On Politics and Religion

I had a long conversation today with a close friend of mine, who pointed out to me that my political opinions felt somewhat biased against Hinduism. He was referring to one of my posts where I speculated if the Nuh violence could have been instigated by Bajrang Dal for political reasons. He pointed out to me that even if the origin of the violence was political, it doesn't change the fact that the Muslim population in Nuh threw stones and are not free of blame. My friend pointed out to me that I had nowhere condemned that. I revisited my post and found out he was somewhat right. 

Recently I have been writing against fanatic Hindu ideology. My reason for this  is simple: It is not the Hinduism (Santan Dharm or whatever you want to call it) that was taught to me growing up. 

I was taught that we were the most inclusive of religions. I was taught to respect others' faith. I was taught that regardless of whatever name you call your God by (Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwar - or Allah, Buddha, Jesus, God), the creator is essentially the same. This made sense to me, growing up. Especially because it eliminated the scope for conflict. 

When I grew up, I found out that Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam are not inclusive in their ideology. They are rather rigid with their definition of divinity. There is a compulsion to align with one thought and reject others. I thought it was truly inconvenient - because this would create conflicts. And it does. We have seen that historically, people have fought in the name of religion. For example - the crusades. In more recent times, we have seen how Islam's rigid ideas have been twisted by terror outfits to mislead people and carry out horrible inhuman acts of violence across the world. 

I always thought that Hinduism was above all that, because we were inclusive and accepting of all thoughts. This belief of mine has been attacked by the fanatic Hindu ideology of RSS, BJP, Bajrang Dal and such. I talk against them because they have taken away the moral high ground that the religion I was born into had given me. It has taken away my pride in the religion of my ancestors. You see, earlier when the Hindu faith's weaknesses like the caste system, regressive customs like sati pratha, etc were discussed, I would proudly say that great reforms had happened to correct these practices and that openness to reform was what Hinduism was all about. Sadly, the Hindu faith that fanatic outfits are propagating (Hindutva) resembles fanatic Islam (the kind used to incite violence) more than it resembles the Hinduism I was born into.

Fanatical thought (kattarta) inevitably finds an enemy to fight against. We have seen this in ISIS, Taliban, AlQaeda, Pakistan's ISI, etc. I have condemned them from the bottom of my heart. The fanatic Hindu thought has found its latest enemy in Indian Muslims. And I have been talking against that. Because I argue that by targeting Indian Muslims, we are vilifying a whole community, a major chunk of our population, living breathing people. Every time I raise this argument though, I meet with the counter - "Do they identify as Indian? Why do they throw stones? Why do they follow ISIS? Why do they take part in riots?" You see, these counter-arguments are hard to argue against because they are based in some elements of truth. Due to the rigid nature of Islamic faith and the political global climate with respect to Islam, we often come across people, Muslim people in India whose loyalty is divided between nation and religion. We come across people who are easily manipulated and are quick to violence. This helps the fanatic Hindus to label all Indian Muslims and paint them as enemies of the nation. 

My whole opposition to the fanatic Hindu ideology hinges on the belief that most Indian Muslims are good people, that most Indian Muslims are not fanatical in nature - they are normal people like any of us, struggling to provide for their families, busy in making ends meet. Sadly, most people (including Hindus who are not fanatical) have trouble believing that. And because of that, more and more people are aligning with RSS-Bajrang Dal ideology lately. Because the "enemy" is easy to hate. All they need is to convince Hindus that there is a deliberate effort to harm them, to convert their women, to insult their beliefs and to end their power. Fear is a great motivator and it has helped rally a huge chunk of this country's population against the minority Muslim population. 

And at this point, let us visit the biggest problem of this ideology - the current political scenario! You see, earlier Bajrang Dal and RSS did not have the full support of the ruling party and hence, were just fringe elements causing trouble here and there. But now with BJP in power, they have unlimited affirmation that emboldens them in their hatred. This gives them the ability to bully and harass whoever they see as "enemy", be it Muslims, be it Hindus not voting for BJP or be it unmarried couples on Valentine's Day. BJP and RSS/ Bajrang Dal are both using each other to get what they want - in the process, they are hurting common people. BJP wants to be in power, the fanatic Hindu outfits (who they are aligned with in ideology right from the beginning) are helping them keep the power. Who's the victim in this? Muslims, sure. But also the common people who did not vote for violence, the common people who voted for a government that would prioritize it's people rather than indulge in politics of hate. And lastly, every person who is hurt in any of the religion bases violence that takes place in this country is a victim or the fanatical ideology. 

The "us vs them" narrative is what I have a problem with. I have a problem with the Hindu that is lynching people. I have a problem with the Muslim who is throwing stones. I have a problem with politicians giving hate speech - regardless of their religion. I have a problem with pseudo-intellectuals pushing the religious agenda by spreading half truths about Mughals and the kingdoms that fought them in the past. (The false narrative that Mughals were invaders. They did come from outside but they stayed. They were migrants. Just like Aryans were migrants several thousand years earlier.) Because this will not lead to the betterment of the people, this will only lead to more fighting among people, more hate. 

I want to also point out to people that my opposition of BJP is mainly on their fanatic Hindu stance. I also don't appreciate their habit of lying about the extent of their work, their lack of transparency, their control of media and more recently, their concerted efforts to turn India into a false democracy in indirect ways. I feel like they will do anything to keep their power and hence a strong opposition is needed to make sure that even if they stay in power, they stay honest, they stay answerable to the people.

If Congress wins, I would have the same expectations from them as well - that they are honest, transparent and work for upliftment of all the citizens. I would expect them to spend public money more on actual work than advertisement. (The Modi government has used 8 times more money in advertisement than any administration before them - public money used to keep Modi in power.) And if they falter, you will see me oppose them too. That is because this country is a democracy. The day it stops being a democracy (which is an actual possibility the way BJP has been manipulating the  agencies and commissions), the Indian people will have no right to ask questions or demand anything. That's why asking questions is important. 

As far as my own religious belief, I am an agnostic. I question the validity and relevance of all religions everyday. I often wonder if the world would be a better place if there were no religions. Because it's not God who is creating trouble in the world, it's just people using God as an excuse. 


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