Are the non-aggressive, tolerant attitudes of Hindus a liability, so much so that many of them have become victims of apathy, conspiracy and forced displacement in their own homeland. Ref: Kashmiri Pandits, Col Purohit, Sadhwi Pragnya. #hindusvictimised – Thus goes the topic for Indispire Edition167
The premises are definitely wrong. I say this not only in the context of Hindusim, but also in the context of any other religion.
In the western media and intellectual circles, the liberal use of words like ‘Islamic Terrorism’ and ‘Islamophobia’ has become fashionable these days. It gives an impression that any adherent of the religion must match such characteristic. Thus, the vast majority of Muslims who lead their life as normal responsible citizens get tinged with these negative characteristics. It also undermines the humanistic and mystic contribution of many liberal groups like the Sufis.
Terrorism and other aggressive means are used either by an individual or a group of individuals, quite often for their own vested interests. However, these individuals or groups associate themselves with a religion or a few selected tenets of religion (twisting the tenets out of context) to give their activities a kind of legitimacy. This does not mean all the followers of that religion or ideology subscribe to such hardliner views.
In fact, it is India that has been the victim of ‘jihadi’ terrorism much more than the west. Yet, in our country, neither in mainstream media, nor in intellectual circle do we use the word ‘Islamic terrorism’. It may appear this shows our maturity as a democracy.
But the double standards of our so called secular intellectual circles are evident. Of late, there has been liberal use of the word ‘Saffron Terror’ and ‘Intolerance’ to indicate as if the country is infested with Hindu Militants. Such double standards show that the mainstream media is subjugated to some forces that want to give an impression, ‘Look, this religion as a whole qualifies to be associated with negative attributes associated with extremism and intolerance’.
In fact a campaign has already started to bring words like ‘Hindu Militancy’, ‘Hindu Phobia’ , ‘Hindu Intolerance’ and other such terms to mainstream narrative so as to tinge the religion and all its followers with this negative connotation. It is in this context that I have used the hash tag hidusvictimised.
Once again, to make my stand clear, I strongly feel that it is never the whole of the religion (let it be any religion) that is to be blamed because a few adherents of the religion, to fulfill their own megalomaniac tendencies and other human afflictions like excessive greed and lust, use violence in the pretext of religion or some of its tenets.
This said, it is also worthwhile to examine specific allegations made against Hinduism to prove its nature of intolerance and tendency of violence. Those who bring these allegations, like the proverbial elephant judging blind men hand pick a few partial events that suits their preconceived notions and ignore the vast body of evidences and events that would depict a different story.
One important factor that should be kept in mind while making any evaluation concerning Hinduism is that it is a dynamic religion, or, what Rajiv Malhotra in his book ‘Indra’s Net’ calls a religion with an ‘open architecture’. It means the tenets and practices of Hinduism are not frozen across time and space. Hinduism today is vastly different from the Hindu practices and principles that prevailed even a couple of centuries back. All the Dharmic religions (religions that originated in India), due to close interaction with one another, assimilated many elements of each other over a period of time and these religions still continue to evolve, discarding certain elements and taking up new ones.
If Chandashok was the epitome of violence, Dharmashoka was the epitome of compassion. Had there been no transformation of Ashoka in the aftermath of the Kalinga war, the war itself would have been forgotten being just another war of an ambitious emperor. Kalinga war gained prominence in history because of the transformation of Chandashoka to Dharmashoka.
How many rulers in history went through such transformation? Did it happen with the Alexanders of that era whose hunger for power continued till their last days. Did such transformation happen with any of the Islamic rulers whose violence both at the time of conquest and during their rule surpassed all inhuman treatments imaginable.
The Hindu aggression that we see manifested in the form of Shivaji and other warriors of the Mughal era was a secondary and defensive aggression in the sense that it was in response to counter the aggression and atrocities of the Mughal rulers.
It may be worth while to note that, during Military campaigns, Shivaji forbade his soldiers to kill women and children and destroy Mosques. This was in contrast to the aggression of the Mughals and their predecessors who killed indiscriminately and destroyed thousands of temples. In fact many of the Mosques that stand today have been built out of destroyed temples.
Same way, when events like Godhra are discussed, our so called secularists conveniently forget the events that led to the incident. To be specific, the incident of the burning of innocent Hindus in the railway coach is kept out of discussion, as if loss of Hindu lives do not matter. The issue of the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits and their displacement from their homeland is not given as much importance in our national narrative as the loss of lives post Godhra incident. Same way, the regular destruction of thousands of temples, post independence, not only in Pakistan and Bangladesh, but also in our own country do not find mention even in the eighth page of our newspapers. These activities continues to happen even to day. On the other hand, the destruction of a dilapidated unused Mosque in a prominent place of pilgrimage for the Hindus, continues to drive the anti Hindu debate in our mainstream narrative.
Our journalists continue to target Hindu religious and spiritual leaders, blowing out of proportion any seeming error committed by them, quite often without even verifying the facts. Going by the trends in the last couple of years, it seems Bollywood too has joined the bandwagon of Hindu bashing. This is evident not only from the statements made by some celebrities, but also from the kind of movies being made. In some of the block busters of last couple of years, criminals, terrorists and Pakistanis have been shown to be somehow more humane than Hindu spiritual leaders.
Quite often the ground reality may be quite different from the picture attempted to be projected by a section of our intellectuals and journalists. No doubt these groups have their own vested interests clothed in secular ideals. When the debate about intolerance was at its height of attention in the mainstream media, I went around the streets of India, like the jesting Pillate searching for truth. But, I was as disappointed as the Pillate of ancient Greece. I could not find any trace of intolerance among the common men in the streets of India.
I have put forth some facts and historical contexts to bring to light those sides of the events that we pretend to forget. Now, it is for the reader to decide – considering the tenets of Hinduism and taking into account its overall history, are the Hindus as intolerant as the so called secular intellectuals would like us to believe?