|| Satyameva Jayate ||

Dedicated to “Bharat” and “Dharma”

“People are the Nation” – Excerpts

In the context of recent happenings in the Kashmir valley and the debate in blogosphere on nationalism, identity and history, please read these extracts from People are the Nation by Sh M G Vaidya (emphasis added):

…My question: what was newly created on 15August 1947? A new ‘State’ or a new ‘Nation’?…So, then, what is a ‘nation’?

I quote French thinker Ernest Renan: ‘It is not soil any more than the race which makes a nation…A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things which are really only one go to make this principle. One of these things lies in the past, the other in the present. The one is the possession in common of a rich heritage of memories, the other is actual agreement; the desire to live together, and the will to continue to make the most of the joint inheritance. Man cannot be improvised. The Nation, like the individual, is the fruit of a long past, spent in toil, sacrifice and devotion.’ (Ernest Renan: What Is a Nation, quoted in Modern Political Thought by William Ebenstein.)

In short, a nation is not a system. People are the nation. What sort of people constitute a nation? There are three major requirements. One is their sentiment about the country in which they live, the country that has been the substratum for their struggle and labour. Any piece of land is simple matter, and therefore inert; it becomes a living entity when it becomes a motherland, as adorable and sacred as one’s birth-giving mother. And, therefore, revered Bankimchandra can say ‘Vande Mataram’, which inspired the millions who fought for our Independence. True, it is a notion, but it is a valued notion, required to hold together people of different hues, perceptions, faiths and persuasions.

The second condition is a shared history. Is it a drawback that it is a millennium old? And the third is a shared value system, i.e., culture. The third requirement is the most important of all the three. We adopted a value system that appreciates plurality, tolerates differences of opinion, and values different modes of worship. These are our national values and they are enshrined in our Constitution.

Ram is one such historical personality that embodied these values. I said people are the Nation. Who are the people who fulfill these three conditions? They are Hindus; therefore, this is a Hindu nation. It has nothing to do with whether you are an idol-worshipper or not, whether you believe in the ultimate authority of the Vedas or not, whether you put a mark on your forehead or not. In pre-Independence India, the word Hindu had no notoriety attached to it.

Look at the writings of Vivekananda or Mahatma Gandhi. A nationalist paper, started 125 years ago, was named The Hindu. Hindustan was a common name for our country. It is post-Independence vote-bank politics that has showered abuses on ‘Hindu’. Let us be proud of our nation, our value-system, our name Hindu, whose cultural heritage was instrumental in determining the character of our Constitution.

As many of you would know,  Sh M G Vaidya is a leading RSS ideologue and its former spokerperson. Comments, thoughts and counter-points welcome, as always.

P.S. Interestingly, Andrew C McCarthy, writing in a very different context, makes a very similar point:

A nation is a big, bumptious thing. It needn’t agree on everything. It can even bitterly disagree on major things. But to be a nation, a People, it has to agree that it has a shared destiny: that its unique culture, core principles, and independence are worth preserving, protecting, and defending.

February 1st, 2011 Posted by | A Hindu Identity, An Indian Identity, Identity, Political Ideology | 80 comments


  1. Ayaan Hirsi Ali in that video makes a strong case for western liberalism based on Christianity. Perhaps we should take her advice and adopt that too?

    Comment by Ashish Deodhar | February 5, 2011

  2. May be because she has no knowledge of Hinduism, and that is the reason she never made case in many of her speech.

    Comment by Indian | February 5, 2011

  3. LOL

    Comment by Ashish Deodhar | February 5, 2011

  4. Indian

    Don’t try to bring Pakistan and Afghanistan here, because they are Islamic republics and for them religion and politics are together. For the rest, you are right. It is more than law and order. But not a single country you mentioned is trying to solve it by establishing state based on a religion. They are continuing to work with the existing system. I think the solution is not to create religously based state. In fact it is to go in exactly the opposite direction.

