For a thousand years, the Hindus were under foreign rule?first under Muslims and then under the relatively civilised rule of the British.
This is unprecedented in human history. No people?certainly no great civilisation?have been kept in bondage for so long! The march of a great civilisation was arrested. Its roots were cut. And the memories of that age were lost. They were almost ready to embrace Islam. It is said that India would have been Islamised had it not been for the British advent.
Are the Hindus aware of the great damage those thousand years have done to their civilisation, to their quest for the meaning of life and to their outlook? They are not. Alas, even to enquire into it is taboo in this country! Why? Because it is pleaded that this will ?offend? our Muslim ?brothers?! Should our history then be based on falsifications.
Of course, both the Muslims and the British rulers were opposed to a Hindu awakening. For similar reasons. Gandhi and Nehru opposed a Hindu awakening as a price for Muslim support to the freedom movement.
With what result? Did Muslim support the freedom movement? No. Did they accept the objective of Hindu-Muslim unity? So we got nothing for the concessions we made.
Hope of winning over the Muslims never deserted the Congress. It tied the hands of the Congress leaders. They were incapable of even defending the long-term interests of the nation. Thus they could not warn the Muslims where they were in a minority, that they would be forced to leave India if they supported the two-nation theory. I am convinced that this would have been like a death-blow to the Muslim League.
But even partition and its horrors did not lead to an awakening of the Hindus! Why? For two reasons: 1) because the Hindus were already de-nationalised and 2) the need for Muslim votes compelled the Congress to follow the same appeasement policy. Today the vast majority of Hindu know almost nothing of their great past, that only the Hindu civilisation has an enlightened policy. That is why they were ready to accept Western leadership of the world and the Western way of life. So, are we Hindus to be the Caliban?the eternal follower? Can India never head? Has it no message for the world? Can it never be an alternate model for the world? It can. But for that we need new generations of Hindus who are committed to the greatness of India?generations that are profoundly inspired by nationalism.
But why should we know our history? Because history alone can inspire us to scale greater heights, because the tragedies that befell us should never again visit us.
If India has come up so fast in the post-Independence period and made a deep impression on the world community, it is because we are the children of a great civilisation. Our genes have gone through a process of civilisation for ten thousand years. There is nothing comparable. The Hindu civilisation is the mother of all civilisations. Our ancestors have put us ahead of all others.
But that is not enough. We have more work to do. Let us renew our great journey. This is our civilisational mission. The Christians and Muslims will not and cannot join us in this quest for the ultimate truths, for they claim that the ultimate truths are already in their Holy Books. So they will continue to mark time. They prefer the repetitive life. They cannot march with us without causing immense damage to their religious beliefs. What is more, they cannot change their tribal gods either. It is too late in the day to do that.
The most vital issue of our age, says Aurobindo, is whether the future progress of the humanity is to be governed by the materialist philosophy of the West or by a nobler pragmatism guided and uplifted by a spiritual culture? India can make a major contribution here.
Hinduism is not a proselytising religion. Yet it has carried it message to the far corners of the world without any violence. What it lacked was a proper concern for the State. Which explains why we were under foreign rule for so long. We must not allow this weakness to continue. Hindus must be wise, but strong.