'By education I am an Englishman, by views an internationalist, by culture a Muslim, and I am a Hindu only by accident of birth'
– Jawaharlal Nehru.
'The Concept of Hindu Nation' by Abhas Chatterjee published by Voice of India, New Delhi in 1995 should be read by all self-respecting Hindus with fervor and passion. Karl Marx's Das Capital is an object of worship to all the Communists round the world. Likewise, in my view, 'The Concept of Hindu Nation' ought to become the object of daily worship to all the Hindus round the world for secular living with dignity and independence in these troubled times.
No one can dispute that the traditional homeland of Hindus is the Bharatavarsha. It is a distinct geographical entity. There are few nations in the world the natural boundaries of whose homeland are as clearly drawn as that of ours. And the Hindus have been intimately associated with this land, lived on it, developed their culture and civilization on it, and regarded it as sacred soil for at least 6000 years, if not more. When I say Bharatavarasha in the sense of the Motherland of the Hindus, I do not refer to the boundaries of the truncated India created by Jinnah, and Nehru in 1947, but to those of our traditional homeland which extends continuously from Gandhara to Kamrup and from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. This basically has been the concept of Hindu Nationhood or what we call Hindutva or Hindu Rashtra from times immemorial.
We remained subjugated for more than 1000 years when foreign rulers ruled over our country. By barbaric persecution or economic inducements, they compelled certain segments of our nation to abandon their ancestral culture and adopt the culture of those foreign invaders. These segments of our population forgot that the culture they had adopted was a foreign culture, a culture that belonged to another nation and had been forced on them.
But subjugation cannot by itself destroy the nationhood of a nation. Nor can the nature of the nation, the basic characteristic and disposition of the nation, get altered or changed by the fact of enslavement. Nations do not get destroyed. We Hindus are a nation just as the Germans are a nation, the Armenians are a nation, the Kurds are a nation, the Jews are a nation. Germany was divided into two after the II World War. But this did not abate their nationhood. Within 50 years, they achieved reunification of their motherland and the nation has been restored to its original character and complexion.
The fact that 'We Hindus are a nation' is by no means a new idea. This idea has been with us from the dawn of history. Without going into the hoary past, let me trace it from the latter half of the 19th century. If we read the writings of Swami Dayanand Saraswati of Arya Samaj, we can see the underlying notion that 'We Hindus are a Nation'. We can see the same refrain in the writings of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee of Bande Mataram fame and Sri Aurobindo. In their writings we find a clear and confident assertion that 'We Hindus are a Nation' and not just a religious community. The basic perception of Vir Savarkar was also the same which he forcefully presented in his book 'Hindutva'. However, the saint, sage and seer Swami Vivekananda made the most powerful pronouncement of this idea. Throughout his brief but momentous life, Swami Vivekananda proclaimed loudly, clearly and consistently the fact that 'We Hindus are a Nation'.
In his brief 5-minute first address, Swami Vivekananda declared at the inaugural session of the Parliament of Religions at Chicago in 1893: 'I thank you in the name of the millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects'. Then he spoke three sentences which were most significant. First, he said: 'I am proud to belong to a Religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance.' In the second sentence he said: 'I am proud to belong to a Nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth'. In this context, he cited an example, namely, that when the sacred temple of the Jews was demolished by the Romans, we Hindus gave shelter to the Jewish refugees and took care of them in India. In the third sentence, Swamiji said: 'I am proud to belong to a Religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnants of the grand Zoroastrian nation'. In these three consecutive sentences, Swami Vivekananda proclaimed his pride of belonging first 'to a religion', then 'to a nation' and again 'to a religion'.
It will be clear that Swami Vivekananda used the words 'Religion' and 'Nation' as synonymous terms. No pseudo-secularist in India today can have any doubt about what religion or nation Swamiji was talking about and what his perception of nationhood was. Swami Vivekananda is emphatically clear that the essential feature of Hindu Nationhood is the Hindu religion, the 'Sanatana Dharma'. He is only declaring 'We Hindus are a Nation'.
In 1909, Sri Aurobindo expressed the same view in his historic Uttarpara speech: 'India is identical with 'Sanatana Dharma'. When therefore it is said that India shall rise, it is the 'Sanatana Dharma' that shall rise. When it is said that India shall expand and extend itself, it is the 'Sanatana Dharma' that shall expand and extend itself over the world. It is for the Dharma and by the Dharma that India exists. I say that it is the 'Sanatana Dharma' which for us is nationalism'.
The cardinal fact that 'We Hindus are a Nation' unto ourselves and not just a religious community formed the crucial plank of our first national movement in 1905, viz. the 'Swadeshi Movement' in undivided Bengal. When Bengal was partitioned by Lord Curzon in 1905, the entire Hindu society rose up with a national inspiration. No one at that time had the slightest doubt that 'We Hindus are a Nation'. That is why in Calcutta city, on the first day of the agitation 50,000 people took a collective oath before Goddess Kali in the Holy Kalighat Temple to the effect that 'we shall throw the British out of our homeland'. The famous historian R.C. Majumdar rightly concluded that he saw no difference in those days between Sanatana Dharma and Indian Nationalism.
When Lord Minto conspired and plotted against the Hindu freedom fighters of Bengal in 1906, he roped in the Muslims under Agah Khan to create the Muslim League in order to divide the country. The era of Muslim appeasement started by Lord Minto, reached its climax in 1920 when Mahatma Gandhi became the Chairman of the Kilafat Movement for the restoration of the Turkish Monarchy and Empire. Thereafter, at every stage Muslims were appeased by Congress Leaders and yet they failed to convince Mohammed Ali Jinnah about the need for the continued existence of a united India even after British withdrawal from India. It has to be sadly borne in mind that after 1933, Jinnah was continuously proclaiming 'We Muslims are a Nation' till the birth of Pakistan on August 14, 1947.
After Indian independence, Jawaharlal Nehru promoted his concept of false nationhood under the label of 'secularism'. According to this concept, all the people who happen to reside on the soil of India form a nation, whether he follows the culture of this country or not, whether he is loyal to this country or not. It does not matter if the state-aided minorities dismiss the time-honored culture of this country 'Sanatana Dharma' as abominable and as a path of the Devil. Thus in a mischievous way Nehru turned the concept of nationhood into a geographic entity and bade good-bye to the established principles of nationhood founded on emotional unity and all that it implies. According to this Nehru's notion, Hindus of India in majority have to lose the inheritance of their traditional homeland. Nehru used his political might to propagate this philosophy and this became the corner stone of all his policies and proved disastrous for the Hindus.
In 1949, Nehru said that 'to talk of Hindu culture would injure India's interests'. He himself had admitted more than once that by Education he was an Englishman, by views an internationalist, by culture a Muslim, and a Hindu only by accidental birth. With all this massive evidence, there is little scope for doubt that Nehru had total contempt for Hindu religion, for Hindu culture, for Hindu society and for the average Hindu.
Abhas Chatterjee rightly concludes that this alternate concept of nationhood as opposed to 'Sanatana Dharma', meant State-engineered opposition to the Hindus in all walks of life. Antagonism to Hindus emerged as the corner stone of State policy. The ideology of Nehruism came to the lauded, acclaimed, promoted and propagated under the name 'Secularism' till it came to be treated beyond reproach, beyond debate and beyond discussion. In short, all the Hindus of India are only disposable condoms.
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