Why Not?

It is understandable that re-conversions and Sanskrit science are raising a lot more outrage than Peshawar or Paris amidst the secular brigade here. After all, are not the quixotic tantrums of the Togadia tribe deemed more dangerous than the bloody massacres unleashed by madcaps worldover, all of whom happen to have one common denomination, er, denominator? Indeed, such irony can be dismissed as idiotic but for the insidious intent.

The distortion of India’s history is not an innocuous incident but a conspicuous conspiracy to de-racinate a civilisation that had a legitimate claim to an unfathomable vintage more than any. The original motives stemmed from the 19th century Victorian era. Wizened by Macaulay and a ‘mutiny’ – War of Independence, in our terms – the British divided the people and detached them from their roots. Chronology was concocted to suit colonial agendas and missionaries were unleashed to disrupt social orders through conversions. But the big tragedy was, instead of rectifying and reclaiming real history as all self-respecting freedom-fresh nations do, India’s Nehruvian genetics that dominated the country ever since, just kept to its notorious foreign fads, Edwina to Sonia included.

Not surprisingly, India was supposedly born only in 1947 to the ‘liberal’ lullaby of Nehru, with its horoscope fixed by enlightened JNU left-wingers. This mid-night child has been conditioned to think through textbooks and official propaganda that barbaric ‘bad’shahs and bullies like Babur, Akbar and Aurangazeb were actually benign, benevolent ancestors. Shahjahan is romanticised as the ultimate lover despite concrete, rather, marble evidence, in tomes and tombs, of his harems overflowing with multitudes of Mumtazs, a head count that would warrant building of many Taj Mahals. Really these medieval ‘achievements’ are ideally fit for textbooks in Paki, a nascent nation that had little else to call its own beyond Mughal legacy. But secular India retains these shameful stereotypes out of fear of offending those left behind!

Ditto with colonial period history. The brutal British plunderers are touted to have ‘nourished’ this notional nation, pre-natal! But for them there was no India at all in the first place! They are unifiers of a disparate people while in reality the parting kick of partition perpetrated by the white men still haunts us. But even worse is the inheritance of a cancerous mindset that afflicts our intelligentsia and seeped into our education system. The imposed suppression has morphed into self-suppression. The veil of ignorance, maya or avidya, spun on post-independence generations seems stuck. Indeed, despite freedom, our hoary past remains imprisoned in academic obscurity, political hypocrisy and media flippancy. The margs of our capital New Delhi are proof of this stale pudding.

The NCERT textbook has an evocative lesson on Mother Teresa, a missionary, but nary anything on Swami Vivekananda, a true national icon. The former’s posthumous ‘sainthood’ based on dubious miracles was hailed by secular, rational media here in all reverence. But Hindu Swamijis are put to microscopic scrutiny and often ridiculed summarily. To our students and scribes, the word ‘renaissance’ evokes colourful images of medieval Europe; but the flourishing of arts, sculpture, culture, literature and religious poetry of Kalidasa, Alwars and Nayanmars et al under Pallavas and Guptas more than a thousand years earlier barely register as renaissance. Karikala Cholan’s anaicut, an unsurpassed architectural wonder, Sushruta’s medicinal treatises and Aryabhatta’s astronomy still remain great predecessors and stiff challengers to modern claimants.

There are gems of greater antiquity littered all over this far-flung country waiting to be uncovered but crumbling colonial eyesores of recent dating are prime candidates for heritage status. ‘Communal’ Ram Sethu should make way for dubious commerce but secular symbols of slavery will survive even much needed public projects like Metro Rail! This push is not to peddle ‘unproven’ past glories but to unapologetically own up our ancient treasure troves that can only enrich us. Those of us with a true scientific or anthropological bent of mind should rise above practised political polemics and the cultivated aversion of anything labelled spiritual, particularly of the indigenous kind. To think that we are more ‘civilised’ and advanced than our ‘primitive’ ancestors is a toxic cocktail of arrogance and ignorance. The idea that Western thought is superior is even more stupid. Despite giant strides their scientific materialism has long collapsed in the face of oriental wisdom, notably Indology. Vedas, Upanisads, Gita and Tamil Sangam literatures are now subjects of intense study, not for the sake of deities but for valuable data. That the much sought after ‘God Particle’ could be our scriptural ‘atma’ is slowly dawning on scientists there.

Is not a level playing field overdue? After all have not the snooty, self-styled sentinels of secularism had too long a shift? Rather, it seems quite secular to saffronise a bit too to balance the scales! A suppressed culture has every right to break free from a stifling mould and present its case and credentials.

But all arguments apart, if history is what the victor writes, is it not fair for Modi & co, the clear winners of the latest political round, to have a go?

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Jawahar T R