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Shashi Tharoor’s book ‘Why I am a Hindu’ is more a political stunt than book

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G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer

I have read the Congress’ tall liberal-secular leader of International-fame, Shri Shashi Tharoor’s book, “Why I am a Hindu?” with a keen intent to know what is in his mind. The book appeared to be more of a political stunt than an ideological battle.

Shri Tharoor tried in vain to demolish Hindutva ideology with his erudition and verbose. He did not mention anywhere why the Congress government’s secularism failed so miserably in 2014 reducing the party to 44 MPs. He did not mention about Shah Bano and Ayodhya Temple related sentiments of the people anywhere in the book. He was partial and tried to shield the Congress party to the best of his abilities. The Congress never ever thought that the Hindus would have sensibilities until it was trounced in last Lok Sabha elections. Now, after a belated recognition, the party is trying to willy-nilly grab power in some states (eg: Karnataka) by dividing Hindus into caste lines.

Shri Tharoor began writing his book eulogising Hindu religion and its eclectic approach of many gods, many rituals and many modes of worship, then he moved on to his next section (section-II) to bait Hindutva by calling the ideology as political Hinduism. In the same section he brought his cocooned liberal-fanatic thoughts out in lashing the BJP. He is unabashed in venting his ire on the Hindus that are with the BJP.

It’s amazing, being a liberal he opposed bringing in Uniform Civil Code in the country. For which (for the implementation), he says, he needs consent of the “affected communities” (read Muslims). He writes, the idea of Uniform Civil Code needed to be deferred indefinitely, until the time was ripe. The ripe-time is always questionable, indefinite and infinite. After 70 years of Independence, it is still being debated? Marriage, inheritance, divorce and maintenance are secular issues. They can all be same (come under the same law) for all citizens in a secular democracy anywhere in the world.

The scholar-MP says unlike in France (the concept of secularism which keeps religion out of government institutions like schools), the Indian secularism “cheerfully embraces” financial support to religious schools and the persistence of ‘personal law’ for different religious communities. This statement of Indian secularism which he gleefully states is absurd anywhere in the world. When we have borrowed our secularism, socialism, all Freedoms from the West, why this minorities – appeasement clause of government-funding to minority-religious institutions be present as part of secularism practised in India?

He criticises David Frawley for stating that sarva dharma samabhava is asked to be practised only by Hindus in India. What David Frawley said is what is happening in India. It warrants no criticism by the Congressman. The point Frawley has made should be taken into cognisance for soul searching by the Congress.

He goes against nationalism that is very much pronounced now in the country and quotes Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to have warned that the communalism of the majority was especially dangerous because it could present itself as nationalist. That statement of Nehru is bizarre. If the majority do not stand up for nationalism, how could the country survive?

It is strange to read from a person who wrote a book on, ‘Why I am a Hindu?’ to support religious conversions not only by individual choice but also en masse (in mass scale). He justified block, blanket conversion by saying that for spiritual or material gain they all can get converted. Thus, he tried to please the Congress President and the Chairperson. Throughout the book, he tried to please his political bosses by singing their tunes or by being their voice. A la’ “His Master’s Voice”.

Right from MF Hussain, Taj Mahal and Padmavat controversy, Nayanatara Sahgal’s writings – all his pet iconic projects and discourses were in the book. Those were answered many a time befittingly by Hindutva proponents earlier (some of them decades ago). Why raking up afresh? MF Hussain being a Muslim, in Tharoor’s view he had all freedom to draw goddess Saraswati the manner he liked. Since the controversy of Taj Mahal and Padmavat were raised by some Hindu outfits they should be countered and condemned. Why? He should know their freedom of expression is as gifted as MF Hussain’s. To a degree if they violated their freedom, so also, MF Hussain to a larger degree in the manner he painted the goddess Saraswati in Hindu-India. It is unbecoming of liberals to bring in always Khajuraho-sculpture, if they like so much, they can live there.

Wendy Doniger, to Tharoor, did erudite study in Hinduism. To majority of Hindus her derogatory references of Hindu gods did not go down well. Quite often, in his book, Tharoor used terms like “lumpen elements”, “narrow-minded”,” bigots” etc when he wrote about his opponents. Who he is he to label people? Is such name-calling a trend associated to the sophisticated elite of his cult? He spared none. Even the ‘puppy-reference’ of the Prime Minister which seemed normal to me was bashed unnecessarily to please his masters by making it convoluted. The PM said, ‘even if a small living being like a puppy comes under the wheels of car and dies, we (the people in the car) feel sorry and get disturbed, when so many men died in the riots, why can’t a person like him feel for them’? – That was his explanation in the interview, which was a fair explanation. The kind of agenda driven inference given by Tharoor in his book pleases none.

In the last section, Tharoor writes about ‘Taking Back Hinduism’. My question is to -where? He says Hindus should adopt once again the philosophical Hinduism what their gurus had taught them (meaning to say- to me–so that they would be blind to the secular-faults committed by the Congress). He quoted in his book extensively the Adwaitha philosophy of Adi Shankaracharya and also of Swami Vivekananda which took Hindu-mind to greater heights.

It is agreed that the philosophy gives much solace to mind. However, they (both Shankara and Vivekananda) never taught people to be passive or to sit at a corner. They (Adi Shankara and Swami Vivekananda) were active in their lives and passed on their message to the world. Adi Shankaracharya revived Sanatana Dharma through a dialogue and discourse throughout the country by travelling on foot from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. The seer had the courage of conviction to establish Dharma in this land. He did not relent till he established Shakthi Peethas in all the corners of Bharath. Similarly, in the modern- day world, i.e in the nineteenth century, Vivekananda did the same job of propagating the Adwaitha philosophy in the world by going to Chicago, USA and addressing the world Parliament of Religions. He enthralled the audiences there and won the hearts of people. So, people should strive to do what they believe in. Being passive is not specific to Hindus when it comes up to their Dharma.

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G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer

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