PTH does not essentially agree with the points made by the author
A few days back, during my laid back French lunches, I met a professor who, supposedly is an expert on Indian politics. The honorable professor was facing some bureaucratic delays in getting Indian visa to attend a conference. I told the professor that, since now we have a new prime minister and a stable government so they will fix these problems, to which the learned professor replied that oh no, the new prime minster will ‘fix’ all the Muslims. He further gave a grand conclusion that the days of Indian secularism are now over, with the victory of BJP. In this article, I want to address the concerns of all those who have made pessimistic conclusions about Indian secularism, out of their own lack of understanding of Indian traditions, intellectual arrogance or even genuine concern. This article states that all such allegations, concerns and assertions are baseless, grounded in futile preoccupations, insufficient understanding of the great Indian spiritual tradition of respect to all faiths, and a venomous agenda of certain vested interests
‘Secularism’ in India, now it seems that has become a nagging irritant, often used by a motley garb of intellectuals (mainly the professor-politicians of Congress party ), feudal and caste-based political parties, and attention-seeking self-proclaimed coffee-table revolutionaries like Arundhati Roy and Aruna Roy, to shield all sorts of inefficiency, policy paralysis and minority-appeasing vote-bank politics. It is not something which is hated in India, but something which irritates. The mere mention of the word brings forth the images of inefficient Congress party and its deracinated group of intellectual ministers like Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Manmohan Singh, Kapil Sibbal, and our ‘beloved’ and the only ‘rational and a bit ‘erotic’ soul, Mr. Digvijay Singh . Further, it brings forth the images of anti-national, provocative, biased and intolerant English writers like Arundhati Roy, Aruna Roy, Praful Bidwai and some jhola-chap JNU type intellectuals.
The question arises that why this has happened? The answer to this question lies in the development and socio-academic as well as political projection of the concept of secularism. Before moving on to deeper exploration, it is worth mentioning that Indian secularism is essentially rooted in its great cultural and spiritual tradition of harmony, and peaceful coexistence. Any attempt to impose pseudo-intellectual versions of secularism which is based on distortion or denigration of this aforementioned glorious tradition will be met with outright rejection and rise of NAMO. And the present scenario is the one where the agenda of secularism is hijacked, distorted and abused by the left-leaning academia and media of the country. All the above mentioned self-proclaimed stalwarts of secularism and their discourses to protect the ‘idea of India’ are basically ‘moth-eaten’ attempts at intellectual sophistry, learned and rehearsed in the patronizing arm of our ‘Nehru-Gandhi’ dynasty, and whose only aim is to please the mother-son duo to get good offices.
Indian Secularism is primarily a cultural phenomenon which has evolved over last 5000 years. In fact the word secularism itself is an incomplete expression. The perfect expression should be ‘peaceful and harmonious co-existence’. Any attempt to define Indian secularism, politically and academically must understand the subtle nuances of this great cultural tradition of 5000 years.
India is a country which has witnessed a tolerant and respectful attitude towards diverse cultural, ideological and religious traditions since the dawn of civilization in this sub-continent. In the age of Buddha, there were about 364 heterodox sects thriving in Bharatvarsha. The sects included diverse groups such as Jainism, which believed in atheism, pluralism and non-violence, amoralism of Purana kassapa, Fatalism of Makhalli Ghosal, materialism of Ajit Kesakambali, materialism of Carvaka, eternalism of Pakudh Kachchayana and agnosticism of Sanjay Belathhiputta. Throughout the course of Indian history diverse cultural and religious groups have co-existed peacefully. Their beliefs were radically opposite to each other like Sanatana Dharma/Brahmana Dharma believed in soul and God whereas Buddhism did not believe in soul and God. The materialists and their mentor Carvaka believed in complete indulgence and denied all other-worldly entities. Similarly, Sankyhas believed in dualist world whereas Sankara and his advaitvaad believed in monism. In addition to these there were ultra-heterodox sects like tantriks, kapalikas, shaktas and saivas and aghoras who believed in sacrifice and even practiced sexual and orgiastic rituals in their tradition. All these diverse groups co-existed and evolved together without any major violent clash, for thousands of years and beautifully crafted the spiritual soul of Bharat varsha which believes in love and harmony. How deep these values of tolerance and faith are embedded in Indian mindset is amply demonstrated by the fact that any Hindu, whenever s/he comes across a religious place of any sect naturally happens to join his/her hands in reverence.
