Dr P.G. Shahashtrabuddhey, an eminent scholar and renowned Marathi writer has presented a very realistic and thought-provoking analysis of the decline of the Indian state in an essay entitled ?State-polity of Gaining Ascendancy?. He writes: ?The British won the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and permanently established their rule in this country. In the next hundred years, they brought the whole of India under their rule. Even an ordinary reader of history knows what heinous acts of repression the British did, ??during those years, to capture power. They wrote false deeds, molested women, plundered the wealth, illegally captured the property, seized provincial states and brutally massacred thousands of innocent people.? Not a single possible act of sin was spared by the British. Nevertheless, they continuously gained ascendancy after the establishment of the East India Company in 1600 AD. They established their rule not only in India but in countries like Africa, Canada, Arabia and China. They established a colonial rule where the sun never set.
On the contrary, it seemed that Indians did commit some grave sinful acts during that period and paid a heavy price for that. Strangely, many religious sects came into existence in every province of India during that span of time. The religious preaches of these sects tried their best to propagate the Bhakti Movement, based on the philosophy of Holy Bhagwad Dharma in every nook and corner of the country. Although these liberal sects had reached the common-folk, they failed to relieve India of the up-coming suffering. We lost both freedom and wealth.
Highlighting these two contradictory phenomena, the renowned Marathi writer further writes: ? In that long duration of two-to-three hundred years, not a single English betrayed his motherland. Every English, living in any part of the globe, remained loyal to the land of his birth, this loyalty was almost their religion. None of them gave up this religious faith, betraying either his brethen or native land.?
In the end, the writer concludes: ?Man lives in a society to strengthen the very concept of living. But the growth of that society has it roots in the feelings of staunch patriotism. Ironically, the Indians had not followed that path of unimpeachable patriotism for centuries. Infighting among themselves was not an inhibition for the Hindus. We miserably failed even to curb animosity among Marathas, Rajputs and Kannadas. That ultimately led to the slavery of this great nation. Love and loyalty to our nation remained a wild dream for us. The aggressors from the west, on the other hand, were the staunch followers of this basic duty. Although they rendered injustice, fraud and corrupt practices in their ties with the Indians, they followed the path of truth, justice, self-sacrifice and loyalty to their native land in matters related to the British Empire. They continuously had a taste of success, enjoyed tremendous up-rise and prosperity. The real reason behind all that was their undaunted faith in their loyalty and duty to their society and nation. We were defeated, time and again, by the aggressors from the alien-land because of the lack of our faith in this primary duty of and individual.?
We witnessed the repetition of the same story in its minimised form even after the attack of Mahmood Gaznavi in 1001 AD and onwards. The conflict between Prithviraj and Jaichand, animosity among Sikhs soon after the death of Ranjit Singh, betrayal meted out to Vir Banda, arch-rivalry between Mansingh and Ranapratap, object servitude of Raja Bhagwandas, Jaswant Singh, Jai Singh and others before the Mughals, overlooking the interest of the Hindus, mutual mistrust of the Maratha and the malice among Sindhiyas, Holkers, Peshwas and Bhonsleys, finally resulted in the ascendancy of the British over the Indians. One letter of Lord Wellesley that he wrote to the Board of Directors in London is an eye-opener. It reads like this: ?If Bhonsleys, Sindhiyas and Holkers had united, I would not have been able to defeat them. When I was much worried over the matter, Amrit Rao (the step son of Raghunath Peshwa) gave a letter to me. We could sustain our position because of that fact. And you complain why Amrit Rao was granted eight lacs as pension. If we could grant twice of that sum, it would have been less.? It is to be noted that the letter which Amrit Rao, the traitor, gave to Lord Wellesley was written by Daulat Rao Sindhiya to Baji Rao. Here are the contents of the letter: ? First, we unitedly get rid of the British, then we shall easily remove Holker like a thorn.? It is clear that the power of the Marathas and the Hindus was weakened because of their infighting and lack of staunch feeling of patriotism as envisaged by Chhatrapati Shivaji and his mentor Guru Samarth Ramdas.
History is a proof that all the great men who were born in India knew this inherent, traditional weakness and characteristic of the Indian people. So they tried their best to inculcate this staunch patriotism in the masses. But the Hindus, always reverting to their inherent orthodoxy, never learnt any lesson from the events of the history. Duryodhan used to proclaim: ?Janami Dharma Na Cha Me Praverti? (tkukfe /eZ u p esa izo`fr%) ? means I know what Dharma is all about but I never feel inclined to follow that. Similarly, our society seemed to have unwittingly stuck to that inherent weakness. Truly speaking, this was a natural outcome of the centuries-old impact of the lack of the feeling of staunch patriotism.
In the Vedic age, there was no dearth of the spirit of unity and feeling of staunch patriotism. The literature of the period illustrates that marked characteristic. The Vedas gave significant importance to the earthly life and active involvement in day-to-day living. Much emphasis was laid on the spirit of unity through Yagnas. But in the later age of the Upanishads, the view point, which pertains to the path of negation of self, celibacy and salvation of the soul gained ground. The Upanishads diverted the attention of the masses from the rituals and homogenous way of life as propagated by the Vedas.
They made the masses believe that salvation or the freedom of the self was the ultimate aim of human life. Jainism, Buddhism and the philosophy of Vedanta, as propagated by Adi Shankaracharya, also diverted the attention of the Hindu society from the path of involvement in worldly life to the path of self-salvation. Some holy saints, during the Middle Ages, also emphasised on celibacy and salvation of the soul. Their religious preaching made the masses completely indifferent to the earthly life and compelled them to indulge more in the pursuance of the salvation of the soul. No wonder, all these religious preaching disassociated the Indian society from its primary duty and its faith in the feeling of staunch patriotism.
Eminent scholars and saints like Vidyaranya Swami, Samarth Guru Ramdas, Swami Vivekananda, Lokmanya Tilak and Dr K.B.Hegdewar made great and praiseworthy efforts to inculcate the feeling of staunch patriotism in the Indian public. They considered the lack of patriotism a grave sin. So they laid emphasis on self-improvement. We all knows that Swami Vivekananda did yeoman'sservice to awaken national pride and to propagate the philosophy of the Vedanta based on the principle of ?Karma?. Today, he is remembered as the torch-bearer of the cultural nationalism in India.
In his famous book Gita Rahasya Lokmanya Tilak challenges the age-old belief and declares that the clarion-call of the Gita is not the disassociation of oneself from the earthly life and faith in philosophy of non-attachment.
Sri Krishna himself did not desire that Arjuna should through his arch and bow on the ground like Brihanla and take the ?Vina? and ?Mridanga? in his hand, recite the name of the Almighty and start dancing in front of the warriors assembled on the battlefield.
It is apparent that Lokmanya Tilak indirectly hits at the prevailing non-attachment of oneself with the society and lack of feeling of staunch patriotism in an individual in the name of ?Yoga? and ?Bhakti?.
The only remedy and pancea for all the internal and external problems of our country lies in our faith in unimpeachable patriotism. Unity of the nation, patriotism, organised and disciplined self-improvement can only be gained through this faith. Without which, we cannot successfully fight either internal threats or external foes. On November 10, 1966, then President Dr. Radhakrishan accounted the lack of this patriotism for the anarchy prevailing in India. It is now, clear that unimpeachable patriotism and our undaunted faith in it are imperative for the defence of our nation.
(Translated from the Kutch Seep Kutch Moti?a collection of thought-provoking essays by Girish Chandra Mishra.)