By Souptik Mukherjee
Hitler stole the ancient Hindu symbol of the Swastika, which for thousands of years had been used as a representation of good fortune and well-being, and corrupted it to represent racism and the ultimate of evil. He convoluted the Hindu concept of Arya, which means a righteous person who does good Karma, to represent the racial superiority of the Aryan, white, race. I am writing to warn my fellow Hindus to that once again, a person who promotes white racial superiority is hijacking Hinduism to spread antisemitism, which harms not only Jews but the very core of Hinduism.
He identifies himself as an American Hindu and attends our conferences and is a prolific purveyor on old anti-Semitic tropes, false accusations of Jewish persecution of Hindus, distorted presentations of the Jewish religion, all in the effort to separate a long standing friendship and growing alliance between Hindus and Jews.
His perversion of both Judaism and Hinduism are not new.
It started long back with Max Muller (1823-1900) who came to India, studied the Vedas and wrote 51 volumes of Sacred Books of the East. Under him Arya which means a righteous person who does good Karma became Aryan – a race. He promoted the theory that Germans and other Europeans were Aryans who came to India, invaded the local population (Aryan Invasion Theory) and brought Sanskrit and Vedas along with them. He used the scholarly work done in the Vedas by generations of Hindus and the Aryan Invasion Theory to create a supremacist Aryan racial narrative. He then associated the Swastika, a Hindu holy symbol used worldwide with the narrative.
The narrative he created runs counter to the fundamental Hindu belief of looking beyond race and gender and care for the reincarnating soul inside every living being. Hinduism stands open to all. It fundamentally believes in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam “The Whole World is One Family” based on mutual respect.
Decades after the death of Max Muller, Hitler used the same narrative to carry out a Holocaust of 6 million Jews to racially purify Europe. While the Jews suffered untold misery, the Hindus’ holy symbol Swastika was vilified globally and may never return to its original intent.
The anti-Semitic narrative runs counter to Indian belief and conduct. In India where the majority of Hindus reside, the Jewish communities have been co-existing alongside with the Hindus in harmony for thousands of years. India gave shelter to many Jews when the Romans had destroyed their temple. Swami Vivekananda in his Speech in Chicago in 1893 had mentioned this. Jewish Rabiis also acknowledge this. Rabbi Metzger, former Chief Rabbi of Israel stated: “Jews have lived in India for over 2,000 years and have never been discriminated against. This is something unparalleled in human history.” Recently when Indian Prime Minister Modi ji visited Israel, the Israeli PM Netanyahu had stated, “We receive you with open arms. We love India. We admire your culture, we admire your history, your democracy, your commitment to progress,” Netanyahu said. “We view you as kindred spirits in our common quest to provide a better future for our peoples and for our world.” David Ben Gurion, founding father of modern day Israel, called India the great civilizational power of the east and had called on Israel to reach out.
Jewish-Hindu ties are growing even stronger. In 2014, at the height of the Gaza crisis, in support of Israel 20,000 Hindus in India took to the streets to show support of Israel’s right of self-defense. In 2018, 70,000 Hindus supported Israel and rallied in India. Devdutta Maji, the organizer of both the rallies, called the Hindu Jewish ties, “the defining civilizational partnership of the 21st century”. In US also, Hindu and Jewish groups jointly celebrated Diwali and Hanukkah. Many mainstream Hindu organizations like Sewa International, Viswa Hindu Parishad America and Jewish groups like StandWithUS work together to highlight how both Jews and Hindus celebrate the bringing of light, education and hope in a world where darkness, ignorance and despair are too common. Diwali and Hanukkah joint celebrations have been done by Hindu and Jewish groups in Chicago as well in San Francisco led by Hindu American Foundation. Hindu Yuva and Jewish student groups in Ohio State University have also organized similar events in recent months. This year, the Indian Consulate in Chicago hosted a celebrated Hanukkah
Jews in India have also enjoyed equal status as Hindus. There were many Jewish movie actors who made great names in Bollywood and real life heroes like Lieutenant General J F R Jacob, former Chief of Staff of the Indian Army’s Eastern Command, and former Governor of Punjab and Goa played a major role in liberating Bangladesh from Pakistan. Besides, Hindu and Jewish scientists have always co-operated as family in the world stage. When Hindu scientist Satyendra Nath Bose, under whose name half of the particles of the world exist, was denied a publication for his articles by the British, he approached Einstein, who collaborated with him to publish and give birth to what is today known as the Bose Einstein Condensate. Equally riveting is Einstein’s discussion with Rabindranath Tagore, a Hindu and first Asian to win Noble Prize in Literature, on philosophy based on each other’s beliefs.
Hindus and Jews are both ancient communities who have endured enormous persecution for the last 1000 years. Hindu majority India and Jewish majority Israel both live in hostile neighborhoods. Both often share the same civilizational challenges and enemies. Despite such trials and tribulations, we have never lost hope. Together we chart a future where both communities globally today share same values of belief in education and knowledge, gender equality and respect for women, mutual respect and co-existence based on it. Both communities have an enterprising spirit. India and Israel where majority Jews and Hindus live are democracies. Both are strong economies with a great deal of collaboration in all fields. The Hindu community is thus willing to build upon these successes, history and ignore wild narratives which are not aligned to our ancient cultural values. We urge people to develop scholastic knowledge about Hindu Sanatana Dharma, her civilizational history and scriptures before venturing into anti-Hindu or anti-Jewish narratives. We strongly believe that any effort to divide us will fail.
Hindus being a very educated community globally will see through the hate and will resist the designs of the racial supremacists to further their agenda of antisemitism and racial cleansing. Scientifically too the Aryan Invasion Theory has been debunked through DNA analysis. There is more proof of out of India migration rather than fake theories of invasions from outside in ancient India. The first invasion by any European power in India was by the Greeks led by Alexander which was defeated by Indian kings. Despite this the theory is used to challenge the diversity of India, divide Indians as Aryans and Dravidians based on skin color and a sinister attempt is made to break up the nation based on racial lines.
The new efforts by the Nazis to disguise themselves as Hindus is thus a century-old attempt to break up India and the Hindus worldwide as well as break the ties between Hindus and Jews. We Hindus need to be alert to these misrepresentations of our faith, which unchecked will leave our people in misery. We Hindus need to watch out for new Nazis distorting out Dharma for our own good and the good of the world.
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