India has come out of two genocides; the first in 2002 in Gujarat and then in Muzaffarnagar in 2013. It has also abrogated Article 370 and made another achievement in passing Citizenship Amendment Bills. It has shown the Muslims where their place is. So, there is no fear left. The burning of the effigy of Ravan is called Dussehra and its an important festival for RSS. The Hindus consider it as a victory over evil. The evil was how Ravan had abducted Sita to Sri Lanka. A battle was ensured when Ram and his brother Laxman fought a war. The monkey god Hanuman and his race carried fire in their tails and burnt the whole kingdom in the southern tip end of India. In this way, Ram recovered his wife Sita.
The Tamils do not celebrate it because they are of Dravidian origin. For them, Ravan is a hero. The RSS is a racist organization and burning the effigy of Ravan is a matter of celebration. They wear new clothes and collect leaves from a tree, the Anjan. And distribute it to others, fold their hands and wish in their traditional way. This occasion is so special that the RSS chief delivers the ceremonial speech which is heard in pin-drop silence and it is preceded by worshipping of the weapons which the chief performs reverently. Even their vehicles also are garlanded along with the arms.
This is going on since time immemorial
But even so, Jawaharlal Nehru did not evince any interest in rituals like this and so did not Gandhi. Once Jinnah was having a meal and had hamburgers when according to his assistant Mohammad Currim Chagla some conservative Muslims came to meet. Jinnah remarked he would like to go to hell rather than miss his hamburgers. At another time Jinnah and others including Congress members had their meal together. He noted that Sardar Patel was absent. When everyone left Patel ate alone. Jinnah thought when Sardar cannot eat with them how could they live together?
This year is quite significant as the Taliban have taken over the rein in Afghanistan which has nothing to with Ram or Ravan. But the RSS chief conveniently dilates on this remarkable event of our time. The fear psychosis had swept over since August 15, 2021. No one except the Dravidian appears to be indifferent to the change. The RSS construes it as a threat. Therefore, the current chief of RSS Mohan Bhagwat’s pronouncement includes forewarning the Hindus of the lurking danger. The lower castes in the land do not feel much of this warning.
Incidentally, Arundhati Roy’s novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017) has a scene where the upper caste Hindus go to burn the effigy of Ravan. They systematically put out the headlights of their car and in the dark, they ritually kill a Dalit shoemaker. His son Daya Chand walks through the bloody mud in horror and panic. When he grows up, he changes his name to Saddam Hussein who stood up to the Americans in defiance. The ritualized killing has its reflection in such events as in Lord of Fliesof William Golding where ritualized killing by the followers of Jack is viciousness that can affect even the most civilized and cultivated.
So, the import of the victory speech especially in our overcharged atmosphere of the Taliban victory-fire has a different range of ramifications. Bhagwat says that those who went to Pakistan at the time of partition carried the flotsam and jetsam from this land. But he also alludes to the muhajir (migrants)who went to Pakistan, so their fate is doomed. His nightmare is that the population of Muslims rose up to 14.23 in the 2011 census from the 9.8 percent in 1951.
He conjures up as malicious for its implication
His rationale is that if you multiply so much how would you have a much higher number of caretakers or health workers in old age. Instead of this being a matter for the Muslims to deal why should the right-wing groups worry? It is still fresh in the minds of people in Delhi that an old Muslim woman of 85 years was burnt alive in the pogroms that came in the aftermath of the departure of President Donald Trump from Delhi international airport. She also had no one to defend.
There was also a massive march of the RSS cadets which was so overwhelming and awful to watch. A pogrom with such military march that too with the slogans of Kapil Mishra “shoot the traitors” was a daunting spectacle seen only after the massive- march that Mussolini had brought about in Italy!
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat again said that those who migrated to Pakistan after the Partition of India do not get any respect there. He was speaking at the launch of a book titled ‘Veer Savarkar – The Man Who Could’ve Prevented Partition’. Bhagwat also spoke about ‘Hindutva’, and the need to define it after some sections started claiming that India is comprised of distinct groups because of different religious rituals. But the moot question is how could a man with a fragile build like Savarkar achieve what he could not when his gifted gun was in the hands of the group that assassinated the Collector Mr. Jackson of Nashik.
The clique included two of Savarkar’s own brothers. The English gentleman was a devoted scholar of Sanskrit, an orientalist par excellence. He had not done anything that was offensive or out of the way of his duty. The right-wing organizations do not view English colonial rule in India as repressive. They certainly view the Moghul rules as repressive and cruel. In a similar vein, they call the visit of Mahmood Gaznavi as plundering the temple in Gujarat. But there are historians like Romila Thapar who have studied the topic and taught at JNU for years who do not agree. They say that there were traders who traveled to Somnath for doing business and since they were Muslims, they had made a deal to buy land to build a mosque. This is in a record of the land there.
It is explained that the site of Somnath temple was a site of pilgrimage in ancient times on account of the confluence of three rivers: Kapila, Hiran and Saraswati. According to Romila Thapar, the temple was dilapidated and hence required repair. A viceroy after retirement bought the gate of the temple for a historical reason or antiquity. It was a politician K Munshi who alleged that the temple was destroyed and hence it was built up by Sardar Patel. What is even more important is that it was Narendra Modi who started the Rath Yatra of LK Advani for building the Ram temple at Ayodhya at the end of the 1980s.
So, there are differences in perspectives
“Another situation, which was not entirely surprising, but occurred before the expectation, is the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Their predisposition — passionate fanaticism, tyranny and terrorism — is sufficient to make everyone apprehensive of the Taliban,” Bhagwat said in his annual Vijayadashami speech. This instance of apprehension in which fear is a dominant feature needs introspection and explanation. Why fear if you have not killed Muslims though lynching Muslims is a recurring feature.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh created a row when he claimed “Lies are spread about Savarkar repeatedly. It was spread that he filed many mercy petitions seeking his release from jails…. It was Mahatma Gandhi who asked him to file the mercy petitions…” When Ganesh Savarkar passed away in 1945, Gandhi wrote to V.D. Savarkar, “I write this after reading the news of the death of your brother. I had done a little bit for his release and ever since I had been taking an interest in him. Where is the need to condole you? We are ourselves in the jaws of death…” (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 79, Page 287).
There is a paper that Gandhi wrote in the draft, “It is difficult to advise you. I suggest, however, your, framing a brief petition, setting forth the facts of the case bringing out in clear relief the fact that the offense committed by your brother was purely political. I suggest this in order that it would be possible to concentrate public attention in the case. Meanwhile as I have said to you in an earlier letter I am moving in the matter in my way.” (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 16, Page 507) So no one is ‘in the jaws of death’ and yet fear persists, why?