Articles

M K Gandhi and his impact on the Hindu Psyche: In Pre-colonial and Post-colonial India

Advertisements
Reading Time: 13 minutes

By Nived KM

Nived K M, Tamil Nadu National Law University, Tiruchirapalli

“Uttaraṃ yatsamudrasya himādreścaiva dakṣiṇam

Varṣaṃ tadbhārataṃ nāma bhāratī yatra santatiḥ”

“The country (varṣam) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bhāratam; there dwell the descendants of Bharata.”[1]

Vishnu Purana

Since time immemorial this Land of the Gods had been the epitome of human advancement. It was on the banks of  River Saraswati where men whose names were lost to time laid the foundation for one of the most exemplary civilizations in the world.

The precise date for the  origins of our civilization has been lost in the mists of time. What is known is the fact that our civilization had been present in some form or another even  before the earliest Sumerians and Egyptians but had remained mostly confined to just trade with our neighbours.  While there might not exist any literary document from those ancient times of antiquity to properly verify the chronological dates regarding the birth of Hinduism, all is not lost. Ancient city ruins found off the coast of Gujarat in the Gulf of Khambhat is arguably one of the greatest archeological discoveries of all time since the tomb of Tutukhaman. The structures are estimated to date as far back as 7500 BC making them the oldest urban structures ever built[2]. This piece of archeological evidence only further attests to the facts that Hindu civilization had begun at a time when the first urban settlements were only in their infancy in Mesopotamia[3]

The question naturally arises, how are we certain that these structures in a lost city nearly 10,000 years ago are the progenitor of all that our civilization stands upon today. The direct evidence for this would be the striking similarities between these lost structures and the Saraswati Civilization (2500-1900BC). The Great Bath of Mohan Jo Daro finds its precursor in this ancient ruin and the long forgotten acropolis, drainage system, house plans and many other lost projects present here bear a striking resemblance to those in the Saraswati Civilization. Dilip Chakraborthi, Cambridge Historian and an expert of indian history had been quoted saying that.

“If the dates are true it would be revolutionary in terms of understanding the growth of villages and cities in the world.”[4]

By all accounts the data presented sets up the fact that India was the birthplace of urban planning in the world. The notion that civilization began in the ancient lands of Mesopotamia and then spread to India would be easily discarded as this new evidence would be presented. Adding to this the countless advancements in medicine and ayurveda, the role of Shushrutha, the pioneer of plastic surgery, the first universities at Takshashila and Sharada Peeth, the advancements of metallurgy and technology unparalleled for its time, mathematicians like Bhaskara and Aryabhatta, linguistic doyens such as Panini and literary giants such as Veda Vyasa, Vishnusharma and Valmiki, the Hindu people today are the direct descendents of this civilizational  splendor and wonder[5].

Over the course of the next four millennia after the birth of the Saraswati Civilization, our nation had produced some of the most outstanding leaders and emperors in history. From the tenacity and martial prowess  of Mauryas to the artistic and literary genius of Guptas, the pragmatic and visionary rules such as Harsha to the great explorers of the Chola Empire, there was no dearth of exemplary rulers who had set about to change the world. H G Wells had once said about Ashoka that –

“For eight and twenty years Asoka worked sanely for the real needs of men. Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Asoka shines, and shines, almost alone, a star. From the Volga to Japan his name is still honoured. China, Tibet, and even India, though it has left his doctrine, preserve the tradition of his greatness. More living men cherish his memory to-day than have ever heard the names of Constantine or Charlemagne.”[6]

It is here that we must ask ourselves why after many millennia of past glory that today our People are no longer the epitome of human civilization. Why are we more divided than ever? And why are we more pessimistic and nihilistic than ever before?

The answer can be found in the last century wherein during the last stage of the Indian  independence movement, the defeatist mentality that reigns prevalent today takes root.

The British empire had spent decades inflicting a cataclysmic ruin upon the existing education system in the nation and the denigration of Indian values and culture. The Indian education that existed in the past, unlike that which succeeded it, was built upon the foundations of equality. There was never any discrimination between the students or the teachers.[7]. However Lord Mcauley understood that for the British Empire to forever rule over the subcontinent , the existing system has to be destroyed. Which was why we saw the rise of the western oriented schools run by the christian missionaries. Here, the youth of India were taught that their nation was by all accounts only fit to serve the Empire. Our culture was disparaged and denigrated, and our children humiliated for who they were. This is where we see the first seeds that would one day grow into the nihilism that exists in the Hindu society.

