I have always been intrigued by the idea of the ‘village idiot’ in English literary language. It was not as if the village idiot was abnormal in some way. He was just someone who had been rejected by his own family perhaps because he was ‘slow’ (or so they thought), perhaps because he was different from the ‘normal’. The village idiot, completely at the mercy of the village and helplessly dependent for survival, had no desire for explicit self-identity. Not quite man, not quite beast, he was every kind of animal that the village wanted him to be – from a street dog to a draught animal to a squishy bug which allowed itself to be tormented by the village brats. He was also every man’s voiceless whipping boy. And on the rare occasions when, unable to bear the torment the idiot summoned the spirit to react, or miracle of miracles, put up a resistance to the abuse, all the village as one, thrashed him till his spirit was broken. The village could not afford to have the spirit of defiance flickering even weakly within the village idiot’s heart. The people of the village needed the village idiot as an outlet for their own baser, uncivilised instincts. The village had to perforce abuse him physically and mentally to make sure the village idiot never felt the desire or acquired the capacity to become ‘self’ conscious.
The Hindus of post independent India find themselves in a position similar to that of the village idiot. We have an acquired image, an image given to us and enforced by the Indian political and intellectual class to sustain the myth of communal harmony and to sustain the modern face of this country – composite-cultural, multi-national, pluralist, secular democracy. If these images, a combination of falsehoods and partial truths have to be sustained then the Hindu has to continue to remain the village idiot with an identity which is not self-realised but cleverly imposed. The Hindu must forever and all times be unflinchingly committed to ‘tolerance’ and ‘ahimsa’ – the two qualities guaranteed to keep Hindus in inaction, in self-destructive pacifism, in smug masochism which delights in its tolerance of abuse and which begs for more.
India is held up by the likes Sonia Gandhi, Syed Shahabuddin and Romilla Thapar as the perfect example of a ‘pluralist democracy’, of communal harmony where Hindus live peaceably with the world’s second largest population of Muslims. Now this is a self-serving and palpably false image because communal harmony is maintained as long as the Hindus do not react to Muslim intractability and Christian and Muslim stubborn refusal to respect Hindu sensibilities. Communal harmony rests on Hindu inaction, on the Hindu remaining the village idiot. But whenever the Hindu has asserted his self-identity as happened when he reacted to the massacre in Godhra or when he pulled down the mosque standing insolently on Ramjanmabhumi, when he resists religious conversions, or when he protests against a foreigner with neo-colonial ambitions declaring her intention to become the Prime Minister of the country, then the very same people will shout to the world that communal harmony is shattered, India is a hotbed of communal tensions, the social fabric has been torn asunder, minorities are threatened by Hindu fundamentalists, and Hindu extremism is on the ascendancy. The secular politician and the secular anti-Hindu needs the Hindu to be alive for India to wear the mask of secularism and pluralism but they need the Hindu to live as the village idiot to keep up the myth of communal harmony under which guise the Muslims and Christians can perpetuate and re-inforce their religious identity and mandate.
Like the village idiot rejected by his family, Hinduism finds herself in this plight because she has been abandoned by the thinking Hindu who is enamored with western modernism and the atomisation and rootlessness which western modernism brings along with it. The intellectual Hindu with the capacity to resist abuse but whose will to resist has been neutralised by western education, is happy with the ‘tolerant’ epithet because ‘tolerance’ does not compel him to accept responsibility for resistance. Hinduism, for its identity, has been left at the mercy of anti-Hindu or the rootless Hindu thought peddlers in Indian academia and polity; and what is being peddled for popular consumption is facets of Hinduism like ‘ahimsa’ and ‘tolerance’ which are disjointed from Kaala dharma and presented as absolute virtues, as universal tenets.
Some peddlers like R.S.Sharma and Romilla Thapar have defamed Hinduism by projecting a perversion, a mockery of the religion. These thought peddlers had unchallenged control of Indian academia because the Hindu, in a process which was begun by Gandhi ji in the 19th century and culminating in the partition of the country in 1947, had by then been made the village idiot who did not acknowledge, much less resist the abuse and humiliation inflicted on him. And that is why these rascals could get away scot-free for over four decades with the fairy-tale fiction of barbaric Muslim rule of India leaving behind it only the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikhri, Sufism and Bismillah Khan. The village idiot is not supposed to remember Aurangazeb’s bestiality, not supposed to remember the humiliation of the three mosques in Kashi, Mathura and Ayodhya, is not supposed to ask how the land of the Kashmiri pandits became a Muslim majority territory which has evicted the original inhabitants. Above all, the Hindu village idiot is not supposed to hold the Muslims of India guilty for the partition that tore the nation apart.
