Sunday, September 16, 2007

Why Hindus are so upset?

Why most Hindus, even the secular and the so-called liberal ones, are so offended by Center’s contention that there is no evidence to suggest existence of Rama?

The obsession with Rama is a recent phenomenon. I have written earlier in an article that different Hindu gods were popular in different times – more like popularity ratings. Ram has been becoming popular in the recent times, starting with Gandhi who kept repeating his name many times and culminating in Rath Yatra taken up by LK Advani.

Hindus were quite OK for a long time in accepting their mythologies as pure myth, because their gods were quite real to them and no matter what Science said, it didn’t bother them. They continued to pray to them as if they were real. Only in the last century, unfortunately, Hindus have been introduced to Science which questions things. Before that, Hindus were quite happy just learning things by rote for thousands of years. Any profound questioning thoroughly discomforts most Hindus and that’s also the reason why we don’t see revolutionary scientific thinkers from this land. It goes without saying that even a renowned ‘scientist’ from India is a deeply religious man who mixes myth with reality at any point of time without qualms.

Another introduction to Hindus is the rule of law, which is a recent phenomenon. Hindus are also very averse to rules coming from the state. They would like to cross the road when they want to, just like their venerated cows. All these street lights are a major encumbrance to them. It is an 'artificial Western construct' imposed onto them which they detest completely. Rule of law demands a certain degree of exactness which Hindus are completely averse to. Hindus have wallowed and took rejoice in ambiguity. Hence a rule of law of demanding exactness is an anathema. Reproducing exact evidence is completely irrelevant since justice can be bought at a certain price- all Hindus have grown up knowing this as part of our culture- hence there is no need for actual evidence to make a case.

The other introduction that happened in the last hundred years is the familiarity with other major religions on a massive scale. Earlier, Hindus lived as Hindus without ever knowing what Christianity or Islam was. Only in the last hundred years, they were exposed to these other religions on a more-than-desired levels - through 'unnecessary' campaigns of Gandhi, through media, and through the recent 'conversion' episodes. What they found is that these religions had a founder and also a religious book. Hindus, instead of just accepting they don’t have a founder and no religious book, tried their best to posit one such hero and one such book as its holy book. Enter Rama and enter Bhagvad Gita. Though there is no unanimity in this, in recent times Indians have been positing these two icons as symbols of Hindus. If Mohammed existed and lived, so did Rama. If Christians had Bible to quote, so Hindus had Gita.

So, when suddenly some high authority of 'secular' India suggests that there is no evidence to prove existence of Rama, these Hindus, which includes almost everyone, including those secular one and those liberal ones, stand up and protest. Because this contention directly competes with the recently formed opinions (in competition with other religions they have been exposed to).

Hindus have been taking Rama quite seriously only recently, and more so since LK Advani’s Rath Yatra and the Ayodhya episode. Rama became an icon they are going to die for, just the way Muslims are ready to die (and kill) for the sake of Prophet Mohammed. While there is lot of evidence to suggest that Mohammed existed and walked on this planet in flesh and blood, and while there is scant evidence that Jesus may have existed, there is no evidence to suggest Rama ever walked on this planet. This is nothing to do with our inadequate research. It is got to do with time and our mythologies. While Muhammed walked on this planet around 1500 years ago, and Jesus might have walked 2000 years ago, most dates for Rama are not less than 3500 years ago. Our recorded history is more robust only from the times of 800 BC in case of Western Civilizations (not including Egyptian Civilization). And Hindus have been little lax about historical documentation of their histories, mixing fantasy with facts wherever possible.

Rama may have existed, or may be he did not exist. That does not diminish richness of Hinduism. It should not invalidate their belief systems or their religion. But for some reason, Hindus want to compete with other modern religions and in that effort would like to validate his authenticity to suit their belief systems by asserting that their icons are indeed real just like founders of other religions.

Hinduism is an ancient religion which predates most other modern religions. Hindus should take pride, if they want to, in the fact that our religion has evolved over thousands of years instead of being static, interpreted narrowly by one single icon or one single book. But then, most Hindus do not understand the essence of their own religion beyond the mere rituals and mere competition with other religions. Self-confidence is lacking and hence this flurry of activity to posit their religion equivalent to other modern religions.

Would Hindus raise their voices if someone said there is no evidence to suggest existence of Lord Indra? Not really. Because Lord Indra is not as popular as Lord Rama these days. The same is true for Vamana avatar, Narsimha avatar, Kurma avatar, et al, of Vishnu. Rama is important but not other avatars. It is nothing to do which avatar is important. It is to do with the present generations which grew up with knowing Rama as the most popular god, thanks to LK Advani and his BJP, and sister groups such as VHP and Bajrang Dal, and also a little thanks to exposure to competing religions.

In the last hundred years, there has been a slow and concerted effort to construct Rama as the most popular god to consolidate Hindus under one banner so that they can be manipulated with one stroke. How else would you move the Hindu sentiments as monolithic religion? Hinduism was always a collection of myths, stories, gods, books, rituals and practices. There was no unique icon to unite them all. That also poses a problems to those who would like to ensure they get the sympathies from Hindus on a religious basis. Hence, borrowing from what Gandhi had already set in motion, the modern day Hindu organizations and affiliated political parties have started to position Rama as the strong contender. Lord Krishna always had some flaws which seem to dominate more than his strengths and he would not have stood the mass appeal from a dias as much as Lord Rama whose impeccable record (other than one or two guffaws) made him the ideal contender from the available Hindu pantheon.

Therefore, in the last hundred years, Hindu organizations, groups, sympathizers, devout, radical, fanatic, et al, have been positioning Rama to be the icon for Hindus. Popularization of places related to Rama, stories of Rama, embracing Rama Rajya for Hindu Rashtra, etc, were carried out on a massive scale. To help this further, the present generation of Indians grew up knowing Ramayana from the TV serial. They all have images to relate to thus accentuating the belief he really existed. It is not just the political parties with vested interest that campaigned for this. It includes all Hindus who had a selfish interest to promote their religion. It includes all devout who wanted to get a ratification of his belief system. It includes even secular and liberal Hindus who wanted to glorify their culture. It also includes leftist and Marxist groups who wanted to posit India as a great country with great ancient history.

Rama is not only real but ‘hyper-real’. His existence cannot even be challenged because he is so real that he lives in the ‘collective conscience’ of billions.

Our inadequate education that does not impart rational and logical thinking completes the story. Not equipped with the right tools, most Indians get carried away by rhetoric, blind belief and superstition. They do not differentiate between what is evidence and what is ‘collective conscience’. They do not differentiate between myth and reality. According to them, Rama is real and you just have to accept it. No proof required.

When the present government, led by a Christian Italian Indian woman, a Sikh, a puppet President, and a Muslim Vice-President, backs Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to suggest there is no evidence to prove existence of Rama, all Hindus, including the so-called secular ones and liberal ones, rise up in unanimous protest, because it challenges their belief systems that was carefully constructed in the last hundred years on which they have taken their inspiration and confidence. Rama’s inexistence suddenly invalidates their confidence levels. It is like pulling the rug from under their feet causing them to lose balance. They just don’t like it. If Islam has Mohammed in flesh and blood, and if Christianity has Jesus, in half flesh and blood, then they better have their Ram in hyper-reality. Whatever works!

10 comments:

  1. Wow Sujai. You nailed it on the phenomenon of the popularization of Rama in India.

    Truly, Hindus were never united as a religious community. Their identity was only in opposition to muslims and christians who had some common symbols that unified them. Hindus could only best be described as the miscellaneous community in India - a rather hard fact to swallow for most Hindus. The only unifying factor they had so long was in opposition to muslims and to some extent christians. The Ram-propaganda is another attempt to achieve a religious identity - something that can be a platform for the unification of Hindus; something that is from their own source books and not just in opposition to other religious communities.

    ~ Vinod

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  2. ''Earlier, Hindus lived as Hindus without ever knowing what Christianity or Islam was''

    This is entirely wrong. You are ignoring the Muslim rule of 500 years and then evangelical Christian rule (before the concept of White man's burden became more important).

    Second, the battle about the Adam's bridge is totally political. I hardly see any big morchas being taken out except may be by BJP and its affiliated organizations which have nothing better to do anyways.

    Third, the this government has no moral authority to stand up by the ASI affidavit. When has it ever stood up against fundamentalism and in support of free speech? It banned Da Vinchi code when it was playing even in the Christian dominated West! Let's not even get into Muslims who take offense at the drop of the hat especially if it falls on their prophet's feet. So what secularism are you talking about?

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  3. Gentlemen, This post is not argumentative and biasless. If one knows Rama from the last words of Gandhi or a movie or a hit fantasies , then ofcouse his opinon would end up argumentative on the whole religion.

    To save your time and stop conitnuing to drift along, start to understand what a religion is (not Hindus but all). Then try to understand what's unique and why. Now explore each religion and then share your views.

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  4. This guy is totally ignorant!! Poor research ... Just blabber!!

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  5. I was going through the internet and I found your blog!.

    Your reasoning and complete detail listing of the inherent weaknesses of religion in general and Hinduism in particular are spectacular !.

    I particularly liked your point of view of Crossing the road in a signal.

    They way we think and act are largely influenced by our environment:i.e; Immediate Family, relatives, Friends, Office envn etc and more so religion.

    One can only truly become independent if he is responsible and accountable.

    The great thing(read bad thing) about religion and particularly Hindu religion is that it removes the burden of responsibility on the individual itself.

