Letters to the Editor
Subject: IndiaStar reviews
17 October 1998
From: Sateesh Punnam <Sateesh@priestersupply.com>
I found your magazine obsolutely fantastic.
This is the first time I heard about "Return of the Aryans"
and I can't wait to get a copy and read it.
Your statement on typical liberal Indian Muslim is good,
but that species is very rare. Majority are very conservative
being brain-washed in masjids since their childhood about
kafirs and their allegience is only to Mecca
(Arab Nationalism and inventing arab ancestors).
The creation of pakistan is a living proof of that
because nothing has changed in 50 years regarding islam.
Aryan invasion is just a theory for the white man to
explain the civilizational ideas as originating in Europe.
The established school of thought would not recognize
Dr. Frawley's, Dr. Kak's and others' works proving the
theory to be false. The Indian government should take
conrol of the educational establishment and should start
the history books with SARASVATI CIVILIZATION,
citing the excavations found around the dried up
Sarasvati river as shown in the satellite pictures.
The next generation of Indians with a deep cultural
pride would lead the Nation and World in the right
Sateesh Reddy Punnam
Subject: Contributing articles to IndiaStar
From:Arindam Basu <email@example.com>
I just came across IndiaStar and liked it a lot
both for its contents and clean design.
I would like to contribute articles.
Can I send them as file attachments
(such as Word files)?
Arindam Basu, M.D., M.P.H.
Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri
[Thanks. The best way for us to receive
an article is as part of email message
instead of an attached file. -- c.j.s. wallia]
Subject: IndiaStar bookreviews
From: Simon John Haines <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Dr. Wallia,
I have for some time read with some relish your magazine.
However, I have a small problem in that I would like to
purchase a copy of one of the books you have reviewed,
Tipu Sultan: Villain or Hero , and am having
a real problem locating it. I wonder if you might be able
to point me in the right direction?
Thanks for your time and for your continued excellent
work with IndiaStar.
With Best Wishes
Department of History
The University of Reading
England, United Kingdom.
Thanks for your kind comments.
For the book, try
Subject: IndiaStar magazine
From: Closepet Ramesh <email@example.com>
Organization: Truman State University
India Star and you are doing
the kind of work that I wish I could!
Yours is a work of love, conviction,
and rigor, and I thank you for giving
us all of your work so selflessly.
Closepet Ramesh, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Communication
Truman State University, Kirksville, MO 63501
From: Devi Karan Bhattacharya
I must thank Dr. Wallia for his excellent reviews in IndiaStar,
aimed at removing distortions from our history books, and to
achieve an objective, honest presentation of India's history.
The three questions raised by Lalit Mansukh in his letter are
very valid, and must be referred to India Government and to
all those who, either through design and malice or through
sheer ignorance and inertia, have put out false notions of history.
I feel that everyone with pride and affection for India should
join Mansukh's effort to draw attention to the masterly presentation
in Gidwani's Return of the Aryans, and to the deep insights
given in the books by Frawley, Kak, Feuesrstein and Rajaram.
Devi K. Bhattacharya
Let me put this as succinctly as possible.
Your Rushdie reviews are superb.
Yes, I happen to belong to the exclusive
-- having read Midnight's Children
in its entirety. An ordeal it was,
but I did it because of the rave reviews
the book received. All the cunning
artifices you said he used in
The Moor's Last Sigh are all
over there too.
I just wish all the reviewers were
as clear and frank as you are.
Subject: IndiaStar review of Naipaul's "Beyond Belief"
From: JOSHI <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I found the invented Arab ancestors very interesting.
A Pakistani friend of mine has a mother from a
Baluchistani Brahui-speaking family. However,
he makes a big deal out of the fact that his
great grandfather was Arabian. But that makes him
one-sixteenth Arabian and one-half Dravidian!
From: cidy <email@example.com>
My name is Cidy, I´m from Brazil and for some years now have
been reading a lot of things on India. I lived for seven months
in Srinagar back in 1993. Since then I´ve always found it impossible to
define India, simply because India defies definition and Western
people are so ignorant and biased when talking about anything
beyond American-European culture.
Thus it was with surprise I bumped into some very interesting
sites on the Net and have seen many of your reviews plus
your interview with Gita Mehta.
Actually it was through your reviews I came to know about new
findings regarding the so-called Aryan invasion of India. How
come we do not hear anything about it. Does it challenge so
much the status quo of scholarship?
SÃO PAULO - Brazil
Three cheers for your excellent essay on the
Rushdie's novel 'The Moor's...'.
The sentence I liked most was '..pandering to
the Euro-centered reader'. I think that captures
the true reaction of the average Indian to the current
trend of inceasing receptiveness of the west to
Indian writing in English. You have put it in such
an apt way that adding anything would be redundant.
I think many Indian writers in English have the
westerner in mind when writing their works.
The west laps them up if only to confirm their long-held
suspicion that India is nothing but a land of snake-charmers,
a land hopelessly lost in so many ills of the society.
Maybe a good thing to do is give support to the regional
literature of India.
And Rushdie had the cheek to say 'the best post-independence
Indian writing is in English.'
From: Kaustuv Sen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Organization: Harvard University
I appreciate the rational stance that your entire website takes
as far as a certain Mr. Rushdie is concerned. In particular,
the scathing reviews of The Satanic Verses and The Moor's
Last Sigh by Mr. Samuel and you, respectively, hit much
closer to home than the literary fawn critiques that pop up
in most Western media.
Salman Rushdie, however, is a very clever man and must
not be underestimated. He has given the majority of readers
in the English language exactly what they want. In his wildly
chutneyfied Indian English, and bloatedly exaggerated
characterizations of Bombay life, English and American
readers seem to find a fleeting touch of a land finally exotic
enough, a personification of the cultural Other, a mysticized
deified haloed aura of being above and beyond the pale.
The ultimate altar of literature.
And yet, at heart, what Rushdie does is rather simplistic.
He is but playing games with the minds of his readers.
Worst of all, I suspect he knows he is playing those games.
An elaborate con game, best described in his own words:
"He fooled them the way a sensitive human being can
persuade gorillas to accept him into their family, to fondle
and caress and stuff bananas in his mouth." (The Satanic
Verses, page 43). These lines tell of the young Saladin
Chamcha beguiling his British schoolmates into accepting
him, into believing that he was "people-like-us." Notice
the parallels between the Rushdie-Chamcha situations.
Both are at public school in England at age 13, away from
home in Bombay. I dare say the young Salman himself
had a kipper-eating incident in his young Rugby days,
and subsequently evolved his game to fool the gorillas.
He is doing the same thing now. Only now, he has moved
on to bigger game, in the form of the sophisticated,
even exalted critics of the Times Literary Supplement,
the New York Times Book Review and even the Booker
Committee. But still gorillas all.
Luckily, his charades start to ring hollow for most Indian
readers. Especially those who share a lot of his background,
and know that the India that Rushdie is perennially hinting at,
this magical-canonical-pulsating-dhamakafying land, doesn't
quite exist. His work is okay as long as you can sustain the
feeling that there is something great and magical just beyond
reach, which we can't quite appreciate because we have never
been there, and therefore can't understand it. I tried to tell
myself that somehow he saw things and places and people
that I just hadn't experienced. After a while, however, I gave
up. I have been there, I have done those things, and those
people and those places are just not there, at least not in the
caricaturish, nightmarish way that they exist in his novels
--most of it is simply old Salman waving his bananas in
Having lived in the great metropolises of India all my life,
and having attended Doon and Westminster (an archetypal
British public school), and Harvard myself, I can at least
partially see how the minds of "sensitive" writers from
elite, and elitist, Indian backgrounds with higher education
in the ivory towers of the great western universities
work. And I have much more respect for the honesty
and humility of a Vikram Seth in lucidly and elegantly
trying to explore and explicate his roots than a Rushdie
who decides to construct elaborate, and very cleverly
elaborate, literary tricks without ever getting anywhere
Yes, it is easy to fool the gorillas. I find myself doing
it sometimes, perhaps you have done it, and certainly
I see others doing it. And it is a happy coincidence that
the gorillas are also giving out the prizes. But Mr. Rushdie,
you are missing out on the true joy of writing, that of
actually connecting with something deeper in every
reader, of exploring yourself with integrity, of writing
something that can be touched, and clutched onto, and
which touches and holds back, rather than something
that always eludes. Time to write something for
*I know numerous would-be
readers of Rushdie,who, upon
finding some of his books unreadable,
conclude,wrongly, that it must be
all their fault because they lack
adequate knowledge of India!
Kaustuv Sen is a columnist for
the Harvard Crimson. -- c.j.s. wallia
To: "C.J. Wallia" <email@example.com>
I enjoyed your reviews of Rushdie and
Divakaruni very much.
The review of The Moor's Last Sigh
explained to me why I couldn't get through it
(guess I'm a member of the club). Rushdie's
disrespect for the realities of human speech,
for one thing, and my inability to care enough
for any of the characters to keep reading
--which I think is his fault.
I didn't like East West because I thought some
of the stories were unpublishable, exercises that
an unknown writer would have had to throw out.
I liked Midnight"s Children and Shame ; there's
a lot I liked in The Satanic Verses too
--Rushdie's portrayal of racism, for instance, and the
father-son relationship. But as a realist I kept thinking
why not portray racism directly? Why make your
character into a goat to show that white men don't
like brown men? One need not be a goat, if you know
what I mean.
Thanks for explaining why The Moor is so offensive.
Your brief history of Indian immigration to this country
was also very helpful. I teach a course called
"Race, Class and Gender in the United States," part
of which dwells on the various discriminations against
immigrants. The history of Asian immigration to the
United States blows the students' minds. Your overview
of Indian immigration will be interesting, since the
Indian population in New Jersey is quite visible.
(We've got restaurants, stores, a whole street of shops in
Iselin, gurdwaras--three of them, I think--
temples and mosques, gas stations run by
Sikhs and hotels run by Gujaratis.)
Students will be quite interested, I think,
in how hard the government tried to restrict
Robbie Clipper Sethi
Professor of English
Lawrenceville, New Jersey, USA
*Robbie Sethi's comment on Rushdie's
language and his inability to create
characters the reader cares for
brings to mind Professor Nair's succint
evaluation of Rushdie's work:
"clever, but silly."
The pervasive use of contrived and
overly clever language and the lack of
empathy-evoking characters are the
besetting faults of Rushdie's fiction.
(Robbie Clipper Sethi received
a Ph.D. in English from UC Berkeley
and is the author of the acclaimed novel
The Bride Wore Red.-- c.j.s. wallia)
From: moss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: cjwallia <email@example.com>
Congratulations on IndiaStar.
I am impressed -- especially so by
the article on Rushdie.
Many people agree with you,
I'm sure, but are all afraid to say
so lest they be thought unintellectual.
I did enjoy Midnight's Children for
its use of language, but I think he was
unable after that to really do anything
else. I do, however, agree with the critic
who said that he opened up Indian writing
in the west.
I was very interested to read, in your
critique of Chitra Divakaruni's book, the
history of Indian immigration to the States
--quite a few good stories there.
Keep up the good work.
* Some of the fawning Rushdie
critiques may well be motivated
by a fear of being thought
unfashionable and unintellectual.
Manorama Mathai is the author of
Lilies That Fester(1988);
and An UnsuitableWoman
(London, Minerva, 1996). - - c.j.s. wallia
Subject: IndiaStar article on Rushdie
From: Julian J. Samuel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Given the overall fawning attitude toward Rushdie,
Dr Wallia deserves to be decorated for bravery.
There is no other way to describe what the Rushdie
publicity machine does but as a series of well-managed
(almost) attention-getting stunts which promote the
most inane literature in the world. The machine makes
a breathless attempt to improve Rushdie's status in
the world of self-promotion, and (if that goal fails),
in the world of literature as well. It must be one of
the only cases in publishing history where
the actual tinkering of The Publicity Machine itself
is more intellectually and culturally dynamic than
the actual subject of its promotion.
If Rushdie's unencompassable literary effort is in
fact a literary effort, then it is so occasionally
successful that one wonders if the poor Fatwaized
writer has not become what the gods wanted him
to be in the first place: a better-than-average-Bollywood
screenplay writer. One wonders if Rushdie's
books are not team-written efforts with Rushdie
as a comatose overseer of this collective process.
Wallia's review situates The Moor's Last Effort
to Get More Fame inside the fraudulent froth of
the Rushdie machine. And Wallia presents his ideas
without the hateful jealousy that is rampant among
the self-flagellating preliterates who want book-
burning and maybe even a final solution.
Wallia's review is dispassionate and careful.
It is a nice introduction/expose for all those naive
South Asians intellectuals living in both the West
and East who admire MTV, che-che bankrupt criticism
from France, and who obsequiously swallow
what the anti-intellectual book reviewers write
in North America and Europe.
Critics in India are more skeptical, but are their
reviews ever republished in the West? Perhaps
this web site will change all that.
Possibly some Rushdie postcolonial club members
are going to say that Wallia simply does not get
the polyphonic mock-anti-mock-melo-anti-melodramatic
tone in the refined pages of The Moor's Last Effort
to Get More Fame. But, these club members are easy
prey for the "Innovations."
1. Edward Said loves everything about Rushdie.
For a dispassionate review of Said, funky South
Asian intellectuals addicted to French
"Theory and Cultural Studies" ought to read
Aijaz Ahmad's In Theory -- (chapter five).
2. Can South Asian nostalgia-driven nationalists
refrain from assuming that I am not a South Asian?
What pray tell does it matter if I am or am not
a South Asian?
Julian J. Samuel
*Julian Samuel is a Toronto-based
filmmaker and the author of
a picaresque novel,
Passage to Lahore.-- c.j.s. wallia
From: suresh canagarajah <ARABB@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU>
I found your review of The Moor's Last Sigh
very provocative.I would like to get my class
to read it. Since some of them don't have
access to the internet, I like to copy and
They are writing a critical review of the
novel and I thought it would be good for
them to be challenged by your review.
I teach postcolonial literature at Baruch
College of the City University of New York.
Let me know if I have your permission
to use your review.
*You are welcome to print the
review and distribute copies.
Also, below are eight letters
responding to the review. -- c.j.s. wallia
Subject: IndiaStar review of "Tipu Sultan: Villain or Hero"
From: "Vijay Pahuja" <email@example.com>
First, I am very happy to see this site. Thank you.
I am a Coorgi (or Kodava) from the region of
Coorg in Karnataka. After reading your review of
"Tipu Sultan: Villain or Hero," there was no doubt
in my mind that Tipu was a villain though I was taught
at school that he was a hero, the "tiger" of Mysore.
About 200 years ago in the small village of Thomara
(some 10 miles from Virajpet) according to the oral
history of my family, Tipu and his army almost
succeeded in wiping out our entire family and
ruined the family temple of Ramanjaneya close
to our lands. My grandfather (5 times removed)
and his aunt managed to escape and were imprisoned
in Periyapatana. Tipu destroyed the main and the
subsidary buildings of our temple. At the time
our family, like other Coorgi families were part
of the army troops helping Viraraja, the Raja of
Periyapatna and Coorg rebel against Tipu and his
army. Tipu's army used brutish methods to convert
the peace loving, agrarian and Kshatriya Hindus
who lived in Coorg, and imposed high taxes on
those not following Islam.
My grandfather managed to escape the prison
(I don't know how). Today the temple of our family
(and other small family temples in the region) have
been rebuilt and almost all Kodavas have managed
to stay Hindus, but many of the tribals and the
Malayalee traders who never took up arms were
forcibly converted, they were threatened by the
sword, tax and atrocities like rape of their wives
and children. Later the very same converts were used as
spies and killers of other Hindus as a way of proving
they were true muslims. Imagine no longer being able
to trust your neighbor, whom you have trusted for
generations, just because he is now a muslim convert.
These traders are still part and parcel of Coorg today,
though right now they are trying to follow the Jehadi
form of Islam, since they don't want to admit they
are converts of Hinduism.
Tipu had no humanity when it came to people who did
not follow Islam. I am writing this because I wanted
to share the truth that is not known to many.
Thank you for reviewing this counterpoint to
Gidwani's (shall we politely say, fictionalized?)
account of Tipu Sultan.
Hailing from the Malabar region myself, it was very
clear to me that Tipu was greatly feared by the Hindus
of the region, so much so that 200 years later, children
were still being admonished to behave or "Tipu would
get them." The earliest account I could obtain of my
own family's roots from older living members was
that the bulk of my family left their land and property
at a considerable loss and fled from Tipu's advance to
settle in safer areas.
The notion that Tipu was all that secular or enlightened,
therefore, rings hollow. Unless, of course, all of the
eyewitness accounts you have recounted in your review,
and the impressions and information that I have personally
gathered in North Malabar are part of right wing
fundamentalist hoax, or a British canard disseminated
to deflate the legend of that noble early Indian nationalist.
To quote from the cover of Gidwani's book, that "humane,
enlightened ruler who believed that God is not confined to
any one religion and that all religions therefore deserve
equal respect. He was opposed to colonialism and was a
firm believer in the Rights of Man. He welcomed the
American Declaration of Independence and applauded
the spirit of the French Revolution."
I don't suppose that the spirit of the French Revolution
mentioned here had anything to do with the Reign of Terror,
Robespierre and the Guillotine, would it? My ancestors must
have tragically misunderstood the intentions of this secular
paragon as they fled. He only wished to embrace them,
-- forcibly to Islam, that is.
Gidwani happily revised history as it has been recorded and
whitewashed Tipu's reign of terror in Southwest India, in
order to portray him as an enlightened and secular early
nationalist - an alternate history that is highly offensive to
the large number of descendents of the survivors of Tipu's
cruel rampage, which was also an Islamic proselytizing jihad.
While the book made for an interesting piece of fiction and
nothing more, the Government-controlled TV in India then
made a calculated decision to show a serial based on this
patent prevarication all over the country, in a misguided
attempt to promote its version of secularism. Never mind
minor inconveniences like the truth, or the collective terror
still remembered by the populace of Malabar some 200 years
later. This would be akin to a fictional docudrama on the
infamous General Dyer, produced and shown all over India
by Doordarshan, that makes him out to be a gentle peaceful
man who secretly supported Indian nationalism, and nary
a mention of Jallianwallah Bagh.
From: "S. Rajeev" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Dr Wallia,
As a Malayali, I would like to bring to your attention
what the prevailing folklore in Kerala suggests about
The story of Tipu's march through northern Kerala
('tippuvinte padayottam' in Malayalam) is spoken of in
hushed terms, as a holocaust. It is remembered for its
viciousness as an Islamic jihad--and it is to be noted
that Islam had been welcomed and nurtured in Kerala for
centuries. For example, the first mosque in India was
somewhere near Kodungalloor (aka Muziris in Roman times),
and one of the Chera kings of the land, Cheraman Perumal,
by tradition accepted Islam, abdicated, and sailed off
to Arabia. Also, by tradition, the Zamorins of Kozhikode
(Calicut) enlisted Muslims in his navy and treated
them rather well.
Even more astonishing perhaps is the fact that at the
famous temple of Lord Ayyappan at Sabarimala, there is a
shrine to his friend, the Muslim Vavar--and pilgrims pay
obeisance at this tomb on their way to the sanctum, to this day.
I went into some detail here to show that ancient Kerala
had never persecuted Muslims, and had treated them with
respect and kindness. The Travancore Manual notes, for
example, that the population of Muslims in Travancore, the
southern part of the state, had been approximately 6% during
most of the 18th century CE.
Therefore, Tipu's jihad astonished the locals, who had never
experienced such an Aurangazeb-style expedition. Thus the
shock and the racial memory of its horror, in my opinion.
I, for one, was totally flabbergasted, given this context, to
hear of Tipu being some kind of nationalist hero. I think this
is revisionist nonsense. My belief is that Tipu had his own
petty aims (whatever they were) and that he was foiled in them
by the British (because of *their* petty aims) and therefore
they fought with each other. I doubt seriously if Tipu's goal
was to get the Europeans out of India. He was an 'accidental
nationalist'--there are others such as Veluthampi Dalava in
Kerala history who primarily had a bone to pick with the British,
but have been elevated to 'early patriot-martyr' status for
reasons that escape me.
I believe Tipu was merely another pawn in the ongoing tussle
between imperial Britain and imperial France. He was allied with
the French--I remember reading somewhere that if Napoleon had not
been defeated at a battle on the Nile, he would have sent naval
reinforcements to help Tipu in his ongoing wars with the British.
French, British, what's the difference--rapacious aliens all. Why
doesn't anyone analyse Tipu's relations with the French as well
as his clashes with the British?
As you suggest, let us not manufacture history, although we have,
sadly, been abusing history. There is plenty of good history around
that we *should* remember--for example, if you want to talk about
'patriot games' let us look at the Battle of Colachel in 1742 CE,
where Marthanda Varma of Travancore crushed a Dutch expeditionary
fleet near Kanyakumari. The defeat was so total that the Dutch
captain, Delannoy, joined the Travancore forces and served loyally
for 35 years--and his tomb is still in a coastal fort there. So
it wasn't the Japanese in the Yellow Sea in 1905 under Admiral
Tojo who were the first Asian power to defeat a European power
in a naval battle--it was little Travancore.
Now, why isn't that bit of history better known? Varma was not
necessarily an Indian nationalist, but he sure wanted his kingdom
not to be preyed upon by aliens. That is pretty nationalistic in
Let's not create revisionist history re. the likes of Tipu Sultan
just to 'prove' that Islam and Hinduism can coexist, please! This
has been demonstrated amply in Kerala for many centuries: Jews,
Muslims, Christians, all have lived there in harmony.
___________________________________________________________*I agree with your observations about the history of Kerala. In the Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh's reign in the first half of the nineteenth century demonstrated just as convincingly that Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians can live in harmony. Just before the first Anglo-Sikh war of 1845,the English tried to bribe the Punjabi Muslim artillery officers in the Sikh army to mutiny against the "infidel" Sikhs. Not one of them accepted the English bribe and,indeed, many gave their lives fighting along with their Punjabi Sikh and Hindu compatriots. The Punjab fell to the English (the last to fall -- in 1849) because the English John Company's army grew enormous with mercenary Indian soldiers drawn from the whole of rest of India.-- C.J.S.Wallia
From: "Ravi Raina"<email@example.com>
Kudos on an excellent site. I lost half a day of work
once I discovered www.indiastar.com -- couldn't drag
myself away. By the end, I had added quite a few books
to my "must read" list. The reviews are generally excellent
although I was really surprised that you have good things
to say about East and West while you pan
The Moors Last Sigh -- I didn't much care for E/W
while the Moor reminded me of the old Rushdie.
Look forward to spending many more enjoyable
hours at IndiaStar.
From: "Michael O'Shea" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I enjoy the high standard of work in IndiaStar.
I am currently finishing MA in Australia on revolts in southern Maldives
in mid-20th century. Married to a Maldivian, I am Anglo-Australian.
We have completed Dhivehi-English dictionary, and are translating
Dhivehi literature and history. I have lived in Maldives (Addu)
for two years teaching English.
Know any Indian scholars interested in our line of work?
I have full electronic communication capability and visit
Maldives each year.
Your website is easy to download and moving through
it is easy. Sometimes the writing in the articles is irregularly
spaced but always readable. I use IE4 as a browser.
Your hard work is appreciated,
Subject: Literary Magazines
From: Marie Savage
I am searching the best sites on the web for literary print magazines.
Your site is impressive and led me to believe you might be able to help
me narrow my search for Indian literary magazines. There might well be
an organization of Indian literary magazines (published in English) and
based in India or perhaps there is an Indian author's association which
could help me in my quest.
Any help you might provide in locating either would be appreciated.
10301 Bowerbank Road, Sidney, BC, Canada V8L 3L2
From: "Dan Godston" <email@example.com>
I just visited the IndiaStar website.
I particularly liked reading
Subhash Kak's poems.
From: Meenakshi Srinivasan
I read with mounting amazement your
IndiaStar articles entitled Ancient India
in a New Light on the'Sarasvati Civilisation.'
I am currently planning to teach an entire
unit on Indian (Indus) civilisation as part
of a 6th grade History textbook.
Do you think it is OK to present this new
way of perceiving the Eurocentric model?
An early answer would be much appreciated!
* In one word: yes. c.j.s.wallia
From: Meenakshi Srinivasan
Thank you for the prompt reply.
I went ahead and challenged the kids with
the non-aryan invasion theory. As I was
a guest teacher at this class, I could not gauge
the amount that percolated in. However, the
teacher was thrown, to say the least!
I shall check the books you reviewed on
Ancient India. What I have seen, so far,
floating around is the teacher's manual that
comes with the Hougton Mifflin text called
A Message from the Ancient World.
This text still holds forth the usual story
of the Aryan invasion (which is what I
learnt at school in India).
I shall be teaching my class after spring
break and plan to share the pathbreaking
updates with them!
From: Joanna Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.
I've looked, read, and enjoyed IndiaStar.
I saw references to the recent revisioning books on the Aryans
in someone's message on the internet and meant to get them.
Reading your reviews make them even more appealing.
As an India Studies scholar, I never did believe the accepted
idea that Indian Civilization began only in 1500 BC. Now there
are findings in USA of a mummy burial which revises dates
from 2000 back to 4000+ BC. So it goes. Too bad so much of the
Harappan/Mohenjodaro civilization sites are in Pakistan where they
may not be protected and probably not properly excavated either.
When I went to see Paharpur in Bangladesh in 1976, the curator
there told us that villagers came over in the night and defaced terra
cotta tiles which had been part of the decoration of this Buddhist
monument. So sad.
Just a note to register my appreciation for your remarks on
Rushdie's latest book,which indeed as you indicated suffers from
his usual atrocities of language and conception. I actually read
through (all of)Satanic Verses and found it overall flawed beyond
measure by his rampant egotism. I had not known that
Khushwant Singh reviewed the manusript.Too bad the publishers
did not take his advice.
I could not get through Rushdie's Midnight's Children
From: Atmaram K. Maheshwari
I have been an admirer of IndiaStar magazine for long.
Permit me to share some doubts and questions with you.
I was jolted when I read Lalit Mansukh's letter, which
pointed out that even Government of India websites show
that Aryans from the West invaded and subjugated India.
What is more, I am told that the Government of India
websites do not even mention, not even by a footnote, that
an alternative theory exists which strongly supports, with
facts and positive evidence, the views that the Aryan Invasion
theory is simply a myth.
When I first read with admiration Bhagwan Gidwani's book
Return of the Aryans it had occurred to me that the issue was
only a matter of contention between two schools of historians
with one supporting, and the other opposing the Aryan Invasion
Theory. Now to be told that Government itself is a partisan,
fully in camp of those who assert that Aryans from the West
subjugated India, comes to me as a surprise, if not as a shock.
You, Dr. Wallia, explain it well -- why the Government is
impressed by its motivated historians of JNU or the Marxists.
But let me ask: Is there a single example of any Government
in this wide world, which having before it two opposing
theories about the history of its country, will accept and
loudly proclaim a theory which brings discredit on the origins
of the civilization of the country? I have to assume that India
Government, honestly, after due study, has come to the
conclusion that historical preponderence is in favor of the
Aryan Invasion Theory, as most historians have urged that.
All the more reason that those who hold the opposing view
should be given an honorable or even dishonorable mention,
for instance by adding something on the follwing lines:
India Government believes that despite the contrary views
expressed by Vivekanand, Aurobindo, Gidwani, Frawley,
Kak, Rajaram, Feuesrstein, and Wallia, Aryans came
somewhere from the West as invaders, and conquered
India. This view is held by Government on account of
the proof given by so many reputed historians whose names,
along with their books and papers on the subject
are listed at Attachment A.
Having said that, the Govt. must then provide the Attachment
listing the historians and their documents.
There has to be accountability and transperancy. Should we not
be told who the History Czar in India Govt. is? Who has finally
resolved this question to hold that the Aryan Invasion Theory
is real and not a myth?
There are, like me, many who do not spend a great deal of time
on study of history. Besides, it is not easy to obtain books.
For instance after I read Gidwani's Return of the Aryans,
and was fascinated by it, I read your review and wanted all the
books you reviewed under Ancient India in a New Light. I was
able to get only In Search of the Cradle of Civilization by
Feuesrstein, Kak & Frawley, and I learnt much from it. I can
not get here, the other books that you reviewed but a friend
is sending me those from India. Earlier, even for obtaining
Gidwani's Return of the Aryans, I sent a cheque in
US dollars to Penguin Books in New Delhi, and reminded them
but I have heard nothing from them for all these 14 months
(though they had not cashed the cheque either). Fortunately a
friend in Gurgaon, India was able to mail the Gidwani book
to me. It is a great book, worth the wait, but nobody should
have to wait to read a book.
Atmaram K. Maheshwari
*I suggest that you and other
readers of IndiaStar write a
letter to Penguin -USA to (re)publish
Return of the Aryans by Gidwani.
Write to: Michael Lynton, Chairman,
Penguin Books, 49 West 23rd Street,
New York, N.Y., 10010, USA.
Because the book goes against
Eurocentric assumptions, persuading
Penguin -USA to publish it will take
letters from many.-- C.J.S.Wallia
From: Dina Dubash < DiDubash@aol.com>
This refers to Mr. Lalit Mansukh's letter and your answer
I am an admirer of Bhagwan Gidwani's Return of the Aryans.
I see truth, beauty, and delightful entertainment in the book.
But I must admit I have not read many other books on the subject
of ancient India nor made a real study of the theory of Aryan
invasion. But my mind tells me that when a majority of writers
hold the view that Aryans invaded, while a minority contradicts
it, the Government should not suppress the minority view, but
state it; and having stated it, the government editor must add a
few remarks to say why the government holds the view that it
does, and why it is not swayed by the views of authors like
Bhagwan Gidwani or the views that you yourself have expressed.
An outright blanking out of a minority view is not a good way
to deal with matters affecting cultural pride and roots.
Subject: Ancient India in a New Light
From: Lalit A. Mansukh <Lalitam@aol.com>
As an admirer and regular once-a week visitor to IndiaStar,
may I submit a question for your consideration? But first let
me give the background which leads to this question.
You have given a first class review entitled Ancient India in
a New Light of four books by David Frawley, Subhash Kak,
Feuesrstein, Navaratna Rajaram, and Bhagwan S. Gidwani.
When your review apeared, of the four books that you reviewed,
I had read only Return of the Aryans by Bhagwan S. Gidwani.
I thought (and still think) it is a magnificent historical novel
with not only a beautiful presentation of the story of the origin
of Aryans in India in 5000 BC, but also of the very roots of
Hinduism and Indian civilization from 8,000 BC. It also shows
how Sanskrit and Tamil evolved, how Rig Veda came to be
composed, how OM mantra was first uttered, and how the
early ideals of Sanatana Dharma were formulated.
After I read your review, it became incumbent on me to
read and re-read the three other outstanding books. Having
now read them, I have not an iota of doubt that the story of
the Aryan invasion is simply a canard with which many (either
by design or ignorance) have sought to brainwash India and
the world. There are also quotations and references in
INDIASTAR Magazine to the views of Sri Aurobindo and
Swami Vivekanand who seriously questioned the Aryan
Now I come to my question: Why, with all this weight
of reason and evidence against the Aryan Invasion Theory,
every website you open on Internet about Indian culture or history,
speaks of the Aryan invasion of India? These websites are by
Indian organizations, yet none of them even cares to mention that
there is an alternative version held by Gidwani and the learned
scholars whose books you reviewed. Incidentaly, I cannot blame
these organizations which give this totally one-sided presentation,
by mentioning Aryan Invasion Theory as a settled fact of history.
That is because they all possibly take the cue from the Government
of India. I invite your attention to the extracts from Government of
India Home-Page (http:\\www.meadev.gov.in/1page.htm).
This is what it says,under the heading of CULTURE:
The Aryans and the Vedic Age:
The Aryans are said to have entered India through the
fabled Khyber pass, around 1500 BC. They intermingled
with the local populace, and assimilated themselves into
the social framework. They adopted the settled agricultural
lifestyle of their predecessors, and established small agrarian
communities across the state of Punjab.The Aryans are believed
to have brought with them the horse, developed the Sanskrit
language and made significant inroads in to the religion
of the times. All three factors were to play a fundamental role in
the shaping of Indian culture. Cavalry warfare facilitated the
rapid spread of Aryan culture across North India, and allowed
the emergence of large empires...
Again, under the caption of SOCIETY & RELIGION, this
presentation by the Government of India says as follows:
When the initial migrations of the Aryan people into
India began about 1500 BC, the developed Harappan culture
had already been practically wiped out.
There are then several statements in the long presentation by India
Government which go to show that Indian Culture began with
Aryan invasion. The entire presentation shows that Government
is not at all aware of any doubts and questions about the Aryan
It does not therefore surprise me that all websites on Indian
History and Culture choose to adopt the docile course of following
Government of India s uninformed lead in reporting, and even
sanctifying Aryan Invasion Theory as an undisputed fact of History.
This is all the more reason for me to congratulate you for your
independent attitude in IndiaStar, in bringing to the notice of
your readers books by four outstanding scholars which prove,
beyond a shadow of doubt, that the Aryan Invasion Theory was,
and remains, a hoax.
My questions are as under:
(1) Why do so many web-sites, including government of India s,
learned universities, India s social, cultural, political, and
information organizations, Indian Embassies & Consulates,
still cling to the frivolous Aryan Invasion Theory?
(2) Even if above webmasters must, for some reason,
cling to Aryan Invasion Theory, should they not show that
there also exists an alternative theory held by noted scholars
whose books you reviewed?
(3) Even a more important sub-question is: Why does not
the India government carry out a proper study of our ancient past?
There is a passionate plea for such a study in the Gidwani book.
The high level of research in the books by the great scholars
whom you reviewed, clearly, shows that there is need for such a study.
Developed countries apart, even developing countries like Egypt,
China, Indonesia, Iran, Peru, are continuing their studies and
excavations to re-discover their ancient past. Why should our
concern remain only with present politics - - when all over the
world people are trying to reach out to their ancient heritage
Finally, I hope I have your kind permission to send a copy
of your review to some websites which cling exclusively
to Aryan Invasion Theory.
Lalit A. Mansukh
*You are welcome to post brief
quotes, selected by you, rather
than whole articles from IndiaStar
-- readers will appreciate the option
of clicking to read the full articles
and not be faced immediately with
In answer to your questions, which I
will rephrase as why much of official
Indian history has long been subjected
to "political correctness" instead of
truth, may I suggest that you read
my review of Francois Gautiers
Rewriting Indian History as well as
my reviews of several books by Ram
Swarup and Sita Ram Goel. These
reviews are now on IndiaStar. -- C.J.S. Wallia
IndiaStar: A Literary-Art Magazine fulfills
a great need and I welcome it.
At the outset, let me say that I was not born
an Indian or a Hindu.But being married to a Hindu,
and having studied Hinduism through literature,
study, and personal observance, I choose to regard (and
conduct) myself as a Hindu and an Indian, even though
I have not formally -- through a ritual -- converted to
Hinduism. But then I regard Hinduism as the most
open-minded and all-inclusive religion, and personally
do not see the need of a ritual to regard myself as a
Hindu, now and forever.
Books on Indian civilization and Hinduism interest me
a great deal. It was good to read the books reviewed
by you perceptively in INDIASTAR "The Myth of the
Aryan Invasion of India" by David Frawley; "In Search
of the Cradle of Civilization" by Fuerstein, Kak,
and Frawley; "The Politics of History" by Navaratna
Rajaram.These scholarly books, by learned authors,
cover new ground and present enlightening glimpses
of the Indian civilization.
Equally, I enjoyed reading "Return of the Aryans"
by Bhagwan S. Gidwani, which though written in the
form of a novel to present a fascinating story of
India's civilization, clearly shows that author
Gidwani has done his research of scholarly sources,
archaeological clues, Vedas, Upanishads and the oral
tradition of memory songs, not only in India but
practically in every nook and corner of Asia and Europe.
Your review, therefore, I think showed great
wisdom in including Gidwaniís fascinating book,
along with three scholarly books by learned authors.
As to the Aryan Invasion theory, although the recent
writings of scholars, who contradict it, are impressive,
the jury is still out (at least in my mind) as to what is true.
It may be true, as scholars and author Gidwani assert,
that Aryans originated in India; or it may be that the
original Aryans came from elsewhere, as indeed the
mainstream historians have urged for all these
years. As a middle ground, it occurs to me that it
may even be possible that at that ancient point of time,
migration and movement became the mood of people
in many parts of theworld and India, and such people
with wander-lust, be it for seeking knowledge or
even treasure-hunt, met and mingled, and came to be
called Aryans in India and elsewhere.
(Dr. Wallia, I do not know if this middle-ground
theory has any basis or has been advanced by writers;
my own study of such matters is limited, so it may
just be a thoughtless idea that strikes me.
You may kindly guide).
However, although from the point of view of history,
the question of Aryan invasion or non-invasion may
be important, I value these great books that you
have reviewed from the point of view of the search-light
that they throw on India's ancient civilization, and the
birth and beginnings of the Hindu way of life in the era
prior even to the Vedic Age. In this respect, I think,
"Return of the Aryans" by Bhagwan S. Gidwani,
is a remarkable book in tracing the roots of Hinduism to
the period before 8,000 BCE, in the form of a story that
is capivating with charm and enlightenment.
Margaret Ann Setalvad
*Recent archeological evidence from
the Mehrgarh site suggests that the
culture of Sapta Sindhu region can be
traced back to at least 8000 BC
without discontinuity, making Indian
civilization the oldest in the world.
If a disruptive "invasion" into this
vast region took place, it probably
occurred before 8000 BC. --- C.J.S.Wallia
From: Shrikanth Reddy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Organization: M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
I have been a frequent visitor to your site and
have thoroughly enjoyed it each time. The books
on the 'Aryan invasion' theory and your reviews
of them are particularly fascinating and, doubtless,
will help replace old thinking and inculcate a
renewed pride and identity in a new generation
of Indians and in those that are interested in India.
As you know, Sri Aurobindo and some others had
expressed serious reservations about this theory.
In fact, Sri Aurobindo has written about how
'Dravidian' languages such as Tamil can actually
be 'linked' to Sanskrit, in his writing "Origins of
Aryan Speech." He shows gaping holes in the
theories of philology that have formed the
foundation of the invasion theory.
From: Devi Karan Bhattacharya: <email@example.com>
It was a happy chance that led me to my discovery of IndiaStar
Magazine, which I think is great.
I have just completed reading Bhagwan S. Gidwani's novel,
"Return of the Aryans," which you reviewed. It is a fascinating
book which gives brilliant insights into the heritage of India in
the form of a highly interesting and a delightful story.
Are there historical novels by other writers on India's ancient
heritage? I realize there are scores of learned books and historical
texts by respected and eminent authors on India's heritage; no
doubt, those books are all very educative and enlightening.
However, I am looking for a list of books which, in the form
of a gripping story, not only enlighten, but also provide
entertaining reading as Gidwani's novel does.
Devi Karan Bhattacharya
*When I talked with him last year,
Gidwani was working on a historical
novel on the spread of Buddhism from
India to China and South East Asia.
Return of the Aryans is well-researched
-- unlike his earlier novel 'The Sword of
Tipu Sultan,' for which he was deservedly
excoriated by many, most notably the
Bombay Malayalee Samajam. (See
IndiaStar review of 'Tipu Sultan:
Villain or Hero as well as letters by
two Malayalee writers, Rajeev Srinivas
and Sunil Sreedharan, below.)
I recommend ' The Best Stories
From the Indian Classics
selected and retold by V.S. Naravane
(New Delhi: Roli Books, 1994
From Professor Naravane's preface:
' India is the original home of fiction.
It was fiction, rather than poetry or
drama, which put India on the
literary map of the world. Centuries
before Kalidasa and Valmiki were
heard of outside India, stories of
Indian origin were told and retold
in distant corners of Asia and Europe.
They were picked up by the Persians
and the Arabs, who passed them on
to the Turks. From the marketplace of
Constantinople, this precious, though
invisible, merchandize was forwarded
to Venice and Naples. Many a tale
in the 'Decameron owes its central idea
to an episode in the 'Jatakas'
or the 'Kathasaritsagara. From Boccacio
to Chaucer, from Chaucer to Cervantes
and Shakespeare, right down to La Sage,
La Fontaine and Voltaire -- what a
wonderful journey in time and space!
Ancient Indian fiction offers a diversity
of theme, atmosphere and situation
unequalled in world literature.' -- C.J.S.Wallia
From: Rajesh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I would like to thank you very much for this wonderful site.
I am always on the look out for information that portrays
India's culturalglory and which throws light on the most
heinous deeds done to her culture by scores of invaders.
This site has reviews on plethora of such books. I am
immensely happy that I found this site.
I just have one sugestion to make, the red background
with black font makes it a bit tough to read the articles.
If you could make that a lighter background, I would
very much appreciate it.
Thanks again for the wonderful site.
*The background color I designed is
light beige. What shows up on your
monitor depends on the choices you
made on the browser settings.
I will change my design to lighter beige.
Thanks. -- C.J.S. Wallia
Visiting IndiaStar, I am impressed.
I am from the third generation of a Hindu
family born in Guyana, South America.
Does the site also carry reviews of books
written by Guyanese?
*We would be happy to do so. -- C.J. S.Wallia
From: Lorna Gonsalves-Pinto <email@example.com>
Congratulations on your work! I just happened to run into
your web siteand was very excited to read about the work
of Indians/Indian Americans.
I look forward to reading the materials in greater detail.
In the mean time, keep doing what you are doing.
I would like to hear a crescendo of Indian American voices
as we break through borderlands in the US.
Research Associate for Diversity
Office of the Provost
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, Ohio 43403
From: Venkat <Vemp@aol.com>
Thanks for the illuminating article on the Indus Valley
script and Dr. Jha's work.
My only concerns after reading it are: 1. Has this been
brought to the notice of the mainstream historians and
the international community so as to force them to revise
their arbitrary and Euro-centric convictions.
2. Also, is there enough support in India for
historical/archaelogical studies. I have heard that there
were Aryan rulers in the Mesopotamian region (Assyrians? Hittites?).
Are there any authoritative sources that have dealt with this
issue? The other day I was astounded that the Jews believe
they descended from Abraham ( which is close
enough to Brahma) and that his wife was Sara.
One cannnot miss the Brahma-sarasvati connection.
From: Aisha Talib <STalib4625@aol.com >
I was delighted to find your site.
It is so great to be able to easily find
out the latest books and poetry by Indian writers
without having to browse through all the books
at local books stores. I am a freshman at Swarthmore
College in Pennsylvania and I am would really like
to promote awareness about Indian writers, by hosting
a writer or poet at the college.
I was wondering if you knew of any Indian writers/poets
on the East coast who might be willing to speak at
Swarthmore. I would really appreciate any help.
[Writers interested in reading their
work at Swarthmore College should
contact Ms. Talib at
firstname.lastname@example.org -- C.J.S. Wallia]
From: "a.balasubramanian" <email@example.com>
I recently saw your review of "Tipu Sultan: Villain
or Hero." It's an excellent article.
Where can I order the book edited by Sita Ram Goel?
[You can order the book at
http://members.aol.com/aghoshpub/aghosh-catalog.html#Sita Ram Goel ]
From: Lori Kaplowitz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Prof. Wallia:
Can't thank you enough for India Star! Your magazine is a
much needed breath of fresh air. I called you recently to find
out if India Star could be found in print, and I believe I woke
you up. It was about five a.m. your time. Sorry!
I am an American woman writing my Master of Fine Arts novel
about an Indian family (takes place in India), and would like to hear
what your readers think about R. Prawer Jhabvala's novels (and
other work by Europeans). I am quite concerned about the kind
of reception I may look forward to as a writer dealing with a culture
different from my own (Jewish). Though I must say, based on my trip to
India three years back, I see many similarities between Hindus and Jews.
It might be an interesting discussion topic for your magazine:
how do Indian readers feel about Europeans writing about India? But of
course I'm not talking about turn-of-the-century diaries by Englishwomen
who felt rather "stuck" in India and who tried to "buck up" by
writing about their experiences.
What about good writers--like Jhabvala? She was included, I
believe, in Mirrorwork, a recent anthology of Indian writing, edited by
Rushdie. Was she included because of her long residency in India? Or has
she been adopted, so to speak, out of respect for her work (which, I
believe, is cream of the crop).
Discussions such as these, of course, are not an attempt to
deflect attention from Indian writers, though I'm sure I'll be
chastised for wanting to write about India from an American's point of
view--even though I am as un-euro-centric as I could be.
I'm looking forward to hearing from your readers and from you.
c/o U. Udoma, 754 Boston Post Rd., Rye, NY 10580
From: "Shyam Shukla" <Shyam.Shukla@ricochet.llnl.gov>
To: C.J. S. Wallia
I have been enjoying reading your magazine on the Internet
for sometime and have developed a great appreciation for
the service you are rendering to the community.
I really liked your short-short story. Your choice of words
from: Hemant Sharma <email@example.com>
Mr Wallia writes "It takes much greater
intellectual effort to write clearly than it
does to pick up slender ideas and
inflate them with the miasma of
Very true Walliaji, most intellectuals
bypass common sense and hide behind
their self-created jargon. There are mnay
more intelligent people in the world than
the intellectuals in the universities assume.
The only reason why they cannot challenge
many of the intellectual theories is due to
the obstruse terminologies being bounced
I am very impressed by the layout and the content of the
IndiaStar web magazine. You have kept the site easy to read.
Furthermore, the selection of the books reviewed was also
quite refreshing. I greatly enjoyed reading your bookreviews of
"Vedic Glossary on Indus Seals";
"The Aryans: Ancient India in a New Light";
and "Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and their Journey."
I hope to read these books as soon as I can.
I am certain that I will be a regular visitor to the IndiaStar magazine.
From: Dhiru Shah <siaram@aol>
I am very impressed with your book reviews,
particularly on 'Vedic Glossary on Indus Seals'
You have done a great job in editing and publishing
this magazine. This is the first time I have read your
magazine on the Web and I am going to read it regularly.
From: Bhagwanti Wadhwan <Bhag01@aol.com>
Dear Prof. Wallia,
Quite by chance, while I was looking for something else on internet,
I chanced to land on the website of IndiaStar- a Literary-Art Magazine.
I am delighted with my discovery. My sincere and heart-felt
congratulations to you for IndiaStar magazine's for its excellent
articles and reviews. I am convinced that it is a magazine which
no thinking Indian should miss. All readers owe to our friends
to draw their attention to this great Magazine.
I would like to add a bit to your comments on Return of the Aryans
in your review "Ancient India in a New Light." This great historical
novel is based on solid foundations of monumental research from
scholarly texts -- past and present, archaeological sources, and the
oral tradition of Memory Songs from many diverse lands. The book
thus presents formidable evidence to back its thrilling account of
how, around 5000 BC, the Aryans originated from India, and from
nowhere else -- and why they moved out of their homeland; their
trials and triumphs overseas; and finally their return to India.
Judging from the title of the book, many have assumed that it tells
only the story of the Aryans. The fact is that Return of the Aryans
is unparalleled in its scope and reach. It goes deep into the pre-Aryan
era to tell the fascinating story of the birth and beginnings of Hinduism,
and unfolds the drama of Indian civilization back to its roots prior to
8,000 BC. In fact, the story of the Aryans begins from page 695 of
the book. While Gidwani wishes to focus on the story of the Aryans,
his hero, as he clearly points out is "the pre-ancient Hindu"; and he
goes into the pre-historic Hindu period to glimpses of art, culture,
music, abstract thought, philosophical leanings, and spiritual values
of pre-ancient India. Gidwani shows that Aryans of 5000 BC were
born, grew up, and died as Hindus, anchored in the timeless foundation
of the Hindu tradition.
Simultaneously, he demolishes the false theory of the invasion
and conquest of India by Aryans originating from the West. Equally,
he supports the testimony of scholars who seek to demolish the theory of
North-South conflict & confrontation. He shows how the people of Ganga,
Sindhu and other regions came together with the Dravidian regions in a spirit
of equality and mutual respect. The Chapter 'To the Land of Tamala' from page
619 of the book, is a must for all those who wish to understand ancient
history of South, and the greatness of Tamil and the Southern culture.
The book has enthralling tales of Aryan adventures, courage, rashness, heroic
thrusts, triumphs and failures, in various countries, such as Iran, Sumeria,
Egypt, Russian lands & Scythia, Lithuania, Turkey, Finland, Sweden, Italy,
Greece and Germany.It also covers a vast panorama to reveal dramatic stories
behind the origins of Om, Namaste, Swastika, Gayatri Mantra, Rig Veda and
Soma Wines. It tells how Tamil and Sanskrit developed, and how they
influenced world-languages; also it has tales of discovery and
disappearance of Saraswati River, and founding of Ganga, Dravidian,
& Sindhu civilizations; the battles and blood-shed that led to fall and rise
of Benaras, Hardwar, and many cities.
Return of the Aryans speaks of ideals that took shape in those early times,
to become the foundation of Sanathana Dharma -- and among those ideals were:
Recognition of spiritual nature of man wherever he is from; acceptance of
every culture as an expression of eternal values; and man's obligation to
respect and protect environment, and all creatures, tame and wild.
This book should appeal to those in search of India's pre-ancient cultural,
philosophic, spiritual and material heritage. Also, it fulfils a long-felt
need to keep alive, for younger generation, the awareness of the foundation
and eternal values of India's culture.
From: Rachel Annabela Kripal <Rkrip@aol.com>
As a Hindu and an Indian by choice though not by birth,
and as one who in younger days taught Eastern Religious Studies
at Sorbonne at Paris, it always interests me whenever new books
and articles come out on the ancient civilization of India.
I was therefore pleased to see in IndiaStar: A Literary-Art Magazine
an excellent review by C.J. Wallia's on four great books, viz.:
The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India by David Frawley,
In Search of the Cradle of Civilization by Feuesrstein, Kak & Frawley,
The Politics of History by Navaratna Rajaram
Return of the Aryans by Bhagwan S. Gidwani.
Before commenting on these four great books, I must say that the
emergence of IndiaStar comes as a breath of fresh air, and I congratulate
Professor C.J.S.Wallia for bringing out this superb magazine which meets
a deeply-felt need of Indians scattered throughout the globe.
In Return of the Aryans, Gidwani presents a powerful and pulsating
drama of the origin of Aryans in India, their travel to foreign lands,
their adventures and exploits in West Asia & Europe, and finally their
return to India. Yet the greater value of Gidwani's book lies in the fact
that he traces the birth and beginnings of Hinduism.
Step by step, and with arguments which are almost impossible to
contradict, David Frawley, Feuesrstein, Kak and Rajaram prove to
the hilt Gidwani's stand that there was no Aryan invasion of India.
They also fully share Gidwani's ridicule of the theory of the
It had always mystified me that while there are nearly 10,000 books
on the birth and beginnings of Christianity, about 4,000 volumes on
the origins Buddhism, and Islam, and dozens even on Bahais and Zoroastrians,
there was not a single book which attempted to trace the birth and
beginnings or even the early history of Hinduism, in the pre-ancient,
pre-Vedic period. Fortunately, Gidwani came forward to fill this vacuum,
and explained in Return of the Aryans, with dramatic detail, the origins
and development of Hinduism, along with its basic tenets, beliefs,
philosophy and the timeless values, right from its ancient root of
Sanathana Dharma, and its pre-ancient root of Sanatanah, prior to 8,000 BC.
Gidwani's story will thus appeal to the Hindu and the non-Hindu alike,
for it is the story of India, and of its unique and most ancient civilization
Beautifully, and with elegance, Gidwani speaks of the ideals that firmly
took shape at the dawn of civilization, to become the foundation of Hinduism.
Clearly, he shows that Hinduism is based on truth and freedom, and its
basic tenets include belief in:Infinity of the soul that outlasts the drama of life;
Karma to affirm the presence of the Past in the Present; with equal
opportunity to all to achieve salvation.
The concept of Dharma that is changeless with its virtues of Ahimsa,
compassion to all creatures, auspicious thought , purity of conduct
& earnest endeavor;
The doctrine of Moksha (Salvation), which grants freedom from the cycle
of rebirth and death to an individual who leads a life of pure Karma.
But above all, Gidwani correctly shows that Hinduism is based on supremacy
of conduct, and not creed. His view also is simple and forthright --
that Hinduism is the one religion that honors and respects human rights.
Most other religions consign non-believers to hell, everlasting.
Hinduism has room for non-believers, agnostics and atheists.
What Hinduism seeks is purity of conduct, and not creed.
A clearer understanding of the basic beliefs of Hinduism is
given in the Song of the Hindu, sung in ancient times (5,500 BC),
which Gidwani reproduces in Return of the Aryans.
Hereunder, I quote a few extracts from that Song:
"Hinduism is the law of life, not a dogma; its aim is not to create a
creed but a character and its goal is to achieve perfection through
varied spiritual knowledge which rejects nothing and yet refines
everything, through continuous testing....
".Yet a Hindu must remain strong and united, for he must know
that no external, outside force can crush him, except when he is
divided and betrays his own...
"He who seeks to convert another to his own faith offends against his
own soul and the will of God and the law of humanity...
"In the Kingdom of God, there is no higher or lower.
The passion of perfection burns equally in all, for there is only
one class even as there is only one God...
"A Hindu must enlarge the heritage of mankind...a Hindu is not
a mere preserver of custom...a Hindu is not a mere protector
of present knowledge...
"Hinduism is a movement, not a position, a growing tradition
and not a fixed revelation...
"What then is the goal of the Hindu? Through strength, unity, discipline
...to reach ultimate in awareness and ultimate in being, ultimate in awareness
and ultimate in bliss, not for himself alone, but for all...
(From Bhagwan S. Gidwani's Return of the Aryans)
Human Rights is a modern concept in so far as the western thought
and philosophy are concerned. Yet the very basis of Hinduism, right from
its inception for all these 9,000 years, is the recognition of, and respect for,
In the West, the concept of Human Rights is used more as a political
instrument. For instance, when China abuses Human Rights in it brutal
genocideagainst helpless Tibet, the western opinion is muted, as China
is a powerful nation and an important trading partner. But western powers
are ready to pounce on India or Pakistan if any impression of violation of
Human Rights emerges. Clearly also, apart from Hinduism, and to some
extent Buddhism, none of the other religions have any concern with
Human Rights of those who belong to other religions. It is wrong
therefore to take a limited view of Hinduism's all pervasive recognition
and acceptance of Human Rights. It is true that certain perversions like
the caste system have entered in the Hindu society. But Gidwani meets this
issue headlong, and demonstrates clearly that caste system was never a tenet
of the Hindu faith. Tracing the development of caste system, he shows that
it is in fact antagonistic to the Hindu religion, and its ideals.
But then let us also look at the limiting factor in regard to Gidwani's
presentation: While Gidwani presents an excellent, even thrilling, history
of the origins of Hinduism and the Aryans, the fact is that what he has
written is a novel. His concentration is more on dramatization of his story
in order also to entertain -- as indeed a novel should.
Chiefly, he is concerned with telling us the gripping story of the enormous
courage with which the Aryans of India set out on perilous journeys to
unknown lands, not for conquest, nor to amass fortunes, but to fulfill their
faith. Much as I admire Gidwani's extraordinary effort, there still remained
the need to make a thorough, systematic study in a proper historical text.
I am therefore happy that David Frawley, George Feuesrstein, Subash Kak
and Navratna Rajaram have emerged into the field with their masterly books
to fill that obvious and gaping breach. I am happier to learn that many more
books are also expected to be published shortly to deal with those very subjects.
I shall welcome them. For the present, however, for all those interested in
knowing their roots and the origins of the Indian civilization, Gidwani's book,
and the three books by these great writers, are indispensable.
Rachel Annabela Kripal
I was horrified as an Englishman and a human being when I learned
on the Internet that Queen Elizabeth is planning to visit Amritsar, the site
of the infamous massacre by British troops of 379 unarmed civilians and the
wounding of 1200 others in 1919, without uttering even one word of apology.
Mr. Gore-Booth, Britain's envoy in New Delhi, is quoted by Associated Press
as saying: "The queen is not going to apologise, but she is going to lay a
wreath. Those of you who recognise the subtle distinction will see it as a
very special gesture." (October 7th, 1997) These cold, patronising, unclear
words show that while the British Empire is mercifully dead, the attitude
that led to it is very much alive. I have learned from the great American
educator and poet Eli Siegel, founder of the philosophy Aesthetic Realism,
that the greatest enemy of man, the cause of all cruelty and of war, is
contempt, the "disposition in every person to think he will be for himself by
making less of the outside world."
My own desire to feel superior, to have contempt, is the reason why while
I attended Oxford University I shamefully agreed with the accepted view in
England of the British Empire, that we had brought needed civilisation to
lesser peoples, and were in fact doing them a kindness. The truth is the
British Empire was based on contempt, on the ugly, wrong, completely
unscientific idea that other people, looking different, speaking different
languages, did not exist to be known, as having meaning, hopes and fears
as real as any Englishman, but were inferior beings who existed instead
to be used for Britainís own power, glory, and wealth; and this
centuries-old government policy caused horrors, including in
Amritsar. I think it was barbaric, and I am grateful to be learning
now as a history teacher at Norman Thomas High School in New York City
about the rich history and culture of the people of India, and to know that
my purpose is to see meaning and use them to have more respect for the
world. I want to apologise, as a representative Englishman, to the people
of Amritsar for what my country did to them.
For the way of seeing that led to the British Empire to end "for there to be
good will between people and between nations" this kind, urgent question by
Eli Siegel needs to be asked and honestly answered: "What does a person
deserve by being a person?" Thinking about this question, British
representatives could never go to India, let alone Amritsar, without
beginning their visit with a sincere expression of regret.
New York City
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (cosijn)
Dear Mr. Wallia,
It is with much interest that I have read
your Indiastar magazine, particularly the
bookreviews. Reading your interview with
Gita Mehta in which she talked about "kala pani,"
which to my knowledge referred to Indians who
have crossed the sea (emigrants).
I very much enjoyed reading the reviews and the
interview, I am a great fan of Gita Mehta, whose
books I have all read.
Subject: Gita Mehta and Indira Gandhi
Thanks for your interview.
Gita Mehta is a great writer and expresses her
disgust for Mrs Gandhi's dynastic machinations
The irony is that recently after the demise of her
father, her brother was asked to take hold of the left
front in Orissa. Naveen Patnaik's credentials as a politician
are as good as Rajiv Gandhi's were. Ironic indeed.
But, no one cares to ask her about her views on this matter.
It is quite alright to profess aspirations about being non-feudal,
it is quite another matter to translate this into real life.
*This assumes that Gita Mehta is
accountable for Naveen Patnaik's
decision. I would be loathe to
make any such assumption. -- C.J.S.Wallia
Your review of Fonseca's book
was great! I am very interested in
this subject and found your info
very helpful. Thanks!!!
From: Susan Chacko <email@example.com>
I generally like books with South Asian themes because it's
pleasantly familiar to see Sharmilas and Dineshes and
people eating rotis and talking to their Mausijis. For all
these reasons, and because of her spreading fame, I
expected to enjoy Chitra Divakaruni's Arranged Marriage
a lot. But didn't.
The stories are all about women who went to college in India
and now live in the US, either because they got married to
"green-card-holder" men, or because they came to study here.
Familiar ground, and familiar bits of dialogue. All the participants
had arranged marriages,although in some stories a younger
woman is contrasting her own lifestyle with her parents'
The characters in the book seemed to live in a mysterious sort
of time-warp -- although the situations and details were
contemporary, their behaviour was often what I'd associate with
an earlier generation than my own (or perhaps I malign that
generation too). For example, even the most conservative women
I know wouldn't dream of saying 'She needs to be beaten' if they saw
an Indian woman wearing a backless choli at a party. Or the story
about the high-powered skirt-wearing career woman who felt
superior and alienated from the sari-wearing wives around her
-- there were _no_ other women with careers who worewestern
clothes in northern California, of all places?
Indian men come off badly in the book. In all but one story,
they are self-absorbed, insensitive, mean, wife-abusers, servant-rapists,
or just plain unpleasant. In the single exception, the man dies.
Oh yes, there is one story in which the husband is relatively pleasant
to his wife -- he encourages her to build a career and so on -- but even
he is blase about a woman who is being forced to undergo an abortion
in India because the baby is a girl. "It's a man's world in India",
says he, complacently, implying that his wife is lucky to be married
to him and out of India. Seems like an awfully one-sided portrait of
Indian malehood to me.
The stories have varied endings, uppers and downers, but the uppers
are often pretty impractical. One woman plans to bring her friend
(the one who is being forced to abort) to the US on a student visa.
The author/narrator are apparently unaware of any financial or INS
problems involved -- the narrator and her husband are having financial
difficulties as it is, so how are they going to show financial support for
the friend, get her admitted into college, pay for her airfare, get her visa,
and all this longdistance to Calcutta? Another woman who has problems
getting along with her mother announces she's going to study in the US.
Not so simple -- the cost of GRE, college applications and airfare is far
beyond the means of your average non-working middle-class Indian woman,
so how did she manage all this without her mother's financial support?
