“Proper Talibani”: Sadhguru’s term for Muslim student draws flak Join CJP's campaign for #HateFreeElections

05, Apr 2019 | SabrangIndia Staff

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of the Isha Foundation was forced to issue a clarification on Tuesday to the Student Union of the London School of Economics (LSE) after he referred to a Muslim student in the institute as a ‘Proper Talibani’.

The LSE Student Union (LSESU) had a video recording of this private conversation from March 27 in the institute’s premises and stated that it was ‘deeply disappointed in Sadhguru’s comments and views them as Islamophobic’. The student union further rejected Jaggi Vasudev’s clarification where he claimed the word ‘Taliban’ was used in the context of ‘over-enthusiastic’ in India.

The London School of Economics’s (LSE) students’ union said it was “deeply disappointed” with reports that spiritual guru Sadhguru called a Muslim student a “Talibani” after a talk that he delivered in the university.

Sadhguru delivered a talk at an event titled ‘Youth and Truth: Unplug with Sadhguru’. Later, he had a discussion with Bilal Bin Saqib, a Muslim student, during which he called the latter a “Taliban” and a “Talibani”, according to reports. The LSESU said it views the comments as Islamophobic.

“The LSESU confirms that such comments do not have a place on campus and are to be condemned. If the comments were made in jest, this does not lessen their impact – the words still offend. Such incidents, if not duly denounced, aggregate to create a culture where casual Islamophobia becomes acceptable and, as such, we implore Sadhguru to release a formal apology to the student body with regards to the statements made,” it said in a statement.

The union reached out to Vasudev for a statement, in which he responded that he did not intend to “abuse or insult” Bilal Bin Saqib. He claimed that he was “joking” and used the word “Taliban” in its Arabic sense, to mean an ‘ardent student’.

He claimed he did not have it in his heart to insult anybody, “especially this wonderful young man with so many aspirations and intentions for the world”.

“This small video clip of a private conversation, which has been mischievously edited, is unfortunate. I would like to tell all those concerned that the word ‘Taliban’ in Arabic means an ‘ardent student’, which Bilal definitely is, as also the other two students are. This term is always used in India in relation to someone who is over enthusiastic. It is in that context that I was joking with Bilal, it is very unfortunate that it has been projected this way,” he said in the statement.

Vasudev said if his comments “in any way offended or insulted anybody, this was not the intent”. “I wish to anyway apologize to the London School of Economics and the Students Union if it offended any of you in some way. My gratitude to the London School of Economics and the Students Union for having organised this event,” he said.

The LSESU retorted that it does not believe the comments were “mischievously edited”. It also said it had not come across reports of the word “Taliban” being used commonly in India to mean ‘over-enthusiastic.’

The students’ union said, “individuals who have many followers, hold power and status, and claim to promote tolerance, should be aware of and sensitive, to the political and extremist connotations attached to the word ‘Taliban’ in our current context”.

#HateFreeElections is CJP’s campaign to monitor the public discourse for hate speech during the 2019 elections. This is also a part of our broader Hate Watch campaign. You can take action against hate too, by sending us reports of instances of hate using our Hate Hatao app, and donating to support our efforts.

It said “casual Islamophobia” such as Vasudev’s comments “perpetuates the culture of misunderstanding and judgement”. “This is especially relevant given recent spates of terror against Muslims in Britain, New Zealand and around the world,” the union said.

When The News Minute contacted the ISHA foundation, authorities told TNM on the condition of anonymity that this act by LSESU is motivated. “They must release the whole video and not selectively. Then in the context of the conversation, the truth will come out,” says an office bearer. “The Student Union elections are coming up in LSE, that is why they are doing all this now,” they said in the report.

Problematic spirituality

“He has spoken against the continuation of Article 370 and supported Major Leetul Gogoi’s tying of a Kashmiri youth to his jeep in 2017. He has condemned the Pulwama attack and criticised “motivated groups spewing venom all the time”. He has echoed Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar’s criticism of Rahul Gandhi’s “petty politics” and announced that homosexuality should not become an identity to parade on the streets. He believes women of menstrual age not being allowed inside the Sabarimala temple is a matter of discretion rather than gender discrimination. In a conversation with actress Kangana Ranaut, he controversially declared that “people who claim to be liberals are actually fanatics. If you don’t agree with them, they will finish you,” The Print reported.

“He has faced backlash for soft-peddling BJP’s agenda, with some Twitter accounts even posting old stories, which questioned his wife’s “mahasamadhi”. Others have questioned the call centre for his river rally being the same as the one used by the Gujarat government on several occasions when Narendra Modi was chief minister,” the report said.

A 112-foot statue of Lord Shiva at his Ashram was inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi in 2017.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev (as well as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Baba Ramdev) to “inspire people towards greater democratic participation” he was only recognising the guru’s unofficial endorsement of him. Over the past few months, Jaggi Vasudev has tweeted and spoken on a number of subjects that show a remarkable congruence with the BJP’s agenda, whether it is on democracy not being used to ‘point fingers’ or on the ‘ease & benefits’ of GST,” The Print reported.

“Sadhguru’s utility for chest-thumping Hindutva nationalists is unique and specific. He provides a universalistic philosophical mooring to a kind of politics that is otherwise very earthly and sectarian. With his abstract, yet calmly-delivered rants about moral philosophy, spiritual thought and ideal practice, Sadhguru delivers a sombre edge to the militant spirit of Hindutva politics,” a report by Wire stated.

“Behind his seemingly benign, humanistic preachings hides a philosophy of retribution, exclusion and intolerance. This came out in the open in his recent (and second) interview with Times Now’s Navika Kumar. In it, Sadhguru called for a “solution” to the militant violence that India has faced in the past and continues to face, particularly in the Kashmir Valley. “The enemy within must be dealt with 100%,” he said,” the report stated.

“There is hardly any public address in the past five years where he has not endorsed the current government’s policies or dissed left-liberals for trying to “break up the nation,” the report said.

“His ‘spiritual’ solution entails taking violent action against the rebellious Kashmiri population, including the stone pelters. Further, he, like his worldly compatriots, blames India’s ‘left-liberals’ for providing a “larger infrastructure” of support to militant organisations,” the report said.

“On cue from his high-spirited host, Sadhguru not-so-subtly calls for unspecified action against anti-establishment voices while out-of-context, silent footage of Umar Khalid and Kanhaiya Kumar protesting in Jawaharlal Nehru University plays in the backdrop. The mystic guru believes that these people “should not be walking the streets according to the law”. But, he doesn’t even seem to have faith in the law, and suggests moving outside the democratic judicial setup to act against the likes of Umar and Kanhaiya,” the report added.


Feature image credit: Mystics Hub



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