British Guiana: The Booker Prize’s Bad History – Natalie Hopkinson | The New York Times

British Guiana: The Booker Prize’s Bad History

Natalie Hopkinson | The New York Times

The Man Booker Prize, one of the shiniest baubles and most generous purses in English letters, was awarded today to the American writer George Saunders for his novel “Lincoln in the Bardo.”

The occasion invites us to reflect on how the residue of slavery and white supremacy permeates our cultural life, and determines whose histories are celebrated and whose are erased.

There is a dark side to the Booker brand. It has unpaid debts to humanity. It has unleashed continuing agony in places like Guyana, where the Booker brothers founded a sugar firm in 1834. Earlier this year, we lost at age 90 the great novelist and art critic John Berger who tried to bring attention to the problematic nature of Booker’s history in Guyana.   

In a fiery 1972 acceptance speech for the Booker prize for his novel “G,” Mr. Berger blasted the London-based Booker McConnell sugar firm’s exploitation of Guyana and African slavery’s role in funding the Industrial Revolution. He pledged to donate half the 5,000 pound prize money to the Black Panther Party. (The other half would fund a project on migrant workers.)

During my own research for a coming book about art and resistance in my parents’ native Guyana, I came across a collection of documents held by Britain’s National Archives that demonstrated the kind of casual racial opportunism that should also be associated with Booker.

In 1815, soon after the British successfully elbowed away Dutch, French and Spanish rivals to claim the small patch of rain forest land at the northern edge of South America, 22-year-old Josias Booker left Britain to help manage a cotton plantation in what was then British Guiana.

Soon, he invited his brothers, George, William and Richard, to join him in the hottest new start-up industry: sugar. In addition to growing cane harvested by enslaved African workers, the brothers established their own ship fleet and incorporated as Booker Brothers & Co. in 1834.

In 1833, the first threat to the family business came when British Parliament voted to abolish slavery. Lucky for the Booker brothers, key members of Britain’s political, religious and banking institutions also had considerable slave holdings. Investors convinced debt-ridden Parliament to pay out 20 million pounds (about £2 billion in today’s currency, or about $2.6 billion) to compensate slave owners across the empire. it was the largest bailout in global history until the bank bailout of 2009.

Parliament’s bailout scheme richly benefited the Bookers. Slave owners negotiated immediate cash payments to compensate for the loss of their work force — according to calculations made by the historian Hilary McD. Beckles in his book “Britain’s Black Debt”, politically powerful British Guiana owners got about 50 pounds per slave, while older colonies such as Barbados and Jamaica fetched 20 pounds.

Since the actual market value of this human chattel was set at 47 million pounds, Parliament decreed that my enslaved Guyanese ancestors had to work as unpaid “apprentices” for a period of several years after the owners cashed out to pay off the rest of their own market value.

The Booker brothers and their associates collectively submitted claims on 52 slaves, giving their fledgling business a cash injection of what amounts to 317,240 pounds (about $418,000) in today’s currency, according to archives. Because many British Guiana planters used abolition of slavery as an opportunity to liquidate their human assets and get out of the sugar business, the Booker brothers were able to acquire them cheaply.

Their enslaved work force grew to 315 people in the period immediately following emancipation. After squeezing the workers for four more years of unpaid labor, on Aug. 1, 1838, at the appointed time, the Booker brothers manumitted them. “Today I had the privilege of mustering the slaves and giving them the good tidings that they were free, resulting in great rejoicing throughout the plantation,” George Booker wrote in a letter to his brother Septimus.

Rather than pay fair wages to free African workers, British planters such as the Bookers convinced the British government to help finance voyages to collect replacement sugar workers — indentured workers from India.

British Guiana was first in line to receive these workers, and by the time the practice ended in 1917 amid gross human-rights abuses, the colony had received 240,000 Indian indentured workers. People of East Indian descent remain Guyana’s largest ethnic group, and continue to be locked in an often-bitter competition with the African workers whom colonial society sought to discard as surplus.

The Booker family moved on and passed its holdings over to a partner, McConnell, in the 1880s, and the Booker McConnell brand continued to expand. The company went public on the London Stock Exchange in 1920. Booker McConnell used this fortune to establish a world empire of its own.

It also aggressively expanded within British Guiana. After World War II, Booker owned 15 of the remaining 18 sugar estates. Just as it took over failed sugar plantations, the firm took over many other businesses in British Guiana: real estate, retail stores, transportation, pharmaceuticals, insurance, advertising, newspapers, radio stations. The company’s domination of the economic and political life was so complete that the colony became acidly referred to as “Booker’s Guiana”. At the time Mr. Berger gave his 1972 speech, Booker was still drawing 45 percent of its profits from British Guiana, according to company records.

By calling attention to this exploitation in Guyana during his Booker Prize acceptance speech, the white British writer Mr. Berger echoed local leaders such as Dr. Cheddi B. Jagan.

In fiery speeches and pamphlets, Mr. Jagan, an American-trained dentist whose Indo-Guyanese family had been employed by Booker for generations, exposed how “Big Sugar,” based in London, dodged taxes and refused to invest in local infrastructure.

When Mr. Jagan was elected chief minister of British Guiana in 1953, the first election under universal suffrage, British authorities sent troops to remove him from power.

After the British left for good in 1966, the United States of America picked up the baton of control by meddling in Guyana’s elections, working through the C.I.A. to undermine Mr. Jagan, according to Cold War historian Stephen G. Rabe and others. The country did not have what were considered free and fair elections until 1992, when Mr. Jagan, among the country’s most effective critics of sugar, returned to power as president.

Like more than half of the people born in Guyana, my parents left. They departed in 1970. The country of their birth has one of the world’s highest emigration rates. Fifty years after independence, Guyana has virtually fallen off the global map. It is now the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, behind Haiti. Its currency trades at $200 to $1 U.S. Guyana has the world’s second-highest suicide rate, nearly double the global average.

Facing global erasure, amid economic, racial and political turmoil, Guyana’s poets, painters and musicians are creating epic, bravura displays of resilience, vitality and cultural memory. If not for the accident of history, I imagine these artists would get the kind of resources, support and recognition that are rightfully lavished upon the nominees of the Man Booker Prize.

So, by all means, let’s celebrate the literary excellence achieved by George Saunders and all the nominees of this year’s Man Booker Prize. As we do, let’s recognize the people who have paid its price.

Natalie Hopkinson is the author of the forthcoming “A Mouth Is Always Muzzled: Six Dissidents, Five Continents and the Art of Resistance,” from which this essay is adapted.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/17/opinion/man-booker-bad-history.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

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Comments

  • De castro  On October 26, 2017 at 2:50 am

    In my opinion the Booker Prize should be scrapped and/or replaced with the Guyana prize and awarded to writers of 21st century Guyana. History repeats itself but it should never be forgotten just forgiven.
    Today’s history written for tomorrow’s generation of Guyanese.
    There are many writers today that deserve the recognition for their contribution to promoting Guyanese culture….food drink music et al.

    For starters wish to nominate Cyril Bryan of guyaneseonline fame for the
    Guyana Award….

    Maybe el president elect will abolish the Booker award and replace it with the Guyana award.

    Kamtan UKPLC

  • Ron Saywack  On October 26, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    The Booker brothers, aided and abetted by the British parliament, managed to commit with impunity widespread crimes against the hapless Guyanese people. All remnants of this contemptible enterprise should be singled-out, ostracized and boycotted wherever it continues to do business.

    Commendation to Natalie Hopkinson and Cyril Bryan for their courage in bringing awareness to this sordid, depraved chapter of criminal British history.

    • kamtanblog  On October 26, 2017 at 5:44 pm

      If this was happening today am sure the Booker brothers would be incarcerated for crimes against humanity. Also the powerful British press would have exposed the corruption in government.
      Political correctness et al.
      One cannot turn the clock back but hopefully do not repeat the mistakes
      of past.
      Forever the optimist

      Kamtan

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On October 26, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    Interestingly, no Guyanese ever made the list, while T&T (Naipaul) and Jamaica (Marlon James) did.

    On another matter, recall Freddie Kissoon claiming ‘Burnham made Jagan’: “if Burnham was not autocratic, we would not have had Cheddi Jagan and Walter Rodney. Burnham created both men. Jagan got increasing international fame because Burnham became increasingly dictatorial.”

    https://guyaneseonline.wordpress.com/2017/10/10/politics-october-5-1992-destroyed-guyana-can-it-be-reborn-by-freddie-kissoon/#comments

    Ms. Natalie Hopkinson, even though she likely wasn’t born at the time, knows of Dr. Jagan’s fame and joins a host of international commentators who knew of Dr. Jagan independently of Mr. Burnham. Kissoon, once again, is odd man out. In the following excerpt Burnham doesn’t even get a mention.

