Lohia on Understanding Hindu-Muslim relationship in India

In 1959 Ram Manohar Lohia had written a book *Guilty Men of India’s partition*. This is an extract from the introduction to the book. I had sent on Twitter a single page from the book as a teaser. The following extract starts a few paragraphs earlier, covers the page sent on twitter and also a few paragraphs further. I have tried to make it as small as possible but still make it as complete in itself. On the subject matter form your opinion. 

 

Complete equality among gods and prophets of religion can never be achieved except perhaps through atheism and destruction of religious worship. What may be achieved is near-equality. With a very thorough schooling in comparative religious matters and a general uplifting of the mind, it may be possible to put Ram and Mohammed on almost equally high pedestals, but never wholly so, for the person professing one religion and not another or born into it will most certainly have a special regard for it, however private. The irrational aim of trying to keep religions and to awaken completely equal regard for them should not therefore be sought. What should be sought is respect and understanding for another’s faith. A historical and comparative study of religions is the best way to awaken these. A sugary sentimentalism in these matters is as valueless as fanaticism is destructive and divisive. A restrained and calm appraisal of religious doctrines and faith with their achievements on the one hand and their drawbacks on the other would be of value.

The force that separates most is a particular view of history. Groups and communities are formed principally through the view they hold of what has happened. Hindus and Muslims of India hold separate views of their common history. Such Hindus arc rare as would acknowledge a Muslim ruler or man of note as their ancestor. Correspondingly, a Muslim who recognises his ancestor in a Hindu of note is rare. A certain number of glib fools has not been wanting, who have in their quest for national unity lumped together all Muslim rulers and invaders on the register of Hindu ancestry. Such a smooth operation is of no use. It bespeaks adolescence at its best and a foul smelling indolence at its worst. There would be no Hindu- Muslim problem today or when partition was effected, if Hindus and Muslims had been able to interpret their history unitedly and learnt to live in peace. British rule did not create something which had not existed before; that was wholly without its power. It may have at times awakened what was slumbering or made use frequently of what was evil. The Hindu and Muslim views of their common history have differed in the past as they do today and that is a main Cause of their separation in identity and action.

Muslims of India think that they owe their origin to such marauders as Ghazni and Ghori. An element of false self-pride enters into such erroneous understanding, which is further sustained by a theory of history that sees in every conquest an act of progress.  Undoubtedly, there must have been stagnation and utter decadence in a society, which fell to an invader. Equally undoubtedly, every new force also one that conquers, brings some good alongside of the evil that it injects. To assess a conquest on the basis, first, of its success against a weaker foe and, secondly, of its introduction of novelty and movement would be to obliterate the distinction between good and evil, to worship the powerful and to select facts one-sidedly. No conquest is ever good, except in the wholly imaginary instance of a people that would have stayed stagnant until doomsday without it. A nation that reads history in any other way becomes chronically subject to invasions and conquests and India easily holds the world record in this respect. 

Muslims, because they have acknowledged Ghazni and Ghori as their ancestors, have been unable to protect their own freedom and rule. India’s mediaeval history is just as much a war between Muslim and Muslim as between Hindu and Muslim. The invading Muslim has fought and conquered the native Muslim. Five times were the native Muslims unable to protect their freedom. They were subjected to such unparalleled massacres as those of Taimur and Nadirshah. The Mogul Taimur massacred the native Pathans and the Irani Nadirshah the native Moguls. A people who acknowledge invaders and massacres as their ancestors are unworthy of freedom and their self-pride is false, because they have no continuing identity that they can maintain. This, however, does not solve the problem of the enduring effects of a conquest, if it has lasted long. Conquerors ‘who change into natives in course of time become a part of the nation and a formula must he evolved that corresponds to this change in realities. It is one thing not to acknowledge the rape of one’s mother; it is quite another to refuse to accept its results. The Muslim has erred in acknowledging both the rape and its results, the Hindu in refusing to acknowledge either. The Hindu has been unable to protect his mother and he adopts the easy way of transferring his anger at his own infirmity on to the head of his half-brother. The half·brother in turn goes native and falls victim to another variation of the disease. His scale of values falls so low that he mistakes infirmity for prowess.

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