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Chapter 4


One of the natural consequences of the separation of religious faith from politics and from national life at large would be a radical change in the outlook of the Indian Mohammedans on Indian history.

Up to this date, the outlook of art Indian Musulman on his country’s past is Musulman, but not Indian. The periods during which different Musulman powers ruled over India are of a particular interest to him, not because of their importance in the whole history of India’s evolution, but mainly if not solely because they are periods of Musulman rule. The glories of the only time when India was not under any foreign rule at all do not seem to thrill him more than if they belonged to Roman or to Chinese history.

We maintain that unless this mentality changes altogether the Musulmans of India can never become


Indians. And it can only change when, in India, religion is put back to its place; when creed ceases to be considered as a collective concern.

We have spoken enough of the shortcomings of the Hindus. The shortcomings of the Musulmans are neither more nor less excusable. Both the presently distinct groups have to sacrifice a lot of their habits of thinking, if they wish to become one nation, and the fact that the sacrifices are, no doubt, to be great, on the part of the Hindus, does not minimise the greatness of the duties of the Musulmans and other non-Hindus of India (Christians, Zoroastrians, etc.).

One history, considered from two opposite angles, is equivalent to two histories. The succession of facts known in European history as the “Hundred Years’ War” is one and the same. But an Englishman speaks of the battle of Agincourt as a great victory while a Frenchman calls it a great defeat. The mere narration of facts does not count as much as the spirit of the narration; therefore, there may be one narration, but there are two histories.

In the same way, the past of India is one; we have made two histories out of it. To the eyes of the Hindus, Mahmud of Ghazni, Mahmud Ghori, Ala-ud-din Khilji, and later on Aurang-Zeb and


others are cursed enemies, while to the eyes of the Musulmans they become “idol-breakers,” “defenders of the Faith” and national heroes. And Jaya Pal, Prithwi Raj, Bhim Singh, Guru Govind Singh, Sivaji, and all the outstanding Hindus who have opposed Mohammedan power are looked upon as national kings, leaders and heroes by the Hindus, while the Musulmans consider them as opponents, as rebels, and sometimes as traitors.

But one nation cannot have two contradictory histories.

Historical events and personalities can be judged in a different light. All Frenchmen have not necessarily the same opinion about the French Revolution or about Napoleon; nor have all Englishmen about Cromwell. But the one and only reason why a French patriot judges Napoleon favourably or not is that, to his eyes, Napoleon has well served or badly served the real interests of France. Napoleon’s ideas about the Trinity and salvation have little to do with the matter, as long as France was well served by his policy. The same about the English, the German, the Japanese patriot: the judgement that they pass on the thought currents, the facts or the outstanding personalities of their country’s history depends solely upon what they sincerely consider to


be their country’s interest, their country’s glory, their country’s greatness. There was a time in Europe and in the Near East when “religious” considerations had much to do with people’s judgement of the past as well as of the present, a time when it mattered to the eyes of his countrymen, if a great man had been a Catholic or a Protestant; when an admirer of pagan glories was looked upon with suspicion. But those days are gone. Nowadays, in all the countries of the world where nationality has a meaning, there is only one criterion granting praise to the dead who have built history, and that is: their contribution to their country’s glory.

No modern English Catholic feels his admiration for Queen Elizabeth lessened because she was hard on the Catholics; she made England great; that is sufficient for all English people, irrespective of creed, to venerate her memory. The enemy, in the eyes of every English Catholic today, is not her, but Philip II, king of Spain, the champion of Catholicism in his time, who attacked England. It does not matter whether he attacked England to save her people’s souls from heresy or for another purpose. He is, in British history, a national enemy.

Small countries have no less commonsense than big ones, in such matters. The Greek Christians


look upon Perikles with pride: that great Pagan was a Greek. And they look upon the Bulgarian kings who fought theirs all through the Middle Ages as national enemies, although they were Christians, and belonging to the same church as themselves.

And if there is a country that can beat the West in intelligent patriotism, it is that proud Archipelago of the remotest East: Japan. According to a current story, a Japanese Buddhist, questioned by a foreigner as to what he would do if, by miracle, he saw the Buddha himself at the head of Japan’s enemies, answered without hesitation: “I would kill him.” But there is no need of referring to fantastic tales, however eloquent. Reality is eloquent enough. Ask a Japanese Christian, — there are some — what he thinks about Hideyoshi, Ieyasu, or Iemitsu who all three persecuted the Christians to the extent that the Christian faith was, practically, wiped out of the country. He will tell you that those three men were among the greatest of Japanese and probably add, if you mention their merciless persecutions, that “such steps were a necessity in Japan, at that time, in the interest of the country.”

That spirit which causes every citizen to look upon the facts and personalities of the past from a point of view which is, at its basis, the same for


all, irrespective of creed, of rank, of province, is exactly the thing which keeps a nation together. And unless and until the non-Hindus of India, Musulmans, Christians, Zoroastrians, whatever they may be, get to consider the facts and personalities of Indian history in that light, there will never be one Indian history for all Indians, there will never be an Indian nation; there will remain Hindus, Musulmans, Christians, Parsis living in India, — just as now; but there will be no Indians.

Compulsory primary education, uniform at least in its fundamentals from one end of the country to the other, would play an immense part in the country formation of Indian nationality. But where is it? And where can it be, until India is independent? Only an independent Indian government with strong national views (and force to back them) could enforce in all schools and colleges the best curriculum in general, and particularly the best history text-books for boys and girls who are to be, first of all, young Indians, — and then only young Vaishnavas, young Musulmans, young worshippers of Kali, of Ganesh, of Christ or of anybody else. One can never expect


foreigners, masters of a conquered land, to do anything to make that land take consciousness of its unity, or, still more, to help it to create its own unity.

But even if, in a long-desired and perhaps near future, happy circumstances do suddenly make India free, that would not be enough to form one nation, at once, out of her various peoples, and specially out of her two main groups, the Hindus and the Musulmans. That would not be enough if, among other things, these groups persist to consider both the remote and recent past in the light of conflicting communal interests, instead of from one common national standpoint. National education is as much a problem of the future (a problem of independent India) as national foreign relations or a national air force. At present, under alien rule, any national uplift on a broad scale is an impossibility. If anything can be done now it has to he done on a small scale. The awakening of a genuine national spirit in India at present means the conversion of the leaders and possible leaders of all communities to a national ideology; the conversion of the masses will follow in time.

And if some people tell us that an Indian nation has never existed in the past, we will answer: “It may be so. But then, create one now, so that it


may flourish in the everlasting future.” There was a time when Britain, France, Germany, Italy, did not exist as nations. They do now. Why? Because, at some time of the past, their people created them, taking consciousness of what deep common links underlay their acute differences as Catholics and Protestants. There was a time when the French Protestants did not consider it a shame, but a duty, to call for the help of powerful Protestant England against a French Catholic government; and when Catholic Englishmen also did not consider it a shame but a duty to welcome the intervention of Catholic Spain against the Protestant government of England. As long as such an attitude was possible, France and England were not full-grown nations. They have passed that stage. It is high time for India to pass it too, and spring out of her medieval “religious” quarrels, adjusting herself to the political atmosphere of the modern world. More and more numerous are the Indian Christians and Brahmo-Samajists who have ceased to look upon British rule from the standpoint from which Keshab Chandra Sen did, when he vehemently hailed it as a “providential blessing.” It is time for the Indian Musulmans also to change their habitual outlook on Indian history and to cease judging their country’s past from


the mere point of view of gain and loss of “Musulman” prestige, irrespective of nationality. If they sincerely wish to live in peace in a united and strong India, they should now begin to realise what a nation means, and consider India’s both remote and recent past solely from the point of view of Indian gain and loss, irrespective of the creed of those who played their part in it, irrespective of the interests of any group besides India herself. In one word, it is time for all Indians to look upon the history of India in the same spirit as Europeans, Japanese, and all citizens of full-grown nations look upon the events and personalities of their country’s past.

Just as an Englishman who personally is a Catholic looks upon Queen Elizabeth with pride, as upon a great English ruler; just as any European atheist is proud of the famous Christians who, in war and peace, have made his country glorious, and any European Christian proud of the atheists and Pagans, if any, whose name is a part of his national heritage; just as a Japanese patriot, who personally is a Christian, looks upon the makers of Japan’s greatness, even if they were persecutors of Christianity, so should an Indian who personally professes Islam look upon Prithwi Raj, Dana Pratap


and Sivaji, and all the great Hindus of the past, who lived and fought for the glory of India and her national culture. He should be proud of them as of all great Indians. What ideas these men professed about religion is immaterial. The Hindus, in the same spirit, should he proud of men such as Sultan Tippu, who died in fighting the foreign aggressors of India.

And just as an Englishman, nowadays, even if he be a Catholic, looks upon Philip of Spain as an enemy, because he waged war against England, in the same way should an Indian Mohammedan look upon Mahmud of Ghazni, Mahumd Ghori, etc. as enemies, because they attacked India, never mind for what purpose. He should make no difference between an invader such as Nadir Shah, for example, who attacked “Mohammedan” India, and Mahmud of Ghazni, who drew his sword against Hindus alone. When the Europeans first came to India, many Hindus made the mistake of considering them as “allies” against Mohammedan power. That misplacement of trust proved fatal because, in spite of all possible differences, the men who represented “Mohammedan power” were Indians, while the Europeans were not. When all Indians will look upon an enemy of India in the past or in


the present as an enemy, and upon a friend of India as a friend, irrespective of creed, then and then alone it will be possible to speak of Indians as one nation, and not of Indian communal groups.

* * *

We have often compared the attitude of our non-Hindu brothers towards our collective past to that of Europeans and Japanese towards theirs. This is not to ask the Indians to imitate the West, — or the East. God preserve us from any servile imitation in any direction! But a full-grown nation must have certain characteristics without which it is not a full-grown nation; just as a human being must present certain signs before he or she can be called a grown-up person. An homogeneous standpoint from which all the citizens of the same nation consider their common past is one of the distinctive signs of “grown-up countries.” And India has to grow up, politically, and make haste, not because it is a shame to live in eternal adolescence (it is not), but because it is a dangerous inconvenience, in a wild and tough world full of greedy grown-up countries. On the other hand, it is a risk of life to “fight out” the solution of the Hindu-Moslem problem. It may be


that a Musulman India will rise alone out of the struggle, and send the last Hindus to the Museum. It may be that a Hindu India will survive alone, and pack off the last Musulmans to Baghdad. But it may be also that, while the struggle is going on, one or more of the grown-up nations of the world will strengthen or establish its protective grip upon the whole realm of perennial national adolescence. And that is not the goal we intend to pursue.

Therefore it is better for both Hindus and Indian Musulmans to begin to think, feel and act as citizens of grown-up nations do, and first to acquire, like them, a homogeneous national outlook on the past, — and on the present too; for that is an aspect of national consciousness.

* * *

Present history means: world politics.

The fact is that, generally, as a result of a false education and of tendentious British propaganda, neither Hindus nor non-Hindus, in India, have any political training or any serious up-to-date information about what the world at large is doing. Therefore, they cannot situate India in her natural international setting, and have a well-based opinion


about how, at least, she should react, even if she be, presently, incapable of reacting at all.

But the problem is not there. Even while judging wrongly, in fact, we could judge from the right point of view, that is to say, in the way the interest of India appears to us. But we do not. A few Hindus do, perhaps; and a few Musulmans too. But to any event of international significance, the majority of the Hindus do not react at all, and the majority of the Musulmans react as Musulmans, not as Indians.

That is clear. After the last World War, for instance, a widespread propaganda was carried on in India in favour of the revision of the treaty of Sèvres. Congress Hindus joined the Mohammedans in that campaign with the ultimate aim of strengthening Hindu-Moslem unity by their collaboration; perhaps also with the idea that concessions to the Mohammedan point of view on their part would win them concessions in other matters from the Mohammedans. But whatever may have been the point of view of the Congress Hindus, it is visible that the Mohammedan attitude in that treaty of Sèvres business was not a purely nationalist one. For what difference did it make to India if the Caliphate was maintained in Turkey or not? And


what difference did it make, also, if Turkey was deprived of certain territories of which most had a definitely non-Turkish population? If the Indian Mohammedans stood in favour of Turkey on the ground that she was treated unjustly (in supposing that she was), why did they not carry on, against the treaties of Neuilly and especially of Versailles, the same campaign of indignation as against the treaty of Sèvres? Bulgaria and Germany were also deprived of territories, — and not only of territories with an alien population. The trouble is that they are not Mohammedan countries, while Turkey is. Therefore treaties which deprived Bulgaria of Dobrudja and Germany of the Sudeten region were not half as bad as a treaty which deprived Turkey of Eastern Thrace and a part of Asia Minor.

The same logic prevails in other instances which it would be easy to recall.

We know that, unfortunately, lack of patriotism, in India, is not a monopoly of the Mohammedans. Many Hindus too derive their attitude towards foreign events, foreign powers and foreigners in general from considerations which have little to do with India’s interest, and which are even, most of the time, less impersonal than creedal solidarity. The Hindu Mahasabha has bitterly criticised the pact


between the followers of Subhas Bose and the Moslem League; “Hindu” members would never vote with the Mohammedans in the Bengal Assembly, oh no! But they do not mind voting with the Europeans, occasionally, against both the Mohammedans and the Forward Bloc. Now, this may be a good policy from the standpoint of petty party interest, but it has nothing in common with Indian nationalism.

Individually, whatever the Hindus say or do is generally guided more by considerations of clannish and ultimately personal interest than by anything else, and each one’s sympathies and antipathies, in matters of foreign politics, have the same source. This man is a well-wisher of Japan because he thinks his personal ambitions or interests more or less directly served by Japan’s rise in power, not because he dispassionately realises that Japan is India’s best friend; and that man is deeply concerned over possible British reverses, not because he actually believes that Britain is India’s best friend, but because the possible departure of the British from India might well be the end of his pension as a retired “I.C.S.” or the end of his professorship in the University. Or perhaps, his personal fears are great enough to silence his criticism and to persuade him that any British reverse


is an Indian reverse.

But the fact that there is a tremendous quantity of selfish people among the Hindus does not make the attitude of the Mohammedans more Indian. And just as we ask the clannish-minded and selfish Hindus to extend their interest to the whole of India, so do we ask also the pan-Islamic-minded Indian Musulmans to restrict their interest to India first. India before persons; India before castes and clans; and also India before world-wide brotherhoods settled on the basis of common religious faith, of common social or political philosophy, whatever they may be. This is our point. And unless, either by propaganda or by force, this becomes the view of an overwhelming majority of Indians, there is no hope India will ever become nation.

May our Mohammedan brothers well understand that we do not condemn pan-Islamism especially because it is pan-Islamism. We merely condemn it as we do any international “ism” which would incite the Indians to judge national and international affairs front a standpoint beyond that of the sole interest of India. We would reject any “pan-Hinduism” stretched, on an ideological basis, beyond the limits of the Indian world, if such a movement were possible. But Hinduism is not identifiable with


any particular ideology or creed.

In fact, no nation can be the constant torch-bearer of one definite religious, or even social or political ideology or creed. Times change and, with times, a nation’s needs. Therefore, whoever is a believer in a creed has sooner or later, if the creed be of international scope, to choose between it and his nation. The only thing we urge every Indian to do in such a case is to choose India, — not the creed, whichever it may be.