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Tagore and Khilafat: Only Hinduism can relieve world from meanness

opinionTagore and Khilafat: Only Hinduism can relieve world from meanness

Tagore was concerned about the lack of unity among Hindus and argued that unity was the bulwark against the destructive tides of Semitic religions.


Although social and political leaders of India such as Rabindranath Tagore, Dr B.R. Ambedkar, Veer Savarkar and Annie Besant had clearly brought out the real communal motive behind the 1921 Mopla rebellion that led to the genocide of the Hindus in Malabar, Marxist historians, driven by a political agenda, had turned facts on their head and presented it as a regular struggle for freedom against the British and their feudal supporters. It is an irony that the family members of some protagonists of the Communist movement in Kerala were victims of the worst communal riots that happened in the state, but still tried to paint it as a movement against the bourgeoisie by the proletariat.

Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore had not left any room for speculation on the motive of the Mopla rioters. In his article titled “Samasya”, Rabindranath Tagore quoted from the report of Dr Munje, submitted to Jagat Guru Sankaracharya of Sringeri Sharada Peeth Math, on the Mopla riots of 1921 thus: “The Hindus of Malabar are generally speaking mild and docile and have come to entertain such a moral fear of the Moplas that the moment any such trouble arises; the only way of escape the Hindus can think of is to run for life leaving their children and womenfolk behind, to take care of themselves as best they could, thinking perhaps honestly that if the Moplas attack them without any previous molestation, God, the Almighty and the Omniscient, is there to teach them lesson and even to take a revenge on their behalf.”

Tagore further states: “Hindus are not accustomed to handle earthly matters in a realistic way, they have snuggled themselves in the hegemony of ‘nitya’ and ‘anitya’ and have lost their common sense. As they insult God by replacing intelligence with rituals, projecting God in place of self-reliance, they suffer, and don’t understand this due to inertia of mind.”

The violence unleashed by the fanatic Moplas in Malabar in 1921 triggered massive outrage across the country. While the Congress tried to co-opt the Moplas in its fight for Swaraj, the Moplas under the leadership of Ali Musaliar and Variamkunnath Kujahammed Haji mounted a war on Hindus and established Al-Daula (Islamic State), which lasted till they were captured and killed by the British army.

Delving deep into the cause of the riots, Tagore notes:

“In another portion of the report, Dr. Munje briefed that eight hundred years back, Hindu king of Malabar allowed the Arabs to settle in his state, following the advice of Brahmin ministers. The Muslims were encouraged to convert Hindus in such an extent that, the king directed every fisherman’s family to allow one of their family members to be converted into Islam. The reason was very simple, adherent king and his ministers considered the voyage as against religion. They delegated the responsibility of coastal security upon the Muslims, those who used believe in their common sense and not in ‘Manu’.”

Dr Munje said in another part of his report that, eight hundred years ago, the Hindu king of Malabar on the advice of his Brahmin ministers, made big favor to the Arab Muslims to settle in his kingdom. Even he appeased the Arab Muslims by converting the Hindus to Islam to an extent to making law for compulsory conversion of a member of each Hindu fisherman family in to Islam. Those, whose nature is to practice idiocy rather than common sense, never can enjoy freedom even if they are in the throne. They turn the hour of action in to a night of merriment. That’s why they are always struck by the ghost at the middle of the day.”


In the same article, Tagore writes: “The king of Malabar once gave away his throne to idiocy. That idiocy is still ruling Malabar from a Hindu throne. That’s why the Hindus are still being beaten and saying that God is there, turning the faces towards the sky. Throughout India we allowed idiocy to rule and surrender ourselves to it. That kingdom of idiocy—the fatal lack of common sense—was continuously invaded by the Pathans, sometimes by the Mughols and sometimes by the British. From outside we can only see the torture done by them, but they are only the tools of torture, not really the cause. The real reason of the torture is our lack of common sense and our idiocy, which is responsible for our sufferings. So we have to fight this idiocy that divided the Hindus and imposed slavery on us …If we only think about the torture we will not find any solution. But if we can get rid of our idiocy, the tyrants will surrender to us.”


Tagore was concerned about the lack of unity among Hindus and argued that unity was the bulwark against the destructive tides of Semitic religions. In an article titled “Swamy Shraddananda” in “Kalantar”, Tagore writes: “Whenever a Muslim called upon the Muslim society, he never faced any resistance—he called in the name of one God ‘Allah-ho-Akbar’. On the other hand, when we (Hindus) call will call, ‘come on, Hindus’, who will respond? We, the Hindus, are divided in numerous small communities, many barriers—provincialism—who will respond overcoming all these obstacles? We suffered from many dangers, but we could never be united. When Mohammed Ghouri brought the first blow from outside, the Hindus could not be united, even in the days of imminent danger. When the Muslims started to demolish the temples one after another, and to break the idols of Gods and Goddesses, the Hindus fought and died in small units, but they could not be united. It has been provided that we were killed in different ages due to our discord.”

According to Tagore, meaningless rituals keep Hindus divided. In a letter to Hemantabala Sarkar, quoted in Bengali weekly “Swastika” (21-6-1899), the Nobel laureate states: “The terrible situation of the country makes my mind restless and I cannot keep silent. Meaningless rituals keep the Hindus divided in hundred sects. So we are suffering from series of defeats. We are tired and worn-out by the fortunes by the internal external enemies. The Muslims are united in religion and rituals. The Bengali Muslims the South Indian Muslims and even the Muslims outside India—all are united. They always stand untied in face of danger. The broken and divided Hindus will be again humiliated by the Muslims. ‘You are a mother of children, one day you will die, passing the future of Hindus society on the weak shoulders of your children, but think about their future’.”

In the article Swamy Shraddananda, Tagore writes: “So, if the Muslims beat us and we, the Hindus, tolerate this without resistance—then, we will know that it is made possible only by our weakness. For the sake of ourselves and our neighbour Muslims also, we have to discard our weakness. We can appeal to our neighbour Muslims, ‘Please don’t be cruel to us. No religion can be based on genocide’—but this kind of appeal is nothing, but the weeping of the weak person. When the low pressure is created in the air, storm comes spontaneously; nobody can stop it for sake for religion. Similarly, if weakness is cherished and be allowed to exist, torture comes automatically—nobody can stop it. Possibly, the Hindus and the Muslims can make a fake friendship to each other for a while, but that cannot last forever. As long as you don’t purify the soil, which grows only thorny shrubs you cannot expect any fruit.”


Tagore was also worried about the new religion that was taking shape in the cultural horizon of India. He believed that Universalism preached by Hindutva is the only solution to divisive and destructive influences of religions emerged from the Western thought process. He wanted India to hold on to the Hindu ethos and believed that other religious visions were detrimental to the intellectual and moral progress of humanity. “There are two religions in earth, which have distinct enmity against all other religions. These two are Christianity and Islam. They are not just satisfied with observing their own religions, but are determined to destroy all other religions. That’s why the only way to make peace with them is to embrace their religions.” (Original works of Rabindranath Vol. 24 page 375, Vishwa Bharti; 1982.)

Tagore had compared Semitic religions to Bolshevism, which was spreading very fast in the country in those days. Communism is also a sequel to Christianity. In the article, “Aatmaparichapa”, published in his book Parichaya, Tagore states: “When two-three different religions claim that only their own religions are true and all other religions are false, their religions are only ways to Heaven, conflicts cannot be avoided. Thus, fundamentalism tries to abolish all other religions. This is called Bolshevism in religion. Only the path shown by the Hinduism can relieve the world form this meanness.”


Pan-Islamism is a political tool that gives primacy to religion—Ummah—and excludes culture, ethnicity and country. The Khilafat movement showed how pan-Islamism played out in India. Pan-Islamism poses a threat to the unity and integrity of the country. In an interview to the Times of India (18-4-1924), Tagore states: “A very important factor which is making it almost impossible for Hindu-Muslim unity to become an accomplished fact is that the Muslims cannot confine their patriotism to any one country. I had frankly asked (the Muslims) whether in the event of any Mohammedan power invading India, they (Muslims) would stand side by side with their Hindu neighbours to defend their common land. I was not satisfied with the reply I got from them… Even such a man as Mr. Mohammad Ali (one of the famous Ali brothers, the leaders of the Khilafat Movement-the compiler) has declared that under no circumstances is it permissible for any Mohammedan, whatever be his country, to stand against any Mohammedan.”

Nandakumar is an RSS ideologue and All India Convenor of Prajna Pravah.


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