Skip to main content

Unlike Gandhi-Nehru tradition, the concept of religion in 1857 worked as a uniting, and not a divisive, force

By Amaresh Misra*
This is in response to the view that Hindus and Muslims did participate in the freedom movement under Gandhi and fought under one flag in post-independence wars. But never, never did they unite with reverence and respect for each other's religions as in 1857.
The concept of religion in 1857 worked as a uniting, and not a divisive, force.
Further, 1857 was the uprising of the peasantry. Even sepoys were all peasants. This is different from the Congress led freedom movement. Middle class, a product of the British education system, dominated the latter.
The men and women who fought in 1857 had roots in pre-British India of indigenous categories and practices. The same cannot be said of those who fought in the post-1857 phase. Where else but in 1857 will you find the Hindu religious peasantry going to Delhi to install a Muslim king? Where else will you find Muslim cavalry placing Nana Sahab Peshwa, a kattar Brahmin, on the throne of Kanpur?
Apart from a brief period during the 1921 non-cooperation movement, Hindus and Muslims never fought as one the way they fought in 1857.
Post-1921 freedom movement was a fractured entity. 1857 invoked both Islam and Sanatan Dharma, Lord Krishna and Prophet Mohammad, in the same breath. There was a sense in 1857 that though the rituals of worship might differ, Hindus and Muslims are united by a common deen (a mystical, Sufi term implying higher, soul driven, indigenous belief in God). Gandhi invoked Ram but did not invoke Prophet Mohammad in the same breath. Gandhi did not invoke 1857.
Gandhi did not invoke a common deen for Hindus and Muslims. Despite his greatness, Gandhi failed in creating a common ideological and cultural narrative for Hindus and Muslims in the freedom struggle. That's why Muslims stood aloof and ultimately, Jinnah became their leader. That's why Partition happened... That is why communal forces despite killing Gandhi could were never rooted out. And today, after overthrowing Gandhi, they are ruling us.
Nehru who tried introducing a secular, scientific temper in the western sense to the Gandhian liberal Hindu narrative too failed. Because Nehru was unable to address the basic problem: that of invoking a common Deen while uniting Hindus and Muslims. 
One may say that this type of language and rhetoric would push ordinary citizenry away and that we will not be able to fight against Hindutva. However,  my intellectual work, the books on 1857, and my political work in UP, has brought Hindus and Muslims together. Hindu and Muslim peasants understand 1857... There is no village in UP where a Hindu and a Muslim did not die together fighting the British in 1857. 
Hindu-Muslim unity of 1857 was forged by ideology and blood. This unity was forged at a pan India level. My 1857 books narrate how Gujratis, Marathis, Keralites, Tamils, Telugus, Kannadas, Assamese, Sikhs, Punjabis, Jats, Bengalis, adivasis, OBCs, Dalits, Oriyas, Hyderabadis, Manipuris, Nagas, Khasis, Mizos, Nagas, Kashmiris fought alongside the Hindi-Urdu belt. 
This narrative implied a modern concept of nation building far more extensive than the narrative of Gandhi, Nehru or RSS.  The line of 1857 would have avoided partition and taken India towards an anti-Imperialist, peasant path of capitalist development. 
The model followed by Congress led India towards a dependent, distorted, landlord path of development. Basic structural issues of Indian economy and society lie unresolved. And we are in the 21st century. 
One may talk in abstract about an alternative vision that people can relate to; well, people tried the Gandhian-Nehruvian vision... They are giving the RSS 'vision' a chance. But both are unable to reflect peoples' aspirations. 
Only the 1857 vision applied to contemporary times can do that. My language and rhetoric attracts both Muslims and BJP members. So the 1857 vision is a whole, alternative platform of economic, social, cultural and political policies. It is our only hope.
---
* Convener, Anti Communal Front, Uttar Pradesh. Source: Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre- PMARC

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tata Mundra: NGOs worry as US court rules World Bank can't be sued for 'damages'

By Kate Fried, Mir Jalal*
On August 24 evening, a federal court ruled that the World Bank Group cannot be sued for any damage caused by its lending, despite last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the same case that these institutions can be sued for their “commercial activity” in the United States.

Online education 'driving' digital divide: $1.97 bn industry's paid users grow at 6x rate

Counterview Desk
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Maharashtra, in a new report in the series on Lockdown on Civil Liberties focusing on education has said that there is a huge “push-out” children due during the pandemic, with deepening digital-divide playing a major role.