THE HINDU-HAWAIIAN ENCOUNTER
In the first blog we realized how:
- Natural ecosystems shape human geo-cultures;
- New human geo-cultures can change old geo-cultures;
- Ecosystems have to be resilient; and geo-cultures have also got to be resilient
Here in this article, as our first ecosystem and geo-culture, we shall study the ‘island’ and the ‘islander’ respectively, with reference to Hawaii. We shall look at Hawaii from two lenses: the Hindu-Pagan lens and the lens of the AgroEcologist.
PART ONE: REASONS FOR DEEPENING THE HAWAIIAN-HINDU ENCOUNTER
India has her Andaman and Nicobar islands to her east and the Lakshadweep to her west, within the Indian Ocean. Along with many other bases / island territories, America controls the Hawaii islands to her southwest, in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean. Just how significant controlling of islands can be, can be understood by us Indians, if we learn more about the Hawaii islands, ruled by America, as our case study.
Hawaii, tropically located between the Americas and Far Eastern Asia, is a sentinel overlooking major Pacific naval routes.
Hawaii gradually lost her own independence to America, in stages, after Captain James Cook discovered the islands for the Euro-American civilisation. Hawaii even suffered as a war theatre, all for her unique geo-strategic location and for no fault of her own.
India, with her peninsula surrounded by the Indian Ocean, too had lost her independence in stages to European powers that had all arrived by sea, before finally getting colonised by England. After partition and regaining truncated freedom, independent India has her own maritime security concerns, since her southern ocean is the naval route for all merchant and defence ships sailing from Far Eastern Asia, Australia and South East Asia to not just her own Malabar-Konkan-Gujarat coastline (western Indian ports) but also to Madagascar, East / North East Africa, West Asia, Pakistan and onward to Europe and the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. India needs to use her coastline and her two archipelagos, the above-mentioned Andaman-Nicobar and Lakshadweep island chains, as monitor posts. But mainland Indians still do not know much about their own islands they have in their sovereign realm, even though they haven’t conducted any systematic, organised cultural genocide of the native population and culture of anyone, leave alone her own islands…
Hawaiians – an island ecosystem’s geo-culture – have struggled to preserve their identity amidst colonization, genocide, Christian evangelism, westernisation and World War II. India, with the varied ecosystems of her mainland and her islands, which created varied geo-cultures across her landscape, too has struggled to preserve her own unique stamp of Sanatan Dharma, amidst relentless invasions of foreign people and ideologies, spanning centuries.
Politically, Hawaii had got completely swallowed into American sovereignty. Demographically, the indigenous Hawaiian tribe is down to a mere single digit percentage of the total resident population of the islands today. Culturally and in faith, the Hawaiian religion and identity are threatened with extinction – not just through outright conversion and suppression, but also in a secular way by getting digested, assimilated and appropriated into the ever-hungry predatory culture of Western / American materialism.
Native Hawaiian faith and other aaspects of culture have been eroding away.
Hawaaiians share maany traits with other polyneisan states.
In fact, the discerning observation of the renowned contemporary author, Shri Rajiv Malhotra, about how a dominant culture digests another vulnerable culture, is amply illustrated with our Hawaiian case study: of assimilation of a Polynesian islander geo-culture into mainland America’s dominant culture. To quote Shri Rajiv Malhotra: http://rajivmalhotra.com/library/articles/tiger-deer-dharma-digested-west/
“…the metaphors of ‘tiger’ and ‘deer’ to illustrate the process of what I call the ‘digestion’ of one culture by another, carried out under the guise of a desire to assimilate, reduce differences and assert sameness. The key point being made is that the digested culture disappears. This digestion is analogous to the food consumed by a host, in that what is useful gets reformulated into the host’s body, while that which doesn’t quite fit the host’s structure is eliminated as waste.
