Bharat cannot be pigeonholed in the limits of contemporary political categories. The idea and substance of Bharat transcends all such binaries; intellectuals with alien prisms, however, do not understand it
The liberal Bharatiya culture which celebrates diversity was inherited even by Pakistan. But it became Pakistan because it snapped ties with this rich heritage
A senior leader of the Congress recently said that if BJP returns to power, then Bharat will become a “Hindu Pakistan”.Several leaders of the Congress party, perhaps supported by the Evangelical Church and influenced by the un-Indian ideology of Communism, continue to issue statements that hurt the very identity and glory of Bharat. When these highly educated people make such statements, one is reminded of the comment made in the report of education commission, by former President Dr S. Radhakrishnan. In the 1949 report, he said: “One of the serious complaints against the system of education which has prevailed in this country for over a century is that it neglected India’s past, that it did not provide the Indian students with the knowledge of their own culture. It has produced in some cases the feeling that we are without roots, in others, what is worse, that our roots bind us to a world very different from that which surrounds us.”
Moving Away from Bharat
This un-Indianisation has gone so deep that it has influenced our thinking, even our vocabulary. Hindu Pakistan, Hindu Taliban, Hindu Terror – all these terms exhibit a completely un-Indian thought. In fact, the expression “Hindu Pakistan” is a complete oxymoron. Before we discard this meaningless statement, we need to understand the meaning of Hindutva and the relationship it has with the ‘Idea of Bharat’.
Recently, speaking about Bharat in Nagpur, the former President Dr Pranab Mukherjee said that “India was a state long before the concept of the European nation-state gained ground. This model of a defined territory, a single language, shared religion and a common enemy etc. led to the formation of various nation-states in Europe. On the other hand, Indian nationalism emanated from” universalism”, which finds its roots in the Bharatiya philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah, Sarve Santu Niramayah. We see the whole world as one family and pray for the happiness and good health of all. Our national identity has emerged through a long drawn process of confluence, assimilation, and co-existence. The multiplicity in culture, faith and language is what makes India special. We derive strength from not just tolerance but acceptance and respect. We accept and respect pluralism that forms the basis of our composite culture. We take pride and celebrate our diversity. These have been a part of our collective consciousnesses for centuries. Any attempt at defining our nationalism in terms of dogmas and identities of religion, region, hatred and intolerance, will only lead to dilution of our national Identity.”
The foundation of this fundamentally liberal, all-embracing, tolerant and universal thought is the integral and holistic view of life-based on spirituality. This view of life has been called the ‘Hindu view of Life” by Dr Radhakrishnan. Enumerating its distinctive features, he says: The Hindu method of reform enables every group to retain its past associations and preserve its individuality and interest. As students are proud of their colleges, so are a group of their gods. We need not move students from one college to another, but should do our best to raise the tone of each college, improve its standards and refine its ideals, with the result that each college enables us to attain the same goal.”
He adds: “We see that the Hindu recognises one Supreme Spirit, though different names are given to it. In his social economy he has many castes, but one society. Regarding the population, there are many races and tribes, but all are bound together by one common spirit.”
Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore also said the same thing in his essay “Swadesi Sam?j”. He writes, “To feel unity in diversity, to establish unity amongst variety — this is the underlying dharma of Bharat. Bharat does not regard difference as hostility; she does not regard others as the enemy. That is why without sacrifice or destruction she wants to accommodate everybody within one great system. That is why she accepts all ways and sees the greatness of each in its sphere. Because of this virtue in Bharat, we shall not be frightened considering any society as our opponent. Each fresh conflict will enable us to expands ourselves. The Hindus, the Buddhists, the Muslims and the Christians will not fight with one another and die in Bharat; here they will find a meeting point. That point will not be non-Hindu, but very specifically Hindu. However foreign maybe her body parts, her life and spirit will be of Bharat only.”
Congress leaders forget that Pakistan was formed in denial of this liberal, all-embracing, integral and holistic spiritual tradition. This perception of the Congress is the result of un-Indianisation through education and the influence of un-Indian ideologies like communism. As long as Bharat is embedded within Hindutva, it will never become Pakistan. It is only due to the rejection of Hindutva that Pakistan was born. The unity, independence and sovereignty of Bharat, is its existence “Astitva”, and the cultural and ideological heritage based upon the spirituality of Bharat, is its identity “Asmita”. Due to petty political interests, leaders of the Congress deny the very identity of Bharat, which is a matter of deep concern. Don’t they realise that the denial of its inherent identity can threaten the very existence of Bharat?
The liberal Bharatiya culture which celebrates diversity, and of which Dr Mukherjee spoke and which was called as “Hindu view of life” by Dr Radhakrishnan and Rabindranath Tagore, was inherited even by Pakistan. But it became Pakistan because it snapped ties with this rich heritage. If it reconnects itself to this heritage, then without leaving its Muslim way of worship, it can remain Hindu. Innumerable people like MC Chagla, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and the Pakistan born Canadian resident Tariq Fateh, while continuing to follow the Muslim faith, connected themselves with this heritage. In this way, even while remaining Muslim, if Pakistan accepts this liberal and tolerant heritage, then it will become “Hindu Pakistan”, in other words, it will become ‘Bharat’. It can do this even while retaining its separate political identity.
Connecting to the Roots
The deep cultural roots of Bharat form its identity. Remaining connected to these roots, embedded in our identity (Asmita), is essential to our existence (Astitva). This identity has been called Hindutva or Hindu view of life by Dr Radhakrishnan and Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. If anyone has an objection to the word ‘Hindu’, then he/she may call it Bharatiya or even Indic. But its core content remains the same. Even though the truth is one, it can be called by different names; that is the essence of Bharatiya thought. It is the content that is vital and important.
How does one think if one is deeply embedded to Bharatiya cultural-spiritual tradition? A good example comes from the saying of Acharya Mahaprajna ji. He was the head of the Tera Panth (a sect), which is one of the spiritual traditions among Shwetambara Jains. Being a saint with a national perspective, he was recognised and respected far and wide. He used to say, “I belong to the Tera Panth because I am a Sthanakavasi Jain; I am a Sthanakavasi Jain because I am a Shwetambara Jain; I am Shwetambara because I am a Jain, and I am a Jain because I am a Hindu”. There cannot be a beautiful expression of the Bharatiya way than this. One can simultaneously belong to the Tera Panth, be a Sthanakavasi Jain, a Shwetambara Jain and also be a Hindu. The Bharatiya thought, being integral, does not see any contradiction in these diverse layers of identities. It is only a different expression of the One. The narration completely changes, once the natural connect to these deeper roots start eroding. Then begins the fragmented narrative that I am a Hindu but I am a Jain. I am a Jain, but I am a Shwetambar Jain. I am a Shwetambar, but I am a Sthanakavasi Jain, and I am a Sthanakvasi Jain, but I belong to the Tera Panthi sect.
Further erosion of this deeper connect leads to a different narrative: whatever I may be – a Jain, a Swetambar, a Sthanakavasi or Tera Panthi but I am not a Hindu. And then politics comes into play. Once the ultimate erosion of the deep connection to the roots, the core identity (Asmita), is complete, the process of de-Indianisation also is complete. The slogans like Bharat tere tukde honge, Bharat ki barbadi tak jung chalegi, jung chalegi, are the outcome of this complete disconnect with the roots of Bharat. Such expressions do not emanate from illiterate, backward and poor people, but from ultramodern young representatives of the Bharatiya intellectual community, representing the so-called ‘most progressive and modern’ educational institution. Surprisingly, they also get support from academicians and scholars who are drawing perk and benefits from the resources of the same country. Can there be a more glaring example of de-Indianisation through education?
Therefore, Dr Pranab Mukherjee tracing the legacy of over five thousand years of togetherness and collective journey of the people of Bharat – he did this during his speech in Nagpur—that formed our national identity, becomes all the more important. As long as, we are embedded and connected to our roots, we can protect this identity and prepare ourselves for future challenges at the global level. To conclude in the words of the well-known poet, Sri Prasoon Joshi:
Why are you so disconnected,
You will only wither away.
The deeper your roots go,
So much will you bloom!
(The writer is Sah Sarkaryavah (Joint general secretary) Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh)