Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Citizenship of Nation, State and/or Nation-State : A Hindu dharmik perspective

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Background article to read to understand the "bhumika" of this one - Critique on Savarkar's ideas - Hindutva in proper perspective

A quote from linked article for the convenience of gentle readers which forms the back-bone of this article. 

The original definition from Savarkar's "Hindutva", for the consideration of reader, goes like this - 
आसिन्धु सिन्धु पर्यन्ता यस्य भारत भूमिकाः
पितृभूः पुण्यभुः च एव, स वै हिन्दुरीति स्मृतः 
One who considers this land from Indus to southern ocean (poetic way of saying entire Indian subcontinent, no need to take it literally) as "India" and regards this country as  his "pitRu bhumi" (land of forefathers) and Punya-bhumi (difficult to translate this one), he is "Hindu" 

India is my Pitrubhumi (Land of Pitaras - forefathers). All the places, rivers, mountains which I consider valuable and am ideologically and emotionally attached to, are in Indian subcontinent. Hence, India is my Pitrubhumi and Punyabhumi. Julia Roberts, for example, may be a Vaishnavaite, but her pitrubhumi is somewhere else. She is dharmik, but not Hindu. Hindu and Hindutva ARE geographically confined terms. These terms "Hindu" and "Hindutva" are for denoting dharmarthik (socio-politico-economic) aspirations of ethnic Indic people. Hindutva is a subset of Dharma. Dharma is for entire humanity.

Now that the bhumika (position) is stated, I will give a context of discussion that was happening which resulted in main-body of this article. The discussion, happened on Bhaarat-rakshak forum where I frequent, centered around why "Hindutva" and "Hindu-nationalism" has such a bad PR in market of ideas in current space and time? The very identity of "Hindu" came into existence in context to abrahmic monotheistic invasions. Before that there was no such identity as "hindu" - there were adhyatma-maarga based identities like shaiva, vaishnava bauddha, jaina etc. and there were jaati and varNa based based identities. 

The very term "Hindu" came into being as a rallying umbrella term to organize and strike back at Islamism (and Christianity). So it is natural that opposition to muslims (in fact it is opposition to Islamism which on street level manifests as opposition to local muslim person) is important (and bulk) portion of what constitutes as "hindutva nationalism" or whatever other names attributed to this socio-politico-economic movement. Hindutva is India's adaptive response to nation-state based polity. If and when current global polity based on Westphalian nation-state model will collapse, so will the dharmarthik ideology of Hindutva and even the identity of "Hindu" will fade away.

Why is it spoken in pejorative sense? Simple - it is a response which other contemporary ancient and medieval non-abrahmic civilizations have failed to develop against nation-state which preserves the core within; thereby preventing complete digestion of everything that Indian civilization stands for and means. Its a hindrance for those forces which would like to digest us. Hence hatred.

This position when state was responded by following argument.

XXX says that the terms ("Hindu" and "nationalism") are not owned by Indians and the owners are doing what they want. You are saying that the term Hindu was coined specifically as a reaction to invaders. In XXX's viewpoint "hindu nationalist" is pejorative because others choose to describe in in whatever way they like. But according to you, Hindu nationalism is anti-Muslim/Christian and this corresponds, for example, to Wendy Doniger's viewpoint.  
The implication from both meanings is that you cannot be a Hindu and a nationalist without admitting to be anti-minority. For example we dissect statements from Muslims and ask if they say "I am an Indian first" or whether they say "I am a Muslim first". A similar choice is being offered to the Hindu if he says that he is Hindu first, then he is anti-minority. He has to say "I am Indian" first unless he does not object to the anti-minority tag. 
In other words, for Indians, nationalism has to come in different flavors for different people. But the choice of being Hindu and nationalist is removed for all Hindus unless they admit to being anti-minority.
Following is my response to this argument which will form the main body of this article. It happened few weeks ago. I waited to think it through before considering this opinion fit to be published.

First, when we say "nationalism" or "nationalist" or "Hindu-nationalist" etc, we have to ask one basic question - what is this "nation" thingy? Does nation here means Republic of India - a Westphalian nation-state which emerged on world-stage on 26th January 1950? Or do we mean raashtra of Bhaarata which Vedas proclaim पृथिव्यै समुद्र पर्यन्तया एकराळिति (this land until the oceans is one raashtra). 

They very construct of Westphalian nation-state is very illogical according to me. It was designed to stop wars from ravaging Europe, but in fact, Westphalian nation-state has ravaged Europe much more. In fact, lasting peace of in Europe was achieved when post WW2, when the seeds of European Union were sowed and after conclusion of Yugoslavian war and fall of Berlin war, we now have a peace in Europe which seems to be organic, sustainable and lasting. Last 70 years have been most peaceful for Europe and this they achieved by moving away from Westphalian nation-state's rigidity.

However while they did this post WW2, they already had shaped the world in their image. Hence creation of nation-states all over the world. 

Now this construct is diametrically opposed to very nature of human societies to naturally expand and shrink in geography. What is a citizen? All German citizens are equal, as per German constitution - irrespective of his race, religion, creed and background. In exchange, all German citizens are expected to owe allegiance to Germany (which actually refers to a book with words "German constitution" written on its cover). While this is technical expectation from a German citizen, the expectations of ethnic Germans are however very human and basal - all German citizens should consider themselves German. But an Arab immigrant or a Pakistani or for that matter an Indian origin person may not feel that way. He has German passport alright, but he openly says he does not feel German and will never be a German. Thus the very construct is fundamentally flawed which will soon reveal itself in ugly manner in peaceful Europe. 

More or less, this is the fate of all other so called "nation-states". The problem of "citizen" is going to play havoc in today's globalized world.

In dharmik civilization, raashtra is separate from raajya which is also separate from desha.  Dharma is not limited to geography (desha) of Indian subcontinent. Dharma is universal. Raashtra in our narrative is linked with geography (desha) - hence the Rigvedik Richa that I quoted above. Our narrative acknowledges existence of other raashtras (varshas) on earth. The varsha or raashtra which we live in is called "bhaarat-varsha". 

Raajya or state, on the other hand, is not linked with raashtra, nor necessarily with desha. The raajyas of Saatavaahana-VaakaaTaka-chaalukya-raashTrakuTa-Kakatiya-hoysaala-yaadava-vijaynagar-marathas-maharashtra/AP/Karnataka - all have existed on same "desha", belong to same "raashtra" (which ran as per dictats of dharma), but were/are vastly different "Raajyas". That is they existed in same space and belonged to same raashtra but at different times. On the other hand, raajyas of Magadha and Chola were located in different space within same desha (i.e. Indian subcontinent) and same raashtra (Bhaarat-varsha) at same and different times. Thus we see raajya not being rigidly interlinked with geography and identity in same and different space and times.

Thus raashtra-raajya-desha segregation and interlink in dharmik (in post islamic times, Hindu) polity is understood and inherent. This is not the case in Abrahmic polity and its successor Westphalian nation-state based polity. 

In Abrahmic polity, deen and daulat (religion and state) cannot be separated. In post renaissance Westphalian model, while they forcefully separated state from religion to an extent, but in the process they linked it to geography and identity (vaguely - rashtra/nation). To make things complicated, they froze the borders. Thus giving rise to modern "nation-states".

This is so much different from our way of organizing the polity. But we were overcome post 1805 and our attempt to revert back to pre-1805 polity in 1857 was crushed by English. Thus we were forced to swallow this pill of reformatting our identity (raashtra), our way of organizing polity (raajya) and our desha (geography in form of partition) in British occupation. This was tried all over the world. 

Islamic world has Quran which preserves its "deen-daulat" model based on Sharia and since it is word of God (same god as European Christians worship), it was safeguarded. Look what happened to non-abrahmic cultures and their world-view. Look at China - they have given it up (or so it seems, I hope they too have preserved the core in some form) that. 

We too had to adapt to this. The era of nation-state had arrived and no matter how conflicting it was to our understanding, we had to find a way to preserve our core while preventing further loss of raashtra-raaajya-desha and dharma. This is where the theory of Hindutva arose. 

It has its origins in Hindavi-swarajya of MaraThas (which was an Indian or Indic socio-political response to Islamism) which in turn had origins in Vijaynagara movement and early Rajputs. Hindavi swaraya of Marathas (for sake of simplicity, we must understand that all non-islamic, non-christian political entities which existed in India in past 1000 years are "hindavi swarajya") was a socio-politico-economic rebellion of those native brown skinned Indians against Islamism and its socio-politico-economic dominance on people and geography of India. In other words, it was an Indian dharmaarthik response to Islamism.

Now as far as the word "Hindu" goes, as I said earlier, it was a collective umbrella term for all, Indian origin people following Indian any of adhyatmik paths. So it has an ethnic undertones to it. As I said previously, Julia Roberts is a VaishNava woman, but she is not a Hindu. On the other hand, APJ Abdul Kalam is a Hindu following Islam as his personal adhyatma maarga. 

The term 'Hindu' has always been a socio-judicio-politico-economic (dharmaarthik) term. British fused it with alien concept of "religion" and gave this term "religions" connotations thus giving rise to the nebulous "Hinduism". I do not even understand what religion means anymore - thankfully. I have managed to detoxify myself to some extent. 

So, in summary, we have terms Hindu and Hindutva. Hindu is an identity based term (raashtra) and Hindutva is dharmaarthik theory which deals with Hindu-polity in era of nation-state. 

Imagine for a while a time in distant future when this very edifice of nation-state has collapsed. Hindutva will collapse with it. It is a survival adaptation of Hindus. After few years/decades of collapse of Hindutva, when the very concept of "religion" collapses (or becomes irrelevant or non-interfering), the term "hindu" too will drop off. 

This has preserved our way of life in past 1000 years. Without this, in my opinion, dharma would have been relegated to museums like Zoroastrians and Egyptians. And since this adaptation, although uncomfortable, is a protective shield it is hated by those who wish to homogenize the world. 

Hence all this conflict. 

Shubham astu!!!