Remember Leon Trotsky’s famous adage, “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” It has taken a set of events surrounding the India-Pakistan T20 World Cup match to remind us: That even though Hindus may believe in banalities like “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, our Muslim neighbours across the border certainly don’t.
The surprising thing is that this is not new. Far from it, this has been a repeated historical pattern over the last thousand years of Muslim colonisation where Hindus did not particularly see the Muslims as different, but Muslims always saw Hindus are different. This goes back to how one defines identity.
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Harvard professor Samuel Huntington hypothesised that one’s identity comprises two parts: Substance (what binds us together) and salience (what separates us from others). Now historically, if you look at this, you will see that Indians have neither had substance nor have they had salience.
In fact, it is safe to say that all religions founded in the Bronze Age or early antiquity never emphasised either. However, the second axial age that heralded religions like Christianity and Islam place this unique invention at the centre of everything they did. The aim was to create a strong bond between coreligionists and at the same time create a strong division with others who did not follow the religion.
A simple example of this is how the Greek, Roman and Egyptian religions all co-existed and syncreticized with each other. When revolts happened in the Roman world, it was not because of religion, but everything else. The notable exceptions were the Abrahamic religions — Judaism and Christianity. Christianity ultimately absorbed the Roman Empire; the last remaining Roman pagans never understood till the end why the Christians didn’t accept their Gods while they were happy to accept Christianity as one more stream within the Roman whole.
The same scene played out in India when the Muslim Turkic invasions began. Rajendra Chola, for example, in 1094, setting out for the conquest of what was there in Indonesia and Malaysia never spared a thought for Mahmud Ghazni destroying the Jyotirlinga at Somnath, this despite being an alleged “Shiva Bhakta”.
Similarly, the previous pre-Islamic Turks who had invaded India, like the Turk Shahi dynasty, integrated completely into the Indian fold. Their cousins — the Mongols — similarly integrated into every society they conquered. Yet, the same ethnic stock post religious conversion not just refused to integrate, but viewed everything from a religious viewpoint.
After all, if the Turk Shahis integrated, why didn’t the Mamluks, Khiljis and Tughlaqs? If the Mongols were equal opportunity destroyers, why did Berke (khan of the Golden Horde) take his cousin Hulagu’s destruction of Baghdad and killing of the Caliph so seriously that he declared war? What toxicity is this that turns cousin against cousin for the sake of beliefs?
This is the mindset we face today and have faced for the last 1,000 years. We may very well have seen the invaders merely as an ethnicity “Turks” (Turushkas), not as a religion. But they saw us not as an ethnicity, but as a religion (Hindu). This is what we have seen with the Pakistan cricket team this week — from praying on the field, to referring to the victory as “kufr to toot gaya” (the infidel was destroyed) by an official ICC commentator, to Pakistan captain Babar Azam responding to it positively, saying “Allah ka shukr hai” (all thanks to Allah), to Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis and a Pakistani minister claiming this was a “victory for Islam”, to the wild celebrations among a section of Indian Muslims.
What is gobsmacking though is that the Hindu response to all of this has remained the exact same as Rajendra Chola in 1094 AD. Some tried explaining away “kufr” as “jinx”, ignoring the fact that the root of it still lay in the three Arabic consonants K F R, denoting a pejorative. Others claimed that it was simply normal usage used even by Hindu poets writing in Urdu.
That’s a bit like saying that inflections and variations of the N-word are perfectly acceptable because they come from the Portuguese for black. Captain Virat Kohli, who loves sermonising Hindus on how to celebrate Diwali, meanwhile, had nothing to say about this. Worse still the management of the team run by the BCCI comes under the son of a home minister who gives lectures across India on protecting Hindus and their “civilisational heritage”.
Yet, apparently, he never taught his son any of those virtues, because the management was happy to get the team to “take the knee” supporting a violent, rioting, arsonist movement in the United States a year back, but had nothing to say about the slaughter of Hindus in Kashmir and Bangladesh just a week ago.
Mind you, the BCCI didn’t even take cognisance of the religious slur and has to date refused to even acknowledge it.
While we know the “liberal secular” media would completely ignore it, the real shocker was some right-wing outlets dismissing it in a blasé fashion in a few lines, merely asking Team India and its management to introspect. Had a major politician’s son not been involved, these publications would’ve gone hammer and tongs on the subject.
To sum up, in 1,000 years, nothing has changed.
The ceaseless civilisational assault on Hindus continues unabated and Hindus, especially their much vaunted champions and gonfalonieres, prize their access and financial benefits over their identity. Clearly, you can take the Jaichand out of India, but you can’t take the Jaichand out of the Hindu. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same).
The writer is Senior Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.Internet Explorer Channel Network