Aryadan Muhammed or 'Aryan' Muhammed?
By K. P. Sasi
14 September, 2014
Kerala Minister Aryadan Muhammed has come out with a statement that his great grand parents were Hindus. This has created a celebrative mood in the face book among the Sangh Parivar, with an attitude: `We told you so, you guys came from us’. It has also created resentment and confusion among some of the Muslims.
What is most important in this debate is to understand that Christianity and Islam are religions which people practiced in India before the emergence of Hinduism as a religion. The term `Hindu’ was a reference to civilization in and around Indus Valley till then. It was not a religion. After the emergence of Hinduism as a religion during the last few centuries, some might have got converted to Islam as well as Christianity. According to the myth, the Brahmins who got converted themselves into Christianity in the beginning of Christianity in Kerala, were not called Hindus at that time. They were just a caste called Brahmins. There were seven Brahmin families who were influenced by St. Thomas and got converted into Christianity as per the popular lore. Many Syrian Christians are still proud to claim that their ancestral tradition belongs to those `Brahmins’. But they don’t see themselves as being converted from Hinduism.
Majority of the Muslims and Christians came from the Dalit and Adivasi community. The only reason I find for this phenomenon is that the Dalits felt that Islam and Christianity were much more safer and less oppressive as per the existing caste oppression of those times. The ratio of upper caste converts to Islam and Christianity is much more in Kerala than what is there in other states. The only historical reason I can find for this is that most of the foreigners except Aryans entered through Kappad beach, now situated in North Kerala. And the Keralites still maintain an inferiority complex when they deal with the foreigners. But the Aryans entered through a different route. In any case, most of the converted Muslims and Christians, whichever caste they belonged to earlier, did not come from Hinduism as a religion. They came from their own castes. Hinduism is a later religion which emerged as an umbrella of castes, with Brhamanism at the top of the caste hierarchy.
The claims on original identity by the Sangh Parivar are interlinked. There are three identities which the Sangh Parivar celebrates: 1. The nationalism based on the myth of Akhand Bharat and the tradition of India as a Nation with ancient history, 2. Hindu Samskriti, with a common binding religious history from the ancient times, 3. Sanskritised Hindi as a common language for this territory. Unfortunately, all these three identities do not have sufficient history.
When the Britishers came to this region, there were several countries in the area which was called India at a much later stage. They came as a trading company called `East India Company’. When the colonial forces landed on the region called `Keralam’ today, there were three countries in the region, headed by the Zamorine of Calicut, the Cohin Maharaja and the Travancore Maharaja. The other parts of the present region called India was also filled with many independent countries. If any historian writes that there was a long ancient history for India, we must understand that the assumption is based on a bundle of lies. The colonial historians and the upper caste historians of independent India, complemented each other: For suppressing the history of Dalits, Muslims and Adivasis of the region. Therefore, our history students do not study a large number of Muslim and Adivasi revolts against colonialism. They would study more on the leadership of the upper castes in the freedom struggle which emerged more at a later stage. But the main point to be noted here, is that the real origin of 'India' was as that of a `company’, initiated by the Britishers. Today Narendra Modi is trying to convert it again as a `company’. He is inviting all the multinationals and foreign interests to loot the resources of this country with a corporate behaviour. In this process, the institutions of Indian State is fast becoming a subsidiary to the corporate world.
The symbol chosen for Independent India after the British colonial rule, was with Ashoka Chakra on the national flag. The three lions in our coins also represent King Ashoka’s history. The lions represented three segments of his kingdom. There was no India at the time of King Ashoka. But it is important to understand who was this King Ashoka? He was the greatest war mongerer who killed a large number of Dalits and Adivasis of the region. After getting tired of killing thousands of Dravidians, the upper caste King Ashoka embraced Buddhism. He became spiritual and sent his upper caste Buddhists to convert people in different regions including Sri Lanka. The culture of these Aryan converted Buddhists, later became instrumental in the murder of over two hundred thousand Dravidian Tamils in recent history. But the question is, why was Ashoka’s symbols picked up for setting up a nationhood for Independent India? The only reason I can find is that he was one of the greatest conquerors on the Dravidians in the history of this subcontinent.
While Buddhism originated in India, the Buddhists were driven away from the region by the upper castes themselves. For them, Buddha stood against caste discrimination. The Aryans reshaped themselves in different forms during different stages of history. During the colonial period, they revived and shaped Hinduism, appropriating various faiths and Gods of the Dalits and Adivasis over the years. The idea benefitted both the Britishers and the upper castes. The Britishers found it easy to rule by dividing the Hindus and Muslims. The post independent rulers play the same game of `Divide and Rule’.
The third identity which the Sangh Parivar holds on to, is Sanskritised Hindi. As per the official records, the number of people who speak Sanskrit as their mother tongue in India is 49,736. While the number of Adivasis who speak Santhali as their mother tongue in India is 52,16,325 (Please check `Forest, Earth, Water, Sky – India’s indigenous People Fight For Communiy Rights’, edited by Satya Sagar for further details) . However, the official status to the two languages called Hindi and Santhali, vary like the slave master and the slave. The domination of the Sanskritised Hindi was resisted by the Dravidians in Tamil Nadu. But the fact remains is that the domination of Hindi suppressed many languages in North India itself. If somebody speaks Bhojpuri accent in a Hindi feature film, it is more to humiliate a suppressed linguistic culture through a particular character in the film. The Aryan segments of the Sangh Parivar used Hindu Nationalism merged with Hindi Nationalism. The colonisation by Hindi over the local languages is similar to the colonisation by Oriya language, for example, over the Adivasi languages in Odisha. But both had one thing in common. They represented a linguistic Aryan invasion among the local cultures.
In this context, the challenge before the subaltern historians is to retrieve the indigenous history of this sub continent. It will provide a new meaning to the diverse cultures of this region. What is most crucial is to protect the remnants of the indigenous faiths, beliefs, languages and culture, which has nothing to with Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. It is this culture which is being appropriated by the Sangh Parivar in an active manner. It is also this culture which is the worst victim under globalisation.
Lies are not just promoted by the politicians and the mainstream media alone, to mould the consciousness of the civil society, but they are also actively used by our respected academic historians. When the RSS appointed director of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) claimed that Ramayana and Mahabharata are history and not myths, it only provokes to a rational mind to assume that the term `History’ has reached a different status in India. The questions like what we are, what we were and what we will be, are all under the control of an extremely efficient organised body, who is determined to rule your mind and body.
With the above facts in mind, we have no reason to doubt the statement of Kerala Minister Aryadan Muhammed. Perhaps his ancesters were converted to Islam after Hinduism organised itself as a religion. Hence, there is no reason for the Sangh Parivar to celebrate and Muslims to be worried. And if there is a reason for the Sangh Parivar to be happy with such a statement on an assumption that the Muslims and Christians came from the Hindus, then one important question has to be answered: If the Muslims and Christians came from the Hindus, why are you branding them and campaigning against them as foreigners? Why were they murdered in Gujarat, Muzafarnagar , Kandhamal and dozens of other places?
We must remember that both Hitler and the RSS believed in the supremacy of the Aryans, who were the first invaders in India. These first `foreigners’ called Aryans uprooted the original indigenous civilisation of the subcontinent which was named India at a much later stage, not just in material terms, but also in terms of consciousness. The manner in which the Aryans took over the lands of the indigenous people, resemble how the red Indians lost their lands to the Americans. The RSS would prefer to call Adivasis as Vanavasis, because it is difficult for them to accept Adivasis as original settlers of the Indian subcontinent. The consciousness on Aryan supremacy among the popular minds spread drastically even among the Dravidians. In south India, you can find an image of `Aryan’ restaurants as `clean’ and `pure’, but if you go to their kitchens where they prepare food, you may get a shock. The Aryan supremacy is also reflected in the popular as well as art films in South India. In Malayalam, there was a mainstream hit feature film called `Aryan’, for which all the educated Dravidians paid money with satisfaction, without any questioning.
The other important area to be understood is on the question: Whether there is a difference in the behaviour patterns of the Dalit and Adivasi converts to Christianity and Islam, who are definitely the majority, in relation to the upper caste converts to these religions. Looking at the behaviour of the Dalit Christians and Adivasi Christians in Kandhamal in comparison with the upper caste Christians in Kerala, I have reasons to believe that there are distinct differences in the behaviour patterns. If Aryadan's family is from an upper caste converted background, then we can certainly understand the quality of his statement. But there is one last question that I am carrying within me: Is there is a linguistic connection between the terms Aryan and Aryadan?
K.P Sasi is an award winning film director and a political activist. He is also an Associate Editor of Countercurrents.org. He can be reached at email@example.com
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