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Is Modi just a Hindutva Agent or is he Spiritual?
|by Rati Hegde|
From the time Narendra Modi showed up on the graph of Indian Politics, it has been with the tag of Hindutva attached to him. By Hindutva the media always meant a Hindu who is unafraid of using his religion or powers to attack people of other religions – in short, a Hindu terrorist. It always made me wonder whether Hinduism had come to such dire straits that we had to resort to terrorism to protect it. I also used to wonder whether people actually believed that two wrongs made a right.
Gujarat is the land of Somnath, Lord Shiva who partially forgave the Moon God Som for his partiality to only one of his numerous wives. Partially, because Som had to undergo the monthly process of waxing and waning, so that he would understand what it meant to hurt another person. It is this very Somnath temple which had to face the furious ravaging of Mohamed Ghouri, not once, but 18 times. I remember reading that the natives of this land rebuilt the temple all 18 times without resorting to violence from their side. Gujarat is also the land of Gandhiji, the father of our nation. As is well known, he was instrumental in our freedom struggle, not by the bullet but by ‘Ahimsa’ – non violence.
All this was the past, right? When we talk about the recent past, Gujarat featured in the news regularly only with respect to Godhra riots. Again and again. There was hardly a day when the newspapers did not carry news about Modi being held responsible for the carnage or for terrorizing minorities. Very rarely did one read news about the start of the riot; but one did read news about the reaction. One read news continuously about how one religion was targeted by the Government of Gujarat. It did make me wonder whether Modi was so powerful and such a dictator that the Central Government was unable to do anything to stop such targeting. Was the Central Government there only to watch the unfair acts of Modi from the sidelines?
“Any coward can fight a battle when he’s sure of winning; but give me the man who has the pluck to fight when he’s sure of losing.” – George Eliot.
Then more recently, thanks to the new age media, like the internet, one started getting news of wide spread progress in Gujarat. One also started getting news about people of the minority religion leading peaceful lives there. I must say that this conflicting information about Modi really made me wonder what kind of a dual personality Modi must be having. Every day during the election campaign, it was routine to see Modi being vilified by all the stalwart politicians of almost every political party of India. All so-called great people insisted that they would leave the country if Modi became the Prime Minister. What drama! Many a times it seemed that Modi would lose the votes of the educated classes.
“What comes out of you when you are squeezed is what is inside you.” – Wayne Dyer.
Right; one could see the vitriol being spewed by so many against one person. Throughout the campaign, Modi was more respectful to the opposition than most other campaigners. The election results threw up the biggest surprise ever seen by the people of a free India. The reportedly most hated man was actually the most desired man for the post of the Prime Minister. Whaaat!!! Was it actually possible that the reasonably peace loving Indian decided to vote for the terror loving Modi? Or was it that the media, the ruling government and their cronies were the only ones who believed that Modi was a terror loving horror? Did this mean that the Judiciary was correct all along in giving a clean chit to Modi despite all attempts by the ruling government and some NGOs to make him look like the Supreme Villian?
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened; vision cleared; ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller.
I waited with bated breath to hear Modi speak after the Battle Royale. I knew that the speeches by politicians before the elections were always aimed to please the masses and garner votes. The real speech would be the one by the winner, after the decisive vote. The actions of the winner would actually show what kind of a person he really was. In the case of Modi, this seemed so true. The first action of Modi was to seek the blessings of his aged mother. While the people watched, Modi sat on a simple plastic chair next to his mother, speaking to her and speaking to the family members. He neither attempted to ask for a more comfortable chair, nor did he seek to speak in privacy. There was speculation on where he would give his first speech as the PM designate. He gave it in Vadodara, in Gujarat. He was showing respect to his elders, the land and the people he belonged to. And as an indication that he belonged to the entire country, he spoke in Hindi, the National language.
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway.
If his words are any indication, he has definitely chosen to project himself as superior to his former self. His speech was aimed at Patriotism, first and last. When he likened the nation to a mother, when he said that no son could bear to see the tears of his mother, one had to reflect on the scene between his own mother and him when he won. He spoke only about an all-inclusive development. When he said that the country needed to think of every action being done, as an action done for the development of the nation, I felt that here was one modern politician who was actually putting the nation first. He was speaking about every person being a small part in the larger picture of things. This is Spirituality speaking!
His body language during the Ganga Aarti at Benaras showed how much he was in touch with the present. At the time when the Aarti was going on, he did nothing other than absorb the piety and be one with the ritual. His hand, his eyes, his body, all showed his devotion. Those sitting next to him were talking and discussing some matter, but not him. He was fully in the present. When he started talking, he spoke about immersing the ashes of a freedom fighter, as per his last wishes, in the Ganga. I am sure that not many remember having read any news about this when it was done. To honor the dying wishes of an unrelated person, a person he has never even met, with no fanfare or expectations, calls for character and spirituality. He went on to speak about cleanliness. While everyone expected him to only talk about cleaning Mother Ganga, he went a step further and spoke about cleanliness in the whole country, starting with Benaras. While saying so he quoted Gandhiji’s passion for cleanliness. It is an oft-learned lesson that “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” For a Prime Minister designate to talk about cleanliness in his first address to the citizens of the place where he was elected from shows his commitment to sorting out even the little problems.
When Modi spoke about Benaras’s return as the spiritual jewel of India, he was not just talking about Hinduism; I believe that he meant that we need to take pride in the spiritual foundation as laid by our ancestors. India has indeed been the beacon of spirituality in the world and if it has to embrace modern progress, it should be firmly on the shoulders of our spiritual past. If we only aim for financial and physical progress, it would be as ephemeral as our perceived progress in the past years of our freedom from British rule. Swami Vivekanand had said “Everything that is excellent will come when the sleeping soul is aroused to self conscious activity.” He also said “Faith, faith, faith in ourselves, faith in God … this is the secret of greatness.” When Modi exhorted the citizens of India to take one step forward (leading to 125 crores of steps ahead in India), I believe this is what he was trying to do – arousing Indians from their slumber of inactivity into activity for the noble goal of development of the Nation. If this is not spirituality, what is?
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