New version of national emblem: Modi govt negating all we cherished for generations as a nation
The change denotes the brushing aside of the heritage of Buddha, Ashoka and Gandhi to usher in a nation favouring Godse and Golwalkar
From an irate Lord Hanuman depicted on car windows to a snarling version of the age-old Ashokan emblem, the signs of India discarding the benign, Nehruvian era and entering an aggressive Hindu civilizational phase are all too evident under the new ruling dispensation.
The architectural tweaking of the Ashokan insignia which has been installed on top of the new Parliament building is the most telling example of the ongoing transformation with the calm, dignified lions of the 2,500-year-old Ashokan period being replaced by growling replicas which have been likened to maneaters.
If anything, the change denotes the brushing aside of the heritage of Buddha, Ashoka and Gandhi to usher in a nation favouring Godse and Golwalkar. As a saffron filmmaker pointed out, the new lions can no longer be petted as before. Instead, they will be scary reminders to the “urban Naxalites”, he added, of a country where dissenters are locked up for months and the various investigative agencies are forever on the prowl to nab the anti-national elements, which essentially means those who oppose the BJP.
As the MPs troop into the new Parliament building under the shadow of the fearsome lions above, they may well be in a state of shock and awe over the realization about how an ideologically-driven government imposes its writ which negates all that the nation had cherished for generations and extols a philosophy which bites, as another saffron artiste has reminded everyone while referring to the teeth of the four lions.
As the headline in the Free Press Journal, “Ahimsa roars: saatvik to maasahari” (vegetarian to non-vegetarian) denotes, the changes which are being introduced by the BJP are seminal in nature, marking a drastic and dramatic break from the less combative outlook of the past.
Lord Hanuman’s new, angry visage underlines the same tendency. He is no longer the powerful deity who carried an entire mountain containing the medicinal ‘sanjeevani booti’ to the Lankan battlefield, but a menacing personality from whom it is preferable to keep a distance.
The change is similar to Lord Ram’s transformation from a wise, benevolent ruler to a doughty warrior just as the time-honoured friendly greeting – Ram, Ram – in the Hindu heartland is today a war cry, Jai Shri Ram.
While belligerence is the essence of the new approach of the Hindutva group, the earlier one was unmistakably Gandhian in its calmness and drew its inspiration from the idea of India being the land of a composite culture – the so-called Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb – which celebrated the intermingling of Hindu-Muslim lifestyles and camaraderie based on the Ashokan concept of all the communities living in harmony.
Like the process of reconciliation between the blacks and white initiated in South Africa in the post-apartheid period, Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb was expected to let bygones be bygones by forgetting the violence and injustices of the past and move the nation into a time of brotherhood and peace.
However, it was a denouement which did not suit the BJP’s sectarian purpose. Reared in the anti-Muslim philosophy of the RSS, which saw India as the home of only the Hindus where the minorities – the “internal enemies” identified by the RSS guru, Golwalkar – had no place, the BJP has been engaged in its divisive policies since its foundation as the Jan Sangh in the 1950s.
As long as the Congress ruled the roost, the Jan Sangh-BJP could make no headway, languishing in the margins of politics. But now, BJP has extended its venomous tentacles to take large parts of the country in its grip.
Its success is the result of its remarkable ability to create an ecosystem based on a strident assertion of Hindu nationalism comprising large segments of the population. They routinely jump to the BJP’s rescue whenever it faces criticism as recently on the incarceration of the activists who intervened in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The growling lions also have an expansionist agenda by extending their pugmarks into areas where the BJP has a slender hold because of the presence of its opponents as in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and elsewhere. The BJP’s latest inroad is in Maharashtra where it has ousted a non-BJP coalition.
The maasahari lions, therefore, have every reason to be satisfied.
Views are personal