Why am I apologetic about being a Hindu – Part II
Continued from Part I
When I’m alone with myself, I often wonder when did I ever give legitimacy to Manuvaad or the abominable caste-system. Did I ever want its continuation or perpetuation in our society? Did I ever want to live down the guilt of asking some people to serve me or my class interest perpetually? Did I ever want that Manu should codify Hindu laws in a certain way? Wasn’t Manu, after all, doing this codification for a society that was essentially moving from the tribal to the feudal, agrarian stage? And pray, when did Manu ever claim that his codification was sacrosanct and should not ever be subjected to a process of re-examination or revisionism? If some of my ancestors just didn’t get into the exercise of revisionism and Manuvaad or Brahmanism colluded to create conditions for the continuation of caste-system, why must I be made to bear the cross, especially, when I’m genuinely modern, moderately secular and materially egalitarian, and also when I celebrate the cultural synthesis of Bhakti movement? Am I supposed to feel guilty if a certain class of people (read Brahmins) chose to hegemonize others, as all classes, often driven by the egregious self-interest, almost always tend to do, in the best or the worst of times?
I also wonder why most of the people who condemn me for being a Hindu often forget that if the ancient Hinduism legitimized Manuvaad, it also gave Ved Vyas and Valmiki, both outcastes (one, the son of a fisherwoman, and the other, a reformed dacoit), the responsibility of disseminating two of their most significant narrative texts among its adherents. Why do they forget that the principle behind the caste-system was one of mutual interdependence of different sections (read castes) of society and of their integration and oneness at socio-religious level? And further, if the priestly class of Brahmins had not turned self-serving (as all ruling classes invariably do), probably caste-system would not have become an unchanging, ossified fact of Indian social and religious life? If I’m to be held accountable for crimes the priestly class committed through history, then I should also be held accountable for all the acts of omission and commission the ruling class of today is committing with much the same impunity. Don’t you think so? After all, logic is the same, isn’t it? So how many of us are actually prepared to bear the burden of other’s sins, pray? How many of us would want to do penance on behalf A. Rajas or Kalmadis of our times? Please don’t tell me now that my logic is fallacious, or my argument, untenable or specious.
Now whether or not I was a natural inhabitant of this land, I did make this land my home and you certainly can’t grudge me that or, will you? And then I slowly began to give birth to an entire civilization, mythological, Indus and then Vedic. Do you think it was a mean achievement on my part to seek to build secure edifices of civilization at a time when the rest of the world was still steeped in the dark ages, and was struggling hopelessly to preserve the Mayan or Mesopotamian civilizations, Abyssinian or Egyptian civilizations? Do I need to say that all those civilizations have quietly slipped into oblivion and disappeared into the haze of time, but my ancient wisdom, like the ageless Ganges, continues to flow, not merely through the veins of my own children, but those of rest of the humanity, too? Over the centuries, I did create a diverse wealth of art, literature, philosophy and/or culture, whose worth and estimation is today easily recognized, the world over. I may have believed in the fatalism of the Karmic theory, but I also gave the spirited message of activism through the philosophy of Karma Yoga in Sri Bhagwatgita. If I talked of the three stages in the life of a householder, to be achieved by following the three-fold path of arth, kama and moksha, I also gave the over-enveloping concept of dharma as an enabling principle. If I taught you the difference between the Purusha and Prakrati and the process of their interanimation, I also helped you understand that there is nothing outside the Braham, the eternal, transcendental, and perhaps the only all-subsuming reality. Perhaps, that’s why, I could throw the doors of my house open to people who came to visit this land first, and then decided to make it their own.
Do you think, if I hadn’t the catholicity of spirit that my religion (read Hinduism, not Hindutva) ingrained in me, right from the very beginning, I’d have been able to accommodate all the Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and Muslims, who came calling? You know pretty well how some of them came looking for refuge, and others, simply with a specific aim of reducing me into a refugee in my own land. But I made no discrimination; as I not only threw open my doors to one and all, but also allowed each one of them the freedom to pitch their own tents, of whatever size and wherever they wished, simply following the dictum that this universe constitutes a single brotherhood. Do you think, it would have happened so easily, if I, too, had followed the policy of discrimination on the basis of caste, colour, creed, race or religion? I know, what you are thinking of, now. You’re possibly thinking that I was too weak religiously and too easily divided and fragmented politically to have taken care of my social/cultural space or what I sometimes call my home, if not my territory. Just remember, only the Muslims forced their way into my home (and yet I embraced their thought and philosophy of Sufism, even Islam) with open arms; others came as peacefully as they could, and apparently there was no question of my raising objections either to their presence here or their desire to make this land their home. Even when I didn’t possess the political sagacity of Ashoka or Akbar, the openness of my heart and the generosity of my spirit were never found wanting.
(The third & Final part would be out on the 9th of November)
Latest posts by Rana Nayar (see all)
- Why am I apologetic about being a Hindu – Part III - November 9, 2014
- Why am I apologetic about being a Hindu – Part II - November 8, 2014
- Why am I apologetic about being a Hindu – Part I - November 7, 2014