Rationalists from India are pro-human, not anti-Hindu!

Are the Indian rationalists anti-Hindu? That would be a silly question from the proclaimed believers, who cannot see reason. Rationalists from India would most likely have been born ‘Hindu’ and would have first hand experienced the practices that are condemnable in a civil society.  This question should perhaps be ignored. However, I see that this is becoming a major propaganda. Of course, rationalist from India are critical about the rituals of Hinduism such as Made snana (1). Religious zealots would justify this and all such inhuman acts in the name of God and salvation. For them keeping the masses brain washed and controlling them is more important and they cannot stand being questioned. Surrender and attain salvation!

Of course, the rationalists from India were against caste based hierarchy, discrimination, untouchability and promote secularism, As Sampath says in an article in The Hindu dated 9th September 2015 ‘the battle for secularism cannot be won without first addressing the reality of caste, for it is the virus behind the pathology of Hindutva’ (2). If you are a rationalist from India, it is but natural that you question the Hindu rituals. If you are an atheist or agnostic, you question all religions. For an independent person like me, I would question anything forced on other people based on some one’s faith. I have written earlier about religion and conversions in my blog.

By some coincidence, there is an article in The Hindu today about one of the eminent neurologist, author Oliver Sacks by the former CBI Director R. K. Raghavan. He quotes a conversation between Oliver Sacks and V. S. Ramachandran, Director of the Centre for Brain Research and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego. Sacks passed away recently and Ramachandran had visited him in person 5 weeks earlier (3).

Sacks: I’ll probably never see you again Rama, have a good life.

VSR: Well, you never know!

Sacks: Well, I am an old Jewish atheist, Rama, but you are right, who knows!

The main point to learn from this conversation is that rationalists and atheists are there all over the world and they have questioned irrational acts of the believers, especially when it is also inhuman.

Over the last two years, M. M. Kalburgi in Dharwad, Govind Pansare in Kohlapur and Narendra Dabolkar in Pune, all rationalists have been murdered by religious terrorists. So far, these terrorists have not been identified. Indian police is certainly capable of getting to the truth. Indian media covered the murder of a 21 year old girl due to family feud and the police acted swiftly, though the murder took place more than 2 years ago. Kalburgi’s murder has not received due attention from the media.

Rationalists from Bangladesh Ananta Bijoy Das, Washiqur Rahman and Avijit Roy were killed by religious terrorists there. I am sure they were not anti-Hindu. In Bangladesh, if you are a rationalist, you would be anti-Muslim. Richard Dawkins, a proclaimed atheists has questioned Christian faith. Wherever you are born, if you are a rationalist and you watch atrocities committed in the name of a religion, you have no choice but to oppose.

Making rationalists from India, anti-Hindu is convenient for the religious bigots. It is easy to make the blind followers hate the rationalists. It is easier to convince the blind followers to murder the rationalists. As some one pointed out, religion can make you hate some one you don’t even know.

I am a Hindu and a rationalist. I have opposed, I oppose and I will oppose any and all inhuman activities promoted in the name of Hindu religion. Any and all caste based discrimination, untouchability and hierarchy will be condemned. Earlier this week, three dalit women were fined for entering a temple in Karnatka. Mumbai has banned the sale of meat as Jains are observing some fast. I condemn them both. Secularism allows you to follow your faith. No one has a right to dictate what others should do. Do not force your morals on others. We have a constitution and we will follow that. Indian rationalists would naturally be anti-Hindu.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Made_Made_Snana
  2. http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/is-hindu-nationalism-a-viable-project/article7629924.ece?homepage=true
  3. http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/neurologist-writer-healer/article7629878.ece?homepage=true
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7 thoughts on “Rationalists from India are pro-human, not anti-Hindu!

