Guruji: A drashta — XXXVII
WHEN Guruji was insistently emphasising on the Hindu character of the Indian nation and forcefully articulating Hindutva and Hinduism, the tallest political leaders of the country faulted him as espousing communal and sectarian concepts. But now the highest judiciary has upheld the very concepts of Hinduism and Hindutva faulted by the political leadership as un-secular and anti-secular, as the way of life and national ethos and consistent with secularism. Again when Guruji critiqued the Semitic faiths as promoting intolerance because of their insistence on their God being the only true God and all other Gods being false and as their text and faith as the only true ones and all other texts and faiths false, the political leadership labelled him as against those faiths. But the world discourse is now raising the very question namely whether at the root of monotheistic faiths is not intolerance. Jean Pierre Lehman’s frank view about the propensity and potential of monotheistic faiths to intolerance and violence
(1)is now very much part of global intellectual discourse. Well-known writers like Daniel Pipes are exposing more frankly the intolerance and violence in monotheism.
(2) When Guruji condemned reactionary and negative Hinduism
(3) the intellectual leadership of the country did not compliment him for his positive Hindu views. Now many secular leaders are speaking about positive Hinduism and how noble Hinduism is but still faulting the RSS whose positive Hindu philosophy was shaped by Guruji as communal and anti-secular. The intellectual and political leaders of India ran away from dialogue with Guruji by labelling his thoughts as communal and anti-secular.
When Guruji’s views were thus being dishonestly marginalised by secular Indian scholarship, Prof Venkata Rao, in his introduction to the first (1980) edition of collection of Guruji’s speeches Bunch of Thoughts, described Guruji’s nation-building thoughts “as the adumbration of the other mind of the modern Indian leadership, neglected by the more prominent exotic Gandhian Congress Leadership”.
(4) Guruji spoke the truth, as he saw it, in clear and unambiguous terms in spite of the establishment leadership spewing venom on him. And now the very thoughts of Guruji, which secular India saw as communal poison and which Prof Venkatrao had characterised as the “Other mind of the modern Indian leadership” are now emerging as the mainstream thought of the nation. Noting this, the Fundamentalism Project of Chicago University says: “The general thesis of the present chapter is that the goals of the RSS indeed place it in the mainstream of Indian nationalist aspiration”
(5) showing that Guruji’s thoughts held up at the margins by dishonest national discourse are now part of the national mainstream.
Anglo-Saxonism and pre-Partition psyche rob Hindu orientation to the Indian Constitution
The emergence of constitutional India after freedom was a critical exercise in national polity and a great turning point in the life of this ancient nation that has a continuity of thousands of years. In framing the Indian Constitution the Constituent Assembly had drawn heavily from the Anglo-Saxon British and America for setting traditional India’s contemporary agenda and very little from ancient India. Added to that was the psychological context of framing the Constitution which was loaded against Hindus. The Hindu leadership of Congress had fought the Partition philosophy of Muslim League by conceding unsustainably large public space to Islamic communalism essentially to win Muslim approval for their – read Hindu – leadership. Failing to win the Muslim support, this wrong strategy first confused the ancient Indian identity and finally set the stage for importing Partition mindset of minority separation and minority identity into the Constitution-making exercise.
(6) It later paved way for minority appeasement. To make it more complex Anglo-Saxon values and emphasis on individualism and individual rights sans a sense of duty became the core foundation of the Constitution. So, as originally adopted, the Constitution, on the one hand, rested on the Anglo-Saxon constitutional philosophy without adaption to Hindu India; on the other it conceded a large space for minority separatism. This could have been avoided by statesmanship by aligning the new constitution to the Hindu philosophy which was consistent with secularism and had balanced approach to individualism. But this task, though much needed in larger national interests, was left un-addressed for lack of clarity on the foundations of the Hindu culture and wisdom. This divide between Hindu philosophy and the constitutional philosophy became increasingly self-evident as the Godless secularism of the West proved inadequate to handle the intensely religious India
Guruji had cautioned against ‘Hindu reaction’
This distortion and imbalance in the constitutional scheme arose because the Constitution-makers had equated the inclusive Hinduism with exclusive faiths that had originated from outside India. To make it worse, the theory of majority communalism was invented dishonestly to equate the inclusive and the exclusive, which made the inclusive Hinduism tend to develop qualities of the exclusive faiths in response. In an interview given after the murder of Graham Stains in Orissa, which had become international news at that time, William Dalrymple, a well-known British writer, traced how the Hindu reaction originated Dalrympe said: “India was very tolerant of traditional Christian missionaries setting up schools, performing social work and allowed a slight drift of conversions from Hinduism to Christianity by people who knew what they were doing. The new factor was that recently, within the last decade, there’s been a sudden rise of American-backed fundamentalist Christian missionaries who’ve horrified the Indian Christians as well as the Indian Hindus, by herding whole villages of illiterate tribals into rivers, telling them that they’re Christian, and going off and reporting 5,000 conversions to their backers in Tennessee or Texas.….the fundamentalist Christian missionaries definitely must take part of the blame for what’s gone on. This sudden rise of often sort of trick conversions, and mass conversions, led to quite understandable backlash against Christians, starting off in Gujarat, and that backlash spread across India…. I think mass conversions of whole areas, using large sums of foreign money with very simple people, is no longer acceptable………And however much one strongly objects to violent terrorisation of Christians, one can understand that when missionary activity of that sort has happened with such extraordinary insensitivity, that of course you are playing with fire, and that a backlash is not surprising.……..the actual missionaries themselves because of recent Indian visa laws regarding missionaries, tend to be South Indian Christians who’ve been trained in the (United) States, so they are native-born Indians who are actually going about the conversions but they’re doing it with western money, western backing and with western ideas….. in a sense it’s been a tragedy that this western particularism has created these divisions. This marvelously syncretistic ability in the east to live side-by-side, has been destroyed by imported western notions of divisions between religions and divisions between different ethnicities.
(7)How inclusive Hinduism, which Dalrymple calls as “marvelously syncretistic”, turns reactionary, could not have been brought out better. As in the case of Christians, it equally applies to the Islamic attitude to Hinduism, which had actually brought the division of the country itself on religious lines, and continues to divide the people of India on religious lines. Long back Guruji had warned the country about such reactionary trends among Hindus, even chided it, just as he condemned the Islamic exclusivist and violent attitude against Hindus. He cautioned the Hindus against reactionary and negative Hinduism.
(8)But, the fault here, as Guruji saw
(9), is in the exclusive Semitic faiths which believe that they are the only true faiths and all others false and therefore need to be decimated by conversion. From religious and social perspectives, inclusive faiths which accept other faiths need protection against exclusive faiths, which reject other faiths. But the constitutional scheme did the very opposite, placing the inclusive Hinduism at a disadvantage. This constitutional and political disadvantage to mainstream Hinduism led to mass movements in 1980s and raised constitutional and political issues as to the true meaning of secularism, Hindutva, Hinduism, and Indianisation and so on.
Constitution realigned to Hindu ethos – as Guruji had foreseen When issues like common civil code, Hindutva, the role of Samskrit, cow slaughter, and the Ram Temple at Ayodhya turned legal and constitutional issues, the judiciary was persuaded to look at the fundamental character of Hinduism from the perspective of contemporary secular constitutions. On such appraisal of Hinduism and the Constitutional provisions the highest Court held that Hindutva and Hinduism not only represented the national ethos, but also meant Indianisation.
(10) which Guruji had first used as being conscious of being the children of the same soil, of the same stock and forefathers.
(11) The Courts also distinguished between fundamentalist Hinduism
(12), which Guruji would call as negative Hinduism
(13) from the positive Hinduism or Hindutva, which Guruji had explained in more plain terms in his speeches. This is how after almost half a century after the Constitution of India came into effect that some alignment is being attempted between the Anglo-Saxon Constitutional framework and Hindu cultural values in a manner that Guruji had articulated. The Supreme Court’s recognition that Hinduism and Hindutva constitute the way of life and ethos of India is precisely what Guruji meant when he defined Hindu Rashtra in cultural and civilisational terms. When there were apprehensions that recognition of Hindu Rashtra might mean amending the Constitution to provide for the ascendancy of the Hindus, Guruji clarified: “There is no question of ascendancy of any one. What we want is a healthy society. Ours is a Constitution, which gives equal rights to all, and there is no need to amend the Constitution. The Hindu is born secular. He accepts the truth that there are different paths to God Realisation.”
(14) What Guruji had objected to was the special rights to minorities, which promote separatism and even split the core society, the Hindu society, which began happening. With this caveat, Guruji had foreseen that what the secular Indians did not, namely that the Constitutional scheme and the Hindu character of the country were reconcilable. And now – as Guruji had envisioned – they are being reconciled by the highest judiciary holding that Hinduism or Hindutva is consistent with the national ethos of India.
1. Dangers of Monotheism in the Age of Globalisation www.theglobalist.com/storyid.aspx? StoryId=5211
2. Americans wake-up to Islamism http://www.danielpipes.org/8850/americans-wake-up-to-islamism
3. Bunch of Thoughts 1980s Ed p79
4. Ibid Pxlvi
5.Fundamentalism Project Vol. 4, p617
6. See Part 18 of this Series referring to Supreme Court judgement St Xavier’s case
7. ‘Radio National’ Religious Report. Interview of William Dalrymple dated 21.4.1999 available at: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/relrpt/stories/s22586.htm
8. Ibid 3
9. Bunch of Thoughts 1980Ed p137
10. Hindutva Case p442 http://hindubooks.org/scj/ch18.htm
11. Bunch of Thoughts 1980s Ed p646
12. Ibid 10
13. Ibid 3
14.Bunch of Thoughts 1980Ed p646
( To be concluded)