In the later part of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century, many organizations and movements sprouted up in different parts of the world claiming to be working for strengthening their communities and protecting them. Most of them were peaceful and focused on educating their communities and raising awareness of identity among them. However, some parasites utilized this raising sense of affiliation among the people for their socio-political gains. Now, what could be the litmus test for deciding whether a movement is working for the community or is it playing with the emotions of the people and has a totally different aim than what it shows? Well, it’s quite simple, just compare the practices of this movement with the fundamentals of their religion; surely, an honest movement will never deviate from the principles of the ideology it claims to protect. In short, if both the end and the means match the parent ideology, a movement would be regarded as sincere to its people, and if not, then this movement should be seriously scrutinized.
Well let’s put the contemporary Hindutvadi movement to this litmus test and see how much its ways match the ancient Hinduism it seeks to represent:
1. According to the most popular Hindu school of thought, followed even by the Hindutvadis, Advaita Vedanta: Brahman resides everywhere, i.e. God is within every living being. Thus, no living being should be hurt as it would equal hurting God himself. Vasudhaiva kutumbakam (the world is one family) as Rig Veda puts it. Now, there is no mention of religion here and Hindus are asked to be benevolent and compassionate towards each and every living being regardless of their religion or caste. Swami Vivekananda the man who presented Hinduism in front of the world at Chicago says, “Hindus never kill anyone, because they believe that the destruction of even the most wicked soul will create a void in God’s scheme.” Compare all the above with the statement of Kundan Chandrawat, the RSS chief of Ujjain, “Have you forgotten Godhra? we sent 2000 to the graveyard there.” And his promise to pay 1 crore to anyone who kills the Kerala CM. Wasn’t God according to Advaita resident in the 2000 people his henchmen mercilessly sent to graveyard? Doesn’t God reside within the Kerala CM? How could killing people in the name of Hinduism (the religion which ordered to protect all the lives, good and bad) be justified??
2. Debates and discussion were quite common and the problems were sorted out through dialogue in the history of Hinduism. Advaita went on preaching his ideologies of Hinduism across India, in Assam he was met by a prominent scholar of Mimasa School called Mandana Mishra. Mishra criticized Advaita heavily and insulted him, but the latter didn’t react violently though he had enough devotees to silence Mishra forcefully. Advaita called him to debate and after few days of debate, Mishra finally left his school of thought and joined Advaita. This story shows how the difference of opinion was solved by discussion and dialogue, and by hearing the other side instead of silencing them. Now, compare this with the Hindutvadi way of burning the dissenting books and threatening the writers who dare question the authority of their actions and the sincerity of their ideology. On March 22, 2016, a gang of about 50 people belonging to RSS broke the locks to barge into the AKG Memorial Library and Cultural Centre at Thalookkara village in Malappuram district, Kerala. They ransacked furniture, poured petrol inside the building and set it on fire. The library, with over 5,000 books and other material such as musical instruments, was completely destroyed in the fire. Wouldn’t this kind of an action in the name of preaching Hinduism hurt the soul of Shri Advaita and others who never dealt with the dissent of opinion by violence?
3. Shiva Ji Maharaj though he was in a continuous fight with the Mughals, instructed his troops, when they captured a Quran or Bible, to treat it with respect and keep it safe until they could find a Muslim or Christian to give it to, according to the great historian of that time, Khafi. Would the same Shiva Ji Maharaj be pleased to see the torched Qurans and the burnt mosques during the Bombay riots, with the people chanting his name and shouting his slogans??
4. The Hindus had always welcomed refugees from other countries, regardless of their religious identities, when the Jews were treated badly by many of the European countries and none of them felt safe there, Indian Jews lived in peace without any instances of anti-Semitism from the local majority populace. St. Thomas one of the 12 disciples of Jesus landed in Kerala and was welcomed here, much before Christianity was welcomed in Europe. Some of the saints even kept such migrants at their temples and provided them with food and water. Could that image of tolerance the ancient Hindus showed be compared with the intolerance shown by the Hindutvadis to other religious communities of the country??
5. Adi Shankara, a leading proponent of Advaita, in verse 1.25 to 1.26 of his Upadeśasāhasrī, asserts that the observation of divinity could only be purified by Ahimsa (non-violence, abstinence from injuring others in body, mind and thoughts) and Satya (truth, abstinence from falsehood). These two values, truth and non-violence, held the central position in ancient Hinduism. Needless to say, the Hindutvadis have totally abstained from these two values by instilling riots and spreading fake news to promote their agenda of hatred and insecurity among the Hindus. They are building a structure that lacks both the pillars on which Hinduism stands.
6. Proving that the Santana Dharma or Pure Brahminism is the only right way to God is in itself contradictory to the idea of Hinduism itself. People like Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramahansa claim that what differentiates Hinduism from Semitic religions is that Hinduism accepts that there are many ways to God or Moksha, even belief in the existence of God isn’t necessary to attain (sarva dharma sanbhava) i.e. all religions are possible. But according to the Hindutvadis, Hinduism and that too of a particular kind should be followed to attain the ultimate. This belief indeed contradicts the central theme of ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanthi (the truth is one, sages call it by different names) around which Hinduism was structured.
Whereas Hinduism is an inward-directed faith, focusing on self-realization above all; Hindutva is an outward-directed concept aimed at creating social and cultural distinctions for a political purpose. Hinduism presents the Hindus as people who achieved exceptional sophistication, pioneered education, invented games like chess and began the first systematic study of the political economy, RSS presents its followers as unquestioning idolaters, fanatics, belligerent devotees and religious murderers. The choice remains with the Hindus, either to follow the Hinduism that the ancient sages and swamis like Adyanta and Vivekananda preached, or to claim that all those sages were deceived and unaware of the religion and these petty men who know little about the beliefs, the traditions and the history of faith in whose “defense” they claim to act, are the actual preachers of Hinduism.
We have a crystal clear conclusion, the current Hindutvadi faction represented by RSS has failed the litmus test of sincerity miserably, strikingly though, it has got many things in common with its Islamic counterpart ISIS, both utilized the innocent people with honey covered promises of a secure state to live in, both were on ground far away from the teachings of the religions they sought to protect, both did more damage than good to their communities. ISIS tarnished the image of Muslims and gave it a violent non-tolerant look that didn’t rightly belong to Islam, they initiated civil wars, claimed a lot of lives, forced the people to say Allahu Akbar and made the Muslims hang their head low in shame, Muslims around the world had to take the blame for the actions of a small violent group and the overall image of Islam was tarnished. RSS and Bajrang Dal too are presenting a defamed image of Hinduism by instilling riots, torching the worship places, slaughtering the innocent people, making people chant Jai Shri Ram forcefully, leading to the growth of Anti-Hindu sentiments around the world. Neither ISIS benefitted Islam nor will RSS benefit Hinduism. These self-proclaimed guards of Hinduism are only working to disfigure the religion and destruct the pillars on which it stood for 3,000 years.
The similarities between both RSS and ISIS, in their violent means, deceived ends, and deviation from their own religion is striking. The cancer of ISIS has been mostly controlled, the Muslim scholars who spread awareness in the community and protected the people from falling prey to such bigots played an important role in limiting its influence. Now is the turn for Hindus, their intellectuals and scholars to understand the danger posed by the RSS to the overall image of the Hindu community as a peaceful and tolerant group, and to raise the awareness among the Hindus and protect them from falling prey to these bigots. Hinduism has indeed much more to lose than to gain from such efforts of forcefully painting the entire country with saffron. The teachings of founders of Hinduism and its bright faces like Adi Shankara, Swami Vivekananda should be taught instead of violence lessons in the name of religion ahand nation.
Sarveshaam Svastir-Bhavatu |
Sarveshaam Shaantir-Bhavatu |
Sarveshaam Purnnam-Bhavatu |
Sarveshaam Manggalam-Bhavatu |
May there be Well-Being in All,
May there be Peace in All,
May there be Fulfilment in All,
May there be Auspiciousness in All.