What do you know about Hinduism/Hindutva and India? A quick guide

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions or belief systems in the world. Hinduism and Hindutva are the same, just a play of words. What “ism” is in English “tva” is in Hindi. I think that makes it clear. Do not fall for any dummy distinction.

India for the last few hundred centuries was generally understood territory beyond present Afghanistan and ancient texts claim much beyond.

India was a land of dreams and riches for a poor Europe back in the 16th-17th centuries. Europeans competed to discover a sea route to India. Church and the Monarchs were sponsoring sailors. Did you ever try to look for why Monarchs were sponsoring Vasco da Gama and Columbus to look for “India”?

Indian traders were trading since the days of Mesopotamia and the Roman empire. They are mentioned in Roman court records. The quality of cotton and linen was unparalleled.

Pliny the Elder, in 77 CE, called India “the sink of the world’s gold!” In the 16th century, Portugal protested that its hard-won silver from South America was being lost to India (https://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/all-the-worlds-gold/article2395912.ece).

India was very rich. But this trade could not have been possible without support from scientific advancement. It is said the Indian trader who helped Vasco da Gama at Cape of Good Hope and tagged him along with his ships to India, had ships twelve times bigger than Portuguese ships. The traders had a good sense of Astronomy. The scientific achievements of ancient India were in all scientific fields. Indian ancient Sanskrit texts mention that saint Kanad had written about an atom, the first plastic surgery by Saint Shushurut, Aryabatt invented Zero, Bhaskaracharya wrote about Gravity and the list is endless. An encyclopedia of science called Surya Sidhant traveled through the Arab world to Europe, it is believed that many later scientific discoveries are out of the pages of these books. Many Arabic scholars have given credit for many later discoveries/inventions to India. But it is generally believed that many of the European scholars were silent. Plagiarism has very deep and old roots.

In current parlance, where a lot of myth and misconception is being spread, which are dangerous to human society, it is necessary to disperse these. Colonialism have direct disadvantages which we all are aware but there is veiled colonialism which continues after decades of independence of a colony. To understand this point please do read my satire on colonialism “Pirates who became Sires’: A satire on British rule in India” https://medium.com/writers-blokke/pirates-who-became-sires-7e686ea90cbe

For those who are confused with many contradictory facts about Hinduism/Hindutva and India, I have summarized it in simple points, so that the issue does not dissolve and dissipate in heavy prose. A simple quick guide.

Basic Ethos and beliefs of Hindus: Who is a Hindu and what does he believe in.

  1. Hindus believe in many Gods and Goddesses. But every family has its primary deity amongst them and it changes from family to family and region to region. Many sects and parallel philosophies, including atheism are all accepted within Hinduism, yet all variations are “Equally” Hindu and treated so by each other.
  2. Hindus believe that a relationship with God is an individual journey -to reach the divine.
  3. Hindus do not think of religion in binary. It is more like “My God is good, Your God is good. let us respect all” They respect all forms of religions. They believe that all religions lead to one divine. No concept of “true God”. All God and Goddesses are a form of Shakti or Divine power. So they have no issue in accepting any belief system.
  4. Most of the Hindus have no problem in going to places of worship of other faiths and you will find them praying there too. Their belief system has trained their mind as all divine powers are the same.
  5. Every Hindu is an independent believer. No one forces him to pray or worship. Even if he does not pray, yet he is a Hindu and there is no punishment for not following any practice or ritual. Society accepts such individual rights.
  6. Hinduism revolves around good karma, pure thoughts, austerity, benevolence towards all living beings. Live and let live is the mantra. They believe that the world is a family and every living being has the right to live. The more you help others your karma will improve. Hindu philosophy propagates sharing and respect. One of the Sanskrit shlokas says a guest is like God and the world is a family.
  7. Hinduism is very keenly associated with the concept of Mother. It lays special emphasis on the mother’s power and love, be it the mother who has given birth, the land where you are born, or the sacred animal like a cow.
  8. By the way, Hitler did not use Swastika it was a Heiken cross.
  9. India is a unique land and Hinduism is a fascinating open concept. Hinduism does not believe in conversion because they are truly liberal, they believe all paths lead to the same divine. The independence and respect for the individual spiritual journey have kept Hindusim alive despite centuries of genocides and atrocities.
  10. Average Hindu is cool about Hinduism. Most of them do not give much thought to it. The concept of fanaticism is generally unheard of. Yes, more voices are heard against propaganda. Propaganda was going on for decades, but Hindus were not bothered, now with the coming of social media, many put in their protest in words.
  11. Hinduism has a special place for a woman. They believe that all women are Devi or Goddesses. In fact, during Navratri, blessings of at least 7 little girls are taken. They are worshiped on that day. Hindus worship Goddesses (Devi) for power or victory. Many of the military war cries are the hailing of Devis. Demons are slain by Devi or Goddesses.
  12. Hindus generally are family-oriented and traditionally live in joint families. In these joint families, the oldest family member is respected the most.

Hinduism and a glance at the past

  1. It is a way of life, reflected in all spheres including warfare. Most of the Hindu kings followed the code of conduct of war even with the enemies. Prisoners of wars were treated well. Women and children were never mistreated or normally taken as prisoners. The war ended after Sundown to be resumed at the break of dawn. The War rules were very much respected. The war was fought only with soldiers, the citizens were never involved.
  2. Hindu kings would never destroy the place of worship of any faith. For example, Shivaji is known to repair the Mosques and Dargahs if they were damaged during the war. But the Mughals would destroy the temples in Shivaji’s area whenever they attacked.
  3. Dethroning or killing your father or any other kin is an alien concept in the History of India. It will be very rare (if at all if one can find it) and most condemned action.
  4. Hindus have been welcoming any religiously persecuted community and help them flourish for centuries. For example, the Gujrat king not only allowed the Parsis to escape the persecution from Persia, today’s Iran to stay and live comfortably but built a fire temple for them. Today India is a home for many Jews, Parsis, Armenians, Iraqis, Afghani, Tibetans, and others. They can practice their faith according to their wish.
  5. First Mosque in the Indian subcontinent was built by Hindu King in Kerala.
  6. Afghanistan was part of old India, but the British had given it away much before India became free. Afghanistan was predominantly Hindu. Later the Sikhs and Buddhism which are part of Hinduism spread in the region. The Hindu king Kanishka is still part of Afghanistan’s historic memory. Now with the last of Hindus’ exodus after the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, the land is wiped clean of Hindus finally.
  7. Hindus had been brutally killed and Hindu genocide was done under the various invaders like Tamur, Akbar, Babur, Aurengzeb, Jahangir, Ghori, and likes. Most Hindus were tortured and killed because they did not agree to convert. It is believed that Hindukush mountain got the name after the continuous genocides of Hindus on it- a mountain where Hindus are killed. The Hindu women were sold in the slave market by the invaders. https://www.hinduscriptures.com/history/what-is-hindu-kush/1373/
  8. Hindu genocide is not even acknowledged.
  9. Thousands of Hindu temples were systematically destroyed. Taj Mahal is disputed to be an ancient Shiv Temple.
  10. The firstborn sons of Hindus were made Sikhs by Hindus to save themselves from centuries of ongoing genocides. This process aggravated after Jahangir tortured and killed the sixth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Arjan Dev of Sikhs for not converting. When Aurangzeb started genocide of Hindus in Kashmir (Kashmir is named after Hindu saint Kashyap)for not converting. The Kashmiri Brahmins went to the 9th Sikh Guru for help. Guru Teghbahadur told Aurangzeb that if he succeeds to convince him to convert, all Hindus will convert. But he treacherously captured the Guru and the three saints accompanying him. They were tortured by quartering them, boiling in oil, and finally beheading the Guru. Then the 10th Guru Gobind Singh raised the Khalsa. He fought more than 30 wars with Mughals and finally established the Sikh empire which extended to present-day Afghanistan.
  11. In Goa, Hindus were tortured by Portuguese invaders, women’s breasts pulled out, and what not on refusal for getting converted. The horrors are many but I am citing very few to give the reader some idea. You can look for neutral books and the right sources.
  12. Hindu Queens and women in the fort used to burn themselves alive (Johar) to save themselves from these invaders if they realized that the Hindu king will lose the war.
  13. Mughals used to levy Jazia tax on Hindus.
  14. India became independent in 1947 from British rule, Muslims under Jinnah demanded partition, saying Muslims cannot live with Hindus. The voting showed that Muslims in states like Bihar, UP, and Tamil Nadu voted for a separate state for Muslims (present Pakistan and Bangladesh). But the British gave the part of the North West and Eastern area of India to Pakistan instead. The Muslims who had demanded a separate Muslim state did not move to Pakistan. The Muslim population in India has believed to have gone roughly up to 14% from then around 9% whereas Hindus in Pakistan have almost disappeared. Illegal Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh and Rohingyas from Burma are not recorded.
  15. Hindus in India decided not to declare newly independent India as Hindu Rashtra though there was a demand to do so. But India welcomed all religions and communities who decided to stay, including the Muslims who demanded Pakistan, created it, and yet did not go there.
  16. Moplah massacre of Hindus was not only brushed aside but the perpetrators were made heroes in History books.https://www.opindia.com/2021/08/moplah-massacre-leaders-removed-from-indian-freedom-fighters-dictionary/
  17. In West Bengal Muslim league called for a Direct Action Day to expedite partition by eliminating Hindus in the region.https://www.opindia.com/2021/08/tracing-the-events-that-led-to-direct-action-day-and-genocide-from-the-late-19th-century-partition-of-bengal/amp/
  18. Many Hindus who wanted to come from Pakistan were massacred or not allowed to leave Pakistan. Some succeeded in escaping. https://www.dnaindia.com/explainer/report-dna-explainer-why-did-partition-of-india-happen-and-the-horrors-that-took-place-2905947

Indian society today and Hinduism

  1. Today in most of the parts of India where Hindus are in majority, all religious communities live in harmony.
  2. Hindus in large majority still believe that there are good and bad people in followers of any religion and that has nothing to do with Islam or Christianity.
  3. Hindus are perhaps the only religion, so tolerant that the “dismantling” Hindutva conference was organized and no violent episodes were reported. I wonder if the organizers would even dare to suggest “Dismantling” any other religion.
  4. Ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus was done in the 1990s again. The suffering of Kashmiri Hindus continues. They have become refugees in their land. https://www.hindustantimes.com/columns/the-many-tragedies-of-the-kashmiri-pandits/story-8QKwIRf8ZrsfxhXlqwUEMM.html
  5. Similarly many places where the Muslim population increases and it became the majority such ethnic cleansing of Hindus is done in India, despite being in majority one such example other than Kashmir is Mewat (https://www.hindujagruti.org/hindu-issues/atrocities-on-hindus/save-mewat-hindus ) But I have not read any reverse situation where Hindus are in majority. This concept of ethnic cleansing is alien to Hinduism. The press is silent of such facts. But if any Hindu even expresses discomfort with such ethnic cleansing the international and national diaspora and press starts screaming “fascism”. Hindus are afraid to even speak this.
  6. There are other minorities in India other than Muslims, like Parsis, Jews, Sikhs, Jain, Armenians, Tibetans, etc but there had never been any such incidences of either riots or ethnic cleansing. Above communities are real minorities many of them are less than 1% of the population, they are highly educated, affluent, and at top places in India and never heard of complaining of “fear” from Hindus.
  7. India also is expected to have 311 million Muslims in 2050 (11% of the global total), making it the country with the largest population of Muslims in the world. (source: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/04/21/by-2050-india-to-have-worlds-largest-populations-of-hindus-and-muslims/). The minority is flourishing. But Hindus in Pakistan or Afghanistan have disappeared. No one is asking where have they gone?
  8. Universities and so-called intellectuals got together to dismantle an ancient religion but not a sound on Hindu-phobia. The world is in denial of Hindu phobia and centuries of Hindu genocide.
  9. Hinduism is perhaps the only religion that is surviving despite such genocides. And followers have not opted to convert.
  10. There are many Islamic countries, many Christian countries, there is Jew country but there is no Hindu country. Even if Hindus demand one, it is targeted and demonized as the most heinous and unspeakable action. A community that has been facing genocide and religious persecution for centuries and continues to face the same, as we see in the case of Afghanistan in the most recent case. The disappearing Hindu population in Bangladesh and Pakistan is alarming. Afghanistan has recently wiped out the last of Hindus. Did you hear any murmur from anywhere? Where will the Hindus find a haven, they have no Hindu nation.
  11. The present discourse has roots in past including colonialism. Please do read the satire on colonialism in India https://medium.com/writers-blokke/pirates-who-became-sires-7e686ea90cbe

Constitution and other laws in India and Hindus

  1. The money donated by Hindus to temples in India is taken over by the State by law. Hindus have no funds to propagate or conserve their beliefs. But all other religious places like churches and mosques not only can keep their collection, in many states the religious priests of these minority religions are paid a monthly salary by State.https://sarayutrust.org/2020/08/29/free-hindu-temple-movement-faqs-all-you-need-to-know-about-this-movement/#what-is-free-hindu-temple-movement
  2. Secularism was not part of the original constitution. It was rejected by the constitution-makers. The word Secular was added in the 1970s in the constitution by the Congress government.
  3. Indian constitution gives special protection to minorities in India. A Minority Commission is set up where they give scholarships and interest-free loans to minorities. The first time after the independence a non- Muslim minority chairperson was appointed as head of the Commission.No such scheme is there for Hindus.
  4. Prior to BJP, the Governments or party in power were leaning towards minority voters as the minority votes are sizeable in number and are posted en-bloc believed to be voted based on religion. In BJP Government funds to Minority Commission have increased considerably. There is an increase in scholarships and loans to a minority.
  5. Independent India’s First five Education Ministers were Muslim.
  6. Indian school textbooks glorify the above invaders who carried the Hindu genocide and have no or passing reference to Hindu warriors or kings. Any attempt to rectify is met by national and international fascist and Hindutva allegations.
  7. Dr. R.C Majumdar was appointed as Director of Board of Editor in 1952, for writing official History of India, based on his credentials as a Historian, but the Ministry of Education who had appointed him soon removed him from the Board. The reputation of Dr. R.C Majumdar is of high professional integrity.
  8. The NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) has said that it has no evidence to prove that Mughal emperors had rebuilt temples destroyed in wars, even when it claims the same in its history textbook. This was revealed in an RTI application seeking evidence for the claim made in the textbook. (Information received under the Right to Information Act in Nov 2020. https://www.opindia.com/2021/01/ncert-does-not-have-source-for-claim-that-mughals-had-rebuilt-temples/)
  9. Hindus fought legal battles for more than 50 years to reclaim the sacred temple — the birthplace of their God Ram in Ayodhya — which was destroyed and a mosque was built by an invader. After winning the case they did not publicly celebrate so that sentiment of their fellow citizens is not hurt.
  10. CAA or Citizen Amendment Bill was to grant a shorter residency period for citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, etc minorities who had landed in India till 2014, from Islamic nations like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh escaping religious persecution. There were fierce protests, by Muslims of India to grant the same easy citizenship to Muslims from these countries to India. India was targeted by the press for not adding Muslims to the list.
  11. Muslims from any country can get citizenship in India there is no bar and they have been getting citizenship as well. Recently Adnan Sami singer-actor from Pakistan have been given citizenship.
  12. Recently, propaganda of Muslim minorities is in fear was geared up, but if the Muslim minority is in danger then why would they so vehemently demand the right to get easy citizenship in India for Muslims from Islamic nations. Normally you would expect frightened citizens to seek asylum or citizenship from other countries. Like we saw in Afghanistan. There are many Islamic nations in the world, therefore the two things do not add up.

Caste system and Hinduism

  1. The caste system is targeted in India. Word Caste is not Indian. Western sociologists and historians tried to fit the system in what concept they could understand. Hindu text talks of the Varna system. This was the division of work.
  2. Over the years in many places, it got corrupted and division of work became non-fluid across Varna and the exploitation started.
  3. Such distortions are seen in all societies like slavery in Europe and America, the serf system in Europe, etc.
  4. Independent India has abolished such practices and made them punishable. The disadvantaged communities are given special protection and reservation in government jobs and educational institutions. They are supported through scholarships and financial support. The government of India has a dedicated Ministry for social justice systematically promoting and protecting. Such practices are generally not seen, especially not in towns.
  5. Inter-caste marriages are very normal now.

RSS and Hinduism

  1. Hinduism does not have any congregational or organizational wing. Neither they have anyone point religious leadership. Every Hindu is independent in his faith and belief. For example, Hinduism has no parallel of Pope or Imam in their system. There is no congregational system.
  2. If you have heard about (Rashtriya swam Savak Sangh- which means National Volunteer organization) RSS then do not get confused. It has nothing to do with religion.
  3. RSS is a social service organization, it runs schools(Bal Shishu Mandirs- you can check), and other social work activities like assistance during natural disasters, etc. https://www.rashtriyasewabharati.org/
  4. As far as it is known, they do not take any funds from non-members. All members are volunteers who want to work for society, they contribute money and time and some become full-time volunteers called the pracharaks, they do not marry but take a vow to commit their life to the nation and society. They train themselves in all spheres like reading, fitness, etc. They run shakhas or camps for such training and social works. They train and interact with children in the social service of humanity.
  5. RSS is more than 80 years old and existed before the independence of India. They consider India as their mother. They have a very fine network of volunteers and they are aligned with the political ideology of a political party called BJP which is in power in India at present. People attribute the success of BJP in general elections to the goodwill RSS has earned with the masses. It is believed that this is a major reason that RSS is targeted and maligned.RSS is around a century-old organization, but I have never read any proven violence or illegal activity anywhere in the world or India associated with this Organisation. (This is based on what I have read and seen over the years.) I do not recall any terrorist attack ever done in India or outside and claimed by any Hindu person or group. Do you?
  6. RSS has a wing of Muslim volunteers.

Keep this summary sheet handy, next time if anybody talks about Dismantling a humanitarian belief system that embraces spirituality and individual rights, and also calculate what the world may lose and become if Hinduism/ Hindutva is dismantled.

Humankind needs to remember history and the deadly games played, when one community is demonized like Jews were first demonized in society, in stories, and other social discourse; the result was Holocaust. Similarly, Africans were demonized as lesser humans and devil worshipers feeling no pain and history saw the most inhuman practice of slavery. What is the intention in demonizing Hindus is a vital question?

Published by Through the social glass

I am that thought which you just brushed aside

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