The extremists among Hindus have hijacked the religion of peace and non-violence, just as the extremists among Buddhists, Jews and Muslims have done it with their religions. It is time for the moderate Hindus to speak up; if not, the new narrative would be Hinduism is a religion of violence, fascism and forcible conversions.
As a pluralist monitoring the trends in religion, society and politics, I have a responsibility to protect the sanctity of religion and prevent religions from being maligned, abused and misused. Indeed, I have stood up for the rights of all religions including Hinduism. No matter what the gangsters claim, or who they blame, or what excuses we buy as a society, the death and destruction is done by men and not religion. You can punish men and restore a sense of security in the society, where as you cannot punish, beat, kick, slaughter, shoot, hang or bury a religion.
Hinduism is indeed blessed not to be slapped with 9/11-like terrorism label on it, despite the massacres of 3000 Sikhs in New Delhi by the violent Hindu mobs in just three days, for a total of 8,000 Sikhs within a week. Nearly a thousand Muslims were butchered by the fanatic Hindus in Gujarat within two weeks in 2002. Christian nuns were raped, their churches pillaged and some of the missionaries were burnt alive including Rev. Graham Staines. What is done to the Dalits, formerly known as untouchable, is unforgivable. The historic 500-year-ld Babri Mosque was destroyed in 1992 by extremists Hindu mobs.
No good Hindu should be offended by the above; they did no wrong. They would be wrong if they don't speak out against it.
Mind you, there are nearly a billion Hindus and an overwhelming majority of them have got their religion right and go about living their lives, taking care of their family and minding their own business. However the danger comes from the tiny but potent fringe element among them who is hell bent on terrorizing Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Dalits and the Tribals. Of course, the fringe element from among Muslims Jews, Buddhist and Christians have their own share of terrorism that will be subject of a series of articles on religious violence.
New York Times in its editorial in December wrote, "In recent weeks, Hindu militants have engineered conversions of Muslims and Christians in Agra and in the states of Gujarat and Kerala. Police are investigating accusations that people have been induced to participate in mass-conversion meetings by a combination of intimidation and bribery, including the promise of food-ration cards. Attacks on Christians and their places of worship have intensified in recent weeks. One of New Delhi's biggest churches burned down on Dec. 1 -- arson is being blamed -- and Christmas carolers were attacked on their way home in the city of Hyderabad on Dec. 12."
A Hindu friend writes about Muslims, which also works as a corollary for Hindus. "I hope the good Hindus heed this advice with an open mind and heart, they will see how they have tacitly supported their extremist brothers from among RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, Ram Sena and other outfits by their deafening silence and organized inaction. The good Hindus have been cowered by the extremists' co-religionists and are allowing these men to give their religion a bad name."
John Dayal who heads a Christian coalition in India writes, "They suddenly declared every Christian in India a non-patriot, a traitor" in response to VHP's national general secretary Praveen Togadia on Monday, who demanded "a strong legislation" to stop conversions, but (the hypocrite) defended 'Ghar Wapsi (becoming a Hindu)' program. Togadia adds, "Our Board of Trustees is of the opinion that conversion detaches a person from national stream.... Ghar Wapsi (becoming Hindu) unites the person with national stream. " It amounts to a statement. "Jews, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Wicca and Pagans are not patriotic Americans if they don't follow evangelical version of Christianity."
US-based risk management and consulting company, Terrorism Watch & Warning, has put the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in its category of 'Threat Group'
and called it "a shadowy, discriminatory group that seeks to establish a Hindu
Rashtra, a Hindu nation." Of course it can be disputed, but the word is out.
Wikipedia, "The RSS party was banned during the British rule, and then thrice by
the post-independence Indian government -- first in 1948 when Nathuram Godse, a
former RSS member, assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. Now one of the "RSS affiliates
the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha has stoked a fresh row by demanding
installation of Nathuram Godse's statues at public places"--Times of India. It
amounts to glorifying the guy who attempted to shoot Reagan, and installing the
statues of the guys who shot Kennedy and Lincoln as heroes.
People should have the freedom to eat, drink, wear and believe whatever the hell they want; no one should be forced to do anything.
There is a ban on cow slaughter in some states; however the vigilantes have made it their business to hunt down any one who eats beef and in cases they have been beaten up.
"Madhya Pradesh State passed an anti-cow-slaughter law providing for seven years in jail for eating beef, empowering police to carry out raids on mere suspicion, and putting the burden of proving innocence on the accused received presidential assent." Indian Express
NDTV reports, "A theatre owner in south Mumbai's Parel said he had no choice but to stop screening the film after being threatened by activists allegedly belonging to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or VHP, an affiliate of the ruling BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh."
Creation is about balance; everything has to function cohesively or else it will collapse. Unlike the matter where it is programmed to be in balance like the planets, stars, seasons, plants and trees that function, humans were not programmed, but given the free will to figure out the balance between violence and civility.
Religions emerged to mitigate violence and restore sanity and safety. Most people get that right, but a few don't, and that is who we are dealing with, the fringe element within each group.