India being the land of spiritual learning, a nation that believes in karmic retribution, the triumph of good versus evil, worldly detachment and is held up by all religions we recognize and practice, we as Indians have no idea who we really are and what we recognize with our identity. Little things like why cow slaughter is bad? Why the construct of ‘growing intolerance’ exists? Why are women not allowed in temples of worship where God is equal for all? Why does religion comes at the cost of our freedom in believing otherwise? Or even why is a Hindu saffron and a Muslim green?
All these questions are unanswered by a common Indian. Our religions and history suggest optimism and faith in today’s age and even afterlife (punar janam) but as of today, we all can’t even figure out for ourselves what we are in this life, let alone the next. The fractured society that we call India today is not the India of anybody’s dreams. When we included the word secularism in our constitution, it was for a reason. Religion being the fundamental way of life needed an impetus to move beyond the shackles of its binding nature which it in itself is so ambiguous, possesses diverse interpretations, which it in itself does not have answers to some fundamental questions, needed a new perspective. The word secularism was added so that people identify themselves as one after the Divide and Rule propaganda of the British.
But even 67 years later, Indians have not been able to rise to the nation. To the pride that India deserves. To the due she should be given. We Indians are so engrossed in nihilist arguments of ‘mera dharma, usska adharma’(disparity between my faith, your faith), ‘bharat maata ki jai’(all hail India), that in this trade-off, there is no benefit on both sides. The biggest worry is that we all want change, but none of us wish to change. This complacency will only beget harms which then, we ourselves will curse and put the blame on ‘hamaara desh toh aisa hi hai’
Karl Marx’s theory of alienation is applicable to all Indians. The way everything is about ‘us and them’ on grounds of sexual or religious identities, is the worrisome part. The Indian identity is being hacked in public while we watch its brutalization and pain in helpless anger. When will we grow out of these binding diktats of misconstrued religions? That is something Indians need an answer to. The answer is simple-
To believe in the nationhood of India. A country where we don’t kill on the basis of the color of flags. A country that practices their beliefs in the private sphere and believes in harmonious discourse in the public. A country where we trust those that we elect as our representatives. A country where an organization is seen for its positives and not the disaster that fringe elements create. A country that believes that our future lies in good hands and a country that becomes “the change it wishes to see” as said by Mahatma Gandhi. That is when we will conform to the spirit that our nation deserves. The minute the change shifts from religion being paramount to the nation, is when elements like the Bodos and Kashmiris will not have reason to question the India of their own dreams.
Currently, India is facing an identity blackout and only the sense of nationhood is the answer to achieve the lack of secular harmony we complain about everyday. Religion has its own place in people’s lives, but to base your existence and thoughts entirely on that is when its problematic. Religion never teaches us to have disparities amongst us “mazhab nahi sikhata aapas mein bair rakhna, Hindi hai hum Vatan hai”, it is the subjective interpretations and the catalyst of the colonizers to divide us is what has led to all the chaos.
Lets not forget that in every place that a temple is situated, there is also a mosque. But lets also not forget that its not necessary to have both as a flag of the achievement of religion. Be reminded of the nationhood before we pick up a green sword and a saffron stick to meaninglessly hate. Lets fix it, rise to the nation. Lets make it the India of your and my dreams. If nothing else, let’s be inspired by Bollywood’s Amar, Akbar, Anthony- a medium that influences us greatly.
Lets move beyond the mundane division. Lets acknowledge what it is to be Indian and then be proud of it.