I am one of the millions of young Hindu Convent educated Indian youth, who has been brainwashed to believe in the pluralistic, tolerant, secular, and democratic India. We are a product of the Nehruvian consensus of India where everybody is equal and religion is one of the many sub inferior identities that any Indian possesses. We have been brainwashed to believe in a narration that:
- Politically India as a nation-state came into being only after Christian British conquers of India. Prior to that India was just a geographical mass in Asia. No such thing as Hinduism existed, just a word used by Arabs to the assortment they encountered, just an invention of the right-wing communalists to impose uniformity. The myth of ‘self-sufficiency of Indian villages’ was created that was supported by none other than Karl Marx.
- Culturally we were primitive and a highly orthodox society with barbaric rituals. Indians were highly irrational and needed the support of the white man to come out from this era of darkness aka ‘White man’s burden’
- The tripartite division of Indian history (James Mill- The history of British India) where the ancient period has been labeled as the Hindu period, the medieval period as Islamic, and the modern period as British. The Hindu period has been tarnished with diabolic inversion and projected as intolerant, narrow-minded, obscurantist. While the other periods bought redemption to the masses and projected as the epitome of tolerance, open-mindedness, democracy, and secularism.
- Anything to do with religion, particularly Hinduism, is bad. Secularism for us is being indifferent, ignorant, and even mock our traditional Hindu roots and rituals. Visiting a temple is so ‘uncool’ while lightening a candle in a church is so ‘cool’. Secularism for us is accepting the eccentricities of other religions like eating Halal only, wearing the burqa in public, culling of millions of animals on holy days, an overt display of religious symbols, etc.
- Individual rights trump over community rights when it comes to the majority, but the above assertion is not true in the case of minorities. So we celebrate the control of Hindu temples by the government but become apologetic when it comes to uniform civil code and even become part of the street protest when it comes to issues like NRC, abrogation of article 370, etc.
Through my travels and vast reading, I came to the conclusion that the above narration is either distorted or is full of conjectures and is not factually true. In this series of articles, I will try to de-codify the above narrative with facts and logic.
What is a narrative?
Disclaimer: I am a proud Indian who takes pride in being a Hindu. I am a nationalist foremost and firmly believe in the integrity and sovereignty of India.
Wikipedia defines narrative as ‘A narrative is an account of a series of related events, experiences, or the like, whether true (episode, vignette, travelogue, memoir, autobiography, biography) or fictitious’. The narrative at macro-level of society becomes a part of history. Historical accounts ‘should’ be based on empirical facts for it to be objective. However, every scholar has some confirmatory bias where either due to his/her personal interpretation or by acts of omission and commission tends to use the facts as per his/her convince. Such convince becomes blind spots that are largely based on ideology and at times deliberate.
Why narrative is important?
Narrative defines the core of our ‘identity’. It tells us
- ‘Who we are’: about our culture, our forefathers, and our geography.
- ‘Who am I?’ individuals set down identity markers located within the past and the present.
- ‘How should I live?’ points to the present, the practices and routines that define ways of being in the world.
- ‘Who do I want to become?’ orientates us towards the future, its aspirational not just in material terms but also in a spiritual sense.
This intermingling of the past, present, and future help us in defining our identity. The historical narrative plays an important role in it. At a societal level this historical narration helps in defining the integrity of the nation. For instance, the narrative justifies Chinese expansionist policies or giving Pakistanis their identity. At the individual level, the historical narrative helps us justify our acts, cultural rituals and gives us a sense of belonging to the larger society. It also inculcates a sense of urgency within an individual of how he can contribute to the larger well being of the community. For instance, I am writing this series of articles because a sense of urgency pushes me to make the youth of the country think and reevaluate their belief system. Bauman, a sociologist, powerfully suggests that ‘developing an identity is a fate that modern individuals cannot escape; we need identity because without it we would go mad.’
What is the narrative in India?
In the case of India, such blind spots are very large and one-sided. The academia and other institutions of eminence like the Indian council of historical research (ICHR), Jawaharlal Nehru University, Aligarh Muslim University, Jadavpur University, etc. are dominated by Marxist historians. Arun Shourie in his book ‘Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud’ has tactfully exposed these scholars and how they have distorted the Indian narrative. The list includes renowned Indian Marxist historians like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, RS Sharma, Satish Chandra, Bipin Chandra, DN Jha, etc. RS Sharma’s ‘India’s ancient past’ (2005), Satish Chandra’s ‘Medieval India’ (1990), and Bipin Chandra’s ‘Modern India’ (1990) are prescribed by CBSE and widely read by civil services aspirants. And these are the very ‘historians’ who defended and were cited as a witness in the pleading by the Sunni Waqf Board in the courts in the Babri Masjid case!!
Marxist historian worldwide is a disgraced category. Everywhere they have tried to adjust facts to fit their’ historical materialism’ narrative while discounting other factors like culture, geography, political antecedents, etc. The narrative so woven by these eminent Indian ‘historians’ follow the British legacy of Tripartite division as presented by James Mill- The history of British India: Ancient Hindu period, Medieval Islamic period, and modern British period. Ancient Hinduism has been specifically designated as ‘Brahmanism’ and portrayed as a primitive, ruthless closed caste system, dominated by few Brahmin-Kshatriya elites where the majority Shudras have to live in tyranny. The achievements of the Hindu kings are discounted and all evils that plague the society are entrusted on Hinduism. Even the fall of Nalanda University is blamed on ‘Hindu fanatics’!! (Refer presidential address by DN Jha 2004).
The Islamic middle age has been glorified as an age of tolerance and cultural assimilation- Ganga–Jamuni Tehzeeb. All the barbarism, destruction of temples, and bloodshed has been completely omitted or reduce the footnotes. The acts of bigots like Aurangzeb like the destruction of temples (Kashi and Mathura to name just two) and religious conversions are ascribed as political compulsions and nothing to do with religion. One may see the dichotomy here: the ills of the ancient period are blamed on Hinduism as a religion while all the evil perpetrated during the Islamic age is an act of individual and nothing to do with religion!!
The British era is when ‘modernity’ arrived in India. In fact India as a political entity is the creation of British administration and prior to that India was no more than the equator! Hinduism as a religion never existed before the arrival of the British and the efforts of British scholars who deciphered the ancient classical text laid the foundation of modern day Hinduism. “A single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia,” Macaulay wrote in the Minute on education. We are made to believe that Indians are inferior to whites in every aspect- psychologically and physically. Doesn’t that inferiority complex still exist!!
To quote the famous theosophist and activist Annie Beasant –: “Hinduism is the soul of India. Without Hinduism there can be no India. Without Hinduism India has no future. Hinduism is the soil into which India’s roots are struck and torn of that she will inevitably wither as a tree torn out of from its place.”
We need to remember that the relation between individual and society is very close. The society is as strong as its individuals are, and vice versa. The false narrative as dispersed by our eminent historians, has made the Hindus apologetic about their past and also perpetuated a false sense of reciprocity & bonhomie with respect to the religious minorities. The narrative has only accentuated the fault lines within the country. One needs to remember that Hinduism is the only surviving ancient religion that has resisted the onslaught of proselytizing Abrahamic religion. I will cover these fault lines in my coming articles and they are dangerous for the country.
As far as English convent educated youth like me are concerned, the whole education has given a lot of economic opportunities however, at the same time the whole experience has put me at the crossroads where I am not fully western nor I know anything substantive about my culture. This cognitive dissonance only makes me anxious as I am not able to fully recognize myself with a large majority of fellow Indians and gives a deep sense of rootlessness. As Bauman remarked, it makes me ‘mad’ at times.
This article first appeared in Hindupost on August 13 ,2020.
About the author:
Hemant Bhatt is an educator by profession. He did his B.Tech from College of Technology, Pantnagar. He worked in Singapore for 4 years. He also studied studied social sciences from Sciences Po, Paris. He has keen interest in international affairs, orientalism, economics and Bharatiya society.
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