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Chapter 4

The Defence of Hindudom

A Danger Signal

The last stronghold of living Aryan Paganism: India.

But how long is India going to last? That is to say: how long is Hindudom going to last in India?

To one who lives in the South, near one of those gorgeous temples that are India’s pride, in the midst of the most intense Hindu life, such a question must seem strange What is the danger? A few Untouchables who are every day becoming Christians, and who generally remain, in society, as Untouchable as before? They do not count. Mohammadans? They are three per cent, four per cent of the whole population. And they do not look as if they are increasing. They have no power, and create no trouble. Hindudom can last forever.

One who lives in Orissa, where Mohammadans are two per cent, can think the same: In Bihar, Mohammadans are ten per cent; they are thirteen per cent, in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh; less than five per cent in the Central Provinces, six per cent, in some parts of West Bengal (such as Midnapur district). There also, one can think the same.

But what about Punjab, the cradle of Aryan culture


in India? And what about Bengal, the home of Indian culture in the present day, if we except its western districts? Punjab, at least, has got the Sikhs who, in case of trouble, will stand like one man and fight for Hindudom. Bengal has no equivalent of the Sikhs yet, and its condition is worse.

As far as a census report written in India can be correct, the latest figures, which are supposed to give a picture of Bengal in 1931, are impressive. In West Bengal, the Hindus are in majority; but in North and East Bengal they seem to be, according to the tragic words of a Bengali author, “a dying race.”

Just see their proportion, compared to the Mohammadan population, in a few districts:

District .    Hindus  Muslims



The whole Hindu population of Bengal is, roughly, 22 millions. The whole Mohammadan population, 28 millions. And if one adds to that the Mohammadans of the Bengali speaking border district of Assam (Sylhet district), one gets a figure approaching 30 millions, which is, practically, one half of the whole Mohammadan population of British India (not including the Indian States).

The Mohammadan population of Bengal alone is more than the double of that of present-day Turkey. And the Mohammadan population of just one of the districts of Bengal (Mymensingh district) is more than half that of whole Arabia.

But however impressive figures may be, the sight of the Bengali countryside is much more impressive.

There are regions where one can walk miles and miles without meeting a single Hindu. There is no racial difference between the boat-men on the rivers, the peasants in the fields, and the boat-men and peasants from other parts of Bengal. They speak Bengali; they are Bengalis. If not for their beard, and the coloured “lunghi” they wear, instead of a white “dhoti,” you would never take them for anything else but Hindus. Yet, their collective consciousness is not that of the Hindus. Their diet differs. Their outlook differs. They are firm believers in an undiscussed so-called absolute “truth,” in an international creed, fixed, once forever, in a book. And they are ready to believe that their ancestors have come from the country far away, where the Book was first given by God to mankind.

You reach a village — one of those lovely villages of East Bengal, made of huts of bamboo, scattered


amidst a thick green jungle and a few tanks full of pink and white lotuses — and you inquire of its name. The name will be Krishnapur, Kalipur, Sitarampur, or some other Hindu name like that. But how many Hindus are there in the village? Not one. Or perhaps, yes, there may be a few: half a dozen fishermen, a barber, a washerman, who through ignorance, through need, and through the pressure of the environment, will be Musulmans, in a generation or two, or less than that.

The “zamindar” and the, money-lender were and are still generally Hindus. But their position in the village is growing more and more precarious.

* * *

An object of admiration for an outsider, in a Bengali village, are the learned Brahmans (the “Pandits”) and in general, the educated men, among the high caste Hindus. They may not know much more of the wide world outside, than the literate villagers of France or England do. But they are so much more refined, cultured, in the deep sense of the word. It is a pleasure to argue with pandits, for long hours, on some abstract subject, and hear them come out, every now and then, with a harmonious quotation, in Sanskrit, from the Holy Scriptures. (They seem to know the Scriptures by heart). They will entertain you in the open, under a bunch of high trees, or else, in a little room, with walls of bamboo, where there is nothing else but a mat to sit upon, and several old books. They have the sweet temper and amiable manners of people who have


been aristocrats since the beginning of the world. They are poor, and spotlessly clean. And by coming in contact with them, one feels like discovering an untouched spot of ancient India.

When one has been walking for miles and miles, or sailing for hours and hours along the broad streams of Bengal, crossing places with Hindu names and ninety percent Mohammadan population, it is refreshing to stop in a village where there are, at least, one or two pandits, and have a talk with them There is such an atmosphere of serene Hindu life all about them, that one takes to hoping once more. They may also tell you, in their beautiful language, with Sanskrit quotations from several “shastras”, and commentaries upon the shastras, that Hinduism is eternal (“Sanatan Dharma”).

You will learn, at the same time, that during the last month, a “namasudra” of the village, and two “malis,” from a village five miles away, have become Mohammadans. But it seems that the loss of those low-caste people does not injure Hinduism’s eternity.

* * *

In towns, the proportion of Hindus is undoubtedly greater than in villages. Yet, there are quarters in Dacca and in Chittagong, where the number of bearded men that you cross in the streets, wearing a red “tupi” upon their head, makes you feel as if you were in Cairo or in Bagdad, not in India.

The educated Hindus, who are numerous, keep Hindu tradition and Hindu culture alive in their homes. While sitting with them, you feel you are in


India; in fact, you are in India still. But the masses are getting day by day more Mohammadanised.

And if you speak of this to the educated Hindus of Dacca or of Chittagong, they may also tell you, like the learned village Brahmans, that another name for Hinduism is “Sanatan Dharma.” They are accustomed to see bearded men walking about the streets, with red “tupis” upon their heads. They have never seriously inquired to what extent the number of these men is increasing. Nor have they ever troubled to find out, by what mysterious mental process a Hindu (one of their own people), suddenly makes up his mind to grow his beard, and wear a “tupi,” and call himself a Musulman; by what mysterious mental process he actually becomes a Musulman, with a full-grown Musulman consciousness, ready to stand against the Hindus, at the first call.

They will tell you that those Musulmans are nothing but low caste Hindus converted once upon a time to Islam; which is generally true. They will tell you that quality is to be sought more than quantity, which is always true; but which is not the only truth about the Hindu-Moslem problem in India, and specially in Bengal — far from it.

* * *

The old controversy of “quality” versus “quantity, and the idea of “eternal” Hinduism, are brought in owing to the same fallacy. In both eases there is, at the back of the mind, a confusion between two planes: one, concerning ideas as such (the plane of “truth,”


which is beyond time and space) and the other, concerning action and success, that is to say, our ordinary historical plane, in which time and space are everything.

Truth is eternal, no doubt. It does not depend upon the number of those who accept it. An increasing number of those who accept it, does not prove it to be more true. Nor does the display of their spirit of sacrifice or of any other qualities of character; it bears witness in their favour, as strong and faithful men, but adds nothing to, and alters by no means the “truth” (or untruth) of what they profess. A martyr never proves, by his death, that truth for which he dies; he only proves his own personal consistency, and that is all he can do.

Beauty, perfection, and all other abstract entities of the same sort, are equally eternal. So it is mere waste of time to defend them; they take care of themselves. “Eternal” Hinduism (that is to say, the truth expressed in the innumerable “shastras” and “sutras,” etc., the wisdom of the Upanishads, the splendour of the Vedic hymns) will, in the same way, take care of itself. No need defending it. Would all India profess Islam, tomorrow; would it even disappear wholesale, in some formidable cataclysm, that would make no difference: the enlightened world would preserve the Hindu Scriptures, because they are worth preserving.

And even if it did not preserve them, it would slowly rediscover the truth contained in them. So, in anyway, it is no good troubling about the fate of the tenets of Hinduism. They are not in danger.


It is the Hindus, as a nation, who are in danger of extinction, at least in certain parts of India. It is Hindudom, not Hinduism, that we defend. For if Hinduism is “sanatan” (eternal), nothing proves that Hindudom is also. The numerical and political strength of Hindudom would not add anything to the value of Hinduism as such, no doubt. But reversely, the value of Hinduism will not save Hindudom, if Hindudom is not strong, numerically and politically.

The truth contained in Plato’s writings is still true. But it did not keep the ancient Greek society and civilisation from passing away. The beauty of Hypatia’s life did not save Pagandom in Alexandria.

* * *

When one goes about in the North and East of Bengal (not to speak of the other places in India where the Hindus are less than 25% of the total population), one realises, to a great extent, what a fully conscious Greek Pagan must have felt like, in his own country, during the early Middle Ages, when Christendom was growing to power day by day.

Because Christianity has finished by winning, people, nowadays, speak a lot of the persecutions against the first Christians, and do not speak so much about the oppression of the last Pagans by the Christians. Works of art destroyed, festivities stopped, schools of philosophy shut down, wise men exiled: all this marked the rising of Christianity to the dignity of a State religion, from the days of Constantine the 1st to the days of Justinian. But, however bitter it may seem to us, who look upon these


facts from a distance of fifteen hundred years, all this must have been nothing, compared with the growing tyranny exercised by the Christians (day by day more numerous, and stronger, owing to government support as well as to their number), upon the decreasing minority of Pagans, in the towns and villages of Greece, Asia-Minor, Egypt, Italy, etc.

The fate of learned and virtuous Hypatia, barbarously put to death by fanaticised Christian monks, fills us with indignation. But Hypatia was not the only one, certainly. There must have been frequent Christian-Pagan riots, in those days, on the occasion of public teaching of Grecian philosophy, or of peaceful processions in honour of the Gods of old, until every free voice was finally made silent, and every public manifestation of Pagan life stopped forever.

To stop Pagan life was not an easy thing. To a certain extent, Pagan life and Pagan festivities continued in the garb of Christianity. (A look at the Christian Church will tell you that.) But apart from this, it is said that, in remote villages of Greece, and in Crete, there were still, in the eleventh century A.D, a few people who openly professed their ancient national religion; and “the last of the Neo-Platonicians,” Gemistos Plethon, was living in Greece in the fifteenth century A.D. (Distant Northern Europe, less conscious of the possibilities of its warrior-like Paganism, accepted the Gospel much quicker and more seriously than the Mediterranean World, though it came much later in contact with Christianity.)


It would be instructive, for the Hindus of the present day, to meditate upon the fate of the Western Aryan civilisations, in the early days of Christian power. The few learned “pandits,” who still keep on representing “eternal Hinduism,” in East Bengal villages where 90 percent of the people are Mohammadans, had their parallel in the West, eight or nine hundred years ago, in the shape of a few wise men who kept on, for a long time, representing “eternal Grecian thought,” alone in the midst of a hostile, or at least most contemptuous Christian majority.

* * *

“Grecian thought” is living still. Grecian Paganism, as a thing of beauty and of truth, is eternal. But Grecian Pagandom seems to have passed away forever.

In India, temples have been destroyed in many places; but Hindu life is there still.

Greece is covered with gorgeous ruins. Upon the steep promontories, there are still rows of white columns, looking over the blue sea, full of isles. There are blocks of sculptured marble, and old statues to be found even in the market place. But living life all around, runs on different lines. The national Gods have become objects of admiration in museums. Foreigners come from America to see them. But nobody worships them. There are no Panathenian processions, in pomp and glory, going up the Acropolis today.


The same thing can be said about Italy. For true Christianity’s misfortune, a lot of Pagan show may have invaded the Church. But Paganism was not a mere show. There was also something else in it, which is gone, now, from Italy as well as from Greece; there was the national consciousness of Pagandom.

The same thing can be said about Egypt, the land that perhaps looked the most like India, once, long long ago; the land where the sacred Bull was worshipped, and where people used to regard the “Old Father Nile,” whose life-giving waters flew down from Heaven, just as the Hindus look still upon holy Mother Ganges.

Nowadays, along the banks of the Nile, there are Pyramids, and temples, and huge statues of pink granite representing kings and Gods of old. But those who dwell in the very shadow of these ruins are Mohammadans; a few of them are Christians. There are some of them who work as guides, for there are many foreigners to visit Egypt. They take the Americans around, among the gigantic pillars and blocks of stone, and tell them: “This was the temple of Phtah. . . . This is the image of that God. . . . This is the image of Mout, his consort etc.” They tell them which ‘king built the temple. They ask them to notice the beauty of the images. They show them the glory of Egypt, conscientiously. But that glory of their ancestors is not their glory. They are the children of another nation, grown upon the ruins. The same land; but another nation. The same stones, but without their meaning. The same Nile, but without the Nile-cult.


* * *

We heard of a modern Pagan who visited Egypt only a few years back. The first thing he did was to walk down to the Nile, to throw a few flowers in its current, to stoop and drink a little of its water, and pour a handful of it over his head. “Old Father Nile, you are beautiful. And you give life to millions of creatures. Yet, since how many centuries has nobody bowed down to you; nobody offered you his worship? I bow down to you, I, all by myself.”

And while he was saying this within his mind, a thought came to him: far away beyond the burning sands, far away beyond the sea, there is a Land where they have not forgotten; there is India, who still bows down to Mother Ganges, the last of the great sacred Rivers. Glory to India!

* * *

That is Hindudom seen in its strength, from a distance.

When one sees Hindudom in its weakness, yielding every day to hostile forces, losing bit by bit its numerical advantages, losing its political rights in India, losing its place as a nation, then one becomes more sceptical. One takes to thinking that the fate of Pagan Greece, of Pagan Italy, of Pagan Egypt, today, may be the fate of Pagan India tomorrow. Of course! Take Hindudom in Bengal, for example. In Bengal, the Hindus, not many years ago, were 55 per cent of the whole population. Now they are only 45 per cent. In two hundred years’ time, who knows in what proportion they will be? And, in five hundred years’ time (nobody knows), there may be no Hindus left at


all. Then, one may see a Mohammadan guide (a Bengali, descendant of generations of Bengali Hindus), explaining the deserted temple of Dakshineswar to the American tourists: “This was the temple of Kali, a Goddess of the Hindus. . . .”

A swarm of mosques will be built here and there, in the place of the minor shrines. Mohammadan life and European life combined, will make unrecognisable India look much like modern Egypt. Cultured Indians will look upon their national Gods, as Christian Europeans look upon Greek “mythology.” And the Ganges will still be flowing. But there will be no ritual bathing in its waters, no pilgrims, going up and down its “ghats,” no garlands of flowers thrown into it as offerings. India, then, may be free and powerful; but she will no longer be “our” India.

Is it that, what the Hindus want?

* * *

Certainly not. But it is that which is coming, if there be no reaction, on the part of the Hindus, before it is too late.

We believe that quality is better than quantity. But quality itself cannot grow, where there is no proper atmosphere to develop it. And, with a decreasing number of Hindus, the Hindu “atmosphere” of India is in peril, in certain parts of India at least. Save it at once or else. . . . Hindu “quality” will become the priceless treasure of a few individuals, foreigners in their own country. It will no longer be the treasure of a living nation.


Hindudom has reached a stage where it has either to die out, or else, to react vigorously — and then, not merely to survive, but to rule. There is no third alternative.

If Hindudom were to die, India would no longer be India. But what if Hindudom were to react, and rule?

Most Hindus are not deeply interested in their vital today’s problem: to live or to die, just because they cannot imagine vividly enough what it means to live. To live, for a nation, means: to rule. And, as the Hindu leaders repeat, the Hindus are a nation, not a community. They are a nation that is not conscious of its existence, but that still is a nation, just as a man is still himself, while asleep. Nobody can tell what would happen, if the Hindus were to awake.

First, future free India would be a reconquered Hindu India. But what beyond that?

Imagine a well-organised Hindu India, having in her hands all the power of a modern country of her size. Hindudom, once, used to extend over what is now Afghanistan, over Java, over Cambodia etc. The wife of Dhritarashtra was a princess from Gandahar, that is to say Afghanistan, and the remotest kings of Java, Cambodia etc. were Indian kings. Powerful Hindu India could reconquer these lands and give them back the pride of their Indian civilisation. She could make Greater India once more a cultural reality, and a political one too — why not?

And further still (who knows?), she could spread her name, assert her strength, establish her glory, wherever there are lands with a great culture that has been forsaken, lands waiting to be given back to


themselves. She could teach the fallen Aryans of the West the meaning of their forgotten Paganism; she could rebuild the cults of Nature, the cults of Youth and Strength, wherever they have been destroyed; she could achieve on a world-scale what Emperor Julian tried to do, what the Sun-God himself, through his oracle of Delphi, had declared impossible. And the victorious Hindus could erect a statue to Julian, somewhere in conquered Europe, on the border of the sea; a statue, with an inscription, both in Sanskrit and in Greek:

“What thou hast dreamt,
We have achieved.”

* * *

This all may be nothing but imagination. Any how, imagination is necessary to accomplish great things. It helps you to look above temporary distress, and fight with joy.

Between the dark picture of an India who would no longer be herself, and the glorious vision of real Greater India, that is to say, Greater Hindudom, let the Hindus choose, today. We say: today, for there is a time when things that seem impossible are yet possible. When that time is gone, then it is too late. Tomorrow may be too late even to save Hindudom in North and East Bengal, not to speak of rebuilding the world, through the might and inspiration of Greater Hindudom.