In many other ways the stories bring out the practical problems of isolation
and lack of financial independence for women in arranged (and other) marriages,
so the facile treatment of other problemsis irritating.
The characters were pretty stereotypical -- the women with kids wore
saris, had bulges around their waists, and did not work, while the career
women were either unmarried, or had no kids, and were slim and
westernized.Fat was generally associated with marital and parental status
-- one woman even became slim after she separated from her husband,
for goodness sake. Where are the single women who like Carnatic music
and samosas, or the married women who are computer engineers and
have two children? They have arranged marriages too.
I thought the women were more realistic than Bharati Mukherjee's,
but that's not enough. The imagery (much touted in several reviews)
is pretty tortured and is generally reminiscent of the kind of writing
taught in convent schools in India. The best I can say is that the stories
are pleasantly written and do not demand much mental effort on the part
of the reader.
Dr. Susan Chacko, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20895.
Subject: IndiaStar review of "Punjabi literature in English translation."
From: Irfan malik <email@example.com>
Janab Charan Jit Singh Wallia,
Sat Sri Akal,
I hope I am correct in guessing your name.
Thank you very much for acknowledging SALAMANDER'S
PUNJABI NUMBER, I am happy that you like the issue.
I agree with you that unfortunately the Indian authors are under represented,
the fact is that we translated more Indian Punjabi writers than Pakistani writers,
including Santhokh Singh Dhir, Prem Parkash, Sukhbir, Satwinder Singh Noor,
Amarjit Chandan, Manjit Pal Kaur and several others. But we
could not publish most of them because of various reasons. I am putting together
an anthology of modern Punjabi literature into English and I am sure
that we could use many of these works in the book. I am not going to
strive for equal number of pieces from both sides, not quantity but quality will be
the decisive factor. I think it is very important that such an anthology is based on
linguistic and literary identity instead of national identity. Can we publish a call
for submissions for this anthology in India Star?
Your statement "Pakistan's recent re-establishing of Punjabi as a literary
language is a return to native roots" needs some explanation, my understanding
is that Pakistan is doing nothing to establish or re-establish Punjabi as a literary
language, please can you explain what do you mean by this statement.
Please keep in touch.
Naven Saal Di Vadhai Hove,
145 Dudley Street
Cambridge, MA 02140-24000
Telephone (h): (617) 441-5363
(o): (617) 628-5000 x5842
Fax: (attn. irfan/ae)(617) 627-3032
[About Punjabi as a Pakistani literary language:
I discussed a draft of my review with
Professor Atamjit Singh, who teaches Punjabi
at the Univ of California, Berkeley. He, like you,
is also of the opinion that the Pakistani government
has done nothing in this matter. However, the fact
remains that it took 30 years for the poets to start
writing or resume writing in Punjabi.
Of course, during these years they and almost
everybody else in Pakistani Punjab
continued speaking Punjabi. So it was a revival
by the poets and fiction writers after this hiatus. C.J. Wallia]
Subject: Punjabi Literature in North America
From: Sadhu Binning <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I have just discovered IndiaStar this morning. Congratulations.
I was wondering whether you know of any activity on the net
around Punjabi Literature in North America?
I am a writer living in Vancouver B.C. and have published a
few books in Punjabi and also one bilingual (Punjabi/English)
book of poetry published by TSAR Toronto (1995). And as you
probably know there is a huge number of Punjabi writers both in
Canada and US. So what I wanted to know was whether there is
anything on the net that represents this activity or not?
Asian Studies Department
Univ of British Columbia,
Vancouver, B.C. Canada
[By coincidence, I have just finished writing a review
of a special feature on new Punjabi Literature in
English translation. See this under book reviews on IndiaStar.
I'd be very interested in reviewing your bilingual
book of poetry. Ask your publisher to send me a
review copy. C.J.S.Wallia ]
Subject: IndiaStar article
"A Manifesto of an Indo-American Youth"
From: Amardeep Singh <email@example.com>
As a schizo South Asian-american youth, I can back up the emotions
and revelations of the "Manifesto of an Indo-American Youth", but I also
want to say the following to the authors, and any other South Asian
diaspora kids who might be here:
1. It's not our parents' fault. They got here and there was no
way they could have been prepared for what it would be like for them.
Once my parents achieved a degree of affluence, they could hide in their
car-alarm-protected luxury automobiles, driving only in the suburbs.
They could avoid contact with real Americans by spending most of
their free time watching TV; the inanity there confirmed their feeling of
superiority (still inflected by a certain fascination) over much of
We are not the only schizos in this place. Immigrants and people
of color are generally unrepresented or systematically misrepresented in
the American mass-media. When we do get "on," it goes like this:
Arabs are terrorists; Black and Latino youths are gang-bangers and drug-dealers;
and South Asians and East Asians are effeminate dweebs, when we're not
lumped in with the Arab terrorist-fanatics. Few people anywhere can
resist the tendency to other and exclude. Our immigrant parents may have
their problems (I share the antipathy expressed in the Manifesto to the
bigotry and homophobia that some of our parents might exhibit, but I
think it is important to recognize that bigotry is as American as
hamburgers and barcodes; if we are free of it, we are the exceptions),
but we have our problems too. I strongly resist the assertion that youth
have a knowledge of humanity that our parents do not. Take a look at the
discourse of the India newsgroups...
2. America is not better. When I was young and we went to visit India,
I felt like everything in India was dirtier, hotter, and less efficient
than what I was used to in my air-conditioned suburban American life.
But really, America is one of the dirtiest places on earth .
Our efficiency is predicated on hegemony in global capital: it keeps the
third world back, behind, and out-of-sight. For me, everything about the
American approach to consumption, the environment, representation,
and culture needs to be resisted, subverted, and transformed.
3. Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. The first thing
I started looking for after I got to college, becoming effectively free
from my family, was nothing other than new family. I wanted some roots,
a place and people to feel at home with. Some of my friends from Gurudwara
(the Sikh temple-- I am a Sikh) turned to racial purism and Khalistanism
(which I abhor); some turned to drinking and drug-use. Others-- the
majority-- work themselves to death and marry as quickly as possible,
avoiding any direct confrontation of the contradictions of their
existence. But I wasn't ready to do any of those things. I decided
not to go to med-school; and now I'm starting to find a place in a fairly
well-adjusted, multiethnic community of graduate students.
I'm hoping that from this community I can find some
semblance of a new family.
Finally, I'm declaring a truce with my parents.
When it comes down to it, they are lonely and need support
just like the rest of us. They can only change so much about
themselves at this stage in this life. I'm going to give them a break;
after my stormy, confrontational adolescence, I have to confess
I owe them one.
North Carolina, USA
Subject: IndiaStar article
"A Manifesto of an Indo-American Youth"
2 January 1997
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Sudipto Chatterjee)
To: "C.J. Wallia" <email@example.com>
I just finished reading "A Manifesto of an Indo-American Youth."
The words simply jump out of the page, impelling every immigrant
South Asian parent (and parent-to/wanna-be) to take heed and start
thinking of "culture"or "desi values" not as a set of sacrosanct
absolutes to be believed in, buta set of fluxive ideas to be thought
through. Over andabove the anonymous main text, I also liked the
way it was framed by the interlocutor in psychological terms.
IndiaStar has done service to the larger South Asian community
in the American diaspora by publishing this. I hope it reaches
a wide audience.
New York City
Subject: IndiaStar article
"A Manifesto of an Indo-American Youth"
From: kashraf <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Your magazine is getting better and better.
A manifesto of an Indo-American youth is an eye opener.
It is really interesting to know what goes on in the heads
of young Indo-Americans. I was really motivated by the
statement of the writer that the young Indo-Americans do
not want to share the biases of their parents toward Blacks,
Muslims, Pakistanis and other socially out-cast groups.
I agree with the young writer on most of the things he said
in his article. It is the parents who have to learn about the deeper
problems of their young kids who are growing in an alien culture.
I was not aware of Salman Akhtar's research on immigrant
experience. It seems like a valuable work. I hope this type of
research goes on and is written up in Indo-American community
through widely circulated Indian newsmedia.
San Francisco, California
[ Khawaja Sahib, Thanks for your kind comments
about IndiaStar. Currently, I am writing a review of
Sudhir Kakar's new book, "The Colors of Violence"
(Univ of Chicago Press, 1996). In accord with this
book's sociological analysis, my conjecture is that,
unfortunately, the biases of Pakistani parents toward
Blacks, Hindus, Indians, and other non-Muslims are
mirror images of those mentioned in the IndiaStar article.
Let's hear from other readers. --C.J. Wallia .]
Subject: IndiaStar article
"A Manifesto of an Indo-American Youth"
From: moss <email@example.com>
To: cjwallia <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I read the piece by the young Indian on growing up in the
U.S. and was both moved by it and surprised.
It read like something a young person in Delhi or Calcutta
might have written a few years ago. I'm not sure about young
people in the nineties. I guessed the writer is female and was
impressed both by her honesty and her passion. Her article
would form the basis of a very interesting novel -- a different
sort of "American Brat" (Bapsy Sidhwa).
I am tempted to try my hand at it but despite a few visits to
the States, feel I lack enough knowledge to carry it off.
What about you, or do you confine yourself to short stories?
With all good wishes,
[ Since you have asked: I am writing a novel
"Berkeley Singh" -- about a second-generation
Indo-American. C.J.Wallia ]
Subject: IndiaStar article
"A Manifesto of an Indo-American Youth"
From: Kristina Sehgal <ksehgal@WEBSPAN.NET>
This is in response to the IndiaStar article "A Manifesto of an
Bravo to the two Indo-American youths who have written such
a beautiful piece on being brought up "under two cultures."
Theywrote it with sensitivity, care and love. It is truly unfortunate
that these youths are goingthrough this "struggle" and have to remain
anonymous. I feel this article should be read by every Indian parent
and then discussed. Communication is so important-- it is the key to
any successful relationship. It is somethingthat must be worked on
and cannot be achieved overnight.
This article should also be addressed on Indian-oriented talk shows
and the like. I can relate (to some degree) with what these youths are
going through. Being born and raised in this country, I know it is
difficult towant the"best of both worlds" and to maintain your values.
This cultural dilemna is the price one has to pay for living
in this country. It is a problem many of us face in exchange
for the rewards America offers.
