by Ashok Yadav
Was it a mere coincidence that the Babri mosque was demolished on December 6? Of course, there are strong reasons to believe that the event was not an act of spontaneous mob frenzy but rather an outcome of a high-level conspiracy. No wonder the issue was utilised by the Sangha Parivar to generate communal euphoria across the length and breadth of the country. Moreover, this euphoria was manufactured and nourished sequentially and saw its logical culmination in the ultimate leveling of the mosque. However, the pertinent question is: what drove the saffron forces to choose this particular date for their heinous act? What was so especial about this particular date that it overrode all other options in the 366 days of that year (1992 being a leap year)? A scrutiny of this question, I posit, would unveil the true character of Hindu communalism or Hindutva completely.
As we are all aware the class struggle between the exploiters and exploited sections continues unceasingly in all human societies. Though at certain critical junctures in history this struggle manifests itself in violent forms most of the time it is fought unabated at the psychological level. This psychological war is fought between the collective/folk memory of the people and the institutionalised memory of the oppressors. The strategy of the ruling classes everywhere and at all times has been to efface this folk memory of the people which is nothing but an historical record of the resistance offered by the people and their heroes to the powers that be. Of course, the oppressor are aware that the oppressed sections get more agitated listening to the tyranny meted out to their ancestors than the fact of present day oppression that they face themselves. Hence the powerful dominant classes use all the instruments at their disposal to erase this collective memoryfrom the organs of the state to all the institutions of indoctrination (e.g. education) and propaganda (e.g. media/cinema). They are often successful at that.
On the other hand the subject classes strive to eternalise this collective memory by bequeathing it to the successive generations through its own literature, culture, art and folk traditions. In our own times the autobiographies being penned by Dalit authors exemplify this best. They also celebrate and observe the decisive dates in their history or those associated with their leaders (their birth and death anniversaries for instance) to keep the flame of their cause alive. May day celebration by international working class to remember martyrdom of workers in Chicago uprising is an apt example of this. How this memory of tyranny unleashed against their ancestors inspires the oppressed to do something remarkable can be glimpsed in one of the statements by Vivian Richards, a renowned Black cricketer from Antigua in West Indies. Viv Richards, as we all know, was not only a sportsman par excellence but also a vocal crusader against racial injustice. He once said that every member of my team was haunted by the memory of white oppression faced by their ancestors for centuries. When they bowled lethally at them or batted explosively it was as if they were extracting revenge from them for those cruelties and consequently earning place in the sun for their race.
Hence, we can see how this collective memory often acts as the chief weapon in the armoury of the oppressed sections. However, there are certain memories which the powerful can never erase despite their best efforts. In such cases they take recourse to adulterating this memory and channelising it for their own nefarious ends. I contend that on December 6, 1992 when the Babri mosque was razed to the ground similar efforts were made. But I will come back to it later. First a few words on the true character of Hindutva.
The paramount feature of the Hindu faith is the caste system. The ideology of hindutva only nurtures and sustains this system. In Gita, which is accorded the highest place in the corpus of Hindu scriptures, God animated as Krishna states that the varna system is His creation. Besides, all the scriptures of Hindu faith unequivocally support the caste system. It can be further asserted that those sitting pretty at the top of the varna hierarchy have their dominance, superiority, privileges, heaven, salvation, or for that matter everything, secure so far as the varna system operates. How the superiority of the twice-born and their social, political, economic and cultural hegemony can be perennially maintained seems to be the primary concern of the sanatana dharma. Otherwise why do proponents of Hindutva go berserk on the question of 27% reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs)?
The real history of India is yet to be written. The central role of the struggle against the caste system in the historical development of this land has not yet been rigorously investigated. This will only become a reality once the Dalit-Bahujan masses undergo a process of cultural revolution, or, dialectically speaking, it is the very writing of this history that will inaugurate the cultural revolution for Dalit-Bahujan masses.
The history of India is an account of the struggles against the caste system. The emergence of Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism or the influx of Islamic and Christian faiths and their acceptability would not have been possible but for the caste system. One may also propose that it is this very exploitative system which is responsible for the historical stagnation of the productive forces and development of knowledge and science in this country. This historical stagnation was however, consciously or otherwise, arrested by the advent of the British colonial state. In this respect the formulations of Karl Marx, Raja Rammohun Roy and Jotiba Phule bear remarkable similarity. In the mediaeval ages many a dalit-bahujan took a sigh of relief at the demolition of the Hindu temples by the Muslim invaders as these temples were also centres of social power parallel to the state. In these temples the entry of shudra-atishudra was prohibited quite unlike the mosques, churches. gurudwaras or monasteries which were more or less open to general masses and they could pray there collectively without a thought of high and low pervading the sacred premises. Even during the heydays of the struggle against British colonialism the banner of revolt against social imperialism was hurled high by people like Jotiba Phule, Narayana Guru, Periyar, Shahuji Maharaj and Babasaheb Ambedkar. Organisations like Bihars Triveni Sangha multiplied in all parts of the country.
The developments since independence also narrate the story of this strugglethe protagonists being Dr. Rammanohar Lohia, Karpuri Thakur, Kanshiram, Annadurai, Jagdeo Prasad, BP Mandal, VP Singh to name only a few.
The anti-caste proclivities received a great boost when VP Singh government announced its decision to implement the Mandal Commission recommendations. In the wake of this move by VP Singh the challenge posed by Dalit-Bahujan masses to the caste elite multiplied many times. Thus they unleashed the genie of kamandal to counter the politics of Mandal. Advani subsequently stormed the nation on his Ram-rath leaving behind a trail of blood wherever the rath crossed. When Laloo Prasad finally arrested him BJP withdrew support from the VP Singh government thereby chastising him for attempting the unpardonable. Communal polarisation and galvanisation by the Hindutva forces gained momentum resulting in the ultimate demolition of the Babri mosque. No wonder, the Brahmin and Brahminist Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao kept himself busy with an afternoon siesta on a wintry day and by the time he woke up the mosque had been razed to the ground.
There seem to be many reasons behind the demolition of the mosque. First, to counter the influence of Mandal by the valour of demolition. Second, to transform the feeling of defeatism plaguing the Hindu psyche due to repeated defeats at the hands of invaders (a consequence of the divisive caste system one may add) into a feeling of glory. Third, to dilute the social contradictions and varna struggle arising out of the assertion of the dalit-bahujan masses by a wider Hindu resurgence and unity. Fourth, the consolidation of the Hindu vote bank by arousing communal passions for BJP in order to achieve the ideal of the so-called Hindu Rashtra and so on. However, when we investigate the reason behind a particular choice of date (December 6) we are informed of at least one more reason.
In the twentieth century the major challenge to Hindutva has been indisputably presented by Dr. BR Ambedkar. This challenge, albeit political at first sight, is largely an ideological one. Along with Ambedkar two other names can be short listed for having contested Hindutva effectivelynamely, Ramaswamy Naicker (or Periyar) and Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia. It is unfortunate that Periyars influence remained restricted to South India only. Lohias slogan pichda pawe sau mein sath (let the backward bag sixty out of hundred) effectively challenged the political power of the proponents of Hindutva. The process of social change and consciousness we witness in North India today, especially in UP and Bihar, would have been scarcely possible without the contribution of Lohiaite ideology. However, one can surely find grounds to critique the contradictions and inconsistencies in his thought regarding Hindu religion, philosophy and tradition. Despite his powerful slogans this lacuna in his thought severely hampers the march of the caravan of social justice towards any meaningful destination. A harmonious integration of Lohiaite and Ambedkarite ideology is therefore imperative to give the much required edge to the politics of social justice.
The Saffron brigade trembles when it hears the names of Ambedkar or Periyar. Afterall, it is they who have bitterly exposed the reality of Hindu faith and have established beyond doubt that this faith is nothing but Brahmanism or the varna system. Both urged their followers not to stop before the complete destruction of this religion. While Periyar switched to atheism for this purpose Ambedkar advocated disowning of Hinduism and adoption of Buddhism simultaneously. It is another matter that even Buddhism is silent on the concept of God.
Despite being a constitutionalist Dr. Ambedkar often finds a pride of place in the league of the worlds greatest revolutionaries. He stood up to combat a system that had been reigning undeterred in this country for the last three thousand years. He could not have urged the voiceless and powerless untouchables leading a life worse than animals for attempting an armed insurrection. That is why he was a constitutionalist. By investigating meticulously the Hindu religious scriptures and authoring powerful tracts (like Riddles in Hinduism, Annihilation of Caste and Revolution and Counterrevolution in Ancient India), and, also by such powerful symbolic gestures like setting Manusmriti on fire and articulating and voicing the concerns and demands of the untouchables in various round table conferences, he laid bare the hypocrisy, contradictions and inhumanity of the Hindu religion and society before the whole world. He did not even deter from engaging in a vitriolic polemic and conflict with a personality like Gandhi in order to secure an independent identity and place for Dalits in the Indian political landscape. On the one hand he managed to pocket a few concessions for the dalits by making his way into the Constituent assembly, on the other he also criticised the Indian Constitution on various counts in no uncertain terms. When he became the first law minister in independent India, he strived and struggled to ameliorate the conditions of Hindu society, and especially the pitiable condition of its women, by drafting the Hindu Code Bill and making efforts to get it passed in the Parliament. However, his efforts came a cropper due to the influence of fanatic Hindus in the Congress party and government which were against modern and radical reforms. Now he saw no point in continuing as a member of Hindu society. During all these years he had been postponing the actualisation of his call to leave Hindu religion that he gave twenty years back. All this time he had been genuinely working at reconciliation with his adversaries. But now he could take it no longer. He converted to Buddhism with lakhs of his followers and reestablished the faith that had been exiled from the country of its origin some fifteen centuries back due to the inexcusable crime of challenging the caste system. In other words, Dr. BR Ambedkar now donned the mantle of a modern Buddha.
Until the day the Indian society liberates itself from the tentacles of the caste system his legacy shall continue to inspire the dalit-bahujan masses. It would be a parochial stance if we recognise Ambedkar only as a champion of shudras-atishudras. He is the leader of all Hindus because his primary concern was to liberate the entire Hindu society by breaking innumerable divisive caste walls. The path of liberation, for a Brahmin as well as a scavenger, from this inhumane caste system is ingrained in the theoretical insights of Ambedkar.
This is the only reason why Dr. Ambedkars life, actions, thoughts and struggle pose such a great challenge for Hindutva. His ideology is a guide to action for the dalit-bahujan masses. However, the efforts to destroy his legacy continue to proliferate. It is to meet such sinister objectives that books like Worshipping False Gods are written by Saffron theoreticians like Arun Shourie. Surely, for them a memory which cannot be erased, a legacy which cannot be vanuished can at least be surely mitigated by aduleration, illusions and sleight of hand pure and simple.
On December 6, 1992 when the nation was observing the death anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar, the Sangha Parivar was engaged in demolishing the Babri mosque with the aid of thousands of its cadres and supporters. A countervailing Hindu glory was being forged opposed to Dr. Ambedkars memory. Hindutva was making unholy inroads into the dalit-bahujan psyche and collective and individual memory generally permeated with Ambedkars legacy till then. An intense psychological war was witnessed which was no less lethal or violent than the organised and frequent pogroms against dalits and Muslims.
One may well ask why was Ambedkars birth anniversary (14 April) not chosen as a date for demolition? The answer is simple. In comparison to his death anniversary his birth anniversary is widely celebrated with much vitality and grandeur. It would have been a risky proposition because then their anti-Ambedkar ideology would have been brought out into broad daylight. They could not have afforded such a big risk at that time. Babri mosque is after all not the last mosque to be levelled. There are other mosques on their hit-list as well. Whenever they find themselves powerful enough to take such a risk they will show the temerity to do so. Why only Ambedkar there are many other icons that give sleepless nights to the Hundutva forces.
In the end, the explanation rendered above is purely theoretical. No concrete proof was available for this assumption. However, later I happened to discover a somewhat similar proof in some extracts of Malay Krishna Dhars book Open Secrets: Indias Intelligence Unveiled published in Outlook (Hindi, 7 Feb 2005) that on 25th December K. N. Govindacharya called him on phone and expressed his desire to come over for dinner to his house along with two of his friends
After dinner the conversation continued till midnight. He shivered from what he got to learn from his friends. They gave him sufficient indications that the Sangha Parivar was not obverse to the demolition of the mosque and putting in its place a temple-like structure
Why only December? He asked. Gurumurthy had promptly replied that he should read history once again. Did not Mahmud Gaznavi destroy Somnath temple in December 1025?
It is strange that the author did not ask why only on a particular day in December. It is also possible that the author may have asked the question and would have been promptly replied back that because it is the death anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar, and that he did not share this part of the conversation with his readers for the fear of completely unmasking the mindset of the saffron brigade. Who knows?