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EDITORIAL: 1-15 December 2002

Incessant prattle

The Sangh conglomerate’s deadly obsession with "reforming" Islam has all the classic symptoms of a terrible mental disease–schizophrenia. One set of its symptoms is called Obsessive-Delusive Syndrome, in which the patient’s mind latches on to an object and the person goes on prattling incessantly about that object day in, day out, in context and out of context, till that person begins sounding like a worn out gramophone record when the needle is stuck in a groove.

There is a miserable character in one of the stories of Qurratulain Hyder. The fellow is an aristocrat’s servant. Whenever the sahab is not around, he plays his favourite song on the gramophone. The song’s lines are: Aaram kahan dil jo pada ghair ke paale/Muflis ko Khuda ishq ke phande mein na daale (There is no comfort once the heart is given to someone/God forbid a poor man falling in love.)

Every time the man played the record, the needle stuck in a particularly worn out groove and the gramophone would go on chanting phande mein na daale, phande mein na daale, phande mein na daale. The Sangh leadership’s ceaseless and sickening cant about the "need" for changes in the holy Quran reminds one of that Qurratulain Hyder character and his favourite song. Such conduct, in fact, could be the beginning of loss of sense of proportion.

The second component of Obsessive-Delusive Syndrome, delusion, is also amply present here. The patient entertains delusions of grandeur. For instance, a patient can claim every third minute, "See, I am Hitler. I killed 6 million Jews." Another would say, "I am Julius Caesar. I conquered the world." Yet another would boast, "I am God, I made the earth, the sky, the heavens, to destroy them when I feel like that." In fact, these people believe what they say.

They are not the least bothered by any sense of reality because their reality-check mechanism has broken down. That is why they are declared schizophrenic — mad folk, in common parlance. The Sangh genuinely thinks that it is God and it can write and rewrite the Quran. Now, you can very well imagine the state of affairs.

These people, obsessed as they are, can go to any extent, driven by delusions of grandeur, to create their own world of fantasies. Pretending to be God, they want to rule that phantom world which would not have the Quran in it. To begin with, they filed a case in Calcutta High Court to get the Quran banned, without giving a thought to the legal reality that the scriptures are non-judicable. All of us know what happened to that wretched case.

They, in their ignorance, say the Quran teaches violence. But so does the Mahabharat, the Ramayana, the Gita. Even Prophet Joshua’s exploits in the Bible are said to have inspired Hitler’s and Ariel Sharon’s brutality. So, what does it all mean?

The Allahabad High Court observed in the famous Mathura Ahir versus State of UP case that atrocities on the lower and middle castes would continue as long as the Hindu scriptures were there, because the inspiration came from these scriptures. Even as late as October 2002 VHP’s Acharya Giriraj Kishore quoted Hindu scriptures in New Delhi saying that a "cow’s life is more precious than a man’s." The acharya (learned man) was justifying the lynching of five young Dalits for doing what their forefathers had been doing for centuries — skinning a dead cow, under licence, for the leather industry. In that particular case a dead cow was more precious than five Dalit young men.

So, what do we say of scriptures like that? Should they be banned? Or, one set of scriptures should be banned, and the others allowed to play havoc with Dalit lives? Perhaps, the second course of action is more likely under a Sangh dispensation. We have already got an example of this in the ban on SIMI and arms training to a far more lawless Bajrang Dal. Another example is VHP cadres allowed to run amok in Gujarat and Shiv Sainiks making an ass of the law everywhere.

The more sane course was adopted by the Supreme Court of India when it struck down the Mathura Ahir versus the State of UP observations saying the judge should have limited himself to the case and refrained from making adverse comments on Hindu scriptures, which like other scriptures were non-judicable.

So, what does all this mean? That the Sangh should set its own house in order and forget Islam, for which it does not have much love lost. That the ceaseless rant about "reforming" Islam grates on the ears without being able to distract attention from Hinduism’s own difficulties. 

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