The South Asian region is a meeting ground of diverse religious
strands. Yet it is the issue of Hindu-Muslim unity that is the
pivotal factor on which the unity, peace and harmony of the
entire subcontinent depends. It is also the key factor on which
the tolerance and harmony between different religious
denominations in the region depend.
The cardinal issue in Hindu-Muslim conflict is the struggle
between two entirely different world-views that can be traced
back to two entirely different civilizations nurturing two
entirely different traditions. A new attempt at unity must
follow the two different historical trajectories that pose a
challenge for synthesis.
One tradition rose as a historical necessity in the arid zones
of Arabia but quickly spread to distant lands with the fire of
passion and joy of force to establish and expand the rule of the
Infinite, of Allah. That movement was necessary to balance the
gospel of love symbolized by the Cross. Without the element of
‘Force’, love loses its fervour; without the element of ‘Love’,
force becomes dry. Today as a neo-militant outlook tries to draw
sustenance from the ‘Force’ of Islam that was once historically
relevant in a totally different context, the synthesis of ‘Love’
and ‘Force’ becomes an imperative issue.
The other tradition rose as a metaphysical quest in the fertile
banks of the great Indian rivers. It had no historical necessity
to exclusively eulogize ‘love’ or ‘Force’; it had the luxury to
get absorbed in the trance of the superconscious states. In
that rich spiritual effulgence, material life became
impoverished. Today it is facing an existential crisis as its
essence has to emerge from hermitages and retreats, break the
crust of outworn social barriers and rediscover its own
synthetic trend by a ‘new self-knowledge and self-appreciation’.
How do we proceed to harmonize the two different world-views,
the two different traditions, the two different religions in a
new South Asian configuration?
Sri Aurobindo had suggested two different conceivable
solutions in his 1920 write-up on The Spirit and Form of Indian
Polity. The Time-Spirit demands that both the suggested
solutions have to be worked out today, simultaneously, at
the rise of a greater spiritual principle and formation that can
reconcile the two religious traditions.
a political patriotism surmounting the religious struggle and
uniting the two communities.
The spiritual attempt
The spiritual synthesis was attempted by Akbar but it was too
intellectual to be accepted by the conservative religious
mind-set of both the communities. Guru Nanak attempted the
synthesis from a spiritual perspective and the Sikh Khalsa was a
unique first attempt to combine the deepest elements of Islam
and Vedanta. However the principles were too universal at that
point in history to be appreciated and absorbed at the level of
the masses. During the rise of modern Indian nationalism, Swami
Vivekananda declared that the new India would be a synthesis of
Vedantic mind and Islamic body. Sri Aurobindo in his road map of
the evolutionary consciousness has described the supramental
plane which carries, like a in-built program, the creative
essence from which all religious ideas arise.
The political attempt
When the British Raj in its attempt to drive a wedge between
Hindus and Muslims suggested separate electorates for Muslims in
1909, Sri Aurobindo realized that this would lead to partition.
In a series of articles in November –December, 1909, he
emphasized that the embittered Hindu community should not allow
the passions of the moment to obscure the vision of the future
as Hindu nationalism had no relevance left and the goal was to
move to a composite nationalism. On 15th August,
1947, while welcoming freedom from British rule, he had
previsioned that the consequences of the unresolved Hindu-Muslim
conflict would be disastrous. He had hinted a new form of
regional unity based on a socio-political program of common
action. A South Asian Confederation would be the best
culmination of that synthetic vision. If Sri Aurobindo’s vision
of the European Union made during 1915-1918 could actualize,
there is no reason to lose hope on a South Asian unity.
serially follow this synthetic trajectory in the Motsac
Date of Update: 18-Nov-11
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu