The Congress leaders while in public platform spoke of Hindu Muslim fraternity adopted a totally different approach when it affected their personal lives.

Inconsistent opinions of Congressmen

When Moti Lal Nehru’s daughter wished to marry Syed Hussain, the editor of a newspaper Independent, Moti Lal Nehru threatened that he would commit suicide. Gandhiji later persuaded Syed Hussain to forget about his marriage and to leave the country. Similarly when Gandhiji’s son embraced Islam Gandhiji ostracized him and was reconciled to him only when he was brought back to the Hindu fold under Birla’s influence. ( Gauba K.L., The consequences of Pakistan, Lion Press, Lahore. 1946, p.10) There was a tendency in Congress circles to overlook the communal character of Muslim leaders. Especially an attempt was made to portray Syed Ahmed Khan and Mohammad Iqbal as nationalists, who later became communalists due to the influence of Britishers, that too Beck, the principal of Aligarh college. But both these persons were too strong willed to play in the hands of any Britisher.As early as in 1867 Syed Ahmed Khan had said that he was convinced that these communities (Hindus and Muslims) cannot cooperate in any work. (Kaushik P.D., The Congress Ideology and programmes-1920-47, Allied Publishers Pvt Ltd, 1964, p.289) Iqbal, in an interview given to Bombay Chronicle in September 1931 said “In my college days I was a zealous nationalist, which I am not now. The change is due to mature thinking.” Jawaharlal Nehru in one of his letters to Padmaja in 1929 said-” I have never met Iqbal. He was always been one of the many problems I could not solve. How can a real poet be so extraordinary communal and narrow minded and earthly? And yet he happens to be both.( Lal Bahadur, Struggle for Pakistan, p.312) Though Gandhiji had said in Harijan (January 6th, 1940) that it was Hindu’s cowardice that had made the Mussalman a ‘bully’ leading to Hindu Muslim riots, (Kaushik P.D., Op cit. p. 297) yet his advise to girls menaced with rape in the Punjab ( after Partition ) was to bite their tongue and hold their breath until they died.( Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre, Freedom at Midnight, Vikas Publishing House Pvt Ltd. 1998.p.479) Even with regards to partition, while Gandhiji said that it could happen only over his dead body, (Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre, Freedom at Midnight, p.115) at the same time he backed Rajaji’s formula which agreed for a separate state for Muslims after a plebescite. (Tara Chand, History of the Freedom Movement in India Vol. IV p.426) As early as in April 1942  the Congress working committee had declared that even though it was wedded to Indian unity and regarded any division of India as injurious to all concerned, it could not “think in terms of compelling the people in any territorial unit to remain in an Indian union against their declared and established will” (Bipin Chandra, Ideology and Politics in Modern India, Har-Anand, Publications, New Delhi,1994. p.76) In July 1945, Nehru made his stand explicit in the context of Pakistan: “If those areas which have predominant Muslim majorities are utterly bent on separation no power on earth can stop them” and even more explicitly in August 1945: “If the Muslims insist on it (Pakistan) they will have it”. ((Bipin Chandra, Ideology and Politics in Modern India, p76) It was these types of inconsistent view and conflicting opinions which caught the masses unaware and ill prepared when partition actually took place, resulting in the genocide of the century.

Was Partition unavoidable?

Partition could have been avoided, provided, the men in the Congress, some, of great intellectual stature had tried to analyze the rapid growth of Islam in the sub-continent and adopt remedial measure to counter it.As the Census Report revealed, unabated conversion during British regime proved beyond doubt that Islam was bound to grow in Bengal whether the backing of political power was available of not. (Ram Gopal, Indian Muslims. A Political History (1858-1947), Asia Publishing House, 1964. p.8) People dissatisfied with the rigours of a caste-ridden society and a religion based on vulgar ritualism turned to the new faith which promised common brotherhood, liberation from the offensive yoke of the Brahman priests and some material incentives such as easy appointments to government jobs. The process of conversion was facilitated by the practices of Hindu society, such as the one that closed the doors of the society to anyone who had been forcibly fed beef or who had taken food or water from the hands of a Muslim, or any woman who had been abducted by force and wished to return to her home and faith but was denied that right. Islam also offered young widows, the prospect of a normal and honoured life which, the   Hindu society had denied and imposed upon them a life of privation and indignity. (Nitish Sengupta, History of the Bengali speaking people, p 67) Early Smriti writers had stated that if a woman was criminally assaulted, she was not to be socially ostracized and readmitted into the family and society after some penance and purification. This procedure was followed in the beginning in the case of women forcibly converted and violated. The Devala Smriti went to the extent of declaring that women of this unfortunate category should be readmitted to the fold of Hinduism even if their violation was followed by pregnancy. This liberal viewpoint was however given up by 1000 A.D. From that time onwards, Hindu women once carried away by force into the fold of Islam had no hope of return to the religion of their birth. They had to reconcile themselves with their captors and live a miserable life, not much different from a concubine. (Swami Madhavananda and R.C.Majumdar Edited, Great women of India. Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta. P. 44) In Kashmir also the majority of the people were forced to give up the religion of their forefathers in the 17th and 18th century under the rule of fanatic Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. In the later part of the 19th century, a delegation of Kashmiri Muslims went to Varanasi, to get the approval of Brahmins there to return to Hindu fold, but the priests declined their request. Even today most common family name in Kashmir is Butt, a distortion of Bhatt, a Hindu surname common amongst the Brahmins in India. (Anil A.Athale, Let the Jhelum smile again. Adithya Prakashan, Mumbai, 1997. p.33)  The converts in Bengal remained as ignorant of Islam as of Hinduism. “Some of them” says the Imperial Gazetteer of India Vol I (1885) “have never heard of Mohammed; some regard him as a person corresponding in their system of religion to Rama or Lakshman of the Hindus. The Koran is hardly read even in Bengali and in the original Arabic not at all. Many of those who have heard of it cannot tell who wrote it. Yet any Muslim peasant is able to repeat a few scraps of prayer in Arabic. This prayer gave him a sense of religion and he considered himself as a member of a socio cum religious system, which he did not have it when he was, a Hindu.( Ram Gopal, Indian Muslims. A Political History (1858-1947), Asia Publishing House, 1964. p.9) In fact the Jamait ul ulema was opposed to Pakistan, as it would affect its propagation of Islam. Maulana Madani delivering a speech on 19th September 1945 in Delhi on the occasion of the formation of the Azad Muslim Parliamentary Board to fight the last constitutional battle against the demand of Pakistan said that at the termination of the Muslim rule, there were about 25 million Muslims in India. Within a period of less than a century their number increased up to 100 millions. The missionary work of the Jamait has a great share in this increase. The great object of an overall spread of Islam in the whole of India cannot be realized by appealing to passion of hatred and antagonism. It is the non-Muslims who are the field of action for the tabligh (spread of Islam) and form the raw material for this splendid activity. ( Ziya ul Hasan Faruqi, The Deoband School and the demand of Pakistan, Asia Publishing House, 1963. pp.116-117) The above factors definitely reveal that lack of social cohesion had weakened the Hindu society and evangelists of various faiths had reaped its advantage. The Arya Samaj was the first organization to recognize the need of Shuddhi, to bring back into the Hindu fold, those people who had been forced to embrace other faiths due to unavoidable circumstances.

Shuddhi as a means to strengthen Hinduism

The word Shuddhi simply means purification. At first, the term was used to apply to efforts by Arya Samajists and others to reconvert Hindus who had become Christians or Muslims. Traditionally a Hindu who converts to Christianity or Islam becomes an outcaste, and there is no mechanism whereby that individual might be restored to caste upon reconverting. Arya Samajists were among the first reformers to try to change the situation, to develop a system through which Hindu converts to other religions could become Hindu again. The motivation behind this initiative was not just sympathy for individual outcastes. Arya Samajists understood Hinduism to be hobbled by its own exclusiveness. While Christianity and Islam were able to proselytize and draw others into their community, Hinduism could not even take back reconverted Hindus much less accept converts. From 1884 to 1894 at least eighteen local Arya Samaj chapters sponsored Shuddhi ceremonies; whereby Hindus who had converted to other religions were accepted back into the Hindu fold. (J.E.Llewellyn, The Arya Samaj as a Fundamentalist Movement. A Study in Comparative Fundamentalism, Manohar Publishers & distributors, New Delhi, 1993. p.99)The real expansion of Shuddhi came when it was used to make the Untouchables into caste Hindus. On 3rd June 1900 a large number of low caste Rahtias from the Jalandhar area were declared to be no longer Untouchable through a Shuddhi ceremony sponsored by the Lahore Arya Samaj. By the 1911 census three to four thousand Rahtias had become “purified” caste Hindus. From 1903 the Sialkot Arya Samaj worked with the Untouchable Meghs. By 1911 there were 30,000 Arya Meghs. The program with the Meghs was not limited to the Shuddhi ceremony. The Sialkot Samaj also supported the establishment of an industrial training school and grammar schools for the “purified” Meghs.The Arya Samaj believed that political agitation was futile because a nation, which considered millions of human beings as untouchables, had no business to talk of liberty and democracy. The Vedic magazine of the Samaj argued that Indians were subjected to foreign rule because of their moral weaknesses and that without the necessary religious and social reforms, political subjection of Indians was bound to continue and that the expulsion of the English could only result in a change of masters for Indians. (Sankar Ghose, The Renaissance to Militant Nationalism in India, Allied Publishers, 1969. p.39) Even the intellectual giant, Lala Hardayal had observed that the future of Hindu race and Hindustan rest on Hindu Raj, Hindu Sangathan, Shuddhi and conquest and Shuddhi of Afghan and the Frontier, otherwise it is useless to win Swaraj. (Ram Gopal, Indian Muslims .pp.124-125) The Congress under Gandhiji created a lot of awareness among the masses, the need for the removal of Untouchability resulting in the passing of legislation to abolish it. Similarly the Congress could had have taken a positive stand towards Shuddhi to consolidate the Hindu society.(concluded)

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