Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Sangh and Intellectualism

Sangh and Intellectualism

“Not one of the people who want to associate themselves with the BJP would be admitted within the vicinity of a detergent advertisement.”
-T K Arun, “The BJP hype”, The Economic Times, Dec 26, 1997.

“Its phenomenal growth notwithstanding, the BJP has always lacked acceptability in that segment of society for which BBC and the Time magazine serve as a window to the world.”
-Bhaskar Roy, “Five o’clock faces”, The Times of India, September 16, 1999.

Though these two quotes name the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the sentiments they convey is intended to apply to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates.  For decades, cut-and-paste articles have appeared, primarily from those belonging to the left spectrum of politics, which proclaim that the RSS has not produced any intellectuals of note.

The intention of these articles is not merely to state a fact – like the RSS headquarters is at Resham Bagh in Nagpur, or that it was founded in 1925 on Vijayadashmi day.  If it were so, then it would merit a line in an article, and not a full one.  And, even if a full article is written, it would not merit the multiple cut-and-paste articles that one has seen.  You do not get to read an article on the architecture of Resham Bagh or the various buildings and offices in the compound, nor what happened on that momentous day in 1925.
The real intention is to imply that there has to be something intrinsically wrong with an organisation that is supposedly not able to produce any intellectuals.  The leftists seem to start with the proposition that for an organisation to be successful and effective it has to keep on churning intellectuals.  So, when they say that the Sangh has not been able to produce intellectuals, they are effectively saying that the Sangh is not a successful or an effective organisation.

The growth of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)

I think there would be a very few takers for the statement that the RSS is not successful or not effective.  One could talk about the extent of having achieved this goal.  I think a very large majority would give a score in excess of 80%. I do not base this number on any survey, but based on my own personal experience.  Given that the RSS is going to complete 90 years of existence on this year’s Vijayadashmi day, and that it has been continuously growing and expanding, reinforces my experience.
The growth of the RSS has happened despite a continuous and vigorous opposition of the governments in power – the British during the pre-independence period, and the secular governments in the period after that.  And also strong opposition from those occupying the intellectual space.  The articles about the RSS, particularly in the English language, have been written by the ones who had a deep antipathy to the organisation and its ideology.  However, given the growth of the RSS, it would seem to me that these articles really did not have much impact in the minds of even the English readers in Bharatiya society.
Today, the RSS has spread its activities to nearly all sections of the society.  And its organisations lead in many sectors – for example the labour wing and the student wing, set up just prior to independence.  Then there is the organisation that I am active with – Vishwa Hindu Parishad – which has been successfully able to bring together the sants and swamis of the various sampradayas of the larger Hindu fold.  Ekal Vidyalay runs more than 40,000 schools in the tribal areas on the principle of one-teacher school.  In the successful struggle against the Emergency of 1975-77, those who had come out in the streets were largely swayamsevaks, and they formed more than 70% of those who spent time in jail.  It was the swayamsevaks, settled outside Bharat, who formed the backbone of the Friends of India Society International, which ensured the flow of information to the world.
It runs large number of schools where value education is provided besides what is prescribed to get the qualification.  It has put together the history of the development of science throughout our civilisation.  It has encouraged Sanskrit and other Bharatiya languages.  It has encouraged the temple priests to study the proper way to conduct the rituals, and also explain them to the devotees.  Such micro level work in the samaj has also been emulated by other Hindu organisations, leading to a big synergy of effort.
The RSS has also inspired hundreds of thousands of swayamsevak to undertake a large number of social service activities in various fields.  My favourite is the Dr Hedgewar Hospital in Aurangabad, which is one of the largest private sector hospital in the country.  In contrast to many of the other private sector hospitals, poor people can access quality medical treatment at very low rates, and sometimes without having to pay.  It was started by a few medical doctors in Aurangabad, who decided to devote their lives in service to the people of Bharat, forgoing an opportunity to earn large incomes if they had gone into private practice.

The leftist ‘intellectuals’

In contrast, I would like those who are opposed to the ideology of the RSS to let the people know what they have achieved in activities similar to where the RSS is present.  They can even list out the achievements in managing state funded institutions.  And then we can have a discussion on the issue of successfulness and effectiveness.
The multitude of articles about RSS and lack of intellectualism, also implies that those opposed to the ideology have been continuously churning out what are called intellectuals.  It is necessary to understand how this was achieved.  While not so openly stated in the past, there is now an admission that those opposed to the RSS were the ones who were dominating the state-funded institutions.  That their appointment was on the basis of conforming to an ideology, and not on the basis of scholarship is clear in the next section.
The leftists have produced the intellectuals not by setting up their own institutes, but by capturing the state institutions, which were set up by using the money from the society.  And they did this through subterfuge, and not honestly.  Once in the position of power they had little concern about being loyal to the society, and they tried to thrust their ideology on an unwilling people.
Three articles
To explain my point, I would like my reader to read the following articles by Ramchandra Guha:
‘In Absentia’
Author: Ramachandra Guha
Publication: The Caravan Magazine
Date: March 1, 2015
URL:           http://www.caravanmagazine.in/reportage/absentia-ramachandra-guha-indian-conservatives
(11,300 words, approximately.)
‘Some thoughts on the closing of the Indian mind’
Author: Ramachandra Guha
Publication: Hindustan Times
Date: July 19, 2015
URL:           http://www.hindustantimes.com/ramachandraguha/some-thoughts-on-the-closing-of-the-indian-mind/article1-1370821.aspx
(960 words, approximately.)
‘CAPTIVE IDEOLOGUES – History beyond Marxism and Hindutva’
Author: Ramachandra Guha
Publication: The Telegraph
Date: July 26, 2015
URL:           http://www.telegraphindia.com/1140726/jsp/opinion/story_18640785.jsp#.VbSyX-GuW1k
(1560 words, approximately.)
I am deliberately using one person to make my case, because I have had correspondence with him in the past, and I attempted to put across to him the Sangh world-view on certain matters.  And I met him once in Mumbai in a meeting lasting about two hours.  Some time ago, he requested me not to send him any messages, and my messages to him have stopped.  However, reading the comments on the articles that he has written, there seem to be sufficient number of people who are giving him perspectives that came to my mind.  (Provided, of course, he does read the comments.)
Guha’s twitter introduction says that he is a lapsed Marxist.  I have not been able to find out when he lapsed, and I really do not see his writing to be any different from what a Marxist would write – though, perhaps due to the pressure from social media, he does deviate from the party line here and there.  But, he always seems to revert back.  Given the way Guha admires the Marxists that are mentioned in the article, he does not seem to have taken the necessary step to critically assess the Marxist ideology.
In one of the articles, Guha starts about how in 2004 a senior minister took a senior journalist for lunch, where the minister asked for names for the ‘directorship of a prestigious centre of historical research’.  No names were given, so we just have to take Guha’s word that it was a prestigious centre.  Nor will be dwell much on why the views of a journalist (name unknown) were sought for the position, instead of doing a professional search.  It reminds me of the phone conversations that the ex-lobbyist, Nira Radia, had with journalists like Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi etc.
What Guha says next is quite interesting – maybe amusing is the right word.  His name was rejected because he wrote critically about Indira Gandhi, and that of Partha Chatterjee (a ‘distinguished political theorist’) met a similar fate because the latter wrote critically about Jawaharlal Nehru.  Since we do not know the name of the institute, the nation has lost an opportunity to identify the Nehru-Gandhi sycophant who eventually made the grade.  And an opportunity to evaluate his professional contribution to the ‘prestigious’ centre.  Maybe Guha can let the nation know.  If nothing else, it would be an interesting gossip.
In another article, Guha talks about his first job as a supposed academic at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Kolkata, a state funded institution.  He lets out that early into the job, in an interaction with a senior colleague, the latter assumed that Guha was a Marxist.  (Perhaps it was true at the time, and that Guha lapsed only some years later.)  Furthermore, he clearly says that this colleague was a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and he did not seem to see anything wrong that a state institution is manned with card-carrying members of the communist party.
Perhaps inadvertently, Guha lets out that ‘(a)t least since the time of Indira Gandhi, the Central government has sought to undermine the autonomy of institutions that promote culture and scholarship.’  I do not know whether Guha wrote anything substantially about the undermining while it was happening.  What is clear is that he does not dwell on the effect of the undermining today, except to state that there was undermining.  He brings it up only in context of proclaiming that the RSS’ supposed attempt to undermine the integrity of the institutions will lead to a disastrous situation.  As if we are presently in a land of milk and honey, where academic freedom reigns, and high quality professional research is being undertaken.
There are many other tit-bits that we can glean from the above three articles about how the Marxists used the state funded institutions to try and thrust their ideology.  He admits that the leftists were allowed to capture the state institutions where one would normally find intellectuals, and that this was done with a political objective in mind.  And he also says that only fellow-travellers had any hope of being admitted in the supposedly hallow portals.
However, there is a common thread that even though it was a fact that the autonomy of the various institutes was undermined, the sycophants were actually quite competent in their field of work.  Not the best perhaps, but competent nevertheless.  But the reader just has to take Guha’s word that one can be competent and sycophantic at the same time.  For example, if post-independent history of Bharat is not critical of the Nehru-Gandhi family, even where there is a legitimate reason, how can the history be unbiased?  Of course, hindsight is perfect vision – but a society can learn from its mistakes only when it is admitted that the mistakes are made in the first place.
At one place, Guha says: “Marxist historiography is a legitimate model of intellectual enquiry, albeit one which — with its insistence on materialist explanations — is of limited use when examining the role of culture and ideas, the influence of nature and natural processes, and the exercise of power and authority.”  How is it possible that a legitimate model is of limited use when it comes to applying it to so many different strands of inquiry?  Such statements, and many others, makes me to conclude that Guha comes out as a confused person, drifting all over the place, and unwilling to admit that a major mistake has happened.  The articles come out as written by one who has a reasonably good command over the English language, but not so much on logic or reasoning.  Of course, I read it from my lens of being a right-wing.

