Naveen C Trigunayat
I and the rest of India were pleasantly introduced to the first taste of Hindutva when Door-Darshan first aired a TV serial by Ramanand Sagar called “Ramayan”. Later, after its immense popularity manifested allover India, B R Chopra released another, and more powerful, serial, Mahabharat. An astonishing viewership held the Country absolutely spell blinded. I was not spared its effects either.
Hindutva did not effect anyone directly as it was just a TV serial and its Hindu viewers saw only glimpses of their God’s journey in the incarnation of first Rama and then Krishna. Then it had appeared to the viewers as a revival of their faith. The Social fabric remained untouched by the colours it has acquired now under its present Political garb. The Ruling BJP has made this as a single point agenda to make its presence. To now continue in the turbulence of dissent it is increasingly relying on the same formula. In its aggressive face we saw the targeted anger at MF Hussain for his portrayal of Hindu Goddesses. He was not alone to face the ire, several others similarly fell off from years of work that had placed them high in the fields of Art, Fiction, Research and so on.
It is now high time tat people, specially the Hindus, take stock of what our Heritage is being subjected to from the pinnacles of its reach to the narrow-minded New Age Thoughts. These new guardians of Indian culture never saw the reach and free ranging achieved by the creators of vibrant art, culture, literature and so on. Their Idea was to just bring down great works to achieve a dubious standing the minds of a large section of Indians as Political Leaders out to reform the uneducated masses. Perhaps they could have taken a hard look at the Sculptures at Khajuraho temples or for that matter in some stories told in the Purans. Then of course we have Kama-sutra too. To my mind such iconic literature or art is what lends the thought of India and Indians in the eyes of a foreign beholder. Several foreign critics dwelled in their works and life-long research to decode the achievements of Indians who had lived so many centuries ago. Several non Hindu artists such as Dilip Kumar, Meena Kumari, Raj Kumar others adopted Hindu names to express their works to Indians. Our present day Khans and indeed Md. Rafi, Sahir Ludhiyanvi and Naushad Ali and so many more have created such heart rending portrayals of Hindu Gods from Hind culture. The contribution to India’s glory has had oodles of memorable contributions by so many Non-Hindus.
We have seen Soma or Som-juice as being offered since Vedic Times. So many Yajanas were concluded with the distribution of Cow meat as Prasadum. Today in so many temples, like Kalkaji in New Delhi, alcohol is offered to the deity and later distributed among a large number of followers. Some of these regularly visit the temple expressly to receive the spoils. Today, the Hindu brigade not only has made consumption of Beef and Alcohol a social taboo and have violently killed or maimed people who believe in it. The expression of love is a very pure act of being born. These Hindus have formed Vigilante teams called Anti-Romeo squads to seek and punish those who are in genuine love and in search of a life partner.
The changing values of the Hindu mindset may be interesting except for the fact that it has become too much deadly and is used to serve the purpose of those Greats of the society whose one=point aim is to maintain their Political and Goonda face in the Society. Expression of love between younger people is not a criminal act, after all we have this Kamdev-Rati enactments in our pious religious literature.
Then the issue of Cow-slaughter is even more serious. In late 2017 I had undertaken a drive through Madhya Pradesh and again recently this year I had the pleasure of extensive travel through Rajasthan. In both my travels there had been large herds of cows that roamed the Highways freely in search of food and perhaps the lost shelter which they once had enjoyed. I asked the van drivers who told me that the cows who had ceased to yield milk through old age and the male calf were entirely unsustainable to the farmer class as there was a huge cost in terms of their food and medical bills. In past, the farmer quietly sold off such animals to the butcher where cow slaughter was legal or to a transporter who sold it where slaughter was legal. This took good care of the farmers meager income and proper accounting of stray animals. Burdened by an unwelcome cost, the farmer now simply let the cow out of his neighborhood and faced the lossof what the animal could have provided him with.
The animal, now a stray, simply roamed the Highways in search of refuge, only, to be hit by a passing vehicle. If lucky, It just lay on the road till its life ebbed out completely. Otherwise, it just lay there bleeding and in need of medical help. This made me very sorry for what fate Hindutva has loaded on to an animal that our Vedas had projected as venerable. In many cases the cow is taken to a gaushala where it is supposed to be looked after by either the Government or by Social groups. I understand from TV coverage that they are hosted there without water and with very little food. The cost of running these shelters seeping into the pockets of the very people who were entrusted to look after them. The Vigilante group no longer could justify their presence and would frequently target people who were either Muslims or were Dalits.
Converts from Hindus
Most of adopt the religion of our parents as affair measure of our environment. But as we grow up we see other people follow different religions. Each group of different religious belief has a different standing. We see plusses and minuses in our own belief. There maybe an inward desire to change religion and join a better social group or there may be an influence of members of other groups who offer incentives and security under their patronage. In many places this actually works and there is a relief from some miseries that one faces under the present dispensation. In some Islamic countries it is illegal to switch from Islam and punishable by law. In India, our secularism does not permit this narrow approach. Most converts from Hindu religion change to Islam or Christianity because of social bindings of cast or trades adopted for survival.
The Hindutva is shamed if a Hindu converts but remains unconcerned when a poor downtrodden Hindu dies of hunger and with no opportunities to make a decent living. The person suffering pangs of hunger and shamed by society is not helped to live a better life, but, if he changes religion it becomes a blow to the keepers of Hindu society. This is when they vent their anger at forces that wanted to rescue a poor person from abject misery. The Christians had opened several Churches and organized groups who helped the poor to better his life only if he chose to embrace Christianity. These Churches only helped the soul salvation of the converts and very little to save them from starvation. Hindus have helped build so many Churches and Mosques in India but it remains to be seen how many temples the Christians and the Islamists have helped build either in India or elsewhere..
We do not see cases of foreign help to improve the living standards of Hindus as Hindus. How can one give religion to a person who is starving? The Missionary’s role should be to provide bread and ways to earn it, rather than convert him into a different religion altogether. The question comes to my mind, ”Should a Christian or Muslim convert to Hinduism? Answer is, “Surely Not.” There is no reason and one can go deeper and deeper into a religion that one had practiced all along, rather than pick up a new one and make a hash of it. While remaining a devout follower of his practiced religion one must aim to accommodate the intricacies of other religions in his own thinking and practice. This kind of treatment to other faiths will result in assimilation of the good points of other idiologieas and broadening of ones own inner growth.
In Hinduism it is believed that every individuals spiritual needs are different and find salvation within the bounds of his practiced faith. But, should he feel the need to look beyond and into other folds of faith then he should feel free for his actions. The society should look upon the individual as progressive as he was while following g a religion that he had cast away. This is “Tolerance”. Hinduism professes tolerance but Hindutva strikes at its roots. This is obvious when Hindus interact with colleagues at work but stay away from them at domestic levels. The Hindus are tolerant of Churches/ Mosques and other social Missionary edifices. In India Nationhood can not be determined on Religion. Here we arrive at a chasm that exists between Hinduism and Indianism. A flourishing Hinduism within the folds of Indianism is what one seeks.
Hinduism, Indianism and Hindutva
Hinduism does not seek monopoly of all Spiritual Wisdom but others have seen its positives and amny people across the globe have made deep studies. These researchers held on to their faith steadfastly and dwelled into the volumes of ancient Hindu scriptures to increase their knowledge. I would like them to practice their faith while not only being tolerant of Hinduism but also so inclined as to dwell deep into the meanings of Hindu scriptures. It is not that Indianness can be practiced well only while being a Hindu. A follower of any religion can be as ardent an Indian as a Hindu while practicing his own religion. Hindutva would feel bruised at the thought that there can be a non-Hindu who can equally contribute to Hinduism. But our History is decorated of Non-Hindus who have contributed to our standing today in all fields.
Our Constitution and Political standing recognise this diversity of faiths, granting equal rights to all. Both Indian Nationalism as well as Hinduism fault Hindutva for its narrow mindedness. In fact Religion can not be a major factor in giving India it Political Image and Identity. Hinduism is not Indianism and it casts a sinister shadow on the being of the other faiths on Indian soil.
Our secularism is based on “keeping the Religion apart- Dharm-nirpekshta”. Some go even further and profess not only keeping the religion apart but also all factors such as sect, cast, creed, colour, region, etc. etc. Our Secularism should, ideally, border Pluralism. Even then, infusion of Faith is a must in well-being and public order leading to good Governance. This should not mean that we turn over the Governance to Sadhus or people qualified only in Dharma. The People in Power must have due and unbiased political experience and administrative understanding. In other words the People in power must not be people with only one point agenda of furthering a Hindu cause or a Muslim or a Christian cause. The Hindu vision envisages Diversity. People practice the faith with a Hindu God of their choice. As one travels across India not only the deity but also how it is prayed to changes. The Priestly functions, social practices and the expression of ones feeling towards the deity completely changes, perhaps, even reverses. Hinduism is not the polarization and break in Unity that is the root thought behind Hindutva. Indianness is much more accommodating and yields so much more space to all who practice this Faith. It leaves ample more room for other Religions. Imagine the morning Church Gong at a distance alongside the Azaan from a Masjid and the baritone Ghanta sounds from your colony temple. The Sikhs celebrating their festivities and just about any social manifestation of a religious procession. This is Indianness, a larger manifestation of Hinduism.
Therefore Secularism does not mean being irreligious, it simply means love for expression of Faith, no matter how it is expressed. When the Bengalis of Calcutta go berserk during Durga Puja or the explosion of gaiety in Gujarat over Navratri run amongst all people irrespective of their Dharma. Christmas and Eid have a similar effect all over India. This is Indianness and Hinduism. The irony is that India’s secular coexistence is paradoxically possible by the fact that overwhelming majority of Indian people are Hindus. It comes naturally to Hindus to coexist with practitioners of different Faiths differently. In a Plural Society, religious Pluralism is merely one more kind of difference that everyone accepts just the way accept people around us speaking different languages, eating different foods, dressing differently and indeed having varying shades of skin colour. Secularism in India truly reflects an equally indulgent society of all groups and favouring none. Largely Hindus with a sprinkling of people of all Faiths, Indians developed their tradition of acceptance of the difference, but they also understood categorically in Principle and in Practice Religion and Politics have to be kept apart. Hindutva, on the other hand, aims to prioritize on the basis of Hindu religion. This puts the cat among pigeons not only following non-Hindu Faiths but also the Hindus themselves too.
To conclude, the Country India is a land that embraces many. It is the idea that endures great differences in Cast, creed, colour, cuisine, culture, conviction, customs and costumes. This consensus is not built around the concept that in a diverse democracy like ours that we really need to agree to everything- we only need to formalize on ground rules as to how we can disagree. Hinduism is a practical approach within its larger understanding of Indianness. Hindutva has no place here as it completely topples the equations and fine balances garnered over years of coexistence of people who are of Indian origin, including Hindus.