Friday, September 2, 2016

Ways Saffron History uses Pandits


"A major event of Maharaja Ranbir Singh's reign which could have changed the whole course of history of Kashmir was the collective approach of Kashmir Muslims to him for being taken back into the Hindu fold. They pleaded that they had been forcibly converted to Islam against their will and were longing to re-embrace their ancestral faith.
Ranbir Singh sought the guidance of Swamy Dayanand Saraswati, the founder of Arya Samaj, in the matter. Swami Dayand advised him that he could take them back in Hinduism after performing certain rites.
The proposed return of Kashmiri Muslims to their original faith was not to the liking of short sighted Kashmiri Pundits who were having a hey day since the return of Dogra Hindu rule. They tried to dissuade the Maharaja. When they found him adamant they took to a subterfuge. They filled some boats with stones and brought them midstream before Maharaja's palace on the Jhelum. They threatened him that they would commit suicide by drowning along with the sinking boats as a protest against his decision to take back Muslims into Hindu fold and that he would be then guilty of "Brahm Hatya" i.e. murder of Brahmins.
Ranbir Singh was a brave soldier. But he could not muster courage to face the crafty Brahmins, who were out to misinterpret the Vedic "dharma" for their selfish ends. The plan of return of Kashmiri Muslims to Hinduism thus fell through."

This is an extract from the book "Kashmir: The Storm Center of the World" (1992) by Balraj Madhok who was instrumental in setting up RSS in the state and BJP in India.

What we read in the passage is something that seems very factual and plausible. The pandits would certainly believe it. In 1992, fresh refugees, Pandits could be made to believe that somehow it was all their own fault. Because in past their ancestors were “shortsighted”. Look to the future, Hindu India is coming, don’t be “selfish”, don’t be weak, don’t make the same mistake again. This is a standard recruitment technique used by any fundamentalist ideology. This wasn’t first time Madhok was recruiting refugees. History becomes a handy tool at such times as fiction is sprinkled with facts and a vengeful dish is prepared, left into the oven for a long time, slow baked, till the oven bursts in flames and out pops a great revolution.

In the entire process, few would after ask about the actual flavour of the facts. So, what are the facts of that episode mentioned by Madhok.

What actually happened was that Dayanand Saraswati in Punjab had proposed such conversions were possible. He was interested in breaking the caste system using religious texts. Ranbir Singh became interested and wanted to try it in Kashmir. Muslims didn’t ask for this Shuddi. He asked the brahmin clergy, who protested as they held caste more dear and so Saraswati was barred from entering Kashmir. In the writings of “sickular” Lala Lajpat Rai, we read that Ranbir Singh had approached the brahmins of Kashi to ponder upon the question. And not Brahmins of Kashmir. In Madhok’s “secular” version Kashi becomes Kashmir. Further in historic writings from Arya Samajists we read:
Once Pandit Manphool said to the Swami: “If you give up refuting and denouncing idol-worship, the people would cease to be angry with you and what is more, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir will also be pleased with you!” The Swami answered:”Shall I strive to please the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, or shall I strive to carry out the mandates of Ishwara- the Sovereign of sovereigns – embodied in the Vedas?”

Obviously, the relation between Dayanand Saraswati and Ranbir Singh were not that hunky-dory.

So, this careful fuddling with facts just because a fresh batch of refugees had arrived and Sangh was recruiting. Today the book is available online on a KP website.

Balraj Madhok was born in Skardu in 1920 and by 1938 he was already a RSS pracharak who moved to Srinagar in 1944. The 1947 Kashmir War meant his birthplace went to the other side and he became busy working on a final solution, a cleaner version of Kashmir. Interestingly, his younger twin born in 1934 in Gilgit, Amanullah Khan, founder of JKLF was doing the same across the LOC, working on a parallel final solution, a cleaner version of Kashmir. The two final solution came to bloom in 1990 feeding off each other. The solution mooted by still-born postcard men of imagined glorious nation preying with half-a-dead brain on half-a-bleeding-heart.

It is interesting that Madhok came from an Arya Samajist family and believed Arya Samaj idea was in-sync with RSS. May be, it is in a natural militant variant of it. Dayanand Saraswati was re-interpreting the Hindu texts in an alternate sanitised ways. Something that people now want Muslims to do with their text and religion. As we can see, even that road is not straight…even in that path we can end up with someone like Madhok and a movement like RSS. Or, we are already on that path.

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