- “Hindutva” is a code used to attack Hindus, like Zionism is used to attack Jews.
- Hindus are attacked, unprovoked and unwarranted, just because they EXIST.
- The immense, rich Hindu spiritual literature is abused for libelous propaganda.
- Media denounce Hindus and CENSOR Hindu genocide and forced conversion.
- The cacophony against the quiet, naive Hindus may signal a Second Holocaust.
When we look at history, alarming parallels emerge between the experiences of Hindus in the Western world and Jews before the Holocaust. Both groups have been targeted due to their unique lifestyles and religious beliefs. Hindus experienced subtle disparagement of their customs and faith practices, which became increasingly common, and hint at underlying prejudice. Similar insinuations once stigmatized Jews that resulted in severe persecution. Identification of a small group based on faith and practices for reproach reflects a disturbing trend similar to the anti-Semitism before the Holocaust. These similarities call for urgent attention to prevent further escalation of intolerance or violence.
The Hindutva Vs. Hinduism Question
In Western academia, the term “Hindutva,” which otherwise signifies the essence of Hinduism, is increasingly being equated with political Hinduism, similar to how Zionism is viewed as the political arm of Judaism. This shift presents Hindutva as a political ideology rather than a religious philosophy. The narrative that separates ‘Hindutva’ from ‘Hinduism’ has gained systematic acceptance within academic circles, which legitimizes the perception that the former is a form of religious nationalism, distinct from the spiritual principles of the latter. This has already led to misconceptions about the complex, multifaceted nature of Hinduism and its essence, as represented by the original meaning of Hindutva.
The Attack on Hindus for being Hindus
In contemporary times, there has been a rise in the frequency and intensity of attacks on Hindus, notably due to their traditional attire, dietary practices, and celebration of cultural festivals. This concerning trend undermines the principles of pluralism, diversity, and freedom of religious expression that are the cornerstone of liberal societies.
A glaring illustration of this trend occurred in the reaction to people wearing traditional Hindu clothing or sporting a ’tilak’ – a mark on the forehead with religious and spiritual significance in Hindu culture. One such incident involved the youngest Chess Champion of the world, Pragganananda. Several media outlets circulated a photoshopped image of the chess prodigy, erasing his tilak, and thus denying his cultural identity.
Prejudices also manifest in professional settings, as seen in the case of Pratima Roy and Puja Roy, interns at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). These scientists became the target of criticism due to their display of murtis (statues) of Hindu deities at their workstations and photographs of Hindu Gods and Goddesses adorning their walls. Their ‘scientific temperament’ was called into question, which underscored a bias that implies science and religious belief be mutually exclusive, a viewpoint that is both misleading and harmful.
The phenomenon of anti-Hindu bias is not limited to the virtual or professional world. It has spilled over into the public sphere, leading to hate crimes. A particularly disturbing case emerged in California, where a man named Lathan Johnson, with a criminal history, was charged with hate crimes. Johnson had allegedly attacked as many as 14 Hindu women of Indian descent. His victims were targeted specifically because they were wearing Sarees and traditional Indian jewelry.
These examples illustrate a pervasive and rising trend of intolerance, discrimination, and violence targeted at Hindus based on their attire, religious practices, and dietary habits. To trivialize or demonize these aspects of Hindu culture not only affronts the principles of respect for diversity and freedom of religious expression but also threatens social harmony.
These incidents, ranging from online image manipulation to questioning scientific competence based on religious beliefs and even physical violence, highlight the deeply-rooted and complex nature of this problem. The fact that these incidents occur in societies that claim to value diversity and tolerance further raises questions about their commitment to the safety of the Hindu community.
Misrepresenting Hindu scriptures
For the past two centuries, there has been a troubling trend of misrepresentation and distortion of ancient Hindu texts, particularly the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana, by Western academia. These sacred texts have been reinterpreted through the lens of modern socio-political narratives, with a focus on the ‘invader vs. indigenous’ dichotomy. This oversimplified approach, driven by presentist political considerations, undermines the profound wisdom, complexity, and timeless moral, philosophical, and spiritual teachings embedded within these ancient texts. Such misinterpretations remain a significant area of concern.
Similarly, there are misguided attempts to superimpose contemporary caste dynamics onto the narrative of these epics. As a result, the Asuras and Rakshasas, symbolically representative of evil and ignorance in the epics, are erroneously identified with Dalits. There’s no internal evidence within the scriptures to substantiate such identifications. These misinterpretations perpetuate caste-based stigmas and distort the universal teachings of Hindu epics.
The case of Holika is another instance of such distortions. Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu, was a failed child killer who met her end due to her own nefarious act. However, her narrative has been reframed to represent her as a victim of patriarchal structures. This representation misses the point of her story, which is fundamentally about the triumph of good over evil. To label her tale as patriarchal without a comprehensive understanding of its context and moral underpinnings misconstrues its intent.
These distortions risk the dilution of the profound wisdom contained within the Hindu scriptures and create a skewed perception of Hinduism. They displace the nuanced, ethical, and spiritual insights of these texts with contemporary socio-political interpretations. The challenge here is to ensure that the interpretation of these scriptures is not reduced to oversimplified contemporary binaries and narratives, but instead, the timeless and universal messages they carry are understood and appreciated in their full complexity.
Attack on Hindus and the Collective Silence
The escalating violence and discrimination against Hindus, both within the Indian subcontinent and globally, has become a pressing concern that, unfortunately, receives complete silence, both in the media and academia. This lack of coverage and attention not only perpetuates the issues but also minimizes the gravity of these incidents.
In the Rakhine province of Myanmar, the Rohingya crisis has garnered significant international attention. However, the narrative predominantly focuses on the violence against Rohingyas, while it largely ignores the severe attacks on Hindus. This selective reporting paints an incomplete picture of the complex crisis, thereby ignoring the plight of Hindus.
A similar pattern is observed in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where the ethnic cleansing of Hindus happens at an alarming rate. Despite being a critical human rights issue, it’s been consistently overlooked, not just by the media and academia but even by human rights organizations. This silent acceptance further exacerbates the vulnerability of Hindus in these regions.
The Hindu diaspora, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, has also suffered atrocities. The Fiji riots of 1987 exemplify this, where the violence against Hindus was extensive. Yet, these events are seldom brought to the fore in international discussions. A case in point is the Malaysian Hindu community’s attempt to approach the International Court of Law to shed light on their issues. Despite their efforts, the appeal hasn’t gained significant traction, further underscoring the pervasive silence on anti-Hindu violence.
Hinduphobia – A Trend in Vogue
In recent years, there has been a marked escalation in hostility towards the global Hindu community. According to Joel Finkelstein, Chief Science Officer and co-founder of the Network Contagion Research Institute, there has been a 1000% increase in hate incidents against Hindus. Congressman Hank Johnson, the only Buddhist lawmaker in the current U.S. Congress, has also voiced concerns about the rise in anti-Hindu sentiments.
There are systematic efforts to cultivate an ecosystem of scholars, funders, and journals to perpetuate Hinduphobic scholarship. Prestigious institutions like Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Chicago have been implicated in these allegations. Such academic bias has contributed to further misrepresentation and discrimination against the Hindu community.
On the ground, there has been a surge in direct violence against Hindu religious sites. For example, numerous Hindu temples were vandalized in different cities in Bangladesh in a single night.
In another concerning development, Hindu temples have been defaced with anti-India slogans and graffiti of ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ and ‘Hindustan Murdabad’ by Khalistan supporters. These acts of desecration, committed by Khalistani terrorists, have been particularly prevalent in Canada and the UK.
These incidents highlight an alarming rise in anti-Hindu sentiments and violence worldwide and necessitate urgent attention and action to safeguard the rights and safety of the Hindu community.
Media – The not-so-silent enabler of Hinduphobia
The media’s role in shaping perceptions is undeniable. It wields substantial influence over the narrative that surrounds specific communities and nations. Regrettably, a pattern of negative portrayal of Hindus and India has emerged in numerous international media outlets, which contributes to the propagation of Hinduphobia.
The New York Times openly displayed its Hinduphobia through one of its job postings by listing requirements for a business correspondent in India. The posting contrasted ‘muscular nationalism centered on the country’s Hindu majority’ with ‘the interfaith, multicultural goals of modern India’s founders.’ Such dichotomies oversimplify the complexities of Indian society and contribute to the demonization of Hindus.
The @nytimes has dropped all pretences of impartiality with this job ad for a South Asia Correspondent. They are clearly looking to hire an anti-Modi activist who can also stoke anti-India sentiments in our neighbourhood. With this, the paper qualifies as a foreign-funded NGO. pic.twitter.com/hw3QIRqjzn
— Kanchan Gupta 🇮🇳 (@KanchanGupta) July 2, 2021
Often, India is defined predominantly by ‘rapes and murders’ in American newspapers, creating a skewed image of a diverse and multifaceted nation. Similarly, articles like ‘Inside Kashmir, Cut Off from the World: ‘A Living Hell’ of Anger and Fear‘ and ‘Death Is the Only Truth. Watching India’s Funeral Pyres Burn,’ both published by The New York Times, unnecessarily sensationalize crises and misrepresent ground realities.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, while all nations grappled with the profound human crisis, many media outlets reduced India’s struggle to images of funeral pyres and cremation grounds. This not only exploited the tragedy for sensationalism but also perpetuated stereotypes about India and its majority Hindu population.
In another example, an explainer article in The Guardian titled ‘What is Hindu nationalism, and how does it relate to the trouble in Leicester?’ chose to discuss Hindu nationalism while covering violence against Hindus following a cricket match. The media’s tendency to deflect blame towards the Hindu community in such contexts plays a role that perpetuates anti-Hindu sentiments.
The world cannot afford another Holocaust
The alarming rise in incidents of violence, discrimination, and hate speech against Hindus worldwide is worryingly reminiscent of the early stages of Jewish persecution leading up to the Holocaust. The escalation in hate crimes, the desecration of places of worship, the distortions of religious texts, and the propagation of Hinduphobia through media and academia all contribute to an increasingly hostile environment for Hindus globally.
Much like the Jews who faced severe persecution during the Second World War, the Hindu community today is increasingly being singled out and targeted due to their faith and practices. This parallelism is stark and serves as a haunting reminder of the atrocities the world witnessed during the Holocaust. As history has demonstrated, such patterns of discrimination and violence can escalate to unimaginable levels if left unchecked.