Echo-Chamber Hindus — The Imperilment to Hindutva
Not remotely could one be construed as polemical should one state that which is conspicuous: physical sciences are intrinsically more predictable than social sciences. While such nature thereof has the perquisite of enabling its students to formulate long-term, even sempiternal theories, one may at the outset not fathom the overarching expanse some of them have, so much so that they apply to social sciences as well. With the supposition, therefore, that Charles Darwin restricted his genius to biology and evinced no interest in social sciences, he may well not have discerned the pertinence of his observation that “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change” inasmuch as societal structures are concerned.
For changes in nature as well as society are perpetual, and with them evolves human consciousness. A society or section thereof that grasps not the capricious nature of reality shall ever be confrontational with the world beyond. The effacement of parochial truths paves way for legal and constitutional modernity, whereafter political and socioeconomic equality is realized. Therefore, we in India must rest assured that notwithstanding the preponderance of Eurocentrism in the academic and intellectual space, the narrative that owes its provenience to our land shall find its requisite share therein as time progresses and such spaces evolve. It has taken sufficiently long to bring colonial nations on equal footing with the countries of the colonial masters insofar as sovereignty is concerned. It shall be long before they could be compared insofar as economics is concerned. Evolution is permanent. To oppose evolution, whether biological or social, is to declare nature as an avowed nemesis. Time and again as natural cataclysms have proven, humans are no match for the might of nature.
To our misfortune, extant reality precludes our narrative and in the event that it finds mention amongst the powers-that-be, it is conventionally negative. For they fail not to exhibit inordinate compassion for such of our citizens who happen to be Dalits and Muslims. They care not to heed the fact that casteism is by no stretch of imagination as prevalent as it was in the days of yore. Their narrative of justice precludes that which gives the Hindus their due. The world must indubitably ingrain into its consciousness the petrifying mistreatment of the Jews, but so should it ingrain that of the Hindus.
As Dr. Anand Ranganathan says, the most-persecuted civilization-state wrote its history in the grammar of justice and not anarchy as on 09 November 2019, over a billion left it to the judgment of five to restore the birthplace of among the most iconic humans to have lived in history, to the Hindus. It was the culmination of a battle fought for almost half a millennium as the birthplace of the Supreme Man of Principles, the Maryada Purushottam Rāma, revered as a god, was restored to Hindus in a unanimous verdict by a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India.
The momentousness of the verdict cannot be trivialized. For centuries, the Hindus have nothing but lost. They have lost their temples, universities, libraries aggregated in thousands and themselves in millions to defilement and plunder by the Afghans and the Mughals. So soon as they re-established themselves as a formidable power under the Marathas through bitter battles with the Mughals, they lost their sovereignty to the British. So soon as the British prepared to live, they lost sizeable territory to the Muslim League in its endeavour to create Pakistan. So soon as they became independent, innumerable of their temples were taken over by the government, keeping them bereft of the freedom to practice their faith as enumerated in the Constitution.
Thus, it would not be polemical to state that the Hindus have borne an inordinate share of pains inflicted in the history of humanity, which consequently has engendered a pan-nation trauma within their community consciousness. With their independence, it would have been not only natural but also must for them to restore and proliferate their culture by means of soft power, academia et al. Meticulous examination of history, however, would create an impression that the independent State was inimical to Hindu interests. Wedded as Prime Minister Nehru was to the paradisaical ideology of Marxism, the mere act of the restoration of Somnath Temple was, in his view, calamitous to the principles of secularism.
The situation with regard to Rāma Janmabhoomi was not too different. The temple at the birthplace of among the noblest humans to have walked the Earth and be revered by millions, had been desecrated in the medieval era as a haunting mosque was constructed over the temple’s ruins. Should one be aware of the significance a nation’s culture has in its providence, one would discern the sheer horror and ignominy concomitant with the daunting presence of a monument symbolic of a peremptory regime and the totalitarian ideology of Islamism if not the religion of Islam itself.
