(by Anwar Shaikh)
It is not easy to inculcate into the mind of a Hindu that Spiritual Nationalism, founded on the love of Bharat Mata, is the essence of the Vedic doctrine. This difficulty arises from the fact that the fertility of India brought tremendous prosperity to the Hindus for many centuries, making them oblivious of the secular problems, and they became dedicated to the next world. Thus nationalism ceased to have any appeal for them. A beauty of the Vedas is, that they strike a balance between secular and spiritual pursuits in such a way that the patriotic actions lead to the elevation of soul. In the Vedic language, patriotic action means the following: 1. Love of Bharat Mata (the original India). 2. Attainment of power for the glory of India, and 3. Willingness to fight for self-defence and international brotherhood. First hymn, Book Xll of the ATHARVA VEDA, comprising sixty-three verses, referred to as Bhumi-Sukta, describes the celestial reverence that the Vedas attach to India. As it is not possible to discuss all these verses, the reader ought to read the hymn for himself. Hinduism is an enriched form of humanism. It is a way of life, which does not admit narrow nationalism. Thus a Hindu has no wish to rule the world but seeks a position compatible with the dignity of a guide because he is destined to lead the world with the Vedic Light. Therefore, he is the first among equals. This hymn clarifies the fact with reference to other parts of the globe. Verse no. 1 declares: “Truth, high and potent Law, the Consecrating Rite, Fervour, Brahma and Sacrifice uphold the Earth. May she the Queen of all that is and is to be, may Prithivi make ample space and room for us.”
Here, it should be noted that the hymn shows respect to the entire earth but refers to the land of Bharat as the “Queen of all …” It is because Bharat is the land of the Vedas, meaning knowledge and true enlightenment. She is the fountain of human civilisation and superior cultural values, which adorned mankind with the sense of morality. Since I have discussed all these facts in my book, “The Wonders of the Rigveda,” which is being serialised in “Liberty,” I need not go into details here. That this hymn is about Bharat Mata (the undivided India), is borne out by the facts especially connected with this country. Verse no. 3 states: “In whom the sea, and Sindhu, and the waters, in whom our food and corn-lands had their being, In whom this all that breathes and moves is active, this Earth assign us foremost rank and station.” It must be remembered that Bharat Mata is originally associated with the areds of the Indus river (Sindhu). One should also note love and respect of the Vedic man for Bharat Mata because he believed that the mere fact of belonging to this country brought him “the foremost rank and station” in the world. Again verse no. 50 mentions Gandharvas and Apsarases, Kimidins, Pisachas and Rakshdsas, which are ingredients of the Indian mythology. Verse 4 addresses India as “Lady of the earth’s four regions,” and verse 7 states: “May Earth, my Prithivi, always protected with ceaseless care by Gods who never slumber …” Prithivi, as I understand, is the deified earth, when it refers to Bharat Mata. This hymn clearly states Defence of India as the first and most sacred duty of a Hindu, who earnestly prays that Gods should protect her with ceaseless care. Verse 12 expresses the total devotion of a Hindu to Bharat Mata: ” … I am the son of Earth, Earth is my Mother.” Study of this hymn reveals that while the Vedic doctrine respects all gods, it attaches the greatest importance to the land of Bharat because it is the Mother of all those who dwell in her bosom. However, the following two points ought to be noted in this respect: a. One can live in India and believe in any god he likes because so vast is the Vedic concept of Divinity that there is no jealousy among gods. This liberality is based on the advanced Vedic thinking, which realises that as the wheel of time moves forward, changes of all sorts must take place, thus religious doctrines may not form the cause of social discord. b. This Vedic Liberality is, however, restricted by the Concept of Bharat Mata, that is, a dweller of this land must confess: “I am the son of Bharat Mata, and Bharat is my Mother.” It goes without saying that just confession of love is not a convincing proof of one’s affection; it must be reinforced by sustained action. Therefore, a dweller of India does not acknowledge her as his Motherland if he hates Kaashi and loves Kaaba. All his civic rights depend on this point. Further, as love of Bharat Mata is the basic Vedic demand, I believe, Bharat Mata is the Major Deity of the land. It is especially true when we realise that other gods have suffered from the effects of change but Bharat Mata has always remained the same. Therefore, she ought to be worshiped as the Deity of India. Therefore, worship of other gods is optional but the worship of Bharat Mata, the Chief Deity is a must for the simple reason that the people born on her soil are fed, clothed, educated and cremated or buried there. Thus, their dignity, destiny and dominion are directly dependent on their devotion to Bharat Mata; a free and prosperous Bharat Mata is a source of pleasure, pride and probity to her devotees but a betrayed, bedeviled and battered Bharat Mata is the source of decay, decline and disaster; other gods have come and gone but Bharat Mata shall always be there. This is the reason that the Hindu gods are different from the Semitic God, who is jealous and wants to be adored exclusively, but a Hindu can welcome them all at the same time (R.V. 1: LXXV-V). Again, a person’s national identity is determined by the land of his birth, and his greatness or smallness becomes directly associated with the reverence that he shows her in action. This is what makes a German, English or French great and an Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi small. History testifies to the fact how the former have adored their motherlands with blood and worldly treasures and how the latter have dishonoured Bharat Mata by truncating her to worship foreign gods whose validity cannot be acknowledged rationally. Thus, one can establish the principle: The more powerful a country, the greater the stature of her people.
2. This brings me to the discussion of the second point i.e. attainment of power for the glory of (India) Bharat Mata. With a view to achieving this end, a Vedic Hindu is the devotee of Indra, the Lord of Power; Praise be to Indra, the Lord of Power, the holy synod’s might. (R.V.I: LVI – 2) The Rigveda inculcates into the minds of its devotees that a characteristic of power is that it seeks to vanquish the adversaries of the powerful: “Indra goes on from one fight to another intrepidly, destroying castles of the enemies.” (R.V.I: Llll – 7) Again the purpose of power is to seek victory through battles: “Indra, the Victor is great; he shines in manly battles; his character remains unstained; his might sparkles like the peak of a mountain.” (R.V.I: LVI – 3) The true treasure to a genuine Hindu is his mighty deed: “Indra, the most splendid and powerful, is rich in mighty deeds, which are Indra’s treasures. O, Conqueror, give them to us.” (R.V.I: Llll – 3) One must realise that mighty deeds are the treasures of Indra, which a Hindu begs for. It means that he seeks to emulate his Lord to be like Him in practice. This is the source of the famous Hindu doctrine known as Karma: “one reaps what one sows.” Thus a Hindu must be a man of action; he must seek power and use it bravely. The central point of this discussion is a Hindu’s duty and desire to be God-like through attaining power. He knows God is God because He is powerful. Therefore, His devotee has to be like Him, yet a true Hindu is humble, humanitarian and honey-like, but as a practitioner of faith, he is proud, powerful and pragmatic. Power to a Hindu is not a fleeting affair. To be a Hindu, he has to perpetuate it: “Indra … we make thy might perpetual.” (R.GV. III:XXXVlI – X) 3. Having established the rapport between a Hindu and power, I must now state that he is forbidden by dharma to abuse it. This is what brings me to the discussion of the third point i.e. “Willingness to fight for self-defence and international brotherhood.” In this connection, freedom is considered the greatest virtue: even the gods need it and attain it through might and battle: a. “Lord of the brave, Indra who rules the people, gave freedom to gods by might and battle: (R.V. Ill: XXXIV: Vll) Here is a stunning verse: b. “When Indra’s helpers fighting for the good of men, the Maruts, faithful to mankind, joyed in the Iight.” (R.V.I: Lll – llX) Marut, originally means storm but has been deified as stormgod. This is the epithet of a Vedic warrior for being thunderously bold in a battle. To be a true Hindu, he has to acquire this trait of fearlessness. Thus, this verse means that a Hindu is faithful to mankind, and fights battles for their good. It imparts Hinduism an international character and appoints a Hindu the custodian of world affairs. This is what makes me proud of my Vedic ancestry.
The Rigveda, which is at least 5500 years old could think and preach in terms of humanity and internationalism when the rest of the world was no more than cave-dwellers. This is a cogent proof of the fact that civilisation started in India. Freedom is justice. As my freedom is fragile unless I am willing to defend your right to be free as well, the verses “a” and “b”, clearly demonstrate that a Hindu has been commanded by Dharma to maintain international liberties through righteous use of power. The international character of Hinduism and the role of a Hindu becomes even clearer when we look at the following: Being the devotee of God, a Hindu is a divine warrior who “stirs up with his might, great battles for mankind.” (R.V.I: IV – V) At this juncture, I ought to point out that a Hindu has divine obligation to be powerful not for jingoistic reasons because the Vedas appoint him as the custodian of the world order. This is obvious from the fact that there is no proselytisation in Hinduism as it is in Christianity or Islam. A person can have any faith he likes and he will not be persecuted or denied justice by a Hindu because all Indian doctrines even when they collide with the Vedic authority, originate from free thinking based on reason and observation. The superstitious element that we find in Hinduism, is an accretion introduced by the selfish interests over a long period of time. The liberality of Hindu thinking is so important a point in this context that a little digression seems justified: the Indian philosophy has been arranged into two categories i.e. Astika and Nastika systems; the former affirms but the latter denies. The Charvahas, the Buddhists and the Jains are Nastika (nihilist or heterodox) not because they do not acknowledge the existence ot God but because they deny the authority of the Vedas. Though the revolts against the Vedas as mounted by the Charvakas and Buddhists were really serious, no violence was ever demonstrated by the Hindus or their antagonists because they were all Indians, bred in similar traditions of tolerance and free thinking. On the contrary, the European movement known as The Reformation was deeply steeped in murder and destruction, and the Islamic sectarianism denoted by Sunni-Shia division, exhibits the apex of mutual hatred and thirst for bloody carnage. Again, the six Astika systems of philosophy as believed in by the Hindus are considerably different from one another. Yet, all believers are proud Hindus and no one throws mud of blasphemy on another for having difference of opinion. Reverence for the Vedas is the root of their unity, which cannot be shaken by the difference of interpretation. The veracity of this statement can be judged by the liberal thinking of the Sankhya System, which is not only the most ancient mode of Hindu thinking but also older system than any other philosophical discipline known to mankind. The purpose of digression is to establish that Hinduism is based on reason and not a pretended divine dictation. Therefore, it is free from intrinsic aggression associated with a wolf or a hyena. This is what makes it a natural way of life, free from perversion, prejudice and passivity, raising it to a message of hope, hilarity and humanity. Hinduism is essentially humanism in action. This is what makes a Hindu the protector of humanity and he feels obliged: a. to be non-aggressive, and b. protect mankind against any aggressor in his capacity as the custodian of humanity. Having already discussed ‘b,’ now I may touch upon ‘a’ and must add emphatically that the Hindu dharma is non-aggression and not non-violence, usually described as ahimsa. As a Hindu is the guardian of humanity, he must be free from malice, and therefore cannot be aggressive. The same humanitarian obligation makes it incumbent on him to be able to deter the aggressor with a superior power, courage and will-to-fight. Therefore, ahimsa means non-aggression and not non-violence as usually understood by the Hindus. As non-violence, ahimsa, is the contempt of the Rgveda, which describes Indra as the “Lord of Power,” who “fights battles for mankind. (R.V. I: IV – 4.5) The Hindus have a proud past for being the pioneers of human civilisation. It is the law of nature that what is young today shall become old tomorrow; while youth represents the prime of life owing to its lofty aspirations requiring forward thrust, old age marks the decline of these adventurous virtues, giving rise to make-believe and hesitation. Of course, old age has its own merits but gripping with major issues of life does not appear as a priority. This is what has happened to the Hindus, who are the oldest nation on this earth. Their will to stand up and be counted has suffered further from the fact that they were the richest people on the planet for the longest period. Prosperity, though the most enjoyable thing, can also be debilitating, bringing moral weakness in its wake. The decline of rich nations is usually due to the fact that they become ahimsa-oriented i.e. they lose the virtue of fighting and thus fail to check advances of the aggressors determined to destroy their honour and cultural values. The Arab and Turkish raids of India are glaring examples of this fact. Not only historically is ahimsa, the national bane, but it is also despicable psychologically. All animals, including humans are endowed with antagonistic behaviour. It means that they defend themselves through the natural mechanism of flight and fight: sometimes they run away to avoid selfdestruction and sometime they fight for the sake of survival. Therefore, fighting is a natural virtue of humans but ahimsa means renunciation of fighting to make flight the way of life. thus, ahimsa meaning non-violence is totally inhuman. In fact, it is cowardice dressed up as piety; it is a poison looked uponl as an antidote; it is a whore thought of as an apsara. This is the biggest evil that the Hindus have come to suffer. Some thirty years ago, it was widely reported in the British Press that a wolf raided a sheep-pen. As he was about to rip her young ones, the mother became violent to protect them. She subjected the predator to repeated butting until he lay dead. May the memory of that great sheep live for ever. She is the true exponent of the word: “ahimsa,” which means protection. It clearly demonstrates that safety depends, not on running away from the aggressor but smashing his head off. The beauty of the Vedic message lies in the fact that it requires of the devotee to practice non-aggression towards others, and at the same time be ready to crush the aggressor.
Thus, ahimsa means non-aggression and not non-violence because one needs violence to defeat the villain. Of course, sadhuism is a dedication to the search of God or Mukti. Meditation is a part of it but the true path for salvation remains karma: a person’s quality of deeds. No divine, whether he be a Hindu or non-Hindu, can attain his goal just by a devoted JAP. One can recite the word: “sugar” one million times yet one’s mouth will not become sweet unless one eats sugar. Recitation of “Ramnam” is great, yet Mukti depends on becoming like Ram, and the only way to achieve this purpose is to act like him. He was a ruler, a husband, a father, a friend and above all a crusader – the destroyer of the aggressor. He was not an ascetic who had given up the world. He set a pattern of life to be followed by his followers. I do not wish to indulge in a divisive discussion but the truth has got to be toid: Hinduism is a way of life based on the doctrine of Karma. Asceticism or renunciation is its exact antithesis. Giving up the world is a revolt against the doctrine of Karma because a Sanyasi or Sadhu turns his back on it. A true Yogi is a member of the society; he lives a full life, performs his duties, fights for his rights, he meditates and enjoys marital blessings. This is the Godly way. You do not have to take my word for it. Look at the examples set by Shiva, Rama and Krishna. Once a friend discussed this issue with me and claimed that the validity for asceticism is based on the following command from the Bhagavad Gita (2: 45): “Be thou indifferent to those enjoyments and their means, rising above pairs of opposites like pleasure and pain.” Since the Bhagavad Gita represents higher philosophy, it is not always possible to understand its meaning without proper attention. This verse certainly does not mean renunciation though it appears so. It becomes easy to understand this fact when we realise that none of the major gods is an ascetic; they all have female partners. Even Shiva is not totally given to meditation: he is a passionate lover. Rama is a ruler, and his example requires a true Hindu to live a life of might and grandeur, but it must be based on fairness and piety.
Again, Hinduism is totally different in its approach to salvation: the Semitic religions such as Islam advocate that the faithful shall be saved by the intercession of the Prophet Muhammad and Sufi saints. Hindusim does not acknowledge this approach: salvation depends upon one’s karma. Therefore, a sadhu cannot do much for you. All a true sadhu can do is to show you the way. You yourself have to walk all the way to reach your destination. This is what proves the veracity of Hinduism. It is only the simpletons who are taken in by verbosity. Now, I may explain the complexity of the above quoted verse: The Rgveda is the first book ever to realise that, not only moral conscience depends on pairs of opposites but the physical make-up of the universe is also based on the principle of duality. This verse has furnished us with a wonderful example of this fact, that is, one cannot imagine pleasure without knowing what pain is. Can you feel sweet without realising what bitter is’ Nor can dark have any sense without light, and so on. It demonstrates the truth that moral concepts exist in pairs. This is equally true about physical existence: Everything in this world is structured and held together by Shakti i.e. the overall combination of different forces. Without Shakti the particles that storm any structure would move off in straight lines at random, instead of staying together. The point to remember is that forces in the universe come in equal and opposite pairs e.g., negative and positive electric charges. So great is the exactitude of these forces that when they are added, the positive cancels the negative, and the sum comes to zero. It should be borne in mind that existence is not possible without the reaction of the opposites. This is the reason that pain requires pleasure as its remedy and the sensation of pleasure is bound to be benumbed without a touch of pain. Therefore, the meaning of this verse is not giving up the opposites, which is an impossibility, but to create a balance between them. This balanced state of karma equals zero like the actions and reactions of natural forces which create activity through this mechanism. It is not difficult to understand that zero is equated with nothingness which amounts to renunciation. Therefore, “rising above pairs of opposites like pain and pleasure,” means avoiding pain and pleasure for its own sake and pursuing a life of balanced action. Credibility of what I have said above can be judged by the facts that nobody can renounce this world while he lives; he needs food, water and shelter to keep his body and mind in a fairly healthy state to exercise meditation. It must be remembered that contemplation of a sickly mind is nothing but pursuit of madness. Again, this kind of asceticism is against the Hindu doctrine which prescribes a code of action and glory for its devotees. Just look at the following: Lord Krishna Says: “Arjuna, it is only the lucky among the Kshatriya, who get such an unsolicited opportunity for war, which is an open door to heaven. Now if you will not wage such a righteous war, then abandoning your duty and losing your reputation, you will incur sin. Either slain in battle you will attain heaven, or gaining victory you will enjoy sovereignty of the earth; therefore, arise Arjuna, determined to fight.” (Ch. 11 – 32, 33-37) These verses clearly state the Hindu way of life, that is, fighting for honour and glory, which also happens to be “an open door to heaven.” And a Kshatriya is the man or woman who strives for national glory with sword and fire without turning his back on decency. Heaven lies not under the shade of asceticism or ahimsa but on the sharp edge of a sword. The nations, who follow this truth, have led a life of honour and glory but the people who concealed their cowardice under the impious doctrine of ahimsa, qualified for dishonour, disrespect and degradation. If you consult a dictionary, you will find “Hindu” means “an infidel, a negro, a slave, a coward, an inhabitant of India,” and so on. Do I need add any more to this list of insults? These conditions have been created by those who advocate that the Gita is all about ahimsa. This is a deliberate misinterpretation of those who want to enjoy the priestly privileges and do not want to lead the nation through a personal example of boldness, hardship and sacrifice. The Bhagavad Gita is Lord Krishna’s sermon to Arjuna in the battlefield and seeks to prepare him for a fight, but these hypocrites dedicated to a life of softness, insist that the message is all about controlling one’s greed and anger. In an attempt to fool the devotees they also insult the Lord, who clearly emphasises the merit of battling with the evil. How could he lecture on greed and anger when the armies were poised in the battlefield to annihilate each other? Finally, I salute Sri Rangarajan, the hero of this article and stress that a patriotic sadhu dedicated to serve Bharat Mata is not an ascetic but a saint, who seeks Mukti through national glory. He represents Lord Shiva, who is both a warrior and lover. It is high time that the Hindus were taught the Vedic virtues of fighting evil to uphold the cause of righteousness. To a virtuous Hindu, nothing is more righteous than serving Bharat Mata. She is the fountain of life for all those who live on her soil. Therefore, her dignity and honour must be the priority of all her sons and daughters. It is essential that consciousness of the dignity of Bharat Mata is preached with utmost zeal and sincerity. This goal is best achieved if every sadhu learns to girdle himself with a sword to lead the way for Dharma Yudh. Let every Hindu temple be adorned with a statue of Bharat Mata and have facilities for training the devotees in martial arts and patriotism. This is a job for the great Sadhu Rangarajan, the creator of Vande Matram. Singing patriotic hymns is great but making people true patriots, eager to serve the cause of Bharat Mata, is immensely greater. In England, they say: “An ounce of practice is better than a tonne of theory.” Let the Hindus understand clearly that ahimsa means cowardice and not protection unless it is accompdnied by the will to fight. If someone attacks your children, how will you protect them? The only way of protecting them is to kill the killer. This is true ahimsa. When Tamburlaine invaded India, he murdered 100,000 Hindus and carried away 20,000 screaming Hindu virgins. The Muslim historian, Farishta, made fun of the Hindus for not fighting Tamburlaine. I do not blame him for this attitude. Why? Because Manu Smriti, the code of the Hindu Law clearly states “The cowards are the food for the brave.” (Ch. 5:29) The people who flout their fundamental laws, yet call themselves Hindus, deserve this fate and will continue to do so until they lose their taste for cowardice under the guise of ahimsa, and start defending Bharat Mata with their blood, sweat and breath of life. A true sadhu is not an ascetic but a man of God. He cannot renounce this world which is full of God’s children. He has a duty to guide them and participate in crushing evil. This is the crux of Dharma as explained by the behavioural model of the Lord Rama, who was a virtuous son, a loving husband, a good father and a great ruler. Thus, a true devotee of Rama seeks perfection through serving his fellow-beings, and not by turning his back on them. May God bless Shriman Rangarajan with wisdom and courage to serve Bharat Mata, the only Deity that can exalt her children.