Why is Hinduism denigrated? – Maria Wirth

Hinduphobia

Maria WirthWhy is Hinduism being denigrated in spite of being the most reasonable system of living? 

This was a question on Quora, to which I replied. Yet again, I got a message from Quora that “the question has been marked as needing improvement and will be in a restricted state until edited.”

So I post it here because there is nothing wrong with the question or my answer. Here it is:

Both points in the question are right: Hinduism is the most reasonable system of living and it is being denigrated.

In case some people, who don’t know much about Hinduism and believed those who denigrate it, have doubts if it is indeed the most reasonable system, this may clear the doubts:

Even just the main point in Vedic philosophy, that Brahman—in the form of Ishwara—has become this universe and beyond, is—apart from being the truth—clearly the best possible foundation for a society. If you believe—and it can be reasonably and scientifically concluded—that the essence in everything is the same and divine, there will be respect for others, including animals and nature.

There are many more very worthwhile aspects in Hinduism, for example the four goals of life (purusharthas), four stages of life (ashramas), the different dharmas connected with each stage, plus the huge knowledge in the ancient texts which is even scattered over the world, and others have benefitted from those texts without acknowledging it.

But this is not the topic here.

The question is: Why is it that Hinduism is being denigrated?

Incredibly, the reason is because it is the most reasonable system of living. Because it is so profound. Because it comes closest to truth—which cannot be put into words, but it can be pointed to. Because Christianity and Islam are no match for it. And because those two religions need to protect themselves if they don’t want to lose their power and influence to the most reasonable system of living.…

This means it is after all not so incredible. Here is an explanation:

When the Vedic knowledge first reached Western universities, the intellectual elite there were deeply impressed. Prominent personalities like Voltaire, Mark Twain, Schopenhauer, the Schlegel brothers, Paul Deussen and many others spoke in glowing terms about India’s tradition. And even later, in the early 20th century scientists like Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Oppenheimer, Pauli, Einstein and Tesla were in their research inspired by Vedanta and acknowledged it. Voltaire had praised the Vedas as the greatest gift for humanity. He even said “we are eternally indebted to India”.

There was real danger that the Church would lose her sheep as the Christian view of the “true” God, who sits in heaven, is jealous of other gods and sends all those who are not baptized into eternal hellfire, was no match for the Indian concept of Brahman which is the one conscious essence in all forms, like the one ocean is the essence in all the waves.

Of course the Church was not keen on losing even more power. It had lost already due to people like Voltaire who fought against the Church’s unreasonable dogmas.

It surely wanted to put an end to this praise of India’s great civilization. And the strategy was simple and time-tested:

Teach children all over the world negative aspects about Hinduism and later generations will be convinced that it is worthless because that’s what they have learned.

But which negative aspects were there to project?

“Idol worship” was projected as a top negative aspect, without even trying to understand it. They did not understand that the different “gods”—“deva” was mischievously translated as god—are in essence the same as Brahman. “Idol worship” is a great sin, both in Christianity and Islam. So to point out that Hindus worship sun-god, tree-god, or a god with an elephant head did its job of making Hinduism look as primitive as the Western Pagan traditions were made to look primitive.

I remember how in school our ancestors were ridiculed that they worshipped trees or thought that god is angry when there was thunder. Children easily believe what they are told and we indeed felt lucky that we now knew the one true God, who loves us so much that he even sent his own son….

Next, they projected an “oppressive caste system”. Incidentally the term caste is not there in any ancient Indian text. The Vedas speak of four varnas, which were compared with the different parts of a human body, and varnas were fluid, not determined by birth.

Why did the British choose “caste”, a Portuguese term for class or race? Did they want to give the impression that the Hindu social system is “cast in stone”? The worst term they projected was “untouchables”, which convinced every school kid that those Hindus, and especially the Brahmins, must be plain evil, forgetting that “not touching” somebody is far less evil than butchering people because they did not accept Christianity or Islam.

I won’t go into how the British cemented the “caste system” and created untouchables by declaring whole tribes as “criminal from birth”. Those who are interested can search the net, for example the interviews with Satish K. Sharma. Just so much: Hindus need not go on the defensive when “caste system” is thrown at them. There is no need to get rid of the varna or the jati system, which has certain advantages, only because “caste” is so heavily criticised. Yes, by all means give up any discrimination (and as a consequence, reservation). Yet discrimination is not inherent in Hinduism. It is inherent in human nature all over the world.

