The Shrinking Hindu Nation: Behind Every Jinnah There is Always Gandhi; Author : Radha Rajan, Published by Voice of India, Year of Publication: 2019 Hardcover, Pages: 247 , Price: Rs. 495
The book by Radha Rajan takes absolutist position on Hindutva which is against the Hindu ethos, still makes us think about state of the nation
Radha Rajan’s books and articles make you sit up and think. Not for her political niceties or diplomacy. For her, it is black and white; no grey areas. She is ready to be politically incorrect. Her book on Ramchandra Kak, the erstwhile much-maligned Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, is an example. She wrote this book based on a rare diary notings she received from his family that showed him as a well-wisher of the state rather than as a villain, which is the current consensus among the people who study Jammu & Kashmir. In that book, she went beyond Pandit Nehru and blamed Gandhiji for the Jammu & Kashmir mess. She pointed out how Gandhiji supported Sheikh Abdullah’s ambitions in the name of democracy and slighted the Maharaja. (Jammu & Kashmir Dilemma of Accession: A Historical Analysis and Lesson, Voice of India).
I didn’t get to read Eclipse of The Hindu Nation: Gandhi and his Freedom Struggle also published by Voice of India, another book that criticised Gandhiji. I didn’t have the chance to read this book, so I can’t comment on it. But, she alludes to it in the current book under review so one can get an idea about it. The Shrinking Hindu Nation picks up from where the Eclipse of Hindu Nation left.
This analytical work about shrinking Bharat takes an unsparing look at the history from pre-Independence days to the current times. The book comes out at a time when India is at a decisive turn of history. It was written after BJP lost 5 states in Assembly elections before 2019, but before unforeseen developments took place after it got published—from Pulwama-Balakot to spectacular electoral win of Modi ji followed by his bold steps to abolish instant Triple Talaq, watering down of Article 370 and scrapping of Article 35(A). This makes many of her critical comments irrelevant.
But, her overall view of why The Hindu Nation of ours is shrinking and historical baggage of Gandhiji’s philosophy of non-violence, his misinterpretation of Hindu dharma, surrendering before violent Islam, his excessive bowing like a supplicant to the British, but sweet dialogues with extremist Muslim elements and disrespect for nationalist Tilak etc. changes your total perception about the biggest icon of current Indian history, a virtual God, whom you criticise only at your own peril and risk of being banished from civilised community.
Her major thrust in this work is to expose, what she calls ‘Solzhenitsyn syndrome’, of leaders and intellectuals. To make it pithy, Solzhenitsyn Syndrome means not naming a problem with the right name or avoiding naming the problem, whether human or ideological, clearly. In her attempt to find the real problem of shrinking of Hindu geographical boundaries she goes through the history of dissent in erstwhile Communist USSR, to serious issues with Islam and exposing its true nature to subjugate the ‘non-believers and the generic Church.
She is unsparing to every person who takes a faulty step or has muddled thinking about Hindutva and Bharat as a Hindu Nation
Radha Rajan exposes the reader of Pakistan and its Quranic concept of war, explaining Islamic strategy of warfare and the concept of Jihad, again quoting from original sources, which has not changed in hundreds of years. For example, quoting Brigadier Malik, it says, “Whatever the form or type of strategy directed against the enemy, it must be effective, be capable of striking terror into the hearts of the enemy. It was the same strategy in Mallapuram of 1921, Direct Action of 1946 or dismembering of the Indian soldiers captured in the conflict zone. She explains that the long term objective of Pakistan’s Army of Islam vis a vis India is no longer the acquisition of territory in J&K. It is to make the sub-continent safe for the spread of Islam by weakening Hinduism, by debilitating the Indian State and thereby paving the way for the restoration of the Mughal State. (page 148)
She then takes the reader inside the Christian world view and quotes the Pope and from Church documents, its agenda of planting Church on geographies where it has not yet succeeded fully, unabashedly. The Joshua Project calls it ‘10/40 window’, that is countries lying between 10 and 40 degree north latitude that hold enormous scope for ‘harvesting of souls.’ She shows from history how intolerant, cruel and exploitative the generic Church is to people whom it wishes to subjugate and also how it differentiates between the white and the non-white followers of Jesus and its deviousness. She illustrates how all shades of Indian political leaders have fallen prey to the charm of the Church.
Radha Rajan traces the origin of the Congress that was founded by British Hume to calm the waters, create a safety valve that would bring down the rising temperatures and fervour of nationalism. Then, on how the arrival of Gandhiji coincided with the withdrawal of Shri Aurobindo, Tilaks’s years in jail and Gokhale’s success in para-trooping Gandhi into the vacuum. The most shocking and unknown story is how Gandhiji slighted Lokmanya Tilak after he returned. It was fortuitous for him that Tilak ji did not survive for long after this.
After the split in Indian National Congress between Moderates and Nationalists, Gandhiji wrote a letter to inveigle himself with the British. In a letter to JL Maffey (Secretary to Viceroy) in 1918, after he had managed to get complete control of the Congress, Gandhiji wrote, “….I write this because I love the English nation, and I wish to evoke in every Indian the loyalty of the Englishman... It will also enable me to get recruits from the district (Kaira).” (Page 65) Rajan uses a delightful phrase, “Tap dance to nowhere for the period between 1909 to 1935” under Gandhiji. She regrets Shri Aurobindo’s refusal to return to politics after the death of Tilak and Savarkar’s marginalisation.
Her regret is that Aurobindo had left the political scene. She shows how Congress leaders who didn’t agree with Gandhiji’s world view actually gave a walk over to Gandhiji in the political space. Such was the marketing skill of Gandhiji. She quotes incidences in history that show how Gandhiji was willing to hand over entire India (Hindu Bhumi as she puts it) to Jinnah in the name of peace; and how he expected the British to play ball. His advice to Hindus to die rather than stand up to violence of Muslim goons during Moplah violence and again during Direct Action of 1946 are documented well and leaves one stunned.
Gandhiji’s supplicant tone, while speaking to Nizam of Hyderabad, other Muslim leaders and to the British, and his contemptuous tone when speaking to a Hindu king or about Tilak are well captured by Rajan from her complete works. His praise of British and criticism of nationalist Hindu leaders, his letters to various officers of the British government show that Hume’s plans went well.
The writer notes that Gandhi does not mention Shri Aurobindo or Savarkar by name even once in any of his writings from 1900 to 1919, and she says, “We must conclude that Gandhi had already begun to position himself to the British and, worse, he had begun to position himself to himself.” (Page 71) She notes how Gandhiji marginalised every leader from Subhash Chandra Bose to KM Munshi to C Rajagopalachari etc.
She has complaints about current Hindutva proponents and BJP that is projected as a Hindu nationalist party about their acting the same way as Congress acted when it was labelled a Hindu party, and it wanted desperately to prove its secularism, stuck by ‘Solzhenitsyn syndrome’. She is so fiercely objective that she criticises even Solzhenitsyn for falling into Solzhenitsyn syndrome himself! She faults oft-repeated Vivekananda letter to Mohammad Sarfaraz Hussein talking about “Vedanta brain and Islam”.
Radha Rajan bluntly says that her effort is to strip Gandhi ji of halo of ‘Mahatma’ by exposing his political weaknesses and failures covered well by his successful marketing. In the introduction to the book she says, “The purpose of The Shrinking Hindu Nation’ is to show the same mirror to all Indians, Hindus and Hindu nationalists in particular, that which Solzhenitsyn held up to timid, cowardly and self-serving intellectuals of his time… This book looks inwards at Hindus and takes the first step in the long process of ‘self criticism’.” She claims, “Hindu thinkers have never been Hindu political thinkers or theorists, and Hindu nationalists more often than not have proved that we lack political sense and have not even considered, leave alone demonstrated, the strategic intent of Hindu nationalism.” (Page 121)
The first thought that comes to my mind when I read Radha Rajan, is that she is to Hindutva, what Ayn Rand was to Capitalism. For Ayn Rand, there were no greys in her interpretation of Capitalism, absolute freedom and individualism. One would feel uncomfortable about her absolutism but couldn’t find fault with her rationale unless one was familiar with Hindu philosophy. But, at the same time, it helped one to clear the cobwebs in the mind about various concepts of Capitalism and Communism. Radha Rajan too makes you uncomfortable with her absolutism, her unsparing critique based on historical facts that you can’t deny. She is unsparing to every person who takes a faulty step or has muddled thinking about Hindutva and Bharat as a Hindu Nation. But, like Ayn Rand, Radha Rajan ultimately, helps you clear your intellectual cobwebs and leaves you with a clearer view, whether you agree with her or not. So, go ahead and explore the book.
(The writer is Mumbai-based columnist and author of several books on RSS)