Anti-Hinduism: Key Element of Khalistani Terrorism

The general view which majority of Hindus holds regarding Khalistani terrorism is that Khalistani terrorism was a creation of Congress which had little to do with Sikh religion or history. This particular view is more prominent amongst the Hindus who see RSS and BJP in favourable light but unfortunately, it’s incorrect view. The role of Congress in this particular context can be considered as that of a catalyst which requires careful scrutiny, but considering Congress as the prime factor is misleading. But I don’t blame Hindus for it as Hindu psyche has acquired the terrible habit of never understanding how their adversaries see themselves. Hindu mind is too happy to repeat the comfortable myths or half-truths. I’ll try to summarize the key ideological positions and the sources of those of the Khalistan movement.

Let’s discuss the key ideological tenets of Khalistani terrorism before we come to their sources. The most important element of Khalistani terrorism is that Sikhs constitute a nation in themselves who need separate nationhood to preserve their distinct identity. The second one is that the free nation of Sikhs will be achieved by the application of force as bravery and valour is inherent in the conduct of Sikhs. Apparently, these ideological positions can’t be sustained in the vacuum and a narrative based on facts and imagination need to be constructed to gather support for the movement amongst the masses. These ideological positions are sustained by carefully constructing narrative on the basis of Sikh history and Sikhism.

Their reading of Sikh history to justify the rights of Sikhs to have a separate nation is based on the formation of Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 and the Sikh empire of Ranjit Singh in the 19th century. The formation of Khalsa which Hindus consider as the genesis of a military order to protect Hindus from Mughals is considered as the beginning of separate Sikh nation by the Khalistani terrorism. They argued that since there were five visible marks associated with Khalsa which didn’t accept the conception of caste within the order, it marked the beginning of Sikhs’ quest to separate nationhood. I’m not addressing the factual validity of their position, but merely illustrating what they believed.

The example of Ranjit Singh’s empire was given to demonstrate two elements – that Sikhs are capable of carving out a separate nation of themselves and Ranjit Singh’s rule was a period of peace, prosperity and communal harmony. The examples of Sikh history highlighted by them to justify their demands, and the other aspect of their movement was based on identifying the enemies who were preventing them from obtaining freedom. Here, Hindus enter into the equation as the enemies of Sikhs, which was justified on the basis of Sikh theology and denigration of Hindus based on certain historical incidents.

They postulated that Hindus and especially Brahmins were determined to wipe out Sikhism because it opposed idol worshipping and didn’t accept the conception of caste. The examples given were the placing of murti-s in Gurudwara by Udasi Mahants before the Akali movement, reconversion movement of Mazhabi Sikhs by Arya Samaj and other such minor incidents. Dal Khalsa even went to the extent of considering Brahminism as the biggest enemy of Sikhism. They emphasized that unlike the superstitious caste-ridden polytheistic Hindus, Nanak conceptualized Sikhism as universal faith based on single god and equality of believers. It was also done to show that Sikhism is closer to Islam than Hinduism.

The second aspect of Hindu hatred was propagating the narrative of Hindu treachery or ungratefulness. They argued that though Sikhs have been defending Hindus from Mughals, the Hindus have turned extremely ungrateful by not showing enough gratitude for the protection offered by Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh’s campaigns against the Hindu kings of hills were portrayed as a reaction to Hindu treachery. As, a mainstream Sikh Tavleen Singh takes pride in Guru Teg Bahadur allegedly protecting Kashmiri Pandits, Khalistani-s also used such sacrifice of Sikh Gurus to show that Hindus didn’t appreciate their sacrifice enough. This should be a lesson for Hindus who never get tired of repeating that Sikhism is the sword of Hindus. Implicit to this narrative was the assertion that a Hindu is coward while a Sikh is martial. Rajputs were denigrated by them by asserting that they gave their daughters to Mughals in order to showcase that even the supposedly brave ones amongst the Hindus were no match for Sikhs.

Since they were convinced of Hindu cowardice, they told their followers that if Sikhs follow the tenets of Khalsa faithfully, Hindus who control the Indian state will simply wither away. They even calculated the figure of the number of Sikhs required to conquer Hindus by equating one Sikh with 1.25 Lakhs Hindus. They argued that the Brahmin-Baniya state of India which has denied freedom to Sikhs will not be even able to respond. But they also faced a difficulty in reconciling the historical hostilities between Sikhs and Muslims as support of Pakistan was crucial in achieving their aim. For this, they suppressed the persecution of Sikhs by Muslims in the history and emphasized on the rare occurrence of harmony amongst them. One such highlighted incident was the alleged case of a Sufi Pir participating in the foundation laying ceremony of Harminder Sahib.

As you can see in the above paragraphs, the enmity against the Hindus was the central element of Khalistani terrorism. Also, there is considerable overlap between the Khalistani conception of the Sikh history with the mainstream Sikhs as far as the hypothesis of Hindu ungratefulness and Hindu cowardice is concerned. Many Sikhs were convinced that placing murti-s in Gurudwara was the attempt of Hindus to destroy Sikhism. It’s also obvious that not everyone believing in these things will also ask for separate nationhood but it’s important to be aware about the ideological position of your adversaries.

Islam and Islamism: Difference in Semantics

The term Islamism in the recent time has gained currency owing to different factors and it creates confusion in the mind of people who are not aware about how Islamism and Islam mean differently for the people who consciously use it. In general, Islamism or Political Islam is considered as an ideology which uses the principles of Islam and its primary texts to call for Jihad, establish an Islamic state and build the entire political system on the basis of Islam. Even the conservative media outlets of the West such as National Review, Frontpagemag, The Federalist etc. use Islamism to characterize the ideology behind the violent Islamic terrorist attacks in the Western hemisphere. It’s also a relatively safe word in the world of political correctness without being accused of bigotry towards a specific religion.

The use of the term Islamism essentially comes from French where ‘islamisme’ was used by French authors such as Voltaire. But in the old usage, Islamism was merely a synonym for Islam since Islam was generally called Muhammadism. This was especially much more popular in English world where Muslims were also called Muhammadans and their law sometimes called Muhammadan Law. The modern use of Islamism which differentiates it from Islam started in the second half of 20th century to characterize the resurgent Islam and many Islamic movements such as Muslim Brotherhood, Deobandi Movement, Hamas etc. The overall objective was to signify that the modern Jihad had little to do with the original Islam. What was more surprising, critics of Islam wholeheartedly adopted the term instead of liberals going for it.

But is the term Islamism really correct as it’s properly understood? Before I come to this question, I will quote the views of Bassam Tabi who is a Muslim German professor of Syrian roots. Bassam Tabi has written a book titled ‘Islamism and Islam‘ in which he argues that Islamism has nothing to do with Islam because Islam was a private ancient religion devoid of everything which is committed by Islamists. He pinned the blame on Europeans for giving birth to Islamism by alleging that Muslims got inspired from the 20th century Fascism creating the spectre of Islamism. He cited the example of Hassan Al-Banna of Muslim Brotherhood who had admired Hitler. Tabi prefers Islamism instead of Islamo-Fascism or Islamic Fascism which is also used sometimes. So, intelligent Muslims such as Tabi have latched on the opportunity to save Islam from criticism again.

In the current context, especially for media houses, it’s really difficult to use Islam instead of Islamism. At the same time, we must bear in mind that Islamism is nothing but Islam and attempts of people like Tabi are merely to mislead others. Islamic scholars have opposed the use of term ‘Islamism’ because they consider Islam to be a complete system which obviously includes the political aspect. In reality, the difference exists none but for the sake of semantics, if one has to use Islamism, we should return to its original meaning in which Islamism was synonymous with Islam.

French Secularism, Macron and Islam

Ever since Emmanuel Macron has taken a principled stance over the beheading of French teacher and signalled his determination to put an end to ‘Islamic Radicalism’, it has also provided a lifeline to people in India who are the proponents of ‘true secularism’ of French style instead of the Indian version of ‘positive secularism’. There have been people who have even gone to the extent of calling secularism of French style as only solution to the problem of Islam ignoring what secularism can achieve and the history of France since 1950s during which Muslim population of France started increasing. Let’s look at the efficacy of French secularism first which is the talk of the town.

French Secularism is based on the strict separation of religion from the state in the theoretical sense but I’ll show later that theory and practice is not in sync. A strict separation of religion and state means that there are no laws of the French Republic based on religious considerations such as Muslim Personal Law nor it gives special privilege to any religion. As a corollary of this separation, it also says that the government has no authority to determine and influence how a religion functions. People have the freedom to choose their own religion without any restrictions. French government recognizes religious bodies as specified by the law but these religious bodies don’t influence the law making process. Armed with these theoretical premises, French Secularism is nothing but a farce against the threat of Islam.

First, Macron has stated that the law and values of the Republic are supreme and if radical Islam threaten those, he will have to act. He is still considering ‘radicalisation’ as independent of Islam which is due to the baggage carried by French Muslims from their native countries. Macron believes that if he manages to create a French version of Islam as RSS believes creating an Indian version of Islam, the problem of Islam will be solved because his focus is merely on the radicalization aspect. But when Macron goes on to determine who will be the preachers allowed in French mosques or determine the content of Islamic theology to be taught in the schools, he is violating the principle of secularism that the state will have no authority in determining the content of a religion. Moreover, as secularism can’t ban any religion because it goes against the religious liberty and secularism doesn’t know how to evaluate different religious systems by turning a blind eye to their contents, Islam will still be a legitimate religion and no prohibition on Qur’an and Hadith which are the key to the problems. So, the two principles of secularism – religious liberty and state’s non-interference into religious affairs offer no protection against Islam, instead the second principle has to be violated as soon as Macron has to take any step.

To illustrate how inept France has been in dealing with this challenge of Islam, I’ll take an example of Tariq Ramadan. Ramadan is an Islamic theologian, quintessential liberal Muslim and a product of French intelligentsia transported to US intelligentsia by the efforts of New York Times and New York Review of Books. Ramadan is an extremely intelligent fellow who advocates for practicing Islam in the purest form, but he combines it with other causes of liberals such as support for social justice, human rights, socialism and anti-Americanism. Ramadan was given a celebrity status by French press especially Libération and shown as someone who had solved the problem of coexistence of Islam with French society because Ramadan was extremely suave in his words and appearance. Lyon was the centre of activities of Ramadan during this period. But do you know about the ancestry of Tariq Ramadan? Tariq Ramadan is the grandson of Hasan Al Banna of Egypt who was the founder of Muslim Brotherhood. His PhD thesis was a glorification of his grandfather and when it was not accepted for being a partisan work, Swiss socialist intellectual Jean Ziegler persuaded University of Geneva to form a second committee to evaluate Ramadan’s thesis in which it was accepted.

I gave the example of Ramadan to illustrate that the primary concern of French society including Macron is the integration of Islam with French society rather than Islam itself and as long as there no treatment for the root cause of the problem, all attempts of deradicalization will fail. As soon as demographic advantage shifts to the Muslim community, French secularism will be a relic of past to be studied in textbooks. Another curious aspect of French Secularism is that French government nominates the Diocesan bishops to be appointed at Vatican in clear violation of secularism. Nikolas Sarkozy has accepted openly that France has Christian roots and the culture is still rooted in Christianity despite all the attempts to remove religion from public sphere. My word of caution is to not go very jubilant over what’s happening in France as the panacea advertised by Macron is inadequate to deal with the problem.

The Saga of Indian Muslim ‘Marxists’

The liberals and secularists in the company of their Marxist brethrens were whipping Hindus in January 2020 for not appreciating the poem of Faiz Ahmad Faiz in which he idealized the violent destruction of Pagan religions of Arabia by Muhammad. The petty minded Hindus were reminded that the historical instances of desecration of their temples and deities, and sacrifice of their ancestors in the attempt to save the vigraha of their deities are irrelevant when compared with the brilliance of literary devices which only the refined leftists could comprehend. In the defence of Faiz, the instant proclamation is that he was a Marxist and can’t be an Islamist. At this juncture, tracing the lines of history becomes important.

CPI which has the stellar history of giving the ideological impetus to the demand of Muslim league for a separate Islamic nation and supporting the Muslim league candidates in 1946-47 elections, didn’t have the same views about Muslim League in 1930s. CPI believed that Muslim League was a reactionary organization but new definition of nationalities was being crafted by Stalin and its application in Indian context was imminent. CPI gave the task of deliberating on the question of nationalities to Gangadhar Adhikari, former secretary of CPI who came out with the report saying that Indian nation had 18 nationalities, each having the right of self-determination, and the earlier position of India being one nation had to be abandoned. Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Sajjad Zaheer who founded Communist Party of Pakistan in 1948 were climbing the ladder of progress in communist movement during the very same time period.

In another significant event in the same period, CPI had secured the support of British government by offering their support in sabotaging Quit India movement in the return of lifting ban on CPI, which ensured that CPI could do its bit in the support of creation of Pakistan without any hindrance. In 1944, Sajjad Zaheer said that Muslim League had established its anti imperialistic character by now and CPI will support its demand of the separate nation in whatever ways possible. In the freedom movement thus far, it was the Hindu bourgeois forces who had been gaining the upper hands at the cost of interests of Muslim. Another CPI leader N K Krishna said that Muslims have remained politically and economically backward in all these years as national movement did little to curb Hindus’ control over finance. What happened later is a history which is well known.

After the partition, Faiz Ahmad Faiz along with Sajjad Zaheer were instrumental in setting Communist Party of Pakistan in the hope that they’ll be able to bring proletariat revolution in Pakistan. The romance of Islam and Communism in the absence of common enemy seldom lasts longer though. Communist Party of Pakistan attempted a coup through armed revolution in 1951 and CPP was subsequently banned in 1954 shutting the doors of possibilities for the likes of Faiz and Zaheer. The same story was repeated in Iran, Afghanistan and recently in China where two apex predators are up in arms against each other

The communism of Faiz didn’t even for a moment affect his conviction in the idea of Pakistan nor produced any remorse. His grounding in Islamic tradition was so firm that while protesting against an Islamic regime, the metaphors which he could think of was Islamic destruction of the religions of the kafirs. For quite a long time, we have been swallowing the venom spewed by the writers of Progressive Writers’ Movement which includes Munshi Premchand as well but through Faiz, the citadel is feeling some tremors which must continue in future as well. We are not dead civilization that we will celebrate the references of our historical wounds.

