An attempt to orphan an entire civilisation by denying the wellsprings of its foundation
By Dr Gautam Sen
The defenders of the proposed dredging of the Ram Sethu channel breezily ignore the ecological and economic questions posed by the project. Quite clearly, the economics of private greed supersede the unknown and potentially huge environmental costs that the project might impose on future generations. The uncertain ecological consequences of the Ram Sethu channel alone ought to have persuaded reasonable policy-makers to think again.
India’s comical party apparatchiks, who have rarely done a day’s paid work, having lived their entire lives off the state and/or party donations, should really stop labouring the self-sacrificing ideology of class struggle.
Will the doughty warriors of science and the insane contrivances that pass for secularism in India question the claim that the Prophet ascended to Heaven from the Dome of the Rock or that God dictated the Koran to him?
The collective behaviour of India’s political class, including those who opportunistically jumped on the Ram Sethu bandwagon in its defence and India’s overbearing, self-styled Anglicised elites graphically illustrates cynical contempt for Hindus.
There are those who seem to gleefully view it as a continuation of Mahmud of Ghazni or Aurangzeb’s iconoclasm by other means. The U-turn by others on their earlier approval while in government for the shameful Ram Sethu dredging, because they had neither really cared nor understood its implications, does not redeem their reputation for fidelity to Hindu causes. Regrettably, the defence of the Ram Sethu by Hindu activists, admirable in their display of determination and apparent success, failed to adequately comprehend or articulate the significance of the attack on Ram Sethu.
Some espoused the Semitic accusation of blasphemy against proponents of the dredging though the very concept is alien to Hindu philosophy. Most of all, there can be no doubt any longer of the vindictiveness and cavalier disregard for all things Hindu of virtually the entire political class.
The defenders of the proposed dredging of the Ram Sethu channel breezily ignore the ecological and economic questions posed by the project. Quite clearly, the economics of private greed supersede the unknown and potentially huge environmental costs that the project might impose on future generations. The uncertain ecological consequences of the Ram Sethu channel alone ought to have persuaded reasonable policy makers to think again. But Tamil Nadu is ruled by a combination of venal mediocrity and arrogance that seeks to justify outright criminality through resort to arrant nonsense about their identity as the oppressed. The cogent economic questions posed by the project are also ignored because only the scope for robbing the public exchequer is what matters and the associated costs for future generations not at all. Rarely have political leaders displayed such obscene disregard for all decency. After sixty years of incessant self-pity and endless personal enrichment the purported ideological goods of the Dravidian movement are assuredly past their sell-by date.
The dredging of the Ram Sethu channel on the grounds that there was neither Ram nor any historic bridge is simply outrageous. It is the equivalent of orphaning an entire civilisation by denying the wellsprings of its foundation. Indeed it amounts to maliciously notifying someone that his or her parentage is dubious and they are illegitimate offspring.
The Christians and Muslims and the Hindu neo-converts who act on their behalf do not dare pose similar supposedly scientific queries to either of these militarist imperialisms, no doubt judging discretion to be the better part of valour. Will some Indian secularist dare to embark on a scientific assessment of Jesus’ virgin birth or its claimed location since neither historic evidence nor science can support traditional contentions regarding them? Will the doughty warriors of science and the insane contrivances that pass for secularism in India question the claim that the Prophet ascended to Heaven from the Dome of the Rock or that God dictated the Koran to him? I suspect they might balk at the likelihood of their necks being severed from their bodies with a blunt knife by the adherents to the religion of peace.
It is of Hindus alone that absurd alleged standards of verisimilitude for everything that defines them are being demanded. The subjection of their beliefs and history to some allegedly superior investigative forensic science is merely an Islamo-Christian conspiracy signifying complete bad faith. It is designed to de-legitimise Hindus as a people by disrobing them in public, to resort to a historic Hindu metaphor of momentous resonance to them.
By asserting that nothing of your past is true, none of the values espoused by your ancestors are worthy, legitimating the destruction of Hindu temples and monuments as well as their continuing occupation a dastardly conspiracy is afoot. It is a diabolical intrigue that threatens to subjugate Hindus politically as the prelude to a final solution that will impale them on the beliefs of their imperialist conquerors.
Once Hindus have lost self-confidence and foreign infiltrators and people cut off from their roots by self-hatred dominate India, the devotees of Ram will be ready for enslavement and conversion to Christianity and Islam. This is why Ram’s corporeal reality in the hearts and minds of a people is subject to challenge.
The assertion that Ram existed and that a bridge was indeed constructed are not fantastical at all. Many myths are the product of an historical reality in the first instance that also becomes subsumed in mythologies in the mists of time. There are few affirmed monarchs of the ancient world around whom myths have not developed, whether Alexander the Great (who was more a destroyer than anything else) and Caesar or Charlemegne and Saladin. Many such fables embody notions of virtue and ethics, possessing pedagogic moral and social functions in society. Some of these ideas are of lasting value though subtle changes in meaning and purpose may occur to them. That is surely the case of the idea of Ram Rajya, however modern rather than ancient some of its associated interpolations.
The mis-educated intelligentsia of India imbibed western ideas very poorly, corrupting much and understanding little since the West is scrupulously respectful of its own antecedents. A generous interpretation might have imputed to Anglicised Indians some validity to their obsessions with the class struggle and the espousal of reason. But neither is true. India’s comical party apparatchiks, who have rarely done a day’s paid work, having lived their entire lives off the state and/or party donations, should really stop labouring the self-sacrificing ideology of class struggle. And respect for the notion of reason by scoundrels assiduously cultivating obscurantist Islamic vote banks is hardly credible.
There is therefore no need to assert that every detail of the Hindu past is historically accurate. They represent through a mixture of undoubted historical truth and mythic imagination the values and aspirations of Hindus. They define Hinduism and merit independent scrutiny, elaboration and defence when they are persuasive. There are no inviolable revelatory texts over which blood must be spilt should they be questioned. Everything is subject to human reason and challenge and the great strength of the ancient texts is that they survive such questioning and mostly speak to us in voices that are timeless and universal. It is this epistemology that remains the lasting contribution of the Hindu past to the modern world that many, as diverse as one of the conquerors of India, Warren Hastings and the counsellor to the gods, Albert Einstein, proclaimed. This is why Lord Ram is an ever-present companion and friend as we traverse the vagaries of the modern world in his divine company, confident that the truth will prevail.
(The writer is a respected commentator on national affairs and has been teaching at Oxford University till recently.)