|HINDUTVA AND JAINISM
by BAL PATIL
That the Jains are Hindus is the common theme of propaganda not only of the Hindutva fundamentalists in the Saffron family but this chorus is also joined by a section of the Jains who say that by religion they are Jains but they belong to the common Hindu culture Unfortunately they are ignorant of the historical fact that that even the so called ‘Hindu’ culture is nothing but an outcome of the ancient Shramanic culture of ahimsa which is the uniqauegift of Jainism to humanity as acknowledged by Dr.Albert Schweitzer. It is in this context I am concerned to give a detailed account as to how deeply it has affected the Indian historiography .
First it would be necessary to refer as to how the National Minorities Commission arrived at their recommendation that the Jain community be declared as a minority religious community. It was in consideration of the following: 1)the relevant constitutional provisions, 20 various judicial pronouncement, 3) the fundamental differences in philosophy and beliefs (theism vs.atheism principally) vis-a-vis Hinduism, and 4) the substantial number of Jain population in the country, resolved to recommend to the Government of India that the Jains deserve to be recognised as a distinct religious minority, and that, therefore the Government of India mayconsider including them in the listing of "Minorities" in their Notification dated 23-10-1993. This recommendation was issued on 3-10-1994.
In this context it would be useful to review as to what the reaction of the Jain community was at the dawn of the Constitution. On 25th January, 1950, a Jain delegation was led to the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and other central leaders to draw their attention to the anomalous position of the Jains under sub-clause (b) of Clause 2 of Article 25 and a petition was submitted. Jawaharlal Nehru clearly assured the delegation that the Jains are not Hindus and on 31-1-1950, his Principal Private Secretary, Mr.A.V. Pai wrote the following letter in reply to the petition:
"This Article merely makes a definition. This definition by enforcing a specific consitutional arrangement circumscribes that rule. Likewise you will note that this mentions not only Jains but also Buddhists and Sikhs. It is clear that Buddhists are not Hindus and therefore there need be no apprehension that the Jains are designated as Hindus. There is no doubt that the Jains are a different religious community and this accepted position is in no way affected by the constitution."
It is important to note in the foregoing context that in the pre-independence period a decision in the erstwhile Madras High Court:
The acting Chief Justice Kumar Swami Shastri held in Getappa vs. Eramma & Others (AIR 1927);
“Were matters res integra, I would be inclined to hold that modern research has shown that the Jains are not Hindu dissenters but that Jainism has an origin and history long anterior to the Smritis and Commentaries which are recognized authorities on Hindu law and usage. The Jain religion refers to a number of previous Tirthankaras and there can be little doubt that Jainism asa distinct religion was flourishing several centuries before Christ. In fact, Jainism rejects the authority of the Vedas which form the bed rock of Hinduism and denies the efficacy of the various ceremonies which Hindus consider essential. So far as Jain Law is concerned it has its own Law books of which Bhadrabahu Samhita is an important one. Vardhamana Neeti and Aradhana Neeti by the great Jain teacher Hemchandra deal also with Jain Law.”
Mr. Justice Rangnekar of the Bombay High Court observed in the Hirachand Gangji vs. Rowji Sejpal (AIR 1939, Bombay 377) :
“It is true that the Jains reject the scriptural character of the Vedas and repudiate the Brahmanical doctrines relating to obsequial ceremonies, the performance of Sraddhas and offering of oblations for the salvation of the soul of the deceased. Amongst them there is no belief that a son by birth or adoption confers spiritual benefit Hindus in their conduct towards the dead, omitting all obsequies after the corpse is burnt or buried. Now it is true, as later historical researches have shown that Jainism prevailed in this country long before Brahmanism came into existence or converted into Hinduism. It is also true that owing to their long association with the Hindus, who formed the majority in the country, the Jains have adopted many of the customs and even ceremonies strictly observed by the Hindus and pertaining to Brahmanical religion.”