(This was published on author’s Facebook wall on January 3, 2020.)

Marxism: The ‘Atheistic’ Religion

The key of understanding Marxism is to recognize that it’s an ‘atheistic’ religion which fills the void for people who were either disillusioned with the religion or didn’t have any religion at all. Raymond Aron quite succinctly observed that Marxism fills the void of the religion. By religion, it should be understood strictly in Abrahamic sense and not in Dharmic sense. Every Abrahamic religion comes with its own conception of history and a destined utopia which can either occur in this world or beyond it. However, it doesn’t matter whether Utopia is conceived to be occurring in this world or beyond it as Utopia by definition is a concept of imagination and bereft of empirical reality.

The way Marxism sees present is through the lens of material history shaped by the series of class struggles – between feudal lords and bourgeois, bourgeois and proletariat, and ultimately achieving the goal of Communist society which is the end of history as there is no concept of class. In Marxist conception of the world, conflict is primary as it shapes the direction of the history. So, Marxism is a philosophy of antagonism which gives it the ability to create conflicts by applying it in any other conditions by changing the participating actors. While Marx borrowed this idea of conflict from Hegel who was obsessed with the dialectic of thesis and anti-thesis in non-material world, the true exposition of this idea–in the sense of praxis as Marx conceptualized Marxism–was expressed by Abrahamic religions.

In Islam, the actors in the scheme of conflict are believers and Kafirs/infidels. The goal of taking the message of Allah to each and every individual which is the end goal of Islam at collective level, which is possible only via the path of conflict between the believers and infidels. But the similarities don’t end here. In Marxist scheme of things, a bourgeois is the personification of abomination. He is the cause and manifestation of every evil due to which a bourgeois deserves no sympathy. He is the primary obstacle in the progress of history to its final stage by his insistence on holding whatever dear to him. In Islam, a kafir is the primary hindrance in taking the message of Allah to each and every human. As a bourgeois commits great crime by merely rejecting the wisdom of Marxism, non-acceptance of Islam by a kafir is a crime in itself against Allah which deserves every form of punishment.

In Marxism, Allah is replaced by Dialectic Materialism. As Allah is the one who moves everything and the principal agent of cause, Dialectic Materialism as an impersonal force moves everything and causes the changes in material factors ultimately effecting changes in superstructure (religion, culture, law etc.) as well. But in terms of the final utopia, at the collective level, the similarities are even greater. The goal of Marxism is establishment of a Communist society having no existence of class, state or money. Here, class is central as state and money are the products of Capitalist and Feudal mode of production which will have no meaning in the absence of class and private property. As there is no existence of class, the process of dialectic materials stops as we have achieved the end of the history.

The corresponding end of the history in Islam is Dar-Ul-Islam where the entire world is under the command of Allah without the presence of any Kafirs. In this world, there is absence of distinction between believers and Kafirs as there are no Kafirs left to necessitate the differentiation, similar to the Communist society having no concept of the class. Turning our attention to the individual level, a Marxist doesn’t feel responsible for even killing millions of people since he believes that he is merely acting as per the scheme of Dialectic Materialism and accelerating the world towards the end goal by removing the obstacle. A momin doesn’t feel any remorse for killing Kafirs, rather takes pride in being a Gazhi as he believes that he is merely acting on the behalf of Allah for achieving the end goal which absolves him of any individual responsibility for his actions. It’s difficult to say though whether Islam is the most successful version of Marxism or the opposite.

Denigration of Hindu Deities, Atheism and Liberal ‘Right’

Armin Navabi on Twitter started abusing Hindu goddess Maa Kaali few days ago for the very simple reason that as an Abrahamic, this is how he was supposed to denigrate Hindus but he did it with the cover of atheism. But the response of Leftists pretending to be the friend of Hindus (commonly known as Liberal Right) to such wretched act of denigration of our goddesses clearly shows that this group is ultimately an adversary of Hindus which needs to be attacked with all ferocity along with their atheistic kins from the Western world whom they essentially worship to seek recognition from them. I’ll elucidate the patters of response which we witnessed and how problematic they’re in the reality.

The first group of people includes specimens such as Kushal Mehra, Harsh Madhusudan, Abhijit Iyer-Mitra etc. who profess to be a Charvaka but have the audacity to define how our gods and goddesses should be defined along with their gunas. This group found that there is nothing wrong if Armin Nawabi found Maa Kali ‘sexy’ because they find Maa Kali having similar attribute as well. It also includes raita girls whose understanding of Hinduism can be written on the backside of a postcard but they assume that they know everything. First of all, to find Maa Kali sexy, one must not be a practicing Hindu who has never worshipped any of our goddesses. Amongst all the bhakts of Devi-s throughout the history, nobody could find that our Devi-s are sexy but if this is the sudden realization which dawns upon you, you’re a pathetic sick creature having your neck deeply buried in Freudian world of perverse sexuality. This group of people needs to shut up their mouth because you don’t have an iota of understanding of what you’re talking about.

A similar group of people believes that women in Ancient India roamed naked and indulged in orgies because we have nude sculptures on some of the temple walls. Ergo, if one desceibes Hindu goddesses as ‘sexy’ or ‘hot’, it shouldn’t cause any concern. Also, any attempt to enforce restriction on sexuality is an Abrahamic thing accentuated by Victorian morality. While I don’t want to dwell on the actual significance of such sculptures, J D Unwin in his seminal work ‘Sex and Culture‘ in which he studied all the major civilizations around the world including many tribal groups, he found that one of the important aspects of building civilization is to restrict the sexuality of its members so that they can focus on much important aspects of civilization building instead of being consumed by the single desire. Our Smriti-s lay down strict code of conduct when it comes to sexuality, and the projection of your libertine and hednoist thought on Ancient India is nothing more than an attempt to rationalize the current behaviour.

Bringing the dressing customs and habits even if they’re incorrect into the discussion, the intention is to obfuscate the issue. Whatever may be the dressing habits, there is clear separation between how a deity needs to be approached viz-a-viz any humans. The sexually suggesting epithets are strictly applied to the humans as the realm of sexuality is limited to human affairs in which gods are not included. If one uses similar epithet for a deity, it also implicitly means that the person harbours similar feeling for the deity which is not how the devotees approach and worship their deities.

Next comes the freedom of expression group which is the most reprehensible group amongst all them. They believe that they’ve the right to offend others even if they’re attacking objects which hold the highest significance for them but if they’re paid in kind by Hindus, they start showing themselves as victims of bullying and abuse which was done eventually by Armin Navabi as well. They also threaten Hindus that if you don’t take the punches lying down, they’ll double down the attack on you. Of course, it’s justified by saying how tolerant, pluralistic and open-minded Hinduism has been to the extent of saying that there is no rule in Hinduism at all. It’s very similar to the secularist argument when Hindus start acting in assertive manner, they’re reminded about how tolerant their religion is, which is otherwise considered grotesque and primitive on other occasions. Hindus won’t take such attempts of our Devi-s being denigrated without paying in kind and if this results in intensifying the attack, we are equally capable of retorting to that as well.

Next category of Hindus is what I call ‘Ostrich Hindus‘. Ostrich Hindus believe that if they ignore the attack on Hinduism and our deities, the aggressors will eventually decrease the intensity of their offence in the event of not getting attention. But they fail to understand that the truth is exactly opposite. If Hindus don’t act when they’re mocked and attacked, it only sends the signals that Hindus don’t take themselves seriously, are incapable of standing up, and unsure of protecting their Dharma. Such non-action provides incentive to the aggressors to further strengthen their attack as they’re facing no opposition whatsoever.

They justify their belief in the superior tactical value of non-action by saying that a response by Hindus will make them look intolerant who are incapable of taking criticism. However, this response makes us ask regarding the analysts and judges for whom we want to appear pacifists. This group includes the very atheists who launch the attack on Hinduism, Abrahamics, Leftists and Marxists. This entire group has launched institutional attack on Hindus through every means possible in the history, and still continues to do so. This group definitely wants meek and feeble Hindus who don’t act as it means no opposition for them to achieve the end of decimating Hinduism which they consider to be superstitious, patriarchal, misogynistic, oppressive, bigoted and violent. A society caring for getting the approval of enemy is probably the worst strategy.

Finally, an atheist can’t be a friend of Hindus. If you’ve swallowed the nonsense of being culturally Hindu, it’s as absurd as the position of spiritual but not religious. Hindu culture exists because Hindu Dharma exists. The day when Hindu Dharma doesn’t exist, Hindu culture will stop existing. If you’re a Hindu identifying yourself as atheist, it’s your prerogative but you’re not within the fold of Hinduism. If it creates cognitive dissonance, let it be. In the wild goose chase of finding allies, Hindus have compromised to the extent of accommodating reprehensible beef eaters as Hindus but this only harms Hinduism by showing that it’s a system without rules. If you can’t honour your gods and goddesses or can’t defend when they’re being attacked, you’re a mass of tissues whose existence on this earth is of no value whatsoever.

Modernity, Fundamentalism and Traditions

Preserving and adhering to traditions as the core of our life from traditionalist viewpoint throws an interesting challenge of identifying what can be constituted as tradition while what can’t fall in this category. This conundrum is rooted in the fact that society has to adapt and evolve at every stage giving birth to the new practices which get gradually acquired as tradition if it’s resilient enough to be transmitted across generations. But if one takes an extreme approach of finding the primordial and considering it to be the only real tradition, the result is fundamentalism (not in negative sense) where it’s accepted that every new innovation or practice after a cut-off time is invalid.

The best example of this fundamentalism in Hindu society is Arya Samaj which considers Vedas and the allied disciplines such as Astika Darshana-s to be the only valid tradition while rejecting the rest as interpolation, fit to be rejected. It decides a cut-off time in terms of collection of text which is not strictly related to time but to a particular mode of thought. In this framework, Ramayana and Mahabharata remain only historical tales, and Purana-s are summarily rejected with various derogatory epithets assigned to them. The outcome of this attempt is not a resurrection of ‘primordial’ tradition or truth, but obliteration of the actual traditions while creating a new fiction.

Explaining it in terms of analogy, in the beginning, a tree is merely a seed. Gradually, it becomes a plant and ultimately a tree which has its numerous branches and leaves. If a person with fundamentalist zeal decides to apply the principle of fundamentals, he will consider the tree to be of no importance in the search of primordial seed. The seed definitely existed in the beginning but it has outgrown it, and the current state is no less real than what it existed earlier. But taken to the another extreme, we come to the perspective that tradition is ever evolving and changing which means the tradition itself has no value whatsoever as each generation has to find its own truth and ways for fulfilling its goal. This is what we call the modernist view.

In the modernist view, change and progress are to be enforced because rejection of the past mode of thought and life is essential. Roger Scruton had argued once that since modernity insisted on rejecting the tradition and past, Postmodernism rejecting modernity was continuation of modern thought since modernity had become crystallized as tradition itself since the days of Enlightenment in Europe. Another crucial change in this period was a constant attempt to change the values of society in top down manner because certain values such as unlimited individual liberty, rejection of religious values, elevating the concept of secularism to almost a theology etc. were considered as progressive. Thus, even if the society didn’t require it, these values were imposed from the top culminating in changing the society in totality.

Traditionalism is neither fundamentalism nor modernity. It accepts that a society which doesn’t grow will eventually die as challenges of no two generations are similar. However, the change in this framework is not for the sake of change but for ensuring the survival of society through adaptation. To illustrate, I’ll quote from Mahabharata on the evolution of monarchy. In Shanti Parva, it’s explained that in the beginning, there was only rule of the law but no executive authority to implement the law. As society grew more complex, this arrangement was insufficient to provide safety and security to the citizens culminating in Matsya-Nyaya. Consequently, people decided that they’ll elect a king who will enforce the law and in the return, citizens will pay one-sixth of their produce. As we can see, it was not done because someone told them that having a monarch is superior value, but an adaptation mechanism for coping with the existing challenge.

Traditions are like the bark of the tree. It’s sufficiently rigid to protect the tree but it also provides space for the generation of new ideas provided they’re rooted in the fundamental truth which has already been discovered by our ancestors and confirmed later by generations of seers and Yogis. When the authors of the Dharmashastra-s wrote Smriti-s, they addressed the existing need of legislation and jurisprudence through innovation but without severing the ties from existing traditions by accepting Shurti-s as the valid source of law. Thus, a traditionalist doesn’t reject all the changes because it can’t happen in the reality, but honours the tradition because it contains the truth imperceptible to an average human.

