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"Let RSS learn the wisdom of dharma" – says Shri MJ Akbar

I’m thankful to my friend Harish K for having forwarded this article by Shri MJ Akbar.

Shri Akbar makes many observations and suggestions that the Hindutva movement may accept or reject according to it’s lights. However, one of his observations toward the end makes the most important point of all – a point that is missed by all those who are shocked by Shri Arun Shourie’s call for an RSS takeover of the BJP. The point is this –

“A simulated debate has been whisked up about the takeover of the BJP by the RSS: The two were never apart.”

Basic point made and accepted – let me now take up the other points Shri Akbar asks Hindu organizations to think about;

At the very start of his article Shri Akbar makes a wholly unnecessary and non-dramatic distinction between philosophy and wisdom. He somehow sees philosophy as complicating and wisdom as simple and direct, all the while forgetting that wise men have indeed been philosophers of one kind or another and those that “talk” wisdom without deep thought (philosophizing?) are rarely wise.

Dharma is a much debated and pondered over term. It’s consensual to think of it as *righteous duty*. Now, if one were abiding to one’s Dharma – how then can they infringe on another’s Dharma? So I cannot understand Shri Akbar imputing a “religious motive” to the term Dharma and then claiming that Hindu organizations have somehow infringed upon another’s.

From here Shri Akbar now spins around and basically asks – “What went wrong? What happened to the Mahatma’s conception or dream of a Rama Rajya? How could all the people in Hindusthan relate to this and not to the RSS notion of a Hindu Rashtra?

He answers his question –

It may seem anachronistic now but Gandhi was convinced that politics without religion was immoral. He believed that faith provided the moral compass essential for a lifetime’s journey through public service. Gandhi demanded the highest virtues from his disciples, extending not only to non-violence and financial honesty but also celibacy. There were not many takers for the last; and you might have reason to ask whether he had not confused an ashram with a freedom movement. But Gandhi’s commitment to religion did not mean commitment to a single religion. In his Ram Rajya, every faith had full freedom and complete equality. His prayer meetings were not just about his beloved Gita; there was space for the Holy Quran, the Bible and the Guru Granth Saheb as well. He could never understand why anyone should misunderstand this; and it pained him when opponents misrepresented him, sneered at his gentle idealism and challenged his pacifism with the undisguised threat of violence. Ram was an ideal, an image that communicated easily with the majority of India. But there was no aggression in his concept of divinity, and there was always equal space for the other. The Mahabharat was his favourite text, from which he learnt the true meaning of dharma. Gandhi’s Ram Rajya was a realm of harmony, not a continual battlefield.

This begs the question. Did Muslims accept at least this version of Rama Rajya? Did they embrace Gandhi and his fads like Hindus did and suffered for their trouble? I can leave the readers to make that judgement.

But then Shri Akbar attempts another explanation for why Muslims reject Hindu Rashtra and never answers if they accepted Gandhi’s Rama Rajya. He says;

The post-Gandhi Congress abandoned ‘Ram Rajya’ for at least three reasons: The term had become a negative with Muslims; Jawaharlal Nehru was uncomfortable with a religious idiom; and you needed to be as morally secure as Gandhi to promise a ‘Ram Rajya’. But why did the RSS and the BJP, who wanted a ‘Hindu India’, shy away from Gandhi’s formulation? Because their ideal was different from Gandhi’s. Paradoxically, the ‘Hindutva’ forces had modelled themselves on Pakistan: They wanted to treat Indian Muslims and Christians in precisely the same way that Pakistan was treating its Hindus and Christians — as second-class citizens.

It  does not occur to Shri Akbar that Hindus saw partition and a million atrocities happen before and after it, in front of their very eyes. They also saw Gandhi’s *experiments* fail miserably.

I think he senses Hindusthan is ready now, in other words, to accept another side of Jinnah. But he’s also worried that the RSS “takeover” of the BJP might poop his party.

– Namaste


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