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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Luminaries such as Vivekananda and Dayanand never breached the boundary between nation, religion and politics

REVIEW Buy Now! Lies, Like Beauty, Depend On the Eye of the Beholder - II September 08, 2007 Dr Bhaskar Dasgupta
Last week I reviewed the recent book, titled 'Lies, Lies and More Lies' by Vivek (ISBN: 978-0-595-43549-4), which is a collection of articles aiming to shed light on Hindutva. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a nation and there is also nothing wrong in defining that nation on the basis of religion. But nationality, as a measure of human identity and possibly politics has to be very dense and logical from an intellectual basis. I identified some issues with the thesis and this week I pick up and continue with the rest of the book and end with some suggestions on Hindu nationalism.
One can argue for a strong political voice for Hindus but I am afraid that form of political consciousness does not function for such a heterogeneous lot like Hindus. For example, the Christian democratic parties in Europe are totally different by country in terms of their ideological underpinning and allies. The other problem is that as soon as you plug in religion into a political party, you introduce an element of tension between secularism and religion. By it's very nature, if you are reliant on one religion’s tenets, you have to treat others differently, but for a political party to aim for government, once inside government, you have to treat everybody equally, hence the tension.
The biggest mistake that the Hindus have made is to make a political party in the first place, because that exposed them to the demands of governance. If they had stuck to being a social, religious and cultural organisation, then they would have made a better fist of it. I suppose the love and lure of power was too strong. Also, creating a nation out of Hindus means trying to force them into one straitjacket and as the past history has shown, it is not possible. People will throw you out if you try to impose a common religious idea.
Second, while many elements of this book point to inconsistencies and discrimination against Hindus, the basic inconsistencies of the arguments and the limited use of facts means that the book remains what I would call as a pamphlet. If the author is hoping for a Hindu consciousness based upon arguments such as these, then he has to work much harder and go back to basics. He has to think about what do they want to be, Hindu or Indian, a secular person or a religious person? a political party or a religious group? a desire for equality without any reference to casteism or other religious ills? a huge amount of thought needs to be generated.
Some hints, consider why the luminaries such as Vivekananda and Dayanand never breached the boundary between nation, religion and politics. That is the reason why their message still resonates. Compare that to the fate of Gandhi, who managed to make a pig's ear out of the mix between religion and politics and that is the reason why his reputation is taking so many hits these days. And ironically, he being a firm committed Hindu did not save him from being bumped off by another Hindu who thought he was betraying the Hindu cause. Politics and religion never mix!
So the conclusion is that the author would be better off arguing for equal treatment of Hinduism under the equality perspective. He needs to stop whining about being a victim, because it is demeaning and frankly embarrassing, see the example of the Palestinians, the almost constant whining and moaning is so irritating. He should not confuse India, Hindu, Hinduism, Bharat, Buddhism, Secularism etc. and aim
  • to reform Hinduism by eradicating social and religious ills such as the position of women, widows, caste, and superstition.
  • Encouraging the usage and spread of Sanskrit, Tamil and other Hindu languages, of traditional schools of learning ranging from ayurveda, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, literature, etc. is also an option.

An Indutva rather than Hindutva so to say, and one will see that many of the inconsistencies and incoherence dies away. One has a far stronger historical, economic, sociological, anthropological, philosophical, theological and even epistemological basis than relying on Hindutva, More importantly; one will see that all the objectives of Hindutva are satisfied by the Indutva concept and very little of the religion specific downsides.

Mixing religion with politics never works and l never will recommend doing so. If one does want to see how others have defined a nation on the basis of religion, one can read about people starting from Shaka for the Zulus, Theodore Herzl for Zionism and the various books on Jinnah for Pakistan. These three chaps would be good indicators on how a nation can be constructed and how complicated and impossible it is to reconcile a religion, a nation and a state. And no, Sarvarkar’s and Golwalkar’s books and thoughts are not at par, they are inapplicable and in many cases inconsistent. Oh! The last thing, remember Godwin’s law! All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!
Dr. Bhaskar Dasgupta works in the city of London in various capacities in the financial sector. He has worked and travelled widely around the world. The articles in here relate to his current studies and are strictly his opinion and do not reflect the position of his past or current employer(s).

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