Now I get it. Why Shashi Tharoor has written a book entitled “Why I am a Hindu?”
He wanted to enjoy the fruits of freedom, independence, and argumentation so inherent to Hinduism, but at the same time avoided addressing the issues of authoritarianism, deception, terrorism, human rights violations, killings, fatwas and excommunications so intrinsic to Islam and to some extent Christianity. He takes pride in being a Hindu and describes in the first few chapters about the richness of Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and the great souls of India. He quotes extensively from these scriptures as he talks about his faith being non-dogmatic. Pursuit of truth, temple worship, nature of reality, and righteousness are the hallmark of Hindu faith. But he does not go to Quran and Bible and list all the verses dealing with terror, torture, killing, sexual perversions, forced conversions and so on. Because he knows he cannot face the consequences of being honest and erudite scholar. He cannot take chances. By wearing the hats of secularism, liberalism, tolerance and acceptance, he is safe. Then he can stab the Hindus who are sacrificing their lives to protect people like him. Criticism of these two Abrahamic religions will result in outright condemnation, expulsion, excommunication, killing, torture and terror. He is abundantly clear in his whole book that he cannot afford to tell them to refrain from these atrocities. The only religion that allows him to spew out scathing criticism against Hindutva and the torchbearers of Hinduism is his own religion. He cannot say the same thing with other religions. He wants to travel in the Hind boat and burn it for the sake of others because his friends get offended.
His outright hatred toward Hindutva is abundantly clear. One of the reasons for writing this book is in his own words, “to show that the intolerant and often violent forms of Hindutva that began to impose themselves on the public consciousness of Indians in the 1980s went against the spirit of Hinduism, that is plural, inclusive, eclectic and expansive of faiths.” (xi). Hinduism is his soft target because it is forgiving, generous, pardoning and forgetting. He cannot see any good about the efforts of Hindu patriots, he cannot fathom their historical survey of the damage Hinduism encountered, he cannot gauge their intensity to preserve the integrity of the richness of their faith, he cannot recognize their passion to preserve the freedom to enjoy the fruits of their faith, he cannot measure the sacrifices so many heroes made during the ten centuries of Islamic and Christian rule, he cannot recognize the destruction Hindu Temples, he could not identify the Christian determination to put a cross on their holy land, and he could not grasp the Islamic willpower to complete their dream of completing the “unfinished business” of converting India into an Islamic nation. He never found fault with either the Christians or Muslims, liberals, secularists and intellectuals. Thus, he came a Islamicvadi by mitigating their atrocities and denouncing the Hindutvavadis.
His last chapter talks about “Taking Back Hinduism.” What does he want to take back? What it that he lost to regain? There is a saying that it takes two to tangle. Two or more people are needed to agree or compromise to exist, coexist and live together. Mutual respect, appreciation, consensus, freedom, similar ideologies, and shared goals are the key to peaceful living. If their ideologies are far apart, if their goals are irreconcilable, if their religious principles are incompatible and if their respect for other faiths are loathsome, there cannot be a peaceful coexistence. Tharoor wants to take back the basic principles of Hinduism such as peace, dharma, inclusiveness, openness, freedom, love, elasticity, truth and tolerance. In one of his interviews Tharoor conflates Hinduism with Vedanta and concludes that “I take pride in the openness, the diversity, the range, the sublime philosophical aspirations of the Vedanta.” It is remarkable to read about the greatness and strengths of Hinduism in the four chapters of the book and then something happened. His secularist heart suddenly slapped him to wake up.
From that point on, next three chapters can be printed as a separate book with a title “Why I am NOT a Hindu.” By mere reading of these three chapters, one gets the impression that he might have a split personality, or he might be schizophrenic. The Hindu patriots who are expressing their views as per the cannons of Hinduism are called goondas while at the same time he affirms that “Hinduism is a polycentric faith. Since it admits multiple centers of beliefs and practices, there is no single structure of theological authority or liturgical power. When there is no centre, there is no periphery either; Sanatana Dharma is inclusive, since there is no basis for excluding any belief.” (46-47) With this unequivocal acceptance of multiple centers of beliefs and practices, why he is calling the Hindutva patriots with all kinds of names.. Does he think that Hindu leaders do not have alien rights to tell the truth about other religions? Why they cannot criticize the Abrahamic religions? He even pointed out that Abrahamic religions believe that their paths “were the only way to reach God, and those who chose to other paths were doomed to hellfire or damnation.” (47) According to Tharoor, Abrahamic religions think that it is their duty to show their path for those who were still in darkness. If you are unwilling to correct yourself, then you must be either misguide, evil, or blind. Tharoor is a hypocrite, hobo, quack and phony. The religions who call him blind, who condemn him to hellfire, who convict him as evil and who are committed to bring him to right path with force and inducement, Tharoor would gladly accept them as revealed religions and admits that their word is not false. He would not call them as goondas, hooligans or even untruthful. Tharoor can be called hypocrite who claims to be a Hindu cherishing certain beliefs, attitudes, ideologies or feelings but refuse to even criticize other religions whose ideologies are diametrically opposed, accepting their labels of him as sinner or kafir. He even allowed his faith to be ridiculed, denounced and humiliated.
He is totally obsessed with is secularist ideology. His selective brain started abusing the people who want him to enjoy the openness and diversity. As perceptive as he is supposed to be, as intelligent as he is described, and as scholarly as he was depicted, it appears that he wants to REPLACE the Hindu principles with Islamic injunctions such as terror, torture, burning, exclusivity, hatred, autocracy, cheating, forcing, dishonesty, lying, fatwa, sharia law, and Allah.
My review of this book is limited to some of the observations, inferences and conclusions Tharoor has made. As I kept reading the book, I started jotting down some of the statements to respond with as much documentation as possible with facts and figures. I did not want to fall into the trap of my ego thinking that my and only my views should guide the responses. Tharoor said that, “I describe aspects of Hindu thought that matters to me” (xii). Once you are thinking of what matters to me, one becomes subjective, irrational, impertinent, biased and hateful. The wholistic outlook that is so essential to comprehend the gravity of the subject matter, Tharoor abdicates by choosing the narrowest viable option. Consequently, he started naming the names and demeaning and denigrating the Hindu patriots. He is in good company with P Chidambaram who coined the word “Hindu terror” to divert the ongoing investigation on Samjhauta Express blast and Sushil Kumar Shinde who have described the Hindu struggle to preserve the richness of Hind culture as “Saffron terror.” Many Hindus across the globe, strongly condemned the partisan, ignorant, narrow-minded, bigoted and totally prejudiced statements alleging “Hindu Terrorism” and “Saffron terror.” Hindus did not riot, burn the villages, set fire to the buses or looted the shops. Their statements are unwarranted, unwise, absurd, unjustified, illogical, unpardonable and ridiculous. These are the kind of statements that are made by puny, egoistic and self-bloated people who are ignorant of the history of Hindu religion, ill-informed of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, unfamiliar with the history of Islamic onslaught on the land of Bharath, unacquainted with the Goa inquisition, and unaware of the history of atrocities, terror, and torture inflicted on Hindus.
Tharoor is in good company with these two former Home Ministers who belong to the same Congress Party. He used the words “goondas,” “intolerant,” “hooligans,” “purveyors,” “lumpen elements,” and “hateful Hindus.” in describing the patriotic Hindus who gave him the opportunity to avail the freedom of speech by sacrificing their lives to lift the emergency declared by his party leader Indira Gandhi. His memory is selective, his choice of words to describe Hindu patriots are abysmal, his vision of India is Islamization, his mission of his life is to abhor Hindu leaders, and his goal is to be a Islamicvadi. His spouted venom toward the Hindu patriots is a strategy to invite Muslims to occupy India and declare it as Islamic Nation the way Pakistan did soon after Independence.
Georg Santayana’s quote is worth remembering, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In fact, it is timelier for bigoted Tharoor because of his willful negligence of the history of India and hailure to acknowledge the continuous, relentless, hateful invasions of India by Muslims. By suggesting Hindus to be open minded, accommodative and inclusive, Tharoor is paving the way for Muslims to uproot the Hindu edifice, conquer India, destroy democracy, abandon dharmic living, deny freedom of speech, introduce sharia law and establish Islamic nation. Tharoor has no problem with Islamic exclusivity, anti-secularism, anti-democracy and anti-freedom of speech. He won’t admonish them, denounce them and even censure them.
It is as timely as ever to remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the culture of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.” The first sentence in this quote describes Islam as a religious house walled from all sides. Tharoor is intelligent enough to know that Islam is religion that has shut their religious doors off by silencing the dissent, by killing the kafirs, by implementing Sharia law, by declaring democracy as incompatible with Islam, by torturing apostates, by denouncing the secular principles, and declaring the hegemony of Islam over the humanity. Gandhi wanted all cultures to enjoy the fruits of Hinduism but he was abundantly clear that he does not want his house to be blown off, meaning that he does not want his Hindu house to be blown off by the imperialistic, dogmatic and exclusive religions like Islam and Christianity.
One wonders how a person who appreciates his faith and praises it as the future religion of 21st century falls into abysmal trap by denouncing the leaders who are trying to protect the Hindu ideals. Incoherence between one’s beliefs and the actions usually result in the ambivalence of behavior. It appears to be his innate nature to abuse others by attributing traits that he possesses.
He appears to be dishonest, anti-Hindu, unbalanced, prejudiced, unfair and insincere in his effort by naming the Hindu patriots with insinuating names. The suggestion that Bhagavad Gita should be proposed to be a national holy book by Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, Tharoor argued that we are land of multiple faiths, each of which has its own holy books and how do we pick one of them. One who is acquainted with Bible and Quran realizes that there are more than 1000 verses in Bible that profess violence, rape, killing, torture, and stoning to death while Quran has more than 500 verses that demean other religions, advocate terror, torture and killing. Bhagavad Gita is above this kind of puniness and pettiness; and is considered as stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy. He as well as many sincere Hindus could have compared these three major religious books to find out why Bhagavad Gita was proposed to be a national book.
Even if it is not taught as Holy book, it should be introduced as a book imparting high morals essential for the development of personality. In fact, the bill, called the Compulsory Teaching of Bhagavad Gita As a Moral Education Text Book in Educational Institutions Bill, 2016, stated every educational institution should “compulsorily” teach the Gita as moral education. He said it did not apply to minority schools. Many scholars and philosophers found its message as eternal and universal. Bhagavad Gita is used as a management and skill development manual by many top executives of numerous businesses in India, and in Europe and America. About 10 percent of faculty in top business schools in USA are of Indian origin who unashamedly teach Bhagavad Gits for business executives. Netherlands introduced Bhagavad Gita to even 5th graders. In 2008 the study of the Bhagavad Gita was made mandatory for every student joining Seton Hall University in New Jersey even though it is an independent, Catholic university. Bhagavad Gita was praised for its moral, eclectic message numerous times not only by Indians but also many Europeans like Aldous Huxley, Henry David Thoreau, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein, Carl Jung, Bulent Ecevit, Hermann Hesse, Lord Warren Hastings, Hermann Graf Keyserling, Albert Schweitzer, Annie Besant, and others. Ralph Waldo Emerson said this about the Bhagavad Gita: “I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-Gita. It was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us.” Shall we deny this magnificent book because it happens to be a Hindu scripture. Shall we deny the message that cuts across time and boundaries? Hindus should take pride in their faith, their scriptures and the universal peaceful message. Let us not fall trap into this hypocritical thinking.
In the next section of the review, I will address some of Tharoor’s outrageous statements about Hindutva, Hindutvavadis, RSS leaders, Islamic trappings, Obama’s outburst, secularism, and other topics. I find his book to be an unending animosity toward Hindutva and the Hindu patriots. There is a total absence of condemnation of minority appeasement and the Islamic open agenda to make India an Islamic Country.