Sister Christine referring to Swami Vivekananda once said: “Our love for India came to birth, I think when we first heard him say the word, “India” in that marvellous voice of his. It seems incredible that so much could have been put into one small word of five letters. There was love, passion, pride, longing, adoration, tragedy, chivalry, Heimweh, and again love. Whole volumes could not have produced such a feeling in others. It had the magic power of creating love in those who heard it.”
Scores of thinkers right from ancient times have tried to figure out this wonder named India. This civilization had an enchanting effect on the world and being the oldest civilization continues to enchant people, pique curiosity and exert its influence upon this world in ways unknown. Right from the poses of Yoga to the deep diversity in each region of this nation, this nation continues to make people right from social scientists to civilizational experts flounder in their assessment.
So what is this nation we call Bharat or India?
What is Bhartiyata then?
Media had raised a storm after the recent statement of Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat Ji referring to Bhartiyata somehow making it seem that RSS had a change of stance. Needless to say, the people making this hue and cry never understood Bharat nor RSS because RSS has just reinforced its Nationalist Stand of Bharatiyata.
The cultural inclusiveness of Bharat is a fact which RSS and all Nationalist organizations always knew to be true. When Sister Nivedita exhorted the nationalist youth, who had gravitated towards Vivekananda’s message, to internalise and work for “jana-desh-dharma” she was uttering a sutra of national service inspired by an intrinsic identification with the spirit of Bharatiyata. In fact, the Jana Sangha Founder Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya always used the phrase “Bhartiyata” which makes the current uproar seem needless.
So how do we understand this seemingly elusive concept called Bharatiyata?
Rabindranath Tagore put it succinctly when he suggested reading the works of Swami Vivekananda to know about India, as he felt, in Vivekananda “there is everything positive and nothing negative.”
In Bharatiyata every Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jew and Parsi is Bhartiya first and Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jew or Parsi second. He may practice difference philosophies, worship Gods with different names but accepts all religion as True and leading to the One Supreme Goal. That is the essence of the Bharatiyata which all Nationalist Organizations including the BJP believe in. The Slogan “India First” is a by-product of this deep-rooted ideology. Bhartiyata is the essence of Bharat on which there is no argument or debate across party lines.
The other aspect now comes around namely Hindutva which is again a confusion of an ignorant mind. Hindutva is and never was distinct from aforementioned Bhartiyata and the seemingly religious connotations attached with it. Hindutva simply the essence of Hindu Dharma is what Indianness or Bhartiyata is all about. The ignorant leftist minds do understand the deeper meaning of the word “Dharma” being righteousness just like all Indians understand it. Of the four ashrams in Hinduism, only the Vanaprasthashram stage is when Dharma is referred to as religion while Karma and Artha take preponderance in Brahmacharya and Grihastashram. However, for some political expediencies in today’s India, some political parties overlook all this because for them Ignorance is bliss.
The Sarsanghchalak statement on Bhartiyata needs to be seen in this context. As far as crediting the Congress is concerned, PM Narendra Modi himself from the ramparts of Red Fort had expressed his admiration and gratitude towards all Prime Ministers including that of Congress for their contribution to the Nation. There has been no doubt ever about the important Congress role in the Independence of the nation whether it be tallest leaders like Subhash Chandra Bose or Sardar Patel. Many of our iconic freedom fighters have undoubtedly been Congressmen.
Having said this, no first family of Indian National Congress (INC) can go around claiming accolades for the INC of Pre-independence India is definitely not the Congress of today. It would be a grave sin to even compare today’s Congress party with that of the past with its internal democracy where even the Mahatma can be challenged by Subhash Chandra Bose. Today it is merely a family fiefdom existing well past its go-by date destined to languish unless the democratic spirit in it is revived. The Congress leaders in 2019 have to make that bitter decision on whether to opt for a family run party headed by a clueless leader or a party for every Bharatiya.
Another important question which the debate on Bharatiyata brings up is on “Secularism”. The lexicon supposed to be a positive word has gained the dubious reputation of being the most misused word in India. Bharatiyata with its rich syncretic tradition of assimilating a vast repository of scriptures, philosophies and thoughts is the only land which believes in multiple ways to the same divine and hence truly secular. No other culture can lay claim to such a non-violent and inclusive philosophy much tainted in large part due to invasions across the centuries. It continues to exist despite these many challenges and continues to believe in Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina (May all be happy) & Vasudaiva Kutumbakam (The whole world as a family). The leftist continues to remain purposely unaware of the age-old Indian philosophy and continue to harp on supposed “Secularism”. No coincidence that the same man George Holyoake who coined the word Secularism also coined the term “Jingoism”
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is committed to bringing out the best of Bharat and make it the Vishwaguru again. Restoring this great motherland to its past splendor is easier said than done. India under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi ji is taking giant leaps on this front and marching ahead towards prosperity.
Bhartiyata is the only secularism that is. It is the only philosophy which encapsulates and assimilates all thoughts, ideas into one and only this philosophy can make the world rid of extremism & internal conflicts. India will lead the world in this philosophy as it has always done and ensure a strong, powerful united nation. It will be Bhartiyata i.e “India First” which will be an example of nationhood for other countries to emulate.
All this of course does not mean that BJP or RSS endorses the return to a Congress version of secularism which appeases rather than empowers minorities. We believe in empowering each Bharatiya so that Bharatiyata in them blooms like the lotus of BJP.
(Shweta Shalini is BJP Spokesperson, Advisor to Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Executive Director of Maharashtra Village Social Transformation Foundation (VSTF), an initiative by the Government of Maharashtra)