Air Marshal (retd) R K Nehra believes the retrograde Hindu concepts of ahimsa (non-violence), shanti (peace) and satya (truth) were the main causes for partition.
Over the centuries, the Hindus of Bharat have gone through n number of traumatic experiences. Even for such experienced people, partition of this ancient holy land was a great trauma. It was particularly painful, as the Congress leadership had led the Hindus up the garden path. Congress won a resounding victory in the 1945 elections on the solemn promise of ‘no partition’ — not now, not ever, not under any circumstances.
Jawaharlal Nehru had called the very idea of partition a fantastic non-sense. He used to wax eloquent as to how the advocates of partition were living in a fool’s paradise; not realizing that the boot was on the other foot. Mahatma Gandhi had averred that partition could take place only over his 'dead body'. However, within the space of 1 to 2 years and even before the push could come to a shove, both gave in without much of a whimper, citing the old Hindu excuse of abhorrence of violence and bloodshed.
There was a set pattern. Jinnah would threaten violence; Congress would cower, pleading in their ahimsic style — please, please, do not threaten violence; you know we cannot stand the bloody thing as we are worshippers of ahimsa. Over time, the Congress with its pusillanimous actions, imparted Jinnah a halo and an air of invincibility, which he did not have and did not deserve. Jinnah was a master tactician. He exploited the situation and achieved the unachievable. Later, Jinnah was to boast that he got Pakistan with a clerk and a typewriter.
At the most crucial moment of modern India’s history, Mahatma Gandhi was Lord Krishna to Nehru’s Arjuna. Nehru was vacillating and refusing to engage in dharma yudh (righteous struggle) to save the honor and integrity of the motherland. Lord Krishna’s discourse in the Gita, was precisely for such an occasion. But the Mahatma did not assume the role of the great Lord, and did not live up to his high stature. If Gandhi was opposed to partition, he did not make an issue of it. It was customary for the Mahatma to go on a ‘fast unto death’ on relatively minor issues. However, he chose not to do so on this most crucial issue of ‘life and death’ for the country, and the people who loved it.
There were some riots, especially in Bengal and Bihar. A few hundred, perhaps a few thousand, people were killed. During their freedom struggle, the tiny state of Vietnam had willingly taken casualties of 2 to 3 million. During World War II, Russia suffered casualties of some 20–30 million. By those standards, the death of a million or two people would have been no big deal for a humongous country of the size of Bharat of 400 million people. We could have easily called Jinnah’s bluff. The Congress could have told Jinnah that it was not afraid of his gidar bhabhkis (hollow threats); that it was willing to confront these, and where necessary, reply in kind. But that was possible only if we were not stuck in the bhool-bhulayas (blind and dark alleys) of ahimsa (non-violence), shanti (peace) and satya (truth). In any face off between the Hindus and Muslims, casualties were unlikely to exceed a lakh (hundred thousand), or two. That would not have been a high price to pay for the honor and integrity of the motherland. Only when men die do nations survive; that is one immutable law and lesson of history. The Roman civilization was born in bloodshed, was sustained and expanded in bloodshed and even withered away in Roman blood shed by the barbarian tribes. Civilizations have a close relationship with bloodshed — choli daman ka sath, we would say:
Freedom is not for free,
there is a price to pay
the price is in human blood
sheep’s blood has no say.
The Congress lost its nerve over a few hundred, perhaps a few thousand causalities. It tamely agreed to partition. It was a question of holding on for a year or two longer. After World War II, the English were exhausted both in body and in spirit. They were in no position to hold on to India for much longer. The new emerging super power, the USA, was putting a lot of pressure on them to let go of India. Jinnah was a dying man and the Muslims did not have a charismatic leader to replace him.
In days gone by, it was the norm for the Kshatriyas to surrender Bharat to the Muslims in the battlefield without much of a fight. Now, it was the turn of non-Kshatriyas to do the honor at a conference table, again without much of a fight. Be that as it may; Jinnah was and continues to be the real villain of India’s partition. The Congress failed because it did not stand up to him.
The Congress agreed to partition to ostensibly avoid violence and bloodshed. But, a great irony and a twist of destiny; it was unmitigated violence and death that dominated the partition scene. Some half a million people were reported to have been killed, and about 18 million displaced on both sides. That proved the adage that God is not on the side of the weak and the pusillanimous. He favors the strong, the courageous and the brave. There is a not so well known Hindu shloka: Veera Bhogya Vasundhra — The Brave will enjoy the Earth. The results of the Congress actions remind us of the Urdu couplet:
Na khuda hi mila, na visale’ sanam
Na idhar ke rahe, na udhar ke.
(We could achieve neither God, nor our beloved; we won neither on this count, nor on that.)
It is fashionable to blame the British for the partition of Bharat. The British were neither for, nor against partition; they had no stake either way. They were prepared to go along with the stronger stream. The UK Cabinet Mission was in Delhi for about 3 months to evolve a plan, which would have avoided partition. They even presented such a plan, which was summarily rejected by the Congress.
Partition was the direct result of the perennial Hindu fear of bloodshed, and over-emphasis on ahimsa. It is often expressed during TV debates that partition was a good riddance. In a united India, Muslims would have been about 33 per cent of the population. Apologists of partition (mostly pseudo-secularists) express that there was no way the Hindus would have been able to adjust with (meaning control) such a large population of Muslims. Internally, they feared that the Muslim would have even started dominating them, as they had done in the past. This was the ‘Hindu mindset’ at full play, a hark back to the days of Ghazni and Ghauri; all negative thinking, and pusillanimous actions (in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Bhagwad Gita).
Let us for a moment think what was the number of Turko-Afghans, Mughals and lastly the British, who successfully controlled the humongous population of the Hindus in their own homeland. And, they did it not for 50 years or so, but 800 long years. Is there a message in that? They could do it due to their respective mindsets, positive thinking, ruthless approach, raw courage and manipulative skills.
Yes, there would have been a period of conflict, including violence; may be even a lot of it. There could have been casualties of say one or two hundred thousand. But over a period of time, say 10 years, matters would have settled down. There would have been no Kashmir problem, which is bleeding us endlessly. The two communities would have evolved a modus-vivendi over a period of time. United India would have emerged as a super power by now. Other countries of the world, including China, would have shown much more respect. There would have been no wars of 1965 and 1971; and in all probability, no 1962 either.
Partition is now a living reality. Though Pakistan is the homeland for the Muslims, almost all Muslim major religious-cum-civilizational symbols are in India, e.g. Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Jama Masjid, etc. Pakistan has hardly any Muslims symbols of this class. Rather, it has some famous Sikh and Hindu shrines, like Nankana Sahib and Katasraj Temples.
The Deoband Muslim seminary is in India, and so are the world reputed Muslim shrines like Ajmer Sharif and Nizamuddin Aulia. The cradle of Pakistan was the Aligarh University which is in India. The Muslim tehzeeb (culture) is the Lucknavi tehzeeb of India. Lahore culture is akin to Jullundur Punjabi culture, ‘balle-balle, shava-shava, sohinye te kuriye’ (a Punjabi saying which cannot be translated); Urdu is primarily a language of the Muslims and it is mostly spoken in UP of India. In Pakistan, Punjabi is spoken in Punjab, Sindhi in Sindh and Pashto in NWFP — Urdu is in a limbo.
Pakistan is (justifiably) proud of the Muslim kings and emperors who ruled (Hindu) India for some 600 years. These include names like Aibak, Khilji, Akbar and Aurangzeb. All of them lie buried in India in a series of tombs in the Delhi–Agra belt. Most ‘alams and adils’ (authors and poets) of Muslim literature like Mirza Ghalib, Malauna Hali lie interned in India. So is Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the chief sponsor of Pakistan. Homeland is where the bones of your ancestors are interned; that is why the homeland is also called the fatherland or motherland. It is the bones of the ancestors which beckon and inspire the youth for great sacrifices for the motherland. Genghis Khan died some 800 years ago. The Mongols are now searching for his bones to relocate these at a place of honor, so that these can inspire the youth.
The above types of issues have started troubling the people of Pakistan; they are facing identity crises, though no one in his right mind in Pakistan would admit to it. No one can say what shape that identity search would take, in say another 100 years. All possibilities are open, and no option is ruled out.
Excerpted with permission from Hinduism and it’s Military Ethos, By Air marshal (retd) RK Nehra, Lancer Publications.
Also read: Where’s our self-respect?
Hinduism & it's Military Ethos
Author: Air Marshal (retd) R K Nehra
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