Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 6 (Jan-Mar 1984) p. 6.


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stating the coexisting constituents. It permits the very reasonable theme - within the framework of which could be worked out a variety of details - that in varying degree continuity and change coexisted in the same person or groups of persons. As it has been understood, this persistence would permit a thematic or chronological divide in a particular ordering of continuity and change. But this leaves the very essence of social consciousness untouched.

That this is so was revealed to me by nineteenth-century Indain literature. It demonstrated that not at different points in time - the chronological divide - and not with regard to different issues - the thematic divide - but at any point in time and with regard to the same issue there was a dialectic coexistence of continuity and change. It also showed that contradictory responses to the same issues constituted the structure of social attitudes. The three basic indicators selected for closer analysis were the attitudes towards social reform, the Muslim question, and the colonial connection. Late nineteenth-century Hindi literature reflected the simultaneity of favourable and adverse reactions in the attitudes of the same persons to these issues. The picture was confirmed by the Gujarati literature of the period. There seems no prima facie reason to dismiss this convergence as mere coincidence, more so because available translations from other Indian languages point to a wider convergence.

The present paper proposes to examine, on the basis of late nineteenth century Hindi literature, the ambivalence of the Hindu attitudes towards the Muslims. In the process I shall seriously question the way I had viewed this material when I first wrote on the subject four years ago. Such an auto-critique emphasizes the dilemma caused by the enmeshing of the empirical and the conceptual in the act of cognition (presuming, also, a minimal inseparability between ideology and conceptualization). For, this auto-critique is occasioned not by the discovery of additional evidence but by a modification of the conceptual frame.

In the first, now impugned, paper I had posited a binary relationship between national consciousness and communal consciousness. The position is, of course, defensible. If not theoretically, as a heuristic gambit at least the two categories can be oppositionally situated. They may be so conceived also for idealizing nationalism. While the position that nationalism is an ideology for rationalizing dominant group interests, could not have been motivated by the latter impulse, the upshot of this position was the introduction, in the paper, of a harsh, even if unintended, judgmental tone; and a failure to realise that in actual historical situations national consciousness and communal consciousness could well be complementary categories.

In a society having caste and religion as the key units of social differentiation, national consciousness could hardly have meant the obliteration of traditional social unities.3 The former had to have some relationship or the other with the latter. As it was, the relationships ranged from mutual sustenance to hostility and exclusiveness. At one level of his examination of these relationships the

6 January-March 1984


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