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Has Tolerance Become A Curse For Sanatana Dharma?

Has tolerance become a curse for Sanatana Dharma

Remember the controversy over Aamir Khan’s movie, PK? Our concern here is not to analyse the movie critically but to ask this question: why can’t Aamir Khan be adventurous enough to make a movie that makes fun of Islam and its Prophet Muhammad? Of course, it goes without saying that had Aamir made such a movie, he wouldn’t even be alive to listen to the criticism or praise of such a movie. The secular media and (mostly) Sunni Muslims threw their full weight behind Aamir Khan’s cinematic impudence.

Forget Muhammad. The Malayalam movie Pitavinum Putranum has been stuck with the Censor Board for two years because its subject involves the story of two nuns, and therefore might offend the delicate sensibilities of Christians.

Has tolerance become a curse for Sanatana Dharma? Indeed, this sort of tolerance has been described by some thinkers as the perversity of being good.

The now-familiar secularist discourse proceeds in this fashion: caste is bad, they say. Lower castes were oppressed for thousands of years, they say. Yet, when a person like Mata Amritanandamayi hailing from a “lower caste” stuns the world with her achievements, they don’t have a single syllable of praise. Instead, they wait in stealth hoping to find something to tar her.

We need to investigate the roots of this state of affairs.

Long history of demonizing Sanatana Dharma

The project of distorting, demonizing and demeaning Sanatana Dharma has a long history.

The one solid obstacle that the British encountered in their endeavour to enslave India not only politically but culturally (racially) was the soft power known as Sanatana Dharma. Indeed, the biggest challenge before the British was the resolute resilience of Sanatana Dharma which had withstood and digested not only the savage Islamic attacks but also the protracted Muslim rule, and had emerged stronger.

It was in this backdrop that the campaign to distort and demonise every institution, belief, practice, tradition, and heritage of the Hindus was launched and carried on with relentless vigour by the British starting from Macaulay up to Curzon and included missionaries and bureaucrats.

This tradition of cultural vandalism is alive and thriving even today. A representative instance of this is the fact that the Bhagavad Gita, the universal, eternal guidebook has now become anathema to these cultural and spiritual Philistines.

The one solid obstacle that the British encountered in their endeavour to enslave India not only politically but culturally (racially) was the soft power known as Sanatana Dharma.

However, it is futile to criticise such motivated opponents. Hindus have no option but to strengthen themselves intellectually and institutionally.

The picture of India’s culture that emerged from the enormous amount of scholarship produced on India by 18th Century Europe had stunned the British to such an extent that they instituted an army of researchers and scholars who worked for decades to produce a narrative about India that would aid Empire. A child of this project is the Aryan Invasion Theory.

Thanks to this scholarship about Indian culture, the Germans discovered that it was far more useful to trace their origins to India than to Semitic roots and began calling themselves as Aryans. The story of how this culminated in Hitler’s Nazism with all its attendant consequences is only too well-known to bear repetition.

Equally, one of the strongest edifices that helped Western Europe’s influence to reach various corners of the world was the distortion of the history of ancient civilizations and cultures.

This might sound ridiculously funny now. However, in the colonial period, Western Europeans clung to and operated from an important article of faith derived from the Bible: that the whole world was their inheritance from their ancestors. It was on this foundation that they wrote or sponsored the writing of history.

However, the consequence of this perverted history was not limited merely to the intellectual domain—it spread to the realm of political power and was directly responsible for the genocide of millions of innocent people from Australia to Latin America.

Several hugely significant chapters of Indian history have been erased from our memories. It suffices to name only two. The first is the fact that the loot from the Battle of Plassey directly contributed to England’s industrialization. Secondly, the modernization of the British army was achieved only after looting the Marathas. The fact that not one textbook on Indian history mentions such substantial events and their impact on India and Indians is nothing short of amazing.

Hindus have no option but to strengthen themselves intellectually and institutionally.

Neither is this phenomenon restricted to India. It is the standard template of every country that has been colonized by Western Europeans: their true histories have been distorted and suppressed.

Even today there are at least 50 nations struggling to overcome mental colonisation. And there are ongoing efforts and struggles in those countries to rediscover and rekindle their native spirit, culture and traditions in their respective national narratives—or what is known as the asmita bhaava. This being the case worldwide, the continuing attempts of Indians to rediscover their own true history—without colonial aid—should not be regarded as attempts by unintelligent and under informed people. Indeed, it is this subtle and/or dismissive sneering at work in the case of castigating those who dare to oppose the likes of Wendy Doniger.

Eminent European scholars who predated Max Mueller by 80-90 years had realized the towering place that Bharata held in the world both economically and culturally. However, like I said earlier, this fact too, has been carefully suppressed in today’s time–a consequence of the efforts of the selfsame Max Mueller and other scholars of his hue. However, today’s scholars with intellectual integrity are aware of this fact but they are in a minority and their voices are mostly unheard. There is thus an urgent need to widely disseminate such hidden historical facts at the level of the general public or the common man, so to say.

Friedrich Schlegel, the German scholar who lived prior to 1829 was one the most powerful voices who after meticulous research showed the world the fact that India was the inspiration behind several aspects of Europe’s modernization. And he was not alone. A slew of such voices spoke about India’s lasting gifts to and as a source of inspiration for Europe (and other parts of the world). However, today, a majority of the people we consider as literate and educated haven’t even heard of these scholars.

The sole motive, indeed, the basis of concocting the Aryan Invasion Theory was to deny, refute, and despise the antiquity of Santana Bharata’s ancient culture and civilization.

Vandalizing Indian History

These are the two main threads that permeate the Aryan Invasion Theory and have been parroted in different ways and under various garbs for about 150 years:

  • Aryans and Dravidians were two separate races
  • The behaviour of the upper-caste descendants of these Aryans is responsible for all of India’s social ills today.

This “theory” was initially used by the British to retain colonial control over India but eventually became an important cornerstone of Tamil politics. This mythical invasion theory was also used a device to foment separatism amongst different groups of people in India.

The sole motive for concocting the Aryan Invasion Theory was to deny, refute, and despise the antiquity of Santana Bharata’s ancient culture and civilization.

A measure of the extent to which this went became evident when most of India’s sacred literature—for example Ramayana, the epic that the entire country revered— came to be painted in a different hue.

However, the following are the main reasons why this baseless theory was propagated almost unhindered for years:

  1. Its propagation was backed by political support.
  2. Any theory or policy or movement that contains strands of enmity, malice or spite will garner support quickly.
  3. Any attempt that is aimed at splintering the society will be backed by the enemies of that society.

An important stepping stone in this “Dravidian Campaign” is a person named Bishop Robert Caldwell who floated a groundless theory of linguistic differences, as well as an equally phony racial theory to support his linguistic theory. The Christian missionary apparatus almost immediately used Caldwell’s formulations to their advantage.

A whole new history was created. Balloons like “the Shaiva Siddhanta was not a part of Sanatana Dharma but had its roots in Christianity” were floated. Ramayana was turned on his head with Ravana as its hero. In 1960, Ravana Kaaviyam, aTamil poem, was officially patronized and widely disseminated by the then DMK Government, and thanks to the popularity of such twisted work, societal tensions escalated. Equally, in the post-Independence period, an adharmic force named secularism contributed mightily to further intensify social disharmony.

Atrocity literature, which had formed an important backbone of the colonial administration and Evangelism, now became even more widespread. At the root of atrocity literature lies a simple formula: there has existed one class/group of people who have attacked and oppressed another class/group throughout history. Post-independent India’s society-breaking enthusiasts contributed generously to this atrocity literature—and continue to do so.

The loot from the Battle of Plassey directly contributed to England’s industrialization.

A colossal nexus supported by establishment intellectuals, media, and political power almost ensured that the voice of truth would be suppressed forever. However, it took a significantly long time to mount a strong counter to this nexus.

The general public cannot even fathom the true extent of this long-drawn cultural assault and vandalism.

We can cite Kamil Zvelebil, a Czechoslovakian scholar of Tamil and “Dravidian” linguistics. Apart from following the usual template of trying to splinter Indian society into Aryan and Dravidian, Kamil has gibed the entire Bhakti Pantha (movement). To understand the significance of Kamil’s vile writing, one needs to remember that it was the Bhakti Panthathat acted as the solid protective shield against the incessant medieval Islamic assaults against Hindu society, institutions, temples and traditions. If that wasn’t enough, Kamil attempted to create confusion among, and tried to divide South Indians by floating yet another counterfeit theory in which he claims that Subrahmanya or Muruga was originally a Christian God. Even worse, such “scholarly” formulations from Kamil’s pen were patronized by such prestigious institutions as the Institute of Asian Studies!

The latest in this long, unending chain of cultural assault is the de-Hinduisation and perversion of Chennai’s iconic Kalakshetra under the Christian bigot Leela Samson, who was eventually asked to leave in disgrace. The same Leela Samson who as the Censor chief had cleared Aamir Khan’s PK.

Author: Sandeep Balakrishna

Published: April 07, 2015

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