Civilizations, well we know some, we’d never get to know some, so many done and dusted, ruined, brought to their knees and traces of them lost in oblivion. All those who breathe yet in flesh and blood, all those who walk the trail still and boast of the thriving civilization and pledge their allegiance to, wouldn’t know when they’ll be gone, their existence reduced to someone’s perception based on carbon dating analysis of what was a proud man of profound stature once.
You, the brownskin indian hold the ownership of your temples, your scriptures, your verses, your past, present and future. You are the one not under attack by anyone but you, yes you are the one who will eventually erase the traces of your being. This subcontinent, this civilization, your people, your philosophy, your identity, your story, your sonnet has been doggedly attacked for thousands of years yet you have your civilization surviving, on a nebulizer though.
I, once met a cambodian army officer, he proudly wore a badge, the brass badge had a half human half ape leaping figure with a club in hand, I was inquisitive to know what it was though I already had figured what it was, his answer didn’t startle me a bit, it was Hanuman Badge that every member of the Cambodian Army wore. Cambodia was a Buddhist nation and pretty far from India, why a Hindu Badge on Military uniform? I didn’t know that largest Vishnu temple in the world, “Angkor wat” temple itself was in Cambodia. Well, then, the nation was Buddhist and their Hindu past was a long forgotten fact, but then, was it really? That officer knew of his Hindu past and wore that badge with utmost pride, that didn’t make him any less a Buddhist. That left a bitter sweet feeling, I felt proud of our civilization, felt a bond, he was a distant brother who carried that legacy with pride and at the same moment I felt bitter anguish at our own people bent on destroying ever affinity to our past, our civilization.
Thailand still has Ram Leela, Indonesia has Ganesh image on its currency. Now, former is a Buddhist and later a muslim nation, their religion didn’t make them cut off that umbilical cord with their civilization, their past.
The vedic civilization, that brought philosophy, mathematics, science, yoga, meditation and even if you don’t believe that and call all text as pure fiction, that philosophy documented as Vedas, Upnishads, Purans, Mahabharata, Ramayana deserve more respect than that “God of small things” and the ” City of Djinns” after all that documentation in those times of no computers, no internet, no automation, not even a decent modest pen must have been rather more uphill than this scribbling of mine over a smart phone. That effort nonetheless draws my respect without an ounce of doubt.
That civilization gave you Liberty to question, liberty to accept or denounce, that civilization never posed a threat to anyone, that philosophy asked you to look inwards to find the true god in yourself, see the supreme power, the creator in every living being. That civilization bore the brunt of raids, attacks and subjugation yet it survived while accepting those who came into its asylum.
Yet, we the civilized and free, we the educated and liberated want every trace of our past erased, we find Sanskrit communal and English secular. Anthems and emblems with even a distant analogue to the vedic civilization have been projected as a threat to our secularism, our religion and our way of life today.
I, today, am a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian, a Sikh, a Buddhist, a Jain or an atheist yet I have a legacy which can co-exist with the religion I follow. That civilization is mine and I own it, I shoulder the responsibility and the culpability of letting my legacy prosper or cutting the jugular vein of it. I have an identity that goes back a thousand years, that can’t be taken away whether I have a beard, a moustache, wear a turban or a cross.
Why then, why should I have a problem with “Tamso ma Jyotirgamaya” that translates to “take me to the light“. Yes, that’s the prayer in every central school assembly, that’s the prayer which appeared to be toxic to certain ears, those ears ruptured by the toxicity of that prayer had to knock the doors of the Supreme Court of India for some alleviation. Is that prayer as toxic as those ears made it to be? Is that calling to enlightenment, the light, so venomous that people felt their secularism strangulated.
We are a nation, a potpourri of different philosophies, we accept that Azaan on loudspeakers, see the music in those church bells, serenity in Gurbani , that’s religion and everyone is entitled to practice his own the way he likes, that’s the right I enjoy in a secular, democratic country of mine and what I, as an individual and part of this great nation, a small keg who’ll vanish someday without leaving much profound footmarks, owe to the legacy, my civilization, my allegiance and respect.
My secularism cannot be used as a bayonet to behead my past, my legacy and identity. I am an Indian, I have a history, a past that makes my identity today. That Ashoka emblem is my legacy, my history, my past, that Satyamev Jayate does not pose a threat to my secular credentials. I perhaps am a Muslim or a Christian today, my identity is indian, I am not an Arab, not a Caucasian either, nor I would ever be accepted by the world to be if I try to pose as one.
We aren’t a lost tribe yet, we have an identity unless we kill our identity ourselves. Why can’t we just be proud of what we are. Well still, every man has his own world, a 3D printed cocoon of perception around him.