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What if India becomes a Hindu Rashtra?

Fear, hate and insecurity will be exploited to push down anti-people policies aimed at greater control and more profit.

 |   Long-form |   27-02-2018
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When I was 13 years old, I found a book in my maternal grandparents' library; it is one of the inherited books which eventually found its way into my own library. The hardbound book in blackish blue colour was already old when I first encountered it. The pages had turned sepia and rust coloured spots had surfaced. What drew me to the book was written on its spine in light mustard yellow.

The Sacred Fire: The Story of Sex in Religion: BZ Goldberg - were on the top of the spine. Jarrolds - was at the bottom.

It was printed in "Great Britain by Lowe and Brydone Printers Ltd., London, NW10"; the illustrated book was "First Published 1931 7/6 edition 1937". It has 287 pages - including the Bibliography and The Index. The title page of the book said "Fourth Impression". The book was dedicated "To Maroussia".

There is an intriguing aspect in the book. There is a black-and-white sticker on the inside cover. It shows an open book with a lotus on it; an ink pen is resting on the lotus. This is set against a circle with many circles - dots circle the periphery of the largest circle. Below this is printed: MJ Gordhandas.

This is the personal sticker of the person who once owned this book. I know this because there is a signature with a black ink pen on the opposite page of the sticker. The signature is of MJ Gordhandas.

Either he or someone else was researching about something; many lines and paragraphs in the book are marked with a pencil, or many pencils. It is certain that one person had marked everything - the style of the markings is similar throughout the pages.

The book has four parts. The author went through the history of religion - all the major religions - and drew out the deep rooted relationship between sexuality and religion through anecdotes, fables, illustrations, history, symbolism, philosophy and theology.

In spite of the tingling irritation I feel in my eyes and on my skin - that always happens when one is reading an old book - I often returned to the text as a teenager.

I always had to wash my hands and my face a couple of times to save myself from the irritation caused by the invisible dust mites.

How I read the book has evolved over time. I am no longer the boy of 13 who was drawn to the book by spotting the word "Sex" in the title.

I have come to know and understand other things. But my fascination for the book as a teenager was very deep, and I had written down several quotes in a notebook.

Just like someone who gathers flowers in a vase, I gathered all the quotes which I liked in the notebook.

In Book Four, the Epilogue is titled: God's Way in Love. I quote the following from that part:

"Love, the physical force, has become the great spiritual power that makes for the creative arts, for the sense of beauty and of the higher values. And all this was brought about by the divine element that entered into love somewhere in its course of evolution. It was God's way in love."

"Without love, religion would have remained a mixture of fear and magic."

This was the quote that made me realise very early in life that there is no true religion without love.

When you take love out of religion, then it becomes dangerous - both for religion and the human. When you start to inject hate into the central foundation of religion, and replace love with fear, then it becomes a scourge, a terror and a fall.

*

If I have to ideate how a "Hindu Rashtra" will look like, I have to imagine a widespread "theocratic mindset" that has replaced the sublime feelings of soul (love, humanity, compassion, joy and truth) as the central foundation of religious sentiment with the coarse emotions of ego (hate, arrogance, anger, fear and greed).

In Hindu Rashtra, esoteric Hinduism will mutate into virulent Hindutva, where ritual, tokenism and symbolism will override spiritual knowledge, wisdom and transcendence.

In the above context, something else comes to my mind. Something a friend of mine had told me when "the high anxiety possible nuclear war scenario" between India and Pakistan developed in 2016 - more in the war-mongering TV news channels than in the real world - after the famous or the infamous "surgical strike", however you look at it, by the Modi government.

My friend is a theatre artist and a motivational and spiritual speaker who gives talks all around India. He told me that there is a shady person in his neighbourhood who is into all kinds of dodgy business, but he is the self-declared "most religious and most nationalistic" person in the neighbourhood. My friend said, "the Hindu nationalist now wants to see India drop nuclear bombs on Pakistan so that he can watch the 'live telecast' while being religious and patriotic, after his vegetarian evening meal. As if, a nuclear war is a kind of reality TV show like Big Boss. He hasn't read a single article about Svetlana Alexievich's Voices from Chernobyl; he hasn't even heard of a nuclear winter."

This made me think of a phenomenon that I am always noticing in our society; more so since 2014. People who are overtly religious and overtly nationalistic seem to think that they can do their religious and nationalistic activities, without trying to be a better person or seeing the adverse effects that their vile actions are causing upon others.

In their minds, there is a total disconnect between real spirituality and ritualistic religion; and between real patriotism and propaganda nationalism.

hindu-690_022718025844.jpgA self-centred tribalism prevails in their minds which "de-humanises" people who are deemed as "enemies".

Hinduism says just the opposite: every thought matters, every action counts, every deed is significant. The goal should be to care about the world and to strive to make a contribution that helps, but doesn't harm anyone - whether that other person belongs to one's community, religion or nationality, it doesn't matter.

The absence of higher ethical and spiritual ideals within the zealously religious and the zealously nationalistic confounds me.

A self-centred tribalism prevails in their minds which "de-humanises" people who are deemed as "enemies". This justifies violent acts towards the "enemies", and normalises criminal behaviour. The sense of outrage diminishes; warm blood begins to turn cold.

The inner mirrors that reflect our own deeds to us, and help us to soul-search in order to rectify our own errors, either break down or get obscured by grime.

If this mindset becomes the default mindset of Hindu Rashtra, then the dominant values will be religion without soul, actions without ethics and life without conscience: and in one phrase, "tryst with calamity".

*

Hindu Rashtra will be a brew of Hindutva and neoliberal capitalism. In its fullest avatar, it will be a neoliberal theocratic authoritarian corporate state where vested business interests will override social justice; the government will be "fully privatised" and work for the good of the very few.

Society will be kept obsessed and distracted with polarisation, shallowness, materialism, worship of glitz, manufactured "enemies" and emotive "issues" by the multiple propaganda channels: the press, the media and the social media.

A sham democracy without real democratic values will develop, the constitutional principles will be violated, and then, the Constitution itself will be changed; power will get more centralised, federalism will suffer, social welfare spending will be reduced, human development indices will sink, ecological balance will break down, environmental catastrophes will happen and the state will hold a disproportional stranglehold over the lives of the citizens through totalitarian surveillance and reduction of choice and liberty.

Citizens might develop a sort of emotional bipolarity where they will be able to hold contrary emotions at the same time, due to their daily exposure to laughable absurdities and terrifying socio-economic realities marked with rising inequalities, high cost of living, religious and caste violence and regional tensions brought about due to the attempted imposition of the Hindi-Hindutva-Hindustan cow-belt culture and far Right worldview upon the diversity of plural India.

In Hindu Rashtra, the one per cent will gain more, at the cost of the 99 per cent. Crony capitalism will rule the roost. Wealth will flow - from the share of the poor and the middle class to the super-wealthy - faster than any bullet train.

There will be compassionate socialism for the 1 per cent, but brutal vulture capitalism for the rest.

In this climate of regressive patriarchal religiosity and oppressive exploitative neoliberalism, the intellectuals, the feminists, the LBGTQ community, the leftists, the dalits, the students, the activists, the independent journalists and the political opponents will be targeted as prime enemies of the state and the country.

Idealists from the above groups - who wish to navigate through life without having to sell their souls - will form popular dissent which the state will repress, by hook or by crook.

The social-engineering of society - where silent obedience and servitude to power is rewarded and righteous dissent in lieu of reform and progress is punished - will marginalise the courageous, the meritorious and the intelligent.

Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko memorably said, "When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie."

The "lies of silence" will choke the atmosphere and create a climate of middle-brow mediocrity that will seep everywhere, including the arts, academics and culture. Incompetency will be institutionalised.

Indoctrination will replace education, propaganda will replace news, spin journalism will replace analysis, the altered psyche of the citizens will be sought to be controlled and a simulacrum will pose as reality.

The visceral tendency of Hindutva Rashtra will be conquest, conversion and control via power, money and muscle. The government will start to resemble mafia organisations with many tentacles, and will begin to be controlled by a small cabal of globalised super-rich, who will also start to take full control of "mainstream corporate media" and even influence intelligence agencies to do their bidding.

Unelected corporate and banking power - both foreign and national - will exert total influence upon the critical policy decisions of the elected government. The "consent manufacturing industry" will be on full swing. The politicians will function as "actors" on behalf of the corporatocracy and sell agenda-laden policies - with the help of PR firms - to the misinformed public as the policies of greater good.

There will be a rise of demagogues or the leaders who exploit prejudice and ignorance among the common people.

They will whip up passions to override sense and rational thinking. Demagoguery will be an essential part of the campaign strategy.

Fear, hate and insecurity will be exploited to push down anti-people policies aimed at greater control and more profit.

To paraphrase a motto ascribed to a foreign intelligence agency, "By the way of deception, thou shalt rule" will become the unspoken motto of the government.

Democracy will turn into an oligarchy and neo-feudalism; it will become a dark Orwellian menace masked by bright neon.

*

The practice of ritualistic religion without the practice of ethical and spiritual values will also become the standard of Hindu Rashtra - or more correctly, Hindutva Rashtra, with genes of fascism.

The word Hindutva was coined and ideated by VD Savarkar of Hindu Mahasabha in 1923, as a political ideology that exploits the Hindu identity to gain power; and Savarkar admired Mussolini and Hitler, so did the RSS.

But in real Hinduism/Sanatan Dharma, religion is meant to be a practice to develop higher "identity-less" consciousness via meditation/yoga, ethics, knowledge and wisdom.

The Bhagavad Gita expounded the difference between those who take the righteous path of the soul and those who take the selfish path of the ego.

In Chapter XVI, Krishna divided human beings into two essential groups of the righteous (the godly) and the unrighteous (the devils).

What are the traits of the righteous according to The Bhagavad Gita?

"Fearless and pure in heart,

Steadfast in the exercise of wisdom."

"Restrained and open-handed."

"None hurting, truthful, from anger free...

Compassionate to all existent beings,

Free from nagging greed,

Gentle, modest, never fickle."

"Ardent, patient, enduring, pure,

Not treacherous nor arrogant."

What are the traits of the unrighteous according to The Bhagavad Gita?

"A hypocrite, proud of himself and arrogant,

Angry, harsh and ignorant."

"Lost souls with feeble minds.

They embark on cruel and violent deeds..."

"Maddened are they by hypocrisy and pride,

Clutching at false conceptions, deluded..."

"Puffed up with self-conceit, unbending,

Maddened by their pride in wealth,

They offer sacrifices that are but sacrifice in name

And not in the way prescribed - the hypocrites."

"Selfishness, force and pride,

Desire and anger - those do they rely on,

Envying and hating..."

The question is, which group of traits are we seeing surging like wildfire in India right now - the traits of the godly or the traits of the devil?

Are we worshipping wisdom - the traits of the righteous - or are we worshipping ignorance - traits of the unrighteous? We need the spark of awakening, to save India from the "tryst with calamity". Those who can analyse, must speak; those who understand, must act.

We already know from history that rebellions need to be selfless and the rebels need to have a purpose that is greater than oneself. But all rebellions begin first within the self. When one becomes conscious, one has to rebel against one's silence, fear and hesitancy, before one can rebel against the government/authority for the sake of one's country.

History will judge the silent and the obedient with derision and harshness.

Let us remember what Tagore wrote: "The bigot insults his own religion... And worships the devil in the name of God... O Lord, breaking false religion, Save the blind….And bring to this unhappy land... The light of knowledge."

Also read: Why 'misguided' Kashmiri youth and 'misinformed' right-winger are made for each other

Writer

Devdan Chaudhuri Devdan Chaudhuri @devdanchaudhuri

The writer is the author of 'Anatomy of Life'. He is one of the contributing editors of The Punch Magazine and lives in Kolkata.

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