December 6th – A Date with History
Tale of Two Betrayals
A popular regional politician has passed away yesterday, so naturally all public attention on this day has shifted to Chennai. And rightly so, because personality cult politics supersedes any other organizing principle in the age of 24X7 social media. But the historical relevance of this popular politician is as amorphous as the staying power of a twitter or Instagram feed. It will not make it to the pages of history. However, today is the anniversary of two momentous events in immediate history that have millennial relevance and thunderous impact to India and Hinduism, both. First is passing away of Babasaheb Ambedkar in 1956, and the second is the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992. Both events are culmination points of two seemingly distinct movements on the surface, but organically connected with each other as both point to a natural urge to evolve and take the next step for both India as a civilizational homeland, and Hinduism as its philosophical expression. The evolution is not unprecedented as we have seen such changes throughout the length of Indian history. Case in point is transformation of Indian polity from small Republics to large Empires during Mauryan era. And other similar inflection points.
Babasaheb Ambedkar appeared at a time when a colonized India was struggling to set itself free from the shackles of foreign occupation. The dominant narrative is that Dr. Ambedkar represented the so-called depressed classes, who were renamed to Harijans, and then to Dalits. But was his advocacy and work limited to a sectional representation, or was it something more? In the technical sense he did represent the Dalits, but the same Ambedkar signed the Poona Pact with Gandhi. This in itself proved that Ambedkar’s concerns were much larger. The Poona Pact prevented the fragmentation of the Hindu society at that time by way of separate electorates, and a huge catastrophe was thus prevented. The relevance of the pact itself is limited to a certain political situation, but it is Ambedkar’s willingness to reach out is of much more durable significance. Much has been said critical about Ambedkar’s “conversion” to Buddhism, but it was Veer Savarkar who looked at it in the correct perspective, and called it ‘return to the Hindu fold’.
Unfortunately, after Dr. Ambedkar’s death, there has not been a true inheritor of his legacy, who could carry on the movement he started. His organizations have been reduced to ideological irrelevance, and his so-called inheritors have been coopted into a reductionist Left narrative and established alliances with anti-civilizational forces. This is the first betrayal.
Dr. Ambedkar had also considered “conversion” to Sikhism, but did not pursue that because he saw that Sikhism could not prevent caste inequality. His “conversion” to Buddhism must be seen and explained from an architectural standpoint. Since Ambedkar was a later product of the so-called Indian Renaissance period whose foundation was laid by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and the Bramho experiment, Hinduism had acquired certain attributes of Abrahamism in successive waves of colonization. However, the same could not affect Buddhism as much. Buddhism never accepted the prophethood of Jesus at par with Enlightened Buddha, or injected itself with the notion of an ‘a priori’ God. Buddhism in India has remained true to its original architecture – a way or method of adhyatma and pursuit of an integral knowledge corpus. Consequently, Ambedkar’s rejection of colonized Hinduism and taking up Bauddha Darsana should be seen as a process of spiritual decolonization and undoing of the Bramho colonial movement, at a higher level of abstraction. This process is, and must not be limited just to the so-called Dalit population. Instead, the whole Hindu society must go through this decolonization process. The actual shape and form it takes could be different than what Dr. Ambedkar did, but decolonization nevertheless. It is the spiritual decolonization that will serve as the enabler for the Hindu society to finally solve its caste problem. Dr. Ambedkar has indeed shown the way for the whole of the Hindu society to follow.
The second momentous event was demolition of Babri Masjid on this day in 1992. Much has been written on this topic. It is mostly self-flagellation. Otherwise it is unproductive chest-thumping. Most commentators fold up their narrative into the narrow confines of electoral politics. Fortunately for India a charismatic and able leader has taken the reins of the country, after a decade long disastrous spell under a Congress regime. The Prime Minister is taking the country forward economically and by all estimations he will last another 10 years plus. So far, so good. But even the larger-than-life Vikas Purush cannot deny the role of Godhra and its aftermath, in his gaining a political edge over his competitors within his party. Otherwise, his party has a galaxy of able and popular CMs as good as him. The 60 karsevaks who were burnt alive in Sabarmati Express have been the political stepping stone for the charismatic leader that India has today at its helm. And the irony is that for the very cause for which the 60 Gujaratis laid their lives for, has been sabotaged from within the movement. This is the second betrayal.
Babri Masjid demolition must not be seen and interpreted as one aggrieved community demolishing a religious place of another community which was historically usurped. In a technical sense it was that, but there is much more to it. The demolition of Babri Masjid is also as much an act of decolonization. The Babri Masjid was not just a mosque. It was a symbol of a brutal foreign occupation. The karsevaks who brought down the domes of Babri on this day in 1992 were performing no less a historic yajna. The demolition was an expression of undertaking of a comprehensive decolonization process. The leadership who betrayed this movement did so, because all of a sudden they became uncomfortable with the idea of decolonization. How else one can explain the tears rolling down the cheeks of the so-called leader of the movement the very next day? It became the “saddest day of my life” for this leader. The decolonization process that commenced was rolled back the very next day. Six years later, the betrayal paid off electorally in the form of NDA #1. But history was also stopped in its tracks.
For a moment it is not to suggest mal-intent or cast aspersions on the individual personality of the leadership. The RJB movement had to be betrayed because it was being led by the colonized. Not free men. Not only politically or socially colonized, but spiritually colonized as well. The leader who learnt his colonial version of Hinduism at R.K. Mission lectures in Karachi in his childhood, had to betray a Hindu decolonization movement – how else the Bramho effect could have manifested itself?
While the immediate political paradigm may have shifted to Vikas for now, the undercurrent of decolonization cannot be wished away. The yearning for Poorna Swaraj shall linger on. There will be a new Hindu Liberation movement – sooner or later. But this time it will not be led by secularists. Its leadership must come from the spiritually decolonized Hindus. The SC/ST community itself can come forward, follow the path shown by Dr. Ambedkar, and take up the leadership of the Hindu society in all spheres of life, including spirituality and adhyatma. There is a certain space that has been vacated by the Mishras, the Shuklas, then Iyers, the Ayyangars, the Singhs, and the Agarwals. While these so-called upper castes get busy with Shudra pursuit of acquiring personal wealth and enjoyment – and rightfully so as a matter of personal choice and preference, the Valmikis, the Chamars and the Jatavs can occupy the space with their hard work in spiritual, social, cultural, social and political spheres.
Building the RJB at Ayodhya is the ultimate yajna. Whoever does it successfully shall rule and lead India and Hinduism for the next millennia.
Dec. 6th, 2016