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

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.