Hindu Rashtra and co-existence of religions

(This passage is from Sri M.S. Golwalkar‘s book, Bunch of Thoughts. In this excellent passage, he describes the salient features of Hindu thought vis-a-vis the parallel development of other religious faiths. Through historical and modern examples, he brings forth the idea of a society where harmonious co-existence of different religions is possible. The phrase “religious tolerance” is a modern and diluted version of one of the key aspects of Hinduism. “Tolerance” has a negative connotation implying a not overly positive attitude of condescension to “allow” or “permit” the co-existence of other religions. Hinduism transcended the level of mere “tolerance” to a stage where people professing other religions were actively considered an integral part of the universal brotherhood, thus implying as a natural consequence, harmonious and symbiotically-beneficial co-existence, obviating and transcending the idea of a “superior” entity “tolerating” the existence of an “inferior” one. Do read the following with an open mind.)

HINDU RASHTRA AND “MINORITIES”

The answer to the so-called problem of ‘religious minorities’ can be found only in the historically correct, rational and positive approach of Hindu Rashtra. Otherwise, the so-called minorities are bound to become more and more hardened in their separate shells of religion and turn into a dreadful source of disruption of our body-politic.

So, all that is expected of our Muslim and Christan co-citizens is the shedding of the notions of their being ‘religious minorities’ as also their foreign mental complexion and merging themselves in the common national stream of this soil. As far as the national tradition of this land is concerned, it never considers that with a change in the method of worship, an individual creases to be the son of the soil and should be treated as an alien. Here, in this land, there can be no objection to God being called by any name whatever. Ingrained in this soil is love and respect for all faiths and religious beliefs. He cannot be a son of this soil at all who is intolerant of other faiths.

A Lesson From Neighbours

In this connection, it would be beneficial for our Muslim friends here to take a lesson from their co-religionists in Iran, Turkey and Indonesia. Though Persia became Islamic, Persians did not change their script and take to the Arabic script. They did not take to the Arabic way of life; they stuck to their own. They have been sticking to the memory of their great forefathers. Even now a Persian will remember his forefathers, will speak of Rustom with great respect and honour. Rustom was not a Muslim. Kamal Pasha ‘the Maker of Modern Turkey’ restored the age-old national pattern of life and limited the role of Islam to personal worship of God.

The example of Indonesia is extremely revealing. Majority of the Indonesians profess Islam. However, Saraswati and Ganesh are the presiding deities of their learning and knowledge. Children start their ABC in education with pictorial Ramayana. One of our countrymen was amazed to see this when he had gone there. He asked a leading Indonesian, “How is it, though you are Muslims, you teach Ramayana to your Children?” The Indonesian replied with pride, “Because. Sri Ramachandra is our national hero par excellence. We very much desire that our children should emulate his lofty ideal. No doubt we belong to the Islamic faith. But that does not mean that we should give up our precious national heritage and values of life.” What an excellent lesson for our Muslim friends here! There the names too are hundred per cent Hindu. Their previous President was Sukarna. His son, Kartikeya. The present President is Suhrida (distorted as Suharto in English) meaning ‘a true friend’. Women too bear the proud names of Sita, Savitri, Damayanti etc. Garuda, the mount of Vishnu, adorns the name of their airways. Their constitution begins with the declaration “Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah.”

This is the real and abiding cornerstone of national harmony and integration, subscribing to common national ideals irrespective of personal religious creeds. And it is this concept as applied to our country, that we call Hindu Rashtra, the only rational, practical and right concept.

Hindu Rashtra in Living Practice

To disabuse the minds of genuinely doubtful souls we may recapture here the historical tradition of Hindu Rashtra vis-à-vis the foreign religious groups. The glaring fact inscribed on every page of our history and testified by even foreign historians and travellers, is that we never discriminated against any one on the score of religion in any sphere of our national life.

The Muslims enjoyed perfect freedom and equality in the powerful Hindu empire under the Vijaynagar Kings or in the Punjab under Sikh heroes. The latest Hindu Power, which rose under the great Shivaji, too, did not discriminate against Muslims on the score of religion.

To cite a few instances, the naval chief of Charapati Shivaji, Darya Sarang, was a Muslim, and two of his main lieutenants were Ibrahim Khan and Daulat Khan. At the time of the grim encounter with Afzal Khan, out of the ten trusted bodyguards who accompanied Shivaji, three were Muslims. Again, the 18-year old lad who accompanies Shivaji to Agra and who played a key role in the thrilling escape of Shivaji from the grip of Aurangzeb was Madari Mehtar, a Muslim. Countless instances are there of Shivaji gifting land and annual grant to masjids and dargas. He even made arrangements for the offering of worship according to Islam to the tomb of Afzal Khan on Pratapgad. Even the most fanatic Muslim chroniclers of those times have noted with admiration that Shivaji treated with utmost respect their Koran, masjids and dargas, their holy men and their womenfolk. And all this, when exactly the opposite was being perpetrated by the Muslim on Hindus all round.

Even later on, on the battlefield of Panipat in 1761, in the crucial struggle for the survival of Swaraj, the key position of the Artillery Chief on the side of the Hindus was held by Ibrahim Gardi, who ultimately fell fighting on the battleground.

Hindusthan lived a life of unchallenged glory and power for thousands of years and spread its spiritual and cultural effulgence over vast areas of the globe-right from Mexico to Japan. Never has its flag waded towards military victory through the blood and tears of those races. Its victory had always been moral and cultural. It was a victory joyously welcomed by the local populace, a victory of selflessness, character and catholicity of spirit which, evoked gratitude instead of revolt from them. Passage of centuries has not dimmed their feelings towards this land. Even to this day the inmost wish of many a devout soul of those lands is to come to the ‘holy land’ of Hindusthan and take a dip in the Ganga. For them, it is never a simple ‘visit’ to this country, it is always a ‘pilgrimage’. From all this, one can easily visualize the unique and matchless life-values that formed the very core of this nation.

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