The intellectual space

I would, therefore, like to make a distinction between an intellectual and one who occupies the intellectual space.  This space consists of academic institutions, analysts who write from popular and/or specialised publications on issues relating to a nation, journalists, etc.  This intellectual space need not necessarily be the one created by the state.  However, when the person occupies the space created by the state, he has an aura of independence and unbiasedness.
When a reader explicitly knows that a person’s writing is influenced by his ideology, the reader is able to sift the wheat from the chaff.  He also understands that to form an informed view on a matter, he will have to read articles written by others.  But, when the state institutions have been captured by the leftists, and the ideological inclinations of the people occupying the position of knowledge is not generally known, the reader has a problem.  Either he will accept what he reads as unadulterated truth, or he will be in a state of confusion.
To understand the problem, let us look at the contribution of the leftists towards resolving the various problems that are faced by our nation.  They have projected that within the Marxist school of thought, solutions to the issues confronted by the socially underprivileged will be found.  Yet, even today one frequently hears of atrocities against the Dalits primarily by those who are classified as Other Backward Castes.  They have authenticated the political programme of the appeasement of the religious leaders of the minority communities, as a legitimate tool to win elections.  But the Sachar Committee has highlighted the failure of the political leadership to do anything for the economic and social progress of the poor in the Muslim community.
Their definition of secularism was exclusively in terms of opposition to the RSS ideology.  When sociologists like T N Madan and Asish Nandy wrote one article each questioning the practice, and inquiring whether there is true secularism, they were projected by their colleagues as having suddenly become supporters of the RSS.  The former wrote, in apparent exasperation, “A couple of my critics have, however, jumped to the conclusion that, since I have reservations about secularism as presented in the prevailing discourse, I must therefore by a supporter of communalism. This is patently absurd.” [T N Madan, “Secularism and the Intellectuals”, Economic and Political Weekly, April 30, 1994.]
The two, and many others, were intellectually terrorised in stopping their inquiry on the lines they had proposed.  And so the project of a perverted secularism still prevails.
In the economic field, the Marxist ideology determined the policy directions that the state followed.  By 1980 it was clear that these policies were a failure.  However, instead of introspecting on the causes of the failure, the Hindus were blamed by the Marxists for being cussed at not using the supposedly wonderful opportunities that were provided to them. Today, the same Marxists proclaim that the growth that has been achieved by the changes instituted since 1980 has done nothing for income equality between sections of the society.  They do not even think of considering to examine whether there was income equality when their policies dominated the thinking at the time.
In case of history, the Marxist starting point is that there is nothing in the history of our nation that we need to be proud of.  Hence, any inquiry into our past will only lead to disappointment and so there is no profit in it.  In fact, the history is presented in a form that does not conform to the national consciousness.  During the 1940s, they said that Bharat consists of many countries, following the line of the Soviets in USSR.  They completely ignored the cultural unity that enabled Adi Shankaracharya to give discourse on Hindu philosophy all over the country.  Or that of Swami Vivekanand speaking, again all over the country, on the same subject after he came back from the World Parliament of Religions, held in 1893.
It is also pertinent to point out how the leftists used their positions in the various state organisations to enrich themselves.  Guha accepts that the Marxists who were given positions of influence in the state run institutions went about their task in a partisan and nepotistic manner.  And, as Arun Shourie pointed out in his book “The Eminent Historians”, they also had funds coming their way without showing any results of their efforts.  In fact, Shourie has clearly shown the blatant disregard that these eminent historians had to any normal rules of public funded institutions, and an attitude that would seem to indicate that it is the duty of the society to ensure that they had a luxurious lifestyle, even though the people on whose behalf they claim to be speaking live lives of misery.
But, as is said, you cannot fool all the people all the time.  The RSS, through its various organisations, and through mass level contacts amongst all the classes of people, have been able to bypass those who occupied the intellectual space.  And through these contacts, the RSS has been able to disabuse the minds of the people of what can only be called the brainwashing that they have been subjected to by the leftists.  The tragedy for the nation is that this brainwashing was conducted by using the financial resources provided by the victims, that is the people of Bharat.

Marxism and intellectualism

To really understand the failure of the Marxist ideology, we need to look into the history of Marxism and intellectualism. A defining feature of Marxism was that there was never a robust discussion, amongst those who continued to identify themselves as Marxists, about the premise on which it was based.  Organisational rigidity and a top-down leadership ensured that free thinking was actively discouraged.  With changing social environment, the discussions would have fine-tuned the ideology to make it relevant and dynamic.  I believe it was John Maynard Keynes who said that when the data changed, he had no problem to change his views.
Marxism, right from the time it captured state power at the political level, has had a deep disdain and suspicion of those occupying the intellectual space, particularly those outside the state institutions.  Lenin said: “In general, as you probably know, I am not particularly fond of intelligentsia, and our new slogan ‘eliminate illiteracy’ should by no means be taken as expressing a wish to give birth to a new intelligentsia. To ‘eliminate illiteracy’ is necessary only so that every peasant, every worker can read our decrees, orders and appeals by himself without anyone’s help. The goal is purely practical. That’s all there is to it”.  (Quoted in D N Ghosh, “A God that is failing”, The Times of India, December 6, 2007.)
In effect, Lenin set about creating an army of useful idiots, who, being literate, could be given space in state institutions to take the Marxist propaganda forward.  And the persons occupying the intellectual space found it monetarily profitable to lend their services.  This happened in countries where the opportunity to earn decent salaries were limited, and the useful idiots allowed himself to be exploited.  In the developed countries, the useful idiots were also created – here the funds used were from the society.  But due to reasons of accountability, the Marxist had competition, and the same institutes also encouraged a critical study of Marxism, and alternate paradigms were also provided to the students and the society.
But, merely occupying the intellectual space really does not necessarily make one an intellectual.  There is an important characteristic that is required, the one that Ghosh, in the above referred to article, quotes Albert Camus as saying, “…the intellectual’s role will be to say that the king is naked when he is, and not to go into raptures over his imaginary trappings”.  The writings of Guha would show that the Marxists who have commandeered the position of patronage in all the state funded institutions know that if they said that the king was naked, they would have to suffer the same fate as that of the intellectuals (in the true sense) who opposed Marxist leaders like Lenin and Stalin.
In every country with a Marxist government, even in West Bengal, the ones occupying the intellectual space were always under threat of the state funding drying up.  If anyone wanted to say that the king is naked, they had prior examples about what would happen if they mustered the courage to be honest to their profession.  The sad experience of dissidents like Maxim Gorky and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the Soviet Union were examples of what would happen to them if they even thought of mustering courage to defy the party line.  Every Marxist government has shown the same disdain for genuine intellectuals as expressed by Lenin.  They thought such people would be a threat to their position of power, and so had to be controlled, if possible, or neutralised (by exile or by death) otherwise.
In China, during the time of Mao Tse Tung, anyone occupying the intellectual space showing even a hint of questioning the party line was sent to labour camps for supposed re-education.  In Cambodia, thousands of intelligent people were killed merely for being intelligent.
A useful idiot can never be an intellectual, who should have the interests of the people at large so that they are free in all sense.  And when the situation is going in a direction that is not desirable, they should speak out in favour of the people.  They should have no fear of their own safety, nor of their own material well-being.  Genuine intellectuals should be a threat to the government in power.
Do read the full Ghosh article at:
He also says: “For years on end, Stalin and the top party leadership carried on this tradition, treating dissenting intelligentsia as “socially dangerous” elements.”  The dissenters in Bharat are those who think that within the parameters of Hindutva, solutions to the nation’s problems can be located.

Lessons in logic

The first lesson in logic dwells on the following: “All the ducks that I have seen are white, therefore all ducks are white.”  The second lesson dwells on what is to be done if the above person meets another who says: “All the ducks that I have seen are grey, therefore all ducks are grey.”  There can be one of two reactions – to contend to the other that what he has seen are not really ducks, or to consider the possibility that ducks could have a colour other than white.  It is only when one is ideologically driven, and not logic driven, that one will straightaway insist the former, rather than reassess one’s opinion and then come to the correct conclusion.
A true intellectual, when given the additional data, will accept his conclusion that all ducks are white does not conform to the reality.  Furthermore, he will investigate if ducks have more colours other than white and grey.  He will define the duck not on the basis of the colour, but on other characteristics, like the shape of the beak, the size of the body, the way the bird walks, whether it floats on water, etc.
The late Yadavrao Joshi, a very senior RSS pracharak of yesteryears said that whether there are intellectuals in the Sangh is for others to say.  But one can definitely say that there are intelligent persons in the Sangh.  One such intelligent person, Dr Keshav Hegdewar, started the RSS ninety years ago.  He inspired other intelligent persons to join the RSS, and all these intelligent people have built up the RSS to what it is today.  The RSS would like the people to judge them by the work that is done, and not by flaunting the education qualifications, or the name of the state funded institute that they are employed at.

The Intellectual Kshatriya

Even though the intellectual space was denied to them by the machinations of the Marxists, and their political masters, the Hindus worked in their own way to keep the memory of our civilisation and spirituality alive.  The Hindu samaj provided theses Intellectual Kshatriyas the financial support to maintain their body and soul together.  And because these Kshatriyas were working for a civilizational cause, they did not much care for material benefits.  The viewed the value of their work by the body of knowledge they imparted.
The task of those who looked at history from their own civilisational perspective was not all that difficult because this work has been going on for centuries.  Bharat is unique in the sense that those who came here from outside to conquer the land and subjugate the civilisation were not fully successful.  The people may have been politically ruled by those who were ill-disposed to the philosophy and culture of the Hindus, but their control stopped at the level of the mundane issues relating to administration.  The Hindus continued to control, and nurture, the civil institutions through which their history and culture was propagated through generations.  And this formed the base on which the Hindus could easily build upon when they had the political freedom to do so.
The Hindu samaj provided the Kshatriyas various platforms to convey their thoughts to the people at large.  In the true Hindu tradition, these platforms were not a one-way flow of information.  There would be debates and there would be discussions, so that the Intellectual Kshatriya could refine their thoughts, as well keep them relevant to the needs of the time.  Through such debates, Adi Shankarachrya was as much a student as he was a teacher.
The Hindus who ventured into natural sciences always found the philosophy books as important to their work as the ones in sciences.  Many of them wrote treatises on Hindu philosophy with as much fluency as the ones they wrote on sciences.  And they had no hesitation in accepting that the understanding of Hindu philosophy made them better scientists.
Out of the tens of thousands of the Intellectual Kashatriyas, I would like to name two – Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel – to whom I am grateful for forming my own thought process and keep them rooted in the Hindu culture and history.  Apart from being a historian, Goel also set up a publication house, which allowed so many others to see their work in print, and so reach a larger number of people.  Other Hindus have posted these works on the internet, and it has become available to tens of millions of people all over the world.  The influence spread not just to those who were born Hindus.  Others who came in contact with the people of Bharat, and who soon started to look at Hindu Dharma with a certain amount of empathy, found these works as a basis to research in a manner that made sense.
Due to their training in pamphleteering, and thinking that language can make a good substitute for logic, the Marxists are not able to comprehend that without intellectualism a mass based organisation cannot reach the levels that the Sangh has.  While emotions are very important for a mass based organisation, without a sound grounding in sensibleness, the organisation cannot sustain itself in any meaningful way.  Through various programmes, the Sangh explains its world view on various issues to its swayamsevaks, who then convey it to others through their contacts.  Also, through the programme of mass contacts, these views are conveyed to the people at large.

