When was the last time India practiced intolerance? During the Dadri murder or during the Babri demolition, during Indira Gandhi’s draconian emergency years or Sikh massacre of 1984 or during Congress’ glorious corrupt years? The list is too long. And when was the last time India practiced tolerance? Did it begin with the Vedic age and end with Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent independence movement? No, tolerance has been ingrained in Indian culture, which finds its roots in Bharatiya Sanskriti (culture) and Hindustani Tehzeeb (Culture). It is the India of today that has turned a blind eye to its glorious past and choses to cherry pick certain events that are politically correct. If the so called intellectuals had chosen to speak in time and politicians had acted before time, the socio-economic picture of the country would have far too different. But it was more important to glorify the cruel Mughal rule and British Raj in the schools than establishing schools in remote areas of the country and create research facilities at university level that could have stopped Indian youth from running away to the West for better education and employment opportunities. But it was more important to not put the history in the right perspective, rectify the politically correct mistakes.
Bhartiya society was so deeply immersed in the idea of peace and universal brotherhood that it could not see the military advance of Alexander. Chanakya – the first Indian political realist shaped the country’s foreign and military policy, and gave birth to the concept of Akhanda Bharat (One Bharat). Surprisingly, while PM Narendra Modi is trying to weave-in India’s neighbourhood, the satellite states and the international community, his critics are calling him the NRI prime minister.
Babur – the first Mughal invader in 1526 plundered Bharat’s cultural and religious wealth (first Muslim ruler was Mohammad Bin Qasim who invaded India in 8th century), and started the process of transforming Bharat into Hindustan. Later, the British Raj further plundered India’s Hindustani culture (also known as Ganga-Jamna Tehzeeb) for over 250 years, transforming Hindustan into India. The result – Bharat that spread from the hills of Hindu Kush in Afghanistan to Indonesia shrunk steadily and became Hidustan and today what we have is India, which has several unresolved border disputes and numerous social issues. It was a game of imperial politics for the Mughals and the British, something which the (scattered) Hindu rulers of the day couldn’t resist due to their lack of collective approach to foreign and military policy. It was foolishness on our part to have excessively practiced peace and universal brotherhood and not have a strong standing army. Religious tolerance was practiced to the extreme level, military & diplomatic foolishness had no boundaries, because of which this country has paid a heavy price for it. Neither extreme level of tolerance nor foolishness has any scope in Indian society.
How many Indian historians have countered the British version of Indian history that depicted India in a bad light? Remember, Max Muller - a German scholar - advised the British to enslave India with western education. How many Bollywood personalities have questioned the Western depiction of India as the country of slums and superstitions? Where were these artists when Charlie Hebdo portrayed Prophet Mohammad with a bomb in his turban and M F Hussain painted Hindu gods and goddesses nude? And why the intellectuals have kept quiet on Islam’s constant comparison with terrorism and when Congress leader P Chidambaram coined the word Hindu terror?
The so called ‘tolerance brigade’ argues that Hindu saints eat beef during the Vedic age, but have we not progressed and become more civilised than before? If eating beef is one’s choice, then respecting the religious feelings is also their duty. If the incident like Dadri has brought bad name to Hinduism and to India, then it is the intellectuals – the other fringe – who at a right time started shooting at the Modi government and fell silent immediately after the final phase of elections in Bihar was over. The intellectuals exceptionally did well in spreading a message of ‘intolerance’, but have miserably failed to suggest a concrete solution for making India tolerant. It was verbal violence. Violent exceptions are the realities of every society. But violence in the name of religion and colonisation through economic oppression has never been part of Hindu society. It is nearly impossible to cite an example where Bharat, Hindustan or India waged military invasion to expand territory and carried out conversion to increase its population. But the recent verbal rant of the saffron clad sanyasis (hermit) is in no way a call to protect the Hindu culture. They might think that they are doing service to the Hindu society, but unknowingly they are damaging image of the Hindu religion, which has survived the wrath of Islamic invasion and conversions by the Christian missionaries. But for the benefit of the Indian society, these sanyasis and mullahs will have to keep quiet and introspect what is wrong with their society. And the intellectuals will have to make constructive contribution than mere verbal violence. And finally, the political leaders will need to speak and act at a right time. Remember, the fault lines on both the sides.