Title: India, a Rashtra misconstrued as Nation Author: MM Sankhdher Publication: The Pioneer Date: December 2, 1997
Perhaps it is never too late to learn from the mistakes of the past and begin afresh. I think it would now he appropriate, after 50 years of Independence, in the midst of turmoil, to assess where we have gone wrong. No doubt. it is difficult to identify a single cause for the decline on all fronts: Social, economic, educational, political, moral and intellectual. Even at the risk of contradiction, I daresay that misconceptions about India's reality have caused the greatest havoc to the understanding of our people, their psyche, ethos and aspirations, the way of life and the accepted value-system.
If India has to emerge as a great country in the foreseeable future the first task is to cheek what can be called, "mantra-viplave", that is, the word "explosion". Our entire political vocabulary has to be reshaped, revised and reconcepted. For over half a century, the unending storming of wrongly motivated phraseology, emanating >from western and communist sources, has gone unchallenged. This kind of language has warped the intellect and has landed us in our present plight.
We have drifted from our moorings and have been chasing false ideals. We have chosen to follow the communist or the western liberal paradigms to the complete neglect of our own. Nationalism, born of European experiences, and multinationalism, the creed of the Soviet Union-both have shown disastrous results respectively in terms of World Wars on the one hand, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union on the other. Nationalism precisely meant freedom from colonialism, self-determination and a unity of some common material interests. Inspired by the liberal ideology of the West and reinforced by the American love for freedom, we too, during our fight for Independence, imitated the same pattern of thinking and action thereafter.
Nationalism brought in its train, problems of diversities, disintegration, separatism, secessionism and terrorism. Nationalism implied a process of appeasement of minorities and brought to fore the concepts of composite culture and multiplicity of religions and minorities. It tended to infuse a sinister self-conscious identity in smaller groups and diffused the prime loyalty to the country as a whole. Instead of emphasising the unifying forces, the ideology of multi-nationalism encouraged attacks on the very cultural mainstream. Pseudo-secularism, thus, is the inevitable product of the foreign concept of nationalism that we wove into our constitutional fabric.
A serious fallout of our acute dependence on foreign terminology was the confusion of our traditional concept of Rashtra with the word Nation of foreign origin. Rashtra, misconstrued as Nation, like Dharma translated as Religion, only created semantic misunderstandings, alienating us from our traditional thought processes. The Hindu version of Rashtra is not the same thing as the Nation.
The distinction between Nation and Rashtra is lost to our view. This has caused the term Rashtra-bhakti to erroneously mean loyalty to the nation rather than patriotism. Patriotism evokes a very different sentiment than nationalism. The pure love for the country is the feeling behind the word Rashtra. The love for the country and its cultural unity is not the same thing as exclusively striving for nationhood, self-determination, sovereignty or structuring of a composite culture. As the most ancient peopleon earth, we have evolved a distinct way of life and a distinct identity. We have our own perceptions of destiny and role vis-a-vis mankind. We have sought and found answers to a whole lot of questions about life and existence. We have pursued the search for God without being fanatical. We have a vision of Sarvadharma-sambhava. To strengthen these values and life-guidelines is patriotism, a duty that devolves on us as Hindus.
The Hindu catholicity of outlook and the accompanying tolerance has been a great asset but nowadays it is also showing the need for revision, especially in the face of hostile and pseudo-secularist forces exploiting this virtue as a weakness. Inculcation of patriotic spirit among the Hindus is a sine qua non of turning other converts from Hinduism to return to the Hindu fold. During the course of history. Hinduism, a great civilisation, has been polluted by alien influences.
A country, which has the immense potential to lead entire humanity, is suffering under its own heels. A helplessness seems to have overtaken our society to face the challenges of religious fanaticism, secessionism, terrorism, communalism, and separatism. Economically, the country has been reduced to the status of a beggar surviving on the mercy of international finance. Patriotism alone is the anodyne for the serious maladies, for it demands a complete loyalty to the country and expects supreme sacrifice for the cause.The word Rashtra signifies the country and all that it represents as a heritage, culture, tradition. Desh-bhakti is a call to the people to be prepared to give up every comfort when faced with inimical forces both inside and outside the country. Rashtra is not a mere geo-political concept, it is a category of thought which mystically keeps a patriot in a frame of mind to transcend all material and immediate interests and protect the motherland from calamity, aggression and evil.
Patriotism, thus, is a cultural urge manifest in all beings in this country to treat everything the motherland has given to them as a boon. It is an outer expression of sanskara-a subconscious feeling in every Hindu heart that bleeds when the country suffers. The Hindu is one who would consider no price big enough for saving the country from disintegration and sabotage. Patriotism, in this context, is a civilisational concern for the Hindu, who is ever prepared to arm himself for righting against all anti-patriotic forces. In this sense, patriotism invokes a greater emotional attachment to the motherland. "Janani Janmabhumischa swargadapi gariyasi." The mother and the motherland are both higher than heavens.
The persistent and notorious tirade launched by pseudo-secularists to denounce patriotism as revivalist, communal and obscurantist, needs to be strongly countered by propagating positive concepts of the Hindu classical tradition in order to invoke a sense of pride in the glory of our ancient civilisation. Propagation of patriotism all over the country would reflect the people's desire and resolve to build up the most modem and scientific edifice on the Shastra foundation. Tradition and modernity are now to he blended in unique fashion. not attempted so far. The age-old lesson of keeping the country from Kanyakumari to Kashmir united has to be drilled into the masses who are otherwise sought to be deflected from their righteous path by ill-motivated politicians and a bunch of misguided scholars who have shamelessly distorted all that is noble in our culture.
We have not only to unlearn the false lessons of the recent past via nationalism imposed on us by alien ideologies, we have to relearn our forgotten lessons drawn from our own rich scriptural sources. The concepts of Rashtra-bhakti and Desh-bhakti have to be rendered in a new Idiom and vocabulary. The whole language of politics which abuses Bharat as India Is to be changed, and the shackles of intellectual slavery removed. All the patriotic forces have to be mobilised for launching a massive public education crusade spirited In Vande Mataram.
The task is to resurrect Bharat from India, Dharma from Religion and Dharmasapekshawad from Secularism. It is also to work out the principles of Vasudheva Kutumbakam and Sarva Dharma Sambhava. Above all, Rashtrawad has to be rescued from the clutches of west-oriented Nationalism. This, indeed, is the new paradigm of thinking meant to demobilise the cancerous elements eating into the vitals of our rich heritage and enlightened intellectual culture inspired by spiritual experiences of the saints and sages of yore. (The writer is an academician and author)