Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dr. Hedgewar's Pathey (2)

"3.     Expecting help from others and pleading for it is a clear sign of weakness. This clearly reflects in behavior. So, Sangh swayamsewaks should fearlessly proclaim, “Hindusthan of Hindus”. Remove all narrow-mindedness. We do not say that others should not live here. But they should be aware that they are living in Hindusthan of Hindus. (Like others would realize if they were living there- that they are living in France of French people, or Germany of Germans, or Spain of Spanish people). Others cannot infringe on rights of Hindus here."

In the interbellum, there was no multiculturalism yet, the monolithic concept of the nation-state was in the ascendant. This was strengthened by US President Woodrow Wilson’s recognition of the “self-determination of nations” at the end of World War 1, which was applied in the redrawing of borders in Central Europe. A century earlier, or even just before the World War 1, multinational empires still prevailed. Some continued to exist, including the British Empire (though it had lost Ireland, which exercised its own right to self-determination), from which India wanted to break away.


There were four options to conceive India in term of nationhood. One was to deny the relevance of the “nation” concept altogether. This was the colonial view: India only had a population, which for the first time was forged into a political unit.


A second was to accept all people living in India as equally entitled to citizenship and to be reckoned as Indian nationals. This was and is the Nehruvian view. It presupposed the colonial view that India had never been a nation, but differed from it by considering India “a nation in the making”.


The third was that India was fragmented into many nations, of which the contours were uncertain. The Communists preferred this fragmentation, and many Western commentators likewise think that India shouldn’t be a unity. Long after Indian independence, Bhimrao Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar would call “every caste a nation”, as castes originated in separate tribes (“nations”) that got integrated in the expanding Vedic society, and as castes historically differed in a number of daily habits like dress, dialect (“Brahmin Tamil”) and cuisine.


One instance of this fragmented view of India as a nation was the Muslim League’s “two-nation theory”. It presupposed Western nationalism but defined “nation” such that the Indian Muslims constituted a separate nation. The other nation was the non-Muslims, and whether that was one nation or many, didn’t interest the Muslim League. When the possible contours of the post-Independence subcontinent became clear, viz. a Muslim and a non-Muslim state, the Communists also threw in their lot with the two-nation theory. The rationale for the claim of Muslim nationhood was that by every criterion (though not biological race), the Muslims differed from the non-Muslims. In those days, there was still a large grey area of Muslims who practically lived like Hindus, a phenomenon which the Tabligh (“propaganda”) movement tried to combat by “purifying” them into real followers of Islam. Today, however, the rationale of Muslim nationhood applies to a much larger percentage of the Indian (let alone Pakistani) Muslims. Thus, many more have interiorized the Islamic worldview through Madrassa education (supported by the Indian state), and many more have adopted Urdu as their language. Yet, the fast-growing Muslim community does not clamour for a second Partition, as it now understands that Islam would now be much stronger if the Pakistanis had remained with India, and because they have experienced that they can flourish very well in secular India.


The fourth is that only Hindus constitute the nation. “Hindu” here is broadly defined, and comprises all Indians who have their sacred places inside India. Muslims and Christians, however, are a kind of resident aliens. Hedgewar says in so many words that they can live in India, but that they should play no role in decision-making. They are just guests of the Hindu nation.


Critics will find it strange that the founder of the supposedly narrow-minded RSS admonishes his followers: “Remove all narrow-mindedness.” Nationalism in the beginning was a movement directed against foreign rule or multi-national empires, but also against local loyalties. It pressed upon the “backward” fellow-countrymen to outgrow these local or sectional loyalties and identify with the nation as a whole. (That is the meaning of Deutschland über Alles, “Germany above everything”: it does not originally mean “Germany above other nations” but, for instance, “Germany above Bavaria”.) An instance is the self-identification of the Hindus in the census, where the first decades saw the caste name as prime identificator give way to the category “Hindu”. When you ask RSS men for their caste, they will say: “Hindu”.


madh said...

Why limit Hinduism and Hindus to India alone? Keeping Hindus within India or making India Hindu will only limit Hinduism. Christians and Muslims never did this. Christians with their missionaries and colonialists and Muslims with their merchants and invaders thinned all boundaries and spread all over the world. They never limited their religions to the origin lands.

madh said...

Leaving the cast and saying 'Hindu' like the RSS say is wrong? All these centuries castes objected the unification of Hindus. So removing it at the least in words is not the right way?

Koenraad Elst said...

@Madh: I never said the casteless policy of the RSS was wrong.

madh said...

Dear KE
I didnt mean You criticised RSS. I only mentioned that according to me it is a good idea to see a Hindu as a Hindu only and not by his caste. I suspect deeply that a large number of Hindus dont encourage/think/oppose conversion of others into Hinduism because of this caste tag. Especially upper castes. In my home state may be upto the first quarter of 20th century divisions on caste basis was so strong. When I read writings/events/reports/speeches of that time I understand how oppressed were those people. An interesting aspect of the Caste division of those days is, as upper castes put specific stringent rules of behavior to all and sundry lower castes, the lower castes complaining about this great oppression happily repeated the same to those in the lower ranks . The chain of action went on making some human beings nothing better than rats in the holes. Another thing, when one member of these lower rungs converted to Islam or Christianity all above in the ladder treated him like equal forgetting all about apartheid.
Another interesting thing, the Hindu savarna leftists/Communists/secularists inside his/her mind still detest the lower castes but has much love towards Christians/ Muslims. Suppose a savarna leftist has a grown up daughter and she elopes with a Muslim or Christian he will be happy but if she goes with a Hindu lower caste he will weep bitterly on the tragedy befallen him (not all leftists/secularists are like this but I found many).