The world’s largest democracy … really?
By Aslam Abdullah
Hinduism’s top religious scholars and leaders convened a Dharam Sansad, a religious parliament, in the Hindu holy city of Haridwar. During this event, which was held on December 17-19, 2021, they declared open war and urged Hindus to violently eradicate Islam and Muslims. However, the religious leaders of 900 million Hindus did not specify whether their genocide project would remain confined to India’s 200 million Muslims or also include the world’s approximately 2 billion Muslims.
Hindus can be found almost everywhere in the world. They have financed many of the leaders present there and have given their religious allegiance to temples that promote this ideology. But none of India’s significant Hindu religious or political leaders have condemned those who advocate such widespread terrorism. The police and intelligence forces have also failed to act against these merchants of death.
Political experts believe that this genocide call is backed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the leading Hindu organization built on the sentiments of hatred against non-Hindu religions. They also suspect that it enjoys the support of the Research Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s premier intelligence agency run mainly by upper-caste RSS-aligned Hindus.
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This specific call for violence aims to terrorize and intimidate Muslims into renouncing Islam and converting. Some Hindu religious leaders believe that by 2029, India’s Muslims will have enough political power to install the prime minister. A 2015 Pew Center report said that Muslims make up 15% of India’s current population. It also predicted that by 2050 Hindus will be 1.3 billion, whereas Muslims will number only 311 million.
This call for genocide is due both to electoral politics and their religious belief system, which has led them to say openly what they have been discussing in private for a long time. Without exception, all Hindu religious leaders and RSS operatives believe in the legitimacy of Manusmriti (Laws of Manu) as the guiding principle for a Hindu Rashtra — a purely Hindu nation. They believe that the prescriptions from this ancient law book, a collection of 2,690 verses, are the words of Brahma.
In coordination with India’s Ministry of Culture, Sanskar Bharti, the RSS’s cultural affiliate, plans to organize seminars, festivals and deliberations to promote this law book, which dates to 200 bce. The proposal to revive it comes from RSS stalwart Dr. Surakant Bali’s book “Bharat Gatha,” in which he argues that Manusmirti — one of the foundational texts of the upper caste’s hegemony of Hindu society — was a piece of reminiscence and therefore open to interpretation and variation. He contends that without understanding it, one cannot understand Hinduism properly. As Manusmirti is parallel to the constitution, the recently concluded Dharam Sansad expressed disdain for that document and demanded that the Law of Manu replace it as India’s governing law.
Mansumriti’s chief target is the principle of equality enshrined in the constitution. Former RSS chief M.S. Golwalkar (1906-73) proposed in “We or Our Nationhood” (1929) that denying equality to some sections of Indian society, namely the minorities, is the Hindu nationalists’ goal.
Interestingly, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (1891-1956), who drafted the Indian constitution, publicly burnt Golwalkar’s book during December 1927. A political figure who converted from Hinduism to Buddhism, he became the leader of the Dalit Buddhist movement. Dalits form Hinduism’s lowest caste.
India’s history starts with the arrival of the Aryans, who devised a social system to ensure that not only would they always remain at the top, but they would also own all of the land’s wealth and power. They divided the people into four varna (groups) and assigned duties and obligations to each one. In descending order, the Brahmans (priests), Kshatriyas (rulers, administrators and warriors), Vaishyas (artisans, merchants, tradesmen and farmers), and Shudras (the laboring classes) had their status and privileges fixed at birth.
The Brahmans were the super-lords, and the other castes exist to serve them. Members of this caste could do no wrong and thus were always guiltless, a trait conferred upon them by Lord Brahma. The Kshatriyas were the protectors and defenders, the Vaishyas were tasked with producing food and the Shudras served as menials. Those who fell outside this system were known as Dalits, people who were considered untouchable, non-human, impure and unfit for Hindu civilization. This category also includes Jews, Zoroastrians, Christians, Muslims and 7,000 other religious traditions.
There are more than 6,000 birth-based subcastes, each of which are socially isolated from and inimical to each other. This ensures that those on the lowest rung will always remain subjugated and exploited.
Jainism and Buddhism, both born in the sixth century bce, challenged this Manusmriti-based system. As a result, thousands embraced these two faiths. However, under Chandragupta Maurya (321-297 bce), upper caste Hindus killed thousands of Buddhists and Jains and destroyed their places of worship.
From the eighth to the 16th century, Islam and Christianity attracted the so-called lower and oppressed castes to their fold. Most of them were the early inhabitants of India before the Aryan invasion.
The Manusmriti-based laws have weakened India while empowering the upper castes to reap the available benefits. It denied knowledge to women, people of lower castes and the untouchables. The upper castes distorted history, destroyed records, eliminated those who opposed them, created their new deities and orchestrated lynching and mass hysteria to ensure their continued hegemony.
Neither the RSS, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Parishad (BJP), nor the Hindu religious leaders have ever spoken against the caste system, let alone condemned it. Instead, they have unleashed violence against anyone who stands against it.
Dharam Sansad’s call to commit genocide against the Muslims is no more than a continuation of the upper-caste’s determination to eliminate those who promote egalitarianism. Their hatred of the constitution is proof of their arrogance. Haridwar’s Hindu religious parliament was not an exception to, but rather a continuation of, Hindu history.
India is a multi-caste, multiracial, multireligious, multilingual and multicultural country. Its constitution reflects a humanist, universal, rational and scientific vision. The Hindu religious leadership that met in Haridwar has another vision, one of hatred based on its lack of vision and wisdom and its failure to recognize that diversity is the essence of life. No one is born high or low, for all are equal and deserve a dignified human existence.
Through their hateful call, Hindu religious leaders unequivocally prove that they do not even understand the meaning of humanity and dignity.
Aslam Abdullah, Ph.D., is editor-in-chief of Muslim Media Network Inc., publisher of the Muslim Observer; and a resident scholar at Islamicity.org
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