There is a fundamental reason behind the banning of the Nazi salute and the Hakenkruz. Such bans are descriptive of the fact that something so inordinately horrendous has happened in the past whereof such symbols were denotative, that nothing but their ban could justly serve as an assurance to the victims that the conscience of the civilized world shall never allow such incidents to happen again. The same reasoning could well have been applied to the Babri Masjid. Yet, it stood in all its imposing nature, firmly entrenched on the land where was born the noble Rāma. Its desecration was in contravention of constitutional principles. However, while the act cannot be condoned, one cannot blame the Hindus for their anger. Legal and economic scholar Dr. Subramanian Swamy says that by virtue of the Constitution of India, should the faith of a disproportionate number of citizens declare that a belief is a fact, not even the Supreme Court can demand evidence thereof in the event that such belief is not inimical to public interest. No ratiocination could ever conclude that a belief so harmless as the existence of a temple prior to the construction of a masjid, would be inimical to public and national interest.
Never, however, shall be lost the ignominy of the fact that the Hindus had to resort to a lethargic legal system in order to reclaim the possession of Rāma Janmabhoomi. The equally lethargic governments from Prime Minister Nehru onward thought it prudent to suppress such memories of historical trauma. How, then, could the Hindus be blamed for their strong will of ushering in a resurgence? The Hindus unequivocally deserved the Rāma Temple, for it is symbolic of their cultural pride. No community can truly have a purposeful existence in the absence of pride.
What shall prove deleterious to the cause of Hindutva, however, is not so much the unholy Marxist-Islamist alliance, as much the refusal of the Hindus to overcome their historic trauma. Notwithstanding the perils posed by pan-Islamist ideologies such as Wahhabism, there remain among the Islamic community numerous considerate individuals who seek nothing but harmonious co-existence with their Hindu brethren.
Late in July, a few Muslim devotees of Rāma expressed their willingness to attend the Bhūmi Pūjan. A certain devotee named Faiz Khan said, “We believe Rāma was our ancestor.” Given that the Hindus are ever insistent on the fact that the Muslims acknowledge their Hindu origins, this news should have caused elation amongst them all. To the utter perplexity of right-thinking Hindus, however, a significant number of Hindus opposed the prospect of Muslim devotees attending the Bhūmi Pūjan. They expressed apprehensions that such devotees were engaged in taqiyya or the Islamic practice which, so goes the conventional understanding, allows a devout Muslim to lie in furtherance of his religion. They wondered why, if indeed the Muslim devotees considered Rāma so reverend a being, they could not re-embrace the Hindu faith. Yet others took offence at the insinuation that Rāma was “Imam-e-Hind” with the contention that “Imam” was evincive of “Allah’s servant” and that Rāma could never be a servant of another religion’s god. Yet others observed that Rāma pre-dated Islam by millennia, wherefore he could not have been an Imam.
Whereas many of the apprehensions are founded, such of the Hindus fail to discern nuances of reality. A perfunctory view of ex-Muslims would evince the gradual nature of their diminishing faith in Islam when they were Muslims. Their rejection of the religion was not spontaneous. Embracing Hindu culture in theological terms would be a further monumental step. It would not be spontaneous either. To expect hasty conversion to the Hindu fold, therefore, is impractical.
The second nuance that such of these Hindus fail to discern is that not all Muslims in India can be expected to be brought to the Hindu fold. Accorded as everyone is with the right to freedom of religion, the faith to which one adheres should not remotely be another’s concern. It is impractical and inimical to the principles of not only our Constitution but also the essence of Hindu culture as well to expect the Muslims to change their religion. The Hindu culture has nurtured myriad schools of thought, including the atheist Chārvaka school of philosophy. So long as the Muslims co-exist in harmony with the Hindus, the Hindu culture would not look at them as distinct, alien species but merely as adherents of yet another school of thought. Would not forced conversion of a Chārvaka to the Vedānta or Sāmkhya school warrant strong criticism? In much the same way would the forced conversion of a Muslim to Sanātana Dharma warrant strong criticism.
