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Why Bharat needs to stay connected to its roots

We can protect this identity in the world and prepare ourselves for future challenges only if we remain connected and embedded to our roots

analysis Updated: Aug 08, 2018 18:49 IST
Devotees pour turmeric paste on the statue of Jain god Gomateshwara during a ceremony, Shravanabelagola, February 17(REUTERS)

Bharat’s deep cultural roots are its identity. Remaining connected to these roots, embedded in our identity (Asmita), is essential to our existence (Astitva). This identity has been called Hindutva or Hindu view of life by Dr Radhakrishnan and Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. If anyone has objection to the word ‘Hindu’, then they may call it Bharatiya or even Indic. But its core content remains the same. Even though the truth is one, it can be called by different names; that is the essence of Bharatiya thought. It is the content that is vital and important.

How does one think if one is deeply embedded to Bharatiya cultural-spiritual tradition? A good example comes from the saying of Acharya Mahaprajna ji. He was the head of the Tera Panth (a sect), which is one of the spiritual traditions among Shwetambara Jains. Being a saint with national perspective, he was recognised and respected far and wide. He used to say, I belong to the Tera Panth because I am a Sthanakavasi Jain. I am a Sthanakavasi Jain because I am a Shwetambara Jain. I am a Shwetambara because I am a Jain and I am a Jain because I am a Hindu. This is a beautiful expression of the Bharatiya way. One can simultaneously belong to the Tera Panth, be a Sthanakavasi Jain, a Shwetambara Jain and also a Hindu. This is because Bharatiya thought does not see any contradiction in these diverse layers of identities. It is only a different expression of the One. This is the Bharatiya tradition. But when the connection to these deeper roots starts eroding, then the narration starts changing. And so begins the narrative that I am a Hindu but I am a Jain. I am a Jain but I am a Shwetambara Jain. I am a Shwetambara Jain but I am a Sthanakavasi Jain and I am a Sthanakvasi Jain but I belong to Tera Panthi.

Further erosion of this deeper connect leads to a different narrative: whatever I may be, a Jain, a Shwetambara, a Sthanakavasi or Tera Panthi, but I am not a Hindu. And then politics comes into play. Once the ultimate erosion of the deep connection to the roots, the core identity (Asmita), is complete, the process of de-Indianisation also is complete. Slogans like “Bharat tere tukde honge, Bharat ki barbadi tak jung chalegi, jung chalegi” (India, you shall be broken into pieces! The fight will go on till India is destroyed). are the outcome of this complete disconnect with the roots of Bharat. Such expressions do not emanate from the illiterate, backward and poor people, but from the ultra-modern young representatives of the Bharatiya intellectual community, representing the so-called most progressive and modern educational institution. Surprisingly, they also get support from academicians and scholars who are drawing perks and benefits from the resources of the same country. Can there be a more glaring example of de-Indianisation through education?

Therefore, Dr Pranab Mukherjee tracing the legacy of over five thousand years of togetherness and collective journey of the people of Bharat — he did this during his speech in Nagpur — that formed our national identity, becomes all the more important. We can protect this identity in the world and prepare ourselves for future challenges only if we remain connected and embedded to our roots. To conclude in the words of the poet and advertising professional, Prasoon Joshi:

Why are you so disconnected, shallow tree?

You will only wither away.

The deeper your roots go,

So much will you bloom!

Manmohan Vaidya is sah sarkaryavah (joint general secretary), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

The views expressed are personal
(Concluded: This is the concluding part of a two-part column on India’s identity and its roots)

First Published: Aug 08, 2018 18:10 IST