India: The Hindu- Muslim Connection
The trick here is to understand
A couple of decades ago I made a major determined effort to learn French because I had read somewhere that French was the language of Universal culture. This determination lasted for 48 hours. I made a wholly eminent,sensible and somewhat (Indian and jugaadu ) decision to read the famous French writers in their English translation—a language I learned instinctively thanks to my former colonial masters—now in the throes of something terrible(worse than Hitler) called Brexit .
Some phrases however , seemed to stick firmly one being “ plus ca change plus ce’st la meme chose” meaning the more things change the more they are the same. The more one reads Indian history the more this French phrase resounds. Because the same theme seem to be reverberating in our collective Indian psyche and in our history for the last few centuries with regard to Hindu and Muslim relations.. And it is evidence of the imbecility and ethical and moral bankruptcy of our country that after more than a century of interaction the relations between the two communities continue to be plagued with shortsightedness, suspicion,mutual bitterness and a complete lack of empathy and compassion.
Indian history teaches us many things. The most important is that at the core few things change in India. Oh yes, at an exterior level things do get transformed. But at the inner core of the Indian psyche very little change is possible . And the most obvious and visible symbol of this is the Hindu Muslim connection. What has caused this dilemma? On analysis maybe we can pinpoint a few things .
a) Firstly, one can mention a kind of psychological citadel ----- somewhat like a psychological Maginot like syndrome. This implies a total inability to engage with each other, other than at a cosmetic level. There were exceptions to this factor at times but basically this point holds firm.
b) The relevant issue is the long catalogue of Hindu- Muslim relations over a period of a thousand years .It is this factor which causes all the turmoil and conflict particularly since this narrative has been heavily doctored and modified by sundry individuals and institutions on both sides of the discourse from time to time. Almost every Indian thinks he or she has a God given right to tamper with historical facts. In such a scenario it becomes like a” make your own sundae” in an icecream parlour. Do you want” alloo ka parantha” or” gobi ka” is the way we in India tackle history. History instead of being a life shaking ,existential understanding of our world be it comes a visit to the Paranthe wali gali in Chandni Chowk...
c) Now comes the interesting part. There is very little study in depth of history in India. Particularly in the middle classes of India and the designated educated elite--- history is just a utilitarian device say like a room heater or a room purifier or a device for hygiene like sanitary napkins or condoms.. it is not a sacred formula for understanding the world and the universe and man,s significant or insignificant place in it. It is just like any investment in the share market, mutual funds or other equities, for getting rich quickly. The most obvious is the attempt to run down a great eclectic rulers like Akbar and Ashoka or to deningrate leaders like Gandhi or Nehru and impart attributes and ideas to Sardar Patel which were foreign to his personality or to build up a cult around a murderer like Nathu ram Godse..
d) The absence of a scientific attitude towards Life and a shortage of philosophic consciousness and consciousness about history and an analytical view of Life compounds the problem. It has left the Indian people totally at the mercy of sentiments and emotions which are very easy to generate and trigger off in others also. At that stage it is less of a political and social problem and more a psychological or neurological issue. There is a total absence of an analytical frame of mind.
e) Very little conscious effort has been made to create a deep interaction between Hindus and Muslims at a social level , an emotional level, a cultural level a civilizational level .
f) There could maybe a lot of deliberate somewhat synthetic or artificial interaction involving a high degree of hypocrisy. This never helps the overall scenario.
g) A major factor would be that most Indians ---both Hindu and Muslim –have a very very limited understanding of their respective religions.Correspondingly , the average Hindu,s understanding of Islam or the Muslim understanding of Hinduism is severely limited .Which surgeon could operate on a patient if he has less than one percent of the available knowledge of Medical science.This gives them the great advantage of interpreting religion as per their own needs and appetites. Religion again serves the limited need of fulfilling one,s own material , worldly or temporal agenda. In such a situation there is no chance of a spiritual or philosophic or analytical understanding of faith or God but just a utilitarian device to fulfill ones baser desires.
h) Another thing worth pondering about is that the true significance and substance of religion is understood by very few Indians. As such the communal situation is totally unconnected to actual principles of religion .In India people are not religious by nature . They are religious by necessity or out of fear and anxiety or insecurity.. It is the overall gnawing effect of insecurity that makes people seem overtly religious in India .It has more religiosity than religion at its core. One of the very stupid modern beliefs is to think that the Hindu Muslim discord is about religion.It is the biggest falsehood and the biggest joke in Indian history.
i) A close look at the history of Hindu Muslim conflicts at least for a period of last 100 years definitely brings up the factor of contrivance ,the power of manipulation. There is an absolute absence of emotional intelligence or ethics ---any reliance whatsoever on a Moral code of conduct and behavior. The norms of civilization are ruthlessly discarded. And to misinterpret Nietzche there is only a Will to Power for nothing helps to acquire power more certainly and swiftly in the Indian subcontinent than a communally charged situation.It is this targeting of Money and Power which might constitute 95 percent of the problem.
j) The 1000 years of the history of Hindu Muslim interaction has to be examined in a very very scientific , dispassionate and objective manner. Systematic distortion of historical facts or the tampering with historical Truth is a very Indian phenomena and with each succeeding decade it becomes worse .As a matter of fact one could say that only pure scientific information remains untouched by this extremely pernicious habit in the subcontinent.
k) The quality of thinking and the level of understanding on the humanities and other civilizational factors is very limited in India.This is reflected in the kind of pre-partition negotiations and other inter communal issues after Independence. Both the Hindu and Muslim elite lacks the degree of brain power and ethical resource to comprehend anything but their own self interest and self aggrandizement. If it was otherwise the Hindu Muslim situation would not have been so intractable.
l) The interesting thing is that both Hinduism and Islam are old and ancient religions. The constraints of modern power politics and the dynamics of statecraft have often motivated both sides to adopt postures totally oblivious of any semblance of civilization and humanity. No evidence of compassion or empathy or goodwill based on one human interacting with another is available only a deep affinity to the bestiality of Realpoltik.
m) And we have seen often that realpolitik whether propounded by Chanakya(saam daam dand bhed), or Machiavelli or Adolf Hitler and Kissinger or Mao only leaves behind a somewhat sordid stink and none of these practitioners have got a good press from history.
n) The trick here is to have a more genuine,sincere, non cosmetic , non synthetic attempt at understanding of each others problems, issues and angst.The Hindus need to shed their majoritarian,superior(because of numbers) attitude and also get rid of their” inspired by history “persecution complex. The Muslims need to shed their “being victimized “ perpetual minority insecurity framework. A little bit of reflection will show that there is no substance nor benefit in these attitudes . The political elites should shed their great affinity and longing for power and try to find some genuine solutions to the problems of the subcontinent. Only a complete” Sagar Manthan “can help --- not synthetic, contrived, non sincere acts.Both the communities need to get rid of the fear and insecurity generated by the other’s presence.