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Sengol lands a blow on democracy

This symbol of slavery of the Shudras in Parliament will ensure that our lawmakers are constantly reminded that they have to work for the advancement of the Dwijs and the denigration of the Shudras, writes Kanwal Bharti

For the opposition, the key issue was the President not inaugurating the new Parliament building. And it was not misplaced either. But an even bigger issue was the installation of the sceptre in the new building, for this marks Hindutva’s trespass into democracy. Why did the opposition overlook this issue? Why was it not concerned that the sceptre landed a blow on democracy and Constitution both? The sceptre of the Chola dynasty, which finds no mention in history, was installed in Parliament and there was not even a murmur of protest from the opposition. 

This issue needs a deeper reflection. But it is not difficult to understand the reason for the silence of the opposition. There are two reasons, one religious, and the other political. The religious reason is that the top leaders of almost all the opposition parties have a Hindu background and still place religion on a higher pedestal than democracy. The political reason is that no political party can even contemplate taking on Brahmanism. Their politics is right-wing. As for the Left parties, the less said the better. For them, society is just a collective of classes and they neither explore nor want to explore what role Brahmanism has played in slotting society into classes. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the leadership of the Indian Left is in the hands of the Brahmins and they cannot be expected to go against their religion. No wonder, neither the Left nor the Right camp was concerned about the sceptre. 

Are the people concerned? This is also an important, essential question. It is said that it is the people who bring about a revolution. But India is yet to see the kind of people who ended the Czarist regime in Russia. Brahmins are the real czars of India and a majority of the citizens are under their thumb. It is Brahmanism that rules over and controls them. Can we expect such a people to initiate a revolution? Only educated, aware and self-dependent people can bring about a revolution and the Indian people lack all the three qualities. The Brahmin overlords of India ensured that the people remained uneducated, for lack of education leads to unemployment and that creates hunger. Hungry people only need and want bread and once they get it, they just slip into slumber. Such people allow themselves to be divided on the basis of caste and religion and tread in the footsteps of politicians like blind mice. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi lies prostrate before the sceptre, the Sengol, as Brahmin sadhus look on at the inauguration of the new Parliament building in New Delhi on 28 May 2023

With these kinds of leaders and followers, religion blooms and prospers while democracy is at the mercy of the courts. The judiciary is the third pillar of democracy but it doesn’t directly interfere in governance, unless some issue is brought to its notice. The press is considered the fourth pillar of democracy but in India, most of the national newspapers and TV news channels are handmaidens of the powers that be. For them, journalism is just about faithfully regurgitating what the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tells them. Writing or saying anything against Modi is blasphemy. It was futile to expect the journalists who get up and sit down at the instance of Modi to oppose the sceptre. They also cannot be expected to ask why the semi-naked Brahmin sadhus, with their bodies and faces painted in myriad hues and donning out-of-the-world clothes, were accorded a prime role in the inauguration ceremony. When India’s first President-elect Dr Rajendra Prasad took over his assignment after washing the feet of 100 Brahmins and worshipping them, it drew criticism from the media that described the action as being incompatible with democracy. However, today the media is going gaga over Brahmins blessing the inaugural function and Modi paying obeisance to them. It is being touted as a great achievement of the Prime Minister and as a revival of Indian culture. 

When neither the people nor the opposition nor the media can oppose Modi’s Brahmanism, then who will? That is not to say that there is no protest, no opposition. It is there but it is so weak that it can be easily ignored. Some democratic intellectuals who stand by the Constitution are opposing it but their numbers can be counted on the fingertips, and they singularly lack a political and popular base. The political parties which claim to be doing the politics of Dalits and OBCs could have backed them but they themselves are prostrating themselves before the Brahmin deity Parshuram. The elephant of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has been transformed into Ganesha and the Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo routinely performs brahmanical rituals. So, it won’t be wrong to presume that the pro-democracy and the pro-Constitution forces opposed to the sceptre as a symbol of Brahmanism are unlikely to secure the support of any political party.

The million-dollar question is whether the installation of the sceptre marks the resurgence of Indian culture or is a tool being used by those in power to strengthen brahmanical culture. Let us first go through the facile arguments of those who declare that it is a symbol of Indian culture. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have fashioned an army of writers, who use TV channels and the editorial pages of the newspapers to disseminate their utterly laughable and idiotic arguments. Amar Ujala has published articles by two luminaries of this tribe on the editorial page of its issue dated 28 May 2023. One of them is Balbir Punj, whose Hindi article reads, “Bharat ki Sanskritik Punarsthapan ka Pratik” (Symbol of reinstatement of Indian culture). The other is Kapil Kapoor, a former vice-chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, who has gone to ridiculous lengths to sing paeans to Modi and Hindutva. His piece is titled, “Nav Sabha Sadan aur Dharmdand Sengol” (New Parliament Building and the sceptre Sengol). 

Let us begin with Kapoor. He writes, “Modi took oath as the Prime Minister of India on 26 May 2014. Humility incarnate, Modi immediately did whatever he could for the poor and the deprived; for the poor women, unorganized workers, girls and all poor children who wanted to acquire an education. Additionally, he launched a string of schemes for the farmers and the labourers, without differentiating on the basis of Varna, caste or sect. By unhesitatingly performing the Ganga Aarti and by his utterances and actions, he made it clear that he was not a king but a servant, who bends to touch the feet of the elders, the saints and the women. He won worldwide appreciation as a people’s leader.” While performing an aarti of Modi, Kapoor, probably forgot about the women wrestlers who were protesting at Jantar Mantar accusing a BJP MP of sexual violence. Kapoor did not enlighten us as to why the protector and the well-wisher of women and Dalits was patronizing a sexual assaulter? Why has the leader developed amnesia for what he had promised? Why is he not walking the talk? 

Kapil Kapoor further writes, “When the Prime Minister will unveil the new Parliament House, he will also unveil some new layers of India’s past and will re-anoint the majority of the Indian people [Bahusankhya Janata] as the natural successors of that past. ‘Hindu politics’ is as old as, or even older than, the Babylonian Civilization and has been guided all along by a one-word constitution – Dharma. Recurring attacks by barbarians demolished this politics and forced a well-known and great civilization into hibernation.” The real catch is in this sentence. The first word, which deserves to be rubbished in this sentence, is “Bahusankhya Janata”. The Sangh Parivar uses this word for the Hindus. The RSS considers all Indians, barring the Muslims and the Christians, as Hindus and declares that they form a majority of the Indians. This is a word from the lexicon of Hindutva electoral politics. It means that the Dalits, the OBCs and the Adivasis are Hindus, as far as garnering their votes is concerned. Otherwise, they are non-Hindus and Untouchables. Now, the sceptre is expected to “reanoint the majority of the Indian people [Bahusankhya Janata] as the natural successors of India’s past”. This means that Parliament will ensure that Hindus (and among them, only the Dwij) enjoy justice and the other minority communities will have to live with injustice. Kapil Kapoor also uses the word “Hindu politics”, which he claims is as old, or even older, than the Babylonian civilization. But he forgets that he is talking about politics – and not civilization. The word Hindu was crafted by Muslims during the Muslim rule in India. This word doesn’t appear in the Vedas, the Ramayana, the Gita or the Manusmriti. Then, how can Hindu politics be as old as the Babylonian Civilization? When Kapoor mentions ‘Hindu politics’ he is talking about Hindu kingdoms. And it is about them that he says that a single-word constitution – Dharma – guided them. There is little doubt that Manusmriti was the Dharma that guided the Hindu rulers. But Kapoor, a believer in Brahmanism, is silent on the inhuman treatment meted out to the Shudras in the Hindu kingdoms guided by the single-word constitution. Does such a civilization deserve the epithet ‘great’? When he says that barbarian invaders forced this civilization into hibernation, is he not being undemocratic? Is he not ascribing greatness to monarchies and that too, monarchies that were dominated by the Dwijs? It was under the monarchical rule of the Peshwas that the Dalits were required to tie a broom to their waist and hang a pot from their necks before venturing out of their homes. Was it a great civilization or a satanic civilization? From the Dalit-OBC perspective, it was good that this civilization was put to an end by the Mughal and the British rulers, for otherwise, India could never have become a democracy. 

Kapoor ends his article with these words: “When the Prime Minister, who was exploring India’s past, was told about the Sengol, he felt that it is a sacred symbol of a just system of governance. It was consecrated by top priests. It was a repository of the blessings of past several centuries and symbolized the superiority of Indian civilization and the importance of devotion to religion. That was why the Prime Minister decided that what happened on 14 August 1947 would be replayed as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsava. The Sengol, installed near the chair of the Lok Sabha Speaker, would lend dignity to the House and complete the cycle of rise, fall and revival.” 

What Kapoor is saying here is that dignity is only associated with a symbol of Hindu monarchy and nothing else will do – including Buddhist, Jain, or Sikh symbols. Just pay attention to his last line: “Sengol will complete the cycle of rise, fall and revival”, which means that the Hindu Rashtra, based on Hindutva and monarchy, which the RSS wanted to establish and which was the dream of its ideologue and hero Vinayak Damodar Savarkar has come about, even if symbolically. 

Now, let us have a look at the facile arguments of Balvir Punj (former Rajya Sabha member and former national vice-president of the BJP). He begins by sounding the bugle of Hindutva. “The new building of the country’s Parliament is being inaugurated. The Sengol of the Chola dynasty, being talked about in this connection, which first appeared on the eve of India’s freedom that ended centuries of slavery, was forgotten for seven and a half decades and reappeared during Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsava. It thus represents the Indian ideological journey.” Balvir Punj is seeking to remind us that this sceptre was presented at the time of India’s independence so that Hindu Raj would be established in free India. But it was forgotten (because India’s nation-builders rejected it and opted for democracy) and now after 75 years, the Hindu emperor Narendra Modi has dug it out and installed it. How happy Balbir Punj is! And why not? He is anti-democracy and pro-Hindu Raj. But dear Punj ji, if this sceptre is a symbol of Hindu Raj, then it is also the symbol of the freedom of the Dwijs and the slavery of the Shudras, for no Hindu kingdom gave freedom to the Shudras. So, installation of this symbol of slavery of the Shudras in Parliament will ensure that our lawmakers are constantly reminded that they have to work for the advancement of the Dwijs and the denigration of the Shudras. 

Next, Punj flays the Nehru regime and moves on to the Sanatan agenda of the RSS and the BJP. “The Indian system of governance began drifting away from its culture with the leftists occupying key posts in the system, thanks to the blessings of Pandit Nehru and later, due to the political alliance struck by Indira Gandhi from 1969-71. Destruction of the cultural heritage of India is the avowed objective of the leftists. It was in pursuance of this objective that the leftists played a key role in the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan. And the ‘tukde-tukde’ gang is also inspired by the ideology of the Left. When, in the 1970s and the 1980s, India’s economy plumbed new depths due to the socialist policies, which again were the gifts of the leftists, leftist economist Ramkrishna coined a new phrase ‘Hindu rate of growth’ to blame the Sanatan culture for the pitiable state of the Indian economy. The scourge of political-ideological philosophy poisoned by the leftists, led to the sceptre’s cultural significance being reduced to a ‘golden walking stick’ consigned to a dusty box at Prayagraj Museum.”

What Punj has written is a bundle of abject lies. It seems he is trained never to speak the truth. If Nehru used the sceptre as a walking stick, photographs showing him walking with the support of the sceptre or carrying the sceptre in his hand should have been available. But not a single such photograph is available. Some photographer must have clicked Nehru with the sceptre sometime. Where is that photograph? The fact is that the RSS-BJP resent Nehru’s socialist, leftist leanings and they also resent the fact that instead of installing the sceptre in Parliament, he sent it to the Allahabad museum, where it lay amid the dust and grime. Not only Punj but the entire saffron brigade has a pathological hatred for ideas that promote scientific reasoning and equality. They are sad and angry that Nehru did not take refuge in Brahmanical Hinduism, as they are doing now. They are livid that Nehru believed that the symbol of Brahmanical religion was not compatible with democracy and had it consigned to a museum. Punj claims that the Indian economy was in the dumps in the 1970s and the 1980s due to socialist policies. Does he mean to say that the then Congress government’s poverty alleviation schemes, its decisions to nationalize banks and launch a special campaign for the recruitment of Dalits in government institutions were responsible for the ruin of the Indian economy? This is the real character of the RSS, the BJP and the saffron brigade. They are rabidly anti-Dalit and anti-poor. Bank nationalization had opened the doors to economic progress for the poor, the Dalits and the small and marginal farmers. Dalits had got government jobs under a special recruitment drive. Had the BJP been in power at the time, neither would the banks have been nationalized nor would Dalits have got jobs in the government sector. The government would have followed brahmanical policies, ensuring all-round progress of the Dwijs. Brahmanism is antithetical to socialism and since the RSS-BJP are brahmanical, they have a deep dislike for socialism and for policies aimed at ushering in equality.

Punj’s article ends along the lines of Kapoor’s piece. They have both used the word ‘chakra’ (cycle) in the same sense. Can we conclude that a common guideline issued from some control room was used by the authors? Punj writes, “Today, the leftists stand marginalized with the result that India, which was the world’s biggest economy till the 17th century, driven as it was by the Sanatan culture, has again emerged as one of the leading economic and military power houses of the world. The Sengol, which was the centerpiece of the ritual performed at the auspicious dawn of independence and which represents the link between India’s sacred traditions and the worldly responsibilities of the rulers, is to be installed near the Speaker’s chair in the new Parliament building after a seven-decade-long neglect. This installation will mark the completion of a cycle.”

Both Punj and Kapoor are elated that with the installation of the sceptre, one cycle for the establishment of the Hindu Raj has been completed. Now, in the second cycle, Hindu Raj has to be ushered in by rewriting the Constitution. A large number of Brahmins and half-naked pandits and priests with matted hair and painted faces were invited to the inauguration. As Prime Minister Modi lay prostrate before the sceptre, their joy knew no bounds. Raising both their hands, they blessed Modi, perhaps wishing him good luck in his endeavour to usher in Hindu Raj constitutionally. It is ironic that Pandit Nehru, an ardent backer of democracy and scientific thinking, is being cursed while Modi, who has capitulated before the Brahmins immersed in hypocrisy and superstitions from head to foot, is being hailed. 

Newspapers have published some more titbits about the sceptre. One of them is that it is auspicious. If it is so auspicious, why did the Chola dynasty disappear? It was probably because the Chola Empire collapsed that none of the other monarchies installed a sceptre in their courts. And there is no historical evidence that they did. 

RSS Pracharak-ideologue Ram Madhav in his article ‘The Supreme Authority’ (Indian Express, 29 May 2023) appears to say that the Constitution has no meaning before this sceptre, that it represents supreme power. Why did this supreme power surrender before the Muslim and the British rulers? The BJP IT Cell also issued several statements. One of them said, “The reappearance of the Sengol after 70 years is evidence that the Peshwai are getting stronger and that the gods are with us. It will edge out the decaying democracy from India and will again arouse the monarchical forces.” But let someone ask them why the gods of the Brahmins had deserted the Peshwas when, in 1818, the army of the East India Company had overrun their kingdom? 

There is little doubt that Prime Minister Narendra Modi lacks a mind of his own. He blindly pushes the RSS’s backward-looking agenda and is in such a tearing hurry to usher in Hindu Rashtra that he equates the rise of Brahmanism with the rise of India. He is blind to everything except the Hindu Rashtra and he cannot hear the deafening shrieks of the suffering. For him, the voices of intellectuals are the voices of traitors. To crush them, he has sent many ardent supporters of democracy to jail. Hysteria has been whipped up against the Muslims, pushing the country into a cauldron of hatred and violence. In BJP-ruled states, the Muslims, the Christians, the Dalits and the Adivasis are being subjected to untold atrocities. This has made Modi a darling of the Brahmins. But the people of India will not remain in slumber for long. One day, they will arise and then, Modi’s pro-Hindu stance will trigger a cataclysmic civil war. 

(Translated from the original Hindi by Amrish Herdenia)


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About The Author

Kanwal bharti

Kanwal Bharti (born February 1953) is a progressive Ambedkarite thinker and one of the most talked-about and active contemporary writers. Dalit Sahitya Kee Avdharna and Swami Achootanand Harihar Sanchayita are his key books. He was conferred with Dr Ambedkar Rashtriya Award in 1996 and Bhimratna Puraskar in 2001

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