Understanding the intricacies of decolonial dharmic indigeneity

The impact of colonization leaves an indelible print in the mind of the colonized as generation after generation turns their back on their own culture.

Understanding the intricacies of decolonial dharmic indigeneity

“Emancipation is the liege’s nightmare. He tightens the shackles with every tremble of his ego. But little did the lord know, that the ocean cannot be chained.”

Dharma is the sacred water that nourishes the existence of Her beloved children with Her lotus of pure beatitude. This consciousness that liberates the disconcerted is a fearsome menace to the hegemon who wallows in his timidity. He thus makes stringent attempts to curb Her ethos, but only in vain.

Decoloniality is not just the extermination of colonialist clutches suffocating the being of the free Indigenous, it is the realization of the inestimable divinity our ancestors left behind, that which our Gods gently bless. Taking humble baby-steps globally, decolonization has become the sacred revolution against the established order of the exclusivist overlord who seeks to attain and retain absolute supremacy of the “civilized” monotheistic doctrine by erasing the harmonious, beguiling polytheistic fluidity of the “savage heathen”. Whether it blooms in the serene reservations of the children of Turtle Island whom the Great Spirit lovingly protects, or on the resilient streets of East St. Louis where the Jazz trumpets sing a song of freedom, or within the saffron-clothed omniscient chanting the glorious mantra of the Brahmān itself. This is the resurgence, the rejuvenation of the heavenly brook that was on the verge of drying up. The recognition of the Himalayan grandeur of the civilizational culture we are the remnants of, which seeks to embrace this era with peace, love and humility, just like it did in times of antiquity.

In simpler words, India has been the land that has suffered and survived probably all, and arguably one of the worst kinds of colonialism there exists. For an unwitting person, exfoliating the innumerable layers of torment and trauma inflicted by the supremacist bigots would understandably be a difficult process. Hence, it is key to perceive the context and consequence with the best possible accuracy, and most importantly, empathy.

The Colonizer-Indigenous status quo is not always determined on the basis of ancestral ethnicity, simply because the causal factor which coagulates this relation is not always genetic or ancestral. Let’s examine what this essentially means.

The most familiar kind of colonialism is settler; the kind that the whole of North and South America has experienced, where the colonizers, the European-Christians, physically moved to, rather invaded the continents in mass numbers, displacing and murdering the ancestrally and culturally indigenous population, and finally permanently settling there by usurping the lands of the Indigenous people. In this case, there is a fundamental racial difference between the two groups, the Euro-Christian colonizer and the Indigenous population. Thus, even the primary basis of subjugation was henceforth race; the genetic composition of the ethnic groups, alongside definitely the cultural basis as well. Therefore, in such a scenario, the historical and even current ground for discrimination is mostly race; since even the racial minorities now who face this kind of social and systemic oppression primarily belong to the same religion as the Colonizer’s.

However, in the case of India, the proportion and nature of the colonization was different. There were two major phases of colonization. First, the Islamic, and second the Euro-Christian one. Although settler colonialism was practised to an extent, it was exceeded by a much-less talked about kind of colonialism, that the academic and socio-political institutions globally do not completely acknowledge as yet for ulterior motives. This kind of marginalisation is called Transmissive Colonialism, a concept and terminology that I have coined and am writing a research paper on.

Transmissive Colonialism is when the religio-cultural and socio-economic together with political-systems are imposed on the subjugated Indigenous by the Colonizer, with the aim of erasing or destroying the Indigenous cultural traditions and replacing them with those of the Colonizers. The Americas too, have faced this in wide proportions where the Black and Indigenous communities were forcibly converted to Christianity. The process of the destruction of a culture to achieve this colonization is called ethnocide, also known as cultural genocide. There are several means to achieve this goal, a few of which have been discussed here in this article of mine. Some unfortunately popular examples of Transmissive Colonialism are Christian Evangelism, Islamic Jihad and forcible conversions. The reason I have called it “Transmissive” is because this kind of cultural erasure might not compulsorily lead to any racial or physical changes in the region’s demography, since a person belonging to a group ancestrally can belong to a separate religious-cultural group. Settler Colonialism generates Transmissive Colonialism, but the vice-versa may not be true.

Similar to how Indian Muslims trace their ancestry back to the native Hindus but adhere to the religious-cultural structures of the Islamic Colonizers who forcibly converted the Hindu population to Islam on the condition of sparing their lives with minimal dignity if the ‘infidels’ agreed to do so. There was a relatively less proportion of settler colonialism practised in India when compared to the extent of transmissive colonialism, where an immeasurable number of Hindus were converted to colonizing Abrahamic faiths. So much so that countries that were once completely Dharmic in religious-culture were transformed into ninety-eight percent Muslim majority nations, officially recognised today, that not only normalise but celebrate Islamic colonialism.

Hence, in the context of India, where the Indigenous people themselves are from diverse groups, the determinant factor of indigeneity is therefore religious-culture, not race, because the colonialism perpetrated was via the ‘transmission’ of cultural systems.

This is precisely the reason why the Indo-Aryan Migration Theory was popularized; for the sole purpose of discrediting the indigeneity of the Sanatani Dharmic people by declaring the practitioners to be the descendants of “foreign Brahminical oppressors”, thus assigning a foreign identity to Hinduism and therefore sequestering away any administrative or institutional recognition of the same as aboriginal and thus worthy of systemic protection and dignity.

Dharmic Indigeneity is the realization-generated response to thirteen-hundred years of brutalisation, rape, torture, land usurpation, destruction of temples, deliberate mistranslations of the Shastras, genocide, ethnocide, social, economic religious-cultural and political subjugation. It is a movement to unify all the Indigenous Naturalist religious-cultures of India, including the Sikh, Jain and Buddhist traditions, into a sovereign collective, wherein all the native traditions are provided with organizational safeguarding, social acknowledgement and political representation, across the nation’s length and breadth. The government has taken laudable measures to protect the Indigenous Donyi-Polo Dharma of the state of Arunachal Pradesh, a move which must become a trend.

Sanatana Dharma is the soul-child of Bharat Maa, the quintessence which makes one conscious of the sacredness the earth harbours. The trees and the valleys aren’t mere creations, they are the self-manifested divinity itself. That Dharma was born in this land is an undeniable fact, and any rhetoric dismissing this is birthed out of the same colonial Islamist/Euro-Christianist zeal of egocentric monoculturalism that follows the dogma of ideological monopoly by rejecting and demonizing other cultural existences, thus feeling overburdened to “humanise” the “uncivilized” by leading him to the “only one true God”.

Dharmic Indigeneity is the expression of liberation; religious-cultural self-determination of the marginalized worshippers of the Sanatan, who are still gravely ostracized not only by structural vices, but also by several outlets of the neocolonial mass media both domestically and abroad (unabashedly so), academic narratives, agonizing organisational neglect from human rights advocates when it’s a Hindu being hacked to death, and not to mention the sheer psycho-social torment faced by the Dharmic people not just in Islamic countries next-door, but right here in the Dharmic homeland.

Indigeneity doesn’t just mean the quality or the essence of being native towards a particular region, it means the sacred relationship the Indigenous share with the green grasses, the rivers, the muddy earth that cradled them in their lap. It means a psycho-spiritual consciousness which awakened a religious-culture that was organic, one that birthed itself, and did not impose itself on another, let alone try and erase it. Dharma is the indigenous melody which is the syncretic pinnacle of all the sublime traditions of Bharat that embraced one another and rejoiced in each other’s infinite bliss.

Dharma does not seek to threaten the Abrahamic minorities of Bharat. Dharma which is all-encompassing will welcome all Her children with love and will ensure the retention of their religious specifications. However, what Dharma does not tolerate is any trace of bigotry. And unfortunately, the colonialist mindset that prevails amongst the Abrahamic religious minorities has been the result of repetitive indoctrination which our brothers and sisters have experienced. The assertion of Dharmic Indigeneity is a methodology to eradicate this supremacist notion, such that true secularism can prevail and all can ultimately break bread in wholesome brotherhood, and commence a new era of peace.

About Author: Divyanshi Sharda

Divyanshi is a student of humanities with a keen interest in writing on Indigenous Indic traditions, socio-politics, and decoloniality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.