Salaam-Namaste...And Moving On

Is Vande Mataram un-Islamic ? When @bdutt tweeted asking for inputs on the controversy i knew my reply had to be much beyond 140 characters, so here it goes...

Yes,technically it is un-Islamic,worshiping any entity other than GOD is un-Islamic as even the most deviant Muslim will tell you. And its not just the Muslims,every monotheistic creed would have problem accepting it. The SGPC for instance has taken a stand against it.1 and so have many Christian groups.2 In fact, almost all non-Hindus would have a problem with it if they are true to their creed, after all, as Rabindranath  Tagore said in his letter to Netaji -
"Of course Bankimchandra does show Durga to be inseparably united with Bengal in the end,(emphasis mine) but no Mussulman [Muslim], christians and Arya Samajis can be expected patriotically to worship the ten-handed deity as 'Swadesh' [the nation]. This year many of the special [Durga] Puja numbers of our magazines have quoted verses from Vande Mataram - proof that the editors take the song to be a hymn to Durga".3

If that leaves any doubt, let us not forget that reinvention of this controversy is always politically motivated. Vande Mataram was part of the book Anandamatha which, as everybody knows, is a cornerstone of aggressive Hindu nationalism. It contains fierce anti-Muslim remarks more than anti-British remarks, in fact, in the final chapter the British are described as friends and the mission successful as the "Muslim power is destroyed"4. When the Sangh Parivar's insists that the Muslims sing Vande Mataram, it becomes a weapon for imposing communal ego, a national song should bind the population, not divide them!

Yet, i do not think AR Rahman composed one of the most popular rendition of Vande Mataram under coercion, neither have i been forced to hum it, which i have done countless times anyway! What most people do not understand (including the saffronites) is that the world has changed in the last 100 years and so has the Indian's sense of identity and the definition of words and concepts. It is interesting to note that AR Rehman seems to equate the words Vande Mataram with Maa Tujhe Salaam. Semantically, these two terms stand quite opposed! While the word Vande has been translated as "obeisance" or "bow", the Arabic word "salam" essentially means "peace". There is no way you can worship an entity and send blessing to it too.

But AR Rahman cannot be considered absolutely wrong, as of, now the meanings of the words have undergone drastic changes. For instance, the movie title "Salam-Namaste" seems to make the same *mistake*,  wishing peace is never the same as bowing down but the fact the connotation of certain words have changed drastically through use and disuse. "Salaam" is now understood to mean "paying respect" while i have come across  a very few people say "namaste" and actually bow down to show the same gesture that the word connotes. The word "namaste" is today used more as gesture of sending good wishes rather than  prostrating. 

If some people with vested interests did not keep reigniting the controversy, we might have never noticed when we adopted and have taken to singing it. The Jamait moving the resolution was very uncalled for. This organization has in recent past done commendable jobs especially against terrorism but by igniting the controversary it has shot itself in the foot. P Chidambram's presence further raises question; is the Congress trying to get back its Muslim votebank ? Currently, the Muslim vote is too fragmented, the main opposition, the BJP seems to be on a downward spiral,but not down enough not protest rather aggressively which might actually lead to a consolidation of Muslim votes and given the state of affairs,leaders like parties like BSP and SP would have little to offer to the Muslims.


Omkar Dash said...

Awesome. What an analysis! Hats off to you Danish Bhai. Much recommended reading!

Omkar Dash said...

I never knew abt salam.. Pls write the follow up soon!

Sudam said...

Muslim people are known for their secluded existence and running a parallel administration. In India they are but pampered by the political parties and it is for this reason they are yet to open their mind.

When India has adopted Vande Mataram as her national song, they are but bound to sing that. Damn it! In Soudi Arabia no mosque is allowed to fit loud speakers but here it is but their right.

In terrorism Muslim people are always found involved as they tend to fight Jihad.

Really, it is but a concern that for them a nation is nothing but their scriptures and fatwas of short sighted Ulemas.

It is the age of 21st century but they are following an archaic set of rules and they are not prepared to compromise. They never reconcile and join the national mainstream and think with the nation.

In other country, Afzal might have taken reincarnation but here in India he is yet to die. Shit Indian politics is too lecherous and corrupted.

It is for this reason we are yet to have a uniform civil code.

God knows when.

What is there wrong in singing Vande mataram. This is but lack of broad mind and heart.


Vijayendra said...

Great way to put across your thoughts Danish. I would like to add some bits.

I feel there is actually very little difference between love, respect, and devotion. We can debate and explain the details away all we like, but when you actually get down to it, the experience is actually a very simple overwhelming gratitude and sympathy. Be it God, your lover, or your parents.

In India, for thousand of years, Namaste has been used to address everything, from Gods, to people, to enemies, to inanimate objects, to... the list goes on. That is because Hindus believe that the divine resides in everything. The person next to you is as divine as the omniscient allmighty.

Of course, I wouldn't expect neither the so-called blinded nationalists, or the short-sighted Mullahs to appreciate these intelligent divisions. To them it is either this or that, either here or there. Losers!

People like you on the other hand, are part of the India that is going towards the future. :)

danishctc said...

Omkar,thanks for the appreciation :) As i have mentioned, i Wrote this as an expanded tweet to reply @bdutt's :p It was a spur of a moment thing,don't think i'll be able to write more on it...Ironically, my post is mainly about this whole thing being a non-issue,i didnt post this on my main blog :p
Anyway,keep visiting.... :)

@sudam thanks for commenting even if ur comment has pissed off my readers! However, it would have made sense had you commented after reading the post,non-relevance is considered spam :)

danishctc said...

Vijayendra, glad you liked and thanks for the comment :) i guess emotions like love,sympathy,reverence,devotion are shaped by your own ideology,value system etc.. True these ideologies may have existed since thousands of years but at some point in time one,ratifies and "customizes"( cant find an appropriate word :p ). For instance, i stopped touching feet of my mother even, more than a decade back but dont think my love for her has decreased in any manner. Similarly, i have abandoned many traditional practises which even my family members observe. Let me just say this,my decisions have been influenced by factors other than Islam too.

Anyway, debate on it would be very out of scope, just wanted to convey my perspective :)

Now, on the idea of the divine being in everything is quite undisputed, i think. Even from Islamic point of view,every human has within herself a spark of the divine,called "Nur"- the light of GOD and from which the angels have been created.This spark seeks peace,tranquility and tendency to be attracted towards the source. However, this divinity is just 1 part, therez beastly instinct (Ammara) too which desires gratification through aggression and voilence (sounds similar to tamasya? consider the 2 as pandavas and kauravas,consciense as Krsna and the will representing Arjun. Its called Jihad too ;))

Im digressing! from Islamic perspective seeing the divine in a grain of sand, is considered quite different from Pantheism, the former is a very dvaitic philosophy. So how our expressions of certain beliefs manifest in our physical behaviour varies but the underlying feeling doesnt.

As for this controversy,you have rightly said one shouldnt expect fanatical sub-nationalists, communalists on either side to understand something as subtle and as rich as these concepts. but it is disappointing when the mainstream media goes on to make a case out of it.

Thanks for your comment once again :)

Omkar Dash said...

So far as I know Islam, Its more than just a mere set of rules- what to do and what not to. Islam is a way of life. Parallel to Hindutva. But most people don't get that. I'm afraid many Muslims and Hindus even don't get that. Whovever has read holy Koran & Shrimad Bhagwad Gita and got a clear and unbiased understanding of the script should have noticed one thing for sure that both the books (and for that matter, both the religions) ENCOURAGE FIGHTING AGAINST EVIL POWERS. But definition of this "EVILS" is left to a handful of holier-than-thou human beings who have used it as a means(weapon, infact) to serve selfish needs. No suprise we have fanatics in both the religions. Gita defines EVILS as "ADHARM/ASTAYA". Koran defines it as "Non Believers or Kaafirs". (Just see how similar both religions are). But this meaning can be well understood only when we read these holy books with an open mind and in context of the time when it wasw ritten (history, that is...)
A handful of muslims who have a narrow view of Islam cannot dictate rules for others what should be done and what should not be. Copy that too, for Hindus.

So blaming a population for a handful of selfish people won't help. (I wrote this in reply to @sudam)

In India, just like in any other democracy, the game of power is just as evil as its players. Till 80s when Congress had monopolized the political system, the rules of game were obviously different. The call was "Roti kapda Makan" (Food, Colth, Shelter) and sadly, governments have come have gone, a large is still left wanting for the same.

BJP came into limelight after Babri masjid demolition in 92. (I hope I am getting the figures right) And then the rules of game started changing. India was at its worst economic crisis then(If u remember the IMF-Gold shame. Indians were still wantig for thant roti-kapda-makan promise to be fulfilled. They needed a new face to run the goverment. But still The Nehru-Gandhi family had a strong foothold in rural India. And thus we saw a string of weak governments in a decade. Vajpaee in his third term ended this jinx. But then came Godhra. And BJP was put to shame. What happened to be its ladder to fame urned out to be suicidal. If we go deep into it, we can surely find that policies of government and way of functioning had a striking dis similarity. Becoz policies are made on table and modus operandi is seen on ground!
BJP won Gujrat, and lost the nation! Muslims, who were already miles away from BJP post 92, crossed the point of no return. They had to choose among two options (With us-Against us). Congress/SP showed sympathy on camera while bucks exchanged hands behind the scene. Parties were profited. Democracy was murdered, Brutally!

Vote bank politics, as we love to call it, is just another divide and rule policy. To put an end to it.. We need education. Governments won't do it. Parents have to.

Well I am largely out of context vis-a-vis this post. I just had one point to drive home : WE MUST OPEN OUR MINDS. LET NOT PEOPLE DICTATE TERMS TO YOU. WE ARE A DEMOCRATIC, SECULAR and MORE IMPORTANTLY INDEPENDENT COUNTRY.

If You want to recite Hanuman Chalisha every morning. Just do It. If You want to Offer Namaz 5 times a day. Do It! You want to celebrate DEC 25, You are welcome!!
Let not anyone tell you what you must do and follow, in exchange of something that you need (money and kind..)Life is all yours.
(I can bet a million dollars that reading Hanuman chalisha after bath cant make you anti muslim. I am a sort of proof. And if one thinks that 5 times namaz a day make you anti hindu ask one of my best friends @girachabdullah.)

Well.. I have so much to vent out.. But I am afraid this is not the place as I shall be largely ot of context

Back to topic: Danish bhai.. You disappointed me.. I was expecting more.. :)
** PLESE IGNORE GRAMMATICAL/SPELLING MISTAKES.. I am not writing.. I am talking this