What does it mean to be Ramachandra Guha?

With a single stroke Mr. Guha proves why he is skeptical of Indianisation.

And so Mr. Ramachandra Guha reminds us yet again of the truth in the proverb that  a writer is known by the enemies he makes, in this op-ed in the Hindustan Times. Throughout the op-ed, Mr.Guha attempts to rebut an article published in the RSS mouthpiece the Organiser which speaks of Indianising the nation’s education system. Apart from repeating the same old, worn out statements of Indian pluralism etc,  Guha states how the Sangh Parivar’s attempts to Indianise education would actually inject the ideas of Hindutva icons like VD Savarkar who Mr. Guha accuses of seeing Indian culture as a monolith, and fears that the Parivar will enforce it on others.

Now, we have heard this before about how the likes of Savarkar have narrowly boxed all of Indian ‘civilisation’ as only ‘Hindu’, which Mr. Guha, in spite of claiming to be rooted in indigenous scholarship identifies using the age old Victorian terms, that is belonging to a certain religion. Instead of taking Mr. Guha at face value, let’s see how Savarkar himself defined who a Hindu is:

…It may be that at some future time, the word Hindu may come to indicate a citizen of Hindusthan and nothing else; that day can only rise when all cultural and religious bigotry has disbanded its forces pledged to aggressive egoism, and religions cease to be “isms” and become merely the common fund of eternal principles that lie at the root of all that on which the Human State majestically and firmly rests….As long as every other “ism” has not disowned its special dogmas, whichever tend into dangerous war cries, no cultural or national unit can afford to loosen the bonds….

So you see Mr.Guha, the essence of Savarkarite assertion is unity in diversity but unlike the biased secularist narrative, this assertion views pluralism and national integration as a two-way street. But all the Guhas of the world turn their heads to the other direction when this fact is pointed out.

swamiFurther, Mr. Guha mentions how he and the late Kannada novelist U R Anantha Murthy, refused to associate saffron which is the colour of purity and renunciation, with the RSS. This is an old habit of secularists to change their stands on issues of national and cultural heritage when they start losing their grip on the narrative. We saw in the past how Swami Vivekananda, who in many secular writings has been called a rigid spiritual reactionary, suddenly became a national icon the moment he was seen as the inspiration for Hindu Nationalists.

An interesting point in the op-ed is Mr. Guha mentioning Rabindranath Tagore’s views on Indian culture:

In an essay published in 1908, Rabindranath Tagore observed: ‘If India had been deprived of touch with the West, she would have lacked an element essential for her attainment of perfection. Europe now has her lamp ablaze. We must light our torches at its wick and make a fresh start on the highway of time. That our forefathers, three thousand years ago, had finished extracting all that was of value from the universe, is not a worthy thought. We are not so unfortunate, nor the universe, so poor.”

Hence I find it only suitable to provide the following lengthy citation from the great poets’s 1903 essay The History of Bharatvarsha:

Those histories make you feel that at that time Bharatavarsha did not exist at all; as though only the howling whirlwind of the Pathans and the Mughals holding aloft the banner of dry leaves had been moving round and round across the country from north to south and east to west…..However, while the lands of the aliens existed, there also existed the indigenous country. Otherwise, in the midst of all the turbulence, who gave birth to the likes of Kabir, Nanak, Chaitanya, and Tukaram? It was not that only Delhi and Agra existed then, there were also Kasi and Navadvipa. The current of life that was flowing then in the real Bharatavarsha, the ripples of efforts rising there and the social changes that were taking place — none of these find an account in our history textbooks…….But unfortunately, we are obliged to learn a brand of history that makes our children forget this very fact. It appears as if we are nobody in India; as if those who came from outside alone matter…..From which quarter can we derive our life-sustenance when we learn that our tie with our own country is so insignificant? In such a situation we feel no hitch whatsoever in installing others’ countries in place of our own. We become incapable of feeling a mortifying sense of shame at the indignity of Bharatavarsha. We effortlessly keep on saying that we did not have anything worth the name in the past and thus for everything, from food and clothing to conduct and behaviour, we now have to beg from foreigners… it is the history of our country that has kept our own land obscured to us. From the invasion of Mahmud to the arrogant imperial declaration of Lord Curzon, all the historical annals till yesterday, are only a mass of strange mist for Bharatavarsha. These accounts do not give clarity to our vision of our motherland. In fact, these only serve to cloud it……