  1. Deepan says:

    Cannot quarrel with some of the core points. But I dont understand why you refuse to see the 2-faced nature and false equivalences of most self-appointed rationalists of India. One can start from EVR who opposed hinduism and displayed much hate and bigotry on one particular community. But the same man had many flattering things to say about Islam which is replete with superstition and very dangerous ideas. While there were scores of opeds on made snana which is a stupid idea, it is still consenting adults doing stupid things. When people try to get made snana banned, those adults—who are not harming anyone else can say—“Dont impose your morals on me”. I am yet to see a single oped in any mainstream newspaper questioning self-flagellation by children during muharram. Or questioning circumcision of young baby boys in the name of religion. They even publish photos of blatant child abuse without having the guts to call it that.
    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mourning-of-muharram/article6563975.ece#im-image-6
    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mourning-of-muharram/article6563975.ece#im-image-9
    “the battle for secularism cannot be won without first addressing the reality of caste, for it is the virus behind the pathology of Hindutva”
    Feels like you’ve quoted a a baseless statement. Can this be backed up with anything? Hindutva organizations like RSS were among the earliest to outlaw untouchability from their ranks. Hindutva organizations have consistently opposed caste based discrimination and have been commended by a no less person than Ambedkar for it. A unifying identity in the form of Hindutva can actually be a powerful tool to abolish caste. This blind aversion to hindutva without understanding what hindutvavadi organizations stand for is also irrational.
    It is such hypocrisy of a vast section of indian elite that makes people call them anti-hindu. Hinduism has always been open to criticism, but if people dont display consistency in their arguments, they cannot be taken seriously. People like Dawkins are at least consistent. I’ve seen Dawkins question both christianity and islam with the same conviction.

    • There is a tendency to blame the colonial masters for everything. Are you suggesting we did not have sati?
      Made snana is practiced in 2015. I do not agree with your comparison of this to circumcision and self flagellation.
      I might add ‘fire walking’. All of these are self inflicted pain to varying extent. Sati and made snana are
      different. In Made snana, one group of people, typically from the lower caste, have been convinced that
      rolling on left over by brahmins bring good health to them. In sati, some women were convinced they are
      better of dead once the husband is no more. I view the later two differently. As I pointed out, I have
      not seen oped or editorial on any of the other things.
      I had written sometime earlier about reservation and affirmative action. If reservation demotivates
      both the beneficiary and affected, birth based careers can do worse. Reservation was intended
      for only 50 years. Caste based politics is continuing it.
      Tamil Nadu tops in terms of dalit entrepreneurs. It was in the news yesterday.
      Gujarat is nowhere when you consider overall development. You are in USA now. Left, right,
      captitolism, socialism, communism none of these can solve all problems. Finding the balance
      is the key but far from trivial.
      An ideal society or country should give equal opportunity to every kid and let
      them grow to their potential. That should be the ideal goal towards we move.
      Favoritism kills. We need to learn what is conflict of interest. I have seen
      in families, business, academics, everywhere. Stalin and Rahul Gandhi could
      not be where they are if merit was the main criterion.

      • Deepan says:

        1) I never made any claim that there was no sati. I was merely addressing your claim that there is not enough data. There is data and it suggests that sati was nowhere as prominent as 8th standard history books lead us to believe. They were clearly the exception and not the rule. Some cases clearly suggest that the actions of some women were entirely voluntary and not forced upon by anyone on them. Colonialist claims about sati are exaggerated, as they are in some other cases also. In all this, neither am I defending sati, nor am I calling colonialists the cause for all our ills. Surely we need to introspect and correct, but we do not need colonialists to teach us morality and define who we are/were. Their actions were mainly governed by self-interest. For example, these noble colonialists caused millions to die by diverting food grains from Bengal, 1943 and engineered an artificial famine.
        2) There is no problem with self-inflicted harm (fire walking, piercing, suicide, etc) if it is done by adults. I would side with human freedom rather than pain reduction in most of those cases. But when “self-inflicted” harm involves children, I consider many cases to be child abuse.

  2. Thanks Deepan for your comments. Keep thinking and writing. I obviously do not agree with your view about my quote from the Hindu article. It is perhaps not surprising that you hold this view given your background. I have just quoted an incident from Karnatka where three dalit women have been fined for daring to enter a temple. It is far from a baseless statement unless you want to close your eyes. As far as Ambedkar patting the RSS, he went on to write ‘Annihilation of caste’. I agree with this title. Hindutva groups are not against caste but claim they are against caste discrimination. Caste itself is wrong as it leads to birth based categorization. This is not science.
    Your comparing made snana with circumcision and self-flagellation completely miss the important point. I would compare circumcision to ear piercing and ‘mottai’ (complete balding?) that most Hindus practice, including my family. We did it for both our daughters. These are custom/practice/tradition where every parent decides to do it for their kids. Self-flagellation may be compared what many do during chitra festival and paal kudam in Madurai. I have not seen oped and editorials by the intellectuals on these. Periyaar must have opposed this. He led the vaikom movement enabling dalits entry to temple. Mooka naadar was killed for entering Meenakshi temple not long ago.
    Periyar is anti-Hindu or anti-brahmin (as the term Hindutva is used by Hindu extremists DK movement used brahmnical rather than brahmins) activities can be compared to some one trying to fix their house in order. We cannot fix the neighbours house. There have been enough rationalists in every religion. Hindutva group wants to compete with the muslim extremists and out do them and simultaneously claim Hindu is a way of life and tolerance is in our DNA.
    I do not want India to become a Hindi nation and I agree with the wisdom of our founding fathers. RSS ideology only resulted in Godse killing Gandhi. Now Kalburgi is killed.
    One thing the world has looked up to India today is for the non-violent movement. You can brag all you want, but you have gone to USA now. Western culture promotes talent. Our culture fixes talent at birth. I don’t see hypocricy in Indian elites.We need to learn.

  3. Moreover, I would compare made snana to sati. Now it is difficult to get data, but there may have been many women who voluntarily agreed to be burned alive once the husband is dead. When Rajaram Mohan Rai opposed it and almost ensured that it is stopped, I cannot tell him to keep his morals to himself. What is personal and what is public is not as clear as black and white and in a civilized democratic society, we need to discuss and debate and evolve a consensus and that is how we have constitutions today and not Quoran, Bible or Gita (I have included Gita, though one cannot claim it to be a book representing all Hindus and you can see we already have a problem!)
    When slavery was abolished in the USA, many white supremacists claimed: They are better of as slaves, they won’t know how to live. Sati was the result of the same mentality. If you ensure that a section of people are not given any opportunity and kept in chains all their lives, they will not know how to live. You can then prove that they cannot live.
    In recent times, you must have read about some Indian parents getting arrested for negligence in child care, during their stay in Europe. For Indians, it would be shocking. Values and morals change with time and place. If you are immoral and unenthical, God may punish you some time. But if you are illegal, today’s Nation/State can punish you. Which is why it is important to legislate and amend the constitution.

  4. Deepan says:

    There are too many issues here and I agree with many of the points. But the widespread disparity in how indian “intellectuals” address issues like rampant evangelical activity vs. reactionary trends like gharwapsi, harmful ideas of abrahamisms vs. hinduism, minority provisions of RTE, uniform civil code, etc. leaves little doubt in my mind about the nature of indian “intellectuals”. Now you might be entirely consistent and we may agree on all these separate issues, but the question you raised in the blog is a general one dealing with averages. Mottai/kadhukuththu and cicumcision/self-flagellation are definitely not the same. The latter is way more injurious and can cause permanent damage. One way to evolve standards of morality is by making a tradeoff between 2 things: Reducing pain caused to sentient beings vs. human freedom. The tradeoff is much easier to make in the side of pain reduction for the latter case. I should say that I have thought about kadhukuththu even earlier and I am siding towards pain reduction on that.
    On sati: The problem with this is that our education system still views india from a colonial lens. Colonialists definitely had an interest in portraying india as a barbaric society and sati as a widespread practise so that they can ‘civilize’ and evangelize indians. But the data says otherwise. There is a lot of data available on sati:
    http://www.manushi-india.org/pdfs_issues/PDF%20files%2042-43/26.%20The%20Many%20Faces%20of%20Sati.pdf
    http://www.manushi-india.org/pdfs_issues/PDF%20file%20115/7.%20Deadly%20Laws%20and%20Zealous%20Reformers.pdf
    Compare the eulogies Robin Williams received and the fictional suicide of Juliet being held up as a great example of love versus the reactions of a poor woman committing suicide after her husband’s death. I am not going to comment on the morality of it since that is another big issue in itself. But it can also be viewed from the pain vs freedom tradeoff. If our knowledge of such issues does not go beyond 8th standard history books, then we will make the same conclusions our colonial masters wanted us to make. I may add that I dont have a very high view Brahmo Samaj leaders and their philosophy.

  5. Deepan says:

    On jati: Birth based discrimination should not be the law of any society and there should be equal opportunity for all. But I am not sure if you will ever be able to eradicate inequalities in birth. If not caste, there will be something else like physical or wealth-based inequalities. But ideally such inequalities at birth should not translate into systematic exclusion of people from opportunities. If one aspires for complete equality, it will seriously impinge on human freedom (eg., communism).

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