Puppets of Faith: Theory of Communal Strife (A critical appraisal of Islamic faith, Indian polity)
Author: BS Murthy

Chapter 24
Winds of Change

The Muhammadan downturn in the 18th Century that enabled the dawn of the British Raj in India turned out to be a godsend to the Hindu upswing. Historically, the parochial character of the myriad kingdoms precluded India’s Hindus from imbibing a sense of belonging to their motherland, which continues to plague the political system of the Union of India that is Bharat.

In the chequered history of Hindustan, its Rajas, and their Sāmants, who came by dime a dozen, saw their adjoining territories as pieces of real estate to be grabbed to boost up their vanity or to satiate their greed, and / or both. So, ironically, Mother India, with its splintered political dominions, would have been a no man’s land to its provincial potentates, and in later years, the Muhammadan usurpers, if anything, saw its riches as their personal endowments to cater to their pleasures and to perpetuate their memory ‘here’ forever through grandiose mausoleums, the Taj Mahal being the apogee.  And that was the final nail in the coffin of the Indian economy.

 The next victim of the Islamic misrule rule in India, of course, was the intellectuality, the prized possession of the Hindu civilization, nurtured from the times immemorial. With the advent of the Muslim Sultans, and the eclipse of the Hindu Rajas, short of royal patronage, the Brahman intellectual pursuits took a back seat. Besides, the overall downtrend of the Indian economy, brought about by the profligacy of the pleasure-seeking Islamic rulers, dried up the wells of charity affecting the Brahman well-being.

Moreover, their self-restrain from pursuing mundane activities, an anathema to their swadharma, contributed to the Brahman financial gloom, which eventually led to their intellectual decay as well. Hence, their collective sense of despair could have led to the feeling of dissipation that inexorably put them onto the path of laziness and prejudice. What with the Kshatriya power too on the wane, the traditional Hindu leadership remained dispirited and disjointed in the Islamic rule in India, and the Hindus, as though to seek a mass escape from life’s hardships had turned to spirituality, which further distanced them from the social realities. Whatever it may be, the undercurrents of the Hindu-Muslim coexistence in India are their bi-polar interests that even Akbar’s Din-i-Illahi failed to reconcile.

However, all that changed under the aegis of the British Raj that lasted long enough to make a difference to the Hindu self-worth, and when India celebrates its hundredth year of freedom from the British yoke in 2047, its Hindus might heartily wish ‘God bless the Great Britain’. But what could be the feelings of the Indian Musalmans towards the British, who dethroned the moguls to signal the end of the Islamic rule in Hindustan, and yet gave the parting gift of Pakistan to their faith across its borders, time only would tell. Maybe the plight of Pakistan then could shape the mind of the Indian Musalmans but one should be wary of the Muslim penchant to blame the kafirs for the Islamic ills of their own, and that of their God’s, making.    

Be that as it may, the Great Britain had wide opened the Indian windows to the developed world, closed for centuries by the Brahman social prejudice and the Islamic religious bigotry, which enabled its populace, the Hindus in particular, to breathe a whiff of fresh air of contemporary Western ideas. Above all, the British lent India their English tongue that gave class to its middle class, and all this led to the advent of the cosmopolitan India. But, on the flip side, the vested interests of the ‘nation of the shopkeepers’, so as to bolster their commercial interests had ensured that whatever left of the Indian enterprise and industry was truly undermined. 

Nonetheless, after their initial skepticism about the liberal ways of the British, the Hindus, led by the Brahmans, stepped out of their sanātana cocoons to explore the Western outlook, which eventually resulted in their kids embracing the English secular education in numbers. But on the other hand, the Muhammadan elite allowed themselves to be drawn into the closets of self-recrimination, and fearing religious dilution, shied away from the secular ideas and ideals, and kept their children away from the convent education. That’s how, as the Hindu masses ventured out of their caste closets, even the elite Musalmans stayed put in their mental ghettos and held on to Islam’s obscurantist tenets even more. And in this dual response to the Western cultural infusion lay the revival of the Hindu intellectuality and the beginning of the Muslim despondency.

 Thus, while the Muslim dominance of India caused its stagnation, the British deliverance from the same heralded the Hindu socio-political resurgence. The emotional relief of the Hindu to be rid of the political yoke of the Musalmans, after nearly eight centuries, evoked a feel-good in the country’s majority. With the mainstay of the population, so to say, enamored of them, and they too having come to value the ancient Hindu philosophy, which got reduced to mere prejudice by then, the British loved India as best as their own interests would permit them to do. And having succeeded in subduing the squabbling Nawabs and the disjointed Rajas, the British slowly but steadily unified the country to usher it into the modern era; they built roads and bridges, brought in the radio and the railways, and the telegraph and the telephone.

 But, to the chagrin of the Musalmans, the British banished Persian, the language of the Mogul Court, and introduced English to administer India, which turned out to be a boon to the Hindus for it facilitated their entry into the administrative portals, and that gave them an edge over the Musalmans, thereby ushering them into a new age in their ancient land. Even though the evangelists failed to take the Hindu souls en masse onto the Christian path of salvation, yet the British saved the Indian souls by modernizing the hitherto neglected healthcare system. And it was their educationists that enabled the Hindu’s innate scientific temper to flower in the, Ramans, the Boses, and the Ramanujans et al.

Besides, the secular education that McCauley introduced produced a body of Hindu thinkers and reformers, mostly Brahmans, and predominantly Bengali at that – the Arabindos, the Tagores, the Bankimchandras, the Ram Mohan Roys, the Ambedkars, the Tilaks, the Malaviyas , the Gurajadas,  et al – in their scores,  which laid the seeds of equality in the Indian soil at long last. But yet there are the critics, who aver that his educational mechanism turned India into a nation of clerks, of course not without some justification; and as history tends to repeat itself, the skeptics of the day aver that the IT upsurge in the end would reduce humans into a bunch of keyboard operators; undeterred though the technology has set its eyes on AI. Whatever, there is a price to pay for a millennium of stagnation of slavery, isn’t it?

So, the Brahmans, as though to make amends for the sins of their progenitors, strived hard to clear the social debris that Brahmanism had left on the Indian soil. The Hindu reformist zeal, with due help from the Western Samaritanism, which put the Brahman orthodoxy on the back foot, which, in turn, enabled the community to contain abominable practices such as sati, untouchability, child marriage et al, that is besides opening the altars for widow marriages.

With the momentum so gained on the social front, as the Hindus began to dream about changes in the political arena, Gandhi ingenuously transformed India’s masses into ‘Soldiers of Peace’ to fight against the mighty British that stunned them in the end. While the world marveled at it, India showed to it as to how an ancient nation of peace loving people, with a dominant religion of philosophical orientation, can successfully shape its struggle against a foreign rule in the modern world through non-violent means. How well, Pearl S. Buck captured it all in her assertion that only a religion like Hinduism and a country like India could have produced a Gandhi!

Nonetheless, India’s struggle for freedom had had its righteous streaks of aggression as well as the pacifist stances of Islam, for even as Subhas Chnadra Bose and others across the country, opted for an armed struggle, the Indian Musalmans, along with the majority of the Hindus, stuck to the Gandhian course of non-violence. That is, till Muhammad Ali Jinnah fired the Muslim imagination with the call for the creation of Pakistan, the separate homeland for the Musalmans of Hindustan. Whatever, as the Hindu hopes for freedom rose, so did the Muslim fears about the domination of their religious rivals in free India increased, and it seemed as if the wheel was about to turn the full circle for the Hindus and the Musalmans as well.

While for the Hindus, the end of the British Raj would seemingly herald a Rama Rajya, i.e. after a thousand year interregnum, for the Musalmans, whose domain of eight centuries the British had ended; it portended the worst – the Hindu domination of them. That was after the baneful land reforms of the British, which had already proved to be the last nail in the coffin of their parasitic life of leisure and luxury. Besides, given the propensity of the Musalmans to live by their glorious past, the prospect of a Rama Rajya would have seemed a setback for Islam in Hindustan.

Since the religious loss of face is something that the Musalmans dread the most, so, what would have salvaged the Islamic prestige than a separate nation for them in the subcontinent? Besides, a ‘here’ they can call their own, that would enable them to take home their fond memories of the past glories that the two-hundred-year mogul rule symbolizes. Moreover, as the notion of a Muslim nation would restore the loss of power and pelf under the British Raj, the craving of those Musalmans for Pakistan cannot be faulted.

But it’s their hypocrisy behind the demand for separation on the specious ground that Muslims cannot coexist with the Hindus, that is abominable. Why didn’t they live with the Hindus for a thousand years by then; oh, that was when they happened to be the rulers, isn’t it? Well in reality, Indian Musalmans found it galling to live under the imminent Hindu rule in the independent India; and in an encore, the same supremacist psyche came to the fore in latter-years as the Hindu nationalists, at long last, had come to rule their Bharat that is India.

Whatever, after centuries of inimical Muslim misrule the Hindus have had to endure, they should have a reason to feel indebted to the British for having given them a modern nation, though truncated. Maybe, the Singh Pariah’s nationalist lament over a lost Akhand Bharat, patriotic though, is misplaced for with one Musalman for every two Hindus in it; Islam would have erected enough roadblocks for the undivided India to modernize itself. Moreover, if not for their grant of Pakistan as the homeland for the Indian Musalmans, the British could have unwittingly Balkanized India, or worse!

So, notwithstanding the unpalatable partition of their ancient land, the Hindus have every reason to be grateful to the British for releasing them from the Islamic shackles that their Brahman-kshatriya duo willy-nilly put them into. And for the same reason, the Musalmans are wont to grudge the British for having divested them of the Dilli gaddi that is in spite of their having ensconced them in Rawalpindi, which, of course, they see as a consolation prize. Won’t the Indian Musalmans’ resentment of the British validate the adage that “one’s meat is another man’s poison”? It’s another matter though that in hindsight it appears that the Pakistani capital-shift from Rawalpindi to Islamabad was a forerunner into its Islamic disaster!

 

 

 

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