    I recognize Islam is somewhat unique and present a challage to the rest of those who are not muslims. All throughout the world they seem to be difficult minority. And once they are majority they have no respect for minorities. I think their scripture ie Kuran is clear about distinction between believers and non-believers, the latter being inferior. But for rest of the world to react to that by doing what they do, would be counter productive.

    Comment by Morris | February 5, 2011

  5. @Morris

    Really? Don’t you think their existing system already has established Christianity as the main religion. Did you miss the news Barrack Obama again and again has to prove that he is Christian before coming to the power? Ask them to throw away Christianity and congregation on Christmas at Vatican and bring everything on same platform. They may not be vocal or explicit about it but strongly follow their rule as per Christian bases. On higher level pope is the head and always consulted and on smaller level churches are the vehicles. Many reforms good or bad were initiated from small local churches. I don’t have any problem with that! Why do some Islamic miscreant has problem with that? Hindu and Muslim is the old story. Its now on larger scale!

    You are missing point here its not about reacting its about understanding the facts and taking actions. And every country after 9/11 is aware and understands these facts. They made stringent laws but still cannot tame these menace. Americans are more afraid now than Indians were.

    Comment by Indian | February 5, 2011

  6. @Ashish Deodhar,

    Do you think that only Hindus have a sentiment for India, that only Hindus share India’s history and that only Hindus are happy to co-exist with each other? Then that’s not only intolerant but is also a blatant lie!

    No, I do not think that “only Hindus” have sentiment for India. I also do not think that “only Hindus’ share India’s history. At the same time I want to point out that Vaidya’s comments also does not use the word “only Hindus”. As a matter of fact he goes on to say that “We adopted a value system that appreciates plurality, tolerates differences of opinion, and values different modes of worship.” So, where is the question of intolerance here?

    Having said that I do agree partially with your converse argument. So, best you can blame Vaidya is for use of label “Hindu”, which you do not agree with. And, as a result of this you go on and call him intolerant. Is it normal for you to label people “intolerant” and “Nazis” with whom you do not agree with?

    Comment by Manish | February 5, 2011

  7. LOL….

    Comment by Indian | February 5, 2011

  8. @ AD
    The Fact: Babri Masjid was built after the demolition of the temple. Hindus wanted to reclaim the original temple.
    Secondly according to Mr.M.G.Vaidya – “Hinduism” will remain secured and protected under “Hindu Nation” and all the Hindus need to have a right to protect their religion. Bhaarat is built by Hindus and thus need to reclaim that.

    ||NamO Bhaartam, NamO Sankritam||

    Comment by AAryan | February 5, 2011

  9. Manish

    “Who are the people who fulfill these three conditions? They are Hindus; therefore, this is a Hindu nation.”

    Ah. He didn’t say ‘only’. Sure, that makes him accommodating pluralist! You and I both know who you are fooling.

    So you do agree partially (??) with (my?) converse argument? – that if you have sentiment for India, if you share India’s history and that if you are tolerant then you are a Hindu? So if all these three conditions apply to a Muslim, a Christian or an atheist, s/he is a Hindu? Aise he? Jabardasti?

    And that’s not intolerance for some reason!

    Comment by Ashish Deodhar | February 5, 2011

  10. Aaryan

    “Babri Masjid was built after the demolition of the temple. Hindus wanted to reclaim the original temple.”

    I knew instinctively that you would say that! And I am absolutely certain that that would be the idea of justice in a ‘Hindu India’.

    So if demolishing Babri mosque is “reclaiming” the original temple, why wouldn’t you also convert muslims to Hinduism in this ‘Hindu India’ to “reclaim” all those Hindus who the Muslim rulers converted to Islam?

    Comment by Ashish Deodhar | February 5, 2011

  11. You guys have proved beyond doubt what this “Hindu India” really is. Thanks for making all my points for me.

    I will leave the rest to the good judgement of the unbiased readers of this blog. I rest my case.

    Comment by Ashish Deodhar | February 5, 2011

  12. @Aaryan

    What is the idea of Justice in a Hindu India? others too want to know this?

    Because I know reclaiming India is different to different people. Some will twist it to make it look like a monster. Same as Islamophobia people do suffer from Hinduphobia? What if tomorrow Hindu will rule us and need to convert?

    At least not like Islamic countries Right? As far as I know Hindus have co-existed peacefully with everyone.

    Comment by Indian | February 5, 2011

  13. @Ashish Deodhar,

    I am sorry, I still do not see where is “only” in between the word (literally or in any other way). If you have made up your mind that what Vaidya mean is “only” and nothing else then suit yourself. But please do not expect everyone else to be as delusional as you are about his comments.

    Also, this country is a free country. What this means is that people have right to hold their opinion as far as they do not impose it forcibly on others. I do not see any line in Vaidya’s comment where he is imposing his belief on others. I agree that, you may disagree with him but how can you call him “intolerant” and “Nazi” is really beyond me.

    Calling someone “intolerant” and “Nazi” just because of disagreement at the drop of the hat, is this what the liberal discourse in out country has been reduce to?

    Comment by Manish | February 5, 2011

  14. Morris (#46),
    How good you are as a human being should not judged by how you treat yourself and your kind but should be judged by how you treat others. To me they need to be all considered equal regardless of their gender, race, religion etc, and whether they belong to majority riligion or minority religion.
    Please note how you fell into a trap that you advise others to avoid. You asked me to to judge everyone equal and hen you determine that there is a “kind” which is similar to me. Apart from this contradiction, would you mind showing me which Hindu king treated his non Hindu subjects differently. Forget what happened before 1000 CE, show me a single princely state ruled by Hindu where a non Hindu was treated shabbily or mosques/churches were broken to make way for temples. On the contrary, I can give example of Muslim rulers treating Hindus badly or British officers ordering the destruction of temples.
    Therefore I have always always opposed the concept of these Islamic republics. In almost all Islamic countries minorities are second class citizens. So I cannot justify creation of a Hindu nation any more than a Muslim nation.
    I always found this thinking funny. If all Arabs think that they want Islamic republic and Sharih law then they are not supposed to get it because liberal blowhards (I am generalizing here) think that they should not. Same case exists for Swiss minaret ban or French burkha ban. But I digress.

    Secularism is not a panacea to begin with.
    Wow, that is a refreshing honesty coming from a secular. Most secular pujaris I know are not prepared to show that much improvement.
    This is not found in the western world. But they too are gradaully moving towards accepting the muslim sharia. So you are right about the temtation to nurture the vote bank in almost all countries.
    So, would not you agree that theories of secularism and mutliculturalism has failed to mix together. When you demand that church and state has to be separate then it is all great. But when you demand everyone has right to practise their religion, you avoid a question about how far are you going to allow everyone to practise their religion. Are you going to allow followers of religion X to go full hog even when followers of X would not accept a democratically elected ruler from religion Y as their leader? If not, then why not? By enforcing that restriction are you not enforcing your particular view of religion of X? When you say "Religion should be considered as private matter", can you enforce that by secular ideolgoy? The entire idea of “religion as private matter” arise from protestantism, unless that template is accepted, it falls falt. Those muslims who rallied around streets of London by saying that democracy is evil and they wanted Shariah were correct from their viewpoint. If seculars told them that they are free to practise their religion, then their expectation of shariah rule has stemmed fom that same secular promise. How would you deny it now?
    But a religiously based nation is less perfect, in my mind.
    Yes, religiously based state is bad, real bad. Who wants them? Hindu rashtra is only a religiously sanctioned state if Hinduism is a religion. It is certainly not a rashtra where parliament is supposed to start with a siv-bandana. The man who first talked about it was an athiest but rabidly nationalist. Do read what it is about and then talk about it.
    You will have to continue to fine tune the system until you reach some accptable level of imperfection.
    Accepted by whom Morris? Everybody? There is no such system. Majority? If you agree to that then what is wrong with Hindu Rashtra since Hindus are still majority here?

    In India separate codes should be removed right away. There should be no discussion about that.
    LOL….this is what SP Mukherjee tried to talk about. Poor guy!! He is not even mentioned in the very land that he prevented from being part of Pakistan. Then this is what BJP tried to talk about. It turned out that they are sooooo communal. Such untouchables!!!
    But I realize that it is unlikely to happen. ... jutfy subsidising for Huj trips... They need a lot of political will to get rid of this kind of secularism.
    Let us see the state of “tolerant” Hindus if by some miracle that “political will” would not arrive within scheduled time i.e. let us say a century. What answer do you have for tolerating Hindus who can not hold a puja because followers of Allah would not approve or the devotee of bajrangbali who can not place an idol of Bajrangbali in his own lawn because he happened to live opposite to a mosque? Would you ask for them to wait more for their secular saviour? Since that savior is already 800 years late, they can afford to wait another millenia? When I said that educated secular Hindus have sacrificed their less privileged coreligionists at the altar of secularism, I meant exactly this suggestion of waiting for the arrival of political will.
    But the answer is not to go to a Hindu nation. I feel, and I could be wrong, that hindus are not that excited about a hindu nation.
    If they actually know what it is, they can make a decision. But in an independent free society of ours, it is a blasphemy to discuss the ideas that were branded as Ohh-sooo-communal!!! If secularism is so weak that merely discussing few communal ideas would jeoperdize it then people should question whether the idea is robust enough to solve India’s problems.
    They do not march into political rally singing Raghupati Raghav.
    That is hardly the thing any knowledgable person means by Hindurastra or Hindutva.
    I think Hindus by nature are secular because their religion teaches them all paths will take you there. They have respect for all paths in their blood.
    As much great as this tolerance is, you have not yet shown how this attitude forced a Muslim nawab or European governor to stop their atrocities.
    Unfortunately at present there is only one national party that calls itself ... other national party BJP has been branded communal ... hindus by nature are secular, then who are they going to vote for? ... If BJPs were politically smart, they would fight election on the platform of a new and improved secularism.
    I agree to much of it. I find myself unwilling to shed any tears for BJP (they had their chance under the sun and blew it big time) or the festish for a new and improved secularism. Let us hear about that supposed improvement which would not turn itself into appeasement.
    Now Hindus are all over the world and I am sure they do not like to live in christian or muslim nations. If that is so, then I just can’t see how India can subject others to live in a hindu nation.
    1. Like it or not the secular/tolerant nation like Italy does not want Durgapuja to be held in Rome. Like it or not, a person named Sonal Shah had to resign from Obama’s transition team because she was once a member of VHP. Like it or not, a secular/tolerant west can not tolerate the mere existence of Roma people who carries the legacy of their Hindu-Buddhist Indian ancestors. Like it or not, a tolerant Christian west could not bring themselves to talk about the destruction of religious sites of native Americans in the name of tourism development. If this is tolerance of a secular west, please count me out.
    2. A hindu nation is not same as rule of pope or Caliphate. Please educate yourself on this. You are assuming Hindu rashtra as something that it is not.

    That may help removing vote bank problem.
    I am least concerned with minority vote bank. If Hindus can be united, no vote bank or vote vault would matter. Modi showed this in Gujrat. But then caste problem is very low in Gujrat. Nitish Kumar is actually solving the problem of Muslim vote bank by introducing reservation much the same way VP Singh divided BJP’s support base by introducing reservation.
    But I cannot bring myself to think that what you are suggesting is a) morally acceptable and b) will solve all your problem. It may creat a number of other problems.
    Morality is subjective, what was morality of previous generation is backdated today, what we think correct today would be a luggage tomorrow. Merely establishing Hindu rastra would not solve all problems, it would be like secular state today. I want to work for uniting Hindus so that the atrocities can be prevented. If that can be achieved in my life time, I would like to leave it to the fellow Hindus on whether they want an explicit Hindu Rashtra in the Savarkerait sense or not. But till then nothing in the name of political correctness or secularism or morality should make a Hindu apologist for atrocities on a fellow Hindu.vvv

    Comment by Sid | February 6, 2011

  15. @Manish (#63),
    Calling someone “intolerant” and “Nazi” just because of disagreement at the drop of the hat, is this what the liberal discourse in out country has been reduce to?
    You do not know it yet? Liberals have not adjusted to the idea that world is colorful, everything to them is either white or black… my way or high way.

    Comment by Sid | February 6, 2011

  16. @ Everyone:
    It seems that the discussion came to an agreement that India should be a “Hindu Nation” where every individual irrespective of their faith and belief can raise his family securely without fear and practice liberalism “Liberty to live and die with respect”.

    I guarantee that people will be more safe and secure in purely Hindu Nation and can practice multiculturalism with dignity.

    ||NamO Bhaartam, NamO Sanskritam||

    Comment by AAryan | February 6, 2011

  17. Indian #55

    “Did you miss the news Barrack Obama again and again has to prove that he is Christian before coming to the power?”

    I am fully aware of that. That does not make the US a christian country. If Sonya Gandhi became PM and if she had to keep saying that she is a Hindu, that will not make India a hindu country. It is what is enshrined in your constitution and laws that count. If what is happening in all these chritian countries is what you are after then by all means go ahead with your concept of a hindu nation. No one is stopping you. And in that sense India is a hindu country any way. That is a matter of feeling. But when it comes to the law of the land their feeling does not count. For example they do not like a mosque being built on 9/11 site. But there is nothing they could do about it. The mosque is going to be built. A lot of them don’t even like Obama to be president becuase of his color and uncertainty about his religion. And let me just add that if it is proven that he is indeed a muslim, they still will not be able to do any thing about it. So don’t mix up the basic laws of governance with what people feel.


    “Apart from this contradiction, would you mind showing me which Hindu king treated his non Hindu subjects differently.”

    Perhaps the answer is none. They treated all sujects equally. But you know why? Because they were secular at heart not knowing about it. Hindus have natural secular instinct as they have been brought with teaching of respect for all religions. It is the communal feeling that is not natural to them and they need to learn about it by reacting to events around them. It is important to note that none of those kings estabished a hindu kingdom. The concept of a Hindu nation in India is a 20th century invention.

    Evoltion is the key. Not just evolution in biological sense but also in the concept of how we relate with each other. Societal changes will remain difficult unless we minimize the impact of religions. Religions have done a lot of harm in the past and continue to do so to this day. Sure they have done some good as well. But I think those who want to relive the past will fail and suffer. Hindu rishes were smart. They said satyamevjayate, but they did not define the satya. Satya is an on going search. What appeared satya yesterday may not be satya today. So hindus are fortunate that they are free to search for the truth compared to some others who are told that truth has been found 14 or perhaps 20 centuries ago.

    Comment by Morris | February 6, 2011

  18. @Morris (#67),
    The concept of a Hindu nation in India is a 20th century invention.
    Agreed, but like every invention, there was a need for it. If your secularism (or the secularism of the Hindu kings or princes or more educated or better privileged Hindus) managed to deliver the security for the Hindus this invention would not have been required. In other words, demand for a Hindu nation is the consequence of secular Karma; the more failure you display stronger would be the demand. Three years ago I would have put faith in your goody goody secularism but I have seen enough to know that it would not cut it.

    But this did not irritate me. Following did:
    Hindu rishes were smart. They said satyamevjayate, but they did not define the satya. Satya is an on going search. What appeared satya yesterday may not be satya today.
    Decency indicates that do not get into things you have no understanding of. The philosophical meaning of the word ‘Satya’ is “unchangeable”, “that which has no distortion”, “that which is beyond distinctions of time, space, and person”, “that which pervades the universe in all its constancy”.
    Is decency too much to ask?

    Comment by Sid | February 6, 2011

  19. Well said Sid.
    When Alexander was not able to understand “Satya” how can you expect it from others. “Satya” can be understood only who have mastered Vedas or has high common sense.

    ||NamO Bhaartam, NamO Sanskritam||

    Comment by AAryan | February 6, 2011

  20. Sid

    Now enlighten me and go ahead and explain what Satymevjayate means using the meaning of Satya as you have defined.

