HINDUSTAN: Mughal rulers called their Mughal empire in the sub-continent as Hindustan, a word later picked up widely. The Mughal empire extended over most of north India, particularly the Hindi-speaking belt.
By Rajan Narayan
Hindustan is not land of the Hindus. Hindustan is the name that the Mughals gave to the area they controlled based on the Sindhu or Indus river of the sub-continent. It is the British who reinforced the word “Hindustan.” Which includes all people settled in India including the Muslims and Christians most of whom are the converted communities of historical experience.
CONTRARY to the propaganda being carried out by the BJP and RSS cadres, Hindustan is called so not because it is the land of the Hindus. The word “Hindustan” and “Hindu” comes to us in modern vocabulary from the Sindhu or Indus river draining the north-eastern lands including Punjab. It is the early Moghul invaders and kings who referred to the Indian sub-continent as “Hindustan,” that is, the land beyond the river Sindhu or Indus. The British continued the tradition of calling India, Hindustan in their dialogue. Indeed, there was no Hindustan before Mughal takeover of the then collection of warring kingdoms which existed in the sub-continent for long through earlier history. Let us say the Indian sub-continent was akin to Europe once upon a time – warring kingdoms which later turned into formal countries in their own right.
There are of course many Hindu kingdoms and empires in what was called “Hindustan.” Earlier history takes us back to the most famous Chandragupta Maurya dynasties which ruled over large areas of north India for over many centuries. Chanakya to whom the RSS keep referring to was the prime minister of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. Emperor Chandragupta believed that the end justified the means. Chanakya is the author of the economic treatise we know as the Arthashastra, the book of economics in ancient India of this period.
The other very prominent Hindu kingdom was that of the even earlier Ashoka the Great. But after the Kalinga wars the emperor became so sick of all the wars of hate and butchery that he went on penance to Bodhgaya and the giant banyan tree in Bihar where Buddhism ruled the people’s hearts…he gave up Hinduism in favor of Buddhism and started promoting Buddhism. In Buddhism, killing of any living being was forbidden and kindness was preached for all creatures of the earth small and big.
Eventually, Buddhism spread not only throughout India but to Nepal, China, Tibet and most importantly Japan. Japan is is a Buddhist country with the largest number of Buddhist people; though, ironically, it one of the countries later involved in the Second World War II and massacred hundreds of thousands, including the soldiers of India in Burma.
Later Hindu kings in the sub-continent however feared and suppressed the appeal of Buddhism, it was distorted by introducing idol worship which was at first completely forbidden in Buddhism. So Buddhism became more like Hinduism.
THE ground reality of history through the old ages is that even Europe was a bunch of fighting kingdoms before the colonial years, as in the then Indian sub-continent split into warring kingdoms. Through the warring years there was divide between the northern and southern kingdoms was between the north and the south. If the north came to be “Hindustan” the south became “Dravidstan” where Hinduism was more strongly and rigidly upheld at one time.
Today’s southern states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have different histories from that of the northern states of erstwhile “Hindustan.” Up north the language of Aryan Hindi predominated while in the south the Dravidian languages ruled. Hindi has roots in the Aryan civilization which traces back to Persian- Afghanistan civilizations of old.
As part of the conspiracy to convert India into a Hindu rashtra, the BJP government’s mishmash new version of history is an imposition on gullible and history illiterate Indians of today. It wants to impose Hindi as the lingua franca of the India or as the national language…much to the anger of the southern states which are proud of their own classical languages like Tamil (reportedly the oldest language), Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, etc. They will never accept the imposition of Hindi as official State language. There have been several agitations in the past against attempts to impose Hindi in the southern states where English is more widely understood as language of common communication.
A MATTER OF CONCERN
WE are concerned because there seems to be increasingly a deliberate and conscious attempt to promote a Hindi-speaking “rashtra” or “rashtriya” all over India. I was shocked when a strong RSS pracharak claimed and insisted that in his last book Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar (father of India’s Constitution) had appealed to Buddhists to return to their original Hindu religious orders.
This sounds like yet another distortion of historical facts, in asking harijan, dalit or the Bahujan Samaj people to abandon Buddhism en masse, and return to the Hinduism fold. Does anybody care to recall that Ambedkar had turned against what we know as Hinduism, steeped as it was in the caste system and which led to him urging his followers and admirers to convert to Buddhism?
Most of our conversions in the Indian sub-continent through the ages have been because of the caste system’s discriminatory and even worse treatment of those perceived as lower caste people of the land by the tyrannical ruling Brahmin class. This is also true mostly in the case of the Islamic and Christian conversions of later colonial history in the sub-continent. Conversions were involuntary and well as voluntary depending on the circumstance of the people concerned.
