It is a problem that may never be resolved, but it just refuses to go away. The scars it has left are too deep and the wounds beneath seem to have touched the core of Indianness. Over the past month in the national discourse the cause of those wounds has been exposed once again: the partition of India.
First we must ask what exactly was it that suffered partition? What constituted ‘Bharat’? We know from history that India was a conglomeration of kingdoms and princely states, which might allow us to draw the conclusion that there was never an India to discuss, at least in the contemporary sense given to the name. Therefore, the next question is what then does the title Akhand Bharat mean? What is this extended or greater India that was finally partitioned in 1947?
The result of the dismembering of Akhand Bharat, however defined, was akin to a civil war, similar to what the United States of America experienced on the road to its nationhood. Or else there was the case of Spain in the last century. Such schisms often leave irreparable wounds which never really heal. There will remain a section of the society that harbours harmful memories and deep resentment over the results: one side or the other must win if fragmentation is to be avoided as the ‘final solution’. When nations are left to their own devices the stronger section wins the day and thereafter ‘unity’ prevails, – or rather is imposed. On the surface civil strife is over; but beneath surface layers the poisons of resentment and revenge may remain; and this can be stirred up by vested interests at any time while the original causes remain unresolved. This was witnessed in the American Civil War. It was not until more than a century had passed that those twists or ‘knots’ in the national psyche were finally brought to the surface, fully exposed and then dealt with definitively.
This was the profound significance of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. America confronted those recalcitrant positions over which a civil war had been fought and the root causes were finally dealt with. The indication that it was ‘a job well done’ was the victory of Barak Obama as America’s first black man to be elected to the highest position of the land. The people of America and the world understood that the wounds of the Civil War and subsequent strife were healed. This is the great symbol of Obama’s victory.
While we may view the tragedy of India’s partition in a similar light, we know that no such healing has taken place. It may be argued that precisely because of partition healing can never take place. America did not fall into the trap of re-designing her borders; nor did Spain. Whereas India did, as did Palestine during the same period. This unhappy circumstance came to pass because unlike India (and the Middle East) both America and Spain were sovereign states. India, on the other hand was an occupied civilisation, a civilisation that had already been devastated time and again over 1200 years of her ancient history by invasions and conquests of powers inimical to the native culture encountered in these incursions. Had India been truly ‘Akhand Bharat’ during the period when those invasions had occurred, it is unlikely that conquests and occupations would have resulted. Bharat would have had the strength to repel invaders, especially those who, for one reason or another, could not accept the foundations of Indian culture and civilisation because of certain recalcitrant and arrogant imperatives of their own.
These invaders encountered a totally alien philosophy and culture in India of old, as if it were another planet when compared to Europe of the Middle Ages. It needs to be borne in mind that the purpose of these incursions was to impose a belief system and way of life that was unknown to India of the Vedic Age. That is, the exclusivism of conquering forces and the ideologies they propounded was exactly what ‘conquest’ had meant in Europe when Goddess worship and pagan cultures were obliterated. Their demand was a uniform belief system that did away with the manifold manifestations of pre-Christian and pre-Islamic culture. Monotheism was sought to be imposed in one form or another, then and even now as a part of a hegemonic struggle.
Thus, India was not really sovereign during the last astrological age (234 BCE-1926 CE) because she had lost that inner strength to counter attacks from exclusivist forces and their designs of world domination. India has never invaded another country; she has never sought to impose, by force or inducements of various types, her civilisational underpinnings. This has been her greatness – but also her weakness; for the conflict she carries within due to this reticence, a legacy from her Vedic moorings, is still with her. It came forward fully during Partition and continues to haunt the nation, as all such unresolved wounds must do.
In the rise of fundamentalism the entire globe is forced to deal with a growing religious fervour that refuses to shake off its hegemonic tendencies and to accept the time-bound nature of its origins. Similar to the festering wounds that continue to contaminate the evolving collective consciousness of a society, there are those among the faithful who cannot move forward with the Time-Spirit and relinquish those moorings in which world domination had played such a significant part. Religion was a powerful tool to use in hegemonic struggles and often the lines dividing State and Clergy were hard to distinguish. When fundamentalism arises it is a strong indication that the time has come for all nations involved to find their place in an order where imposition of one ideology over another cannot be accepted. In this new age the Time-Spirit has set a different agenda for evolution on Earth; indeed, foremost is the understanding and lived experience of oneness, of unity whose embrace is by definition global.
