1. Legacy of hate
New Delhi, 15 August 1994
1. Legacy of hate Hindus and Muslims must endeavour to undo partition
By K. R. Malkani1
The Hindu-Muslim problem is a fact of Indian life. This problem is a legacy of the past, particularly that of the recent past, when the British gave it a new and dangerous twist, resulting in the partition of India. And it is a problem that sours relations, distorts the whole Indian polity and acts as a drag on the country. The task of Indian statesmanship is to resolve this problem amicably in the light of historic experience and the Indian genius of harmonisation.
Gandhiji used to compare the Hindu-Muslim conflict to Saivite-Vaishnavite rivalries of bygone ages. He was probably oversimplifying matters. Saivites and Vaishnavites - and Buddhists and Jains - shared the same idiom, the same milieu and the same culture. Islam represents not only a new religion, a new kind of religion, but also a religion couched in a Turko-Persio-Arabian idiom. Fortunately, the Prophet of Islam has a very positive view of India. He once said to his wife Hind, ‘May Allah bless the country after which you are named.’ That is something to build on.
Also the Hindu-Muslim interaction over the centuries gives hope for a harmonious solution in the fullness of time. But for the British interregnum, with its ‘Divide and Rule’ games, Hindus and Muslims would, by now, have worked out an abiding and mutually satisfactory system of peaceful coexistence, just as Catholics and Protestants have done in Europe is spite of long and bloody religious wars. Let us not forget that Hindus and Muslims jointly fought the British in 1857.
Nor was this a one-time exception. The Hindu-Muslim interaction has produced gems like Kabir and Khusrau, Akbar and Dara Shikoh, Jaisi and Rahiman. Mughal rule was basically a Mughal-Rajput coalition. And Safdarjang was busy putting together a Mughal-Maratha coalition when the tragedy of 1761 struck the country.2 After Ghazni and Ghori invasions, there were no wholly Muslim or wholly Hindu armies in India.
As per ancient Indian royal practice, the Mughal monarchs drank only Gangajal. They celebrated Basant and Holi, Dussehra and Divali. Jahangir used to have Shraadh ceremony for his late father Akbar. While the polity was basically in Muslim hands, the economy was in Hindu hands. Muslim kings and nawabs invariably had Hindu accountants. And Aurangzeb trusted only Rajputs to guard his harem. Apart from the loot by Ghazni, Nadirshah and Abdali, there was no drain on wealth from India Even after centuries of Muslim rule, the ‘Wealth of Ind’ was known the world over. Notwithstanding Islamic injunctions, the Indian Muslims gave themselves ‘Pirs’ - on the model of ‘Gurus’. The Rath evolved into the ‘Tazia’. And even the Lord of the Seven Hills of Tirupati was given a Turkish wife, ‘Thuluka Nachiyar’. Sir Syed Ahmed, founder of the Aligarh movement, initially regarded himself a ‘Hindu’. Even the East India Company referred to Indian Muslims as ‘Hindu Musalmans’. The word ‘Indian’ was rightly translated as ‘Hindu’. That should happen again.
The Hindu-Muslim problem as we know it today is basically a gift of the British after 1857 - and particularly after 1921. It was they who took steps to divide Hindu and Muslim, Hindu and Sikh, ‘upper’ castes and ‘lower’ castes, ‘Aryan’ North and ‘Dravidian’ South - and who succeeded the most in dividing Hindus and Muslims. We have to see through this game and work steadily for effecting Hindu-Muslim reconciliation on the unexceptionable principle of ‘Justice for All and Appeasement of None’.
Among the Indian parties, Bharatiya Janata Party alone can undertake this task. It is just like in the US where only the Republicans, traditionally known for their strong anti-communism, could win and call off the Cold War with Russia; the US Democrats could never have done it because they were generally viewed by Americans as ‘Pinkos’ and ‘appeasers’. Likewise, because BJP is perceived as the guardian angel of national interests, its principled policy of ‘Justice for All’ will not be misunderstood as sell-out of Hindu interests. And at the same time it will command greater acceptance among Muslims who view the Congress as hypocritical and BJP as frank but honest.
Sri Aurobindo’s articulation of the problem and its solution appears singularly apt: ‘Hindu-Mohamedan unity cannot be effected by political adjustment or Congress Batteries. 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 must strive to remove the causes of misunderstanding by a better mutual knowledge and sympathy; we must extend the unflattering love of the patriot to our Mussalman brother, remembering that to him too our Mother has given a permanent place in her bosom; but we must cease to approach him falsely or flatter him out of a selfish weakness and cowardice What is wanted is some new religious movement among the Mohammedans which would remodel their religion and change the stamp of their temperament.’ Karmayogin, Vol. 2, P. 24).
Specifically we can consider the following steps:
Rewrite Indian history - not to whitewash negative aspects, but to incorporate the positive ones, deliberately left out by British historians;3
Accept Indian Muslims as ‘Muslim Indians’ or ‘Mohammedi Hindus’ and see them with a friendly eye - ‘mittrasya chakshusha, pashyema’ - as our brothers, while the latter regard Bharatvarsh as sacred Matribhoomi and look upon partition as a sin;
Unhesitatingly expose any wrongdoing or wrong expression by erring Muslims, but not suspect or condemn the community wholesale;
We don’t have to be allergic to Muslim States. We have age-old cultural links with Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia and these links need reviving and strengthening. And we can have cooperative relations with Egypt, Algeria etc. in our war on fundamentalist terrorism;
Every Indian should eschew any pejorative terms or slogans about the other community;
Until now Muslim leadership has been misappropriated by the likes of Shahabuddin and Imam Bukhari. Their intemperate statements provoke equally intemperate Hindu response. Muslim intelligentsia should come forward to respond coolly to Hindu-Muslim situations, as and when they arise. Their moderation will also moderate the Hindu response.
Through these and other measures we should decelerate the level of conflict and prepare for national harmony in the Hindustan Peninsula. Once we move in this general direction of Hindu-Muslim reconciliation, the whole rationale of partition will melt away. Pakistan may continue as a single State - or it may decentralise into half a dozen States - but the whole area then would be separate but friendly. Our political goal should be a confederation or Common Market of the Hindustan Peninsula, with proper autonomy for the States or provinces, and security of life, limb and honour for all people from the Khyber Pass to Kanyakumari.
Shri K. R. Malkani, ex-editor of the RSS weekly Organiser, refuses resolutely to read Islamic Dogmatics, howsoever authentic. His appetite for Islamic Apologetics, however, is insatiable. He can swallow any number of spurious Traditions (hadis) without batting an eye. And he has a genius for producing sweet stories about Islam and Muslim out of his hat. The stories that follow in this article provide some specimens of wishful thinking on a spree. ↩
Safdar Jang died in October 1754, seven years before ‘the tragedy of 1761’ by which Malkani means the Third Battle of Panipat in which Ahmad Shah Abdali defeated the Marathas with active assistance of an army from the Nabobdom of Oudh. In any case, even during Safdar Jang’s time, the Marathas were his hired mercenaries rather than his allies. ↩
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and the Muslim-Marxist historians from Aligarh and JNU have already done the job and whitewashed Muslim rule in India beyond recognition. In fact, Malkani has swallowed that whitewashed version hook, line and sinker. Unfortunately for him, the British historians were too honest to accomplish that feat. It is a shame that he should be selling to Hindus the aspersions which Muslim and Marxist manipulators of human minds or crooks like ‘Pandit’ Sunderlal have cast on honest scholarship. ↩