By Ram Puniyani
The domination of communal consciousness in social space is very frightening. The prevalent ‘social common sense’ looks at history through the prism of Kings’ religion and that too in a very selective way. This version picks and chooses from events to ‘construct a past’ suitable to its ideology, the communal one. This ideology has been at the roots of the hatred which has been built up among communities, hate for Hindus propagated by Muslim communalism and vice versa, hate for Muslims by Hindu communalism. This hatred has formed the foundation on which communal violence was and is being orchestrated. This violence kills the innocents on one side and polarizes the communities for electoral benefits on the on the other. The same ideology looks down upon inter-religious marriages and cultural expressions which unite the people, cutting across boundaries. Currently the marriages between Muslim boy and a Hindu girl are denigrated as ‘Love jihad’. To cap it all now the baby born from such a marriage, is being hurled abuses at, instead of the usual welcome which a new born deserves in our society.
On 20th September (2016) Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan were delighted as their bundle of joy, baby boy, arrived. They named him Taimur (also pronounced as Timur). With this; the whole hell was let loose on the social media. Many tweeters wished ill for the baby. These communalists seem to be pained by the name Taimur as he had invaded Delhi in 1398, looted plundered and killed the people in Delhi. Interestingly Delhi that time was being ruled by a King, who was a Muslim with Turkish lineage Mohammad Tughlaq. Taimur, Ghenghis Khan and Aurangzeb in particular are presented as the major villains of Indian medieval history and also are identified with Muslims of India today. Ghengis Khan was builder of Mongol Empire who was a Shamanist (not Muslim) who had also killed and plundered north India. Aurangzeb is regarded as a tyrant who imposed Jizia, forcibly converted people to Islam and destroyed Hindu temples. All the demonization of these kings is reflected upon Muslims of India today. These kings belong to various religions and did not undertake these acts for their religion in any way. Again this is just one small side of the story.
The plunder of wealth and associated killings are part of the invasions of Kings, unrelated to religion. Surely sometimes cover of religion is put up by the courtiers for the actions of kings. Plunder and killing was not a monopoly of any particular king from one religion or one region. Kings were plundering in the neighboring areas and extracting tribute in their own territory. It was not a period of ‘laws’ or ‘nationalism’ as understood today. Kings were sovereigns, above being questioned. Incidentally the clergy, cutting across religions, provided the ideological cover, cover of religion and sanction of God for the acts of these Kings. The concept of India or Bharat does not apply to this period and it was in a way ‘free for all’, depending on the strategy of the kings and his alliances as for as the outcome of battles was concerned. One knows that it was Babar who was invited by Rana Sanaga to ally with him to defeat Ibrahim Lodi. The Muslims kings had many courtiers who were Hindus in top rungs of power and vice versa in the subcontinent.
In India today Muslim Kings or Kings with Muslim sounding names are presented as villains. At the same time Shivaji, Rana Pratap and Govind Singh are projected as the Heroes for Hindus. Godse, the killer of father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, says that as a nationalist, Gandhi was a pigmy as compared to the nationalists like Shivaji, Rana Pratap and Govind Singh. While today Shivaji is being eulogized as a great national hero, it’s interesting to note that initially there was a great resistance to accepting Shivaji as a National hero in Gujarat and Bengal in particular. These are two areas where Shivjaji’s armies plundered and killed the local people. Today, to say that Shivaji was also looting and plundering is tantamount to insulting ‘national icon’. One Bal Samant, who was close to Bal Thackeray, very much accepted by Hindu nationalists, devotes nearly 21 pages in his book ‘Shivkalyan Raja’ to the chapter on the looting by Shivaji. He quotes from Dutch and British sources to give the account of massive plunder and looting by Shivaji’s army. The massive carnage by Ashoka in Kalinga is well known. Most kings have undertaken the killings to expand their empires to take revenge against the enemy Kingdom.
With the communal ideologies holding the sway; the interpretations have also changed. The looting by Shivaji’s army has been described by Narendra Modi as looting of Aurangzeb’s treasury! The account of Maratha armies destroying Shrirangpatanam Hindu temple are being hidden in the margins of consciousness. Similarly the account of 1857, First war of Independence has suffered the fate of distortion. While Savarkar the Hindutva ideologue describes it as the First war of Independence, Golwalkar another major ideologue of Hindutva says that the rebellion failed as it was being led by a Muslim, Bahadur Shah Jafar as he could not inspire Hindu soldiers. While one knows that the failure of revolt was due to the reason that Punjabis and Gorkhas came to the rescue of the British.
Communal ideology sits on the distorted and selective version of history and religion is presented as the primary motive in this narrative. Taking it to murkier depths some commentators have gone to the abysmal low by abusing this child as a terrorist and a jihadi. All newborns deserve welcome into this universe. Saif Ali Khan in his article in Indian Express tells us as to how their marriage was opposed as ‘love Jihad’. One tweet warns the Hindu girls that they should not marry Muslim boys as they may give birth to a Ghengis Khan or a Taimur or a Aurangzeb. The divisive mindset is pushing the culture to low ebbs in society!