Further, the tolerance can be seen in the fact that same Buddha who did not believe in God and began as a rebel against Brahmanism is now regarded as an incarnation of Vishnu just like Rama or Krishna. In the similar vein, Carvaka who is an ardent proponent of materialist indulgence and pleasure, and categorically denies God is mentioned as a pious saint lecturing Yudhishthira in Mahabharata, which believes in Krishna as God.
In India several ethnic groups came as invaders like Shakas, Kushanas, Hunas, Greeks and Pahlavas but all of them were assimilated in Hindu pantheon of the sub-continent. All this happened with peace and love. In fact foreign rulers like Kanishka organized 3rd Buddhist council in Kashmir. Greeks adopted Bhagwat dharma. The first historical evidence of Bhagwatism and Gita comes from a pillar built by Heliodorus to mark his devotion to Lord Vasudeva (Krishna or Vishnu) in Vidisha. Heliodorus was a Greek ambassador in the court of Sunga king Bhagbhadra. Similarly, Tormana Huna who came as barbaric invader became a Saivite. Further, the Southern India which was linguistically, culturally and religiously different from the mainstream Aryan faiths and beliefs was assimilated in a very peaceful and tactical way in Hinduism. Their local deities like Murugan, Menakshi goddess and Balaji were assimilated as forms of Lord Kartikeya, Vishnu and Durga in Hinduism. In course of time Jainism and Buddhism which started as separate religions became a part of hindu cultural and spiritual mosaic.
In medieval India, due to Bhakti movements and Sufi movements, India witnessed a growth of ‘ganga-jamuni Tahzeeb’ of Hindus and Muslims based on harmonious existence. Sufi shrines like Ajmer sharif and Auliya sahib in Delhi are worshipped by Hindus and Muslims alike. The faiths like Sikhism which emerged in medieval India had elements of both Islam and Hinduism. The peaceful coexistence or so-called secularism was seen in many strange and funny forms also. The cult of Kali-worshipping thugs which mercilessly killed traders and pilgrims had both Muslims and Hindu castes like rajputs, Brahmins and even vaishyas. The community of Jogis in Mewat (rajasthan) is religiously Islamic but they earn their living by singing devotional songs of Hindu God Lord Shiva.
India is the only place where Jewish community never faced any discrimination and the oldest Jewish synagogue still sprawls with all pride and safety in Kolkata. India has the world smallest minority of Zoroastrians who migrated from Iran when Turkish Islamic invaders forcibly converted the people of Iran and massacred millions. Even in the heydays of its power and military might India had never been an aggressor country. King Skandhagupta of Gupta dynasty and Lalitaditya Muktapida were powerful enough to conquer Asia but they never ventured out of India with any sword of aggressive Hinduism. Mighty King Asoka, the ‘Piyanam Piyadasi’ who ruled from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Chittagong to the borders of Iran, went to central Asia and Srilanka with the message of Buddha not with the sword of religion. India has a rich tradition of ‘Shastrartha’ in which ideological differences are debated in philosophical dialectics. Such debates were based on logic and rationality and they never advocated suppressing the opponent’s view by force. The Upnishads of the vedic tradition propounded the idea of ‘Vasudhev Kutumbkam’ which implies that the whole world is one family.
The secular-liberal brigade of India never displayed any understanding of this great tradition or even showed any respect to this great tradition. In fact, their only agenda was to project secularism as an insult to this great tradition. This strain of secularism manifested itself in justifying cow slaughter, caste based quotas, haj subsidies, writing mercy petitions for Ajmal Kasab, addressing Osama as Reverend Osama Ji and indicting RSS in 26/11 terror attacks of Mumbai.
The left-leaning intelligentsia has always looked at Hindu scriptures like Gita, Ramayana , Mahabharata and Upnishads with an attitude of mockery, derision and hatred. Whenever there was any demand for proper academic research of Hindu traditions, history and religion the attempts were denied and insulted with accented English. The people who made such demands were scoffed at as a bunch of rustic villagers who could not speak in English. Even their rightful demands like inclusion and academic inquiry of Yoga, ancient Indian scientific texts like Vimanashastra, Charaksamhita, Mahabharata and vedic mathematics were branded as communal and venomous. Once in my seminar class in International Relations with Allen Carlson, we were discussing the dominance of western world in international relations theory. I was absolutely stunned to learn that these great thinkers and academicians of western world had no idea of Acharya Vishnu Gupta (Kautilya) and his ideas on political theory. In the educational curriculum the obvious villains like Aurangzeb, Muhammad Bin Tughlaq and Firuz Tughlaq have been glorified. The roads in capital city of Delhi have been named after them.
The facts have been distorted to satisfy personal agendas. The NCERT texts and historians like Satish Chandra make a passing reference to the massacre of 30,00 people ordered by Akbar in Chittor as if the Zill-e-Ilahi was going to award him the Mansab of 7000 and allow him to sit next to Abul Fazl (sometimes I feel that he may be a rebirth of Abul Fazl). The brutal murders and forcible conversions ordered by barbarous Islamic rulers have been mentioned like a small joke in the history text books and endless chapters have been devoted to sing the exaggerated glories of Sufi saints. Even the Sufi as great as Nizamuddin Auliya once said that Hindus recognize that Islam is a great religion but they do not convert. Such a great soul looks utterly greedy and helpless when it makes such a statement.
In the western world whenever I speak to academicians or anyone interested in India, they ask one question i.e. Is RSS a fascist organization who worship Hitler and Mussolini, and Is Modi going to fix minorities?
What shocks me and agitates me is the fact that such a horrendous lie has been spread over the years systematically by the syndicate of Congress and left-wing intellectual elites of India? When the leader of the ruling party and a Cambridge-educated Prime Minister called the prime ministerial candidate of the opposition party as butcher of Muslims, on baseless grounds they did the worst damage not to BJP, but to themselves and India’s international image. The world community never got to know of our glorious tolerant history but they got to know about this one man who was the biggest enemy of Congress. The congress government after ten years of revengeful investigation against Mr. Modi could not prove his involvement in Godhra riots. Even the Supreme Court gave clean chit to Narendra Bhai Modi. This man was ostracized my congress and left leaning intellectuals, and the media for about ten years, without any proven involvement in the riots. This is shameful for all of us.
In the similar vein RSS has been branded as fascist organization internationally. This argument is completely baseless. RSS, even at the wildest stretch of imagination is not fascist. It has never fought for offices. It has never spread any sort of racial hatred. Even the RSS’s notion of Hindutva is a cultural notion. It aims for preservation and promotion of the cultural and religious identity of all the religious groups living in India and that includes Muslims, Parsis, Jews and Christians also. Despite my disagreement with RSS leaders on several occasions, I have found them, people of impeccable character and honesty who devoted decades of their life to public and social service as opposed to Cambridge-Stephens educated left wing liberals whose backup plan was always writing a GRE exam. It is beyond any doubt that RSS has a strong base among common masses of India, where no one knows these so called secular intellectuals. This base of RSS is not based on Hindutva or any hate campaign, but it is based on the legendry social work done by them in the upliftment of tribal groups, cow protection, education and disaster relief. It has done a pioneering work in civil society movement in India. These aspects of RSS have never been brought to limelight by media. Why the UPA government could take Aruna Roy in National Advisory Council, who signed a mercy petition or Ajmal Kasab, and not anyone from RSS?
The liberal secular brigade found its venomous and revengeful secularism in falsely indicting the popular organizations like RSS in fake cases of terrorism, insulting and ostracizing them by calling them fascist. They found their secularism in catering to the whims and fancies of characterless sycophants and hindu-haters like John Dayala and Asaduddin Owaisi. These two individuals were never arrested when they made any inflammatory speeches. In fact, John Dayal was appointed a member on the committee on North-eastern states of India. Further, they found their secularism in insulting Hindu saints like Baba Ramdev and brutually assaulting them in the middle of night. Well, the surprising fact is that Arundhati Roy who blamed Indian government for ill-treating Muslims during 26/11, did not speak a word when Baba Ramdev and common people fasting against corruption were mercilessly beaten. Aruna Roy, Harsh Mandar and Mr. Aiyar were not to be seen anywhere.
Tarak fateh, a Pakistani truth seeker, rightly tweeted a few days back that if Indian liberal intelligentsia can tolerate radical Muslim organizations like Ittehad -I-Musalmeen then, why can’t RSS? The left wing stalwarts like Arundhati Roy wrote ‘Monster in the Mirror’ on 26/11 in which she blamed the Indian government for treating Muslims badly. All these instances have created a perception in the common man’s mindset that whenever any Hindu interest is sacrificed the secular brigade people like Harsh Mandar, Medha Patkar , Aruna Roy, Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghosh, Manishakar Aiyar etc. will never speak up and they will take extra efforts in minority appeasement , which is actually true to a large extent. The common people of India do not trust these secular liberals. They have lost their credibility.
Coming to the Communal riots, it needs to be mentioned that the communal riots are a social phenomenon. It is a malaise whose causes are much deeper than global Islamic terrorism. There is a troubled history in the sub-continent. The problem of riots exists only between Hindus and Muslims, not with other communities like Parsis, Jews, Jains, Sikhs, Christians, and Buddhists etc. Why? The reason is that the forced conversions of medieval India left a deep impact in the Hindu mindset. It started when Solanki Rulers of Gujarat allowed Muslim traders a safe and secure existence in Gujarat. First time in the history of India a foreign ruler came and attacked the holiest shrine of Hindus i.e. Somnath. That invasion left a deep impact in the minds of people. Gujarat saw a continuous wave of loot and forced conversions after that. Not just Gujarat but entire North India including Kashmir saw a wave of forced conversions. This has never happened in the history of India. The phenomenon of forced conversion was completely alien to Hindu mindset. This led to strong resistance from Hindus and the proof is that in the entire region from Arabia to Malaysia India is the only country where after 1000 years of Muslim rule 82% population is still Hindu. The common people are proud of this glorious history of resistance and their feelings can be witnessed in folklores of Rajasthan and north India. The liberal brigade never accepted this history. I am not saying that it is true. Whether these claims are true or false can be found out only if there is a proper intellectual inquiry and debate. But the liberal brigade completely suppressed the right wing opinion in academia. The left wing academia and its domination never even allowed debate on these matters which are so close to Hindu sentiments. In Babri Masjid case, Supreme Court gave a judgment that there was a Hindu structure there. Now this is a question of religious sentiments of 100 crore Hindus of India. The liberals cannot brush it away as a demand of war-mongering bunch of communal fascists. While looking at Godhra riots, it must be seen that 57 hindu car sewaks were burnt alive in the train. The riots were knee-jerk reaction to that and the state has its own limitations in terms of resources etc. to control such sudden events. However, the left wing media and intellectuals have never said a word about the burning of car sewaks.
Hence, to conclude I will say that when liars and the lies become so obvious and when they are presented with such refined intellectual sophistry then the common people who are innocent and live on their faith in their rulers come to hate the liars. The liars, no matter how educated they are, lose their credibility. With them, everything associated with them like their Cambridge degrees and Oxford diplomas also lose their credibility because people see those self-proclaimed messiahs of equality, insult a man just because he was a poor ‘chay wallah’ in his childhood. Then, occurs a revolution in which all the liars are thrown out mercilessly. How this process happens? The answer to this will be mentioned in detail by Rahul Gandhi in his autobiography which will be published from Italy after 30 to 40 years.