By Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar
For the all-round welfare and development of human beings, society needs to follow some fundamental socio-political principles. Without the firm foundation of such principles, disunity, injustice and exploitation will flourish. To avoid this and to safeguard the interests of all people, the leaders of society must ensure that cardinal socio-political principles are strictly followed. Otherwise, individual and collective progress can never be achieved.
There are three cardinal socio-political principles which should never be violated. First, people should not be retrenched from their occupations unless alternative employment has been arranged for them. Secondly, people should not be forcibly converted from one religion to another. Thirdly, no mother tongue should be suppressed. Occupation, spiritual practice and mother tongue are very important to human beings. If the sentiments associated with them are hurt, human beings will be deeply affected. So, you should never violate these cardinal socio-political principles.
There are many instances where these three cardinal principles have been violated, causing much suffering and disturbance in individual and collective life. Let us discuss what happens when people loose their livelihood. Take the example of rickshaw pullers in India. The work of rickshaw pullers is exhausting and poorly paid, but if it is declared illegal, many rickshaw pullers will become unemployed and their lives will become more miserable. Those who cannot find alternative employment will either die of starvation or become criminals in an effort to survive. In either case, society will be adversely affected. So, before this occupation is prohibited, rickshaw pullers should be provided with suitable alternative employment.
Take another example. In the Pathan period and at the height of the Mughal empire, Zamindars or landlords were permitted to maintain military forces. This practice was banned at the end of the Mughal period and the start of the British period. As a result, many soldiers from military communities like the Bagadis of Ráŕh and the Cuyárs and Lodhas of Midnapur were retrenched from the armed services. Consequently, they became criminals. Even thirty to forty years ago, members of these communities were still engaged in antisocial activities, but now they have virtually ceased this practice. If these people had been inducted into the military or the police, they would have earned a proper livelihood without being compelled to harm the society. Their destiny would have been quite different.
Finally, take a third example. In India during the time of the British, many small kingdoms were ruled by rajas and maharajas. When India became independent, these kingdoms merged into India, and the Indian government decided to pay the former monarchs a stipend. However, this scheme was not a good idea, because many former monarchs wasted money and lived luxurious, sycophantic lifestyles. After a particular leader became prime minister, the scheme was abandoned at short notice. This caused economic hardship for some of the less well-off recipients who were unable to make alternative financial arrangements. Some old people in particular found it difficult to adjust. While the government should not have adopted the scheme in the first place, having adopted it, the government should have withdrawn it gradually and taken the responsibility for looking after the elderly people on humanitarian grounds.
Now you understand the consequences of retrenching people without arranging a suitable alternative livelihood for them.
The second inviolable principle is that people should not be forcibly converted from one religion to another. People will not leave a religion if it is able to guide them properly on the path of Dharma. However, if a religion has a narrow outlook or contains some defective teachings, such as supporting the caste system or oppressing the poor, then people will naturally become disillusioned with it. The followers of other religions will take advantage of these defects and forcibly convert them.
In the past there were many instances when large numbers of Hindus were forcibly converted to another religion. Hindus were fed onions or beef without their knowledge and women were abducted, compelling them to transgress their religious beliefs. As a result, they were excommunicated by the Hindu priests. They were declared outcastes. When those who had instigated the transgressions observed this development, they escalate their campaign of forcible conversion.
There is a well-known story about a Zamindar from Bengal called Kalachand Roy, later Kalapahar, who was a follower of Kálii. He worshipped a stone image of Kálii with great devotion. At that time some invaders, belonging to another religion, started a campaign to destroy all Hindu temples and deities. When Kalachand’s temple was about to be destroyed, he prayed to Kálii saying, “Mother, I do not have the power to protect you, so please protect yourself.” But how can a stone idol protect itself? In due course his temple and idol were destroyed, and Kalachand lost faith in Kálii. He was converted to the religion of the invaders, and became known as Sheik Kaluddin Khan. He launched his own campaign of terror throughout Bengal and Orissa and forcibly converted people to his new religion. He disfigured deities, destroyed temples and threatened people with physical violence to convert them. Once he travelled to Kashi and set about converting a widow who also happened to be his elder sister. She refused to succumb to his threats, and scolded him mercilessly for his bad behaviour.
This made him realize the error of his ways, and he abandoned his campaign. If Hinduism had not practiced idol worship, Kalachand would not have been converted. Because of his forcible conversion, Kalachand became extremely hostile towards Hinduism and launched his own campaign of terror against it. A religion should be so strong that no one can be converted from it.
Such incidents made the priests in eastern India realize that soon all the Brahmans would be converted to Islam. One priest called Devi Bar Ghatak from Mallálpur in the Birbhum district of Bengal, devised a strategy to prevent people being excommunicated. He argued that instead of excommunicating people who had been compelled to violate the tenets of Hinduism, they should be given the status of a special community within the Hindu religion. For example, families from which a girl had been abducted became one community, those who had been forced to take onions or beef became another community, etc. The members of these communities were permitted to marry amongst themselves and engage in normal social relations. This system was called the Melbandhan system, and it saved the Brahmin community of Bengal from conversion to Islam. Although the Kayastha community of Bengal did not accept the Melbandhan system, they accepted its inner spirit, and there after they did not excommunicate any of their members.
A different system was followed in Bihar. Members of the Brahman community who had been forcibly converted to Islam formed a group and adopted the title Syed. The Kayasthas took the title Mallik, the Rajputs became Mián Mussalmen or Pathan Mussalmen, and the Bhuminars became Sheik Mussalmen.
Hinduism will degenerate and people will convert to other religions as long as the caste system exists in the Hindu religion. If Hinduism continues to degenerate, the progress of Indian society will be retarded because Hindus are the majority community in India. Moreover, if there are continued conversions to Islam, women will become second grade citizens, because they are not given equal status with men in Islam. Consequently, there will be further degeneration. Thus, nobody should be forcibly converted from one religion to another.
All religions should be established on a strong foundation of logic and reason, then such things will not occur. If people are forced to violate the teachings of their religion, they should not be excommunicated. Even if people knowingly contravene a religious code without compulsion, they should have ample scope to rectify their behaviour. A religion should not be like a glass container which breaks with a light tap.
In the future you should be careful not to hurt the religious sentiments of others, even if most people become Ánanda Márgiis. Deities should be preserved in museums, and temples should be restored to maintain the cultural and historical heritage of the country.
Thirdly, no mother tongue should be suppressed. If a mother tongue is suppressed, the consequences are most dangerous. Take the example of Pakistan. When Pakistan was formed, Urdu was declared the national language. But the actual language position of undivided Pakistan – that is, East Pakistan and West Pakistan – was that 60% of the population spoke Bengali and 40% spoke Hindi, Baluchi, Punjabi or Urdu. When Urdu was declared the national language, East Pakistan revolted and this led to the division of Pakistan. There was a famous song at the time:
Orá ámáder mukher bháśá keŕe nete cáy…
"They are intent on snatching away the language of our mouth…"
This song aroused the sentiments of the people, and the whole country became united around the issue of their mother tongue.
In India, Hindi has been imposed on non-Hindi speaking people, resulting in much ill-feeling between many states and the centre. The imposition of Hindi amounts to Hindi imperialism, and those who do not speak Hindi feel suppressed. The important languages of Bihar, for example, like Bhojpuri, Maethilii, Angika, Magahii and Nagpuri, have been suppressed in favour of Hindi. The people of Bihar do not even know the pronunciation of Hindi words because they speak with their own intonation. Other languages like French in Canada, Basque in Spain and Sicilian in Sicily have also been suppressed.
Several decades ago, Hitler invaded France. He planned to teach everyone German and eradicate French. If he had done this, regardless of anything else that he did, the people would have revolted.
The psychology of suppression undermines the progress of a country. People will eventually revolt against it and restore unity. The sentiments of people cannot be forcibly suppressed for a long time. Human beings best express themselves through their mother tongue. If people’s mother tongue is suppressed, it is equivalent to strangling them. The suppression of people’s mother tongue is a sin.
India is a multi-lingual and multi-religious country. If a particular regional language is declared the national language, it would be very detrimental to the overall welfare of the coun try. Rather, all the languages spoken in India should be recognized and encouraged. In this regard, India should follow the example of some other countries. In Switzerland, for instance, four languages are recognized as state languages – German, Italian, French and Romansch – although more than twice as many people speak German than the total speaking the other three languages. This is the correct approach, as it does not go against the collective psychology of the people.
Similarly, if a particular religion is proclaimed the state religion, those who follow other religions will not identify with the country. Consequently, the unity of the country will be undermined. If people go against this basic principle, they may be politically successful for a short time, but eventually they will inflict great harm on the country and prove to be a failure.
There are occasions when majority decisions do not create unity in society because people are more or less divided on an issue. In such circumstances, the leaders should be very cautious when making their decisions, and take special care to safeguard the interests of everybody. In particular, they should select a course of action which does not harm the sentiments of any group. For example, suppose there are seven brothers in a joint family, and these brothers are divided on an issue. Four brothers may be on one side and three brothers on another. If the head of the family takes a decision based on the wishes of the majority, the family will be divided into two groups. Therefore, a decision should be taken which safeguards the interests of all the brothers.
If any group tries to violate any of these three cardinal socio-political principles, you should immediately oppose them with a thundering voice and sufficient force. Victory will be yours, because you are supporting the collective psychology. But before launching any movement, you should make sure that the masses are conscious of their exploitation, otherwise the movement will not be successful. Although it may take some time to raise the consciousness of the masses, ultimately you will be victorious.
A leader of the Maethilii community in Bihar wanted to start a movement against the exploitation of the Maethilii language, so he organized a massive rally and started to lecture the people about the suppression of Maethilii. Initially, everyone listened to him attentively and supported his ideas. At the end of his address he told the masses: “We will live for Maethilii, we will die for Maethilii.” But one person amongst the crowd shouted out: “Yes, we will live for Maethilii, but why should we die for Maethilii? Rather, I choose to die in Kashi.” According to mythology, if one dies in Kashi one goes to heaven. Immediately all the people started supporting this view, and as a result the meeting was disturbed. This happened because the people were not conscious of the suppression of their mother tongue, and they followed the path of religious dogma instead.
So, you should ensure that these three cardinal socio-political principles are not violated. By doing this you will safeguard the welfare of society.
Published in Prout in a Nutshell Part 16 Copyright Ananada Marga Publications 2017