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The Haridwar Sannyasi Assembly: An Emergent Face of Hinduism

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The Haridwar Sannyasi Assembly: An Emergent Face of Hinduism

When we say “fundamental face” of a religion in this article, we mean that the “Means of Knowledge” is their scripture (Quran, Hadith, Bhagavad Gita, etc.) – hence it is fundamental – and the followers authenticate, interpret, or dot-connect the content – hence it has a face. The fundamental can be the same, but the faces can vary.

Recently we learned [1] of an assembly of sannyasis in Haridwar who allegedly suggested violence against Muslims – labeled as “genocide” in media; one of them also said he would have shot the former PM Manmohan Singh presumably for saying Muslims have first right over resources.

Are these sannyasis presenting a fundamental face of Hinduism?

Part 1

Yes, it could be identified as such. One typical guess of the fundamentals that can be invoked by them is the Bhagavad Gita. It is a call for Arjuna to fulfill his svadharma and battle the Kaurava forces that had committed adharma against the Pandavas.

The adharma we now witness/have witnessed is the targeted violence by Muslims against Hindus — from the Kashmir genocide to Kamlesh Tiwari to Jitendra Narayan Swami — and the lack of a persistent media uproar and spotlight on such crime in contrast to the systematic and sustained uproar and the unending maligning of any Hindutva resistance. The Police and Government, it seems, are neither effective nor capable in stopping Muslim terror. The anti-Muslim rhetoric in the Dharma Sansad is emblematic not really of Hindu fundamentalism (against Islam as a path to God) but of Hindu(tva) resistance to Muslim fundamentalism and/or communalism against the kafir and his religion; a resistance for the sake of self-defense that for these speakers must include fighting the forces that use violence against us. The words of the sannyasis indicate that they are focused on Muslims who because of their allegiance to a supremacist and exclusivist ideology that espouses violence against the kafir will remain an unreformable existential threat for the survival of Hindus. And for the sake of survival, Hindus should be willing to fight fire with fire. (More precisely, Islam has such fundamental faces. Not all Muslims wear them, and few may act them out; but enough history in the subcontinent to fear the group as a whole, should Muslims become the majority.)

The problem with the media, the activists, and academics is that they are either unwilling or incapable of taking the outcry of Hindus seriously when Hindus are the victims of Muslim aggression. For them, it is always “isolated cases” that have nothing to do with real Islam; so just find the quickest way to elide over Muslim rioting and murder and leave the Hindus forlorn in their despondence, anger, and grief. Whereas the Hindu who shows anger and snarls back becomes the “poster boy” and an example of the “evil” that is Hindutva. Such a state of affairs cannot continue and reaches a boiling point eventually.

Let us summarize this in five steps.

1. (Some) Muslims threaten or engage in violence against Hindus, for unjustifiable reasons such as their call for subjugation/eradication of kafirs (like in Kashmir) and in their supposed defense of their religion from blasphemy by kafirs (like with Kamlesh Tiwari).

2. Hindus reject such reasons being used to kill, disenfranchise, or dhimmify them.

3. The Law does not protect Hindus from Muslim aggression. Fellow Muslims do not protest or express outrage over the Muslim criminals “defiling” their religion. The media does not highlight such behavior (in any manner similar to how it would do if Hindus had aggressed). The world does not take notice.

4. Hindus have a duty to defend themselves from and eradicate, if possible, the source of such aggression against them. If they cannot depend on the Kshatriya class to protect them, then they have to be ready to engage in war (conflict) if necessary for the sake of their own survival.

5. Hindutva rises. The world goes berserk. The Muslim killer somehow turns “poor victim”: “The fault is ours” – Gandhi’s classic defense of Abdul Rashid [2].

Consider Wasim Rizvi, the “blasphemer”. There were open calls for his murder by Muslims in positions of power (Rashed Khan, Feroz Khan) [3]. Was it not bemusing how casually this was shoved under the rug by the mainstream media (MSM)?  On to the next thing (because this thing will make Muslims look bad).

Thus the message of the Sansad to MSM: We are not really ignoring that stuff no matter how much you act like it never happened. We take it just as seriously as you do our rhetoric; and if you do not join us in condemning violence of Muslims (who by their fundamentalism are the instigators of these problems and violence), Hindus will respond to this violence, likewise, going forward.

What Wasim Rizvi (now Jitendra Narayan Swami) and Hindus like myself expect is that right when the Khan “brothers” put out videos calling for Rizvi’s murder, there should be national and international outrage, news channels blazoning the news for days on end targeting Muslim sources (including scriptural) that propagate such violence (similar to what they are doing right now against “Hindutva”), and the police should have thrown the Khans into jail already.

Nothing of the sort happens or has happened in the past. Instead, we face the typical double standards of ignoring Islam-inspired violence, and demonizing Hindus. Message of the Sansad: Don’t expect us to cower and run, and dance to your tune, you hypocrites!

How should a man whose back is stamped as a target react to the open threat? There is a long list of people who were killed before Rizvi being targeted by Muslim fanatics. He cannot accept their threat of punishment against blasphemy and defies them, dares them by calling out their fundamentalism that instructs their violent behavior; and the Hindu sannyasis, who are equally outraged by the fact that this society has acquiesced to the “violent normal” of people like the Khans, say: “Enough is enough! We will fight and stop this nonsense on our own.”

Message of the Sansad: Don’t take crimes and criminal intent against us lightly; we do not, and we will not! Every instance and example of such violence and threat matters and is proof embedded in our memory of the villainy against Hindus; recognize and highlight Islamic terror in India, present and past, honestly and fully, or keep talking your nonsense and we are moving forward on our own.

That is the Sannyasis wearing the “Fundamentalist Face” at the meeting. It looks new to many Hindus even though long due, but it is at worst an imitation of the Muslim fundamentalist faces that have become normalized in social consciousness. The take-away message to “Secular India” from the Hindus driven to the edge out of anger and frustration is not that Hindus can also wear such a face, but that society must not allow any longer for Muslims to get away with their fundamentalist behavior and ideology manifest regularly through their violent and provocative actions. Alas, India continues to appease Muslims, and lawmakers rush to threaten Hindus through 295(A) type laws, making the arrest of Rizvi more likely for speaking against the violence contained in Islamist ideology than for the Khans to be arrested for putting a price on Rizvi’s head. The police are quicker to file a sacrilege case against a dead victim in the Kapurthala Gurudwara [4] than to throw his murderers in jail. Funny country.

Part 2

That is one side of the picture, one that India needs to consider carefully. From that standpoint, we may ask why not accept the rights of a Kamlesh Tiwari to express his views rather than the actions of the murderous people in the Gurudwara? Stop appeasing the knife. However, we may want to present another side regarding the logical limitations in turning this sort of violent rhetoric into practice, since even in the cause of self-defense one has to tread the razor line of Dharma carefully. We can surmise that the sannyasis may have really meant only readiness for assertive self-defense against an imminent and identifiable violent threat; but for the sake of argument, since people may misunderstand one way or another, let us assume that the media’s shrill depiction of the Sansad and of a genocidal narrative and point out where such ideas can go astray from Dharma.

The problem with the “face” (that media says) the sannyasis put on is not so much the sense of need they felt to put it on but (apart from its potential conflict with the law) is this: they allegedly categorize as our enemy the entirety of Muslims when only some may be the actual cause of our miseries. It could be that there is only a small percentage of Muslims who wear the fundamentalist Islamist faces who instigate and carry out violence against Hindus to achieve their fanatical ends. But when we speak of responding with violence, we cannot expand this category to include all that have “hatred for Hindus”, or Muslims in general. The face that justifies counter-violence-against-Muslims cannot have a causal basis in Muslims who do not wear a similar violence-against-Hindus face themselves, and instead may project only other forms of hatred or silently (but not intellectually or materially) support violence against Hindus. We cannot assault such people as if they are at fault for a specific type of adharma that they actually are not at fault for. Ignorance cannot be an excuse for retribution and violence aimed carelessly at innocent people, unless there is really adhikara under which such a decision constitutes dharma. We cannot, in general, turn to the shastras for sanctioning wanton collateral damage.

In short, the fundamentalist forces that propose violence generally against a community containing violent communal actors cannot be ascertained as being aligned with Dharma (and should be assumed as paradharma, beyond our knowledge and our adhikara to act on) because it lacks the level of factual and evidential completeness. Though it validates violence against violent enemies based on legitimate experiences of threat to Dharma, it is necessarily murky both with regard to the precise identification of the sources of violence and the validity of adhikara for carrying out such action.

We are not saying that the premise – when and if Muslims were to become the majority in India they will dhimmify (if not wipe out) Hindus — is bound to be false. It would be foolish to think that is impossible given what we know of Hindu history in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kashmir. In fact, a recent book and some reports point out how Christians have been driven out of the Middle East by Muslims [5] [6]. One expects there will always be a growing percentage of Muslims who will seek to perpetrate violence against Hindus (body, property, land, etc., as is evident in Pakistan and Bangladesh that were part of India before 1947) and a larger percentage who will silently support their criminal brethren’s actions; and this trend will eventually suffocate Hindus (locality to locality, region to region) in India as in neighboring countries despite the grand promises contained in their official Constitutions. While such a thesis warrants an existential fear that in turn warrants a “them or us” preparation for “war” “before it is too late”, it remains only a projection supported by a certain grim reading of past data and knowledge. The fundamentalist face worn by the sannyasis is based on such a fear, but that is still not sufficient justification to issue calls for violence against a group whose individual members may wear the “fundamentalist” face — which does not warrant violent action against them.

Conclusion

The dichotomy of the two parts above is the dilemma that Hindus are confronting after the news on the “genocidal” rhetoric at the Haridwar Dharma Sansad broke out and has been incessantly bugled by the MSM and on social media. We know there is validity and truth behind what is motivating the anger of the sannyasis (Part 1), and yet there is the basic problem of Part 2 if the rhetoric is taken literally; and this latter problem makes us cautious and unwilling to commit our support to the sannyasis‘ talk unreservedly. All that said, the fact is that the calls for a no-nonsense response to the violence against Hindus are becoming louder and clearer. Hindus will have to keep sane and abide by the principles of Dharma; also, as per Dharma, we cannot allow the fate of Hindus in India to become that of Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan. We have to figure out the right direction and balance in both talk and action; the rest of the world however has to stop imagining Hindus can be walked over and “disappeared”, and demand equal accountability of other communities for their anti-Hindu activities.

References
[1] “Dharma Sankat over Dharma Sansad: Calls for violence and a dilemma for Hindus”, December 24, 2021 —  https://www.opindia.com/2021/12/dharma-sansad-calls-for-violence-dilemma-for-hindus/

[2] “Mahatma Gandhi: Collected Works”, Vol. 37, page 457 in https://www.gandhiashramsevagram.org/gandhi-literature/mahatma-gandhi-collected-works-volume-37.pdf

[3] “Issue is disrespect of Islam, not becoming Hindu: 2 Cong leaders call for murder of Waseem Rizvi”, December 09, 2021 — https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/hinduism-islam-conversion-disrespect-congress-telangana-waseem-rizvi-bounty-1885816-2021-12-09

[4] “Autopsy report reveals may lynched in Kapurthala Gurudwara had 30 sword-inflicted cuts, Punjab police yet to file FIR against accused”, December 23, 2021 — https://www.opindia.com/2021/12/autopsy-man-lynched-punjab-kapurthala-gurudwara-30-sword-inflicted-wounds/

[5] “Persecution of Christians ‘coming close to genocide’ in Middle East – Report,” The Guardian, May 02, 2019 — https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/02/persecution-driving-christians-out-of-middle-east-report

[6] “The Vanishing: The Twilight of Christianity in the Middle East” (December 2021), Janine di Giovanni, Bloomsbury Publishing.

P. Ramanathan

P. Ramanathan was born in Chennai and moved to the US. He has a degree in Mathematics and has lectured in colleges in the US. He is a Smartha who adheres to the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta.