Monday, February 02, 2009

When NATO leaves Afghanistan after 15-20 years...

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What will happen when this ongoing war on terror ends? When will it end? Will it end with division and disintegration of Pakistan and subsequent removal of NATO forces from the region? Will it really end so easily? These are difficult question which have evolved from complex interrelations amongst history, philosophy, religion and sociology over at least a thousand years. Hence, to ponder upon the possible solution to this problem from Indian point of view, one needs to understand the influence of sociology and religion on history of India in past 1400 years.

The Dharmic religions have been the peculiarity of Indian sociology. Irrespective of their faith in Vedas, all of them emphasize on attainment of Dharma (Righteousness/Duty/Basic nature), Artha, Kaama and Moksha/nirvana as the key to a successful life. The rewards associated with this life or the next one, are based upon the the theory of Karma, which again is common in all of the Indian paths.


It is interesting to note the trends in Indian history with respect to Islam -its arrival and its demise from the place of socio-political supremacy in India. Before arrival of Islam, it is worth noting that Indian philosophical scenario was in particular dominated by agnostic and atheistic philosophies. Of course, theism was also prominently found as Bhakti movement traces its origin in 500 AD in Tamil Nadu's Alvar saints. However, agnostic and atheist philosophies were also very much popular amongst Indian intellectuals. For example, Saamkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa, Buddhism, Jain and others were the major atheist/agnostic philosophies in pre-Islamic India. Vaishnava and Shaiva and Shakta were major theist philosophies dominant in India. So was Tantra, which is difficult to categorize as it has the elements of both.

From 640 AD, Arabs started invading India and were defeated continuously for about 70 years until the successful incursion of Mohd bin Qasim. Even after Arab occupation of Sindh in 711, Islam was defeated continuously for about 300 years by the chain of Rajput Kings of western India. This was achieved not only by the means of victories on battle fields, but also on sociological arena by facilitating the conversion of neo-converts of Islam back to Indian religions, by rulers such as Bappa Rawal and scholars such as Deval Rishi and Bhashyakaar Medhatithi. Thus, it was an all round retaliation which successfully defeated Arabs. It must be noted that it was at the Zenith of Arab conquests when Indians defeated them. 

Meanwhile, an extremely interesting sociological shift is seen in Indian society with rise of Adi Shankaracharya. This man single handedly defeated all the atheistic and agnostic philosophies, both Astika (believers in Vedas - Samkhya, Nyaya, Mimamsa, Vaisheshika) and Nastika (non-believers in Vedas - Buddhism, Jain). There is seen a significant shift in psyche of Indian intellectuals and subsequently Indian population towards theism from 800 AD. As a part of weird co-incidence, this shift actually helped in clubbing different Indian religions and philosophies together and unknowingly facilitating in equipment of Indian society to Islamic onslaught which began in 1100's with Ghurid incursions. It is to be noted that although Mehmud of Ghazni invaded India, he did not cause much damage since his son was conclusively defeated by Rajputs in battle of Bahraich in 1033 AD. The converts were again taken back to Indian religions which had become more God-Centred by then, thanks to efforts of Adi Shankara. Muslims could not invade India for about 160 years after their defeat at Bahraich and subsequent reconversion of most of the converts back to Indian faiths.

Thus we see a pattern here. Just before Indian mainland was hit by Islam, Adi Shankara revolutionized Indian sociology and increased the importance of the concepts like God, Faith, and overall theist belief in India, giving a back seat to Free-Rationalism seen in India. Which is corroborated by the fact that when Islamic supremacy was removed in India, the reformist movements sprung up which worked in order to shift the Hindu people away from extreme faith and encouraged free-rationalism. I consider this as fortunate coincidence which helped immensely in saving the identity of India. In medieval times, theism helped a lot in rallying Hindus in the name of god against Islamic invaders. Those people who remained atheists like Buddhists from NWFP and eastern bengal, were converted en masse to Islam, thus changing the demographics of the region permanently. The effect of which was seen in 1947 as partition of India.

The problem of Islam has to be dealt with in similar fashion, but with new modifications in Indian religions. The shift away from faith and towards free rationalism is essential as it will keep the Indian society free and progressive. At the same time, sharp display of allegiance towards Indian religions by Hindus should be shown in order to encourage the assimilation of Muslims in Indian system of religions. The assimilation of Indian muslims in mainstream Hindu society should be encouraged as, philosophically, there is no problem for a Islamic core philosophy to be practised in India AS LONG AS IT IS KEPT STRICTLY PERSONAL. Indian religions by default at secular. 

For good or for evil, the moment when NATO decides to leave Afghanistan, the situation would be extremely serious in India. Given the current political and cultural instability of GOI and Hinduism respectively, the primary response of India towards the problem of Pakistan will be that of profound confusion as it is today. I guess, since India and Hindus do not have answer towards solving the problem of Pakistan and Islam respectively in subcontinent, their current reaction is instinctively based upon buying as much time as they can and wishing maximum possible infliction of damage on Pakistan by NATO. I guess, if NATO stays in Pak-Afghan region for 12-15 years more (which most probably they will), they will end up exhausting and squandering most of their wealth and lots of their men in the region. 

The direct beneficiaries of this scenario will be China and Islamic world and in weird way, India. I consider this situation similar to one in deccan in late 1600's when 27 year long Deccan conquest of Aurangjeb ended up weakening Mughal empire and strengthening Marathas. Now, who will play the role similar to the one which Marathas played in 1700's is matter of great interest. 

One thing for sure, if NATO forces are unsuccessful in defeating taliban in Pakistan-Afghanistan region (which most probably they will, since they are yet to clearly identify their enemy), even if they succeed in fracturing and dividing Pakistan, the devastation caused by them will be a catalyst for the formation of new Islamic state which will be modelled upon the Caliphate. Taliban is a movement, an ideology which cannot be defeated by weapons alone. It has to be tackled by ideas, a crucial point which is missing in the apparent War On Terror by the West. Without participation of India, West cannot win in south Asia. And India cannot win unless Hinduism finds a way of successfully assimilating the Muslims in the subcontinent. This process will take at least 60-80 years, perhaps more but definitely not less.

India and Islamic federation backed up by China, both might have a fair chance to rise over the ruins of defeated West, just like Marathas rose on the ruins of Mughals. The odds will be in favour of Caliphate, given the laziness of Indians. However, if by then Indian religions find a satisfactory answer for assimilation of muslims in mainstream Indian society ending their alienation, India will rise for sure.


The direct consequence of battle of Rajasthan (Rajputs Vs Arabs) and simultaneous rise of Adi Shankara on India was 400 years of complete stability, prosperity and independence to India. India's only hope is to deliver a similar performance again.

2 comments:

Bharat Agarwall said...

Sir,

the more i read about i**lam. I am convinced that they can never live in pece with anyone. Look at any country they go they want to convert it to a islamic country. They want sharia. They wont accept the culture of their host country but they will try to destroy host countrys culture and force thier own culture. I idioticy for hindus to think that they can give concession to Mus***m and they will become one of them. They will stay in peace till they are in minority. once they become donimant majoirty they will do what they have been doing since 1400 years.

Vivek Modi said...
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