Introspection time for us all
by R K Ohri on 10 Nov 2015 12 Comments
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat - Sun Tzu


Barely 18 months after an historic win in the 2014 parliamentary elections, the Indian nation once again stands at the crossroads of history. The resounding victory of the so-called secular alliance led by Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav in the Bihar elections has set alarm bells ringing among nationalist Hindus. The leaders of the maha gathbandhan have declared war on the popularly elected nationalist leader, Narendra Modi.


Within India today, Hindu society faces multiple dangers. Anyone who reads English newspapers or watches television programmes can see the widespread drivel against the Hindu ethos. Surely there is something morbid and ugly in the spectacle of educated Hindus deriding their own civilizational values.


For the benefit of our younger generations it may be worthwhile to recall the exhortations of Dr. Annie Besant, president of the Indian National Congress in 1917, calling upon Hindus to defend and guard their faith and motherland: “If Hindus don’t maintain Hinduism, who shall save it? If India’s own children don’t cling to their faith, who shall guard it? Indians alone can save India, and India and Hinduism are one.” 


But in today’s decadent cultural milieu, dominated by self-serving political buccaneers, who will save India? It is time that Hindus reorganise themselves and discard all false rituals and obscurantism. The orthodox among them have not only to change their outlook but also abandon their passivity. The Hindu tradition of “universal humanism” must be zealously protected. The fraternity of Hindus and allied faiths, call them the Omkar Parivar, if you will, must make a new resolve to ensure the survival of their identity at all costs.


This is a time for strategic introspection by political and spiritual leaders of Hindus and allied faiths. One important step towards restructuring Hindu society will be to summon a major conclave of representatives of all sections of the community from all corners of India, including all reform-minded religious leaders and preachers.


Hindu society must boldly abolish all caste distinctions for once and for all. A mahayagna should be organised on the pattern of the one held several hundred years ago at Mount Abu, when a similar crisis situation arose for the embattled civilization because of the rapid decimation of Kshatriya warriors battling invading hordes. At that critical juncture it was decided by consensus to co-opt scores of non-Kshatriya clans and tribal communities into the Kshatriya fold by baptising them as “warriors” through a formal yagna or “havan”. By that single fiat they came to be known as “Agnikula” Rajputs. The result was electrifying and the crisis caused by shortage of warriors was overcome by adding a new crop of youthful warriors to fight the onslaught on dharma and freedom.


Atrocities against Hindus peaked during the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb who resorted to senseless killings of innocents and razed hundreds of temples. While the renowned warrior Shivaji rallied brave Marathas to join battle against Aurangzeb’s savagery in western India, another saviour of the oppressed masses rose in north India. Born in Patna in 1666, he was the famous tenth Guru of Sikhs, the Warrior Saint, Guru Gobind Singh, who challenged the might of the Mughal empire by taking up arms. Before doing so, he wrote a letter to the emperor in which he warned the tyrant that when “all other means have proven ineffective, it is right then to take up the sword.”  


Those were difficult times for society, divided by caste-based discrimination and trapped in meaningless rituals. On the auspicious day of Baisakhi, the great Guru created “Khalsa” by baptising five meek Hindus handpicked from different castes and regions of India whom he imbued with rare zeal to fight the growing repression and injustice. The five disciples handpicked by Guru Gobind Singh came from different castes and belonged to different regions of Bharat Varsha. They were Daya Ram Kohli, a Kshatriya from Lahore; Dharam Dass, a Jat from Delhi; Mohkam Chand, a washerman from Dwarka, Gujarat; Himmat Rai, a cook from Jagannath Puri, Orissa; and Sahib Chand, a barber from Bidar, Karnataka.


In one go, Guru Gobind Singh removed all inequalities and abrogated all prerogatives of higher castes. By moulding them into “Khalsa” he made all sit together, eat together and take up arms together to fight to save their dharma and motherland. He was a very worthy son of a heroic father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, who had sacrificed his life to protect the faith and honour of Kashmiri Pandits when the latter were ordered to embrace Islam on pain of death.


Guru Gobind Singh was both a warrior and a learned scholar who led by personal example. In a famous stanza of his celebrated hymns he prayed to Lord Shiva:

De Shiva bar mohe aiyhe 

Shubh karman te main kabhun na darun

Na darun Ari se jab jaiye larun 

Nishche kar apni jeet karun    

[“O Shiva, grant me this boon that may I never turn away from doing good deeds, that may I always join the battle against the enemy fearlessly, and by your grace may I always emerge as victor by sheer resolve to win”] 


The difficult times facing India demand that all segments of society, including scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, backward classes and upper castes should join and abolish all distinctions of caste and creed. Today in the echelons of political power there is hardly any voice of Hindu identity because our segmented society was totally fragmented after Mandal Commission delivered a virtual coup de grace. There are hardly any Hindus left because most tend to identify themselves as backwards, scheduled castes, Yadavas, Jats, Brahmins or Kshatriyas.


Then there is a tendency among Hindus to define themselves in regional terms like Marathas, Tamils, Punjabis ... How then can the voice of the masses be heard in the corridors of power?  The time has come to carry out radical reforms to reinvent Hindu faith by holding an all encompassing representative conclave of different sections of Hindu society. The need of the hour is to confer the status of twice-born, “dwijya”, on all categories of Hindus. Only such a bold and dynamic step as the one taken at Mount Abu in Rajasthan and repeated in the 17th century by Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab can revitalise India.  


Learn From Our Past


In the 1940s, the folklore whispered in the dusty villages around Kala Aamb in Haryana (close to the battleground of Panipat) narrated how the Marathas lost to Ahmed Shah Abdali in the third battle of Panipat. According to rural legend, on a dark night a few days before the decisive battle, when Abdali went around his encampment, he saw a number of kitchen fires burning in the Maratha camp across the river. Out of curiosity he asked why were there so many kitchen fires burning in the enemy camp. He was told that Hindus were divided into a number of castes due to which they did not cook and eat together. His instantaneous response was: “Insha Allaha, then I will surely defeat the infidels”. The rest is history.


All controversial and peripheral issues should be put on the backburner; the focus should be on unifying society by winning back into the Hindu fold all those who deserted it, “ghar wapasi”. We must adopt a rationalist approach as advocated by Swami Vivekananda and Veer Savarkar.


Without a “samvad” or open public debate it will be difficult to awaken the self-styled secularists and their camp followers to the true dimensions of the multiple threats facing India. One important step to revitalise the Hindu society would be to assign a more dynamic and purposeful role to women whose participation in nation-building has to be substantially increased. It is not a difficult task because traditionally India has been the continent of Shakti and Hindus have worshipped Mother Goddess for thousands of years. Hence, all gender discrimination should be ruthlessly put down.


Real Model of Secularism


Let us make a cursory comparison of our “perverse secularism” with the secular framework of the United Kingdom, a country often cited as role model for India’s parliamentary democracy. In the UK, uniform civil and criminal laws have been enacted for all religious groups and communities and these are equitably applied to all citizens, without exception. In the eyes of the law all citizens are equal irrespective of gender, creed, religious beliefs, and modes of worship. Equal respect for all faiths and equal treatment of people belonging to diverse religious groups is the quintessential hallmark of secularism.


That high ideal, a vital component of secular ideology, is totally missing in the Indian theory and practice of secularism. The constitutional and legal position of secularism is more or less the same in almost all European democracies and America. Yet the British commitment to the secular ideal has not been diminished by the state declaring itself a “Christian” nation. The monarch ascending the throne invariably assumes the title of “Defender of Faith”. All important state functions like the inauguration of the Parliament session are accompanied by a Christian prayer, often led by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself. But that does not detract from the state’s commitment to secularism.


The Indian system is a putrid and perverse variety of secularism. It has become a duplicitous dogma which supports lauds the minorities but despises and berates the Hindus.  
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