RONALD REAGAN CONCLUDED HIS March 8, 1983 address at the Annual Convention of the the National Association of Evangelicals in Florida by quoting Thomas Paine:
Reagan was at the summit of his acclaim and his context-free quoting of Paine largely went unnoticed. It was a seasoned actor’s performance of charming rhetoric. Reagan was after all, the ultimate Presidential actor. Quoting Paine, an avowed hater of the Christian theology in a gathering of evangelicals was quite a Reaganesque feat. Here is another sample from Paine:
As to the people called Christians, they have no evidence that their religion is true. There is no more proof that the Bible is the Word of God, than that the Koran of Mahomet is the Word of God…Where is the evidence that the person called Jesus Christ is the begotten Son of God? … The Christian religion is derogatory to the Creator in all its articles. It puts the Creator in an inferior point of view, and places the Christian devil above Him. It is he, according to the absurd story in Genesis, that outwits the Creator in the Garden of Eden, and steals from Him His favorite creature, man, and at last obliges Him to beget a son, and put that son to death, to get man back again; and this the priests of the Christian religion call redemption.
Notwithstanding this acidic condemnation of Christianity, Paine found himself unable to stray afar from the selfsame theology. In his Birthday of a New World, included in his volume titled Common Sense, we get the full context of the quote that Reagan dropped:
Paine was clearly trying to imagine if not shaping a New Garden of Eden in a fledgling America.
But Reagan got one element right in that same speech, speaking strictly in the context of that era. He said, “I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written.” Sure enough, the USSR shattered eight years later but Communism as an ideology not only did not die but morphed itself into a million decentralised and more lethal units.
Perhaps Reagan had spoken too soon, perhaps he was just echoing the sentiment of the era. But America had celebrated its provisional victory over Communism prematurely.
THE BRILLIANT TRIUMPH OF GIORGIA MELONI is a cocktail of several ingredients of Reagan’s speech in an inverse way. While Reagan had declared victory more than three decades ago, Meloni has heralded a pushback if not an open revolt against the same forces which have now reincarnated grotesquely. It is also a declaration of war against an invisible internationalist regime, which in her words wants all of us “to simply be perfect consumer slaves.” Her viral speech is a powerful and compelling reformulation of the widespread condemnation of the anti-woke discourse, which has gained strength in recent years.
…they attack gender identity, they attack family identity. I can’t define myself as Italian, Christian, woman, mother, no! I must be citizen X, gender X, parent 1, parent 2. I must be a number. Because when I am only a number, when I no longer have an identity or roots, then I will be the perfect slave at the mercy of financial speculators.
This internationalist regime, now running amok on the strength of the well-oiled global apparatus of wokeism and group identity politics is largely a creation of two world wars. Both were actually European wars fought by colonial empires which dragged more than half of the globe into them. In both wars, Italy played the role of the villain. But the villain label was pasted on Italy by other European nations. Thus, both world wars are dire studies of the villain vs villain phenomenon. Mario Puzo’s crime novel, The Godfather offers a potboiler version of this study. Call it coincidence or a bizarre operation of divinity, The Godfather story is a story of Italian mafia families. Throughout the novel, the reader actually communes with Don Vito Corleone and wants Michael Corleone to win, forgetting the fact that both father and son run criminal empires, and that the novel is fundamentally a story of lawbreakers and criminals fighting one another.
This is precisely the picture of the two world wars that we get when we analyse it from the perspective of the colonised. Thus, from the Indian perspective, the whole of Europe was, and remains the arch villain. Labels don’t matter. Socialist, Fascist, Marxist, Communist, Trotskyist, Leninist, Stalinist, Humanist, Nationalist, Colonialist, Fabian, Nazi…all led to the same Europe-paved road to the perdition of India. England’s fair conscience didn’t bleed when France pocketed Pondicherry. France’s musical tongue didn’t utter a word of condemnation when Portugal throttled Goa till 1961. George Orwell, one of Europe’s rare thinkers imbued with genuine intellectual honesty puts all these labels in perspective in a classic essay. In essence, he concludes that these labels were interchangeable according to situation, mood, convenience, conversation, and dispensability. Thus, “farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else,” could easily change spots in this vile musical chair of label-fixing.
