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By Barnes Mawrie

These days the BJP government and its hardcore supporters the RSS, the VHP and BD, are harping on the theme of Hindu Nationalism. In fact, they have hijacked the very concept of Nationalism given us by our Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. According to Gandhiji, Indian Nationalism is quite different from Hindu Nationalism. Gandhiji, Nehru and other freedom fighters conscientiously tried to distinguish between the two concepts and they dissociated themselves from religious sentiments in their nationalist struggle. Indian Nationalism is characterized by a “secular” spirit, while Hindu Nationalism propagated by the Hindu fundamentalist today, is highly polarized on religion.

The founders of Hindu Nationalism like M. S. Gowalkar speak of nationalism in terms of Hindu Rashtra with the narrow and sectarian concept of India as “Hindu land”, “Hindu religion”, “Hindu race”, “Hindu culture” and “Hindu language.” It is this narrow concept of nationalism that is being propagated today among the masses which consequently leads to religious intolerance and oppression of the minority religions. The recent incident of religious intolerance in Satna (MP) where a catholic priest and young clerics were rounded up by the police and their vehicle burnt, because they were out singing Christmas carols, is just one incident of this sort. This is a dangerous direction our country is taking which one day may end up in a civil revolution. Is this what the BJP government wants in the long run? I am surprised that in spite of such ominous portents, the majority of good Hindu brethren are still pampering this government as evident in recent elections. Have the Indian people given up their age old ethical values of non-violence and tolerance for which the whole world reveres us?

What perplexes me is how certain people can take their religious conviction to such a radical level as to oppose any religion other than their own. What is worse still, is their attempt to convert (which they conveniently term “reconversion”) other people to Hinduism through their programme ofghar-wapsi. Perhaps it is good to consider how such people have failed altogether to understand what religion is and what is its goal. Religion in anthropological term, can be defined as a “sacred dimension” of human culture which puts man in contact with the ultimate meaning of his existence. Theologically, every religion is created to ensure a way to reach the divine being or in short to attain salvation or eternal happiness. Every religion proposes a pathway to eternal happiness or bliss and every person is free to choose the pathway he sees best for him or for her. After all, we are destined to go to the same God who may be called by different names (Allah, Yahweh, Brahman, U Blei, Pathian etc). If our final destination is heaven or nirvanaor call it whatever it is, then why should we bother which pathway a person takes. Therefore the Hindu radicals who are trying to make everybody a Hindu in this country, are implicitly claiming that only Hinduism is the true religion and the only pathway. This is the most ridiculous belief, a total theological fallacy and a sheer arrogance and pride. Such people cannot in the least be considered religious. In fact, they are a shame to their own religion. India is not a theocracy but the largest democracy in the world. It is not merely the home of many religions, but the cradle of many world religions as well. We are proud that our land teaches people different paths to reach the infinite and we should not sacrifice this honour at the altars of these religious fanatics.

The so called Hindu nationalists, are a curse to the country because they sow the seed of hatred and violence. All these decades, Indians irrespective of religion and ethnicity, have been living in peace and harmony. The Congress government which upholds the secular values of our country has been able to keep at bay every kind of religious fundamentalism. Unfortunately, our Indian citizens seem to be easily duped by the propaganda of development championed by the BJP and have voted it to power in 2014. Little do they realize that by doing this, we have sacrificed our freedom. What is development without freedom? Any sane person would always prefer freedom to development. The right to religion and to expression are among the most fundamental rights. But as of now, the Hindu nationalists are gradually taking away those rights from us and our citizens are being hypnotized by their development jargon “sabka saath sabka vikas” which still remains a wishful thinking.

If there is one great threat to India’s future today, it is not Pakistan or China, but it is Hindu Nationalism. This is an internal threat, a woodworm that gnaws at the integrity of our nation. Hindu Nationalism is the antithesis of nationalism. It is no nationalism at all for its outcome is sectarianism, fundamentalism and division. Nationalism that leads to disunity is a misnomer in itself. Good citizens of India should by no means allow such harmful ideology to take control of our nation. We ought to fight against such threats to preserve the wonderful heritage of “unity in diversity” which our country boasts of. Jai Hind.


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