Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fighting fundamentalism with fundamentalism

Some of the reasons cited by the proponents of aggressive brand of Hindutva is that their aggression is a reaction to Islamic fundamentalism, Islamic terrorism, forced conversion of Hindus into alien religions, unpatriotic actions by non-Hindus - basically a big list of issues they have against other religions.

These proponents will tell you again and again that Hinduism is a peaceful religion and that Hindus are peace-loving people. The only reason why they condone certain excesses perpetrated by certain Hindutva brigades against Muslims, Christians or Communists is because they think that a mild antidote to the poison that is vitiated by the latter groups is sometimes necessary, though unpleasant. 


Some of us who oppose the growing menace of Hindutva are branded ‘pseudo-secularists’. What these proponents mean is that while we denounce every action of Hindutva groups, we tend to condone and support many fundamentalist actions of Muslim and Christian groups.

In reality, 'secularists' like us do not support fundamentalism of Muslim or Christian groups. We do not believe in Sharia Law or its interpretations. We do not believe in Christian prerogative to proselytize everyone to save us all from eternal damnation. We do not believe in protecting the places of worship constructed on public property that cause inconvenience to everyone. We do not believe that school going children should be taught religion with an aim to promote one’s religion while denouncing the others. 

And yet, secularists like us seem to support the cause of Muslims and Christians many a times, as clearly indicated by many articles on this blog. Also, we seem to be targeting only Hindutva group consistently and vociferously. Doesn’t that make us pseudo-secularists?

Blindness does not fight blindness

We do not believe that growth of one religious fundamentalism is an answer to the menace of the other. We do not believe that chanting ‘Ram’ is an antidote to chants of ‘Allah-O-Akbar’. We do not believe bigotry of one kind can counter bigotry of another. Hatred cannot be fought with hatred. 

If ever, we believe that reason, debate, rational discussion, where logic prevails over blind belief, transparency, a fair judicial system that guarantees protection to all individuals and safeguards their rights, are the only tools that can be employed to fight fundamentalism either it is coming from Hindus or Muslims. Blindness of one religion cannot be fought by blindness of another religion.

Only light is the cure for blindness and that light does not come from any religion, not even the most liberal ones – because at the heart every religion is a blind belief – in the form of ‘because it is so’, ‘because God said so’, or ‘because our ancestors said so’. The light comes in the form of rationality, where blind belief, superstition or orthodoxy has no place.

No support for fundamentalism 

It’s not like secularists like us are in love with Islamic or Christian fundamentalism. We do not believe in imposition of Shariat either on Hindus or on Muslims. It is an antiquated system of law, and a complete anathema to the modern society. Instead we would like to embrace the modern system of law that suits us in our current context which relies on principles of fair judgment, equal treatment, the idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and that a punishment is not to deter future criminals from committing crimes but as equitable justice appropriate to the severity of his actions.

We also believe in separation of state from the church. We do not believe in hearsay, blasphemy, sin, heresy, dreams, or miracles when it comes to meting out justice. 

We do not believe in a system where a child carries the burden of father’s sin or where a certain authority sitting in heavens dictates morals through a chosen interpreter. We do not believe in a system that criminalizes immorality – we leave that out of legality as a matter of taste.

And yet, many of us are called pseudo-secularists. Here’s a snapshot of my stand as a secularist on some of the controversial issues. 

Secularist stand on issues

I denounced the Supreme Court verdict against Afzal Guru because it sentenced a man to death to satisfy ‘collective conscience’. That is irrational. Each crime and criminal has to be judged by his actions, and punishment should be measured against that crime alone. It cannot be retributive to include the factor of satisfying the grievance of the suffering people. 

I supported certain Muslims right not to sing Vande Mataram. That’s because I believe no Indian should be forced into a singing a song to prove his patriotism. And moreover I believe patriotism is not a prerequisite to live in a country. 

At the same time, I denounced madrassa education where children are taught Koran, and also blamed Muslim parents for indoctrinating a vicious form of religion into their kids. Also, I ridiculed Indian government for paying Haj pilgrimage subsidies to Muslims. 

Secularists target Hindutva more

It is true that more of my articles and comments target Hindutva groups than the fundamentalist positions of Muslims or Christians. That’s because I believe, right now, the biggest threat to modern India is Hindu fundamentalism. It is the biggest threat not only because Hindus are in majority and hence pose a bigger problem, not only because the number of incidents coming out of Hindutva brigades are more than that of rival religions, not only because I am a Hindu and hence more concerned that my way of life would change if they ever win, but mostly because Hindu fundamentalism is equated with patriotism taking higher moral ground while Islamic fundamentalism is equated with terrorism falling into a contemptible position.

To almost everyone in India, patriotism is considered good. Most Hindutva brigands take the superior stance of being patriotic. Ram Senas of the South, Bajrang Dals of the east or VHP of the North believe they are more patriotic than those who they vilify and target. Even when apprehended while doing criminal acts, they walk proudly, head high, knowing very well that they are the heroes to a million other patriotic Indians.

However, to almost everyone in India, terrorism is considered bad. Only bad people become terrorists. Members of SIMI and other related outfits fomenting Islamic terrorism are not hailed as heroes but paraded as villains and traitors. There is no heroism in it.

This dichotomy is what concerns secularists like us the most. We fear Hindu fundamentalism because their association with patriotic symbols puts them in seats of power, making them the political leaders of this country, giving them the legitimacy they need. Their adherents and supporters are in the influencing positions in various fields – as academicians, businessmen, doctors, engineers, and bureaucrats. On the other hand, Muslim fundamentalist groups along with the rest of Muslim population are demonized to the outer fringes of the mainstream society. 

Hindutva affects us more

Hindu fundamentalists are poised to affect my life more than any other because they come with this position of strength – riding on the high horse called patriotism. The day Shariat is on its way to become the law of the land, I would be opposing Muslim fundamentalism more ferociously than Hindu fundamentalism, but I don’t see that happening, though Hindutva brigades would like me to believe that it is the case. Hindutva cause makes a case for its existence by instilling fear amongst ordinary Indian Hindus against many illusory problems - exorbitant population growth of Muslims, their propensity for terrorism, and the explosive problem of conversion. 

Secularists reject Hindutva

Hindutva is not an antidote but it is the poison itself. It does not fight Islamic fundamentalism and the conversions alone but it actually reverses the arrow of our civilization promising to take us back to the so-called Vedic times. That path demands that we surrender our rationality, our logic, our science to take up the Hindu elements of ignorance, blind belief and superstition. It would then go ahead and rationalize casteism, untouchability and sati. After mankind has struggled for thousands of years to emancipate woman, the goons in Karnataka want to roll it back – they want women indoors, cooking and clad in dress of their preference.

We have seen Dark Ages when Christianity spread around Europe extirpating every rational thought of Hellenistic Ages from the continent. We have seen Inquisition, persecution of people based on religion, hunting of witches, and heretics burning at stake. For nearly thousand years, there was no investigation into nature; Earth stood still while heavens moved around us, priests held sway, and whole of humanity was held under servitude, bonded labor, and slavery. 

Rise of Hindutva demands that blind allegiance and that irrationality to prevail once again. We don’t want that. We are NOT enamored by the promises of Hindutva. We reject it completely.

We are told that Hindutva has a certain good side to it – with a different interpretation. We are not interested in taking pains to look at your good interpretations while ignoring bad interpretations because we don’t want any belief system that holds anything sacred. The way we reject Shariat and all its good and bad interpretations, we reject Hindutva along with its good and bad interpretations. We don’t want any systems where only certain selected groups get to interpret just because they happen to be more irrational than others.

We have struggled hard as humans to wrest this civilization away from such religious zealots, autocrats, and monarchies to win our freedoms. We are not going to surrender them, not even for a lofty cause called Hindutva which promises Sanatan Dharma and a pan-Indian empire under Ram Rajya. 

I will define Hinduism the way I want. No thanks, we don’t your interpretations. Sorry. And we will fight tooth and nail before we surrender our freedoms to you. 

Links: Javed Akhtar [Added in 2013],


  1. Amazing post, Sujai. You have articulated very thoroughly every point that I have ever felt.

    They want us to believe that unless we are offensive, we are weak. They have tried the same lines on everybody that have come in their way, including our current PM ( I don't have any political leanings, BTW. "Anti-leanings", maybe :-P ).

    I reject that line of thought, just as you do.

  2. Some questions.

    1. Sujai wrote: ..not only because I am a Hindu and hence more concerned that my way of life would change if they ever win..What's the basis of your Hindu identity?

    2. Sujai wrote: I will define Hinduism the way I want. What is your definition? What, according to you, is Hinduism? And if you are free to define Hinduism the way you want, so are Hindutva people.

    3. Sujai wrote: We have seen Inquisition, persecution of people based on religion, hunting of witches, and heretics burning at stake. I didn't know you were Highlander. :)

    For nearly thousand years, there was no investigation into Nature, Earth stood still while heavens moved around us, priests held sway, and whole of humanity was held under servitude, bonded labor, and slavery. Rise of Hindutva demands that allegiance and that irrationality to prevail once again.Aren't you mixing Hinduism and Christianity? Did all religions have the same history?


  3. Hi Sujai

    I think there is an urgent need for you to read the history of religions - Hindu, Christianity and Islam. It is only then that you will be in a position to understand the reasons for the so-called-Hindu-fundamentalism.

    The best start for you may be the novel 'Avarana' by S.L.Bhairappa

    By the way, Hinduism is not just a religion of kunkums and mantras, it is a way of life. And the one prescribed by Hinduism stands out in stark contrast to other religions.

  4. We do not believe that growth of one religious fundamentalism is an answer to the menace of the other.
    So what steps exactly are you and your fellow-friends (we) taking or have taken to counter the menace of the first religious fundamentalism? How will this fundamentalism go away, unless you think that it is good for India? If people like you had spoken up in the first place to protest against the fundamentalism of first religion (when 'Satanic Verses' was banned), there wouldn't have been a need for the fundamentalism of the second religion. Basically, Hindutva is there to fill a vacuum - an empty space - that was created by the silence and tolerance of intolerance by people like you. Simple as that. So, the term "pseudo-secular" fits since you are OK with fundamentalism of one religion, but not with the other, which is a very illogical and hypocritical position to take against religious fundamentalism. Wear it with pride instead of giving excuses for your hypocritical behavior. Or admit it that you don't have the guts to take on Islamic fundamentalists in India.

  5. An attempt to unify a section of the population under a concept of religious nationalism & building a sense of grievance against the injustice done to them & their *culture* in the past by another section....

    Now thats fascism for me..

  6. Ahh, I stand corrected :)

  7. (My Opinions)

    You are equivalent to Said Hamid of Pakistan and i see trying to type in rationalism has good market.

    Pseudo-secularists - i am not saying you are a brand. but you are a pseudo - secularist for sure. You say you will oppose Sharia Law. The day Sharia Law becomes the law of this land will be the day this country become Muslim majority. They will cut your throat if you open you mouth for the blah-blah you are making now, against Sharia Law.Have some respect for the culture that gives you the freedom you are enjoying now before boasting about freedom. (I mean if you really was brought up as a hindu or an atheist or an infidel and not a fundamentalist using a pseudonym). Could you please give an example for a Muslim majority country which is secular? (Please don't use their definition of secularism. Use what is globally accepted)

    M.F Hussain's Pictures - Well, a Danish cartoonist draw a picture of Mohammad (No nudity at all). Do you dare to publish it in your blog for the sake of freedom of expression. i don't think you have the courage.you do attack on Hinduism because that is one thing most of the rationalist do to became famous without getting hurt. It is a fashion now. So no wonder!

    Ram sethu - Their is a well called ZamZam in Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. Do you think anybody should demolish the masjid and commercially exploit that well. I guess you wont think so. Every country has to take care of the views of a larger section of the people. There are many people who think ram sethu must be protected because destroying it will hurt the sentiments of a larger section of the people in our country whether you call them fundamentalist of whatever.

    I guess you would escape saying that you are concerned only about what is happening in India. So does every hypocrite.

    You know what, the intolerance of Hinduism is growing because of such kind of one eyed persons like you. Could not read all your posting but i should say that your postings really reminds me of the attacks that Hinduism is facing now even from inside. it really pushes me towards protecting it by any means. If that is fundamentalism then i am proud to be a fundamentalist. I guess many people will have the same feeling as me or will generate such feeling after reading your blog. So keep on going. All the best.


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