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A Search in Secret India

December 20, 2008

Ever since the Mumbai attacks and ever since most of the finger pointing is happening in the North Western direction (read Pakistan), I have been deluged with a whole lot of crap of how stable our system is, compared to Pakistan and how we (read Indians) are the shining light in this darkness called South Asia.

Around 80 years ago, an English traveler called Dr Paul Brunton travelled the seven seas to visit India and he wrote a book called “A Search in Secret India” based on his travels. He was here in India to learn about eastern philosophy, Hindusim and about the obscure tribe of people called the Rishis and it is actually one of my favorite books though it is hard to get a copy of the book now.

Religion based conflict has been going on in India for a very long time but the main reason why I liked the book was because Dr. PB did ponder on the good aspects of Hinduism and his style was writing was lucid and interesting. I liked it even despite there were some bad references to Indians as a whole!

Hence I have decided to use the same title for this post as well because I believe that a search for secularism in this country is basically a search in “Secret India”.

Every single person has his own interpretation of secularism, likes and dislikes and ideology and I hate it when people talk about India being basically a Hindu country.

One of friends (Muslim) recently shocked me when he said that he believed that Gandhi was the reason behind the breakup of Hindustan into India and Pakistan and another friend of mine (Hindu) recently shocked me when he said that India should have been declared a Hindu country.

These are all strong words coming from people who are just like me and you and when I hear such things; I basically implode. If normal techies can talk like this, then I can only imagine what the Hardliners would be speaking off.

The situation is actually so deplorable!
It is all around us. Words like caste, religion, and minority get thrown around carelessly and I am so upset at the situation today.
I don’t think that I am wrong when I say that India does not let me forget my caste and religion!!!!!!!!

Another blogger recently said that he believes in a Secular India based on the ideals of Hinduism and cow slaughter should be banned in India.
I don’t think that there is any point in arguing with him except tell him that I am proud Hindu and a beef eater to boot (turned vegetarian recently for some time).

In India, most probably than not, we can get to know the religion and caste of an individual by just looking at his/her name and we often spew the same hatred towards one another whether it be politicians or mere individuals like you and me.

So what can I do personally when India (friends, family and government) does not let me forget my caste and religion?
1. Treat one and all as Indians.
2. I will never follow any meaningless tradition just coz my ancestors followed the same.
3. Try to preach moderation in Thoughts and Actions.
4. Define for myself what Secularism means…..

So here is my definition of a secular India. One which I hope we would achieve one day.
1. Common civil code.
2. Government forms not asking for caste.
3. No special preference given to any group.
4. Ban on all religious parties.
5. Ban on all hartals and bandhs.
6. Deal with rioters with the strictest force using every single non fatal weapon available to us like the stun guns, lathis, rubber bullets. Let the police force use even the pepper spray, I couldn’t care less!!
7. Live and let live.
8. Secular and peaceful India where everyone is proud to be an Indian.
9. Never use words like Vote bank etc
10. Peace with Pakistan as that is very important for a peaceful India.

This is topic about which I can write a lot and still not make a difference to anyone except myself.
So damn all hardliners,
Damn all propagators of Hindutva or Sharia!!! I hate you and so will all true Indians!!!!!!!!!!!
I know Muslims will never forget and forgive the Ayodhya incident and violence in Kashmir, Gujarat and Hindus will never forget the violence in Kashmir or even Somnath Temple (which happened hundreds of years back) and Christians will never forget Orissa incident and Sikhs will never forget the Sikh massacre, but can we all put that behind us and live for the future? I believe I can which means that others can as well……………………

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. Indian Home Maker permalink
    December 20, 2008 11:43 am

    Ajit I feel the same way. This is brilliant. Your best post. And I believe there will be change for the better. If there are even a few of us who believe thee will be change, we’ll see change.

    Now more than ever, I feel we need to remember Mahatma Gandhi’s truth and non violence. If there is no violence we can focus on the rest of our problems like hunger and lack of education.

  2. Indian Home Maker permalink
    December 20, 2008 11:44 am

    Linking it my post on blog names.

  3. Kislay permalink
    December 20, 2008 11:50 am

    Brilliant post man . I concur with your definition of a secular India , except point 10 . You cannot have peace with a incorrigibly and inherent violent country . And you misconstrued by words on beef and its ban . Go to a village , a predominantly Hindu one , and talk about cow slaughter . And I have said it once , I will say it again , I do NOT have a problem with people eating beef , BUT , try explaining that to those people in the kind of village I gave an example of . And India has a Hindu core . Not basically a Hindu country , but one with a Hindu core . There is no denying that . And I don’t think I said that the concept of Secularism should be based on Hindu ideals . But if it does happen , what is wrong with it ? Because as far as I know , the Hindu ideals themselves are very tolerant and all inclusive . “Sarva Dharma Sambhava” and “Vasudev Kutumbam ” are two that sum it up nicely .

  4. Ajit permalink
    December 20, 2008 12:38 pm

    @IHM,
    change will come….. we will be secular…. one day….

    @Kislay,
    Yeah, I have visited villages in interior India, maybe not in north but definitely the south…
    point 10 is actually worth discussing about…. we may not be ever be able to live with peace but I can live with a truce…. a ceasefire….
    Like you Kislay, I love my Hindu ideals and definitely would not mind India having a Hindu core but unfortunately now in present day India, I can never accept India having a HINDUTVA CORE……
    I personally see Hinduism to be different from Hindutva….

    and I also believe in “Sarva Dharma Sambhava”…….

  5. Kislay permalink
    December 20, 2008 2:05 pm

    Truce or a ceasefire would be awesome . If it were upto me , I would accept the LoC as the IB , and end the proxy war . But how can you talk peace with a back-stabbing nation of fanatics ? Pakistan needs serious over hauling before it is worth being talked to .
    And Hindutva , as defined by Savarkar is different from what we perceive as Hinduism . But if you look it up on Wiki , the Supreme court said that no particular meaning can be ascribed to Hindu or Hindutva .

  6. Ajit permalink
    December 20, 2008 2:39 pm

    ” If it were upto me , I would accept the LoC as the IB”..

    I second that 🙂

  7. J P Joshi permalink
    December 20, 2008 2:55 pm

    A factual and brilliant post. Agree with all your recommendations.

    I wish to state though that a person could be deeply religious and yet be secular, because secularism is “only concerned with the affairs of this world; not spiritual or sacred”. My religion is my personal belief and more often than not it is based on which family I was born into. You are right in that we should have no parties that are based on religion – i believe that this is already the case, but politicians will always find ways to circumvent this clause, if we let them.

    “Damn all propagators of Hindutva or Sharia!!! I hate you and so will all true Indians!!!!!!!!!!!” I wouln’t go this far though. I would pray to God, like Gandhiji said, ‘sabko sanmati do Bhagwan’. Keep the passion and the faith and you will be amazed at the change.

  8. Ajit permalink
    December 20, 2008 3:17 pm

    @JP Joshi,
    yes Sir.. you hit the nail on the head when you say that a person can be deeply religious and secular… but unfortunately in India, we tend to mix up the two things…
    When I say “damn all propagators of Hindutva and Sharia”, I mean damn the people who follow and preach the extremist views….
    The word Hindutva unfortunately had become that nowadays….
    and I also cannot accept that people live by the Sharia law in many countries….

  9. Vinod_Sharma permalink
    December 20, 2008 3:39 pm

    Accept the LOC as IB? Which world are we living in? Had that been acceptable to Pakistan, do you think we would have had 60 years of pain? They want the whole state – as an appetizer. Secular India is the main course they are after. Make no mistake.

    Thanks to great citizens like you and Kislay, the vision of Mahatma Gandhi and concept of “Vasudev Kutumbakam’, India is and will remain secular, as long as Pakistan is kept at bay. Nepal is secular, so is Sri Lanka, if I am not wrong…

  10. Ajit permalink
    December 20, 2008 3:44 pm

    @Vinod Sharma,
    Sir, I dont mind living on in a fools paradise 🙂
    and yes, Nepal and SriLanka are secular but have a lot of internal conflicts with no end to their troubles…..
    I also believe that we need to stop immigration into our country from Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and SriLanka….. Our border is very porous….

  11. Vinod_Sharma permalink
    December 20, 2008 3:52 pm

    Ajit…it’s not just you. Even our leaders want to live there.

    The drift of what I was trying to say was that in the Indian sub-continent, there is no secularism where the majority of the citizens profess a particular faith…

    We have to keep showing them the secular torch…perhaps we will succeed where Mahatma Gandhi failed.

  12. Bones permalink
    December 21, 2008 11:28 am

    Your thoughts are not ordinary…This post is brilliant!!!

    I don’t agree with Kislay’s thoughts on a ban on cow slaughter just because India has a Hindu core…”Secular” is the opposite of “sacred” i.e. government policies should have nothing to do with religion…Therefore, a ban on cow slaughter would deprive Muslims and Christians of beef…That’s not fair to them, is it? One can’t claim to be secular and then pass bills keeping in mind the interests of only one religious group…

    A uniform civil code is a must for this country…I don’t know if I’ll see it happen in my life time…

    Kislay:
    “And I don’t think I said that the concept of Secularism should be based on Hindu ideals . But if it does happen , what is wrong with it ?” Aren’t these sentences contradictory?

  13. Ajit permalink
    December 21, 2008 1:03 pm

    @Bones,
    Thanks 🙂 and what you say is absolutely right….. and I also wish that I can see a uniform civil code in my lifetime…

  14. Vinod_Sharma permalink
    December 21, 2008 1:41 pm

    Ajit, the day there is a uniform civil code, as you want there to be, as does Bones, that day you will be truly able to say that secularism has truly taken root in India. I too wish I am able to see it in my life time!

  15. J P Joshi permalink
    December 21, 2008 4:14 pm

    Ajit: I wish to leave a quote here that I had read many years ago. ‘The more tolerant you are, the less you tolerate the intolerant’. This is so true BUT one must also understand that then there is no distinction left between the tolerant and the intolerant. How does one get out of this position then?

  16. Ajit permalink
    December 21, 2008 4:29 pm

    good one Sir….. and thought provoking….
    showing the other cheek is certainly not an option today…..
    but I suppose the answer to your questions begins in our thoughts!

    We need to first think we are secular and interestingly it is the BJP which is pushing for a uniform civil code…. and not congress….
    Violence has become a part of our day to day life… whether it be the angry driver in an accident or the angry party workers….
    that is actually one good place we can start implementing the “Tolerance” idea….
    As I say in this article… show no mercy to rioters….
    but yes, I do not have an answer to your question…..maybe others can help

    PS: and I do hope you got your answer as to how to change your blog url (my comment) from IHM’s article…..

  17. J P Joshi permalink
    December 21, 2008 6:11 pm

    There are many questions to which we need to find the answers. No one individual would ever have all the answers, i believe.

    Yes thank you. I did get my answer but the desired URL name is not available and so i’ve decided to let things be. Thanks.

  18. Quirky Indian permalink
    December 22, 2008 5:41 am

    Good post. But caste, language and religion have become so integral a part of our thinking that nothing is going to really improve….don’t get me wrong, I would like change to happen, and a lot of us, in our own small, individual ways, try to bring about that change. But realistically, one has to admit that this cancer has spread so deep and so wide that we’re fighting a losing battle. All we can do is postpone the inevitable.

    Quirky Indian
    http://quirkyindian.wordpress.com

  19. Ajit permalink
    December 22, 2008 6:33 am

    @”quirky Indian”

    “we’re fighting a losing battle”

    I certainly hope not…… we have come a long way from 1947

  20. Kislay permalink
    December 22, 2008 6:46 am

    @Bones
    “And I don’t think I said that the concept of Secularism should be based on Hindu ideals . But if it does happen , what is wrong with it ?” Aren’t these sentences contradictory”

    I named the Hindu ideals I was talking about . “Sarva Dharma Sambhava” and “Vasudev Kutumbam” .

    And also , what I said about cow slaughter has been misconstrued again . All I asked is , go to a village and talk about , and observe the response . And then , you tell me what should be done about it .

  21. Smitha permalink
    December 23, 2008 10:06 am

    Ajit, Fantastic Post! I agree with your definition of a secular India. The total delinking of religion from politics and uniform civil code – way to go!

  22. Ajit permalink
    December 23, 2008 11:27 am

    Thanks Smitha…
    Hope more people think the same way..

  23. May 7, 2009 8:52 am

    You have read this book?
    I loved it!I have a copy of it!I thought it was rare too! so glad to see that someone else too likes it:)
    OG: I love this book and spent a forture on buying it!

    • May 7, 2009 6:19 pm

      fortune???Oh man! I got it for 40 bucks!! 😀 and can get you atleast 5 more copies if I search hard enough 😀

      who conned you? 😀
      or is it an original copy or something?

      • May 7, 2009 8:35 pm

        I bought it when I was here in america last year…. spent ard 45 dollars on it 🙂 😛 😛 (thru amazon)
        it was as original as it could get!!!

        • May 7, 2009 9:07 pm

          by original I meant an old autographed copy or something…my fault 😀
          I got it secondhand from abook market 🙂

        • May 7, 2009 9:39 pm

          dont you ever sleep Indyeah???? it is 3 AM in india now…….

  24. May 8, 2009 8:03 am

    😛 😛
    I have my chuttis now 😀 holidays!!yippe!!!
    so I chat with friends,watch movies and surf the net 😀

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