42. Shrikant G. Talageri
Dr. Godbole’s views are stated so succinctly, so concisely and so comprehensively that there is really little need for any comments on them: it is for the Sangh leadership to read his views very carefully and repeatedly, and to seriously ponder over the matter.
However, I would like, nevertheless, to make the following elaborations of my views on the following points raised by Dr. Godbole as well as by Voice of India in their comments on his views:
This is true. But, apart from the ideological aspect of it as stressed by Dr. Godbole, the practical aspect of it is even more fraught with danger for the future of Hindutva and Hinduism:
Congress secularism can only succeed in subverting the consciousness and morale of the general Hindu public. The more conscious Hindus remain unmoved by it. Similar secular propaganda by the Sangh Parivar, however, directly targets these sections of Hindu society, and can succeed in effectively and completely neutralising Hindu sentiments, Hindu reactions and Hindu activism.
Today, the situation is such that the Hindu plank on the national level has been totally appropriated by the Sangh Parivar. Opponents of Hindus and Hinduism have often tried to create schisms within the Hindutva front, either by trying to drive wedges between different groups within this Parivar; or by floating alternative Hindu bodies. These efforts have only served to underline the need for Hindus to rally behind the Sangh Parivar to thwart such attempts; they only strengthened the monopoly of the Sangh Parivar over this plank.
The result is that when the Sangh Parivar, either misguidedly or deliberately, starts taking Hindus down the garden path, conscious Hindus are caught in a real trap. Supporting, or going along with, this suicidal course is a travesty of all that they believe in, and opposing it would constitute the dreaded sin of playing into the enemy’s hands. Either way, they are, in a sense, stabbing Hinduism and Hindutva in the back. This is the grim tragedy.
The whole situation has a macabre resemblance to the situation in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. A deep reading of this classic shows close parallels with the Sangh Parivar, with one difference: the fierce, growling dogs who curb all dissent are missing. The Sangh Parivar is a Hindu family, and, among Hindu families, a decent and respectable middle-class one. Hence these particular creatures are absent from this Animal Farm.
It is the perception of this single but significant difference, and of the unique factor (Hinduism) responsible for it, that gives one the faint hope that this Animal Farm will not end up like the one in Orwell’s classic, and it is perhaps this hope that has led to this process of stock-taking initiated by Dr. Godbole and Voice of India. Whether this process of stock-taking will result in arresting the trend of “Animal Farm” becoming “Manor Farm”, or not, depends on only two entities: “God”, and the Sangh leadership.
At this point, we need not discuss the parallels between Animal Farm and the Sangh Parivar, or list the betrayals of Hindutva and Hinduism by the political wing of this Parivar, the BJP. The only thing we need discuss is the need to arrest and reverse this trend, and the means of doing so.
The very first thing, in my opinion, is that the Sangh Parivar should see to it that the BJP changes its flag from saffron-green to saffron. This is only a symbolic change, but it symbolizes everything.
Till this is done, all other pleas, assurances, acts and actions of the Sangh Parivar must be regarded as so many squealings of Squealer (the smooth-talking Goebbles of Animal Farm).
In Animal Farm, it must be remembered, the Animals realize the full extent of the betrayal only when they hear the sheep (who are utilised by the leaders to drown out murmurs of dissent with their loud and continuous slogan-chanting), who have all along been chanting “four legs good, two legs bad”, suddenly start a cacophony of “four legs good, two legs better”.
This viewpoint of the Sangh Parivar, even if not precisely expressed in the form of a slogan, was always “saffron flag good, saffron-green flag bad”. H.V. Sheshadri, in his book, The Tragic Story of Partition, castigates the Congress for introducing a green strip in the national flag “for the sake of pampering the communal Muslim mind”. He calls it a betrayal of “the most adored and shining symbol of a Nation - of its ideals and aspirations, its history and traditions, the endless sacrifices and sufferings of its martyrs, the prowess and penance of its heroes and saints”.
However, it has been quite some time since the Sangh Parivar’s viewpoint appears to have changed to “saffron flag good, saffron-green flag better”. Swayamsevaks who chant nîla gagan mêñ laharãyêñge bhagwã amar nishãn (we shall unfurl the saffron flag in the blue firmament) on the shãkhã grounds, change their perspective as soon as they step out of the shãkhã : it is not the saffron flag of some other party (like the Jana Sangh, Shiv Sena or Hindu Mahasabha) that they hold aloft, but the saffron-green flag of the BJP.
The flag of a party is its own prerogative. No-one can legitimately question the BJP if it changes over to a saffron flag. The fully green flag of the Janata Dal gets countless Hindu votes; and as recent trends in Mumbai (e.g. in the Muslim stronghold of Behrampada in the recent municipal corporation elections) show, the saffron flag of even a rabidly Hindutva-spouting party like the Shiv Sena can effectively gamer staunch Muslim votes, if that is to be any consideration in deciding the colour of the Sangh Parivar’s political flag.
