It was the constitution and laws that unified the Hindu society.


The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Central Government have cleverly started trying to redefine their political antics by starting a debate on the Uniform Civil Code. To what extent it will be successful in this, only the future will tell. Although the obligation to prepare a Uniform Civil Code and implement it throughout the country emanates from the Directive Principles of the Constitution, this effort has been made only in the name of the Constitution, without considering the implications of imposing a uniform code on a multi-religious and multicultural society. Support cannot be given blindly. In this context, it would also be appropriate to take a look at the consequences of applying the Hindu Marriage Law to the non-Muslim and non-Christian population of the country. These results are clear to us today. It should be noted that the responsibility of passing and implementing the Hindu Marriage Act was carried out by personalities like Dr. Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru who were strong critics of Hindu nationalist ideology. It is ironical that this law made from a completely non-religious and modernist point of view has resulted in imposing such a legal equality on Hindus. This has inadvertently prepared the ground for the success of the Hindu nationalist project. If one marriage law is implemented on the whole country, then what will be its result-a rough idea of ​​it can be made by looking at these results. I have discussed these things and illustrations earlier in this column. But the exigencies of the situation compel me to repeat them. So that, in the new situation, the politics related to the Civil Code can be properly thought about.

The Hindu Marriage and Hindu Succession Laws provide a legal definition of what it means to be a Hindu. This civil code was divided into two parts and passed by Nehru, so that the campaign of opposition going on within the Congress could be neutralized. The effect of this political success of Nehru probably turned out to be the opposite of his intention. Savarkar’s thesis is that all those whose holy land and ancestral land is India are Hindus. This thesis seems to be coming true in this legal definition of being a Hindu. The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 and the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 cover not only those who consider themselves to be Sanatani, Arya Samaji, Vaishnava, Shakta, Shaiva as well as Dwij and Shudra castes, but also all Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. also come. Not only this, this scope also takes Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs in its lap. The family life of these non-Hindu religions (whose holy land and ancestral land is India) is governed by Hindu law only. It would be interesting to note here what Dr. Ambedkar had to say on the subject: ‘When Law Minister Dr. Ambedkar first introduced the Hindu Code Bill in 1951, Sardar Hukum Singh, the spokesman for the Sikhs, described the bill as ‘Sikhs by Hindus’. Also seen as a dubious attempt to take in its own right’. To this Dr. Ambedkar replied: ‘The imposition of the Hindu code on Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains is the result of a historical development and is being objected to from a sociological point of view too late. When the Buddha disagreed with the Vedic Brahmins, he did so only in the context of the Dharmasara (creed). He had allowed the Hindu-legal structure to remain as it was. He did not enforce a separate law for his followers. So is the case with Mahavira and the ten Sikh Gurus. In 1830, the Privy Council had also decided that Sikhs would be governed by Hindu law only.

This is the reason why Ambedkar’s neo-Buddhist followers never objected to the legal category of being a Hindu after his conversion. The politics behind it also needs to be understood. The Neo-Buddhists did not have the status of a Scheduled Caste till the eighties, nor did they get the benefits of reservation. The ex-untouchables who converted to Sikhism were getting the benefits of reservation since the fifties. It was such an example that the followers of Ambedkar, who became a Buddhist, used to hope that eventually they too would be included in the Scheduled Castes. Late, but that’s what happened. In the nineties, by amending the constitution, it was decided to consider them as scheduled castes and give them reservation. In doing so, they became legally one of those Hindu castes who are believed to have been forced by tradition to practice unclean occupations. In this way, the Neo-Buddhists allowed themselves to be assimilated in the Hindu realm despite their conversion by accepting to be Hindus from the legal point of view.

It is also interesting to know what did Acbedkar himself say after rejecting Islam and Christianity and choosing Buddhism? His biographer Dhananjay Keer quotes him as saying: ‘I will choose the path least harmful to the country. By adopting Buddhism, I am doing the most good to the country, because Buddhism is a part of Indian culture. I have taken care that my conversion should not harm the culture and history of this land.’ Certainly, Ambedkar’s statement can at least be taken to mean that he had no objection to Savarkar’s formulation that Islam and Christianity are not Indian religions.

As soon as the religious communities rebelling against the Hindu tradition come under the legal Hindu ambit, the formation process of the Hindu majority gets further strengthened. According to a scholar studying the interplay of religion and law in independent India, the Indian government has accepted the definition of Hindu as given by Savarkar, if we look at the language of the constitution and subsequent laws. Hindu is one who is a follower of religions born in India. Thus there emerge two definitions of being a Hindu: one who is a Hindu by religion, and one who is a Hindu by law. Sociologist Dipankar Gupta has formulated how India’s liberal democracy has a hand in creating the Hindu majority that the Sangh Parivar insists on: ‘…what we call the Hindu ‘majority’ actually came into being after Independence. Thanks to these laws. Prior to their formation, the standards of not only marriage but also succession and guardianship differed from place to place in India and from one community to another. Somewhere the succession was decided by the Mitakshara system and somewhere by the Dayabhaga, and each of these systems had different schools of thought. Nor can it be denied that many matrilineal communities also had to accept this newly created uniform standard. … Before the mid-fifties, what were the Hindus if not strewn with a variety of customs? The community which we consider as a vast ‘majority’ today is the product of these laws and before them it did not exist. In other words, it can also be said that this ‘majority’ is a creation of liberal democracy. Many have come together under the watchful eye of the Constitution. Now in the new circumstances, it is a matter of thinking that what kind of adverse effect will the Uniform Civil Code (which will definitely try to present a uniform law for all adopting the modernist point of view) on India’s cultural, religious and religious diversity? Can

The writer is professor and director of the Archival Research Program in Indian Languages, Ambedkar University, Delhi.
, Pro. Abhay Kumar Dubey

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