Even as “Potter Mania” overtakes India, the American Senate has been overtaken by Hindu-Vedic mantras. Fascinating conjuncture.
Fascinating because the conjuncture invites such diverse reads, depending on where and how we are located as historical subjects.
The most obvious read, of course, was instantly available in the Senate house itself. Two women and a man had this to say as Rajan Zed, the saffron draped Hindu priest, stood up to chant the good chant: “Lord Jesus, protect us from this abomination.” And, “we shall have no gods before you.”
And, remarkably, at the high-noon of “born-again” assertion among wide swathes of American society, rather than applauding the three good Christians, the marshall was ordered to arrest them. Martyrs of an older vintage indeed.
A second read must be how the empire now writes back, not just in literary-historical form but in the matter of worship.
Clearly, if in the first instance—where it concerned British colonial hegemony—the empire has been writing back as an intellectually self-confident underdog, in the case of the American Senate the occurrence must be seen to issue from a position of clout. A clear case of Hindu NRI dollar endowments translating into spiritual capital.
It would be hard to imagine a more emphatic cementing of the Bush-Indian NRI nexus.
Interestingly, this is how a somewhat innocent Senate majority leader, Harry Read, has commented on the event: “If people have any misunderstanding about Indians and Hindus, all they have to do is to think of Gandhi.”
Poor Mr.Read hardly seems to have any idea that the last Indian that the dollar-guzzling Hindu-NRIs have in mind is Gandhi. More to their purposes the missile scientists and the anti-muslim war-mongers.
Speaking of which, the thought must be in many minds how the gesture that the American Senate has made to “Indians and Hindus” is amenable as a politics to truly peace-making purposes. Imagine what Gandhian strides could be made as between Huntington’s “civilizations” were the Senate now to make its podium available to a Muslim cleric as well. Looked at from a doctrinal perspective, Islam and Christianity, after all, share much more history and many more points of belief than they together do with Hindu “transcendentalism” or “mysticism.”
Alas, of course, such an eventuality seems hardly in the offing. Something that underscores the point that the Vedic incursion into the Christian senate has had less to do with faith, everything to do with advancing the “strategic alliance” between India and the United States.
Recalling Gandhi, we recall the all-religions prayer meetings he used to hold routinely. Surely, Mr.Read may be trusted to know this.
Now if Indians are to be identified with Gandhi, what could be more logical a follow-up to the path-breaking Senate initiative than for the Indian parliament to reciprocate by inviting a Christian padre and a Muslim cleric to replicate that initiative.
Clearly, we secularists and agnostics who oppose the admixture of state and religion are not too enthused by what the Senate in the United States has chosen to do. Nor would we anything but oppose were something similar attempted here.
But the question we ask is would Hindu NRIs who have been behind the Vedic assertion in the Christian senate welcome a reciprocal gesture by the Indian parliament? And if they would not—as is more than likely—how might that refusal, however expressed, be justified?
All of which speaks to the same text: in the first, last, and ultimate analysis, it is money that matters, stupid.
The gods of any denomination merely toe the line.