Swami Vivekananda’s message amidst mayhem on Muslim identity

Swami Vivekananda

Thanks to the social media revolution, any discordant note gets quickly highlighted. Even television media lives off the noise prevailing there. Not many in media want to talk about good and positive happenings as that requires genuine knowledge and hard work to make them attractive. On the other hand, negativity, fake and selective reporting is simple, although disgusting.

These days, media has found a goose that gives golden eggs without any efforts. And that’s harping about: “Muslim Identity and How Majority Hindus Treats Them”. Convenient to most politicians seeking to wrest their lost power and celebrities fulfilling social obligations of looking concerned by just posing with someone. Idle intellects also find it a lucrative opportunity to become relevant. All of them gain, excepting the nation!

Growing up during the 60’s and 70’s era many of us (depending on where we lived) might not have even bothered about religious clashes in our country. Other than obvious differences such as, Sikhs wearing turban at all times, mosques looking different from temples, the concept of society seemed all encompassing, as one large family. Yet, Hindu-Muslim riots broke out from time to time in certain parts of the country; Sikhs were killed en-masse post Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984. Furthermore, wars and clashes with Pakistan remain a constant reminder of partition and Hindu-Muslim discord.

But all this seemed to be a distant, something to be avoided in general discourses.

Not anymore!

People who personally did not suffer the agony of partition in 1947, wonder: How Hindus mistreated Muslims? And some Muslims feel how they are responsible for the acts of Muslims who partitioned India? Majority of young India falls in this category.

The good thing is that as an Indian born in current times, who may not know much of history and yet has conviction, integrity and humanity, is compelled to go through a crash course and take a stand.

One realizes that there were Muslims in India, who believed in two-nation theory and insisted that Muslims needed a separate nation, and they got it. Hindus, not wanting any division of their motherland had to agree to create two nations: one for Muslims, and another for all religions. But now we know that Muslims who lived in Kashmir drove around 3.5 lakh Kashmiri Hindu Pandits out of their own homes in Kashmir. Gosh! How many of us were even aware about their tragedies. No one bothered. No government, no public, no intellectuals and no celebrities!

Now suddenly we hear from some Muslims and even some Hindus that Hindus have not been fair to Muslims living in India. All these times I have had so many Muslim friends from childhood, growing with me side by side. I start wondering… Wasn’t Dilip Kumar every Indian’s hero all these years? Naushad, Mohammed Rafi, Majruh Sultanpuri, Shakeel Badayuni….this list goes on. Didn’t we all cherished and appreciated them equally along with Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, and Shankar-Jaikishan? Could one imagine a Ravi Shankar on Sitar without Allah Rakha on Tabla. And what about Shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan, whose day did not begin without prayers to the Hindu God, Hanuman?

So, where are the seeds of distrust coming from? From Muslim religious leaders, whose survival depends upon harping on Muslim identity to keep them under control; or, Hindu politicians, who create fears in the Muslim minds about other Hindus who never favoured division of India, and now seek uniform civil code for all Indian citizens?

Imagine India a hundred years from now. What do we like to see? A strong nation, where every child feels empowered, aspiring and fulfilling one’s dream, or India broken into pieces in false images of freedom, at war with each other? Situation can be better understood by an analogy with a family, which learns to remain united through mutual trust and love versus one which is disintegrated due to selfishness of a few.

I am not pessimistic at all, nor do I want you to be. India’s ancient wisdom is still alive in majority of masses especially in simple ordinary folks, who may stay silent while negative forces create ruckus. But, time and again, the spiritual force rises from within as one to begin submerging core negativities at one stroke. As it happened against dictatorial tyranny under the leadership of JP (Jai Prakash Narayan) in 1977; or, more recently, against the menace of corruption by Anna Hazare andolan (movement) in 2011. Next one lies in the rise of wisdom, which is justice with clarity!

On the birthday of Swami Vivekananda, it is pertinent to recall these historical words uttered in Chicago on September 11, 1893, addressed by Swami ji to future generations: “Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.”

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