Thursday, April 14, 2016

Politicization Of Religion in India - The Hindu Unrest

Someone posted a blog on IBN-LIVE asking why Hinduism should not evolve with current modern world? It further stressed on politicization of Hindu religion and the fact of Hindu unrest by quoting Salman Rushdie. While I do not think Hindu unrest is yet a worrying factor, it may turn out to be a violent movement if politicization of religion in India is not discontinued immediately. I'll attempt to answer why I think so.


Quest is Hindu is Quest

The blog asking if Hinduism/Hindutva amounts to fundamentalism and why are Hindus becoming intolerant etc was penned by some IBN-LIVE journalist named Sagarika Ghose (Twitter Handle @SagarikaGhose).


I will first put up some of her questions that she asked about politicization of Hinduism and its evolution requirements in modern world. I guess she missed quoting other forms of religions politicization such as Muslim Appeasement and special packages for other Muslims and certain Christian communities. I too will leave out those in this blog post and cover them later.


Basically, her blog has three main points:

1. Politicization of Hindutva

2. Rising Hindu Uprising/Intolerance

3. And finally a set of more questions of whether or not Hinduism/Indianism should evolve to become what I comprehended as being more liberal.


I am working on the first two questions in this post as they are more similar and relevent to each other. I will need more space to write about evolution hence will cover it in a different post but the answer is yes, we did evolve. How else do you think Hinduism/Indianism survived all through the time? All other older cultures, Mayans for examples, stuck to their principles and vanished. If arguments are required, I will present them where I discuss evolution of Hinduism - as said earlier, in a different blog post.


When Did Hinduism/Indianism Start?


Maybe carbon dating could have helped.
But we did not keep all records of Hindu culture.
Just that some of them managed to reach
current generation in form of reflections by others

The first two questions about politicization of Hinduism/Indianism and the rising intolerance of Hindus bring up similar arguments. As far as I know, Hinduism has been tolerant for ages. It is only the last few decades that have seen an increased movement in Hindu culture. That is more because of politicization of the Hindus. The Hindu culture dates back to .... well, there is no record for that.


Ramayan was written some 900,000 years ago. This, again, was not determined by the pages of the book but by determining the carbon dating of artifacts mentioned in the Ramayana. Vedas came much before that. We did not keep all the records and much of the knowledge regarding to all that ancient science was lost - they were not handed over to lower generations. I did some research on what probably happened to all that science and will present it a separate blog post.


Politicization Of Hindutva

Coming back to this post, Hindutva/Indianism was unadulterated till some centuries ago. I will not pick up caste etc issues here else it will be a too long post. I am speaking about overall culture that was common across castes. That had been preserved and there were no visible signs (or need) for any kind of religious unrest until people came to know that there are lands beyond their sight and should be captured for benefits. It had been (rather, has been) the tendency of people (in this context, kings and rulers), to gain more. In the greed for more, while the Indian kings moved out of the subcontinent perfectly protected by Himalayas and oceans, people from other parts of the world, especially the Middle-East came attacking Bharatvarsha (as it was called prior to Moghul Invasions).


A Rough Map
Sixteenth Century Bharat Based On Manuscripts

The Middle East conferred the title of Hindustan to Bharatvarsha while the Western (Who was that Columbus?) called us India. We stuck to these two titles and forgot Bharata, even as its original form was distorted due to wars and later by British.


It is when the British entered into the scene did the Hindu politicization started. During the rule of Muslims/Mongols too, it was separate. I mean they did differentiate between their own religion and culture of the then existing Indians, they did more of it for conversions rather than politicizing Hindu for own needs/wants/greed (whatever you may want to call it). Hinduism never called for conversions as it was never considered a religion by those who follow it. We "now" have some people who treat it as a religion, saying you are Hindu if born into a family embedded in Hindu culture and follow certain rules as laid by their religious gurus.


Hindu tolerance can be seen during that rule of Moghuls as well. People who had been following Hindutva/Indianism as a culture are mentioned as working in the courts of these invaders. We also have examples of many a fine art and sculptures that these Hindus built using their skills and culture for the foreign invaders. An example is Taj Mahal. The way it is designed, it is difficult to determine if it was indeed built by a foreign ruler or was just a redesigned temple. There are several documentaries and books on this topic if you wish to pursue the topic.


My basic argument is that politicization of Hindutva/Indianism started only after the British entered Indian soil. They already found more than two cultures and in a bid to take over the country, they divided people on religious lines and used the infighting for their own goals. Later, the same tendency was taken up by leaders of Independent India for partition of the country and is being used continuously to corrode the society.


A corroded and broken system means more power to the leaders. There are religious leaders everywhere from both cultures who kind of dictate what is good and what is bad. They are just there for own profits rather than guidance. The need for a teacher (guru) makes the innocent fall prey to these leaders who are influencers in their area and are used by politicians for many a purposes. The vision of Hindutva/Indianism took a backseat, offering more emphasis to the tools elders used in their pursuit of knowledge and perfection.


Fear Distorts Understanding
Fear Induces Wrong Emotions
Fear Can Make You Kill Others
There have been riots on religious lines ever since the powerful understood it is easy to disinform masses and show them fear. It is hard to tell who provoked whom but the bottom-line of everything was and is fear. This fear is the root of Hindu unrest. Other cultures in India have been using conversions by hook or crook. That is seen as a threat to the Hindu culture and hence the unrest. The religious leaders and politicians hold reigns only as long as people are afraid of losing their culture and pride. Once there is a balance or the fear is eliminated, you will find the normal Hindus as caring as ever.


The current politicians dividing people into minority and majority and assuming that majority has no needs - going to serve the so called minority (but not actually doing that as well) is further distorting the minds of religious leaders. Then, there were/are provocative speeches from other communities regarding elimination of Hindu culture. If I were to say I'll annihilate your family, wouldn't you go to any extent for self defense?

Another example is sharing a house. Initially, it will be difficult for you but you'll adjust. And then I start using your things but you are fine with that too. Then I threaten to throw you out of the house and make it entirely mine. What will be your reaction? Would you tolerate that too? Or would you start preparing to avoid losing your home? Same applies to the Hindu unrest.


There is much more to say and discuss but I will cut it here as the above summarizes politicization of  religion in India, especially distorting Hindutva/Indianism to an extent that there are sections that started believing in violence.

Summary

In case I confused you, politicizing Hindutva and Hindu unrest is related to
1. The divide and rule politics of British (say 10%)
2. The continuation of religious politics by post 1947 governments, politicians and religious gurus (remaining 90%).
That means, the system went wrong somewhere that lead, is heating up followers of Hindutva and probably will continue pressurizing them until they explode.


There are few methods by which the unrest can be contained and eliminated completely. The main point is to stop using religions as dividers. And that can happen only in an atmosphere where fear is absent or at the least, is not misused. Given the way world is engaged in appeasement of certain communities and the violent methods of those communities to convert people forcefully, I do not see it happening anywhere in near future. Politicization of religion in India pays off and it pays off just because India has a number of religions scattered throughout the country.


Link To IBN-LIVE Blog: Modern Hindu



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