Today is the day we commemorate the sacred memory of one of the greatest Hindu heroes of all time: Pratap Singh I Sisodia popularly respected as Maharana Pratap. This unparalleled warrior and imposing Kshatriya lionheart was fittingly born in the formidable fort of Kumbalgarh. There was no room for weakness, cowardice, surrender or compromise in Maharana Pratap. Alone. Undaunted. Proud. And contemptuous of the other Rajput royal families who had chosen luxury and safety over honour by serving Akbar, the Butcher of Chittorgarh. Maharana Pratap waged a lone, lifelong battle against the wily Mughal. He lost grievously, repeatedly but never gave up. He succeeded in pushing Akbar “the great” to Lahore for a record twelve years. Akbar didn’t dare send a single military expedition to the Mewar region throughout this period. Maharana Pratap not only recovered the lost forts of Kumbhalgarh, Udaipur and Gogunda, he also built a new capital, Chavand. Maharana Pratap’s life and legacy remained a great inspiration later to such warriors as Malik Ambar and Shivaji Maharaj who emulated the deeds of this blazing beacon of the heroic spirit of Hindu valour.
An anecdote concerning Maharana Pratap has stayed with me from my teenage years. Maharana Pratap had gifted a Pagdi (headgear) to a certain poet or singer appreciating his art. Years later, when he went to the court of another king or a similar royal personage, he took off his Pagdi before bowing to that king. When asked why he took it off, the poet replied, “This honour was given to me by Maharana Pratap. Even his Pagdi should not bow down before anybody.”
And like with most of the glorious and heroic aspects of Hindu history, a proper movie celebrating Maharana Pratap’s life, courage, daring, sacrifice and the values he upheld till his last breath has never been made. Think about it: a grand visual feast like Braveheart is made celebrating the courage and rebellion of a little-known Scottish warrior, William Wallace. The makers of this movie explicitly claim that majority of it is fictional whereas the life, valour, and heroism of Maharana Pratap is a matter of verifiable historical record. Braveheart wins critical acclaim, is a great commercial success, bags numerous awards and is considered a classic of sorts. Indians also lavish praise on this film and take the trouble to mug up the history of William Wallace so they can impress their buddies in pubs and posh places. And they know almost next to nothing about Maharana Pratap.
Here is why.
The story of the vandalism of Bharata’s civilisational and cultural history inflicted by the colonial-conversion-communist cabal has been retold innumerable times but no amount of repetition of this ghastly reality is sufficient. On the contrary, it’s actually insufficient and more urgent today given how even avowed Hindus are the first to repeatedly put out the disclaimer that they are anything but Hindus. Adi Yogi. Not Shiva. Yoga. Not its source, the Vedas. The list is endless.
It’s an amusing spectacle: contemporary Hindus hugging their pet trees in say the Naimisharanya or the Dandakaranya even as vast tracts of these Aranyas have already been cleanly shaven. They are busy chasing the same deer that Sita Mata chased and are perhaps expecting the outcome to be different. At least Sita Mata had Sri Rama. Today’s Hindus have been unable to rebuild even a temple for him in his own birthplace. And expect him to “rescue” them. But we digress.
This state of affairs indeed is the ultimate victory of the said cabal, which actually remains securely in power: inside the minds and psyches of these tree-hugging, golden-deer-chasing Hindus.
As is well-known, we can trace the beginnings of this all-round assault on anything Hindu to the military invasions of mercenary desert cults, colonialism and more recently, to Communism.
Yet even after more than a millennium of barbaric invasions and sustained alien rule, Bharata manages to retain dangerously frayed vestiges of its Hindu DNA and spirit, which is what still animates and guides these tree-huggers and deer-chasers. Look at the bright side. There are at least some trees that remain and real deers that we can protect.
Contrast this with all ancient and pre-Abrahamic civilizations that were wiped out the moment they came in contact with either Islam or Christianity. Bharata is the only ancient, non-Abrahamic civilization that has lived to tell the unfortunate tale of the brutality inflicted upon it repeatedly but was able to repel and blunt the edge of these mercenary desert religions.
And so the logical question that arises is: how? Just how was Bharata able to accomplish this feat where others had failed? How is it that Bharata has managed to retain intact the traditions, practices, rules, and codes of the yore? How have our Vedas, Yagnas, literature, sculptures, art forms, and a few ancient temples still remain, tottering on the brink as they are?
Because Hindus fear the Muslims, they have fallen on the path of secularism. Each time they were conquered by Muslim soldiers, they have learnt to sink and bend like powerless blades of grass. This can be seen several times in our history.
That was Syed Shahbuddin writing in the Sunday magazine (20 March 1983), which was later edited by the future Nira Radia-stenographer, Vir Sanghvi. Folks of that vintage will recall how this rabid Islamist Shahbuddin was variously hailed as an intellectual and “thinking Muslim” among other epithets. Such pieces–representative samples of the era–found wide currency as “informed” analyses. A separate book needs to be written examining such political pen-pushing masquerading as intellectual and academic work.
For now, Syed Shahbuddin’s garden manure “analysis” fails to answer ta simple question: if Shahbuddin’s history of India is accurate, how is it that these powerless blades of grass are still the majority in Bharata?
The answer to all such questions is contained in one word: Kshatra, loosely translated as “spirit of valour,” or simply “valour.” Other variants include “warrior spirit,” “heroism,” “selfless courage (in the context of battle)” and so on. For the purposes of this essay, we can use “Hindu Heroic Spirit.”
Much damage has been done to Hindus by Hindus each time they have cowered in apology under the assault of exactly two words of verbal/textual Jihad: “militant Hinduism” and variants thereof emanating from the mouths and pens of people who know nothing about militancy or Hinduism. Think why Maharana Pratap, Shivaji, et al are demonised and dismissed as “Hindu rebels.” The tactic worked with tremendous success: when the natural right and justice of defending yourself and your conviction is branded as militancy, what option are you left with? A sense of shame for doing the right thing. A sense of shame that leads you to either join your slanderers or to put down your weapon and be willingly killed by your slanderers.
This denial and perversion of this millennia-old tradition of the heroic Hindu spirit is also a key component—if not the cornerstone—of distortions of Bharata’s history. This attempt of denying and suppressing Bharata’s heroic tradition has roots in India’s Muslim empires in which Hindus (Zimmis or Dhimmis) were prohibited from owning anything that could be considered as a weapon and were forbidden any behaviour that could be construed as rebellion.
Therein lies the key marker between the Islamic and the British-Christian imperialisms: the former has retained pretty much its barbarism intact: just kill, burn, and raze anything that you don’t like. The latter took time, perversely borrowing the truth of the proverb: the fruits of patience are sweet etc. And so, in our case, the British took this to a truly devious level by first meticulously classifying what they called the “martial races” of India, and then by demonising those “races” that posed the gravest physical threat first to the East India Company and then the British Crown. Or those “races” that rebelled against them, for example, the “accursed Nairs of Kerala.”
The history of the word “thug,” which eventually acquired an abusive connotation, which sustains till this day, originates in the manner in which the British systematically vilified these proud and unyielding warriors. However, this slander campaign was successful: the Hindu society fell for it and began viewing the Thugs as evil people. And so it was with countless such “races.”
In his The Martial Races of India, Lt. Gen. Sir George MacMunn, a Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery leaves us in no doubt regarding said British deviousness when he writes that:
India unlike almost any other country has a vast mass of unwarlike people whose hand has never kept the head. In this class must be mustered many who have the brains and aptitude to assimilate Western education far more rapidly than the more virile races. But it is these virile races that have dominated India in the past, and… would do so again if British control were removed. It is moreover in these forceful classes that the real future of India for good must lie… [Emphasis added]
The general prohibition against and/or the ridiculous process of obtaining a gun license in India, even today, can be traced back to this calculated British policy of de-arming Indians. And those clueless and America-enamoured, post-globalisation Hindus who are more knowledgeable about irrelevant gun control debates in the US, would do well to read such books.
Independent India has done worse in this regard. The first blow came in the form of the humiliation at the hands of China in 1962. And in our own times, a very powerful section of India’s elite “class” who have assimilated Western education “far more rapidly,” (to borrow from MacMunn) continue to disparage their own armed forces for the crime of defending their own nation against enemy nations sworn to destroy Bharata. The sort of discourse that emerged during and in the aftermath of the Kargil war and repeated Pakistani armed transgressions are illustrative cases in point. A very powerful former editor of the Indian Express went so far as to concoct a phoney “news report” that former Army Chief Gen. V K Singh was planning a coup.