As Indians, we need to place Giorgia Meloni’s emphatic victory in this historical context. Her stress on reclaiming identity — specifically as an Italian and a Christian — offers vital clues. To Hindus. Clues and proof.
The most glaring proof is the fact that it is high time Hindus dropped the erroneous and terminally disastrous practice of identifying themselves as “Indian Right,” “Indic wing” (sic) or “Hindu Right.” Such practices are the outcomes of intellectual laziness if not a yawning lack of civilisational self-confidence.
Now the clue. By Meloni’s own admission, she belongs to the Right Wing, which in the European context, has a settled meaning. Thus, if Meloni is Right Wing, she is a Right Wing Christian, which will prove fatal to Hindus in India. As it is, we have an abundance of soul vultures.
THEREFORE, IT IS WITH SOME TREPDIATION that I observed the exultant celebration of the so-called Indian Right Wing over the news of Meloni’s win. Some sections have exploded in rapturous joy over her victory as if it is their personal victory.
It is not.
I will break the bad news with honesty. This celebration of a Christian leader’s political victory in an alien nation by Indian Hindus is just the latest manifestation of a stubborn old psychological phenomenon. It only shows that Hindus, even after seventy-five years of “independence,” have been unable to develop an original civilisational narrative rooted in their own ethos, whose foundation is an immanent spiritual philosophy.
The Vedantic Brahmavakyas — Tatvamasi andAham Brahmasmi — whose offshoots, broadly speaking, are the profound conceptions of Rta - Satya - Dharma and Yajna - Dana - Tapas triads, form the bedrock of the aforementioned philosophy. Our multi-centurial tragedy is that these profound conceptions still exist in relatively unbroken continuity. The fact that they continue to be criminally ignored, not as being outdated or irrelevant, but as being superstitions compounds this criminality. The fact that these have been the sculptors, defenders and conservationists of our civilisation and culture transforms the tragedy into a pathetic epic.
Just two examples suffice to offer the contours of this downfall.
The first: an original exponent like Prof. M. Hiriyanna could write a stellar essay expounding upon just one maxim from the Manusmriti. This prodigious feat opens the door to an entire universe via personal values and social philosophy which when extrapolated, helps us rediscover a national ideal, which was once as natural to Indians as breathing. It is encapsulated in just two words, Nivrttistu Mahaphalaa. The following sample is breathtaking in its sweep and profundity:
…no virtue is conceivable without resistance to desire… pravrtti [action, activity, tendency, etc] necessarily includes nivrtti [renunciation]… the latter term stands for the spirit of sanyasa, though it may not wear its form… no attempt is made here to synthesise the principle of active life…with the principle of asceticism. It merely represents an attempt to correlate the different orders of life… ABSOLUTE SELF-DENIAL, BLENDING AND INTERFUSING WITH ACTIVE LIFE IS AN IDEAL WHOSE FORMULATION IS ONE OF INDIA’S MOST SIGNAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO WORLD THOUGHT… According to Manu, [there is] a higher and a lower morality…the latter…meant for average men, the former for those who are ethically more advanced…The path of nivrtti may suit the few; it is the path of pravritti that fits the many…but…the… ‘lower’ morality… has its own excellence…in fact, it is the only kind of morality that is recognised in many communities…But from the Indian standpoint, it is not perfect or complete…until it is integrated with the principle of total unselfishness…The distinction is not thus one of bad and good, but…good and…better.
There’s not even a whiff of politics in this masterpiece but it contains the spiritual and philosophical raw material that should ideally inform, guide, mould and ennoble politics. That the sagely professor has chosen Manusmriti is also an indicator of our civilisational amnesia. Notwithstanding some of its portions irrelevant to our time, it still is an invaluable mentor of values. Aside, D.V. Gundappa’s classic exposition on the work and Shatavadhani Dr. Ganesh’s Human Values in the Manusmriti show us how to understand the work.
The second example comes from the prolific and piercing pen of Dr. S. Srikanta Sastri.
…we have the example of a person who wished to reform society and to bring world peace through self-sacrifice and not through the force of arms. Some people believe that Christ was such a person! Such people who actually believe that he was the human form of the Divine need to answer this question: has he brought world peace even after two thousand years?… Next, we must also examine the theory which says that world peace can be attained through economic and social equality. This theory immediately falls flat when we make a common sense observation: no government can fully eradicate the differences innate in the human temperament. History is proof of the fact that all such attempts have resulted in evils that go by various names: Caesarism, Imperialism, Capitalism, Anarchy, Nationalism, Communism, and Atheism… This problem has been resolved in the Bharatiya culture in a subtle, nuanced manner. Unlike other cultures, THE BHARATIYA CULTURE RECOGNISES THE PRINCIPLE OF THE AHISTORIC SOUL, which permeated its civilisational fabric with unbroken continuity. Thus, STATECRAFT WAS SUBORDINATED TO A SPACE-TIME NEUTRAL VALUE CALLED DHARMA. KSHATRA IS AUXILIARY TO BRAAHMA.
This extraordinary exposition was published not in an academic journal but forms part of the foreword that Dr. Sastri wrote for a Kannada historical novel!
These are the places where we need to begin our investigation to figure out why such philosophers and scholars and writers have all but vanished today. And so, if some sections of the so-called ”Hindu Right” abandons taking joy in imported cheap thrills emitted by the likes of Meloni, it would have already taken a great first step towards civilisational rediscovery. Ideology and politics are not the foundational markers of our civilisation. Opening our eyes inward is. The two examples cited so far represent how to look inward. And the list of such examples is inexhaustible.
THE “WING” FORMULATION OF POLITICS is unsuitable to a spiritual civilisation like Bharatavarsha because it is primarily based on two soul-sucking premises.
The Western Right Wing takes its inspiration from the Biblical legacy, which has annihilated entire civilisations across the globe. The Left takes it from crass materialism, which in practice has translated into the totalitarianisms of the USSR, China and the former Eastern European Bloc culminating in the largest genocides in a century in all of human history.
Even American style capitalism has its roots in the East India Company’s intrinsic mindset of untrammelled greed sanctified by Parliamentary laws passed by bribing and buying legislators.
On a fundamental plane, capitalism, communism, conservatism, and subgenera thereof can thrive only by denying the aeolian yearning for the spiritual innate in all humans. The Christian Right denies it by enchaining the soul to the fetters of book-based bigotry. The Left’s corrodes and eviscerates it by reducing the human to an economic resource.
We must borrow from Dr. S. Srikanta Sastri once more. This is what he wrote in December 1942.
[We have now created] a half-created world, half-understood world where Religion is without Ecstasy, Law without Justice, and Charity without Love. [We] attempt to create a delicate balance between social obligations and individual spiritual life. This is increasingly difficult because of a perverted sense of values…A materialistic, mechanist and fatalist doctrine of progress without purpose…has resulted in a new idolatory…this can be accounted for…by conspiracies of statesmen and politicians with no intellectual or moral integrity...This has resulted in a cult of bastard [democracy] and nationalism begotten of inferiority complex.
We find a practical echo of Dr. Sastri’s powerful sentiment in Dharampal’s encyclopaedic works urging for the total decolonisation of the Hindu society, naturally leading to the decolonisation of Indian politics. The strongest and the most expressive line of Dharampal’s urge is this: why does the average Indian still feel terrified of meeting a bureaucrat?
As the new Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni may eventually prove beneficial to Italy. But our own experience with Italy has been rather destructive to say the least.
|| Satyam Shivam Sundaram ||
The Dharma Dispatch is now available on Telegram! For original and insightful narratives on Indian Culture and History, subscribe to us on Telegram.