September 9, 2002


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Varsha Bhosle

Towards Balkanisation, V: Adivasis

Towards Balkanisation, Part I
Towards Balkanisation, Part II
Towards Balkanisation, III: Missionaries
Towards Balkanisation, IV: Catholics

On Friday, September 6, The All India Christian Council accused the National Commission for Minorities of adopting "double standards," demanded that it ban the RSS' Ghar Wapsi programme in tribal areas, and slammed Vice-Chairman Tarlochan Singh for demanding that missionaries halt their conversion activities amongst Sikhs. According to the council, "tribals belonging to Christian and other faiths are being forcibly converted into a militant brand of religion followed by organisations such as VHP. The move is designed to divide the tribals along religious communal lines and to create friction amongst them. In Gujarat, this directly led to large-scale violence against Muslims in tribal areas."

It's amusing to see how the council gets a bee up its duct when the converted tribals revert to their original way -- which way is debated not only by evangelists, but also brainwashed Hindus. The missionary panic is palpable; why else would they allege that Christian tribals are forcibly converted to Hindutva? Thing is, Hindutva reconverts the converted to Hinduism -- and that's why it is Enemy No.1 globally.

On Wednesday, September 4, The Indian Express published a report from Amritsar, in which the VHP's Ashok Singhal was quoted as saying, "Godhra happened on February 27 and the next day, 50 lakh Hindus were on the streets. We were successful in our experiment of raising Hindu consciousness, which will be repeated all over the country now." The report added, "Singhal also spoke glowingly of how whole villages had been 'emptied of Islam,' and how whole communities of Muslims had been dispatched to refugee camps."

Now, there are few people I loathe more than Ashok Singhal and Praveen Togadia. Therefore, the question of defending them does not arise. Nevertheless, I did find it extremely strange that not PTI nor UNI nor IANS -- in fact, not a single independent news agency that hovers around these worthies for their quotable quotes provided reports against which I could verify the Express dispatch. Stranger still, the Chandigarh-based Tribune reported that Singhal "exhorted Hindus to unite to strengthen the roots of Hinduism," expressed dismay over the "discrimination" meted out to Hindus, and declared that "for the first time that the tolerance level among the Hindus had breached." No mention of "successful experiment" -- as in "Hindutva laboratory."

The Hindi Amar Ujala, a Delhi-based paper, had just one complex sentence on Gujarat, which had Singhal saying that after the Godhra incident, lakhs of Hindus united and nearly 4,000 villages were emptied of Muslims, and that for the first time, Muslims instead of Hindus had to go to refugee camps. No mention of "successful experiment" -- as in "Hindutva laboratory."

On Thursday, September 5, The Hindu and The Pioneer reported the Congress' demand for Singhal's arrest for his confession about the "experiment" -- which both newspapers attributed to "reports," ie, the Express. And then, the paper that's been conducting a witch-hunt against the BJP waited two more days before publishing an editorial based on its own report about the (unverifiable) "successful experiment." Something stinks big time...

I've no doubt that Singhal spewed his wishful, macho garbage against Muslims. But "Hindutva laboratory" isn't something these Einsteins could organise even if they wanted to. For, to accomplish that, malevolence ain't enough -- to work on that scale, one also needs intellect. Which some pinkos and missionaries do posses, and thus make legions of Hindu "secularists" swallow the "animism" shit and express shock at the tribal uprising in Gujarat.

Hindus -- not the don't-know-my-ass-from-my-mouth type -- do not accept the view that tribals are non-Hindus; and that Christians, Muslims and Hindus have an equal right to offer their religion to them, as then NCM chairman Tahir Mahmood claimed (Hindustan Times, Jan 28, 1999). Mahmood also cited census reports to support his claim: "Appendix C to the census report of 1991 gives details of Sects/Beliefs/Religions clubbed with another religion. According to this annexure, no tribal community has been clubbed with the followers of the Hindu religion in the report."

Whether Adivasis are Hindus or not has always been a question of great controversy. The Niyogi Commission's Report of the Christian Missionaries Enquiry Committee MP, Nagpur, 1956 (Vol I, Part I, Chapter I) states, "The Missionaries have throughout claimed that they are not Hindus. A continuous attempt has been made by these organisations to foster a sense of separateness amongst the Tribes from the rest of the Hindus. Speaking about the separation of the aborigines from the mass of the Indian population Gandhiji remarked: 'We were strangers to this sort of classification -- animists -- aborigines, etc, but we have learnt it from the English rulers.' To the question put by Dr Chesterman whether Gandhiji's objection applied to areas like the Kond hills where the aboriginal races were animists, the unhesitating reply was, 'Yes, it does apply, because I know that in spite of being described as animists these tribes have from times immemorial been absorbed in Hinduism. They are, like the indigenous medicine, of the soil, and their roots lie deep there'." (I wonder what our Gandhivadis have to say now.)

Whatever the Adivasis may have been originally, there's no doubt that they were gradually absorbed into the Hindu fold -- just like the pagans of Saudi Arabia and northern Africa were into Islam, but only many, many centuries earlier. So does that give Hindus poaching rights over Arabs...? The Niyogi Report states, "Where a tribe has insensibly been converted into a caste, it preserved its original name and customs, but modified its animistic practices more and more in the direction of orthodox Hinduism. Numerous examples of this process are to be found all over India and it has been at work for centuries."

Besides, what's the difference between Hindu forms of worship and the Adivasis' "animism" anyway? Don't Hindus worship trees on Vat Savitri, snakes on Nag Panchami, and cows everyday? In 1891, J A Baines, the Census Commissioner, considered as futile the distinction between tribals who were "Hinduised" and those that followed a tribal form of religion because, "every stratum of Indian society is more or less saturated with Animistic Conceptions but little raised above those which predominate in the early state of religious development."

