Is There A Need For A Hindu Knee-Jerk Reaction?

This article was originally published in Swarajya.

This article has been written in response to R Jagannathan’s article, ‘Hindutva Dilemmas And Why The Pankaj Mishras Find It Easy To Mock Them’, published on Swarajya on 23 January.

It is a show of power for the Western point of view to baselessly mock at viewpoints that differ with their “paranoid” civilisational worldview. Why baseless? To take a very topical example from the south of India, it is the absurdity of the comparison of “hump holding” of the Indian native breed bulls to violent goring of humpless bulls, by a “civilised” sword-waving, impeccably-dressed Spanish matador, which led to a ridiculous claim of animal abuse and the ensuing ban on jallikattu. So, if the Pankaj Mishras of the self-proclaimed MENSA-club members make some absurd claims, should we give currency to every such baseless blabber? It is vital that we resolve this fundamental question before cursing ourselves for or not responding to every school bully act of mockery from the “club” members and allied sepoys.

Infection of Insanity

There is ample scientific and archival historical evidence now in our hand that can glibly argue, if not hands down win the debate, against the imperial myth of linear progress of the Western civilisational model. As Mahatma Gandhi argued succinctly when asked about his opinion of the Western civilisation; if from the present-day, Western-sponsored or induced global violence to the genocidal extermination of almost half the globe’s continent-sized native populations and its ensuing permanent unchallenged occupation of those blood-soaked plundered lands, and even further back in history on the inquisitorial nature of spread of Christianity to the violence of the Roman and Greek civilisations; was there and is there anything civilisational at all about the West?

Given an honest answer to this question, why would it be anathema for the Hindus to believe that there is no modern-day wisdom that cannot be found in their oceanic volume of literature? In fact, the vast majority of the literature of about fifty million or thereabouts of Indic manuscripts are yet to be looked at even once by modern scholars, let alone re-deciphered. Is it not premature to claim novelty when it has not been proven that it is not a reinvention of the wheel? It might suit a PR spin campaign, in which alone the West has more than linearly progressed without a doubt.

Castes of mind : If only we had read our expansive volume of literature and understood it, we would not have allowed the egalitarian guna-varna system (meritocracy) to be undermined by the Western orientalist emphasis on varnaashrama-dharma modelled on their elitist, and subsequently racist, class system of superior-inferior gradations and hierarchies (castes-by-birth) that is now proven to be entirely of foreign imposition:

(1) Population genetics data ; (2) Nicholas Dirk’s exposition of the Mackenzie Archives ; (3) Dharampal’s archives of material from the East India Company and the British government in the UK and India; and (4) the conveniently ignored sociological data of gotras, kulas, kudis and other such markers present across castes in completely different varnas.

This is not to deny the need for major reforms in the current Hindu society that is practising, alien-imposed, castes-by-birth. However, this should not mean we ignore the external agent causing the disease in the body, for if the agent is not revealed, identified and removed, the disease will persist, and may even become fatal to the body. And it is indeed the duty of the mind residing in that body to seek a cure for its own afflictions, be it caused by external agents or not.

Understandably, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or Veer Sarvarkar have been very vocal in their criticism of the evils of castes-by-birth. Unfortunately, neither these ideologues and organisations nor Ambedkar had the luxury of the archival, empirical and scientific genetic evidence during their times.

Artificial Western binaries vs natural Hindu continuum: Rejection of artificial Western binaries, now scientifically attested by the famous bell curve of statistical sciences, is no indicator of a binary stance of Hindus. On the contrary, it is an intuitive rejection of the untruth of the West and their sepoys by the lay Hindus, and a reasoned dismissal of the absurd claim for truth by the unscientific binary West on the part of the scholarly Hindus. Thus, from a Western-educated lens that we all wear (including this author) knowingly or unknowingly, it would produce the observational bias of an appearance of a binary response.

Apparent contradictions and the reinvention of the wheel: Left to itself, it is in the nature of Hindu Dharma to organically evolve as its foundations are based on a belief in the ever-changing nature of the universe and, consequently, its impermanence. For example, it is famously known that Smritis are written for its period in time (even restricted to places at times) and either the interpretation changes temporally (that is, reinterpreted), or new Smritis are composed that would better fit its time and environment.

That said, the cogency of the organic evolution of Hindu Dharma is not only disturbed but distorted by vested interests. However, the blame is conveniently rested on the body of Hinduism while the cause (external “parasitic” agents) remain active and unthwarted. This has been a recurring theme, especially since the emergence of Western colonialism and growth of their imperial economic interests.

It is no secret of history that many of the Japanese customs have been vilified under a Western (Victorian era) moral code, as much as it has been in India and elsewhere under colonialism. So, would it be a binary reaction to reject this hypothesis? Not so.

