If Rajinikanth can't stop Hindu hardliners, who can?

You are all-seeing, all-knowing, all-pervasive. You know what is happening.

 |  Rough Cut  |  3-minute read |   14-09-2015
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Dear Rajinikanth,

You are master of the universe. You are the creator of an alternative world where Osama bin Laden killed himself because he knew that the US had sought your help to find him; that Monalisa got her smile from you; that you can hit six sixes in one ball; and that you know the last digit of pi.

You are all-seeing, all-knowing, all-pervasive. You know what is happening.

It's the great closing of the Indian mind, the miniaturisation of our world, the shrinking of our freedoms.

First they told us not to eat beef. Then they told us not to eat meat on certain days in certain states because we shouldn't offend religious sensibilities.

Then they told us they would erase our history, change names of roads, turn our museums into shrines to "governance" and rewrite our textbooks.

They also told us not to watch porn, but to practise yoga.

They told us the Quran and Bible were not germane to our culture, the Bhagavad Gita is.

They killed rationalists who challenged their beliefs, and sent threatening messages to those who continue to speak up.

They said Ganesha was the first example of cosmetic surgery and Karna the first example of IVF.

They put dimwits in charge of our institutions of education and culture because they believe all academic institutions, especially those globally acclaimed, are either dens of sloth or arenas of left-liberal views, or both.They told us everything we had been led to believe was twisted because the true believers were not in power.

Now you who have always stood for right in your movies; you, who have maintained an equidistance from both powerhouse political parties in Tamil Nadu; you, who have always kept your counsel; you, who have always been a role model, please do not succumb to intimidation.

You, who can drown a fish, who can play a violin with a piano, who knows what came first - egg or chicken; never surrender.

Certain groups have told you Tipu Sultan was a foreigner and an aggressor. Senior BJP leader L Ganesan, who I presume is a noted historian in his spare time, has said that "Tipu was an aggressor, who committed maximum atrocities against Hindus. Rajinikanth will never take up a role to portray such a character. Knowing the history, how can I be silent when there are attempts to glorify foreigners who invaded us and our culture."

Charming fellow. People of similar persuasion had raised a ruckus when the government of Karnataka wanted to run Republic Day with a statue of Tipu Sultan. May I offer them some words from an actual historian, Irfan Habib?

When I wrote about the protests against the Republic Day float in India Today (Whose Tiger is it Anyway? questions Kaveree Bamzai...), he told me: "It is necessary for all those of extreme persuasion to attack the nation's composite culture, of which Tipu was a fine example (being fluent in several languages, among them Persian and French). Only once that aspect of Indian civilisation is destroyed can it be rebuilt as a monolith. Hence the many assaults on all those who best embody this tradition, from Asoka, whose originality of Buddhist thought many have tried to ignore, to Akbar who, instead of the great secularist, becomes merely the grandson of Babur. It is also, perhaps, why certain notions are perpetuated.”

It is also why the past is being reconstructed and the nuances overlooked. So yes, Aurangzeb did re-impose jiziya and he did destroy several temples, but he also patronised the Vrindavan temple. Yes, Tipu did persecute Hindus in Malabar but he followed a different philosophy within Mysore.

Surely you, who can watch radio, make onions cry, and have caused dark spots on the moon because of shooting practice, know this.

You know we are here because of all who went before us - the Hindus and the Muslims, the Mughals and the British; the Nehrus and the Jinnahs.

Because if you give in, what chance do mere mortals have?

Yours,

A fan

Writer

Kaveree Bamzai Kaveree Bamzai @kavereeb

Editor-at-Large, India Today Group

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