The Hindu society has witnessed several reforms in its long journey of over 7000 years of its existence. Notwithstanding some minor objections from some quarters, the larger Hindu society has always accepted these changes when those were brought in by great acharyas. Some of these changes were drastic departures from the accepted norms of those times.
There are two approaches to deal with differences – the path of concord and the path of confrontation. The Hindu method is the former while the West or Semitic approach encouraged confrontation to deal with discords.
For instance, Buddha challenged the Hindu orthodoxy and its practices and tried to reform those drawing inspiration from the basic ideas espoused in the Vedas. Our people venerated him as God. Centuries later, Shankaracharya called him an avatar of Vishnu.
Shankaracharya who irked the orthodoxy by becoming sanyasi breaking the age-old traditional concept of Chatur Ashram system. He courageously called upon people to reject any scripture that do not appeal to their logic or experience.
Sri Narayana Guru is one of the most important spiritual masters of India who spearheaded a social reform movement. Unlike the Communists, who always look at issues through a ‘Class War’ prism, Guru tried to educate and spiritually uplift and empower the so-called lower castes. His approach was that of samanwaya (concord): This is how he reformed the caste-ridden society. Indian society doesn’t believe in revolution but in evolution. The Hindu society treats Narayana Guru no less than a God.
Caste is often is used by our rivals to beat us. The Communists call us ‘Manuvadis’. But it was our third Sarsanghchalak Bala Saheb Deoras who said, “Casteism must go lock, stock and barrel.” He said he didn’t care whether untouchability had scriptural sanction or not and wanted Sangh workers to remove caste discrimination from the society.
It is true that every time when great men took on the orthodoxy, there was a small section who opposed change. But always the larger society stood with these visionary leaders, making opposition to their movements insignificant.
But this is not the case with the Muslim psyche. The fault could be the way religion is taught from early childhood in madrasas. The qualities of being inclusive or accommodative are erased through high voltage fanatic teachings.
There were several historic personalities who tried to bring about changes in Islam and integrate it with mainstream culture of the country. One among them is Mughal emperor Dara Shikoh who tried to change the lifestyle, approach towards others, celebrating the diversity, etc. He studied Sanskrit, Vedas, Upanishads and translated them into Persian. He faced resistance from the Islamic cleric during his time. Even today, the Muslim community is not ready to accept the syncretism promoted by Dara. For them, his fanatic brother Aurangazeb is the role model. Even the educated Muslims try to whitewash his actions, portray him as the most illustrious secular ruler of Bharat. Ballads were written in his praise, who most brutally killed his brother and jailed his father.
In the recent times, we see how contributions of Moulana Muhammad Ali and Shoukhat Ali are being hailed by Muslims. But nowhere we hear any talk about Ashfaqulla Khan who wrote about Bhagwad Gita, studied Sanskrit worshipped Bharat as his mother and dared to seek punarjanma from Allah. APJ Abdul Kalam is not accepted as a Muslim by the so called clerics and fanatic leaders. But venom spewing Owasis and maulanas get huge support and following in the community.
This is the poem written by Ashfaqulla Khan.
मुसलमान हूँ पुनर्जन्म की बात नहीं कर पाता हूँ
हाँ, खुदा अगर कहीं मिल गया तो झोली फैला दूँगा
जन्नत के बदले दूसरे जन्म ही माँगूगा
फिर आऊंगा फिर आऊंगा
ए भारत माता तुझे आज़ाद कराऊँगा
(I am a Muslim, hence can’t talk of rebirth
Yes, if I happen to meet God somewhere,
Will plead unto him
Will seek another birth in place for paradise
And will come again and again
Oh, Bharat Mata, to make you free)
The British executed Ashfaqulla Khan and his companion Ramprasad Bismil. Just before his execution, Ramprasad Bismil, in his jail diary, wrote:
“I am content at the fact that you (Ashfaqullah Khan) have made me proud in front of the whole world. In glorious chapters of Indian history it will be recorded in golden words that Ashfaqullah Khan took part in the revolutionary movement and sacrificed his life for the country. Nobody could move you from your resolve of serving the nation. Even after the arrest you remained firm to your duty. Not only physically strong, you also proved to be mentally brave and man of high spirituality. This led to your conviction as my lieutenant in the court and judge awarded you with a glorious noose around your neck. Dear brother, you will be happy to know that the person who sacrificed his family wealth in service of the nation, who gifted his own bright future to the nation, who sacrificed his everything and ultimately embraced martyrdom, he has also sacrificed his best friend Ashfaqullah for the mother nation.”
Asghar hariim-e-ishq me hasti hi jurm hai
Rakhna kabhi na paanv yaha sar liye hue
(O Asghar! Existence is a crime in the house of love
Don’t enter it with your head on your shoulders)
History has shown that the Muslim community has opted for those who whipped up their communal sentiments, no matter whether they were devout Muslims or not. Muslims in large numbers supported Muhammad Ali Jinnah — notwithstanding the fact that he was a port-eating atheist — when he raised the demand for a separate country. The community ignored the pleadings of leaders like Frontier Gandhi. The community must introspect and choose their role models wisely.