Freedom to genocide: “Freedom of religion” has been, at least in practice, nothing but freedom for the West and its handmaiden Christian Churches (or vice versa?) to commit cultural and/or physical genocide on others. From the modern-day Rwandan genocide to the extermination of continent-sized natives of the Americas, Australia and many races of Africa and even Asia, exposes the nature of Western “virtues.” If this “big virtue” is to be abided by, it is nothing but a celebration of the past exterminations and a wilful preparation for future genocides.

Sadly, instead of treating this epidemic of genocides, we are deeply engrossed in a debate on how to submit to it. Are these not facts? Why do we treat the extermination of almost half of humanity in the recent past like fiction? Is it a lack of conscience or the fear of the much-vaunted Western “virtues?”

The insufficiency of Ghar Wapsi: Of course, given the above, it is indeed an excellent conclusion that Ghar Wapsi is utterly ineffective. It is like vaccinating a body which has already been overwhelmed by the disease that the vaccine is trying to prevent. Anybody who knows the Hindu family of Dharmas, especially the prominent example of Buddhism, will acknowledge the effort taken by various acharyas to proselytise. The former spread of Dharmas of the Indic civilisation across various parts of the globe, especially the South East of Asia, is well-known. This could not have happened without a spirit of proselytisation. What we thus need is a resurgence of this old spirit with a concomitant array of efforts to check the spread of the epidemic of genocide (cultural and physical) induced by the Western “virtues.” No amount of anti-dote (be it proselytisation or whatever) will save humanity from this epidemic as long as the “parasite” is not contained appropriately and effectively.

Are all proselytisation equal?

Of course not. How can the spread of a disease and the distributive spread of effective medicines and vaccines be the same by any measure? The proselytisation under the protection of Western “virtues” of their various theologies is aimed at global plunder and genocide as demonstrated by many centuries of empirical historical data to the present day (for example, the Rwandan genocide). Only the wilfully ignorant can ever deny the fact of it.

On the contrary, the Hindu family of Dharmas proselytise for the upliftment of global spirituality (societal impact) through the encouragement of individual efforts (personal transformation). In addition to the historical lack of mass-repetitive continuous violence under the various Hindu Dharmas, combined with the content of such evangelism (upliftment of global spirituality), it could be not anymore different from the proselytisation of the Abrahamic religions. Hindus just cannot and will not become parasitically fanatical plunderers.

Thus, assuming proselytisation itself is Abrahamic, and all proselytisation are equally barbaric in nature are highly mistaken conclusions made by all of us (including this author) while viewing the world through a Western lens. Clearly, proselytisation by Dharmic faiths cannot make them Abrahamic at all, and it is an unfounded apprehension. In fact, it is the emergent necessity of the collective conscience of humanity to undertake such a proselytisation by the Dharmic faiths, lest the world soon descends into unimaginable bloodshed as demonstrated by a large corpus of empirical historical data.

Comparing Jews, a dogmatic Abrahamic religious group, with the Hindus is not like comparing apples and oranges but Earth and planet Pluto. The less said about this, the better. The Marathas, Rajputs, Jats, Ahoms and others have been equally valiant and tenacious as the Sikhs while being far less monotheistic. In fact, the Sikhs have been the most successful before the British influence caused them to discard their polytheism. Thus, the character of a religion is not determined by its monotheism or proselytisation but perhaps its ulterior motives, its dogmatic worldview and such. For example, Communism, though not a religion, has been one of the most deadly ideologies humanity has ever seen.

The problem that Hindus face is thus not one of polytheism or a lack of proselytisation but the collective inability of Hindus to call a spade a spade and expose the genocidal heart of Western “virtues.” Perhaps to this could be added an inability to effectively communicate and counteract the PR spin machinery of the West.

If we throw a stone on mud, it will only splash all over us. So, let us ignore the Mishras and other sepoys. At best, it could just become a to-and-fro, ping-pong game, and at worst, a mudslinging fest. Let us, therefore, look deep into our traditional wisdom for solutions.

To end on a constructive note, it is said that Vyasa exclaimed, after finishing up the Mahabharatha, that there is nothing that is not in there when it comes to human lives and relationships. It will not be an exaggeration to say that the pearls of all necessary wisdom are there, but waiting for us to dive deeper, fish it out and, above all, use it.

References-

[1] The deeply researched works of Balu (Professor S N Balagangadhara) and Rajiv Malhotra more than attest to the power-discourse-driven “othering” by the “West”.

[2] ‘The Myth of Western Science’, C K Raju

[3] The Poverty of Historicism (1964), Karl R Popper

[4] PNAS paper

[5] Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India, 2001

[6] Collected Writings, 5 Volumes, Dharampal, Other India Press, Mapusa, 2000

[7] ‘The limitations of Western Logic’, C K Raju

[8] Japan has been successfully Westernised, so much so that their efforts at “copying” are celebrated.

[9] ‘Hinduism growing in Africa without proselytising

(Acknowledgement: Thanks to Shri Sudarshan T Nadathur for the citations.)

This article was originally published in Swarajya.

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