Allama Iqbal, RSS and Imam-e-Hind

“Hai Raam Ke Wujood Pe Hindustan Ko Naaz
Ahl-e-Nazar Samajhte Hain Uss Ko Imam-e-Hind”
The above couplet written by Allama Iqbal around 1905 before he migrated to Europe for his higher education receives special affinity from RSS and BJP leaders. In one of the articles, Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee had mentioned this couplet to show how the Muslims of India loved Bhagwan Rama. This couplet is almost taken as the final proof of Muslim community’s love for Bhagwan Rama by the people of variety of Indresh Kumar and Muhammad Aarif Khan.
When Iqbal refers Bhagwan Rama as Imam-e-Hind, should Hindus be feel happy about it or vehemently oppose any such characterization of our most revered Bhagvan? In Sunni Islam, Imam is simply a person who is the leader of a mosque. In the most mainstream tradition of Shia Islam believing in the existence of 12 Imams, Imam is the leader of Ummah. However, the 12 Imams are neither suffixed nor prefixed with any word in the way Iqbal did. The question emerges of what was the sectarian affiliation of Iqbal? Iqbal had adopted Ahmediya sect in 1897 which he renounced later somewhere around 1931. Ahmediyas refer Imam in the very same sense as Sunnis do. In either way, reducing the status of our Bhagvan to a leader of mosque is downright insult to Dharma and a falsification of existence of divinity in Kaffir sects. Any Hindu must reject such characterization of Bhagvan Rama.
Iqbal’s life is a classical case study of how a Muslim finds his Muslim roots when he grows in contrary to the adherents of other faiths. Before 1905, Iqbal was a nationalist who only cared about Muslims of India being secured and Muslims being the legitimate ruler of the land. When he migrated to Europe, he gradually started shunning all such heretical influences and adopted the view that the interests of Muslims in India can only be secured if they get special status and privileges, in order to counter the advantage which Hindus will have in a democratic nation due to their numerical advantage. He openly said that secularism is incompatible with Islam as Islam is not only a religious system, but a political and legal system which can only accept Shari’a for the fulfillment of its objectives. This is the view which he expressed as the President of Muslim League in 1930.
There is a lesser known strand of thoughts of Iqbal which is not as famous as his demand for Pakistan. Considering that Islam believes that the whole world belongs to Allah, accepting the concept of nation was incompatible with Islam. Iqbal could clearly see that if Muslim community started accepting the existence of nations, Ummah would merely remain a figment of imagination. To convince the other Islamic nations such as Turkey and Arab Islamic nations of need of Ummah, he frequently toured to such countries. Yet, he didn’t get much success due to existing political realities. As a method of compromise, Iqbal advocated for a commonwealth of Islamic nations which will serve as transition stage to Ummah and nucleation sites for achieving the goal of Islam. With this objective in mind, Iqbal embarked on the objective of creation of Pakistan which will provide leadership to the Muslim world in achieving Ummah.
Ignoring the theological differences between Islam and other religions to take one rare couplet from the early days of an Islamic ideologue is not a wise thing to do even if one wishes to prove a political point. Iqbal didn’t praise Bhagwan Rama but insulted him by reducing his status to Imam which he would have never done with even Islamic Caliphates. There is a reason why amongst all the available ideologues of Pakistan, Iqbal is called ‘Spiritual Father of Islam’ instead of reading too much in a couplet.

Why Hindus Shouldn’t Call Themselves Pagan

With the revival of pre-Christian religious practices of Europe and America by modern pagan movement, there is increasing tendency of use of pagan word by Hindus to identify themselves. This is also a result of growing contact with the universal terminologies and seek common cause with them. Ram Swarup, one of the finest Hindu thinkers of the previous century was hopeful about regeneration of polytheistic and pantheistic religions of Europe and America and Hindus acting like their guide for their spiritual rejuvenation. I won’t be exploring the modern paganism movement and its relationship with Hinduism, but validity of use of the word pagan by Hindus to describe themselves.

The word pagan in Western world has two meanings. The first meaning comes from Old Testament in which the word is used to describe idolaters. When Moses comes down from Mount Sinai, he sees some of the people worshipping golden calf and asks for the killing of these idolaters. The other meaning of the term comes from its root word in Latin Paganus which means rural or rustic. To understand why polytheists of the Roman society were called Pagans, the reason lies with the spread of Christianity in Rome. Christianity in Rome was an urban phenomenon sustained by the state patronage in the beginning and to save from Christian persecution, quite a few of them took shelter in rural areas. Christians called them pagans as they were practicing polytheism but concentrated in rural areas. In both the definitions, the term has a negative connotation rooted in Abrahamic worldview to assess and label the people of other faiths.

Are Hindus pagans? If we accept the Old Testament meaning of the term, Hindus are undoubtedly pagans and it’s the reason why a formidable philosopher like Ram Swarup called Hindus pagans. The Christian meaning of the term doesn’t actually denote Hindus but as typological similarly, Hindus can be called pagans as the elements of nature worshipping and different forces of nature are present in Hinduism. Yet, the similarity ends there as there is no equivalent of ज्ञानकाण्ड in pagans religions which seldom went beyond the mechanical rituals. Nor there is any equivalent tradition of योग in either of the pagan religions. But, some people can argue that for global solidarity with other pagans of the world, Hindus can call themselves pagans.

Now, we have reached the crux of the issue around the usage of the term. Pagan is a word rooted in the theology of Abrahamic religions which assigned pejorative meaning to the culture it managed to conquer. As a confident civilization which was never conquered by Christianity and much more sophisticated and older than Christianity, why should we use words like pagan which was assigned to us by dominant power in a particular historical period? Adopting the characterization of a society by its rival society shows that the rival society or culture has an advantage over us and they’re dictating how we see ourselves. It’s not based on how as a group we would like to define ourselves and it’s more problematic as it’s a negative definition (negative definition in the sense a definition based on negation or what one is not).

One more question around the subject will be why the modern followers of pagan religions such as Druids, Wicca or Celts call themselves pagans? The answer is not straightforward. European pagans prefer calling themselves Ethnic Religions and their biannual conference is known as World Council of Ethnic Religions. The others prefer the term as they started practicing their ancient religions as a revolt against Christianity and prefer to retain the historical connotation behind the term and its suppression by Christianity. As a confident, enduring and sophisticated civilization rooted in Dharma, calling ourselves pagans is probably an insult to our ancestors who never adopted the terminology given by their rivals. The term Hindu is not equivalent as it has evolved to mean a religious group now and applies only to us, not to different set of people around the world.

The Genesis of Communist-Congress Collaboration in Post Independence India

Communist movement in India since its inception with the foundation of Communist Party of India on October 17, 1920 in Tashkent has been a movement of contradiction, opportunistic considerations and confusion. Their history can’t be understood without considering their relationship with Indian National Congress which was the principal organization of Indian Freedom movement. After a series of conspiracy cases filed by the British government against the Indian Communists in the 1920s which gave them the popularity which they didn’t deserve, their relationship with Congress started gestating through the medium of trade unions. Communists joined the ranks of Indian National Congress to give its decisive Left-wing orientation in which they were largely successful due to the rise of leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose.

The contradiction between the aims of Indian National Congress and Communist Party of India which was functioning as the vassal of Communist Party of Soviet Union again became prominent during the Second World War with the entry of Soviet Union into the war. CPI was obliged to follow the Communist International directive under which they had given their unconditional support to Soviet Union and Allied Forces as it had become the People’s War. During the 1942 Quit India Movement, CPI collaborated with British authorities in India to sabotage the nationalist movement in order to ensure that British didn’t face any issues related to internal disturbance to focus completely on the People’s War. The chasm which developed between Indian National Congress and CPI during this period was not too easy to be bridged.

Under the directives of Communist International, when India gained independence in August 1947, CPI maintained that it was a cosmetic independence since the imperialist bourgeoisie (British) had transferred the power to the National bourgeoisie (Congress). In CPI’s analysis, since the power was not handed to CPI which is the official representative of the proletariat, independence can never be a real independence. In Communist terminology, the masses can only be represented by the Communist parties as they’re the only organization capable of alleviating the suffering of the masses. Nehru who was their favourite leader was called a stooge of American imperialism who was working against the interests of the people.

In this backdrop, the Second Congress of Communist Party of India was organized in Kolkata between February 26, 1948 and March 6, 1948. In this Congress, the official party-line of CPI was elucidated along with the future plan of action. CPI reiterated that Indian independence is a fiction; Congress is the party of National Bourgeoisie; and CPI must launch a struggle against the Congress government to achieve complete independence. The next question was about the methods to achieve the goals of people’s revolution. Armed insurgency against the Indian nation was adopted as the chosen path to achieve the desired outcome. Communists who had mobilized peasants in states such as Telangana, West Bengal and Tripura by giving false promises, were to be used as the foot soldiers of Communism. B T Ranadive who was the General Secretary of Communist Party of India was thrilled about the prospects of achieving the goal of Communists in India.

It would be imperative to note the reason behind CPI adopting the method of armed revolution. After Indian independence, Nehru hadn’t got any opportunity to hobnob with Soviet Union nor given any positive signal about the nature of relationship which India will have with Soviet Union. In absence of any formal policy, CPI applied Zhdanov Doctrine in Indian context according to which the world was divided in Soviet Camp and Imperialist Camp represented by America. If a nation is not formally in Soviet Camp, by definition, the nation must be in the imperialist camp led by the US. Communist International had conveyed the same to CPI based on which it decided to embark on the path of armed revolution.

In 1948, the armed cadres of Communist Party of India started indulging in large scale violence and sabotage. Following their old methods, the peasants were turned against the peasants who had not joined Communist Party of India by labelling the latter as Zamindar even if the farmer owned merely a few acres of the land. They also tried to disrupt the rail communication by destroying railway tracks and the government was left with no choice but to crack down on rampaging Communists. Communists suffered serious blows in government repression which also included the banning of Communist Party of India by the West Bengal government in March 1950. The global Communist movement was alarmed if it could lead to complete wipe out of Communists from India which necessitated that CPI will have to abandon its people’s revolution prematurely. The message was formally conveyed by Cominform in its editorial in January 1950 to abandon its programme of armed revolution.

As a consequence of that, B T Ranadive was removed from the post of General Secretary of CPI, and C Rajeshwar Rao was the one who replaced Ranadive. In the meantime, Nehru had formally accepted the Maoist coup led by Mao Zedong as legitimate and he had also started showing favourable signs towards supporting the foreign policy of Soviet Union in East Asia. In this backdrop, the new strategy was required to exploit the situation completely for their gains. The new strategy was finally revealed by CPI in its Madurai Congress in 1954 which was a radical departure from its earlier stance. The plan of armed revolution was dropped in the favour of New Democratic Policy which included contesting elections. The other aspect of the policy was that the immediate priority of the Communist Party in India should be to fight against the imperialist and feudal elements for which cooperation with Congress is imminent. Based on this, the unholy alliance of Congress and Communists started which made India a vassal state of Soviet Union for next 40 years in terms of foreign policy while Communists established their dominance over the academic and discursive aspects of India.