When the Denial Hurts more than the Destruction

June 13, 2022

Rohit Dhankar

My long article in The New Leam, published on 13th June 2022. On temple destruction, whitewash history and possible way forward.

Part 1

In some rural areas of Rajasthan there is a saying, a rough Hindi rendering of which is: “zabra maare bhii aur rone bhi naa de.” (The one who is powerful beats you and does not even allow to cry out in pain.) This rustic saying poignantly captures the brutality of raw power. When the powerful hurts you, and there is no remedy to counter or stop him, the only recourse you have is to make the pain and humiliation bearable by crying, wailing, weeping. But the brutality of power comes into final play when it does not allow you even to cry, wail, weep your pain out. The pain then simmers inside you and gives rise to psychological scares which, those who have not gone through this experience cannot even begin to understand. The outsider focuses on the physical hurt of beating; the mental torture and humiliation is considered secondary and of lesser consequence. Such outsider investigators or analysts of the beating received by the weak become knowing (often) or unknowing accomplices of the perpetrator of an atrocity. This analysis becomes the second psychological ‘beating’, and in case the one who has been beaten does not even have the intellectual and epistemic resources to counter this psychological beating, the original atrocity plays out all over again for him, this time at the level of the mind and emotions. This is amply reflected by another saying in the aforementioned rustic area: “tan ka ghaav to bhar jaaye, man ka naa bhare”. (A wound on the body heals, but the one inflicted on the mind/heart does not.)

This, in a nutshell, is how a section of Hindu population1 feels about their temple destruction. The section of Hindu population who feel this way was always there, but too minuscule in size, this section is now growing with leaps and bounds. The Muslim invaders came and destroyed temples in thousands. The Hindus were powerless, and therefore, could not stop this bigoted barbarity. Back then they might have wailed in pain, but the political power which perpetrated this atrocity would perhaps have enjoyed rather than addressed this pain. So, the tears dried up. The wound went deep into the heart and stayed there. After Independence, a theory of historiography was adopted which used a rich repertoire of strategies to blame all ills on Hindus and whitewashed the crimes of Muslim kings relentlessly. The old wound, not yet healed, was deepened by this blatant intellectual atrocity. The reins of education, political power and media narrative were all in the hands of people who believed that recognition of Muslim kings’ atrocities will create animosity between the two most populous religious communities in India, the Hindus and Muslims. A much more painful wound was inflicted in the form of Partition, this time, not by Muslim kings but the common Muslim population. This was raw, and the political and intellectual leaders thought that official recognition of past atrocities will make this wound fester for all times. Thus, whitewashing of history and obfuscation of the real cause of partition became a necessity in their project of building a unified nation, characterized by ‘unity in diversity’. They, perhaps, acted in good faith, but their strategy was wrong. They should have been wiser, and known that unity or harmony built on falsehood is like building a massive fort without foundation on a sand-dune. A simple gust of wind may expose its foundations and make it crumble.

According to the afore mentioned section of Hindu population this is precisely what happened. Irked by continuous vilification of Hindu-dharma and denial of historical atrocities, some Hindus refused to submit to the strictly controlled intellectual and academic order that the politically, economically and intellectually powerful elite had created in the form of control on education and the media. They started digging historical evidence and challenging the whitewash project on the basis of documented history. Any false narrative requires selective use of evidence and specious theories of interpretation. The theories are artifacts made of ideas, and they can grow into a yarn of interpretation to a large extent but still, they necessarily do require some credible facts at pivotal points. The historians built several such strategies to bolster the whitewash project.

And then the Information Technology (IT) hit them between the eyes. The whitewash narrative was sustained on an academic technique and some well-conceived strategies. To understand the academic technique, let us suppose that you read an historian Z claiming that Aurangzeb was a great respecter of Hindu temples, and he protected more temples than he destroyed. The historian Z will give reference, in true academic tradition, of the source as the writings of Y. The historian Y in turn will give a reference to X, and so on. Now imagine a common person with reasonable intellect and independent thinking. This person would like to make up her own mind rather than going by the authority of Z. She will look for the writings of Y, then of X, and so on. But this commonsense person is not part of the elite club to which the libraries and archival material is readily available, and also has other cares in life. Therefore, at some stage she will get tired and stop somewhere in the chain. The narrative created by Z will thus stand even if it creates unease in some inquisitive and independent minds. That is where the IT bomb exploded.

These westerners, with substantial help from Indians as well, put a lot of archival material and books, pirated and/or legal, on the internet. Most of this growing corpus became freely available. Some became available for buying at reasonable price. Now our inquisitive commoner with an independent mind could trace the references all the way from Z to A and decide for herself. Of course, it is painstaking, tedious and time consuming. But it can be done. May be for one or two missing links one has to request a friend to whom the costly archives are available. These common people started digging for references and found that many of these move in circles without ever reaching primary credible sources. This dented the narrative but did not cause it to collapse. Some of this turned out to be cherry picking: the historian under investigation might have taken what supported his narrative and left out what went against it, in the same source, nay, often on the same page of the same source! This seriously discredited the narrative. As said above, specious theories used as strategies can support the narrative only if they also have some anchor or pivot in terms of deemed facts supported by a primary source. If you hit at these pivotal points, then it is like a bull’s eye. It hurts. Now suppose a narrative stands on hundred such pivots. One does not need to dismantle all those hundred pivots – may be a dozen carefully chosen ones will cause it to collapse. This is precisely what happened to the whitewash narrative, and now it has collapsed.

Let me use another rustic saying here: “samundar sookhata hai to bhii keechad to bachataa hii hai”. (Even when an ocean dries up, it leaves behind sludge.) As mentioned above, a narrative requires theories as well. A thick obfuscating hangover of the theories remains as ‘sludge’ even when the pivots of facts are seriously damaged. And the whitewashers keep on using it, if not to convince, at the very least to obfuscate and confuse their opponents and the masses. At present, we are at this stage in our public discourse. Therefore, let us have a critical look at some of the prominent strategies used in this false narrative.

The strategies

The most prominent strategies used in the current discourse for denial of atrocities by Muslim rulers can be listed as follows:

S1: Selective use of Persian and Arabic sources

S2: Attributing destruction of temples primarily to political motives

S3: Claiming protection or support for temples by Muslim rulers

S4: Claiming destruction of places of worship as a non-Islamic tradition in Indian history

S1: Selective use and interpretation of Persian and Arabic sources

This is a very potent strategy. To understand it fully, we need to first ascertain the character of the primary Persian and Arabic sources in terms of their language and feelings expressed. Therefore, I will start with a long quote from ‘Maasir-i-Alamgiri: A History of the Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir’ authored by Saqi Mustad Khan (https://www.indianculture.gov.in/ebooks/maasir-i-alamgiri-history-emperor-aurangzib-alamgir-reign-1658-1707-ad ). Be patient in reading and pay attention to the emphases added by me:

“During this month of Ramzan abounding in miracles, the Emperor as the promoter of justice and overthrower of mischief, as a knower of truth and destroyer of oppression, as the zephyr2 of the garden of victory and the reviver of the faith of the Prophet, issued orders for the demolition of the temple situated in Mathura, famous as the Dehra of Kesho Rai. In a short time by the great exertions of his officers, the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished, and in its site a lofty mosque was built at the expenditure of a large sum. This temple of folly was built by that gross idiot Birsingh Deo Bundela. Before his accession to the throne, the Emperor Jahangir was displeased with Shaikh Abul Fazl. This infidel became a royal favorite by slaying him, and after Jahangir’s accession was rewarded for this service with the permission to build the temple, which he did at an expense of thirty-three lakhs of rupees.

Praised be the august God of the faith of Islam, that in the auspicious reign of this destroyer of infidelity and turbulence, such a wonderful and seemingly impossible work was successfully accomplished. On seeing this instance of the strength of the Emperor’s faith and the grandeur of his devotion to God, the proud Rajas were stifled, and in amazement they stood like images facing the wall. The idols, large and small, set with costly jewels, which had been set up in the temple, were brought to Agra, and buried under the steps of the mosque of the Begam Sahib, in order to be continually trodden upon. The name of Mathura was changed. to Islamabad.”3

This narration gives us the fact of the matter that the Mathura temple was destroyed by the orders of Aurangzeb, a mosque was erected in its place, the idols were buried under steps of a mosque, etc. But it also expresses feelings of disdain for temples (‘temple of folly’), Hindu faith (‘infidelity’), desire to eradicate the Hindu faith and to insult it. Also, pride in Islam and the emperor as the destroyer of infidelity and reviver of the Islamic faith.

What our historians do with such narrations is (i) usually, but not always, accept the fact of destruction, but (ii) discount the bigotry and call it formulaic or exaggeration. We will return to it after quoting one more passage.

There is a Shiva temple near Sikar in Rajasthan, locally known as Harshnath Temple, according to local belief this quote also relates to its destruction along with several other temples.

“Darab Khan who had been sent with a strong force to punish the Rajputs of Khandela and to demolish the great temple of the place, attacked the place on the 8th March / 5th Safar, and slew the three hundred and odd men who had made a bold defence, not one of them escaping alive. The temples of Khandela and Sanula and all other temples in the neighborhood were demolished.” (ibid, page 107)

In this kind of narration, our historians will say that (iii) “all other temples in the neighborhood were demolished” is an exaggeration. Thus, the Persian and Arabic sources are used selectively, and their bigotry, religious zeal and the number of temples destroyed are called exaggeration to soften the impact. But this strategy raises a few questions, answers to which I have not come across (I may be ignorant of them and will consider them when known to me). The primary questions are: (i) Why did the court or contemporary historian bring in the religious motive so prominently, if it was not there? (ii) Why did he bring in hatred for Hindus and Hindu-dharma? And (iii) why did he exaggerate the numbers? We will leave these questions for the moment and will consider them with the second strategy.

S2: Attributing destruction of temples to political motives and exorcising the act of religious bigotry

Most of our prominent historians argue that ‘there might have been some religious angle’ but the primary reasons for the destruction of temples were loot (in the case of Ghazni) and punishing political opponents or rebels. Richard Eaton writes in detail on this, and most others seem to echo him. His contention is that temple destruction was mostly on the frontiers of Muslim conquests, and some in the interior after power was established. The interior is supposed to be motivated to punish the opponents or rebels. Eaton gives a theory that the legitimacy of the Hindu kings was associated with the deity of their kingdom. The real source of power was supposed to be the deity and the king was only a representative of the deity, and had the deity’s protection and ‘ashirvad’. The destruction of the temple of the deity was a symbolic act to communicate that your deity is not capable of protecting you or has abandoned you and not willing to protect. The theory sounds plausible, and may have some grain of truth in it. But this theory makes it even harder to answer the three questions listed above – that is, why bring in the religious motive on the part of the Muslim kings, hatred for Hindus and exaggeration?

Let us now try to imagine some logical answers to these questions. One possibility is that the historians writing in Persian and Arabic were themselves religious bigots and brought in these elements to satisfy their own fantasies. But many of them were courtiers and Islamic scholars with huge influence on policies and governance. This will imply that the rule of the Muslim kings was guided by unjust and bigoted courtiers and scholars, and thereby reflect badly on the character of Islam rule. Therefore, our historians are unwilling to admit this. The second possibility is that the rulers themselves were bigoted and were also motivated by religious sentiments. This will reflect badly on the kings, and we will therefore not be able to prove them to be just rulers. The third possibility that it was done to please the Islamic ummah in the Middle East and the Khalifas of the time. In such a case, the charter of Islam will be proved to be very intolerant, and so, this possibility too cannot be accepted in most cases; though in the case of Mahmud Ghazani this is accepted. The fourth possibility is that it was to please other courtiers in high and powerful positions in the court. But this again will be proof that the rule was unjust and in the hands of religious zealots. The final possibility could be that it was to please the Muslim population. But this would be the worst of all, for this would mean that the common Muslim of those times was a religiously motivated Hindu-hater. This one obviously is the worst. Therefore, none of these possibilities seem to be acceptable to our historians in their whitewash project. But one of these possibilities must be true, otherwise the religious hatred expressed in these narrations remains unexplained. Perhaps, the truth is a complex mixture of all these possible motives.

But let us, for the sake of argument, accept that temple destruction was for the political reasons, and not motivated by religious feelings. Does it in any way make it better and less painful for the victims? This would mean that one subject’s religion is being degraded and attacked for his political activities while another is punished only politically, without involving religion. Does this make the king any less cruel and bigoted? To my mind it does not. Thus, the hatred for Hindus, intolerance for Hindu-dharma and disrespect for temples cannot be wished away. The reports may be exaggerated but the sentiment and core facts remain. This strategy can work only for the gullible.

S3: Claiming protection or support for temples by Muslim rulers

Recently one so-called historian of Aurangzeb claimed that he protected more temples than destroyed. There are also claims that Tipu Sultan and other Muslim rulers supported Hindu temples. It might be true; I think it is true. But one must see the extent of this support – the question is, how many? One also has to compare this number with the numbers involved in the destruction of temples. This strategy cannot be used to prove the goodwill – or even tolerance – of the rulers in question towards Hindus because if political motives are used to exorcise the act of destruction based on bigotry, then the claim of benevolence also goes out of the window. But the bigger problem with this strategy is that the list of temples supported or protected is either not provided, and only unsubstantiated claims are made, or the list falls too short in comparison with the list of temples’ destruction. The issue with protection to temple also begs the question: protected from whom? Their own Muslim officials? Can a king claim credit for protecting his subjects’ honour and places of worship from his own officials and courtiers?

