When we forget nationalism

It’s a horrid thing to say, but for argument’s sake, let us assume that there isn’t a single Muslim nationalist in the country. Come on! Let’s assume that the Muslim girl in Maharashtra fighting the elections from the Shivsena is also not a nationalist. Let’s assume that the first woman judge in the Supreme Court, a Muslim lady from Kerala, is also a communalist. Let us assume that every single Muslim in this country looks towards Pakistan. Let’s assume that they don’t practice birth control and are increasing the population. Even if they ask for a second Pakistan tomorrow, we should not be surprised! That should be the limit of the bitter fear that the Hindus have about Muslims.

Gandhari’s blindfold is nothing compared to the blindfold that Hindus have tied around their eyes about India’s glory and culture. It is certainly a matter of pride to be a Hindu. But some Hindus take pleasure in being proud of being Hindus, without even looking at the Vedas and the Upanishads, without touching the Gita even once, and without reading the Ramayan and the Mahabharat.

We gave the world the gift of zero. Brahmagupta gave the zero the status of a number, for the first time in mankind’s history. Bhaskacharya said that the equation “1 divided by 0 = infinity” is the symbol of Brahma, and eulogized the zero by considering it worthy of worship. After the four Vedas, the four Upvedas were created. Vast progress was made in the fields of dance, theatre, sculpture, Ayurveda, poetry, grammar, literature, art, music and philosophy. But when glory is shallow, it looks out of place, and when pride is too scattered, it does not take roots.

A while ago, when we organized a ‘Panchshil’ rally at Bhuj, there were around ten thousand young people present, apart from the DSP, the Collector and the DEO. In my address, I only said, that if we were to sing “Saare jahan se accha, Hindustan hamara” without embarrassment, were we prepared to give even one minute every day for our country? If so, each one of us, would have to give only six hours a year to our country. Even so, 20 crore aware citizens could give the country 1 & 1/4 billion man-hours a year. Who stops the Hindus from doing that much for the country? But here, Mahashivratri is celebrated by drinking hemp juice, and Gokul Asthami is a day for gambling! If you find a Hindu who reads the Ramayan, on Ramnaomi day, honor him with a shawl! I can guarantee you that, you won’t have to spend too much money on shawls.

This is from when I was very little. My father read the Vedas, Upanishads and the Gita everyday, but because he had Surati blood in him, sometimes, he would go all the way from Randher to Surat to have the tasty snacks at Harishankar Dhanji’s shop. He took me on this taste-bud trip a couple of times. After eating some ‘bhajiyas’ on Harishankar’s greasy plates, we would want to drink some water. This is from memory. Maybe some senior Surati can correct me if I am wrong. Aluminium mugs were tied to the wall by a chain. Each mug had a caste label beside it on the wall: Brahmin, Vaniya, Kanbi-Koli, Harijan, etc. (There were some very offensive words, which I cannot repeat here, that used to be written beside the word – Harijan). I was a tiny tot then, but the memory is still fresh. The Brahmin’s mug was the dirtiest and the Harijan’s mug the cleanest! Do you understand the mystery? Most people would drink from the Brahmin’s mug, and even Harijans would avoid the Harijan’s mug. Caste was not written on anyone’s forehead, and so this dirty game. These caste-colored aluminium mugs have dragged the Hindus into the pits. Shallow glory makes a lot of noise. Bhratahari described two kinds of clouds – the ones that pour unabashed, and the ones that only roar. The clouds that only roar are usually very proud.

A few years ago, I was travelling with an American friend Professor Nelson Hegerson, from Patan to Mehsana. On the way, near Moghera the diesel in our car got over. In Moghera, one question kept troubling me. Mohammed Ghazni, in 1024 AD, came all the way to Moghera and looted it, and how is it that no one stopped him on the way? When our car was stuck, a bunch of villagers gathered around us, and were looking at my American friend as if he were an animal specimen. A good villager was helping our driver whole-heartedly. He lived in Ahmedabad but his wife’s family was in this village, and he had come to visit for 2-3 days. I happened to praise the man’s sincerity to a villager standing next to me. He immediately informed me: “He’s a Thakker but he’s a good man, just like a Patel.” When I heard that statement, I immediately knew the secret of Mohammed Ghazni’s success. Patels are always good, and the Thakkers who may be good, can be counted as Patels! Great!