    Comment by Morris | February 6, 2011

  21. @Morris (#70),

    Now enlighten me and go ahead and explain what Satymevjayate means using the meaning of Satya as you have defined.

    First, I have not defined it, that is how Adi Shankara defined it in a commentary of a Upanishad and I have no reason to doubt his expertise.
    Second, I would not explain the meaning here because it is out of the scope of this discussion and the “smart rishis” did a far better job in explaining it. So refer to item 6 in this page (mantra 3.1.6 in Mundaka Upanishad).
    I am, however, stunned at your audacity. You did not show any decency to answer any of the questions I raised for you yet you come up with a question that has no relationship with this discussion and expect me to answer it. May be it was my mistake that I thought that you have better capacity in debating than any other member of your secular brotherhood.

    Comment by Sid | February 7, 2011

  22. Sid

    I am not a philosopher and I have not read Shankaracharya. I admitted earlier that I am no expert on Hinduism. In fact I have just a sketchy idea of what Hinduism is all about. I interpreted meaning of Satya based on the context within which it is used and a bit of commonsense. You interpreted my use of the word Satya totally out of the context. Not only that you just copied what Shankaracharya had said without knowing what that means. Well, what can I say?

    I have a suggestion for you. I am sure you have heard the word Satyagrah. Gandhi and sevaral other indians practised it to push through the cause they believed to be the path of Satya. I suggest that you take up the cause of a Hindu nation for India as your path of Satya and campaign through out India with the slogan of ‘Satyamev Jayate’. And if people of India still do not go along with your idea, you could do Satyagrah to push through your cause. I am quite confident the parliament of India will respond favourably. If you do choose to try this method, my good wishes are with you. If nothing else you would have known by then that the word Satya has other meanings than just philosophical one.

    I do not know what questions you asked that I have not answered. Any way I am sorry for that. But I have no deisre to continue this debate any more. That was really revealing. I thank you.

    Comment by Morris | February 7, 2011

  23. @Morris (#72),
    Not only that you just copied what Shankaracharya had said without knowing what that means.
    On one hand you say that your knowledge on Hinduism is sketchy but then you are convinced that I do not understand the true meaning of “Satya” as if you are an expert – arrogance of true secular liberal.
    Then you invoked Gandhi (whose own understanding of Hinduism is questionable) and then satya-graha (as if that is solution to everything). I guess, if you could answer my questions, I would get those answers by now. If I ask you more I would get more of these clue-less rambling lectures that has no relevance with the subject matter under discussion. A self-professed defender of secularism who can not answer question about secularism. What a pity!!!

    Comment by Sid | February 7, 2011

  24. Doors are open to any body who want to embrace HINDU Dharma.
    I assure you all that yes, its coming soon the “HINDU Nation”.
    I have no doubt about it.

    ||namO Bhaartam, namO Sanskritam||

    Comment by AAryan | February 7, 2011

  25. Hari Bol Prabhus and Matajis
    Sri La Prabhupada had called the religious faith of India as Sanatan Dharma. Yes , it is eternal faith. I am from Poland. I travel all over the world. The feeling is that , India when it got freedom should have not have followed the labelling style of Abrahamic religions. The word Santan Dharma fits in very well with Indian culture. You can gauge the extent to which one aspect of Sanatan Dharma has percolated very well in Russia. This first one is for enlightening up your discussion with humour.


    Then see this Moscow yatra and see how Santan is Sanatan Dharma.


    Please do not think I am doing propaganda here, but you will realise how the Sanatan Dharma has been lapped up in Russia. Slow, but steadily.

    It was WWII which taught us , yes, you can label us westerners, which opened our eyes and mind about the difference between religion and spirtuality. It was India which made many in the West realize that there is spirituality of deep levels which says first look at the Self,
    which is very different from founded organised religions.

    Sanatan Dharma is the right word for Indian faiths for it is truly eternal.

    Hare Krishna!!!

    Comment by krishnadas | February 10, 2011

  26. @Krishnadas

    I enjoyed watching both videos. I agree with you, what you said about Sanatan Dharma!