While the bold and assertive nature in the power struggle may be easily observed, there are other forces bequeathed from the last age that are more subtle in today’s quest for a continued domination similar to what it had known in the past. But because it is less obvious this underlying zeal is more difficult to detect; consequently it is far more difficult to eradicate. If we are permitted a dispassionate assessment of the legacies the new age inherited from the last, it is clear that the conflicts across the globe which the world cannot seem to resolve can be traced to the ‘soil’ wherein their respective ideological ‘seeds’ were planted. Out of that ‘mix’ ideologies arose without a mechanism in place that would allow for an upgrading from time to time as demanded by the on-going thrust of the spirit of the age. Thus when displacement necessarily threatens as new ideologies arise, this appears to attack those very fundaments at the origin of the belief. In such a scenario fundamentalism is sure to raise its head as we are witnessing today; bold or subtle the intention is the same: to mould or to remake society into what it once was and in this way to remove the perceived threat of survival in a vastly changed world. To counter these trends, overt or covert, the call heard evermore frequently is for a new world order. However, unless we are allowed to impartially study root causes of any malaise – and certainly there are many – how can a new order come about that differs from a past which continues to inject its undissolved poisons into the atmosphere where precisely we are meant to establish the new?
To return to Akhand Bharat, firstly, how is it to be defined? If Partition occurred and still inflicts injury on contemporary Indian society, there had to have been a sense of Bharat covering those very areas that were carved out of the Body of the Mother. But many argue that Mother India was never a united stretch of land and that this ancient ‘unity’ is fictitious and did not actually come about until the British took and retained possession of India for over 200 years. In a sense this is true. Great Britain’s conquest and the Raj it imposed had an important purpose, though this may be a point of contention for many nationalists and historians: it was to prepare the subcontinent to enter the new age as a political united whole. It did not matter that this wholeness was the result of foreign occupation because the Zeitgeist’s own purpose was to allow a sense of India to be consolidated in the consciousness of the people of the land according to the demands of contemporary society, whatever the creed, the class, the caste or the sect. And this did come to pass. As such, it was fully in keeping with the spirit of the times. The stage had been set for that ‘new order’, Indian style.
Whatever hidden motives the play of circumstances fostered, through invasions and conquests India found herself at the start of the new age (1926) to be a repository of numerous unresolved problems, precisely those that are creating havoc across the globe today.
The partitioned state of India displays unmistakably those recalcitrant legacies from the former age that refuse to move along with the times and the demands for a spirit of unity and oneness. The history of partition is well documented and need not detain us. However, in these days there has been a rehashing of the events and the participation of individuals who are deemed to have caused Partition. What has resulted from this tumultuous rehashing or revision of history is to note just how wounding and unresolved Partition has been. Many would like to forget that it ever occurred: the past is the past, let’s move on and somehow find peace with our neighbours. Indeed, this has been the policy of every government since Independence. However, the truth is that we cannot find ‘peace’ when unresolved issues remain; and we must have the courage to face those problems primarily by introspection, by going within. Moreover, India’s neighbours have their own unresolved issues which continuously erupt to haunt us all, lest we forget the oneness that embraces the subcontinent regardless of our contemporary borders.
The call of the hour is therefore to examine that ‘within’. What do we mean by India? If we are to deal with the cause of Partition we must examine what was partitioned in the first place. But before all else, we must penetrate even more deeply in our quest to the point where we understand the destiny of India as something quite different from the rest of the world. For India is the centre of the New Age. This means that though the Middle East was partitioned similar to the Indian subcontinent and by the same colonial power, this historical circumstance cannot be compared to India’s case where a different perspective has to be used to assess what on the surface only may appear similar. The Middle East played a significant role in the last astrological age (234 BCE-1926 CE); but its time of central significance has passed. Whatever ‘resolution’ is found to the problems of Palestinians and Jews will not have a bearing beyond that geographical location. Whereas, India being the new age’s centre it is only from this point on the globe that problems can be resolved which have a bearing on the entire Earth. Therefore, unless those problems are resolved in and by India, there is little likelihood of that much-awaited age of unity and oneness to come into being.
In a word, the new world order is destined to arise in India rather than elsewhere. However, to perceive that newness with its universal embrace a very different faculty of perception must come to our aid which is itself the result of a consciousness of unity and oneness.
3 September 2009
© Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet