Letters to the editor

'Why do you forgive Muslim invaders but condemn Savarkar?'

Readers respond to an article on the Hindutva leader.

Ajaz Ashraf (“Reading Savarkar: How a Hindutva icon justified the idea of rape as a political tool”) is ready to forget and forgive Muslim invaders and rulers who had raped and massacred millions of Hindu women, but is ever ready to condemn and malign (I am saying this because I have no trust whatsoever in his translation of Savarkar from Marathi to English) somebody who hinted that the need of the hour was to retaliate so as to deter murderers and rapists. – Gautam Dey

***

Instead of dividing people by religion, people should be classified as Aryas and Anaryas – as per their meaning in ancient Hindu texts.

Aryas are those who are moral, or noble, and Anaryas are the opposite.

Savarkar is right in recognising the laws of nature – but misapplies it to Hindus and Muslims. Aryas will apply this law in a way that it is beneficial to all of humanity and not just to justify a particular religion’s stance.

All of you should try to be Aryas and accept your duty to abide by laws in the interest of mankind. – Anita Vijay Mehta

Dubious claims

It seems you need an editor specialising in, or at least having a basic understanding of history .

In an otherwise interesting piece, ostensibly about why the Hindutva icon justified the idea of rape as a political tool, we suddenly have a very strange assertion. The article says:

"It was Savarkar, not Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who first categorised Hindus and Muslims as two nations. From the Hindutva perspective, the two nations – Hindu and Muslim – have been locked in a continuous conflict for supremacy since the 11th century."

To trounce this, we do not have to look further than any Pakistani text book (I should know, I have cousins who studied this in Pakistan). The books correctly attribute this to Syed Ahmed Khan.

Let's look at what Sir Syed said as far back as 1883:

“Friends, in India, there live two prominent nations which are distinguished by the names of Hindus and Mussalmans…To be a Hindu or a Muslim is a matter of internal faith which has nothing to do with mutual relationships and external conditions…Hence, leave God’s share to God and concern yourself with the share that is yours…India is the home of both of us…By living so long in India, the blood of both have [sic] changed. The colour of both have become similar. The faces of both, having changed, have become similar. The Muslims have acquired hundreds of customs from the Hindus and the Hindus have also learned hundreds of things from the Mussalmans. We mixed with each other so much that we produced a new language – Urdu, which was neither our language nor theirs. Thus, if we ignore that aspect of ours which we owe to God, both of us, on the basis of being common inhabitants of India, actually constitute one nation; and the progress of this country and that of both of us is possible through mutual cooperation, sympathy and love. We shall only destroy ourselves by mutual disunity and animosity and ill will[…]”

The sad part is that anyone who has studied basic history in school should know the above, and one expects better from Scroll.in.

Let me make it simple for you.

Syed Ahmed Khan’s time was 1817-1898 and he had said: "I am convinced now that Hindus and Muslims could never become one nation as their religion and way of life was quite distinct from each other."

Muhammad Iqbal, widely known as Allama Iqbal (1877-1938) said what follows in his presidential address to the Muslim League on December 29, 1930 and this is seen by some as the first exposition of the two-nation theory in support of what would ultimately become Pakistan:

"India is a continent of human beings belonging to different languages and professing different religions...I, therefore, demand the formation of a consolidated Muslim state in the best interests of the Muslims of India and Islam."

Jinnah’s time was 1876-1948, and he took Iqbal's message forward.

This “two nation” view was one with which Jinnah was familiar, but had not previously accepted. The substance of the ideal, although not its form, had been expressed by Muhammad Iqbal, when in 1930, as President of the Muslim League, he called for the creation of an autonomous Muslim state in the North West, to be confederated with the rest of India.

Savarkar was born in 1883 and died in 1966. The whole nonsense has come about (I am assuming) because of another revisionist, AG Noorani, who would rather prove that a Hindu Savarkar came up with the two-nation theory than the Muslim Sir Syed or Allama Iqbal or Jinnah – forget what Pakistani textbooks have to say. Even Nehru would have laughed at this sort of revisionism, leave aside what Gandhi actually said about the two-nation theory and who propounded it.

Savarkar spoke about the two-nation theory in 1937, after Iqbal in 1930. Also, remember, he is facing the widely used argument that Hindus are not one nation unlike the Muslims in India, an argument that has persisted since 1857.

Savarkar says he does not disagree with Jinnah's conception of two-nation theory but does not want Partition. He of course says all manner of nasty things about Muslims etc, but he is not the first to say that there are two nations.

“We Hindus are bound together not only by the love we bear to a common fatherland and by the blood that courses through our veins...but also by the tie of the common homage we pay to our great civilisation – our Hindu culture," Savarkar wrote in 1923. "...We are one because we are a nation, a race and own a common sanskriti (civilisation).”

This is pretty much what Sir Syed and others had been saying in the 19th century – at least 40 years before.

My point is very simple. You do a great disservice by allowing what appears to be a by-the-way assertion by Ashraf that it was Savarkar, not Jinnah, who first categorised Hindus and Muslims as two nations.

I bet even agenda-driven JNU historians would not want to make as bald an assertion as this, leave alone any self-respecting historian who cannot but be blind to the whole discussion and debate about nation-states in the early 20th century.

The problem is not for someone to try and argue that it was Savarkar who originally propounded the two-nation theory, the problem is in the fact that it is a bald assertion, stated with a clearly mala fide intent.

Surely you owe some duty to your readers? Surely any editor worth a college degree should be able to spot the spuriousness of the claim? – Dr Shabnam Ali

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