    Celebration and festivals are part of Santan Dharama which brings happiness, encouragement,and also spiritual and balanced mind!

    Take care!

    Comment by Indian | February 11, 2011

  27. @Krishnadas

    I missed to say Hare Krishna!

    Comment by Indian | February 11, 2011

  28. Two brief excerpts from unrelated sources..
    From Sufis strike back“..About 95% of Indian Muslims have Hindu ancestors. So, Hindu culture dominates India, the basis of which is tolerance. For extremism to flourish , a Muslim majority country, like Pakistan , is needed,” says Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan.

    and the second from an email by Vijay Rajiva:
    The Indian liberal does not understand the Sanskrit word ‘Rashtram’ and identifies it with Italian fascism, Hitlerian views etc. Rashtram is from the Rig Veda and is specifically linked to the Goddess Sarasvati who says ‘aham rashtri sangamanii vasunam. . . .’ ( I am the Rashtram moving people together for their welfare’).

    I recommend Dr. S. Kalyanaraman’s recent book ‘Rashtram’ ( May 2011) which has an entire chapter on the concept of Rashtram. This would then also clarify Dr. Swamy’s position on a Hindu nation.Dr. Kalyanraman is the Director of the Sarasvati Research Centre.

    Comment by B Shantanu | December 4, 2011

  29. From Arab origins By Salman Rashid, brief excerpts:
    Every single Muslim in the subcontinent believes s/he is of Arab descent. If not direct Arab descent, then the illustrious ancestor had come from either Iran or Bukhara.
    …Arab origin is the favourite fiction of all subcontinental Muslims. Most claim their ancestor arrived in Sindh with the army under Mohammad bin Qasim (MbQ). But, I have heard of lineages reaching back to Old Testament prophets as well. An elderly Janjua (Rajput), from the Salt Range told me of a forefather named Ar, a son of the Prophet Isaac. Ar, he said, was the ancestor of the races that spoke the Aryan tongue!
    Touted as a local intellectual, this worthy was unmindful of the fact that Aryan was not a tribal name but a linguistic classification. Neither could he tell me how the name Ar, not being in the Old Testament, had reached him. He insisted this name headed his family tree and was, therefore true. The chart, written on a piece of rather newish paper had been, the Janjua insisted, copied from an old original. The original was of course destroyed after the copy was made.

    Most of us are the progeny of converts. In their need to escape the discrimination of the so-called higher castes, our ancestors converted to a religion that in theory claimed to profess human equality regardless of colour or caste. I use the words ‘in theory’ because even as the Arabs converted our ancestors to Islam, they discriminated against them for being “Hindis” as we learn this from Ibn Batuta’s own prejudices. And he is not alone.
    Consequently, even after conversion, my ancestors, poor agriculturists, were looked down upon by the Arabs and even those who had converted earlier the same way as they were by the Brahmans when they professed their Vedic belief. Within a generation or two, those early converts began the great lie of Arab ancestry to be equal to other converts and the Arabs. This became universal with time.
    The challenge then is for all those, Baloch, Pathan, Punjabi et al, who have invented illegitimate fathers for ourselves to get ourselves tested and know the bitter truth.

    Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2012.

    Comment by B Shantanu | January 13, 2012

  30. “I have said that I am proud of our inheritance and our ancestors who gave an intellectual and cultural pre-eminence to India.
    How do you feel about this past?
    Do you feel that you are also sharers in it and also inheritors of it and, therefore, proud of something that belongs to you as much as to me?
    Or do you feel alien to it and pass it by without understanding it or feeling that strange thrill which comes from the realization that we are the trustees and the inheritors of this vast treasure?

    You are Muslims and I am a Hindu. We may adhere to different religious faiths or even to none; but that does not takw away from that cultural inheritance that is yours as well as mine. The past holds us together; why should the present or the future divide us in spirit?

    Jawaharlal Nehru quoted in “Between Tradition and Modernity”, under section titled “Our Inheritance” (Pg 186).
    The book is a Twentieth Century Anthology dealing with “India’s Search for Identity”

    Comment by B Shantanu | March 16, 2012

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