The only thing preventing the BJP from having a saffron flag is its own leadership. And here lies a fundamental question : is it even within the realms of possibility that this party which does not even have the guts to paint the colour of its own flag saffron, could ever have the guts to paint the colour of the national polity saffron?
If the Sangh Parivar’s followers believe it to be so, it is only because they have internalised the squealings of Squealer and been reduced to the different species of Animal Farm inhabitants - the horse whose only two maxims are “I will work harder” and “the leader is always right”; the sheep who mindlessly memorises and chants every new slogan given to it by the leaders; the cow who is sad, confused and depressed by the goings-on, but resigned to them; the ass who sees everything with a clear, unjaundiced eye, but chooses to remain silent except for a cynical snort every now and then…
There is still, of course, a way; but only if there is the will or desire.
This is, again, perfectly right. Unfortunately, the Sangh parlance on these matters consists only of hypocrisy and doubletalk.
At a recent seminar held in Aurangabad, the Sangh leaders passed a resolution that Hindutva is not a dharmavãchak (meaning perhaps panthavãchak) but a rashtravãchak concept, and that it therefore includes Islam and Christianity since Muslims and Christians are also Indians.
This is, of course, intrinsically absurd: from a rashtravãdî point of view, Islam and Christianity are even more obviously alien than from a panthavãdî point of view - the two clearly represent foreign lands, cultures and imperialisms.
Hinduism is the name for the Indian territorial form of worldwide Sanatanism (call it Paganism in English). The ideology of Hindutva should therefore be a Universal ideology:
On the international level, the Sangh, as the apex organisational body of Hindutva ideology, should spearhead a worldwide revival, rejuvenation and resurgence of spiritualism, and of all the religions and cultures which existed all over the world before the advent of imperialist ideologies like Christianity, Islam, Fascism, Marxism, etc.
On the Indian front, it should spearhead the revival, rejuvenation and resurgence of Hinduism, which includes not only religious, spiritual and cultural practices springing from Vedic or Sanskritic sources, but from all other Indian sources independently of these: the practices of the Andaman islanders and the (pre-Christian) Nagas are as Hindu in the territorial sense, and Sanatana in the spiritual sense, as classical Sanskritic Hinduism.
And this ideology should cover not only religious and spiritual practices and concepts, but every single aspect of India’s matchlessly priceless cultural heritage: climate and topography; flora and fauna; races and languages; music, dance and drama; arts and handicrafts; culinary arts; games and physical systems; architecture; costumes and apparels; literature and sciences…
A true Hindutvavãdî should feel a pang of pain, and a desire to take positive action, not only when he hears that the percentage of Hindus in the Indian population is falling due to a coordination of various factors, or that Hindus are being discriminated against in almost every respect, but also when he hears that the Andamanese races and languages are becoming extinct; that vast tracts of forests, millions of years old, are being wiped out forever; that ancient and mediaeval Hindu architectural monuments are being vandalised, looted or fatally neglected; that priceless ancient documents are being destroyed or left to rot and decay; that innumerable forms of arts and handicrafts, architectural styles, plant and animal species, musical forms and musical instruments, etc. are becoming extinct; that our sacred rivers and environment are being irreversibly polluted and destroyed…
Hindutva is not a narrow ideology: its true vision is limitless. The tragedy is that the Hindutva leadership, bogged down as it is in the swamp of electoral politics, is more concerned with making a show of “broadening” the parameters, of what they themselves seem to secretly believe is a narrow ideology, by bringing imperialist ideologies within its scope. It is as if Sri Krishna, instead of revealing the limitless vision of the Universe to Arjuna, had opted instead to show that he had two faces : a Pandava one and a Kaurava one.
This is also true. But, in this matter, I have some problems.
Indian Muslims are not generally first generation converts to Islam. They are Muslims from birth: born of Muslim parents, and members of distinct Muslim communities or jamaats.
Weaning away entire communities of Muslims away from Islam is rather difficult to imagine. Weaning away individual Muslims, also, is no easier: it is like asking an individual Hindu to cut off all his ties with his caste and community. In the case of a Muslim individual, it is worse : hated by his erstwhile jamaatwalas, shunned by secularist and leftist Hindus, ignored by a caste-bound Hindu society, and only indifferently welcomed by conscious Hindus, his position is not likely to be an enviable one.
Without actively discouraging such a process, however, the following fourfold policy should be adopted:
1. Muslims, whether they remain staunch Muslims or awakened (weaned-away) ones, should be assured that as individuals and as general groups, they will get full justice in every sense of the term: the position of a Muslim individual or group will be exactly the same as that of a Hindu individual or group. The BJP’s slogan, “justice for all, appeasement of none” says it in a nutshell.
But there will be no religious appeasement or pampering, no positive discrimination in their favour, and absolutely no tolerance of any expansionist agenda. The establishment of a Hindu rashtra, with all its symbolism and ethos, and of a Hindu cultural policy as suggested earlier, will be the primary aim of Hindutva ideology.
2. Hindus will have to be weaned away from Islamic ideology or its more poisonous form - secularist ideology. In this respect, Voice of India is doing everything, and the Sangh Parivar nothing.
What is necessary is an all-out pracãr and prasãr of Voice of India books, which, in entirety or in essence, should be indispensable reading for all conscious Hindus; and whose import should be common knowledge among all Hindus.
3. Hindus will also have to be weaned away from evils within Hinduism. This is also a must, and such activity should not be erroneously regarded (except where it is part of secularist strategy) as leading to a weakening of the Hindu front or the Hindu morale.
Hindus should adopt as open an attitude to pantha-cikitsã of Hinduism as to that of Islam and Christianity: there is nothing to fear, since Hinduism in its essence will shine out white and pure in comparison with Islam and Christianity in their essence. It will only be cleansed of impurities which stand in its own way.
Can we honestly expect Muslims to be weaned away from Islam if they can expect nothing better from Hinduism? The VHP had reconverted thousands of Rajput Muslims in Rajasthan to Hinduism; but, as Sangh leaders wryly admit in private, the subsequent treatment of these reconverted brethren by a caste-bound Hindu society has not been a very happy one.
The situation between different caste groups within the Hindu fold, and even the outlook of the Sangh Parivar in such matters (although, to be just, the Sangh Parivar has been ahead of any other Hindu group in genuinely trying to do away with the caste divisions in Hindu society), have not been favourable even to a consolidation of Hindus behind Hindutva, let alone to a weaning away of Muslims back to the Hindu fold.
Take the Ayodhya case. The Ramajanmabhoomî case has everything in its favour. But with what face can the Sangh Parivar approach the “low”-caste Hindus of certain areas in, say, Marathwada - where they are not allowed to enter a temple, but would be allowed to enter a mosque if they became Muslims, or perhaps even without that prerequisite - with the suggestion that the Babri Masjid be replaced once more with a Rama temple? Especially if those “low”-caste Hindus happen to be aware of certain Sangh publications which glorify or whitewash the interpolated story in the Valmiki Ramayana where Ram cuts off the head of a “low”-caste Shambuka for the sin of performing ritual austerities?
Or, again, there is the incident in Rajasthan, under a BJP government, where a “low”-caste woman was allegedly raped by a gang of “upper”-caste men. The “upper”-caste judge let them off with the remark that her charges were false, on the ground that “upper”-caste men, including a brahmin, could never have raped a “low”-caste woman! The leftists had a field day, while the Sangh Privar maintained an ominous silence. Certain BJP MLAs, however, held a massive rally in which the alleged rapists were feted, and a resolution was passed demanding that the woman be tarred and paraded as a punishment for defaming decent people.
Striking hard, and really hard, at the roots of this intra-Hindu injustice, and, what is more, being seen to do so, is a primary requisite of Hindu polity. No Hindu (let alone a weaned-away Muslim) should feel doubtful about getting justice in a Hindutva-based set-up.
4. Hindu organisations suffer from certain crippling disabilities and liabilities vis-à-vis “minority” organisations. Except for the occasional, and practically inaudible, whimper, the Sangh Parivar has done nothing about it.
Because of this, it is Hindu groups and sects which are being weaned away from Hinduism. It is easy to blame these groups and sects, and to tell them: “You are suffering from injustice, and we are being grossly indifferent to your woes in this respect; but you must suffer in silence and continue to call yourself Hindus.”
It would be in the interests of justice, however, if the Sangh Parivar took up this matter on a war-footing, staking its all in a bid to ensure that Hindus do not have to suffer for being Hindus in this land.
As I said before, it all depends on two entities: “God” and the Sangh leadership.
Sangh leadership refuses to take stock of the situation, or responds with
the usual evasionist squeals – “We know all these things, we do not require
you to tell us… why don’t you do something instead of doling
out advice to us… we are doing everything that is required to be done,
but in the proper way as only we know how… you will find
out in good time, trust us” - then only “God” can help us.
writer lives in Mumbai. He is the “unknown Indian” who became widely known
as an outstanding scholar when the late Girilal Jain credited him with
demolishing very effectively the established theory of an Aryan Invasion
of India in his book, Aryan Invasion Theory And Indian Nationalism,
published by Voice of India in 1993.