    According to Hindu belief, If something is going good for you then it is due to the act of God
    ......and when something is going bad for you ....Then again they reason that God has done this bad thing so that there might be some hidden good thing.

    More often than not the hidden Good thing never appears.

    Anyway nice reasoning and congrats!.

    Saurav Bhasin

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  6. One reasoning that Hindus always bring up when somebody tries to reason with them is :- What about Muslims?. Aren't they religious too?.

    I think this reasoning of Hindus is wrong. Muslims are not that Religious minded or follow religion as blindly as the Hindus do.

    For example:
    A minority of Muslims do resort to violence on blasphemy. But the interesting point to note is that those who DO resort to violence need not be deeply religious. I knew a Muslim guy who resorted to violence just because he "Liked it". He never read the Namaz nor had anything to do with Islam.

    BUT, Hindus as a religious community ARE ACTUALLY a deeply religious community.

    If someone questions a Muslim or Christian about their religion, they get disturbed. They get disturbed because they are NOT DEEPLY religious.

    But if someone questions a Hindu about their religion, he absolutely does not care nor is disturbed since HIS Hindu belief and notion is so badly embedded inside him that a different point of view is not even paid an ear to .

    When I was abroad I knew of a Hindu who did not eat for 2 Full days just because he did not find vegetarian food.

    That amounts to not only downright foolishness but also downright humiliation on his intelligence.

    Saurav Bhasin

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  7. HEARMEROAR!!!!!!!!January 24, 2010 7:56 PM

    You will never know what happen or what didn't.
    Don't try to tell it like your KNOW EVERYTHING , because you don't.
    Its sad how you try to act like you know stuff , but you dont.
    HAHA.
    I will be not surprise if your actaly a loser.

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  8. Wish you would show the same amount of sensitivity towards Hindus, the way you shows towards the other communities..what is the scientific basis for your generalizations..that rama is a recent phenomenon? Any even if it is, I think this generalization was required, and in massive amounts. To counter the existential threats they have from the other communities. And when you openly admit you are an atheist, you have no business telling hindus what to be proud of and what not, as well as who should be their gods. Seriously this article is totally insensitive, sensationalist and an effort to merely conform to some vague definition of liberal and secular.

    By the way, whether ram was mass god or not, it is extremely insensitive to go ahead and demolish this structure - this is part of indian mythology, whether significant or not. You wouldn't want to demolish any structure in mecca or rome - merely because you can never prove the existence of prophet or christ, would you?

    Miscellaneous community or whatever, in today's world, hinduism gives me the greatest liberty and comes closest to being a free religion in the true sense. And I do admire any efforts to galvanize the community which has been under wraps due to constant threats for the past 500 years. It has lost its voice and needs to find it back. I guess the great religion is at threat, not just from outside, but also from people inside - who can afford to be insensitive just because this religion gives you the freedom to do so. I am not so sure, you would have made these comments if you were a muslim and you were speaking against it. You would not have been alive to see this day. And I guess it is people like you who drive religions to radicalism, by not recognizing its genuine concerns and dismissing them as trivial.

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  9. Anonymous:

    Wish you would show the same amount of sensitivity towards Hindus, the way you shows towards the other communities

    I answer this in:
    Why bash up Hinduism?
    http://sujaiblog.blogspot.com/2007/06/why-bash-up-hinduism.html

    And when you openly admit you are an atheist, you have no business telling hindus what to be proud of and what not, as well as who should be their gods.

    I dwell on this in:
    The Beauty of Hinduism - If there is any
    http://sujaiblog.blogspot.com/2007/06/beauty-of-hinduism-if-there-is-any.html

    By the way, whether ram was mass god or not, it is extremely insensitive to go ahead and demolish this structure - this is part of indian mythology, whether significant or not. You wouldn't want to demolish any structure in mecca or rome - merely because you can never prove the existence of prophet or christ, would you?

    Mecca and Rome were built by men. At least they qualify as monument. There is no evidence that Ram Setu was built by any intelligence (human or divine).

    I guess the great religion is at threat, not just from outside, but also from people inside - who can afford to be insensitive just because this religion gives you the freedom to do so. I am not so sure, you would have made these comments if you were a muslim and you were speaking against it. You would not have been alive to see this day. And I guess it is people like you who drive religions to radicalism, by not recognizing its genuine concerns and dismissing them as trivial.

    I answer these in the above two articles.

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  10. Sujai, U genuinely are a bit harsh on Hindus.. if people decide to believe someone to have existed and do supernatural things i think its fine! if it becomes an obsession.. fine.. if there are places which are objects of reverence then let them stay.. All said and done.. the Sethusamudaram project is a political act (something only ppl in TN will understand) there are ecological and security concerns over the project.. so why compromise someone's faith??

    ReplyDelete

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