I have, as a convention, written articles and essays that appertain to current affairs and exhortations of ushering in an enlightenment to the Hindus. By means of this article, however, I endeavour to address those more or less my age. My insignificant written work may lead a reader to the mistaken conclusion that I was ever interested in such subjects. With the supposition that you have grown up with cricket, parties, movies and studies being the only subjects of conversation with friends and elders alike until you almost became an adult, you and I could not be different.
Do recall your school days? The most enthralling subject the likes of us dealt with in school was Science, with its lab experiments and theoretical concepts providing one with answers to many observable phenomena. To some rare prodigies in class, mathematics would have been enthralling in addition to Science, including yours truly who certainly was never a prodigy. Finally, language (English in particular) must have engendered interest only on occasion. The 2014-15 CBSE batch would well recollect excellent plays in English literature, one about Julius Caesar authored by none other than William Shakespeare.
Politics and history were to us very esoteric subjects, to be treated with contempt at school, and one can truly not blame the students for not resonating with the monotonous description of events in the textbooks. One would commit them to memory in order to metaphorically regurgitate them on the answer sheet and achieve the highest score possible.
The aforementioned status quo remains effective until one becomes an adult. The elders at home may then persuade their children to get voter identity cards and other exotic identity documents. Eventually, one is introduced to the world of politics. If by fortune one happens to be aware of that word, one would know that it pertains to governance and improving the lives of the people; or is supposed to at any rate. As and when the political landscape becomes familiar, one realizes that economic growth and policies do not resonate so much as do the primordial identities of caste and religion. It is, as a consequence, perfectly normal to feel stung; at being lied to.
Throughout childhood, you have not known of such divisions. You may have known about religions but not paid attention to them. Naturally so, for why should primordial identities bar a child from fraternizing with fellow children? A child perhaps feels the elusive notion of humanity much better than adults do. He sees not the faith to which his friends belong but the element of goodness in them to which they naturally adhere. The bedazzling smile on an innocent child’s countenance does not care for such identities as may have been bestowed upon him by society. Such having been your childhood, you now face the hideous reality of deep-rooted religious differences in the Indian society and their exploitation in the Indian political sphere.
Should such bitter reality engender a sentiment of contempt within you, it would truly be understandable. Indeed, why must religion cause differences? Are not all of us citizens of this nation? Are not all of us rightful and equal sharers of India’s millennia-old heritage? Is it not of the essence to labour for eradicating poverty and ensuring employment for all? Is it not expedient upon us to collectively endeavour to bolster India and make our ancestors proud, who once created the strongest standing nation on the planet?
These questions are natural and truly must. A patriot at heart must ponder upon such questions and pose them to politicians and society at large. It is certainly detrimental to engage in religious, ethnic, linguistic or regional altercations when so much remains to be achieved economically. Indeed, what does a penurious man care of philosophy and religion when his chief concern is sustenance at a fundamental level?
However, there is a momentous question upon which a young patriot driven by ideals fails to ponder. I use the word “young” purposefully, for a relatively older person is expected to be sagacious enough to know the answer to, as I have described it, the momentous question. That question is, “Why are today’s Hindus so angry and insistent on Hindu pride?” Is the answer so simple as the desire to establish hegemony? In the Indian context, the answer is not that simple. And in order to categorically answer the above question, an examination of history is of utmost necessity.
In my previous article, I had described the misfortunes that had historically afflicted the Hindu society, some of which continue to date albeit in a different form such as casteism. I had described the collective trauma the Hindus feel as a community much-maligned, mistreated and persecuted community. I had also described the possible steps at reconciliation that could unite the Hindu and Muslim communities.
In the contemporary era, it is common for the younger generation of Indians to be enamoured of the western lifestyle. Courtesy of globalization, the western culture is more or less familiar to many Indian youngsters. As a psychologist, or even as a general parent, one would be aware of a common complaint registered by teenagers: the absence of privacy. They then contrast it with developed nations of the west where children are given greater privacy by their parents. These notions of privacy stem from individualism, an integral component of liberalism, upon the foundations of which western society was built. Identifying with individualism, it may be difficult for the average youngster to appreciate the fact that Indian society, in contrast with the west, has historically been a community-oriented and collectivist society.
Consequently, it may also be difficult for such a youngster to appreciate that Indians in general and Hindus in particular have traditionally had a national consciousness. The nation existed not in the sense of a political nation-state but in the sense of a culturally united nation, as said by the erudite Dr. Ambedkar himself. The Hindus have been aware of their distinct identity, their heritage and their duty to protect it. Their scriptures are replete with poetic verses venerating this Land of the Seven Rivers.
Unfortunately, the average Hindu finds little presence in the academia and intelligentsia, which has ever trivialized the sufferings of the Hindus. The world knows of the injustices perpetrated upon the Jews and rightfully acknowledges them, but it knows not of the injustices perpetrated upon the Hindus. Armed with a complete lack of intellectual means to narrate the story of his civilization and experience a catharsis, a Hindu responds in the only way that remains: the way of anger. It is a reaction to the trauma of the devastation inflicted upon the Hindus for centuries. Decades of contempt from the intelligentsia and ignorance by the government has served as a propellant for suppressed emotions. This receives expression in two ways: physical violence and online harassment.
With what other rationale could the contemporary popularity and almost mainstream nature of hitherto fringe groups such as Bajrang Dal, VHP, Durga Vahini etc. be explained? To what could this popularity be attributed but to the infantine yet rising consciousness of the Hindus as a whole? The rise of the BJP and its espousal of Hindutva has only consolidated the Hindus more than ever. Nascent though the consolidation be, it has had the Hindus charged. Unfortunately, the anger concomitant with this rising consciousness may mistakenly be directed against fellow citizens who identify with Islam and Christianity. Ideally, a Hindu would like nothing better than living harmoniously with his Muslim and Christian fraternity. However, the Hindus are disillusioned when they realize that the Islamic religious clerics hold significant influence over the Muslim community, and some of them who are quite vocal tend to harbour positive sentiments for Pakistan and consider tyrants like Aurangzeb and Muhammad bin Qasim their heroes.
Such acts of anger are not to be condoned. As citizens, we must be unequivocal proponents of law and order. But I trust that the readers shall be so gracious as to consider my contention if not be ad idem with it. For after an examination of history, my contention would certainly be less preposterous than that of those who plead for mercy for avowed enemies of the State, as well as that of those who plead that the circumstances, which must have forced them to adopt the path of terrorism, be understood.
Bear that the Hindus have, notwithstanding such injustices, never demanded a separate homeland. They struggle for a more respectable position in the land that has, since the dawn of civilization, been their own. Very naturally, they do not see Hindutva any different from national pride. The solution is not to treat the Hindus with contempt and adopt a hostile disposition against them. The solution is to concur with the sentiment behind that anger. It is the expression of that anger and not the anger itself that is occasionally injudicious. Should it be channeled in the appropriate direction, it would be a very positive sentiment — a propellant providing them with energy enough to collectively march ahead on the path of prosperity.
I term this rise in consciousness a Hindu Renaissance. Should you be led to call it as such on account of reading this text, know that I cannot claim credit for it. The term, however, encases a profound meaning. It need be undertaken.
The story of the Jews is known to the world. It is of the essence that it knows the story of the Hindus as well.