    “By calling attention to this exploitation in Guyana during his Booker Prize acceptance speech, the white British writer Mr. Berger echoed local leaders such as Dr. Cheddi B. Jagan.
    In fiery speeches and pamphlets, Mr. Jagan, an American-trained dentist whose Indo-Guyanese family had been employed by Booker for generations, exposed how “Big Sugar,” based in London, dodged taxes and refused to invest in local infrastructure.
    When Mr. Jagan was elected chief minister of British Guiana in 1953, the first election under universal suffrage, British authorities sent troops to remove him from power.
    After the British left for good in 1966, the United States of America picked up the baton of control by meddling in Guyana’s elections, working through the C.I.A. to undermine Mr. Jagan, according to Cold War historian Stephen G. Rabe and others. The country did not have what were considered free and fair elections until 1992, when Mr. Jagan, among the country’s most effective critics of sugar, returned to power as president.”

    Veda Nath Mohabir

    • kamtanblog  On October 27, 2017 at 2:27 am

      V interesting historical facts without
      an opinion on how this will change our
      understanding of Guyana’s political future.
      Will USA invade Guyana on the pretex
      of establishing “democracy” now that oil is its new gold.
      Your take on the present and future
      outlook for the next generation of Guyanese would be even more interesting …..let’s fast forward
      to what oil and its “discovery” will
      do for de father/motherland and its people’s dream of “one people one nation one destiny” land of many waters.
      We are aware of the past mistakes.
      We are living the present.
      What is our vision for the future.?

      We know where we come from
      We know where we are
      Do we know where we are going ?

      More questions than answers

      Kamtan
      Ps an interesting comment of past British colonial rule.

  • Albert  On October 27, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    In hindsight we are always 20/20. Base on what is known now I think Guyana had the worst political leaders in Jagan and Burnham. Either by default or purposely they both exploited the racial division and did not make the best economic decisions.
    Relatively speaking Guyana became independent in a fairly good condition. It had stability, a well organized and efficient public sector to promote an efficient sugar industry, a good rudimentary western oriented educational system. It was a tiny country in a capitalist dominated global system. You play wisely the hand you inherit. How does ideas about socialism, communism and nationalization of private industry enter the picture in such a scenario and not result in a backlash from the west.
    Some say Cheddi was honest but it appears naïve in his economic thinking. Burnham was a smart but small time crooked politician. One only had to look at Barbados, with limited resources, to see how our development game could have been done better.

  • Clyde Duncan  On October 27, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Peter Stanislaus D’Aguiar relocated to Barbados …

    Took the heart and soul of B.G. with him.

  • Bernard N. Singh  On October 28, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    THANKS FOR THE HISTORY LESSON NATALIE H.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On October 28, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    Albert: There are a few inconsistencies in your assessment. You say “they both exploited the racial division and did not make the best economic decisions”. Jagan’s Marxism/socialism, by definition, precludes/is opposed to ‘exploiting racial divisions’. Whereas, Bunhams’s socialism was opportunistic and so he could exploit the racial division. That is why he broke away from the united PPP. From there on Guyana’ downhill fate was all downhill.

    Rather than just bundling Jagan with ‘dishonest’ Burnham and say they “did not make the best economic decisions”. You need to be specific and identify Jagan’s bad decisions. Keep in mind that Ms Hopkinson cited Mr. Berger for echoing local leaders such as Dr. Cheddi B. Jagan” who
    ‘exposed how “Big Sugar’ based in London, dodged taxes and refused to invest in local infrastructure.’ Yet you also claim the British handed over Guyana in ‘relatively good condition’.
    Finally, you can’t compare Bdos to Guyana. Bdos’ is very small country heavily into a vacationers’ economy and the ‘Little England residents’ ensure that the island keeps reflecting that image to keep the Island’s revenues/taxes continue on that path, whereas Guyana is a more diversified economy – Sugar, rice, bauxite, timber, gold/diamond mining, etc. When sugar was the main export earner, as the Jagan/Berger point out Bookers/McConnell removed the profits leaving Guyana poorer and underdeveloped.

    Finally, why is it appropriate for the US to intervene in Guyana if it wants to go the socialist way? The US is like the Harvey Weinsteins. Actresses can only get good parts if they play his game! When they don’t he forces them.

    VedaNM.

