Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tharus are genetically, culturally and racially the sons of Buddha – Subodh Kumar Singh

Continuing with the series of interviews with researchers and scholars studying about the Tharus, Voice of Tharus spoke with Subodh Kumar Singh, an eminent Tharu scholar currently residing in the USA with his family. 

Subodh Kumar Singh
Subodh stands tall among Tharu researchers with his noted books The Great sons of the Tharus: Sakyamuni Buddha and Ashoka the Great, The Return of the Mauryas and Community that Changed Asia. Having served as a political analyst with the US Embassy in Nepal, he followed the footsteps of his father Ramananda Prasad Singh whose The Real Story of the Tharus brought forth the glorious history of the Tharus.

Voice of Tharus (VOT):  Welcome to Voice of Tharus. You have carved a niche among Tharu scholars and worked towards telling the world that Tharus are sons of Buddha. Can you please tell our readers how did you research on this theme?

Subodh Kumar Singh (SKS): I was really enthusiastic to know about the real history of the Tharu community as I was desperately searching for my identity. I was no doubt very much impacted by my father's (Ramananda P. Singh) earlier research on the Tharu people. 

I started doing research on the culture and traditions of the Buddha's clan of the ancient past and it revealed that the rites and rituals practised by the Shakyas and Koliyas of Kapilvastu and Devadaha exactly matched with customs and traditions of the enigmatic Tharus – right from birth to death.

An Indian scholar had rightly said that the culture is what remains after you have forgotten all that you set out to learn. The clan of the Buddha followed Theravada and thus came to be known as the Tharu of today. I found out through my research that the Tharus are genetically, culturally and racially the sons of the enlightened Buddha. The native Tharus of the lowland Nepal Terai are a mixed community predominantly of Mongoloid extraction.

VOT: You have written three books on Tharus and their history. Can you share with our readers what the books talk about?

SKS: The book The Great Sons of the Tharus: Sakyamuni Buddha and Asoka the Great talks about the origin of the Tharus. It explains why the modern Tharus are the descendants of the Shakyas and Koliyas of the ancient world. It highlights the rites and rituals of the Tharu community which exactly matches with the Buddha's clan. It talks about malaria and why Tharus are immune to it. It talks about the migration of Shakyas and Koliyas to the Kathmandu Valley and that the valley was named as Koligram, the settlement of the celebrated Koliyas of the Yasodhara's clan.

The second book The Return of the Mauryas mentions about the Shakya Mauryas of the Terai.  It explains how the descendants of Emperor Ashok re-emerged as a formidable force in the Gangetic plain, and even had swayed over Nepalmandal (Kathmandu Valley). It also states why the Nepal Terai is known as "Tharuhat". 

The third book Community that Changed Asia talks about the mythical Aryan Race theory and how it was used as a tool by the Europeans to divide and rule the people of the Indian sub-continent. It also highlights the similarities between Tharu and Burmese culture.  It tells about the Shakyas and Koliyas migrating to the Arkansas (Burma) to establish their own kingdom. Burmese Kings' claim of being of the Shakyamuni's clan, according to Buddhist literature books, is factually accurate.

VOT: The Tharu youths are now more informed about their history. Do you see the advent of social media as a major factor in raising awareness? How do you think a wider mass can be educated on this?

SKS: The advent of social media has indeed played a significant role in raising awareness among the youths. The Tharuhat based FM radio can equally play a vital role in spreading and educating the general mass about the Tharu's history and their great legacy.

VOT: What is your view about the young Tharus? How can they be inspired and encouraged to dig their roots and research about Tharu origins?

SKS: This is the opportune time for the Tharu youths to start doing research about their glorious past, as the politics of identity has emerged in Nepali politics and this has created enthusiasm and awareness among the Tharu youths.

VOT: What is your advice to Tharus and scholars interested on researching about Tharu origin, culture and tradition?

SKS: I would simply say that you need to start researching about your culture, customs and traditions by going to the Terai because the state sponsored textbooks are not going to be of any help. You need to comparatively study the cultures and traditions of other communities living in the Terai and that will help you to understand your own culture in a vivid manner. You will definitely have to study the ancient history of the Terai region and also of South Asia to really understand the ancient Tharu community that helped to change Asia.

VOT: Are you continuing with your research and writing? Can you share with us your future plans?

SKS: I am still engaged in my research work and will continue to do so.  I really don't have any future plan as such.

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