My Open Letter to the Hindu American Foundation
Although I am also secular, I call myself a Hindu. I have an unexplainable and unshakable endogenous love, sympathy and empathy for Hinduism. Indeed, my letterhead has my name in Sanskrit, and lists me as an Indophile. People from India have informed me I know more about India than many people who spent most of their lives there. I speak some Hindi and Urdu and did a term paper on advanced rain and floodwater collection advances in early cities of the Indus Civilization.
Hinduism is known and admired by many, including me, for its openness, its acceptance, indeed for its syncretism. I learned early on that, to paraphrase one translation of Scripture, “All paths lead to god”.
So what is Hindutva? Hindutva is not Hinduism. Hinduism is not Hindutva. And attempting to use the voice of the Hindu American Foundation to stifle discussion about the (far too many) negative aspects about the rise of the Hindutva movement is a singular and defining example both of why Hindutva needs to be understood, and fulfils the criterion of showing it is no longer confined to just India.
Discussions about Hindutva should be welcome if we are Hindus, not shut down. We are a wide open and accepting intellectual tradition which should be strong in its ability to understand and encourage dissent, be available to discussion and even change our minds when better and stronger arguments and evidences come to fore. I found in the Rig Veda a voluminous skepticism. Didn’t you? I read in Mimamsa and Samkhya philosophy even rigid attempts at disproving the existence of an ultimate deity. That is an openness which is shared by Jainism and Buddhism, two theisms which have traditional Hinduism as their base of origin.
Yet Hindutva is a form of fundamentalism which is as horrid in consequence as fundamentalist Christianity or Islam. And your attempt at stifling discussion of the vast consequences of Hindutva is a hypocritical example of that fundamentalism.
Paul R Pearson
I would like to encourage everyone watching the unfolding of rigid fundamentalism in India to join the upcoming conference: "Dismantling Global Hindutva" You can find out more about the conference and the reasons for it here and here.
header image c. 2019 https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/opinion/bjp-not-historical-facts-played-big-role-in-babri-masjid-demolition-says-historian-irfan-habib; used WOP
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