    • kamtanblog  On October 29, 2017 at 7:00 am

      Veda
      Enjoyed the synopsis until your final para ….
      USA is now led by an egoistic senile demented imbercile…aka Dotard !
      Don’t expect any interference/ intervention unless it affects USA.
      USA is imploding if it does not
      change its leadership..by whatever means.

      Let me sum up guyana post independence.
      Led by a bully and a thug
      Passive opposition from a Ghandi

      Eventually The jagans dynasty …
      USA commie wife.

      Fast forward
      The thuggery and its corruption continues today. Now that “black gold” will be replacing sugar or rice or Oro as King Kong will corruption increase or decrease. Big questions
      Guyana’s dilemma.
      Will it end up like triniland
      Where guns drugs and corruption
      rule ok .. with daily kidnappings in pos
      daily. Will GT be just another POS.
      More questions than answers.

      Conclusion
      Would love to read info on what happened post Jagans dynast

  • Ron Saywack  On October 29, 2017 at 8:44 am

    “Peter Stanislaus D’Aguiar relocated to Barbados …
    Took the heart and soul of B.G. with him,” laments the sultan of endless, unwarranted cut-and-paste — his facultative version of ‘CNN’s Breaking News’.

    It has got to be one of the most ‘intelligent, incisive and informative’ comments ever posted on Guyanese Online, no? I’m sure most Guyanese weren’t aware that Comrade Peter D is the pulsating organ of the fatherland. Now that he is a resident of Barbados, perhaps the sultan should request the Queen to consider granting the ‘heart and soul’ meritorious knighthood.

  • kamtanblog  On October 29, 2017 at 10:37 am

    My two cents
    Peter Daguiar was no politician but very
    successful businessman.
    No match for the politically ambitious Cheddi and Forbes.

    His mistake was to form “coalition” with Forbes
    to defeat Cheddi….who USA had branded a commie.

    Cheddi was no commie but his USA wife was.

    As any businessman at the time he was
    afraid of the bogey man “commie” nationalising
    all businesses ….the irony Forbes did nationalise
    Demba.

    Fast forward
    There is a gap in my understanding of what
    happened after the Jagan dynasty
    came to power. Was too busy in UK
    raising my family all guyana born.
    Please update me so that I can comment
    further on subject.

    As for knighthood for Peter Daguiar
    Doubt it …a successful businessman
    an unsuccessful politician does not qualify.

    Kamtan

    • Ron Saywack  On October 29, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      “As for knighthood for Peter Daguiar
      Doubt it …a successful businessman
      an unsuccessful politician does not qualify.” Kamtan.

      Sorry, you missed the sarcasm (sardonic intent) of the preceding comment.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On October 29, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Kamtan: You asked for a briefing on what happened after Jagan (BTW. There was no Jagan dynasty, just Cheddi as premier).
    The UK, under pressure from the US got rid of Jagan by changing the electoral system to Proportional Representation where Jagan won a plurality of votes but not majority (which the UK-US expected as they got several Indian-based parties to suddenly sprin up to help take down Jagan’s PPP from a majority position) so the Governor ignored the winner, Jagan, and called Burnham (‘The Chosen’) to form a gov’t with D’Aguiar. Jagan wanted to coalesce with Burnham’s PNC to bring the Indians and Blacks back together as in pre 1957.

    So, Burnham’s ego fit right in with US-UK scheme. From the article above:

    “After the British left for good in 1966, the United States of America picked up the baton of control by meddling in Guyana’s elections, working through the C.I.A. to undermine Mr. Jagan, according to Cold War historian Stephen G. Rabe and others. The country did not have what were considered free and fair elections until 1992, when Mr. Jagan, among the country’s most effective critics of sugar, returned to power as president.

    Like more than half of the people born in Guyana, my parents left. They departed in 1970. The country of their birth has one of the world’s highest emigration rates. Fifty years after independence, Guyana has virtually fallen off the global map. It is now the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, behind Haiti. Its currency trades at $200 to $1 U.S. Guyana has the world’s second-highest suicide rate, nearly double the global average.”

    Where Guyana is going? Oil won’t help – look at Venezuela and T&T.
    Then for ‘the elephant in the room’, read here and make your own assessment:

    https://guyaneseonline.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/ppp-afro-guyanese-groups-slam-each-other-over-indian-vs-afro-gecom-chairman/

    What is your prognosis?

    VedaNM.

  • Albert.  On October 29, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Vega I would give a general response to some points raised.