Part 2

S4: Claiming destruction of places of worship as a non-Islamic tradition in Indian history

To my mind this is the most obnoxious of all the four strategies. Eaton states “Therefore, when Indo-Muslim commanders or rulers looted the consecrated images of defeated opponents and carried them off to their own capitals as war trophies, they were in a sense conforming to customary rules of Indian politics.”4 This is the kind of historians we respect! Does this also explain the Islamic practice of destroying others’ places of worship from Kaba to Hagia Sofia to the Mosque of Job? But we can leave that aside and concentrate on the Indian temples.

On what evidence does Eaton make such a claim? Eaton gives a long list of temple desecration and carrying off with them the images of the deity by the victorious kings, as a symbol of the deity leaving the defeated king. However, there is a difference – the Hindu kings, almost always, either consecrated or placed the idols with respect in their own temples, as a sign of the deity now favoring the victorious king. This is actually an implementation of Eaton’s above-mentioned theory that the deity is the real sovereign and the king’s sovereignty is just a reflection of the deity. But this does not involve insult to the deity, to Hindus and to Hindu faith. Nor does it involve gloating over the fact that the infidelity is destroyed. Nor trampling of the idols under foot. Eaton’s own accepted fact that the Muslim kings invariably destroyed the idols, insulted them by placing under the steps of mosques, and the Hindu kings though looted the idols but consecrated or placed with respect in their own temples, gives a lie to his explanation. The motive in one is deliberate insult to the people and their religion, in the other is it a political act of declaring that the protection of the deity is not enjoyed by the new victorious king, without insulting either the deity or the people’s faith.

But Eaton also gives at the least one example of destruction of an image of a deity by Hindu troops. The example is of the destruction of an image ‘supposed to be’ of “Vishnu Vaikuntha, the state-deity of Lalitaditya’s kingdom in Kashmir” by “Bengali troops”. Eaton gives no clear reference, but since all his list seems to be based on Richard Davis, it is reasonable to assume that this example of image destruction is also based on the same source. Davis gives the story based on Kalhan’s Rajataringiti. It is an interesting story. The part of the story concerned with my argument goes as follows: “Once, after making a promise of safe conduct to the king of Gauda (Bengal), and offering as surety (madhyastha, literally, “intermediary”) on his pledge the image of Visnu Parihasakesava, Lalitaditya treacherously ordered the ruler assassinated. Such a brazen act clearly departed from all standards of proper royal conduct, and called for revenge. As we might expect by now, the reprisal was directed not at the perpetrator of the deed but at its intermediary. A troop of the murdered king’s dedicated attendants snuck into Kashmir, posing as pilgrims…”.5 Here the deity was pledged as surety and intermediary, and the king who worshiped that deity acted treacherously. And it was an act of specific revenge. Also, it was an act of the loyal troops of the assassinated king. All other looting of images is to respectfully reinstate them in temples in the capital cities of the victorious kings. They all were motivated by politics, and it was the kingdom under attack, not the religion or deity. In destruction of temples by Muslim rulers it was also the religion of infidels and their idols, as shown by the two quotes above. A historian who does not understand this difference is not worth his/her salt. And a historian who understands this but hides the fact and makes false parallels is not honest, and is playing mischief.

Another hole in Eaton’s thesis is the number of temples destroyed. The quote about Khandela, a small village in Sikar district in Rajasthan, shows destruction of all the temples in the neighborhood. All the temples in the neighborhood were unlikely to be politically significant. The Khandela Rajputs themselves were small fry who could muster only 300 villagers to defend their temples – they were no sovereigns. This attack seems to have happened in Bahadur Singh’s6 reign, who was dropped even from the list of mansabdars. Their legitimacy actually depended on the emperor’s own recognition. This was clearly an act of vengeance taken out on their religion for the maximum hurt psychologically.

Another part of this thesis is that the Hindu kings (the one mentioned the most often is Pushyamitra Shung), also destroyed Buddhist and Jain temples. In a recent article, Prof. Yogendra Yadav7 claims, “There are umpteen examples of the destruction of Hindu temples by Hindu invaders and of Jain temples and Buddhist viharas by Hindu kings.” This is said too often. But no one gives a list and primary sources to prove the claim – one is supposed to take the claim as true on face value. The only name that surfaces again and again is Pushyamitra Shung, on the authority of Ashokavdana. It is worth quoting at length from Professor Romila Thapar on this issue.

“The idea of Puṣyamitra being violently anti-Buddhist has often been stated, but archaeological evidence suggests the contrary. Buddhist literature relates that Puṣyamitra wishing to gain notoriety decided that even a wicked action could be excused provided it made him well known. When questioning people as to why Aśoka gained fame, he was told that it was due to Aśoka having built 84,000 stūpas for Buddhism. Whereupon Puṣyamitra decided that he would gain fame by destroying these 84,000 stūpas. Yet, an archaeological study of the stūpa at Sanchi proves that it was enlarged and encased in its present covering during the Suṅga period. The Aśokan pillar near it appears to have been wilfully destroyed, but this event may have occurred at a much later date. It is more than likely that the Aśokāvadāna legend is a Buddhist version of Puṣyamitra’s attack on the Mauryas, and reflects the fact that, with the declining influence of Buddhism at the imperial court, Buddhist monuments and institutions would naturally receive less royal attention. Moreover the source itself in this instance being Buddhist, it would naturally exaggerate the wickedness of anti-Buddhists.”8

Thus, this claim can hardly be supported on the basis of this source. In addition, there are many more historians who think this claim is false. Also, Ashokavadana repeats similar stories for Ashoka and Pushyamitra regarding killing of Ajivikas in the case of Ashoka and Buddhists in the case of Pushyamitra. The format of the stories, offering a dinar for a head of the Ajivika (Ashoka) and Buddhist (Shunga) etc. is identical. This is highly unlikely.

If the analysis above is of any worth, then these four strategies may be good enough for obfuscation and browbeating the gullible, but hardly epistemically worthwhile historiography tools. But our historians never tire of using them and are still throwing such challenges to others. This is all the more true particularly of their ‘chelas’ who bring up these strategies whenever one talks about Muslim rulers’ destruction of Hindu and Jain temples.

Tan ka ghaav to bhar jaye, par man ka naa bhare

These are the people who have kept this man ka ghav festering for the last seventy five years. As I said above, this intellectual browbeating and obfuscation becomes a standard intellectual example of ‘zabra mare bhi, aur rone bhi naa de’, because if you mention these atrocities as a Hindu you are immediately dubbed as communal, immediately labeled rather than attempting to understand the substantive part of the argument, and finding a solution.

But can there be a solution? I believe yes, there can be. And I don’t think that the solution is reclaiming the mosques as temples. It seems to me that mosques should remain mosques. Prof. Yadav says a similar thing, but his reasons for preferring to arrive at an agreement are to my mind wrong and outright insulting. Before I come to my reasons for the same, I first would like to comment on Prof. Yadav’s flimsy and insulting reasons.

In the above-mentioned article in The Print he accepts that temples were destroyed for religious reasons by Muslim rulers, and that historical wrongs should be addressed but thinks that the case for the restoration of temples should further meet four conditions. He writes that it would make a good case for restoration “provided four additional conditions are met. One, this is the only major historical wrong that we need to address today. Two, there is a clear identifiable successor or inheritor of the victim and the perpetrator present before us. Three, the harm caused by the historical wrong continues to put the ‘victim’ community at a disadvantage, and four, the proposed action — restoration of temples in this instance — would redress historically inherited injustice and help society bring closure to that memory.” And then comes to the conclusion that “The case for temple restoration fails all these four tests.”

I believe he is wrong in all four cases. He dismisses the first by saying that: 1. “There are umpteen examples of the destruction of Hindu temples by Hindu invaders and of Jain temples and Buddhist viharas by Hindu kings”. This is an unproven claim. There is no case of as clear evidence as we have in the case of hundreds of Hindu temples destroyed by Muslim kings. As argued above, this is nothing but whataboutry. 2. “Besides, a number of mosques were demolished during Partition in India, just as temples were demolished across the border.” These are two very different cases, one was destruction of temples by a political power, the other in a situation of riots. The mosques destroyed or turned into temples were mostly abandoned ones.

His reason for dismissal of the second condition is summarised in the tag line of the article “By what logic do we see Muslims of today as the Mughals’ descendants?” I cannot resist the temptation of some rhetorical fun on this: “Well, we do not see the Muslims of today as Mughals’ or other Muslim rulers’ descendants. But then Prof. Yadav, by what logic do the Muslims of today claim ownership of Gyanvapi Mosque and umpteen other mosques which are built on the destroyed temples?” But more seriously, Prof. Yadav himself accused the present day BJP and RSS people of what he considered lapses on the part of RSS in the 1930s and 40s in one of his videos. Regarding the nationalism of BJP and RSS he says “राष्ट्रवाद में तो इनका, एक कतरा खून भी इन लोगों ने कभी नहीं दिया। अंग्रेजों की दलाली इनमें से कई लोगों जो इनके वारिस हैं, उनमें से कई लोगों ने की.” (To nationalism they did not contribute even a single drop of blood. Many people whose inheritance they carry were touts/brokers of the Britishers.) By what logic Prof. Yadav accuses the present-day BJP-RSS people for imagined or real treachery of the RSS people in 1940s? Are they biological descendants of those people? Well, we do understand that the communities of ideological and religious lineage are not formed on a biological basis but by adherence to institutions, ideas and principles. The communities of the present day Hindus and Muslims are also formed in the same way. If the Hindus of today feel that the destruction of temples was a civilisational attack on them, and have proof of the economic, psychological and cultural damage, then they have to be listened to. If the Muslims inherit the ownership to these converted Mosques, which are symbols of bigotry, and are hurt even by the idea of parting with them in the face of clear evidence; then, well, even if it hurts, they are also condoning the barbarity and bigotry. You cannot enjoy the fruits of barbarity and bigotry and at the same time claim to be completely distanced from it.

The third condition he dismisses with a cavalier attitude saying “Third, it would stretch credulity to claim that the destruction of temples placed the entire Hindu community in a relationship of enduring disadvantage vis-à-vis the whole Muslim community, a disadvantage that persists even after some 500 years.” Why is it necessary for the entire Hindu community to be disadvantaged with respect to the whole Muslim community? Is the disadvantage only economic and political? As I have argued above, how do you calculate the psychological damage to a civilisation due to a festering wound? What about every Hindu visitor, if s/he is a religious one, to Qutub complex seeing pillars of a Hindu temple supporting the dome of a Mosque deliberately named “Might of Islam”? That become hoodwinking when the wrongdoing is not even accepted.

The path to settlement

First, I would like to quote Dr. Ambedkar on the difference between ‘settlement’ and ‘appeasement’. “It seems to me that the Congress has failed to realize two things. The first thing which the Congress has failed to realize is that there is a difference between appeasement and settlement, and that the difference is an essential one. Appeasement means buying off the aggressor by conniving at his acts of murder, rape, arson and loot against innocent persons who happen for the moment to be the victims of his displeasure. On the other hand, settlement means laying down the bounds which neither party to it can transgress. Appeasement sets no limits to the demands and aspirations of the aggressor. Settlement does. The second thing the Congress has failed to realize is that the policy of concession has increased Muslim aggressiveness, and what is worse, Muslims interpret these concessions as a sign of defeatism on the part of the Hindus and the absence of the will to resist.”9

The quote is from an era when riots were rife and Muslim crowds were two steps ahead of Hindus in “murder, rape, arson and loot”. When reading it today we have to leave these words out and focus on “On the other hand, settlement means laying down the bounds which neither party to it can transgress. Appeasement sets no limits to the demands and aspirations of the aggressor. Settlement does.” Today, Hindus and Muslims perhaps both want appeasement. Thus, we need a settlement which sets “limits to the demands and aspirations”.

Therefore, the first step for me is to appeal to Hindus to decide clearly on their demands and aspirations in this regard. I am focusing on the Temple-Mosque issues alone. I do not think Hindus should demand restoration of destroyed and converted temples. My reasons are entirely different from Prof. Yadav’s reasons. And many would disagree with me on this count – the liberals will call me biased, if not outright a Hindu fundamentalist. But I will go ahead in listing them.

My fundamental principles and guide in this thinking:

  1. I believe that the Hindus are smarting more under the psychological pain of the denial of recognition of the attack on their religion and civilization, through destruction of temples and converting them into mosques. Their pain of actual physical destruction and loss is a lesser pain compared to this psychological hurt.
  2. I believe that the paramount concern is a democracy with equal rights to all citizens which cherishes diversity. This obviously implies peaceful cooperative living together of all religious and other communities.

The second above is the aim to my mind. But one cannot properly achieve this aim without first addressing and resolving this issue and healing the psychological part of the Hindu hurt. Therefore, this healing becomes a necessary first step. I am aware that there are other pains in society – for example, the treatment of Dalits within the Hindu fold, aggressive conversion drive by Christians, and so on. But as I said, this particular article is focused only on one issue.

Keeping these two principles in mind I don’t think it would be good for democracy and peaceful cooperation between communities if Hindus insist on restoration of their lost temples. And here in my mind the fear is not that Muslims will resent and will continue the animosity. That is there, but the real issue in my mind is different. I consider the conversion and destruction of temples a barbaric and religiously bigoted act. Whatever the historians and pleaders for understanding those bigots in their own times and within their own culture may say, in today’s terms they were barbaric and bigoted. They lived in times and with a particular mindset where tolerance of the other as an equal was difficult. I have said above that the Muslim community today, by clinging to these converted mosques, simultaneously also approved of the bigotry of those kings. Similarly, if the Hindus take back these temples (it may not even be possible for all) against the wishes of Muslims, they will become bigoted and intolerant of the other. In spite of every one vilifying the majority community the world over, I believe democracy, civil liberties and secularism are sustained by the majority community, that is Hindus, in this country. If they become bigoted and intolerant—which seems to be the direction they are moving in today – this country cannot remain a secular democracy guaranteeing civil liberties and equal right to all. That is why Hindus have to restrain themselves willingly and with understanding. Once this much is settled, I would propose the following.

  1. The ownership of the mosques should remain as it is today. No handing over, or changing the character of the places of worship. We are no more barbarians even if some are pushing us to be.
  2. The Muslim community, and particularly the Islamists, have to learn not to throw these acts of bigotry in the face of their Hindu compatriots as heroic acts and stop taking pride in them. And in those who committed them.
  3. All such mosques should always remain under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India. Their ownership should remain with the Muslim community as it is today, but they should not be able to change these structures in a manner that the evidence of their history gets destroyed. Therefore, every change, addition, renovation, restoration should happen strictly in the supervision of ASI and with its clear written approval with maps and all.
  4. Every such property (mosques, idgahs etc.) should have a board prominently displayed in front of each gate of its premises giving a brief but clear history of the place. Who built the original structure, when, who changed/destroyed, when, in whose ownership it is today, et al.
  5. This should be done once and then the chapter closed.

A simpler way could be that once the historically ascertained facts about prominent temples and mosques are established and agreed upon, the leaders of both communities should sit together and come to an agreement that some of them which are considered of crucial importance may be peacefully handed over to the Hindus. But that kind of magnanimity does not seem to be possible in Islamic thought, as far as I understand it; even if many individual Muslims want such a solution, it perhaps will never materialize.

A rhetorical whataboutery is often raised whenever one talks about destruction of temples by Muslim kings: what about the Buddhist monasteries and stupas destroyed by Hindu kings? Well, if (1) we have sufficient evidence of particular monasteries and stupas which are in the possession of Hindus today, and (2) if there are Buddhist claimants to them, then (3) the Hindus should voluntarily and peacefully hand them over to Buddhists. If the Hindus are adamant and do not agree, then the same treatment should be meted out to them as well so far as the question of handing over mosques to them is concerned.

*******

27th May 2022

Rohit Dhankar,

Professor, School of Education, Azim Premji University, Bangalore.

Secretary, Digantar, Jaipur.

Views expressed in the article are strictly personal and do not represent those of the organizations I am affiliated with.

1In this article wherever I say “Hindus” I mean a section of Hindu population which feels this way. I am aware all Hindus do not feel like this and do not have this opinion.

2 a gentle breeze

3 Maasir-I-Alamgiri of Saqi Mustad Khan, translated by Sir Jadu Nath Sarkar, published by Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1947, page 60.

4 Richard Eaton, Temple Desecration and Indo-Muslim States Part 2, Frontline, January 5, 2001. Page 76.

5 Davis, Richard H., Lives of Indian images, Princeton University Press, 1997, page 83.

6 Agarwal, B. D., Rajasthan District Gazetteers: Sikar, Directorate of District Gazetteers, Government of Rajasthan, Jaipir. 1978. Page 27.

7 https://theprint.in/opinion/heres-the-case-for-restoration-of-desecrated-hindu-temples-and-why-it-loses-the-debate/971596/

8 Romila Thapar, Ashoka and the decline of Mauryas, OUP, 1961, page 200

9 Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar WRITINGS AND SPEECHES VOL. 8, Ed Vasant Moon, Pub. Dr. Ambedkar Foundation, New Delhi. Page 270.


Violence, fear and pressure in the service of religion of peace

June 7, 2022

Rohit Dhankar

There is a storm of Islamic outrage on comments by two BJP leaders, now suspended and expelled from the party. In India there are death threats, announcement of bounties to kill them, protests and riot situations created in opposition to their statements. Internationally many Islamic nations and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have expressed their condemnation of the remarks and pressurized India to take action against the two. All this perfectly fits into the age-old tradition to use threats, pressure, violence and even murders to protect Muhammad from any criticism. We need to understand this tradition and the harm it causes to society. But before that let us see what exactly Ms. Nupur Sharma and Mr. Navin Jindal said which resulted in such a storm.

The full video of the Times Now debate (it is more of wrangling, not really a debate) is unavailable. Though to my mind it is absolutely necessary to understand Nupur Sharma’s comments in the context, but due to unavailability I am depending on a 23 second clip which went viral and is available presently. The exact words of Nupur Sharma as far as I could pickup in the noise are as follows:

“अरे आप छोड़ो तुम्हारे उड़ते हुए घोड़े तुम्हारे उड़ते हुए घोड़े ……(असपष्ट मैं समझ नहीं पाया) जो कुरान में आगे लिखा है बताएगा, उसका मज़ाक उड़ाना शुरू करदूं? छह साल की बच्ची से ब्याह करके नौ साल में you are having sex with her, किसने? प्रोफेट मुहम्मद ने। बोलना शुरू करदूं मैं? Earth is flat according to Quran 88.20, बकवास ना कीजिये उड़ते हुए घोड़े पर बैठ कर फुर्र होजाइए फुर्र।”

A few things are quite clear from this:

  • The background makes it clear that the wrangling was about the object found in Gyanvapi masjid vajukhanaa, whether its is a piece of a fountain or Shivling.
  • The opponent (Rahmani?) seems to have either claimed that its is a piece of fountain or may have referred to some joke about Shivling.
  • The style in which Nupur Sharma is speaking is aggressive and uncivilized.
  • She is clearly referring to some joke or derogatory comment made on Shivaling, that is why a challenge “majak udaanaa shuru karadun”.
  • To understand it properly we do need the comment to which she is responding. But that is not available.
  • She mentions three items from Quran and Hadith:
    • The flying horse (Buraq) on which Muhammad claimed to have flown to Jerusalem and to the heaven and back in a single night. It is important to note that Muhammad himself claimed this.
    • Muhammad marrying Ayesha at the age of 6 and consummating the marriage at 9, to which Nupur refers as having sex.
    • A reference in Quran (88.20) which some people interpret as saying that the earth is flat.

Ms. Sharma’s references are correct. Regarding the night journey to the heaven on “a white animal which was smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey” with “step (was so wide that it) reached the farthest point within the reach of the animal’s sight”, one can see Hadith number 3887 in Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 5, page number 132. Translated by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, published by Darussalam Publishers and Distributors, Riyadh – Saudi Arabia, 1997. Or alternatively here http://cmje.usc.edu/religious-texts/hadith/bukhari/058-sbt.php This is an interesting and completely unbelievable by modern mind story, I recommend reading it.

For Ayesha’s age at the time of her marriage to Muhammad one can see the following, narrated by Aishah herself:

“5134. Narrated Aishah; that the Prophet; wrote the marriage contract with her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old. Hisham said: “I have been informed that Aishah remained with the Prophet for nine years (i.e. till his death).” However, there is a dispute in this, as some Islamic scholars argue that she was 19 when the marriage was consummated. But there are at the least two authentic Hadis which say that she was 9 years of age. “Consummation of marriage” means “The completion of marriage by sexual intercourse”. Therefore, in spite of her wrangling style, what Ms. Sharma said was correct.

Regarding flat earth she gives verse 88.20. One can confirm this in any translation of Quran. The chapter 88 of the Quran starts with what torture non-believers will face after death, and what pleasures await the believers. Then relevant verses came as the great works of Allah, so that people can believe in what Muhammad says in the name of Allah. “88.17. Do they not look at the camels, how they are created? 18.And at the heaven, how it is raised? 19.And at the mountains, how they are rooted (and fixed firm)? 20. And at the earth, how it is outspread? 21.So remind them (O Muhammad) – you are only one who reminds.” Again, Ms. Sharma was not wrong, even if there could be a debate on the interpretation.

As I said earlier, it is clear from what she says that it was a counter to her opponent who might have said something about the Shivaling, and she was challenging that “should she” also start ridiculing these things in his scriptures? To me this context is important.

The tweet by Mr. Navin Kumar Jindal that cost him his primary membership of his party BJP and enraged Muslims world over and Indian liberals is given verbatim below, unedited with his own spelling mistakes:

“नबी के दुलारो से पूछना चाहता हूँ कि तुम्हारा नबी 53 वर्ष की आयु में 6 वर्ष की छोटी बच्ची आयशा के साथ शादी करता है फिर 56 वर्ष की आयु में 9 वर्ष की आयशा के साथ संबंध बनाता है … क्या यह संबंध बलात्कार की श्रेणी में नहीं आता..?”

We need to think about it carefully. One may feel that it is irrelevant question today asked in an insulting manner. Personally, I do not think the question is irrelevant. A few days back I listened to an audio recording of a conversation between Ex-Muslim Sahil and a young Maulana, who claimed to be educated at Deoband. Sahil asked the Maulana age of his father, to which the Maulana replied, after a bit of hesitation, that he is 51 years old. Then over a long drawn dialogue Sahil asked the Maulana that if his father today wants to marry a girl of 6 years with plans to consummate marriage at 9, and if the girl’s parents have no objection, then would the Maulana allow his father to marry the girl without any objection? The Maulana replied yes. What doe this conversation show? To me, it shows that since Muhammad’s life is supposed to be ideal life for a Muslim, what Muhammad did in sixth and early seventh century Arabis is acceptable in twenty-first century world, and especially in India, at the least to many Maulanas and their followers. This makes this question relevant for today.

Now, I have come across unsubstantiated statements that Sita was also 6 years of age at the time of her marriage with Ram, and that Rukmini was 9 years when Krishna abducted her. Well, it may or may not be so, but has no impact on the question we are considering. This is possible that in ancient times in India as well as in Arabia and many other cultures girls were married to older men at the age of 6 and marriages were consummated at 9 or so. Also, admitted that in those cultures there may not have been the idea of ‘consensual sex’ with one’s wife. Therefore, the idea of rape may not have been applicable then in such cases.

But today the age of consensus is 18 in India, and even if there is ‘consensus’ at 9, the act will be considered a rape. There was no concept of human rights in many ancient cultures. And there was slavery. Can we today ask the questions about violation of human rights of slaves in ancient Rome, Arabia and India? Of course, you can say that those societies did not think in this manner, but can we discuss the issue in modern terminology today? Even if those societies did not think in those terms, can we defend these acts of those societies today? If no, why can not we ask similar questions about Islamic practices and Muhammad?

But no, you can not ask questions of Muhammad’s doings and sayings. If you do, you are threatened by ‘सर तन से जुदा”. This has been the method of maintaining respect (?) for Muhammad for centuries. We have records in India of at the least a hundred years.

Recently, we have seen two murders in connection with supposed to be insult to Muhammad. Kamalesh Tiwari of Lakhnow, and Kishan Boliya in Dhandhuka taluka Gujarat. There was a riot in Bangalore in which three people died. There was riot in Kanpur a few days back. Our side India there is a riot situation in London on a film, though this is not regarding Muhammad. There were wide spread riots in Sweden. Before that we all know the stories of Satanic Verses, Danish cartoons, Charlie Hebdo, Samual Paty, and so on.

Islam wants to maintain its ‘reputation’ of a ‘religion of peace’ on the threat of violence and murders. There are many Muslims today who are opposing this attitude of the Maulanas and masses instigated by the Maulanas. But they are too few and can not effectively counter this belligerence and violent threat, constantly looming over the freedom of thought and expression.

There are people in India, so called liberals, who propound theories that criticism of Islam should come only from inside Islam, non-Muslims should say nothing on this. This is unacceptable. First, if Muslims preach the merits of their religion openly and publicly, this itself gives a right to everyone to question and critique it. Two, if Islamic practices effect other citizens’ lives in whatever manner, they have a right to critique and criticise and ask questions.

There is an established trend that Indian government and Indian citizens (irrespective of their religion) quickly give in when faced with violence in the name of Muhammad and Islam. Each time this happens the fear in the society increases, less and less people speak up against bad practices and ideas, the bullies become more and more confident and aggressive, and their dominance of public discourse takes more ominous forms. Our wise political commentators do not realise that thousand such micro aggressions every day keep the communal cauldron boiling. They also do not realise that Hindus are learning the trick fast.

We all know that there was a storm of jokes and insulting comments on Shiva and Shivaling recently. When Ratan Lal was arrested (he should not have been arrested) all liberals rose in protest. And he was released. Now, all liberals want Nupur Sharma arrested, because this time it is Muhammad and not Shivaling. I will not be surprised if Hindus soon discover blasphemy. That would be a bad day for India and Indian democracy, but we can not deny that the Islamic idea of blasphemy given an advantage to the bullying element in the Muslim population. The fundamentalist element in Hindu population will soon fashion such a weapon. Presently, so called liberal journalists can happily share insulting cartoons on Shivaling and at the same time pretend hurt when someone speaks truth about Muhammad. This kinds of double standards fuel animosity.

I will paraphrase what Hamid Dalwai said fifty years back: If you can not stand against Muslim intolerance and communalism, you will see Hindu intolerance and communalism increasing by leaps and bounds. The current fiasco on pretended insult to Muhammad in the country and internationally, has increased votes for BJP in millions, as a perceptive young Muslim commentator said.

*******


Whatever Rahul Gandhi may think, India is a nation

May 26, 2022

Rohit Dhankar

Rahul Ganhdi, a leader of national importance (at the least for some!) and Prime Ministerial candidate of his party the Indian National Congress, is repeating again and again that India is not a “nation” but a “union of States”, and even mistakenly compares it with the European Union which is a ‘Union of Nations’, and not merely of states. In his Cambridge interview he again repeated the same stand referring to the Constitution of India. This is a very dangerous stand coming from a leader of his eminence.

One can ignore his lack of understanding of the meaning of the term “rashtra” in Sanskrit literature, one can also understand his advisors being no wiser than himself on this. It seems Yogendra Yadav is right in saying that the left-liberal group of influential people has de-cultured Indian youth through education, which they controlled and still control. Yadav is also right in saying that the same group pf intellectuals and political parties influences by them have thrown the Indian nationalism to the dust. Therefore, I will go into the history only atm the end to prove that India is a nation for a very long time, and will remain so, even if the communists and Rahul Gandhi do not like it.

I will take his statement first in the context of his own party and the constitution. Because in a silly and childish attempt to hammer his point he used the article 1.(1) of the constitution: “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”

Staring with the preamble one can see that the constitution sees India as a nation. After declaring “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly Preamble. resolved to constitute India into a 1[SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC]” the preamble also talks of “[unity and integrity of the Nation]”. Thus, this ‘union’ which so confused Rahul Gandhi, is India and that “India, that is Bharat” is declared a nation right in the preamble.

His own party is called “Indian National Congress”, if India is not a nation then he should change the name of his party as well. May be can call it “Indian Union Congress”.

A few examples from the constitution:

  • Article 38 talks of “national life”, it makes it a directive principle for “securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life.”
  • Article 49 talks of “monument(s) or place(s) or object(s) of artistic or historic interest, … of national importance.”
  • Article 51 talks of “national flag”, “national anthem”, “national struggle for freedom” and makes it a fundamental duty of every citizen of India “to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so.”
  • Article 54 and several other articles mention Delhi as “National Capital Territory of Delhi”, if no nation where is the need for a national capital?
  • Article 124 mention “National Judicial Appointments Commission”.
  • “338. 2[(1) There shall be a Commission for the Scheduled Castes to be known as the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes.”
  • “249. (1) Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this Chapter, if the Council of States has declared by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest that Parliament should make laws with respect to any matter enumerated in the State List specified in the resolution, it shall be lawful for Parliament to make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India with respect to that matter while the resolution remains in force.”

One can multiply such examples from the constitution many times over. Rahul Gandhi and his advisors are confused about the idea of ‘nation’. They think that the term ‘nation’ is applicable only to a culturally homogeneous mass of people who are formed into a political community. They do not think that often cultures themselves make a ‘family’ with significant unitary thread running through them as well as retaining many important, even contradictory, differences. He also seems to think mistakenly that a federal structure contradicts existence of a country as a nation.

To quote from one of my old blog articles “the man (Ernest Renan) who called “A nation’s existence is … a daily plebiscite” was wise enough to admit that “At the present moment, the existence of nations is a good and even necessary thing. Their existence is the guarantee of liberty, a liberty that would be lost if the world had only one law and one master.” and we can add if a mass of people had no laws at all!

The historical angle

To quote some more from the same article of mine mentioned above, lets see what Prof. Habib says on this issue. Professor Irfan Habib in his lecture to Aligarh Muslim University students on 26th October 2015 states: “The first perception of the whole of India as a country comes with the Mauryan Empire. … the inscriptions of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka range from Kandahar and north of Kabul to Karnataka and Andhra and they are in Prakrit, Greek and Aramaic. So it was with such political unity that the concept of India came, and its first name was Jambudvipa a name which Ashoka uses in his Minor Rock Edict-1, … The term Bharata was also used in Prakrit in an inscription in Orissa, at Hathigumpha, of the Kalinga ruler, Kharavela in 1st century BC; that is the first instance of the use of Bharat, and Kharavela uses it for the whole of India. So, gradually the concept of India as a country began to arise and a cultural unity was also seen within it as religions like Buddhism, Brahmanism and Jainism spread to all parts of the country. Prakrit was spoken, at least literary Prakrit, all over the country, becoming its lingua franca. So, there were things which, as people could see, united us.”

He goes on to explicitly refute Perry Anderson: “I say all this because it means that the concept of India as a country was ancient, the assertion made by Perry Anderson in his book The Indian Ideology that the India is a name given by foreigners particularly Europeans in modern times, is a totally misleading statement.”

However, the idea of love for the country or patriotism came much later according to Prof. Habib. “True, there was a conception of India in ancient times, even before Christ, but when was there a conception of love for India i.e. patriotism?” he asks. And his answer is that “The first patriotic poem in which India is praised, India is loved, Indians are acclaimed is Amir Khusrau’s long poem in his Nuh Sipihir written in 1318.”

But that makes only a country, not a nation of free citizens. That according to Prof. Babib came during the freedom movement when the aspirations and wellbeing of the masses became a deep concern and were made part of the freedom movement. And later on enshrined in the Constitution of India.

I disagree with Professor Habib that love for the country emerged only in the 13th Century and that the concept of nation necessarily demands modern kind of liberties for its citizens. Rest I think he establishes firmly that the idea of India is very ancient. But on that at some other time.

Personally I think that an idea of a social and political community with a set of common rules and principles to govern collective life should be considered at the least a beginning of formation of a nation. And such an idea and desire for strengthening it is clear even in the last Sukta of Rig Ved:

“2. Come together, speak together; together let your thoughts agree, just as the gods of long ago, coming to an agreement together, reverently approach their sacrificial portion.

3. Common to them all is the solemn utterance, common the assembly, common their thought along with their perception. I (hereby) utter an utterance common to you all on your behalf; with an oblation common to you all I offer on your behalf.

4. Common is your purpose; common your hearts; let your thought be common, so that it will go well for you together.” (The Rigveda, Translated by stephanie W. Jamison and Joel P. Brereton, X.191, page 1661, Oxford University Press, New York, 2014)

Rahul Gandhi will do well to revise his ideas of India and nation, and be a little more respectful to this nation. Otherwise, if we agree with Yogendra Yadav, he is frittering away whatever little of a key political resource in the form of nationalism his party still retains.

*****


Past wrong destroying our future

May 9, 2022

Rohit Dhankar

For last few days a continuous row is going on on the issue of video-graphy of Gyanvapi Masjid, build on destroys Kashi Vishwanath temple. More than one cases are pending in the courts connected with this mosque. The most recent is regarding right to daily worship of what is termed as Shringar Gauri, represented by a statue said to be in the outer wall of the mosque. Another case regrading archaeological survey by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is said to be pending in the Allahabad High Court. A number of pictures of the masque are available on the internet and are circulating on the social media which have clear telltale signs showing that the mosque was built on a temple.

Another high profile temple-idgah dispute brewing is that of Krishna temple and Shahi Idgah in Mathura. Many more such disputes are ping to arise, in spite of the Places of Worship Act 1991 which provides “for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August, 1947”. Ram Janm Bhoomi-Babari Masjid was considered an exception to this act, which is now settled by the Supreme Court.

Most people attribute flaring of these disputes to BJP’s Hindu identity politics, which seems to be only a partial truth. Partial because BJP did not create these disputes, and it could not have created, if there were not a festering wounds on the Hindu psyche and corresponding Muslim pride, if not in the acts of vandalism themselves, but in the bravery of the historical charters who inflicted this wound to Hindu civilization. No serious effort was ever made for reconciliation on this medieval barbarity. Our historians tried to whitewash these shameful acts of destruction of temples and building mosques on them through spacious theories of temple destruction being a common practice by kings in that era. This last even to the extent that the NCERT1 book suggests that the destruction of Somanatha temple by Mahmud Ghazani was same in character as Rajendra I, the Chola King, carrying away statues of deities from the temples of defeated Hindu kings. The combined effect of this white washing, equating two very different motives of the kings, often expressed pride by Muslim leader in ruling hover Hindus for eight hundred years like slaves (Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, as the most famous) never allowed the Hindu wounds to heal. I have talked to many Hindus on this issue, and what rankles them the most is denial that there were any such atrocities perpetrated on their ancesters. BJP found this festering wound useful in its politics and used it. But in its own right any democratic and justly secular nation should have addressed it through its normal politics. Now all these temples which were destroyed and particularly ones converted into mosques or built mosques forcibly on their grounds will open up. Neither BJP can stop it nor the extremely biased so-called liberals who killed secularism in India by completely distorting it.

Richard Eaton2, one of the historians who white washes these atrocities himself gives a list of eighty prominent temples destroyed by Muslim kings. Sita Ram Goel takes this number to thousands. Many of these destroyed temples were converted into mosques or built mosques on the same site with their material. Arun Shourie3 in an interesting artile titled “Hideaway Communalism” gives a list of seven such mosques: Qawwat al-Islam Mosque, The Mosque at Jaunpur, The Mosque at Qanauj, Jami (Masjid) at Etawah, Babri Masjid at Ayodhya (this one settled by the Supreme Court), Mosques of Alamgir (Aurangzeb) (the Gyanvapi Mosque), Mosque at Mathura at sitev of Govind Dev Mandir. The list is based on a book written by very reputed Islamic scholar Maulana Hakim Sayid Abdul Hai. Proper research may reveal dozens, if not hundreds, such mosques. Sooner or later they all will become part of the raging controversy in the country.

The Hindu-hardliners will demand control of all these mosques. In the first phase, for many of these mosques some so-called secular historians will come forwards and will try to obfuscate the issue by saying that there is no conclusive proof whether this of that mosque was constructed on a temple, or whether on an abandoned temple or on an active temple after destruction. It would be tough work for them now, as too much material is available to all public and this ruse will not work. In the second stage the fundamental Islamic principle of “once a mosque always a mosque” will be quoted, which will get a legal support from the waqf principle that once a property becomes invested in waqf can not be taken back. This tangle will be unresolvable and will further communalism the society. Distrust and hatred between the two community will keep on spiraling up.

The country should make all efforts to arrest this dangerous development and return to sanity, the communities in question should re-establish trust, and mutual goodwill towards each other. Resolving the issue of medieval temple destruction and converting them to mosques alone will will not solve our problems, but it will remove one painful point and may prepare ground for resolving other issues.

What could be done?

It seems to me to stem the mandir-musjid acrimony one has to be completely honest and fist has to acknowledge the wrongs done by Muslim kings without ifs, buts and without propounding unsustainable theories. A joint commission of historians and religious people from both sides can ascertain at the least the prominent temples destroyed and mosques built on them. Acknowledging that can be the first step.

As a second step hardliner Hindus have to understand that the barbarity of bigoted Muslim kings of that era can not be revisited on the nation again in the 21st century. Acknowledgment of the atrocities and considering them subhuman acts of religious bigotry should be enough. The ownership of the mosques should remain where it is today. No handing over, or changing the character of the place of worship. We are no more barbarians even if some are pushing us to be.

The Muslim community, and particularly the Islamists, have to learn not to throw these acts of bigotry on the face of their Hindu compatriots as heroic acts and stop taking pride in them. And in those who committed them.

All such mosques should always remain under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India. Their ownership should remain with the Muslim community as it is today, but they should not be able to change these structures in a manner that the evidence of their history gets destroyed. Therefore, every change, addition, renovation, restoration should happen strictly in the supervision of ASI and with its clear written approval with maps and all.

Every such property (mosques, idgah etc.) should have a board prominently displayed in front of each gate of its premises giving brief but clear history of the place. Who built the original structure, when, who changed/destroyed, when, in whose ownership is it today, etc.

This should be done once and then the chapter closed.

A simpler way could be that once the historically ascertained facts about prominent temples and mosques are established and agreed upon, the leader of both communities should sit together and come to an agreement that some of them which are considered of crucial importance may be peacefully handed over to the Hindus. But that kind of magnanimity does not seem to be possible in Islamic thought, as far as I understand it; even if many individual Muslims want such a solution it perhaps will never materialize.

A rhetorical whataboutery is often raised whenever one talks about destruction of temples by Muslim kings: what about the Buddhist monasteries and stupas destroyed by Hindu kings? Well, if (1) we have sufficient evidence of particular monasteries and supas which are in the possession of Hindus today, and (2) if there are Buddhists claimants them them, then (3) the Hindus should voluntarily hand them over to Buddhists. If the Hindus are adamant and do not agree then the same treatment as to the mosques should be mated out to them as well.

******

1NCERT, Oour Pasts II, page 66.

2Richard Eaton, Temple desecration in pre-modern India, FRONTLINE, DECEMBER 22, 2000

3http://voiceofdharma.org/books/htemples1/ch1.htm


Playing mischief with history

April 29, 2022

Rohit Dhankar

Recently three articles are published in The Indian Express with a range of views on the current vitiated communal atmosphere in the country. On 15th April 2022 Mr. S. Y. Quraishi published a short article titles “Calling out hate”. On 21st April 2022 Mr. Balbir Punj published a rejoinder to Mr. Quraishi titled “Ignorance isn’t bliss”. To which Prof. Narayani Gupta published a rejoinder titled “History as mischief” on 26th April 2022.

These three short articles, hardly longer than notes, cover a range of views on the causes and extent of current communal strife and hate speech. Could be useful starting points for pondering on what is happening in the country. My main purpose in this article is to examine Prof. Gupta’s article, the other two I have mentioned to give the context. However, it might be useful to devote a few more lines to the context just to make it clearer. Mr. Quraishi starts with concern over hate speech and examines who should stop it as per the law. In says that “[H]ate speech is at the root of many forms of violence” and writes as a concerned citizen to start with. But when he starts giving examples of hate speech and violence one notices that all the examples are those of Hindus committing this crime and not even a mention of any fault and instances of either hate speech or cause of hate speech from Muslim side. And thus, the article which started with the genuine concern from a citizen reduces itself to Muslim perspective alone.

Mr. Punj in his rejoinder mainly refutes two points in Mr. Quraishi’s article: one, hate speech being the root cause of some forms of violence and Mr. Quraishi’s one sided-ness in accusing only Hindus. He seems to suggest that the hate on the basis on religion entered India with Islam. And recounts the standard list of Right-wing Hindu narrative, starting with Muhammad bin Qasim’s attack on Sindh to present day in India and giving some recent examples from Muslim rioting in Sweden, Spain and Jerusalem. He tries to make a claim that before the Islam entered in India there was equanimity in the Indian society, and Islam’s insistence of only one true God and if in power “treating local Hindus as zimmis, forcing them to pay jizya” and destruction of their places of worship destroyed this equanimity. He charges the the author of the earlier article of over simplifying a “complex phenomenon” to “suit a convenient political narrative”. Also of ignorance and of “pusillanimity to face facts”. But does not directly change of mischief and dishonesty.

And that brings us the main article which I propose to analyze here in a little more detail. Prof. Gupta starts with the standard narrative building tactic which involves discrediting the opponent without refuting his/her claims and declaring the article as almost juvenile effort by comparing it to her younger days’ efforts when “wanted to comment on any article in a newspaper”. Prof. Gupta accuses Mr. Punj of cherry picking from history. However, also notes that the strapline of Mr. Punj’s article is “[U]nderstanding trail of hate in India requires honest examination of its origins”. That makes it clear the purpose of Mr. Punj’s article was not to provide an exhaustive analysis of historical roots of hate between Hindus and Muslims, but to hint at a corrective to Mr. Quraishi’s one-sided narrative by giving some historical examples. Since Mr. Quraishi took all the contemporary examples only of Hindu hate speech, he is pointing to historical roots and recounting only those incidents which cause hate, completely ignoring the syncretic tradition.

Prof. Gupta then grandly declares that “[H]istory as a discipline is about time, place and people. Teachers of history compartmentalise themselves into sections of time and of place/region. Not so the non-historian.” Thereby reminding the reader of her own credentials and authority as a historian and Mr. Punj’s lack of the same. Which would be fine had she shown that historian’s acumen in the rest of the article. Then reminds the reader that there was Sufi tradition in Sindh which Mr. Punj ignores. The only substantial claim by Mr. Punj she expresses doubt is that he writes of Mahmud of Ghazni that he “took a vow to wage jihad every year against Indian idolators”. And says that she “tried to locate a source for this, and came up only with one — an earlier article by Punj”. This is a minor point in Punj’s article, and may actually be wrong. As far as Ghazni’s proclaiming himself as champion of Islam and destroyer of infidel’s idols is concerned there are plenty of references. Prof. Romila Thapar on the authority of M. Nizami writes about Mahmud Ghazani “[H]is support for the Caliphate was engineered to obtain for himself the appropriate titles of the defender of Islam”. Alberuni writes, “Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country, and performed there wonderful exploits, by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all diorections, and like a tale of in the mouth of the people. Their scattered remains cherish, of course, the most inveterate aversion towards all Muslims”

The mischief

The most mischievous lines in Prof. Gupta’s article are “Ghaznavi’s exact contemporary, Rajendra Chola, was in the same period raiding Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. In Indian school textbooks Ghaznavi has always been an “invader”, the Cholas were “conquerors”.”

To understand the full extent of this mischief we need to see at the least one more example from Class VII Social Studies of book of NCERT, the following passage is from Chapter 5 titled “Rulers and Builders” in this book.

“… in the early eleventh century, when the Chola king Rajendra I built a Shiva temple in his capital he filled it with prized statues seized from defeated rulers. An incomplete list included: a Sun-pedestal from the Chalukyas, a Ganesha statue and several statues of Durga; a Nandi statue from the eastern Chalukyas; an image of Bhairava (a form of Shiva) and Bhairavi from the Kalingas of Orissa; and a Kali statue from the Palas of Bengal.

Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni was a contemporary of Rajendra I. During his campaigns in the subcontinent he attacked the temples of defeated kings and looted their wealth and idols. Sultan Mahmud was not a very important ruler at that time. But by destroying temples – especially the one at Somnath – he tried to win credit as a great hero of Islam. In the political culture of the Middle Ages most rulers displayed their political might and military success by attacking and looting the places of worship of defeated rulers.”

Prof. Gupta equates Mahmud of Ghazni and Rajendra Chola and points out bias in calling Rajendra Chola a “conqueror” and Ghazni an “invader”, she terms campaigns of both “raids”. The NCERT textbook wants to show a parallel between the two and communicate that destruction of temples in the Middle Ages was nothing special to Ghazni or Islamic rulers, and this was a done thing by most kings to show their political might.

We need to understand this mischief carefully. [I am not a historian, just trying to make sense of some of the claims of historians which seem to have serious inconsistencies as per my ordinary logic. Therefore, will accept the errors in my judgment if some historian provides evidence which an ordinary thinker can accept as reasonable. But currently I do have serious doubts about these claims of equating Mahmud Ghazani and Rajendra I of Chola dynasty. This is somewhat long and tedious, the readers, if any, have to be patient. 🙂]

First, let’s look at the list of looted statues the first paragraph in the NCERT book gives. The book itself gives no references, but the list provided by Richard Eaton closely resembles it. He writesd: “In the early eleventh century, the Chola king Rajendra I furnished his capital with images he had seized from several prominent neighbouring kings: Durga and Ganesha images from the Chalukyas; Bhairava, Bhairavi, and Kali images from the Kalingas of Orissa; a Nandi image from the Eastern Chalukyas; and a bronze Siva image from the Palas of Bengal.” One can immediately see that most of the images mentioned are common in the NCERT book and Eaton’s paper. In this section of his paper Eaton gives a long list of statues looted by Indian Hindu kings from other Hindu kings. The reference he gives for this long list is from Richard H. Devis’s “Lives of Indian Images”.

In this entire list Eaton given one single example of destruction of an image. It must be noted that looting an image of a deity and then installing it in one’s own temple is not the same thing as destroying the image. As Eaton himself notes the Indian kings derived their authority from the deity of the kingdom, and their political legitimacy as well as power was supposed to be bestowed as well as protected by the deity. A king who takes the image and installs it in a temple in his own capital city is communicating that ‘the deity has left the defeated kind, and now bestows His grace and protects my kingdom and not that of the defeated king’. Here the real target of attack is the king and not the deity. The idea is not to destroy the religion, or any animosity to the religion, not is to insult the deity and the religion, but to say that the religion and deity now fevour me, rather than the defeated king. This motivation and message is very different from what was being communicated by Muslim destroyers of temples, including Mahmud Ghazni. Prof. Thapar notes in “Somanatha: The many voices of History” about Ghazni that “[T]he purpose of the raids was multiple, of which iconoclasmwas undoubtedly a motivation.” That is why it was necessary to destroy the image and take pieces of it to be placed on the steps of mosque to be trodden upon by the believers. Here the message is that your god is false, and I want to destroy it, and to inflicvt an insult upon the religion and its believers.

But Eaton also gives at the least one example of destruction of an image of deity Hindu troops. The example is of destruction of image ‘supposed to be’ of “Vishnu Vaikuntha, the state-deity of Lalitaditya’s kingdom in Kashmir” by “Bengali troops”. Eaton gives no clear reference, but since all this list seems to be based on Richard Davis, this is reasonable to assume that this example of image destruction is also based on the same source. Davis gives the story based on Kalhan’s Rajataringiti. It is an interesting story. The part of the story concerned with my argument goes as follows: “Once, after making a promise of safe conduct to the king of Gauda (Bengal), and offering as surety (madhyastha, lit. “intermediary”) on his pledge the image of Visnu Parihasakesava, Lalitaditya treacherously ordered the ruler assassinated. Such a brazen act clearly departed from all standards of proper royal conduct, and called for revenge. As we might expect by now, the reprisal was directed not at the perpetrator of the deed but at its intermediary. A troop of the murdered king’s dedicated attendants snuck into Kashmir, posing as pilgrims…”. Here the deity was pledged as surety and intermediary, the king who worshiped that deity acted treacherously. And it was an act of specific revenge. Also, it was an act of loyal troops of the assassinated king. All other looting of images is to respectfully reinstating them in temples in the capital cities of the victorious kings. They all were motivated by politics and it was the kingdom under attack, not the religion or deity. In destruction of temples by Muslim rulers its was also the religion of infidels and their idols.

A historian who does not understand this difference is not worth his/her salt. And a historian who understand this but hides the fact and makes false parallels is not honest, and is playing mischief.

The second point in the above quotes of Prof. Gupta and NCERT textbook in equating Rajendra I and Mahmud Ghazni is about ‘raids’. I am not sure on this. I do know that Ghazni was actually ‘raiding’ repeatedly to destroy temples and images, to loot wealth and to capture slaves to be sold in slave markets. But suspect that Rajendra I was attacking to extend his kingdom. If there is evidence of Rajendra I only raiding and of no intention to establish his rule on the defeated territories, calling both raiders will be justified. If not, then one was actually conquering, the other raiding. But the terms are “invader” and “conqueror”. This difference seems to be because of national alignment of the rules in question, however, I don not find it unjustified. Indians may call Rajenda I as ‘conquerer’ as they consider his a great ruler in their history; and say Shri Lankans may call him an ‘invader’ if they do not accept him as contributing to development of their nation, and also consider him as outsider.

There are many more examples of this kind of mischief in our history books. I will just mention a few from a single chapter of the same NCERT book without going into details. The chapter titled “The Delhi Sultans” in citing the sources for writing this chapter mentions histories written by court historians of the Sultans, and claims “The authors of tawarikh were learned men: secretaries, administrators, poets and courtiers, who both recounted events and advised rulers on governance, emphasising the importance of just rule.” But do not mention that the justice according to them was ‘Islamic justice’ in which zazia was legitimate and just, and do not mention that in the later part of Delhi Sultanate zazia was levied on Hindus. The chapter mentions that “The Delhi Sultans built several mosques in cities all over the subcontinent. These demonstrated their claims to be protectors of Islam and Muslims.” But does not mention that many temples were destroyed and many of these mosques were build on them. The chapter specifically mentions “Quwwat al-Islam” mosque in Qutub complex in Delhi, but does not tell the students that it is build on Hindu or Jain temple, as the architectural elements can be seen even today. It also does not tell that The “Quwwat-ul-Islam” means “Might of Islam”, which has special significance when the mosque stands on a destroyed temple. Then chapter claims that “These authors advised rulers on the need to preserve an “ideal” social order based on birthright and gender distinctions.” But do not tell that this ideal was Islamic ideal and it had much more than just “birthright and gender distinctions”. All this I think qualifies as distortion of history, if even not active mischief.

However, I am not accusing these authors of any anti-national or anti-Hindu motives, at least not in this article. I think they are guided by a mistaken belief that one can create a cohesive and peaceful society in which different religious communities can co-exist if their history of atrocities on each other is hidden from the new generations. I believe; may be I am wrong, but this is my belief today; that for a cooperative, respectful and peaceful co-existence the involved communities have to ascertain the truth, accept the truth, apologize for the atrocities on each other, make a binding agreement that such atrocities will not happen again. From this point of view, none of the authors of the three article in question here do a good job. Mr. Quraishi mentions only contemporary Hindu aggression and completely ignores Muslim aggression. Mr. Punj talk of Muslim atrocities and Muslim propensity for unrest but conveys that there is no fault on the side of Hindus. Prof. Gupta only obfuscates in the interest of ongoing powerful so-called liberal narrative. None of them is alone helpful to Indian citizens. If one takes them to be representatives (they are not, this is just for an example) of these sections of society, they need to sit together and pay attention to each others facts, conclusions and motivations.

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Communalism, Hate Speech and History

April 28, 2022

Communalism, Hate Speech and History

I am copying three articles below, written in this mopnth by three different authros in The Indian Express. Copying them in the order of their publication.
The first one is by S.Y. Quraisi regarding hate speech.
Second a rejoinder to Quraishi by BalbirPunj.
The third one is regarding cherry picking in history, a rejoinder to Punj by Narayani Gupta.
These three articles actually cover a lot of ground of the current communal-political discourse. Three views, the so-called liberal, Muslim perspective and the so-called Rightist Hindu view are presented, though not in detail.
Let us discuss these articles on the coming Saturday, 30th April 2022, at 8:00 pm
Link: Rohit Dhankar is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Open Dialogue
Time: Apr 30, 2022 08:00 PM Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi
Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88281556553?pwd=elpXT1JLZ2lLREI4ZFUwRHZ4U0hKUT09

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Hate speech is violent in itself and must be called out
SY Quraishi writes: It is at the root of many forms of violence that are being perpetrated and has become one of the biggest challenges to the rule of law and to our democratic conscience.
Calling Our Hate
Written by S Y Quraishi |Updated: April 15, 2022 9:05:50 am
What is to be done when the Indian republic, committed to working within the framework of constitutional democracy and the rule of law, starts to accommodate elements that are stridently anti-constitutional and anti-secular? What once belonged to the fringes of Indian society now has increasingly become mainstream, their disruptive actions being registered in the public sphere more frequently and viciously. Hate speech is at the root of many forms of violence that are being perpetrated and has become one of the biggest challenges to the rule of law and to our democratic conscience.
One of the most visible consequences of hate speech is increased electoral mobilisation along communal lines which is also paying some electoral dividends.
Hate speech must be unambiguously condemned and the law must take its course, although not merely because it can lead to events of violence in the future. Hate speech, in itself, must be understood and treated as a violent act and urgently so, for it has become an indispensable resource for the ruling powers. No wonder, during the elections, it becomes louder.
Several instances of hate speech and religious polarisation have been reported in Yogi Adityanath’s poll campaign in the recently concluded UP elections, for instance. In 2019, the Supreme Court reprimanded the Election Commission, calling it “toothless” for not taking action against candidates engaging in hate speech during the election campaigns in UP. The Commission responded by saying that it had limited powers to take action in this matter. So far, the Supreme Court does not appear to have acted decisively in response to allegations of hate speech in electoral campaigns, indicating that the EC must assume more responsibility and the EC has argued that in matters of hate speech, it is largely “powerless”. In any case, the EC’s role is confined to the election period. So who is responsible for the non-election times?

Is the state powerless? Not at all. There are a whole bunch of laws meant to curb hate speech. The Indian Penal Code, as per Sections 153A, 295A and 298, criminalises the promotion of enmity between different groups of people on grounds of religion and language, alongside acts that are prejudicial to maintaining communal harmony. Section 125 of the Representation of People Act deems that any person, in connection with the election, promoting feelings of enmity and hatred on grounds of religion and caste is punishable with imprisonment up to three years and fine or both. Section 505 criminalises multiple kinds of speech, including statements made with the intention of inducing, or which are likely to induce, fear or alarm to the public, instigating them towards public disorder; statements made with the intention of inciting, or which are likely to incite, class or community violence; and discriminatory statements that have the effect or the intention of promoting inter-community hatred. It covers incitement of violence against the state or another community, as well as promotion of class hatred.
While examining the scope of hate speech laws in India, the Law Commission in its 267th report published in March 2017, recommended introduction of new provisions within the penal code that specifically punish incitement to violence in addition to the existing ones. In my view, any recommendation for more laws is a red herring and provides an excuse for inaction. It’s the lack of political will, blatant inefficiency and bias of the administration and shocking apathy of the judiciary that is killing the secular spirit of the Constitution.
Another watchdog should have been the media. In recent years, hate speech in all its varieties has acquired a systemic presence in the media and the internet, from electoral campaigns to everyday life. Abusive speech directed against minority communities, particularly Muslims, and disinformation campaigns on media networks have made trolling and fake news significant aspects of public discourse. By desensitising the citizenry with a constant barrage of anti-minority sentiments, the ethical and moral bonds of our democracy are taking a hit.
This epidemic of “mediatised” hate speech is, in fact, a global phenomenon. According to the Washington Post, 2018 can be considered as “the year of online hate”. Facebook, in its Transparency Report, disclosed that it ended up taking down 3 million hateful posts from its platform while YouTube removed 25,000 posts in one month alone.
On April 2, amidst unconcerned police officials and cheering crowds, Mahant Bajrang Muni Udasin, the chief priest of the Badi Sangat Ashram in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur district, publicly threatened sexual violence against Muslim women and against Muslims in general — “you and your pigsty will cease to exist”. Although this particular video went viral recently, and he has now been arrested by the Sitapur police, Udasin has had a long history of spewing hate and stoking communal polarisation with apparent impunity. In the past, Udasin celebrated Dara Singh, a Bajrang Dal member who is currently serving a life sentence for leading a mob on January 23, 1999 in Orissa and setting fire to the wagon in which the Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons were burnt to death. Likening Dara Singh to a godman, Udasin appealed to Hindu monks to declare him a Shankaracharya. With this, Udasin joins the ranks of a multitude of “holy” men and women, most prominent among them being Yati Narsinghanand, Pooja Shakun Pandey and Jitendra Tyagi, who have been at the forefront of the politics of fear and hatred.
With elected members currently sitting in the legislative assemblies and Parliament giving political sanction to these self-styled mahants, and ordinary citizens mobilised into mob violence and complicit public officials, hate speech is becoming the dominant mode of public political participation. Two people died in the Ram Navami violence recently while many were arrested across states. Shocking images also surfaced from JNU of students injured during a face-off between two groups on Ram Navami on campus.

This should prick the conscience of the nation. Enough damage has been done. We cannot wait another day to address this growing challenge.

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Face the facts on communal violence in India
Balbir Punj writes: Understanding climate of hate requires honest examination of its origins, perpetrators
Ignorance isn’t bliss
Written by Balbir Punj |Updated: April 21, 2022 10:46:08 am

Hate and bigotry feed on each other. They germinate and flourish on a toxic diet of divisive and schismatic ideologies and polarising creeds that discriminate against human beings on the basis of colour, region, gender, faith — and divide them between believers and non-believers — ranging the chosen ones against the idolatrous.
‘Calling out hate’ by S Y Quraishi (IE, April 15) has little to do with the anatomy of hate or its ongoing malignancy. It is more of an ad hominem attack on the ruling dispensation. A complex phenomenon has been over-simplified to suit a convenient political narrative. The arguments are drearily familiar, facts dodgy and conclusions delusional.
For aeons, India has had syncretic traditions inspired by the Vedic aphorism, “Ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti” (there is only one truth and learned persons call it by many names). Because of this underpinning, Indian society has never insisted on uniformity in any facet of life. Indian philosophy is a smorgasbord of varied ideas and traditions — incongruous at times, but always a part of a harmonious milieu.
This equanimity of Indian society was, however, disrupted by invading creeds claiming only their God, and His messenger were true, and the rest were false and worthy of destruction, along with their followers and places of worship.

The first such incursion came in 712, when Muhammad bin Qasim vanquished Sindh, and as Chach Nama, a contemporary Arab chronicle states, introduced the practice of treating local Hindus as zimmis, forcing them to pay jizya (a poll tax), as a penalty to live by their beliefs. “Hate” and “bigotry” thus made their debut in India, which was hitherto free from this virus. Pakistan’s official website credits this invasion as when the country was born as an Islamic nation in the Subcontinent.
In the 11th century, Mahmud of Ghazni, while receiving the caliphate honours on his accession to the throne, took a vow to wage jihad every year against Indian idolaters. During his 32-year reign, he did keep his solemn promise over a dozen times. The rest is history.
But why go into the distant past? Unfortunately, the trail of hate unleashed over a thousand years ago continues to haunt us even today. The last 100-odd years witnessed the Moplah riots, Partition, and the decimation of Hindus/Sikhs/Buddhists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Kashmir Valley. The recent pre-planned attacks on Ram Navami processions in over half a dozen states, and the onslaught on the Hanuman Janamutsav rally have reminded us that the ogre of hate is alive and stinging.
It’s uncanny: While communal mayhem was going on in India, Muslim mobs were fighting pitched battles against the police in dozens of towns in Spain, Sweden and the city of Jerusalem. In Sweden, Muslims were agitated over blasphemy involving the holy Quran. Protests in Spain are against the imprisonment of a rapper convicted of insulting the monarchy and praising terrorist violence. While the issues involving these sordid episodes may differ, the pattern is common.
Were the Hindu-Muslim relations peaceful in the past and have soured post-2014? The fact is, ties between the two communities were seldom cordial. There were intermittent skirmishes, wars and occasional short-lived opportunistic alliances. Is the current dispensation responsible for Muslim alienation? Remember, even Gandhiji failed to wean Muslims from Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s schismatic movement.
In the aftermath of the Moplah violence and communal riots at several places in India, Gandhiji observed in Young India (May 24, 1924): “My own experience but confirms the opinion that the Musalman as a rule is a bully, and the Hindu as a rule is a coward”. Nothing much has since changed in the Subcontinent.
Can laws or police fight hate? No. If they could, Kashmiri Hindus wouldn’t have gone through the hell they did in the 1990s, and would have been happily back in their homes by now. India is a secular democracy, not because of its Constitution. It’s the other way round. When Pakistan declared itself an Islamic Republic in 1947, it would have been natural for India to identify itself as a Hindu state. It didn’t, and couldn’t have — because of its Hindu ethos of pluralism. A Hindu-dominated India, is, and will always be, catholic, plural, myriad and a vibrant democracy.
George Orwell said, “The relative freedom which we enjoy depends on public opinion. The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country”.
Can one fight hate selectively? The burning of Graham Staines and his children is reprehensible. So was the lynching of Akhlaq and Junaid. But why the cowering silence on the dastardly gunning down of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and four of his disciples (August 2008) in Orissa for which seven Christians and a Maoist have been convicted? Over a dozen Muslim workers of the BJP have been killed in Jammu & Kashmir and other parts of India in the recent past. These victims of hate are, of course, ignored. Their deaths don’t suit the narrative.
Charged reactions, punctuated with half-truths, deliberate omissions and tailored narratives, offer no real solution. Pusillanimity to face facts will only exacerbate the situation and give egregious results. Ignorance is not always bliss.
In this context, it’s relevant to recall what Lester Pearson (14th PM of Canada) said: “Misunderstanding arising from ignorance breeds fear, and fear remains the greatest enemy of peace.”

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The problem with cherry-picking facts from history
Narayani Gupta writes: Selective reading of historical events produces half-truths, tailored narratives
History as Mischief
Written by Narayani Gupta | Updated: April 26, 2022 6:32:21

In my younger days, if we wanted to comment on any article in a newspaper, we rattled off a short letter to the editor on our typewriter. Now there are journalists whose comments are in the form of an article as long as the one under discussion. Many of them can only be described as clones of Humpty Dumpty, confident that “When I use a word, it means exactly what I want it to mean, no more, no less”.
A recent example is that of an article by S Y Quraishi (‘Calling out hate’, April 15) and the comment that followed. Noting the alarming reports of hate speeches in the social media, Quraishi wrote, “It is at the root of many forms of violence that are being perpetrated and has become one of the biggest challenges to the rule of law and to our democratic conscience.” He lists those who can act firmly and swiftly — during elections it is the Election Commission that must act, and in the “non-election” months the state has the power to act by using provisions of the Indian Penal Code, and the Representation of the People Act. The sense of urgency in his article was palpable.
There was a rejoinder to Quraishi in The Indian Express (‘Ignorance isn’t bliss’, April 21). Balbir Punj, the writer, says in the second paragraph that Quraishi’s “arguments are drearily familiar, facts dodgy, and conclusions delusional”. Punj adds: “Quraishi’s article has little to do with the anatomy of hate or its ongoing malignancy”. Quraishi was not dissecting the emotion of hate, he was criticising the inaction of the Election Commission and the courts, in the context of hate-speeches made by individuals over the last year.
Punj begins his piece on a breathless note: “Hate and bigotry feed on each other. They germinate and flourish on a toxic diet of divisive and schismatic ideologies and polarising creeds that discriminate against human beings on the basis of colour, region, gender, faith — and divide them between believers and non-believers — ranging the chosen ones against the idolatrous”. The strapline was “Understanding trail of hate in India requires honest examination of its origins”. Eleven of the 15 paragraphs in the essay deal with this trail.

History as a discipline is about time, place and people. Teachers of history compartmentalise themselves into sections of time and of place/region. Not so the non-historian. Punj writes, “For aeons, India has had syncretic traditions, inspired by the Vedic aphorism “ekam sad [sic] vipra bahudha vadanti” (there is only one truth and learned persons call it by many names). In September 2020, a 16-member committee was set up by the Ministry of Culture to study the origin and evolution of Indian culture, “dating back to around 12,000 years ago”. It held two meetings and vanished from the scene. That’s a cautionary tale.
Bhakti and Sufi cults have been for long described as “syncretic”. Punj does not associate Sindh with its great Sufi tradition, but with bin Qasim’s conquest in 712 CE and the coming of Islam — “…as Chach Nama, a contemporary Arab chronicle states, [he] introduced the practice of treating local Hindus as zimmis, forcing them to pay jizya… ‘Hate’ and ‘bigotry’ thus made their debut in India, which was hitherto free from this virus”.
It is worth locating and browsing through translations of the Chach Nama, for its accounts of the attitude of the Arab rulers of Sindh towards the Hindu population and their places of worship. A natural outcome of this beginning was the enduring presence of Sufi orders in Sindh.
The simplest — but not wholly ethical — way to substantiate an argument is by cherry-picking. From 8th-century Sindh the author moves to 11th-century north India. He writes of Mahmud of Ghazni who “took a vow to wage jihad every year against Indian idolators”. (I tried to locate a source for this, and came up only with one — an earlier article by Punj, on July 12, 2019). Ghaznavi’s exact contemporary, Rajendra Chola, was in the same period raiding Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. In Indian school textbooks Ghaznavi has always been an “invader”, the Cholas were “conquerors”.
The next eight centuries are omitted, and the trail moves down to Malabar (the Moplah Rebellion of 1921), then north and east India (the Partition tragedies of 1946-8), the “decimation” of Hindus in neighbouring countries (no dates) and people in Spain and Sweden.
He proceeds to ask a rhetorical question “Can laws or police fight hate?”
And this article was published a day after the BJP-run civic body let the bulldozers raze homes in Jahangirpuri “in the face of the Supreme Court order” as the Indian Express headline stated on the same day as Punj’s article!
Punj’s narrative could be described in his own words — “charged reactions, punctuated with half-truths, deliberate omissions and tailored narratives, offer no real solution” [to what?]. This is followed by a line which I find extremely difficult to decipher — “pusillanimity to face facts will only exacerbate the situation and give egregious results.”



The Quran verses in Hindu temple festival: Meaning and significance

April 17, 2022

Rohit Dhankar

The whole India was happy when the news that Rathotsava of 900 year old Chennakeshava temple in Belur, Karnataka, started with recital of verses from Quran. It is like a breath of fresh air in the current Hindu-Muslim tension too often resulting in violent episodes. All news papers and news outlets published it prominently and praised the decision of the temple. It is read as a symbol of not only peaceful coexistence, but also deeper goodwill between to two communities. Many said this describes the beauty of India.

There is no doubt that syncretic traditions mutually respected and cherished by both the communities, and an all prevailing respect and goodwill towards each other is what the India needs the most at the current juncture. No sane Indian could or should doubt it. However, traditions and rituals which have become tradition are dead mental/physical gymnastics if their origin and true meaning is not known, understood and accepted by those who are involved and those who appreciate that traditional ritual. Such rituals on the surface can neither create nor sustain true and lasting harmony. If they are accepted and cherished on the force of dogma alone, without understanding their meaning, they actually can be turned into flash-points of violent clash any time, by those who capture people’s mind through them. Therefore, to appreciate the benevolent force of this ritual, knowledge of its origin and meaning of the ritual including that of the verses from Quran is a necessity.

But all news items are declaring that the origin and reason why the ritual started is known to no one. A temple manual written in 1932 is said to mention it, but not how and why this ritual was started. No historian has come forward to explain its origin and original meaning. The only explanation comes from the ToI, which claims that “Belur-based writer and researcher Srivatsa S Vati said the chanting practice is said to have been started in the Ramanujacharya period (1017–1137 CE) as part of Sarva Dharma Samanvaya (a concept embodying the equality of the destination of the paths followed by all religions; although the paths themselves may be different).” The temple itself is said to have been built in 1116 CE, which means the ritual started some time between 1116 CE and 1137 CE. Which implies (1) a significant Muslim population in Belur at that time, and (2) goodwill of temple authorities in particular and Hindus is general towards Muslims and doctrines of Islam. One can assume (2), at the least for an argument; but certainly wonder about (1). Be that as it may, overall it looks a socially positive step of the temple authority of that time.

The important point to note about the idea of “Sarva Dharma Samanvaya (a concept embodying the equality of the destination of the paths followed by all religions; although the paths themselves may be different)” is that it is worthy of following and creates good for the society only if it is mutual, understood, believed in and followed by all. Followed by one party among many and not believed in seriously and not followed properly by others creates serious problems. It may solve some short term problem without mutuality, but will create much bigger in the long run.

One indicator of appreciation of the principle of “Sarva Dharma Samanvaya” by ordinary public is its cheering the ritual and appreciative publication of the news in the media. But this would be real only if the public, media and appreciating opinion makers also know and are transparent about the meaning of the verses from the Quran that are recited. But no news story tells you which verses from the Quran are recited. ToI gives English translation without actually giving reference to the original verses. I will examine that meaning in a while, but first let us think why it is important to know the actual meaning of the verses recited.

Suppose, some good souls from the Hindu community (Brahmins, Dalits and all) opening a school for all castes to study together to acquire vidya, and the inauguration is flagged off with the following verses:

नाविस्पष्टमधीयीत न शूद्रजनसन्निधौ । न निशान्ते परिश्रान्तो ब्रह्माधीत्य पुनः स्वपेत् ॥ ९९ ॥ (Manusmriti)

Suppose further, that every one appreciates the school for all, starting with recitals from a Hindu-shastra, considers it an occasion of unity and acceptance of all for the seeking knowledge. But no one quotes, gives reference of tells the meaning of the verse to all who are appreciating it. Would it really be a gesture of unity and earning vidya (knowledge) for all? Would it last? Would it be genuine? Is the ritual in itself (the physical motions of it) enough? The reader should decide for himself/herself. Meaning of the above quoted verse: “Let him not recite (the texts, Vedas) indistinctly, nor in the presence of Sudras; nor let him, if in the latter part of the night he is tired with reciting the Veda, go again to sleep.” It seems to me that without understanding this verse and the meaning of ‘shudra’ in this, celebration of inclusiveness in this imaginary example would be misplaced if not seriously misleading.

The recited verses from the Quran and their meaning

I did not find references to the recited verses, may be some news item did give the references, but I could not get it. A well wisher and friend sent a link to ToI story, which gives the following English translation:

In the name of Allah, the most gracious and merciful, the god is praised as lord of the world. The god is the owner of the judgment day. The god is worshipped to pray for the help and to show us a straight path. Those who go on a straight path, is not the right way to gain anger …” ToI, 15th April 2022 in “How Hindu temple kept Quran reading tradition alive”.

This text breaks off, it seems without completion, at the end. However, any one cursorily familiar with Quran will immediately recognize that it resembles very closely to the meaning of Chapter 1 (Surah 1. Al-Fatihah). This chapter of The Quran is widely used on many occasions, including in namaaz. This is also clear that the meaning given in ToI is wrong, whether that is intentional or because of ignorance is difficult to say.

Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad, perhaps the tallest leader of India from the Muslim community, considered a very accomplished Islamic scholar, has explained Quran in his “The Tarjuman Al-Quran”. Mawlana’s translation for this chapter in the said book is as follows:

“In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful

1. Praise is for Allah only — The Lord of All Being!

2. The Benevolent, the Merciful!

3. Master on the Day of Recompense!

4. Thee only do we serve, and Thee onlydo we ask for help.

5. Direct us to the Straight Path –

6. The path of those to whom Thou has been gracious, –

7. Not of those who have incurred Thy displeasure, nor of those who have gone astray.” (Emphasis added)

The Mawlana writes the whole of first part of his The Tarjuman Al-Quran on this chapter alone. The long winded arguments are very informative and a pleasure to read, whether all convincing or not is a separate matter.

In this article we will pay attention only to the emphasized verses 4 to 7. In explaining verse 4 Mawlana writes: “…, the form of prayer suggested in the Surat is not, ‘We serve Thee’, but is specifically worded, ‘Thee alone do we serve’, and from ‘Thee alone do we ask for help’. This manner of expression fulfills the primary condition of belief in the unity of God, and disallows room for every form of ‘shirk’ or associating with God anything beside Him.” (Emphasis as in the original) The meaning of ‘shirk’ according to Britannica: “shirk, (Arabic: “making a partner [of someone]”), in Islam, idolatry, polytheism, and the association of God with other deities.” The temple in which the verses were recited qualifies as forbidden ‘shirk’ on the count that it is both polytheistic as well as idolatrous.

The ‘straight path’ according to Mawlana is the path prescribed by the revelation, the central piece of which is already there in verse 4 above. “The Noble Quran” translated by M. T. Al-Hilali and M. M. Khan and published by King Fahd Complex for the Printing of Holy Qur’an, Madinah, is more direct and brief. Accordingly it is simply “Islamic monotheism”. And the path of those who have incurred Allah’s anger and/or gone astray are those who worship anything but Allah, particularly mentioned in this translation are Jews and Christians. Hindus were not an issue in the Arabia of Muhammad’s time, so they are not mentioned. But if one looks at the meaning of ‘shirk’, they, including the temple administration, amply qualify to be counted among those who incur Allah’s wrath and who have gone astray. Of course, Quran never tires of telling you that all such people will burn in hell for eternity, though that is not mentioned in this chapter.

We can say for the purposes of this article that perhaps in every religion there are people with three broad attitudes to the faith in: 1. Those who actually believe in the every tenet of their religion, if they happen to know them. 2. Those who selectively believe, accept the good and leave our what they consider bad. And 3. those who are only socially associated with the faith through rituals and social relationship.

All that the people in category 3 would want is this kind of acceptance of each other’s faith and rituals in which both may participate. However, to be true to their position they should wish it to be two-sided. That is an equal give and take from both religions. My question to such people is: would this ritual still be something to rejoice if there is no such both-sided give and take in the matters of faith? And, is there such a give and take between Hindus and Muslims? My question to the people in category 2 would be the same.

My questions for the people in category one—these are the people who actually matter in religious strife—would be separate for Hindus and Muslims. To Hindus: Are they fine with the actual meaning of the verses recited? Or do they believe that the actual meaning is something like given by the ToI? My question for the Muslims would be: do they accord equal respect to Chennakeshava as to Allah? Would they be willing to reinterpret the verses 4 to 7 as simply indicating devotion to the universal God by any name, any attributes and by any ways of worship? Would the Maulanas accept that the priest of the Chennakeshava temple will go to jannat? Or is he likely to incur the Allah’s wrath?

In my view if this openness in interpretation of the meaning of these verses is not there, this ritual does not represent “Sarva Dharma Samanvaya” and either is hypocrisy or worst Islamic supremacism. One also need to remember that Sarva Dharma Samanvaya in this sense would require reinterpretation of Quran. Would Indian public be prepared for that? One ardently wishes that all this becomes possible. But I do not think that can happen by just rejoicing in superfluous rituals and shying away from asking questions like the ones raised here. The questions like these and an open debate on them with mutual respect and goodwill is the only thing that can give a deeper and real meaning and significance to such rituals.

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भारत में वर्तमान सम्प्रदायिक परिदृश्य: कारण और निराकरण?

April 15, 2022

(पहला रफ़ ड्रफ़्ट। इस आलेख को चर्चा के लिये नोट्स के रूप में देखा जाना चाहिये, अभी व्यवस्थित लेख के रूप में नहीं। इस में अभी भाषा और कथ्य की गलतियां हो सकती है। पूरे लेख को अभी हिन्दी में भी नहीं लिखा है। लोगों से एक चर्चा और उसमें इस में अभिव्यक्त विचारों की आलोचना-समलोचना के बाद ही इसे पूरा करने का विचार है, यदि किया तो।)

Discussion on Open Dialogue: 16th April 8:00 pm

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85214219683?pwd=TXpaSnpIUjlKNkYxZlcyVGRaY1RTdz09

रोहित धनकर

भारतीय कथित उदारवादी आख्यान के दो लोगों की तिप्पणियां

प्रोफ़ेसर अपूर्वनन्द का मत

A Delhi University professor and one of the foremost writers in The Wire, tells us that “This politics of violence has caused immense cognitive damage to the Hindus. Their ability to comprehend the world and society is seriously impaired. They have also lost their sense of the self.” (emphasis added). Now, the Hindus, all Hindus, are not only responsible for the Hindu-Muslim riots and rifts in the society, but if they don’t feel this they have become stupid, they lost their cognitive ability and sense of self. Remember that sense of the self and cognitive ability to understand the world is what makes us persons and confers citizenship rights on us. But Hindus have lost both, thus they are no more persons and soon their rights should be consider an anomaly.

प्रोफ़ेसर योगेन्द्र यादव का मत

उत्तर प्रदेश में भाजपा को बहुत मिला तो सब यह विश्लेशण करने लगे की यह क्या हुआ? इतनी समस्याओं, जनता को कठिनायों, आदि को भूल कर लोगों ने भाजपा को वोट कैसे देदिये? बहुत लोगों ने बहुत से कारण गिनवाये, कुछ ने जनता को फ़ुसलाये हुए मूर्ख माना, हलंकि सीधा लिखा नहीं। इसी सन्दर्भ में योगेन्द्र जी यादव का एक विडिओ आया (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJQR1RW30kA) जिसमें वे वही बात कह रहे हैं‌ जो हम जैसे कम जानकार १० वर्ष से कम जानीमानी जगहों पर कहते और लिखते रहे हैं। पर अब भी अधूरी बात, पूरी बात कहने के लिये शायद लोगों को और समय लगे। पर इस बात को पूरी करने से पहले यह देखते हैं कि उन्हों‌ने कहा क्या। नीचे उन के विडिओ के एक अन्श (लग्भग १४ मिनट से) की ट्रांसक्रिप्ट है, जिसमें कुछ वाक्यों को बोल्ड मैने किया है। देखें:

“मुकेश :… बहुत सारे लोग ये मानते हैं कि जो हिंदुत्व है वो काफी नीचे तक चला गया है। … जो आपने रिश्ता बनाने की बात की है, मानस में अपने-पराए के भेद की बात की है, क्या वो इस रूप में है?

योगेंद्र यादव : जी मुकेश जी, ये आपने अच्छा किया, खुलासा किया इसका क्योंकि वही है अलग से कोई factor नहीं है। यही तो factor है। और इसे खाली हिन्दुत्व मैं नहीं कहता। देखिये, इस देश में राजनीति करने की तीन सबसे बड़ी संपत्ति हैं, पूंजी हैं, जहां से कोई भी राजनीति अपना स्रोत ढूंढती है, अपना औज़ार ढूंढती है, और अपनी ऊर्जा ढूंढती है। पहला – राष्ट्रवाद, क्योंकि हिंदुस्तान में और खासतौर पर एक गुलाम देश में जो आज़ाद हुआ है, उसका राष्ट्रवाद सबसे बड़ी पूंजी है। और इस देश की तो इतनी अद्भुत पूंजी थी राष्ट्रवाद हमारा। दूसरी – धार्मिक विरासत और हिन्दू धर्म की विरासत, जिसका नाम लेने से हमारे ज़्यादातर लोग सकुचाते हैं। जो हर धर्म की तरह इसमें कूड़ा भी है। और हर धर्म की तरह बहुत शानदार, महान विरासत है ये। और तीसरा – हमारी सांस्कृतिक विरासत। हमारी भाषाएँ, हमारी संस्कृति। ये तीनों चीजों पर भारतीय जनता पार्टी ने कब्जा कर लिया है। ये तीनों इसकी हैं नहीं। ये भारतीय जनता पार्टी वाले, RSS वाले, हमारे देश की सांस्कृतिक धरोहर, विरासत को समझते भी नहीं है। हिन्दू धर्म के बारे में इनकी जो सोच है वो हिन्दू धर्म की मूल प्रवत्ति के विरुद्ध है। और राष्ट्रवाद में तो इनका, एक कतरा खून भी इन लोगों ने कभी नहीं दिया। अंग्रेजों की दलाली इनमें से कई लोगों जो इनके वारिस हैं, उनमें से कई लोगों ने की। लेकिन आज ये इन तीनों के मालिक बनकर बैठे हैं। और जिसके पास राष्ट्रवाद है, धर्म है, संस्कृति है, वो तो मेरा अपना है न। यहाँ से अपना-पराया हुआ है (दिल पर हाथ रखते हुए)। और उसके लिए मैं केवल बीजेपी को श्रेय नहीं देता। मैं, आपको और मुझे, अपने आप को दोष देता हूँ। हम लोग, जिनके पास देश के पहले पचास वर्ष, हम लोगों के पास इस देश की शिक्षा व्यवस्था थी। हम लोगों के पास इस देश का मीडिया था। हम लोगों के पास इस देश की सत्ता थी। हम लोग मतलब आप-मैं नहीं व्यक्तिगत रूप से। मगर ये जो जमात है, इसके पास सब कुछ था। लेकिन, इसने, इस जमात ने, इस देश के राष्ट्रवाद को धूल में फेंक दिया। सोचा इसके लायक नहीं है। सोचा अरे राष्ट्रवाद क्या चीज होती है, ये तो बड़ी embarrassing सी चीज है। अंग्रेज़ी बुद्धिजीवियों की नकल करके हमने भी यूरोप की तरह कहना शुरू किया कि राष्ट्रवाद तो बड़ी शर्मिंदगी का विषय है हमने हिन्दू धर्म के केवल नकारात्मक पक्ष देखे। उसका सार्थक पक्ष, उसकी खूबसूरती, उसकी गहराई, उसकी सांस्कृतिक पूंजी जो है, विषद स्वरूप, उददात स्वरूप जो उसका है, वो कभी पेश करने में सकुचाते रहे। बीच-बीच में कभी कर देते थे लेकिन सकुचाते रहे। और हमने, … इस देश की भाषाओं को हमने लताड़ा। इस देश की भाषाओं का अनादर किया। तो, जो पूंजी हमारे हाथ में स्वतः आ गई थी आज़ादी के आंदोलन के कारण, उसको हमने दुतकारा और दूसरे की थाली में रख दिया। और अब हम कह रहे हैं – हाय-हाय, क्या हुआ, मेरी थाली से क्या, अब मेरी थाली में कुछ नहीं बचा। हाय! वो क्या कर रहे हैं! हमारी वजह से तो कर रहे हैं। सच बात है ये मुकेश जी, इसको लागलपेट के कहने का क्या फायदा?”

इस अधूरे सच में कुछ जोड देने से यह अधिक पूर्ण (सम्पूर्ण नहीं) हो जायेगा। पर उस से पहले यह देखिये कि इस आधी-आत्मस्वीकृति में भी दूसरों को लतियाने का कितना लोभ है। कहते हैं ” ये तीनों चीजों पर भारतीय जनता पार्टी ने कब्जा कर लिया है”। और यह भी कि “जो पूंजी हमारे हाथ में स्वतः आ गई थी आज़ादी के आंदोलन के कारण, उसको हमने दुतकारा और दूसरे की थाली में रख दिया”। जब आपने स्वतः ही उसे “धूल में फेंक दिया” था या उनकी “थाली में रख दिया” तो कब्जा करने की बात कहां आई? उन्हों‌ने आप की फेकी हुई‌ आप की नजर में‌ सडी वस्तु को इज्जतबक्षी। आगे कहते हैं कि “और राष्ट्रवाद में तो इनका, एक कतरा खून भी इन लोगों ने कभी नहीं दिया। अंग्रेजों की दलाली इनमें से कई लोगों जो इनके वारिस हैं, उनमें से कई लोगों ने कीयह बात रोज कही जाती है। और यह कहने में सब से आगे हैं भारतीय कम्युनिस्ट। संघ वालों ने आजादी कि लडाई में भाग लिया या नहीं इस का उत्तर संघ वालों को देनेदें, यहां‌ हम यह देखते हैं कि भारतीय कमुनिस्टों ने क्या किया। क्यों कि यह आरोप योगेन्द्र जी ने मूलतः उन्हीं से उधार लिया लगता है। कमुनिस्टों के चरित्र और स्वतन्त्रता आन्दोलन के आखिरी दिनों में व्यवहार की एक झलक लोहिया अपनी पुस्तक “भारत विभाजन के गुनह्गार” में दिखाते हैं। इस पुस्तक में वे कम्युनिस्ट को एकाधिक बार “विश्वासघती” (पृष्ठ ९, ) कहते हैं। और लिखते हैं कि उन्हों ने विभाजन का समर्थन किया। हलंकि लोहिया उङ्के समर्थन को विभाजन का बडा कारण नहीं मनते। पर यह सिर्फ़ इस लिये कि उनक प्रभाव नहीं था। उनकी नीयत तो साफ़ ही थी। आगे वे कहते हैं “I am somewhat intrigued by this aspect of cimmunist trachury, that it leaves no lasting bad test in the mouth of the people. Other traitors are not so fortunate”. (The Guilty Men of India’s Partiction, Rammanohar Lohia, R.R. Publishing Corporatioin. 1960, re-print 2020)मैने यह हिस्सा मूल अङ्ग्रेजी पुस्तक से इस लिये लिया है कि यहां पर हिन्दी अनुवाद गलत है। इसी पृष्ठ पर आगे वे कहते हैं कि कम्युनिस्ट जबतक सत्ता में नहीं रहते तब तक आत्म-निर्णय (self-determinatioin) का समर्थन करते हैं, और जब सत्ता में आजाते हैं तो उसका विरोध। उनके इस सिद्धन्त ने भारतीय राष्ट्र को कमजोर किया है।

एक झलक और हामिद दलवई कम्युनिस्टों और मुसल्मानों की तुलना करते हुए लिखते हैं “When communists are not in power, they are internationalists; when Muslims are a minority in any country they lack a nationalistic spirit and have an internationalistc, that is, pan-Islamic, attitude. When either the communists or the Islamists are faced with a choice between modern, territorial nationalism and allegiance to the state on the one hand, and their own international ideology on the other, most of them invariably choose the latter.” यह कहना आज कल मुस्लिम विरोध कहा जायेगा पर मुझे दलवई की बात ठीक लगती है। पर मुझे यह भी लगता है कि भारतीय मुसलमान बदल रहे हैं इस सन्दर्भ में। कम्युनिस्ट नहीं बदल रहे।

सच का एक और हिस्सा

अब सच के उस दुसरे हिस्से की बात करते हैं जिस का जिक्र योगेन्द्र जी ने अपने विडिओ में नहीं किया। यह हिस्सा उनकी सम्पत्ती २ और ३ से सम्बन्धित है। उन्हों ने कह है कि “जो पूंजी हमारे हाथ में स्वतः आ गई थी आज़ादी के आंदोलन के कारण, उसको हमने दुतकारा”। बात सिर्फ़ इतनी नहीं है। केवल दुत्कारना किसी भ्रमित आधुनिकवाद के चलते हो सकता है, इस का स्पष्ठीकरण बिना दुर्भावना के आरोप का सामना किये सम्भव है। पर यदि इस “दुत्कार” के साथ तीन चीजें और मिलजायें तो कठिनाई बढ जाती है। मान लीजिये किसी एक बहुत समर्थ तबके ने देश के राष्ट्रवाद, हिन्दू-धर्म और सन्स्कृति को “दुत्कार दिया” और उस तबके के पास “देश के पहले पचास वर्ष इस देश की शिक्षा व्यवस्थाहो, उसके पास देश का मीडियाहो, और उसके पास देश की सत्ताहो; और उसके व्यवहार में नीचे लिखी तीन चीजें भी साफ़साफ़ हों:

  1. राष्ट्रवाद, हिन्दू-धर्म और सन्स्कृति पर लगातार आक्रमण भी करता हो, यह सिर्फ़ दुत्कारने से आगे जाकर उचित-अनुचित लनत-लमानत की बात है। दुत्कार कर तो आप सिर्फ़ अनदेखा करने भी बैठ सकते हैं। यहां सक्रिय जड खोदने के काम की बात है,
  2. कोई दूसर आप की फेंकी हुई उस सम्पत्ती को उठा कर झाडने-पोंछने लगे, उस में कोई मूल्य देखने लगे तो उसे विभिन्न विशेषण दे कर चुप करवादें, मीडिया पर अधिकार के कारण छपने नादें, कहीं गन्भीर चर्चा मेन ना आने दें और शिक्षा पर अधिकार के कारण उस तरह के व्यक्ति और उसके विचारों को विद्यालयों विश्वविद्यालयें से बाहर करदें। यह दूसरी चीज की,
  3. अपने भ्रमित उदारवाद के चालते आप मजहब के आधार पर भेदभाव भी करने लगें,

तो यह एक सैद्धन्तिक भूल के बजाय दुर्भावना लगने लगेगी।

ऊपर मैने जो तीन बातें कही हैं इन के सैकडों उदारहण हमारे आजके उदारवादी विमर्ष में सहज ही देखे जा सकते हैं। वर्तमान सम्प्रदायिक वतावरण के प्रमुख मुद्दों पर चलने वाली बहस और लिखे जाने वाले लेख इस का साफ़ उदाहरण हैं। नीचे लिखे मुद्दों का इस नजर से विश्लेशण किया जा सकता है।

  1. सरकारी शिक्षण सन्स्थानों में‌ हिजाब बैन
  2. हलाल प्रमाण पत्र का मशला
  3. अज़ान की स्वीकृत डेसिबल से ऊंची आवाज
  4. हनुमान चालीसे की धमकी
  5. जगह-जगह भडकाऊ भाषण
  6. रामनवमी पर हिंसा
  7. द कश्मीर फ़िलेस फ़िल्म पर बहस, आदि।

इन सब मुद्दों में दो पक्ष हैं। दोनों पक्षों में सच्चाई के कुछ अंश है। हम इन पर प्रोफ़ेसर अपूर्वनन्द की दृष्टि से भी विचार कर सकते हैं और प्रोफ़ेसर योगेन्द्र यादव की अधूरी झिककती दृष्टि से भी। या फ़िर सहस के साथ पूरी सच्चाई के साथ भी। पर कोई भी एकांतिक विचार हमें शान्ति और सौहारद्र के रास्ते पर नहीं ले जा सकेगा। किसी में भी पूरी सच्चाई नहीं है। हम जब भी दोनों पक्षों को ध्यान में रखे बिना कोई शख्त बात कहते हैं तो आग में घी डाल रहे होते हैं।

बहुत से लोगों को लगेगा की इन मुद्दों पर बात करना यातो समय की बर्बादी है या वर्तमान विभाजित और साम्प्रदायिक राजनीति की चपेट में आजाना। देश के सामने और हजार लोगों के जीवन से सम्बन्धित मुद्दे हैं उन पर विचार होना चाहिये। मुझे बहुत दिन से लग रहा है की इस देश की राजनीति एक गहरे सम्प्रदायिक भंवर में है। वह और मुद्दों पर विवेकसम्मत विचार को पनपने नहीं दे रही। जब तक आम आदमी इस साम्रदायिकता की जडों पर विचार करके विवेकशील निर्णय लेना आरंभ नहीं करेगा, अपनी बात खुले तौर पर नहीं रखेगा तब तक हम इसी भंवर में गहरे उतरते जायेंगे। मेरा ऐसा कोई दावा नहीं है की विवेकशील निर्णय का तरीका या रास्ता वही है जो इन नोट्स में लिखा है। पर इस में मुझे सन्देह नहीं है की लोकतन्त्र को सही दिशा आम आदमी का सुविचारिक विवेक-सम्मत निष्कर्श ही दे सकता है।

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