“Why do we in temperate India
Read about poetic snows
Which foreign poets celebrate
In metaphors none of us knows?
Yes, we sing hymns to the monsoon,
The downpours which each year
Bring promises of renewal
When thunderous clouds appear.
From Godrej to Road Rage by Bachchoo
Dear Narendra Saheb,
I address you as a petitioner on a matter which has, I am sure, occupies the minds of millions in our constantly changing world.
I mean, as you can see from global reports, particularly in the last weeks from France and Vienna, that there have been murders and terrorist attacks in the name of Islam in Europe. After the beheading of a schoolteacher in France and the murder of people in the Notre Dame cathedral of Nice, President Emmanuel Macron declared his policy of war on Islamist terrorism. He was, commendably, careful to say that his offensive was not against the religion but against those that interpret it as an injunction or licence to murder the innocent.
He has declared a relentless campaign by the French state to eliminate terrorism emanating from this particular interpretation of Islam which, according to very many scholars and to the philosophy of many schools of the religion, is anti-Islamic and amounts to the ideas of deviant savants who instituted death-cults and insisted they were the authentic religion.
President Macron’s declared offensive is fraught with difficulty as the French police say they have 20,000 individuals whom they need to keep under surveillance as they have indicated in one way or another their adherence to or sympathy for the ideas of the contemporary death-cult. Mr Macron’s initiative is welcomed by the citizens of France but his efforts and that of the French state, or that of the Austrians, British, other Europeans, Americans or even the Pakistani state (which has been ambivalent towards this phenomenon) will obviously not solve what is now a universal occurrence. The Trump administration of the US didn’t seem to distinguish between Islam and the Islamicist death-cults. Mr Trump and his aides perhaps didn’t understand any distinction and declared bans on citizens of certain parts of the globe.
The reason is that Islam today is a universally divided house. In the states which call themselves Islamic, the factions of Sunnis and Shias fight and kill each other in terror attacks as in Pakistan, or in factional armies, supported by foreign powers, as in Syria, or as opposing national states with deadly foreign-manufactured-and-marketed weapons as in the Yemen. ISIS, declaring itself heir to the world, began its murderous campaigns in Islamic countries, fighting Muslims in the name of Islam.
No country, no state, has gone any distance to set any sort of example to bring peace where there is war and hope where there is the underlying despair that leads to the murder of innocents. The wisest world opinion has concluded that only Muslims can bring about this peace or defeat of death cults in the Islamic world. That’s as obvious, gentle reader, as the nose on your face (apologies to Surpanakha of the Ramayan who had hers cut off by Lakshman). But can they? Unlike Christianity, Islam has no Pope or archbishop to make a ruling. The fatwas abound, the killing continues
And yet Narendraji, there is one country that can offer examples of an attitude, a policy, strategies towards the future and set patterns and ideals for the rest of the world. Yes, Pradhan Mantriji, that country is Bharat Mata.
The theology of Islam didn’t come to India in the shape of Muslim conquest. It came in the guise of the Sufi evangelists, the Chishtis and the Olyas. A scholar and prince such as Dara Shikoh, the brother of the bigoted Aurangzeb, recognised the closeness of Sufi Islam to the philosophical Advait Vedant of Shankara.
Every religion has beliefs and writings from the past which the modern worshipper discards and is forced, by sheer common sense and humane values, to neglect as things which have outlived their origins. No Christian should act on the dictates and punishments that Leviticus prescribes in his book in the Bible. Just so, there are passages in the Vedas about castes and the status of women which don’t accord with the democracy that brought your party and you to power. Of course, all the modern movements of Hinduism understand that.
Millions of our citizens go to temples to worship and also make a pilgrimage to Ajmer to the shrine and presence of a Sufi saint.
Yes, as my late friend V.S. Naipaul insisted, we should tell the truth about the atrocities that were visited by conquerors on the Indian population. Nothing should be swept under the carpet, including the atrocities, through thousands of years, of the ruling upper castes against those born as lower.
In the moments of the Black Lives Matter morchas in the United States and Britain we saw whites and blacks saying let us, while acknowledging it, put the history of division behind us.
I address this to you, Narendraji, as being uniquely placed in the world to lead a country with a unique history to put the divisions of that history behind us and discover, recognise the inevitability of and anoint the avatar of the future India… of freedom from the devils of conflict. Jai Hind!