The RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in a recent interview to Vivek a hindi Magazine said that most Muslims are very contended in India. A space has been created for them. And that anyone staying in India has to accept Hindu superiority. The theory of Hindu superiority, demand for other religious groups to subordinate oneself to the dominance of Hindu religion is not new. This has been an integral part of RSS thinking from its beginning. The stream of Hindutva thinking is based on such set of beliefs.
Savarkar in his book ‘Hindutva, Who is a Hindu’ mentions that “Indian Muslims and Christians, though, are the progeny of converts from Hinduism, to become a part of the Hindu nation, it was essential for them to accept Hindu culture and shed their bigotry. They must start looking at India not only as their Motherland, but also their Holy land”.
Golwalkar in his writing ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ pointed that ‘The non-Hindu peoples in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no ideas but those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture, ……..they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinate to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment – not even citizens’ rights.”
While communal interpretations emphasize the need for minority to subordinate, more human interpretations of religion makes one to appreciate the differences, see the commonalities and the need to synthesize the essential qualities.
To quote Vivekananda, ‘’Humankind ought to be taught that religions are but the varied expressions of the religion which is oneness, so that each may chose the path that suits him the best.” To quote him further, “If you go below the surface, you find that unity between man and man, between races and races, high and low, rich and poor, gods and men, and men and animals. If you go deep enough, all will be seen as only variation of the one, and he who has attained to this conception of Oneness has no more delusion.”
For Gandhi, “there is endless variety in all religions and interminable religious differences. Some go on a pilgrimage and bathe in the sacred river, others to Mecca; some worship him in temples, others in mosques, some just bow their heads in reverence; some read the vedas, others the Quran, some call themselves Hindus, others Muslims”. He believed that “The chief value of Hinduism lies in holding the actual belief that all life is one i.e., all life coming from one universal source, call it Allah, God or Parameshwara”.
Rabindranath Tagore, in one of his speeches pointed “The idea of freedom to which India aspired was based upon realization of spiritual unity…India’s great achievement, which is still stored deep within her, is waiting to unite within itself Hindu, Moslem, Buddhist and Christian, not by force, not by the apathy of resignation, but in the harmony of active cooperation”.
Contrary to the proponents of Hindutva, which called for acceptance of superiority of majority by the minority and adjust to the same with a sense of contentment, more human interpretations called for appreciating the differences, seeing the common values and see the scope for unity based on the universal beliefs. It called for mutual co-existence of each other in a spirit of cooperation. Neither a superior-inferior division nor need for domination-subordination relationship between religions were seen.
Bhagwat’s statement also calls for being contended in a subordinated state. Contentment while is used in religious context by religions is essentially used in the context of running after material wealth. It talks of curbing a desire for higher and higher acquisitions and to limit desires and greed. Buddha even pointed “Contentment is the greatest wealth”. It is used in the context of internal management of mind.
To use Bhagwat’s logic of contentment essentially to define relationships between religious groups, in a subordinated state and extending it further could further mean a need for subordination by marginalised caste of superiority of the dominant castes, by women of the superiority of men, of one set of people by the other based on their beliefs of what is considered as superior. Even an acceptance of a colonial power by the colonised, of whites by the blacks, of one nation by the other should be accepted just because one set of people considers itself superior to which others should subordinate.
Calling for subordination by faith or birth or beliefs goes against a very fundamental human tenet.
T Navin is a political commentator