Now was Rabindranath Tagore suggesting that we view India with narrow lenses? Is it not the same complaint we hear from the nationalist side? Even after decades of Independence, aren’t we still alienated from our native sources? Isn’t it a fact that Indian universities for long churned out agenda-driven historians who emphasized more on ideological distortion over carrying out authentic research? Didn’t you, Mr. Guha, express your dismay over the suggestion that modern science may have links to ancient Indian philosophy?

So what is Indianising education? I would say primarily it is making our education more effective in connecting us with our civilisational ethos, and not taking us farther away from it. As the article comes to an end Mr. Guha states:

With the great sociologist Max Weber, I believe that ‘universities must not be allowed to become vehicles of indoctrination, promoting a particular political or religious point of view’. This pluralism is, alas, antithetical to cultural commissars, whether the Lefists, who once dominated university education, or the Rightists, who now strive to supplant them.  

With a single stroke Mr. Guha proves why he is skeptical of Indianisation. And that is because like many eminent Indian “social scientists,” he must have derived a significant portion of his knowledge from two individuals—Karl Marx and Max Weber.

Max Weber was an astute scholar who associated sociology with economics in his book The Sociology of Economics. In an outstanding 1905 book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Weber defined why the protestant societies of that timeline are financially better than Catholic societies which are lagging behind. To validate his point, Weber studied the Christian societies in America, Germany, France, England and Spain along with many others. He concluded that because Protestantism releases a person from the control of the church hierarchy, and is associated to individualism the Protestants are more built-in to conduct enterprises and business.  His works on Christian society is still praised by experts.

bookHowever he wrote another book in 1925 which was not published till 1950, titled The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism’ where he wrote all societies can come up except the Hindu society and Buddhist society because both believe in Karma and rebirth!

Sufficient to say Max Weber did not properly study the complex thoughts and methodologies of statecraft employed by the Hindu-Buddhist philosophers, a feature present among his academic descendants. And therefore, the Guhas of the world will always be seen wincing at the mention of the word ‘Indianisation,’ because to Weberians like them, it is synonymous with ‘regression.’



  • Dheeraj Aggarwal

    Anyone in Modern India who is “Nehruvian” is a LIAR… this character Guha is no different. They are brown sahibs in India running ant-hindu agenda which in essence was what made Gandhi and Nehru in the british era… it is a different matter now that India now has a better learned population and can very well understand their lies and propaganda…

  • Sambit

    Their declining dominance is bumming them out no end…and even their whining isn’t being taken note of anymore..the nehruvian conspiracy to de-hinduise india has run its course…social media and the power of internet has demolised their citadels of falsehood thoroughly…hats off to people like Mr Chakraborty to put out the truth so lucidly into the public domain.

  • Shubhangi Raykar

    I admire your courage and your conviction.

  • Dr. MS

    I do not know anything about Hinduvizing education…but Indianizing education in India might be a good thing. You’d think Mr. Guha, who must be a patriotic Indian, would want that. What kind of theories, philosophies and philosophers does he want in our curriculum? Only Locke, Plato. Socrates, Descarte, Khun, Kant, Voltaire, Aquinas. Hobbes. Hegel, Spinoza, Holberg, Adam Smith, Friedman, Ayn Rand….?

    I have read and processed most of them (given above), and think some of them are brilliant, admirable…and some are universally relevant. But that is true for some Indian philosophers too…

    The list of Indian philosophers is immense…and some go back more than two thousand years. So what does Mr. Guha have against his own culture, history and country?

    Mr. Guha might want to live elsewhere because he thinks his motherland has no great philosophers to offer.

    • ccc

      Hindu is not a religious identity, in all your reading how did you miss that.

      I have no attachment to the word hindu, I always call myself Bhartiya just that no hyphen no religion. Bhartiya contains all.

      Those Bhartiye philosophers weren’t philosophers they were rational, pragmatic people with concern for solving real issues.

      And those Bhartiye philosophers were also called hindu by the invaders, so Indianizing or hinduizing is the same thing.

      • Nabha Garjana

        no issues as long as the abrahimic faiths and ideologies are strictly segregated from the concept of Bharatiya as otherwise it would mean mixing poison with the “36 bhog” (to emphaisze the inherent diversity of bharatiya culture)

        • ccc

          you mean 56 (chappan).

          The Islamic and Judeo-christian concept of a jealous God, who is the one and the only god who only speaks through prophets and who has sopken, becomes invalid at the borders of Bharatvarsha.

          We don’t need a God necessarily, and even when we need it we call it “Ishta” and my Ishtadevi sees herself in everyone else’s Ishta and sees everyone else’s Ishta in herself, there is integral unity here unity in diversity, not unity in uniformity.

          “Indrajaal” i.e. infinite net of jewels with each reflecting everyother jewel.

          God is just a convinience for us its our creation once its purpose is served once “Jeev becomes Shiv” in other words once a person becomes “oordhavareta” through “sadhana” Who needs a motif anymore.

          We are not slaves of a god we create our own god according to our will.

          But 1200 years of Islamic and then christian dominance has deeply affedted the ways of our masses.

          And since 47′ absolutely nothing has been done by the powers to be to remedy the situation.

          Some of us have started to see ourself with the Islamic/christian lenses and that’s the root of our problems.

          The situation is so bad that Yog is seen and ionterpreted through a semitic perspective.

          The meaning of Yog is lost on our masses.

          I’ve digressed but this topic always touches a nerve.

          • Nabha Garjana

            ya 56 it is, but the fact remains that if the conceptual umbrella “hindu” is demolished it will VERY easy to wipe off the diversity as there will be no unifying factor which is very much need in the changed socio political plane. so if i were to stand i would stand for the “hindu” keeping in mind what is at stake.

          • ccc

            we have to think big.

          • Vijay Singh

            And what is that big thinking? Remove Hindu word ?!

          • Nabha Garjana

            its not just a word now, its a identity! that represents the cultural unitity, and all efforts are being made to delink the hindu from Bharat so that a balkanization is achieved and India Broken

          • ccc

            India is not Bharat, Hindu is Bharat.

            But Bharat is the name given to us by our ancestors.

            Hindu and Indian is given by the invaders.

            Take your pick and that tells something about you whether you like it or not.

            We had an identity much more meaningful and and something we could relate to and that was Bharat.

            After 47′ the first thing the socalled freedom fighters should’ve done is to reassert the Bharat in them and decolonize the country but that didn’t happen.

            But I have decolonized myself.

          • Nabha Garjana

            i know you draw heavily from Rajiv Malhotra’s writings , even he has not issues with the “hindu” identity. but for a moment pause and think. the current narrative has 1000+ years to set and the originality of Bharat will not come back in a click! if we aim for something like that without the mindset of the general population being set, we will catalyse the destruction as the people will have nothing to bind them.. Take a moment and visualize the time frame of the past and the future, think collective not individualist. As Rabinra Nath Thakur Said “if you want to go fast walk Alone , if you want to go far walk together”

          • ccc

            I use Rajivji’s coined terms and why shouldn’t I. Also I use Jaggi Vasudev and Sita Ram Goel analysis too.

            But I’ve found that one can’t agree 100% with anyone, Rajivji’s has no issue with hindu, Jaggi Vasudev says Yog is not hindu etc. I am not a blind follower though I feel indebted to these people for their social service from which I’ve benefited.

            For me Decolonization has to start.

            The constituent assembly had just appropriated the name Bharat without any thought to what else needed to be done.

            Calling our present country Bharat has fooled the masses in to thinking that freedom has been attained.

            There is neither secularism nor ingenuity in our country.

            Don’t get fooled by it, its only the hindus who can call themselves Bhartiya others will want to throw a muslim or christian with that.

            Bharat is our national, spiritual, historical Identity not just a piece of info on our passport.

            Bharat is thousands of years old, Hindu is just a few hindred years old.

            It all comes down to deislamization and decolonization, after that only Bharat remains.

            Just to give you one example of the level of colonization and islamization, the color in our flag is not saffron its orange for the congress and calling it so doesn’t causes an outrage.


          • Nabha Garjana

            Agreed i have no contention ! i am only saying “josh ke saath hosh bhi chahiye”

          • Vijay Singh

            Look important is not being called Bhartiya or Hindu. Issue is what unites the masses against contemporary threats. Bhartiya word includes Hindus as well as non Hindus …at least that is what the public perception has become…..but the word Hindu unites and gives best chance of countering current societal threat. It is all about perception buddy. You are perfectly right when you say that we are actually Bhartiya and not Hindus. But this only some discerning individuals understand…… masses will unite under Hindu word only because that has become a popular perception. And for me solving imminent emergency is more important than debating the nuances of what’s more correct. That can be done later gradually.

          • kalpak

            All gods are jealous.
            We have innumerable mythological stories of gods and rishis cursing or blessing someone at the spur of a moment.
            How else did Bhasmasur, Ravan and Kumbhakarn come about?
            These are the very lessons to learn from all mythologies; one of them, how unbridled right brain behaviour can play havoc.

          • Vijay Singh

            That is all puranas my friend…go little more towards antiquity and you will find first rate philosophy given by Santana dharmis…. perfectly scientific and logical.

      • Krispy K

        Please don’t feed the fraudulent troll. Its incoherent ramblings are better left ignored.

      • Dr. MS

        Do not use the words that I write on me you hypocrite and cunning “converter”. I am the one who said Hinduism is not a religion. So why are you suddenly saying things that you assume and try to decipher what fits your anti-Indian and anti-Hindu agenda. If someone says “2 plus 2 is 4” you say it is “8”, and if they say “8” you say 6. It is all intended to muddy and throw muck…nothing else. Because you cannot invent, solve or even build ideas with a vision. You can only borrow., imitate, plagiarize and then destroy…

        Very cunning and devilish. Who taught you that? Colonialists, converters, extremists and foreign fundamentalists?

        • ccc

          something’s fataly wrong with your comprehending ability.

    • Vijay Singh

      The Problem with Guhas of India is only one….. desire to be praised among their angrez friends. You think of the dilemma Guha might be facing in acknowledging that the only book worth mentioning he ever wrote ( India After Gandhi) was nothing but compilation of deliberate subjectivity in selecting events and deliberate ommission of other significant events…. his whole scholarship would stand void! And the “respect”(as a useful idiot for westerners) he commands in western world would be wiped out in no time! Now problem is when your personal respect and ego becomes more important than national interest then denial is the natural response by so called intellectual who made their career out of peddling only that manipulated truth which helped them rise as so called intellectual! He calls himself lapsed Marxist…. but truth is that he is a disguised but exposed Marxist who realized that Marxism is a farce and publicly acknowledges this so that he is not laughed at his dogmatic foolishness to be a Marxist and to resolve intellectual dilemma …but he still continues, knowingly or ignorantly , writing in Marxist tone of disguising untruths mixing them with occasional truths to maintain legitimacy in the eyes of those who are not very keen to segregate truth from untruth and half truth.

      • Ramanujapuram Krishna

        I met him in the airport a few years back, and he was going to London! For the #AdarshLiberals, London and the USA are holy grails!

        • Vijay Singh

          Today I gave a qouta to DU professor named deshpande who wrote such nonsense article in today’s The Hindu…. what he writes is Muslim persecution is as old as hindutva…. I was like boiled in the heat of my own blood to read such a nonsense…. I told him with all due humility that you coward do you have any balls to talk about Hindu persecution which is almost as old as Islam. I don’t understand who the hell makes such morons as professor. Such bigots who don’t have balls to speak the truth destroying India to fill their greedy souls with money or fame.

    • Shubhangi Raykar

      In fact Anant Murthy had expressed such a wish but backed out after Modi won the elections.