judgment demolished the RSS argument that Muslim rulers built mosques in India
by razing temples
Verdict, roots of Indian communalism, and the alternative narrative
A Ram temple
will be built at the disputed structure–fine. But the Supreme Court (SC) has
only said that Hindus prayed in the inner and outer courtyard, and a similar
claim by Muslim parties could not be established. At the same time, the Court
also said that the ASI ‘refrained’ from stating that the Babri mosque was built
by demolishing a temple. That is why, the Sunni Wakf Board has been given 5
acres of land.
approach catches the straws in the wind. And turn them into a whirlwind, that
upsets the status quo and unleashes a new narrative.
judgment gives us a golden opportunity to disrupt and demolish the RSS
argument that Muslim rulers built mosques in India by razing temples.
will be surprised to learn that a large section of liberals, who might genuinely
be anti-Modi, anti-BJP or anti-RSS, also share the perception that Muslim
rulers destroyed temples to construct mosques.
edifice of modern India’s liberalism is based on precepts established by the
19th century Bengal Renaissance, whose leading lights, Raja Rammohan Roy,
Debendra Tagore, and later, of course, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, invented the
‘1000 year slavery of Hindus’, ‘Indian civilisation primarily constituting
Hindus, Buddhists, Jainis, even Sikhs, with Muslims as the the other’, ‘Muslim
rulers disfiguring temples’ chronicle. The two elements that Bengal Renaissance
tended to avoid, even attack, were Sanatan Dharma and Islam– and the composite
culture generated in the Indian subcontinent by their interaction.
like Rabindranath Tagore never really repudiated this theoretical atrocity
built on bad faith.
reformist urges the Bengal Renaissance ushered in, it was a highly
pro-Imperialist, pro-British impulse. The British wanted to divide the history
of the Indian sub-continent into Hindu Vs Muslim terms, saying, in effect, that
these two religions and identities were in perpetual conflict.
Renaissance became a willing tool to spread this colonial ideology; in the 20th
century, when the British had no use of ‘liberal communalism’, they created the
Baniya-Marwari-Jaini-Khattri Punjabi RSS and its offshoots, as part of the
long-term (going well past the country’s formal Independence) Imperialist
agenda, to subjugate India.
values that are opposite to liberalism. But, and this is where dialectics comes
in, RSS’ raison d’etre is the philosophy and historical world view created by
19th century, Bengal liberalism that Indian elites copy till today; Gandhi,
Nehru, Maulana Azad, spoke against communalism–but never attacked the Bengal
Renaissance, the ideological mentor of Indian communalism.
the primary reason, why Congress ultimately failed, in stopping RSS.
revolutionaries of Yugantar and Anushilan, the Sikh dominated Ghadar party,
Reshmi Roomal Tehreek, Chandrashekhar Azad-Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose,
various anti-Muslim League currents within Muslims, the early Naxals, tried
nobly, to reach out to 1857. But failed due to some reason or the other.
It was only
the indigenously modernist, Hindi-Urdu belt, Sanatani-Indian Islamic ideology
of 1857, developed from the deep churning within peasants, artisans, Adivasis,
and nationalist petty bourgeoisie, of the Mughal-Awadh-Maratha/pre-Renaissance,
pre-reformist, pre-British Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka, Orissa, Assam phase of
Indian history, that countered the British and Bengal Rensissance type of
There was a
class angle here, as Bengal Rensissance emerged from permanent settlement
Zamindars created by the British. While 1857 ideology owes its origin to the
pre-British pattidari land revenue system.
1857 like Mangal Pandey came from pattidari areas. They resisted British
attempts to impose ‘colonial-communal modernity’; and were successful in
warding off this immense threat, leading to a situation, wherein, today, you
have Kisan Kranti Dal, Mangal Pandey Sena, and other peasant forces, who will
eventually bring down the RSS-BJP rule backed by neo-Imperialist and
So, here is the alternative narrative. Please spread it as far as possible.
(The writer is a historian and film screenwriter. He is the convenor of the Mangal Pandey army. Sincerely on their Facebook timeline.)
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