A nation that forgets its warriors and military heroes will witness the weakening and assured destruction of its ability to defend itself and will neither have integrity nor a future. No self-respecting nation—including the Bharata of the yore—throughout history has denigrated its own armed forces in this fashion. Our current intelligentsia work overtime to put even the vile Shakara (of Mricchakatika fame) to shame. In other words, our leaders since 1947 lacked the kind of foresight exemplified by Charlie Munger’s commentary on Lee Kuan Yew’s administration:
I think that Singapore’s stepping hard on things that will grow like cancer, is the correct way to govern a country.
In other words, mistakes should never be fixed, they must be foreseen and prevented. The biggest example of the “things that will grow like cancer” include Jawaharlal Nehru’s humiliation of Field Marshall Cariappa and favouring the inept Gen B.M. Kaul and the general destruction of our Army’s morale, which consequently led to its rampant politicisation, something even the British didn’t allow.
Actually, the roots go much deeper. Much of our defence and foreign policies have stemmed from a weakness of spirit injected by Mohandas Gandhi during the freedom movement, which was then made state policy by Nehru. His misguided sense of Gandhian pacifism, his love for Communism and a meaningless non-alignment policy among other blunders continue to haunt Bharata.
The moralist is the most useless and contemptible of creatures. He is useless in that he would expend his energies upon making judgments rather than upon gaining knowledge, for the reason that judgment is easy and knowledge is difficult. He is contemptible in that his judgments reflect a vision of himself which in his ignorance and pride he would impose upon the world. I implore you, do not become a moralist; you will destroy your art and your mind. (John Edward Williams: Augustus)[ii]
Given this historical backdrop, it’s very clear to see that Nehru never understood the importance of valour and heroism as a powerful deterrent by being armed, and militarily feared and respected on the global stage. In independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru represents and symbolises the crime against Hindu heroism. To this puffed-up, fake Kashmiri Pandit, the name of his ancestor, “Lalitaditya” was as alien as the sanctity of cow.
But there’s also a deeper reason: both Gandhi and Nehru were never involved physically in any war. Both actual war and a constant preparation for it builds and shapes a leader’s character in fundamental ways.
Unlike in the past, today, heads of state are not expected to lead the country from the front on the battlelines facing the real prospect of death. Despite this, Western democracies have largely retained respect for and understand the importance of having a leader who has either served in the armed forces or at least possesses a healthy respect for the military. Every President hopeful in the US scores additional points with potential voters if he claims a record of military service.
Shorn of pointless analyses based on vacuous theories, the simple truth is this: the top reason the US, China, and Russia, for example, are feared is because of their military might and their willingness to exercise it.
It is also the reason that these nations don’t want competitors: they will impose sanctions on nations that conduct nuclear tests, and deny India a seat in the so-called “nuclear club.” More insidiously, they will fund our universities and think tanks and award useless degrees and PhDs all of which will basically say stuff like these: war is bad, peace at any cost, food security is more important than national security, space missions are bad when your people are starving, and so on. Simultaneously, these nations are the biggest arms dealers, selling deadly weapons to all manner of terrorists and continue to invest billions in upgrading their arsenal, and bomb “unfriendly” nations back to the Stone Age.
Thankfully, our Armed Forces are one of the best in the world despite Nehruvian pacifist dreams but it’s not enough because there’s negligible investment in indigenous research and development of military technology even today.
More fundamentally, we don’t celebrate and honour our warriors the way they deserve to be celebrated. Contrast the countless Hollywood movies and the American popular culture that celebrate and glorify American victories in various battles—and this deluge of celebration emanating from so young a civilisation.
And as to why we don’t have this culture of celebrating heroism, we can turn to the legendary historian R.C. Majumdar who wrote these words during the 1962 Indo-China war period:
No one can be great without an ideal before him. Our children’s books, unfortunately, are full of useless trash; for example, writing about Rammohun Roy we only find mention of the part he played in the abolition of Suttee and not his fight against Christian missionaries. What names of heroes do we find in any of our children’s textbooks? One has to admit that there is none. We therefore think it is immediately essential to recast our textbooks. The story of the heroes given… the history of Shivaji, of Rana Pratap, of many other heroes—and now the heroes in this present war to repel the Chinese attack (1962)—Major Dhan Singh Thapa, Subedar Joginder Singh and others—should immediately be included in this. [iii]
As we’ve seen so far, this tragic state of affairs is the outcome and manifestation of at least eight decades of a weakened spirit, or in the words of Lord Krishna, Kshudra Hridyadaurbalyam (contemptible weakness of the spirit). And like Arjuna, Bharata must urgently shed this weakness and recover its forgotten heroism. Judges granting bail on the phone to proven perjurers and anti-nationals. Midnight kangaroo courts…
The History of Hindu Heroism
Bharata was not always like this. The spirit and tradition of Bharata’s spirit of celebrating heroism dates back to the Vedic era in representative verses such as this:
Yatra Brahma ca Kshatram ca samyancau caratah saha |
Tam lokam punyam prajnesham yatra devaah sahaagninaa||
The nation in which worshippers of spirituality and those endowed with valour complement and support each other, and the nation in which the Devatas preside together with the Fire of the Yagnas, I will consider that nation as virtuous land.[iv]
Or the conception of valour embodied in “Bahoo raajanyah Krutah” (Loosely: The Raja emerges from the arms of the Universal Purusha) in the celebrated verse of the Purusha Sukta.
And the Mahabharata which lays down that
Kshaatro dharmo hyaadidevaat pravruttah
Pascaadanye sheshabhootaasca dharmaah|
Asmin dharmae sarvadharmaah pravishtaah
Tasmaat dharmam shraeshTamimam vadanti||
The Gods [Aadideva] first created the Kshatra Dharma before creating other Dharmas. Because all other Dharmas are encompassed in this Dharma, the Wise Ones regard this as the most exalted Dharma.[v]
The multifaceted scholar, Dr. Radha Kumud Mookerji presciently traces the history and tradition of Hindu heroism as follows. Read and memorise this passage.
The tradition of . great kings and emperors goes back to the Vedas. The RigVeda tells of Sudaas who had achieved his overlordship of Rigvedic India by his victory at the Battle of Ten Kings (Daasha-raajna)…representing about forty different RigVedic peoples.
The conception of paramount power and imperial sovereignty was so well established even in these early days that it expressed itself in appropriate technical terms, such as Adhiraja, Rajadhiraja, or Samraat, liberally used in the Vedic texts….Chandragupta [Maurya]…is the first Indian king who established his rule over an extended India, an India greater than even British India. The boundaries of this Greater India lay far beyond the frontiers of modern India along the borders of Persia. Chandragupta is again the first of the Rulers of India to be able by his conquests to join up the valleys of the Indus and the land of the five rivers with the eastern valleys of the Ganges and the Jumna in one Empire that stretched from Aria (Herat) to Pataliputra. And he is also the first Indian King who followed up this political unification of Northern India by extending his conquests beyond the barriers of the Vindhyas…to bring both North and South under the umbrella of one paramount sovereign…Chandragupta was able to rid the country of all traces of Greek occupation by 323 BC….To crown all, Chandragupta as the founder of the imperial Maurya dynasty, gives to India for the first time a continuous history as well as a unified history, a history affecting India as a whole…[vi] [Emphasis added]
Needless, the foundation for Chandragupta’s outstanding accomplishments was laid down and guided by the philosophical and pragmatic vision of Acharya Chanakya (Kautilya) who correctly understood the dangers posed by the Gana System (independent, small, and disparate regional republics), which, independently, failed to combat and repel Alexander’s invasion. Indeed, as the scholar of Sanskrit poetics, Arthur W Ryder observes, Bharata lost its vigour and thereby, its independence the day it swerved away from the Chanakyan vision and statecraft and instead opted for a misplaced sense of generosity towards numerous vanquished kings hailing from mercenary desert religions.
[i] Translated from Dr. S.R. Ramaswamy’s preface to the Kannada original, “Bharateeya Kshatra Parampare”
[iv] Vajaseni Samhita: 20.25
[v] Shanti Parva: Chapter 64
[vi] Radha Kumud Mookerji: Chandragupta Maurya and His Times, Motilal Banarasidass