Pseudo-Secularism

Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Hindu values and Gujarat resurgence

By M.V. Kamath

Just utter the word ‘Hindutva’ and the hall is filled with negative vibes. The proponent is instantly damned as communalist, fascist, murderer (what was it that Sonia Gandhi said of Narendra Modi?) and that ends all civilised discussion. In Hindustan, to feel proud to be a Hindu is a crime in Congress eyes. Leftists like Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee won’t even hesitate to insult Shri Ram. Which is why the Mumbai-based Shiv Sena exuberantly raised the cry of Garv se kaho hum Hindu hain. It was a cry of anger, frustration and rebellion.

To millions of Hindus, the word “secularism” is a word of slander and a denigration of their faith. It was that which among other reasons, led two crore Gujaratis to vote for Modi and his party. The Chief Minister was simply an instrument—nimitta matram—of a higher purpose. The secular dirty trick was to give Hindutva a bad name before attempting to destroy it. Thousands of Gujaratis felt they had enough of this slander. What does Hindutva mean? It means the “essence” of Hinduism. That “essence” can be described as tolerance and respect for all religions. And for practising that down the centuries they have suffered. They have been called kaffirs “to be kept at arm’s length like dogsy mlechchas and goodness knows what else.

Seekers of information are advised to read Bimal Prasad’s classical work Pathways to India’s Partition (Manohar, Vol I). No Hindu ruler has sent armies to Portugal or Spain to demolish churches and convert people to Hinduism. No Hindu rulers has dispatched armies to Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan or Muslim-dominated Central Asia to demolish masjids and build temples on their foundations. Muslims flourished under the Vijayanagar Empire as under Shivaji. R.C. Majmudar, the distinguished historian has been quoted as saying that “the worship of images which forms the most cherished element in the religious beliefs of the Hindus was an anathema in the eyes of Muslims and the long tradition of ruthless desecration of temples by them for nearly a thousand years formed a wide gulf between the two”.

One has to remember what happened to the Somnath Temple which, incidentally, is in Gujarat. Should one remember only Islamic tyranny under the Mughals or under Muslim Sultans of Gujarat and elsewhere and not anything good done by them? Shakespeare has an answer to that question. As he said of Julius Caesar, “the evil that men do lives after them, the good is often interred with their bones”. Secularists only remember post-Godhra, but not the torching alive of some 59 innocent women and children in the Sabarmati Express, which is plain hypocrisy. By constantly rubbing Gujarat’s faith the wrong way and by calling Modi names, the Congress forfeited Gujarati respect. Besides Gujaratis had every reason to be happy with its Chief Minister. He had provided them security. He had brought investment in millions of dollars to the State. He had managed to provide water to more villages than what all the previous governments could do. He did much the same in regard to electricity supply. And he himself remained incorruptible. By raising a personal attack against Modi, Sonia Gandhi did not only indulge in poor taste, she raised the ire of the people and we now know with what results.

Congress—and Sonia Gandhi—should remember two things: do not indulge in personal attacks against opponents. Two, do not run down Hindutva. And they may remember yet another point: do not hug BJP outcasts. They can only bring discredit to the party. The Assembly elections have brought this out in ample measure. And above all, do not trust our poll—and especially Exit-Poll—experts. They are over-rated.

Hinduism is not for desecration. It is a pragmatic religion which accepts dissent to the extent that the Buddha, who rebelled against the vedic rituals of his times has been accepted and elevated to the rank of an avatar! Which other religion can claim such freedom of thought? The Congress should have known better than to call the Gujarat Chief Minister a murderer. In the first place Congress hands are awash with Sikh blood and those of the CPM—its great ally-with the blood of Muslims. In the second place what happened in Godhra was an act of provocation, nothing more, nothing less. One can be assured that Muslims in Gujarat would never again take to violence. Whether anybody likes it or not Gujarat has shown that violence does not pay. For the Congress President to therefore make vile remarks against the Gujarat Chief Minister was both foolish and uncalled for. Her party has now been effectively shown the door. Congress leaders should remember that there is a limit beyond which Hindus will not let themselves be slighted in the name of secularism.

It needs to be said again and again that Hinduism is the most secular of all religions in the world. Think of leaders like Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo or Dayananda Saraswati. Were they communalists? This is not a question of ‘soft’ Hindutva. It is a question of facing reality. The word “secularism” must for ever be banned from the Congress vocabulary. It has long ceased to have any meaning. Today it is only an irritant. In all these years secularists have made every effort to suppress Hindu longings. The Gujarat Chief Minister has unlocked the gates of Hindu aspirations. That and that alone explains his success at the recent elections. That success goes beyond casteism and other factors. An insulted Hindu people will retaliate as now they have done in Gujarat. They have administered a resounding and just slap on Congress and Sonia’s face. The Congress party will do well to remember it. Yes, the Chief Minister of Gujarat is ruthless. But consider this: Thanks to his firmness there is little corruption in Gujarat. There will never again be another Godhra. There will be no more minority bullying. Investment will pour in steadily indicating a growing faith in the Gujarat Chief Minister. Al Qaeda may still seek to kill the leader but it should know that in due course it will get its comeuppance. That is not communalism or fascism. That is good government. All these years Hindu tolerance was mistaken for weakness and the people paid for it. No longer. The Gujarat Chief Minister has shown the way and Gujaratis have listened to him. That is where his success lies. Hindutva is the result of constant denigration of Hinduism by secularists.

It will disappear when Hinduism’s role in establishing a mighty India is acknowledged. In this, personalities do not count. It is the issue that is important, not its upholder. Treat Hinduism with respect and as a sustaining power in life and then witness what a great change comes over India. Every ‘ism’ is time locked. So is “secularism”. In this matter no two states in India are alike. But the message to Hindus is clearly stated in the Gita: Utthishtitha jagrata prapya varannibodhata: Arise, Awake and stop Not Till the Goal is Reached. That was Vivekananda’s message as well. And so is it Narendra Modi’s to the country.

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