History text books written by these anti-Hindu peddlers in academia describe our independence movement as being independence only from British colonial rule and end the story of our independence movement with the midnight speech delivered by Nehru. That Gandhi ji’s swarajya was as much to liberate our societies from the influence of Muslim rule has not even been imagined! The details of partition are coyly left unsaid. The village idiot is so benumbed in inaction that these rascals could peddle with impunity the fraudulent and highly divisive Aryan invasion theory, portraying Hinduism as ‘perverted’ brahminism’, (whatever that means) and with depicting even Sikh gurus pejoratively. This was only the very tip of the iceberg. The destruction caused to the Hindu’s identity and to the Hindu social fabric was catastrophic and almost irreversible. Creating the Hindu village idiot was paying the rascals rich dividends by way of effacing this nation’s self-identity.
So let us take the ‘tolerance’ bull-shit first.
When the village idiot fails to resist abuse in the name of tolerance, then Hussein is emboldened to draw Hindu goddesses in the nude, SAHMAT is emboldened to depict Srirama and Sita as brother and sister, thus rendering their relationship incestuous. And if the village idiot tears the exhibition apart in rage, then the entire polity and academic world thrashes the Hindu so violently that the feeble flicker of defiance is snuffed out and we go back to being the soft-headed village idiot all over again. We have white-skins depicting Ganesha on toilet seats, Lakshmi on bikinis, white-skins writing profound ‘fictional’ biographies of Hindu heroes where Shivaji is stated to be born to his mother from an extra-marital relationship, another white-skin ‘scholar’ of Indic studies who declares that the Bhagawad Gita, far from being a holy book, is a book of horror which instigates Hindus to war, and she, hallelujah, is a pacifist and doesn’t think there is any such thing as a ‘good war’!! It also emboldens a Gail Omvedt to dismiss the Vedas as ***** and emboldens N.Ram to declare at a meeting that Hindus are a minority in this country through some perverted, twisted argument which tickled the largely captive audience comprising Marxists and minorities. I am not even going into the details of E.V.Ramaswamy Naickar’s infamous anti-Hindu Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu. And through all this abuse and humiliation, the Hindu village idiot slumbered in the sunshine of his virtuous big-heartedness which tolerated this abuse, this excruciating pain and mortification.
That is because the village idiot doesn’t think all this merits a fierce resistance. He has been brain-washed into believing that it is his dharma to allow himself to be abused and humiliated. Christians declare that their religion mandates them to convert all nations to their faith and they insist that India is a secular, pluralist democracy and that a democratic country must respect the Geneva Convention which guarantees individuals right to freedom of conscience and religion. The village idiot has also been reduced to such an endemic state of inaction that all anti-Hindu ‘secular’ rascals have even managed to establish that the highest practice of secularism and the most explicit respect for human rights is to guarantee one section of minorities the right to plant the cross cheek-by-jowl of every existing Hindu temple and another section of minorities to indulge in repeated acts of terror against the State and the Hindu community.
The ‘tolerance ‘ of the Hindu village idiot knows no bounds. “The …… leader, ……, warned that non-passage of the Bill would erode the rich culture and heritage of the State and change its ethnic, linguistic, religious and demographic character. (The Hindu, dated 6th June, 2004) Let us assume that the ‘Bill’ in the above mentioned quote is the Anti-conversion Bill or a Bill seeking to regulate the proliferation of churches and mosques. And that the leader in question is Jayalalithaa or Narendra Modi. Now what does the quote mean if de-coded into words of one syllable? That religious conversions altered the demographic character of the state, it eroded and altered the unique ethnicity of the Tamils/Gujaratis (remember in India we have still not established if ethnicity rested on language, religion or physiology), it affected the religious culture of the Tamils and Gujaratis who are basically Hindus and above all that since mushrooming Churches and madarasas eroded the rich Tamil/Gujarati culture and heritage of the people, Jayalalithaa/Modi was considering introducing a Bill which put a moratorium on churches and madarasas. It would also seek to limit the number of mosques and churches in any given locality proportionate to the population of those religionists. Now what kind of editorials do you think N.Ram would have written? Or Shekhar Gupta? What would Shabana Azmi have said, Sonia Gandhi, Laoo Yadav, A.B.Bardhan? What would our secular intellectuals in academia, the writers of the center page in The Hindu have said? What would Soli Sorabjee, Fali Nariman, Rajeev Dhavan, our Rashtrapati have said? No marks for the correct answer!
But this was said by a Muslim political leader of a Muslim majority state in India. This was said by NC leader Omar Abdulla about the passage of the extremely communal, unfair and immoral Permanent Resident (Disqualification) Bill. (The Hindu, 6th June, 2004, Mufti govt. to redraft Permanent Resident Bill) Forget that the Bill was not allowed to be tabled again in the J&K Assembly but what the Hindu village idiot failed to see or hear was that the entire secular brigade in the media and the polity was silent on Omar Abdulla’s assertion that J&K had a unique cultural heritage, a unique ‘not to be diluted’ religious, ethnic, demographic character! India is a colourless, odourless, tasteless pluralist, secular democracy which must permit foreigners to become Prime Ministers, which must allow unchecked immigration of Muslims from Bangladesh, which must allow militant Christian missionaries to alter the demography of the North-East and other pockets in India, which must allow the proliferation of churches and mosques in numbers completely disproportionate to the population of these religionists, which must deface and disfigure the Hindu identity of its majority population but the Muslim majority state must be allowed to protect its unique religious, cultural, demographic heritage!! And this can be asserted by a Muslim political leader unchallenged because the secular brigade has reduced the Hindu to being the village idiot.
The village idiot has no name, has no self-conscious family identity. He is so completely the village idiot that the village has succeeded in totally effacing his self-identity from his conscious mind. The Tamil equivalent of the English ‘village idiot’ is ‘chappani’ which we know is no name but an epithet. The Hindu village idiot finds himself in the same predicament. He has no name! The writer had occasion to listen to a talk delivered by a distinguished retired Indian diplomat a couple of days ago. Paying glowing tributes to Nani Palkhivalla, the diplomat recalled that it was something which Nani said that struck him as being the leit motif of what India’s foreign policy should be. Let me paraphrase. “The most striking feature of India is the Indian ethos to be welcoming. It was the Indian ethos which welcomed the Jew, the Muslim, the Christian, the Parsi – all of whom were fleeing religious persecution in their homelands. We welcomed them, absorbed them into our ethos and gave back to them considerably enriched. And this should be the underlying philosophy of our foreign policy”, he said.
Now this ‘Indian ethos’ baffles me. What pray was this ‘Indian’ ethos before the Christians, Muslims, Jews and Parsis came into this country to make it a multi-religious, multi-cultural country? Did this India have a unique cultural heritage, a unique religious, ethnic, demographic character before she became multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious? What ‘India’ was it which welcomed aliens into this land? And as the diplomat pointed out, outside of India, in different parts of the world, at different times, Muslims were persecuting Parsis, Christians were persecuting the Jews, some Muslim sects were being persecuted by other Muslim sects. None of these religions had any history of co-existing with other religions. And yet, this distinguished diplomat could not bring himself to say, and neither could Nani Palkhivalla that if all of these religionists were made to feel welcome it was because it was the village idiot Hindu who was welcoming them. The Indian Christian did not welcome the Jew, the Indian Muslim did not welcome the Parsis. The so-called faceless Indian ethos was the Hindu ethos. And it was because of the Hindu ethos that these refugees who were slaughtering each other outside India were learning to live with each other in this land. I can understand Nani not stating that it was the welcoming, tolerant, big-hearted, generous Hindu who dug his own grave by making some of these barbaric groups welcome; because it was by converting and killing the Hindus that this Hindu nation became a ‘multi-religious, multi-cultural, pluralist’ bull-shit whatever. But even this career diplomat, an intellectual Hindu, could not pronounce the word ‘Hindu’. He made it out to be some abstract ‘Indian’ ethos. The self-forgetful ness of the typical Hindu village idiot. We have forgotten our own name and our self-nature. The Hindu ‘chappani’.
