There is an Urdu couplet by late poet Dr Bashir Badr Sahab.
“Mujhe Ishtehaar si lagti hain, ye muhabbaton ki kahaaniyaan
Jo kahaa nahin voh sunaa karo, jo sunaa nahin vo kahaa karo.”
Which loosely translates to:
“I find the stories and claims of higher love which you make to me, slogans without feelings,
Thou must learn the subtle art of listening to the unsaid and saying what has never been said before.”
When I today sit thinking about the vandalism of the Hindu temple in the heart of Delhi’s capital, Hauz Qazi, and the outpouring of emotions of citizens, addressed to the newly re-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, somehow this couplet came to my mind. When we look at the shrill promises during the election campaign and the stony silence after this incident, I understand why I utter these lines in desperation today.
Democracy is all about giving a voice to the voiceless and representation to the faceless. This is what went missing in the initial period of the incident of Old Delhi where a Hindu temple was vandalized. Unlike crazy, violent men baying for the blood, threatening mayhem when religious symbols of any other religions is even slightly mocked at, what stood out was a steely Hindu resolve standing firmly behind the rule of law, albeit with a bitter taste of betrayal in its tongue.
Witnessing a broken nation in 1947 on account of religious fanaticism, Hindus have come a long way, wading through political apathy, mockery and even hatred as the ruling class aligned with the minorities in order to establish their secular credentials through appeasement; as the intellectuals class aligned with the ruling class in order to establish its loyalty; as the establishment-aligned to both of them to establish its unquestioning subservience.
As the hurt settles and slowly the intellectuals return to their routine manner of maligning Hindus, whether they are criminals or victims, we are reminded of the hope philosopher Will Durant expressed towards the Hindus when he wrote-
“Perhaps in return for conquest, arrogance, and spoliation, India will teach us the tolerance and gentleness of the mature mind, the quiet content of the unacquisitive soul, the calm of understanding spirit, and a unifying, pacifying love for all living things.” – Will Durant,
Hinduism has always been a faith of Dharma, the spirit of doing the right thing. It has never been a militaristic faith bent on building empires. The founders of Hindu faith have been the thinkers and philosophers, not Military Commanders.
But when the innocence of ideas collides with the cruelty of cults, what will prevail- that is the question haunting the Hindus today. What will remain when belligerence comes face to face with benevolence? Will Hinduism face the same fate which polytheist Paganism faced in Rome, in the face of an aggressive and intolerant monotheist fate which not only refused to accept it; it even refused to tolerate it to the extent that the faith which flourished for centuries was erased from human memory. These questions bother every Hindu mind, every time an idol is smashed or desecrated. In a democracy, in face of such act of barbarism, Media is supposed to report, Politics is supposed to offer assurance and administration is supposed to offer strict action.
In the case of Hauz Qazi, we saw failure on all three counts. Why did what happened, happened is another matter. It could be centuries of arrogance which looked at soft and accommodative Hindus with disdain and annoyance. It must have been always a shock to monotheists to come across a kind acceptance and a brotherly bonhomie from the overwhelmingly numerically superior polytheists of India. It seems to still confound them. Thus comes the mockery, thus comes the needless needling.
Unlike the monotheists where books define how the believers ought to behave, a religion of faith depends on belief in the ideas and principles. Every idol stands for an idea. When any religious idol is cracked, an arm of faith is fractured. When Islamist invaders arrived in India as absolute rulers, they had an abundance of land and plentiful resources suddenly available to the vagabond marauders. Why did they not use that and instead demolish the Hindu places of worship to appropriate them as their places of worship? It was for them a battle of religious supremacy. What Christians brought to the Muslim world in the form of Crusade, Muslims brought to India with fanatic military invaders. The more things change, the more they remain the same. What else could explain, even in the face of all the motivated intellectualism out to paint the Mughal Kings as secularists that not one Temple could be found in Delhi to have been built by Muslim Emperor during the regime of Mughals and other Muslim kings? Their secular love for their Hindu citizens had its boundaries.
What we find being fanned by the intellectuals in the name of motivated protests against the death of Tabrez Ansari is the propagation of the same thought. What else can explain that most prominent slogans representing the motivated protest, manufactured on a country-wide basis, promptly and expeditiously are not anti-crime; they are anti-Hinduism. It has been spread from Jharkhand to Malegaon, Bhopal, Meerut, Delhi and now it seems from the reports to Jaipur. It is not an innocent protest on Human cause. It ignores Mangru Pahan, killed by Muslims in the same state on the same day as the death of Tabrez Ansari with an obstinate denial. This is a blatantly and brazenly biased battle. This is not only a battle of muscles. It is equally supported by the fanatic faithful who carry a pen in place for sword and lead a cruel war from behind the curtains. They will hype your failures and belittle your injuries. Let us not be driven by this motivated campaign.
Let us be what we are- benevolent, kind, law-abiding and inclusive. But then, let us be vigilant and cautious. It is small things which lead to the collapse of a big idea. Let us not be dismissive about things. There is a definite design to the way things are unravelling post a definitive emergence of assertive Hinduism post-elections 2019.
I sometimes wonder when the temple of Athena in Palmyra in 385 AD had happened, how would the Pagans have viewed it? Was it to them the end of nonsense or the beginning of an end? The smallest motif of a non-military faith is important, critical and of historical significance, whether we realize it today or not. We must stand guard and not repeat the mistake of the Romans. I share an excerpt from “The Darkening Age- The Christian Destruction of The Classical World” brilliantly written by Catherine Nixey and my point being that this could be someone reading about Hinduism the same way, one century from now unless we are watchful.
“For years, marauding bands of bearded, black-robed zealots, armed with little more than stones, iron bars and an iron sense of righteousness had been terrorizing the east of the Roman Empire. Their attacks were primitive, thuggish and very effective…Their targets were temples and the attacks could be astonishingly swift. Great stone columns that had stood for centuries collapsed in an afternoon; statues that had stood for half a millennium had their faces mutilated in a moment; temples that had seen the rise of Roman Empire fell in a single day.”
This is not a new thing for us. We have faced and survived this for years. But zealots will keep coming back and we will not be able to even understand their motives, let alone duplicate that. We are not historically designed to be fanatics. We can only be steadfast about defending what we believe in and unapologetic and unembarrassed about it. Friends, Indians and Countrymen, let us be on the vigil and succeed where the Romans failed. This war will be fought in ideological battlefields.
When one lie loses currency, another will be manufactured. The objective will remain the same, maligning and demonizing a faith until the battle is won decisively and the destruction is complete. It will not be a temporary surrender. It could very well be complete annihilation, much like the Roman Pagans. Let us remain watchful and steadfast not to let this last bastion, this beautiful country of ours, fall to the fanatics at the door.