Foundations of Hindu-Muslim Unity (2)


By: Dr. S. L. Bhyrappa

The Indian Councils Act of 1909 (popularly known as the Morley-Minto reforms) gave the Muslims of India a separate electorate. This was a strategy of the British to create a further rift between the Hindus and Muslims, which had already begun in 1905 when Bengal was partitioned on religious lines. Sharply criticizing this development, Aurobindo wrote (emphasis mine):

The question of separate representation for the Mahomedan community is one of those momentous issues raised in haste by a statesman unable to appreciate the forces with which he is dealing, which bear fruit no man expected and least of all the ill-advised Frankenstein who was first responsible for its creation. The common belief among Hindus is that the Government have decided to depress the Hindu element in the Indian people by raising the Mahomedan element, and ensure a perpetual preponderance in their own favour by leaning on a Mahomedan vote purchased by a system of preference. The denials of high-placed officials, who declare that it is only out of a careful consideration for the rights and interests of minorities that they have made special Mahomedan representation an essential feature of the Reform Scheme, have not convinced a single Hindu mind; for the obvious retort is that it is only one minority which is specially cared for and this special care is extended to it even in provinces where it is in a large majority. No provision at all has been made for the safe-guarding of Hindu minorities, for the Parsis, the Sikhs, the Christians and other sections which may reasonably declare that they too are Indians and citizens of the Empire no less than the Mahomedans…

Our own attitude is clear. We will have no part or lot in reforms which give no popular majority, no substantive control, no opportunity for Indian capacity and statesmanship, no seed of democratic expansion. We will not for a moment accept separate electorates or separate representation, not because we are opposed to a large Mahomedan influence in popular assemblies when they come but because we will be no party to a distinction which recognises Hindu and Mahomedan as permanently separate political units and thus precludes the growth of a single and indivisible Indian nation. We oppose any such attempt at division whether it comes from an embarrassed Government seeking for political support or from an embittered Hindu community allowing the passions of the moment to obscure their vision of the future…

The Mahomedans base their separateness and their refusal to regard themselves as Indians first and Mahomedans afterwards on the existence of great Mahomedan nations to which they feel themselves more akin, in spite of our common birth and blood, than to us. Hindus have no such resource. For good or evil, they are bound to the soil and to the soil alone. They cannot deny their Mother, neither can they mutilate her. Our ideal therefore is an Indian Nationalism, largely Hindu in its spirit and traditions, because the Hindu made the land and the people and persists, by the greatness of his past, his civilisation and his culture and his invincible virility, in holding it, but wide enough also to include the Moslem and his culture and traditions and absorb them into itself.
(6 November 1909)

In his critique, Aurobindo raises another important issue: the refusal of the Mahomedans to regard themselves as Indians first. When we observe the Islamic migrations in the last three or four decades, we see this recurring in every part of the world – a sizable majority of Muslims value their religion more than their country of residence, especially when it is a non-Islamic country.

The Khilafat Movement mahomedan Sri Aurobindo, Mahomedans, and Hindu-Muslim Unity – Part 2 Khilafat-movement-300x206

THE KHILAFAT MOVEMENT

In 1919, a pan-Islamic protest campaign began in British India known as the Khilafat movement. In 1920, the Congress foolishly joined hands with the Khilafat agitation at Gandhi’s behest. Not only did Gandhi support the movement, he gave it priority over swaraj (self-rule). He wrote: “To the Musalmans, Swaraj means, as it must, India’s ability to deal effectively with the Khilafat question… It is impossible not to sympathise with this attitude… I would gladly ask for postponement of Swaraj activity if thereby we could advance the interest of the Khilafat.” (R. C. Majumdar. History of the Freedom Movement in India. Vol. 3. Calcutta: Firma KLM, 1998. p. 81)

Gandhi joining hands with the Khilafat movement ensured Hindu-Muslim unity for a short while. Soon there were riots in Amritsar and Multan (in 1923), in Calcutta (in 1926), and this went on all the way up to the Partition (in 1947). It continues to this day in India (there is no opportunity for a Hindu-Muslim fight in either Pakistan or Bangladesh because the Hindus have been outnumbered and oppressed completely).

When the riots broke out in Multan, in response to a question by a disciple, Aurobindo responded strongly:

I am sorry they are making a fetish of this Hindu-Muslim unity. It is no use ignoring facts; some day the Hindus may have to fight the Muslims and they must prepare for it. Hindu-Muslim unity should not mean the subjection of the Hindus. Every time the mildness of the Hindu has given way. The best solution would be to allow the Hindus to organize themselves and the Hindu-Muslim unity would take care of itself, it would automatically solve the problem. Otherwise, we are lulled into a false sense of satisfaction that we have solved a difficult problem, when in fact we have only shelved it.
(18 April 1923)

And a month after the Calcutta riots, Aurobindo told his disciples:

Look at Indian politicians: all ideas, ideas – they are busy with ideas. Take the Hindu-Muslim problem: I don’t know why our politicians accepted Gandhi’s Khilafat agitation. With the mentality of the ordinary Mahomedan it was bound to produce the reaction it has produced: you fed the force, it gathered power and began to make demands which the Hindu mentality had to rise up and reject. That does not require Supermind to find out, it requires common sense. Then, the Mahomedan reality and the Hindu reality began to break heads at Calcutta. The leaders are busy trying to square the realities with their mental ideas instead of facing them straight…
(18 May 1926)

One might consider Aurobindo’s views to be rather violent but the fetish for peace led to much more violence over the years. Also, was there an alternative way? The ahimsa school felt that there was. Here is a conversation between Aurobindo and a disciple on the topic:

Disciple: There is also the question of Hindu-Muslim unity which the non-violence school is trying to solve on the basis of their theory.

Aurobindo: You can live amicably with a religion whose principle is toleration. But how is it possible to live peacefully with a religion whose principle is “I will not tolerate you”? How are you going to have unity with these people? Certainly, Hindu-Muslim unity cannot be arrived at on the basis that the Muslims will go on converting Hindus while the Hindus shall not convert any Mahomedan. You can’t build unity on such a basis. Perhaps the only way of making the Mahomedans harmless is to make them lose their fanatic faith in their religion…

Disciple: The Mahomedan religion was born under such circumstances that the followers never forgot the origin.

Aurobindo: That was the result of the passive resistance which they practised. They went on suffering till they got strong enough and, when they got power, they began to persecute others with a vengeance…
(23 July 1923)

When a disciple mentioned to Aurobindo that there were tendencies among the Mahomedans that showed a disintegration of their fanaticism, he immediately replied:

That is not sufficient because it would not change their whole outlook. What is wanted is some new religious movement among the Mahomedans which would remodel their religion and change the stamp of their temperament. For instance, Bahaism in Persia which has given quite a different stamp to their temperament.
(7 March 1924)

Sadly, movements like Baha’ism have been crushed in the Islamic world. In Pakistan, for instance, Shi’as and Ahmadiyyas are often not considered Muslims and treated like second-rate citizens. It is only in India that Muslims of all denominations live in harmony.

Merely owing to the fact that several religions exist, neither do they all become the same nor do they all have the same value to humanity. This is a bitter truth. Savants like Aurobindo realized this and spoke about this without mincing words:

The Mahomedan or Islamic culture hardly gave anything to the world which may be said to be of fundamental importance and typically its own; Islamic culture was mainly borrowed from others. Their mathematics and astronomy and other subjects were derived from India and Greece. It is true they gave some of these things a new turn, but they have not created much. Their philosophy and their religion are very simple and what they call Sufism is largely the result of gnostics who lived in Persia and it is the logical outcome of that school of thought largely touched by Vedanta.

I have, however, mentioned [in The Foundations of Indian Culture] that Islamic culture contributed the Indo-Saracenic architecture to Indian culture. I do not think it has done anything more in India of cultural value. It gave some new forms to art and poetry. Its political institutions were always semi-barbaric.
(12 September 1923)

However, Aurobindo did recognize the value the individual religions had. Much earlier, in 1917, he had written:

Each religion has helped mankind. Paganism increased in man the light of beauty, the largeness and height of his life, his aim at a many-sided perfection; Christianity gave him some vision of divine love and charity; Buddhism has shown him a noble way to be wiser, gentler, purer; Judaism and Islam how to be religiously faithful in action and zealously devoted to God; Hinduism has opened to him the largest and profoundest spiritual possibilities. A great thing would be done if all these God-visions could embrace and cast themselves into each other; but intellectual dogma and cult-egoism stand in the way.

All religions have saved a number of souls, but none yet has been able to spiritualise mankind. For that there is needed not cult and creed, but a sustained and all-comprehending effort at spiritual self-evolution.

Among the various religions and systems of faiths, Aurobindo gives a special place to Hinduism and not without reasons. In May 1919, he wrote:

The inner principle of Hinduism, the most tolerant and receptive of religious systems, is not sharply exclusive like the religious spirit of Christianity or Islam; as far as that could be without loss of its own powerful idiosyncrasy and law of being, it has been synthetic, acquisitive, inclusive…

Europe where men have constantly fought, killed, burned, tortured, imprisoned, persecuted in every way imaginable by human stupidity and cruelty for the sake of dogmas, words, rites and forms of church government, Europe where these things have done duty for spirituality and religion, has hardly a record which would entitle it to cast this reproach in the face of the East…

[Hinduism] is in the first place a non-dogmatic inclusive religion and would have taken even Islam and Christianity into itself, if they had tolerated the process.
(The Foundations of Indian Culture. Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library. Volume 14, pp. 76-90)

 This last statement is particularly meaningful in the wake of modern-day historians and intellectuals who feel that if instead of Nehru, we had had a premier like Sardar Patel, India would have become a Hindu equivalent of Pakistan. They fail to realize that it is only the fundamental principles of Hinduism – those of plurality and tolerance – that can bring Hindu-Muslim unity and not the adherence to the exclusivist doctrines of the Semitic religions.

India – because of its roots in sanatana dharma – has the ability to absorb all faiths and all cultures in the true spirit of inclusivity and celebration of diversity. Aurobindo strongly felt this sentiment. When a disciple asked him, “If it is India’s destiny to assimilate all the conflicting elements, is it possible to assimilate the Mahomedan element also?” Aurobindo’s response was plain and unambiguous:

Why not? India has assimilated elements from the Greeks, the Persians and other nations. But she assimilates only when her central truth is recognized by the other party, and even while assimilating she does it in such a way that the elements absorbed are no longer recognizable as foreign but become part of herself. For instance, we took from the Greek architecture, from the Persian painting, etc.

The assimilation of the Mahomedan culture also was done in the mind to a great extent and it would have perhaps gone further. But in order that the process may be complete it is necessary that a change in the Mahomedan mentality should come. The conflict is in the outer life and unless the Mahomedans learn tolerance I do not think the assimilation is possible.

The Hindu is ready to tolerate. He is open to new ideas and his culture has got a wonderful capacity for assimilation, but always provided that India’s central truth is recognized.
(29 June 1926)

If India has to come out of its shackles and be a jagadguru (world-teacher) as Aurobindo imagined, then it must battle three enemies: the politicians who are stuck with the politics of appeasement and populism, the Muslims who place their religion above the country, and the Hindus who have forgotten that pluralism and harmony is their very identity.

We must never forget that India has been and continues to be a pluralistic society but at the same time we must be ever-vigilant if there is a threat to the tradition itself in the name of tolerating ‘the other.’ Eternal vigilance is indeed the price we pay for freedom and harmony.

(This article was originally published HERE)

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Foundations of Hindu-Muslim Unity (1)


By: Dr. S. L. Bhyrappa

As a remarkable patriot, thinker, and visionary, Sri Aurobindo’s contributions to India are priceless. Unlike other patriots and leaders of his generation, it was in spite of his upbringing that Sri Aurobindo turned out to be such a devoted son to Mother India.

Enamored by the British, Aurobindo’s father Dr. Krishna Dhun Ghose did everything within his power to make his children grow up to be Englishmen. His dream was for his children to enter the Indian Civil Service and so the entire family moved to England in 1879, when Aurobindo was just 7.

Aurobindo Ghose aurobindo Sri Aurobindo, Mahomedans, and Hindu-Muslim Unity – Part 1 Aurobindo-Ghose-230x300

Aurobindo returned to India in 1893 and joined the state service in Baroda. Soon he got involved with politics and began writing and lecturing extensively. Though he spent most of his impressionable years in the UK, he was never branded an outsider nor was his patriotism ever questioned. In the spirit of sanatana dharma, which is always open to new knowledge, he was embraced by the people. His intrinsic worth as a thinker and nationalist was far more valued than his academic qualifications.

By the time he was active in political circles he had not only attained proficiency in many languages but also had widely read on a variety of subjects. His political writings are worth their weight in gold and must be read by every serious student of the Indian Independence Movement. His spiritual writings on the other hand are far too esoteric and can appeal to only a few.

In this article, I have picked some of Aurobindo’s writings on the Islamic faith, on the unity between Hindus and Muslims, and on the future of Mahomedans in our country. These have been taken from a selection of Sri Aurobindo’s writings, talks, and speeches titled India’s Rebirth (1997) jointly published by Institut de Recherches Évolutives, Paris and Mira Aditi, Mysore. The writings I have chosen are spread over a thirty-year period – from 1909 to 1939 – that was filled with political activity. Aurobindo gave a new direction to prevalent patriotic fervor through his bold and unique expressions. He spoke of the dangers of fanaticism as well as that of blind ahimsa (non-injury). Unlike many leaders of his time, Aurobindo was openly critical of Gandhi and his bid to destroy India’s kshaatra (spirit of courage). Savant-patriots like Aurobindo ensured that the freedom movement didn’t end up becoming intellectually bankrupt.

On 23rd October 1929, Aurobindo wrote a letter to one of his Muslim disciples who began making violent demands and justified them on religious grounds. This letter gives us an overview of Aurobindo’s views on Islam:

You say that you ask only for the Truth and yet you speak like a narrow and ignorant fanatic who refuses to believe in anything but the religion in which he was born. All fanaticism is false, because it is a contradiction of the very nature of God and of Truth. Truth cannot be shut up in a single book, Bible or Veda or Koran, or in a single religion. The Divine Being is eternal and universal and infinite and cannot be the sole property of the Mussulmans or of the Semitic religions only, – those that happened to be in a line from the Bible and to have Jewish or Arabian prophets for their founders. Hindus and Confucians and Taoists and all others have as much right to enter into relation with God and find the Truth in their own way. All religions have some truth in them, but none has the whole truth; all are created in time and finally decline and perish. Mahomed himself never pretended that the Koran was the last message of God and there would be no other. God and Truth outlast these religions and manifest themselves anew in whatever way or form the Divine Wisdom chooses. You cannot shut up God in the limitations of your own narrow brain or dictate to the Divine Power and Consciousness how or where or through whom it shall manifest; you cannot put up your puny barriers against the divine Omnipotence. These again are simple truths which are now being recognised all over the world; only the childish in mind or those who vegetate in some formula of the past deny them.

You have insisted on my writing and asked for the Truth and I have answered. But if you want to be a Mussulman, no one prevents you. If the Truth I bring is too great for you to understand or to bear, you are free to go and live in a half-truth or in your own ignorance. I am not here to convert anyone; I do not preach to the world to come to me and I call no one. I am here to establish the divine life and the divine consciousness in those who of themselves feel the call to come to me and cleave to it and in no others.
(On Himself. Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library. Volume 26. p. 483)

Even as early as in 1909, Aurobindo made it clear that appeasement of Muslims wouldn’t lead to long-lasting peace. On the other hand, he was not one for shunning Islam. He writes (emphasis mine):

We do not fear Mahomedan opposition; so long as it is the honest Swadeshi article and not manufactured in Shillong or Simla [British centers], we welcome it as a sign of life and aspiration. We do not shun, we desire the awakening of Islam in India even if its first crude efforts are misdirected against ourselves; for all strength, all energy, all action is grist to the mill of the nation-builder. In that faith we are ready, when the time comes for us to meet in the political field, to exchange with the Musulman, just as he chooses, the firm clasp of the brother or the resolute grip of the wrestler…

Of one thing we may be certain, that Hindu-Mahomedan unity cannot be effected by political adjustments or Congress flatteries. It must be sought deeper down, in the heart and in the mind, for where the causes of disunion are, there the remedies must be sought. We shall do well in trying to solve the problem to remember that misunderstanding is the most fruitful cause of our differences, that love compels love and that strength conciliates the strong. We must strive to remove the causes of misunderstanding by a better mutual knowledge and sympathy; we must extend the unfaltering love of the patriot to our Musulman brother, remembering always that in him too Narayana dwells and to him too our Mother has given a permanent place in her bosom; but we must cease to approach him falsely or flatter out of a selfish weakness and cowardice. We believe this to be the only practical way of dealing with the difficulty. As a political question the Hindu-Mahomedan problem does not interest us at all, as a national problem it is of supreme importance.
(19 June 1909)

Even a hundred years later, we find ourselves stuck with the politics of flattery without a serious quest towards finding a solution. Politicians like Gandhi and Nehru took these to ridiculous extremes, thus resulting in the Partition and subsequently in a constant Hindu-Muslim tension across India.

The appeasement politics fueled by Gandhi and the Congress was based on a simple idea that Hindus should accommodate and Muslims should be made to feel comfortable at any cost. And like the ancient Arabian tale of the camel and the tent, the more the Mahomedans were appeased, the more they demanded. Aurobindo’s statements on this matter are prophetic, owing to his astute observation and his refusal to flinch from saying things as he saw them:

Every action for instance which may be objectionable to a number of Mahomedans is now liable to be forbidden because it is likely to lead to a breach of the peace, and one is dimly beginning to wonder whether the day may not come when worship in Hindu temples may be forbidden on that valid ground.
(4 September 1909)

For a moment, let us consider this from another point of view: Has all this minority appeasement resulted in their upliftment? Has it significantly changed their lives and brought them into the mainstream? Has it improved relations between the Mahomedans and people of other faiths? The answer to all three questions is an overwhelming no. Aurobindo makes a pertinent observation in this matter:

The attempt to placate the Mahomedans was a false diplomacy. Instead of trying to achieve Hindu-Muslim unity directly, if the Hindus had devoted themselves to national work, the Mahomedans would have gradually come of themselves… This attempt to patch up a unity has given too much importance to the Muslims and it has been the root of all these troubles.
(1 August 1926)

The fundamental argument of Aurobindo was simply that Hindus cannot eternally compromise in order to accommodate the Mahomedans, who will continue to ask for more. It has to be a two-way compromise. And this was the reason that Aurobindo opposed the Lucknow Pact of 1916, which was a dangerous compromise, undertaken merely to appease the Mahomedans. What began with the Partition of Bengal (1905) and worsened with the Morley-Minto Reforms (1909) reached its nadir with the Lucknow Pact and the subsequent support of the Congress to the Khilafat agitation. Aurobindo wrote in 1934:

As for the Hindu-Muslim affair, I saw no reason why the greatness of India’s past or her spirituality should be thrown into the waste paper basket in order to conciliate the Moslems who would not at all be conciliated by such policy. What has created the Hindu-Moslem split was not Swadeshi, but the acceptance of the communal principle by the Congress (here Tilak made his great blunder), and the further attempt by the Khilafat movement to conciliate them and bring them in on wrong lines. The recognition of that communal principle at Lucknow made them permanently a separate political entity in India which ought never to have happened; the Khilafat affair made that separate political entity an organised separate political power.

The Hindu compromise continued and in 1939, people began objecting to Vande Mataram because it portrayed India as a mother and as a goddess. (Even today, only a part of the song is rendered in all official renditions.) In this context, Aurobindo had a conversation with a disciple:

Disciple: There are some people who object to “Vande Mataram” as a national song. And some Congressmen support the removal of some parts of the song.

Aurobindo: In that case the Hindus should give up their culture.

Disciple: The argument is that the song speaks of Hindu gods, like Durga, and that is offensive to the Muslims.

Aurobindo: But it is not a religious song: it is a national song and the Durga spoken of is India as the Mother. Why should not the Muslims accept it? It is an image used in poetry. In the Indian conception of nationality, the Hindu view would naturally be there. If it cannot find a place there, the Hindus may as well be asked to give up their culture. The Hindus don’t object to “Allah-ho-Akbar”…

Why should not the Hindu worship his god? Otherwise, the Hindus must either accept Mohammedanism or the European culture or become atheists…

I told C. R. Das [in 1923] that this Hindu-Muslim question must be solved before the Britishers go, otherwise there was a danger of civil war. He also agreed and wanted to solve it…

Instead of doing what was necessary the Congress is trying to flirt with Jinnah, and Jinnah simply thinks that he has to obstinately stick to his terms to get them. The more they try, the more Jinnah becomes intransigent.
(30 December 1939)

If any of our politicians post-Independence had read this exchange and understood its import, perhaps our country wouldn’t have such acrimony and discord between Hindus and Muslims.

(This article was originally published HERE)

Historical Facts: Need to Tell Lies for National Integration?


By: Dr. S. L. Bhyrappa

I am grateful to Sri Girish Karnad, Sumatheendra Nadig, Dr. Chidananda Murthy, Dr. Suryanath Kamath, Dr. S. Shettar, Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh and others who responded earnestly to my article under the title ‘Nationalism can Never be Strengthened by Projecting Historical Lies.’ To continue the discussions about Mohammed Bin Tughlaq and Tipu Sultan would be just an exercise in extracting more details. What we really need to do is to analyze the present political attitudes in teaching history. In order to do this, let me first present what I learnt of the nature of the prevailing political control through my own experience.

During the year 1969-70 the Central Government under Mrs. Indira Gandhi established a committee under the Chairmanship of G. Parthasarathy, a diplomat close to Nehru-Gandhi family. Its task was to integrate the nation through education. At that time I was a reader in Educational Philosophy at NCERT and was selected as one of the five members of the committee. In our first meeting Mr. Parthasarathy, as Chairman of the committee explained the purpose of our committee in typically diplomatic language: “It is our duty not to sow the seeds of thorns in the minds of the growing children which will grow up as barriers to national integration. Such thorns are found mostly in the history courses. Occasionally we can find them in language and social science courses also. We have to weed them out. We have to include only such thoughts that go towards inculcating the concept of national integration firmly in the minds of our children. This committee carries this great responsibility.”

The other four members were nodding respectfully. But I said, “Sir, I am unable to understand your words. Will you please explain with a few illustrations?” The Chairman responded: “Ghazni Mohammed looted the Somnath Temple, Aurangzeb built mosques by demolishing the temples in Kashi and Mathura, he collected jizya — is it possible to build a strong India under the present circumstances by conveying such useless facts? What purpose do they serve, other than generating hatred?”

“But are they not historical truths?” I persisted.

“Plenty of truths are there. Using these truths judiciously is the wise way to teach history,” he retorted. The remaining four members simply nodded their heads saying, “Yes, yes.” But I was not prepared to let him off.

“You yourself gave examples of Kashi and Mathura. Even today, lakhs of pilgrims from all corners of the country visit these places every year. They can see for themselves the huge mosques built using the walls, pillars and columns that once belonged to demolished temples. They can also see a recently built cow shed like shack in a corner, behind the mosque, that serves as their temple. All these pilgrims are distressed to witness such awful structures. They describe the plight of their temples to their relatives after they return home. Can this create national integration? You can hide such history in the school texts. But can we hide such facts when these children go on excursions and see the truth for themselves? Researchers have listed more than thirty thousand such ruined temples in India. Can we hide them all?”

Mr. Parthasarthy interrupted me and asked: “You are a professor of philosophy. Can you please tell us what is the purpose of history?”

“Nobody can define the purpose of history. We do not know how the things will shape up because of the development of science and technology in the future. Some western thinkers might call it the philosophy of history. But such thoughts are futile. Our discussion here should be — what is the purpose of teaching history? History is seeking out the truths about our past events, learning about ancient human lives by studying the inscriptions, records, literary works, relics, artifacts, etc. We should learn also not to commit the same blunders that our predecessors committed. We have to imbibe the noble qualities that they adopted; historical truths help us to learn all these things.”

“What if this search for truth hurts the feelings of the minority? Can we divide society? Can we sow the seeds of poison?” He tried to stop me with these questions.

“Sir, the categorization on the lines of majority and minority would itself be dividing the society, or at least a step towards dividing the society. This idea of ‘seeds of poison’ is prejudiced. Why should the minority think of Gazni Mohammed and Aurangzeb as their own people and heroes? Mughal kingdom was destroyed by the religious bigotry of Aurangzeb. It was at its height in Akbar’s time because his policy of tolerance led to religious and social harmony. Can’t we teach such lessons to children without offending the historical truths? Before teaching the lessons to be learnt from the history, should we not explain the historical truths? This idea of hiding true history is driven politics. This trend will not last long. Whether they are minority or majority, if the education does not impart the character to face the truth with emotional maturity, such education is meaningless and also dangerous.” I replied.

Parthasarathy agreed. He said he appreciated my scholarship and the ability to think clearly. During the lunch break he called me aside, indicated his closeness to me by placing his hand on my shoulders. He then said with a winning smile: “What you say is correct academically. You go and write an article about what you said. But when the government formulates a policy covering the whole nation, it has to consider the interests of all the people. Intellectually pure principles do not serve any purpose.”

Next day when we met, I stuck to my stand. I argued that history that is not based on truth is futile and dangerous. I did not budge even when Parthasarathy showed his irritation on his face. The morning session closed without arriving at any conclusion. Parthasarathy did not speak to me again. We met again after a fortnight. The committee had been re-structured, without me. In my place was a lecturer in history by name Arjun Dev known for his leftist leanings. The revised text books of science and social studies published by NCERT and the new lessons that were introduced in these texts were written under his guidance. These are the books which were prescribed as texts in the Congress and Communist ruled states or they guided the text-book writers in these States.

Later, I commented on this in a speech I gave at Alwas Nudisiri, in October 2005:

In the NCERT books for XI standard, the Ancient India part is written by the Marxist historian R.S. Sharma and the Medieval India part is by Satish Chandra, also a Marxist. When examined, one can observe that how members belonging to this group had a scheme to brainwash the minds of growing children. According to them Ashoka preached to respect even [stress is mine] Brahmins by advocating the quality of tolerance. He had banned the ritual of sacrificing the animals and birds. When the performance of yajnas was stopped due to this ban, Brahmins lost their share of dakshina (cash gifts) and their livelihood was affected. The Maurya empire disintegrated after Ashoka and many parts of this kingdom came under the rule of Brahmins.

How childish can one be — to claim that a highly influential religion that had spread all over India and even beyond declined because dissatisfied Brahmins were deprived of their dakshina (cash gifts)? Their other claim is that Muslims demolished temples to loot the riches and wealth accumulated in these temples. This explanation is supposed to rationalize their actions. In some other context they may even say the looting may be according to the laws of Sharia, which again paints the events as legally sanctioned.

Actually, Buddhism did not disappear from India after Ashoka. The truth was told by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, a Buddhist himself. In the section, The Decline and Fall of Buddhism (Writings and Speeches, Volume III, Government of Maharashtra, 1987, pp. 229-38) he noted that after Muslim invaders destroyed the universities of Nalanda, Vikramasheela, Jagaddala, Odanthapura, etc., followed by brutal killings of the Buddhist monks, the survivors were forced to escape to Nepal, Tibet, and other neighbouring countries to save their lives. As he wrote, “The roots of Buddhism were axed. Islam killed Buddhism by killing priestly class of Buddhism. This is the worst catastrophe suffered by Buddhism in India.”

Like the Devil quoting the scriptures, Marxists quote Ambedkar whenever it is convenient for them to denigrate Hinduism, but ignore his inconvenient words like, “The decline of Buddhism in India is due to the terrifying actions of Muslims.” R.S. Sharma the author of a textbook on Ancient India (New Delhi: NCERT, 1992. p. 112) writes, “Buddha viharas attracted Turkish invaders because of their wealth. They were the special greedy targets for the invaders. Turks killed many Buddhist monks. Despite these killings, many monks escaped to Nepal and Tibet.”

Who were these Turks? Hindus? Here the clever Marxist Sharma has hidden the fact that these ‘Turks’ were Muslims who destroyed these religious places as dictated by Sharia (Islamic Law). He tries to hide this fact by calling Muslims of Turkey with only the tribal name Turkish. At the same time they (he and others) write that Buddhism declined during Ashoka’s reign because of Brahmins who were deprived of their dakshina (monetary gifts). One should appreciate their sophistry — hiding the truth about Turks being Muslims, but creating the falsehood that Brahmins deprived of dakshina were responsible for the decline of Buddhism after Ashoka. Latin rhetoricians called such a tactic suppressio veri, suggestio falsi.

(This article originally published HERE)

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