The obsessive protection of the cow and the subsequent attacks on people having various professional activities connected with it especially the Muslim minorities and the Dalits have created a piquant situation. India is being dragged back to the age of Brahmins and Vedas! According to many historians even at that time cow was not so much venerated and protected as it is now being projected by the Hindutva mobs.
Binu Mathew, the Editor of Countercurrents, an online news portal has written an article to motivate the progressive and secular Indians to rise and halt this fanatic religious onslaught on the minorities. He has specifically requested the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to lead people against the onslaught on the food habits of the people. The article bears the title, “Unfurl The Tricolour And Say India Will Not Become ‘Cowistan’, ‘Kaliban’ Will Not Rule Us”! The recent obsession with the Cow and related violence by vigilantes seems to have prompted this comparison to the religious fanaticism seen in Afghanistan during the rule of Taliban. The deliberately inflamed obsession about the Cow is, in fact, virtually turning India into “Cowistan” and the RSS vigilantes, the “Gau Rakhshaks” are turning into “Kaliban”, the Indian equivalent of the Taliban! This is very tragic when one considers India’s history and the bonhomie of the past among its inhabitants belonging to various religions.
India as a large country of the size which it had just before partition in 1947 existed earlier in the time of Chander Gupt Maurya, King Ashoka and Akbar the Great. Chander Gupt Maurya ruled when it was totally a Hindu country. His top advisor was the famous Visnu Gupt also known as Chanakya who wrote the well-known treatise on governance called the Arthshastra. Ashoka in spite of having the largest kingdom had converted to Buddhism after the bloody battle of Kalinga.
According to Justice Markandey Katju, Akbar the Great was a real secular King who believed in the philosophy of all religions being equal and gave the notion of the Sulh-i- Kul. Muhammad Abdul Baki, in his history of Akbar’s reign, states: “Akbar extended toleration to all religions and creed, and would recognize no difference between them, his object being to unite all men in a common bond of peace”. The website www.yourarticlelibray.com carries an article by Puja Mundal which gives detailed analysis of Akbar’s Sulh-i-kul.
Puja Mundal writes, “Sulh- i-kul was to become his method of judging what was legally right or wrong within his empire and was created because Akbar understood that he was trying to build political institutions for predominately non-Muslim society. Thus, in his empire, the beliefs and opinions of the orthodox mullahs were not to be the critical test for his rule because he wanted all of his subjects to be judged equally before the law”.
“Akbar established separation of state and religion and opened government positions to members of all religions. He abolished the jizya on non-Muslims and the forced conversion of prisoners of war to Islam. He converted the meetings of Muslim clerics into open discussions between Islam, Hindu, Parsi and Christian scholars and in 1579 issued an edict that made him the highest authority in religious matters”.
“In the civil courts Akbar abolished laws that discriminated against non-Muslims. He raised the Hindu court system to official status side by side with Muslim law and reformed the legislation with the aim to maximize common laws for Muslim and Hindu citizens”.
Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and other progressive leaders of the Indian freedom movement followed Akbar’s model and had been aiming for the revival of the great secular and democratic republic of his time. Even Dr. Iqbal known as the poet of the East had composed his poem about India being the best country in the world. However, the RSS which did not support India’s freedom movement was bent upon declaring India a Hindu Rashtra and fulfilling the dream of its creator Sadashiv Golwalkar. It is because of the threat posed by them that the movement for Pakistan materialised. After accepting the partition of the country on the basis of religion it was virtually impossible to retain the secular and progressive character of India.
In spite of all the difficulties and the tremendous Hindutva underground opposition which resulted in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru tried his best to maintain the secular and progressive character of the Indian Republic. However, after his death, the communal forces had an open field and slowly and steadily grew in strength culminating in the takeover of the Republic by the BJP, the front organisation of the RSS. Now their declared aim is to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra by 2023! This was announced in a conclave held recently in Goa.
There is already virtual rebellion to this concept in the East and the South. The East, North East and the South have rejected the Central directive banning cow slaughter. In fact, in Kerala the Assembly session was started with a beef breakfast and in the North East a number of people have left BJP because of the beef ban. If this onslaught on the secular and the democratic nature of the Republic goes unchallenged there is every possibility of its disintegration. India may get ultimately reduced to the traditional “Cow Belt”. There is urgent need for all the secular and progressive people to oppose this march back to Stone Age and safeguard the secular and democratic character of the Republic!