Patriotism is on everyone'ssleeve. But not a word on nationalism. Why is it taboo? Because the minorities have no past to be proud of.
Isn'tnationalism all about a country'spast?its heritage, its civilisation? Yes. But the minorities have rejected this heritage, when they got converted to their present faith. They do not want to be reminded of this past.
But do our people know the difference between nationalism and patriotism? Most people do not. (I had raised this issue earlier in Organiser, dt 2.7.06)
What, then, was the assumption? The assumption was that we are all patriots until we are proved otherwise. Today, we cannot be so sure. In fact, we do not know whether our neighbour is a patriot or a terrorist. Our loyalties are terribly divided today. There are millions of traitors living in this country. But do we know what it is to be a nationalist? Most of us do not. Others have reasons to be hostile to nationalists. Let me illustrate: Tagore was a nationalist. Jinnah was a patriot. Nehru was a nationalist. Iqbal was a patriot. To Tagore, India was a ?living mother?. So she was to Vivekananda. Tagore wanted to be born in India ?again and again?. That would have been blasphemous to Muslims. ?With all her poverty, misery, and wretchedness?, Tagore writes, ?I love India most.? Why? Because ?it has been the haunt of our gods, the hermitage of our rishis, the nourishing mother of our forefathers.? In other words, it was almost a mystic love. Jinnah would have laughed at these sentiments. But, then, he was no nationalist.
We Hindus have a special regard for India. In fact, for everything Indian. This explains why we were ready to make the greatest sacrifice for India'sfreedom. The minorities showed least inclination to make sacrifices. They had no ?special? relation with India. In any case, as a true Muslim, they could not have been in ?love? with anything pre-Islamic according to the Quran. The inference is: If you were so much in love with pre-Islamic life, you should not have converted to Islam.
Nehru says: ?We Hindus are bound together by an inner unity. This was not geographical unity or political unity, but cultural unity. If this is so, the minorities are not part of this unity. Then how are they tied to the rest of India?
This cultural unity of India was set by no less a person than Shankara, the greatest philosopher of Hinduism. In his brief but strenuous life, he set the cultural boundary of India.
The political life of India was broken up many a time, but no one could break up its cultural unity. In practice, what does this imply? In a convocation address at the Aligarh Muslim University on January 28, 1948, Nehru asked the Muslims whether they were ?proud? of their past, of their inheritance, of their ancestors. In other words, he wanted to know from them how they felt about their past. ?Do you feel? he asked ?that you are inheritors of that past and, therefore ?proud of something that belongs to you as much as to me??
Alas, there was no answer. How can there be? Do not Muslims and Christians reject their past before their conversion? How can they be proud of that same past now? Which is why our minorities do not want to talk of nationalism and fear to harken to the past.
Tagore says ?We want to draw a veil over our past to appease the Muslims.? We have done it for a long time. It is time to lift the veil.