Invite Stalin to inaugurate Yadadri
It is regrettable that our Prime Minister chose to invite Stalin to the reopening ceremony of Yadadri. Stalin is a notorious atheist and his party’s background is not only strict atheism, but a certain antipathy towards Hindu traditions which he “opposes”, wrongly and unfortunately, through the prism of a strict Dravidian ideology. Secularism and liberalism in India have a special flavor among intellectuals and politicians. It means appeasing minorities and abusing the majority respectively. This generosity has been a constant policy since independence.
The state of Nehru claimed all the rights of a “Hindu state” in its relationship with the Hindus. He took liberties with the Hindus such as opposing the president inaugurating the rejuvenated Somnath temple; to oppose Bande Mataram on the grounds of religious connotations; authorize the Hindu Code Bill which included the management of state temples; insisting on debate on religious issues like Hindu personal law and the prohibition of cow slaughter in secular terms. But he did not dare to touch Muslim personal law despite his concern for having a uniform civil code. In claiming the rights of a Hindu state, the refusal of the Nehru government to accept the obligations to defend and promote its religion led to accusations of inconsistency and lack of ingenuity in the application of secularism.
Our founding fathers, concluding for a secular India, remained confused about the meaning of secularism. The Indian state wanted to deny the dominant and distinct Hindu ethic from the start. No government has fully explained why India should be a secular state in its present sense; the arguments lack imagination and derive from Western history. Most leaders have wrongly claimed that secularism is necessary for religious tolerance and harmony.
A secular state is not necessarily tolerant (Soviet Union under the communist regime) and a religious state is not necessarily discriminatory against minority religions (traditional Hindu kingdoms in India, Muslim kingdoms in the Middle East and most time even in India). Secularism, without Indian vernacular equivalents, does not even make sense in the Indian context where private and public life takes on many rituals and traditions on a constant basis.
Even pure atheism is not troublesome in Indian traditions unless it indulges in iconoclasm. Atheism, which only makes sense in a theistic “religious” world, can also be a path to enlightenment in traditional India. Materialism and atheism were known in Indian traditions since ancient times as Charvakism or Lokayata. Jains, Buddhists, and even some Orthodox traditions reject God or do not require a belief in God for enlightenment. Most Indian traditions are not even “theistic” like Judaism, Christianity and Islam are. Indian “atheisms,” the “asuras” or “immorality” of the devas do not rob Indians of their traditions like atheism robs a believer in the West. However, Dravidian antipathy is difficult to understand. It was the Aryan-Dravidian racial theory, first proposed by colonial and German indologists, that wreaked havoc in Indian social and political life, including the absurd North-South divide we see in our country. Evidence for Aryan invasion or migration is weak in literary, archaeological, anthropological, or genetic disciplines. The persistent amalgamation of race, language and culture is misleading and dangerous.
The political uses of the Aryan scenario, totally illegitimate and needlessly conflicting, are an extension of the colonial agenda. As scholar Koenraad Elst puts it, the many socio-political applications of racially interpreted Aryan theory, which must be dismantled at the earliest, include the “caste system” (the upper castes of the Aryans; the Dravidians as than tribal as lower castes); anti-brahmanism; Dravidianism; and Ambedkarism (lower castes like the Aborigines submitted by the Aryan invaders although Ambedkar himself strongly opposed Aryan theory).
Indian culture is an amorphous mix of Vedic / Sanskrit culture, southern Sangam culture, and rich ethnic (mostly tribal) cultural currents. Foreign religions have entered and become absorbed in this culture creating a unique multicultural world, a solution for the world to face pluralism of which it clearly seems incapable. Indian culture is a melting pot of six linguistic families (Indo-European, Dravidian, Austrian, Sino-Tibetan, Burushaski and Andamanese).
Over the millennia, the unique Indian cultural unit has been a rich and complex blend of many elements. It is unfortunate, foolish and even dangerous to try to separate the individual elements, but our politicians are wreaking havoc by using these dangerous theories to divide the country and pit them against each other. It may have been with good intentions that CM Telangana politely invited a neighboring counterpart to inaugurate a Hindu temple, but against the backdrop of the strict beliefs of the person and the party behind him, this is another prime example of take the Hindu believers in the country for granted.