Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weaknesses of the Hindu heart and mind

Weaknesses of the Hindu heart and mind
Sudheendra Kulkarni

Those Hindus who are sincerely striving to strengthen Hindu-Muslim amity would do well to study the thoughts of Sri Aurobindo. There is a prescient passage in one of his writings, dating back a hundred years, to 1909.

“Hindu-Muslim unity cannot be effected by political adjustments or Congress flatteries. It must be sought deeper down in the heart and in the mind, for where the causes of disunion are there the remedies must be sought. We shall do well to remember that misunderstanding is the most fruitful cause of our differences, that love compels love and that strength conciliates the strong. We must strive to remove the causes of misunderstanding by a better mutual knowledge and sympathy; we must extend the unfaltering love of the patriot to our Mussulman brother, remembering always that in him too Narayana dwells and to him too our Mother has given a permanent place in her bosom; but we must cease to approach him falsely or flatter out of a selfish weakness and cowardice. Intellectual sympathy can only draw together; the sympathy of the heart can alone unite. But the one is a good preparation for the other”.

Judge the above thoughts against India’s historical experience and what do we find? That the truth of the yogi’s thoughts speaks to us with undiminished power even today. Love thy Muslim brother, but let it be love of the strong, not of the weak.

Hindus in India exhibit many weaknesses of the heart and the mind in relating to their Muslim brethren. These are a cause for worry in the difficult times that India is currently passing through. One weakness is the dangerous temptation amongst a tiny section of the Hindu society to think that they can make the community strong by meeting extremism with counter-extremism, terrorism with counter-terrorism. India’s history shows that neither religious extremism nor political extremism has ever found support with the Hindu masses. Going by media reports, a fanatical fringe may well be involved in crude attempts at bomb making. It must be strongly condemned and the law must take its course against any perpetrator of violence.

In post-1947 India, nothing has harmed Hindu-Muslim relations more than communal violence. The causes for riots are many and complex, and the tendency to blame one or the other community exclusively is neither based on truth nor helpful. However, one thing is certain: the impact of riots on the fabric of Muslim life is far worse than on the Hindu society. The feeling of insecurity among Muslims, and the resultant anxiety to seek security in ghetto-like living conditions, is a reality that no honest Hindu can either deny or accept. Riots have also brought the role of the political leadership and the criminal justice system under close scrutiny. This role must be fair, unbiased and guided by the rule of law. Communal violence is a blot on India’s civilisational personality. To provoke it and thereby to weaken our national unity has indeed been a principal objective of the globally networked Islamist terrorists. Therefore, it is high time right-thinking Hindu political leaders, who have the nation’s long-term interests at heart, resolved to strive for the realisation of the goal of a Riot-Free India.

This goal cannot be attained by governments and political parties alone. A lot of sustained societal initiatives are needed. Unfortunately, many Hindus, including those in political parties that project themselves to be champions of secularism, do not have the “sympathy of the heart” towards Muslims. Suspicion and mistrust, which are mutual, lie just beneath the surface of cordiality. This situation has arisen because daily multi-layered socio-cultural interaction between the two communities, so essential for emotional integration in any society, is much less than before. The ghettoisation of Muslims is further shrinking its scope. Isn’t it the responsibility of Hindus, especially educated and better-off Hindus, to do whatever they can to make Muslims feel welcome and secure? What signals are we sending if even someone like Shabana Azmi—and she is by no means alone in this predicament—cannot buy a flat in an apartment or locality of her choice in cosmopolitan Mumbai? The issue cannot be trivialised by saying that she already has more than one flat in the city. The time has come for the Government and the majority community to consciously promote mixed, inter-religious habitats for the poor, middle-class as well as wealthy populations. This is necessary even to reduce the influence of those Muslim separatist forces that want to ensure least possible integration between the two communities.
There is another Hindu weakness, exhibited especially by ultra-secular intellectuals, which has impaired the community’s ability to establish a truly trust-based relationship with Muslims. It is the tendency of many secular Hindu intellectuals, who have no pride in their Hindu identity, to “flatter (Muslims) out of a selfish weakness and cowardice”. Those who do not love their own religion can hardly be expected to create a bond of robust love with adherents of another religion.

Soul-searching about the many ills in Hindu society is of course necessary. But soul-searching should not degenerate into self-blame, which is the attribute of a coward masquerading as a progressive. How many secular Muslims have you seen who loathe their own religion the way secular Hindus routinely do? How many secular Hindu intellectuals have you seen voicing legitimate Hindu concerns (such as mass conversions by Christian evangelists) the way secular Muslims endorse legitimate Muslim concerns? This Hindu weakness, coupled with the attraction of a Muslim vote-bank, is rapidly influencing the stance of many self-styled secular political parties on serious challenges before the nation (Islamist terrorism, large-scale infiltration by Bangladeshis, and separatism in Kashmir, to name a few). In the name of secularism, nationalism is being undermined.

What India needs today is the coming together of proud Hindus and proud Muslims, joined by the common unbreakable bond of Indianness and willing to introspect about the shortcomings in their own communities.

Write to:


Aakarsh said...

wow! for a change, something straight and neutral rather than the usual hatred spewing on Muslims or acute pro-Hindu or sonia bashing stuff..basically it was something which i, with an unbiased mind,could read on your blog, after a long time.Nice post!
so, whats your take on this perspective? i assume you found some(atleast some) merit in his argument(unless your next post bashes this Sudheendra Kulkarni).

Gandaragolaka said...

Anna, relax.

For the upteenth time, let me reiterate that I am only against sects/relions/beliefs that foster hatred.

If they remove some of the provisions in their beloved holy-books that anger/scare me, I am fine with them :)

Also, whats wrong with Sonia bashing? Dont tell me you like her!

Aakarsh said...

that fine dude, but your being so much against so many things and everyday rants about your opposition on same subjects is actually fostering hatred in you itself.From that perspective, there will be a day when you wont find much difference between you and what you hate..only sides differ.

and by the way, did you read this:
give a try. i think we guys dont really know what exactly is written and what has been interpreted.what if the qoran being propagated today is an adulterated version of an original? it could be, it couldnt be too.we never know!

and coming to Sonia,well i neither like nor dislike. I mean, i dislike dynasty politics of congress anyways and i oppose her solely on the ground that she is not a learned/well-read/experienced leader.I dont subscribe to the usual 'Italian' labels attached, because she has spent more time in India than in Italy i guess, so she has come too far to be labelled so.
Last year or so,i read that one of the states in US is headed by an Indian origin guy, as governor.Now,if Americans keep denouncing him, by labelling him as 'Indian',we at India would equate it to racism or something like it.In the same way,i dont think we need to object her on the grounds of her ex-nationality.Yes, merit-wise,i dont think she is that capable and thats the basis of my not liking sonia.
but then,i also remember that her entry into politics was not her (first) choice, she was being coaxed/pushed by congress chamchas (who was that old moron,i forgot his name,which starts with K) who kind of motivated her using the ages-old "fullfill the ideals of your husband who dreamt about India being...blah blah", kind of emotional shit. i remember very much that she didnt agree in first instance.whatever,she isnt my favourite anways,but i dont bash her as much as you do too.infact i enjoy bashing many other uneducated politician-goondas.

Aakarsh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gandaragolaka said...

To be fair, every religion has its share of books prone to multiple interpretations. Where Islam irks me is that alternative explanations are hardly given an option to flourish (how sufism has been suppressed in India by wahhaabi'ism).

On the contrary, the most dominant position is held by those who advocate a literal, extremist translation of the books (because its easier to brainwash people using simplistic explanations).

In ths sense, the burden of proof is upon Muslims that Islam doesnt preach violence. It is they who would have to contend with proof of violence in the name of Islam over 1300 years-- from Mahmood of Ghaznavi to Bin Laden who have used Islam (publicly) to raise hell on Earth. It is they who have to change the public perception of Islam.

You cannot disagree when I say that regardless of when Bin Laden is right or wrong regarding Qur'an, he is a hero among muslim masses. Now who is supposed to go around and change that perception?

One day or other, Muslims of India have to come out and declare what they stand for and dissociate themselves from Islamist terrorists. They have to recognise there is a problem with atleast the popular interpretation with their texts, if not the content itself. Right now, I dont see that happening.

Regarding Sonia, read the website I mentioned. I havent, till now, said anything about her without proof.

Aakarsh said...

hmm..i dont know what volume of masses treat bin laden as a hero. but i am yet to come across muslims who show inclination towards Laden or who justiy terrorist violence.All the muslims i came across so far had put across a condemnation attitude and even a kind of 'what is islam coming into' attitude when it comes to terror/violence.probably thats why i dont hate every muslim, but only the actual terrorists.

Regarding that website on Sonia, i did read it. but all that coming from another political party(website),can i take it for truth?i have no trust on any party dude, be it congress or BJP or Janata or anything.
If this is true,then it should have been out on papers right?Lets assume congress will not let it happen. Then I would wait for the power to change hands and then see. Will BJP get it into papers?

If this is false,Sonia can sue thee guys right? i said,i dont trust anything.Bcoz someone writes something today and someone else negates/counters it later.There is no end to this ruckus.

Gandaragolaka said...

What I see in your comments is repeated stress on just one word--"hate", which runs totally contrary to what I have been saying.

The terrorists want to drag every Muslim into terrorism, and the average tax-paying muslim wants to just keep paying taxes and move on. But one day, every Muslim must make a decision on his future. And trend till now, isnt exactly rosy.

And regd. Sonia, proofs, and the politicians in general, I can give you a hint to think abt: Just as you think all muslims are not terrorists, can we not apply the same analogy to poor politicians also?

Amit said...

Why do some people confuse "criticism" with "hate", I will never understand. Though this criticism is labeled as hatred only for certain sections and not for others. For example, if you'd written a piece criticizing Advani or Vajpayee, then very few would've commented that you are displaying hatred towards Advani and should stop doing that, because "there will be a day when you wont find much difference between you and what you hate..only sides differ."

Gandaragolaka said...

Thats called 'bullheadedness'.

Pure logic, incidents in the country, morally-bankrupt media-- everything in this world points to that fact that we have no option other than BJP.

But still.