15. The Hindu movement after Ayodhya

15.1 Symbolic issues

The Ayodhya issue is a symbolic issue. Non-sympathetic people will say only a symbolic issue. But for people who are part of it, symbols do matter. The Indian Constitution specifically demands respect for the flag and the anthem, even though these are only symbols. So, all due respect for symbols. Nevertheless, a symbol is only a symbol of something. It is this something that makes the symbol into something that matters. And the care extended to the symbol, is only a symbol of the care extended to that something.

Ram is the symbol of dharma. Ram Rajya represents Dharma Rajya, the Rule of Righteousness. The attention which in a symbolic moment like the present Janmabhoomi-building is given to the symbolizing entity, Ram, is itself a local-temporal representation of the general attention given to the symbolized entity, the Dharma.

So, the Hindu activists should impress upon their minds that the struggle is not for a brick structure, though that is a legitimate symbolic part of it, but for Dharma. After centuries of Muslim oppression and Western indoctrination, even activist Hindus have become self- alienated and forgetful of the true values of their own civilization. Do they know what Dharma means?

In all modesty, let us attempt to define the fundamental distinction between Hindu dharma and the monotheistic religions. The fundamental problem in Hinduism is avidya, lack of consciousness. The goal of life is peace or happiness, the place and means to achieve it is consciousness. Therefore, techniques of consciousness culture have been developed, and they are available for everyone to choose from, according to one's own character and level of development.

In Islam, consciousness has no role at all. It suffices to be in the right club, the Muslim millat. Secondarily, it is expected that you conform to the common rules of Islamic law and morality, and that you serve the interests of Islam, if need be through armed struggle against the unbelievers. Consciousness is nowhere in the picture. In Christianity also, there is a strong stress or morality, though ultimately it is not your moral calibre but only Jesus who has the power to save you. At any rate, it is not consciousness. In Marxism, consciousness is even denied any independent status. Mao Tse-tung rejected all soulculture as bourgeois diversion from the class struggle.

When some secularists have said that the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was not truly a Hindu movement, they were right in the sense that it was a consciousness movement. It involved a lot of physical locomotion, a lot of people giving their lives, and all that for a physical structure that would undo the physical harm which Islam has done to the physical temples of Hinduism. But then again, in the circumstances, such a physical movement was probably the best reminder and consciousness-raiser.

Hindu society may take up several more symbolic issues after this temple business is over. A very important one for most Hindus is cow protection. In fact, in calling it merely a symbolic issue, I may well betray a bias or lack of empathy resulting from my non-Hindu roots. I have never been taught to venerate the cow, but it a majority of the people in India think that what is sacred them, deserves protection, then they can enact a law enforcing cow protection in every nook and corner of the country. It is in keeping with the injunction of the Constitution.307

Is it unsecular to ban cow slaughter? To answer that question, let us first make a comparison. The Catholic Church is very strongly opposed to abortion, and encourages Catholic politicians and votes to prevent its legalization. In Ireland, the people recently voted in a referendum to ban abortion not just by law, but in the Constitution. So now, the unborn children are the sacred cows of Ireland. Was this unsecular? No, it was perfectly secular, because the secular democratic procedures laid down by law were followed, the sovereign people and no one but the people made the decision, and the Church or any other religious authorities were nowhere in the picture. If some people had based their viewpoint an abortion on their commitment to the Catholic faith, then that was their own private affair, with which the secular state had no business.

Conversely, in Belgium, a law allowing abortion was passed, in spite of the Catholic bishops' opposition to it, but in conformity with an appeal by the Humanist [i.e. atheist] League. The same thing happened in Italy. In these countries, the voters who were sufficiently committed to the Catholic faith to uphold its rejection of abortion, as well as the non-Catholic opponents of the abortion law, had dwindled and become a minority. So the secular procedure was to count the votes and legislate accordingly, without anyhow bothering about the religious or non-religious reason why people had voted the way they did.

So, a secular democratic decision is not defined as that one which will make the bigots the most unhappy. It is simply the decision supported by the majority in the relevant round of voting. It is secular from the moment no religious Scripture or authority came between the voters' preference and the actual legislation. So, if cow-slaughter is banned because the Shankaracharya demands it, it is not secular. If it is banned because a majority in parliament decides so, it is secular. And it remains that, even if the politicians or their constituents have autonomously chosen to follow the Shankaracharya's advice.

My impression is that a clear majority of the citizens of Bharat would favour a comprehensive legal ban on cow- slaughter. Given the right intellectual climate, talented politicians should be able to transform this majority opinion into a parliamentary majority, and finally into a law. If sacred places can be protected by law, so can sacred animals. Of course, if another community has another sacred animal, than can be protected as well as. A law protecting animals is in fact much more humane and progressive than a law conserving the status quo of places of worship.

Another symbolic issue, in fact symbolic par excellence, is the question of restoring old names. Local Hindu groups have demanded and sometimes enacted the adoption of re-adoption of Hindu names for cities, replacing names like Aurangabad which only served to eternalize Muslim fanatics like Aurangzeb. One that would be a very resounding international statement, is the replacement of Delhi by Indraprastha.

Some people who think a centuries-old name is more sacrosanct than a millennia-old name, predictably come out with their bored non-interest, asserting that there are better things to do. It is an old trick: when you oppose a change, you say there are so much more important things to do. Thus, when the Link Language problem became acute in 1965 (according to the Constitution, the change-over from English to Hindi had to be completed by then, but those in power had sabotaged the process completely), the English-speaking elite had no intention of giving up its language privileges, so it said that you cannot feed Hindi to the poor, and such hollow excuses more. A cartoon showed ship sinking into an ocean of problems (unemployment, poverty, etc., the real problems), with the crew fighting each other over English and Hindi instead of saving the ship. This disgusting trick of declaring other people's demands (even if they are for the implementation of the democratically accepted Constitution) to be beside the point, instead of addressing them, is always used by people who have arrived and settled into the comfort of power.

There is no conflict between solving the realproblems, and taking decisions regarding symbolic issues. The two are not in each other's way. Other countries, far poorer than India, have changed names. Burma became Myanmar, Batavia become Jakarta, Leopoldville became Krishnasa, Lourenzo Marques became Maputo, Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, etc. These countries also took down most statues of the colonial heroes, unhindered by any Babri Masjid Committee. So it is entirely in the hands of the sovereign people whether they want to retain the imposed name or restore the indigenous name, and whether they want to create, abolish or change national symbols.

15.2 The need for a Hindu programme

The Hindutva people should develop a clear programme of where they want to go with Hindu society. The slogan Hindu Rashtra has so far attracted a lot of bad press, with secularists misrepresenting it as a Hindu theocratic state, with Hindu Khomeinis and a Hindu inquisition. This nonsense can only be countered by an ideological offensive which articulates the values the Hindu movement wants to realize, which weeds out obscurantist or otherwise negative elements within the current Hindutva ideology, and which defines goals and indicates the means. But first of all the Hindus should be clear in their own minds about what contents they intend to give to a Hindu polity.308

The last half-century or so, the only ones with an articulate ideology, were the communists and their softer variety, the socialists. Everybody was constantly imbibing and reproducing their thought categories. In Europe, that dominance was never that complete, and it was overthrown radically in the seventies, when ex- Marxists turned against the dogmas they had adored, and intellectuals took a new pride in developing freedom- oriented and reality-based social thought. In India, the Leftists are still the only ones with an ideology, and the rest is still mentally fettered by thought categories copied from the Left. The time is ripe for a change.

What movement in history has ever succeeded, that was not based on a sustained intellectual effort to analyze the factors determining reality, to formulate the goals of the policy, and to outline strategies? If you want to achieve something, you have something, you have to know what you are doing. A movement merely based on emotion will get entangled in situations it cannot comprehend. It is bound to lose its momentum and peter out, or to discredit itself.

The secularists have been very unfair in their writings on the Hindutva movement, when they ascribed to it a grand design of a theocratic Hindu state. In bracketing theocratic with Hindu, they displayed their contemptuous willful ignorance about Hinduism; but the more important point is that they were wrong in ascribing any grand design to the Hindutva movement. The fact is that this movement has not more than a vague intuition about where it is going.

At the political level, there is a party that does the practical business of governing several states, like Madhya and Himachal Pradesh, and that has a few Hindutva- oriented programmed points, like the full integration of Kashmir into India, and the termination of appeasement policies for the minorities. But nowhere in its party documents, or even in the scarce ideological literature to which it may refer, do I find an outline of the grand political coal of the Hindutva movement.

At the popular level, there is an enthusiastic movement aroused by emotionally charged issues like the Ram Janmabhoomi. The common people involved are, however, little informed about any larger scheme in which this movement fits. When communists organize a strike, they make it an opportunity to educate the workers about their ideology and long-term goals, But what has the common Ram bhakta learned about Hindu Rashtra? The consciousness-raising for which such a mass movement would normally be an excellent occasion, has been limited to some flag-waving and some slogans. Slogans are alright when they are the summary of a considered political programme. but by themselves they are nothing.309

At the academic level, there is just nothing at all. Communists have produced a vast literature. Not just party literature, not just pamphlets. Thousands upon thousands of academic studies, including graduate dissertations, consists of little more than the application of Marxist concepts to a given issue. On almost anything, you will find a number of books that give the Marxist View. On a slightly lesser scale, there is a large body of Islamic literature. Not just historical studies of what the medieval doctrine of Islam about such and such a topic was, but also studies on Islamic economics and banking, on Islamic social policies, on the Islamic answers to problems of development, of justice, of emancipation.

There is no such Hindu literature. Except for disinterested and esoterical studies of the past, there is no academic articulation of the Hindu approach to any relevant issue. There are professors who privately express their sympathy with Hindu viewpoints, but they are too timid to come out openly with a rebuttal of the arrogant secularist statements. And even if they are bold enough to do that, that still does not amount to building a Hindu ideology that can stand up to the modern world.

The vocal Hindutva advocates of this century have produced little more than a Bunch of Thoughts, as Guru Golwalkar's work was aptly called. A very large percentage of the pages of all the books together which you may find in RSS-affiliated bookshops, is devoted to the trauma of Partition. Another large percentage is devoted to comment on other misfortunes that have befallen Hindu society, or to the glorification of Hindu leaders. This may be useful to strengthen the enthusiasm and devotion of Hindutva militants, as well as their anti-Pakistan pathos, but it is ideologically not going very far. It doesn't develop a wellfounded coherent vision on a range of topics which any social thinker and any political party will have to address one day.

There are a few basic statements of the Hindu view, but they are at best sketchy, like Balraj Madhok's Rationale of Hindu State310, or Jay Dubashi's columns (in Organiser as well as in other papers). The best achievements of the best minds among the Hindutva people still do not exceed the length of a speech or an article, and seldom do they have more ambition than to comment on one past or present event. There is as yet very little original or comprehensive work being done. Moreover, they are all isolated: never is there any Hindutva ideologue who sits down to make a critique of the worm of one of his predecessors, or who takes up a line of research where an earlier writer had left it. So, there is no growth, no progress, no building on top of what has earlier been achieved, and no weeding out of what was wrong or poorly formulated. Short, there is no intellectual life in this Hindutva movement.

To an extent, that is due to the general culture and intellectual situation in India. When you read the works of these Indian thinkers who are still being praised in yearly memorials by their sycophantic followers, it is all very disappointing. It is the same from Left to Right: M.N.Roy,Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Bose, Bhimrao Ambedkar, Ram Manohar Lohia, Jayprakash Narayan, Vinoba Bhave, V.D. Savarkar, Guru Golwalkar, Deendayal Upadhyaya, they are all pretty elementary and second- hand. Of course, they were involved in social and political work, they did the writing in between other things. But the fact remains that they were no comprehensive thinkers who independently applied their minds to the political and cultural problems of their time: they just borrowed some basic ideas, wrapped them in their own personal style of rhetoric, and that was it.

Yet, there are papers today who adorn every issue with a words-of-wisdom column devoted to some words of these thinkers: Thus Said Nehru, Thoughts Waves (mostly Golwalkar) and Thus Spake Ambedkar. If these quotes were taken as starting-points for critical comments, they could be useful; but they function merely as calligraphed verses from Scripture, to be repeated and repeated again.

If not among social and political leaders, have there been among armchair thinkers some who really developed their thought, and made it available to those who wanted to serve Hindu society in the socio-political arena? After Sri Aurobindo, who produced some powerful thought both during his politically active life and after, I don't see too many of them. Mahatma Gandhi, of course, though a man of action, found time to produce insights that still make interesting reading for those who can read him with a learner's, not an admirer's mind. But these great men have attracted nothing but followers. No one is building on them, taking their line further from where they left it.

Looking specifically at the Hindutva movement, I may give two example of how thought built on top of earlier thought could have made a difference.

Secularists often quote Guru Golwalkar as saying that "Muslims can only live in this country as guests, claiming nothing, no privileges, not even citizen's rights". Since they always quote that line, I presume it is the worst and most fascist thing they could find in Golwalkar's work. Now, if there was an intellectual effort going on the Hindutva movement, this statement, which has been available for thirty years or so, would have been commented on, critically discussed, put in a certain context, and by now it would have been amended, rejected, or given a specific interpretation. When a secularist would quote it, the Hindutva think tank would reply that their though had much developed since, that they had outgrown this crud viewpoint. Or they could stick to this hard-line statement, and argue, and support with illustrative facts, that reciprocity with Pakistan (which doesn't give full citizen's rights to Hindus) is the only fair and fruitful policy. Or they could up with some refined reinterpretation, or with whatever product of thirty years of thought progress. But no, the statement is still there as it was, a line in the Canon of Guruji's words of wisdom.

A second example is Deendayal Upadhyay's Internal Humanism. If I understand the historical context correctly, this doctrine was developed in reply to M.N.Roy's Radical Humanism, which after Marxist fashion reduced man to his economical dimension. Against that, Deendayal restored the four purusharthas (aims of human life: pleasure, wealth, duty, liberation) as the co- indispensable components of a fully human life. I cannot find fault with that. It is very similar to the stand taken by the Christian-Democrats in Europe against the Socialists:Man liveth not by bread alone. Moreover, I think Hindu tradition is in this regard more sophisticated than the sources the Christian-Democrats have drawn. So, this Integral Humanism has potential. Nevertheless, it is extremely elementary. It is not a developed ideology with which you can analyze all the actual social and political problems. Or maybe you can, who knows, but at any rate it has not been done. There has been no follow-up on Deendayal's thought, neither to develop it nor to demolish it. It is now just another murti put up for paying respects to.

So, I see little of a Hindu Rashtra ideology expressing itself through organizations like the RSS, parties like the BJP, or campaigns like the Ram Janmabhoomi Mukti campaign. The whole Hindutva movement is still now a body without much of a mind. It is looking for a mind.

This ideological work is in the first place a task for intellectuals, not for political parties.311 Today's thought determines tomorrow's politics. So, intellectuals have to create an intellectual climate in which the aspirations of Hindu society can be put forward as a realistic political as well as culture programme.

In the first place, they have to break the anti-Hindu bias that now dominates and positions the intellectual atmosphere. They have to put the secularist vipers on the defensive, by exposing their lies and distortions, and by exposing the abysmally black record of the ideologies and systems which they champion. This is not the most important and certainly not the most pleasant part of the work, but in the present situation which Hindus have allowed to develop, it is necessary to cut through this thick mud of slander and falsehood.

The intellectual war is largely a matter of terminology. So far, the Left has been dictating the terminology and thus it has determined the values that everyone tries to live up to. Secularism, need I repeat, has been given a wholly distorted meaning, and it has been prescribed as the norm by which every non-Muslim has to be measured. The Hindutva people, who have no thought and no terminology of their own, have therefore been dancing to the Leftists' beat, and have tried their best to be recognized as secularists Instead of proudly saying :We are Hindus, they are saying :"We are the real secularists, they are pseudo-secularists", a new variation on: "We are positive secularists, they are negative secularists".

This is a losing game. When country to live up to the hostile party's norms, you can at best give a good imitation, never the first-hand product. You had better put your own product in profile.

Of course, the Hindutva people are right when they call the secularists pseudo-secularists (L.K. Advani has managed to drive this point home in the public arena, which may well prove a decisive reversal in the terminology battle). If secularism means what it really means, as in Europe, then the people who make common cause with Muslim fundamentalists and defend a separate status for a state with a Muslim majority, religion-based personal laws, and religion-based discrimination in education or in temple management, cannot count as secularists. They are pseudo-secularists, and their opponents are genuine secularists. But now in India the term secularism has become so contaminated through systematic distortion and misuse, that it cannot be saved anymore. In the short run, it cannot be restored to its rightful meaning. And it can never be restored to its proper meaning as long as it is in the political arena. Therefore, the word secularism has to be dropped.

Why would the Hindutva people go on proclaiming that they are true secularists? Either the term means anti- religion, and then it doesn't apply, and it should not be held up as an ideal except by Stalinists; or it means a mutual non-interference of state and religion, and on that everyone agrees (except for some Muslim fundamentalists), so it should not be an issue. On the whole, the claim of being genuine secularists is justified, but it should no longer be shouted out loudly. Secularism is a matter of course for Hindu, and merely making it an issue is already to the Hindu-baiters

For instance, the amending of Article 30 of the Constitution so as to abolish the discrimination against Hindus in the matter of opening schools: should it be demanded in the name of secularism? Of course, in a really secularist country, the Constitution would not impose discrimination on the basis of religion. But the issue is far simpler, and can be formulated in terms of a less controversial and more fundamental principle than secularism: non-discrimination. The words religion and secularism need not even figure in the discussion.

So, the term secularism should be de-emphasized and removed from the political debating scene. It should be dismissed once, and never mentioned again. By contrast, the term secular, which is not an ideological but a legal term, figures in the amended preamble of the Constitution, and it can continue to be used as a legal term in specific contexts. It should no longer be an issue in the political debate, except the day when Muslim fundamentalists want to abolish the secular character of the state.

Conversely, the frantic efforts to shake off the stigma of communalism should also be given up. I could understand, if they call you fascist, you feel the need to disprove this allegation. But communalism shouldn't put you on the defensive. First of all, growth-up English speaker outside India don't even know this term, and if asked what it means, they would probably attach a positive meaning to it. Perhaps "stress on community value", or "living in a commune", or "communal living, as in a joint family". In French and German, the term community means municipal. No one would think it means "We are not communalists, we are the real secularists. It is they who are the real communalists". Just change the rules of the game, ignore this terminological terror, and get down to the real issues.

So, what value should the Hindu movement put towards as the real issue, instead of the failed god of socialism and the fake god of secularism? As I have said, there is not much of a tradition of modern Hindu political thought on which to build. But it is immature to insist on starting from zero, let us just proceed from where we are. The latest thing in Hindutva-politics, still unsurpassed, was Deendayal's Integral Humanism. Underdeveloped as it is, it will do for a little experiment.

Let us confront integral humanism with the still-dominant ideology in India, socialism. But let us not do it the wrong way around, as the Hindutva people have been doing for too long. Let us not measure integral humanism by the standards of socialism, and demonstrate what a nice socialism this integral humanism really is. Let us, on the contrary, measure socialism with the yardstick of integral humanism.

Socialism has reduced man to his socio-economical dimension. Actually, it is worse than that. It has denied some dimensions in human life, but even of those of dimensions which it did recognize, it had a very confused notion. The economical dimension is the dimension of gain (artha). But socialism denied the individual the right to pursue gain. It wanted to create the new man, who would only act out of a sense of duty (dharma) towards society, i.e. the state. But duty is narrowed down to a sense of serving, people who have the qualities for private undertaking are not allowed to take a role (dharma) convenient for their character (swabhava), they all have to conform to the one uniform role, servant of the state. Man would not seek excellence in order to gain from it, but merely to better serve the state. So, in the economical domain, man's natural striving for gain was outlawed, and replaced with a demand for a kind of servile devotion. The state itself took over the economical life. In chaturvarnya terms (but in Hindutva circles, few are as yet prepared to use these terms, for fear of being labeled a caste obscurantist), the Kshatriya sphere was usurping the Vaishya sphere. Moreover, to state decided to re-educate the people, so it also usurped the Brahmin sphere. Everybody was to become a Shudra, an employee of the omnipresent state. Since power corrupts, the inflated Kshatriya sphere generated a lot of corruption among its far too large army of people empowered to meddle in other people's lives (even while, in India, not discharging its proper function of protecting the people against gonads and terrorists, and the territory against hostile and greedy neighbours).

Well, this is still not much, still very crude, but it already makes clear that the general social vision of integral humanism can show up, and avoid, the defects of socialism. So, integral humanism, which is nothing but a new name for traditional Hindu social philosophy, has potential. It should be developed into a modern ideology that can give practical guidance in real-life politics.

This is not to say that there should be complete; break with all recent thought currents in social philosophy, has potential. It should be developed into a modern ideology that can give practical guidance in real-life politics.

This is not to say that there should be a complete break with all recent thought currents in social and political philosophy. It is not that all foreign ideas have to be rejected. But they should be re-evaluated in terms of this integral and humanist framework, and on that basis, some may have to be rejected, others accepted or adapted. Revolution and wholesale rejection of the present is not a Hindu approach. The things that are here with us, do not have to be overthrown at once. They have to be accommodated and integrated, and that also counts for ideas, Bharatiya or foreign. So, even socialism should be allowed to run its course. This implies that now that it is waning, one should not artificially keep it alive. Meanwhile, one should positively come forward with an alternative.

On a worldwide scale, the time is ripe for an alternative. This is one more of the tasks facing the Hindu intellectuals: to link up with the global evolutions in thought and culture. There is a worldwide ideological vacuum, and yet, it is not the end of history, there is still an urgent need for guiding ideas. After the horribly divisive ideologies that have tortured humanity during the twentieth century, there is just no alternative to ideologies that one way or another come down to integral humanism. So Hindu social philosophy has a lot to offer, provided it comes out of the dusty manuscripts and indological encyclopedias to get actualized and updated.

For the relevance of the Hindu outlook to modern problems, let us, in tune with the very physical focus of the Hindutva movement at this time, take a very physical example: vegetarianism. Typically, Hindu social thought has always included an ecological dimension. Socialism and liberalism do not have this dimension, they can at best annex it. But it is an organic part of Hindu dharma. Ahimsa, non-violence, does not mean an unnatural and masochistic refusal to defend yourself, it is not a bizarre and repulsive item of moralism suppressing the self-defense instinct (as Gandhians have presented it). Traditionally, it means maintaining the harmony of the larger whole, caring not to disturb the ecosystem. The need to take this value seriously, has suddenly become very acute for all of humanity.

Therefore, Hindu dharma has since a few millennia thought very highly of vegetarianism. Not that everyone practiced it, but it was universally respected and honoured as an expression of both asceticism and sensitivity for all life forms. Of course, the respect for all life forms could not be absolute, it was graded (like most things in Pagan culture). Thus, a cow would be more immune from killing than other large mammals, than birds and fish, and killing insects could not always be avoided. Life forms with less consciousness, like lower animals and plants, were less immune from killing than higher animals, deemed to be more conscious and thus more capable of suffering. So, this non-violence towards animals was not a stern and God-given rule, it was well-founded in a natural and realistic sensitivity for the suffering of fellow creatures.

Today, countries that do not have this traditional value of vegetarianism, are discovering it. Scientists have found that it is healthier. Spiritual seekers cultivate the sensitivity that brings fellow-feeling with the other life forms. But most acutely, ecologists are finding that the world ecosystem can no longer sustain carnivorism. For producing a given nutritional quantity of meat, you need seven times the cultivating space that you would need to produce the same nutritional value of that you would need to produce the same nutritional value of vegetable food. So, the deforestation problem and the world food problem can be solved quickly if meat consumption is cut down drastically. Otherwise, these problems will become disasters, as the number of human consumers keeps rising. So, the modernist elite in India is wholly mistaken in considering vegetarianism as something rustic, religious and horribly deshi. Environment minister Maneka Gandhi was a better spokeswoman of the new world-wide ecological awareness, when she declared in November 1990 that all Indians should take to vegetarianism if they want to stop deforesting and desertifying their country.

So, the world is learning the hard way what Hindu philosophy has known all along. We need to respect not just our fellow human beings, but all fellow entities in this world. This goes to show how Hindu humanism is genuinely integral: not only does it take into account man's integral personality, but it also considers his integratedness in a larger social and ecological whole.

This rather physical example of how the ancient Hindu value of vegetarianism is actually very modern, may help Hindus to get over their self-depreciation, and to go and discover how their social philosophy too contains elements that are really very adequate for today's problems. The world today is looking for integral humanism.

15.3 Pride in Hinduism

It may be remarked that the term integral humanism itself does not mention its Hindu roots. Perhaps that is good. The term Hindu is merely a geographical indication, while integral humanism briefly says what it stands for. And it does no injustice to the essence of Hindu social thought. After all manavadharma doesn't contain the word Hindu either. On the other hand, should we not suspect that the coining of this term shows the pressure on the Hindutva movement to portray itself as secular?

After Nehru's crackdown on the RSS, following the murder of the Mahatma (in which the RSS was not implicated, according to both the court and the prosecutor), the RSS and its fronts, like the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, later Bharatiya Janata Party, and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (All India Student Council), have avoided the conspicuous use of the term Hindu. They have complied with the taboo on everything Hindu. They were totally on the defensive, trying to placate the arrogant Leftists who dictated what was secular and what was not. Without suggesting that the term integral humanism should be amended or replaced, I do think it is time for Hindus to shake off their shyness about being Hindu.

"Say it with pride : we are Hindus", is what Swami Vivekananda taught his fellow Hindus. Some anti-Hindu people insinuate that this slogan implies a doctrine that Hindus are superior. In that case, Black is beautiful would mean that white is not beautiful; it would therefore be a racist slogan and quite reprehensible. In fact, every colour is beautiful in its own way, and it is quite alright to express pride in the long-despised black colour. And everyone is entitled to have and to express pride in his identity. Expressing pride is not a matter of superiority, but being denied the right to express pride, is very certainly a proof of an imposed inferiority.

Who is in a position to heap scorn on Hindus for being Hindus? What are these Babarwadis themselves, that they arrogate the right to look down on Hindus? What is the record of the parties, systems and ideologies to which they pledge allegiance? The record of the two main ideologies of the secularists, Marxism and Islam, is well-known. Whenever they heap scorn on Hinduism, they should be reminded of their own heritage.

For instance, Inder Kumar Gujral declared in declared in parliament in late December 1990, that "a colour is being seen these days which was also seen at the time of the Mahatma's murder. I don't need to give the name of the colour." What about Gujral's own colour, red? It was very much in evidence when Stalin killed millions of farmers, when he killed political opponents, when he exterminated the elites of occupied Poland opponents, when he exterminated the elites of occupied Poland and the Baltic states, when Mao killed his millions, when Tibet was overrun, when Pol Pot cleared Cambodia to make away for the new communist humanity. Even when India was invaded in 1962, that colour was there. who is this Gujral to be so derogatory about saffron?

In order to instill a proper and well-founded pride in Hindus, it is (once more) most important to restore the truth about Hindu history, especially about Hindu society's glorious achievements. In technology, it cannot match China, which was the world leader until a mere three, four centuries ago. But in abstract sciences like linguistics, logic ,mathematics, Hindu culture has been the chief pioneer. In psychology, it is still unsurpassed, though this is not yet fully recognized in the West, the part of the world that still arbitrates on what can count as rational and scientific.

Much of India's backwardness has been created by the foreign occupies. This is not just a convenient allegation: in other countries too, we see the destructive impact of foreign occupation on the flourishing of arts and sciences. Thus, in China mathematics was taken to new heights in the 11th-12th century. The works expounding these insights were preserved until after the Mongol occupation. But when we read comments from the post-Mongol period on these earlier works, we find that they had lost the correct understanding of these advanced theorems and algorithms. The flourishing of science needs a safe political as well as economical cradle.

In India too, we see total stagnation in the sciences during the entire Muslim period, and a mere passive adoption of Western science under the British rule. Mani Shankar Aiyar, rejecting the proposition that India was a battleground between two civilizations since the advent of the Muslim hordes, states that Indian civilization has an unbroken civilizational history thanks to its"utterly unique capacity to synthesize and move forward".312 But the striking fact about the Muslim period is that knowledge in India has not moved forward at all.

The bhakti poets gave a new expression of old ideas, belonging to the spiritual domain which deals with the unchanging and eternal. They were part of Hinduism's answer to the challenge of this narrow-minded anti- universalist culture of the new rulers. But this Bhakti poetry is not proof of a really flourishing culture. As long as there are human subjects and things happening, there will be literature : that is not a sign of moving forward (in fact, times of disaster may be more fruitful in literature, than times of prosperity). But in astronomy, mathematics, logic, linguistics and philosophy, Hinds society hardly managed to save its old knowledge from oblivion (often just preserving it rather than keeping it alive). This stagnation and ossification of the sciences in India is yet another proof that the synthesis of Hinduism and Islam is a mere myth, for a synthesis would have been very fruitful and India would have moved forward with enthusiasm. In reality, Muslim rule stifled Hindu creativity and disturbed its social and economical life, thus impoverishing it both culturally and materially.

Of the British occupiers, it is known that they destroyed the existing system of education, that they dismantled industries and disturbed agriculture in order to integrate India into the colonial trade system.313 They also obliterated quite a chunk of Ayurvedic medical knowledge, by discouraging and sometimes even forbidding its practice and teaching. Earlier, the Muslims had destroyed many universities, and if Hindu pandits are such an obscurantist lot, it is largely because the academic framework that gave life to their scholarship, has been destroyed.

Hindusthan was always a proverbially rich country. Now, mother Theresa has made it something of a synonym with poverty. But this poverty cannot be blamed on Hindu culture. After the Muslims had blindly plundered large parts of the country and destroyed so much, the British made an even more systematic and profound attack on India's natural prosperity. They reorganized its economy to suit their own ends, integrating it in their colonial trade system, again to the country's detriment. When the British arrived, India was one of the most industrialized countries in the world, and one of its top exporters. The British economical policies, coupled with the world-wide impact of modern industry on the pre-modern economies, destroyed much of India's prosperity and economical; self-reliance.

