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One really wonders that if this conclave was to discuss the changing face of Hinduism or Hindutwa, why were known Hindu scholars like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and Sadhguru not invited? Instead, the invitee list comprises of known Hindu and BJP bashers from India and abroad. This puts the credibility of the conclave in the dumps even before it has even started….
~ Saroj Chadha.
The conference on ‘Dismantling Global Hindutwa’ starts in the USA on 10 September. One wonders how one can dismantle something that does not exist. At a time when right thinking people across the world should be finding ways and means on how to stop the rise of Fanatic Islam, Islamic terror and checkmate the global dream of an Islamic Caliphate, it is indeed surprising that they are focussing on Global Hindutwa which is a non-entity to say the least. Perhaps it is the fear of the Islamic backlash that prevents such people from discussing the real threats that the world faces today. Saroj Chadha
The official site of this conference has a write up on Hindutwa is not Hinduism, as they understand it, with a view to highlight the need for the conference. In the paragraphs below, the main issues raised by the organisers of this conference are reproduced in italics and highlighted. Each issue listed is followed by a reality check and commentary. The reader is encouraged to make his own judgement.
Hindu supremacists have made a concerted effort over several decades to equate their manufactured term “Hindutva” with Hinduism.
This is not true. Historically Hindus have never been supremacist or expansionists as has been the case with Islam and Christianity. These two religions continue to be in expansionist mode even today through coercion, force, inducements and infiltration in different societies. Hinduism has never had this dubious record. All that Hindus have done is to take some steps in last few years to protect Hinduism in the country of its birth without impinging on any other religion or the rights of its followers within the country. Strangely Hindu bashers term this as as expansionist.
Hinduism is more of a culture than a religion. Is there any country in the world that does not wish to consolidate its culture and heritage? Given India’s mass and its strides in development some nations, pseudo liberals, thinkers and leaders feel threatened that it will become a strong nation in not too distant a future. They wish to oppose this as none of them wants to see a strong and powerful India – the only country that is home to Hindus.
Hindutva is a political philosophy styled after European fascism of the early twentieth century, an ideology that privileges a cult of personality and authoritarian leadership.
Hindutwa is not a political philosophy by any stretch of imagination. Only a twisted and a convoluted mind would think so. Fascists in Europe aimed at cleansing their country of the entire Jewish race and sent millions to gas chambers, killing them in cold blood. That was an authoritarian and cult infected leadership. Any comparison of such leadership with the current democratically elected BJP leadership in the country can only be seen as desecration of Indian democracy. For many of them to remain relevant, India must remain poor, backward and beset with communal and other social problems.
Have Indian Hindus ever unleashed any pogrom against any other religion from ancient times to the present? On the contrary, Hindus in India have been credited with being accommodative of other religions. Jews, Zoroastrians and others have lived and thrived in India for centuries and stand testimony to Hindu philosophy of coexistence. Muslims feel more threatened in India today, not because their rights or privileges are being curtailed. It is because Hindus, who have been denied many rights and privileges for decades, are now demanding the same and the present government is not averse to correcting this wrong since minority appeasement is not part of their governance.
Any changes that the government brings in this regard are a result of a democratic process and not because of any authoritarian regime.
Hinduism has rightly been critiqued for the deep inequities in Indian society, most importantly for the caste system. Many Hindu reformers have also offered these critiques.
The caste system in India dates back to three thousand years ago. There is no doubt that it does not stand scrutiny today. The bulk of this caste system has already been dismantled in the last seven decades, only a part of it still remains. Efforts to eradicate it are underfoot. Are their no inequities in other nations of the world, including the USA where the Dismantling Global Hindutwa conclave is being organised? India has its share, but no other nation can perhaps match the ongoing efforts that India can boast of to eradicate such caste inequities. The fact that Hindu reformers, at the highest level, have been outspoken on such issues only showcases the inner strength of Hinduism and its willingness to reform, which is a positive sign.
Hindus, Muslims, and Christians have a history of praying at Sufi shrines, as well as in temples, mosques, and gurudwaras and other shrines.
There is no doubt that Hinduism encourages tolerance and coexistence with other religions. So, many Hindus have no hesitation in visiting and praying at places of worship of other religions. But any assumption that the same is true for Christians and Muslims is only blasphemy. If any, their numbers will be minuscule as compared to Hindus since the orthodoxy and intolerance of Islam and Christianity prevent their followers from doing so.
There is also much borrowing from Hinduism into other religions practiced in India. These are the rich histories of Hinduism that Hindutva seeks to obliterate and disavow.
Nearly all Muslims and Christians in India have converted from Hinduism over the last few centuries. Therefore, it is natural that they still carry forward a lot from the religion that their forefathers practiced for thousands of years, which is evident in their lifestyles. The assumption that Hindutwa seeks to obliterate such practices or heritage that is being carried forward has no legs to stand upon. Why would Hindutwa ever do that since it ensures that Indian Muslims and Christians continue to carry forward their Indianness? This assertion has been made with a view to painting Hindus in a bad light and to add credence to the erroneous assumption that Hindus, through Hindutwa, are anti other religions.
Hindutva refuses these critiques, as well as such syncretic faiths, and instead doubles down on using supremacist tools in the service of a toxic and genocidal unifying theory of a “Hindu Rashtra”. Hindutva demands an unquestioned allegiance to a mythoriented, hate-mongering dogma that reifies and sanctions its violent modes of operation.
Watch also: Dr Subramanian Swamy & Shri Rajiv Malhotra discuss Hinduphobia in US Universities.
This is a toxic statement that talks more about the perverted mindset of those who subscribe to it than those at whom it is targeted. History is witness to the fact that Hinduism has thrived on reconciliation and fusion with other faiths over centuries without demanding any such concessions from them in return. Pluralism has always been the strength of Indian society and continues to be so even today. The Indian constitution separates religion from government and that ensures that there is no need for unquestioned allegiance to any religion or dogma.
The government has never used any supremacist tools, under the guise of Hindutwa, to unify the entire country under one faith or focussed on making India a Hindu nation. So, the question of a toxic and genocidal theory can only be termed as a figment of the imagination of devious minds.
Every government initiative in the last seven years has benefitted Hindus and Muslims alike. To get a real feel of the impact of supremacist tools, one has only to go and live in a country that has Islam as its official religion and live like a second-rate citizen.
Hinduism on the other hand is the name of the ancient Hindu religion of India that goes back over five thousand years and continues to flourish even today. Its survival for so long is because of its inherent strengths of assimilation, tolerance and the ability to evolve constantly with time. The absence of rigid dogmas and the recognition of the right of an individual to practice the faith of his choice are the hallmarks of this great and ancient religion. Hinduism does not denounce any other religion nor does it consider those not practicing Hinduism as infidels or kafirs. No other religion can boast of such strengths.
The relationship between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism and Christianity and Christian fundamentalism are established facts over centuries. Both these religions are creed centric while Hinduism is not. Hinduism, and therefore Hindutwa, are pluralistic in spirit and deed. So, by default Hindutwa is devoid of religion. It is an ideology which seeks to unite all those who consider Bharat as their land and believe that their ancestors were sons of this sacred soil. Hindutwa aims to promote cultural unity. Any linking of this term to extreme right is the brain child of those who either believe in minority appeasement or thrive on Hindu bashing. This has resulted in Hindutwa being seen erroneously as a political ideology of the Hindu right, and as a corollary, that of BJP.
Watch also: This unique narration on Hindutva by Kapil Mishra (Founder of Hindu EcoSystem)
If the learned scholars organising and attending this conclave are scared of the cry of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ as mentioned on the site, one wonders what happens to them when they hear the cry of ‘Allah Hu Akbar’. India’s plural democracy is here to stay and will flourish, minor hiccups notwithstanding. Any fears in this regard are unfounded. Claiming that nonHindus, Dalits, Adivasis, sexual minorities, and even Hindu women are all targets of Hindutwa is perhaps aimed at destabilising India and ensuring that its progress is stalled. One really wonders that if this conclave was to discuss the changing face of Hinduism or Hindutwa, why were known Hindu scholars like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and Sadhguru not invited? Instead, the invitee list comprises of known Hindu and BJP bashers from India and abroad. This puts the credibility of the conclave in the dumps even before it has even started.
(Author Saroj Chadha served in the Indian Army as a technical officer for 23 years and opted for premature retirement in 1991. Operational service includes 1971 India-Pakistan war in high altitude sector and two years in counterinsurgency operations in northeast).
The article was first published in his blog Blunt and Frank in TOI on Sept 10, 2021. Views are personal.