Tell me, how many Hindu Gods and Goddesses can you name...? Even if you believe that each God is a mere form of the One Reality, how many forms of, say, Durga, can you name? Have you heard of Zanai? Well, She's a Bhosle daivat, and the tribals of that area of Satara district, too, worship Her. Ms B Nivedita, of the Vivekananda Kendra at Kanyakumari, writes, "The missionaries called the Gods and Goddesses of these [north eastern tribal] communities 'spirits'... First introducing and then popularising the use of 'spirits' for the Devi-Devata of these communities, the missionaries started their campaign for conversion. The people were told, 'You do not have God. You worship only spirits. What you have is only primitive ideas of religion and a bundle of superstitions. If you want to be saved then follow the Only True God'."

But why did the 1991 census make the anti-Hindu distinction...? Really, you shouldn't ask stupid questions when you jolly well know the will of a political class and bureaucracy steeped in Fabian socialism and manipulated by frankly-Red historians. Till 1901, all communities -- like nagarvasi, gramvasi, vanavasi -- were listed as Hindus. But in 1901, the census officers were directed by the British government to mention the religion of Adivasis as "animism."

Thing is, the census officers kept complaining that it was nearly impossible for them to decide who was an animist and who was a Hindu, since all worshipped God in many forms. Thus, in one census, a community was "animist" and in the next it was Hindu, or vice versa. Finally, the government directed the officers to enter the name of a community as the name of its religion. Voilą: the religion of the Santhals became "Santhal," that of the Nagas became "Naga," and so on. After that, deriding each "religion" became easier for missionaries following the policy of Divide & Convert.

But, no matter what manipulations followed, the British just couldn't distinguish between Hinduism and "animism." In the census of 1901, Sir Herbert Risley observed that "Hinduism itself was animism more or less transformed by philosophy," and that no sharp line of demarcation could be drawn between them as the one melted away into the other (The People of India, 2nd edition). In 1931, the census commissioner, Dr J H Hutton, admitted that the line between Hinduism and tribal religion was difficult to draw and the inclusion of tribals within the Hindu fold was easy (Census of India, 1931, India Report, Vol I, Part I). The deputy commissioner of Amravati, Mr Stent, sent a note to the census officer saying that the educated Indian officers maintained that Gonds, Korkus, Bhils, Gowaris and Banjaras were Hindus, and that he himself conceded that when members of these tribes settled in a Hindu village they became Hindus. He commented on the tendency of Hinduism to absorb the religion of other people, and also pointed out that the aboriginals returned themselves as Hindus... (Census Report, Central Provinces and Berar, 1931, Volume XII, Part I).

Then why did the British persist with the scheme? The Niyogi Report states, "It is not easy to find any sound reason for isolating the tribal people from the Hindus in view of the repeated admissions made that the animistic or tribal religion was hardly distinguishable from the Hindu religion. The mystery is solved when we come to examine the Missionary activities within these tribal areas." Those activities form a book, bits of which I'll give you some time.

How missionaries lull stupid Hindus can be seen from the census of 1941: That year, for the first time, heads were counted community-wise instead of on the basis of religion. That is, a tribal was classified merely as one who belonged to a scheduled tribe despite his being a Christian. Result, the all-India figures for Christians were shown as 6,040,665 -- which was less by 256,098 than the figure recorded in 1931. However, the Census Commissioner of India, Mr Yeats, made a note where he disclosed that about 1/20th of the total tribal population were Christian. Meaning, there was actually an increase of 3,474,128 persons among the Christian community during 1931-41.

But let's return to where we started -- Gujarat and its tribals. Davinder Kumar wrote in Outlook of July 1: "Of all the disturbing facts that have emerged from the post-mortem of the communal carnage in Gujarat, the most baffling and alarming is the large-scale participation of Dalits and tribals in the rioting... Even more shocking: tribals, who have little in common with mainstream Hinduism, brandished weapons, looted and killed as they violently avenged the 'attack on Hindus'."

From Rajdeep Sardesai, to Barbara Crossette, to Our Special Correspondent -- everybody needed smelling salts at this revelation. Quite natural. After all, what would those whose lineage has no bond with Hinduism except for, if at all, the occasional phuljhadi at Diwali, know about a Hindu memory...?

Identity is the result of the interactions among an array of phenomena that gather around a responsive core and induce its expression. Since the interactions are diverse, the relations that emerge, too, are diverse and thus prone to change. An individual is not just a biological entity; he also carries a memory imprint which, among others, accommodates the body's mental and spiritual needs against the external forces that protect or threaten his survival. The Adivasi or Vanvasi or tribal was and is a Hindu. And as a Hindu, he did not require "successful experiment" to rise in unprecedented anger at the unprecedented provocation of 58 Hindus -- men, women and children -- locked into a bogie and set on fire.

On the night of January 7, 1993, four women, three men and two girls were locked in a room, doused with kerosene, and set on fire. When the news of the Radhabai Chawl massacre spread, including how the attackers stood around shouting "Allah-o-Akbar," Bombay burned. When 68 Hindus suffer the same fate, why wouldn't Gujarat burn...? Did you really expect the Dalits and Adivasis of Gujarat to be as brainwashed by our "eminent historians" as you are?

The right or wrong of the Gujarat riots is not at debate here. I'm talking "Hindutva laboratory" and "animists." Neither exists. What does is vile human character -- as displayed by the Muslims in their unprovoked massacre, by the Hindus in their brutal retort, and by the Christians in their unceasing efforts to destroy Hinduism. Fact is, as long as "secularists" keep pinning Hindutva and condoning Islam and Christianity, there will be more Gujarats.

Varsha Bhosle

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