    1. What Bookers did in Guyana is consistent with what global business has been doing almost throughout history; exploit foreign resources and take the profits to the homeland. In contrast to what say the Portuguese did in Angola or what some European countries did with their colonies in other parts of the world ours was mild in comparism. Did you know at independence Guyana had millions in foreign currency surplus, unprecedented.

    2. Did you read about Mcarthyism in the US. Assuming you did you would know no tiny country in the western hemisphere, like Guyana, would be allowed to peddle any socialist doctrine without a fierce backlash. In fact there was. Like Cuba we suffered tremendously when with smart political leadership we should not have. Who do you think instigatted those arsons/riots in Guyana?
    Looking back I know something from listening to Cheddi and others at political
    campaigns and operations on the Corentyne. I have also read his literature: “The West on Trial” and others. Putting what I knew of him then in todays terms his views were very elementary and impractical. I would concede the argument that he might have been honest but is honesty a good qualification for competent leadership.

    3. Barbados had good leadership. We called them uncle Tom because they did not indulge in the wild radicalism like the Guyana politicians. Barbados was a model of stability unlike few developing countries, and they exploited the foreign owned sugar industry.. Leave it with the private oownership to make the unpopular decisions whlie getting most from them, taxation etc, for the local economy.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On October 29, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Here, Kamtan, is how foreign gov’ts see the ‘unilateral appt of GECOM chair by Pres Granger.
    https://guyaneseonline.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/us-calls-for-swift-court-action-to-settle-controversy-over-gecom-chairmans-appointment/

    VedaNM

  • Albert  On October 29, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    A point need to be made. Countries act in accordance with what is in their best interest. It has little to do with personal notions of what is right or wrong. A powerful capitalist country like the US would not stand idle and watch a developing country in its backyard develop successfully under a socialist/communist model, assuming socialism is workable. This would encourage a bad precedent for the capitalist system. Look at what happen with Cuba and Grenada and Venezuela.
    A good leader in the Caribbean would understand this basic point and deal with what is possible and realistic…..not with runaway emotions.

  • Ron Saywack  On October 29, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    Regarding Socialism/Marxism:

    “A powerful capitalist country like the US would not stand idle … and watch a developing country (succeed/operate) under a socialist/communist model…”

    That has been standard U.S. policy for the better part of the past century. It is for that exact same reason they cooked up a false pretext in late 1964, under Johnson, to enter the Vietnam War the following year to oust the Communist regime in the north, with devastating consequences, needless to say.

    • kamtanblog  On October 30, 2017 at 5:31 am

      Excellent point in fact.
      Big brother is watching you…peacekeepers
      of the planet or just “bully in the school yard”
      Or both !
      Fast forward
      The egoistic senile demented imbercile
      Aka Dotard is certainly rocking the boat..
      As corrupt as the world is only highlights
      how greed destroys rationality.
      As am forever the optimist
      Let’s wait and see how XI of china
      accepts and carries the batton of peaceful
      co-existence/corporation.
      India under modi is/will fail unless
      Modi accepts Pakistan back into its
      fold. It was the British who divided
      India post independence on “religious
      grounds”…Romans did same in 55bc
      after invading tribal Britain. Adopted their
      pagan gods.
      Religion as a political tool
      Not unlike “nationalism” as we are witnessing
      today.
      BREXIT
      USEXIT
      SPEXIT

      can go on on fast track but will give others
      the soap box
      Protocol of Guyanese on line
      Viv la Vida

      Kamtan

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On October 30, 2017 at 11:55 am

    Kamtan, Pl explain: “India under modi is/will fail unless
    Modi accepts Pakistan back into its
    fold. It was the British who divided
    India post independence on “religious
    grounds”…”

    Why would India is/fail…? Pl explain.

    Secondly, the British didn’t ‘unilaterally’ (Like Granger’s CECOM appt) impose partition. Britain/Churchill were in cahoots with Pak who wanted a separate country for “pure” Islamic Indian people – to separate yhem from the ‘infidel’ pagan Hindus. ‘Pakistan’ means “land of the PURE”.

    VedaNM.

    • kamtanblog  On October 30, 2017 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks for the correction on the motives for
      separation.
      It was still on “religious” grounds..
      Hindi infidels
      Muslims pure

      Come on my friend religion has caused
      more “slaughter” in the name of their gods
      than any natural disaster.
      Christians kill in the name of their one god.
      Muslims kill in the name of their god/s
      Religion is root/seed of all evil.
      Best forgiven not forgotten.
      It is 2017….

      Not wishing to upset any religious zealots
      believers will try to refrain from further commenting.

  • Ron Saywack  On October 30, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    As a schoolboy, every morning when I sat down in the classroom, I could see a sign posted high on the wall behind where the teacher stood. It read, “Knowlege is power.” Those three words have never left me. They are indeed powerful.

    I would add to that memorable axiom that ‘knowledge is also liberating’.

    When we pan the globe today and investigate the seminal roots of the various cultures in antiquity, extinct or extant, it becomes immediately clear that mythology has played a central and morphological role in how we look at the world’s peoples and their cultures in the modern age.

    Every culture imagined and, invariably, invented gods and ‘divined’ what those gods think and what they teach us about how matter, the universe and the myriad forms of the denizens of Earth came about. Those imagined deistic principles, ideals and precepts continue to powerfully influence the world in the present.

    The few informed and enlightened minds in our midst are able to separate facts from fiction and, attritionally, allow fiction to die a natural death. Those who continue to boorishly propagate old, deleterious practices and norms should stay or get on the learning curve to allow their minds to be unchained, ’cause knowledge is (indeed) power’.

    The use of discriminatory words such as ‘untouchables’ and ‘Dalits’ has been outlawed in India and thus, by extension, should not be discriminatorily used elsewhere. Nor should the ‘N’ or ‘P’ or whatever disparaging word used by the ignorant class.

    It is unfortunate that some would choose to use those harmful, divisive stereos in our time. They are reminded of that powerful sign on the classroom wall.
    ——————————————————————————————————–
    NB: In my lexicon, there is only one race on the planet: the human race. Similarly, the citizens born in Guyana are Guyanese, nothing else.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On October 30, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    Kamtan, While you would like to avoid religion in discussions/debates, whenever India, and often Indians, are mentioned in the media and books, underlying the reporting or discussion is the Indian religion, Hinduism, and not in a good way.

    Two cases illustrate.

    Case 1. A UWI senior lecturer, Dr. Kean Gibson, published two books demonizing Hinduism and claiming Indians in Guyana and the PPP, following Hindu precepts, were marginalizing and committing genocide on African Guyanese. Even last week, a group of African-Guyanese organization supporting Pres. Granger’s appointment of GECOM Chair, again claimed that “Indians do not want to be ruled by an African Leader because they believe they are superior to Africans,” and that ‘Indo’ PPP committed genocide in killing Africans. They don’t say ‘superior’ in what attributes.
    https://guyaneseonline.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/ppp-afro-guyanese-groups-slam-each-other-over-indian-vs-afro-gecom-chairman/#comment-205785

    I rebutted Gibson’s thesis in a 2009 book ‘UNDER ATTACK! THE CARIBBEAN INDIAN. What triggered me was the slaughter of eleven sleeping Indians (including mothers and children) at Lusignan in Jan 2008. I felt a similar false ideology about Hindus could be making the rounds in Guyana. Copies of the book can be had from Austin’s bookstore in GT or directly from me (I never got around on listing on Amazon; hopefully next year after I complete another book).

    Case 2. This other book I am working on (being sidetracked with all these commentaries) is rebutting historian Emeritus, Clem Seecharan, for denouncing Indian indentured labourers. He claimed in a 2014 lecture (see link) in GT that India couldn’t support its people so they (including 10-yr old girls) fled India (with ‘dark secrets’) to Br. Guiana. But they took along their distasteful Hindu beliefs which in India they had applied on the Untouchables/Dalits and Muslims and transferred these Hindu precepts onto the African Guyanese.

    I will systematically dismantle his false, shallow and twisted history of India, Hindus and the Indentured labourers. If not, his distorted thesis will likely get into the history books, unchallenged.
    https://guyaneseonline.wordpress.com/tag/the-el-dorado-complex/

    So, religion is almost always implied when dealing with India/Indians.

    BTW. It is followers of Christianity (350 years) and Islam (800 years) who did the most damage in India.
    VedaNM.

    • kamtanblog  On October 31, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      Interesting
      The sooner we recognise “religion” as a “belief ”
      and as such a tool to win the hearts and minds
      of its followers the better understanding we
      have of peoples of our planet.
      The less importance it is afforded in our lives
      the more we can enjoy life itself.
      I was born into a very catholic family but started
      questioning religious beliefs at an early age.
      At 6/7 was forced into confession of my sins.
      by my religious mother. Guess what…I began
      making up “sins” in order to justify the idea
      of confession only to repeat my sins wrk in week
      out seemed boring and silly.
      Never started questioning the existence of
      God until high school days … again in a catholic
      institution SSC GT.
      Maybe that is why today I can understand
      the issue of God and Religion a lot better.

      Whether god exists or not is not the question

      it is whether we believe there is or isn’t one.

      Scientists try to prove the nonexistance of
      God ..maybe they should start proving the
      existence of one.

      My illiterate grandmother who was my home
      grown philosopher believed in the existence of
      God but admitted religion was root/ seed
      of all evil. The morality of religion !
      Judge for ourselves…its personal.

      Que sera sera
      Kamtan

  • Albert  On November 1, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Kamtan: “Whether god exists or not is not the question
    it is whether we believe there is or isn’t one.”

    What about “truth”
    Religion is an idea some profiteer on. Many make millions preaching to suckers or writing books. They will not seek the truth and give up their lucrative goldmine.
    .Only science can reveal truth my friend.

    • kamtanblog  On November 1, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      Exactly
      Then let “science” prove there is God.
      My jury is still out of the God thing !

      As a matter of fact am almost convinced that
      “Aliens” exist ….and hopefully we may soon
      discover that they do. It would be interesting
      to know if they believe in God.

      That is why I suggested that scientists
      focus on proving that god exists rather
      than “disproving” his existence.

      Truthfully no one has proven beyond all reasonable
      that god exists.
      Religiously scientifically or politically.

      My jury remains “out”

      Kamtan

  • Ron Saywack  On November 1, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    “Then let “science” prove there is God,” Kamtan.

    Hello Kamtan:

    Science is in the business of the discovery of truth through observable evidence in the natural world. Religious dogma, on the other hand, rams down a set of principles it deems as incontrovertible (indisputable) and sacred truth.

    Science is an unabridged, self-correcting enterprise. Dogma remains steadfastly resolute. And that is the fundamental difference between the two.

    There are certain tantalizing questions regarding the Universe which are currently unanswerable. For example, if we postulate that God created the Big Bang 14 billion years ago and that the billions and billions of galaxies began to rapidly expand and recede thereafter at the speed of light, then, it leads to another big question.

    What was there before the Big Bang? And if it was a god sitting all by her lonely self in the great void and darkness of space, then, who created that lonely god?

    Today, about 90% of North Americans believe in a personal god. That number drops precipitously with advanced education. It drops even further when you get into the elite class of the educated: the theoretical physicists, the astrophysicists, astrobiologists, biologists, etc. But has it not yet reached zero, though close.

    If or when science is able to prove the existence of a supernatural, all-powerful being roaming the great vastness of the cosmos, with incontrovertible evidence, you can rest assured you will know all about it.

    Cheers.

    • kamtanblog  On November 1, 2017 at 7:33 pm

      Nice one….
      It may be too little too late for me.
      May already be in my afterlife if it
      exists. Jury remains out ! Indefinitly.

      Saludos

      Kamtan

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On November 1, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    Ron and Kamtan: Have a look at this YouTube speech (I posted last night on another thread) by physicist, Dr Hagelin, where he provides evidence/arguments and demonstrates that the Vedic-Hindu religion merges spirituality and science – in fact, he says emphatically: “Veda is scientific” and that the “Veda is the (elusive) Unified Field” of physics. ‘Veda’ here refers to the first revealed text of Hinduism.

    Similar arguments have been made other physicists. I came to the first such one in the late 70’s, set out in Tao of Physics by theoretical physicist Fritjoff Capra. The original bestseller circa 1975 (which copy I have) has Lord Shiva – Lord of Cosmic Dance – on the front cover. I have another book, Vedic Physics, where the author takes specific verses from the Rig Veda and show the cosmology encoded in the text.

    Below, likely the most expensive scientific instrument on earth – the CERN Hadron Collider – have the said Shiva effigy on the front lawn. Obviously, the CERN scientists recognize what you will hear/see Dr Hagelin say.

    http://www.fritjofcapra.net/shivas-cosmic-dance-at-cern/

    Here is the verse that Dr Hagelin recites around the 20-min mark

    Mantra 1: अिमी॑ळ परोिह॑त यज्ञ॑ दवमृिज॒ ॒े ेु॒ ं ॒ ̎म। होता॑र रधात॑मम॥् ्ं ॒ १॥ a̱gnimī̍ḻe pu̱rohi̍taṁ ya̱jñasya̍ de̱vamṛtvija̎m | hotā
    ̍ raṁ ratna̱dhāta̍mam ||1||

    So, you just need to get immersed in Vedic-Hindu philosophy to see we have the proof of God (but as we define him/her, as Brahman, sometimes referred to as Atman – both immanent and transcendent).

