Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 10

Imagining a Hindu Nation: Hindu and Muslim in Bankimchandra's Later Writings Author(s): Tanika Sarkar Source: Economic and

Political Weekly, Vol. 29, No. 39 (Sep. 24, 1994), pp. 2553-2561 Published by: Economic and Political Weekly Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4401824 . Accessed: 25/07/2011 06:56
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=epw. . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Economic and Political Weekly is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Economic and Political Weekly.



a Hindu


Hindu and Muslim in Bankimchandra'sLater Writings

Tanika Sarkar The author explores the location of the Muslimand the Hindu nation in Bankimchandra'sworks as an interlinked formation that has to be situated simultaneouslywithinhis novelistic and his discursiveprose. Thetwo set up an internal dialogue and self-interrogation that movedacross his earlier, relatively open-ended and often radical phase and later more dogmatic and recognisably revivalist work.Thepaper is centrally concerned with the profound breaks in thinking and expression as well as with thefundamental continuities that were preserved through certain narrative tropes and devices by which Bankimcontinued to destabilise his seemingly unambiguousagenda of a triumphalistHindupeople. Thefocus is on Bankim's last five years when he composed three historical novels on Hindu-Muslimantagonism and two polemical essays on an authentic and reinvigoratedHinduism to be attained through a disciplinary regime that Bankim spelt out in some detail. I
BANKIMCHANDRA CHATTOPADHYAYA (1838-1894) was the real founderof the Bengali novel as well as of serious on discursive literature political theory. He took the infant prose to new heights and wrote originally and acutely on world religions, on class and gender relations in Bengal, on the historyof nationsand on the absence of both history and nationhoodin Hindu traditions.He was also a brilliant humoristand satiristwho laughed at most and traditions, agendas socialtypes.Generally regardedas the most powerful formative influenceon 19thcenturypolitical thinking in Bengal,he is a difficultauthor readwith to any absolute certainty since he seems to straddlevery differentpositions with equal felicity at differenttimes:' and also because he seems to mock at convictions and that resolutions he himself had constructed.2 Scholars generally regard Bankim as a crucial force in the making of both a nationalist imagination and a Hindu revivalist polemic. A particularlystriking instanceof this dualimpactis his celebrated hymnto theMotherland-'Bande Mataram' (salutationto the Mother),3which became the most potent patriotic slogan at peak points in 20th century mass nationalist as struggles4 well as the Hindu rallying cry in momentsof HinduMuslimviolence.5The dualuse has its dangers.Nationalism,which many influentialscholars tend to treat as a undifferentiated non-historicised, monolithic category,may be read,rathertoo easily and quickly,as a variantof Hinducommunalism and vice versa, both composing a hardand a soft face of the same phenomenon and both produced by western epistemic and ontological operations.6 Elsewhere, Bankim'sworkhasbeensplitupintodifferent components which are isolated from one another his conceptof Hindunationhood and is then read on its own as an exercise in nationalistimaginingwithoutany reference to the Muslim in the discourse.7Finally, Bankim' polemicalreferences theMuslim s to are sometimes detached from his novels. They can then be seen as a seamless whole, without internal shifts. The communal impulse is then relatedto his nationalismas its displaced and disfigured form.' I would like to explore the location of the Muslimandof the Hindunationin Bankim's works as an interlinkedformationthat has to be situated simultaneously within his novelistic and his discursiveprose.The two cot up an internal dialogue and selfthiat interrogatioii moved across his earlier, relativelyopenendedandoftenradical phase9 and later, more dogmatic and recognisably revivalist work. I would be centrally concerned with the profound breaks in thinkingand expression as well as with the fundamental continuities werepreserved that throughcertainnarrative tropesanddevices, throughwhich, I believe, Bankimcontinuied to destabilise his seemingly unambiguous agenda of a triumphalistHindupeople. My focus will be on his last five years when he composed threehistoricalnovels on HinduMuslim antagonism: and two polemical essays on an authentic and reinvigorated Hinduismwhichneedsto be attained through a disciplinaryregimenthatBankimspelt out in some detail."' In sharp contrast to his prolific earlier prodi.ction,Bankimwrote much less in this period.Thereis littleuse of satire,caricature or humour.For the first time in his life, his prose remains uncompromisinglysolemn, weighty andponderous,all of which, at least overtly, seems to embody a single and thanan authoritarian polemicalthrustrather argument that continuously poses new questions and issues to itself. One of the essays, in fact, is written in the form of a to gurupreaching his disciple." Theauthorial voice is intrusiveand cast as that of a selfproclaimed proselytiser-cum-pedagogue. It is this phase that is considered to be a decisive component of Hindu revivalism. And Hindu revivalistic- concerns and arguments had, in their turn, been a vital political resource for the contemporary Hindutva phenomenon and its Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh leadership. I prefer to treat this phase of Bankim more as constituting the link between 19th century Hindu revivalism in Bengal whose Hindu supremacist agendawas notprimarily turned against the Muslim or Islam: and the hard, aggressive Hindutva politics that started organising itself from the 1920s on an exclusively and explicitly anti-Muslim platform.'2Apart from this role within the ideological lineage of aggressive Hindutva, Bankimhasa moredirectimaginativebearing on the RSS combine. His 'Bande Mataram' hymn is, for this combine, the authentic national anthem, a truerone than the 'Jana Gana Mana' of Rabindranath which is the accepted version for the Indian state. The hymn is daily sung in its entirety(including all the Bengali passages) at RSS and Rashtrasevika shakhas.'3 Any change or abbreviationis strictly forbiddensince the song symbolises the undivided, inviolate body of the pre-partitionMotherland,and, to hence,anabridgement amounts a symbolic mutilation of the sacred body, a repetition of the partition.As soon as the Bharatiya Janata Party, the electoral front of the combine, came into power in Delhi afterthe state elections of 1993, it made the song compulsoryin all state-runschools of Delhi. I would, however, be as concerned with what was not takenfrom Bankim'sthinking on the Muslim and the Hindunationas with whatwas taken:andalso withhow differently the themes were negotiated even when the broadconclusions seem to point in the same

It is importantto recall that till the end of the 1870s, Bankim had very boldly and thoroughly probed the specific forms of

Economic and Political Weekly

September 24, 1994


caste, class and gender oppressions within pre-colonial Indian traditions. He had occasionally questioned the need for selfrule andnationhoodfor Hindus,given these intemalandstructured powerrelations, which mighteven be loosened up some-whatunder foreign rule.'4In Samya (Equality), which was published 1879,he movedwell beyond in the modest confines of the notion of companionate marriage that the liberal reformers would advocate for the new, educated woman. He also made startling suggestions about her future economic independence and about sharing of housework betweenthesexes. Hequestioned the supreme emphasis that reformers, revi\alists and the colonial state equally placed upon the absolute chastity of the Hindu wife who was situated within a framework of male polygamy.' He saw caste, class and gender hierarchies as interlinkedfacets of a system thatembodied the most absolute form of inequality anywhere in the world.'6 Even in Samya,however,certainkinds of freedom and oppressionare dealt with in a rathercursorymanner.British rule and the notion of progress had been questioned in relation to peasantpoverty,'7but the entire questionof foreignruleandpoliticalfreedom had been rendered a lesser priority by couterposing to it the issue of internal stratificationand oppression within Indian society. The peasant,moreover,is the object but of enlightened socialengineering political initiative is obviously beyond him. In his historical novels, too, political change is invariably initiated by kings and ascetics; when the ordinaryfolk initiatedirectaction, it degeneratesinto mob rioting.'8Demands forfreedomandwelfarefor victims of social oppression are powerfully articulatedbut the agenda is left without an agent.'9It is the colonial state which, after all, is asked to assume a corrective role. In the 70s, when Bankim was writinghis socially aware and courageous prose, the absolute vulnerabilityof all categories of tenants on issues of rent increase, illegal cesses and the arbitrary powers of eviction that the landlordenjoyed had hardly been breached.20 From 1880 onwards, however, in amendments tenancy plansforsubstantive laws had been set afoot2' and the state, moreover,was systematicallycompilingand classifying information about low castes, with a view to interveningin improvement measuresin the nearfuture.This was in the context of rethinking in official policies about social groups after 1857, when there was a markedsuspicion aboutupper castes in general among government officers. Bankimwas, in fact, selected by H H Risley in 1881 to assist in the preparationof an Ethnographic Glossarywithdetailedresearch on castesandtribesforthedistrictof Howrah where he was then posted.22 also became It

increasinglydifficult to regardpeasantsthe way Bankimhadportrayed them-as passive victims. Since the mid-70s powerful forms of peasantself-organisationand movement against arbitrarylandlord exactions had become a central feature of the agrarian scene. The spread of the commercial cultivationof jute, moreover,benefited the small peasants of Muslim or low caste categories rather than the rentier groups who constitutedthe base of the new middle class.23 Moreover, the failure of Bengali to entrepreneurship find space for itself in the higher rungs of trade, business and industries was definitively established by the70s.24 Therewas a keensenseof exclusion from the commandingheights of the civil society for Bankim's own class. His earlier critique of the oppressive privileges of a parasitic upper caste-middle class now seemed to require a furtherdeepening of these processes of exclusion, leading, conceivably to a partialreversal of power relations rather than the benevolent and responsible paternalism of upper caste landownersthat Bankim had prescribedin the 70s. There was now a real problem of choice. After the late 70s Bankim would never returnto the themes of peasantpoverty and casteoppression.He wouldrepudiate Samya andrefuseto bringout a new edition.25 Even narrow motives withoutnecessarilyimputing to this choice, we have to reckon with this absence and the implicationsthis holds out for a possible radical social agenda at a time of limited but real social change. We have to recognise thatthe choice was made and exercised through a silence, through certainexcisions from his earlierconcerns. It is also a fact of considerablesignificance that the definitive transition from a predominantly liberal to a markedly Hindu revivalistdiscoursewas madewithinBengal around the same time and against this context. Sumit Sarkarhas already pointed out a somewhat similar predicamentin the 1920s that partly enabled a turn towards organised communalism.26 The posing of the problemof power and exploitationwas, therefore,unambiguously butBankim'sradicalimaginingfailed radical or refused to construct a resolution that could be adequateto itself. If the peasant or the dispossessed low caste was not to be the subject of his own history, then the immediately realisable and convincing agency for self-improvementwithin Indian society-an agency that,moreover,already seemedactivated-could be themiddleclass with its western education, liberal values and a reformistagenda. If reformof Hindu patriarchywas the major concern for this group,Bankim,too, had his own critiqueof Hindu domestic norms which, if anything, was far sharperthan that of the reformists. Bankim, however, was relentlessly critical

of its aspirationsand methods of work. He saw its dependence on colonial legislation for initiating improved family laws as a basic moralflaw since this neithergenerated a will for change within wider society, without which reform would be doomed, nor did it make 'men' of modem Hindusby vesting them with independence of effort and hegemonistic capabilities. Any dependence on foreign rulers perpetuated and exemplified for him, the lack of a will to freedom and nationhoodwhich had kept Hindus subjected for centuries. Bankim sparedno effort at mockingthis dependence on alien legislation27 as well as the emasculation it produced.He also mocked the surrenderof the new middle class to Orientalist forms of knowledge on India, althoughhe retainedgreatrespectforstrands within mainstream western social and political philosophies.28 Since he saw it as a class that was bom retarded,Bankim refused the middle class its demandsfor political freedomandrights. He made himself extremely unpopularby supporting British moves to muzzle the vernacular press to suggest that it was behaving irresponsibly and that it needed controls.29 used the entireandformidable He resourcesof his satireandcaricature make to fun of the politics of associations and organisations, of the mimicry of imported political models that was involved in such exercises and the ridiculous misadventures in handlingthem.30 therefore,undercut He, precisely the struggle for democratic and public spaces where Indians could grow through debates and experiences of organisation and protest. Neither a radical nor a liberal form of democracy was compatiblewith the heroic agendathatheld his imagination.Infact,if Bankimprefigures the trajectoryof some featuresof Hindutva, he also powerfully embodies some aspects of a far softer and pluralisticform of liberal indigenism.The latter,.out its commitment of to a non-'alienated' authenticpolitics, and its suspicionof liberalrightsorradicalsocial protestthat derive some of theirtermsfrom the post-Enlightenment political radicalism and democratictraditions,finds itself in the samespaceas aggressive,intolerant Hindutva in its critiqueof seculardemocraticpolitics. This, in the final analysis, emerges as a far more consistent and powerful strainthanits critique of Hindutvawhich is sporadicand milder.3' The thrust towardsa pureandauthentically Hindu site for generatingthe social will for change complicated his social concem, his sharpcriticismof thetraditional, pre-colonial form of Hindu domesticity and his daring imagining of the non-domesticated, strong, passionate woman that had earlier created a marked distance between him and the contemporary Hindurevivalist-nationalist.32 While he grew intellectually through a


Economic and Political Weekly

September 24, 1994

simultaneous interanimated and imbibingof Enlightenment universalism and Hindu philosophical resources and used the resourcesof both to interrogateboth-and here lies the ineptness of the notion of hybriditythat misses out on the criticality and the mutually transformativenature of this intellectualencounter-the compulsion to opt for a pure site of exclusively Hindu knowledge triumphedafter his exchanges with Reverend Hastie.33 In 1882, Reverend Hastie of the General Assembly wrote a tract that was brutally critical of Hinduism. Bankim, who had Orientalist alwaysridiculed pretensions about scientific knowledge on India, prepareda long, careful and angry reply. It was after this that he repudiatedSamya and, in his discursive prose, became exclusively with preoccupied thethemeof a reconstructed Hindu form of knowledge and leadership. The anger was probably fuelled by the changing political environment since the mid- and late-70s. The post-Mutiny repression, clearly racist in nature, had initiated seriousselfdoubtamongtheBengali middle class that had been entirely loyal in 1857. The escalation in discriminatory colonial policies during Lytton's era34 was followedby the violent racistbacklashatthe time of the IlbertBill agitation.Apartfrom the exposureto the most extreme and naked formof whiteracismin a concentrated dose, the middle class was also troubled by a reversal trendsthathadpromiseda milder of climate at the time of Northbrooke's, and later, of Ripon's liberal policies35 which wereon the pointof opening up a few minor of within butrealopportunities incorporation thecolonialdecision-makingprocess.36This led to an intensificationof both liberal and Hindu revivalist forms of anti-colonial critiques and organisation. Liberal nationalists formed secular, open organisations for self strengthening and formulated economiccritiquesof thecolonial drain of wealth, Indian poverty and deindustrialisation that remained the foundational concepts for all nationalist Hindu economicthinkingdown to Gandhi.37 revivalists, on the other hand, used their anti-western rhetoric to close off all and transformationof power interrogation relations within the Hindu community as falseknowledgecontaminated alienforms by of power knowledge.38It thus assumed a fundamentalist kindof defensivemarkedly ness. Faced with this crisis of conscience, Bankimreactedby repudiatingSamya and by excising thefrontalcontestationof Hindu caste, class andgender hierarchiesfrom his prose.The excision, despite his best efforts, remained somewhatincompleteandBankim reinserted some of his earlier critiques insidiously in his later novels.39 Historicaldevelopmentsas well as certain earlierpolitical choices, then, blocked off,

for Bankim, any inclination to consider the liberal reformers as a vehicle for Hindu self-improvement. As class, caste and gender abruptly disappear in his work as central concerns, their absence is filled up in the 80s by a new and coherent problematic: What constitutes authentic Hinduism, what possibilities exist within Hinduism of the past and in the reauthenticatedHinduism of the future for nation building, what precisely was the culpabilityof the Muslim in Indianhistory and how and why had Hindu power capitulatedto it. It is not thatthese problems were not reflected on in his earlier prose, but there they had locked horns with an equally powerful set of social concerns.4" Their centralitynow becomes absolute and uncontested. Bankim looks for an ethico religious site for the Hindu people whose dominantpriorityis not whatis sociallyjust but what is truly indigenous-i e, Hindu.4' With the reoriented problematic, the obvious agency could now be restoredto the brahmanical forms of knowledge and upper caste social leadership. This, however, presents equallypowerfulproblems. Bankim continues to believe that past traditionsof Hinduismhadnotgeneratedany impulsefor freedomandnationhood.If, then, these new changes need to be improvised, then old forms of knowledge or rule will not automaticallyyield them. Even in this later discursivephase,he continuedto polemicise against certain forms of Hindu knowledge and devotion, as earlier he had critically reviewed Sankhya and Nyaya traditions.42 At no phase had he shown much sympathy for the Vedic-Vedantist philosophies, perhaps because their quietist, reflective modes were inappropriate a politically for militant, even violent heroic agenda, and also because these were resources that Brahmo reformers had celebrated.43He conducted a relentless polemic against the dominant Bengali form of devotionBhakti,especially its Vaishnav form which worshipped Krishna as a figure of great erotic excess.44 He chose the Puranic tradition and put together from them the figureofa heroic,vindictive,wily andviolent saviour figure. He used as his model mythical--epic dimensions of the later life of Krishna when he was no longer the shepherdboy or the great lover, but when he hadgrownup intothe king, the politician, the warrior.45 Throughouthis life he held lively arguments with the orthodox repositories of brahmanicalknowledgeHe the panditsof Bhatpara.46 cast doubt on the learning of the doyen of the Hindu orthodoxy of his times-Pandit Sasadhar Tarkachuramani.47 The criticality and intellectual and polemical energies which continuedto shape his writingseven of the later period, would be something that contemporaryHindutva entirely eschews.

Even in theDharmatattva, gurupreached the to a well read, argumentative disciple. RSS pedagogic principles,on the otherhand,are entirely exhortative and rhetorical, and internaldebates and productivedifferences find no space there.It is not for nothingthat they select recruitsfromveryyoungchildren who lack the capacity to argue.48 The existing representativesof the old Hindu ruling groups-the upper caste landowners and rentiers who opposed the new western learning, the leaders of Hindu religious establishments, the punditsfailed to convince him as in any way deserving of their privileges or as offering potential for active leadership. In his later novels he returnedto his sharpsatiricalbite in portraying the classic figure of the traditional Hindupatriarch-the uppercaste parasitic landlord p-aterfamilias.49The virtuous founder of a Hindu power that he imagined in Sitaram could sustain neither his virtue nor his power,11Contemporary sexual and financial scandals about the Mohuntof thecelebrated Shaivitepilgrimage centre at Tarakeswarthat rocked Bengal in 187351and the earlier scandal about the Maharajaofthe Ballabhachari in Gujarat sect probably made him unable to imagine the presentrepresentatives organisedreligion of as saviours. Eventheasceticsof Anandamath, the quintessentiallymilitantpatrioticnovel, astonish the ordinary devout Hindu who keeps on asking them what kinds of Vaishnavs or sanyasis they are.52 It is notable that in this phase, as earlier, virtue, activism and heroism are more effortlessly embodied by the woman as almost a characterologicaltrait.53 Bankim had stopped polemicising against the subordination womenandtheboldfeminist of of Samya had buried himself. In in Krishnacharitra, fact, he devoted much space to justify an act of force committed by Arjunain abductingthe sister of Krishna on his advice. Krishna convinces Arjuna, and Bankim tries to convince us, that male guardians can and should override the question of the woman's consent in the interestsof her own largerwelfare thatthey necessarily comprehend better.54 The disproportionately largespacethathedevotes to justify this, ratherminor incident in the life of Krishna, however,tells us how difficult he found it to persuade himself. In his Dharmatattva overturns earlierimages he mutual of conjugalityas theequalandmature passion between two adults that had deconstructed the revivalist nationalist celebration of non-consensual infant marriagebetween a polygamous male and an utterlymonogamouschild wife.55At the sametime,even in the laterphase,thewoman remainedthe locus of thenationin a farmore activist way than the passive, iconic role ascribedto herby revivalistnationllli who sts saw in her submission to I\tsric

Economic and Political Weekly

September24, 1994


prescriptions and in her total insulation devices with which a militant Hindu form from new alien norms a measure of her of patriotism is constructed. Bankim had symbolic capacity to embody and sustain originally composed this as a song in 1875. In the nation.56 Bankim, however, the only Later, when he had finished the highly approximation of the figure of Saviour influential novel, Anandamath,he inserted Krishna is the figure of the dacoit queen it within the story and vested it with highly Prafulla who earns this capacity not by significant narrativefunctions.6" The song, being faithful to Hindu domestic on its own, would have made an original prescriptionsbut by surviving outside her move towardsa deificationandfetishisation household and by fighting against British of the country. That sense was further forces. Even though the pedagogic training heightened by other resonances within the for the new Hindu that Bankim filled out novel whichspentmucheffort constructing in in Dharmatattva is imparted to a male a sequentialised imagery of the deified disciple, it is the dacoit queen of the novel Motherland.6' Apartfrom that,the narrative who is shown to be actually undergoing framing, acquired from the novel's plot, In the training.57 Sitaram, too, the woman endowed it with additional and very new causes virtuous action, the woman tries to properties. The hymn, subsequently, was save Hindu power and the woman is detachedfrom the novel and achieved a life wrongfullytriedandhumiliatedin a striking of its own as a slogan in mass nationalist parallel with and an implicit critique of rallies,andlater,in communalviolence. The Ram's trial of Sita.58 novel, however, remainedcontainedwithin The woman's activism, however, is thesloganasimpliedresonances, associations occasional and exceptional even when it and emotions and providea referencepoint sustains some of the critical energies of the for larger messages. earlier Bankim. It is certainly not a sign The song begins in Sanskrit, then turns of an investiture of the woman with into BengaliandendswithSanskritpassages leadershipof the patrioticagenda. It is also again. It begins with an evocation of the something that happens entirely within his bounteous, lovely land that generously fiction. In the directly polemical prose, on nurtures its children. Then bounty and the other hand, the critical energy is well physicalrichnessturnintoan image of latent contained,andeven the feminine figuration strength,derived from the image of Durga, of the Motherland that Bankim achieved the demon slaying goddess, from the in Anandamath is absent. The new Hindu numerical strength of the population, is emphatically a Hindu man with a compiled from Census statistics, and from difference. He is the embodiment of a the supremesacredsignificancethatBankim rigorous, disciplinary schedule that will ascribes to her within the Hindu pantheon: eventually transpose discipline from an "It is your image that we worship in all The external ethico religious authority to the temples".62 land, for a while, is at one self monitoring ethical agent who has with the icon of Durga.The image of Durga itself internalised reinterpreted concepts of thenquicklyandinsidiouslytransforms Hinduknowledge and devotional practices into that of Kali, anothermanifestationof (Bankim's explanation of Bhakti and the Mother goddess, but as a destructive, of Anushilandharma). It is the process of angryforce. It ends with a reiteration the and training which incorporates knowledge, originalsense of bountyandnurture, an dispositions, physical capabilities and exhortation to her children to enrich her devotion and which replaces privileges of strength with their own. In between, there weaknessbirthand ritualexpertise, that markout the isjust a suggestionof herpresent new brahmin who is the ideal patriot and "with such strength, why are you nation builder from the old, unreformed helpless?"-but the overwhelmingsense is Hinduauthorities.Inheritedand normative one of power.The poweris undifferentiated control are replaced with hard earned and flows back and forth from the mother leadership and brahmanical authority is to the sons, though it certainly originates revived. as intensively cultivated hege- with the mother.The song encapsulates,in monistic aspirations. A returnon a higher an unbrokenmusicalflow, the threedistinct motherof the past, plane, maybe, but a return, nonetheless. images of the nurturing The imagined Hindu nation cannot, even the dispossessed motherof the presentand motherof the futurethatare in imagination,be madeandruledby agents the triumphant developed at muchgreaterlength withinthe that are not male and not upper caste.59 novel.63Later nationalists clearly saw the demon slayer as pitted against the colonial III power and used the song as an abbreviated historyof thegrowthof colonialexploitation Let us now turn to some specific for dimensions within the construction of the andthe patrioticstruggl-e liberation.The new Hindu.We shall begin with a themethat RSS, on the other hand,certainlytook it to we touchedon in the firstsection:the Bande imply a 'historical' struggle against the Mataram hymn. We shall use it as an Muslim,since fromtheirinception,they had illustration the imaginativeandrhetorical stayed away from the anti-colonial of

movements and had devoted themselves to anexclusivelycommunalagenda.As a matter of fact, in the song itself, the demon is nonspecified and is eclipsed by the image of the armedMother.Whatis of importance is the reiteration that the patriotic son is quintessentially a soldier at war. The novel itself is ambiguousaboutwhom the Mother is fighting. It is set in the transitional historical moment of the late 18th century, against the backdropof the famine of 1770 and the armed combat by marauding ascetics of Naga Dasnamiorders against the puppet Muslim Nawab and the indirect control of the British in Bengal.'M Bankim makes no mention of the role of Muslimfakirswho also led plunderingbands of starvingpeople. Even thoughthe sanyasis were from Saivite orders, here they are worshippers of Vishnu, with a brand of militant, war-likebhakti oftheirown.Leaders are recruited from Bengali, upper caste, landed origins and they have transformed themselves with devotional and rigorous physical and martial training, with the vocation of ascetic celibacy for the duration of the struggle, which is ment to restore Hindurule.Even thoughthey do accomplish the ouster of the puppet Nawab, they also are instrumentalin ushering in direct and complete British dominion. A divine voice tells the supreme leader that this is providentialsince Hindus need apprenticeship in modem forms of power. The leader, however, remains disconsolate and unreconciled and considers the historical mission of santans-the ascetic leadersabortedsince one foreign ruleris exchanged for another.Nationaliststook this bitterness as a call for struggle against the colonial power, while to the RSS brigade,the divine commandwouldindicatesanctionforstaying away from the anti-colonial struggle, since the divine purpose is stated to be the elimination of Muslim power. Within the novel, the song initiates a numberof political breaksand innovations. It is meant to be a sacredchantor 'mantra'. Yet, chants are compulsorily composed in 'debbhasha'Sanskrit-the language of the gods-to which women and low castes do not have access. They are aslo enunciated within a prescribedritualsequence, always in front of the deity and always by the male brahman priestor the initiatedbrahmin householder.The novel ascribesit to an act of worship. Yet it is first heard duringthe of aftermath a battlebetween the British-led troops of the Nawab and the Santanswho lead a mob of villagers. The hymn, then, enters the emergent cultic order of a new form of Mother worship as a chant that is unconventionallydetachedfrom the sacred ritual sequence and that can also function as a song on its own, as congregational devotional music that is accessible to all in Vaishnavite gatherings. Yet, unlike those


Economic and Political Weekly

September24, 1994

occasions, it enters into public use at a whose nights are gorgeous with silvery yet close intimacy that the liminal space of moment war,notof pietisticcontemplation moonlight,who is deckedout with treesthat war offers would provide real and felt of of the earthlysportsof Krishna.Devotional bloom happilywith flowers, whose smile is legitimacy for what had been mere custom music, loosened from its original chant form, beautiful, whose words are bathed in and prescribedpower. The comprehensive sacralisesa warthroughthis transferenceof sweetness, who is the giver of pleasure, of training with which leaders approach the indicated use-and, simultaneously, the bliss...). The sensuousnessof the soft, liquid work of organisation ensures that the hymn/song, which is also a battle cry, syllables is abruptly replacedwith a quicker, continuedexercise of power has a far more transforms congregationof devotees into jagged rhythm,by an arrangement harsh, secure base.7' the of the monolithicsingle body of a disciplined strident, strong words; 'saptakotikantha army;"Then,in a single, resoundingvoice, kalakala ninadakarale, dwisaptakotirIV the thousandsof santan soldiers... sang out bhujairdhritakharakarabale... bahubalato the rhythms of the canon-Bande We had used the hymn and its function dharineem, namaami tarineem...' (seven Mataram".65 Hinducommunity-for-itself million voices boom out words of doom, 14 within the'novel as an entry point into the If a is being visualised, then, from the moment million arms wield the sharp swords...we rhetorical operations and a structure of of inception it is a people at war, unified salutethesaviourmother,possessorof many feelings with which Bankim proceeded to by violence against a shared enemy. The kinds of strength).6"Classical rhetorical delineate the politics of the reconstructed ascetic figure of the Santan, who first conventions matched sounds with moods. Hindu. Since the old Hindu had suffered of pronouncesthe words and who initiates the But Bankim went beyond them in the fromtheabsenceof a combination physical actof worship,immediatelymerges into the dramatic art of juxtaposition, of shocking prowess and desire for self rule, the new tfigure of the military commander and and astonishing transitions within a brief Hinduwill only have arrivedwhen he proves strategistwho leads the holy war. andcontinuousspace. The rhetorical charge himself in a final battle that will There is. however, a crucial difference and power of the Hindutvaprojectare very overwhelmingly establish his superiority between the older figure of the priest and often trivialised by assuming a simple over the Muslim, who had, in the past, the new priest-cum-commander. Unlike the transitionfrom gentle quietism to violence. always defeated the Hindu.72 Since the former,the commanderraises the song but The song, which remains a powerful British have something to impart to the heno longerremainsin custodyof the sacred imaginative resource for the Hindutva Hindu,Hinduempowerment,it seems, must ritual orchant.Others-including themotley project,complicates and widens the notion unfold within an overarching colonial army of villagers of all castes-enter into of a binary opposition between peaceful, framework.It is the Muslim, the vanquisher the act of singing and the hymn now moves traditionalHinduismand violent Hindutva. of generationsof past Hindus, who will be inlto vernacular.And, along with this, a Bankim's militant bhakti let go of nothing the great adversary of the new Hindu.73 the of The Muslim was to be the adversaryfor lfurther transformation purposetakesplace. and its language was supple and inventive First,a chant,then successively a song and enough to effect many movementsbetween yet anotherreason. I would like to suggest a command, the hymn now passes into a opposites.69 thatBankimmade a distinctionbetweenthe hattlecry-and forms the first ever political In the process, a greattransgression takes historicalexperience of Muslim rule on the slogan in the Bengali language. The place-of inserting the profane vernacular one hand and Islam as an organisedreligion commander emerges as the political leader, anda political,modernpurposeinto a sacred and the Muslim as a personalitytype on the tlhe The organiserparexcellence. importance orderof worshipwhich violently transforms other. Muslim rule, he considered, brought ol'theenterprise aggressive Hindutvalies its original nature and purpose. The neither materialnor spiritual improvement to in its explicitly political violence that can seemingly democraticextension of esoteric to India, and merely emasculated defeated express itself convincingly as a religious holy words to slogans and songs to be used Hindus.Yet, Islam,and the Muslim with his limits.The supposedly violent commitment to his purpose.It is underlinedin the novel when, by all, however,has its structured inspired by santans, the mob begins to leader-mob distinction is carefully religion and his desire for power, had much in airticulate agendathatgoes beyondsimple underlined the way in which each military to teach to the Hindu.74 an In his polemic on worldreligions,Bankim loot. "Unless we throw these dirty bastards encounter turns into chaos unless it is Ithatis, the Muslims] out, Hindus will be carefully calibratedby ascetic leaders.The seemed to grant a perfection to Hinduism ruined...When shall we raze mosques down leadeis, whether here, or in the later two only in historical times, whereas, througha to the ground and erect Radhamadhav's novels, are carefully trained in leadership series of oblique half statements, Islam is temples in their place?"66 qualitiesthrougha pedagogicalscheme that endowed with perfectionin historicaltimes. The imaginative resources of a violent certainlyis not availableto or meantfor the If universal love is taken to be the highest political agenda are immensely enriched, mass following, whichjoins up out of sheer humanideal, then, says Bankim, Hinduism however, precisely by the ability to starvationand mob instincts. It is true that has it in the largest degree. Yet, throughout simultaneously lay claim to gentle and the ascetic leaders give up caste codes in history,thathas led to a dangerousquietism, The peacefulimages.67 song is held in place times of war, and recruit soldiers from all to an inadequatecomprehensionof national by a tensionbetweencontradictory impulses social strata. But along with celibacy and dangers, to subjection and to degeneration which constitutea delicately poised unity. asceticism this is the last sacrifice that they of the community. As far as Islam and The tension and the tense unity are must impose on themselves until the final Christianityare concerned, they have both effected at the level of both sound and victory is achieved. It is also described as avoided that particularproblem. Between meaning. The land is beautiful and the themostdifficultof sacrifices.7"Presumably, the two, however, Islam went far ahead of motheris smiling, tender and youthful. At with victory, the restorationof the normal Christianityin attaininggreaterunitywithin the same time, she becomes the ruthless orderwould absolve themof the pledge.The its own boundariesand emerged as a more warrior,triumphingin battle. Her loveli- point, then, is not to overturn the social successful political model. By combining ness, her smiles and grace are evoked in hierarchy,but to qualify it in times of war. the differentsets of values, we can construct lush, flowing, elongated, rich sound Established leaders of Hindu society may a single uniform scale, wherein Islam by effects; 'shubhrajyotsnapulokitayamineem thusrenewandextendtheircontrol coming transcends the particularproblems of both closer to the ordinaryfolk and by actually Christianity and Hinduism even though, phullakusumitadrumadalashobhineem, suhasineem, sumadhurabhashineem. sukha- leading them to victory in a violent war Hinduism and Islam are not directly daam baradaammataram' (to the mother against a common enemy. The temporary, compared with each other.75

Economic and Political Weekly

September 24, 1994


In a crucial and conclusive part of Dharmatattva,Islam is dropped from the explicit comparativescheme and there is a new triangularcontest for virtues among Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity."If JesusorSakyaSinghahadbeen householders andyet leadersof world religions, then their systems would have been more complete. Krishnaas ideal manis a householder.Jesus or Sakya Singha are not ideal men".76If Hinduismscoresover the two otherreligions on this ground, then there is also a third, unmentionedpresence, anotherleader of a world religion who, too, was a householder andwho yet transcended mundanetieshis that is Mohammad. Islam, or rather, the figure of the Prophet,is the sunken middle term in the diagram.If he implicity shares the honour of having founded a perfected religion with Krishna, he has the further advantageof being so within the accepted hagiography Islam,and in the universally of acknowledged version of Islam as well.77 Bankimwas, however, painfully awarethat his ideal type Krishnawas an appropriation and construction solely of his own heroic intellectual efforts, and that here he was going against the grain of dominantHindu schemes.78 Bankim's Krishna interpretative is a householder-king, warrior, politician. a a Heis overwhelminglyamanof action,strong enoughto be wily in a highercause, to resort to seemingly amoralstrategiesfor the higher good of his people. He is entirelyunlike the morallypureof philosophicallyquestioning Christ or Buddha. He is equally unlike the figureof totallove andplay thatis celebrated in Vaishnavitehagiography.Of all the world religions that Bankim knew about, his Krishnastandsas the closest approximation to Mohammad.In fact, the silent influence on Bankim's construction is so exact in particularfeatures as well as in the total conception, that one may even be tempted to speculate if Bankim's Krishna is not, indeed, modelled on the biography of Mohammad.79 If the discursive prose of later years obliquelydrawsuponwhatBankimregarded as the enviable resources and energies of Islam, and if he did not engage in sustained polemic against Islam in his essays on religion, he certainly evolved a mode of extremely denunciatory speech about Muslim rule in India in his novels. While his notions of ideal Hinduism informed 19th century Hindu revivalism, the particularlanguage that he, more than any other contemporary,developed to describe the Muslim, certainlyinflected the rhetoric and the aspirations of violent Hindu communalism of the next century. Bankim bestowed on the Muslim an unprecedented centrality in his historical and political scheme, thereby starting a tradition. The revivalist climate of the times was shaped far more decisively by

anti-reformist and anti-missionarypropaganda and there were even a few clashes with missionariesin the early 90s.8"' During the Age of ConsentBill agitationof the 80s and early 90s, Muslims were writtenabout as fellow sufferers and victims of colonialism.8 The natio'nalistvernacular pressusuallytookcareto distinguish between theintegrated, indigenisednature "Muslim of rule"andwhatthey describedas the entirely alien nature of the colonial government.82 This is notto say thatBengalwas completely immune from the communal violence that was sweeping acrosspartsof'northern India in the 1890s.83 Muslimshadrecentlygained a few educational concessions, Hunter's thesis on Muslim backwardnesspromised more, and with Muslim self-modernisation moves of the Aligarhvariety,the possibility of sharpenedcompetition in the sphere of the new educationandjobs, where Bengali Hindus had so far enjoyed a decisive edge, seemed imminent.84 far, however, that So remaineda rather marginalworryandHindu revivalism had not yet targetedthe Muslim as the main enemy.85 Bankim bequeathed a set of historical judgments on the natureand consequences of Muslim rule in Bengal: "How does our Muslim ruler protectus? We have lost our religion, our caste, our honour and family name, and now we are about to lose our very lives ...How can Hinduism survive unless we derive out these dissolute swine?"86 These ideological moves do not need properhistorical authenticationsince they are posed in a fictional space: the

pseudo historical comments, however, carry an inmmenseweight of conviction, nonetheless, particularly since Bankimwas known for a highly historicist thrustin his discursive prose. They are, therefore, insidiously authenticated and then they justify political rallying cries of extreme virulence: "Kill the low Muslims"87 the is refrain that is repetitively raised in Anandamath. Even though Bankim never madeuse of the recenttheoriesof thecolonial drain of wealth, he used the same motif to describe the flight of moncy from Bengal to Delhi in the form of a heavy revenue burden in Mughal times.88 Perhapsthe most significantway in which Bankim served as a bridge between 19th centuryHindurevivalismandthe later,antiMuslim, violent politics was by providing an immensely powerful visual image of communal violence and by giving it the statusof anapocalypticholy war.He stamped the image indelibly on the imaginationof communalpolitics by fusing the impulse of community violence and revenge with the spectacle of a feminine body. In his last
novel Sitaram, Gangaram, the brother of the

heroine Shree is unjustly charged and sentenced to execution by a tyrannical Muslim fakirand a Qazi. Unable to stop this mockery of justice, Shree goes to the place of execution where a big crowd, including many Hindus, had gathered to watch the event. In despair, Shree tries to rally-them to save a fellow Hindu, to instil a sense of brotherhoodand mutual responsibility by evoking the fact that a man of their



Wanted one Research Assistant to work on PostEarthquake Housing Reconstruction and Training Project. MinimumB.E./B.Techin CivilEngineering plus one year work in construction industry.Gross salary Rs 2500 to Rs 3000 per month depending on experience and qualifications. Non-smokers only. Please send application with bio-data to: Director, People's Science Institute 252 Vasant Vihar - 1, Dehra Doon - 248 006


Economic and Political Weekly

September24, 1994

community is being killed by another Shreedoes notinvoke thetheme community. of justice, nor does she try to rally subjects against tyranny and misrule. Quite spontaneously,the words that rise to her mouth are words of community solidarity and violence. "Then Gangaram saw a goddess-likefigure among the green leaves of the huge tree. Her feet resting on two branches,the right hand clutching a tender branch,the left hand swirling her sari, she was calling out: Kill, kill..." Her long, unboundtresses were dancing in the wind, her proudfeet were swinging the branches up and down, up and down, as if Durga herself was dancing on the lion on the battlefield.Shree had no more shame left, no consciousness,no fear, no rest. She kept calling out-"Kill, kill the enemy...The enemy of the country,the enemy of Hindus, my enemy... kill, kill the enemy... That strainingarmwas such a lovely arm... such beautyin herswollen lips, herflaringnostrils, sweat drenchedstray locks falling across a perspiringforehead. All the Hindus kept looking at her and then streamingtowards the battlefield with 'glory to Mother Chandike'on their lips". In an instant, Shree had transformeda scatteringof Hindus who had no previous senseof mutualconnectedness,into an army with a single violent purpose, into a community-for-itselfthat can be realised invocationof vengeanceagainst onlythrough another.It is as if, to imagine a community of Hindus, Bankim can only imagine a spectacleof violence,of war.Thatis theonly passionthatbringsthecommunityintobeing. Butthespectacleof violence is derivedfrom the image of a passionate feminine body which literally gives birth to the violence. If political passion is produced through a feminine agency, thereis little doubt about the kind of image in which this passion is cast. The woman's body moving "up and down, up and down"...the "strainingarms, the swollen lips, the flaring nostrils, the sweat drenched locks and the perspiring forehead"-all arewell remembered classical conventionsfordescribingthe womanat the moment of sexual climax. The superimposition of the icons of Durga and of Chandika,the goddess of war, on this body providesa sacredframethattightly controls yet obliquely heightens the flow of sexual energyfrom which the visual image derives its power. The beginnings of a violently communalised imaginationmay, then, have something to do with a kind of male fantasisingthatencompassessexual passion andpoliticalviolence in a single impulse of pleasure.

discourse on the Muslim. We have already seen thathisseriousdiscursiveprosereferred to Islam with. respect. In his novels, too, Bankimhadbeen writingaboutHindusand withone another, Muslims,andtheirrelations all his life. They are ranged side by side, against one another,in dramaticand tense encountersbetween man and man, man and woman,womanandwoman,as communities, nations, armies,as loving, fighting, making peace, arguing,negotiating.If all the novels on this theme are takento compose a single betweenpeople novel, andthe arrangements of the two religions are relations between twQcompositeindividuals,thenthe obvious simile is that of a conjugal or wildly emotional, dangerously fluctuating sexual include that relationship maysimultaneously great intimacyalong with great violence. A farcry fromthe way white people encounter Indiansin his novels whichprovidemoments of sheer comicality,x9here is invariably material for high drama or for tragedy. In his first novel Durgesh Nantdinithere is a striving for an almost mechanical symmetryof virtuesandvices on bothsides. The aim is to establish a shared code of conduct, be it for the heroes, the heroines, thevillainsorthecowards.NeitherareHindus and Muslims two monolithicallyintegrated peoples and political alliances and expediencycutacrossreligiousboundaries.9" Interestingly, Bankim, who experimented transgressive possibilities boldly with rather in sexual relationships beyond Hindu domestic and conjugal prescriptions,found in the Muslimwoman,unboundedby norms of being faithfulto only one manin an entire lifetime, a productivegroundfor playing on utterlynew registersof sexual moralityand commitment. From the third novel, Mrinalini, the possibility of a shared enterprisevanishes andthe Muslimbecomes the greathistorical adversary of the Hindu. Battles between individualsare now loaded with destiny for nations.InRajsinzgha, Muslimadversary the is not just an adversary but a hated and dreaded enemy-no less a man than the fanatical Aurangzeb."He was born to hate the Hindus, he found Hindu offences There are referencesto all unpardonable..." his well thumbedsins in the openingchapter temple wrecking, cow itself-jeziya, slaughter,forced conversion. This seems a typical case of stereotyping. Yet, let us remember the first appearance of the presumed enemy of Hindus. We meet an elderly man in white, quiet, dignified, assured, respecting strength in an enemy. All the characteristic historicalassociations had been revived and refamiliarisedin the first chapter.Gradually,however, over the V entire text, the stereotypeis defamiliarised, redeemed and humanised, especially by Yet the consequencesof such imagination Aurangzeb's gentle, melancholy love for a s Hindu serving maid. It is no monsterbut a do notentirelyexhaustthe logic of Bankim'

greatadversarythathadbeen defeatedin the historicalbattleand hereinlay the trueglory of Mewar. Unlike the anonymous,faceless English troops, Muslim adversaries, even the worst of them, wear humanfaces where complex emotions are often delicately sketched in. It is in Sitaram, the last novel, that the Muslim combatantis largely an abstraction, an absence; yet battles with him fill up the entire novelistic space. Has Bankim, then, at the end of his life, managedto formulate and congeal an agenda at the point of blind hatred, when the enemy sheds his human features and is reduced to a simple figure of hatred? I think that Bankim found it impossible to form and celebratean agenda with sustained conviction even in his last, dogmatic, markedlyauthoritarian phase. If theagendaseemsto be coherent complete, and he then proceeds to fractureit from within, to dissolve his own statementof conviction. Sitaramis defeated by his own inner flaws. The Hinduleader, whethera commander,a king, a brahmin a patriarch, or remainsweak, treacherous, greedy and cowardly across historical and social differences. The most significantthingaboutthe last novel, I think, is Sitaram's brutality againstHindu womenwhich is conventionally ascribed to the stereotypical Muslim.WhenSitaram's Hindu kingdombreaksup, Hinduwomen celebrate the event with vindictive glee. An erstwhile tolerant Muslim fakir leaves his kingdom, vowing never to live underHindurule. The stereotypednotion of Muslim intoleranceis turnedupside down, for it is Sitaramwho, by his own villainy,hadforcedthisconclusion on hIm. The novel, charged with shrill intensity, ends with uncharacteristicbathos. Bankim had neverbefore used the device of a chorus composed of ordinarypeople. Here we find two common men, Ram and Shyam, having the last words. "Ram: 'How goes it, brother?Have you heard any news about Mohammadpur? [Sitaram's kingdom].' Shyam: 'Different people say different things. Some say the king (Sitaram)and the queencould not be captured...The wretched Muslims executed a false king and a false queen.' Ram: '...Thatsounds like a Hindufiction, a mere novel.' Shyam: 'Well, who knows whose story is a fiction.Your storymay well be a Muslim tale. Anyway, we are ordinarypeople, all this doesn't concernus. Let us enjoy a smoke in peace.' Let Ramchand and Shyamchand enjoy their pipe of tobacco. We shall end our narrativeat this point." An uncharacteristicna-rrative closure for Bankim who had always been intensely concerned abouthistoricity, with problems of political bias and partisanshipvitiating

Economic and Political Weekly

September 24, 1994


historicaltruth.All his familiarconcernsare blown away with a few puffs of smoke, with and by recounted two ignorant rather rumours men who dismiss all history as uninterested as ultimatelyunknowable, equally uncertain versions,and,finally,as supremelyirrelevant to thelikesof them.Whatexactly is involved in this untypicality,this major departure? One can only speculateat several levels. It can denote a final failure of hope in the exercise,in thepossibility heroic,redemptive of nationbuilnbg. It may be a criticism of the Hindumasses who have forever stayed away at decisive moments in wars, have neveridentifiedthemselves with the nation. indicatea recognition Itcan,ontheotherhand, of the autonomyof the imaginativedomain. The Brechtianalienationdevice, the underlining of the fictional natureof the work by talkingabout"novelsandfictions"maypoint to the constructedness of all writings, historicaland fictional. Or is it, after a long gap, andaftermany changes, a returnto the themeof Samyawhich, in the meantime,had been overtakenby dreams of Hindu glory? Does it question the materialityof notions like political freedomand nationhoodin the context of the everlasting peasant problem and ground the failure of the nation in the disjunctionbetween the two? Bankim thus formulates and fills out a violent Hindu agenda and immediately proceeds to deconstruct it. He powerfully projectsreligious militancy as a resolution to the problem of colonisation. He has an aboutits untenable equallypowerfulcertainty future.It is inevitable, then, that he has to simultaneously underscore the agenda in intenselyheightenedcolours, to proclaimits message with a brutalstridency that nearly reaches a breakingpoint in the last novel: and immediately counterpose to it an devicethatdragstheshiningvision alienation of Hindu triumph into the realms of idle rumourand gossip.

Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Occasional Papers on History atndSociety, First Series, L. 8 Partha Chatterji has completely ignored Bankim's novels as important ways of negotiating with political themes. Even the reading of the discursive prose is severely limitedby a literalreadingof texts in complete disregardof his literarystrategiesanddevices that were significantly deployed here. See Nationalist Thoughtand the Colonial World: A DerivativeDiscourse, Delhi, 1988. Sudipta monographs in Kaviraj, a seriesof unpublished on various texts of Bankim, has also chosen to read each text as a fairly isolated. autonomous unit, although he is extrenvml5 sensitive in his reading strategy. 9 Tanika Sarkar,op cit. 10 Anianidarmnth published 1882, fifth and (first 1884; finalversion, 1892);Debi Choudhurani, Sitaraim, 1887. The two discursiveessays are, 1888. 1892; Dharrnatattva, Krishnzacharitra, Two incomplete manuscripts were posthumouslypublished:his commentaryon Gitain 1902andDevatattva Shli-nadbhagavat O Hindudharma, 1938. Since both were incomplete and since Bankim extensively revised his writings before the final publication, I have not made any use of them here. 11 Whereas in DT(ibid), the master and the disciple proceed through arguments and counter-arguments, in RSS daily training sessions, small boys are told stories which have the right messages. Since stories need a suspension of disbelief and questions by

12 13 14 15 16

17 18 19


21 22 23

their very form, listeners get used to silent and implicit acceptance. Basu, Datta, Sarkar,Sarkarand Sen, Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags: A Critique of the HindutRight, Delhi, 1993. leaderAsha My interviewwith Rashtrasevika Sharma in Delhi, December 1990. Swadhinata Bharatbarshe EbongParadhinata, Vividha Prabandha, p 244, Bankim Rachanabali, Vol 2, Calcutta, 1954. Samya, ibid. "Our country is the land par excellence of springs inequalities,anykindof discrimination into life and flourishes as soon as the seed is sown", ibid, p 399. This theme is especially developed in BangadesherKrishak(firstpublished,1875), Bankim Rachanabali, Vol 2, ibid. See Anandamath and Sitaram, Banki,n Rachanabali, Vol 1, Calcutta 1953. Bangadesher Krishak, ibid. It is interesting that although he asks the foreign rulers to protect the tenants, he refused to seek their help that reformerswere demanding,for the protection of women. B B Chowdhury, 'Agrarian Economy and AgrarianRelations in Bengal, 1859-1885' in N K Sinha (ed), TheHistory of Bengal, 17571905, Calcutta, 1967, pp 241-43. Ibid.See also SugataBose, PeasantLabourand Colonial Capital: Rural Bengal since 1770, CambridgeUniversityPress, 1993, Chapter3. SekharBandyopadhya,CastePoliticsand the Raij:Bengal, 1872-1937, Calcutta1990, p 33. Ibid, Chapter 2.

- Decentralisation in Developing Countries S.S. Meenakshisundaram Planning and Panchayati Raj -Decentralised (D.T. Lakdawala Memorial Symposium Proceedings) Malcolm S. Adiseshiah and Pranab Mukherjee (et. al) Raj in Jammu and Kashmir George Mathew -Panchayati Raj: An Annotated Resource Guide N.B. lnamdar -Panchayati Panchayati Raj in Karnataka Today: Its National Dimensions George Mathew A Study of Tamil Nadu Panchayati Raj and Rural Development C. Harichandran Readings in Decentralised Planning (With Special Reference to District Planning) B.N. Yugandhar and Amitava Mukherjee (set of two Volumes) Rs.200

I In the recentliteratureon Bankim in English,
the shifts in stance have hardly been recognised,andBankim's writingsaretreated as a monolithic whole. An exception to this tendency is Tapan Raychaudhuri, Europe Reconsidered: Perceptions of the West in Nineteenth Century Bengal. Delhi, 1988. Tanika Sarkar, 'Bankimchandra and the Impossibility of a. Political Agenda: A of Predicament NineteenthCenturyBengal', in articleforthcoming KaulandLoomba(eds), Literary Review. Oxfiord Amales Tripathi,The Extremist Challenge: Indiabetween1890 and 1910, Calcutta,1967. Sumit Sarkar, The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal: 1903-1908, New Delhi, 1973. It was used as a slogan in the riots of 1926. I owe this reference to Pradip KumarDatta. This slant is marked in Gyan Pandey, The of Constr-uction Communalismin Northern India, Delhi. 1990. 'The Myth of Praxis: The Construction of the Figure of Krishna in Krishnacharitra',

Rs. 75 Rs.150 Rs.290 Rs. 100 Rs. 90


3 4 5 6 7


A/15-16, Commercial Block, Mohan Garden New Delhi-I 10059 (India) Cable: CONPUBCO 0 Phones: 5554042, 5504042 Ph: 3272187 Show Room: 4788/23, Ansari Road, Darya Ganj, New Delhi - 110002


Economic and Political Weekly

September 24, 1994

24 Sabyasachi with the theme of poverty aniidhunger-a Bhattacharya, 'TradersandTrade in Old Ccalcutta', Sukanta Chaudhuri(ed), deliberate invocation of his earlier Calcutta: LivingCity,Vol 1,Calcutta1991. The concerns. Then the guru persuades the 25 Jogesh Bagal, 'Introduction', Bankim disciple that both can be overcome by the cultivation of the right Hindu disposition Rachanabali,Vol 2, op cit. 26 Sumit Sarkar,op cit. and knowledge. He thus relocates the rootsof these problemswithin the individual 27 See his argument against the strategy of Vidyasagar in 'Bahuvivaha' in Vividha disposition and mindset-away from Prabandha, op cit. social structures. Dharmatattva, Bankim 28 Satiricalpieces in Lokrahasya (1874) make Rachanabali, Vol 2, op cit, pp 585-86. fun of the English educated Babu quite 42 'Sankhyadarshan'in Vividha Prabhandha, mercilessly. BankimRachanabali, 2, op cit. Vol op cit. He criticised Indologists like Max Muellerin 43 -"Vaidic religion lacks the concept of Bangalir Bahubol. PrabandhaPustak. 1879. devotion... there are only propitiatory He was extremelysarcasticaboutdependence sacrifices to attain one's earthly desires". on western reflections on Indianhistory and Dharmatattva,BankimRachanabali, op cit, in religion Dharmatattva, BankimRachanabali, p 623. It polemicises againstall majorHindu Vol 2, op cit. At the same time, his affiliation religiousphilosophiesto assertthecorrectness to western political theories, especially that of the reorientedbhakti. and of radicalutilitarian Frenchrevolutionary 44 See his strong repudiationof this form in and socialistthinkerswas openly asserted,not Krislititicharitrai, cit. He was also critical op just in Samyabuteven in Dharnatattva,op cit. of the quietism of Kali-based devotion that 29 Bagal, 'Introduction',BankimRachanabali, his contemporary saintRamakrishna preached. Vol 1, op cit. See Sumit Sarkar, 'Kaliyuga, Chakri and 30 See, forinstance, Bhakti' in Economic and Political Weekly, ByaghracharyaBrihallanugul in Lokrahasya, op cit. July 18, 1992. 31 This thrustwas particularlywell developed 45 Krishnacharitra,op cit. 0 by Ashis Nandyin TheIntimateEnemy:Loss 46 See Shyamali, 'Bankimchandra Bhatparar and Recoveryof the Self under Colonialism, Panditsamaj', Baromash, Autumn number, 1988. Delhi, 1983. The frameworkis extended by and Gyan Pandey in Constructionof Communa- 47 See my Bankimchandrai the Impossibility lism, op cit, and by Partha Chatterji, The of a Political Agenda, op cit. NationandItsFragments:Colonial and Post- 48 See Basu, Datta, Sarkar, Sarkar and Sen, Colonial Histories, Delhi 1994. Khaki Shorts, op cit. 32 I have explained this term in 'Rhetoric 49 This is embodiedin Haraballabh's patriarchal inhuman orthodoxy and lack of a sense of against Age of Consent: Resisting Colonial Reasonandthe Deathof a ChildWife' in Ecohonour and dignity in Debi Chaudhurani, nomicand Political Weekly, Bankim Rachanabali, Vol 1, op cit. September1993. 33 TapanRayChaudhuri, EuropeReconsidered, 50 Sitaram, op cit. Also see below. op cit. 51 See reports in Bengalee and the Statesman, 34 See Anil Seal, Emergence of Indian 1873. and Nationalism:Competition Collaboration 52 Dialogues between Mahendra and Santan in the Later Nineteenth Century, Cambridge leadersinAnandamath, BankimRachanabali, Vol 1, op cit, pp 724-37. UniversityPress, 1968, and S Gopal; British Policy in India,1858-1905, Cambridge,1965. 53 This is trueof all the threenovels. See Shanti 35 S Gopal, The Viceroyalty of Lord Ripon, and Kalyani in Anandamath,Prafulla,Diba 1880-1884, London, 1953. and Nishi in Debi Chaudhurani,and Shree 36 See Seal and Gopal, op cit. and the Sanyasini and Nanda in Sitaram, 37 Bipan Chandra, The Rise and Growth of Bankim Rachanabali, Vol 1, op cit. Economic Nationalism in India: Economic 54 Krishnacharitra, cit, BankimRachanabali, op Policies of Indian National Leadership, Vol 2, pp 498-504. 1880-1905. New Delhi, 1966. 55 Dharnumtattva, cit, BankimRachanabali, op 38 See my 'RhetoricagainsttheAge of Consent', Vol 2, p 620. op cit. Dipesh Chakrabarty has recently 56 See my Rhetoricagainst the Age of Consent, reiterated the logic and politics of this op cit. revivalism in the same terms in his critique 57 Prafulla in Anandamath,op cit. of contemporary'secular feminists' in 'The 58 Sitaram,op cit, BankimRachanabali, Vol 1, Difference Deferral of (A) Colonial pp 944-48. Modernity:Public Debate on Domesticity in 59 See the concealedyet very realMaharashtrian BritishBengal' in History Workshop, brahminorigins of the RSS in Khaki Shorts, Special Issue, Autumn, 1993. op cit. and 39 See my Bankimchandra the Impossibility 60 Bagal, 'Introduction',BankimRachanabali, Vol 1, op cit, p 23. of a Political Agenda, op cit. 40 Themes of Hindu history and nationhood 61 Anandamath, op cit, Bankim Rachanabali, were taken up in Prabandha Pustak, op cit. Vol 1, pp 728-29. Many of the concerns of Dharmatattva and 62 Ibid, p 726. the form of its presentation had been 63 Ibid, p 728. in anticipated GaurdasBabajirBhiksharJhuli, 64 Ibid, p 726. VividhaPrabandha (1874). Krishnacharitra 65 lbid. was originallywrittento forma partof Vividha 66 Ibid, p 768. Prabandha, but was later much altered and 67 This was especially evident in the way the extended. Bagal, 'Introduction', Bankim Vishwa Hindu Parishad ideologues Rachanabali, Vol 2, op cit, p 21. simultaneously evokedthefiguresof theserene 41 This is explicit in both Krishnachalritra and the angryRain. See PradipKumarDatta, -and Dharmatattva.The latter,in fact, begins 'VH4P'sRam: The Hindutva Movement in

68 69

70 71 72 73 74

75 76 77

78 79


81 82 83 84 85 86

87 88

89 90

Ayodhya' in Gyan Pandey (ed), Hindus and Others: The Question of Identity in India Today,Delhi, 1993. The other,very important point this article establishes is the way Ram is invoked as a role model. In bhakti philosophies, however, the deity's life is an object of contemplationfor the devotee, it is not for emulation. Here, too, Bankim makes the crucial transition, by insisting that Krishna'slife provides the desiredpatternfor all Hindus. Anandamath, op cit, p 726. In his interview with the VHP mohunt at Ayodhya, P K Datta was told that this movement is the essence of Rambhakti. Datta, op cit. Anandamath, op cit, p 751.. For a discussion of these themes at the time of the founding of the RSS, see Sumit Sarkar. The agendaof the warwith the Muslimalways occurs only in the novels. This is the concluding note and message of Anandamath, Bankim Rachanabali, Vol 1, op cit, p 787. "By imbibing these principles... the Hindu will be... as powerful as the Arabs in the days of Mohammad...", Dharmatattva, op cit, p 647. Ibid, p 648. Ibid. This is the image of Mohammad in a very well known western text thatwas much used in Bankim'stime. See T P Hughes,Dictionary of Islam.Firstpublished 1885, Indianedition, Rupa Publishers, 1988. Dharmatattva and Krishnacharitra, Anandamathhave to arguehardagainstother models of bhakti. By asserting that with a correct application of bhakti, Hindus will be transformed into Muslims of Mohammad's time, (see above) Bankim hoped that the reinterpretedlife of Krishna will play the same historic role as the original pattern. There are references to an attack on missionaries at Tarakeswarin 1891. Dainik OSaniacharchandrika, April 19, 1891.There were other minor attacks that were reported from Calcutta and Bankura. See Report on Native Paper.s, Government of Bengal, January to March 1891. Ibid, see also RNP, Bengal 1890. Anandamath,BankimRachanabali,Vol 1,op cit, p 727. Ibid, p 784. Bangalar Itihash, Vividha Prabandha, Bankim Rachanabali, Vol 2, op cit, p 332. Sitaram,Bankim Rachanabali,Vol 1, op cit, p 881. See Chandrasekhar, for instance, for the encounter between Saibalini and Forster, Bankim Rachanabali, Vol 1, op cit, p 405. Also see MuchiramGurerJibancharit, the for encounterbetween a peasantand Meanwell, Bankim Rachanabali, Vol 2, pp 126-27. See Durgeshnandini, his first novel, 1865, Bankim Rachanabali, Vol 1, op cit. Ayesha in Durgeshnandini (above), Zeb Unnisa in Rajsingha (1882) and Dalani in Chandrasekhar(1875) wil be very striking and diverse examples. See Bankim Rachanabali, Vol 1, op cit. Rajsingha, ibid, p 664, pp 672-74. Sitaram, BankimRachanabali, Vol 1, op cit, pp 957-58.

Economic and Political Weekly

September 24, 1994