Just as the tiger, a predator, would, the West, a dominant and aggressive culture dismembers the weaker one – the deer – into parts from which it picks and chooses pieces that it wants to appropriate; the appropriated elements get mapped onto the language and social structures of the dominant civilization’s own history and paradigms, leaving little if any trace of the links to the source tradition. The civilization that was thus ‘mined’ and consumed gets depleted of its cultural and social capital, because the appropriated elements are then shown to be disconnected from and even in conflict with the source civilization. Finally, the vanquished prey – the deer – enters the proverbial museum as yet another dead creature (i.e. a dead culture), ceasing to pose a threat to the dominant one…”
Yet, the assertiveness of Hawaiian culture practised by the leftover 1% is not gone and still survives. It is also getting more and more vocal and confident.
The beginning of the Hindu-Hawaiian encounter:
Also, interestingly, while Hawaii has had diabolical encounters with the secular and religious arms of the West, both equally predatory, Hawaii has also had a pleasant encounter with Hinduism from India on her own Hawaiian soil, through the holy name of Shambhu Mahadeva!
On one of the many islands that make up Hawaii, there is one particularly beautiful island called ‘Kauai’. There, on Kauai, one of the most magnificent Hindu mandir complexes outside India has come up: the Shaivite monastery of the Shaiva Siddhantic Church (the word “Church’ is to convey its religious nature to American law and people accustomed to Christianity; there is nothing Christian about the complex).
The monastery follows one of the extant traditions (अविच्छिन्न परंपरा) within Sanatan Dharma – the ‘Shaiva Siddhanta’ sub-school of Shaivism – based in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka; the monastery is managed by Hindus which are headed by white monks ordained into Shaiva Siddhanta.
The Guru-Shishya lineage is followed in the monastery.
The complex has both fully constructed and under construction temples.
The main temple, the Kadavul mandir, has numerous metallic Nataraajas and many other devatas on either side wall of the sabhaagruh. Many poojas are conducted in the sabhaagruh.
There is also another mandir, the Iraivan mandir, under construction.
Since Hawaii hasn’t got too many large rocks in its volcanic ecosystem, and since native Hawaiians consider cooled lava tephra as their own departed ancestors, granite is imported for further temple construction from quarries in South India.
Even traditional temple artisans and vastu shilpis from South India have been living and working full time in the complex for further mandir construction.
This is in accordance with shaastras like Vaastushaastra and various Aagamas.
The monks who manage the monastery run a magazine called Hinduism today, which deals with a wide range of issues concerning Hinduism and elaborating on Adhyaaatma and Shradhdaa.
The temple complex has visitors from all over the world.
Poojas are conducted inside the sanctum sanctorum of the mandir, where people from all over participate. This allows scope for direct interaction. Indeed, Hawaii is a centre of Hindu resurgence.
What is notable is, native non-Christian Hawaiians too have been visiting Kauai’s Shaiva monastery and temples for conducting their own sacred rites by a holy stream within the Hindu complex, to make offerings to their Gods and Goddesses.
This can accelerate the mutually beneficial cultural encounter between pristine classical Hinduism and the pre-Christian Hawaiian polynesian tradition.
Hawaii and Hindusthaan have a lot to teach each other.
And this goes beyond mere tourism, for reasons explained ahead in the blog.
Hindus and unconverted Hawaiians: two sisterly non-Abrahamic cultures:
Hindusthaan is the repository of ancient global pre-Abrahamic culture, to which family the pre-Christian, pre-American Hawaiian culture belongs. Sanatan Dharma is an ancient civilisation and is deeply aadhyaatmik, not merely just a pagan polytheist tribal culture with totems and motifs, spells and rites, but with a variety of daarshanik systems, Yoga being the best known. India is a politically resilient ancient nation too. Hawaiian native culture and political ambition have a lot to learn from and get enriched by an encounter with Hinduism, as India seeks not to replace anything in Hawaiian culture, but only to share some aspects for enrichment, the most remarkable being the sisterly sharing of devotional aspects of the Devi ‘Pele’ of Hawaii with Kaali Mata Sarveshwaree of Sanatan Dhaarma! It is not a coincidence that the arm of Hinduism that settled onto Haawaiian shores, is dedicated to Shambhu Mahadeva, whose consort is Mahadevi Kaali!
It is apt to quote Ram Swarup ji at this point:
“I believe that Hinduism has a very important role in the religious self-recovery of humanity, particularly of Europe. The reason is simple. Hinduism represents the most ancient tradition which is still alive. It has preserved in its bosom the whole spiritual past of humanity. For self-recovery, these countries have to revive their old Gods. But this is a task which cannot be done mechanically. They have to recapture the consciousness which expressed itself in the language of many Gods. Here, India can help them with its tradition of yoga.” Quoted from http://egregores.blogspot.in/2009/11/hindus-and-pagans-return-to-time-of.html
(Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel can easily be called the most profound and original thinkers that post-partition India has produced, who spoke with a non-colonised Hindu mind. One of the numerous recommendations of Ram Swarup ji was that India and Hindus should help all the Abrahamised societies of the world rediscover their own pagan pre-Abrahamic past.)
Hawaii too has a lot to teach India through her own experiences – how a foreign power politically assimilates and then controls a small remote island, what ways an imperialist geo-culture employs for the assimilation, and, what an island can mean for security and culture for Hindus.
The Andaman and Nicobar islands of India’s eastern sea are roughly just as midway between India (South Asian in location) and Myanmar and Thailand (South East Asian in location) aas was Hawaii midway between Japan and the cotermious US; the Andaman and Nicobar are strategically so important that China has already set up naval bases at Coco islands just north of India’s Andaman.
Similarly, the Lakshadweep islands (of India’s west) are strategically located well enough for India to monitor seafaring vessels of other imperialistically inclined countries like China.
India will do well to remember how important the Hawaii islands were strategically to whoever possessed them, and how the belligerent encounter between Japan and America escalated from Pearl Harbour bombings to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II. If land and sea forts controlled territories in medieval times, island naval bases control political prospects today.
The environmental intelligence quotient:
To be fair, while Hawaii lost her independence to imperialistic America, Hawaii has no doubt benefitted too, from being part of America, wherein there also is a sympathetic democratic class and a very high threshold of civic sense and environmentalist awareness. This enables Hawaii to develop an arm for environmental conservation on her own island soil, which is coupled with activism towards ethnic uprightness. The environmental consciousness aspect of Hawaii islands (and of the post-modern Western civilisation) is something that India would do well to employ herself, to rekindle her own native Hindu basis in Agro-Ecology. Hawaii being an island, cannot afford to ignore her fragile ecosystem health; Indians, on the contrary, are literally guilty of ignoring the agroecological concerns of their own BhaaratBhoo; Indians should use the Hawaiian case study to also quicken their own conscience about agroecological consciousness in general and activism in particular.
Tulsi is a Hawaiian of Samoan descent, the daughter of a Roman Catholic and a Caucasian Hindu convert.
She represents Hawaii, and has often talked about protecting the interests of Hindus in places like Bangladesh, while also commenting on Obama’s unclear policy in the Iraq-Daesh war, the nuclear threat from North Korea and of course, local Hawaiian issues. She has also shown solidarity with the South Dakota Amerindians in their protest against pipelines passing through their land.
To most Hindus in the US, Tulsi Gabbard is someone who must become the next US presidential candidate from the democratic party.
It was she who had nominated Bernie Sanders for the Presidency within the Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, she is seriously being considered for the Trump Cabinet. Her election illustrates Hindus—and consequently, Indian Americans— have established a political identity.
What Indian Hindus and NRI Hindus can do:
- Hindus can link up more with native Hawaiian and other indigenous people in non-Abrahamic, polytheist solidarity.
- Hindus can visit Hawaii islands as both tourists and pilgrims, make it a point to speak with Pele worshippers and also visit the Kauai monastery.
- Hindus should support Tulsi Gabbard in her career and Hindu NRIs need to become more assertive in politics in the US and everywhere.
- Hindus must learn about environmental conservation from Hawaii.
- Hindus must remain abreast of the emerging dais of contemporary Hindu authors.
- Hindus must bring about sustainable development and monitor security measures vis-à-vis the Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands.
Coming soon: more articles about Hawaii, Andaman, Nicobar, Lakshadweep
www.himalayanacademy.com for all their different copyrighted pictures
Further reading on Tulsi Gabbard: