“A nation of slaves is always prepared to applaud the clemency of their master, who, in the abuse of absolute power, does not proceed to the last extremes of injustice and oppression.” – Edward Gibbon
They said history repeats itself for those who fail to learn from it. What could be more ironical that the day of release of a YouTube theatrical trailer of Padmavati, the epitome of Islamic brutality and viciousness, is accompanied by an apt verdict by the supreme court of Bharat to ban Diwali celebrations in Delhi and NCR. It was on 9th of April 1667 that Aurangzeb ordered for a complete ban of crackers on the occasion of Diwali. Sometime before imposing the ban on atishbazi (fireworks) Aurangzeb had written (22 November 1665) to the Subhedar of Gujarat that “In the city and parganas of Ahmedabad (or Gujarat) the Hindus, following their superstitious customs, light lamps in the night on Diwali… It is ordered that in bazars there should be no illumination on Diwali.” (Mirat, 276).
Roman Empire, which created few of the most magnificent architectural marvels of the world, gave the west a concept of republic, had such a swift death. It is important for us to learn from the same as this was the last of the pagan civilization which had a recorded version of its death, that we avoid the same mistakes which led to their destruction. In his book ‘Decline and Fall of Roman Empire’ Edward Gibbon has brought out a few specific reasons for the decline and fall of Roman Empire. Among the various reasons in his multi volume book, it is in CH 27 – “Final Destruction of Paganism. – Introduction of the Worship of Saints, and Relics among the Christians” is what should be of interest to us. In this particular chapter, Gibbon explores various reasons as to why Paganism died. He said “The ruin of Paganism, in the age of Theodosius, is perhaps the only example of the total extirpation of any ancient and popular superstition; and may therefore deserve to be considered as a singular event in the history of the human mind.“ As has been rightly pointed out, it is one of the most singular event in the history of world that a civilization came to an end so abruptly. One can correctly identify the actions of all the three organs of the state, legislature, executive and judiciary that led to such a fall.
Gibbon clearly indicates that the primary reason for downfall of the Roman civilization has its root in the death of paganism. He amplifies the role of law makers in this destruction of Roman Empire. His comments on the gradual denigration of the Roman priests are a telling comment on our own state of affairs. Hindus took a giant leap of faith when they opted for a system of republic, making the constitution their holy book. Little did they realize that the same book will be the cause of their eventual destruction.
In the book “The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century” By Dharampal, one can actually see the reason of decline of Hindu education system due to destruction of native education system by the British. The contempt for the natives and their way of life became part of the constitution of Bharat, when almost the entire Government of India Act, 1935 found its place in the new constitution.
Acceptance of this flawed constitution sowed the seeds of the destruction of the Hindu culture from the very beginning. I would not dwell into reasons leading to acceptance of such a flawed document as this is beyond the scope of this post and will be covered in subsequent posts if time permits. The constitutions in one stroke of pen demonized entire communities as oppressors and corrupt, and took over all the management of all temples under its control. This action of state can be compared with the action of Gratian, a roman emperor. When Gratian ascended the throne, he sternly rejected all pagan symbols; applied to the service of the state, the revenues of the priests and vestals; abolished their honors and immunity; and dissolved the ancient fabric of Roman superstition, which was supported by the opinions, and habits, of eleven hundred years. Paganism was still the constitutional religion of Rome. Here one can clearly see the similarities, Hinduism was considered to be the de facto religion of Bharat when the constitution was adopted.
It was during the debates of the adoption of various Hindu Bills, that one could realize the anti-hindu nature of the constitution. Similar event happened during the roman times as well when Symmachus pleaded with the augur and zeal of a priest, in the court of the emperor for allowing him to continue with his religion.
One can imagine the heart rendering pleas Symmachus when he must have pleaded for the cause of expiring Paganism; and his religious antagonists must have lamented the use of his genius, and the efficacy of his moral virtues. Symmachus was conscious of the difficulty and danger of the office which he had assumed to plead before emperor Valentian. He cautiously avoided every topic which might have appeared to reflect on the religion of his sovereign; while humbly declaring, that prayers and entreaties were his only arms; and would have artfully drew his arguments from the schools of rhetoric rather than from those of philosophy. A similarities can be drawn during the initial debates while adopting the constitution of Bharat when similar pleas were put forward by the likes of Dr Rajendra Prasad and others, where they like Symmachus tried to seduce the imagination of a young prince Jawahar Lal Nehru, by trying to reason it out with them.
The formation of management committees for Hindu temples is one of the most destructive blow for Hinduism apart from these Hindu code bills. One can only see reason when one reads the account of the way Somnath temple was rebuilt. Symmachus had argued that the confiscation of the revenues, which were consecrated to the service of the gods, was a measure unworthy of the liberal and disinterested character of the emperor; and he maintained, that the Roman sacrifices would be deprived of their force and energy, if they were no longer celebrated at the expense, as well as in the name, of the republic.
Every aspect of Hindu society was forcefully changed with the adoption of Hindu code bills. If we move Symmachus from roman court to the Bharatiya parliament while it adopted the Hindu code bills, it would not have been out of place when he said “Even skepticism is made to supply an apology for superstition. The great and incomprehensible secret of the universe eludes the enquiry of man. Where reason cannot instruct, custom may be permitted to guide; and every nation seems to consult the dictates of prudence by a faithful attachment to those rites, and opinions, which have received the sanction of ages. If those ages have been crowned with glory and prosperity, if the devout people has frequently obtained the blessings which they have solicited at the altars of the gods, it must appear still more advisable to persist in the same salutary practice; and not to risk the unknown perils that may attend any rash innovations.”
The impassioned pleas of Symmachus, as given by Gibbon, “Most excellent princes, fathers of your country; pity and respect my age, which has hitherto flowed in an uninterrupted course of piety. Since I do not repent, permit me to continue in the practice of my ancient rites. Since I am born free, allow me to enjoy my domestic institutions. This religion has reduced the world under my laws. These rites have repelled Hannibal from the city, and the Gauls from the capitol. Were my gray hairs reserved for such intolerable disgrace? I am ignorant of the new system, that I am required to adopt; but I am well assured, that the correction of old age is always an ungrateful and ignominious office.” Clearly speaks the heart out of every devout Hindu today.
Like Hinduism of today, Paganism of Roman times, was also firmly and repeatedly opposed by the clergy (Hinduism is opposed by NGOs, Secularists, courts and law makers) at every single step. Romans faced the scourge of Christianity while Hindus face the scourge of secular constitution. Clergy of roman times spoke like today’s rationalists. When Ambrose faced Symmachus and condescend to speak the language of a philosopher, and to ask, with some contempt, why it should be thought necessary to introduce an imaginary and invisible power, as the cause of those victories, which were sufficiently explained by the valour and discipline of the legions somehow makes us see the rationalists and secularists questioning our culture, our religion. Continuous derision of Hindu culture as primitive and dark shows the deep rooted hatred for paganism in the constitution. Arguments similar to those used by Ambrose are used by today’s judges in the courtroom with more energy and effect, when they ask, about the existence of our gods.
Roman emperor by asking the pagans, in a full meeting of the senate, whether the worship of Jupiter, or that of Christ, should be the religion of the Romans effectively destroyed the hopes of pagans to survive in a secular state. On a regular division of the senate, Jupiter was condemned and degraded by the sense of a very large majority; and it was rather surprising, that any members should have been found bold enough to declare, by their speeches and votes, that they were still attached to the interest of an abdicated deity.
It is interesting to note that one of the primary reasons to convert was that the state provided incentives to the neo converted and gradually educated the children and wives. This aspect has a similarity in today’s Bharat. The state has gradually produced generations of brainwashed lots of students trained in secular studies which are completely disconnected from their roots. The state is responsible for the ultimate weakening of the Hindu religion by tacit conversion, by providing incentives in terms of missionary schools, which is in complete consonance with what is written in the constitution. This incentivisation by the state for weakening of connect from the roots Hinduism is the primary reason for the downfall of the religion and has resulted in mass conversion without changing names. I feel it is just a matter of time when the reservations will be allowed in the name of religion as it requires just a constitutional amendment though there are certain Christians and Muslims groups allowed to avail reservation at various levels.
When the PM of the nation says that constitution is the holy book, he forgets that similar proclamation has led to destruction of civilizations in the past. The decrees of the roman senate for making itself a secular nation led to the ultimate demise of entire Roman civilization. These Hindu law makers have somehow not learnt from the causes of death of other civilizations and are hell bent on destruction on the last bastions of the Hindus under the face of relentless attacks.
As Gibbon say, the success of roman emperor’s first experiments against the Pagans, encouraged the pious emperor to reiterate and enforce his edicts of proscription; the same laws which had been originally published in single provinces, were applied, to the whole extent of the empire; and every victory of the orthodox member contributed to towards the same. A similarities can be seen in the manner legislature and judiciary have acted over a period of time. Law makers have time and again shown their incline towards anti Hindu policies, be it the passage of RTE, NAC, NCMEI and various other acts. It can be clearly seen that clauses of the constitution are selectively applied to get these laws passed and promulgated. Judiciary has also been compliant in the same. It has taken the liberty to pass strictures and unwarranted comments. These unwarranted comments pass unchallenged and later on form part of some or the other discussion or debate for law making. Judiciary and legislature have conveniently attacked the Hindu rituals in the name of superstition.
Gibbon writes “Converted Roman emperor attacked superstition in her most vital part, by prohibiting the use of sacrifices, which he declared to be criminal as well as infamous; and if the terms of his edicts more strictly condemned the impious curiosity which examined the entrails of the victims, every subsequent explanation tended to involve, in the same guilt, the general practice of immolation, which essentially constituted the religion of the Pagans. As the temples had been erected for the purpose of sacrifice, it was the duty of a benevolent prince to remove from his subjects the dangerous temptation, of offending against the laws which he had enacted.” Similar laws have been passed by the state and courts. Both have banned all forms of Hindu rituals by terming Hinduism as a way of life and not a religion. By claiming Hinduism as a way of life, the courts have essentially divided the entire Hindu religion into various sub sects. As a result individual targeting of Hindu practices has become easier for the legislature and judiciary. They can target a particular group without provoking the entire Hindu community.
States have passed anti superstition laws similar to those passed by the Roman emperor by which anyone who doesn’t fit their version of god is considered to be a fraud. They have passed strictures to close schools, temples similar to the ones passed during roman time. Roman emperor had passed decree by which they were directed to shut the temples, to seize or destroy the instruments of idolatry, to abolish the privileges, of the priests, and to confiscate the consecrated property for the benefit of the emperor, of the church, or of the army. Here the desolation might have stopped: and the naked edifices which were no longer employed in the service of idolatry, might have been protected from the destructive rage of fanaticism. Many of those temples were the most splendid and beautiful monuments of Grecian architecture: and the emperor himself was interested not to deface the splendor of his own cities, or to diminish the value of his own possessions. Those stately edifices might be suffered to remain, as so many lasting trophies of the victory of Christ. A similar attack can be seen on Hindu temple and monuments, where one can hear chest beating for one Taj but none will battle an eye lid for forced and organized destruction of Hindu temples and monuments by the policies of the state.
Note: This article has been written by Ashok Parmar, who tweets at @_ap85
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