On the morning of the 5th of April, I had the misfortune of coming across an article on The Wire that lamented the rise of ‘Militant Hinduism’ and what the author calls the ‘reincarnation of Hanuman’. The article alleged that Hindutva had transformed the ‘benign’ Lord Hanuman into an aggressive ‘destroyer’. The author says, referring to a representation of the God that depicts Him against a saffron background, “His thunderous expression spells danger, and makes it clear he is no longer a server but a destroyer.” The article features the stereotypical taxi driver whose opinions always seem to ally with the journalist who has hired him for a ride.
Shri Hanuman has been worshipped by our people for centuries for his devotion and duty towards Shri Rama. The author’s bewilderment at people’s devotion towards Lord Hanuman is rather amusing. The author also appears to suffer from a severe form of delusion. Lord Hanuman has been described often as a benign devotee but one should take care to remember that He is a warrior as well, a fearsome warrior who turned Ravana’s Lanka to ashes.
The ignorance of the author might have led her to conclude that ‘Hanuman 2.0’ is a creation of Hindutva but Hindus have always regarded Lord Hanuman as a great warrior and a graphic representation capturing His essence in that form is very much consistent with His legendary prowess in battle. As such, the depiction of the God with wrath etched across His face is consistent with the aspect of Him as a great warrior. It is not a new development at all.
The recurrent theme of the article appears to be the author’s disgruntlement over the overt display of Hinduism on the streets of our country. The author is quite clearly rattled over the chants of “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman” on the roads of Noida. Our religion is a living religion. We have not yet been relegated to the museums of history, much to the unhappiness of some Abrahamics. Until such a moment comes to pass, chants proclaiming the glory of our Gods will grace every nook and crevice of this country we call our home. Liberals have little choice over the matter. And at a time when our faith is under threat from the secular state that bans our festivals and controls our Temples, illegal immigration and a million other maladies, it is only natural that our people are once again turning to the warrior aspect of our Gods.
The author conjures the myth of a ‘Militant Hinduism’ from the narrative she weaves from her tale of chants of “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”. She even goes on to proclaim that devotees wielding swords in the streets wearing saffron is a warning that we need to pay heed to. Liberals always profess that they are just as much Hindu as Hindutvavadis but really, what kind of a Hindu has a problem with devotees of Shri Rama and Lord Hanuman chanting glory of our Gods on the streets? Yes, the kind that claims to be Hindu only to score political points and not due to any sincere allegiance to Hinduism.
The article also wreaks of a detestable elitism. The author devotes an entire paragraph to what comes across as a rant towards the youth of Noida who she appears to blame for the rise of Hindutva. “Gujjar boys”, who are apparently fueling the worship of the aggressive Lord Hanuman, do not have a proper education. Journalists, for far too long, have been living in an echo-chamber of their own making where they perceive themselves, quite wrongly, to be the moral guardians of society. In her perceived moral superiority, which she has quite evidently done nothing to earn, she deems an entire class of citizens as not being properly educated merely because they are vocal devotees of Lord Hanuman and quite likely have different political opinions than hers. The death of journalism was pronounced when journalists accorded to themselves the authority to pass judgments upon large swathes of the population through their work and the consequence of it is for all to see.
The author concludes her atrocious piece with the words, “Noida is the new India. And the enormous success of Hindutva groups here is a warning that we will do well to pay heed to. And soon.” What does it say about liberals, who never fail to scream about their Hindu identity from rooftops, that they feel threatened so much by rallies dedicated to Lord Hanuman? And what does it say about our political scene that in a country, which has more than 75% of Hindus, there is only one political party that is associated with an overt display of Hinduism? The terror that seems to have engulfed the hearts of liberals is not driven by any malicious activity of Hindutva organizations. It is driven primarily by their repulsion towards an assertive Hinduism and they will soon discover that much to their dismay, Hinduism will continue to get more assertive every day in response to their concerted attempt at denigrating our festivals and way of life and that there’s very little they could do about it.