The cankerous tentacles of colonialism have eaten into the vitals of Bharatiya culture. There is an urgent need to reverse the process and undo the damage it has done on our minds
श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुणः परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात् ।
स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेयः परधर्मो भयावहः ।। (3:35)
By J Nandakumar
The Bhagavad Gita, acclaimed as a most comprehensive summary of the Perennial Philosophy ever revealed, teaches us, “It is better to do your own duty (swadharma), however imperfectly, than to assume the duties of another person (paradharma), however successfully. Prefer to die, doing your own duty: the duty of another will bring you into great spiritual danger.”
Following the similar lines, the colonisation was, in fact, a process of syphoning out whatever was inherent or congenital to our culture, delinking us from our cultural past and civilisational ethos (our Swadharma). Fulfilling its two-fold evil mission, it has filled the void space with alien contents and principles (Paradharma) which ultimately left us at a crossroads at the onset of Independence with no certain path ahead. We have been left with no choice but to move ahead with the seeds of Western values which were spawned by the so-called Colonial Masters and nourished by neo-colonial masters with leftist-liberal outfits.
The very term colonialism is not just all about the British, but it typifies the entire gamut of foreign ideas and ideals which are slapped on us. In post-Independent India, the succession has been handed over to the so-called eminent historians and academicians. They used the same instruments and apparatus as their colonial masters, that were craftily devised to “divide and rule” the nation. Colonisation, if we put in simple terms, can be of two types: one, the colonisation in the real sense, and the other is an invisible colonisation which happens or continues without our cognizance.
The latter is graver as it inflicts more damages on the national genius and unity. For the same reason, it becomes pertinent to review, if any earnest efforts have been made to decolonise Indian minds and also to ponder over the steps to be taken towards this direction.
There is an interesting biological phenomenon seen a species of insect that metaphorically explains the malicious modus operandi of colonisation. There are families of colourful wasps, such as the Braconidae and Ichneumonidae, that lay their eggs on or inside living creatures like caterpillars, aphids and spiders. Simultaneously, the wasps inject a toxin into their victims that paralyse them but does not kill. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the living prey, consuming the non-vital parts like fat and digestive organs first, keeping the vital organs like the heart and the central nervous system for the very last, in order to prolong the time for which their food remains fresh. (Preface: Global Parasites-500 years of western Culture by Winin Pereira & Jeremy Seabrook, taken from Encyclopedia of Indian Natural History OUP, 1986, p 588).
In a way, the colonisation is also happening the same way. Sedated by the glittery western ideas and ideals, we often fail to realise the pain of the eggs being injected into our minds as the larvae eat up the vital organs of national life which eventually leads us to death.
As far as efforts towards national reconstruction and decolonisation are concerned, the policies of our first Prime Minister, who himself sought pride in calling himself an English man, were rather aimed at ‘recolonising’ than at ‘decolonising’.
M A Venkata Rao (to whom Shri Guruji dedicated the entire volume) rightly observed in his introduction to Bunch of Thoughts, “The Nehru mind is made mostly abroad and in spite of Discovery of India, Shri Nehru never succeeded in catching the spirit of Indian culture at its best.
Thus the blueprint of the new society, he is using as a Prime Minister and leader of national reconstruction for building an independent India, is the socialist pattern of society which is infinitely more abstract and superficial, more mechanical and charged with unsolved problems of class conflict than the foundational ideas of the past.”
While decolonisation was given high priority in other countries which achieved independence along with India, it was sabotaged in India. Ironically, the pursuit of reinventing the national self-consciousness and linking the young generation to the lost roots of our culture has been impeded by ourselves.
The responsibility of this great crime falls on the eminent people, who enjoyed a sway over the newly-born Indian republic, and who can be put in three categories. All of them,voluntarily or involuntarily, identify themselves as the vocal advocates of ‘colonial values’.
One, those who were not at all aware about the importance of Swadharma. Naturally, they won’t follow it. In stead of fostering it, they will try to weaken it to its core. And they treat the very essence of our cultural existence, Swadharma, as a major hurdle which impedes the progression of our nation.
Two, who believed they were aware of it, but were reluctant to adopt it as they feared it was not capable or not strong enough to tackle the problems the present India was facing. Since their bondage with colonial past is stronger and deeper, they would search the remedy for India’s present predicament in their foreign counterparts like various communist and capitalist countries (erstwhile USSR or USA). Hence, the post-Independence policies of Nehru were more an extension of India’s colonial past devoid of self-respect and self-reliance that ended up in adopting the Soviet model, again an alien development paradigm, which has been later proved to be unfit for Indian conditions.
While both are native, albeit destructive in nature, the third group is the actual enemies , the perpetrators of ‘Breaking India’ warfare.
As stated above, colonisation is not enslaving a new but also it continues to enslave, more like a like a nuclear chain reaction, until it is weeded out from the root. As the colonisation was a toxification as far as the national body is concerned, the decolonisation should serve the purpose of detoxification which has to be carried out very systematically and carefully. Those who are seriously contemplating on the condition of present India cannot overlook or tolerate the gross damage inflicted on our national genius by this aforementioned ‘invisible colonisation’.
As Bhagwan Krishna explicitly said in Gita, if we want to live as we are, then necessarily this menace of the foreign body has to be warded off.
As famous journalist Mark Tully rightly said, the predominance of English in India is harmful to intellectual life and to democracy, many academic India-watchers only laugh at the “nativist’ position.
The ruling elite has thrown full weight behind attempts of the linguistic decolonisation. It was in a way an attempt to preserve the privileged position of English and to prevent the linguistic decolonisation of India. As a result,according to a statistics, the share of total non-English medium candidates who passed Civil Service Preliminary examination was hardly 13 per cent!
Take education, especially Social Sciences and Humanities, for example. We are not yet ready to teach at least our own history of Science in Bharat. The Aryan invasion hypothesis is still a non-disputable fact for History as well as Social Science syllabus in our universities. Hence we are teaching our students that Kautilya is an Indian Machiavelli, Samudra Gupta is an Indian Napoleon, Kalidasa an Indian Shakespeare, who are, in fact, no way peers in any standard, neither historically not chronologically.
Right from Kindergarten level, English has been imposed as a medium of communication as well as learning. History books written by Savarkar, RC Majumdar etc. are yet to be recognised as authentic and fact-based by our so-called eminent academicians.
In media academics there are no Bharateeya theories of Communication. In art and literature no commendable contribution at par with their so called international standard. Can there be any other nonsensical teaching method than enlightening students of Indian Philosophy through Plato and Socrates? What else we can assume other than that we are in a state of toxification effect of colonised mental makeup where an Indian political science student is denied learning Hindu Polity. What is the intention of the eminent educationists, what they are fearing? Is our Indian “Gana Rajya” system unworthy to be learned about ?
After-effects of colonisation
The aftereffects of colonisation are very much evident and alive in our present society that often comes to the fore in various ways. It can be in the form of anti-national slogans raised at the university campus or a pro-secessionist voice raised in the Parliament house or on the streets. Sadly, it has affected all walks of the nation.
It didn’t even spare the agriculture which is a way of life of rural India. The western approach has been imported into the agriculture sector where the native agricultural techniques and seeds are being replaced with those of the western in origin.
It is needless to comment on the industrial sector and technology as they were completely devoid of anything that can be called Indian. Despite the reformative steps taken from time to time, our bureaucracy, judiciary, administrative apparatus etc. are nothing but the relics of our colonial past.
The prevailing social order stands testimony to the crime of colonialism which has tampered with the pre-existent social framework and has sowed the seeds of division by infusing the class hierarchy which is essentially a western construct. As a result, new castes are taking birth every day.
All the evil effects of colonisation can be summarised into six ‘I’s, such as Inferiority,Ignorance, Inertia, incompetency, Ill-Will and Irreverence. One of the effects of centuries of immersion in a colonial psychology is an inferiority complex and an attitude of self-reproach. Many of us are ignorant about the greatness of our rich heritage. Because we were not taught about that. As prominent lawyer Nani Palkivala once remarked, a bit harshly, “India is like a donkey carrying a sack of gold. The donkey does not know what it is carrying but it is content to go along with its load on its back”
Another dangerous epidemic which had crept into our very entity is bewildering inertia. Even if we are aware we are under siege, we are not ready to act. The incompetence, rampant in all sectors, is an outcome of delinking ourselves from a social structure based on family- oriented industries. When the ill-will is manifested as the prevailing shameful servitude mentality, the irreverence towards all that is Indian is a characteristic feature of the intellectuals and academicians in post-Independent India that misled an entire generation. Anything Hindu is being ridiculed as communal, obscurantist, retrograde and what not. This propaganda in the academic circle is being consistently done by the Leftist intellectuals. In a way, they are taking forward the colonisation agenda of the West. A post-modern form of Marxism which denies the very notion of objective knowledge, which assumes that knowledge is conditioned by one’s social belonging, and which insists that “all research in the social sciences has a political agenda”.
The spiritual movements led by Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda, the cultural renaissance sprung from Bengal and spread out to the rest of the nation, the initiatives of the likes of Rabindranath Tagore (like Vishwa Bharati, Deccan Education Society etc), the efforts of revolutionary nationalists like Sri Aurobindo, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and others contributed enormously to the pursuit of decolonisation and nationalisation. The sincere attempts of all such nationalists amounted to invigorating the nationalism and the feeling of Swadharma in Indian minds. But a comprehensive and conscious effort in this regard came into being in 1925, in the form of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh envisaged by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar.
Despite a Herculean effort is needed to usher in decolonisation in the education field, which was the first and foremost victim of colonisation where it inflicted a gross devastation. The devastation has been mammoth so a conscious and consistent effort is needed to Indianise our academic environment, and it can happen only through discussions and debates. More importantly, without our own languages, how can a nation progress.
Sanskrit and other Indian languages should get a deserving space in the academic parlance. The re-emergence of Sanskrit and the wide acceptance of Yoga, etc, suggest that the young minds are now more inclined to Bharatiyata than their immediate predecessors. They are the shining examples of an India which is being decolonised. The surge of nationalist organisations, both socio-cultural and political, across the nation also signifies that we are on the right path. For an instance, BMS (Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh) has become the largest trade union. Unlike other labour movements rooted in Western thought system, BMS, a movement upholding Indian thought system believes the labour field is a family while the Communist idea of trade unionism treats it as a battle field.
The progenies of colonisation and prisoners of colonial mindset are still up in arm against the decolonising efforts by various nationalist movements. But the enlightened young India with an earth-shattering zeal to break the shackles of centuries-old slavery is taking lead for the cause and striving ahead for the cause. The unusual urge of Indian minds to connect with our cultural roots is a really welcome sign which hopefully delivers a real Swaraj even after seven decades of political Independence.
(The writer is a national convener of Prajna Pravah)