Moving Towards South Asian Confederation
  Hindu - Muslim Unity: Introduction


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 different levels:

1.  Firstly, the rise of a greater spiritual principle and formation that can reconcile the two religious traditions.

2.  Secondly, 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. 

We shall serially follow this synthetic trajectory in the Motsac web-pages.

Date of Update: 18-Nov-11

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu