I normally don’t respond to articles from magazines like the Guardian and Washington Post simply because countering them doesn’t make sense intellectually. They are not intellectual exercises. They are propaganda exercises. They are a part of a psychological, ideological warfare that only those can understand who, well, understand.
But still, when I come across articles that are full of factual errors and still are passed on as good pieces of journalism, I feel like writing a counter. I’m not an expert, so most of my reactions are layperson’s reactions. I may be wrong at many places, but things that are glaringly clear, at least I can point them out.
The above Guardian article is mostly about how a group of American Hindus is supporting Donald Trump and how this reeks of the so-called Hindu supremacist agenda rather than simply being a political inclination. It might carry an iota of truth. I personally know people who support Donald Trump simply because he sounds anti-Muslim although, just as it used to happen with Narendra Modi, I’m pretty sure that lots of his utterances are twisted or quoted out of context by a very sophisticated propaganda machinery controlled by the leftist intelligentsia.
The writer talks about Hindus and Donald Trump lighting lamps and celebrating Dussehra. Then she talks about how festivals like Dussehra and Diwali are mostly upper-caste Hindu festivals. She quotes someone called Soundararajan, a Dalit American artist and activist who says that
Celebration of Diwali suggested that attendees were mostly upper caste (Hindus), thus excluding South Asian communities who have been marginalized by the caste system, which places people into a hierarchy based on birth and has been used to oppress lower caste and Dalit communities in India and the diaspora.
The same person then says
Diwali and Dussehra are both upper-caste (Hindu) holidays that celebrate the death of tribals and the ascent of Aryan culture over Dravidian culture… In many ways Dalit communities do not celebrate this event — is literally about ‘the killing of our people’.
There are two possibilities: this, the so-called artist and activist either has never visited India or is completely stating rubbish. Sadly such activists are given lots of leeway in the Western media simply because they are badmouthing about India in general and Hinduism in particular.
There is nothing upper caste about Diwali and Dussehra. Wherever these festivals are celebrated — I wouldn’t claim to know that they are celebrated across India — they are celebrated by everybody. Rich and poor and middle class, everybody celebrates Diwali and Dussehra. In order to know this, you have to be in India during these festivals.
And Diwali and Dussehra are not about Aryans celebrating the death of tribals. What is this, Game of Thrones?
Ravan, the king of Lanka, presided over one of the most affluent kingdoms in the world. Ravan, who was the ultimate asura (demonic person) of that time, was in fact, a Brahmin. The tribals, in the form of the Vanar Sena, if you really want to draw comparisons, actually were the primary force that helped Ram. What does it tell you?
It tells you that you become an asura not by birth but by your actions. Wherever Ravan went he spread hatred and misery. He was an egoistic ruler who, by worshipping Lord Shiva for thousands of years, had gained the blessing of immortality. Thinking that he couldn’t be killed, he laid waste everything he came across. Even after killing Ravan, Ram stood at his feet because of the knowledge that he possessed.
Anti-India forces that want to divide the country have turned epics like Ramayana into Aryans versus Dravidians tales simply because the main villain lives in the South. Had the main villain lived in the East, or the West or the North, they would have found another version. Maybe then the Aryans would have wanted to eliminate the Nagas, or the Tibetans. Who knows? Maybe even the Punjabis. Go in any direction and you will find someone Aryans could be fighting against.
Another example that the Ramayana and its associated festivals have got nothing to do with lower caste Hindus being oppressed is the incident where a Dhobi (a supposedly lower caste person who washes people’s dirty laundry) accuses King Ram of following double standards when it came to treating his wife differently just because she was a queen. King Ram abandoned his wife (as per the cultural norms of the time) due to the accusations and insinuations of a Dhobi. Had the lower castes been so oppressed (as is being constantly depicted by journalists like Rashmee Kumar) King Ram would have immediately gotten the Dhobi decapitated and then would have gone on living with his wife. Or he would have used the excuse to get himself another wife at least. Instead, he valued the opinion of the Dhobi and decided to abandon his wife and live in misery forever.
Another fact that journalists like Rashmee Kumar will never talk about (purposely) is that most of the famous saints in India were non-Brahmins. Valmiki, the original author of the Ramayana, was a Bheel (a tribe that still exists). Just imagine, the holiest book of Hindus has been written by a person of the so-called lower caste.
Ved Vyas, who wrote the Mahabharata, was the illegitimate child of a fisherwoman. Again, the Mahabharata, that includes the holiest of holy, Geeta, was written by someone from the ‘so-called lower caste’.
If upper caste Hindus were so intolerant why would they consider the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha, one written by a so called ‘lower caste’ and another written by a person born out of wedlock from a fisherwoman’s womb (again, lower caste), their holiest books? Beats every contemporary logic, doesn’t it?
There are numerous such examples these authors and writers are too scared to mention because then it would change their narrative.
These people are so anti-Hindu that they will twist facts belonging to even recent history. This Guardian journalist writes:
In the 1990s, about 100,000 Hindu pandits in the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir fled from a separatist uprising in response to frustrations with the Indian government’s treatment of Kashmir and its people.
So the Hindus fled because the Muslims of the state mistreated them because the Muslims of the state were frustrated with the Indian government. What sort of twisted logic is this?
The reality is that Kashmiri pandits (whom she writes Hindu pandits) didn’t flee, they were forced out of their ancestral land with blatant intimidation and slaughter. Kashmir is a Muslim-majority state now but these Kashmiri pandits and their ancestors had been living in Kashmir for the past 5000 years. In broad daylight Kashmiri pandit women were abducted and raped and Kashmiri pandit men and children were slaughtered in the streets. All over Kashmir threatening messages were written on the walls that Kashmiri pandits should leave the valley immediately, overnight, or the men would be killed and the women would be kept as sex slaves and wives.
But no, Hindus should never, ever be depicted as victims otherwise the narrative will have to be changed. When it comes to dealing with Hindus, even perpetrators should be shown as victims, and the victims should be shown as perpetrators because they are Hindus.
These atrocious commentaries go unabated in the Western media (at least in India they are sometimes countered) in the name of activism and pro-minoritism.
Things are never black and white in the world. Yes, atrocities happen in all parts of the world. The Americans completely wiped off Native Americans. The Australians completely wiped off the aboriginals. The slave trade in the Western world was something that cannot be described in words. The Nazi Holocaust happened in the Western world. The Taliban was created by America. Communism came from the west. The atomic bomb was dropped by a Western country on an Asian country. Colonialism brought the worst out of humanity.
Atrocities in the name of race, class and religion happen everywhere and indubitably they also happened in India, they are still happening in India, but they happen in all communities. It’s because they are humans and humans can be good and bad, irrespective of what communities they belong to. But it doesn’t mean that you single out just one community simply because it is too passive and indifferent to defend itself.
Racism still exists in the Western world that supports the so-called Indian activists who, going by such writings, are nothing but peddlers of falsities and charlatans. They need to be exposed, and they need to be exposed constantly.
Image credits: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASripuram_Temple_Full_View.jpg By Dsudhakar555 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons