HINDU RASHTRA IS NOT THEOCRACY
Ajai Sahni, Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management & South Asia terrorism portal wrote in Tribune, “If the demand for a ‘Hindu India’ is legitimate, so must be the demand for a Sikh ‘Khalistan’. A few days before that Amritpal Singh Paji drew a parallel between the idea of Hindu Rashtra and Khalistan.
The words Hindu Rashtra are used often. Translated into English it means Hindu Nation. It sounds as if its proponents are suggesting some monolith, theocratic nation like what exists in Europe and the Middle East. The concept of nation comes from the Westphalian model of nationhood i.e. a European construct and alien to India.
Further, the European Enlightenment Project inaugurated by Immanuel Kant cannot be applied wholesale to our nation. We are a “Dharmic” nation with each aspect of our governance already codified. We have a better and humane political thinker in Chanakya than we can ever find in the works of Machiavelli.
Actually, Dharmic Culture is at the root of Indian nationhood.
Senior journalist Sandhya Jain reiterated this in a Daily Pioneer article, “Former President Pranab Mukherji asserted that India was a state long before the European Nation State rose after 1648, based on the notion of a defined territory, single language, shared religion and a common enemy. Indian nationhood rests on the universal philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (world is family) and Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah, Sarve Santu Niramayah (may all be healthy and happy). The Hindu meaning is that which is applicable or can be adopted voluntarily by all (e.g. Yoga, mutual coexistence etc.). The monotheist concept is that which should be imposed upon all (religion, culture, thinking, et al).”
It is only when we realize this will we know that India cannot be a theocratic state like others. To buttress this argument the author gives examples of evolution of Christianity in the West and shares thoughts of Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo and senior journalist, the late Girilal Jain.
India is a Hindu majority nation just like U.S.A. and England are Christian majority and Saudi Arabia Muslim majority. However, there are significant differences between Indic and Abrahamic faiths. It is like comparing apples with grapes.
The U.S. President takes oath of office with one hand on the Bible. We are willing to accept that without a murmur but the very mention of Hindu Rashtra! No Indian Prime Minister takes oath on the Vedas or the Holy Gita.
Do we know that long before the concept of nation state and Constitution came into being India gave shelter to persecuted Jews and Parsis amongst others?
The word Indic is often used in this article. It means Indian thought and is a combination of the nine schools of Indian philosophy which are Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Sakhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Vedanta, Carvaka, Jaina and Buddhist. Others are a mixture of the ideas in these systems. Using modern day connotations Indic means Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh people.
Here are some points of differences between Indic and Western evolution and concepts.
J Sai Deepak tells about life in pre-1648 Europe. He wrote that power was distributed among the pope, bishops and the Holy Roman Emperor etc. There Christ was the only way to reach God and Christ could be reached only through the Church. Further, “The Augsburg Settlement allowed each State within the empire to determine its Christian denominational identity, which laid the foundation for sovereign States in Europe.”
Conversely, in Bharat followers of Dharma were never governed by the equivalent of a Church. There were multiple ways to moksha that co-existed. Indian thought is intertwined; so Lord Indra, a Vedic deity, can be worshipped in Buddhism too.
This compilation by author, based on the Institute of Culture volumes published by the Ramakrishna Mission, tells how different parts of India, including modern day Afghanistan, contributed to its religious thought. Different parts of India contributed to Indian Religious Thought .It means “Saab ka Saath”, involving all. Indians did not need an Augsburg Settlement to do this. It was a natural process of evolution because i.e. the way Indics are. But, the British imposed the Westphalia nation-state modal on a society as diverse and different from Europe.
Secondly, another key difference between the West and Bharat is philosophy vs. “darsana”. Philosophy is a Western word which mainly relies on intellectual pursuit. The corresponding Indian word is Darsana which relies on direct vision of the truth (experienced by ancient sages all over Bharat) and pure Buddhi (reasoning).
Thinkers from different schools debated with each other. For example Adi Sankara and Mandana Misra. This interactive process was ongoing, meaning old ways of thinking were forever giving way to the new.
Indians thus, are not stuck in the past.
In Indic thought, there is nothing like “this is the only way to mukti”. There exist multiple ways.
It seems opponents of Hindu Rashtra are probably benchmarking with the West and Middle East where there is only one way. Thus, they are unable to comprehend the Indic way. I am all for imbibing good points from the West, which are many, but you cannot understand your nation based on foreign concepts.
Thirdly, Dharma Maharshi Aurobindo said, “It has been said that democracy is based on the rights of man; it has been replied that it should rather take its stand on the duties of man; but both rights and duties are European ideas. Dharma is the Indian conception in which rights and duties lose the artificial antagonism created by a view of the world, which makes selfishness the root of action, and regain their deep and eternal unity. Dharma is the basis of democracy which Asia must recognize, for in this lies the distinction between the soul of Asia and the soul of Europe.”
Senior Journalist, the late Girilal Jain wrote, “In the Hindu view, the state has to be an expression of the Hindu ethos and personality. Such a state cannot either discriminate against any religious group or impose a uniform pattern on the inhabitants. Indeed, it would feel obliged to look after their well-being and the preservation of their ways of life.”
He also wrote, “Indian culture has been known for its catholicity and willingness to give as well as take. It withdrew into a shell when it felt gravely threatened and became rigid; but that is understandable”.
Swami Vivekananda said in his 1893 Chicago address, “Unity in variety is the plan of nature, and the Hindu has recognized it.” Thus, the same festival Holi and Dussehra are celebrated differently across India.
Indics might realize that Indian Culture does not impose itself on other cultures; it gets assimilated or assimilates. Maharshi Aurobindo said in 1919, “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.”
Then why are Hindus protesting?
Hindus are protesting because they desire equal rights under law as enunciated here, disbanding of European and undefined concepts like Secularism and Minority, a Constitution i.e. rooted in Indian ethos and freedom to manage their temples. Simply put, they desire a level playing field and wish to “renew themselves in the spirit of their civilization” and preserve their unique civilization.
Indics wish history to be written without prejudice. But why is the past important?
Swami Vivekananda said in 1895, “Now days everybody blames those who constantly look back to their past. It is said that so much of looking back to the past is the cause of all of India’s woes. So long as they forgot the past, the Hindu nation remained in a state of stupor and as soon as they have begun to look into their past, there is on every side a fresh manifestation of life. It is out of this past that the future has to be molded.”
Without deep diving into Indic thought Hindu Rashtra cannot be simply translated as Hindu Nation and construed that India would be a theocratic state like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
We must also realize that democracy has deep roots in India. It is not a colonial gift.
The Followers of Dharma want Bharat to be the Land of Dharma, so aptly described in the Supreme Court logo, “Yato dharma tato Jaya’; where there is dharma, there is victory.”
Bharat can never become a Rashtra like the countries of the West or Middle East. If India ceases to be the land of Dharma the world will become poorer because the knowledge of spirituality, yog and ayurved would be lost forever. If Dharma ceases to exist India may be divided like Sudan, Africa into Muslim and Christian parts.
All Indians, higher judiciary and bureaucracy included, need to re-discover Bharatiya samskriti and darsana so they realize that India can never be a Hindu Rashtra as the West and Middle East understand it.