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François Gautier* in his TOI blog ( Sept 24, 2016)
“Hindus are cowards and Muslims bullies,” the Mahatma Gandhi once famously said. And this seems to be fairly true: today at the least sign of trouble, Hindus stay home, shy from confrontation, or outright run away. We indeed witnessed how the 4,00,000 Hindus of Kashmir, who had done no crime, except being Hindus, fled the Valley of Kashmir under terror, without firing a single shot in self-defence, losing all their ancestral homes and lands and becoming refugees in their own country.
Hindus who are also persecuted in Bangladesh or Pakistan, and even in West Bengal, in districts where illegal Bangladeshis outnumber them, rarely defend themselves (except under the lone and courageous Tapan Ghosh). In Assam, where the same situation arises, it is the Christian Bodos who take up arms, not the Hindus. How is that possible, when Hindus are still nearly 80 % of India and have their own government that of the BJP, in power at the Centre?
Many have tried to analyse this weakening of the Hindu psyche, that resulted in a loss of power for 450 years. Among the causes that have been spoken off, we find Buddhism‘s uncompromising stance on non-violence, which seems to have blunted the Kshatriyas spirit of the Hindus. But that cannot be the total explanation, as Buddhism was wiped out of from India by the successive Muslim invasions, whereas Hinduism survived. Various historians have also pointed out that the biggest genocide in the history of humanity must be that of the Hindus: from the time of the Hindu Kush (which means the killing of Hindus), when Muhammad Ghori, after having defeated Prithviraj Chauhan, took away in winter 5,00,000 slaves to Afghanistan, the majority of whom died of cold in the Kyber pass, to Timur, who killed one hundred thousand Hindus in one day. It has been calculated that 100 millions Hindus died directly or undirected because of invasions. This has left a scar of terror in the Hindu collective unconscious, that can be observed even today, as Hindus panic so easily, and are the most undisciplined community in the word, cheating, breaking queues and always trying to bypass the laws.
Certainly, the British colonisation, though it was much less brutal, left a mark in the Hindu consciousness: Hindus learnt not to think for themselves but to think the way the British did. From great innovators, they became brilliant copiers and the English also fashioned an Indian intellectual class, surviving till today, which looks at India through British eyes, that is negatively, often with contempt and misunderstanding.
The Mahatma Gandhi added his bit, by his refusal to see the harm that was done to India by his always accommodating Jinnah’s demands, and his equally rigid insistence on non-violence. Indeed, though most history books credit the Mahatma with the freedom of India, it is early revolutionaries, such as Sri Aurobindo or Gangadhar Tilak , who believed in the re-igniting of Hindu power and the booting out the British, by force if necessary, who where its true initiators. Guilty too, the first Prime Minister of India, Nehru, who thought that his country did not need a powerful army, which led to the disastrous defeat against the Chinese in 1962. He also compromised on Kashmir, when the Indian soldiers had the upper hand, and went instead to the UN, thus, legating the problem that is flaring up today in Uri and elsewhere in the Valley. It is this combination of Buddhism, Gandhism, colonisation, Nehruvianism and trauma of invasions, which have eroded, not only Hindu power, but also the capability of Hindus to hold power and wield it efficiently when they have it.
Therefore, Hindus, even when they come to head the government of India, have the tendency to stretch their hand first to the enemy, witness Mr Vajpayee going in the ‘Peace bus’ to Lahore, while Musharraf was sending his soldiers to grab Kargil; or Mr Narendra Modi attending Nawaz Sharif’s granddaughter’s wedding and then be caught of guard in Uri. Compassion can only be exercised when you are strong and ready. Yet, it is not that there is no precedent to learn from: a thousand years ago, Mohamed Ghori rewarded Prithivaj Chahan’s generosity in letting him go free, when he lost the first battle of Tarain, by attacking Chauhan treacherously a year later, blinding him and ultimately executing him.
The irony is that Hindus could take example on how to exercise power from one their most famous scriptures, the Baghavad Gita and the Kurukshetra war. There we see Krishna, telling Arjuna that on one hand in battle you only kill the body of your enemy – not the soul – as it is indestructible and is reborn later in another body; and on the other, commanding Arjuna to fight physically and ruthlessly, even against people whom Arjuna knows and loves, so that righteousness is re-established. This is what Hindus have lost today: the courage to fight for what they believe in, physically, if need be, and to be merciless against the enemy. The modern Kurukshetra battle today has to be fought against Pakistan, a nuclear nation that is manufacturing terror as others export cars; and even more with China, an intelligent, ruthless and deadly enemy, which is using Pakistan in its proxy war with India.
As we are talking about Hindu power, we need here to stop and redefine the word ‘Hindu’, which is the subject of much misunderstanding. If one reads properly the Vedas, the Upanishads or the Bhagavad Gita, at no time is it mentioned that Hinduism is a religion. In fact, the word ‘Hindu’ never comes-up for centuries and it seems that it is first the Portuguese who used it to designate people who lived on the banks of the Indus river.
What is a Hindu then? Firstly, he or she is one who recognize that God has many names and scriptures, each adapted to a particular time and people. Secondly, a Hindu refuses to sanction the monopoly of one god, or one scripture as the only way to salvation. Thirdly, he or she believes that each action, good or bad, carries a repercussion in this life or future ones – and that it has nothing to do with the Christian concept of sin – but is just a mathematical equation. Hindus believe also in Dharma, the path of righteousness; but again nothing in common with the American notion of good & bad: What helps an individual or a nation towards self fulfilment is Dharma; and what impedes them, is a-Dharma – Chanakya had got it right. Hindus also believe that the soul takes birth in a physical body, dies, gets reborn, until it has attained Perfection. Finally, Hindus over the ages have fashioned tools to help them in their karma and dharma: pranayama, meditation asanas & and all kinds of yoga – of devotion (bhakti), or knowledge (Jana), or perfection in work (karma yoga).
Thus, it could be said that one can be an Indian Christian, an Indian Muslim, an Indian Jew, or from any other religion, and still practice Hinduism – not the religion, but the spiritual belief that all human beings are equal and that the whole world is One Family. In the old times, Indian Christians and Muslims were more integrated in this way of thinking: one remembers that Sufism was prevalent in Kashmir till the arrival of Pakistani and Afghan hard Sunni influence in the early eighties; or that Syrian Christians, till the arrival of the Portuguese, had borrowed many Hindu local customs. Today even, an Abdul Kalam showed us that one could be a true Muslim, and still quote from the Bhagavad Gita; or Leander Paes, born Christian, demonstrates too, that all Christians can be proud to represent India and be great friends of Hindus.
Hence, the taking over India by a genuine Hindu power need not be feared by minorities and should be welcomed by the western and eastern world. For it would mean an India powerful, friendly, but when necessary ruthless, as should have been the case after the Uri attacks. It will also, in true Hindu spirit, recognize and respect the wonderful diversity – religious ethnic and cultural – of this great and ancient country that is India.
(To be continued)
*About the writer: François Gautier was political correspondent in South Asia for 10 years for Le Figaro, France’s largest daily. He is now the editor-in-chief of the Paris-based La Revue de l’Inde, published by Les Editions de l’Harmattan (Harmattan.fr). François has written several books on India: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a Guru of Joy (Hay House 2009), A History of India as it Happened (Har Anand, New Delhi, 2013), Apprendre à Souffler (Hachette Marabout, 2016). Francois practices basketball, jogging, cycling, tennis & badminton. Follow him on: Facebook/francoisgautierofficial