We stepped into Amritkaal with a strong footing – with a firm resolve to shed the vestiges of the slavish mentality that was instilled in us by colonisers. The clarion call for undertaking this course correction was given by Pujaneeya Sarsanghchalak Dr Mohan Bhagwat, who, in his Vijayadashmi speech, emphasised the need to reorient our polity and national life on the basis of our svatva – national selfhood. On August 15, 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid out a clear plan of action to erase the traces of colonial mentality through the Panchpran (The Five Promises). “In the next 25 years, we have to focus on ‘Panchpran.’ First, we will move forward with bigger resolves and resolve of developed India. Second, we will erase all the traces of servitude from within and from around us. Third, we will be proud of our legacy. Fourth, we will work on the strength of unity, and fifth, to fulfil our duties to the citizens of India, including the PM and the CMs.” After we gained Independence from the British, there was an opportunity for us to make a departure from the path the colonial masters had laid out for us. But the Eurocentric native rulers did not even move a finger, but rather tried to trample on all expressions of our national selfhood. Confusions were sought to be created on our national identity by Left intellectuals. As a result of 75 years of indoctrination through media and academia, we produced legions of listless men and women who hated their culture and country.
HOW US TACKLED THE IDENTITY QUESTION
Defining the American creed, US political thinker Samuel Huntington states: “The American Creed is the unique creation of a dissenting Protestant culture”. He further states: “Protestant emphasis on the individual conscience and the responsibility of individuals to learn God’s truths directly from the Bible promoted American commitment to individualism, equality, and the rights to freedom of religion and opinion. Protestantism stressed the work ethic and the responsibility of the individual for his own success or failure in life… With its congregational forms of church organization, Protestantism fostered opposition to hierarchy and the assumption that similar democratic forms should be employed in government.”
Huntington clearly dismisses the argument that America is a “land of settlers” and therefore doesn’t have a national identity. According to him, the American identity has been shaped by Protestantism.
FORCES AND THEIR TOOLS
In no other country has there been confusion about its national identity as pronounced as in Bharat. Before the advent of Europeans, there wasn’t any confusion. There existed a cultural, spiritual and at times political unity. Inhabitants of this land shared a clear conception about the sacred geographical contours of the nation, notwithstanding existence of numerous kingdoms and principalities. A strong power center was not the force that sustained this unity. Political differences never came in the way of the evolution of a national character that is distinctly Bharatiya. There was something living and dynamic about this heritage which showed itself in its world view and approach to humanity, nature and life’s problems.
Much before the incursions of Muslim invaders, Bharat had weathered several challenges posed by external forces. Characterised by its unique philosophical outlook, the nation not only measured up to the challenge posed by external forces but also showed an urge to synthesis and reform. In this exercise, many of them got assimilated into the cultural mainstream.
British manipulated and appropriated Hindu scriptures. During the Mughal period, too, there were huge manipulations done to confuse the population about Hindu Dharma. Sufis led the movement to convert Hindus to Islam
However, a major challenge to the national life was posed by the Islamic invaders who destroyed not only the cultural and spiritual institutions and centres but indulged in largescale conversion of people. If one looks closely at the centers of knowledge and wealth that they destroyed, the temples they had chosen to demolish, it would be clear that what drove them was not mere wealth. I-have-a-book-so-burn-down-all-libraries was the mindset which led to the destruction of ancient universities and libraries of Bharat.
Resilience of our civilisation helped it survive during those tortuous times. When temples were destroyed, people moved their Gods to their houses. Entire Arabia became completely Islamised in a matter of ten years after the Prophet launched Islam but it could not achieve that same feat in Bharat. Islam erased many civilisations and cultures from the face of earth but its march slowed down in Bharat. But the Sanatanis had to pay a heavy price with their blood.
It is often argued that the British manipulated and appropriated Hindu scriptures. During the Mughal period, too, there were huge manipulations done to confuse the population about Hindu Dharma. Sufis led the movement to convert Hindus to Islam.
But the more sinister and scheming were the British, who employed methods to wean us away from our Svatva and Swadharma. All tools at their disposal were used to achieve this. Education, administration, history, religion, statecraft and even archaeology was used to destroy our sense of selfhood. There was an attempt to recast our value systems through a Euro-centric yardstick. As Gandhiji lamented, the “beautiful tree” of Bharatiya Education system was destroyed with an intention to create an army of slavish people to work as clerks for the British.
ARCHAEOLOGY AS A STRATEGY
Archaeology was harnessed to push the Aryan Invasion myth. The pioneer in Bharatiya archaeology Alexander Cunningham, an official with East India Company, is on record stating that the purpose of his excavations was to “show that Brahmanism was of comparatively modern origin, and has been constantly receiving additions and alterations; facts which prove that the establishment of the Christian religion in India must ultimately succeed.” The British and Western ‘Orientalists’ had deep-rooted conviction that Christianity was superior to Hindu Dharma, Buddhism and Jainism.
In the North East they adopted a different strategy. Author Michel Danino states: “Archaeology in those seven states has been sorely neglected and important finds poorly highlighted. Yet, by documenting the presence of Hindu and Buddhist temples and artefacts dating back to a few centuries BCE and CE, they effectively dispel the widespread but untenable notion that this region was never culturally attached to India.”
AK Sharma, who led several excavations in North East, stated: “During the pre-independence era, in spite of some archaeological evidences showing similarities with the rest of the country, the myth of backwardness was deliberately inculcated and propagated as this facilitated the missionaries in conversion of the indigenous people to their faith… Though the entire region abounds in archaeological and cultural wealth, very little has been done so far to unearth the glorious past of the area. If proper attention would have been paid earlier, as was done in the case of other parts of the country, the feeling of aloofness and alienation that was deliberately inculcated by the enemies of the country could have been avoided. We are responsible for keeping our brothers and sisters of the Northeast in the dark about their glorious past, about their very close relationships with the rest of the country.”
Forces of history have been conspiring to weaken our svatva consciousness but there have been efforts by our great leaders to reconnect us with our cultural roots. It should be borne in mind that our cultural heritage is not just an arithmetical aggregate of diverse regional cultures. Actually, the regional cultures are the manifestation of Bharatiya culture. Although they are expressed in diverse idioms and characteristic flavours, the soul of these cultures is same. The totality of all these cultures defines our svatva. Dr Radhakrishnan had said about Bharatiya literature that ‘All Indian literature is one, written in different languages.’
Bharat from time immemorial has been regarded as one country from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari. For us, she was our mother – Bharat Mata. This is reflected in the Prithvi Sukta and the more recent Anand Math of Bankim Chandra Chatopadhyay
Every region of Bharat has been a part of the sacred whole. Every part of Bharat is bestowed with teerthas and saints and sages and our social, cultural and spiritual life was linked to them in one way or the other. Beneath the superficial differences and variations, a discernable observer can see the same spiritual inspiration at work.
Even in political sphere, the same thought process is at work. There were leaders who had firmly believed that the Soviet model was the panacea for all problems facing Bharat. Some wanted to go for the American model. But great men like Deendayalji tried to bring in a Bharatiya idiom to politics through his integral humanism – Ekatma Manav Darshan. The atmanirbhar campaign propounded by the present government is also an attempt to move towards our svatva – soul of Bharat.
Bharat from time immemorial has been regarded as one country from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari. For us, she was our mother – Bharat Mata. This is reflected in the Prithvi Sukta and the more recent Anand Math of Bankim Chandra Chatopadhyay. For us, Bharat Mata is the ultimate manifestation of our identity. As rightly put by Sri Aurobindo, “It is not a piece of earth, nor a figure of speech, nor a fiction of the mind. The mighty Shakti we call Bhavani Bharati is the living unity of the Shaktis of three hundred million people.” It is this living unity of Bharat symbolized as our common mother that we have been taught to respect through the ages. Departure from this ideal is the root cause of all fissiparous tendencies rising in our country.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has been assiduously working to instill among people to strengthen the national consciousness. As pointed out by the Sarsanghchalak, what we need today is intellectual Kshatriyas who are ready to take on forces that are out to destroy our sense of selfhood at various levels.