Is India paying now for being historically too tolerant?
तमसोमा ज्योतिर् गमय।
ॐ शान्ति शान्ति शान्तिः।।
From ignorance, lead me to truth;
From darkness, lead me to light;
From death, lead me to immortality
Om peace, peace, peace
What is a nation? Formally it is defined by what is written in the constitution. But I believe a nation is what its people think it to be. In the English language, our nation is called India, a term derived from the Persian name for our country which is Hind, which in turn comes from the Sindh river, now known as the Indus.
To the Muslims that came to invade India, our country and its culture were an enigma. To them, we were pagans or kaafirs, people worshiping many different gods which to them was a barbaric practice. Their own pagan culture had already been overthrown to give way to Islam which is wrongly considered to be a religion. In fact, it is a system which manifests itself in the religious, cultural, social, political and even economic affairs of the people governed under it. They had long lost the notion of what is a way of life, they had long lost the idea that people could also simply live without a strict, well defined, all abiding system of governance (read religion) and society could still carry on peacefully (pun intended). They failed to (and still fail to) comprehend the fact that humans are an evolved species, and that they learn to adapt. So, as a society learns to adapt over time it leads to the creation of various practices that makes life comfortable for the inhabitants. These practices only suit that particular society and habitat as it has been created by those people, for those people and of those people.
Ours is THE OLDEST society in Eurasia if not the in the world, being more than 30,000 years old and thus having formed many practices, each pertaining to different aspects of life. And thus, to the Abrahamic invaders, this was a religion, as that is all they knew. So, the religion of the people living east of the Hind river became Hinduism. But, we are now independent again the invaders are gone but the symbolism still remains. We as the people east of the Indus know what our culture or so-called religion is called. We in fact do have a common name referring to the various practices our wise ancestors created. And that name is Sanatan Dharma, meaning the eternal Dharma.
But why, one may wonder, should we be concerned with such little trivialities.. after all no one’s life is being impeded by the current semantics.
This is a question that will come in the minds of liberal Indians. But the truth is, as Indians we have learnt to adjust a little too much. The citadels have withered away but the citizens have yet not come out of their servitude, to see what is rightfully theirs and where it is going. After all a nation is just an idea, the more pride and passion we invest in it the more powerful it becomes. As Lord Varys in Game of Thrones said, “Power resides where men BELIEVE it resides.” The more powerful the image of the nation in peoples’ mind, the stronger is their affinity and sense of responsibility towards it.
So, it is my request that if not a total transformation we should take a small step for change. For example, in all government forms, online or paper based, wherever a person’s religion is asked, the name Hinduism be replaced by Sanatan Dharma among the options. This is also required because ours is a secular country, it is important not to hurt the sentiments of all groups especially the minorities, and in this case by using a foreign name for our culture, the sentiments of not only the majorities Hindus, but the extremely small and always overlooked minority groups such as the Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs and even the various tribes of north east India are being hurt. Yes, all of their, forgive me, all of our sentiments are being hurt and ignored as we all share a common ancestry and a vibrant culture.
To further support my case I would like to quote article 351 of the Indian Constitution-
“It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.”
Why, after 70 years of independence should we use a word, which is probably even derogatory, for our own selves, and marks the beginning of the blackest period in the history of Bharat. Why not use a word which is more than 300 centuries old yet eternal and which carries the essence of our culture?
On the same note, I would like to remind you all that the government will most probably, in the future roll back the 2000 rupee note and introduce a new 1000 rupee not. On this new note, I believe the words ‘Ek sahasr rupees’ should be written instead of ‘ek hazar rupees’. I believe it is the duty of not only the government, but also all of us to follow and abide by the rules, rights and most importantly the duties given to us in the constitution. After reading article 351, do you not think it is our duty to embrace the great, ancient, and most logical of all languages for our daily use?
Yes, we have an utmost vibrant culture, which is why we are considered not just a country, but a subcontinent. We all have our own beautiful vernacular Prakritik languages and it is of utmost importance that we preserve them, but all official work requires some sort of common language. And what better language, than the most logical one? What better language, than one which has influenced every Prakritik language of Bharat, from Ladakhi in the north to Tamil and Malayalam in the south, from Gujarati in the west to Bengali in the east, and Nysihi and Adi in the north east. Hell, even English is related to Sanskrit. Both belong to the same Indo- Persian- European language family.
भाषासु मुख्या मधुरा,
तस्यां हि काव्यं मधुरं,
Of all the languages, the God’s own language- Sanskrit is the mother, divine and most lyrical language. In Sanskrit, poetry is more melodious wherein the good sayings hold prime position.