I am in search, in this surcharged environment, of the asli (true) Hindu.
There is a wide chasm between Hindutva and Hinduism. Hindutva is a political ideology with intent to capture power. It is in no way related to Hinduism, which is a way of life. Hindutva today is nothing but Hindu fundamentalism. It has no relationship with core Hindu philosophical tenets.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a follower of Swami Vivekananda. The latters enunciation of the core values of Hinduism might help in resisting the denigration of Hindu values through the ideology of Hindutva. In 1893 at the World Parliament of Religions Swami Vivekananda, when commenting on various religions, stated each must assimilate the spirit of the other, and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.
Hindutva is an ideology practised by RSS pracharaks who hold the reins of power and the self-proclaimed vigilantes who seek to represent its moral force. Both are attempting to destroy the individuality and the spirit behind those who embrace other religions.
For Swami Vivekananda, Help and not fight, Assimilation and not Destruction, Harmony and Peace and not Dissension should be the banner of every religion. Events of the recent past suggest that Hindutvas essential characteristics are fuelling disharmony and discord.
Swami Vivekanandas dream was to harmonise Vedanta, the Bible and Quran, because he believed that all religions are but expressions of Oneness and that each individual has the right to embrace his religion and choose the path that suits him best. Those who espouse the cause of Hindutva have not understood this meaning of Hinduism. If we continue along this path, the asli Hindu might develop traits that have no resemblance to the tenets of his religion.
Swamijis prophetic words about food and eating habits have a definite bearing on protagonists of Hindutva entering into the kitchens of our households. Swamiji said There is a danger of our religion getting into the kitchen. Our God is the cooking-pot, and our religion is, Dont touch me, I am Holy If this goes on for another century, every one of us will be in a lunatic asylum.
These thoughts enunciated at the end of the 19th century should have guided mankind when embracing the 21st century. What we are witnessing today is ideologues of the 21st century harking back to 18th century mindsets. Our governments are now going to decide on our food habits.
Over the years, the Indian mind symbolised the spirit of tolerance. Many religions and cultures have flourished here. Christianity and Islam have found ample space to walk the path they wish to take. Diverse ideas and thoughts have been freely exchanged. Hindu intellectuals flourished within the courtyard of emperor Akbar. Sufi mystics have influenced lives of people over centuries. Yet, Hindutva seeks to efface the past and to build a divisive future.
The eclectic nature of Hinduism is lost on muscular Hindutva preachers. Even its diverse cultural dimensions are not fully appreciated by those who carry the badge of a pan-Indian cultural identity. Hindutva has a fascist, nationalistic and hegemonic dimension. Its diktats are patriarchal and casteist. The idea of a monolithic Hindu religion is unsuited to the inherent diversity of the people of India.
Hindutva as a movement bristles with rage at the slightest criticism. The asli Hindu is merely a community without a sacred scripture or a founder. What needs protection are the values inherent in the diversity within Hinduism; not the values that Hindutva seeks to impose. Hindutva must not encourage the wanton loss of human lives in an attempt to protect the holy cow.
Hinduism, a loosely knit faith in which all can flourish is antithetical to the concept of a narrow set of beliefs, doctrines and practices. Both pantheism and agnosticism are part of the Hindu religion. Millions of Gods and Goddesses are part of the Hindu faith. The Hindutva narrative has no appetite for multiple strands of faith, schools of philosophy and diversity of tradition.
Violence and untruth have no place in the practice of Hinduism. Mahatma Gandhis fundamental beliefs rested on two pillars: non-violence and Truth. RSS and the Hindutva they espouse believe in rumour mongering.
The spate of violence recently unleashed has made us insecure. Our prime ministers silence on statements offering ransom to behead a chief minister is disturbing. Those unwilling to embrace Hindutva are asked to leave the country. The violence at Una, Dadri and the most recent incident at Alwar are all examples of levels of intolerance not witnessed in this country for years.
Dissent is treated as sedition. Those responsible for law and order silently watch Hindutva brigades create disorder. Events in JNU and University of Hyderabad vitiate the environment of learning by stirring passions. Networks in the social media have become platforms of abuse hurled by those paid to do so. Security forces are sent to academic campuses and protagonists of Hindutva are given a free run for attacking protesting students.
Yoga symbolises discipline. Hindutva elements espouse the cause of yoga and have demonstrated levels of indiscipline not seen before in recent times. Cultural superiority through Hindutva is confused with what represents true culture.
The asli Hindu is silent. It is time for him to stand up and make his presence felt.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.
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