This is the concluding part of my three part series on the recent Al Jazeera episode in which the anchorperson and Islamic bigot Mahdi Hasan ambushed a Hindu activist and leader.
Opponents of Hinduism level scurrilous charges against Hindutva in the hope of putting the Hindu participant in a discussion on the defensive. Hindus often oblige by getting defensive. Hasan accused the RSS stalwart Golwalkar of calling Christians ‘bloodsuckers’ in the book Bunch of Thoughts. Even though the Hindu activist argued well that Golwalkar accorded equal status to the Christians and Muslims, he missed the opportunity to rebut this charge effectively.
1. Did Golwalkar call Christians ‘bloodsuckers?’
The correct answer should’ve been:
Hasan, Swami Vivekananda once remarked, “Every man going out of the Hindu pale (to Christianity or Islam) is not only a man less, but an enemy the more.” Now, on the surface, it appears as if Vivekananda and Golwalkar had very similar but uncharitable views of Christians. But which Christians did Golwalkar call ‘bloodsuckers?’ He makes it very clear in Bunch of Thoughts, pp. 156-160.
Golwalkar holds Jesus in high regard and argues that Christians have not followed his message of selfless service. Instead, wherever Christians went, they have laid waste to society. They committed terrible genocides in Africa and the Americas. Missionaries like St. Xavier called for terrible Inquisitions and destroyed Hindu temples. Golwalkar points out that even in recent times, Christians desecrated the Hindu temple of Sabarimala and smashed the Vivekananda Memorial Tablet on the Vivekananda Rock in Kanyakumari.
He cites comprehensive judicial reports which confirm that Christians were converting the tribal people through fraudulent inducements. He cites the reports of Christian missionaries creating armed rebellion in Nagaland to fuel secession. Golwalkar points out that even Nehru had arrived at the same conclusion as Golwalkar had.
Golwalkar cites newspaper reports of Christian priests in Europe planning to bring India under Christian rule in two phases. In the first phase, all of South India would be brought under Christian rule. In the second phase, North India would be brought under Christian rule. He also cites newspaper reports of the agreement reached between the Christian missions and the Muslim League to partition India and to bring the Gangetic plain under Muslim rule and the Peninsula and the Himalayas under Christian rule.
Hasan, what would you call those who committed terrible genocides, desecrated temples of their hospitable hosts, and secretly plotted to partition India? Would you call them life givers? We don’t call genocidal maniacs like Hitler life givers. We call them bloodsuckers. Apply that standard to everyone. If Hitler was a bloodsucker so are the Christian missionaries and vandals. Mind you that Golwalkar was not talking about the Christian laity. He was only calling Christian missionaries and vandals ‘bloodsuckers.’ However, I would add that the Christian laity is culpable by not taking a principled stance against the ‘bloodsuckers.’
Note 1: Anticipate Hasan to interject with the question, “So, do you think that it was okay to even imply that ordinary Christians were ‘bloodsuckers?’
Respond as follows:
The Christian Nazis were bloodsuckers who committed the genocide of six million innocents. The ordinary Germans were not actively participating in the Holocaust. However, they were certainly guilty of voting Hitler to power, of supporting the churches that supplied the genealogical records to the Nazis to facilitate the Holocaust, and of not denouncing Hitler and their churches in a collective voice.
After Hitler died, the Christian church not only prayed for him but also effectively announced that he is the heavenly brother of Jesus. In Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Daniel Goldhagen equates ordinary Germans to Nazis’ willing executioners for passively colluding with the Nazis. In the same way, India’s Christian laity was, and still is, guilty of not condemning the foul deeds of their missionaries and vandals.
They were, and still are, guilty of empowering the missionaries by congregating in the churches run by them. So, while the members of laity weren’t ‘bloodsuckers,’ they were certainly guilty of aiding the ‘bloodsuckers.’
At this point, no matter what Hasan says, continue with your response:
I disagree with Golwalkar’s high opinion of Jesus though. Christian missionaries were ‘bloodsuckers’ and committed those horrific crimes because they followed the teachings of Jesus. It was Jesus who dehumanized non-believers and members of races other than his own by calling them “dogs” and “swine.”
So, I wouldn’t exculpate Jesus and selectively blame the missionaries as Golwalkar did. However, the fact remains that Golwalkar held Jesus in high esteem and mistakenly thought that the Christians committed horrific crimes because they had failed to follow the teachings of Jesus.
If the Christians had not sabotaged India, a patriot like Golwalkar wouldn’t have made that justified remark. He celebrated pluralism and diversity. He didn’t want to convert others to Hinduism. He firmly argued that Christians and Muslims should follow their own religions and that they are equal to the Hindus. To really understand Golwalkar’s position, you should contrast his advocacy with that of Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad.
Jesus said that those who did not follow him would go to hell. The New Testament informs us that Jesus would torture non-believers for five months on earth before massacring them in a macabre genocide and loading them on the hell-bound cargo post mortem.
The Prophet Muhammad said the same and approved the violent killing of non-believers. Their followers followed the diktats of their respective prophets and made life on earth a living hell for non-believers. It didn’t matter to either of those prophets whether an individual led a moral life.
They demanded total submission. If someone didn’t submit they condemned the non-believer to hell. Those prophets were unreasonable bigots. In contrast, Golwalkar wrote, “A Muslim is as good as a Hindu. It is not the Hindu alone who will reach the ultimate Godhead. Everyone has the right to follow his path according to his own persuasion.” If every prophet, especially Jesus and Muhammad, had been as pluralistic and magnanimous as Golwalkar had been, there wouldn’t have been countless jihads, crusades, Inquisitions, and the Holocaust.
Golwalkar was opposed to proselytizing. He didn’t want to proselytize the Christians and Muslims. He explains this by citing an episode:
“Let me give you the instance of the previous Shankaracharya of the Shringeri Math, His Holiness Shri Chandrasekhara Bharati Swamiji. An American approached him to be converted to Hinduism. Swamiji asked him the reason. The American replied that he was not satisfied with Christianity, that it left his spiritual longing unquenched. The Acharya asked him: “Have you honestly practiced Christianity? Try it first. If it does not satisfy you, then come to me.” That is our attitude. Ours is a non-proselytizing Dharma. In almost all cases, proselytization is motivated by political or some such gain. We reject it.”
Jesus or Muhammad never conceded the possibility that other faiths were as good as their own or that they were not interested in converting others. It is Golwalkar who said it. On the basis of this message alone, Golwalkar towers over Jesus and Muhammad. The New Testament informs that another prophet, John the Baptist, was unfit to carry the sandals of Jesus. That is a moot point. However, one could readily agree that Jesus and Muhammad were unfit to carry the sandals of Golwalkar.
Note 2: Hasan would surely ask, “Since Golwalkar was opposed to proselytizing, would you reject ghar wapasi?”
Reply as follows:
I would not. Hindutva organizations should not either. I only admired Golwalkar for displaying an open mind to embrace diversity unlike displaying bigotry like that Jesus and Muhammad did. Just as I disagree with Golwalkar’s assessment of Jesus, I also disagree with his stance on proselytization. Christians and Muslims have been converting the Hindus for many centuries now. Often they converted by force or deceit. Vivekananda even called those conversions perversions. Besides, religious freedom is not only applicable to Christianity and Islam. It equally applies to the various tribal religions, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism. Christians have virtually destroyed thousands of tribal religions in India. We intend to revive and preserve those religions by facilitating the ghar wapasi of Christians and Muslims. Muslim women in India are pleading for the abrogation of the triple talaq and polygamy. Unfortunately, those practices, and many other misogynistic practices, are central to Islam. We intend to liberate Muslims by facilitating their ghar wapasi to Hinduism.
2. Should India be a Hindu nation?
The Hindu activist wavered in his response and claimed that the RSS only used the term ‘Hindu’ in the cultural sense. If true, that only underscores the weakness of the RSS ideology. The correct response should be:
Yes, India should only be a Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jaina, and tribal nation in the religious and cultural sense. This interview is happening in London. The last time I checked, UK is a Christian nation. It funds its churches and Christian institutions with taxpayer money. Many European countries are officially Christian states.
In many countries, a newborn child is registered as a Christian by default and even tax is automatically deducted from the payroll to tithe the church. All of these countries export Christianity to India and other non-Christian nations under the guise of religious freedom. America is namesake secular but funds its churches through faith-based initiatives.
Every American president proclaims his belief in Jesus and they even run part of the presidential campaign from the premises of Christian organizations. Virtually every hospital owned by the Christian sects is funded by taxpayer dollars. What an irony that you all pontificate to India on the virtues of secularism! First make your countries secular and report back to me.
3. Is the Taj Mahal part of the Hindu heritage? Do you want to paint it in saffron?
As Bryan Morrigan remarked, the Taj Mahal is no more a part of Hindu heritage than the Statue of Liberty is part of the Native American heritage. Should Native Americans be grateful that the European Christian colonizers, who committed a massive genocide of Native Americans, were kind enough to build the Statue of Liberty? What kind of perverse argument would that be?
Muslim invaders committed horrific crimes against the Hindus. Those crimes included genocide, rape, enslavement, imposition of the jizya, and the demolition of Hindu temples. Should Hindus be grateful that after committing such heinous crimes, the invaders built the Taj Mahal? The answer is a resounding no. The Taj Mahal is a shameful legacy of the Muslim occupation of India. As Gautam Sen once wrote, it was built with Hindu taxpayer money by Hindu architects. It is a beautiful piece of architecture with a shameful legacy. No, we wouldn’t want to paint it saffron. In dharma, saffron is a sacred color. There is nothing sacred about a mausoleum built by predatory occupiers.
The ancestors of Indian Muslims were Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists. They were forcibly converted to Islam. So, the Taj Mahal shouldn’t be a part of the Indian Muslim heritage either. I am looking forward to the day when Muslims would stop offering prayers at this mausoleum and the Taj Mahal would only remain a tourist monument which reminds us of the dark period of Muslim occupation of India and their tyranny.
Let me conclude this series with the following observations.
Our opponents know that the Hindutva organizations are harmless. Why in that case do they demonize the Hindutva organizations and leaders? They do so because Hindutva is the only Hindu movement which could mobilize the Hindu masses to some degree. Historically, Hinduism has not been a congregational religion whereas Islam and Christianity have always been congregational.
Christians and Muslims congregate in their churches and mosques on a specific day of the week and listen to sermons. Christian priests and mullahs mobilize the Abrahamic flock during those sermons. This capability gave the Christians and Muslims immense bargaining power. Politicians understand the value of a vote bank and the police are afraid of acting against rioters and charlatans from these communities. The Abrahamic laity also knows the power of congregations. In India, all Christian and Islamic institutions are funded by tax payer money. Often, the wealth of Hindu temples is handed over to the Christians and Muslims.
Christians and Muslims would like this imbalance to continue so as to increase their own bargaining power. In Nehruvian India, the secular left has benefitted a lot by aligning itself with the Christians and Muslims and by attacking Hinduism and the Hindus. Secularists have nominated themselves to lucrative positions and have received western funding by attacking Hinduism. They would also like the imbalance to continue. The imperial West would do its best to sustain this imbalance by funding the secular brigade because that helps weaken India and to facilitate proselytism of Hindus to Christianity.
The Christian-Muslim-secular trinity fears Hindutva because Hindutva alone provides the congregational capability that the Hindus desperately need. Our opponents understand that once the Hindus learn to self-organize and become proud of their Hindu identity, the imbalance would end. They do not fear the Hindu religious organizations because they shun political activism. They do not fear caste organizations because they fail to create a pan-Hindu cohesiveness and even impede the evolution of such cohesiveness. In contrast, Hindutva provides a pan-Hindu plank that transcends caste, regional, and linguistic boundaries from which political activism can be, and has been, launched.
The unholy trinity and their foreign handlers understand this. They fear any Hindu mobilization. So, they attempt to demonize Hindutva. Such preemptive demonization would also serve another important purpose. If there is any non-Hindutva Hindu mobilization initiative in the future, our opponents could still expediently call it Hindutva and pronounce it guilty. In fact, they’ve already created the trope for such expediency and have tested it. An incident from 2006 would illustrate it.
In 2006, a western academic wrote an unscholarly work of fiction which was presented as history. The target of scurrilous attack of that book was the great Hindu king Śivāji. This offended a Maratha caste organization which has no connection with Hindutva. They attacked the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) in Pune. The reason BORI was the target of their ire was that it had collaborated with the offending academic. One may reasonably argue that Indian institutions shouldn’t offer a platform to western academics who are motivated by aversion to India, Hinduism, or Hindu icons.
Legal measures to prevent collaboration between Indian academics and westerners with known anti-India or anti-Hindu bias are very much in order. However, unfortunately, this caste group indulged in violent protests in which some valuable manuscripts were destroyed. This incident was a godsend to western academics of the secular stripe who closed ranks.
They promptly blamed Hindutva for the BORI attacks. They alleged that the Hindutva is motivated by brahminical bias and that somehow this bias has resulted in the BORI attack. Hindus belatedly clarified that the attack had nothing to do with Hindutva. However, the damage had already been done.
Our opponents know that once they pronounce Hindutva untouchable, they could tar any Hindu mobilization guilty by association with Hindutva. Therefore, they expect a Hindu discussant to disown Hindutva and advertise one’s commitment to secularism. Sadly, the Hindu discussant, more often than not, acquiesces and obliges. Why go on the stage if the intent is to surrender? Have you ever inquired as to what is the biggest Hindu phenomenon in the last 150 years? It is not Vivekananda. It is not Gandhi, who actually weakened Hindu society. It is not the freedom movement. It is the Ram janma bhoomi movement.
The VHP initiative mobilized Hindus of every stripe. It was pan-Indian in appeal. It naturally resonated with Hindus of every caste and region. An overwhelming majority of Hindus rejoiced when the Babri Masjid was torn down. The movement helped the BJP come to power. Hardline Hindutva sells. Diluting it in debates and politics only results in the loss of the core Hindu support. Think twice before you disown in-your-face, non-nonsense, honest stances which resonate well with the Hindu masses.
Hindus should realize that we cannot engage our opponents on the unreasonable terms they impose upon us. The days of the native informant are over. The days of the assertive Hindu who would talk back have begun. I hope the methods I have taught in this three part series would provide valuable lessons to a Hindu discussant participating in hostile debates.
As a closing note, I would remind Hindus to approach debates as one would approach a game of chess. Go prepared with a well thought out opening move. Anticipate the opponent’s opening moves and prepare your response. As in chess, do a what-if scenario analysis and be prepared for the first 20 moves. Most importantly, remember that you are not participating in the game to settle for a draw. You participate in it to checkmate the opponent.
Kalavai Venkat is a Silicon Valley-based writer, an atheist, a practicing orthodox Hindu, and author of the book “What Every Hindu should know about Christianity.”