In Conclusion

The swayamsevaks in general, and the Intellectual Kshatriyas in particular, will not allow the histrionics of the Marxists to distract them from going about their self-appointed tasks of keeping Hindu Dharma not just alive but also dynamic.  We know that it was the sacrifice of our ancestors that ensured the survival of our civilisation.  We will not allow this sacrifice go in vain.
(Ashok Chowgule is the Working President (External) of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.  This article is a tribute to the intelligent people in the Sangh parivar, the Intellectual Kshatriyas, and the hundreds of million Hindus who are doing their own bit for a resurgent Hindu Dharma)
A shorter version of this article under the title “Intellectualism And The Sangh” is available at: http://swarajyamag.com/politics/intellectualism-and-the-sangh/
Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions of the Author, and the Author is responsible for ensuring the factual veracity of the content. HinduPost will not be responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information, contained herein

Monday, March 19, 2018

Hindutva is Pro-Constitution…..

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy and Hindutva Ideologue Govindacharya at a conference where he urged Muslims to hand over their part of land in Ayodhya to help the construction of the Ram temple, in Patna, on 26 March 2017. Photo: IANS

Hindutva is Pro-Constitution…..

The structure of Indian Constitution is consistent with the Hindu tradition, a part of Hindutva: Dr Subramanian Swamy’s New Book to be published soon.

Here is an exclusive extract from the BJP MP’s soon-to-be published book on India’s modern right.

The Ideology of India’s Modern Right
By Subramanian Swamy
Publisher: Har-Anand
Publications Pvt Ltd
Price: Rs 495
The structure of our Constitution is consistent with the Hindu tradition, a part of Hindutva. Ancient Bharat or Hindustan was of janapadas and monarchs. But it was unitary in the sense that the concept of chakravartin [propounded by Chanakya], i.e., of a sarvocch pramukh or chakravarti prevailed in emergencies and war, while in normal times the regional kings always deferred to a national class of sages and sanyasis for making laws and policies, and acted according to their advice. This is equivalent to Art.356 of the Constitution.
In that fundamental sense, while Hindu India may have been a union of kingdoms, it was fundamentally not a monarchy but a Republic. In a monarchy, the King made the laws and rendered justice, as also made policy but in Hindu tradition the king acted much as the President does in today’s Indian Republic.
The monarch acted always according the wishes and decisions of the court-based advisers, mostly prominent sages or Brahmins. Thus Hindu India was always a Republic, and except for the reign of Ashoka, never a monarchy. Nations thus make Constitutions but Constitutions do not constitute nations.
Because India’s Constitution today is unitary with subsidiary federal principles for regional aspirations, and the judiciary and courts are national, therefore the Rajendra Prasad—monitored and Ambedkar—steered Constitution— making, was a continuation of the Hindu tradition. This is the second pillar of constitutionality for us—the Hindutva essence! These aspects were known to us as our Smritis. Therefore, it is appropriate here to explore ways by which Hindutva can be blend into the present Constitution more explicitly.
The Hindutva plank of restoring temples that were demolished by Islamic tyrants and mosques built on it, is constitutional thanks to the judgment in the Farooqui case.
In this case [(1994) 6 SCC 361], the Constitution Bench has held that a mosque is not an essential part of Islam and hence it can be demolished for a public purpose by a Government. This opens the way for building a Ram temple in Ayodhya. Of course, the
1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid would have to regarded as an offence under the IPC because of a mob taking law into its own hands.
But the Babri Masjid demolition offence does not prevent a future Hindutva government from demolishing Masjids and Churches (also not an essential part of Christianity) built after demolishing Hindu temples.
As the House of Lords U.K has held (1992) in the Nataraj idol case, because of Prana prathista puja, according to Agama Shastra, a temple is always a temple even if in disuse.
Thus for restoring the Kashi Visvanath temple or the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple, demolishing of the existing mosques by a government is constitutionally permitted.
Even in the Ramjanmabhoomi temple case currently entangled on the unauthorized demolition by some people taking law into their own hands, it is an IPC offence and has no constitutional significance. Any government can even now take-over the project for public good, and build a Ram Janma bhoomi temple.
Third, Article 370 is peculiar provision. It can be deleted, without a Parliamentary amendment, by a Presidential notification, subject to the concurrence of the J&K Constituent Assembly which however has long ceased to exist.
Moreover, the moral basis for it has eroded completely because the Kashmiri majority has already driven out Pandits completely altering the religious composition of the state, to preserve which the Article was incorporated.
Hence, there is no fetter now to constitutionally abolish Article 370 by a notification. By way of abundant precaution the President can obtain the concurrence of the J&K Governor who legally can be treated as a proxy for the J&K Constituent Assembly.
 Since the Article 44 is a Directive Principle for State Policy to have uniform civil code and moreover since the Muslims on ground of violation of the Shariat have not objected to a uniform criminal code which the Indian Penal Code is, hence it is constitutional to enforce Article 44 as not violative of Article 15, since the latter is subject to reasonable restrictions of health, morality and public order.
The question whether India should adopt a uniform civil code should be treated as a legal question because it is a mandate addressed to the ‘State’ by Art. 44 under Directive Principles of the Constitution.
Unfortunately, in India, legal questions are politicised when it affects the “Muslim vote bank.”
Article 44 of the Constitution says –“The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”
A controversy has however arisen as to the formation of a uniform code relating to the family or personal law of the parties relating to matters such as marriage and divorce, succession, adoption.
The framers of the Constitution clearly indicated what they meant by the word ‘personal law’ in Entry 5 of List III of the 7th Schedule of the same Constitution.
Entry 5 says:
“5. Marriage and divorce; infants and minors; adoption; wills; intestacy and succession; joint family and partition; all matters in respect of which parties in judicial proceedings were immediately before the commencement of this Constitution subject to their personal law.”
The fathers of the Constitution had witnessed the baneful effects of a claim for separate identity of the Muslim community on the ground that their religion prescribed a separate Personal Law,—resulting in the lamentable Partition of India on the footing of the theory of ‘two Nations’, founded on two religions.
Hence, in the Constituent Assembly it was made clear that in a secular State personal laws relating to such matters as marriage, succession and inheritance could not depend upon religion, but must rest on the law of the land. A uniform Civil Code was accordingly necessary for achieving the unity and solidarity of the nation. [K.M. Munshi, VII C.A.D., 547-48]. Every time subsequently the question of uniform Civil Code was raised by anyone in Parliament, the Government of India opposed it on the ground that to achieve it would be to hurt Muslim ‘sentiments’ and that no implementation of this Directive of the fundamental law could be made so long as the Muslims themselves would not come forward to ask for it. [see Prime Minister Rao Statesman, 1-6-1995; 28-7-1995], and also at his Independence Day Speech at Red Fort on 15-8-1995; Law Minister, Bharadwaj [Jugantar, 12-12-1993; Statesman, 22-7-1995]; Gadgil, Secretary General of Congress (I) Party [Vartaman, 21-4-1995]; Dinesh Goswami, Law Minister [U.N.I., 22-12-1989].
Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has recommended, more than once, to take early steps towards the formation of a uniform Civil Code [Mudgal v. Union of India (1995) 3 S.C.C. 635 — Kuldip Singh and Sahai JJ. (10 May, 1995).
That the Shariat is not infallible or immutable is evidenced by the patent fact that it has been discarded on modified in many respects by various Muslim States. And this has been achieved in an orthodox Muslim State such as Tunisia, through the process of liberal or progressive interpretation of the scriptures.
Advocates of immutability should be silenced by the following observations of a Muslim Judge of Pakistan, Huq, J., of the Lahore High Court –
“It would not be correct to lay it down as a positive rule of law that the present-day Courts in this country should have no power or authority to interpret the Quran in a way different from that adopted by the earlier Jurists and Imams. The adoption of such a view is likely to endanger the dynamic and universal character of the religion and laws of Quran.”
The ground of immutability of the Shariat was in fact raised by some Muslim members in the Constituent Assembly of India but was rejected on the opposition from Dr. Ambedkar. It would be an eyeopener to many today to recount what Ambedkar said [VII C.A.D. 55] in this context.
“… up to 1935 the North-West Frontier Province was not subject to Shariat Law; it followed the Hindu Law in the matter of succession and in other matters, so much so that it was in 1939 that the Central Legislature had to come into the field and to abrogate the application of the Hindu Law to Muslims of North-West Frontier Province and to apply Shariat Law to them… apart from North-West Frontier Province, up till 1937 in the rest of India, in various parts, such as the United Provinces, the Central Provinces and Bombay, the Muslims to a large extent were governed by the Hindu Law in the matter of succession … that in North-Malabar the Marumakkathayam law applied to all—not only to Hindus but also to Muslims.”
Even in the Ramjanmabhoomi temple case currently entangled on the unauthorized demolition by some people taking law into their own hands, it is an IPC offence and has no constitutional significance. Any government can even now take-over the project for public good. 
Even in India the Koranic laws of crimes and evidence have been supplanted as early as the 19th century by enacting the Penal Code and the Evidence Act, e.g., by saving the Muslims from the following mediaeval atrocities which are still prevalent in Muslim countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh.
(a) Chopping off the hands of a criminal as a punishment for theft, or stoning to death as a punishment for adultery.
(b) Adultery and apostasy being punishable by death.
(c) Where the witnesses are women, their value as against the evidence of men is in the ratio of 2:1.
The entire law of criminal procedure has been replaced in India by statute. The Indians laws of crimes and evidence make no distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Judges in a Muslim dispute need not be Muslims.
In this context, one critic has pointed out that in Goa, from the days of Portuguese rule, the people have been governed by a uniform civil code, but for the matter of that, Goanese Muslims have not lost their identity or culture.
If it is contended that personal law, founded on religion, has any special status, the answer is that it is the British Parliament which made the English Crown the head of the Church and altered the law of royal succession; and an Indian Parliament superseded the Hindu law of marriage and succession, in the teeth of opposition from an enlightened section of Hindus. It was opposed by Dr. Rajendra Prasad himself on the grounds that Art.44, being applicable to all persons in the territory of India, should not be imposed on the Hindus alone and that the Government who sponsored the Hindu Code Bill to replace the personal law of the Hindus had no mandate from the Electorate in this behalf.
Above all, the Muslims who remained in India after the Partition did so with the full knowledge that divided India was going to adopt a Parliamentary system of democracy and not any Muslim system of the Middle Ages where Shariat would be the supreme law of the land.
They should also have known that a personal law founded on the religion of different communities was incompatible with the very concept of a ‘Secular’ State which divided India was going to be.
Factually also, the assumption of the Government of India that the entire Muslim community is opposed to the implementation of Art. 44 is not correct. The Shah Bano case demonstrated that it was only a section of the Sunni sect amongst the Muslims which was vehemently opposed to the judgment.
The Supreme Court can no more wash its hands off Art. 44 on the ground that it is a Directive Principle which is not directly enforceable. Jordan v. Chopra (1985) 3 S.C.C 62 Besides, some Supreme Court Judges had expressed their views to the same effect out of Court: Gajendragadkar, C.J., and Chairman, Law Commission, in his book—Secularism and the Constitution of India (1971), p.126; Shelat, J., Secularism, Principles and Application (1972); Hegde, J., in the Law Institute, in January,
1972; Tulzapurkar, J.,—article in A.I.R. 1987 Jours. 17; Beg. C.J., in his Motilal Nehru Lecture on ‘Impact of Secularism on Life and Law.’
Prior to Kuldip Singh, J., in numerous cases, the Supreme Court has remedied the inaction of the Government in other clauses of Directive Principles to implement various Directives, in Arts. 38, 39, 39A, 41, 42, 43, by issuing ‘directions’ which are mentioned in Art. 32(2) as legitimate instruments in the hands of the Court.
Even in the matter of Art. 44, previous Benches of the Supreme Court had commented upon the inaction of the Government and the need for an early implementation of the Article –
(a) A unanimous Constitution Bench in the Shah Bano case (para. 32).(b) A Division Bench, speaking through Chinnappa Reddy, J., in Jordan’s case.
Today we have demonstrated by taking the “Teen Talaq” to Supreme Court and obtaining a judgment of the Constitution Bench that Teen Talaq is unconstitutional as vio; stove of equality before law [Article 14] and immoral [Article 25].
That the Shariat on personal law is not sacrosanct will appear from the following examples of Muslim majority countries which have superseded or modified polygamy.
Turkey: The Court can declare a second marriage as invalid on the ground that a spouse is living at the time of the second marriage [Turkish Civil Code, Art. 74].
Pakistan: A person cannot contract a second marriage without the permission of the Arbitration Council; and a wife can obtain divorce on the ground that the husband has married another wife.
Iran: A person cannot remarry without permission of the Court.
Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Syria: Similar restrictions on bigamy as in Iran and Pakistan have been imposed in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Syria.
Tunisia: Bigamy is totally prohibited by the Tunisia Law of personal Status (s. 18).
Registration of all marriages, including those contracted in conformity with Shariat formalities, has been made compulsory in Iran, Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia.
There is no reason why such law cannot be adopted in India. Fifth, the call for Hindutva has been held by the Supreme Court  in  Manohar  Joshi  [1996]  case  to  be  within  the Constitutional requirements of free speech. Hence, time has arrived for us to openly declare India as an ancient Hinducivilization, which is the only way we can perform the Fundamental Duty under Article 51-A(f), and boldly up revere our sacred symbols.
Factually also, the assumption of the Government of India that the entire Muslim community is opposed to the implementation of Art. 44 is not correct. The Shah Bano case demonstrated that it was only a section of the Sunni sect amongst the Muslims which was vehemently opposed to the judgment.
For example, the total ban on cow slaughter in Article 48 has been held by a 1958 Constitution Bench to possess constitutionality in the sense that the total ban is held to be a reasonable restriction on fundamental rights of all Indians.
At present the Government has been taking over Hindu temples its resources and land and using it for all kinds of non- religious purposes under the states enacted Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Acts on the pretext of maladministration of the temple properties.
Under Article 31A of the Constitution such a take-over cannot be permanent. If maladministration charge is true, then the Government should rectify it within a reasonable period such as three years, and then hand it back. At present State governments have taken over tens of thousands of temples for decades. Time is now to get them released…
Throughout ancient Indian history, Hindu kingdoms, never required any ‘subject’ to be of Hindu religion in order to be regarded a first class citizen. Only in Asoka’s reign and Islamic rule, India was a theocracy. Hindu is naturally ‘Secular’. But secularism is a much-bandied-about subject nowadays. Unfortunately, those political parties who have been swearing by it all these years have failed to persuade the masses that secularism is good for country.

A Hindutva Rally on Hindu News Years Day Vikram Samvat. Is there any Contradiction with Constitution? The answer is No.
In fact, secularism as defined and propagated today has lost its relevance. The concept as understood by the masses of India stands thoroughly discredited. Hence the question is whether we should redefine secularism in keeping our civilization tradition to make it acceptable to the masses or capitulate to the rising fundamentalism in the country with dire consequences for national integrity and security.
When Rev. Martin Luther had defined secularism in Europe, it simply meant that the power of the state would be exercised independently of the directions of the Church. Thus, a secular government would act to safeguard the nation-state, even if such action was without Church sanction. Later, Marx calling religion the ‘opium of the masses’ defined secularism to completely eschew religion.
In India, Jawaharlal Nehru and his followers subscribed to the later Marxist redefinition of the concept in which even in public functions, cultural symbolism such as lighting a lamp to inaugurate a conference or breaking a coconut to launch a project was regarded as against secularism.
This orthodoxy induced a reaction in the Indian masses. Nehru failed to define what historical roots ought to be a part of the modem Indian, and what was to be rejected. In the name of‘scientific   temper’,   he   rejected   most   of   our   past   as ‘obscurantism’.
His orthodox secularism sought to alienate the Indian from his hoary past. Since nearly 85 per cent of Indians are pan- Hindu in beliefs, and Hindu religion from its inception has been without a ‘Church’, ‘Pope’ or ‘Book’ (in contra – distinction to Christianity), therefore neither Martin Luther nor Marx made any sense to the Indian masses.
Since there was little political challenge to Nehru after the untimely death of Gandhiji and Patel, the Marxian secularism concept superficially prevailed till Nehru’s demise in 1964. Themasses therefore humoured Nehru without accepting his concept of secularism. A Conceptual void however remained to be filled.
But Congress Party continued thereafter to fail to provide a political concept of secularism by which an Indian citizen could comprehend how he should bond “secularly” with another citizen of a different religion or language, or region and feel equally Indian. The Hindu instinctively could not accept the idea that India was what the British had put together, and that the country was just an area incorporated by the imperialists.
Such a ridiculous idea, fostered quixotically by Jawaharlal Nehru University historians, found just no takers amongst the Indian people. The void remained thus, but the yearning in the masses to be “Indian” grew over the years with growth of mass media. This void had therefore to be filled and the yearning of national identity required to be articulated for the masses.
Courtesy: The SundayGuardianLive

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Islamists And Maoists – Two Sides Of The Same Coin

  Youngsters pelting stones at the Army in the Kashmir Valley (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

  • The modus operandi of the Maoists in Bastar and Islamists in Kashmir is exactly the same.
    They are opposed to development and fear education.

On 22 February this year, a group of students owing allegiance to leftist student unions raised azadi slogans at Ramjas College, in New Delhi. The video is there on the internet for all to see. The slogans raised were Kashmir maange azadi, Bastar maange azadi among others.
We have heard the slogan Kashmir maange azadi before at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). But it was the first time that students chanted Bastar maange azadi. And why wouldn't they? It is exactly the same ideology that feeds and nurtures both the separatist groups.
The sinister thread that connects the Islamists in Kashmir and the Maoists in Bastar doesn't stop at mere sloganeering. Both are separatist groups using acts of terror and violence to destabilise the Indian state. The ultimate aim of both Maoists and Islamists is the Balkanisation of India.
The modus operandi of the Maoists in Bastar and Islamists in Kashmir too is exactly the same.
First, they oppose all development in the region by stalling infrastructure projects like the construction of roads and bridges. The attack on the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) battalion in Sukma happened while the soldiers were supervising road construction in Bastar. Maoists have attacked road construction labourers and contractors in the past and have even burnt down construction equipment. Earlier this month, Kashmiri separatists forced a shutdown on the valley because they did not want the Prime Minister to inaugurate the 10-kilometer long Chenani-Nashri tunnel in Kashmir. Both Maoists and Islamists fear infrastructure development, as increased connectivity helps in bringing people into the mainstream, thereby weakening their hold over the local people.
The Islamists of Kashmir and the Maoists of Bastar fear education, too. Young people are the chief recruits for both groups, and it is easier to attract illiterate young people, who have no hope for a future, to the movement than youngsters who see a ray of hope and a bright future in India through education. Maoists and Islamists therefore burn state-run schools or forcefully shut them down. The local population is then forced to depend upon the mercy of these separatist groups to access the most basic of facilities.
They first deny people access to basic infrastructure and education, shutting down every chance of a bright future that they might have, and then argue that local people take to arms as 'there is no development in the region’. This circular argument has been repeated many times by the Islamists in Kashmir and the Maoists in Bastar.
In Kashmir as well as in Bastar, women and children are used as human shields to attack the forces, while the actual arms-wielding assault party follows in the rear. In Kashmir, there is a careful mobilisation of school kids and women as stone-pelters who serve as a cover for the arm-toting terrorists in the rear. The Supreme Court of India had expressed concerns over Kashmiri separatists increasingly using minors as human shields while confronting the forces. In Bastar, when the assault party of the Maoists attacks the forces, they first send women and children ahead, like they did in Sukma yesterday. If the forces fire in retaliation, Maoist and Islamist sympathisers can always cry 'human rights abuse’, which is then taken up by the intellectual back-room boys and girls of the two movements.
Neither the Islamists of Kashmir nor the Maoists of Bastar want to resolve their issues through discussion or negotiations. No matter how hard the Indian state tries to assimilate the local people into the mainstream, Maoists, as well as Islamists, resist it with all their might. It is in their interest that the local population remains uneducated, poor, dispossessed and unhappy.
Lastly, the biggest common factor among the Islamists of Kashmir and the Maoists of Bastar are the people supporting them. It is the same group of ‘left-leaning’ intellectuals ensconced in academic hidey-holes like JNU and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and newsroom studios, who provide the Islamists and Maoists intellectual legitimacy.
A successful war depends as much upon ideological warfare as it depends upon the manoeuvres on the battlefield. The job of these urban terrorists is to legitimise the acts of violence by the Maoists and Islamists and lend a romantic halo to their story. Which is why seditious slogans inciting people to break India are passed off as ‘freedom of speech’ and a hardline terrorist like Burhan Wani is humanised as a ‘schoolmaster’s son with a bright future who was led astray’. In the context of Bastar, the urban terrorists’ job is to rationalise the acts of unspeakable violence and terror by the Maoists by inventing catchy phrases like ‘Gandhians with Guns’, as Arundhati Roy once famously described them.
We might get the impression that the battle against the Indian state is being fought in the valley of Kashmir or the jungles of Bastar, but the real war is being fought in India’s cities, thousands of miles away from both Kashmir and Bastar. It is being fought in news studios, in universities and colleges and seminars and symposia. The fingers that pull the trigger might belong to the Maoists or Islamists, but the firepower is provided by the urban terrorists that you will find all around you, in academia, media, films and even in the government. The gun-toting puppets may be in Bastar and Kashmir, but the people who pull their strings are hiding in our midst.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Padmavati: History of Hindu triumph

  • The agitation over Padmavati is only partly about history, but mainly about honour. Dishonour is not an option for many, even unto death.
The Queen of Chittor, history’s heroine and the protagonist of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film, has been the subject of much debate and controversy, not to mention threats of dire consequences or even death to those responsible for it. It behoves, therefore, to try to understand the uproar.
Let me, however, clarify at the outset that what follows is not a retelling of the story. In fact, it is not even an exercise in mere re-interpretation. Instead, I would like to offer a hermeneutical methodology or meta-interpretation — how to make sense of Indian stories, especially such stories of incredible courage or sacrifice.
The key is to see these stories, after Frederick Jameson, as allegories, not just national, but civilisational allegories. In other words, Padmavati is not only an Indian story; that would be rather obvious. For there are countless such Indian stories. After all, India is the original home of stories, the veritable Kathasaritasagara. I would argue, in fact, that Padmavati is not an ordinary, but quintessential Indian story. It is the story of India itself. I shall try to demonstrate this in my essay.
Let us try to find out what, keeping this in mind, the Padmavati dispute is really about.
Was Padmavati a historical figure? We don’t know for sure. But what is pretty much uncontested is that Alauddin Khilji did lay siege to Chittorgarh, capturing it in 1303, after eight months of stubborn endurance by the Guhila Rajput ruler Ratan Singh. The earliest account of this military feat is Amir Khusrau’s Khaza’in ul-Futuh. Khusrau, one of the founders of Hindavi literature, better known today for his Sufi songs dedicated to Nizamuddin Auliya, was Khilji’s courtier. What is more, he actually accompanied the sultan on this campaign.
In Khusrau’s account, there is no mention of Padmini, nor of the terrible jauhar, mass immolation, committed by her and the ladies of the fort before it fell into Khilji’s hands. What Khusrau does state is that 30,000 Hindus were “cut down like dry grass” on Khilji’s order. Would Khusrau not have written about Padmini or the jauhar led by her? We cannot be sure, but he does mention that during Khilji’s earlier conquest of Ranthambore, the ladies of that fort performed jauhar rather than be taken as sexual prey to Khilji’s marauding hordes.
Whence springs the legend of Padmini then? The answer is from Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s Padmavat, an Avadhi epic. The poem was composed in 1540, nearly 250 years after the siege of Chittor. Jayasi, moreover, lived in what is today’s Uttar Pradesh, not in Rajasthan. So how did he come to know this story? The likely answer is that he combined the legend of Padmini, which was already prevalent and popular, with known literary antecedents. He, of course, added his own imagination to make the story rich and powerful. Jayasi’s Padmini does commit jauhar to repel Khilji.
The whole story, like the Illiad and the Ramayana, is really one of a conquest which links woman to territory. Padmini, like Helen of Troy and the abducted Sita of Ayodhya, is the trigger of Khilji’s imperial lust not just for a woman, but for territory, and the spoils of war. It would seem that Bhansali’s Padmavati, which most of its supporters or opponents have not yet seen, is based on Jayasi’s fictional rendering. Why then should it bother us so much, threatening to tear apart the social fabric?
The reason is that Padmavati is not about history or Rajput pride or Hindu anxiety or glorification of sati. It is really about splendid, if not solitary, exemplars of resistance. The Muslim conquest of India was as brutal as it was bloody. It also involved temple-breaking, large-scale loot, decimation, enslavement of subdued populations, and, yes, predatory sexual violence and captivity. No attempt to whitewash this history or mitigate its trauma will succeed.
I say this not to ask for retributive corrections or revenge histories; that would be absurd and unfortunate. The wrongs of history cannot be righted by present politics or academics. Itihas, as both legend and history, instead, calls for deep, contextual understanding, combined with corrective self-reflection, so that the errors of the past are not perpetuated into an uncertain future. If I were to slightly tweak what Vishwa Adluri said, “we seek salvation not in, but out of history”. When it comes to Padmini, the legend is more important than history; Padmini quickly escaped from history to be immortalised in legend.
Padmini, like Rana Pratap, who was also from Chittor, symbolises resistance to the Muslim conquest of India. Why are such stories important? Because they show that one part of the Hindu psyche remained undefeated and unvanquished. Indeed, throughout the 800 or so years of Muslim rule, there were always pockets of resistance, some like Chittor, Vijaynagar, the Marathas and Sikh empires, quite glorious and successful. What obtained in India is thus quite different from the other territories of Islamic conquest, whether Arabia, Iran, Africa, Central or South East Asia. In all these places, there are hardly any accounts of such resistance, let alone of jauhar. Padmini is worshipped to this day because she symbolises that die-hard refusal to submit to the evils of greater power.
So, we must understand the difference between Padmini and Padmavati — the historical figure and character in the epic. Though both are related, with the latter based on the former, they are not identical. As to the historical Padmini, unfortunately we know little; she was, as we have seen, soon apotheosised into folklore after the purported jauhar of her martyrdom. Indeed, it was these stories of Padmini’s great sacrifice sung by bards that probably inspired Jayasi.
But that still does not explain why this Muslim Sufi poet, who lived 200 years after the tragic siege of Chittor, chose to write about it. Why did he make it his main theme? I believe that he did so because he too thought he was telling the story of India, the India that he knew and loved. Padmavat, we must acknowledge, is an epic of Hindu-Muslim synthesis and comingling. If anything, it is more Hindu than Muslim. Because it is not simply a tale of Islamist domination and conquest, which was a well-established genre by the time of Jayasi. Nor is it written in Persian, the court language of Muslim rulers, but in Avadhi, the people’s language. In fact, the Padmavat, written about 80 years before what is arguably the most important mediaeval North Indian text, the Tulsi Ramayan, becomes its precursor, readying the vernacular for epic exertions.
Jayasi follows Hindu invocatory and narrative traditions; his epic is steeped in Hindu mythology and metaphor, beginning in Kailash, with a supplication to Shiva. He, moreover, follows Hindu aesthetic and spiritual traditions, chiefly the Kamashastra and the Nath parampara. Dr Anand Kumar, who is working on a new verse translation, believes that Jayasi was an initiated Nath Yogi, though also Chisti Sufi. In that sense, he is a forerunner to the current Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath. The Nath Yogis, like the tantrikssiddhas, alchemists, daoists, and kabbalists before them, sought physical immortality, a quest that has been revived in recent times by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, though it is not fashionable to talk about it, or, at least, to take it literally.
