In the early thirteenth century, says Richard Eaton, one Mr Ikhtiyar bin Bakhtiyar Khiljee overran Bengal with merely forty horsemen. Lakhhan Sen, the then ruler of Bengal was having his dinner and upon hearing the marauding Afghans, quietly fled without his footwear. Hence started, one of Islam’s most successful territorial saga in Eastern Bengal, from where it spread successfully to the southeast and even travelled up to southern China. A possible reason why Islam did so well in Bengal, according to Eaton was that people here never really had a structured religion and Islam was a structured discourse. According to me, Bengal was very familiar with Arab culture and because much of Arab pagan beliefs and rituals were part of Islam, the religion could establish itself well. Islam as a religion and the Muslim as a rule however had little parallels, because the Muslim rulers were hardly Islamised. However, they established their powers through crass street violence when Hindus at random and Muslim musclemen clashed repeatedly as and when they met in public spaces. Later, Vaishnavs too used street violence to get their way through and the kirtan was nothing but the blaring music which lumpens play on trucks and tempos as they show themselves off publicly. Violence is thus not new to Bengal and its politics. Why this is so is a matter of sociological investigation though.
When the BJP broke Vidyasagar’s bust, I thought of the Taliban and the Bamiyan Buddha, I thought of Kalapahar and I of course thought of Ikhitiyar Khilee. Hindutva is a Semitisation of the Hindu religion and aims exactly what Semitic religions did, namely, to attain a borderless kingdom of morality. Unfortunately, for all religions of such kinds, violence has underlain the call for morality. Nothwithstanding the philosophy and the grand metaphysics that these religions have emerged into, Semitic religions, at the level of their DNA are licenses for barbarians to attack civilizations. The promise of a dictator, the promise of endless territory or Lebenstraum as in Nazi Germany, the rule of morality as opposed to law, the utopia which is far removed from anything possible on earth are instruments of the barbarians overcoming civilizations. Christianity was a great thing for the barbarians when they tore down the defences of Rome against the rest of Europe, Islam was brilliant when it raised and consolidated armies from the nomadic Turks and vestigious Mongols on the Ulan Bator plateau. BJP’s idol breaking is its instrument to power; it was very important cue communicated to the barbarians that here is my whistle, go and take Bengal.
Whatever is there to modern India is basically an extension of Bengal. It will not be very wrong to say that the modern Indian civilization is a Bengali civilization. Apart from the National Anthem and the National Song and Saratchandraization of National Sentiments, Bengali ethos of metro sexuality, its abilities to attain high notes in political discourses and the ease with which high culture naturally comes to a Bengali has been a point of envy for rest of India. Mano ya na mano! When politics is around the ideologies of the State, left, right or centre, issues of caste, development and unemployment can become rallying points. But when the point is the barbarian claiming an entire civilization as in case of the BJP, idols must be broken. Here comes in Neitzsche with his Twilight of the Idols, where the philosopher carries a hammer to break down all that symbolizes civilization. The iconoclasm of the BJP in Bengal must be understood in this light.
For almost a decade now, hate for Bengal among the non-Bengalis in the state has been rising rapidly. The Bihari drivers are misbehaved, and this is perhaps a reason for the popularity of the Ola and the Uber. The hate speech of the black and yellow taxi drivers are sheer invective; they claim in one way or the other to have a right to rape Bengal. I am glad that I don’t own a car in Kolkata, otherwise this side of the secret history would have been unknown to me. The Gujaratis and the Marwaris are as bad too. The cream of the troublemakers list is of course the Bengalis themselves. Mamata Banerjee has always got a bad press; she is not good looking, does not look to men for sex, independent, unmarried, with no male chaperon, and very homely. This is all the wrong type for a woman to be, or shall we call her a girl? Despite everything on the ground and most visibly so, Bengalis have often, in a manner of self-destruction that both Tagore and Nirad Chaudhuri have commented ad nauseum, oozed out self-hate and embarrassment at being ruled by an unmarried kanya at home! How I think of Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Taara. This is the same girl who the family could not marry off, and now she has done so well for herself, what greater shame can she be for her family? It is this psychology that braces Bengal today most sickeningly and which is why Bengal should fall to the barbarians.
Day in and day out, out of our guilt we have devalued and discredited this brave girl, who has tried to revive the Renascent culture of the doyens, build bridges between rural Bengal and its cosmopolitan city, Kolkata, tried to create harmony among communities, languages and migrants, and raised administration to a level we have not had in years since the late 1960’s. Yet it is because of her simplicity, her accent, her address that we want to heap lies upon her, discredit her and debilitate her. And why would Vidyasagar not be attacked, when the very girl child he wanted to create is here as our CM, why would Tagore not be erased when the numerous little girls of the Golpoguchho have coalesced into this girl whose punishment is to catch your ears and do sit ups as a Didi to the naughty brothers? Why would Saratchandra not be humilaited when Bordidi is demeaned?
I look forward to Amit Shah ruling Bengal, for that will be the right lesson for the Bengalis. I think let us all stamp on the Lotus.