Chandigarh: If one is to examine the history of Hindutva and all that it entails, we glean that religious fundamentalism is sort of new evolution in the history of otherwise peace-loving and tolerant Hindus. The ancestors of North Indians or Indo-Aryans and Dravidians or south Indians lived with a mutual understanding which produced a close-knitted nation of ‘Bharatvarsha’, or as Indian subcontinent was called some 6000-7000 years ago.
As civilization here started flourishing some 5000 years before the birth of Christ, the tales of India’s riches and its culture attracted scholars from all over the ancient world. It, however, also brought invaders. But these invaders were so impressed by India they ruled without disturbing the inherent unity. Indians also accepted every other invader with open arms and assimilated them within themselves.
Thus, came invaders from Central Asia, Iran, Greece and then Islamic rulers. Each of them came and embraced India. The miracle of India was that a country with majority Hindus was being ruled by hand-few of foreigners and then Muslims. But India remained peaceful, as rulers were benevolent and subjects were tolerant.
But it was not to be so for long.
A 5000-year old Bharatvarsha started to fragment when Aurangzeb assumed the throne of Mughal Dynasty. His era can be called as beginning of communalism in India. With active support of Muslim clerics and his Afghan generals, he went on a deplorable spree of religious persecution. Hindus, Sikhs and other non-Muslims were publicly criticised and executed for even looking into the eyes of any Muslim. In short, the modern anti-minority chauvinism of few fringe saffron elements which we witness today is a gradual product of retribution by majority, in response to Aurangzeb’s policies.
Notably, the years between 1658-1707 are called the ‘Reign of Terror’ in Indian history. This was the reign of Aurangzeb.
And thus came the Maratha uprising under Shivaji and then Sikh discontent which was led by the nine gurus of Sikh community. These communities started feeling threatened under Aurangzeb and formed groups on religious lines to protect members of their clan. Anybody not belonging to their clan was looked upon with suspicion. Though Aurangzeb muzzled every voice that stood in his way, Indian thinking had been vitiated.
It is worthwhile to mention here that while caste system existed in India society from the very beginning, peace and co-operation had always been the essence of Indian society, comprising of Hindus and Muslims.
After Aurangzeb, it should come as no surprise when British exploited this Hindu-Muslim divide some 60 years later and made a nation many times the size of theirs accept its suzerainty. The very Hindu-Muslim divide led first to creation of separate electorates on religious lines and ultimately partition of Hindustan into India and Pakistan. And during the whole course from beginning of Aurangzeb’s rule till present day, at least a billion lives must have been lost in religious persecutions or communalism or its aftermaths.
While In India, the insecurity of fringe Hindutva elements ( descendants of Shivaji and Sikhs) still haunts minorities, Pakistan witnesses interminable crimes against non-Muslims.
Owaisis, Togadias, Hafiz Saeeds have all been formed by the thinking, advertently or inadvertently, of same person who ruled Hindustan in late 1700s. Even they are innocent victims of a mastermind named Aurangzeb.