Maverick: Global Bubble of the Revivalist
by Farzana Versey
Covert, December 15-30
Those who left have it good. While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wants them to return home as “brain gain”, the right-wingers have been lauding them for precisely the same reason with an additional halo – the global revivalist.
In one of the fancy social satsangs at the altar of Mammon the luminaries wanted to know where Hindus figured on the world stage. There was no talk about India. It is precious, then, to talk about marauding Mughals and Christian missionaries. Does this not amount to merely following those notorious footsteps, the only difference being monetary power added to spiritual piffle?
Has anyone tried to understand how in those hundreds of years of occupation, India did not become a Muslim or a Christian nation? Those Hindus who converted to certain sects, like Bohras and Ismailis, are among the most educated and successful people in the country today.
In the world of the freshly-minted sophisticated anti-secularist, such details do not matter. To this mind the restoration of a hotel must be seen in the context of the Somnath temple which rose after each fall. It deviously disregards the fact that the rebuilding has been carried out by the management that has also generously set up a non- religious Trust to rehabilitate those who were affected in other areas as well. The global clock-turner is busy patting his back over restoration of places of worship and landmark sites, but there is absolutely no concern about resurrecting the ordinary citizen’s right to livelihood and dignity.
Listing the achievements of expatriates is typical of this tunnel vision. Of the few that become entrepreneurs or have prominent careers, there are thousands who perform ordinary tasks. Many have entered those western countries illegally or gone through agents after a lot of effort. Instead of wondering why this happens, this neo world citizen with a limited cultural baggage is basking in the reflected glory of achievers who had to go elsewhere to make their fortune and earn their fame because their homeland did not nurture their dreams.
The Knights and Nobel laureates refer to their Indian roots only when there is a bit of exotic drama required. How can they be considered a part of revivalism of ancient culture? Would they identify with the dubious idea of taking religion to new lands? They are on Forbes power list because of how much they influence society. Osama bin Laden is sharing space, too. If some build temples, then there are others like Swraj Paul who donate to the London Zoo. They pay huge sums to political parties in their adopted lands to get leverage for themselves and not their faith. It is quite simply business acumen and social opportunism at work. It has got nothing to do with keeping the flame of any potential Ram Rajya alive.
Yoga and levitating gurus is old hat and has little to do with healing powers and more to do with hype. It did not start with the new revivalists but old hippies. Being honoured and having festivals celebrated work as totems for ethnic minorities who may indeed possess talent. But, as Venkatraman Ramakrishnan made it amply clear, his “nationality is simply an accident of birth”. He would not want to be hailed as a global Hindu hero or be placed on the same pedestal as ashram evangelists.
In the excitement over the well-heeled, fossils of accruing mutual fund culture whose high-walled existence is no better than ghettos, the revivalist boasts that his religion is the only one that does not have a history of massacres. Loss of memory means ignoring the past of what some rulers did to demolish Jainism from South India between the 8th and 12th centuries, and the contemporary history of the Sikh carnage, the Mumbai riots and Gujarat genocide. To clothe these in the garb of a global phenomenon that has risen from the suffering of centuries is skulduggery and hypocrisy.
Perhaps it might do them well to ponder over a small fact that those Hindus who are today a part of the White House clique have been appointed by a half Muslim, half Christian.
Shall we call such resurrection a case of appeasement since delusional apocalypticism can only be a mirage?