Paucity of Heroes Among Hindus has led to Medicore Men being Lionised as Great
Hinduism along with Judaism is perhaps the oldest of religions. It is a religion that has a pantheon of gods and goddesses, though it accepts the omnipotence of the supreme being. It is a rich philosophy, that heralds great wisdom and till about the 9th century was a religion that was all-pervading and omnipotent in the sub-continent and areas of South East and West Asia.
The history of Hinduism is the history of India and religious epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana( probably composed between 4000-5000 BC), bring out the rich flavor of the religion. These books also give the people of India great warriors and role models to cherish. During this period Hindus can look up to role models and great men like Rama, Krishna, Vikramaditya, Chandragupta, Ashoka and many more.
Militarily also war was a noble profession and a special class of warriors called the Kshatriyas ruled the roost. War was a glorious episode in Hindu history and historians call it the "Golden Age". The empires of the Gupta dynasty and the Magadh kings span hundreds of legends and tales that bring out role models and great men to look for inspiration.
The age of glory ended with the arrival of the Muslims. This was from about the 9th and 10th century when Muslim conquerors began to make a foray into Hindustan. They came for loot and pillage, but many were smitten by the land and settled in India. They also were aghast at the rituals of Hinduism as well as the nude figurines in the temples. They were also against idol worship as it is forbidden in Islam. A combination of these factors resulted in a conflict between the invaders( Muslims) and the people of Hindustan ( Hindus). At that time it was strictly not a Hindu- Muslim conflict, but there is also no doubt that it was a battle between two conflicting ideologies.
Defeat of the Hindus
The facts that now emerge tell us that the Hindus were defeated due to a combination of factors, spearhead by the Caste system and the compartmentalized society. In battle after battle, the Hindus though very brave were defeated as the Muslim art of art was of a higher order. The results were in real terms catastrophic as for the next 900 years the Hindus became the enslaved and ruled. These defeats also brought in pessimism and all the Hindus could say was it was their ' fate' as it was decreed by God.
The period was also terrible and during a greater part of these 900 years the Hindus were subjected to varied atrocities like payment of Jizziya tax, destruction of Temples, abduction of Hindu girls, killing of Hindus , making of pyramids with skulls of Hindus as well as conversion by a string of Sufi saints who did conversion to Islam like in Bengal with love. The ills of Hinduism like Sati, Caste system and other things militated against Hindus as well. Over a period of time, the Muslim rule spread to entire India except for some fringe areas like Assam and Nagaland.
A subjugated race has no heroes and during these 900 years a few Hindus, though ultimately defeated became idols to rouse the spirits of the Hindu race.
Paucity of Heroes and role Models
The Muslim rule by and large was not a good time for the original inhabitants of the sub-continent, the Hindus. William Duff the famous historian has concluded that during Muslim rule the Hindu population declined by 80 million. This is a gigantic percentage, considering that the population during that period was about 250 million. For the next 900 years one has to search the history books with a microscope to come across any worthwhile leader or victor who faced up to the invadors.
Thus through a period of 900 years one can come across just a handful of names and these were also losers,but Hindus have to elevate them as men of great standing. The first name that comes to mind is Prithviraj Chauhan, the ruler of Delhi. He faced the great Mohammed of Ghor, but despite great personal bravery was defeated and taken to Kabul and tortured, before being killed. The battles of Prithviraj are however given a halo by poets and writers and a man who in reality surrendered the throne of Delhi is lionised as a " great " warrior. He is not the last and through out a period of 900 year , the HIndus play up names of Shivaji, Banda Singh Bahadur-the Sikh General,Rana Sangha,Samrat Hemchandra Vikramaditya as " great " soldiers, though in military aspects all were defeated .
One of the banes of Hindu society, which contributed in no small measure for the defeat of the Hindus was the caste factor. Caste flows from the Laws of Manu as laid down in the Manusmiriti. This was a great and terrible curse on India and for 4000 years , right up to the 21st century this artificial division of Hindu society has spelled doom for Hindus. The widespread discrimination and segegation of lower caste and untouchables led to a Trojan Horse in Hindu society. The Laws of Manu should have been discarded centuries ago as they propagated action that militate against equality of man as envisaged by the Hindu gods. As an example a Brahmin could have sex with a Dalit woman as a "right", but a lower caste even touching a higher cast merited death.
The caste factor contributed in no small measure for the defeat of the Hindus, despite this the Hindus still eulogise men who stood by the caste system like Vivekananda. In addition without a powerful victor or conqueror, Hindus have played by the defeats and ritualistic deaths of Jauhar as " great" acts. An example is the tale of Rani Padmini,the wife of the ruler of Chittor who was coveted by the Sultan of Delhi Allauddin Khilji.
The fact is Chittor was sacked by Allauddin and the Rana killed and the Rani Padmini burnt herself to death to escape becoming a keep in the Sultans Harem. The act of jauhar was by itself a defeatist solution to a problem, but there are any number of poets and bards who have extolled the act of Rani Padmini.
Sikhs are in the habit of extolling the battles of Banda Singh Bahadur. The fact is that though Banda won the battle of Srihand in 1712, he was soundly defeated, captured and brought to Delhi and executed in a barbaric way. Similar is the case of Shivaji, who is greatly lionised in Mahrashtra. The fact is in successive battles with the imperial army of Aurangzeb led by Raja Jai Singh, he was soundly defeated and his writ ran in just a few districts around Pune and Panvel. Yet,Shivaji is played up as a hero who won'great victories".
There is thus the stark reminder that overall for close to 900 years, the Hindus never had a hero who shook India, forget about a man like Alexander, who trod the known world at that time and left his imprint. Unfortunately eeh reformers who appeared on the scene like Guru Nanak, Namdev, Vivekananda and later Gandhi could not break the caste jinx, that has bedeviled Hindu society. They tacitly accepted caste and division of Hindu society that is now perpetuated by the present government for posterity till end of time.
The caste system is akin to aparthied as practcised by the white man and if the UN can take note of it, I see no reason why the UN cannot intervene in this matter. The caste system ensured that a large part of the populace were fobidden to bear arms on pain of death and thus in a war once the Kshatriyas were defeated there was no second line of defence as the poor Shudras and untouchables and traders just sat and watched , unable to lift a sword to smite the invador. There is thus the fact that the son of Mohammed of Ghor, advanced into India with a 500 horse regiment and reached Nadia in Bengal without any resistence. What a collosal indictment of the caste system and its effect on the psyche of the Hindus.
Now we are into the 21st century and for a change there is Hindu rule. But looking back at the track record of 1100 years( Including 200 years of English rule) is not inspiring. The Indian have to search for heroes during this period. Unfortunately there are none available and hence the Hindus have built up medicore men like the ones mentioned above as great men.
History is a great leveller and even now the Indians have not learnt any lessons and the old divisions of society are accepted. Caste still rules. A bigger effect is on the psyche of the Hindu race which after centuries of subjugation can only think of tolerence and secularism, in a way which slants in favor of a minority. Untill and ulnless we shed this mind set, where is the chance that India can be a great power? We will not be able to obliterate caste also and thus there is every chance that only a revolution like the French 1789 and Russian 1917 can lead India out of this morass. We certainly don't need Gandhi or Vivekanand, but more dynamic men who can lead India into 22nd century.