Sunday, March 9, 2014


When a Tiger is convinced that it is a Sheep, then it creates problems for itself. But when someone else is convinced that the Tiger is a Sheep, then it creates problems for everybody. Of late members of the Hindu brigade are aggressively trying to protect the interest of the faith and making the wrong news in the process.
84 year old Dinanath Batra who managed to pulp the remaining copies of a published book on Wendy Doniger’s understanding of Hinduism and in the bargain exponentially increased the circulation of its soft copy, declares rather shamelessly "Freedom of expression cannot trample our identity, culture, religion and tradition. It has to have a limit. We cannot allow anti-national writings". Priceless! Old man, thank you very much, the great Hindu religion which has been in existence since the past several thousands of years desperately needs shoulders like yours to protect it from the evil intention carrying westerners. I had seen the book “The Hindus by Wendy Doniger” a long time back at the book-store and after going through the back cover I had opined that it was not worth reading. But now because of this controversy I felt that I probably should read the book. Definitely! I myself downloaded a soft copy. To my disappointment Wendy Doniger is not the villain that she has been made out to be. I would rather place the blame squarely at the doors of the great Hindu religion itself. It is so vast, so multi-faceted and multi-layered, so deep in its meaning, so full of parables and metaphors, so doctrinal and simple at the same time, that anybody and everybody reading a part of it is bound to experience a different understanding a different meaning. And also each time they read it. Therefore it is not strange and new when someone reads sex in the images of Hindu gods. We Indians do it, so why fault the foreigners. In fact to put it squarely, when you feel that you have understood the correct meaning of the scriptures, precisely at that moment you should tell yourself to stop fooling around and to look deeper.
A religion and culture that survived not one not two but many thousands of years, that survived the fall of Indus and Saraswati river civilisations, that survived numerous popular religions which sprouted in its wake like Buddhism, that survived foreign invaders like the Mongols, the Turks, the Mughals and the British, that survived numerous language changes like Sanskrit, Hindi and English, does it really need protection. If it was to have been extinguished, then it would not have survived for so long. However let nobody remain in the misunderstanding that it has survived in its original form. The current Hindu religion and culture is not the same that was practiced during the time when the Saraswati flowed. It also was very different at the time when the Buddha lived and preached. It has evolved, it has reinvented itself, several times. Every time it has come back strongly, become more relevant to the times, to show people the way to live. In fact, if it had remained unyielding, uncompromising, unchanging, then it would certainly have been discarded by the very people of this land. The people of this land have no dearth of religions to choose from. The soil of this land is spiritually fertile. Therefore for the same reason, the Hindu religion needs no self-appointed protector. It is capable on its own.
Essentially change is an evitable must. The Hindu Brigade should understand this. Recently the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha went on record proclaiming that it would not compromise on moral values, social systems and traditions in the name of individual freedom and would not accept homosexuality and live-in relationships. It seems to me that the days of RSS are numbered. They better not be so rigid in their stance if they wish to remain relevant. They should be more nuanced in their response to the reality of the environment.
While nobody denies the ills of society, one has to accept that society has never been free of ills right from the day humans started living together. Neither do we live the same life style that existed thousands of years ago. Indian society has seen rituals like Sati come and go. We have seen customs change, we have seen attitudes change. We have changed from joint family to nuclear family. While our religion exults the story of Shravan, today we cannot find place for our parents in our homes. While our religion glorifies a vegetarian diet, today we finance poultry and fisheries as a business to grow and kill life for food. Times change and people change.
Sexual inclination has changed. Rape or forceful sex has become rampant. Homosexuality is also a human condition. Live-ins have become more common in the present times. These are symptoms of social ills and social changes. The Hindu Brigade should instead rather focus on the root causes instead of addressing the symptoms. Today a father cannot marry of his daughter for the want of dowry money. Khap Panchayats won’t permit same gotra marriage. Marriages between different religions are also looked down upon. Life in the villages has lost its charm and people prefer the hazards of urban life. Economics has scored over the quality of life. Why don’t we hear anything from the Hindu Brigade on these matters. Banning a book, deriding freedom of speech, ridiculing homosexuality and live-in relationships is taking the easy way out to oblivion.