Friday, August 23, 2013

Look beyond politics

Look beyond politics                                                                            22 Aug 2013

It’s time to liberate Hinduism from politics, identity and protest, and delve instead into its plurality of doctrines, stories and delimmas.

I was born Hindu, and I am a nationalist. So you can call me a Hindu nationalist. So said Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. His social media armies call themselves “proud Hindus” and “Unapologetic hindus”. Your humble columnist has the dubious honour of coining the phrase ‘Internet Hindus’. Author Salman Rushdie has said he finds the rise of hindu intolerance in India at the moment just as worrying as the rise of Islamic intolerance.

The assertion of majoritarian Hindu identity dominates the political space. In the cultural space the celebration of festivals has become a tad too consumerist. We need to ask ourselves who exactly can call himself of herself the 21st century Hindu? Does Hinduism today permit any complec interrogation by those born Hindu? Is simply an RSS-style assertion of ‘national identity’ taking the place of a realistic appraisal of that Hinduism means, what it should mean, in the modern era? After all, traditions are best kept alive if revitalized for newer generations. Apart from the politics, at an individual level, it seems as if we are still in search of 21st century Hindu.

Today there are protests by Hindu outfits against western culture, against art exhibitions, against films, plays, books and authors. Given this culture of incessant protest and outrage, few of us Hindus stop to think whether the religion of our birth has been reduced to a banner of protest against Islam, against westernization, and against so-called pseudo-secularism. Why are many of those who declare they are Hindu perpetually offended?

As a journalist in Delhi, I report daily on Hindu nationalists and Hindutva politicians, But reporting from Sabarimala, Jagannath Yatra, Kumbh mela and Kalighat temple, I find that the avalanche of legends, practices, shrines, stories totally dwarf the politics played in their name.
It’s time to try and liberate Hinduism from politics, identity and perpetual protest, and delve instead into its plurality of doctrines, stories and dilemmas. There’s no reason why explorations in Hinduism should not be a serious input into modern debates on caste, environment, sexuality and gender rights. To give Hinduism new life, the modern Hindu should resist simply remaining a political Hindu.
Extract from an article HT 14 Aug 2013 Sagarika Ghose

Communalism spreads hatred & divisiveness in the society. This leads to fundamentalism. Fundamentalism leads to aggressiveness and riotous approach. And finally we land up with terrorism and related activities.

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Wake up India?

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