The problem with the concept of a Hindu “rashtra” or rather the BJP version of “Hindustan” is embedded in the still not totally eradicated caste system which continues to plague the less privileged people of history. The biggest bane of Hinduism or Sanatan Dharma as staunch born-again Hindus like to call it nowadays, to make some vague distinction although Indian society by and large still continues to live covertly or overtly by the caste system of old.
The justification is that the system was done along occupation lines. Implying that the kshatriya class would be soldiers, the vaishya class would be traders, while the sudhra class would be lowly cleaners, while the educated Brahmin class would be priests and rulers. More modern times’ expression manual scavenging refers to the sudhra or harijan who are made responsible for handling all manner of sewage and waste – the unpurified class not fit for the good life of the other classes. Even in Goa with its long Portuguese colonial history there is no exception and “scavengers” are sent to clean up septic or sewage tanks.
PRIME Minister Narendra Modi and his Home Minister Amit Shah should concern themselves with eliminating caste from Bharat or Hindustan or India, whatever they may want to call it. It is the harassment of the lowest caste which is the most disturbing thing in modern-day India. At least in theory there is no caste observation amongst Muslims and Catholics; in reality in the villages where those who have converted from the lower caste, they continue to be discriminated against. They are still not allowed to use well water of the upper caste. In Kerala, the lower caste women were not allowed to cover their upper body by wearing blouses like the upper caste women could. In fact, the lower caste people had to stay out of the way or be invisible in the presence of the Brahmin caste. Much may have changed in colonial and independent India but how much has changed in the retrogressive mindset of old?
The issue in the country now is the Hindu-Muslim divisions coming up anew. The issue is not between clashes between the Catholic and the Hindutva brigade. There are as many poor Hindus who eat beef as there are Catholics and Muslims because it is the cheapest form of protein. Instead of being obsessed with “love jihad” the BJP should take serious note of the number of murders taking place in the country. The majority of them are not linked to “love jihad.” The BJP government in Goa should focus on the drug trade which is claiming so many lives.
The primary target of the Narendra Modi-Amir Shah BJP is Muslim community. The attitude is one of taking revenge for atrocities committed by Muslim rulers of the past, starting with Mohamad of Ghazni at the turn of the 1st century right up to 1700 when the British took over India and a littler earlier there was Portuguese Goa.
POST-WORLD WAR 2
THERE is no denying the fact that many temples were destroyed. There is also evidence that at least during the Inquisition the Portuguese authorities destroyed many temples. But no history is a continuous process. Indeed, the present form of the world was determined by the victors of the Second World War. It was the United States and the Soviet Union which divided up the world. Fortunately, subsequently, the north-south divide was broken and countries belonging to the Soviet block who liberated.
We cannot have a continuous cycle of revenge. When there was a proposal to destroy the Somnath temple after Independence, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who is the new hero of the BJP, firmly opposed it. On the other hand, Patel issued a directive that all temples mosques and churches that were existing on the day of Independence enjoyed immunity and could not be destroyed. The Babri Masjid was destroyed illegally despite assurance by then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Kalyan Singh that he would offer full protection to the masjid.
One of the most disgraceful aspects of Indian history is that Congress Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao permitted the destruction of the Babri Masjid. The demolishing of the Babri Masjid marks the beginning of the civil wars between Hindus and Muslims. The Babri Masjid demolition let to the Godhra incident where allegedly a compartment full of “kar sevak” returning from demolishing the Babri Masjid were burnt alive in Gujarat.
In retaliation Modi launched a jihad against the Muslim minority community in Gujarat. The Muslims retaliated with the attack on prominent landmarks of Mumbai like the Stock Exchange. This was followed by a second attack when about a dozen Pakistani militants sailed into Mumbai at Cuffe Parade and literally held the Taj and Oberoi hotels under siege.
The latest statements by the commanding officer of the northern army command seems to suggest that Narendra Modi will not be happy with just a Hindu rashtra. Modi will also want to destroy Pakistan. Just like Bangladesh was captured there is every possibility that India might try to recapture Pakistan. A beginning is probably planned with the re-possession of Pakistani-occupied Kashmir.
Till recently Goa was safe from the saffron menace. We are not quite sure now as young people particularly in the 10th and 12th standard are being brainwashed. They are being fed with misinformation. There are being told to assert their Hindu identity. A false identity is sought to be created where he did not exist.
HINDUISM SHOULD DO NO HARM
NOBODY has any objection to Hinduism. I am also a Hindu but I believe that Hinduism should not do any harm to any other religion. Most important of all the caste system should be completely abolished. The BJP should concentrate on building a Hindu rashtra which has no caste and can live in harmony with other religions.