An essay investigating the civilisational costs and existential crisis due to misplaced Hindu tolerance
The news fresh off the oven is the pious act of the Tablighi Jamaat members defecating in front of a quarantine ward in a hospital in Delhi. Visualise the whole act before reading the next sentence. This comes close on the heels of the selfsame Tablighi reverends roaming around buck-naked in another hospital, a highly devout act that alleged journalist Sadanand Dhume calls "extreme propriety around women" by dismissing that such a thing ever happened. Visualise this scene as well before reading the next sentence.
If you are a normal human being, you will quite obviously be disgusted at these. However, if you have a working knowledge of Islamic history, you'd immediately recognise that this is part of a 1300 year-long behaviour pattern, embedded in what is politely known as "theology," which can be described in just three words: humiliation of Kaffirs. For a brilliantly incisive description of this in artistic form, I refer the interested reader to the scene in Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa's iconic Aavarana where the forcibly-converted Kaffir, Khwaja Jahan declares that he wants to defecate in the waters of Ganga to signal his support for Aurangzeb's destruction of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
What is happening in both the aforementioned hospital incidents is the same thing occurring in a different realm and in a different era, in our own time.
The ongoing wanton displays of this humiliation of Kaffirs has another descriptor: it is the recurring cost of the fabled Hindu tolerance. There's just no other way to put it: today, this tolerance has touched such a nadir that Hindus are being defecated upon by the very people who Hindus continue to appease. The humiliated inviting more humiliation.
Remember the controversy over Aamir Khan’s movie, PK directed by one of Bollywood's most dangerous directors, Rajkumar Hirani? Analysing this film doesn't fall in the ambit of this piece but a basic question does: why can’t Aamir Khan be "courageous" enough to make a movie that makes fun of Islam and its Prophet Muhammad? Needless, had Aamir Khan and Raju Hirani merely announced that they were about to make such a movie, both wouldn’t have even been be alive today. Like every true Muslim, Aamir Khan is fully aware of that Islamic sword of Damocles that perpetually hangs over their heads, encapsulated in this phrase: ba khuda diwana bash o ba Muhammad hoshiyar: Take liberties with Allah but be careful when it comes to Muhammad! The doughty scholar and nouveau Sanatana Renaissance savant, Sita Ram Goel memorably described this phenomenon as: Islam Imposes Emergency on India. The familiar script was operational once again: the secular media and (mostly) Sunni Muslims threw their full weight behind Aamir Khan’s cinematic impudence.
Let's look at another example from movie land. The Malayalam movie Pithavinum Putranum has been stuck with the Censor Board for god knows how many years because its subject involves the story of two nuns and is said to show some dark truths about the Church. I'm unaware if it has even been released given the fact that it was completed in 2012. Interestingly, there is no Wikipedia entry for this movie.
Such instances are nearly countless and reflect the same thing: the enormous, deadly and ongoing costs that Hindus continue to pay for being "tolerant," now synonymous with spinelessness. Let me correct that. It has now transcended spinelessness and has become a hulking millstone around the neck of Hindus dragging them back or downwards depending on a given situation. In a word, it has become a civilisational and existential curse. The dire consequence of accommodation leading to eviction.
Of course, we're all deeply familiar with the discourse that has led to this state."Caste" is bad. Lower castes were oppressed for thousands of years. Yet, when a saint like Mata Amritanandamayi hailing from a “lower caste” evokes such devotion from the world with her unstained piety and service, the same discourse doesn't have a single syllable of praise for her. Instead, the purveyors of this toxic discourse await in stealth hoping to find something to tar her.
We need to investigate the roots of this state of affairs.
The project of distorting, demonising and demeaning Hinduism has both a long history and multi-pronged facets to it. We can begin anywhere but we'll begin with the British.
The one solid obstacle that the British encountered in their endeavour to enslave India not only politically but culturally (and racially) was the soft power known as Sanatana Dharma. Indeed, the biggest challenge before the British was the resolute resilience of Sanatana Dharma which had withstood and digested not only the savage Islamic attacks but also the protracted Muslim rule, and had emerged stronger. The last "Mughal" died akin to a beggar in a prison.
It was in this backdrop that the campaign to distort and demonise every institution, belief, practice, tradition, and heritage of the Hindus was launched and carried on with relentless vigour by the British starting from Macaulay up to Curzon and included missionaries and bureaucrats.
This tradition of cultural vandalism is alive and thriving even today. A representative instance of this is the fact that the Bhagavad Gita, the universal, eternal guidebook has now become anathema to these cultural Philistines who regard it as a book of war.
It is superfluous here to criticise such motivated, perverse and unscrupulous opponents. A better approach is to face this truth: Hindus have no option but to strengthen themselves intellectually and institutionally and in every other way.
