By Chinmay Bajekal
The subject of ?India? and ?Hinduism?, and their relationship is one of hot debate between the so-called Hindu nationalists on the one hand and the pseudo-secularists and other opponents of Hindu nationalism on the other. This article aims at making a realistic assesment of the relationship between the two entities??India? and ?Hinduism?, from a nationalist'sperspective.
To begin with, let us enlighten ourselves with what some of our leaders during the freedom struggle had to say on this subject. Annie Wood Besant, a senior leader of the Congress Party, during the freedom struggle, expressed herself in the following words: ?After a study of some forty years and more of the great religions of the world, I find none so perfect, none so scientific, none so philosophical and none so spiritual than the great religion known by the name of Hinduism. Make no mistake, without Hinduism, India has no future. Hinduism is the soil into which India'sroots are stuck and torn out of that she will inevitably wither, as a tree torn out from its place. And if Hindus do not maintain Hinduism, who shall save it? If India'sown children do not cling to her faith, who shall guard it. India alone can save India and India and Hinduism are one.?
Annie Besant was not the only one to hold such views. Her views were shared by yet another freedom fighter ?Rishi Aurobindo?, also known as ?the thinker of modern India?. ?In a brilliant speech, Aurobindo equated the Indian land with Sanatana Dharma or Hindu religion which is but another name for the yearning of the Divine or the quest of the Spirit. He also said that in India religion and nationalism are one. India rises with religion, lives by it and will perish with it and to rise in religion is to raise India.? (Source: The Soul of India, by Satyavrata R. Patel, p. 206.)
It is unfortunate that the party whose leaders once held such views is today so strongly opposed to ?Hindu nationalism?. There is also an attempt by some to separate nationalism and Hinduism. But sadly they forget that the concept of ?Motherland? or ?Mathrubhoomi? itself originated from the Hindu philosophy. It is the Hindu philosophy that makes us see a mother in other objects other than our own biological mother. The Hindu sees a ?river?, ?cow?, and his ?land? as his sacred mother. ?Vande mataram? is a song that expreses the love and devotion of a Hindu towards his motherland in the true sense of the term. Thus ?Hindu nationalism? could be precisely described as ?Bharatiya-oriented nationalism?.
To realise the significance of the existence and domination of Hindu culture/way of life in India, we need to look at those regions in the Indian subcontinent where once upon a time Hinduism flourished and today it is hardly existing there. Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are some good examples. Afghanistan was once a region where Hinduism did flourish and it was a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society where Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists inhabited in large numbers. But today the region is flourishing only with terrorism, sectarian-violence and war-mongerers. It only goes to show that how, when a region of the Indian subcontinent is separated from Hinduism, the region becomes alien to India.
Not just in Indian subcontinent but also around the world we have similar examples related to other ancient civilisations. The ancient Greece of Alexander and Acropolis, the Egypt of Pyramids, and the Persia of Zoroastrians (Parsis) all were ancient civilisations like India but today all that remains of them is mere monuments. We learn from these examples that when the culture/way of life of a civilisation is replaced by another, it results in the total annihilation of the civilisation. Thus to put it in precise words, the culture and way of life constitute the ?soul? of a civilisation whereas the ?land? and ?people? only constitute the necessary physical attributes of a nation.
Thus protecting ?Hinduism? is in the true sense of the term protecting the very ?being?, ?existence? and ?soul? of India.
As I end my article I would like to conclude its theme in the following poetic phrases:
India is our motherland,
Hinduism her soul,
This who doesn'tunderstand,
Plays an anti-Indian role!?