This is a follow up to Global alliances and wheels within wheels:
What is Hinduttva? Is it Hindu + Tattva (Hindu quality)? Or is it something else? I still have no idea. Three of the four panelists in this discussion are widely ridiculed and vilified by self described “liberals”, “secularists” and “progressives” as hard right, bigoted, prejudiced, sectarian, Hindu extremist and Nazi:
- Pavan Varma, Former MP Rajya Sabha and Author
- Prof. Makarand Paranjape, Professor & Poet at JNU
- David Frawley, Vedic Scholar
- Sadia Dehlvi, Columnist & Writer
46 minutes 26 seconds in: “the problem in India is that we have thought phobia as Sri Aurobindo said in his letter to barendra in 1920; hundred years later I am at a university and I find that people have an incapacity to think clearly, because they immediately reduce every debate to a political position”
Is this the reason for the cries of “Nazism”, “racism” and so forth? Is this partly a difficult to reconcile debate about freedom of art and thought. If so, how can this issue be resolved? Eastern philosophy (Arya Varsha plus Bon plus Toaism) is based on freedom of art and thought. Without freedom of art and thought, there is no eastern philosophy.
Did the panelists say anything else that is controversial or offensive? Is their Sarva Dharma [all religions are authentically divine and true, all paths lead to the same goal, all is love], their celebration and eulogization of pluralism, diversity and universalism the problem? If that is the problem, what does “secularism” mean? What should “secularism” mean?
For example why do so many self described “liberals”, “secularists”, “progressives” and “leftists” find videos such as this so offensive?
Note, I am not criticizing anyone. I can’t criticizing them because I have no idea what they believe and why. I am thoroughly confused.
Recently there was a world Hindu conference keynoted by the Dalai Lama. It had many Jain, Sikh, Buddhist and Hindu delegations from all around the world and was not an “Indian” or “nationalist” affair. [Does anyone know if Sufi and Shiite delegations participated?] In addition to the Dalai Lama, many other Mahayana Buddhist delegations came. Along with delegations from many different Latin American, European, African and Asian countries. [Lebanon for example has had a Hindu community that is over 3,000 years old. They believe that they date from 4400 years back when they helped construct and operate the Baalbek temple. Similarly, there are ancient Hindu communities throughout the world.]
Note that Tibetan Buddhists (Vajrapani Mahayana Buddhists) in particular have been members of Hindu Akharas for thousands of years and have significant influence on intra-Hindu affairs. Maybe because Tibet was close enough to India for the Tibetan Buddhists to send delegates to meetings. By extension this applies to all Mahayana Buddhists. But the ones in China and Japan were too far to be more than intermittently involved in day to day affairs in India. But they were involved:
Japanese Buddhists were significant stakeholders in the Khmer empire Hindu establishment and Angkor Wat. The beginning of this video on Angkor Wat describes deep continual involvement of Japanese Buddhists in Cambodian, Laotian and Vietnamese Hindu affairs going back to the sixth century AD.
I generally avoid Desi conferences because they usually don’t have a spiritual or religious focus. Many use it for business networking, tech networking and partner networking (“romance” for home-gamers). But I don’t know about the World Hindu Congress this year.
Many prominent Indian Americans and Tulsi Gabbard distanced themselves from it:
“However, to quote Representative Tulsi Gabbard — the first Hindu elected to U.S. Congress — it was a “partisan Indian political event.” Neither was the WHC merely a benign political event. It was, rather, a platform for modern India’s most extreme sociopolitical figures and organisations to propagate their supremacist ideology, Hindutva, which is a form of religious nationalism.”
Political speakers from the U.S. establishment who were invited to speak at the WHC ran the gamut from left to right. Several progressive Democrats who had been invited to attend the conference eventually backed out after being targeted by an AJA letter-writing campaign.
“Do I think all attendees were Hindu Nationalists?” AJA organizer Ashwin Khobragade asked. “No, I think that many of the attendees are looking to use their faith as a platform to give back to their communities.” There were many community service organization that also attended the gathering.
At the same time, those in AJA believe it is imperative to push back against what it identifies as a move to co-opt well-meaning organizations into a fascist agenda. “We wouldn’t want people with social justice values sitting down with people who are like Richard Spencer,” Khobragade explained.
Among the politicians who declined an invitation was Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, an icon of Bernie Sanders Democrats, who cited “ethical” concerns with “partisan Indian politicians” on the speakers list. Gabbard has been known to be an admirer of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been accused of being linked to the Gujarat genocide and Hindu nationalism more broadly. She has also come under scrutiny for other relationships with the far right and her support for the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria.
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, another progressive Democrat, also became the focus of AJA’s accountability letters. Unlike Chicago State Senator-elect Ram Villavam and Alderman Ameya Pawar, Krishnamoorthi has not disavowed the WHC. He has continued to insist that the gathering promotes “acceptance,” despite the links to the far right that protesters have elucidated.
Opponents of the Hindu right began organizing their resistance far in advance of the WHC. The AJA extensively researched the conference, its speakers list and its attendees. CEOs, government officials and even the Dalai Lama were among the VIPs. Identifying key attendees was crucial to the aforementioned letter-writing campaign. On Sept. 4, AJA announced that this effort had prompted the withdrawal of delegates from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party — the political wing of the RSS.
The goal of AJA’s investigative approach has been to prevent progressives from being co-opted into the vast network of Hindutva organizations that have been working for decades to guarantee the supremacy of dominant-caste (also known as “upper-caste”) Hindus. The RSS, which was founded in 1925, boasts large volunteer and paramilitary sections, and was inspired by the Nazi party and had connections to Mussolini’s fascists. The RSS founded the BJP as its political wing in 1951 and the VHP as a cultural organization in 1964.
In an effort to carefully cultivate a more benign profile, Hinduvatis and their sympathizers have obscured this history. For instance, the American branch of the VHP includes commitments to providing community service and bridging faith communities in its mission statement. Yet this pretense of moderation has helped spread far-right militancy among Hindu American diaspora leadership. Organizers from Chicago South Asians for Social Justice noted that WHC speakers used eugenic language. During the closing plenary, one speaker, framing racial science in religious language, exhorted Hindus to have bigger families due to a supposed decline in Hindu births relative to Muslims.
Historian Maia Ramnath, who is a member of an AJA ally group known as the South Asia Solidarity Initiative, argues that the right-wing militancy that drives these groups originates from a politics of “wounded egos” and “victim consciousness” among members of dominant-caste power structures. The closing plenary speeches overflowed with resentment and were obsessed with a mythic homeland that had been overrun by the British, Islam and Christianity. Ramnath says this forms a distinctive part of their ideology of racial supremacy, which extols caste and religious hierarchies that became more rigid as they adapted to colonial rule by Britain.
“Their logic is that they are supposed to have been supreme,” she said, “but the colonialists denied [them] this rightful supremacy. They will now exercise that supremacy over their so-called inferiors,” such as the Dalits, Adivasis (India’s indigenous people), Muslims and other minority communities.
After reading this I am even more confused. What specific Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh leaders are they referring to? What specific views are controversial or are they interested in clarification regarding? Is it partly about the Varna system? [Or the division of labor based on gunas (qualities of a person), interest, merit, competence, capacity.] If the issue is the Varna system, are any Hinduttva leaders publicly discussing it? If it is not about Varna, what are the different perspectives?
Can there be a dialogue and discussion between “Hinduttva” leaders (whatever “Hinduttva” is and whoever its “leaders” are) and people who regard themselves as “secular”, “liberal”, “progressive” and “left”? Perhaps this way I and everyone else can get some color or idea about what the heck everyone is talking about.
Shafiq R, thanks for your very informed and thoughtful comments.
Many nonmuslims back conservative Islamists and Jihadis against reasonable muslims. This goes back a long time to the era of European colonialism, China and the Marathas in India. This tendency increased during the cold war. And now it has hit a fever pitch.Few things scared me more than when the southern poverty law center wrote a 15 page hit piece describing Maajid Nawaz as an Islamaphobe . . . despite his deep popularity and legitimacy with muslims (Ummah) the world over.
The phenomenon strikes me as much bigger than marxists, communists and post modernists backing conservative Islamists and Jihadis against reasonable muslims. It has spread to the larger nonmuslim global society and to most powerful global institutions.
In what way is this connected to the demonization of Hinduism/Buddhism/Jainism/Sikhism/Sanskrit/Arya? I ask because I don’t know or understand.
We know that the young Karl Marx (in his teens and twenties) was fascinated with India, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sanskrit. He wrote fifty articles trying to discredit, de-legitimize and deconstruct the east as an oppressive imperialist colonial hegemonic exploitative system. From the beginning one of the main aims of global communist, marxism and post modernism was to undermine and deconstruct eastern philosophy, culture and civilization.
This fit the purposes of European colonizers well; which is why imperialist colonizers used Karl Marx, communists and post modernists until 1948. Communism, Marxism and post modernism flourished under broad international institutional backing.
Perhaps partly for this reason there was an intense anti communist backlash in former European colonies 1947 to the 1990s; who were fighting against the colonizers and oppressors of their mind.
However has a new generation of “darkies” and “caucasians” has now been born which has forgotten this dark imperial history? Could this be part of what is going on?
Is part of what is going on is that caucasians no longer feel guilty for their ancestors creating and exporting post modernism and communism all over the world, killing over 100 million people . . . almost all darkies?
But even if this is part of the story, there has to be more to it than this. Might the fear about Hinduttva and eastern philosophy extend beyond post modernists and communists? Kabir in the below comments brought up a difference between Hindu nationalism and Hinduism. What is this difference. What is Hindu nationalism?
What specific Hinduttva and Hindu ideas, concepts, philosophies (manas), intuitions (buddhi) and feelings (ananda maya kosha) are controversial and why? Where is the dialogue of ideas (manas), intuition (buddhi) and feelings (ananda maya kosha) between Hinduttva and those who have concerns about Hinduttva? To repeat, I ask because I neither know or understand.
This is in interesting American Hinduttva perspective. The patriotism and character of American Hindus are increasingly called out much the way American Jews are called out for Israel. American Hindus are increasingly blamed for islamaphobia, and supporting radical Nazis that hurt people in India.
I still don’t understand the difference in concerns about Hinduttva and Arya philosophy or Hinduism more generally. Let me summarize some other possible causes of concerns about Hinduttva on the part of post modernists and others. Eastern philosophy makes the following assumptions:
- humans are potentially powerful (east and European enlightenment liberalism agree regarding this)
- humans are potentially wise (east and European enlightenment liberalism agree regarding this)
- humans are divine (European enlightenment liberalism says “sovereign”)
- humans are entitled to free art, thought (manas), deep intuition (buddhi), deep feelings (ananda maya kosha) (east and European enlightenment liberalism agree regarding this . . . albeit neuroscience is only now in the process of adding color to the meaning of deep intuition and deep feeling)
Post modernists disagree with these assumptions. And often respond by calling those who believe in these assumptions Nazis.
- Is this accurate?
- This can’t be all of it. What other issues do post modernists find so distasteful?
- The claims and pride in an ancient civilization and culture
- Fear about the economic rise of Asians who live around the world and in Asia
- Post modernists currently back conservative Islamists and Jihadis against moderate muslims and nonmuslims; and feel the need to back them against non muslim Asians as well?
Adding two other video on two other Hindus often accused of being Nazis, including PM Modi of India (who I consider to be one of the two most pro muslim PMs in Indian history) and Sham Sharma:
This video describes how the New York Times has been brainwashed into an anti Eastern philosophy (here defined as 10 Darshanas of Sanathana Dharma plus Bon, Toaism + Zorastrianism + some parts of Sufism) agenda: