If India is a pluralist society, it is because of this fact. I am surprised that you who has had so much exposure to the world at large should call Hinduism a religion which it is not. It is a way of life rather, the way in which we Hindus live our lives. There is no conformity as every Hindu lives it differently, individual to individual.You say, “liberal Hindus, you don’t recognise this new angry religion”. You also say, “but suddenly you are being ironed into a vegetarian, Muslim hating, puritanical uniformity.” You, obviously mean the RSS and the saffron / Hindutva brigade. You cite some incidents which have taken place in the last two years. Dadri and Alwar, reaction against lovers, movie directors, artists, writers etc. etc., sedition and the award wapsi intellectuals. Admittedly, both the Dadri and Alwar incidents are aberrations and should never have happened. However, these two incidents were sheer hysteria, perhaps with the backing of local mafia/ politicians. It is not a feeling shared by the masses.
Read an article in The Times of India, 16th April, Sunday edition…….”Farmers to seek justice for Pehlu Khan “…….The Haryana State Committee of the all India Kisan Sangh. All culprits of the first lynching are in jail, perpetrators of the second are being hunted down. With regard to your remark on vegetarianism, a ban was ordered by various State Government during certain (Jain) festival and not a general ban for all time. There have, undoubtedly been other minor incidents but these happen in all communities the world over and have been happening in India since partition. I quote from my article “Growing Intolerance in India ?”, posted on Facebook in December, 2015, as follows:-
“India won its freedom on 15th August 1947 and the first (Congress) government was formed shortly after, with Pandit Nehru as the Prime Minister, (in spite of Gandhiji’s admonition that the time had come for the party to disband itself). This government and successor Congress governments began to pander to the Muslims from the first general election promising to ensure safety of the Muslim minorities …… but from whom? This implies that all other faiths had an intrinsic antipathy towards Muslims who supposedly required such protection from them, thereby creating a wedge between the 2 communities at the very birth of the new India. Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Shri Manmohan Singh’s governments, from 2005 to 2014, took the appeasement of the minorities to incredible heights. Most of the terrorist strikes and bomb blasts in India during this period have been at the instance of the IM or SIMI, with technical support from ISI, Pakistan or some other terrorist organizations based in Pakistan, but Manmohan Singh’s Government repeatedly failed to adopt a sufficiently stringent policy against such acts of sedition and treason so as not to affront the vote bank. A remark by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the minorities had the first right on the country’s resources, without a thought for the majority community, is communal in the extreme. The following remark by a former Congress Minister, Manish Tiwari, captures the essence of my argument: “don’t call a Muslim terrorist a terrorist, as it will alienate the Muslims !!!”
With regard to puritanical uniformity, you have misrepresented the RSS and the so called Hindutva brigade. The former, (RSS) is a cultural organization, secular in its beliefs and recognizes and respects all religions. It has done tremendous work in most of the catastrophes that have afflicted India in the past decade; the Gujarat earthquake, the Kashmir floods and many other such like calamities. The RSS is not a political organistaions, but a social one. It carries the ideal of upholding Indian culture and the ethos of Hindu civilization over the centuries and is the largest voluntary missionary organization in the world.
As to Hundutva, the term Hindu, cognate with Sanskrit Sindhu, was used in Iran to refer to the lands of the Rigvedic rivers. The term ‘Hindutva’, meaning ‘Hinduness’ was coined in the early 20th century. The three essentials of Hindutva were said to be a common nation (rashtra), common race (jati) and common culture / civilisation (sanskriti). The term ‘Hinduness’ thus defines the population, which subscribes to the Hindu philosophy. Hindus thus defined themselves as a nation that had existed since antiquity. The term Hindu, however, encompasses all those who lived within the geographical boundaries of Hindustan, as it was then known. What is wrong in wanting a nation of likeminded people with the same cultural roots and aspirations? All religions that were founded in India, namely Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism were offshoots of Hinduism and, therefore, a part of the Hindu tradition. For your information, the DNA of Hindus and Muslims is the same which is not in the least surprising as 99.9% of Muslims in India (their ancestors) were Hindus prior to their conversion to Islam. What is wrong in wanting one homogenous nation whose cultural base is the same, rather than the two nations that exist within India today; one comprising Hindus and other nation comprising Muslims who practice a different civil code and personal law. The defiled ‘Hindu Rashtra’ has nothing to do with religion, but cultural affinity amongst those who live within a particular geographically defined area.
A ban on cow slaughter has been sought by various Hindu organisations and individuals for many, many years. It is even included in the directive principles of state policy, a part of our constitution. It has gained impetus in the last two years since the BJP, a right wing Hindu nationalist party has come into power. The matter of action against cow vigilantes is pending in the Supreme Court and State governments have been asked to respond as to what they are doing about this grave matter. The Prime Minister has also expressed serious concern and conveyed to State Governments that cow vigilantism must be stopped. The Dadri culprits are in jail and it is probable that the Alwar culprits have been apprehended by now. Cattle slaughter in India is historically taboo. The Supreme Court of India in a landmark judgment in 2005 upheld the Constitution validity of anti cow slaughter laws enacted by different State Governments. 24 out of 29 States in India have various regulations prohibiting either slaughter or sale of cows, though these laws vary from State to State. As of 2004 there were 3600 legal and 33000 illegal slaughter houses in India. Efforts to close them down have, so far, been largely unsuccessful.
Last, but not least you have stated that Hindus, except for liberals such as yourself, are bigoted, intolerant andNOT secular. My question to you is ……are all Muslims tolerant and secular and none of them bigoted ? I again quote from my article, “Growing Intolerance in India ?”to show that there are fringe elements in all communities:-
Speeches by various Muslim clerics and members of Parliament with regard to Hindus and Hindustan which are self explanatory:-
1- Hindus shouldn’t make the mistake of considering Indian Muslims any different from the Pakistan Muslims. If India may dare to attack Pakistan, then 25 crore (250 million) Indian Muslims will join Pakistan Forces and fight against India. – Asaduddin Owaisi, Member of Parliament, MIM, Hyderabad.
2- Hindus do not have any rights to vote in Arab, Pakistan or any one of the 56 Islamic Nations. I challenge: has even a single Hindu the strength (guts) to impose restrictions on our (Muslims’) voting-rights in India? – Maulana Badarrudin Ajmal, Lok Sabha Sansad, AIUDF, Assam.
3- In Hyderabad, our Muslim population has crossed 50%, and now we are in majority. Therefore I demand the Administration to impose restrictions on celebration of Hindu festivals such as Ram Navami, Hanuman Jayanti etc. In the Bhagya-Lakshmi temple, near Char-Minar, we have already shown our strength by stopping the ringing of the Bell/gong. We Muslims will ensure that this temple is also destroyed. – Akbaruddin Owaisi, Sansad, Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Musalmeen, (AIMIM), Hyderabad, India.