The third nuance is that the Muslims who have grown up with the notions of “Imam”, “Prophet” and the like, shall view the world accordingly. It is imprudent of the Hindus to so adamantly demand that the Muslims renounce their notions without further ado. Such of the Muslims who have liberal propensities and are attracted to Hindu thought could only gradationally appreciate and accept the profundity thereof. They would be led to contrast Hindu culture with their faith, and only thereafter conclude their position. Our liberal culture shall not appeal even to the reasonable Muslims should we Hindus adopt a ferocious demeanour.
YouTube influencers Shambhav Sharma and Kushal Mehra make right to say that in this quest to survive, we Hindus must not comport akin to the fanatical elements among the Abrahamic religions. If indeed your goal is to ensure that they cease thinking of us as inferior, we cannot mimic their ways. It is impolitic of us to expect to win a battle against them using ways in which they are more consummate than us. To paraphrase them, “We encourage them to be like us. We do not become like them.”
As to the contention that the Muslims may engage in taqiyya, such apprehension could only be explained by the refusal of the Hindu community to transcend its historical trauma. For centuries, they have faced so many defeats and such depredation has been inflicted upon them, that they refuse to trust anyone but themselves. This has compounded to so alarming an extent as to lead them to view even reformists with suspicion. The ultra-progressive Savarkar was opposed not so much by Muslims despite his conception and espousal of Hindutva but by the Hindu orthodoxy. Whereas the caste orthodoxy has by and large effaced, the Hindus remain highly sensitive towards slightest of criticism. They call for drastic action against slightest of insults, whereas an apt response would have been an intellectual, perhaps even condescending rebuff.
Such of the Hindus who oppose the attendance of Muslim devotees at the Bhūmi Pūjan do not realize that their attendance does not equate to negation of a person’s reasoning. The Hindus allege taqiyya. My response is, “if indeed they engage in taqiyya, why not play along? Certainly, no one has prevented you from reasonably being on guard. Why must their attendance be construed as inimical to Hindu culture? For who is to say that you shall not eventually grow to trust them? As a matter of fact, should the frequency of such incidents increase, the number of liberal Muslims may well increase and they may well be inspired to implement reforms in their community. You insist they may betray you, yet you have not an idea as to how they may betray. Do you expect the betrayal to be in physical terms? Then you ought to have retaliated, for the law justifies action in self-defence. It is the imperative of Hindus to be so sagacious as to place balanced faith in them: neither being so ‘liberal’ as to propitiate, nor being vehemently skeptical and scared of them. Trust them as you would trust anyone else regardless of religion.”
Some Hindus contend, “If indeed the Muslim devotees consider Rāma so reverend, why did they not lend vocal support to the Hindus when the Rāma Janmabhoomi case was being heard?” The question is valid, but not so potent as to merit them a refusal. It must be noted that the Shia Waqf Board had been supportive of the Hindu position. Moreover, many of such supporters may well have been unable to lend vocal support on account of possible negative consequences.
Failure to behold such nuances would prove detrimental to the Hindus, for they would then be led to be quite akin to the fanatics among the Abrahamic religions. Hindus must not live in their echo-chamber of shared trauma and distrust of other religious communities. They must evolve their consciousness. Their failure to evolve would lead them to be confrontational with the world beyond. Hindus must evolve from sensationalist proclivities to reason and objectivity, for only the tempered and equanimous shall lead the Hindus in this desired resurgence.
It is our ability to evolve, our culture’s decentralized nature and its diversity that has enabled us to survive onslaught upon onslaught, for our culture has no centralized leadership whose collapse results in the effacement of our culture. Diversity ensures that our culture thrives in one form or the other despite an onslaught on one of such forms. Hindus must not homogenize their culture. The only prudent homogeneity would be that which entails a sense of respect towards the nation.
It is heartening to see the temple trust members themselves reject the benighted notions of, “temple premises would be polluted” and unconditionally allow the Muslims devotees to grace the momentous occasion.
To the quotidian Hindu: relent. It shall not imperil us to exhibit greater magnanimity.