Subject: Anita Desai
To: "C.J. Wallia" <email@example.com>
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (CHRISTOPHER ROLLASON)
I have just finished Anita Desai's 1988 novel 'Baumgartner's Bombay', and
am generally impressed. In particular, it seems from Desai's acknowledgments
that she did a lot of research for Chapter 4, in which Baumgartner, despite
being a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, is sent by the British to an
internment camp for the duration of World War II.
Is this incident based on historical fact? Is it true that the British
authorities in India made no distinction between Jewish and 'Aryan'
Certain aspects of Desai's internment camp chapter seem rather similar to an
episode in a novel by the Romanian Mircea Eliade ('Foret interdite' in the French translation).
Eliade, who had earlier spent three years in India himself and had written a doctoral
thesis on yoga, was sent to an internment camp by the Romanian government, in the run-up to the
second world war, for far-right political activities (a phase often omitted in
accounts of his otherwise distinguished life). In Eliade's semi-autobiographical novel,
the same fate befalls the main character.
One of the internees in Desai's novel is Emil Schwarz, a German Jew described as the camp's
'scholar':'who pored over books night and day, Sanskrit and Pali dictionaries,
Buddhist scriptures, the Vedas, and Upanishads, and even more esoteric and lesser-known
titles that he ordered through the library'. This single-minded devotion to Indian culture recalls the
dedicated scholarship pursued by Eliade in India (he learnt Sanskrit and Bengali, and met Tagore).
In addition, the physical description of Schwarz is striking: 'a painfully lean young man
... with a beard of tar-black hair and mournful black eyes' (quotes from Penguin edition, p. 123).
Physically, this figure seems remarkably like the young Eliade, if one compares the photographs
of his Indian years.
Is Desai familiar with Eliade and his career? Is Emil Schwarz a thumbnailsketch of the young
Eliade, but transformed into a Jew - possibly as an ironic corrective to Eliade's
own far-right ideas of the 1930s (the future historian of religions stood for the Romanian parliament
as an 'Iron Guard' candidate, an act which led directly to his internment)?
Anyone with ideas or information, please email me!
Subject: Web Publishing Presentation
Dear Prof. Wallia,
Thank you for your illuminating presentation
on website publishing at the Writers' Conference.
I found it fascinating and enjoyed reading your
new literary-art magazine.
Lani Kwon Meilgaard
Subject: IndiaStar Magazine
From: Sonal J Pathak <email@example.com>
I just discovered your magazine and I think it is great!
A lot of what I read in your magazine touches upon my thesis
work which is on second-generation Indo-Canadian women as
well as on the issue of cultural duality/marginality.
This may be a big question, and perhaps a personal one,
but I have to ask you:
What made you start IndiaStar in the first place?
If you have the time to answer this it would be
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
[Well, my academic background is in Communication
-- Ph.D., Stanford University. One of the courses I've
been teaching for many years is magazine publishing.
A few years ago, I started publishing a small literary
magazine, SAQI--South Asia Quarterly International.
The first issue of SAQI featured an interview with
Gita Mehta. IndiaStar on the web is that magazine's
reincarnation. Currently, I am planning an on-paper
version of IndiaStar to be published as a companion
to the web version. C.J.Wallia ]
Subject: The "postcolonial" experience
From: Thomas Palakeel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I just visited your magazine. Fantastic. I will revisit and I hope
to submit work in the future.
I particularly liked G.S. Sharat Chandra's poem, illustrating the
"postcolonial"other's difficulties in communicating experience.
As a writer, I have felt the same confounding bewilderment.
Look at my own usage of the word "bewilder"; we are thrown
into a wilderness, into the jungle, we are rendered primitive, and
what else does the Western observer, the writer, the ethnographer,
the self, the bigot needs to confirm the good old agenda. Sometimes
anything we say or do could counter our original purposes. Such is
the complexity of the "other's" task. Still, it is important that we do
not stop, for we,too, are a self. We, too, need the dialogue with
I have been following some of the discussions in your pages and
I just wanted to say I will spread the word. I want to include a link
to my homepage. Is it okay? Thanks.
Assistant Professor of English
[IndiaStar welcomes linkage to
readers' home pages. C.J.Wallia ]
Subject: IndiaStar magazine
From: "Dr. David Holden" <HOLDEN@gateway.ce.utk.edu>
I checked out IndiaStar. Very impressive.
First let me say that I like the simple, clean appearance of your
site. So many Web sites these days have too much --far too
much-- in the way of hot colors and jazzy backgrounds that
make the text unreadable.
I got several good laughs from Acharya Palaniswami's
"On the Road in India." Assuming his observations about India
are as accurate as his observations about the American love of the
automobile, I think I'll ride an elephant if I ever travel in India.
I also enjoyed your story "A Farmer in Computerland." In some
ways it reminds me of Henry David Thoreau. How easy it is to
live a life of quiet desperation.
Shampa Sinha's "Siesta" is, simply, a jewel. You're lucky to
have such good work to include in IndiaStar.
Director, Department of Independent Studies
The University of Tennessee
Subject: Divakaruni's Arranged Marriage
From: Rukmini Timmaraju <email@example.com>
I didn't see Divakaruni's book the way one of your other readers did.
[Dr. Susan Chacko's letter]
From my own experience as a South Asian woman raised in the US,
I still find much of her work speaking directly to the complexity and
difficulty of being a South Asian immigrant woman. Most of my peers
enjoyed it as well.
In contrast, Ginu Kamani's Junglee Girl, although refreshing in its
focus on sexuality, was pretty bizarre! The most realistic and
straightforward work out there by South Asian women is still in the
anthology Our Feet Walk the Sky by UC Berkeley's Women of
South Asian Descent Collective.
Also, for anyone who enjoyed the piece about Traveling In India
(which I did very much having recently returned from a 6-month
sojourn there) there is a lovely little book I would recommend called
Butter Chicken in Ludhiana published by Penguin. It focuses on
traveling through smaller, less tourist-oriented parts of India, and is
Thanks again for your magazine!
University of Houston Law Center
Subject: Your Review of Rushdie
From: Dr Apurba Kundu
Contemporary South Asia
Department of Social and Economic Studies
University of Bradford
Bradford BD7 1DP
Dear CJ Wallia,
Just a note to say that I enjoyed reading your review
of Arranged Marriage.
I also read your reviews of Salman Rushdie's recent works,
East-West and The Moor's Last Sigh . ["The Rushdie
Phenomenon: A Second Look"
by C.J.S. Wallia in IndiaStar] . While I don't necessarily agree with your
sentiments, I appreciate the originality and passion of your views.
Perhaps you would like to review a work for _Contemporary South Asia_?
While this academic journal is primarily concerned with current
political and economic issues, the review section offers a broader
picture of recent works on South Asia, including literature.
Subject: IndiaStar magazine
From: Anisha Kumar Patel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I got a chance to look at your literary-art magazine and was
very impressed. The layout is well done, with the various
sections properly ordered and easy to follow.
I found the poems "Siesta" and "Nataraja" especially good.
I haven't read all the submissions but I plan to continue
visiting this site regularly. I've already filed it under one of
Univ of California, Berkeley
Subject: Aryans--where did they come from?
From: Ashoke Mukherjee <email@example.com>
Dear Mr. Wallia:
For the first time I read IndiaStar this evening and wow,
was I impressed! Please accept my compliments and felicitations.
Now, the main reason for this note. Let me draw your attention to
what Swami Vivekananda, who obviously needs no introduction and
more over something a mere mortal like myself would be unable
to do (remember what Prof. Wright said, "To ask you, Swami, for
your credentials is like asking the sun to state its right to shine",
"Here is a man who is more learned than all our learned professors
put together"?) had said on the subject--the Aryans were indigenous
to India and had not come from anywhere else.
Please refer to the Chapter, "The Future of India" The Complete
Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume III (Calcutta Advaita Ashrama).
[Vivekananda's view is in accord with that of
traditional Indian Vedantic scholars over the millenia.
The "Aryan Invasion" theory was a Eurocentric
concoction, propagated first in the nineteenth century by
German and British philologists such as Max Muller
and Monier-Williams. However, it is still the prevailing
dogma taught in universities worldwide, including,
unfortunately, those in India. -- C.J.Wallia]
Subject: IndiaStar book reviews: Aryans
Dear Mr. Wallia,
I enjoyed reading your brief review on the book Return of the Aryans.
I could not get a copy of the book locally and I understood that
Penguin is not publishing it anymore. For a book which has won
award, it was surprising that Penguin is not publishing it.
Do you have any further information on the book and
what will be the best source to get the book from U.S.A.?
With appreciation and regards.
["Return of the Aryans" is published by
Penguin Books India, 210 Chiranjiv Tower,
43 Nehru Place, New Delhi-- 110 019.
The book is also distributed by Penguin Books
Canada at (416) 925-2249. - C.J.Wallia ]
Subject: IndiaStar magazine
From: Lavanya Vasudevan <"firstname.lastname@example.org"@WorldNet.att.net>
I just happened to hop into your magazine and I think
that your magazine is pretty cool.
I am planning to do a presentation on India and
I am sure this is going to be my main source.
Thanks a lot for such a wonderful magazine.
Subject: IndiaStar magazine
From: Tomoeh Murakami <tomoeh@leland.Stanford.EDU>
I have been reading the IndiaStar over the past week, I really enjoyed
it a lot, especially the poems. I hope you continue to "add on" to your
magazine. It's great. The layout is really easy to read, and attractive
I look forward to reading more of your work.
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305
Subject: IndiaStar magazine
From: Jaya Agrawal <Jaya_Agrawal@brown.edu>
I was so excited to find IndiaStar on the Net! I loved the poems.
I'm writing for more info on this magazine. Are you only on an
electronic on-line format?
Box 6115, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912
[IndiaStar will also be
published on paper--C.J.Wallia . ]
From: "James M. Ivory" <IvoryJM@appstate.edu>
I have recently discovered your site, and I have a question rather
than a comment. I am interested in the novelist Salman Rushdie.
I am also interested in film studies. Along those lines of interests,
I have been trying to locate two documentaries that Rushdie lists
among his credits and "reviews" in his Imaginary Homelands. One
documentary, entitled The Riddle of Midnight, is available in a few
select libraries across the country. However, the other is much more
elusive. I have found no one and no library with information
pertaining to this documentary.Can you or your readers help?
I am interested in doing a scholarly project on Rushdie's novels and
the influence of his passion for films.
If you have any information that you believe would be helpful, I
would sincerely appreciate it.
Thank you for your time and thought.
[Possibly one of our readers knows. C.J.S.Wallia ]