/“Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,/
/Stains the white radiance of Eternity.”/
Shelley was never more wrong, but to that I shall return.
Currently, one of the “burning issues” on media channels here in India is what colour we may ascribe or not ascribe to terror. A conundrum, if there ever was one.
The matter has arisen from a comment made by the honourable Home Minister (read Minister of the Interior, incharge of “security” of the realm) to a conclave of senior law-enforcement officers on the state of alertness required of them in these troubled times.
Detailing the many sources and forms of terror that now bedevil the even march of the country towards progress and “development,” he made a politic or impolitic “depending on who is listening” reference to a newer source of terror, namely, “saffron” terror, since many cases have come to notice since 2006 that involve terrorists aligned to organizations with classical Hindu names: Abhinav Bharat, Sanaatan Sanstha, Hindu Janjagruiti Manch and so on.
Individuals close to the RSS as well seem under scrutiny, while many are indicted and in jail.
At which the cry has gone up from predictable quarters that such a nomenclature is calculated to malign all Hindus, since saffron is a shade sacred to Hindus, and one that adorns Hindu rites and rituals. There is also the case that saffron forms the topmost strip of the national tricolour. That the tricolour also has a green (an Islamic hue) strip is another matter, and usually a discomforting reminder to the espousers of Hindutva who regard India as in essence a Hindu nation. Reason why the RSS refused to acknowledge the tricolour as the national icon till some two years after Independence, being then forced to do so as a quid pro quo to the release of its Chief from jail where he was placed after the murder of Gandhi.
So what are we to think and do?
The naming of names remains a fraught enterprise; and the current lot of protestors are right that many peace-loving and secular Hindus who oppose Hindutva the most are also likely to feel uncomfortable with the “saffron” allusion.
Such, infact, has been the argument adduced by civil society at large whenever Muslim names have come up during investigations into terrorist activity that rubrics like “Islamic terror,” or “Jehadi terror” etc., likewise malign some 99.9% of Muslims who equally oppose terror conducted in the name or on behalf of Islam. Never mind that the Hindutva brigade never quite admitted that argument until the boot came to be on the other foot.
Thus it came to be that on a talk show the other day, a happy resolution was found. Ergo, if terror has a colour, it can only be “black.”
Now, as any student of world history would know, black has been everybody’s bug bear. If among the Christian world, Satan is the Prince of Darkness, and all things evil happen by night (God, you remember, is the “Light”) among us dried-in the-wool Aryan sun-worshippers, it is no different. The authentic Brahmin brow has always been thought to be /“tejaswaie”/, to wit, burnished with light, since the Brahmin was anyway born of Brahma’s brow, and the shades got darker with declension into the shoulders, the limbs, and the feet, as the lower orders of castes also emerged. You can see why some historians should conclude that the genesis of the Indian caste system lies in a racial idea (/“varna” /in Sanskrit literally meaning colour).
Now if all terror, in essence, is “black,” it must be concluded that the chief terrorist sits in the Whitehouse, not to speak of the whole continent of Africa and wherever else black folks live and do good work. Not a workable idea, you would concede.
Which brings me to my own take.
Any good Physicist will tell you that black is infact the most unmixed and uncontaminated of colours, wholly itself and none other.
And that the colour that has gone down in history as the purest of the pure is the one, in scientific fact, that harbours a conglomerate of colours, namely White.
No finer lay evidence for that startling fact than the rainbow. It is when white light is refracted that them colours can be seen which make up the “white.”
Now apply that discovery to the history of the world and you might get a colossal rainbow of terror — 50 million dead in the slave trade (all black), millions during the colonization of the Americas, of Africa, and of Asia, hundreds of thousand in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 6 million we are told in the Holocaust, millions in the Gulag, hundreds of thousand again in Vietnam (ah that saffron Agent Orange), a million or more again in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who knows what is to come.
And all under the camouflage of the colourless (sic) White, with the black, the brown, the pale, and all shades in-between at the receiving end.
I say therefore that be it the red, the black, or the green, or the saffron varieties of terror, they are all midwifed by the great White. That is the one that has the hugest of Jaws, and the most insatiable appetite for violence and grab. Is it a surprise that many hopefuls worldwide who had expected peaceful and peace-loving things from Barrack Obama today conclude that he is proving to be just another White, after all?
What the lovely Shelley seems not to have known is that the “many-coloured glass” of his lament is indeed the manifest of Eternity which he supposed to be an unsullied White.
If you have a better case, do let me know.