Devasthana and Rashtra

Hindusthan is faced with an existential problem it needs to resolve. In fact, this problem is not Hindusthan’s alone but of most of what is popularly called, free world. The problem we are faced with is the cleaving of nationalism into its cultural and liberal components. The latter, I would like to call liberal constitutionalism.

To my mind there are three significant markers in our history of the last 100 odd years that point toward similar cleavages. The first was the split between the “extremists” and the moderates during the 1907 Surat Congress session. The second was when Gandhi chose Nehru over the popularly preferred Sardar Patel when independence was on the horizon. The third marker is significant in that it does not correspond to personalities necessarily but to a movement and an incident, the movement for Shri Rama’s Janmasthan and the destruction of the Babri Masidi on 6th Dec ‘1992.

In review, we find that the only marker where cultural nationalism has held sway over its liberal constitutionalist rival has been the third. There are several reasons for this and not the least has been the increased sense of awareness of Hindus with respect to their history, the all round failure of liberal constitutionalism starting from partition to killings and forced migrations to diplomatic defeats to economic drudgery, the list seems endless. Of course there have been positives but these lose their weight on the balance. The scene prior to independence and after Gandhi took over Congress was not very bright. It appears Hindus went along with Gandhi’s Congress in the sheer hope for a better deal. Gandhi’s saintly demeanor helped. It led Hindus to believe Gandhi was acting in their best interests since he spoke in a language that was not overly intellectual and aloof but something they all could understand. However, he constantly caved into Muslim demands because he was willfully blind to the fact that independence could be had without Muslims if he so wanted it. Gandhi was unrivalled by design and circumstance. The final denouement came with partition and it was too late for the Hindus. Gandhi’s assassination would do nothing to change the new ruler in New Delhi who brought in his wake the liberal State.

The other reason why the third marker remains strong is because its essence has distributed itself amongst the mass of Hindus. It has not remained captive to tired leaders with indifferent levels of commitment and immature thought processes. Instead, the movement for Janmasthan retains inside its womb the capacity to test and try multiple numbers of leaders and intellectuals in the hope that some would succeed in the mission. The mission not merely to build the Bhavya Devasthana but to build a Bhavya Hindusthan on its steam.

This desire is hardly new or novel. Listen to Hindusthan’s first President Rajendra Prasad on Somanatha –

“It is my view that the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple will be complete on that day when not only a magnificent edifice will arise on this foundation, but the mansion of India’s prosperity will be really that prosperity of which the ancient temple of Somnath was a symbol.”

 

The opposition then, as it is today, is also not new. Nehru saw Hindu revivalism in the Somanatha’s rise and his legatees see the revival of Hindu Nationalism in the future rise of Shri Rama Devasthana.

So, what is the nature of this debilitating cleaving of Hindusthan’s polity? What are its roots? The root of the issue lies in the kind of polity we Hindus wanted and have been handed instead. Did we want a liberal State or did we want a State that would have based itself on Dharma? A Dharmic State would have based itself on the Hindu Rashtra, drawing its legitimacy from its splendorous and diverse traditions and cultural manifestations; acting as guides to Hindu samaja. A Dharmic State that would give fair play and representation to all of its multifarious Jatis and Janajatis in its National Assembly. A Dharmic State that would leverage the superior sustaining power of Samajic reform instead of coercive and corrosive State legislation. The Dharmic State would have been no threat to the Minority and instead would see its duty in helping the minority fulfill its religious obligations as long as the basis of polity in the Hindu Rashtra was not questioned nor denied.

Such a Dharmic State had become all the more necessary in lieu of Hindusthan’s partition into Muslim Pakistan and “Hindu” Hindusthan; that its caretakers could not forestall. Great amounts of salt were rubbed into Hindu wounds when Hindu minorities in Muslim Pakistan started to dwindle and flow into Hindusthan, fleeing from persecution. Such a State would have fulfilled the Hindu samaja’s inherent need for safety and security. None of this happened because I believe Hindu Nationalists, then, had no conception of a Dharmic State. They too were essentially taken in by the liberal constitutionalist mirage. Few, if at all, of the Hindu nationalists, spoke to Hindus in the language they really understood and cared for. The language of tradition. In terms of articulating a Hindu polity, they seem to have done even less. The questions of who or what constituted Hindu Rashtra; who or what were minorities within such a Hindu polity; how the various Hindu Jatis and Janajatis would represent themselves; how traditional norms and mores would be nourished and importantly; how social deformities would be recognized and reformed without recourse to the State’s resourceful arms, by leveraging a robust samaja.

So, therefore what we got was a liberal polity not based on any organic Rashtra but on an artificially created contract in the form of a Constitution that recognized citizens instead of Nationals; thereby automatically delegitimizing the rightful place of the Hindu Rashtra in Hindusthan. Such a Constitution took away the responsibility of the Rashtra towards itself and the minorities within its national borders and placed them in the hands of a soulless State that was under absolutely no obligation to do anything but to ensure its own perpetuation.

The Ayodhya verdict slayed the liberal polity. It is now ready to be cremated at the ghat. The movement for Janmasthan Devasthana, fortuitously renewed, as the country threw away British fetters; tests and tries many leaders and intellectuals; challenges them to do their best to establish Hindu Dharmic rule in this country, for it is Dharma that will be the liberal polity’s pall bearer.

How many of those who want this Bhavya Devasthana understand what the Devasthana wants from them?

– Namaste

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2 Responses

  1. Could you please provide more information to support your point that 1907 Surat Congress cleaving of nationalism was also based on personalities? I could not recall any big personalities in Congress until Gandhi arrived in 1915.

    What are the positives contributed by liberal constitutionalism that could not have been accomplished under cultural nationalism of Hindutva politicians?

    You seem to imply that the failures of liberal constitutionalism started with partition and killings. But didn’t it’s failures start much before?

    I was not convinced by your explanation of why Hindus went along with Gandhi.
    For me it mostly seems Hindus were never given any other viable option.
    I believe partly that Gandhi was first selected (negative selection) by western elites.
    Gandhi’s non-violence movement was very convenient for both western conservatives and liberals.
    Western conservatives & colonialists felt that by elevating Gandhi to the status of the leader of Indian independence movement, they are picking a straw-man under whose leadership they can easily suppress the freedom movement. They were already feeling the heat of violent resistance to colonial rule.
    Whereas western liberals felt that they can abuse Gandhi’s nonviolent principles to convince British & American people to (embrace pacifism and surrender to communism of Stalin) ultimately to form Global comintern.
    And Indian congressmen, being power-hungry they are, always chose the path of least resistance and went along with this narrative.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_selection_%28politics%29
    Straw Man trick (Straw Man == Something, such as an argument, deliberately set up weakly supported, so that it can be easily knocked down; especially to impugn the strength of any related thing or idea)

    I do not think what Congressmen suggested can even be called “liberal constitutionalism”.
    First of all, true meaning of liberal means no government intervention in the lives of individuals. So it should have been called socialist constitutionalism.
    But then again, Indian political system was not built with constitution as the ultimate authority.
    If constitution were the ulitamate authority we would have turned into a “Nation of Laws”.
    Instead our political system was designed to be a “Nation of Men ie men with cult-of-personality”.
    I feel that Indian constitution was deliberately written with a lot of ambiguity so that enough discretionary power is left in the hands of judges to interpret it to suit the vested interests.

    So henceforth I refer to “liberal constitutionalism” as “Gandhian Socialism”.

    It seems that the other alternative intellectuals could not from the competent narrative of “cultural nationalism” to counter the Gandhian Socialism of Congress. Also the fact that Hindus were a multicultural society plus Hindus never having the notion of single faith based nation state was our handicap. Besides communists made Hindu unity difficult by scaring OBCs and Dalits about upper caste domination and hegemony after independence. Gandhi had manipulated this strong sense of insecurity of OBCs and Dalits (later on minorities) to Congress’ advantage.

    I also believe that we being a very diverse society even among upper castes, it would have been logistically also very difficult to create a narrative unifying all Hindus within a short time to counter Gandhian socialism.

    Also most Hindu kingdoms had always been “nation of men” rather than “nation of laws”. In fact the strong and deep-rooted notions of Jati/ Caste (its perpetuity even after changes in rulers) had left no space for other western notions of activism driven by rule of law and democratic principles to flourish.

    Also we must remember that all these Dharmic concepts of nation were never articulated before independence. Even if they had been articulated, considering the illiteracy of so many Indians, it would not have competed against Gandhi’s populist ideas.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    So it seems we have some minor disagreements on interpretations of history, but your future course of action is very well thought out, strategized and articulated.

    I have also posted this response on my blog.
    http://varunvijay.tumblr.com/post/1353256860/gandhian-socialism-vs-cultural-nationalism

  2. Thanks for your observations my friend.

    The split of 1907 was quite significant with Balagangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai leading the charge for a more activist/radicalized revolt against the much sober Gokhale.

    **What are the positives contributed by liberal constitutionalism that could not have been accomplished under cultural nationalism of Hindutva politicians?

    – Actually nothing at all. Cultural nationalism could have achieved the same and more.

    **You seem to imply that the failures of liberal constitutionalism started with partition and killings. But didn’t it’s failures start much before?

    – You are right. This is what I said – ” The scene prior to independence and after Gandhi took over Congress was not very bright.”

    **For me it mostly seems Hindus were never given any other viable option.

    – Right again. This is what I said – “Gandhi was unrivalled by design and circumstance.”

    **First of all, true meaning of liberal means no government intervention in the lives of individuals.

    – Here I disagree with you. The premises under which liberalism functions does not allow for the kind of freedom you seem to think it does. See my posts on liberalism on the blog.

    With respect to Jati et al, I think it is time for Hindu intellectuals to accept the reality of Jati and work with it instead of against it. Else like Don Quixote, we will fail in our mission.

    Sincerely

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