In the Ratilal Panachand Gandhi vs. State of Bombay (1954, ’56 Bom.L.R. 1184(S.C.) the Supreme Court taking a wider view of the fundamental right and a moe realistic view of what religion is and how its nature and content should be determined laid down:
“It may be noted that ‘religion’ is not necessarily theistic and in fact there are well known religions in India like Buddhism and Jainism which do not believe do not believe in the existence of God or of any Intelligent First Causes.. Religious practices or performances of acts in pursuance of religious beliefs are as much part of religion as faith or belief in particular doctrines.” (Religion, Law and the State in India by J. Duncan M. Derrett, 1968)
The National Minorities Commission was reconstituted in November, 1996 under the Chairmanship of Dr.Tahir Mahmood. In its first meeting held on 17th December, 1996 the Commission reiterated its previous recommendation that the jain community be recognised as a minority community.
HINDUISM UNDER ARTICLE 25 OF THE CONSTITUTION AND THE HINDU CODE ACTS PASSED IN 1954/55
It is pertinent to note that Hinduism under Article 25 and in the Hindu Code bills later passed in 1954/55 when Dr.Ambedkar was the law minister are two different things although having a generic connection on the definition of Hindu in the Personal Laws well explained by Prof..Mehmood a former chairman of the National Commission for Minorities
As Prof. Mahmood has unequivocally noted “Hinduism is not the state religion of India. The Constitution of India does not confer on Hinduism the status of even privileged or favoured religion. It does, however, refer to Hinduism in different contexts.”6 The Bombay Public Trust Act 1950 says that in its provisions “Hindu” includes Jain, Buddhist and Sikh. In the Orissa Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1969 “Hindu religion” includes Jain, Buddhist and Sikh religions. Under the Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act 1959 the expression “Hindu” does not include Jains, unless the Act is specifically extended to the Jains.
As is clear, these laws speak only of whether their provisions - primarily meant for Hindus - would apply to the Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs (on which point they are not uniform). “They do not furnish and answer to the question who is a Hindu by religion. Most certainly they do not, and indeed cannot, mean to say that Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs are Hindu” (emphasis added.).
The Personal law Acts, The Hindu Marriage Act 1955, the Hindu Succession Act 1956, the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956 and the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956, all apply to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs - as is declared by their opening provisions. All the four Acts clarify that :
“The expression ‘Hindu’ in any portion of this Act shall be construed as if it included a person who, though not a Hindu by religion, is nevertheless a person to whom this Act applies by virtue of the provisions contained in this section.”
Clearly, this is a rule of interpretation which cannot, by any dint of imagination be treated as a definition of the word “Hindu” in general. Nor can it ever be stretched to claim that in law Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism are one and the same religion. It is necessary to differentiate between “Hindu by religion” and “Hindu for the purpose of application of laws” - the latter expression referring to those non-Hindus who share with Hindus certain laws. This is true of the so-called “definition” of the expression ‘Hindu’ in Article 25 of the Constitution as well as of the same in the Hindu-law Acts of 1955-56 and the legislation relating to Hindu religious endowments.
As explained further by him:
“A confusion, indeed not warranted by the words of Explanation II to Article 25, seems to have gone round that the Constitution declares Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs to be “Hindus”. Most certainly it does nothing of the sort... The provision of Explanation II in Article 25 has no religious connotation. Instead of saying the same thing four times of four different religious communities - Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs - Article 25 (2)(b) says it once, for the Hindus, and then adds that the same provision be read in the Constitution for three other communities as well - the Buddhists, the Jains and the Sikhs. Makers of the Constitution did not intend to merge the Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs into the Hindu religion; nor were they indeed competent to do so. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism remain, under the Constitution and the law of India, four different faiths; and their followers four different religious communities.” (Religious Identity, Beliefs and Practices under the Indian Legal System,)article in Religion and Law Review June 1999
As regards Hinduism being the "parent faith" of India this is the most deep-rooted Hindu shibboleth from which even Dr.Radhakrishnan was not immune. Even Buddha or Buddhism is no exception for such misrepresentations. It is incredible but true that S. Radhakrishnan in his Foreword to the volume brought out on the occasion of 2500th Anniversary of the Mahaparinirvana of the Buddha in 1956: 2500 Years of Buddhism (published by the Ministry of Information, Government of India, 1956) states:”The Buddha did not feel that he was announcing a new religion. He was born, grew up, and died a Hindu. He was re-stating with a new emphasis the ancient ideals of the Indo-Aryan civilization.”
With all such irreconciliable inconsistencies and reservations on the meaning of the term “Hindu” in practical terms the majority of the those residing in India, having faith in Vedas, and those not believing in Vedas such as Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists are bundled together as Hindus on the specious consideration that these are all following a Hindu way of life and hence are taken to be followers of Hinduism. This is precisely where the crux of the Minority problem, its communalization lies; just because Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs have grown together through centuries with the rest of the Brahminic Hindus and inevitably other religious and ethnic minorities and there is an intermingling of oustom, tradition and culture it cannot simply mean that the non-Hindu or non-Vedics have forsaken their individual religious and ethnic identities.
The whole terminological muddle and the fundamentalist division in the Indian context can be traced to the desperate and impossible quest of the fanatic elements in the original Vedic Brahmanic, that is, the so called ‘committed to Hindutva philosophy to fraudulently gobble minorities like Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs in their grand design to create a ‘Hindu Rastra’ as a theological counterpoint to the major minority of the Muslims in India. By a clever stoke of constitutional drafting this was accomplished by such eminent draftsman of the Fundamantal Rights Sub-Committee comprising of stalwarts like Dr. Ambedkar and Dr. Munshi when Article 25 relating to religious freedom and particularly its Explanation 2 including Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs in the definition of Hindus was finalized without proper discussion.
ART.25 AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
A careful reading of the Article 25 as a whole makes it crystal clear that there is no reference to Hindu religion except with reference to the Hindu religious institutions of a public character in Sub-clause (b) of clause (2) . It is also clear that the provision for social welfare and reform or throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus is also specifically refers to the Hindu religion . It is impossible therefore to know what Constitutional purpose the founding Fathers were contemplating to serve by construing the reference to Hindus as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion. Why was it necessary to drag these three Sikh, Buddhist and Jaina religions and club them together with the reference to Hindus? Granted, the Founding Fathers were keen to provide social welfare and reform or throw open the Hindu religious institutions or temples to all classes and sections of Hindus, or they were concerned to end untouchability by law, or they contemplated to carry out any other unspecified social or religious reform vis-à-vis the Hindu religion.
Still that does not explain the rationale of including the other three religions of Indian origin under the specious umbrella of the Hindu religion. Jainism and Buddhism do not have casteism. As a matter of fact Mahavira who was the reformer of the ancient religion of Jainism specifically gave the message of a casteless society and and gave a call against slaughter of animals in sacrificial Vedic Yajnas. Buddha did the same.Sikhism too does not have untouchability.
Therefore the question remains what constitutional purpose was sought to be fulfilled by including Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists among the Hindus. As B.Shiva Rau’s classic exposition The Framing of India’s Constitution: A Study shows that Article relating to religious freedom and particularly its Explanation II including Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs in the definition of Hindus was finalized by the Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee comprising of stalwarts like Sardar Patel, Dr.Ambedkar and Dr.Munshi without proper discussion. It is indeed a constitutional conundrum why the Founding Fathers should have resorted to this devious means of social welfare and reform of Hindu religious institutions by a blatant invasion of the admittedly distinct sikh, Buddhist and Jain religious identities.
Clause (b) of Article 25 and its specious Explanation II is truly a religious Pandora’s box. There is no reason why the religious institutions of Sikh, Buddhist and Jain faiths should be treated on par with the Hindu religious ones to push forward Hindu social welfare and reform. It could be a nothing but a surreptious attempt-and rather a clumsy one- to take away the religious freedom guaranteed by that very Article under a pretentious Hindu pretext .
A very unconvincing and clearly untenable attempt which cannot be sustained by constitutional rationalization. It confirms the suspicion that the particular clause was not discussed threadbare, nor does it appear from the Constituent Assembly Debates that the protagonists of Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs were given a fair opportunity to discuss its implications .
And if constitutional stalwarts including its very architect Dr. Ambedkar who had publicly burnt Manu Smriti could be such unwitting victims of the so-called Hindutva tradition so as to obliterate the separate religious identities of well defined religious minorities albeit under the constitutional cover of certain limited objective one can well understand the logic of the Frankensteinian spread of Hindutva today intent on eliminating the smaller religious denominations like Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. While Sikhs and Buddhists cannot be easily dealt with what with the militant and uncompromising character of the one and the universal impact of the other Jains alone are left to fend for themselves with their non-violent creed.
This constitutional subterfuge,or almost a terminological sleight of hand, was very much in evidence in the then Law minister, Dr. Ambedkar’s comments in the Clause by Clause discussion of his Hindu Code Bill in Parliament from 5th Feb. 1951 to 25th Sept. 1951 when various eminent Hindu and Muslim members, and particularly Sikh members took serious objection to the terms ‘Hindu’ comprising Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains. They objected to its communal, discriminatory character and were strongly critical of its circumlocutory, round about and circuitous way of defining who is Hindu. Some members very clearly stated that the Bill in whatever form it was passed should not be forced on any section of the Hindu community or the Sikhs or Jains.
Dr. Ambedkar tried to brush aside these objections in a magisterial manner by saying that the:
“peculiarity about the Hindu religion, as I understand it, that it is one religion which has got a legal gramework integrally associated with it… it would not be difficult to understand why Sikhs are brought under the Hindu religion, why Buddhists are brought under the Hindu religion and Jains are brought under the Hindu religion…In this country although religions have changed the Law has remained one… The Jains come and ask: ‘What are you going to do to us? Are you going to make us Hindus? The Sikhs say the same thing. The Buddhists say the same thing. My answer to that is this: I cannot help it. You have been following a single law system and it is too late now for anyone to say that he shall reject this legal system wholesale… That cannot be done. Therefore, the application of the Hindu Law and the Hindu Code to Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs is a historical development to which you and I cannot give any answer.” (Dr. Ambedkar and the Hindu Code Bill, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, Vol.14, Part Two,1995 , Pp.886-888)
Dr. Ambedkar’s contention of a historical and hegemonic operation of Hindu Law in India was categorically rebutted by Sardar Hukam Singh and Sardar B.S.Mann. Sardar B.S. Mann quoted Mayne’s Hindu Law which says:
“As regards the village communities the Punjab and the adjoining districts are the region in which alone they flourish in their primitive rigour. This is the tract which the Aryans must have first traversed on entering India. Yet it seems to have been there that Brahminism most completely failed to take root and the religious element has never entered into their secular law.”
Commenting on this Sardar Mann said:
“If I have enjoyed emancipation from Manu for so long a time, will it not be tyranny of the times if I have to submit now to a modern Manu. Let me give credit to Manu that at least he was original in many respects, but my modern Manu –Oh, what a fall has he had!”
This misinterpretation of history is compounded by what the doyen of Indian Indologists , Dr.R.G. Bhandarkar noted as to how “India has no written history. Nothing was known till within recent times of the political condition of the country, the dynasties that ruled over the different provisions which composed it, and the great religious and social revolutions it went through. The historical curiosity of the people was satiated by legends. What we find of a historical nature in the literature of the country before the arrival of the Mahomedans comes to very little.” P.i-ii (Early History of the Dekkan Down to the Mahomedan Conquest, 2nd Ed. 1983)
Tarachand whose seminal work entitled Influence of Islam on Indian Culture, written in 1922 but published only in 1964, brought out the impact of Islam on Indian religious and cultural life. In its preface he stated:
"The history of India which furnishes a striking illustration of the impact of many divergent cultures which were gradually transformed by a process of mutual adjustment, surely needs the attention of a student of sociology and history who endeavours to understand the interaction of human mind and the effects of cultural contacts as presented in the customs, religion, literature and art of a people."
CHANDRAGUPTA MAURYA AND JAINISM
But such distortions are not confined to Orientalist interpreters of ancient Indian history. I am quoting below an excerpt from The Age of Mauryas by the eminent historian Romila Thapar:
“Chandragupta is said to have accepted Jainism in his later years, and in fact to have abdicated the throne and become a wandering ascetic dying through slow starvation in the orthodox Jain manner. Considering the difficulties that he faced in making himself king and building an empire it is hardly likely that he would have abdicated at the end of his reign in order to become a wandering ascetic. It is possible though that he accepted the teachings of Mahavira and became a Jaina. This interest may be excused as originating in the fact that he was of low origin, a vaisya, and by accepting Jainism he eluded the contempt of the higher caste nobility.The teachings of Mahavira were at this period, regarded more as an offshoot of Hinduism, an extreme discipline, and the Jainas themselves as a sub-sect of the ealier religion, we can discoutenance the above idea. The interest it would seem was largely intellectual. Accepting Jainism did not raise one’s social prestige in the eyes of high-caste Hindus whose social ethics were already being determined by caste rules.” (Italics supplied)
I am aware that this is an earlier historical reading by the eminent, liberal, progressive historian Romila Thapar. I am also aware that that her readings of Indian ancient history have progressed from her A History of India (Pelican 1966) to Early India :From the Origins to A.D. 1300 , Allen Lane, 2002)
In her A History of India (Vol.I) Thapar has perceptively noted that “much of the early history of India was reconstructed almost entirely from Sanskrit sources i.e. from material preserved in the ancient classical language”. (p.18) In her latest version “substantial changes in the readings of early Indian history” are made. Mauryan India is Thapar’s special field of historical study. That is why one is concerned to question her cavalier and even presumptuous remarks - so unhistorical in character - regarding Candragupta.
I am quoting once again the particular sentence: “This interest may be excused as originating in the fact that he was of low origin, a vaisya, and by accepting Jainism he eluded the contempt of the higher caste nobility.”
I simply fail to understand this judgemental remark on what Candragupta did making a totally unhistorical presumption on his alleged inferiority complex as a Vaisya and even more questionable presumption that he did so to elude the contempt of “higher caste nobility”. One is almost led to wonder whether Candragupta’s soul materialised by some transmigratory power before Romila Thapar to make such a guilty confession stating: “Well, Madam, you know how embarrassing it was to be a Vaisya with such glittering nobility around me!”
I am concerned to make an issue of such ‘historical’ interpretations or rather mis-interpetations to show how personal historiography of the historians, apparently not affected by any transparent cultural bias can go astray. But since the issue has been raised it must be dealt with in a rational historical manner. I cannot do better here than quote Dr.Radha Kumud Mookerji.
RADHA KUMUD MOOKERJI AND CHANDRAGUPTA MAURYA
Dr. Mookerji has commented at length on the theory of the base birth of Chandragupta in his Chandragupta Maurya and His Times (1943):
“The theory of the base birth of Chandragupta Maurya was first suggested by the derivation which a commentator was at pains to find for the epithet Maurya as applied to Chandragupta by the Puranas.” Further after explaining how the commentator on Purana was wrong in explaining grammatically Maurya from Mura and how it is impossible to “to derive by any grammar Maurya as a direct formation from Mura” Dr.Mookerji states : “The derivative from Mura is Maureya. The term Maureya can be derived only from masculine Mura which is mentioned as a name of a gotra in a Ganapatha in Panini’s Sutra (IV. I, 151). The commentator was more interested in finding a mother than in grammar! The only redeeming feature of the commentator is that not merely is he innocent of grammar and history; he is also innocent of any libel against Chandragupta. For he has not stated that Mura, the supposed mother of Chandragupta was a Sudra woman or a courtesan of the Nanda king…Thus even the commentator of the Purana cannot be held responsible for the theory of Chandragupta’s low origin.” (Pp.9-10)
Dr Mookerji makes a solemn invocation which should serve as a solace to one in search of sober history: “Heavens save us from commentators who supplement texts by facts of their own creation!” Well, this is precisely my watchword for my humble effort to trace the evolution of the Sramanic religious tradition of Jainism and Buddhism and its impact on the Indic civilisation.
Further to press home the conclusion from Jain and Buddhist sources Dr.Mookerji notes that the “Mahavamsa (a Ceylones Buddhist account of about 5th century AD) states that Chandragupta was ‘born of a family of Kshatriyas called Moriyas’ (Moriyanam khattiyanam vamse jatam)”, and the Buddhist canonical work Digha Nikaya (II, 167) mentions the Kshatriya clan known as Moriyas of Pippalivana.
Even more monumental evidence, according to Dr.Mookerji, is derived from the Buddhist as well Jain tradition connecting the peacock, Mayura, with the Moriya or Maurya dynasty. Thus the Ashoka pillar at Nandangarh has been found to bear at its bottom below the surface of the ground the figure of a peacock while the same figure is repeated in several sculptures on the Great Stupa at Sanchi associated with Ashoka. Therefore Dr.Mookerji concludes that the “Buddhist and Jain tradition are at one in declaring for him (Chandragupta) a noble birth.” ((Pp.14-15) Ibid.
As noted above “The date of the foundation of the Maurya dynasty by Chandragupta has been determined to be about 322 B.C. on the basis of the known dates of the corresponding Greek persons or events such as the invasion of Alexander the Great which brought the Greeks in contact with India or such historical fragments as are left by Megasthenes’s Ta Indika. Chandragupta Maurya’s ascention to the throne and his historicity is an important landmark or even a high watermark in the vague almost non-existent ancient Indian historical accounts.
“The date of the foundation of the Maurya dynasty by Chandragupta has been determined to be about 322 B.C. on the basis of the known dates of the corresponding Greek persons or events such as the invasion of Alexander the Great which brought the Greeks in contact with India or such historical fragments as are left by Megasthenes’s Ta Indika. Chandragupta Maurya’s ascention to the throne and his historicity is an important landmark or even a high watermark in the vague almost non-existent ancient Indian historical accounts.
I am emphasising the siginificance of the Chandragupta Maurya dynasty in ancient India because Chandragupta’s role was also crucial in the spread of Jaina religious and cultural traditions in the whole of South India. In a remarkable monograph Jainism or the Early Faith of Asoka with Illustrations of the Ancient Religions of the East From the Pantheon of the Indo-Scythians with A Notice on Bactrian coins and Indian Dates by Edward Thomas F.R.S., read at the Meeting of the Royal Asiatic Society, Feb.26, 1877 (published Trubner & Co, London, 1877) E.Thomas states re;Jaina Sramanic faith of Chandragupta:
Thomas also quotes Abul Fazl, the “accomplished minister of Akbar… known to have been largely indebted to the Jaina priests and their carefully preserved chronicles” from his Ain-i-Akbari “three very important entries, exhibited in the original Persian version quoted below, which establish: (1) that Asoka himself first introduced ‘JAINISM’ into the kingdom of Kashmir; (2) that ‘Buddhism’ was dominant there during the reign of Jaloka (the son and successor of Asoka);; and (3)that Brahmanism superseded Buddhism under Raja Sachinara…” which evidence he takes “to infer that Asoka’s conversion to Buddhism occurred late in his life or reign” and that the “annals of Kashmir, on the other hand, more emphatically imply that either he did not seek to spread, or had not the chance or opportunity of propagating his new faith.”
Thomas also emphasizes that the “leading fact of Asoka’s introduction or recognition of the Jaina creed in Kashmir, above stated, does not however, rest upon the sole testimony of the Muhammadan author, but is freely acknowledged in the Brahmanical pages of the Rajatarangini.
VAJPAYEE AND HINDU RASHTRA
A pertinent pointer to the implicit concept of Hindu rashtra in the RSS ideology is available in the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s letter dt.July 17, 2000, commenting on the Islamic scholar, Dr.Rafiq Zakaria’s book Discovery of God displayed on the back cover page of his latest book Communal Rage in Secular India. Mr.Vajpayee’s appreciation states:
“Yet you have succeeded in presenting it in a fresh, simple and highly persuasive manner, with the power of your central thought that GOD IS ONE. This monotheistic thought is the defining principle of India’s age-old civilization. Our ancient sages articulated it in these words: Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudha Vadanti (The truth is one, wise men describe it differently). They also taught us the secular canon, which is the basis of our nationhood: Sarva Panth Samabhava (Equal respect for all faiths).”
It is worth noting that Mr.Vajpayee knows what he means as a true Swayamsevaka,-volunteer of the RSS, remember his statement: “Sangh is his soul.” Yet he makes a glaring linguistic slip by translating Panth as faith. In 1995 Mr.Vajpayee declared that Hindutva and Indianness are one and the same when he was honoured with Rashtriya Ekatmata (National Unity) award by the R.G. Joshi Foundation in Mumbai at the hands of the late Mr.Nani Palkhivala. The former prime minister’s well-known expertise in doublespeak notwithstanding is there any dictionary –excepting the unique RSS glossary of the Savarkarian Hindutva which has also been lucky enough to gain the judicial stamp of approval in the Manohar Joshi case- which translates ‘Panth’ as ‘faith’ Can this be anything else than a systematic linguistic sabotage of the basic structure of the Constitution?
Such being the Vedic pedigree and genesis of the term Hindutva one can well realize Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s somewhat tortuous journey towards accepting the ‘synonymousness’ of Hindutva and Bharatiyatva. But does it mean that the Bharatiya Janata Party will change its name as “Hindu” Janata Party. It is inconceivable that the BJP will take this ultimate nomenclatural ideological leap because the term “Hindutva” for all its rigmarole of all inclusive Hinduishness cnnot connote the comprehensiveness, breadth and a certain secular cultural synthesis peculiar to the confluence of a medley of religions, Eastern and Western, that have grown together through centuries, in the term “Bharatiya”. And the moment BJP re-christans itself in a rash Hindu brainwave it will be immediately branded as ‘fundamentalist ‘ and ‘communal’ like Muslim League or Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Hence one can make out why with all its ideological compulsions to paint the Indian map with saffron colour the BJP has prudentially continued with the term ‘Bharatiya’, and still has innermost reservations that ‘Hindutva’ and ‘Bharatiyatva’ cannot be one and the same.
SHANKARACHARYA & JAIN MATHAS
Even more significant is the assimilation of the Jaina motives by the Shankaracharya mathas as shown by the eminent historian K.A. Nilkanta Shastry and V. Ramasubramaniyam 'Aundy' in their article The Ascendancy and Eclipse of Bhagwan Mahavira's Cult in the Tamil Land published in the Mahavira and His Teachings (under the Chief Editorship of Dr.A.N. Upadhye, General Editor of Moortidevi Granthamala of Bharatiya Jnanpith (assisted by Bal Patil) on the occasion of 2500th Mahavira Nirvana Anniversary, 1974).
The authors state:
"It is necessary at this stage to state briefly what a Sankara mutt was and how it copied the Jaina church in its technique of organization. It was a legally constituted body, Pitha, headed by a bachelor hermit (Brahmachari sanyasin) exercising absolute control over all the Hindu hermits of the entire quarter. This pontif and his local representatives, practising asceticism themselves,were to tour their respective regions supervising the religious rites (Samskaras) and daily practices (Dinacharyas) of the four varnas...But the most important and epoch-making innovation was their advice to all performers of Vedic sacrifices to substitute vegetable offerings for live animal victims. The 'Manimekhalai' one of the five great Tamil epics, tells us that some orthodox Brahmins of that age were performing sacrifices, involving the killing of many animals, including the cow. One Brahmin boy, it is said, successfuly set free a cow,an intended victim, and he was , therefore, hounded out of the locality as well as the community by other Brahmins. Where actual blood had been spilt in certain atharvanic rituals, the Sankara-mutt recommended coloured mineral water (aarati) and breaking of cocoanuts and ash-gourds. Where intoxicants such as soma juice, had been used, they substituted 'panchagavya' and 'madhuparka' . In food habits too, vegetarianism and prohibition were strictly enforced , with penalties of ex-communication for other transgressions. Ahimsa, satya, triple baths every day and free teaching of Sanskrit were rewarded with ecclesiastical honours and grants. Except for the doctrinaire difference, the pattern of the mundane aspects of the mutt was but a replica of the Jaina church." (pp.329-30)
NOW THE SO-CALLED HINDU CULTURE AND ITS IMPACT
The principle of ahimsa (non-violence) and the prescription of strict vegetarianism are the prime and unique characteristics of Jain religion and ethics. They could not have developed in Vedic-brahmanic Aryan culture: there is ample evidence to show that meat eating was not a taboo to imigrant Aryans. But abstention from meat came naturally to the native inhabitants of India because of the climate. That the concept of ahimsa was foreign to Vedic culture is shown by the eminent Indologist Prof. W. Norman Brown in his Tagore Memorial Lectures, 1964-65, Man in the Universe:
