A trend has emerged over recent years to find an equivalent of monotheistic fundamentalism in the faith of polytheistic Hinduism. The saffron terror narrative of the Congress party might have collapsed but people of a particular political ideology haven’t deterred from their efforts to find in pagan Hinduism the most nefarious aspects of monotheistic faiths.
In a recent issue of Outlook magazine, an attempt was made to equate Hindutva with the vicious ideology of the Ku Klux Klan by having the cover of the issue portray a member of the white supremacist American outfit sporting a Tilak. Needless to say, there is no equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan in India just as there exists no saffron terror. Those who genuinely believe that Hindutva could be equated with an ideology that asserts the supremacy of a particular race fails spectacularly at grasping the core tenets of the Hindu faith.
Media has some dark obsession with demonising Hindus. But Tilak = KKK is so lame at every level. Much creativity. pic.twitter.com/nd7rsIoE7l
— Chopdasaab (@Chopdasaab) April 21, 2018
The difference in the worldview of monotheistic faiths and polytheism is so vast that liberals have to rely on Abrahamic terminology to describe the intolerance in the Hindu faith. For instance, intellectuals like Tufail Ahmed, who change loyalties faster than a chameleon changes its colours, have resorted to using the term ‘Abrahamic Hindutva’ to adequately describe the intolerance in the Hindutva camp. Also, when trying to assert that Hindutvavadis will spell the doom for the country, it is always stated that India will turn into a Hindu version of Pakistan if Hindutva is allowed to hold its sway over the masses. The obvious reason for this is there exists no instance in history when polytheistic faiths have displayed the same degree of intolerance towards monotheists or other polytheistic faiths as the monotheists have exhibited towards polytheists throughout the centuries since its advent. Of course, one could argue that Japan did resort to drastic measures to preserve its cultural heritage but then the continued existence of Shintoism in Japan could be attributed to the intolerance that was displayed during those fateful years.
Racial supremacy has never been a core tenet of polytheistic faiths in its entire history. Yes, the Greeks and the Romans did practice slavery, however, it was never the defining aspect of their culture or faith. In contrast to that, monotheistic faiths have continually harboured and encouraged sentiments of racial supremacy through its concept of the ‘chosen people’. In this day and age, it can be most blatantly observed in Islam where the Arabs believe in the superiority of their race as a consequence of the ancestry of the Prophet of Islam. It has surely not escaped the notice of people that when a particular community converts to Islam en masse, they give up on their own heritage and adopt the traditions and customs of the Arabs so much that they could even be dubbed pirated Arabs. And if we look back at history, we can observe that white supremacy stems in part from Christian theology as well.
Thus, racial supremacy is so alien to the Hindu faith that only a fool or the ideologically blinded would equate the Ku Klux Klan with Hindutva. History stands testament to the fact that Hindus, by and large, have existed together without enmity to any serious degree for hundreds and thousands of years. Despite the atrocity literature spread by vested interests, Hindu society has never witnessed a race war or a caste war ever in its ancient history. Of course, liberals are working hard to change that fact by continuously fueling regionalist and casteist sentiments to divide Hindu society but despite various political leaders’ attempt at inciting violence along caste lines, they have failed spectacularly thus far and the riots and violence that did occur was more due to political motivations rather than any indication of a deep fissure within Hindu society.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has been falsely equated with the Islamic State by certain ideologues to tarnish its reputation. And now, Hindutva has been equated with the Ku Klux Klan as well. In their desperation to paint all religions in same colours, liberals have lost all sense of proportion. Hinduism will pale in comparison to the extent of violence that monotheists have perpetuated in the past few centuries, let alone since the advent of monotheism. The attempts that we see today to equate Hindutva with the most vicious aspects of monotheism is merely to shame Hindus into not being politically aware. For Hindutva is nothing more than the political wing of Hinduism, it is the politically aware and assertive aspect of Sanatana Dharma.
It isn’t to say that polytheistic faiths are not capable of intolerance or embracing violence. Our religious scriptures are littered with instances where ancient Heroes have resorted to violence to uphold Dharma. However, violence was embraced only to protect Dharma, not to assert the supremacy of a particular race or in service of a particular manner a worship. Also, intolerance is an integral part of human nature. As Michael Dibdin says in his book ‘Dead Lagoon’, “There can be no true friends without true enemies. Unless we hate what we are not, we cannot love who we are. These are the old truths we are painfully rediscovering after a century and more of sentimental cant. Those who deny them deny their family, their heritage, their culture, their birthright, their very selves! They will not lightly be forgiven.”
The fundamental ethos of polytheism paves the way for peaceful coexistence between devotees of different Gods. It’s testament to the virtues of polytheism that even after centuries of monotheistic dominance, the world yearns for times when every God is worshipped without fear of violence, where all manner of worship is tolerated, where different Gods and their devotees can coexist peacefully and in harmony, just as it was when polytheism dominated the world.