Saturday, March 14, 2015

Holy Wars


When Babur was conquering more territory in India, one of his formidable opponents was the Rajput king Rana Sangha of Mewar.  The news of the defeat of one of his battalions by Rana Sangha was accompanied by a soothsayer’s prediction of disaster and the desertion of the Indian mercenaries.  Babur’s soldiers were thoroughly demoralised.  A new strategy was required.  Thus came in religion.  “This is not just a war for territory,” declared the divinely inspired Babur.  “This is a jihad against infidels.”  With no other weapon than a few words, Babur converted a greedy and violent war into a holy jihad.  “Cowardice became apostasy while death assumed the welcome guise of martyrdom,” writes John Keay in his book, India: A History.  Keay goes on to quote from Babur-nama (Babur’s personal memoir-cum-diary), “The plan was perfect, it worked admirably...”  His soldiers took an oath on the Quran to fight till they fell.  What’s more, Babur enacted certain religious rituals too: abjuring alcohol, he ostentatiously dashed decanters and goblets to pieces, and emptied the wine-skins.  Babur-the-Conqueror became Babur-the-Crusader. 

Making use of religion for political purposes is a very ancient trick.  It is unfortunate that the trickery continues to be in use even today when the world has marched ahead of religion using science, reason and technology.  What happened in Chennai two days back is yet another instance of the return of obsolete tricks.  Some political activists belonging to various parties attacked a TV channel and forced it to cancel a programme which debated whether the mangal sutra worn by married women in India is a boon or a bane.  Even after the channel decided to call off the telecast of the debate, the attacks continued even to the extent of hurling a bomb though no one was hurt.  It’s not only “some fringe elements” that are involved but also the state’s BJP which extended its support to the attack. 

A few weeks back, Tamil novelist Perumal Murugan was forced to take an oath that he would not write any more merely because one of his novels questioned the male chauvinism that underscores the Hindu patriarchal system (as it does all patriarchal systems). 

Stifling debates and literature is the beginning of the disastrous decline of any society.  But some political parties in India led by the ruling BJP do not see it that way.  They belong to the era of Babur and his successors who believed that an empire of conquest could be sustained only by more conquests. 

Why does the past keep pulling the Party backwards even though the people of the country voted for the progressive “development” it had promised in its election manifesto?  Does India really need Holy Wars?  What triggers such notions as manifested by the Party and its “fringe elements” ever since Mr Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of the country?  These are a few of the questions that can be contemplated on in the Party’s next Chintan Baitak.


6 comments:

  1. Very true, people have used religion as a way to manipulate people's mind and the result is todays civilization. I just hope people should open their mind and use their own brain rather than being manupulated by others. Religion is so misused term.

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    1. The most terrifying tragedy is that we have a PM who supports such venality.

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  2. 'Writer' Perumal is dead and a blogger is killed brutally in Bangladesh. The world has not moved on after Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen faced similar issues decade ago.

    Politics always exploits weakness is society. Hope and wish this crack does not propagate.

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    1. I've just bought a copy of Perumal's controversial novel. Want to see what's the limit of our religious leaders' comprehension and imagination.

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    2. I have read that and I do not find anything worth to kill the writer. I am sure who wanted to kill him have NOT read it. You know, it did not make news when it was published in Tamil couple of years ago but it created issues for the author after it was translated into English. These 'English reading Hindus' are taking away freedom of speech from the writers. They do not know what they are opposing. This is not democracy, at least for writers.

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