Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Why War and At What Cost?

"yūnān-o-misr-o-romā, sab miṭ gaye jahān se
ab tak magar hai bāqi, nām-o-nishān hamārā"

When faced by the onslaught of the invading armies in the eighth century, both the ancient cultures of Egypt and Persia were completely wiped off the face of the earth, while the Hindu culture somehow survived. Surely there is some redeeming quality in our culture which other civilizations lacked.

The above couplet is from the well known tarana-e-hind by Allama Iqbal, penned years before he changed his mind about co-existence with infidels.

A lesser known fact is that Pakistan's first national anthem was written by a Lahore based Hindu, Jagan Nath Azad who later migrated to India when his personal safety could no longer be guaranteed by his Muslim friends and well wishers. The interesting thing is that Jinnah himself insisted that Pakistan's Qaumi Tarana be written by a Hindu. This was in line with his view that with time, Pakistan would mature to become a secular nation. Those were his exact words: "Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State."

The Pakistan that exists today has receded back to the mentality that pervaded the various invaders of our subcontinent throughout the last 1400 years. This is not the Pakistan that Jinnah envisioned. The entity which exists today and calls itself Pakistan is one which thinks in terms of Jihad and Taqqiyah.

We are not concerned with how this came about. What we are concerned with is that this state will and is using all available options at its disposal to first weaken and ultimately dismember our nation. We are at war, whether we like it or not, and neither the battleground, nor the tactics are of our choosing.

The terror spree at Mumbai is just one facet of the war that is forced upon us. The other facets are evident in our troubled North-Eastern States and the Sikh unrest of the eighties which was armed and funded by Pakistan as well as the constant trouble in Kashmir.

Our much maligned father of the nation is on record as saying that "I WOULD risk violence a thousand times rather than risk the emasculation of a whole race." and "I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence... I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honor than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor."

The question that we are faced with now is when we are at war, whether declared or undeclared, should we retaliate or not? I think Mahatma Gandhi has answered that question for us. And this is no ordinary war, it is a war of survival because the enemy’s sole objective is to destroy us as a nation and dismember us.

The political climate in our country is not conducive for a war at the moment because we are headed for a general election soon and the army needs a few months to prepare for a sustained war anyway. Our diplomats too need time to build up international opinion. So I expect the war to be a few months away, when the army is fully prepared and if there is a willing coalition at the center.

This war has to be taken to its logical conclusion of forever eliminating the threat that we face, by dismembering Pakistan. because there is no middle way left. We simply cannot fool ourselves by talking about coexistence. It has to be a sustained war till our objectives are achieved. There is a high possibility that there will be heavy casualties and not just military. The civilian death toll is going to be high as well. Because when it finds itself in a corner, Pakistan is bound to use its nuclear arsenal. But should that deter us in our duty to eradicate the threat to our way of life and to our right to exist as an independent nation? I would say that no price is too heavy to pay when it comes to that.

The whole essence of the BhagvadGeeta for me is summed up in this shloka "karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachan..." which translated in English would be:

"You have a right to perform your prescribed action,but you are not entitled to the fruits of your action.
Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities,and never be associated to not doing your duty."


Vinod_Sharma said...

Sagarone, this is a brilliant paper, one of the best that can be found anywhere. You have captured the essence of the whole issue perfectly with perfect sanity. If anything, the title take away from the content. This is more than an answer to one may consider changing it.

Smitha said...

Sagarone, Great Post! Beautifullu articulated! Your point comes across very well indeed!

Vinod_Sharma said...

I have given a link to this great post in my post that you have linked here.

1conoclast said...


Is this the response you'd said you'd be putting up?

Even by itself it's brilliant!

It's rare that I come across something I haven't read/heard before, so the facts about Jagan Nath Azad & Jinnah that you've presented have enriched me. I'm taking something away from reading your post. :-)

I'd like to leave a few thoughts of mine:
1. The translation of Iqbal's couplet is a little off. It's my favourite patriotic song, by the way. I believe that a better song on India was never written!
2. Page 78 here gives us Gandhiji's whole essay for those interested.

3. I would still like to believe that if there is a way that we can get the job done without giving up lives of lakhs of soldiers & civilians, we should look for it. There is always another way. It's just that we're content to look at war as an option. If we look hard enough, we'll find a better way! They say that DhoonDne se toh Bhagwaan bhi mil jaate hain!, don't they?

4. Having said that I will admit that yours is the first post that has made me soften my anti-war stance. As I've expressed on my blog earlier, I've been confused about the war & non-violence argument for way too long, but your quoting Gandhiji on this, has made me rethink.
For far too long I have known Krishna's & Muhammad's & Moses' views on self-defence & righteous war. For far too long have I known how Jesus gave up his life & yet came out more triumphant than anyone else. For far too long have I longed to understand the depth of what Buddha & Mahaveer Jain preached.
Sure I'm still confused, but if all else fails, I believe that a self-preservation war is acceptable. Crucial of course is my if all else fails statement. I don't believe that we've tried everything else yet!

5. Gandhiji also said, that only the strong can display restraint, can forgive etc. That I think is from his 40 readings of the Gita. I'm surpised why people are not seeing the strength in our restraint. Is it because most of us recognize only a crushing of the opposition as a victory?

6. What was the original title of this post? :-)

manju said...

Wonderful post, Sagarone!

At present the war is being fought on our soil, with India sustaining casualties.
It is time to move the war to their soil, so the casualties, if there must be any, will be theirs not ours.

1conoclast said...


kuch baat hai ki hasti, miTtee nahi humaari,
sadiyon raha hai dushman, daur-o-zaman? humaara.

That's the following couplet. Put together they should translate as:

Greece (Yunan), Egypt (Misr), Rome (Roma), have all disappeared from this World,
Yet We still survive!
There's something about us, that our BEING doesn't fade away,
Despite Time & the World(?) having been our enemy for centuries!

Awaiting your response.

Sagarone said...

1con, I did not want to dwell too much on Iqbal as he has become the ideological father of the nation for quite a few Pakistanis and his work is being studied in a new light, or perhaps with a new set of blinkers by some Pak extremists. I too admire the tarana-e-hind and I do not think it has ever been surpassed.
But my reason for using the above couplet from it had the only relevance of highlighting the fact that while a Muslim wrote the de-facto Indian national anthem of the time, Jinnah had invited and insisted upon a Hindu writing Pakistan's national anthem. It is a tragedy that Pakistan was steered towards becoming a theocratic state instead of a secular one.

1conoclast said...

Thanks Sagarone.

Actually I was hoping you'd come back with a response to the points I'd made in the previous comment.

1conoclast said...


My endnotes:

1. Despite it being our favourite hymn to India (if I may call it that?), I disagree with Iqbal's uber-patriotism. One should be fair, poetic license, notwithstanding, right?

Iqbal claims that Greece, Egypt & Rome have all vanished from the face of this Earth, while we still survive. That is inaccurate as you obviously know.
Greece, Egypt & Rome remain. Their architecture still stands & attracts tourists from all over. Our ancient civilization's remnants lie in pakistan for the most part, the architecture in ruins in India, & whatever remains in mythology, legends or folklore.
What part of India surviving v/s the others is Iqbal talking about?

2. I've been waiting for your response. Since none has come, I've responded in post form like you. Your thoughts are solicited. :-)

Warm Regards.

Trailblazer said...

Superb Sagarone. Wonderful. You got the words out of my mouth.

If it's war, I am in. No matter what.