Guruji: A drishta-VI
The convergence of views between Guruji and Supreme Court on the meaning of Hindu, Hinduism, Hindutva and Hindu culture is unbelievably profound and comprehensive. The earlier part had brought out some critical aspects of the convergence. Now this part brings out the more significant aspects of the convergence of views between the Supreme Court and Guruji.
“Way of life of the people”
Guruji repeatedly referred to Hinduism as an “all embracing” “way of life of the people of this country” (Bunch of Thoughts, p72/137). The Supreme Court, decades after Guruji’s time declared that Hinduism “may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more”. (Hindutva Case, p 1127), reiterating: “Ordinarily Hindutva is understood as a way of life or state of mind and it is not to be equated with or understood as religious Hindu fundamentalism” (Hindutva Case, p1130) It concluded: “..the words ‘Hinduism’ or ‘Hindutva’….. indicate a way of life of the Indian people…”. (Hindutva Case p1131).
“Not just tolerates, but accepts other faiths”
Terming the Western idea of religious tolerance as bereft of respect for other religions, Guruji said that Hinduism “‘does not just tolerate”, but “accepts all other faiths” (Bunch of Thoughts p51). Decades after Guruji, the Supreme Court judicially recognised this virtue in Hinduism, quoting Dr S Radhakrishnan and declared that the knowledge of Hindu religion bred “willingness to understand and appreciate the opponent’s point of view’. (Hindutva Case p1128)
“Respect for all faiths”
Guruji had repeatedly pointed out that Hinduism respected all faiths (Bunch of Thoughts p51), meaning that it did not see them as just inevitable. Insisting that “we must respect…other faiths’ (Ibid p644), Guruji declared: ‘According to our way of religious belief and philosophy, a Muslim is as good as a Hindu. It is not the Hindus alone who will reach the ultimate Godhead. Everyone has a right to follow his path according to his own persuasion” (Ibid p641). Decades after, the Supreme Court endorsed, in substance, Guruji’s views saying: “This philosophical approach of understanding, co-existence and tolerance is the very spirit of our ancient thought” (Ibid p 628), adding that ancient Indian thought provided for “developing Sarva Dharma Samabhav or secular thought and outlook” which enlightenment is the true nucleus of what is now known as Hinduism.” (Faruqui Case p629)
“No animosity to other faiths, minorities”
Guruji clearly ruled out any hostility towards non-Hindu minorities in Hindu view and way of life. Guruji declared: “ The Hindu, even in his dreams, cannot hate a person merely because he belongs to another faith” (Bunch of Thoughts, p 673). Decades later, the Supreme Court said that Hinduism or Hindutva cannot be equated with “narrow fundamentalist religious bigotry” (Hindutva Case 1129), adding: “To view the terms ‘Hinduism’ or ‘Hindutva’ per se as depicting hostility or enmity or intolerance towards other religious faiths or professing communalism” is an improper appreciation of the true meaning Hinduism or Hindutva (Hindutva Case 1131).
“Welcomed, protected other faiths”
Guruji had repeatedly declared that Bharat is land of religious generosity; it had always welcomed and assured all religious groups a free, honourable and secure life (Bunch of Thoughts p 421). Guruji cited how in Maratha and Vijayanagar empires, which rose to defend the nation against Muslim onslaughts, Muslims were given some of the highest positions of trust and responsibility, (Ibid p211/12 &421/22). Decades later, minority judgement of the Supreme Court in Faruqui’s Case (judgement delivered by two judges who incidentally belonged to Parsi and Muslim communities) accepted Guruji’s views in these words: “Hinduism is a tolerant faith. It is that tolerance that has enabled Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism to find shelter and support upon this land.”(Faruqui Case p 658)
Disagreeing with Nehruvian view of secularism as negating, or being neutral to, religion, Guruji declared decades earlier that “the Hindu thought did not stop at the negative aspect of retraining one religion from infringing upon another” and said that it mandated that rulers should “respect and encourage every single religious thought however few its adherents” (Bunch of Thoughts p215-16). Decades later in famous SR Bommai case the 9-judge bench of the Supreme Court accepted, without naming Guruji, his exposition of positive secularism and redefined secularism under the Constitution thus: “Secularism is more than a passive attitude of religious tolerance. It is a positive concept of equal treatment of all religions.” (Faruqui Case p 629). Guruji had disapproved of the religion-negative and religion-neutral secularism of Pundit Nehru and defined secularism as religion-positive, decades before Supreme Court over-ruled the Nehruvian view of secularism in Bommai case.
“Protects secularism, minorities”
On the protection of minorities in Hindu society, Guruji repeatedly declared: “He cannot be the son of the soil who is intolerant of other faiths” (Bunch of Thoughts p208) and said that it is “the Hindu thought alone” that “has respected, protected and encouraged all types of cults and creeds to grow and blossom to their fulfilment” and concluded that Hindu nation was the best guarantee for the minorities in this country (Ibid p213). This is precisely what the Supreme Court also said decades after Guruji. If the protection of the minorities is the fundamental concern of secularism, the Supreme Court said, “the use of the terms ‘Hindutva’ or ‘Hinduism’ may be to promote secularism or to emphasise the way of life of the Indian people and the Indian culture or ethos, or to criticize the policy of any political party as discriminatory or intolerant” (Hindutva Case p 1132).
“Harmonises heterogeneity into unity”
While explaining decades earlier how heterogeneous elements could constitute one Hindu society, Guruji gave the example of how a tree with branches leaves and flowers looks heterogeneous, but it is all part of the same tree (Bunch of Thoughts p131); again the Supreme Court approved this very concept of Hinduism being a tree and the various Hindu philosphic streams being the branches by cited the same tree example mentioned by Dr S Radhakrishnan who said that “the several views set forth in India in regard to vital philosophic concepts are considered to be the branches of the self-same tree” (Hindutva Case p 1128)
“Validates all faiths”
Guruji had repeatedly quoted the Vedic verse ‘ekam sat, vipra bahudha vadanti’ (meaning ‘truth is one, sages call it variously’) [Bunch of Thoughts p51] to point out that “our spiritual masters have upheld this all-comprehensive aspect of religion” (Ibid p134) indicating how Hinduism has evolved universal view of the validity of faiths. Decades later, the Supreme Court quoted precisely the same Vedic verse from Dr S Radhakrishnan’s work on Indian Philosophy, namely, “truth is one but wise men describe it differently” and further quoted Monier Williams, that Hinduism “was based on universal receptivity” (Hindutva Case p1128), thus endorsing the view of Guruji that Hinduism has universal view of all faiths.
“Indianisation as solution for minority issue”
Guruji’s exposition of the concept of Indianisation was heavily questioned and criticised in his times as communal. But Guruji was clear that Indianisation did not mean making all people Hindus. (Bunch of Thoughts p 645). He emphasised it as a concept to unite the minorities and said, Indianisation meant that all Indians realise that “we are all children of the soil coming from the same stock, that our forefathers were one, and that our aspirations are also one.” (Ibid) The secular leaders and intellectuals used to label this noble idea as communal, anti-secular. They repeatedly targeted Guruji as spreading communal divide in the garb of Indianisation. But, surprisingly, decades later, in 1990s, the Supreme Court approved Guruji’s views and rejected that of secularists. The Court cited Maulana Wahiduddin Khan’s book Indian Muslims – the Need for a Positive Outlook in which the author wrote that Hindutva or Indianisation “aims at developing a uniform culture by obliterating differences between all the cultures co-existing in the country” for “communal harmony and national unity” and to end “once and for all”… “the minorities problem”. Approving the Maulana the Supreme Court said: “The word ‘Hindutva’ is used and understood as synonym of ‘Indianisation’” or “development of a uniform culture by obliterating the difference between all cultures co-existing in the country”. (Hindutva Case p1130) Actually, Guruji’s concept of Indianisation is superior. It does not obliterate differences. It ensures they co-exist with the larger consciousness that the forefathers of all people in India are one.
“Other religions practised narrow concept”
Guruji used to contrast the Semitic faiths with the Hindu view of seeing all faiths as different ways of reaching God (Bunch of Thoughts p 51, p 136) and pointed out that Semitic faiths practised narrow concept of religion, followed one prophet, one scripture other than which, they believed, there was no path of salvation. Guruji had said that this approach “bred intolerance and divided the people in the name of religion” (Ibid p137). Because of his critique of the Semitic faiths Guruji was accused of dividing Hinduism and non-Hindu faiths. But decades later, the Supreme Court expressed critiqued the “other religions precisely for their narrow features. The Court said: “unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet; it does not worship one God; it does not subscribe to any one dogma; it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed. (Hindutva Case p 1127). So the Supreme Court has also agreed with Guruji’s views that the other religions are narrow.
The most critical aspect of Supreme Court’s views which are comprehensively convergent with Guruji’s expositions is that the Court had arrived at them by independent inquiry. In substance, the Court has judicially validated Hindu cultural nationalism – the core RSS ideology. For three decades Guruji had ceaselessly travelled across the county to articulate this very concept, braving all unfair criticisms and abuses. His sincere appeal to the future conscience of the country to realise the truth of its being has found echo in the judicial ruling and constitutional law, but after his lifetime.