Finally, this process of impoverishment was completed when Jawaharlal Nehru imposed socialism on India. I am not an economist, but my experiences with state-run enterprises like the State Bank of India and Indian Airlines have made me quite aware of the damage done to this country by socialism. The so-called Hindu growth rate is in fact the Nehru growth rate. If you look at Hindus achievements abroad, it is quite clear that Hinduism instills enough of a work ethic for attaining professional and economical success. But this natural dynamism of Hindu culture, which in the past made the country fabulously rich, has been stifled by this misguided policy of a state-run economy.

Even that part of the English-educated elite which is no party to the detrimental Nehruvian policies, but has on the contrary actively contributed to the amount of prosperity that India still enjoys, has also added to the Hindu inferiority complex. Both those who bring Western modernity in business and technology and those who brought Soviet modernity in the from of the Nehruvian establishment, regardless of their merits and demerits, look down on the traditional culture of this country. The strongest expression of their superiority over the natives is of course the English language.

Another very conspicuous example is dress. Both communists and liberals are extremely scornful about dhoti, kurta, pajama, pagari, and about rural patriarch Devi Lal who wears those things even in parliament (not to speak of Mahatma Gandhi). Colonial sahib Mani Shankar Aiyar calls them ethnic fancy dress.314 A friend and compatriot of mine once traveled in a bus in Kerala, wearing a dhoti. Someone asked him: What are you wearing there? My friend replied: I think you know well enough that this is a dhoti. The man said: "But a dhoti is brahminical! This is the age of communism!"

In fact, those people who think a three-piece suit is modern, while a dhoti etc. is rustic, are the really superstitious savages: they think they participate in modern culture, with its benefit of science, by imitating the dress of the people who brought this scientific culture to this backward land. This is a typically primitive and magical way of reasoning. In reality, all this ethnic dress is far more scientific and rational, in the sense of: adapted to reality. It is also far more modern, in the sense of: liberating what is human from oppressive forms imposed by convention. Compared with dresses, trousers and suits, the native sari, dhoti and kurta-pajama are far more economical (need no tailoring), hygienical (especially in this hot climate) and comfortable, and generally also more elegant: all quite humanistic and rational values. This makes Devi Lal the herald of scientific modernity in this country.

At present, the Hindu inferiority complex is still so serious. that all kind of funny attempts at compensation are in evidence. The best-known example is probably the contention that the Taj Mahal was a Hindu temple. Of course, architecturally it is not Hindu at all. But why claim the Taj Mahal in the first place? It is really very simple architecture, though that is made up for by the beautiful material used, which goes so well with the light of the full moon. At any rate, Hindus had better take pride in the temples which are really theirs (including the many thousands destroyed by the Muslim conquerors).

Another pitiable example is the persistent claim that all the secrets of modern science are contained in the Vedas and other classics. This does injustice to the real contents of these scriptures. Unfortunately, the God in the new physics wave of the late seventies has confirmed some people in this pretense. In Frithjof Capra's masterpiece Tao of physics, the chief argument for the basic consonance between modern physics and Eastern mysticism, is the juxtaposition of a pageful of mathematical equations and a pageful of Sanskrit shlokas: both of them are abracadabra for those who know neither.

A third example of crank theories compensating for the Hindu inferiority complex, is the belief that the whole world was colonized by the Hindus, lakhs of year ago.

By contrast this other cherished belief of Hindu chauvinists, that the Aryans were not outsiders who overran the Indus civilisation, is on firmer ground. This is not the place to go into the details, but suffice it to say that the linguistic arguments for putting the home of the Aryans in Central Asia or Europe, have been found wanting, and that the construction of a Dravidian interpretation of the Indus script is not at all convincing. There is absolutely no archaeological proof for the Aryan invasions theory. All the argumentations that have been given for it are, on closer analysis, cases of petitio principii. And then there is the internal evidence of the Vedas, which seems to exclude a foreign homeland within human memory. Even the secularists and the other enemies of Hindu society, who have been having so much propagandistic fun with the Aryan invasions theory, will have to recognize its untenability soon.315 So, India can uninhibited pride itself on a civilizational continuity since about 5000 years, or more.

Another thing in which the Hindus can take pride, is their much-maligned social system. When Iran was defeated by the Muslim armies and the state collapsed, the entire society collapsed. It had no inner resistance and got Islamized very quickly. By contrast, when in Hindusthan a state was destroyed by the Muslim conquerors, society did not collapse. With its weak state decentralized structure, Hindu society could live on in its non-state, organically co-ordinated way. This may sound too idyllic for modernist cynic, but the extra- ordinary historical fact of Hindu society's survival is undeniably there.

If the misrepresentation of Hindu philosophy by illiterate and based intellectuals and schoolbook-writers is stopped, another completely misplaced source of inferiority feelings will disappear: the belief that Hindu philosophy leads to passivity. This is a belief spread systematically by the Christian missionaries. With it, they kind of pass on Marx' criticism that "religion is the opium of the people", which had been levelled in the first place against Christianity. Salvation not by effort but by the pseudo-historical event of Jesus' resurrection, is the hocus-pocus doctrine central to Christianity. By contrast, Hindu philosophy is a lot more methodical, realistic, and appealing to human effort and self-determination. Anyone who cares to study this, can find it out.

Sir Edmund Hillary declared, after a journey along the Ganga and visiting many ashrams :"I became a Hindu. I was very close to the Hindu ethic. It was a great spiritual experience." This was unbearable to the Hindu- baiters present, so the press conference continued with a product of modern Indian education: "When it was pointed out to him that having faith in the Hindu ethic essentially involved a belief in destiny " (predetermination), Sir Edmund remarked :"No, not in that sense. I believe a man can make his own destiny through his work and effort".316 No matter what faults you may be able to find with Hindu doctrine, belief in predetermination and impotence in the face of destiny (which is very much present in Islam) is not one of them. As Hillary correctly pointed out to these illiterate press people, a man makes his own destiny through his own effort. And that is not a modern novelty, it is precisely the meaning of the age-old karma doctrine: we make our destiny through our own actions.

Unknown makes unloved. It is the complete ignorance concerning the vast river of Hindu Dharma, that makes many nominal Hindus indifferent or hostile to Hinduism. That is why Nehruvian education actively promotes this ignorance of and disdain for Hindu culture, and why Nehruvian secularists want to intensify this ignorance by banning religion classes from school and Hindu epics from TV.

Microcomputer pioneer Adam Osborne thinks India has the potential to be the next Japan. Want he has in mind is technological achievement and a vibrant economy, nothing hazy and rapturous. But the clue to this very tangible kind of greatness is pride: "There is no doubt in my mind that India is one of the great financial success stories of the future. The curse of India is that Indians lack pride in being Indian. The moment they have that pride, India will be the next Japan."317

Pride in being Indian means, for 99%, pride in Hinduism (unless you are a secularist distorter and consider the Islamic invaders' avowed objective of destroying Hindu culture also as culture and as Indian). So, this legitimate pride has to be nourished with broad and in-depth knowledge of Hindu culture. The two enemies of this effort are the secularist morbidity that glorifies the destroyers of Hindu culture, denies the unity and integrity of Hindu culture, and discourages its study altogether; and the mental laziness of some cranks who get exuberant over wholly mistaken ideas about the Hindu past, without caring to critically and thoroughly study it.318

So, this historical reassessment of the Hindu achievements is important to give confidence and to re- establish the unity of Hindu civilization. But it is only one component of the central task before the Hindu intellectuals, and not even the most important one. Any amount of negative self-image fostered by distorted history can be digested and forgotten when there are achievement in the present. The battle over the past, in which Hindus had until recently been pushed badly on the defensive, should of course be won. But it is only a supporting act for the intellectual battle over the present.

Hindu intellectuals should address the modern world and show the world that there is nothing shameful in looking at world affairs from the Hindu angle. At the socio-political level they must show that the Hindu approach leads to a more humane and more satisfactory polity than the approach from the Islamic and the Marxist angles. A more advanced and more subtle task will be, to improve upon the reason-oriented and democratic Western approach: this has recently been the best we have, but it should not be taken as the ultimate in human civilization.

15.4 From Ayodhya to Indraprastha

While thinkers create a new intellectual climate in post- Nehruvian India, the task of political parties like the BJP, is the listen. And then, it is their own business to frame policies that are realistically in tune with this new thinking. Politics is an autonomous sphere, and its personnel is free to take or not take its inspiration from a line of thought which intellectuals have developed. But in fact it has no choice but to be determined by the dominant ideological climate.

Conversely, the thought that gives form to the aspirations of Hindu society, is not tied to any political party. Not so long ago, a BJP leader said :"We will not allow Congress to play the Hindu card". But from a Hindu viewpoint, it is just as well if Congress or any other party amends Article 30 or reintegrates Kashmir with India. Party workers may identify strongly with the success of their organization, but after all it is merely an instrument for realizing a programme beneficial to Hindu society. Once a convincing thought current has been created, all kinds of people and parties will tap into it, and that is precisely the sign of its success. Parties cannot keep ideas to themselves, but they may profit from being the most consistent in advocating and applying them.

Till recently, most parties pledged their allegiance to some form of socialist ideology was visible from the very fact that different parties declared their intention of being instruments of socialism. Even the BJP in 1984 opted for some hazy thing called Gandhian socialism. This was yet another proof of how the Hindutva movement behaved like a mercenary looking for an employer, i.e. an ideology, because it was ignorant or ashamed of its own ideological roots. They had to borrow the socialists' platform and slogans. The decline and fall of socialism is a good occasion to drop all this second-hand nonsense and develop a modern Hindu programme

In the short term, Hindu politicians would do well to concentrate on non-controversial issues like the abolition of the discrimination against the majority religion in state control over temples and, most of all, educational institutes (Article 30). This demand is perfectly unobjectionable. Anyone who objects to it, exposes himself as a supporter of religion-based discrimination in secular affairs, i.e. as a communalist. This issue, while of no concern to the minorities, is at the same time a top priority for Hindu society.

By contrast, issue which affect the other communities but not Hindu society itself, should be relegated to second rank. This debate about the common Civil Code, or in effective terms, the abolition of the separate Muslim Personal Law, is not immediately important for Hindu tradition (which should however not be totally identified with its old forms) to leave these matters to the community rather than to regulate it centrally and uniformly.319 Of course, it is not consistent with the generally Western-style Constitution which India has adopted in1950 (largely based on the colonial Government of India Act of 1935). But then, if even West-oriented secularists have not cared to implement the Constitutional injunction to enact a common Civil Code, Hindus should not feel compelled to hurry when it is more expedient to settle other matters first.

When Westerners hear about this political Hinduism, this Hindu Rashtra movement, they wonder what colourful ideas might be involved. But it is not all that exotic. A political party that champions Hindu Rashtra and comes to power, what is it going to do? Change the flag or the anthem? Rename India's capital Indraprastha or move it to Ujjain, the historical capital of Vikramaditya? Those are the kind of things which many anti-colonial movements have done upon coming to power, but they are merely symbolic. After that, the day-to-day business of government starts.

A lot of the government decisions will be of the same kind as those taken by non-Hindu governments in similar circumstances. It will have to balance the budget, privatize inefficient state enterprises, encourage education, ensure social justice, fight crime and corruption both at the symptom and the root cause level, and all these other mundane things. The Hindu Rashtra will simply be a modern state, a democratic federal state, with political and religious pluralism, a free press, a free market economy with social security checks, all these common-sense things will be in common with most free countries. It may promote Sanskrit, yoga, traditional music and dancing, all these colourful things, but in politics it will not be all that exotic.

But then, concentrating on these normal common-sense policies, after the first assertions of post-colonial restoration of the national Hindu culture are completed, already constitutes a substantial change of policy away from the Nehruvian pattern. In fact, in the short term its most valuable contribution to the Indian polity will not be the introduction of new concepts and policies, but the scrapping of the vast amounts of nonsense that the present Nehruvian dispensation continues to indulge in.

Take this National Integration Council and this Minorities Commission. In all the growth-up countries of the world, subnational communities look after themselves without weighing on the polity. But in India, Hindus and their state are told that they should instill confidence in the minorities. And they should foster the emotional integration of the country by banning everything the might hurt the feelings of the minorities, including the historical truth. As if Hindus owe the minorities anything. They give them full religious freedom, which is what they would get in most democratic countries, and which is all they would get. For the rest, a secular state does not recognize anything like minority communities, but treats all citizens as equal individuals. Cutting out the Marxist and Minorityist nonsense will already be an invaluable service to India's integrity, progress and prosperity.

In a recent article, Swapan Dasgupta has off-hand made the point that the BJP has the potential to play a leading role in Indian democratic politics, following the model of the Christian Democrats, who are centre-stage in the politics of stable European democracies like Italy, Germany, Holland and Belgium. Of course, that is a choice the party the party will have to make, as against perhaps more radical alternatives. But at least, finally commentators are dropping these hysterical outcries about Hindu fascism, and opening their eyes to the possibility that a Hindu party can stand for something else than Khomeini-type extremism.

A party which champions traditional values embedded in a broad religious tradition, is not perforce a fundamentalist and theocratic party. The Christian Democratic parties in Europe have played an important stabilizing role as centrist and integrationist forces. They have championed cultural and human values against the materialist accent in the socialist and liberal party programmes. And they have championed the harmony model against the class struggle model: a similar stand is very much the need of the hour in Indian politics.320

Swapan Dasgupta comments on Murli Manohar Joshi's election as party president of the BJP: "It is one thing of offer, as mr. Advani has consistently done, a powerful critique of the prevailing political culture. But the problem lies in designing an alternative... How, for example, does the concept of Hindu Rashtra...square with the notion of 'justice for all and appeasement of none? The campaign for the Ram Mandir, while important in symbolic terms, is unlikely to be a substitute for a comprehensive, alternative philosophy. Having tapped the reservoirs of anti-status quo, the BJP' is unlikely to progress if its critique stops at the secular-communal issue. Mr. Advani has struck a powerful blow at the shibboleths of Nehruvian consensus; his successor will be frittering away the advantages if a simultaneous assault is not launched on the other article of the reviled faith - socialism".321

It is correct that Hindu society faces more problems than just minorityism. In fact, the secularists are right in considering the minorityism problem a bit over-publicized and exaggerated: a few amendments to the Constitution and dropping as few bad habits in day-to-day politicking will do to end this minoritysm. Then, India will be just a secular democracy like any other. A few decisions on symbolic issues will do to make it a Hindu democracy (one shouldn't make the socialist mistake of over-estimating the importance of the state for the well-being of Hindu society). I agree that these things, few in number, are easier said than done. But in the whole volume of political issues, it is clear that a political party will have more on its mind than Hindu Rashtra.

So, that is where the culture movement for real decolonization and real self-determination of Hindu society parts company with the political parties who champion Hindu causes and try to please the Hindu vote bank. Politics is an autonomous sphere in society, and it is but natural for advocates of Hindu culture to respect it as such. It is quite alright that politicians have other things to do apart from the explicitly Hindu issues.

That is why I do not follow those purists of the Hindutva movement who protest that the BJP shouldn't waste time on such petty politicking as, for instance, this demand for statehood for Delhi. Of course, Hindu society couldn't care less whether Delhi is a Union Territory or a State, and whether the BJP can have a chief minister there (which is what this demand is all about). But then, that is politics, and those politicians have a right to work on what is purely a power issue. No one protests that the Birla family, the billionaires who go on building temples, also spends time making money instead of exclusively serving Hindu society by building temples. So, who cares if the BJP, or whatever Hindu party to emerge in future, practices power politics and electoral politics.

It is but normal and healthy to have other things to do apart from affirming your identity. It was the Soviet Union that wasted tonnes of paper and deplorably long stretches of time in appending eulogies of Socialism to every book or speech on any and every topic. It is in the Islamic republics that this strains are put on the economy by fantastic demands for Islamic economic. For Hindu politicians, it is quite alright to go beyond identify and to get down to non-ideological business. It is only in its general spirit that economics and other mundane matters can have a Hindu character. Apart from that, things are just what they are.

As for strictly political issues, I might mention two. There have been proposals to reform the Indian political system into a presidential system, as recently by L.K.Advani. This is a matter which in one sense or the other affects the efficiency of government, and since this is the only state Hindus have (apart from Nepal), the government of this state is a secular matter of importance for Hindu society. The same thing counts for proposals to reform the electoral procedure.322 Such reforms do not make the state more Hindu, but they may be legitimate concerns of responsible politicians.

If such strictly political work makes them neglect their duty to Hindu culture and society, then another party will criticize them for this neglect, and declare itself a better defender of Hindu values and interests - provided the Hindu consciousness pervades the though climate which all politicians imbibe, and which entices them to take up Hindu issues. It is this thought climate that determines the programmes and behavior of the political class. That is why political parties championing Hindutva are really only a secondary phenomenon, a materialization of the prevalent thinking.

In fact, it remains to be seen whether even the organizations being attacked as Hindu communalist, are such staunch champions of the Hindu cause in the first place. Some of their former prominents are not so sure. Balraj Madhok, president of the Jan Sangh during its apex in 1966-67, has criticized his former party (now reconstituted as the BJP) of opportunism, of having no ideological backbone. I cannot judge that, but I would hardly expect many politicians to be all that principled. And in fact, one should see the bright side of the fact that so many politicians are such opportunists. If the BJP could be very wavering in its Hindu convictions when the secularists were on the offensive, you can be sure that Congress will be very wavering in its secularist convictions once Hinduism (or Integral Humanism, or whichever name of the anti-and post-colonial upsurge of the native culture will be fashionable) becomes respected.

It is quite a mistake to think that these mass movements and political parties are the leaders of the Hindu awakening. Their resolutions and programmes are but the visible shapes brought about by the lines of force of the prevalent thought configuration, like iron filings giving expression to the weightless and invisible magnetic field. The so-called leaders will easily fall in line and gladly make themselves instruments of a Hindu future, once their attachment to outdated doctrines is removed by the thought currents of Sanatana Dharma.

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