It’s Digvijay Singh’s moment of truth on “saffron terror.” Sadhvi Pragya probably would make him pay for it in Bhopal. There are many though who wouldn’t be called to account. Let’s name them too and hold them up in public eye.
“Modern India” by Bipan Chandra was once the history textbook for Class XII, published by NCERT (1996). The book’s editorial board included S. Gopal, S. Nurul Hasan, Satish Chandra and Romila Thapar. It has a passage on Muslim League in these words:
“The Muslim League propaganda gained by the existence of such communal bodies among the Hindus as the Hindu Mahasabha. The Hindu communalists echoed the Muslim communalists by declaring that the Hindus were a distinct nation and that India was the land of the Hindus. Thus they (Muslim League) too accepted the two-nation theory.” (Page 223)
The passage continues:
“In one respect, Hindu communalism had even less justification…The Hindu communal view of history also relied on the myth that Indian society and culture had reached great, ideal heights in the ancient period from which they fell into permanent and continuous decay during the medieval period because of “Muslim” rule and domination. (Page 223)
“They identified Indian culture and the Indian nation with the Hindu religion and Hindus…For example, Tilak’s propagation of the Shivaji and Ganapati festivals, Aurobindo Ghose’s semi-mystical concept of India as mother and nationalism as religion, the terrorists’ oath before goddess Kali, and the initiation of the anti-Partition agitation which dips in the Ganga could hardly appeal to the Muslims…Nor could Muslims be expected to respond with full enthusiasm when they saw Shivaji or Pratap being hailed… (Page 231)
“The Hiindu tinge also create ideological openings for Hindu communalism and made it difficult for the nationalist movement to eliminate the Hindu communal, political and ideological elements within its own ranks. It also helped the spread of a Muslim tinge among Muslim nationalists. (Page 232)
“Many in the Muslim middle class went to the extent of turning to the history of West Asia for their traditions and moments of pride.” (Page 232)
Got it? The implication is that Muslim League was communal because Hindu communalists kind of forced their hands! Muslim League which toed the British line and used religion to tear up the nation, did all that because Hindu communalists forced their hands. Bravo.
So Indian Muslims turned towards the history of West Asia because Hindu communalists left them with no option. That the tradition demands they turn towards Kaaba for prayers five times a day, treat Mecca and Madina as holy places. But somehow, in case of Indian Muslims, they all did so because Hindu communalists left them with no option but to turn to their West Asia traditions. . It doesn’t matter that hadiths after hadiths, fatwas after fatwas direct believers to subjugate and suppress non-believers. Why bring to attention the uncomfortable fact that the Prophet asks the believers to “love the Arabs for three reasons: because I am an Arab, the Quran is Arabic and the inhabitants of Paradise will speak Arabic.” (Eminent Historians: Arun Shourie, Page 122)
The truth is Islam asks its adherents to be truthful to its West Asia tradition of Arabs and Arabic language alone. Hindu communalists have nothing to do with it. VS Naipaul gives a poignant account of it in his book “Beyond Belief.”
“Islam is in its origins an Arab religion. Everyone not an Arab who is a Muslim is a convert. Islam is not simply a matter of conscience or private belief. It makes imperial demands. A convert’s world view alters. His holy places are in Arab lands; his sacred language is Arabic. His idea of history alters. He rejects his own; he becomes, whether he likes it or not, a part of the Arab story. The convert has to turn away from everything that is his…”
From its very advent in India, Islam looked for converts and domination of its religion. The conversion ceremony was a violent rupture for a convert from his Hindu past. That’s why a convert had to eat beef openly in public view, a violent rupture from his Hindu belief that cow is sacred. (Eminent Historians: Arun Shourie, Page 123)
Muslims didn’t distance themselves from the nationalist narrative because of Hindu communalists. Quran terms idolaters as the “worst of creatures” and “that they shall be in hellfire to dwell forever therein.” That the idolaters block the believers’ path to Allah. (Eminent Historians: Arun Shourie, Page 129)
So Muslim League didn’t need a Tilak and his propagation of Ganapati Mahotsava to stay away from the nationalist movement. It wasn’t Aurobindo or Gandhi which made it shrink from the nationalist cause. Dayanand or Aurobindo didn’t push Muslims into believing that idolaters were conspiring against them.
The chicanery of Bipan Chandra doesn’t stop here. He says: “Communalism has been rightly described as political trade in religion. Religion was used, after 1937, as a mobilizing factor by the communalists.” (Modern India, Page 232-33)
It was Jinnah and Muslim League which used religion after 1937 as a mobilizing force. But Bipan Chandra makes a generic and not specific mention, implying that both Hindus and Muslims used religion to mobilize people after 1937.
So parents you are urged to look at the history books of your kids. Point out such passages which are a distortion of Hindu identity, religion and politics. You are mistaken if you believe it has all begun with Digvijay Singh.