Sunday, 2 April 2017

“Yes, bring on Bharatiyata" by Pratap Bhanu Mehta on the Indian Express website on March 29, 2017

Quote from the above article followed by my comment:

“Indigenisation would require confronting the self as much as confronting the other. The insidious claim in the call to indigenisation is this: What counts as Indian? Who gets to set these terms? What about western ideas? What about Islam? Will we recognise, as Aurobindo did, “However much we may deplore some of the characteristics of that intervening period which were dominated by the western standpoint or move away from that standpoint back to our own characteristic way of seeing existence, we cannot get rid of a certain element of inevitable change it has produced upon us, any more than a man can go back in life to what he was some years ago?” Will we recognise as Aurobindo did, that Islam nourished India and was nourished by it? Or will the choice of indigenous be determined by Golwalkar who said non-Hindu peoples must “stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation”? A genuine indigenisation would require embracing all of India; not parts of it. So, bring on the indigenisation that embraces all, the Western and the Islamic, the Aghoris and the Tantriks, the Marxists and the Liberals, as Indian.”

The quote from Sri Aurobindo is from his book The Renaissance of India (CWSA, Vol. 20, p 51). The context of it is whether India can or should go back to its culture as it was before the Mahomedan and British conquest. Sri Aurobindo says that we cannot go back to our great past, but we “can go forward to a large repossession of ourselves in which we shall make a better, more living, more real, more self-possessed use of the intervening experience”. This can hardly mean that Islam has “nourished India”! It could as well mean that the problems of building a nation have multiplied instead of diminishing with the coming of Islam into India. If Islam had really “nourished India”, then there would have been no problems at all in unifying the Indian nation.