11 years after I hung my uniform as an air force officer. I am trying to remember if I ever chanted “Bharat mata ki jai” when in military. 6 years across 6+ military bases I served, how many times did I chant “Bharat mata jai “? I can for sure say I said “Jai Hind” a million times( Average 50+ times a day). But ” भारत माता की जय ” ? I think ” ZERO “. This surprises me and may be it will shock 1000s of chaddi nationalists a lot more. At epitome of national service, you do not need to chant this mantra. I am hopeful, this is not giving an idea to some jerk in Sangh HQ to wake up and destroy the beautiful salutation culture of our glorious armed forces.
Looking back on the day when I was to take oath to defend India with all my vigour even to peril of my life, I had 2 choices
- Take oath on Gita or
- Just affirm as an individual.
I chose to do affirmation. I didnt swear putting my right hand on Gita or Sita. 22 of my 24 course mates did but I believed that the commitment I make as an individual, in my full conscience and wisdom doesnt need crutch of any religion or book. I was questioned why I wont take oath on Gita though I am a Hindu? I answered that my flavor/vision of Hinduism is not congruent to everything that Gita preaches. My argument was accepted. Imagine doing this in any other religious or theocratic nation, I will be labelled blasphemist and bled to death. To me, this is the most solid idea of India Hinduism and its grandiose सहिष्णुता
Growing up, I thought the God factory in heaven(ऊपर) stopped producing Devis+ Devtas+ Maatas+ Baaps in 560 BC ( After Buddha) but reality is quite different. Today, as I see a lot of irritating jingoism on “Mata” chant. A quick search on Bharat mata reveals that it was first conceived in a fictitious play , Bhārat Mātā by Kiran Chandra Bannerjee . It was first performed in 1873. So, in reality is it not just another figment of imagination of this Bhodro (Baangali) playwright during British rule?. Whats so sacred about it?
The story on Bharat mata can be read here
Surprisingly, anyone can add few additional pairs of limbs, put a lion/tiger+ sun halo behind, add one weapon in each hand, top it up with a mukut and lo, a new deviji / maataji, baapji is created. Practically there is nothing stopping imaginative folks from creating Maratha maata, Patna Maiya, Guntoor Tanni or say JhoomariTalaiya maa. All it takes in this digital age is Photoshop. Blockheads can claim that not bowing to it is against Nationalism / Regionalism or city / Mohallaism
I agree, “Mata/Mataram” did become a battle cry for some freedom fighters but so did ” Bole so Nihal, Allah u akbar or Har Har mahadev or, Joi ma kaali or Jai Gorkhali or Chak de fatte. Everyone had a choice to pick the battle cry which galvanized folks around to fight a common battle. It was the pluralism of battle cries which allowed folks to win multiple battles and ultimately the war. Every chant served some purpose just as every color contributes to make a rainbow beautiful. Pick your own indigo or orange but dont try to shove your choice of color up somebody’s…. you know what.
I had always been critical of deification of objects in Hinduism. From पाताल (Core of earth) to पेड़(tree) to पृथ्वी(earth) to penis does everything need to be a devta? This 33 Karod devi devta concept never appealed to me but I often liked एकेश्वरवाद – एक साधे सब सधे , सब साधे सब जाय.
What do these mata chants have to do with a diverse, multifaith, multi ethnic pluralistic nation like India? What does it have to do with Hinduism other than its crudest form? What objective does this kind of deification handle other than
- Oversimplification of some objective to align the low intellect junta around it?
- Create another non taxable revenue stream (Read temples) to help Birlas / Bajajs and other wealthies to run trusts around it to convert black into white and white into silvers?
- Celebrate a day with some silly rituals, extort money, eat up calorie bombs, create traffic nuisance and strew the rivers and oceans with a lot of garbage ?
I am not from a religion which prohibits me to bow in front of anybody other than Allah. I am not prohibited to say Jai to anyone. As a free thinking man, my intellect revolts at mindless and reckless devification. Its utterly obnoxious to have a devata of every kind popping in front of me randomly from anywhere/ anyday expecting genuflection. I just wont do it. If a person like Javed Akhtar transgresses his religious bounds and chants Bharat mata, its his conviction and freedom to do it. If Owaisi doesnt want to say it, shouldnt he have the liberty to do it? Why should someone call him a a pig for it?
Why we debase the profound vedic shloka – जननी, जन्म भूमिश्च , स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी ( Heaven is found in the lap of mother and land of birth). Please note the usage of जन्मभूमि not मातृभूमि
We need to create more robust belief and value system around Nationalism and Hinduism in particular which can stand the onslaught of any critique or rational inquiry. Continuing to believe in ugly dogmas, stupid rituals and irrational beliefs or practicing them makes a mockery of your own intellect and our highly evolved religion.
Advantage Hinduism is: Its not driven by the communication someone received secretly in a cave. It does not shut down free constructive thought(शास्त्रार्थ) . Its not constrained or limited. The buck does not stop at any book. Not even Gita or Ramayana or Vedas can claim to be all encompassive of what Hinduism stands for. Its beautifully non prescriptive religion. It encourages you to be a contemplative and free thinking human. Empathy is what has kept this faith relevant.
आत्मनः प्रतिकूलानि परेषाम न समाचरेत.
If you wont like someone else’s ideology/faith thrust on you, do not thrust yours on them. If Hinduism could survive 600 yrs of murderous Islamic rule and 200 yrs of missionary lure, it can very well withstand ugliness emerging from within, in form of Sakshi maharajs, Amit Shahs or Muttaliks. We can evolve, we can mutate, we can create new releases, versions of our faiths, we need not create more gods, more maatas and baapas.
Recently, I was evaluating a very large enterprise software (U$ 100 Mn+ type ) for redesign with a project sponsor. She told me – “ Everybody added a lot of crap on this software whenever they felt like but no one bothered to clean it up ever. So what you see is a lot of junk all around which makes little sense “ .. Same I believe is the case with Hinduism as a religion. Everybody when they felt like added their bit of crap, no body ever cleaned it up. So here we are with a lot of junk.
If you wish to start on some introspection of Hinduism as a faith, a good point to begin may be here :