Having shown remarkable big-heartedness in welcoming barbaric, less-civilised alien religions into this land, the Hindu village idiot then showed remarkable ‘tolerance’ as these alien religions threw him out of Kashmir, threw him out of the North-East, slaughtered cows, destroyed his temples, killed or converted his kings, conquered territory and enslaved the very people who had made them welcome into their homes. The Hindu village idiot welcomed the refugee and the invader alike, the trader and the missionary alike. Our tolerance expanded virtuously with every abuse, with every humiliation because Gandhi ji told us that generosity and tolerance to be whole must now be embellished with ‘ahimsa’. So no matter how we are abused and humiliated, we must never give up on ‘ahimsa’. ‘Ahimsa’ is not for the weak, Gandhi ji told us kindly, to make us all feel even more virtuous, it is for the strong. Yeah, right. But of what use is strength if it cannot deter abuse or if it refuses to punish the abuser? And the Hindu village idiot never asked Gandhi ji if ‘ahimsa’ is a practical quality when good lived with evil, when an inclusive civilization was forced to co-exist with exclusive religions. And the idiot also never asked Gandhi ji why his inspiration Sri Rama did not practice the kind of ‘ahimsa’ Gandhi ji was preaching to us and why Sri Rama had to take to arms and wage a bloody war against Ravana. The Hindu idiot also did not dare to question Gandhi ji if perhaps Gandhi ji was not imposing what was undeniably an admirable quality in an individual totally erroneously on an entire people, on an entire community! ‘Ahimsa’ is not a collective virtue, not when we live amidst humans who have no faith in it. But by this time the Hindu village idiot was brain dead and soul dead. He could not be expected to feel all these doubts.
But more to the point, just as unlimited forbearance with abuse and an unlimited capacity to put up with humiliation was enforced upon the village idiot, Gandh ji’s ‘ahimsa’ and forbearance was imposed only upon the Hindu village idiot. How come the Muslims did not imbibe Gandhiji’s ‘ahimsa’ or the Christians imbibe Gandhi ji’s abhorrence for religious conversion? The Hindu village idiot has never challenged these communities upon their selective adaptation of Gandhian values and virtues. Because the Hindu village idiot was still basking in the light of his own virtuous ‘tolerance’ and ‘ahimsa’. But the spirit of defiance did flicker in the Hindu in 1992. The flicker fanned into a flame and the Hindu village idiot in a fit of rage brought down the mosque in Ayodhya. It also fanned into a raging fire when a Muslim murderous mob burnt alive Hindu men, women and children in a train in Godhra. The Hindu wanted revenge and he had it. But from then on ‘karsevak’ was synonymous with terrorist.
Laloo now wants to re-open the Godhra files to establish the ‘truth’. The lunatic has declared he wants to investigate afresh who really was travelling in the coach that was set afire – innocent men, women and children or ‘karsevaks’. And not one newspaper, not one journalist in the print or electronic media, not one right-of-center politician asked Laloo what he meant exactly by this fine distinction. The Hindu village idiot continues to sleep through –
- The partition of his nation by the Muslims whom he welcomed into his country as traders.
- Destruction of his temples in the holiest of Hindu cities and in Kashmir.
- Continuing abuse of Hindu religion, religious beliefs and practices and Hindu history by secular intellectuals.
- Genocide of Kashmiri Hindus and their forcible eviction from their homeland.
- The conversion of the North-East from a Hindu majority to Christian majority region within a time span of less than a hundred years.
- Continuing refusal by the Muslims to vacate Kashi, Mathura and Ayodhya.
- Secular politicians and intellectuals justifying the Mumbai blasts I for the destruction of the Babri Masjid and Mumbai blasts II for the Gujarat riots.
- The national intellectual discourse which upholds the Muslim right to revenge for Babri Masjid and the Gujarat riots but denies the Hindu village idiot the same right for Godhra, for Kashi, Mathura and Ayodhya and for 800 years of unrelenting bestial Muslim rule of Hindu India.
- The comic act of his own leaders from Vajpayee to Jayalalithaa frantically trying to discard their Hindu face for a secular mask.
- The country’s polity which refuses to protect the Hindu from the violence of religious conversions.
- The attempts of the secular brigade to finish off Narendra Modi and Praveen Togadiya in public life.
- The determined efforts to defame and malign our armed forces and the police who are engaged in counter-terrorism wars.
- The idiom of human rights which makes heroines of Zahirra Sheikh and Ishrat Jahan and villains of Jayalalithaa, Uma Bharti and Sadhvi Rithambara.
Sleep on you idiot, sleep on. It may take another Godhra, another partition to stir your mind to self-consciousness. But I doubt it. The Hindu village idiot will have to lay down the coffin of acquired identity from his shoulders first. Only then will he stand erect, only then will his spirit be liberated to feel the first stirrings of resistance.
~ Radha Rajan (originally published in 2004)