Why the Arundhati Roys can get away

The Arundhati Roys of Hindusthan will continue to get away with treason and incitement to turn treasonous until and unless Hindu intellectuals openly and loudly proclaim a clear Hindu stance as Hindus. Please note, a clear Hindu stance. Not an “Indian” stance or a secular stance or even a “nationalist” stance; but a clear Hindu stance.

In a recent article on Deganga, Kanchan Gupta, a darling of Hindu nationalists made the observation about how Hindus elsewhere had earlier reacted to the Noakhali massacres in Bengal by observing a black Deepavali. He lamented the fact that even though Deganga Hindus had decided not to observe their annual Durga puje as a mark of protest, they were not joined in solidarity by other Hindus in the rest of Hindusthan. This is a fact.

Elsewhere in another article praising the temperament of the so called “Internet Hindus”, Kanchanda noted, “They are bright, they are well-educated, they are not burdened with regional and caste biases…”

If one were to accept such an “Internet Hindu” as representative of the less heard but vocal “awakened” Hindu outside of cyberspace, we can begin to understand why Hindus elsewhere did not react in solidarity with our Deganga brothers and sisters.

The following is quoted from the same “Noakhali” paper –

In opposing the barbarous attacks on the Hindus of Noakhali, different places of India held movements. In Bombay (Mumbai) the shops stayed closed in sympathy to the dead Hindus. In Banaras the students boycotted classes; Bandhs were observed at Delhi and Patna. In Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and even in the Muslim League dominated Sindh there was Black Deepavali. The Sikhs and Hindus did not observe the age-old custom of lighting diyas (ceremonial lamps).

But in Bengal there was no shadow of Noakhali. Like each year, 1946 also saw full lightings and pomp in the Kali Puja. There was no grief or sympathy for the killings in Noakhali. We have no newspaper reporting of any movement by the Hindus of Bengal in retaliation to the Noakhali riots. The question of whether this was Bengali’s progressiveness or otherwise was answered within ten months. When one crore Bengalis had to leave their ancestral land at the time of the birth of a new state.

Fellow Hindus who showed their solidarity with their Noakhali brethren can be safely assumed to have been full of Jati and localized cultural pride. I say this without fear of being contradicted because “educated” Hindus today are seen as a vast modernist improvement over their past generations. Those were Hindus who spoke less or none at all of being “Indian” and much more of being of their Jati and then being Hindu.

The modernist trend seen in some influential Hindu nationalists seeks to slash at the very roots that nourish the great Hindu banyan tree. They assume that by equating “Indian” with Hindu and more, they are somehow being nationalists and not communal. Worse, many tend to see Hindu and “Indian” as interchangeable.

Is it surprising then that Hindus have turned away from Deganga and turned impotently deaf to the Arundhati Roys of Hindusthan? The “awakened” and vocal/influential Hindus in cyberspace and outside may be successful (I doubt even this) in intellectualizing and rationalizing their choices of discourse but they must understand that the mass of Hindus, such as in Deganga and the rest of Hindusthan only understand the simple language of Jati and cultural pride. When spoken to in their language they will understand you and feel as one with their Deganga brethren whilst rising in anger against the treacherous Roys.

It is very important that Hindu samaja hears its Hindu intellectuals as Hindus; and not as secularists, “nationalists” or “Indians”.

Are Hindu Brahmanas (intellectuals) listening?

– Namaste

22 Responses

  1. Jati n Hindu identity r nt complementary. Contemporary political mobilization based on caste has been expressly anti-nationalist n allied itself wit non-Hindus to create votebanks to defeat nationalism. Their rhetoric should nt b seen as anti-Brahminical, that is just a clever ploy to legitimize their anti-Hinduism by sayin we r only against upper-caste discrimination. As long as jati is alive, Hindu Nationalism will never realize its potential n divide n rule will work.

  2. Also, the term in this discourse is nt very important, after all the name Hindu came about as Persians used to describe the people of subcontinent livin on the other side of the river Sindhu.What is important is a collective sense of ‘us’, inheritors of a particular culture that is widely known as Hindu but also known as Bharatiya, Indian,etc.

  3. What I cannot understand is about the importance you give to Jati. Mutual respect for each other Jati is diminishing. How can we expect a Gowda or a Lingayat to listen to a (so called) intellectual Brahman?. This is turning the clock back. Isnt it asking for too much. In such a scenario, can I not argue that a Jati-less Nationalism is what is needed to cut across masses?
    I agree that minorities listening to their leaders and voting or participating in democracy is becoming obvious but that will not hold good when issues of national importance are to be discussed right?

  4. Dr. Ambedkar made a very valid observation. He said the only way for a Hindu to escape or come out of Jati, is to convert to another religion.

    There is no other way.

    The observation is valid for several reasons. In Hindu life, everything religious/cultural/traditional, touches upon how various Jatis have developed them. This need not have anything to do with discrimination. It is simply how Hindus have developed their culture and traditions.

    When folks purport to forsake Jati; they are doing either of two things in reality.

    1. They are either becoming Hindus only in name.


    2. They are unconsciously marking themselves out as a group. This in turn tends to take on Jati-like charachteristics in due course of time.

    In so far as why the name Hindu; I would not mind a name like Zamboozie but fortunately or unfortunately, names have meaning and history behind them. I urge folks to read and re-read Sita Ram Goel’s short treatise – http://www.bharatvani.org/books/htemples2/app3.htm to understand better.

    The other thing one must consciously avoid doing is to mix or inter-change Jati and Varna. Brahmana is a Varna; not Jati. So, there are Brahmanas amongst Gowdas and Lingayats too.

    There can be any number of different types of nationalisms but each people is suited to a particular kind that their historical life develops. Nationalism does not come out of a cook-book. It rises from the bhumi.

  5. While it is true that jati is a very important sub–identity within Hinduism, politically it has worked against nationalism. Given our contemporary caste based parties n their politics, it is difficult to believe caste can b complementary wit nationalism.

    As far as names n terminology r concerned, nationalism based on a nation-state is more successful using the nation state’s name, in this case India. Now that ‘India’ has caught up, it will b very difficult to revert back to ‘Hindustan’, it is no use fightin popular culture, we must accept it n use it to our advantage.

  6. Nikunj, I’m sorry but you havent explained what will constitute this “nationalism” you speak of.

    I don’t think one can alter historical ties and traditions based on electoral politics. So called nationalist parties will need to be more imaginative. Learn the lingo, so to speak.

    On names, Hindusthan is a very widely used name. So is Bharat. In fact, i’d wager that the former two are more often used than “India”.

    That apart, the name “India” evokes no feeling of nationhood.

  7. Nationalism based on purely a Hindu identity wit respect to linguistic identity, simply cause linguistic identity is impossible to do away with. Historically n traditionally,caste may be complimentary to Hindu identity but politically it has divided Hindus. The route to a Hindu Rashtra can only b a political one n there fore exclusively the need fr Hindu identity.

  8. BTW the Hindu identity in my opinion includes all the people of the sub-continent since culturally we r all Hindu. But because the word ‘Hindu’ has become identified wit a religion rather than the culture of sub-continent, one may use Indian or Bharat to include all.

  9. It is hard to understand your position when you refuse to substantiate what “Hindu identity” is w/o the element of Jati. And if such identity cannot be thought of w/o Jati, then that’s what Hindu identity is composed of. You will need to bite the bullet and acknowledge this fact.

    Secondly, in a universally franchised polity, there is really no getting away or rather wishing away the fact of Jati’s influence in politics. Now, this influence can be negative or positive depending on the players.

    Your submission that “Hindu identity” includes the Hindu people and minorities is not merely fallacious but also unteneble unless Hindu nationalists insist on such an identity for minorities who deny and oppose this inclusion.

    Historically also, it is not evidenced, as proved by how differently Hindu people were looked at by invading Muslims; as against non-Hindus.

    The assumption that minorities somehow have or have retained ancestral Hindu instincts is also false – and not based on facts. Wherever Muslims have sensed strength, they have behaved like Muslims are expected to-anywhere in the world including in this country.

  10. This is confusing to me. After all, aren’t we saying that Indian IS IN FACT = HIndu? That thats what sustains the identity of the nation as separate from other nations? How can we then renounce that?

  11. Contemplationist – The quirk is that Indian does not equal Hindu. Indian means Hindu+.

  12. palahalli,
    1.could you expound on your concept of jati,considering that you do not equate it to varna.
    2.how do you think hindus can emerge as a cohesive unit while upholding their jatis in the “universal enfranchisement” environment?

  13. Ashwani, please excuse me for the delay in my response. Been tied down with loads of work.

    1. Even a brief survey of any portion of Hindusthan will throw up immeasurable diversity in Hindu samaja. There are many reasons for this but here are two that stand out.

    a. The incorporation of endogamous tribes or Janajatis, into the Varnashrama Dharma.

    b. Professions and religious beliefs acting as spurs and basis for endogamous groupings; tantamount to Jatis, also getting incorporated into Varnashrama Dharma.

    So Varnashrama Dharma is not Jati to the extent that it is based in individual guna or trait/character, whereas Jati is based in birth.

    Nowadays we see old Janajatis and Jatis intermingling in various professions and perhaps, even religious beliefs.

    However, when it comes to the latter, we still see that Jatis and Janajatis have held on to their traditions – mainly in the matter of Samskaras. This is the reason why any amount of “urbanization” will not weaken Jati.

    2. Firstly, Jatis/Janajatis have been Hindu samaja’s strengths. Secondly and traditionally, at the primary levels, Jatis have represented themselves either directly or indirectly, in matters of polity. Take the Grama Panchayats.

    Universal Franchise has forced a broad basing and disbursement of power to all adults in all Jatis and Janajatis. What this should have ideally given rise to is a structured representation for Jatis/Janajatis in polity. However, a failure to achieve this has caused a perversion in our polity by allowing great scope for dalals of particular Jatis that can mobilize numbers and influence, whilst leaving behind, those that cannot mobilize as well.

    The remedy is to provide structured representation to all Jatis and Janajatis.

  14. Palahalli,

    could you elaborate on “..structured representation..” ?

  15. Ashwani, this means to ensure representation of all Jatis/Janajatis.

    Designing our legislative bodies similarly.

  16. Palahalli,
    are you saying proportional representation?

  17. No. I’m saying equal representation, because proportional representation will liquidate the numerically small Jatis.

  18. Palahalli,
    1. the jatis have to be enumerated.there will have to be a threshold for being enumerated as one.
    2.all these jatis shall elect their leaders.

    3.they form an assembly.

    4.now these leaders elect a HoG.?

    am i right ?

  19. Ashwani, I doubt if there is a Jati of one but yes, you have the right idea in terms of ensuring all Jatis and Janajatis are represented at the National level.

  20. Palahalli,

    won’t this lead to discontent among the jatis with higher population count,defeating the very purpose of hindu cohesiveness.?

  21. Why should it? Equal representation will mean equal distribution of powers but proportional distribution of resources.

    Very similar to what would happen if all states in our Union sent equal numbers of MPs to the Loka Sabha.

  22. Palahalli,
    interesting take with possibly many facets.

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