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A non intellectual Hindu perspective

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I often witness social media posts and narratives equating what is happening in India to impending Holocaust, projecting the Hindus as Hitler affiliates and Muslims as Jews. Overnight Hindus have become these monsters! Such an ignorant comparison. Nothing could be further from the truth. Maligning the majority community in India like this is uncalled for, divisive and utterly insensitive. Before I start my commentary, I have to add that India has many layers and complexity to her history and the context needs to be taken into account before forming any kind of opinion. And, the context certainly can’t be the German Nazi one! I am no intellectual. I speak as a common Hindu who grew up in India, seldom recalling a moment of hatred for another community and always cognizant of the religious sentiments of another. We were as secular as can be, and then some more.

Hindus do not claim supremacy, neither do they consider Muslims or any other religion’s individuals as any lesser than them. Hindus consider every religion as another path leading to God and respect them just the same. They might have some restrictions when it comes to following religious rituals but not in other ways. You can see many Indian Hindus offering obeisance at different places of worship, irrespective of the religion e.g. Muslim shrines or enshrined tombs, churches, gurdwaras, monasteries etc. This can’t be claimed by any other religion. Hindus, rather, are always in self doubt and struggle with a certain sense of inferiority due to centuries of subjugation by foreign rule. They are slowly overcoming this, but, still have a long way to go. Hindus have loved and lived with other religions including Muslims for a little less than a thousand years, inspite of having a history of systematic destruction of their own heritage and culture by a handful of Muslim invaders who forcibly and brutally converted millions of Indians to their own faith centuries ago, and thereafter, mass conversions of more Indians to Christianity in the last few hundreds of years after invasion by Europeans.

Now speaking of the matter at hand- the Indian Muslims. Hindus view the Indian Muslims as one of their own, being fully cognizant of the common ancestors, culture and heritage. Even if they did not have any commonality, Hindus have a history of accepting people from all over the world with different ethnicities/religions, who sought refuge in India when they were turned away from everywhere else. Indian Muslims have been given many concessions and privileges over the decades by the government since independence. This appeasement politics has led to feelings of discontentment in some Hindus due to their own needs being overlooked at times. They are asking for equal footing, especially in terms of religious rights, since that has specifically been ignored and Hindus have largely been the bigger person in regards to maintaining communal harmony.

Even when the Hindus witnessed genocide in Kashmir as recent as in 1989-90, their plight was ignored by the Indian government (because Muslims were the perpetrators) and neither did the Hindus retaliate (given we are a peace loving community), leaving countless Kashmiri Hindus homeless and destitute in their own country. Compare this to the open support and sympathy meted out to the Jihadist terrorists, in spite of India being targeted time and again by the merciless acts of Islamist terrorists. If Indian Muslims are still the underprivileged population and feeling persecuted, it is due to their own fallacies, rather than lack of support. Additionally, they no longer fit the “minority” category as their population growth has been exponential since independence in 1947, compared to any other community in India.

After all the advantage Muslims have had in India, they don’t seem to be content, especially now that the current government is trying to equalize the status of all Indians irrespective of their religion. This behavior is akin to the special child not being able to tolerate the parents’ attention to the other siblings who have been largely ignored otherwise. Terms like Hindutva ideology and Hindu terrorism are being thrown around irresponsibly. How ironical! You see, no one is used to a truly secular framework in India. Secularism in India so far had been selective, applicable only to protect the rights of the non Hindus.

Hindus are rather hurt when fingers are pointed at them after all the adjustments they have made over the centuries. They are hurt when they are treated as different by the Indian Muslims, just like one would feel hurt if one’s own sibling disowned them/ their family and started seeking affiliation with a family that is not theirs. Imagine how heart broken one would be! Over time, any kind of hurt does have a tendency to turn into hate, but, majority of Hindus are far from that, still.

If we are in the business of drawing ignorant comparisons these days, let us draw relevant comparisons instead. It is called “Capgras syndrome” in the Psychiatric world, wherein individuals believe that their own family is not their own and start looking for their “original” family elsewhere, always lost, conflicted and distressed while chasing this mirage. In the process they feel like their own family is against them and trying to kill them. Every little act from their family that seems negative to them, no matter how valid the reason for the act might be e.g. parents admitting them for treatment or chiding them for doing something wrong, is blown out of proportion in their heads and feeds into their underlying fear of persecution, which gets more and more intense with time without treatment. At times they get violent towards their own family members to “protect” themselves. This is a drastic comparison and I, of course, don’t mean this literally, but figuratively. These days we have to draw unnecessary comparisons to get the point across! But, the above example draws analogy to what is going on in a fraction of the Muslim population in India. The problem is not that we have millions of Indians who have been converted to Islam over centuries. The problem is their distrust, their constant attempt to alienate themselves from their own roots, culture and heritage and attempting to wear gloves that don’t fit them, doesn’t belong to them. Some Indian Muslims would rather believe that they are genetically closer to Arabs or Persians than Indians! They try to emulate them. Some of them consider themselves to be the superior race for that matter, taking pride in the fact that their non-Hindu “ancestors” had ruled the Hindus in the “glorious” past (please give a listen to a speech by politician Owaisi claiming this)! Majority of them don’t even have a shred of the Arab DNA in them as they are purely converted Indians. But, this mentality also harks back to the sense of inferiority and self doubt created by years of foreign rule- Hindus don’t have an escape from their “shame”, but, Muslims subconsciously try to do so on account of belonging to a particular religion that didn’t originate in India. They identify themselves with the religion first and choose that over their identity as Indians. That could clearly be seen in the anti CAA protests, wherein they had been willing to jeopardize India’s security due to their unfounded fears of persecution. Being a vastly illiterate population doesn’t help with the situation either, due to which they are an easy prey to the ones that have vested interests or have an ulterior motive to destroy India. I reiterate that not all Muslims are like that. Hindus do seem to be getting tired of this, beginning to resist more firmly rather than bending backwards, which has led to clashes between the communities every now and then, when the water over runs. Yes, there are some overzealous ones who should be shunned and shut up, at both the ends.

Indian Muslims need to get over their mistrust of their own country. They need to believe in the rightful ownership of this country with equal share and responsibility towards it, rather than constantly needing appeasement to feel so. They need to treat themselves as equals and one with India and other non-Muslim Indians. They need to accept themselves as Indians first, then anything else, if they have chosen to live in a secular and democratic country like India. This goes for any other non Hindu Indian, who feels otherwise in a country that has nurtured them benevolently for all these years. In a country as diverse as India, only the sense of nationalism is the common thread that can bind them together.

Hindus have always been very accepting of “others” and continue to be so, as this is not only the core value of their faith, but, also inherent to their culture. They would exchange peace over prosperity, love over hate in a heart beat, but being humans, they too need to feel accepted from time to time. I am sure that there are many Indian Muslims who would say just that and justifiably so. Let us not judge the whole community on the basis of a few, but, we need to accept that there are problems. Let us recognize the problems and help the ones that are struggling within our own communities, rather than perpetuating narratives that are going to ultimately harm all Indians, irrespective of their religion. Indian system is far less than perfect, but, giving a communal hue to everything needs to stop. Let bygones be bygones. Let us start afresh. Let us embrace each other with love and trust. Let us be a family to be envied, rather than risk being a family to be mocked at.

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