The Misunderstood Hindu

Published July 2, 2014 by vishalvkale

As I noted in my previous post, the targeting of the BJP among a set of hardcore religious fundamentalist organisations, most with militant and armed wings – armed with the latest arms and weapons, with a history of armed struggle behind them – is highly suggestive, and confirms the stereotype the West holds us Indians, and especially Hindus, in, as well as underscores the colored glasses and biases held by the West towards Hindus. It pains me, a confirmed moderate, to use these words; but I now have no choice but to call it like it is. 

The list is extremely though provoking, and incites deep questions, disquieting questions, for the BJP is chosen as one among a series of hardcore fundamentalist organisations, equating the approach of the BJP with these organisations, all of rest of which have far more serious repercussions for the USA than the BJP; all with either a chequered or violent history, and all of them being from unstable nations, or Islamic nations, or nations in deep strife – or nations with established terrorism-supporting history. 

By clubbing the BJP with these, the USA has straightaway equated India with these nations – which makes for a wonderful reading : Pakistan, Venezuela, Egypt, Bolivia! India, with its established history of calm and peace, and focus on solving its own internal problems; India, with its non-aggressive culture, internal focus and non-expansionist mindset – is no threat to anyone, and cannot be called a flash-point either. We have proven the ability to sort out our own problems without crying or complaint. 

By targeting the BJP with such  an august list, one straight point has been irrevocably made – the West, especially the USA, does not understand Hinduism, and does not understand India, or its politics or its culture or even its ground realities. It further equates the BJP with they call fundamentalist Hinduism, which can be the only reason for this unacceptable clubbing. 

This can only happen when a nation’s internal realities are not understood by a super-power, and its culture is equated with other cultures. It just cannot see beyond its own narrow conceptualisation of the nation, of the state. It confuses Hinduism with other religions, and also confuses Indian nationality and internal truths with its own biased perceptions, without serious engagement with, or attempt to understand the truth. 

First, Hinduism is not equal to India, and India is not equal to Hinduism. One is a religion and the other a nation. We are a nation of several religions, all of which exist in complete equality. The special privileges to minorities are constitutionally protected, and the state does not equate itself with any religion. Neither does the majority religion – Hinduism make any attempt to do so. There are calls to dismantle some of these – true, but these are dealt with in true democratic fashion, which is our own internal right, as a sovereign nation. 

Hindus, or any of its “supposed” socio-cultural organisations do not target non-Hindus in India. Violent, systematic targeting and vicious targeting is all but absent and sporadic outbursts of violence do not deny this fundamental reality. In fact, the various sub-sects of the minorities peacefully exist in India – unlike any other country, including the USA. No religion is preferred; in fact, the minorities receive special privileges.  We Hindus can differentiate between our religion and our nation. 

Hinduism, even in its most aggressive avatar, isnt even a patch on some of the other fundamentalist scenes we see around the world, and especially so when compared to others on the list. The most aggressive avatar of Hinduism : 

  • does not provoke the spread of extermination; 
  • does not target minorities in the fashion of the others;
  • does not spread armed extremism as in the Islamic world; 
  • does not advocate any  set of oppressive laws; 
  • does not seek to build a political identity across political borders; 
  • does not seek to build a pan-Hindu identity; 
  • does not seek modern arms, or advocate militancy; 
  • does not exterminate populations; 
  • does not seek to spread outside India; 
  • and it does not differentiate between internal streams of thought in Hinduism – unlike the other major religions!

The entire focus of even the most fundamental Hindu is the recognition of India as a Hindu state – which, first of all, is devoid of any fundamentalist overtones as indicated above. The focus is internal – on India; and poses no international threat to any nation. This is an entirely Indian problem, with no one having any locus standi on it. We can deal with it internally, and have the institutions and laws to deal with this by our own selves without any intervention, as recent history has proven beyond any shade of doubt. 

The sad part is that historically, it is the Hindu identity that has been the most viciously targeted by 

  • oppression, 
  • suppression, 
  • external violence, 
  • forced conversion, 
  • destruction of places of worship,
  • denigration of and direct, targeted insults to the religion and its followers,
  • innuendo and false impressions,
  • torture and pain,
  • Racist intolerant views, and 
  • biased, one-sided portrayal of its practices combined with derisive and insulting coverage of its proponents

We have been suppressed for more than  hundreds of years, within our own land; we were forced into practically beggarly existence in the lap of our own mother. Despite this persecution, we opted for a secular polity in the interest of peace – with complete separation of religion and the state, unlike even the USA. We are still made fun of, poked at, derided and insulted on a routine basis by the Westerner in facebook posts, social media, news articles, books, news channels and newspapers. All bad happenings are still blown out of all proportion in international media, with its jaundiced, prejudiced and one-sided portrayal of India and Hinduism both. 

India is the only land where all Islamic sects enjoy peaceful co-existence. India is the only land where all religions enjoy a peaceful coexistence, without state discrimination. And most critically, India is probably the only land most fundamentally impacted by the scourge of Islamic Terrorism. We live surrounded by enemies; we are the closest to Islamic terror. Not only that, we also have the highest {or second-highest} population of Muslims in the world. And yet, By The Grace Of The Lord, India is the one nation that has remained relatively at peace when the rest of the Islamic world goes up in flames!

You will not find a Hindu poking fun at other religions, or questioning them, or deriding them. At least, not as much as others, especially westerners. The Hindu will not intervene in other religions – at times, even when it impacts his or her own practices. This is a tribute to my religion and its openness that allows fundamental thoughts to coexist with moderate & even liberal thoughts, and compete with each other without dogmas and dictats of any kind. It is a further tribute to my land as well as my religion, which ensures peace for all religions.

Despite all this persecution, derision and misunderstandings, The Hindu remains resolute in his faith, non-violent, calm, difficult to arouse, and internally focused. Yes, we have problems – and big ones. Yes, there have been incidences of sectarian violence, which is sad especially considering our tolerance. But what is more important is that we are dealing with these issues on our own, within our own laws, without disturbing other nations. And the people- including The Hindus themselves – are probing, questioning and self-examining. We do not want trouble; there are forces active who are questioning the background, and taking-  or trying to – take corrective action.

Be it Hindus, or Muslims, or Christians, Or Sikhs… we Indians are dealing with our own problems within our own land without disturbing anyone. This is a tribute to followers of all Religions of this Great Land. And this makes us more mature, developed and calm a people than any other nation on Earth. That is the key : without disturbing or involving anyone. If we are wrong, we will pay for it. If we are right, we Indians will reap the benefit. The message : Stay the hell out of our problems. We can deal with them!

It is crystal clear, and has been for some time now, that the USA as well as most of the West continues to map its own perceptions on our internal realities, and confuse right-wing politics and/or what they love to call Hindutva with Fundamentalism. It is a known fact that even the most aggressive Hinduism is not even a patch on other religions, as I observe above. My advice to all such ladies and gentlemen : make an effort to understand Hinduism, its history, its internal realities. You dont have even an iota’s worth of concept of what we are, how advanced we are in our thoughts, and how positively ridiculous your suspicions are. Try and understand us- in place of deriding us – which, incidentally reveals more regarding your nature and exposes you more than us!

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