Pseudo-Secularism

Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fascist, Fundamentalist RSS: Defying the allegations

by U. Mahesh Prabhu
3/12/2008 4:21:55 PM

I am not an integral part of the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). I am neither a Pracharak nor do I have any responsibilities within the organization. The comparatively underpaid job that I have currently as the Editor of ‘Aseemaa: Journal for National Resurgence’ has hardly anything to do with RSS, though it was founded by some of its notable affiliates. It’s not a mouthpiece of theirs unlike Organiser or Panchajanya, both published from New Delhi, in the first case. The journal is run by me completely independent of RSS on the editorial side.

Aseemaa is today considered by many of the distinguished intellectuals in this country, and abroad, to be ‘Liberal’ magazine carrying thoughts of writers hailing from almost all school of thoughts, and also from all part of the world. It has articles authored by premier journalists like M J Akbar, Aijaz Zaka Syed, Caroline Glick, and many who hardly have anything to do with Hindutva, or any other ideologies propounded by RSS. Some of them have even, at times, strongly criticized RSS. Yet when I changed my profession, from a management-man to a journalist-editor, people shouted at me saying that I am going ‘fascist’.

‘Fascist’ is the word they wanted to convey, also, to RSS and all its respective organization and its people too. I was taken completely aghast. ‘RSS and Fascism, what do they have it to do together?’ I thought for myself. The allegation was a serious one and I had to answer them all. Within no time I did answer them and completely shut them up.

But recently I happened to write an article entitled ‘We shall continue to live to the end of times, for we have done no wrong’. It was published by over 4 significant medias, both print and internet. While many hailed my efforts many more ever angered for I having taken the name of RSS. A site called Mutiny.in which featured the article found over 60 responses with a few shouting the same old allegation of ‘fascism’, directly and indirectly. Some even called RSS and Sangh Parivar – ‘fundamentalist’, one ‘whose funda is mental’. I am bound to put pen to paper owing to those 70 and odd responses and emails I have received to my previous article, mentioned above, with the aforesaid accusations. I don’t really know as to whether I can convince them that we are neither ‘fascist’ nor ‘fundamentalist’, but all that I can to is to prove that their contention is completely spurious.

‘Hindutva is not a religion but a way of life’ they say. And it is also true. Dharma as the Vedas say is not really equivalent to the word ‘religion’ in English language. We need to learn and realize the truth that English, though pleasant, is not a rich language. Its limitations would be made clear to you by any scholar with proficiency in both Sanskrit, or any other Indian languages, and English.

If you may know, there are two major school of thoughts within Hinduism, one which is known as ‘Advaita’ and second, that which is very popular in modern days, known as ‘Dvaita’. The philosophy of Advaita was professed and made popular in India more than 2,500 years ago by Sri Adi Shankaracharya, a saint who though lived for a meager 32 years of his life went along the length and breath of the country four times [on foot] trouncing various scholars and clerics and thus bringing them to Advaita’s crease. This school of thought believed that Atman (Soul) and Paramatman (God) are nothing but one and the same. Though he never completely dejected the thought of Independent God, all he said, in a nut shell, was ‘Like when the water of a river joins the ocean there no longer remains distinction between the river water and ocean water, similarly once the Atman (Soul) achieves liberation there exists no difference between Atman (Soul) and Paramatman (God).’

Around 800 years before a seer named Madhvacharya, aka Poornaprajna, who hailed from a place called Pajakakshetra, near my home town of Udupi, went across India, yet again on foot, to prove that there can be no comparison of an Atman (Soul) to Paramatman (God). His theory is what is very much revered and acknowledged, not just in Hinduism but also in all the Semitic faiths. It may be noted that Advaita (Non-duality) and Dvaita (Duality) though were not founded by the Adi Shankaracharya and Madhvacharya respectively themselves, were just professed and popularized by them. The roots of the concept of duality and non-duality have their roots in the same Vedas, the most revered scriptures in the country.

Conversely, though both the school of thought differed so much, practically speaking there has never been blood shed for enforcing one’s faith over the other. If those movements have gained popularity it is due to the scholarly attributes of their preachers. It is also a known fact today that when an Advaita follower comes to a temple of Dvaita, he ensures that he pays obeisance to the deity in the temple at least out of respect if not faith, and the same is followed by the follower of the Dvaita philosophy. The fact is true even to this day, and is the basic reason because of which all such sects were able to be brought under the fold of Hinduism. There was mutual respect.

Always we find our juvenile and also ignorant populace saying ‘Why do we divide people in the name of religion?’ But I suppose they should answer us as to who founded the concept of religion? It wasn’t our (read Hindu) invention in the first case.

Ever since the advent of Christianity and Islam there have been ruthless killing and spilling of blood of millions of innocent in the name of God and Prophets. And yet we have those bright souls talking to us ‘secularism’ unknowing the fact that we were the ones who taught the concept, along with peace, to the whole world.

In response to the previous article one of my friends was to ‘educate’ me on the pros and cons of religions. He was saying that while the Islam teaches to ‘refrain from liquor’, Christianity teaches ‘Compassion’, Hinduism also has something to offer. Something! Just Something? God Almighty!

Vedas, those sacred scriptures of Hindus, for your information my friend aren’t just full of prayers – but also science. Mind you the finest of technologies that which were developed in this country in the past have their origins to these scriptures. Ayurveda, Yoga and all those finest natural herbal remedies you talk of have their roots firmly gripped to the Vedas. The computer on which the entire generation lives would never have been possible without that magic ‘zero’. Need I recall the famous Einstein’s word of the importance of zero? Perhaps, that at least, you can do it by yourself by using those several search engines. By the way the algorithm on which the search engine works is also yet again the product of the Vedas. And you say ‘some thing’.

If you want to hear something good about Bhagavad-Gita, here is the world’s renowned scientist and innovator of the nuclear bomb Robert J Oppenhiemer, who on having his first successful test of the bomb quoted nothing but these verse of Bhagavad-Gita: “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one. Now I become Death, the destroyer of worlds.

By the way it is true that at literal level Vedas and Bhagavad-Gita contradicts each other. But that hasn’t got us to wage ‘holy wars’ and to kill millions of lives. Instead we stopped them by saying:

EKAM SAT VIPRA BAHUNA VADANTI

Meaning: ‘Truth is one, sages say it differently.’ Ideas after ideas have marched out from this part of the world, but every word has been spoken with a blessing behind it and peace before it, lest we forget. Even peace and non-drinking kind of stuff are here in our Hinduism from time immemorial. Yet we don’t rival or disgust those religions, instead acknowledge them and respect them. For that has been our culture.

Many may now ask that: if with so many differences we have come together as Hindus, what is the problem of getting the Muslims and Christians in its fold.

My answer to this would be: What a wonderful idea? None of my friends in the RSS have ever stopped this to happen. Mind you there aren’t just two religions on the facet of mother earth. Yet we have conflict with only two, Christianity and Islam. Actually the conflict is more because of them and less because of us. Mind you Jews had been persecuted the world over and it’s only in this land, and then too dominated by Hindus, who have never been persecuted. Parses who are completely different by customs and faith have never reported any problems from Hindus. Have they?

The problem with both these religion, Islam and Christianity, is that they, at the core, aren’t accommodating. Both says that theirs is the true prophet, and god, and that only their way will lead to the heavens – ‘where you are offered virgins to elope with.’

We had no problem with this idea whatsoever. If we have accommodated millions of gods and prophets we don’t mind adding two more. Do we? But they, Christians and Muslims, aren’t willing. For if they come in our fold their reason of being is completely dejected. That’s the reason why they differentiate between the Momens and Kafirs, or believers and non-believers.

When the subject of Ayodhya comes by, RSS is easy called a ‘fundamentalist’, which has gone ‘mad’ and that it was because of Ayodhya that the 1992 blasts had happened or else the country was peaceful. Do they say peaceful? Christ! By the way Babri Masjid was built upon, what is now proven by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), a Hindu Temple. History stands to the fact that Babur was a barbaric invader. The testimony to this is not the Hindu historians but Muslim Historians themselves. And if pulling down a structure of a Barbarian is wrong then, perhaps, our George Fernandez who had pulled almost all the Victorian statues in Mumbai (then Bombay) must be tried in the court of law and looked down upon. But no, he is hailed instead, and I do also hail him.

Recently the name of our three metros was changed, didn’t they? Madras became Chennai. Calcutta became Kolkata. Similarly, Bombay became Mumbai. No one made a bit of noise. Why? Because they strongly believed that those were the names given by the British, who were also a kind of invaders, and that our identity should be reestablished, nothing wrong with the idea.

What I don’t understand with Babri-Masjid is that why Muslims want to identify themselves with a barbaric invader? Why is that they want to hail that man who was a blemish in the name of humanity? What is the point? Some experts have also proven that there wasn’t a Mosque, but a simple structure with a Mughal identity built over a Hindu Temple, after destroying the idol.

Coming to the point that Babri instigated Hindu-Muslim riots, it may be noted that it is as old as the advent of Islam in India. And that no one can win over a debate with me that it was Muslims, then as invaders, who started this series of violence.

Then we have Communists, who blame us for each and everything that is wrong in this country, completely staying mum to their decades old culture of barbarism and ruthlessness. We have two varieties of communists in this nation: CPI (Marxist) and CPI (Mao). While Marxists have turned themselves into Capitalists, Maoists are here on their mission to ‘liberate’ us.

History alone is the testimony to the fact that Adolf Hitler killed around 2 million Jews in concentration camps, Joseph Stalin killed 7 million of Russians and Mao Zedong who killed 17 million of his own country men (Chinese), directly and indirectly, is gaining a steady following today in this country. The Naxalites, another name for CPI (Mao), are the hailers of his ideology. ‘India isn’t still free.’ they announce, ‘We are here to liberate it.’ Liberation! My foot! May I understand what liberation do they offer Indians with the ideology of that barbarian? Sad, indeed, to note that such ideologies are offered the support rather unjustly by the ‘secular’ media and the ‘humanist’ organizations, at the cost of true nationalists, who are projected as ‘fascists’, ‘fundamentalists’ and even ‘Nazis’ at times.

Let me present to you one classic ‘Case Study’ in such double standards, before concluding:

During the BJP government’s year of 1998-99, exactly four Christians were killed by as yet unidentified tribals who have been accused of being Hindutva activists: Protestant missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, and Catholic priest Arul Doss. Let me not change the subject and discuss the large though unknown number of Hindus killed by Christian separatist in Mizoram and Nagaland over the decades, nor the terror of Christian natives in Fiji against Hindus; the latter phenomenon (especially the eruption after coup d’état in June 2000) is not the target of any protest in the world media, and the first is never even mentioned, so I suppose we need not attach any undue importance to the death of Hindus at the hands of Christians. Rather, for the sake of argument, let us assume that the four Christians mentioned have indeed been killed by Hindutva activists. We then share the assumption on which Christian media have based their evaluation of Hindutva as ‘fascist’. Thus, a Dutch Catholic weekly reporting on the murder of Arul Doss describes the recent evolution of Hinduism as going ‘from traditional tolerance to Nazi ideology’.

In the same period, thousands of Christians have been killed by Muslims in Indonesia, in East Timor and in Sudan, and a smaller but still substantial number of Copts were killed by Muslims in Egypt, this even though in those countries, Christians are careful not to provoke non-Christians with the obnoxious propaganda which they routinely hurl at Hindus. In the mid-1990s, Algerian Islamists specifically targeted Catholic priests as one of the ‘favored’ categories in their terror campaign, while in Pakistan, the Blasphemy law was used to harass the Christian minority, leading to incarcerations and several deaths. Though the general media usually downplay the religious factor in these conflicts, sections of the Christian opinion press have highlighted it and described the specific plight of the Christians in Muslim countries. Yet these mass murders of Christians by Muslims have never, to my knowledge, been described in the media as ‘Fascist’ or ‘Nazi’ (unlike by Muslim-born secularists). These most extreme epithets have been reserved for the more tolerant and hospitable Hindus.

In the case of Christians, the underlying logic which explains the paradox is quite simple. In the emerging world order, Asia is the center, while Christian regions like Latin America are the periphery, and North America is being asianized in the religious sphere, with rising Asian immigration and several million Euro-Americans practicing Asian religions. So, Christianity needs to get a foothold in Asia to reap ‘a harvest of faith’, as Pope John Paul II declared during his 1995 visit to the Philippines and gain during his speech in Delhi, November 1999. In Communist and Islamic countries, reaping the harvest is not so easy, because they show no mercy to Christian proselytizers. Better to flatter than to offend them. But India is a soft target. Precisely because Hinduism is so tolerant, the cowards who are afraid of real enemies have earmarked it for destruction, and all arrows are pointed at it. By the time Hinduism is destroyed, the situation in China or Iran may be evolved and may present opportunities for a strong India-based Asian Mission.

Therefore, all weapons which can damage Hinduism are welcome, and no scruples should stand in the way of Christianization of India, a vital interest of the Christian Churches. In this war context, the ‘fascist’ smear is a welcome addition to the arsenal. Now that demonization in terms of ‘idolatry’ and ‘devil-worship’ is not very effective anymore, a new demon is called out to defame Hindus by association. Until recently, the most common smear was of a different type: the projection of Christian intolerance and of the enemy-image of ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ on to Hinduism.

The term ‘fundamentalism’ has worked wonders, conjuring up impressions of a Hindu movement similar to anti-rational Christian creationism or anti-human Islamic terrorism. But it has worn out a bit, partly also because first-hand news reports have failed to substantiate it, so Christian media strategists have decided to introduce some stronger medicine. So much for the allegations…

Now my sincere, and just, question to allegers: Would you still continue to throw us with those two distasteful words, of being ‘fascist’ or ‘fundamentalist’? If ‘No’ thank you, If ‘Yes’ then why?

U. Mahesh Prabhu

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