If Hindus are really proud of being Hindus, then I request them to think about the following questions with a quiet mind:

1. Why does such Brahminism exist, that in Mithila University, Darbhanga, even peon’s jobs are given only to Brahmins?

2. In Tamil Nadu, why is it certain that Brahmins will get the jobs?

3. During the reservation agitation, when the upper-caste Hindus attacked groups of backward castes, were those who were attacked Hindus? Were the Muslims responsible for these attacks?

4. So many Hindu BJP candidates lost the elections in the Hindi-speaking belts, because it seems that most Hindus there had voted on a caste basis. Where was Hindutva then?

5. Why are there such few inter-caste marriages amongst the Hindus even now?

6. Are the women who commit suicide because their in-laws harass them for dowry, not Hindus?

7. How many Shankaracharyas have been to the Harijans’ settlements and how many times? How often have they gone to court? What is the real reason for religious conversion?

8. Why do thousands of child marriages take place in Rajasthan on the Akha Treej day, every year?

9. Why are there more than 5,00,000 ‘devdasis’ even today, in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra? Isn’t the custom of ‘devdasis’ a form of prostitution in the guise of religion?

A fan of the spiritually emancipated Bhakti poet, Dula Kaag asked him once: “Kaag Bapu! Saurashtra is the land of saints, of Krishna-Sudama, of Narsinh Mehta, of Mahatma Gandhi! This is the land of brave outlaws! Here the villagers will call out to unknown passersby, and feed them with care. In such a holy land, how is it that so many women commit suicide?” It is worth the while of every Hindu to ponder on the answer the poet Dula Kaag gave, so that there is no haste in taking pride. Kaag Bapu said: ” Brother! There is a lot of hypocrisy here. In the day time the brothers-in-law, and father-in-law maintain great propriety with the widowed daughter-in-law who lives in a corner of the house, with her head shaven, dressed in white clothes. But at night, it is different. In the darkness of night, the man does not feel ashamed to enter the widow’s room. There is a moment when both the veil and the skirt are overthrown! When the widow becomes pregnant, these men deride her before everybody, and call her a ‘sinner.’ Where else can she go except to the well?” Tell me, how many tons does our pride as Hindus weigh? Where are the Muslims Involved In this?

In North Gujarat, in the Choudhury community, even today girls are exchanged between families. When marriage becomes a bargain, then even the seven circles around the holy fire, can become a great misfortune. Women have still not got their individuality.

The people that are proud of their tradition but cannot examine the limits of those traditions, end up nurturing their backwardness. Hindus may have many limitations, but they have been able to survive only because of one wonderful quality. This is a people who are a little open about improving themselves. This openness is the shield of Hindus. This people can accept Buddha as an ‘avatar’ and call the Shankaracharaya, ‘Prachanna Buddha’. The poet Jaidev said; “Vishnu took Buddha’s form.” If the Hindus had not shown such openness where would they have been? Arnold Toynbee says: ” The only religion which I would like to be converted to is Hinduism. Because the Hindu religion is big-hearted and all encompassing. If the Hindus accept me and let me become one of them, I would like to be lower than a Shudra in their caste-system.”

I would like all my BJP friends to reflect on the unpleasant points mentioned here. I repeat that only openness and the readiness to improve oneself can save Hindus. The Hindus have only to fear narrow-mindedness. I can write such a bitter article, being a Hindu. What if some Muslim writer criticized Islam in this bitter a way! Surely that writer could not remain alive.

From ‘Ishwar Allah Tere Naam’ by Prof. Gunvant Shah
@ January 1993

‘Ishwar Allah Tere Naam’ – Ishwar and Allah are Your names.
// posted by Batul @ 7:03 PM July 13, 2006

3 thoughts on “When we forget nationalism

  1. Thanks. This is a most comprehensive set of infallible logical arguments against fundamentalist hindus. Thanks for putting them up.

  2. It is surprising and pleasing as well. Your logical interpretation of those root-level issues are weaved in such a way that it makes one ponder – whatsoever religion he belongs to.
    I have read your post first time but its thoroughly impressive.
    Thanks.

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