Manifesto For A Liberal Hindu – Sagarika Ghose. It’s time for secular Hindus to say: Garv se kaho hum liberal hain
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
You’re out there.Even though your voices are muted. You know that today you’re being outrageously misrepre sented. The strident voices who claim to speak for you, the war-like fundamentalists who have captured the “Hindu“ space and call for a holy war against other religions, are not voices you identify with. Your faith is subliminal, everpresent but hardly domineering. You’ve sung qawaalis, bhajans and Christmas carols, enjoyed your kababs without guilt.You’ve never been ruled by a religious police or been asked to prove your Hinduness through political loyalty .But suddenly you’re being ironed into a vegetarian, Muslim-hating, puritanical uniformity . You’re being asked to hate when your religion teaches love. You’re being asked not to question when your traditions are full of vaad, vivaad, samvaad. You’re being asked to be perpetually angry when your gods have always been playful and genial.Krishna, Ganapati, Saraswati were they full of hatred and rage? The mark of a true Hindu, as the Mahatma, is above all a generosity towards others.
Liberal Hindus, yours has always been a merry , amiable religion, entwined with family folklore, each god almost a family member whose story often mirrored an identifiable human drama. Yes, caste and superstition created terrible injustice.But from within the ranks of Hinduism itself rose the great social reformers who challenged these evils: Phule and Rammohan Roy , Vivekananda and Tagore.
Your faith is about a culture-soaked joie de vivre, of sindoor, jasmine and marigolds: What a feast for the senses and a balm for the soul! So when did this joyful aesthetic religion turn into a force that rages about insults, sedition, blasphemy , re-conversion, love jihad and bloodshed in the name of the cow? When did it become a doctrine that inspires fear and a quaking acceptance of mob rule? When did a fountain of spirituality become a fountain of unending FIRs? Liberal Hindus, you don’t recognise this new angry , religion. Why should you?
You’re the legatees of Kabir and Mira, of Krishna Chaitanya and Ramakrishna and you know Hinduism has always stood for an open embrace of diversity and pluralism. Those who killed Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri or Pehlu Khan in Alwar, those attacking lovers, movie directors, meat-eaters, artists or writers or rationalists, can those attackers really represent a religion which places individual freedom at the very centre of spirituality?
No, liberal Hindus, you’re repelled by those who kill in your name. You’re appalled at what the world will think of Hinduism if the gau warriors are its only face.
Hinduism is a belief in an individual pursuit of moksha: The seeker meditates alone and finds his own way . Why did Hinduism never need to proselytise? Because every path to god was seen as valid, Hinduism respects all. As Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said: Jato math tato path (There are as many paths as there are opinions).
A true Hindu thus has no reason to be fearful or to be threatened. Because you can even be an atheist and still be a Hindu.The Upanishads do not speak of god. At the Kumbh Mela there are no priests to mediate between the individual and his relationship with sun and river. No wonder Hinduism didn’t seek to capture political power. There was no reason to wield the sword for a religion that was simply unconquerable precisely because it was so undefined and varied. Who would a Hindu take up the sword for? For the shaivite? For the vaishnavite? For the tantric? Whoever ruled on earth, whether British or Mughal, Hinduism has always been indestructible. It has survived and always will. It has never felt threatened because its domain is within.
But today the advocates of Hindutva are seeking political power and destroying precisely that quality of inwardness that makes Hinduism so enduring. The Christian world struggled for centuries to separate church from state. The Islamic world has been beleaguered by theocrats who used religion for legitimacy . Now modern Hindutva vaadis want India to repeat the same tragedies that befell Christian and Muslim societies who have had to wage bloody battles to separate political chieftains from holy men. Paradoxically, by politicising Hinduism, zealots are taking away its unique power.
Why has Hinduism thrived and survived for so many centuries in spite of the fact that it only rarely enjoyed political patronage? Precisely because of its plurality, the fact that it has never had a single established church, no single set of beliefs, no one spiritual authority .Hinduism has never needed state power.
Liberal Hindus, it’s time to reclaim your religion. It’s time to create a Manifesto of the Liberal Hindu and live by it. Assert that the Hindu inheritance is far greater than the building of a Ram Mandir at a particular spot. In Hinduism after all god resides in puja rooms in almost every Hindu home.
The attempt to create a homogeneous religious loyalty to only one set of deities, the insistence on a single form of worship, a single set of dietary preferences, a single racial type, a single language, a single temple is a repudiation of the faith of your ancestors who lived in ease with dizzying diversities. Liberal Hindus, it’s time for you to show there’s more to Hinduism than lynchings and police complaints and abusive language on social media. Haven’t generations of Hindus heard the muezzin’s call without feeling remotely threatened? Step up and assert that you are members of a religion that the whole world, from scholars to hippies to the Beatles once fell in love with, and that you do not approve of it being now ruined by petty politics.Liberal Hindus, your time is now.
Article sourced from The Times of India (Bangalore) of Apr 26, 2017 http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31806&articlexml=Manifesto-For-A-Liberal-Hindu-26042017018031
في امان الله
Your brother in Islam,
A Shabbir Ahmed