Ananya S Guha
I don’t understand ” Bharat Mata”. I don’t understand such apotheosis. I know India, the country of my birth and birthright. I know too vaguely that it originated from the word Sindhu and went through distortions, till the version India came to stay. The corollary doing the rounds is ” Jai Hind”. If you juxtapose the two ” Bharat Mata” and ” Jai Hind” two slogans doing the rounds vociferously you will notice an astounding similarity. One is, the nation in a form of a deity, mother. The other is: ” Hind” derivative of Hindi. Hence the nation is Hindi and the religion only Hindu? Such an assumption is not only dangerous, but the time is crucial. Why are they being raised now? Is it because the time is ripe, is it because a regimentation of thinking is attempted to be thrust upon hapless people? Of course all, do not feel hapless or helpless. The ominous thing is that there are people reacting, hence reactionary feelings are leading to other reactionary feelings creating a vicious cycle. Even as the JNU episode quietens down a little, the Rohith Vemula suicide raises its head. In between we had the Allahabad University case, where attempts were made at ruthless suppression of democracy.
The India that I knew since childhood and still know is this vast expanse of land stretching from North to South, North East and East to West. The song that we sang as children ” This land is my land” still echoes as a clear cut commentary on the unity and unification of the country, India as one. The National Anthem we sang claimed Bharat as the country, not ” Mata”. The National Anthem clearly outlines and establishes, harmony, diversity in oneness. ” Jaya He” echoes ” Satyameva Jayate” of the Upanishads- Truth will triumph! So, why is there now a hue and cry of the ” Mother”, is it symbolic of a Mother Goddess? Why can’t we say ” Satyameva Jayate” or in English Long Live the Country? Why are we whipping passions, speaking of muscle power ( artillery strength, much in the North Korean way) to eulogize our Nation?
Also, the India that I know despite all riots, killings, ethnic strife is a land where people have co- existed adapting cultures, religions and community standpoints. Otherwise how do we explain the intermix marriages that are taking place everyday with a kind of feverish intent- that we are one, despite all this talk of diversity. Why is that a cricket match triggers such vast empathy through the swathes of masses? There is no need to tell us to be patriotic, the people of the country know who they are and who or what are it’s enemies. This is the India of temples, churches, mosques, this is the India of land, seas, hills and mountains, this is the India of plains people and tribes, this is the India which is both heterogeneous and homogeneous. This is it’s underlying beauty, beneath a sheath of pluralism and secularism. But by trying to drum words such ” Mata” and ” Hind” the protagonists of such are desperately attempting at falsification and reinvention, which goes against the basic ethos and spirit of the country. There are and will be reactions. The supposed” mainland is no mainland at all. This is a glorious myth, perpetrated by people who want to see people marginalized and remain so. That has created schizophrenic alarms in the country, such as in North East India.
Now to deify is a form of atavism. Instead of staying rooted in realities, such as poverty, caste discrimination we are trying to circumvent realities and build fantasies. Yes we must praise our intrepid Armed Forces, no one has denied this, but there are other people and groups who are contributing services to the country. This regimented thinking can only lead to a backlash. It is high time that the authorities look at the historical shaping of a country, and comprehend what has made it what it is today. It is high time that thinkers, sociologists, artisans, who have contributed to the aesthetic and intellectual fullness of a country are not denigrated, by being removed from Boards and Committees in a supercilious manner. This is going not only to hurt their sentiments, but also the sentiments of a self aware and reading, if not erudite public.
So, long live India of our dreams, realities,India of our impoverished people, India of our hyperboles and wish fulfilment. Thus straddles this country!
Ananya S Guha lives in Shillong where he has been raised. He has over thirty four years of teaching and administrative experience. He has seven collections of poetry in English and his poems have been widely anthologized and published both in India and abroad.