Organiser Weekly, December 21, 2008
The India of today would not have been in existence had the attempts to divide Hindus succeeded.
In the 20th century, a sinister attempt to divide the Hindu community on caste basis was made in 1932 when the British imperialists offered the scheduled castes a separate electorate.
What does the despicable terror and mayhem in Mumbai on November 26 signify for India? Shorn of the human tragedy, wanton destruction, and obnoxious audacity of the terrorists, it signifies a challenge to the identity of India from radical Islam.
Cinema actor Shahrukh Khan may wax eloquent about the "true Islam" on TV, but it is clear that he and other such Muslims have not read any authoritative translations of the Koran, Sira and Hadith which three together constitute Islam as a theology, and which is a complete menu of intolerance of peoples of other faiths derisively labeled as kafirs. Hence, instead of talking about the "correct interpretation" of Islam they ought instead be urging for a new Islamic theology consistent with democratic principles.
In 2003, two years after the 9/11 murderous and perfidious Islamic assault on USA, resulting in killing of more than 3000 persons within two hours, and which was perpetrated by leveraging the democratic freedoms in USA, the Saudi Arabian Embassy in the website of its Islamic Affairs Department [www.iad.org] laid down what a "good" Muslim is expected to do.
Dr. Steven Stalinsky of the Middle East Media Research Institute[MEMRI] based in Washington DC accessed it and published it in issue No.23, of the Institute newsletter, dated November 26[what irony!] 2003. I have to thank a NRI in US, Dr. Muthuswamy for this reference. In that site it is stated:
"The Muslims are required to raise the banner of Jihad in order to make the Word of Allah supreme in this world, to remove all forms of injustice and oppression, and to defend the Muslims. If Muslims do not take up the sword, the evil tyrants of this earth will be able to continue oppressing the weak and helpless"
Now who is more authoritative—Sharukh Khan or Saudi Arabia ? Obviously the latter. The above quote is what in substance is being taught in every madrassa in India, and can be traced back to the sayings of Prophet Mohammed.
I can quote a plethora of verses from a Saudi Arabian translated Koran [e.g., verses 8:12, 8:60, and 33:26] which verses justify brutal violence against non-believers. If I delved into Sira and Hadith for more quotes, then I could risk generating much hatred, so it will suffice to say that Islam is not only a theology, but it spans a brutal political ideology which we have to combat sooner or later in realm of ideas.
Some may quote back at me verses from Manusmriti about brutality to women and scheduled castes. But as a Hindu I have the liberty to disown these verses [since it is a Smriti] and even to seek to re-write a new Smriti as many, for example, Yajnavalkya have done to date. Reform and renaissance is thus inbuilt into Hinduism.
But in Islam, the word of the Prophet is final. Sharukh Khan and other gloss artists cannot disown these verses, or say that they would re-write the offensive verses of the Koran. If they do, then they would have to run for their lives as Rushdie and Taslima have had to do.
Leave alone re-writing, if anyone draws a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed, there will follow world-wide violent rioting. But if Hussein draws Durga in the most pornographic posture, the Hindus will only groan but not violently rampage.
We Hindus have a long recognised tradition of being religious liberals by nature. We have already proved it enough by welcoming to our country and nurturing Parsis, Jews, Syrian Christians, and Moplah Muslim Arabs who were persecuted elsewhere, when we were 100 per cent Hindu country.
Moreover, despite a 1000 years of most savage brutalisation of Hindus by Islamic invaders and self-demeaning brain washing by the Christians, even then, Hindus as a majority have adopted secularism as a creed. We have not asked for an apology and compensation for these atrocities.
But the position of Hindus in this land of Bharatmata, where Muslims and Christians locally are in majority, in pockets—such as in Kashmir and Nagaland, or in small enclaves such as town panchayats of Tamil Nadu, is terrible and despicable. Even in Kerala where Hindus are 52 per cent of the population, they have only 25 per cent of all the prime jobs in the state, and are silently suffering their plight at the hands of 48 per cent who vote as a vote bank.
The 26/11 Mumbai slaughter therefore should teach us Hindus that the time has come to wake up and stand up—it is now or never. If we do not stand up now to Islamic terrorism, then India will end up like Beirut, a permanent battlefield of international terrorists, buccaneers, pirates and missionaries.
What does it mean in the 21st century for Hindus to stand up ? I mean by that a mental clarity of the Hindus to defend themselves by effective deterrent retaliation, and also an intelligent co-option of other religious groups into the Hindu cultural continuum.
Mental clarity can only come if we are clear about the identity of the nation. What is India? An ancient but continuing civilisation or is it a geographical entity incorporated in 1947 by the Indian Independence Act of the British Parliament ?
What then does it mean to say "I am an Indian"? A mere passport holder of the Republic of India or a descendent of the great seers and visionaries of more than 10,000 years ? Obviously our identity should be of a nation of an ancient and continuing Hindu civilisation, legatees of great rishis and munis, and a highly sophisticated sanatana philosophy.
If Hindu culture is our defining identity then how can we co-opt non-Hindus, especially Muslims and Christians ? By persuading them by saam, dhaam, bheda and dand that they acknowledge with pride the truth that their ancestors are Hindus. If they do, it means that they accept Hindu culture and enlightened mores. That is, change of religion does not mean change of culture. Then we should treat such Muslims and Christians as part of our Brihad Hindu family.
Noted author and editor M.J. Akbar calls this identity as of "Blood Brothers". It is an undeniable fact that Muslims and Christians in India are descendents of Hindus. In a recent article in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, an analysis of genetic samples [DNA] show that Muslims in north India are overwhelmingly of the same DNA as Hindus proving that Muslims here are descendents of Hindus who had been converted to Islam, rather repositories of foreign DNA deposited by waves of invaders.
Akbar thus asks rhetorically: "When have the Muslims of India gone wrong?" and answers: "When they have forgotten their Indian roots". How apt !
Enlightened Muslims like Akbar therefore must rise to the occasion and challenge the reactionary religious fundamentalists. That is India is not Darul Harab to be trifled with.
In a conciliatory atmosphere the minorities would willingly accept this. It is also in their interest to accept this reality. Hindus must persuade by the time honoured methods Muslims and Christians to accept this and its logical consequences.
This identity was not understood by us earlier because of the distorted outlook of Jawaharlal Nehru who occupied the Prime Minister's chair for seventeen formative years after 1947 and for narrow political ends, had fanned a separatist outlook in Muslims and Christians.
The failure to date, to resolve this Nehru created crisis, has not only confused the majority but confounded the minorities as well in India. This confusion has deepened with winter migratory birds such as Amartya Sen descending on the campus of the India International Centre to preach inane taxonomies such as "multiple identities".
There has to be an over-riding identity called national identity, and hence we should not be derailed by pedestrian concepts of multiple or sub-identities.
"Without a resolution of the identity crisis today, which requires an explicit clear answer to this question of who we are, the majority will never understand how to relate to the legacy of the nation and in turn to the minorities.
Minorities would not understand how to adjust with the majority if this identity crisis is not resolved.
In other words, the present dysfunctional perceptional mismatch in understanding who we are as a people, is behind most of the communal tension and inter-community distrust in the country.
"In India, the majority is the conglomerate or Brihad Hindu community which represents about 81 per cent of the total Indian population, while minorities are constituted by Muslims [13 per cent] and Christians [3 per cent]. Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, and some other microscopic religious groups, represent the remaining three per cent.
Though also considered minorities, but really are so close to the majority community in culture that they are considered as a part of Hindu society. Unlike Islam and Christianity, these minority religions were founded as dissenting theologies of Hinduism. Even Zoroaster can be traced to leader of Vahikas in Mahabharata who migrated to Persia. Kaikeyi in Ramayana was from Persia when that country was hundred per cent Hindu. Thus these religions share the core concepts with Hindus such as re-incarnation, equality of all religions, and ability to meet God in this life.
That they feel increasingly alienated from Hindu society nowadays is also the consequence of India's identity crisis caused by British historians and their Indian tutees in JNU.
The India of today would not have been in existence had the attempts to divide Hindus succeeded.
In the 20th century, a sinister attempt to divide the Hindu community on caste basis was made in 1932 when the British imperialists offered the scheduled castes a separate electorate. But shrewdly understanding the conspiracy to divide India, Mahatma Gandhi by his fast unto death and Dr. Ambedkar by his visionary rejection of separate electorate, foiled the attempt by signing the Poona Pact.
But the possibility that such attempts at dividing India socially may be made again in the future, a possibility that cannot be ruled out. Indian patriots will have to watch such attempts very carefully.
Segmentation, fragmentation, and finally balkanisation have been part of the historical process in many countries to destroy national identity and thereby cause the political division of the nation itself. Yugoslavia is a recent example of this, which has now been divided into four countries, largely due to Islamic separatism and Serbian over-reaction.
Virat Hindutva can be achieved in the first stage by Hindu consolidation, that is achieved by Hindus holding that they are Hindus first and last, by disowning primacy to their caste and regional loyalties.
This would require a renaissance in thinking and outlook, that can be fostered only by patient advocacy and intellectual ferment.
For this we need a new History text, and a proper understanding of the distinction between the four varnas [not birth based but by codes of behavior for devolution of power in society] and jati [which is birth based and mostly for marriages].
Just as Valmiki and Vyasa are regarded as Maharshis despite being of different jati from Parasuram, hence Dr. Ambedkar should be called a Maharishi for his sheer depth of knowledge of Indian history.
That he had become bitter because of Nehru systematically sidelining him is no reason not to do so.
India thus needs a Hindu renaissance today that incorporates modern principles, e.g., of the irrelevance of birth antecedents, fostering gender equality, ensuring equality before law, and accountability for all. It is also essential to integrate the entire Indian society on those principles, irrespective of religion.
Uniform Civil Code for example, is something that the vast majority of Muslim women want, but because this demand has been usurped by those who deny the equality of nationality to the Muslims, hence comes the resistance to a eminently reasonable value.
The Muslims think that this is the first step in several to subjugate them or wipe out their identity. But Muslims have quietly accepted Uniform Criminal Code [the IPC] despite that it contradicts the Sharia.
In other words, Hindutva has two components—one that Hindus can accept [such as caste abolition, eradication of dowry etc.] without any other religion's interests to consider. The other is the embracing by minorities of the core secular Indian values which have Hindu roots.
This would require, particularly Muslims and Christians, to acknowledge that their ancestry is Hindu, and thus own the entire Hindu past as their own legacy, and to thus tailor their outlook on that basis. This would integrate Indian society and make the concept of an inclusive[Brihad] Hindutva and rooted in India's continuing civilisation.
Thus, if India has to decide to have or not have good relations with Israel, Pakistan, Iran or US, it cannot be on the basis how it will impact on India's Muslims and Christians, but on what India's national interests require. If India has to dispatch troops to Afghanistan, Iraq, Sri Lanka or Nepal to combat terrorism, that policy too has to be decided on what is good for India, and not what any religious or linguistic group identifies as it's interest.
Thus such an Hindutva is positive in outlook, while raw Hindu xenophobia is negative and based on Hindu hegemony which will frighten all. Such a Hindutva will resolve our current energy-sapping identity crisis, which otherwise will completely emasculate India in the long run.
The choice for the patriotic Indian is thus clear: We need a clear and positive view of our national identity based on our Hindu past and a Hindu renaissance to unite the Hindus with constructive mind-set as well as persuade the minorities to be co-opted culturally with Hindu society.
Once being Indian means Virat Brihad Hindutva, we can tackle terrorism by an effective strategy of defence. What are the components of that strategy is the subject matter of my next column here.