Skip to main content

Seeking to represent both state and religious power, Modi 'followed' a feudal ethos

By Ram Puniyani* 

The vibrations of the spectacle of inauguration of Lord Ram’s temple are still in the air (January 2024). This inauguration was done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was at the centre of the whole ceremony. He has ensured that he represents both the ‘state power’ and ‘religious power’. In feudal times these two powers were working in close collaboration, boosting each other.
There was King-Pope, Nawab- Shahi Imam and Raja-Rajguru. In Maharashtra there is a very apt rhyming of this collaboration, Shetji-Bhatji. (Landlord and Priest). That the country is being ruled by politics in the name of religion is seeing this fusion is a matter of deep concern.
When India became Independent and Indian Constitution came into being, the presence of religion in social space was very much there, and so the controversy around Somnath Temple. As Dr Rajendra Prasad was planning to inaugurate the temple as the official head of the state, Nehru wrote to him: 
"I confess that I do not like the idea of you associating yourself with a spectacular opening of the Somnath Temple. This is not merely visiting a temple, which can certainly be done by you or anyone else but rather participating in a significant function which unfortunately has a number of implications".
Nearly seven decades down the line Modi, the Prime Minister of India, inaugurated the temple with pomp and show and the President of India, Draupadi Murmu, as onlooker from her vast Rashtrapati Niwas, was the appreciative onlooker. The Central Cabinet not only hailed this act but went a step further to pass a resolution
“…the body of the country attained Independence in 1947… the Pran Pratishtha (Consecration of Idol of Lord Ram) was done on 22nd January 2024… As per the resolution Ram Temple movement has united the country as never before and it is the day when India’s soul got freedom.”
While on one hand this shows the erosion of the secular values which we saw was the attempt by the state to keep aloft most of the time, though in a compromised way, now the word secular is a strict no. Even Nehru at that time had realized that while the Constitution is based on secular values; the society is in the grip of religiosity.
Nehru advised the President not to inaugurate the Somanth Temple in his official capacity, now the whole Cabinet is hailing Modi not only for inaugurating the temple but also adding that this inauguration marks the freedom of Soul of India. As such the slavery of India has been another contentious matter. One big actor Kangana Ranaut, drawing a large applause, had declared that India got Independence in 2014, when Modi became Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister and his ideological cohorts have been saying that India was a slave for over a thousand years. Meaning that the period when the Muslim Kings ruled, was a period of slavery. How can we define the slavery of a country or a region? Broadly two major criteria can be applied. One when the region is being controlled from outside. The Muslim kings who ruled did settle here and ruled in collaboration with the local landlords-kings.
The second major criterion is when the region's wealth is drained out. The period of Muslim rule did not see any such phenomenon. This phenomenon was seen during the British period. Shashi Tharoor in his book, the ‘Dark Era of Empire’ tells us the drain of wealth from India to England during this period. British rule was the period of slavery in both these counts. Some Muslim Kings plundered but they did not stay here to rule.
Now the freedom of 1947 was accompanied by the Sovereignty and bestowing the power to our representatives. What about the ‘soul of India’? What is the soul of India? The soul of Indian lies in the values which were the base of the freedom movement. The soul of India lies in these movements which accompanied and ran parallel to the freedom movement. These were the movements of workers and farmers; these were the movements for social equality.
Dr Rajendra Prasad at Somnath
The soul of India was built on the foundation of Indian civilization, which is well described by Nehru India as “some ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed, and yet no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erased what had been written previously.”
Freedom movement drew heavily from the movements of farmers (Bardoli, Champaran among others), movements of workers; the one’s led by Narayan Meghaji Lokhande and Singarvelu to name the few, and the struggles for social equality of caste and gender. This began with Joti Rao Phule, Savitri bai Phule, Bhimrao Ambedkar and Ramasami Periyar Naicker. These transformed the society from the values of ‘feudal like’ society to the one with aspirations for democratic society.
The Indian Constitution is the embodiment of “Soul of India” for the majority of the people. Those who did not participate in the freedom movement were the ones who upheld the caste and gender hierarchy of earlier society, these were the social classes that were on one hand against the caste and gender equality and on the other were against the rights of farmers and workers. These were precisely the forces which asserted the politics in the name of religion, Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha and RSS.
Muslim League on one side was claiming that Muslims were the rulers, while Hindu Mahasabha-RSS asserted that we have been a Hindu Nation, Islam and Christianity are foreign religions. Surendra Nath Bannerjee well articulated the rising India in his book, ‘India: Nation in the making’, reflecting the country’s sentiments as it was shaping around the values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
Today claims of Lord Ram being the uniting figure are being made. Lord Ram has many interpretations. A mythological figure presented by Mahrishi Valmiki and later popularized by Goswami Tulisdas is one interpretation. Kabir saw the Lord as embodiment of universal humanism and Gandhi saw him as a uniting figure. RSS-BJP has presented Ram as an exclusionary figure.
Around the campaign for this temple how many lives have been lost, how the society has been polarized, how the minorities have been ghettoized and how the plight of Dalits, Adivasis, women and workers has been worsened during last few decades gets reflected in the social indices and the emergence of Muslim ghettos, all around.
Today we do face the attack on the ‘Soul of India’ as it emerged during the freedom movement, in contrast the ‘Soul of India’ as being presented by the present ruling dispensation's efforts to create a spectacle around the temple!
---
*Well known political commentator; see Youtube, Facebook, Instagram,Twitter, Pinterest, Website, App

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara 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".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”