Neither need Hindus go on the defensive when “idol-worship” is thrown at them. Acknowledging and worshipping the different powers in this universe, without which life would not be possible, surely makes sense. To greet the sun makes more sense than to turn your back to him claiming, he is only a ball of helium. To touch the earth in reverence makes more sense than exploiting her. Not only are these powers absolutely essential for our life on earth, but are also permeated by that great Brahman. It means they are alive. Everything is alive.

I wonder when scientists will come to the conclusion that the oneness of all, which they have already discovered, is conscious, too. Individual scientists consider it as possible though mainstream science has not followed yet.

But one thing strikes me as strange: While the clergy of both dogmatic religions maliciously denigrate Hinduism, the Hindu clergy does nothing of this sort to the dogmatic religions. Hindus don’t even mention unacceptable claims by those religions which are in the public domain, like “Hindus will burn in hellfire if they don’t convert”. Why don’t Hindus do it? Wouldn’t it be in the interest of truth to point out their flaws?

Maybe the major reason why Hinduism is constantly being denigrated is to keep Hindus busy with defending themselves and in this way prevent them from realising that the others have serious flaws. – Maria Wirth Blog, 9 June 2018

» Maria Wirth is a German psychology graduate and author who lives in Uttarakhand.

Idol worship

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Schwarz Church obstructs Brihadeeshwara Temple ritual – Aravindan Neelakandan

Brihadeshwara Temple Tanjavur

Aravindan NeelakandanAggression against temples is starting to become visible and violent in Tamil Nadu, and unless Hindus reinvent and reorganise themselves as a political majority, their survival decreases with every passing day. – Aravindan Neelakandan

On 29 April 2018, the ceremonial procession that takes the ruling deity of Thanjavur’s Brahadeeshwarar Temple for a ritual bath in the adjoining Sivaganga temple tank, was stopped. The procession, complete with the playing of the nadaswaram (a classical wind instrument), was stopped by the authorities of CSI Schwarz Memorial Church—an eighteenth century church built by Danish Lutheran missionary, Christian Friedrich Schwarz.

Schwarz was an interesting character, who often projected himself as gentle and suave. He was a part of the political missions of the East Indian Company, being often sent as an emissary. While most of his hagiographers praise him as a selfless missionary, it is easy to see him as a manipulator who prevailed over the “native rulers”, by influencing them positively towards the colonial forces and keeping them away from any rebel influence. In fact, the British East India Company made Schwarz a member of the council of administration for Thanjavur. He, on his part, tried his best to convert the king, who, while gently refusing his religious advances, used him more as a trustworthy intermediary in dealing with the British. (Of course, the usual Evangelist propaganda that the king was convinced of Christian superiority, but did not convert because he feared the Brahmins, has always been part of the mission hagiographies).

Thuljaji II and little Serfoji II with Lutheran missionary Schwarz

More relevant to this point is that this colonial missionary took pleasure in going to the places of “heathen feasts” where thousands of “Hindoos” would gather for worship and preach Christianity, condemning what he understood through his Christian hatred as “idolatry”. So, when Schwarz Church authorities stopped the procession of 1,000-year-old Brahadeeswarar temple, it was colonial evangelism once again.

To understand this, one should realise that evangelical Christianity is always at war with Hinduism. To them, Hinduism is a religion to be destroyed when the opportunity comes and tolerated not even respectfully. but only tactfully till then. During the period of tolerance, preparations are made for the period of war—the war that can be declared when it is advantage Evangelists.

So the war against Hinduism waged by Evangelists in India can be divided into three periods. Between the late 17th to mid 19th century, when the colonial Evangelists attacked Hinduism, while simultaneously using colonial enterprise to politically, militarily and financially support the mission.

Then came the period between 1857 and 2004 when Evangelists moved from direct war to covert war. The covert war takes the form of many mini-wars in isolated areas throughout India where Evangelists have power through demographic change and political influences. For example, in Tripura, Christianity made Jamatiyas refugees in their own land for refusing to accept the Jesus cult. In Mizoram, Hindu Reangs were driven away as refugees and made to face ethnic extinction. In Odisha, the Maoist-Evangelical axis has been established to combat Hindu tribals.

The national movement between 1857 and 1947 definitely acted as a great emotional and intellectual barrier to the evangelical war. Gandhi and Veer Savarkar, otherwise poles apart, held very similar views on conversion—as political aggression on souls. Veer Savarkar considered this loss as more dangerous than territorial loss. Dr B. R. Ambedkar, despite being a strong critic of Hinduism, did not mince words when he said that conversion to Christianity denationalised the scheduled communities and compromised national security.

Evangelists waited for a time of their choice to declare war on Hinduism, and in the meanwhile, cultivated forces that would hasten the blowing of the war trumpets. In this process, different evangelical organisations wielded a thousand cuts on the Indic body through seemingly secular anti-Hindu pro-evangelical forces. Riots happened throughout India and any counter attack by Hindus alone got sensationalised as persecution.

For example, when Christian terrorists gunned down an entire family of 16, including seven-year-old girl in a cold-blooded massacre for celebrating harvest festival, it was seldom condemned. Nor did it create an outrage. One should contrast this with the outrage generated nationally and internationally over the accidental, but definitely inhuman and unjustifiable, killing of Australian Hindu-phobic missionary Graham Staines and his son, when angry tribals, whose families were torn by conversion torched his vehicle. Some of the canards spread by Evangelists against Hindus in this conflict are time-tested hate propaganda like, for instance, the charge of poisoning a well – originally a Christian anti-semitic tactic which was effectively employed in instigating violence against the Jews in pre-holocaust Christendom.

In Tamil Nadu, Evangelists been waging the war on different fronts, and all their efforts converge at one point or the other in the physical curtailment of Hindu human rights. As early as 1980s, the converted Indian Christians of the coastal region were used by Christianity to block all the ceremonial sea rights of Hindu goddesses. In 1982, Christian fanatics planned and molested Hindu women during a Hindu festival, and the Hindu retaliation was swift and equally violent. This mellowed down the Evangelist assault on Hindus, but it never ceased.

At another level, Evangelists were waging the war by proxy through Dravidian forces. Swami Chidbhavananda, the great spirtual acharya, educationist, and social reformer pointed out how the Catholic Church openly declared the Dravidian movement as a “time bomb” set to destroy Hinduism in their book, titled Dravidian Movement and Catholic Church (Tamil). The war against Hinduism in Tamil Nadu took the form of a concerted strategy involving some well-placed academics, politicians, activists and Evangelists coming together. The aim is to reduce Hinduism to ancestral worship and project all its spiritual dimensions as Brahminical distortions to exploit people. Through this, even a fanatical Christian could claim that he or she can enter a Hindu temple as it is nothing more than a glorified mausoleum of ancestral worship.

This blatantly false theory is coupled with racist Tamil pride and peddled in a hysterical way by the political parties like Naam Tamilar. Further, hymns like Thiruvasagam are misinterpreted by the Christian clergy straitjacketing them into Christian monotheism. Hindu sacred spaces—in literature and liturgy, in ceremonial processions, and in physical area – are all encroached upon by Evangelists or proto-Christian Dravidianists. So when ultimately the physical violence descends, the local Hindus are left to defend themselves—often becoming homeless orphans in their own country.

After the Janata Party (BJP) lost power in the Centre in 2004, Kanyakumari district saw a spate of attacks on Hindu temples—mostly village temples.

Here is one such incident that took place in 2007 in Kanyakumari district and that would resonate in Thanjavur in 2018. However, unlike in Thanjavur, where the police forces were not yet inclined to stop the Hindus, in the Kanyakumari village, coincidentally or strategically placed police officials who happened to be Christians, violently stopped the Hindus. The procession of a goddess belonging to a centuries old temple was stopped by a handful of Christians claiming the road the procession was to pass through belonged to the church. Despite the village panchayat having constructed the road, despite Hindus being the majority in both the villages, especially in the area in question, and despite the panchayat well on that very road having been built by a local Hindu, the Hindus along with their deity were stopped by the police and in the ensuing violence, a woman was killed in police lathi charge.

Christian police against Hindu religious procession in Kanyakumari

All political leaders except the Hindu organisations and BJP deserted the Hindus. The tragic irony is that Hindus have been stopped from using a road which they themselves built. It could be only said that such an incident is only waiting to happen in Thanjavur.

Even in places where Hindus are a majority, Evangelist warfare strategically first weakens them—even preventing the development of a sense of national unity that may loosen the hold the church exerts on the flock. A case in point is the very recent diatribe that the church has indulged in against the patriotic salutation Jai Hind, incidentally coined by a Tamilian—Dr Chenbagaraman Pillai. While many Hindus are aware of the anti-Vande Mataram mindset of Islamists, not many are aware of the anti-Indian mindset that is deeply integral to even mainstream churches including the Catholic Church leave alone the innumerable ground-warrior Christian evangelist cults.

For example, the Catholic Bishops Council of Madhya Pradesh has come out strongly against the raising of Jai Hind slogan in the government schools. Father Babu Joseph, former spokesperson of the national bishops’ conference now based in Madhya Pradesh, criticised the government for asking government schools to raise the slogan. Mumbai based Catholic Secular Forum in its website claims the following about Jai Hind:

The commonly used slogan Jai Hind emerged during India’s independence struggle and continues to be raised at the end of national anthem. However, Hind is a shortened form of Hindustan (land of Hindus) that excludes India’s religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims.

So, while in Tamil Nadu, the deity is stopped physically, in North India, where Evangelical Christianity is yet to achieve the muscle power and political clout, it uses ideological aggression to stop nation-building through very simple methodologies.

That such aggression is starting to become visible and violent in Tamil Nadu is not coincidental. Already, various Christian denominations including the mainstream churches have started preparing for the 2019 elections. Away from the willingly closed eyes of the media, Catholic Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi sent a pastoral letter which was read out on 13 May in all the parishes of the national capital. The letter called on Catholics to start a campaign ahead of elections due in April 2019. This year-long vigil and campaign though couched in secular language is a call for an Evangelist war on Hinduism.

So, after 2019 in case of a BJP defeat, Hindus in Tamil Nadu can expect a concerted attack on all their temples—small or big, in all their sacred spaces—in villages or town, in all their ceremonies. Hence, in the context of 2019, Hindus need to realise two factors:

  1. They are still only a communal majority and not a political majority in India. Unless Hindus reinvent and reorganise themselves as political majority, the probability of Hindu survival decreases with every passing day.
  2. Whether it is aggression in Thanjavur, physical violence in Kanyakumari district or resistance to Jai Hind in Madhya Pradesh, there is a common line connecting them all across the denominational Evangelist Christian divide—the hatred towards pagan Hinduism which animates the war that Evangelists wage in India. So any attack on Hindus anywhere in India is a threat to every Hindu throughout India. – Swarajya, 21 May 2018

» Aravindan Neelakandan is an economist, psychologist, author and contributing editor at Swarajya magazine. He is best known for the book Breaking India which he co-authored with Rajiv Malhotra.

CSI Schwartz Memorial Church, Tanjore


 

The business of maligning India – Maria Wirth

Indians

Maria WirthThere was a strange question on Quora recently: Is India becoming the most hated country?

It reminded me of the years after Nirbhaya’s rape and murder, when a massive campaign was launched worldwide to portray Indian men as rapists. It was so massive that it reached not only local papers in Germany and probably everywhere else, but a local paper in Nuremberg dedicated half a page to her memory even one year after it had happened.  The impact of this campaign was extraordinarily “successful” if one could use this term:  in March 2015 a biochemistry professor at the University of Leipzig refused admission to her course to an Indian student because of India’s “rape problem”. It even turned out that this was not the only case.

Since this campaign started soon after the news about the Rotherham grooming gangs of mainly Pakistani men came out in the open, I wondered if the questioner wanted to know how well the business of maligning India had progressed and if India is on the way of becoming the most hated country.

Here is my reply:

Oh no, India can never become the most hated country—never mind how much media and missionaries and other vested interests try to portray it as such.

There are too many people in the world who know India, who know her profound philosophy, who know how much she has contributed to civilization, more than any other country in this world, who know how kind and open-minded her people are, how they live and let live and this includes millions of cows, monkeys, stray dogs, even tigers, leopards, elephants, snakes, etc., in spite of a huge population on little space.

Too many people know how colourful and joyful the atmosphere is during the many festivals, which have mostly a religious nature, they know how alive the country is and how generously India shares her knowledge like Yoga or Ayurveda, how amazing her culture is—music, dance, sculpture, architecture. And also, there are too many people who know Indians who live abroad and know that they are among the best immigrants possible.

But yes, attempts are on to portray India in very poor light, and “rapes in India” and “atrocities against minorities” are preferred news on foreign TV channels, like on German DW (Deutsche Welle) or BBC, when the same channels will not broadcast rapes that happen in Germany or Britain.

A poll in England recently showed that Indians are seen positively (+25), while Pakistanis are seen negatively (-4). The amazing thing is that Indians and Pakistanis are basically the same people. The only difference is that some Indians converted to Islam during the long Muslim rule of their country and at the time of Independence, they demanded their own country as they didn’t want to live together with Hindus. And while hardly any Hindus are left in Pakistan, India did allow Muslims, who did not want to move to Pakistan, stay and their number is even increasing significantly.

So maybe there is one condition: India can never become the most hated country as long as it remains majority Hindu!

This post got an amazing reaction—over 40.000 views within 24 hours, which was exceptionally high. Yet more or less from one moment to the other, the views suddenly dropped substantially, just at the time when I got a notification from Quora. A person with a Muslim name requested me to drop the last sentence of my post.

I didn’t do it, because what I had written is the truth. – Maria Wirth Blog, 25 May 2016

» Maria Wirth is a German psychology graduate and author who lives in Uttarakhand.

Nun Rape

 

 

Dr Swamy asks Government to snap ties with Vatican – Ankit Prasad

St Peter's Square & Subramanian Swamy
Ankit PrasadDr Subramanian Swamy has implored Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct the Ministry of External Affairs to cease all diplomatic relations with the Vatican – Ankit Prasad

BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Dr Subramanian Swamy has taken strong exception to the Delhi Archbishop’s controversial letter that highlights ‘turbulent political times’ and calls for people to pray for the country, as well as his subsequent comments.

Taking to Twitter, Dr Subramanian Swamy has implored Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct the Ministry of External Affairs to cease all diplomatic relations with the Vatican—the seat of (Catholic) Christianity. Further, Dr Swamy wants the Vatican’s embassy in New Delhi’s Chanakyapuri to be sealed as the Archbishop of Delhi is a formal nominee of the Vatican.

Dr Swamy's Tweet

Dr Swamy’s tweet follows a massive controversy being triggered by Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto who on May 8, just days before the Karnataka elections, wrote a letter with political overtones where he said: “We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation.”

His letter (see copy below) went on to mention the 2019 General Elections and he requested that a day of fast be observed each Friday for the spiritual renewal of the nation.

He went on to provide a “Prayer For Our Nation” (see copy below).

Speaking to Republic TV on Tuesday, Anil Couto defended his actions and gave confirmation that they had to do with the “current context”. He listed “pressure on the judiciary and interference in educational institutions” but maintained that he wasn’t targeting the government. He said that the Church wasn’t interfering but it had a role to play.

BJP party president Amit Shah broke his silence on the matter while addressing a news briefing on Tuesday evening when he said that nobody would galvanise support on the basis of religion.

“I personally believe that no one should say things like this. For a religious person to make such comments cannot be accepted and appreciated”, Amit Shah said.

On the other hand, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has backed the Archbishop and his letter, saying:

“We respect all communities, castes, and Archbishops across the country, including that of Kolkata. I think whatever they said, they correctly said. It’s a fact.”

» Article and images from Republic TV, Mumbai, 23 May 2018. Ankit Prasad writes on politics, economy and business.

 

Archbishop Couto's Letter

Catholic Prayer

See also


India’s great secular confusion – Michel Danino

Indian secularism

Prof Michel DaninoIndia’s brand of secularism denies equal rights to a perceived “majority”. It has no roots in the history of the land: the word “secularism” does not exist in any Indian language (except for recent coinages)…. – Prof Michel Danino

India seemingly has armies of self-appointed guardians of secularism, such as those who recently petitioned the Supreme Court to turn Ayodhya’s disputed site to a public purpose (The ‘secular’ solution for Ayodhya) But secularism in India is as enigmatic an animal as the proverbial elephant variously described by blind men: it has been all things to all people.

Indeed, although it frequently figured in the debates of the Constituent Assembly, the word “secularism” did not appear in the 1950 Constitution of India; Nehru was initially cold to it: “Another word is thrown up a good deal, this secular state business. May I beg with all humility those gentlemen who use this word often, to consult some dictionary before they use it? It is brought in at every conceivable step and at every conceivable stage. I just do not understand it.”

His influential minister for Agriculture, P.S. Deshmukh, is on record for questioning “the specious, oft-repeated and nauseating principle of secularity of the state. I think that we are going too far in this business of secularity.” Nauseating or not, the principle was parachuted into the Constitution by the 42nd amendment of 1976 (promulgated during the Emergency), which turned India from a “sovereign democratic republic” to a “sovereign, socialist secular democratic republic.” But there was a catch: “secularism” was left undefined, which is uncharacteristic of Constitutional amendments.

If so, we should expect it to have the conventional meaning. Let us therefore heed Nehru’s advice and turn to our dictionaries: “The principle of separation of the state from religious institutions,” says the Oxford Dictionary; “indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations,” adds the Webster.

The former definition reflects the expulsion of Christianity from state matters which European nations opted for (to varying degrees) from the eighteenth century onward; also of Islam by Turkey in 1923. Was such a concept ever relevant to the Indian context, where compulsion in matters of religion and belief is repulsive to the ethos of the land? No Jain, Buddhist or Hindu king or emperor, to my knowledge, ever imposed a “state religion”; nor was India the scene of “religious wars,” whatever doctrinal frictions there may have been. Even those Islamic rulers who declared their intention to draw India into Dar al-Islam failed in the end.

Besides, the same Constitution which declares all Indians equal irrespective of their religion, caste or gender, proceeds, in Articles 28 and 29, to give religious and linguistic minorities the right to manage their places of worship and educational institutions. The civil code, too, is religion-specific as regards marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc.

This is anti-secular on the face of it. How do we get out of this embarrassing situation? By what I call a “sleight of word”—by declaring that “secularism” actually means something else: for instance, equidistance from, or neutrality towards, all religions (which is not the case), tolerance (why not use this word, then?), or perhaps some combination of atheism, rationalism and agnosticism (why not those words?).

Strictly speaking, then, India’s brand of secularism denies equal rights to a perceived “majority”. It has no roots in the history of the land: the word “secularism” does not exist in any Indian language (except for recent coinages); more importantly, “India has all along been trying experiments in evolving a social unity within which all the different peoples could be held together, while fully enjoying the freedom of maintaining their own differences. … This has produced something like a United States of a social federation, whose common name is Hinduism,” wrote the impeccably secular Rabindranath Tagore in his 1917 essays on nationalism.

Already expressed in Ashoka’s Edicts and many classical texts, this mix of integration, mutual respect and “full freedom” could, or perhaps should, have produced an Indian alternative to the European concept by building on the land’s long experiments in religious coexistence.

Instead, secularism has been a source of endless controversy and bitter feelings. As Taslima Nasrin once declared, “Most secular people are pro-Muslim and anti-Hindu. They protest against the acts of Hindu fundamentalists and defend the heinous acts of Muslim fundamentalists.” Or to quote the respected advocate, statesman, educationist and litterateur K.M. Munshi: “The word ‘secularism’ in India has no bearing on the attitude and conduct of individuals nor of religious groups. However, it has been used as a slogan of varying significance. In its name, anti-religious forces, sponsored by secular humanism or Communism, condemn religious piety, particularly in the majority community. In its name, minorities are immune from such attention and have succeeded in getting their demands, however unreasonable, accepted. In its name, again, politicians in power adopt a strange attitude which, while it condones the susceptibilities, religious and social, of the minority communities, is too ready to brand similar susceptibilities in the majority community as communalistic and reactionary. How secularism sometimes become allergic to Hinduism will be apparent from certain episodes relating to the reconstruction of Somanath temple. These unfortunate postures have been creating a sense of frustration in the majority community.”

By another sleight of word, such a statement would be viewed as “communal” today. But whether this “majority” really exists or is a construct deserves our attention. So does the important application of secularism to the world of education. – The New Indian Express, 19 March 2018

» Michel Danino is a guest professor at IIT Gandhinagar and a member of the Indian Council of Historical Research.

Secularism


 

Church asks Catholics to fast and pray for a new government in 2019 – Sanghamitra

Narendra Modi & Anil Couto

SangamitraThe deep-rooted hatred and rampant condescension Christian organisations show against India and its civilisational heritage is often astounding. – Sanghamitra

The Archbishop of Delhi, Anil Couto, has issued a letter to the Catholics in India. The letter, which was read in all the parishes under the Delhi Archdiocese calls for the Catholics of India to start a campaign of fasting and prayers for the upcoming general elections in 2019. The letter reportedly starts with claiming, “Praying for the country and its political leaders all the time has been a ‘hallowed practice’ in the Archdiocese and it has become all the more important as we approach the general elections.” The letter calls all the Catholics to observe a day of fast on Fridays and an hour of prayers till the next elections.

It is important to note here that the Archdiocese of Delhi is considered to be the face of Catholics in India and the Archbishop holds considerable influence over the Catholic population of the country. Couto hails from Goa and was the bishop of Jalandhar before being appointed as the Archbishop of Delhi in 2013.

The letter states that the prayers, fast and penance should all be offered for the ‘spiritual renewal of our nation’. The prayer that it contained called for God’s grace to always uphold in highest esteem’ the dreams of our founding fathers’ and the values of our constitution that are equality, liberty and fraternity.

So far one might consider that though it is odd for a priest to be so concerned with the general elections, the letter sounds harmless. But wait till we see how The Vatican News has presented it. The website’s article covering the Archbishop’s letter states, “The five-year term of the federal government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ends in May 2019.” It does not stop at that. It goes ahead to add that “Christian leaders have accused the government led by PM Modi of tacitly supporting Hindu groups working to establish a Hindu Nation ignoring the interests of religious and ethnic minorities.” The article further claims that according to Christian groups, attacks on Christians rose after Modi came to power and have spiralled in recent years. The Archbishop has reportedly written, “We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our constitution and the secular fabric of our nation.” His letter also reportedly asked the people to “bless the nation with the revival of gospel values.”

For organisations that claim that maintenance of the secular fabric of the nation is their only concern, the hatred against BJP and particularly PM Narendra Modi is far too apparent. Not just the general elections, the Church has been far too concerned about many state elections too. Before the Gujarat elections, the Gandhinagar Archbishop sent a similar communique which urged the Christians to save the country from “nationalistic forces”. Before the Nagaland Assembly elections, the Nagaland Baptist Church Council had also urged the believers to choose between “Trishul and the Cross.” The Trishul was not their only concern either. In one earlier instance, they had called Yoga a deeply Hindu practice and had asked their believers to stay away from it. Before the Goa elections, a Catholic magazine asked the voters in the state not to vote for the BJP and claimed that the country is facing a “constitutional holocaust”.

As far as Anil Couto is concerned, he is not new to playing victim politics. He had condemned and cried “religious intolerance” and anti-Christian mentality on random crimes and petty incidents that were fanned by national and international media as “Church attacks”. Be it the Vasant Kunj church vandalism incident or the Dilshad Garden, he had created a hue and cry over the same narrative of Christians and minorities being under attack that is so loved by our secular, liberal media. The fact that the “attack” incidents were the cases of kids playing/petty theft/drunk vandalism and no pattern or communal angle was ever found over these incidents was never acknowledged by the Catholic Church organisations. In fact, Anil Couto was in a celebratory mood when the AAP won the Delhi Assembly Elections. He even hailed AAP’s victory as a result of BJP’s inability to control the Church attacks.

The way the entire “Church attack” narrative was played was spectacular in itself. Even Obama mentioned it while visiting India. This was not the only fake propaganda after all. The whole “Muslim lynching” and “semen balloon” narratives were also peddled in the same way.

While fake hypes and false propaganda by vested interests is not new in any country’s politics, it is quite disturbing when the Catholic Church, of all people and organisations, starts pontificating (pun intended) on issues like equality and upliftment of Dalits and care of the marginalised. When it comes to the helpless and marginalised, the Catholic Church is one of the leading offenders of child sexual abuse all over the world. The worst victims of their wide network of abuse are almost always poor, marginalised kids from socio-economically backward families left in their care. Yet, how many instances are there when the Archdiocese of Delhi, which has so many opinions to give on political power plays and elections, spoken about the Dalit kids in India being abused by their priests? None. Did the Archdiocese call for penance and prayers for their own priests who turn paedophiles and rapists? Never.

The deep-rooted hatred and rampant condescension these organisations show against India and civilisational heritage is often astounding. Notice in the words of the letters how it talks about “spiritual renewal”. The underlying hatred towards indigenous practices of spirituality could not have been more apparent. The Archbishop perhaps forgets that it is India that has given Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism to the world, including the practices of yoga and meditation. So talking about spiritual renewal while worrying over the rise of a Hindu-nationalist party is a bit much.

Apart from the usual tactics of propaganda peddling and fear mongering, it is also unnerving that how such narratives peddled by politically biased individuals are not seen through by the media. Have there been any instances of a government-sponsored drive against any particular religion or community in our country under the BJP rule? No. In the holocaust these people keep citing so often, Jews were driven by the thousands into gas chambers to be killed. Thousands of Sikhs were massacred under the Congress rule. Thousands of Kashmiri Pandits were rendered homeless in their own country under the Congress rule, Then why is it that it is the BJP which is termed communal? Is there any clause in our constitution that bars any citizen of any religion from enjoying the freedom and opportunities a democratic republic offers? no. Then maybe it is the fear of the usual anti-Hindu anti-India propagandas failing to cast the intended effects that have driven these elements to a corner. With the advent of social media and an increasingly politically aware young generation rising in the country, the tried and tested smokescreens are being torn apart and the lies are being exposed. Perhaps that is the reason new terminology and new garbs for the agenda is being invented.

There is nothing wrong in a community observing fast or indulging in prayers, but when the fastings and prayers are directed to be done so that a certain political party loses and a certain party wins, it becomes ridiculous. Hopefully, the Christians of our country will see through the propaganda and vote smart, not according to the political inclinations of their priests. – OpIndia, 21 May 2018

» Sanghamitra is a reader, writer, and dreamer.

Catholic women in procession in India


Yes, another India is emerging! – Makarand R. Paranjape

 

Hindu Nationalism

Makarand R. ParanjapeThe fact is that a Hindu majoritarian India may not be as bad as it is made out to be by its detractors. In fact, it may actually be a better, more wholesome, integrated, and compassionate India than the present state, that is so riven by uncivil strife. – Prof Makarand R. Paranjape

Another India? The simple answer is, yes. Or, at any rate, the emergence of another India is not at all unlikely; in fact, there are signs aplenty of its advent.

What is more debatable is what its exact ingredients or outlines might be. Even those who are supposedly in charge of the new narrative aren’t sure. At the crux of all these debates is one word: Hindu. And its varieties—Hinduism, Hindutva, Hindu nationalism, Hindu majoritarianism, and so on.

For many, especially those who were perpetrators of the older dominant, “secularist” plot, the rise of this new India spells doom, the end of the project that Gandhi-Nehru lead, and the Congress headed mostly by Nehru’s heirs brought to the present pass. Perhaps, they are right. It is the end of that kind of India, and of that kind of elite. Naturally, such people are unhappy; displaced privilege usually produces outrage if not predictions of doomsday.

But we must examine the situation on its merits. The prospect of this new Hindu majoritarian India, has got a terribly hostile press. So much so that it seems as if there is a combined opposition media party, utterly hell-bent on demonising Hindu India and its protagonists. So inveterate is the antagonism displayed by this faction that sometimes it resembles visceral hatred, while at other pathetic self-delusion.

Clutching at straws, seizing upon a Kanhaiya Kumar, Hardik Patel, or Jignesh Mevani as the youth icon, even avatar, to stop the BJP juggernaut in its tracks, this decimated opposition seems to be praying for nothing short of a miraculous slaying, metaphorically speaking, of the rakshasa called Narendra Modi.

Funnily, this lot might never use such a Hindu metaphor in the first place. The modern sector is, perforce, doomed to express its outrage in a modern idiom. When they resort to tradition they end up making fools of themselves, wearing their janeu on their sleeve, so to speak.

But all that is politics. Let’s leave it behind as we approach the end of year, even if by the Gregorian calendar. We Hindus follow multiple calendars, perhaps using each to our advantage. Why should we give up this opportunity to introspect, even meditate, over the future of our beloved country?

The fact is that a Hindu majoritarian India may not be as bad as it is made out to be by its detractors. In fact, it may actually be a better, more wholesome, integrated, and compassionate India than the present state, that is so riven by uncivil strife. Hinduism, or dharma nationalism, may actually be a better guarantor of Indian pluralism than pseudo-secularism. If we are unprejudiced, fair-minded, and truly liberal, we should be willing to give the other side, especially when it is elected by an overwhelming majority, a fair chance rather than excoriating it before its commencement so as never to let it come into being.

But in doing so, we shall fall prey to many fallacies, including considering a majoritarian nation and polity as the inherent opposite of liberalism and multiculturalism. Even in the latter, one element dominates, whether in the metaphor of melting pot, salad bowl, or mosaic. In liberal Western democracies, the dominant element is a combination of modernity and democracy, underwritten not only be science and technology, but by the culture of capitalism and consumerism. That a religious element, mostly Christian in the case of Europe, North America, and the Antipodes, endorses the national consensus is almost a given. Then why shouldn’t the Hindu cultural bedrock that informs the Indian consensus work as well as the Confucian or Shinto accord in modern China or Japan?

True, this Hindu element should not thrust itself in everyone’s face or enforce its norms coercively. It should be the broadest, most open, most compassionate kind of Hindu unity. At the same time we must recognize where its most virulent opposition comes from. Not from other religious or ethnic minorities, but from the Hindu secularist elite, which does not wish to yield power.

In other words, the problem with India at present is a life-and-death struggle between two elites, the erstwhile dominant secularist and the emergent Hindutva brigade. Who will win remains uncertain, though as of now, the latter seems ascendant. In the end, like all tussles for power, this one too may be more inconclusive than what appears right now.

The cultural rule of the interpenetration of opposites predicts that the new order may not be radically different from the old. Of course, it would be rather disappointing if it were not at least slightly better—more confident, capable, competent, prosperous, creative, and egalitarian.

For that to happen, however, we must all join hands to contribute our mite rather than being cynical nay-sayers and Hindu-haters. – Asian Age, 31 December 2017

» Prof Makarand R Paranjape is a poet, author, and English Literature professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Banyan Tree