan, Razia Sultana (member of the foreign Turkic slave dynasty which was given charge of Delhi by the barbaric invader Muhammad Ghori), British monarch Elizabeth-1, Russia’s Catherine the Great, and a brief mention at the end of various modern day women leaders like Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher etc.

A SC bench led by Justice Nariman had also recently dismissed a PIL seeking to control black magic, superstition & mass religious conversion through intimidation and deceit, calling it a ‘publicity interest litigation’. Such conversions by quack Christian faith healers, who also demean Hindu Dharma and other indigenous religions, are raging across the country (from Punjab to AP) and often target the socio-economically vulnerable SC/ST communities.

Incidentally, during a court hearing in 2018, Justice Nariman had bemoaned that his religion Zoroastrianism (Parsi) has been ‘Hinduised’ stating

“There is no caste in the mother country of my religion. But here, we have it. It doesn’t matter there, where you are born, but here you have to take birth in a priestly family to become a priest. I couldn’t have become a priest, if I was not born in a priestly family.”

The Parsis, whose name is derived from “Persians”, are descended from Persian Zoroastrians who emigrated to Bharat to avoid religious persecution by Muslim conquerors. They first migrated to the region of Gujarat between the 8th and 10th century and were given refuge by the local Hindu king. Ever since, the community has flourished in Bharat and till now is regarded as a model minority by the majority population.

Incidentally, in the mother country which Justice Nariman referred to, i.e. Iran, Zoroastrians have been persecuted ever since the Muslim conquest of Persia around 650 CE. They faced forced conversions, their fire temples were destroyed and converted to mosques, libraries were burnt, and the systematic abuse and discrimination meted out to them led to a drastic reduction in their numbers forcing them to migrate to Bharat. Their situation improved under the Pahlavi family which ruled Iran from 1925-79, but the reprieve was short-lived as after the 1979 Revolution, Iran was declared a Shia Islamic republic. The new constitution again relegated Zoroastrians to status of medieval dhimmīs (second-class citizens in a Muslim state). Even the religious curriculum of Zoroastrians of Iran must incorporate state-designed material that denounces non-Muslim faiths.

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