|Superpower in waiting. That's how many of us would like to describe India. An economic juggernaut, a state with nuclear weapons, waiting to take its rightful place at the world's top table.
Air Marshal (retd) RK Nehra believes that wait is likely to be a long one.
Because, thanks to Buddhism, the once martial Hindus, who still are a majority in Hindustan, have now become peace-loving wimps.
And a �soft state' can never become a superpower, it will always be a waiter at the top table, if that.
I must confess when I first heard about his book, Hinduism and its military ethos, I was less than impressed.
The book jacket, which portrayed a pale brick wall, or pavement, with a crack running down the middle, did nothing to change that impression.
But I should have known not to judge a book by its title, or its cover.
Air Marshal Nehra has obviously spent a lot of time and energy studying not just Hinduism, but every major religion of the world.
He starts by examining the India-born religions, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, before moving on to describe the Judaic religions � Christianity, Judaism and Islam � in a nutshell. (All this, in 13 pages of crisp text.)
He then concludes that "Hinduism, �the first formal religion of mankind', remained confined to Bharat (India) while Christianity and Islam spread rapidly across the world simply because of the �stark simplicity of the creeds of the two faiths. These are easy to understand by laymen with average, (or even below average) intelligence. By comparison, Hindu philosophy is highly complex and their view of life difficult to understand."
But wait, I digress.
Nehra's argument is essentially simple: We as a nation lack the killer instinct. We lack the ruthlessness, the cunning, the immorality needed to become a true world power.
And he blames Buddhism for our recent meekness.
�Of the recorded Hindu history of around 2,300 years, Bharat was under the jackboots of slavery for some 1300 years�a dubious record.'
The ancient Hindus, he says, �were a set of martial people who lived by the sword. Somewhere along the line, Hindus lost their way and their martial spirit�(they) developed a deluded sense of Dharma under the influence of Buddhism, and that was the main reason for their downfall.'
While the Bhagvad Gita emphasises the duty to engage in holy (righteous) war, Buddhism and Jainism injected self-defeating concepts like �ahimsa, (non-violence), shanti (peace) and satya (truth) into the Hindu psyche, �with disastrous results,' argues Nehra.
It is that mindset, he says, which produces �patriotic songs' which say things like: Duniya ka zulum sehna, aur munh se kuch na kehna,' which loosely translated means: "it is a great tradition of ours to bear all type and manner of atrocities, without ever complaining.
"In addition to ahimsa, another insignia fondly, forcedly and firmly put on the Hindu lapel is that of �Tolerance'. It is difficult to utter the �Hindu' word, without uttering �tolerance' in the same breath," he says.
"The Hindu is being constantly told that his religion and scriptures require him to be �tolerant'. It is generally projected as if Hinduism has no existence independent of tolerance; a Hindu should �walk' tolerance, he should �talk' tolerance. During TV debates, one often hears Hindu leaders, both pseudo-secularists and �communal', going hysterical about �Hindu Tolerance'.
But yet in the Ramayana, he notes, �Laxman displays extreme intolerance in cutting off nose of a woman, Surpanakha. What was her fault? She had only made a marriage proposal to Laxman, who at that time, was without his wife. In any case, those days, rulers used to have multiple wives.'
While in the Mahabharata, Arjun, at Krishna's behest, killed Karna when he was helpless. Bhima, again at Krishna's urging, hit Duryodhana on the thigh with his mace, violating prevailing norms of combat.
Thus, �the projected tolerance of Hindus, born out of bogus spirituality, is a myth. It is an artificial web woven round the Hindus by people with base instinct and baser intentions,' he concludes.
Superpower? Top table? Not just yet.
The meek, as they say, will inherit the dearth.
- Ramananda Sengupta, Sify.com
Rating: [4 of 5 Stars!]