22. Professor K. Lakshminarayana
22. Professor K. Lakshminarayana
With reference to Dr. Godbole’s analysis of the eight conceptions of the so-called Hindu Organizations regarding the Muslim Problem, his first two responsive comments reiterate the fact that Cults of Uniformism masquerading as religions are bound to be imperialist aggressors.
Regarding the third conception ‘Islam is good but Muslims are bad’ - Dr Godbole has rightly reiterated that the difficulty resides in the Cult that is fundamental to the group consciousness of the Muslims. The problem, however, seems to be more complicated. On the one hand, there are the ‘Hindu Caste’ Muslims (HCMs). On the other hand there are those whom the HCMs call ‘Musalmans’ (MMs)*. The latter appear to recognize themselves as foreigners and as erstwhile and would-be rulers. They tend to align themselves strategically with our ‘Secular Progressives’. Hindus will have to interact differently with these two groups, but interact they must. Healthy interaction with the HCMs cannot be based either on appeasement or on aggression. Before anything in the way of fruitful interaction can happen, Hindu Society has to get organically strengthened. The synthetic top-to-down organization is doomed to fail.
Dr. Godbole points out: ‘If Muslims renounce Islam, they will also become tolerant.’ People, however, do not renounce things: they keep them for use. When their perceived security and other needs are better satisfied at some future date by aligning with the strong (i.e. the organically strengthened Hindu Society), the problem disappears. Shri Ram Swarup has rightly pointed out that when our Hindu National Society regains its prestige (by virtue of its strength), this alignment and return will automatically take place. The real problem is how to shake loose of the stranglehold of the secularist progressives on the one hand and that of those who have hijacked the Hindu ‘card’ on the other. This latter comment does not refer to those who are working for the upliftment of our Hindu Society.
Dr. Godbole’s response to perceptions 4, 5, 6 and 8 are very well taken, except to add that BJP itself has been moving towards being another Congress. People may prefer the original to the duplicate.
Item 7 calls for further comment. The response that the community’s leaders are not the primary cause of isolationism needs more careful consideration. The leaders (MMs) sustain themselves on this isolation (of the HCMs). The former are to be bypassed. This can happen only when the ‘alignment with the strong’ mentioned earlier takes place. The upper layers of the community see practical advantage in the separate identity of the community: nurtured by our Constitution and Realpolitik. When the advantage lies with alignment/return, no leader and no ism will really come in the way of younger generations. These will be intent on making good in this world.
Dr. Godbole’s comments on the ‘Sarva Dharma Samadar Manch’ are fully justified. It is only necessary to add, with reference to his item 3, that there is one group of oppressors and a different group of victims within the same community. Developments such as this Samadar Manch are perhaps only an indication that the RSS is tired and apprehends failure on the political front.
Equality of Religions as Secularism
Several eminent and well-meaning people have been enunciating Secularism in the Indian context as ‘equality of religions’. Let us see the implications of this approach.
It must be clearly understood at the very outset that the term religion is used for two entirely different approaches to life. We have religions which may be variously described as uniformist, exclusivist, outer seeking, aggressively converting. There are, on the other hand, religions which may be variously described as pluralistic, inclusive, inner seeking, non-aggressive. This second variety reject the first variety as false and such repudiation is inherent in them, even though not put forward as a tenet. They cover Hinduism (including Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism of the Gurus), Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism and others. People of these religions see heir religious cultures and spiritual approaches as having essentially the same eternal and true foundation. Equality of religions is thus inherent within this second variety. On the other hand, each religion of the first variety holds itself as the only true one and all others as false. This exclusivism is in fact fundamental to its existence. Equality of religions is thus fundamentally excluded by the first variety.
If Secularism is part of the basic structure of the Constitution as has been regularly emphasized by our higher judiciary and if, at the same time, Secularism is equality of religions, then there is only one way of upholding the Constitution in this matter. That is, the State is bound not to encourage the practice of/subscription to the first variety of religions. This is under a policy of benevolent neutrality. At least one member of our higher judiciary has taken the view that Indian Secularism consists of an active pursuit of the policy of equality of religions, benevolent neutrality not being good enough. In that case the State will have to positively discourage the practice of the first variety (if not ban it) and specially encourage the practice of the second variety. And it has to take positive steps to prevent discrimination within the second variety.
Persons occupying the highest positions in the land, such as members of the Cabinet, judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts and the Election Commissioners, have to take the oath to uphold the Constitution. That is, at least the basic structure and, therefore, Secularism. Even under a policy of benevolent neutrality, people subscribing to the first variety will not be able to take the oath. Their oath will be invalid without a repudiation of their current membership of the first variety of religions. They may of course commit fraud with the connivance of their communities, as a sincere oath will mean Apostasy. Much more simply, the oath becomes meaningless just like so many other oaths.
‘Equality of Religions’ as Secularism is, however, not the definition followed by most members of our political establishment and the Press. Their definition has long been made the clearest, even if not stated: encourage the first variety and discourage the second variety.
The recent apex court pronouncement on Hindutva essentially means, in my understanding, that the second variety, taken as a whole, is not a religion. That is of course true: it is simply Religion with a capital R and without the article a. And it covers many who are not looking for any mystery or even enlightenment.
Most human beings, left to themselves, are automatically in the second variety. The State does not have to do anything in this regard. Its duty, on the other hand, is at least not to encourage uniformist and hence exclusivist creeds. These creeds include both the ‘religious’ and the ‘secular’ varieties. ‘Secularism’ is thus a term unfit to be used to describe any liberal and humanistic policy of the Indian State.
It is also pertinent to point out that the doctrine of Neutrality of the State is a pernicious one. Only a Government by the Aliens can take that attitude or, as in our case, a Government by the Alienated. A democratic State must be imbued with the consciousness of the people and their culture and civilization at the deepest levels.
Agehananda Bharati: Hindu Views and Ways and the Hindu-Muslim Interface, New Delhi, 1981, p. 90 and ref. to A.C. Mayer (1 966). [The writer of this response lives in Chennai.]