Padmavat is thus also an esoteric yogic manual, explaining the mysteries of the horizontal and vertical axes of transformation, contained in the ancient symbols of both the cross and the swastika. Ida (left, feminine, som) and Pingala (right, masculine, agni) represent the two hemispheres of the brain, or reason and passion respectively. Between these poles and balancing them is the sushumna, the central subtle nadi, the channel of ascension of the coiled kundalini shakti from the muladhara to the sahasrara. This is the riddle that Sigmund Freud rediscovered and solved in his psychoanalysis — Id and Superego, with the Ego playing the balancing role. In tantra yoga, when the kundalini reaches the sahasrara, the practitioner attains immortality. But really the underlying structure of synthesis involves the abolishing of duality. Duality is death; non-duality, advaita, is immortality.
In a brief essay, it is be impossible to explain this symbolism in Padmavat fully. But the whole story is set in motion by the search for Padmini, the perfect or the superior type of woman, who is thus described in the Kamashastra text Anangaranga:
“She, in whom the following signs and symptoms appear, is called Padmini, or Lotus-woman. Her face is pleasing as the full moon; her body, well clothed with flesh, is soft as the shiras or mustard-flower; her skin is fine, tender and fair as the yellow lotus, never dark-coloured, though resembling, in the effervescence and purple light of her youth, the cloud about to burst. Her eyes are bright and beautiful as the orbs of the fawn, well-cut, and with reddish corners. Her bosom is hard, full and high; her neck is goodly shaped as the conch-shell, so delicate that the saliva can be seen through it; her nose is straight and lovely, and three folds of wrinkles cross her middle, about the umbilical region. Her yoni resembles the open lotus-bud, and her love-seed (kama-salila, the water of life) is perfumed like the lily which has newly burst. She walks with swanlike gait, and her voice is low and musical as the note of the kokila bird; she delights in white raiment, in fine jewels, and in rich dresses. She eats little, sleeps lightly and, being as respectable and religious as she is clever and courteous, she is ever anxious to worship the gods, and to enjoy the conversation of the learned.”
Such, then, is the Padmini, the perfect “lotus-woman.” Interestingly, Kalyana Malla, the author of Anangaranga had a Muslim (Lodi) patron. Moreover, Padmini corresponds to sayujya-mukti, the highest state that comes about from merging with the essence of the Lord (or ultimate reality). In this “erotic” text, all the women, whether Padmini, Hastini, Shankhani, Chitrini, represent various types of mukti or liberation from human suffering. So wonderfully woman-, life-, and sex-positive are these texts.
Padmini, therefore, refers not only to a specific historic queen, but the ideal type of woman. She also signifies physical, ultimately spiritual, perfection — whoever unites with her will attain immortality. Here’s where the political angle of Jayasi’s story attains prominence. When we read the text as national allegory, we see the Hindu Rajputs as disunited; they fight each other and are therefore weak. An abused and disgraced Brahmin minister in Ratan Singh’s court takes his revenge by defecting to Alauddin Khilji’s court. It is he who, having overheard from the parrot Hiraman, of the fabulous and unearthly beauty of Padmini, plants the idea of ravishing her in the sultan’s head. In the end, two Rajput brothers-in-arms fight over Padmini, both dying in the process. The great fort of Chittor is about to fall to Khilji. The queen, along with the ladies of the court, mass-immolate in the terrifying act of jauhar.
An empty, charred fort, still smelling of burning human flesh, falls into Khilji’s hands. Jayasi mocks him: the Sultan has only the stones and bricks of the ruined citadel to convert to Islam.
So, here’s the moral of the story: no one gets Padmini in the end. Neither the legitimate, but incompetent spouse, who cannot understand her true value, let alone defend her. Nor the pillaging and plundering conqueror. The fort, itself a symbol of Padmini’s virtue and maidenhead, falls, but the queen does not surrender. She prefers death over dishonour. Another princess, who has been offered as booty to Khilji by a neighbouring Rajput king, is at first married to one of his sons, then handed out to others as a sexual trophy.
In contrast, Padmini is the medieval version of Sati, the ancient spouse of Shiva, who jumped into her father’s yagna rather than submit to him. Daksha was often portrayed as a figure of lust, with a ram’s head. Why was his yajna so intolerable to sati that she destroyed it by jumping into it? Her husband then carried the charred remains of her body all over India, till Vishnu cut off bits of them. Wherever these body parts fell became a Shakti Peeth.
The other great exemplar of India, as the phrase Sati-Savitri suggests, is Savitri, the saviour, the symbol of light and higher consciousness, Tat Savitur Varenyam…hence the pair Sati-Savitri, which we trivialise and mock these days, but which actually represents the dyad of Bharat Shakti as martyr or saviour. Between these two is the whole range of happy spouses, equal partners or in many cases, more than equal, in both kama and artha on the one hand, and dharma and moksha on the other. Of these, Radha Rani is the supreme, as paramour of god.
I would suggest that all these Devis and heroines are archetypes of Mother India herself. Bharat Mata, whom Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya taught us to worship. In Anandamath he gave us a new mantra, Vande Mataram. Sri Aurobindo took it a step farther in Bhavani Mandir by speaking of Bhavani Bharati and Bharat Shakti.
So…Now let’s try to tie up the loose ends.
Why are we so upset over even an imagined slight to Padmini? That is because we cannot tolerate the rape of Mother India by any foreign conqueror or sexual predator, even if such a narrative is justified by an alien theology of imperialism or substantiated by our unfortunate history.
Just as in real life, many a Draupadi might have been disrobed or worse, as the atrocity to Nirbhaya shows, in our great Mahabharata, Vyasa did not permit such a disruption of the moral order. He literally introduced deus ex machina, the unending sari of our heroine, by the grace of Sri Krishna himself. So also in Jayasi’s epic, as in the traditions of bardolatry which he drew on, such an insult to Padmini was never shown, nor can it be tolerated today, even in the name of freedom of expression.
Bharat Shakti, Bharat Mata, Mother India — in her ideal type — will always prefer death to dishonour. Indeed, that is why despite centuries of Islamic onslaught and relentless oppression, Hindu India was not completely subdued.
There were a million Padminis who preferred death over rape and dishonour. There were a million Rana Prataps who ate grass and slept on rocks in the jungles than accept the vassalage of a foreign power.
Both Padmini and Rana Pratap were the swarajya warriors of India.
We have seen the same saga of courage and sacrifice played out over and over again, right up to our own times. India was not, is not, will not be conquered; she is immortal because she will always prefer death to dishonour.
That is why I would argue that the agitation over Padmavati is only partly about history, but mainly about honour. Dishonour is not an option, even unto death, at least for some of us.
That is why Padmavati is not just an Indian story, but the story of India. That is why Padmini, as the symbol of resistance unto death, cannot be compromised or diluted. At least the people of India will not take very kindly to it.
This is an edited version of the author’s presentation at the Indic Thoughts Festival, Goa, 18 December 2017.
The author is Professor of English at JNU. His latest publications include The Death and Afterlife of Mahatma Gandhi (Penguin Random House, 2015), Cultural Politics in Modern India: Postcolonial Prospects, Colourful Cosmopolitanism, Global Proximities (Routledge, 2016), and Transit Passenger/Passageiro em Transito (University of Sao Paolo Press, 2016).

sabhar from above