So Obama’s Presidential Transition Team has an Indian woman now. Sonal Shah. Her appointment has sparked off a controversy. Not coz she’s Indian or anything, but because her father was closely associated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
Some groups called ‘Coalition Against Genocide’ (who count amongst their achievements getting the US to deny a visa to Modi) have kicked up a controversy about this. And predictably, the lady has denied any links with VHP and RSS and says she is against divisive politics.
I’m sick of the whole ‘Right is wrong’ approach that has been drummed into our heads. In any other country, the VHP would be just another religious group, the RSS one of the foremost volunteer organizations, and folks supporting these groups would just be nationalists… but in ours, we are fascists, neo-Nazis, Hindu versions of Zionists, terrorists, mischief-mongers, communalists, you name it.
The VHP has never outright supported any sort of violence, and never has the RSS hand in communalism, if ever it had one, been proved. Godse assassinated Gandhi of his own volition, and the RSS had nothing to do with it, for all you folks who suggest that line of thought. In fact, that was a mere excuse for Nehru to ban an organization which was against his policies… that man couldn’t stand any differences in opinion now, could he? He blacked out Godse’s defense of himself in court… read it here, and you’ll understand why it was blacked out.
I’m sick of watching people apologize for the religion they follow, even though it’s the one which has shown maximum resilience, maximum tolerance, maximum flexibility to its followers, maximum objectivity and maximum ability to change and adapt as the situation demands, and almost never seem like an anachronism.
It doesn’t do to be in denial anymore about our past and heritage, or to continue to believe myths that make us feel ashamed of our rich history and traditions. It only serves to deplete us, bring down our self-esteem and self-confidence, turn cynical, not have faith in ourselves and our abilities. Lesser cultures have sped ahead of us merely by virtue of their self-confidence.
The past might just be the past, dead and gone, and never to return. But it surely would serve to inspire us, to give us the energy to go on with our duties even when we feel we’ve hit a brick wall.
Like, Koreans work fifteen hours a day, take very short breaks, and in general do things which we folks would consider symptoms of OCD… but they work at whatever they are doing with the feeling that every drop of sweat they shed is helping build their economy, which was shattered by the wars and invasions. And apart from boosting deo sales, it makes their country a rich, prosperous one. I don’t mean to say that’s the path to salvation, but this is just to illustrate what a bit of patriotism and self-confidence can do.
Separation of religion and state is ideal for oppressive, hierarchical religions, but not for pagan heathens for whom religion is a way of life. We worship rain, money, food, tools, animals, you name it. Religion is so ingrained into our lives that to shift-delete it from our lives would be to obliterate our identities and all that we stand for.
Being ‘conservative’ means to ‘conserve’ the ideals our forefathers have left us. For other countries which were left legacies that aren’t organic, and are not sustainable, it might be ideal to have revolution as the midwife of history, but when we already have a nicely-working legacy system, it doesn’t make sense to break it all down just because it’s old, though it might be more robust than any new system you might bring in. Ancient does not necessarily mean outdated.
In the Indian context, it makes more sense to preserve than to destroy what we have.
A Muslim country like Indonesia considers the Ramayana as an integral part of its culture, so much that it finds representation in currency notes, and we question and deny the same thing, which is more a matter of faith than logic. And choose to emboss our currency notes with another sacred cow.
I see no anachronism in chanting the Gayatri Mantra, wearing a sacred thread, going on a pilgrimage to Rameshwaram, believing Setu existed, celebrating a thousand-odd festivals, worshipping thirty-three crore Gods and Goddesses, doing the Surya Namaskar, rendering the Omkara, playing religious music on All India Radio, speaking Sanskritized Hindi, Tamil or whatever Indian language, being vegetarian, being allowed to joke about my religion, being allowed to believe, or not, having enough authority to bring in reform as and when I choose to to my religion.
I see no point in espousing atheism and denigrating Gods and idol worship if the alternative is you are supposed to revere sacred cows like this one and this one and against who it is illegal to commit any blasphemy.
Hare Krishna and Vande Mataram.