"Though the Upanishads contain the first literary reference to the idea of rebirth and to the notion that one's action-karma determines the conditions of one's future existences, and though they arrive at the point of recognising that rebirth may occur not only in animal form but also in animal bodies, they tell us nothing about the precept of ahimsa. Yet that precept is later associated with the belief is later associated with the belief that a soul in its wandering may inhabit both kinds of forms. Ancient Brahmanical literature is conspicuously silent about ahimsa. The early Vedic texts do not even record the noun ahimsa nor know the ethical meaning which the noun later designated… Nor is an explanation of ahimsa deducible from other parts of Vedic literature. The ethical concept which it emdodies was entirely foreign to the thinking of the early Vedic Aryans, who recognised no kinship between human and animal creation, but rather ate meat and offered animals the sacrifice to the gods." (pp.53-54)
Therefore Prof. Brown concludes:"The double doctrine of ahimsa and vegetarianism has never had full and unchallenged acceptance and practice among Hindus, and should not be considered to have arisen in Brahmanical circles. It seems more probable that it originated in non-Brahmanical environment, and was promoted in historic India by the Jains and adopted by Brahmanic Hinduism."
The Jain contribution in the field of ahimsa has been distinctly acknowledged by Lokmanya Tilak: "In ancient times innumerable animals were butchered in sacrifice. Evidence in support of this is found in various poetic composition such as Kalidasa's Meghaduta. But the credit for the disappearance of this terrible massacre from the Brahmanical religion goes to the share of Jainism." (Bombay Samachar, 10-12-1904)
Prof . Hermann Jacobi, the eminent German Indologist said: "In conclusion, let me assert my conviction that Jainism is an original system, quite distinct and independent from all others; and that, therefore, it is of great importance for the study of philosophical thought and religious life in ancient India."
In the latest Supreme Court CASE NO.:
Appeal (civil) 9595 of 2003 PETITIONER:
Committee of Management Kanya Junior High School Bal Vidya Mandir, Etah, U.P. RESPONDENT: Sachiv, U.P. Basic Shiksha Parishad Allahabad, U.P. & Others, DATE OF JUDGMENT: 21/08/2006 BENCH:
S. B. SINHA & DALVEER BHANDARI
The Judgment emphatically states “Jain religion indisputably is not a part of Hindu religion. The question as to whether the Jains are part of the Hindu
religion is not open to debate. Jains have a right to establish and
administer their own institution. But, only because an institution is managed by a person belonging to a particular religion, the same would not ipso facto make the institution run and administered by a minority community. A minority is
determinable by reference to the demography of a State. Whether an institution is established and administered by a minority community or not may have to be determined by the appropriate authority in terms of the provisions of the statute
governing the field. Furthermore, minority institutions are not immune from the operations of the measures necessary to regulate their functions. To what extent such regulations would operate, however, again is a matter which would be
governed by the statute.
“Minority communities do not have any higher rights than the majority. They have merely been conferred additional protection. This has been laid down by a Eleven Judge Bench of this Court. [See: P.A. Inamdar & Others v. State of
Maharashtra & Others, (2005) 6 SCC 537].
“The Court in the said judgment also dealt with the object of Article 30(1) of the Constitution. The Court in para 97 of the judgment observed the relevant para which reads as under:"The object underlying Article 30(1) is to see the desire of minorities being fulfilled that their children should be brought up properly and efficiently and acquire eligibility for higher university education and go out in the world fully equipped with such intellectual attainments as will make them fit for
entering public services, educational institutions imparting higher instructions including general secular education. Thus, the twin objects sought to be achieved by Article 30(1) in the interest of minorities are: (i) to enable such minority to conserve its religion and language, and (ii) to give a thorough, good, general education to children belonging to such minority. So long as the institution retains its minority character by achieving and continuing to achieve the abovesaid two objectives, the institution would remain a minority institution."