Opinion : Hindu Culture
Every body should sideline the urge to achieve supremacy, religious or otherwise, and instead strive to provide a strong and united governance of India, under one banner of “Hindu Culture”
Dr Ram Krishan Singh Dogra
Like many other occasions, the holy month of Bada Mangal and the Ramadan have coincided this year also. At many places, hundreds of Hindus participated in the iftaar parties and many Muslims distributed bhandara and sharbat at Bada mangal pandals. The celebration of Eid is as rejoicing for Hindus as for Muslims. This bond of coexistence and obeisance for each others’ religious and cultural celebrations, has been a common sight in one form or the other, all over the India, since centuries.
The advent of Islam in India has been known to be from Arabian lands, inhabited by Arabs, Turks and Huns. Large part of this land was barren and yielded very meager resource to fulfill the needs of most of the inhabitants. Herbert J Muller writes, therefore some tribes took to trade with India and slowly settled peacefully on eastern coast, especially Kerala. Other tribes, which were notorious for certain characters, such as arrogance, conceit, boastfulness, vindictiveness and excessive love for plunder, became engaged in theft and loot. Some of them became more organised and formed groups under a strong tribal head. Frequent inter-tribal wars for land and/or the produce, made them experts in the use of arms, horsemanship and war games. Slowly, they became powerful and started invading neighbouring countries, reaching as far as north western part of India (then Bharatvarsh). India being a fertile land, had much wealth and prosperity. The people lived a simple and spiritual life. The invaders therefore faced no resistance. With frequent attacks, the population of leftover Arabs began to swell. However, being in a minority and dependent upon local community for their livelihood, they mingled with them, by participating in their religious and cultural celebrations. Thus a composite culture of subordination and dependence developed. Slowly the invaders acquired land and some of them also became landlords.
From 10th century onwards, the invasions by Arab, Turk and Hun tribes became more frequent, till Mahmud Ghazni attacked with a large and battle trained army. He found India a conglomerate of tiny states, ruled by Muslim chieftains and Rajput kings. It helped him to win many easy battles, and with the support of Muslim rulers, he set up and consolidated his rule in India. In a bid to establish his reign and religion, he demolished idols and temples, forcibly circumcised youths of pundit and other communities. Subsequently, in spite of peaceful and later armed resistance by Hindu kings and sacrifices by Guru Teg Bahadur, Guru Govind Singh and his four sons, the barbaric treatment and conversion of Hindus to Islam continued. However, although the Arabs and Turks ruled India for almost six centuries, they treated the converts as second grade citizens. In a book entitled Islam in India, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar wrote that, even Aurangzeb addressed the heads of his tribe, as “We the Turks” and the native Hindus and Muslims as “You the Hindustanis”.
With the “trade invasion” of India by British, and later establishment of their rule, the conditions began to change fast. The people became prosperous and religious atrocities on both the communities diminished. However, the feeling of being under a foreign rule, brought the two communities closer. They jointly took part in revolts against British, and finally compelled them to leave India. The British being great strategists, under their well tested policy of “divide and rule”, encouraged a section of Muslims to demand a separate home land for them. This created much bitterness among the two communities, and finally a separate Muslim homeland of East and West Pakistan, came into existence, in 1947.
The believers in staunch Islam migrated to Pakistan, but the moderates remained behind. India, in spite of a Hindu majority population (about 90 per cent), adopted secularism (sarva dharm sambhav), and treated the remaining Muslims equally. Pakistan also adopted secularism with a 22.45 per cent of Hindu population in West and 31 per cent in East part. In the beginning, India and both the parts of Pakistan had amicable relations, and people could go across the border without much hassle. However, slowly the believers in orthodox Islam in civil society and the Army, began to influence the social and religious set up. Even the Muslims who migrated from India, became second grade citizens and earned the name “Muhajirs”. Similarly, East Pakistan was treated as a colony, resulting in separation as Bangladesh. This vitiated social set up in Pakistan, has encouraged many a hard liners, like Islamic state (IS) from Arabian and West Asia countries, to spread their type of religion in Pakistan and neighboring countries, by force, terror and torture.
The IS has already set up Caliphate over vast areas in middle-east and disrupted many countries, forcing moderate Muslims to flee to Europe, for safety of their families. In fact, the hard liners have pushed millions of these Muslims into Europe, with a clear aim of changing the religious set up of Europe, by demographic change over a short period of time. The European countries have seen through their ploy and have started protesting against it. UK has already distanced itself from such type of mass migration, by leaving European Union. In other countries, clashes have been reported, putting the Muslims in jeopardy and even at a greater risk to their life in a foreign land. Groups have also being formed in some EU countries, demanding refugees to shun their identity and follow their way of life. This planned expulsion of people, has made resentment and hatred for refugees, in other countries also. The American presidential candidate Donald Trump, has already made immigration into US as a major election issue, by promising a limit to migration or totally stop it, especially from Muslim countries.
India, because of its Hindu majority population, is on the radar of the extremists, especially the IS. Recently, they have stepped up their activity in Bangladesh also, as announced in their mouthpiece publication “DABIK”. They plan to set up a hub there and direct radicalisation of Indian youth. However, as Indians have respect for its religions diversity (sarva dharma sambhav), progress and prosperity of every community (sab ka saath, sab ka vikas), the extremists are getting limited success. Only a few young people have become radicalized to the doctrine of these hardliners, through internet or otherwise. Realising such a development, the parents of such radicalised children have reprimanded them and on being unsuccessful have even reported the matter to law enforcing authorities.
The Muslim population of this country realises that, in spite of minor differences with majority community, they are safe in India. They have not suffered any mass discrimination, organised crime and exodus. On the contrary, they have experienced more ill- treatment in other Muslim countries. An engineer, Aman Maqbool who lived in West Asia, gulf countries and Saudi Arabia for long and faced discrimination, states that, “People of certain countries are less peaceful than Indians. Those people happen to be Muslims but they are less peaceful/more aggressive irrespective of their faith, Muslim or otherwise”. The history is a testimony that, Hindus have never tortured them to flee, in spite of planned torture and ethnic cleansing of Hindus in neighbouring countries, where they have been reduced to 1.12 per cent from 22.45 per cent in Pakistan and to 8 per cent from 31 per cent in Bangladesh. Unlike the above narration of ethnic cleansing in Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Muslim population has increased from less than 10.97 per cent in 1947 to 18 per cent now. Indian constitution grants equal rights to each citizen, in accordance with the UN charter on minorities, which mandates “Persons belonging to (ethnic, religious or linguistic) minorities shall not be denied the right in community with the other members of the group to enjoy
their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or use their own language”. They are living as respectable Indian citizens with full freedom to practice their religion and cultural activities.
Many of my Muslim friends have confided with me, that they realise, any loss of faith among the communities, will not be conducive for this congenial atmosphere. Watching the effects of IS and other extremist groups in Pakistan, West Asia or rather in most of the Muslim dominated countries, they are scared to let it be repeated here. Most of them even dread a hypothetical situation, where hardcore religious groups from West Asia, succeed in crating sleeper cells, numerous enough to create disturbance and massacre similar to that witnessed there. They know that, majority of people, who ran away from these atrocities, had a relatively safer place to escape in Europe, nearby. But, where will such tortured and persecuted Indians go? There is no strong and large country to grant asylum to millions. Realising such a situation and especially prompted by the recent terrorist attack in Dhaka and Pakistan, prominent Muslims like Bollywood actor Irfan Khan and exiled Bangladeshi write Tasleema Nasrin, Shia and Sunni clerics in Lucknow, have condemned such acts of extremism. They have also demanded a curb on certain Islamic preachers in India, who misguide people by conveying wrong interpretations of religious scriptures.
On our part as individuals, every peace loving citizen, ought to act as sleeper cell for the government, and remain vigilant against antinational elements. The only way out therefore, is to remain united and make our abode “India”, strong enough to face any extremist onslaught. Every body should sideline the urge to achieve supremacy, religious or otherwise, and instead strive to provide a strong and united governance of India, and I believe, under one banner of “Hindu Culture” or similar united body. A country under “khichri governance”, where every ethnicity demands its own laws, can not give a united fight to merciless fundamentalists. Like Hindus, all the religious dispensations have to learn from their past history, that “Discord is Detrimental and Unity is Strength”.
The writer is a Retired Scientist