Before we move into the quagmire of the defeatist mentality  that almost ruined the foundations of our society, we must take the time to appreciate and laud the great leaders of the freedom movement who strived to uphold our values and our culture. Great leaders such as Lokmanya Tilak and Bankim Chandra Chatterjee understood that the first step a nation must take in the struggle for independence is that it must accept and fully embrace her roots. They understood the adverse effects of the British education system and began their efforts to once more bring back the pride and honour that existed in our civilization. It is here that we also emphasize that Mahatma Gandhi was among these leaders who, like many before him, believed in the greatness of our culture and realised that the first step would be to bring back self respect. However the fallacy of Gandhiji was that, in his quest for Hindu Muslim unity he overlooked tragedies which had disastrous consequences which would inadvertently damage the Hindu Psyche for a long time to come.

The core tenents of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy were ahimsa and Hindu Muslim unity. These ideals are some of the primary philosophies long held in high esteem by our nation. However the problem was that Gandhiji believed that to achieve the latter, the former was essential. This would be perfectly explained throiugh his reaction to the Mallabar riots where the Muslims of the Malabar region began a genocide of the Hindus driven by their fundamentalist and fanatical ideals.

The Khilafat Movement was launched in retaliation against the Treaty of Sevres which saw massive territorial losses as well as international humiliation to the Ottoman Sultan. Gandhiji believed that by allying with the global Muslim resentment against the British Empire, both the communities could work towards a common goal of undermining and overthrowing the British Raj in India and thereby foster closer relations between the them. Unfortunately the Mahatma thoroughly underestimated the Muslim mindset and for this miscalculation, the rest of the Hindu  community suffered immesurabley.  To further enumerate this point, the Mahatma was quoted saying the following –

“The Imperial Government have knowingly flouted religious sentiments dearly cherished by the 70 millions Mussalmans…If the Mussalmans of India offer non-cooperation to Government in order to secure justice on the Khilafat, it is the duty of every Hindu to cooperate with their Moslem brethren.”[8]

The primary example which can be showcased here to shatter the perception that the Khilafat movement had encouraged Hindu Muslim unity would be the horrors of the Malabar Riots of 1921. Morphing from protests against the british into a religious genocide, the Muslims of Malabar soon began a rampage across the region. Mass conversions and looting were soon becoming the norm. Armies of fanatical Muslims were roving the land converting or slaughtering every single Hindu they happened to come by. By all accounts, not a single village in the malabar region was spared from this atrocity and many became ghost villages devoid of all life with temples and houses burnt, ransacked and desecrated. In a letter written to the Countess of Reading, the Hindu women of Malabar let the entire world know about the horrors and atrocities being committed upon themselves, their families and their people.

“Your Ladyship is not fully apprised of all the horrors and atrocities perpetrated by the fiendish rebels: of the many wells and tanks filled up with the mutilated but often only half dead bodies of our nearest and dearest ones who refused to abandon the faith of our Fathers; of pregnant women cut to pieces and left on the roadside and in the jungles, with the unborn babe protruding from the mangled corpse; of our innocent and helpless children torn from our arms and done to death before our eyes and our husbands and fathers tortured, flayed and burnt alive; …of thousands of our homesteads reduced to cindermounds out of sheer savagery and wanton spirit of destruction; of our places of worship desecrated and destroyed and of the images of the deity shamefully insulted by putting the entrails of slaughtered cows where flower garlands used to lie, or else smashed to pieces; of the wholesale looting of hard earned wealth of generations, reducing many who were formerly rich and prosperous to publicly beg for a pice or two in the streets of Calicut…”[9]

It is pertinent to understand that during the time of this tragedy when the riots were in full swing in Malabar, the Mahatma continued to preach the idea of non cooperation, Hindu Muslim unity and to stand with the Muslims whose religious beliefs he felt had been hurt[10]. Ironic is this stand, as while the Mahatma calls for Hindus to assist the Muslims against the activities of the British Empire, the same Muslims were leading a premediated genocide of the Hindu people. What more does one need to notice the collapse of morale among the Hindus when their leaders willingly march them into death and slaughter.

Abject horror was the reaction from many Indian leaders such as Annie Besant and Dr Ambedkar. The tragedies erupting out from the zealotry of the Khilafat movement sent shockwaves across the nation. Such barbarity had once been commonplace during the reign of the Mughals.The Khilafat movement once more awakened the ancient demon of bigotry and it was soon to be the weapon of not just violent extremists but the sword whcih will be weilded by the Muslim League to tear this nation apart.

The Kohat riots of 1924 in the North West Frontier Province were another testament of the flawed ideas brought forward by the Mahatma. By the ninth of May in 1924, extremist and jihadist ideas soon took  forefront in the Khilafat Moment in the region prompting threats of violence against the  Hindu populations[11]. By early September these threats transformed into violent assaults and full scale rioting and burning of Hindu dominated parts of the region. The violence was so terrifying that soon the mass exodus that followed left the entire region devoid of its Hindu population. Premeditated and planned, these riots unleashed a carnage that forced uprooting of a part of the population and the resulting mass exodus became an sinister premonition for the tragedy of Partition soon to come 23 years later.

When partition came, the time had come to pay the piper. The folly of passive ahimsa to hold up Hindu Muslim unity came crashing down like a pack of cards on Direct Action Day in 1946. When Jinnah’s call for Direct Action Day came, the Hindu community was unable to hold back the ferocity and inhumanity unleashed by the communal juggernaut of the Muslim League. The Statesman was even quoted saying on August 2nd, 1946 that –

“Bloodshed and disorder are not necessary evil in themselves, if resorted to for a noble cause. Among Muslims today, no cause is dearer or nobler than Pakistan,”[12]

The greatest tragedy of  Direct Action Day was when the mastermind behind the riots in Calcutta, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy did not face any repercussions for his actions. He was also supported by the Mahatma when he came to Bengal in order to stop the violence[13]. While the actions of the Mahatma may have been to prevent further bloodshed, it by no means allowed the recovery of the Hindu Psyche. The province of Bengal which was once the beating heart of nationalism was bleeding and  by standing with Suhrawardy, the Mahatma totally emasculated the Hindus. How can a people fight back for their right to live when their leaders are attempting to ingratiate with their tormentors.

The core principles of the Mahatma stood for ahimsa and religious unity and equality. These were the principles which were foremost in the eyes of this visionary and if it were to be so upheld, the world would have been a much more peaceful place. However while the Mahatma may have been a visionary who believed in the goodness of man and hoped that all of mankind will see the light of peace and unity, he did make a cardinal error in his philosophy which had disastrous results to the Hindu community. Ahimsa and the idea behind non violence was misconstrued by the Mahatma as a total lack of violence and any action which might be perceived as violent. Non violence and Ahimsa is not the absence of violence but rather, the decision of a more powerful individual or entity to understand their power and might while at the same time refuse to indulge in violence to achieve their ends. It is not the total absence of violence but the restraint of such violence until otherwise forced into self defence. Such a philosophy must always be interpreted carefully, and as we had seen over the past examples, the misconstruing of the idea of nonviolence and Ahinsa by the Mahatma led to catastrophic consequences for the Hindu community.

The Hindus of India had been suffering under the yoke of islamic invaders and western imperialists for centuries and this misinterpretation of non violence especially by a leader of the stature of the Mahatma, left the Hindus further defenseless and weakened. While the mahatma  bound by his principles used his stature to restrain the Hindus, the fanatics within the Muslim League were not bound by any morals. The utter lack of humanity within them coupled with the barbaric nature rendered them incapable of ever understanding any future a United Bharat envisioned by the Mahatma. To them, Ahimsa and calls for unity were acts of appeasement by a “weak” enemy. To state it clearly, the Muslim League saw our magnanimity and mercy and mistook it for weakness.

Unfortunately, it was not just the fundamentalists and zealots of the Muslim League driven by their base instincts who decided to take up arms against the nation, but even after Partition those within the highest echelons of office, convinced themselves that a weakened India is a better India. The chief among them would be the then Prime Minister and his fanatical devotion to an ill conceived dogmatic notion of secularism. The Hindus had just been through a genocide and mass migration of cataclsymic proportions. The horrors of Noakhali, Calcutta, Punjab and in many other places had devastated and scarred the subconsciousness of the Children of Bharatha, It was the time to uplift their morale and revive the shattered soul of the nation, but abandoned by their leaders and forsaken by many of their protectors, the Hindu society soon began to fall apart at its seams. The loss of morale, death, abject misery and resulting trauma prevalent in the wake of Partition marred the Hindu society leaving many scars still open today.

In a process that began since the days of Macauley with the destruction of the indian education system, the people of India, soon became a generation of individuals who had lost faith in their vision of their forefathers, losing their cultural ethos,  their mental fortitude denigrated, considering the desecration of their holy sites as a norm and thought themselves as protectors of another community while disregarding their own. Without the much needed self respect in our culture, our roots, our faith and our dharma, the damage the well meaning but misguided principles of the Mahatma inflicted was tantamount to the abject devastation of the Hindu Psyche.

After independence, the rebuilding of the Somnath temple should have been the first step to be taken to bring back self respect to the heart and soul of the Hindu community. By all accounts, the Iron Man of India, the exceptional leader whom we owe our unity today, Shri Sardar Vallabhai Patel as well as a the venerable Shri Rajendra Prasad, the first President of our nation and Shri K M Munshi all viewed that the rebuilding of the Somnath could become a first step towards the repairing of our shattered and demoralised society[14]. Unfortunately the deluded notions of secularism emanating from the Prime Minister became a major hurdle in their sacred attempts to repair the Hindu Psyche. As the handpicked successor of the Mahatma, the Prime Minister was one of the primary individuals responsible for the adverse situation Hindu society exists today. The roots of his actions and decisions rest solely upon the philosophies of the Mahatma. We had enumerated the fallacy regarding the same in the previous section. However, as long as the Prime Minister believed them to be flawless and quintessential, the future of our society was in jeopardy. The Prime Minister came to the unfortunate conclusion that in order to become truly secular, the minority community must be given first rights and preferences which was carried forward by his party and successors.

In time the asinine ideals of the Prime Minister would percolate to the very foundation of the Indian administration and bureaucracy, breed fervent anti Hindu sentiments and create an approach where any position taken in favour of mending the shattered psyche of the Hindu society was taboo. The whitewashing of mass murder and genocide perpetrated against the Hindu Community became common place. The simple question to demonstrate this allegation would be to ask how many Indians would remember the Noakhali riots today? How many would look upon the slaughter which happened in East Bengal and give a thought for the lives lost? Would any spare a moment of their time to understand the tragedy that befell the Kashmiri Pandits? Who remembers the Godhra Train Burning incident? Has anyone ever heard of the Marichjhapi Massacre?

Over time this deference became outright reverence and the placing of certain unscrupulous members upon a pedestal of power beyond the reach of questions, queries and even the law became the norm.  The majority community of the nation became relegated to the sidelines, bitterly divided over the actions of a few power hungry and opportunistic leaders, left to bemoan their fate and live as second class citizens in their own country. Our society would have been lost into the cold dark abyss of history were it not for a few brave souls who carried the torch of self sacrifice, justice and above all, self respect.

This is where we stand today, a society which had never been allowed to grieve the tragedies it faced every few decades. It would be here as well, that we as a People begin to reemerge. The Ram Mandir is not just a symbol of historical wrong being righted but furthermore, it is the first step towards the rejuvenation and resuscitation of the Hindu Psyche.

In the course of this journey of revitalising our people, the pushback and obstruction that we will face should not be underestimated. Those who are apologists will aid the deluded to keep our people in chains. There will even be opposition towards this 21st century Hindu Renaissance by vested interests and religious elements in the west and beyond. This is because Hindu Civilization is today the last of the ancient civilizations. The Mayans, the Incas, the Aztecs, the Egyptians, Sumerians, Assyrians, Macedonians, Achaemenids have all fallen under the christian and islamic onslaught. The Chinese have all but scorched and cast aside their civilizational roots, encouraged and supposedly guided by the teachings of a western anarchist. The Children of Bharatha,  the oldest of these ancient civilizations, is now the last of the Ancient World.

This is why there will be western opposition to our revival. Certain segments within the christian and islamic worlds can never comprehend the truth of how a superior civilization such that of ours had survived the terrible Civilizational Purge they had committed upon the Known World. Their visceral rage and jealousy towards our past, our strength, and our capabilities is duly emanated through their thoughts and actions. They may be more organised than we are today, but the first step our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi took with the Ram Mandir is the culmination of the struggle by many yogis, rishis and visionaries, to finally repair the Hindu Psyche and take the first steps into the future.

Today as we prepare to enter the 75th year of independence, our nation and our society stand at the crossroads. Are we ready to discard the misconstrued notions of the Mahatma and embrace our future? Are we ready to cast aside these chains that had shackled the Hindu mind and bring forth the winds of change? Will we be able to extirpate our and purge the philosophy that had caused irreparable harm towards our collective psyche and once again retake our rightful place in history?

Vande Mataram


[1]Soumik Chakraborty, Stone Paper Life, Ancient History of India: Education and Economy., September 30, 2021, available https://www.stonepaperlife.com/ancient-history-of-india-education-and-economy/

[2]India Today, Ancient city discovered off Gujarat coast, could be oldest in the world, September 29, 2021, available, https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/cover-story/story/20020211-ancient-city-discovered-off-gujarat-coast-could-be-oldest-in-the-world-795877-2002-02-11

[3]India Today, Ancient city discovered off Gujarat coast, could be oldest in the world, September 29, 2021, available, https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/cover-story/story/20020211-ancient-city-discovered-off-gujarat-coast-could-be-oldest-in-the-world-795877-2002-02-11

[4]Ibd

[5]Soumik Chakraborty, Stone Paper Life, Ancient History of India: Education and Economy., September 30, 2021, available https://www.stonepaperlife.com/ancient-history-of-india-education-and-economy/

[6] Allan Holender, Zentrepreneurism, pg. 139 (2006)

[7]V Ravi Kumar, Destruction Of The Indian System Of Education, IIT Madras (Chennai), pg. 2

[8]Arti Agarwal, Hindu Genocide, Moplah Hindu Genocide, 1921: 2500 Hindus Slaughtered, September 30, 2021, available https://hindugenocide.com/islamic-jihad/moplah-hindu-genocide-1921-2500-hindus-slaughtered-26k-refugees/

[9]Ibd

[10]Nupur J Sharma, Opindia, What MK Gandhi said while Moplah Muslims massacred thousands of Hindus in 1921: Support to Khilafat and asking Hindus to die without a fight, September 28, 2021, available https://www.opindia.com/2021/09/what-mk-gandhi-said-moplah-genocide-of-hindus-1921-support-khilafat/

[11]Dibakar Dutta, Opindia, On 97th anniversary of Kohat riots, read how the facade of ‘Hindu-Muslim unity’ of Khilafat movement had collapsed leading to exodus of Hindus, September 29, 2021, available https://www.opindia.com/2021/09/remembering-kohat-riots-of-1924-and-exodus-of-entire-hindu-population/

[12]Arti Agarwal, Hindu Genocide, Partition: Jinnah’s CALL For Juhad On Hindus To Demand Pakistan, September 28, 2021, available https://hindugenocide.com/islamic-jihad/partition-jinnahs-call-for-jihad-on-hindus-to-demand-pakistan/

[13]Poornima Joshi, The Hindu Business Line, Gandhi — some inconvenient truths, September 29, 2021, available https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/columns/from-the-viewsroom/gandhi-some-inconvenient-truths/article29575977.ece

[14]Uma Vishnu, The Indian Express, In Nehru vs Patel-Prasad on Somnath, a context of Partition, nation building, September 30, 2021, available https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/somnath-temple-rahul-gandhi-babri-demolition-ram-rath-yatra-ram-mandir-ayodhya-verdict-hindutvain-nehru-sardar-patel-4971403/

%%footer%%

Categories: Articles

Leave a Reply Cancel reply