In 1908, 2 years before his death, Leo Tolstoy wrote to the Indian revolutionary, Tarak Nath Das:
“When the Indians complain the English have enslaved them, it is as if drunkards complained that the spirit-dealers who have settled among them have enslaved them….What does it mean that thirty thousand people, not athletes, but rather weak and ordinary people, have enslaved two hundred millions of vigorous, clever, capable, freedom-loving people? Do not the figures make it clear that not the English, but the Indians, have enslaved themselves?”
This mental slavery is starkly visible in the trope of secularism that the Indian commentariat, the elite comrades and denizens of that opaque entity called ‘The Lutyen’s’, the panchamakkārs (five frauds) – namely, mullahs, missionaries, Marxists, media, and Macaulay lovers, love it the most. I came across 2 recent pieces paying obeisance to this obscure and rather shadowy god, by the Pontiff of Pomp, PB Mehta, and the Sultan of Socialism, Yogendra Yadav. The object of their singular ire was the Ram Janmabhumi shilanyas, and the fact that the Prime Minister not only chose to attend it, but also made a rather rousing speech, preceded by a gesture that is unpardonable in the Marxist and Socialist lexicon – doing sashtāng dandavat beofore Ram Lalā.
So after showering the usual paeans on the great ‘ideology’ of secularism that was designed to separate religious and temporal authority in Europe where the office of Pope had combined the two for nearly a thousand years, YoYa proceeds to make the following ‘profound statement’:
Today, we must recognise that secularism was defeated because its custodians refused to engage in a battle of ideas among the people. Secularism was defeated because the secular elite talked down to its critics in English. Secularism was defeated because it disavowed our languages, because it failed to connect with the language of traditions, because it refused to learn or speak the language of our religions. Specifically, secularism was defeated because it chose to mock Hinduism instead of developing a new interpretation of Hinduism suitable for our times. The secular ideology was defeated in India because it failed to distinguish itself from knee-jerk pro-minorityism, even as it learnt to turn a blind eye to minority communalism. Secular politics was discredited because it turned from conviction to convenience and then to a conspiracy to keep minority voters hostage.
There does seem to be a tinge of realistic appraisal in this elegy penned by the Sultan of Socialism, or shall we say Saleem of Mewati brand of secularism. However, the Pontiff of Pomp, PB Mehta, often exalted as the high priest of ‘intellectuals’ in the country, could not countenance even this piece of grudging acknowledgement of some mistakes committed by them. Instead he chose to pooh-pooh even this limited acknowledgement. He writes:
But Yogendra also writes, “Secularism was defeated because it disavowed our languages, because it failed to connect with the language of traditions, because it refused to learn or speak the language of our religions. Specifically, secularism was defeated because it chose to mock Hinduism instead of developing a new interpretation of Hinduism suitable for our times.” This is a fashionable claim with surface plausibility. But, on reflection, this claim is historically problematic, philosophically dubious and culturally dangerous.
The Indian republic was born in the shadow of the violent catastrophe of Partition. Virtually every nationalist leader outside of the Marxist Left was crafting an idiom of politics that was suffused with religious language. They were creatively trying to craft a distinct Indian modernity within an Indian vocabulary, trying to transcend tradition without making tradition despicable. But as Gandhi recognised, that project was, in one sense, a failure: It did not prevent India’s communalisation. Gandhi’s example could exercise a residual moral force. But whenever religious themes were brought into politics, whether in the quotidian policies that were enacted after Congress governments were elected in 1935, or in the larger ideological project or idiom, they generated conflict. So the idea that taking religion seriously as a political matter will solve the communal problem is a historically dubious proposition. Modern religious politics is born in the crucible of democracy and nationalism, not theology.
A few things can immediately be noticed here. The self-same assurance of having the narrative is the least of them. Notice how the Pontiff of Pomp subtly uses the axiom of both sides using the religious idiom during partition. Not a word on the nature of Muslim politics in the pre-partition era that Dr. ambedkar had so graphically described as ‘gangster’s method of politics’. Not a word on the Muslim League militia, who along with Sufi Pirs and Sajjada Nashins had let loose a reign of terror and slaughter form March 1947 in West Punjab and NWFP, the best example of which was the siege of Amritsar that could be lifted only in late August 1947. Not a word on how the Punjab administration played its heavily partisan role in days leading to independence. Not a word on how Hindus and Sikhs were slaughtered and their women paraded naked in markets with Muslim women assuming lead roles themselves. These ghastly details with references can be found in my book ‘Nullifying Article 370 and Enacting CAA’ published by Bloomsbury and presently available for pre-orders on Amazon India.
So it is clear that ‘secularism’ is being used by both the luminaries in its axiomatic post-independence Indian sense, i.e., one has to be necessarily anti-Hindu to be secular. This is the language of Jinnah who conjured up imaginary fears of discrimination and injustice against minorities without a shred of direct evidence. The truth was, then as it is now, that wherever Muslims had majority, they created a quasi-Shari’a State where non-Muslims were treated as zimmis or second class citizens. If you want to find an equivalence within today’s India, you can find this in its stark nakedness in Jammu and Kashmir, and even otherwise in privileges and preferences given to minorities, and even unconstitutional reervations in jobs being provided in States where the secular, i.e., anti-Hindu politics runs riot.
The real deep secularism is within the grain of the Sanātana Dharma and it informs the very culture of this land. So you do not tell a Hindu that he needs to be secular. All that the Mrxists, and the Liberals are telling the Hindus in the name of secularism is to practise self-loathing. The much-maligned Varna system, according to Sankrant Sanu, is nothing but deep secularism, where knowledge, power, wealth and services are all separated from each other, not on the basis of birth, but as dynamic class separation. In such a deeply thoughtful system, grafting the artificial concept of western secularism, by elevating predatory cults to equivalence with a highly civilized culture, was like putting wolf and sheep in the same cage and telling them that it was being done in the interest of tolerance.
Mahātmā Gandhi was actually the person most responsible for this. In his great zeal for Hindu-Muslim unity, he made concessions to Muslim religious leadership that are haunting the polity even today. Yet, when this anomaly is sought to be corrected, the Pontiff and the Sultan go up in arms together.
Both Mehta and Yadav also take their secularism as axiomatic Truth – exactly as the western binary Logic and Deductive Logic prescribed. The Indian empirical Logic, the pratyaksha pramāṇa or direct evidence, was and is never practised by any of the 3 great Binary Religions, i.e. Christianity, Islam, and Marxism.
While I commiserate with the deep churn of emotions of the Pontiff and the Sultan, I have to tell them to their face, like the classic Truth to a spent Power, that you just won’t get it, because you do not understand that culture is a function of fundamentals. Those fundamentals of Bhārat and indeed of every culture do not belong to derivatives like food, living, song, dance, language and music; and artificial axioms like secularism and socialism; but to the deeper concepts of Scientific Inquiry, Time concepts, Logic concepts, Epistemology, Immanence of divine, and the derived Cosmology and Eschatology. Rest in Peace.
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