On the Ban on Shivaji: Hindu king in Islamic India

July 17, 2010
Golden Boy

It was amazing to see how Muslim Organizations in Maharashtra came all out in support of the ban on the Book Shivaji: Hindu king in Islamic India by James Laine.

For a while I wondered what the hardcore Hindu Right-wing loyalists, who pounced critically on anything pro-Moslem, thought of this unanimous support from the most unexpected of the opponent’s quarters!

“They are afraid: if the ban on this book is lifted, Satanic Verses would be next in the queue”, my best friend of 30 years who is a hardcore BJP loyalist opined cynically!

It’s flourishing time in India’s democracy, where Right-wing Hindus cringe at all the flowery “all-was-well in the past” history books written by “well-meaning” Left-wing authors! Then we have the Right-wing Hindu intellectuals who leave no stone unturned on desicritics to opine how the fatwa against drawing the image of the Prophet is wrong. The atheist hardcore democratic liberals on the other hand voice their terror at acts like banning a book, which spells the doomsday prophesy to their utopian hardcore Free-Speech world.

It is interesting to note here how Hollywood would opine that it is sheer cruelty to children to tell them that Santa Claus does not exist! But they would not keep this “sacred” principle when it comes to depicting religious figures like Jesus and the holy saints, slandering against their names till the believers go pale in the face!

Osho speaks of a beautiful allegory in one of his books – “A child plays with his favourite toy all day long. He eats with the toy beside him; he goes to bed with the toy. The toy is an inseparable part of his fantastical world and he cannot live without it. When he is sleeping, mom takes away the toy and puts it in the rack with the other toys. When the child wakes up next morning, he frantically searches for the toy and cries for it until he has it back in his arms.

Now this same child grows up. One fine day, the sun is shining bright outside, he keeps the toy in a corner and goes out to play. He completely forgets about the toy. And now the toy has to be put in the rack forever, because the boy has no use for the toy, he has simply transcended it, grown out of it. And when he sees other children playing with their toys, he says to himself with a smile on his face, “They are mere children, still playing with toys!”

Nobody could have forced the boy to give up his toy when he himself was a child; it would have perhaps scarred him psychologically and who knows, would have caused a perversion in him so that when he grew up he would need sex-toys! So a forced snatching-away of the toy was not advisable! As long as the need was there, the toy was his world, and when he grew up, he neither gave away the toy nor threw it away in disdain, he just moved on, transcended, grew up!

We as adults don’t understand this simple phenomenon of human life!

Bob Pike, the guru of management training, says – “Adults are babies with grown-up bodies”. And it is so true!

What applies for the child and his toy, applies to the adult and the things he holds sacred, to feel safe – be it Shivaji or the Prophet Mohammed!

The right-wing Moslems or the liberals may still fume and fret and shout, “But Shivaji was neither a religious figure nor a religious icon like Prophet Mohammed!” For these ideological few, I narrate the following incident.

My hair-stylist is a lady, who has a special penchant for furry cats and the New-Age Philosophy. She does tarot-reading, cleanses her home off evil spirits, invites positive energy in her house with bells and candles, and tells me that “Shivaji, the Maratha King, has joined the ranks of the Gods in another realm! You see, there are these people who keep his photographs at home and adore him! Well, with all this reverence, Shivaji has become a god and he can provide a boon whenever an ardent devotee asks for it! Why, I know people in whose dreams he visits and provides vital information…!” she says

So well be! Who are we, with our minds chained and coloured with this radical ideology and that, to take away gods from idolators, prophets from the faithful, and toys and Santa from innocent children?

Why not enjoy and celebrate our ‘sacred’ differences and not impose our beliefs on others. That’s what the right to religious faith is all about in a secular democracy like ours - Not spoiling the world of children and devoted faithful with our so-called ‘truths’ about their religious icons and Santa!

31 years of age, Golden Boy has his own views on Sexuality, Politics, and Culture. Read about Psychiatry, Gay Freedom, the Crisis of Society, the marvel of life etc... through the eyes of a common Mumbaikar.
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