Pavan K. Varma, member of JD (U), usually hedges his bets quite nicely but his edit piece in Times of India on Saturday (December 9, 2017) deserves a considered rebuttal.
Basically, Varma praises Jawaharlal Nehru (“Scientific Humanist”) and Mahatma Gandhi (“Catholic spirit”) for the India that should be; and slams the “deliberate communalization by the “Hindutva” brigade.
Varma pompously terms it a “malevolent design.” He writes that such forces “know very little about what Hinduism is.” Therefore, “Hinduism needs to be reclaimed…from rampant bigotry.”
Since Varma knows so much about “Being Indian”, having written a book by this title, he needs be told what Nehru thought of Indians while seeking permission from his father to shift from Cambridge to Oxford in England: “Cambridge is becoming too full of Indians.” [i]
As for his praise of Gandhi for the “Catholic spirit”, Varma needs be asked if it’s the same “Catholic spirit” which makes a Pope condemn the attempts of US-based protestant missions in Latin America but show his double standards by keeping silent on Catholic missions in India?
Is it the same “Catholic Spirit” he has in his mind when he surveys Church buildings standing on the debris of Hindu Temples in South India? [ii] Hasn’t Varma read the Niyogi Committee Report on Christian conversions? Isn’t he aware that Catholic church by itself could be the biggest owner or real estate in India? On a historical scale, does Varma has any recollection of Church condemning colonialism? Would he deliberate the Holocaust could be the result of centuries of Christian anti-Jewish stance? Does he remember Christianity’s oppression of Pagans?
Indeed, European landscape is studded with churches containing false relics of false saints to whom false martyrdom is attributed. [iii]
Now, let’s return to Mahatma Gandhi which Varma praises for his “respect for all religions.” Does Varma remember that Gandhi had made the last-ditch proposal to Jinnah to accept Muslim/non-Muslim parity in Parliament, making one Muslim equal to three non-Muslims? (As an aside, how could Gandhi who has “respect for all religions” be praised for his “Catholic spirit”? Too bad, Mr Varma for using a communal brush on your hero.)
Varma calls out Hindutva forces for communalization in this country. Doesn’t he know that it was Hindutva forces who opposed communal electorates and recruitment quota which Congress had endorsed in pre-Independent India? Doesn’t he know that Hindus can never be fundamentalist because this concept belongs to Biblical-Quaranic traditions? And that Hindu scriptures are universally acknowledged repository of plurality?
We all know, as I am sure Varma does, that words such as “secularism” and “Hindu communalism” were made popular by Nehru. But did Nehru, his other hero, ever say a word about Muslim League which was a reincarnation of “communalism?”
Let’s now take up Varma’s diatribe against the Hindutva forces, which as I infer, is Rashstriya Swamsewak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In RSS’ official statements, the notion of a “Hindu state” is totally absent. Every BJP member, on joining the party has to take the solemn pledge of “Sarva Dharma Sambhav.” That, “I subscribe to the concept of a secular state and nation not based on religion.”
In the RSS literature of the last 60-odd years, “not a single derogatory word or expression towards Christ, Biblical teachings, Prophets of the Bible, Mohammad Paigambar or Koran, or pilgrimage to the Holy Land Jerusalem or Mecca, or about anything which is purely religion,” has been mentioned. [iv]
The BJP election manifesto clearly states that “diversity is an inseparable part of India’s past and present national tradition.”
Varma would never condemn the curious fact that media never mentions the service aspect of RSS. He wouldn’t mention that Hindu India has no history of book-burning, of executing heretics or throwing dissidents to lunatic asylums. Does he remember that it was Hindus’ India which gave shelter to Christian refugees in 345AD and never took that protection away?
Varma in his editorial piece slams Hindutva forces for the “vitriolic politics” on Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute even when the “dispute” is before the Supreme Court. Varma would do well to tell his readers that dispute is not about Mandir or Masjid. The High Court had already awarded Mandir to Hindu litigants. What the Hindu litigants are demanding is the entire land and not one-third of it. Besides, who began the Ayodhya issue? Wasn’t it “janeu-dhari” and “Shiv-bhakt” Rahul Gandhi and the blundering Kapil Sibal?
Wasn’t it Lal Krishna Advani who noted in a BJP Today editorial (16.11.97) that “non-Hindu” luminaries such as VS Naipual and Nirad C. Chaudhuri had justified the Babri demolition and that it was Advani himself who “still regretted the manner in which this happened” ?
Would the intellectual Varma offer us a clue why even after 25 years of Babri demolition, neither he nor his friends in Lutyens’ Media have attempted to find out the real culprits? Surely such forces which can dig up every cent being credited to the Jan Dhan accounts can do the job.
I do not know if Varma is a socialist or Marxist. But I do remember this popular saying about the misfortune of Hindus and their cultural heritage. “Hindus have been facing a sustained attack from Islam since the seventh, Christianity since the 15th and the Marxists since the 20th century.”
[i] – Joseph Shattan: Review of Stanley Wolpert’s book, “Nehru: A Tryst with Destiny, in American Spectator, February 1997
[ii] Decolonizing the Hindu Mind by Dr. Koenraad Elst, Page 273
[iii] Decolonizing the Hindu Mind by Dr. Koenraad Elst, Page 277
[iv] Christianity in India, by Sreepaty Sastry, Page 18
Swami Dayanand Saraswati, whose death anniversary falls this week (October 30, 1883), deserves attention from all Indians. If Mahatma Gandhi is “Father of the Nation”, Swamiji has been called “The Grandfather of the Nation” by no less than a Speaker of our Parliament 1; President Radhakrishnan termed him the “Maker of Modern India”; Swami Vivekananda was inclined to place him alongside Kabir, Nanak and Chaitanya for ensuring Hindus weren’t wiped out in their own homeland 2. A man as towering as Adi Sankaracharya himself 3; he is credited to have laid the real foundation of modern independent India 4; who went farther than “Brahmo Samaj and even Ramakrishna Mission,” as per se Romain Rolland 5. To Sri Aurobindo, he’s been “A Soldier of Light” to the land we call Bharat or India 6.
A piece is hardly enough to encompass a man who needs a shelf-full of books to do justice to him. He believed in ancient Vedas and not Vedanta; was a Hindu without Hinduism. He wanted the living beings of this land to return to roots of Vedas and side-step Upanishads, Puranas, Idolatry and was critical of Brahmins for not disseminating Vedas’ profundity to masses. Such a man can’t be expected to be reverential to Islam or Christianity and he wasn’t. In no way, it implied religious intolerance—rather he wanted the entire humanity to drink from this fountain of eternal wisdom called Vedas. The greatest of all Sanskrit scholars, Swamiji chose to reach out to masses in their own language of Hindi with his magnum opus, Satyarth Prakash (The Light of Truth).
So reams could be written and hours be spent in marvelling how a young boy ran away from his home at 14, never to return or see his family again, spending a quarter of a century as a wandering ascetic, and devoting his entire celibate life in uplifting widows, untouchables and orphans and regenerating the Hindu society. He was the first to give call for Swaraj in 1876, “India for Indians,” which was later taken up by Lokmanya Tilak and a good half-century later by Gandhi-Nehru. To this day, the presence of Arya Samaj in our neighbourhood remind us of him; as do scores of DAV Schools and Colleges which dot most towns and cities of India. Not to forget the admirable Gurukul Kangri in Haridwar.
It is one of history’s painful irony that two men who lit the light of India’s renaissance, Swami Dayanand Saraswati and Mahatma Gandhi, now stand at cross-purpose, even hostile to each other’s philosophy, in the annals of time. Both were born in the state of Kathiawar in Gujarat; the year 1869 which saw the birth of Mahatma Gandhi was also a seminal year in Swamiji’s life when he won over hundreds of learned Pundits in a historic debate in the holy city of Kashi, Banares.
First, it’s no help if we pigeon-hole these two giants in social, religious or political boxes. Those who try to run down Arya Samaj for its unswerving loyalty to Vedas, are worth being reminded that a few of the greatest Indians in freedom struggle like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bhagat Singh, Veer Savarkar, Madanlal Dhingra and Ram Prasad Bismal were shaped by Arya Samaj philosophy. Men like Swami Shraddhanand and Bhai Parmanand were martyred and Swami Dayanand himself was poisoned.
In 1912, a special committee under the chairmanship of Nehru, surveyed all the jails of the country and reported that 70% of its inmates were Arya Samajis. In 1931, that figure rose to 80%. The great historian K.M. Pannikar credited 80% of all freedom-fighters as being inspired by Arya Samaj.
This fervour wasn’t limited to India. In England, Shyamji Krishna Varma began India Home Rule Society in 1905. Another organization with similar aim and objective, namely Ghadar Party was floated in United States by Har Dayal. Sohan Lal Pathak breathed revolutionary fire from Burma in 1915 7.
This all flowed from Swami Dayanand’s philosophy of overturning the alien rule. He recognized the influence of education in regeneration of the Hindu race. The clarion call emanated from DAV College of Lahore and the Gurukul Kangri and between 1886-1918, the Arya Samaj ran over 500 educational institutions throughout India. Long before Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Swamiji had said: “It should be made a penal offence to keep a child at home after that (5-8 years) age.”
All these institutions included the idea of Swadeshi in their curriculum. He mobilized Rajas and Maharajas in this regard. Under his influence, the Maharaja of Jodhpur and all his officials began using hand-spun and hand-woven clothes. All adopted Khadi produced in Marwar. All of these were independent of any governmental assistance. Significantly, military training was made compulsory. One of his critic Valentine Chirol said: “…the whole drift of Dayananda’s teachings is far less to reform Hinduism than to range it into active resistance to the alien influence which threatened, in his opinion, to denationalize it 8.”
By the advent of Mahatama Gandhi in India in 1915, Arya Samaj had become big enough a threat for the British government to ban any of its followers from entering the “precincts of its regimental barracks.” No Arya Samaji was to be enlisted in the army. Swamiji had long gone by then, having been poisoned in 1883 by communal forces but Arya Samaj brooked no stopping.
Gandhi was an early recipient of Arya Samaj’s largesse when he received funds for his struggle against apartheid in South Africa and wrote a personal letter of thanks to its head, Mahatma Munshi Ram. Thereafter students of Phoenix Ashram came to India and stayed several months in the Gurukul. Gandhi himself paid a visit to Gurukul when he arrived on his first visit in 1915. It was here that Mahatma Munshi Ram called Gandhi a Mahatma, a title that Gandhi unsparingly used thereafter in public life. Two years later, Mahatma Munshi Ram took sanyas as “Swami Shraddhanand Saraswati” in 1917.
When Gandhi was praised for his Satyagraha in South Africa, he was quick to respond: “I am worthy of teaching anybody but I yearn to learn myself from anyone who is servant of his country.” He had marvelled at Swami Dayanand Saraswati and his body of work in a mere 11 years. On meeting Swami Shraddhanand in India, Gandhi described him as having a stature as tall as a mountain 9.
In the spirit of those times, Swami Shradanand soon joined Congress, moved by Gandhi’s call that “dharmic aims alone can transform the political field, (leading to pure and true amelioration of India 10 .” Alongside, he infused a new life in Hindu Sangathan, known these days as Hindu Maha Sabha.
No sooner had Swami Shradanand joined Congress, he began seeing the futility of his decision. Ironically, his biggest heart-ache came on the matter of Untouchability. Swami Shraddanand was convinced that seven crores of Indians can’t be allowed to stay out of freedom struggle only because they were Untouchables. He feared they were ready pickings for Christian missionaries. Despite Gandhi’s avowed stance against Untouchability, he received no support from Congress on the matter. His proposals were rejected by Congress in its 1920 Calcutta session. Swamiji was aghast to see Gandhi was more into his non-violent, non-cooperation creed and completely immersed in making the Khilafat Movement a success 11.
Gandhi was completely taken in by his mission to forge a Hindu-Muslim unity. Gandhi’s support to Khilafat Movement, a movement to restore Ottoman Sultan and Caliphate in faraway Turkey—in order to gain Muslim support—and the subsequent Moplah riots in which thousands of Hindus were butchered and about which the apostle of non-violence never offered any criticism, stung Swami Shradhanand. He also found to his dismay that Gandhi was forming committee on various issues and then taking arbitrary decisions. He lamented: “I thought it would be a misfortune if Mahatmaji would be obliged to sever his connection with the oldest political movement (Arya Samaj) in India.”
Gandhi meanwhile had begun to distance himself from Arya Samaj. A flashpoint must have come in 1923 when Swami Shradanand became the president of the Bhartiya Hindu Shuddhi Sabha, created with an aim of reconverting Muslims, specifically Malkana Rajputs in the western United Province. For Arya Samaj has always believed that most minorities of India, whether Muslim or Christian or any other minority, were converts out of Hindu fold. And this it expressly aimed to stop, fearing for such continuance would play havoc for Hindu’s existence in the future.
Soon enough, Gandhi began criticizing Arya Samaj in no uncertain terms. On May 29, 1925, Gandhi wrote in Young India: “Swami Shraddhanandji…his speeches are often irritating…he inherits the traditions of the Arya Samaj 12.”
Gandhi didn’t spare even Swami Dayanand and his magnum opus, Satyarth Prakash. “I have profound respect for Dayanand Saraswatiji…But he made his Hinduism narrow. I have read Satyarth Prakash, the Arya Samaj Bible. It’s a disappointing book from a reformer so great.”
In our times, Arya Samaj is losing its steam primarily for it doesn’t have leaders of stature of Swami Dayanand Saraswati and a few others. Its offices and compounds are now turning into “baraat ghars.” A great movement is dying out. The educational institutions, fashioned by Swami Dayanand Saraswati, though are doing fine.
Three communal incidents have rocked India in the last fortnight.
A 15-year-old Muslim boy, Junaid, was killed in a train. Let’s concede it was a communal murder. Arrests have been made, weapon recovered.
Then North 24-Parganas in West Bengal erupted over a Facebook post where Hindus bore the brunt of Muslim backlash. The State’s silence is viewed by most as complicity. Arrests have been few and far between. The Chief Minister hasn’t bothered to visit and soothe the nerves.
A bus on way to holy Amarnath yatra in Kashmir was ambushed by terrorists who gunned down seven and injured 19 pilgrims. All the right noises have since been made.
If the binary is only Hindu-Muslim divide in this country, the score would show: 2 Muslims; 1 Hindus. Yet you wouldn’t guess so by the narrative being played out.
Junaid’s murder, within hours, was branded as one by cow vigilantes with the implicit blessing of the ruling party in Centre.
West Bengal was dubbed as a convoluted political ploy by BJP looking to secure the upcoming Gujarat elections.
The tragic Amarnath killings were again linked to BJP for its hand in letting Kashmir become a blood-drenched valley.
In between, the stories abounded of a Hindu LeT terrorist (since proven wrong), a stray fake image on Facebook (true) and a prominent Hindi daily (see image) accused of dramatizing the horror of Amarnath yatra survivors.
None of the Lutyens Media, who I prefer to call DALALS (Damn Left and Lutyens Scribes), ever described it as an “Islamic terror”–like they do with concocted “Hindu terror” theme – and, instead, drowned us with the virtues of “Kashmiriyat” and justly heroic “Salim bhai”, the driver of that ill-fated bus.
The DALALS have concentrated on the “form” and not on “substance” or they would have highlighted the onset of Jihadi presence in India stoking and riding on Hindu-Muslim divide.
This is an anti-Hindu brigade. Since Hindus have largely hoisted BJP in the Centre, the corollary is unmistakable. This bunch is partly “brainwashed” and mostly “funded” which either way is not good for India’s unity.
The “brainwashed” ones are no better than the leaders of pre-Independence India who claimed “principle” in public but “compromised” in private with the British. Most of them were lawyers –like Gandhi, Patel and Nehru—and the first two, despite their Indian attire, had political theories of Western orientation. British had nicely sized them up and like monkeys—no offence intended for we have monkey as Gods–made them jump through the hoop.
The “funded” ones are of more dangerous variety. But they conform to the pattern of India’s history which is replete with “betrayals.” These Jaichands and Mir Jafars must have been in the mind of French Francois Bernier, physician to both Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb in the 17th century, who wrote back home that a capable French general with 20,000 soldiers could subdue all of India.
Take the case of Nizam of Hyderabad. In 1767 he joined the English and the Marathas against Haider Ali of Mysore. He then switched side in Haider’s favour. Once Haider was beaten, he again came back to the English side. Ten years later, in 1779, he again was by Haider’s side against the English. In 1786, he had joined the Marathas against Tipu Sultan, Haider’s son. In 1790, he revived a triple alliance with Marathas and English against Tipu.
There is a reason why India could never expel a foreign enemy. The likes of Alexander, Timur, Abdali or Nadir Shah only withdrew. India was a ripe picking for all and sundry—Shaka, Kushans, Huns, Arabs, Afghans and succeeding invaders. And that’s because Indians of then and Indians of now could barely rise above their petty interests. India was and is NOT a single entity in their psychology.
The same unfortunate India is again unfolding in front of our own eyes. The subjugation and invasions of over 1000 years has taught us nothing. There are still embedded forces within who are ready to betray India for personal gains. The real beneficiaries are (a) colonial powers of West and (b) Islamic forces who are breathing down its East and West flanks.
Fortunately, the majority Indians are not with them and have reposed their trust in BJP to govern the country. The danger is BJP and other Hindutva forces are still measuring themselves through the prism of this pseudo-sickular gang. It’s time to bite the bullet and say India is a “Hindu Rashtra” who protects and safeguards the interests of its minorities without distinction or prejudice. Israel has no qualms in declaring itself a Jewish state.
Or else, this fortnight of communal violence will keep itself repeating till BJP themselves falls by the wayside, losing the trust of the majority. Indians want them to stand up for India and against the DALALS.
Or the succeeding generations would hold us accountable for the misfortune which is bound to be their fate.