Guest post from T.R.Ramaswami
The recent terrorist attacks and the fact that no information or intelligence is forthcoming from the local Indian Muslim population is indeed a matter that needs to be examined. There was no India/Hindu/Muslim concept till the 19th. century. Many are not aware that Mohammed Ghazni, one of the most reviled persons by some political parties, had an army that was one-third Hindu with half a dozen Brahmin Generals. However history books are doctored to hide this. In the 1430s, King Devaraya II of the Sangama dynasty that ruled Vijayanagar held a council meeting to find out why his army did not do well against the Muslim Bahmani kingdom. The conclusion was that Muslims were not allowed to join his army. He immediately changed the rules. In fact after Ashoka the most renowned ruler of India is definitely Akbar and he never salted away wealth in Islamic countries like “patriotic” Indian leaders today do in Swiss Banks.
The Indian Muslim divide goes back nearly 200 years. It was in 1837 that the British introduced English and removed Persian which was, from around 1300, the official language of the rulers in India. Overnight Muslims became jobless and even powerless and to some extent they felt that the Hindu majority had a role to play in this. The British killed two birds with one stone. One – they brought in their language (which perhaps they may be regretting now) and two they strengthened their divide and rule policy. The seeds of the Muslim League and partition were sown in 1837. The next blunder was made by Mahatma Gandhi. In 1919 when the Caliph was removed he unnecessarily supported the Khilafat movement. Even Islamic nations were not worried about the Caliph. This gave the Indian Muslim an extra-territorial identity, and in the very next year one of the worst communal killings – the Mopallah Rebellion in Kerala took place.
Partition was the next event. Although it is stated that it took place on the basis of religion, the truth is that it was a result of the egos of Nehru and Jinnah. If it was on the basis of religion then it was not clean. Nehru did not want 40 million Muslims to leave India as otherwise Pakistan would have been justified in asking for more territory – ie Kashmir. It was contiguous to Pakistan and had a Muslim majority. But Nehru did not want his Kashmiri Pandits to become refugees, while he hardly was concerned about the Punjabis, Sikhs and Sindhis. We therefore had an unnecessary sham partition. To woo Muslims the “secular” agenda was formulated which became a political vote catching formula. A few castrated posts like President, Vice President etc were also thrown to the minorities. Not a single Muslim officer was recruited into the intelligence forces by the “secular” Congress government from 1947 to 1977. To further strengthen the minority vote bank, at the cost of the country, millions of Bangladeshis were allowed to remain in India as Mujibur Rehman refused to take back anyone who came before 22nd.March 1971. In fact an agreement which was not then revealed was signed. Many state governments bordering gave these refugees ration cards and voter status provided they left that state. The descendants of these refugees could well be the local links for the brains located in Pakistan and Bangladesh. We are seeing the results of all the above in the last 15 years.
There seems to be mistaken notion that the link between religion and terrorism is something recent. Far from it. Religious terrorism is as old as religion itself. First there was only one religion – the oldest – Hinduism. Was Hinduism a peace loving religion? Not if you go by its two most well known epics – the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In both there are wars whose duration and numbers involved were substantial. The next was Judaism. But Hinduism and Judaism were separated by vast distances and it would be interesting to know when they came to know of each others existence. Buddhism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism came about almost simultaneously. While there was probably no religion in Iran then, we do not know whether the birth of Buddhism and Jainism was entirely peaceful.
The non-violent transformation of Hinduism came during Ashoka’s reign. Within 200 years came the first invasion by the Kushans. It was around this time that Christianity came into existence. There is no history to show that there was any organized violence on the basis of religion till 600 AD. In any case Christianity spread to the west – to Europe and did not encounter Hinduism till 1498 AD. It is only after the birth of Islam, whose meager adherents found that everyone beyond Saudi Arabia already had a religion – hence forced conversion to your God was the only method to spread the name of your God. It was the first religion to have a term for “religious war”. And it was to counter Islam that the first religious wars – the Crusades – were fought in the 11th. and 12th. centuries. It was only after Spain and most of Europe was freed from Islam that Christianity started looking for other areas – Asia and the Americas. Unable to counter the Christian kingdoms Islam turned east towards Central Asia and India.
Religions have had strange relationships in the last two wars – Germany had an Islamic ally in the First World War – Turkey and a Buddhist-cum-Shinto ally in the second war – Japan. Germany’s main foes in both wars were all Christian nations. Islamic nations were protected by Christian allies – but that is only because of a new dimension in religonomics – oil. Thus we now have a strange balance – with the militarily and economically strongest being Christian nations who depend on the oil on which Islam literally sits! Both with about 2 billion adherents. India, with its Hindu majority and more Muslims than all Islamic nations except Indonesia (which ironically was once Hindu) and China with Shintoism are the balancing items in this act. Is God laughing?
– T.R.Ramaswami