In one of my previous articles I wrote about the map problem and the three maps, and how it is important that we locate ourselves in the maps. In this article, I rewrite, for convenience, map-A (pre 1000AD) as Past, map-B as Present, and map-C as Desired Future. But keep the map problem in mind.
I now present what I think are the descriptions by various groups. In addition, I also present their view (as I understand them) of how the present came about from the past. It is crucial to understanding their views. By no means do I consider these descriptions to be comprehensive, nuanced, scholarly, etc. Yet, I do claim that notwithstanding their caricatural nature, they do convey, what we might call as, their salient and distinguishing features. I am open to refinement, and please feel free to contribute.
It is evident that all the following descriptions suffer from the lacunae mentioned in the map problem. That is, our perception and description suffers from the perspective, and language constructs that we use. And that this perspective and language constructs are insufficient to provide the larger background in which we can see all the maps and locate our position(s). However, it will entertain you and I hope also inform you about the essential aspects of the various views in use at present.
Past: It was mostly a long period of horrible exploitations in an upper casteist patriarchy seeped in ignorance. Some arty entertainment stuff was there but creativity too was minimal.
Islamic and British rules helped break that exploitative patriarchy. More over, culture and art-forms were enriched and embellished by the Moghuls. Further, it was the Oxbridge educated brigade which brought us the dawn of scientific temper etc. Akbar's reign was likely the best period. British Period was bad but because of economic political exploitation of muslims.
Present: But for the fascists like Savarkar and RSS, we would have gotten much closer to the perfection of Akabar's rule. Alas, we have only partially corrected the godawful ills of the patriarchal past. We still have a very long way to go. But with Secularism and Socialism, we are in the right direction.
Desired Future: Eventually we will also become scientifically and technologically advanced and prosperous like Europe and USA; but it will be without family/social problems rampant in west, and along with Indian/Moghalai cuisine and music.
Past: It was all darkness. Cannibalism, Dark-Idol worship, Feeding Children to Crocodiles abounded.
Islam/Christianity brought a small pencil of light but the natives have been adament. We need to push the light down their throats to civilize them.
Present: Indian independence has grossly undermined our operations, but we need to push harder and further, and by all means.
Desired Future: We dream of a Ajaan enjoying/ Sunday-mass indulgent India. We might retain the tribal, pagan art-forms for preservation sake.
Now let us consider views of a few individuals:
Past: Highly exploitative period where a few luxuriated, and for the rest it was an abomination. By and large, nothing much to write home about. A long period where lot of riff raff with loads of superstitions and childishness lived.
Islam and X-ianity were God's gift for the region and for the Hindus.
Present: We must quickly get over our quirky obsession with hindu culture etc. and get on with more important things in life.
Desired Future: With some perseverance the rest would also become Hindu just by birth, Moghul by culture and English by education, just as I am (Nehru was).
Past: Horrible and Exploitative Brahminism and Patriarchy existed and flourished. Buddha was the great savior of the afflicted.
Islam was, and is fatally dangerous, but British rule (X-ian rule) salvaged the masses from Brahminical tyranny.
Present: We need to restore social justice through judicious use of affirmative action. Also have constitutional safeguards against revival of Brahminism and Patriarchy. Thus We must remain patriots and shun foreign religions, but rid ourselves of Brahminism by annihilation of caste and remedying superstitions. We have started on this path, and we must persevere.
Desired Future: American prosperity, European grandeur, Indian culture with Buddhist philosophy.
Past: India was about simple living high thinking and an austere/simple/minimalist life. And that is the essence of India.
Islam and Christianity, while being inherently good, could harm us only because hindus drifted away from spiritual path.
Present: We must regain situation in Past by upholding that only "spiritual" goals are important. Islam and Christianity can do no harm to us so long as we maintain "moral high ground". We must make self-sufficient villages where all of us can become austere/simple.
Desired Future: After conceding territory after territory, millions and millions of lives, we will achieve moral victory; and rest of the world will understand us.
Congress, as usual, does not have a consistent view. They use a combination of Secular, Nehruvian, Gandhian views with occasional allegiance to Ambedkar's view. However, since the sole purpose of Congressmen (and all Congress clones) is to cling on to power by hook or crook; they are either unconcerned or even enthusiatically vouch for policies that will result in Christian-Islamic future. But, isn't that what Nehru wanted anyway?
Past: It was a glorious period, and was also mostly highly advanced in terms of knowledge of the material world. They had most ingredients of "modern science" too.
Islam and Chriastianity are good; but the Islamic/Christian invaders were bad and they strove to destroy Hindu Civilization. But Indian muslims, and Indian christians are good and not fooled by the invaders' rhetoric.
Present: Some small corrections are needed, but corrections recommended by Seculars are hugely wrong because their nature is pseudo. If we push true secularism and true socialism we will get back to the right track.
Desired Future: We will regain most of the Past along with modern science, technology, "development", and "equality".
Even a cursory glance reveals how the Secular and the Christian/Islamic views are quite similar. They want most of the Past to be removed, and a "new age" to dawn. We must also notice that while Christian/Islamic views are the invaders' view, Secular view can also be seen as Macaulay inspired view. In that sense, whoever speaks of secularism remains in the firm grip of invaders.
However, it is not difficult to notice that BJP/Sangh-Parivar view is hamstrung too. While they emotionally believe that Past was great (or at least claim so); their actions are towards bringing "true secularism" and "true socialism" for "development". Also notice that while they(BJP) may not consider Islam-Christianity as positively good, they do consider them as minor-issues if not non-problems which can easily be tackled and almost magically solved, as soon as true-secularism is applied. Thus, they too are not free from the grip of invaders' perspective.
In a way, I have done a little injustice to RSS here by clubbing their view with BJP's view. Unfortunately RSS itself has been somewhat ambivalent about their Hindutva perspective. Let me approach this matter somewhat obliquely now.
In the past, much greater minds have addressed these issues. To name a few among many, Ramdas/Shivaji; Vivekananda etc. very clearly perceived these issues, and also wrote and spoke about them. I would request someone to summarize what Samarth Ramdas thought and wrote on these issues. About both Ramdas and Vivekananda we can say that they inspired the masses, and also gave seminal ideas, and possibly provided some elaboration. However, lot of further details remained to be worked out, especially in order to make them applicable in the political domain.
We must note that none among Gandhi, Nehru, Bose, Ambedkar etc. attempted this line (Ramdas/Vivekananda). A nuanced analyses of their approaches is beyond the scope of this article.
On the other hand, both Savarkar and Golwalkar (among others), in a way, pursued their line (Ramdas/Vivekananda) and attempted to work out the details. In my next article on this matter, I will try to address their work in a similar manner. Somewhat of a caricature, but an attempt to bring out the essential and distinguishing features.