PART 9 -- [Hindu revivalism and other communalist trends]
[A] What I have said about Pan-Islamism and the excess of communalism among the Mussalmans, should not be understood to imply that Hindus on their side have been quite inactive and innocent. One thing, of course, is patent. Hindus cannot be anything but Indians. They have no other country and no other nation to look to. They cannot, therefore, be accused of any kind of PanHinduism, in the sense in which the term is used in relation to Islam. Hinduism and Indianism are, in their case, synonymous terms.
[B] But in their own way, Hindu revivalists have left nothing undone to create a strictly exclusive and aggressive communal feeling. Early in the eighties of the last century some of the Hindu religious leaders came to the conclusion that Hinduism was doomed unless it adopted the aggressive features of militant Islam and militant Christianity. The Arya Samaj is a kind of militant Hinduism. But the idea was by no means confined to the Arya Samaj. Swami Vivekanand and his gifted disciple Sister Nivedita,/18/ among others, were of the same mind. The articles which she wrote on aggressive Hinduism are the clearest evidence of that mentality.
[C] It must be remembered in this connection that Western knowledge, Western thought, and Western mentality took hold of the Hindu mind at a very early period of British rule. The Brahmo Samaj was the [] first product of it. In the early sixties the Brahmo Samaj was a nonHindu body, and under its influence Hindu scholars, thinkers, and students were becoming cosmopolitans. Some became Christians, others took to atheism and became completely westernised. Thus a wave of indifferentism about Hinduism spread over the country. The Arya Samaj movement, and aggressive Hinduism, was a reaction against that un-Hinduism and indifferentism. Most of the early Hindu leaders of the Indian National Congress were in this sense non-Hindus. What did Mr. S. N. Banerjea or Lal Mohan Ghosh or Ananda Mohan Bose care for Hinduism? Even Mahadev Govind Ranade was but an indifferent Hindu. G. K. Gokhale was not a Hindu at. all. I will not mention other names.
Thus the political nationalist movement of India was brought into existence by high-minded Englishmen, enlightened and highminded Parsees, enlightened and highminded sons of Hindus (many of whom in their own mentality were either non-Hindus or indifferent Hindus) and a few enlightened and highminded Muslims. Born under these auspices, it was bound to be a movement of pure freedom. Pure freedom makes no distinction of race or religion. As a child of the joint deliberations of Dufferin and Hume,/19/ it was, however, more a "safety-valve" than a movement of pure freedom. It was hardly three years old when its God-father, the Marquis of Dufferin, changed his mind and decided to strangle it. The best way to strangle it, he thought, was to rob it of its national character and to raise the religious and denominational bogey. The latter proved to be a Himalayan glacier, under whose weight it was bound either to perish or to be cracked so badly as to remain mangled all its life.
[D] That Himalayan glacier was the late Sir Syed's opposition to the Congress on denominational grounds. I do not mean to say that Sir Syed's fears about his community were absolutely baseless, but the cry which he raised was practically the death-knell of Indian nationalism at the time. Sir Syed's attitude towards the Indian National Congress was influenced by the following considerations:
(a) That in India the Hindus were in a majority, and if a form of democratic Government was accepted as the political goal of India, the Muslims were bound to be in a minority.I am inclined to think that he did not believe in the possibility of another Mussalman domination in India either with or without the help of foreign Muslim states, and he therefore favoured the idea of perpetual British rule in this country.
(b) That the Hindus were both economically and educationally more advanced than the Muslims, and would monopolise much of Government influence for a long time to come.
[] (c) That a Hindu Raj might possibly mean the death of Islam in India, or at least a position of subservience for it.
[E] The founders of the Indian National Congress, on the other hand, were absolutely honest and sincere nationalists. They did not entertain any anti-Muslim intentions, but they knew that nationalism could take no notice of denominationalism. Sir Syed's opposition, however, forced them to take some notice of it. It was by no conspiracy against the Muslims that the Hindus of that period came to occupy a large number and proportion of higher Government offices than their Muslim fellow-countrymen, and were more prominent and influential in the public life of the country. They, therefore, refused to accept communal representation in services under the Government for each community. The struggle continued for a long time, until the Congress surrendered on the first point, though still refusing to recognise the second.
[F] From a purely communal point of view, Sir Syed was right. From a national point of view his demand was fatal. The history of the several European countries shows that they had all to face a similar situation some time or other in the process of national evolution. What helped them to become nations was a decisive refusal to give in to the claims of religion. As a fundamental principle of their policy, they recognized the supremacy of State over religion, and gradually removed all religious distinctions so far as they affected the constitution of the State including services under the State. In India we have adopted a different, in fact the opposite, course.
The acceptance of the principle of communal representation was a concession to religion and is the negation of nationalism. The supremacy of religion over State has thus been enthroned. Most Muslim leaders openly say that they are Muslims first and Indians afterwards, though in 1915, Mr. Mazhar-ul-Haq/20/ said from his place as President of the Muslim League that he was Indian from first t. last. No one can be a true Nationalist who is not an Indian from first to last. He may be an Indian Hindu or an Indian Mussalman, but he must be an Indian all the time. A man who says he is [] prepared to sacrifice the freedom of India for the freedom of "Jazirat-ul-Arab" cannot be an Indian nationalist.
[G] Leaders on both sides are emphatic that the present tension between the two communities is political and not religious. Muslims contend that the insufficiency and the unfairness of the Lucknow Pact are responsible for it. Hindus maintain that communal representation itself is at the bottom of the present trouble. Both are right in their own way. Whether the Lucknow Pact is unjust or unfair, it is certainly responsible for the Muslim demand for its extension to local bodies, government services, and the educational institutions.
People outside the Punjab have no idea to what extent the principle
of communal representation has been or is being pushed in the Punjab. Practically
all social relations between Hindus and Muhammadans, and Sikhs and non-Sikhs,
have ceased. All three communities have their separate clubs, separate
organizations, and separate colleges. Even in sporting clubs or social
functions, all three communities insist on communal representation. In
the trouble is both religious and political. I am certain that religion is being used for political purposes, but I am also certain that there is a certain amount of genuine religious element in it.
[H] The very day when I wrote the above, Sir M. Hailey, Governor of the Punjab, made a speech in the Punjab Legislative Council which contained the following observations, which seem to me to be an .absolutely correct description of the situation:
"We have a problem far more difficult than those I have described, because it deals with elements less tangible and factors less susceptible of direct approach or control. We have to find some remedy for the toxin of inter-communal dissension which today is vitiating our public and perhaps our social life. Let me be somewhat more precise here and use such frankness as is possible in one whose heartfelt desire is to allay and not to provoke discord. My reference is not mainly to communal rioting or open disturbance. There has been such in the past, but the province must take credit for the fact that it has of late escaped open violence which has been exhibited in the towns of some of our neighbouring provinces. Disastrous as open disturbance may be, sinister as are its effects in prolonging the alienation of rival communities, it is not the whole of the problem, perhaps not even its gravest feature. My [] reference is rather to the fact that in every sphere of life and activity, in social matters, in almost every question of administration, in the management of local affairs, in the conduct of education, even in tbe current discussion of questions of law and justice, the communal question intervenes."Of course I do not admit for a moment that the Government and its officials have been, or are, so innocent in the matter as Sir M. Hailey would have us believe. In my humble judgment the communal situation in the Punjab, much of it at least, is of the making of the Government. This, however, is a different matter.
/18/ An Irish lady, named
Margaret Noble, who was an ardent disciple of Swami Vivekanand.
/19/ Lajpat Rai believed in the theory that the Congress was organized by Allan Octavian Hume with the blessings of Lord Dufferin as a 'safety-valve in view of the rising discontent in the country. He first gave expression to this view in his Young India, published in 1916.
/20/ Mazhar-ul-Haq (1865-1930) was one of the founders of [the] Muslim League in 1906 and was its President in 1915. He was mainly responsible for bringing about an accord between the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League at Lucknow in 1916. He supported Mahatma Gandhi in the Champaran campaign (1917) and became a non-cl-operator in 1920. Mazhar-ul-Haq was one of the founders of the Bihar Vidyapith and the Sadaqat Ashram, Patha, both important centres of political education and agitation in Bihar.