The picture of India’s culture that emerged from the enormous amount of scholarship produced on India by 18th Century Europe had stunned the British to such an extent that they instituted an army of researchers and scholars who worked for decades to produce a narrative about India that would aid their colonial empire. A child of this project is the spurious Aryan Invasion Theory.
Thanks to this colonial scholarship about Indian culture, the Germans discovered that it was far more useful to trace their origins to India than to the Semitic roots and began calling themselves as Aryans. The story of how this culminated in Hitler’s Nazism with all the attendant consequences is only well-known to bear repetition.
Equally, one of the strongest edifices that helped colonial Western Europe’s influence to reach various corners of the world was the distortion of the history of ancient cultures, which were essentially non-Abrahamic. Advancements in technology and warfare ensured that this Europe found it relatively easy to deal with the Muslim world: they were militarily bulldozed into submission. Besides, this was fundamentally a war between two Abrahamic desert cults who knew each other quite well.
However, fiercely resistant and inherently resilient non-Abrahamic civilisations proved a really tough nut to crack.
This might sound ridiculously funny now. However, in the colonial period, Western Europeans clung to and operated from an important article of faith derived from the Bible: the whole world was their inheritance from their ancestors. It was on this foundation that they wrote or sponsored the writing of history of say, Bharatavarsha.
However, the consequence of this perverted history was not confined just to the intellectual domain—it spread to the realm of political power and was directly responsible for the genocide of millions of innocent people from Australia to Latin America.
Several hugely significant chapters of Indian history have been erased from our memories. It suffices to name only two. The first is the fact that the loot from the Battle of Plassey directly contributed to England’s industrialisation, a topic that merits an independent PhD thesis. Secondly, the modernisation of the British army was achieved only after looting the Marathas. The fact that not one textbook on Indian history mentions such substantial events and their impact on India and Indians is nothing short of amazing and shameful given that we have squandered seventy-plus years without doing anything in this direction. Again, another topic for a PhD thesis.
Neither is this phenomenon restricted to India. It is the standard template of every country that has been colonised: their true histories have been distorted and suppressed.
Even today there are at least fifty nations that are struggling to overcome their mental colonisation. And there are ongoing efforts and struggles in those countries to rediscover and rekindle their native spirit, culture and traditions in their respective national narratives—or what is known as the asmita bhaava. This being the case worldwide, the continuing attempts of Hindus to rediscover their own true history—without colonial aid—should not be regarded as attempts by unintelligent and under informed people.
Eminent European scholars who predated Max Mueller by nearly a century had realised the towering place that Bharatavarsha held in the world both economically and culturally. However, as we noted earlier, this fact too, has been carefully suppressed in today’s time. This is a direct consequence of the efforts of the selfsame Max Mueller and other scholars of his persuasion. However, today’s scholars with intellectual integrity are aware of this fact but they are in a minority and their voices are mostly unheard. It is the classic case of real, solid work being done quietly, away from the public glare and popular platforms, which continue to be dominated by politically-minded scholars and fair-weather time-servers.
But it is undeniable that there is an urgent need to widely disseminate these aforementioned, concealed facts of history and culture at the level of the general public or the common man, so to say.
Friedrich Schlegel, the German scholar who lived prior to 1829 was one the most powerful voices who after meticulous research showed the world the fact that India was the inspiration behind several critical aspects of Europe’s modernisation. And he was not alone. A slew of such voices spoke about India’s lasting gifts to and a source of inspiration for Europe and other parts of the world. However, today, a majority of the people we consider as literate and educated haven’t even heard of these scholars.
The sole motive, indeed, the very basis of concocting the Aryan Invasion Theory was to deny, refute, and despise the antiquity of Santana Bharata’s ancient culture and civilisation.
These are the two main threads that permeate the Aryan Invasion Theory and have been parroted in different ways and under various garbs for about 150 years:
Aryans and Dravidians were two separate races
The behaviour of the upper-caste descendants of these Aryans is responsible for all of India’s societal ills today.
This “theory” was initially used by the British to retain colonial control over India but eventually became an important cornerstone of Tamil Nadu politics. This mythical invasion theory was also used as a device to foment separatism amongst different groups of people in India.
A measure of the extent to which naked fraud this went became evident when most of India’s sacred literature—for example Srimad Ramayana, the epic that the entire country revered— came to be painted in a different hue.
However, the following are the main reasons why this baseless theory was propagated almost unhindered for years:
1. Its propagation was backed by political support.
2. Any theory or policy or movement that contains inbuilt strands of enmity, malice or spite will garner support quickly.
3. Any attempt that is aimed at splintering the society will be backed by the enemies of that society which operate as groups united in said enmity.
Nowhere is this most evident than in the case of Tamil Nadu, a poster-state of sorts for this phenomenon. Inaugurated by a fanatical Christian missionary, the notorious Bishop Robert Caldwell who at one time occupied a place almost equal to that of say, the Rishi Thiruvallavur.
To be continued