    VedaNM

  • Ron Saywack  On November 2, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Good day, Veda:

    Put me in the agnostic category.

    Simply defined, an agnostic is someone who can neither prove nor disprove the existence of a universal, cosmic god.

    Many great thinkers of history and the present share this view. For example, Charles Darwin, Sir Jag Bose, Sir Chandra… Raman, Ed Hubble, Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Neil Degrasse Tyson.

    “… we have the proof of God…” asserts Veda Nath …

    That’s a pretty bold proclamation, Sir. It is yours and I do respect but not share it, despite what Hagelin expounds in the video?

    Cheers.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On November 2, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    Ron: Thx for your commentary.
    When I say ‘we have the proof of god’, indeed it’s a bold statement. Let me explain.
    It all depends on how one defines God. In the Abrahamic religions, God is a shown as a Charlton Heston type in the movie Exodus. Also, in the Old Testament he is a jealous and punishing god. In the New Testament, he takes a back seat to the softer, Jesus (Christ). In either case he is outside and overlooking all our moves, assigning us to either Heaven and Hell.

    In Hinduism, God is both transcendent and immanent. In the transcendent aspect, God in the ‘Ultimate Reality’ (as Dr. Hagelin refers to it), from whom/which the universe evolved. Hinduism has lots of myths to explain the complex relationships. It is these myths, poorly understood by the outsider looking in which lead sto Hindus being branded as pagans/heathens.
    The term, Brahman, is used to refer to this ‘Ultimate Reality’. Brahman is derived from the Sanskrit root, ‘Bhr’= to grow large, leading to the idea that the universe grew out in all its multitudinous forms from Brahman/Ultimate Reality – like what happened under ‘Big Bang’.

    While the Big Bang hypothesis doesn’t tell us what came before the Big Bang (except a ‘singularity’ – a highly compressed point – which cannot be supported by current scientific knowledge) that doesn’t stop Hindus from claiming it came from the ‘mind’ of the superconscious, Ultimate Reality (another name: Purusha).
    Simple logic supports the Hindu (Vedic) belief. Consider: How can this well-oiled universe just appear? From where? And,Why? Doesn’t it lead to a superconscious entity? I can understand scientists need hard proof – which they will NEVER get. The closest ‘proof’ is what the likes of Dr. Hagelin says that Vedic science proffers.

    Incidentally, in Hinduism, the Big Bang is just one of numerous Big Bangs (now being referred as the ‘Bouncing Ball’ hypothesis by some in the scientific community, validating the Hindu/Vedic idea). Hindus claim that after the universe expansion phase, it contracts back to a state called ‘Pralaya’ from which it goes through other phases of growth and contraction for trillions of years.
    In Transcendental Meditation referred to by Dr. Hagelin (which benefits numerous studies have confirmed). I knew of this since the ‘70s when I began practising, and noticing immediate physiologic benefits) a practitioner, if done properly via a ‘mantra’, goes deep within and makes contact with this ‘Ultimate Reality’ which leads to an improved person. It is these known benefits why Transcendental Meditation has been recommended for even hardcore criminal in prisons. One can say that the ‘Immanent’ makes contact with the ‘Transcendent Reality, improving the individual.

    Re. immanemt: Jesus himself validates the Hidu idea when he said: ‘the Kingdom of God is within you’, which most Christians ignore.
    For Hindus, we also have Avatars (Outars) such as Krisna and Ram. This will take much more time to explain.

    You mentioned Carl Sagan. He was so impressed by the Hindu system of vast time measurement (the Yuga system) that he included a segment of it in one of his TV episodes of the COSMOS. Sagan, Fritjof Capra, Dr. Hagelin, and Robert Oppenheimer are just a few of the noted cosmologists/physicists who authenticate Hindu/Vedic concepts of cosmology, leading to ‘God’. Hagelin (as Capra did in Tao of Physics) goes the extra distance to explain/validate the Hindu God concept – the Untimate Reality.
    https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/601581-the-hindu-religion-is-the-only-one-of-the-world-s

    VedaNM

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