Subject: -Excellent read- The Identity Of An Indian
To: Here is the original blog entry
THE IDENTITY OF AN INDIAN – DR.SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY
Presented at the Bharatiya Vichar Manch Seminar on “Hindutva in Present Context” held in Karnavati, Gujarat on September 16-17, 2009.
What is Identity?
Every nation must have an identity to be regarded distinct. Even in United States of America, a relatively young nation created by an influx of immigration from diverse countries, scholars have felt the need to define the identity of an American. Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington has penned a book titled Who Are We? [ Penguin Books, India 2004] to define the American’s identity as a “White Anglo-Saxon Christian who speaks English”. It seems contrived since majority of Americans are not ‘White’, but Huntington is emphatic.However,
Huntington’s contribution is in seeing the two components of this identity that define it: Salience, which is the importance that the citizen attributes to national identity over the other many sub-identities. Second, Substance, which is what the citizens think they have in common, and which distinguishes them from others of other countries.
We in India today do not have to conjure up a contrived identity as Huntington valiantly had to do, because for us Salience is imbedded in the concept of Chakravartin, which Chanakya had spelt out with great clarity, while Substance is what Hindus have always searched for and found unity in all our diversities in, thanks our spiritual and religious leaders. And that invariably is the Hindu-ness of our people, which we now call as Hindutva.
The whole world has known our vast territory and millions of the inhabitants for centuries and called us as ‘India’ and ‘Indians’ or ‘Hind and Hindi’ or as the Chinese know us even today both as nation and people as ‘Yindu’. The root word in all these terms is ‘Hindu’, which word for the Persians, Arabs and Europeans meant a people living beyond the Sindhu river, and for the Chinese a people living beyond the Himalayas and bounded by the Indu Sagar [Indian Ocean].
The world knew us in these millenniums not as nomads but as a highly civilized people who produced exotic goods the world had never seen before and who were hospitable to visitors from abroad. Many travelers such as Fa Hsien, Yuan Chuang, Marco Polo, Vasco d’Gama, and Mark Twain wrote glowingly about the behaviourial quality of the Hindus, which can be summarized as the Hindu-ness [i.e., Hindutva] of the Indian people.
More recently, Mr.Jonah Blank, an American journalist curious about this Hindutva, took a journey in 1991-92 from Ayodhya to Sri Lanka on the route taken by Lord Rama. He then wrote a book about titled: Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God—Retracing the Ramayana Through India [published by the well known Houghton Mifflin of Boston USA]. He writes: “India’s land may be ruled by aliens from time to time, but never her mind, never her soul…..In the end, it is always India that does the digesting” [p.217]. He concludes: “But somehow a nebulous sense of “Indianness” does exist, and it binds together Gujaratis, Orissans, to Nagas who might seem to have nothing at all in common. Perhaps it is this elusive, undefinable [yet very real] link that has allowed the sub-continent’s multitude of races to live in some rough semblance of harmony for four thousand years”[p.218].
Despite Blank’s unthinking adherence to “facts” of Indian history as written out by British colonialists, the reality of his direct experiences from his travels in India makes him come to the opposite conclusion to the British colonialists viz., India has always existed because of the Indian-ness [read: Hindutva as Substance] of the people. This Hindu-ness or Hindutva has been our identifying characteristic, by which we have been recognized world-wide. The territory in which Hindus lived was known as Hindustan, i.e., a specific area of a collective of persons who are bonded together by this Hindu-ness. The Salience thus was given religious and spiritual significance by tirth yatra, kumbh mela, common festivals, and in the celebration of events in the Ithihasa, viz., Ramayana and Mahabharata. Hindu Rashtra thus defined, is our nation that is a modern Republic today, whose roots are also in the long unbroken Hindu civilisational history.
Throughout this history we were a Hindu Republic and not a monarchy [a possible but weak exception being Asoka’s reign]. In this ancient Republican concept, the king did not make policy or proclaim the law. The intellectually accomplished elite in the society, known as Brahmans, framed the laws and state policy and the King implemented it. Hindutva hence, is our innate nature, while Hindustan is our territorial body, but Hindu Rashtra is our republican soul.