induism is not a religion in the semitic terms but an ancient civilization which has absorbed, within it, numerous cultural streams. Unlike others the Indian empire was spread by persuasion rather than the sword. However, while India was busy conquering more and more minds, a group of Turko-Mongol nomads, driven by the harsh conditions of the steppes, descended on sedate nations in periodic waves, became ruling aristocracy and then got absorbed in the local population. Besides Attila, Changez Khan and Taimur, these nomadic tribes supplied countless kings to the surrounding civilizations of China, India, Iran and Europe. This cycle of attack and absorption was like a law of nature. This military ascendancy, inspite of their cultural poverty, was mainly due to their high degree of horsemanship. The Turko-Mongol was the best mounted archer in the world. He lost this advantage with the discovery and use of gunpowder. India too fell to the Turko-Mongol onslaught forcing the Hindu to retire into a shell. He had no answer to the force and brutality of the invader.
In the overthrow of the Mughal kingdom by the British the Hindu saw a glimmer of hope to redeem his identity. He did offer some resistance to the British but he was woefully disorganised and short of resources. So he bided his time and waited for the opportune moment. Buffeted for nearly eleven centuries, the Hindu set about to regain his identity. Formation of organisations like the Indian National Congress, the Servants of India Society etc. were some steps towards that direction. Yet the most subtle move was that of Bal Gangadhar Tilak who converted the little known festival of Ganesh Chaturthi into a rallying point for re-assertion of Hindu identity as a means to free the country of foreign yoke.
The British rule, per necessity, brought into existence a group of Indian elite who took to the learning of the English language. The learning of this language exposed the minds of this elite to two contradictory streams. On the one hand they were introduced to the expanding world of science, industry and literature and on the other, they accepted, hook, line and sinker, the British view on Indian history, people, culture and way of living. This view portrayed India as ignorant, weak, superstitious and a backward country. A general impression was sought to be created that India was, by and large, a nation of rope-walkers and snake charmers. All ills of India, including gross poverty, were attributed to the Hindu way of life which was held as anti-modernism, anti-progress, ritual ridden and other-worldly. The newly emerging anglisized Indian elite happily joined the bandwagon and they became the worst critics of the Hindu way of life. This is why our young, who are ignorant of their past, are ashamed to acknowledge it. Writing as far back as 1924 (The Dance of Shiva), Ananda Coomaraswamy observed : "It is hard to realize how completely the continuity of Indian life has been severed. A single generation of English education suffices to break the threads of tradition and to create a nondescript and superficial being deprived of all roots - a sort of intellectual pariah who does not belong to the East or the west, the past or future...." English is spoken by less than one percent of the population and this has made it impossible for the overwhelming majority to participate in institutions that make a democracy function. Power has come to be concentrated in the hands of a minuscule but highly visible English knowing minority which has developed its own minority culture. Earlier it was the English they mimicked and now the model to follow is the American.
Ironically, it was the anglicised elite that came to lead the freedom struggle. With a mind-set like that the leadership, save the solitary example of Mahatma Gandhi, led the freedom movement with this flawed education and knowledge. The intellectual agenda in modern India has been set by the idealogies of the left or pro-left hues who did not permit any debate outside the frame-work erected by them. And those groups which sought to raise issues related to tradition and culture were dismissed as fanatics, obscurantist and reactionaries. Any talk of history, culture, custom and tradition is run down as fundamentalism. Progress in contemporary world is not fully attainable without the domestication of the roots. To create a sense of confidence to deal with contemporary problems a people must relate to their past and its good points. Without developing pride in their roots our youth are rudderless.
It was our destiny that Jawaharlal Nehru, that acme of anglicised elite, came to lead the nation in post-independence era. His own mentor, the Mahatma, wrote about him in 1939,"..... He is a friend of the English people. Indeed, he is more than English in his thought and makeup. He is often more at home with Englishmen than with this own countrymen...." Nehru lacked basic understanding of the Indian ethos and proceeded from what he had acquired as a result of his English education and not from any deep seated Indian experience. Nirad Chaudhuri, the famous author, described (Thy Hand, Great Anarch) Nehru as follows : "Nehru was completely out of touch with Indian life even of his time, except with the life of the self-segregating anglicised set of upper India, who lived in the so-called Civil Lines. He was educated at home by English tutors, and from the age of sixteen to the age of twenty-three he was in England i.e away from all Indian influences in the most formative period of his life. He did not know Sanskrit at all, and not even Hindi well, when without some knowledge of the first and a good deal of knowledge of one or other modern Indian language it was impossible to acquire any insight into Indian life, culture and character, or feeling for them. All that Nehru knew was derived from his very narrow personal experience and from English books written by Englishmen. Most serious of all, he had no knowledge, direct or second-hand, of Hinduism and besides was not sympathetic to it. Thus he had no direct access to the Indian mind and, as I had opportunities to observe, he had a strong antipathy to traditional Hindu ideas and habits. The love he professed for India was in no way different from an Indophile Englishman's." The new elitist culture that has been foisted on this country spares no opportunity to denigrate Indian custom, tradition and character. It has given rise to a ruling class who are incredibly crude, vulgar, ignorant and presumptuous. They display superficial indifference to every thing and coupled with arrogance they exhibit a shameless interest in money.
The average Indian finds himself in an alien ambience where any attempt by him to assert his identity and link with his roots is perpetually undermined. The much vaunted word 'Secularism' is often flaunted at him to silence him. The anglicised elite takes it as axiomatic that India's backwardness is due to the nature of the Hindu religion. This simplicitic view, generated in the nineteenth century, continues to be embraced to the detriment of the nation.
The responsibility for the current chaos rests squarely on the anglicised elite. We are now landed in a situation in which the majority feels pushed to the wall and the minority is fed on fears and suspicions. Hindu bashing, right or wrong, has been the order of the day. Vandalism can never be justified but any attempt to muzzle voices of those who feel genuinely offended too cannot be justified. The mindless Hindu bashing coupled with an orchestrated denigration of Hinduism and Hindu ethos is bound to prove harmful in the long run. The Indian leviathan, long in slumber, is slowly waking up. Let it gently rise to a glorious future. Any attempt to prick the giant and twist its tail could lead to most disastrous consequences. We must reckon with that.
Issued from SK Foundation A peoples initiatives
*A,K. Kaul left Kashmir in 1957 to take up a job with central government. He was in one of the prime security agencies of GOI. He saw active service in 1962 Indo-China war in NEFA (now called Arunachal Pradesh), 1965 mass infiltration in J&K and Indo-Pak war of 1971 on active posting in Kashmir.His government connections ended in 1994. |
He has a flair for writing, particularly on subjects of history and politics as well as on social and cultural affairs. He worked as Editor-In-Chief of the prestigious Koshur Samachar, a Kashmiri Samiti, Delhi publication, from 1987 to 1992 and again from 2002 to 2008.He also has been doing freelance writing for some national papers and magazines. He also worked as Political Editor of the monthly magazine ‘Decide’ for three years (1999-2002). Presently is a regular contributor of a Delhi based weekly paper the ‘Koshur Gazette.’ In association with Mr Sunil Shakdher, a well-known KP leader,has set up an NGO Trust named SK FOUNDATION.
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