The other day, when my close relatives came home to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of maternal uncle and aunt, we started playing cards, which of course is our family game. As we were playing cards the conversation inevitably led to politics and all of us know, when it’s politics, things get heated.
So I am guessing one of my aunts is a staunch Nehruvian follower and she was offended about the politicisation of religion and went on to say that humanity is better served if all of us were thinking of humanity instead of caste, religion and gender.
I tried to explain to her that what we dream of is a dream and not reality and the ground realities call for a different approach rather than burying our head in sand and expecting humanity to correct itself. I tried to explain to her the history of our country is so distorted and sterilised that it’s time for the youth of our country to learn the real history.
Her answer to this not only baffled me but also made me understand the true impact of the gradual demonization and subsequent irrelevance of the Hindu religion that was carried out by our erstwhile leaders. Her answer was pretty simple, history doesn’t matter. If you dig up history you will only find the atrocities committed by other religious heads on Hindus and their religion. Therefore she said let the past be. Her justification is Hindus can be easily instigated against other religions to unleash violence if the truth of our history comes out and therefore demonised version of Hinduism helps in subjugation of the followers of that religion.
Now what baffled me here is that she was a well educated woman coming from an orthodox Brahmin family and here she was ready to take the side of those who have tried hard to demonise words like Hindus, Hindutva and Bhakt. I didn’t want to fight and spoil our relation and kept mum after that. But the significant impact her statement had on me was different altogether.
I realised that after years of sterilisation of our history we as a Hindu community are ok with demonization of our religion, our culture and even our very own identity. We have been so taught in our schools the ills of Sati or the evils of caste system while the Mughal emperor’s were glorified in all their splendour and magnificence by cleverly brushing aside their atrocities committed against men and women of faith or their virtual reign of loot, rape and plunder, under the carpet.
This got me thinking will I be angry at my Muslim brothers or will I start seeing the devil in all my Christian friends just because some Mughal emperor or a British lout took it out on my forefathers?
The logic of it was absurd. I came to know about our true history through reading and researching and it did not make me angry or violent towards the members of the other communities. All it did was fill me with pride that my ancestors sacrificed so much to protect our identity. So the concept of retribution for the atrocities of another was just a narrative spread to end that identity.
Therefore I believe that more than ever it is now very important that we start asking questions about our history. The questions that have been kept hidden about our glorious past and its many trials and tribulations. I am not saying that everyone who follows Hinduism is the epitome of honesty as we had to end the practices of Sati, Kanyasulkam and other social evils propagated in the name of religion. But even that didn’t happen overnight. It happened by informed debate and understanding. But does the mainstream media or the politicians even make an attempt to talk about a social evil like Triple Talaq, which is the most inhumane law in Islam? As such it’s even more important to learn about our true history and our culture and not some sterilised version of history. It is important to understand cos only when we are well informed can we take a conscientious decision with regards to it and learn from it.
So I would like to say history does matter. because if Germany had just said we want to forget about the history of Hitler’s Nazi Germany they would not have progressed so far in such a short time even after two World Wars which not only crippled their economy but also split the country into two. There is a lesson that we must all learn. Our history is replete with mistakes and sacrifices made by great men and what better way to plan for a glorious future than to accept our past and learn from it.
I am sincerely hoping that my aunt doesn’t see this post and even if she does I am sincerely hoping she doesn’t take it the wrong way. But I stick by all the statements aforementioned as I believe the only way we can end these divide lines amongst our social fabric is by addressing the issue head on and learning our true history. It gives perspective to all stakeholders and may be it can help in building a new India without any cultural fault lines as we are ready to accept who we are and proceed United to our common goal of building an India free of poverty, hunger and take our rightful place in the world order as the world leader.
Cheers! Jai Bharat!