A few years ago, Home Minister Amit Shah infuriated the people of Kerala by wishing them Happy Vamana Jayanti on the occasion of their state festival Onam. While Vamana is the fifth incarnation of God Vishnu for Amit Shah and his counterparts in North India, Vamana is a monstrous impostor for Malayalis. (That’s yet another of the umpteen instances that highlight the impossibility of a monolithic Hindu religion.)
Vamana sent Kerala’s most beloved king, Maveli, to the netherworld merely because of jealousy. Maveli (elision for Maha Bali or Bali the Great) was a demon (asura) king. But he was beloved to his subjects because during his reign Kerala was a utopia. There was fraternity, equality, justice, truthfulness, and so on everywhere in the kingdom. Maveli had become greater than the gods for the people of Kerala. Obviously, gods didn’t like that. So none less than Vishnu took the form of a dwarf, Vamana, and deceived Maveli. That deception was punishment from gods to an asura for being good!
Amit Shah could not have been ignorant of this legend when he greeted Malayalis on Vamana Jayanti. Someone who is an arch-villain for a people was being transmuted into a divine figure with that greeting. Shah and his people are experts at rewriting histories as well as making villains out of heroes and vice versa. But Kerala won’t accept those histories and inversions easily. I wonder whether Shah and his friends have ever tried to find out why their party doesn’t ever win a seat in Kerala’s elections.
Of late, there is some tilt among Kerala’s Hindus towards the BJP. This is achieved by spreading the poison of communal hatred. As I have written in this very space time and again, hatred is a powerful tool, far more powerful than love or any good emotion. Even the people of Kerala can be susceptible to its intoxications. If the nascent sectarianism takes deep roots in the state, that will be a Vamana moment for Amit Shah and his colleagues.
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