The Hindu Right and the Hindu Liberal: Where They Meet

The Hindu Right and the Hindu Liberal: Where They Meet
Image courtesy: Agence France-Presse

India is a country where you can be a ‘right-oriented’ person in the country and yet be considered of a ‘left inclination’ outside it. This is so because there is something special about a nation that has birthed the universal principles of spirituality developed by its many self-realized masters who have propagated the message of dharma and satya around the world. Such is the power of India that people who believe in Sanatana Dharma have looked upon it with a great deal of devotion and gratitude because the life philosophies it offers benefit not only the Hindu but also attract universal appeal and acclaim. Its non-sectarian focus on inclusiveness gives it a special place among the major wisdom traditions of the world.

Being ‘right’ in India allows you to escape the trap of the discourses of hard-wired leftists who seek ‘solidarity’ between their close-knit groups which believe in division, destruction, and a vision of ‘minority-led’ politics that will bring forth radical change in society, government, and policy. The idea that every nation needs to be ‘a nation of minorities’ is borne from a variety of secularist ideals that have led to a virulent anti-Hindu framework that is compatible with monopolist ideologies of the global north, the ummah, and the communist class that seek to thwart real pluralism.

This tribe’s scholarship proffers a negative view of Hindu nationalism, rendering it a sick case of ‘majoritarian politics’ because it confuses a Hindu resurgence with majoritarianism. By doing so it misses the point altogether. These ‘scholars’ see pluralism as the foundation of societies that accept the premise that speaking for the majority is the result of deep-rooted prejudice that corrals all identities into a specific, dangerous construct. This means that citizens ought to grasp the structures of power when pushed into the minority (such as being a Hindu in America) and must subscribe to leftist perspectives in their native land so that everyone accepts what is professed as beneficial to the state—the reign of the homeland’s fractured cultures caught in the thickets of neo-colonialism. Thus, being a Hindu in India becomes a crime if one supports the Hindu nationalist establishment.

Although there are many right-wing Hindus who acknowledge white racism, the grouse I have is the contrarian view that to be a ‘liberal Hindu’ one must support communist parties that seemingly try to ensure social justice and bring equality internationally. Of course, they do nothing of this sort. The left-wing view that each government needs to prioritize the welfare of its minorities over the well-being of its majority has slid into a kind of identity politics where being a Hindu in India means that one must not promote Hindu-aligned interests or groups. As religious identity in India is conflated with racial identity in the West—we see the flawed argument resting on a juxtaposed premise—where both types of supremacy ‘invisibilize’ marginalized communities. However, there is something special in embracing both Hindu nationalist politics and standing up for leftist ideals in the West, for each country inheres its history, cultural practices, and problems. For that reason alone, India merits attention because Hindu nationalism is a combination of colors, unlike white supremacy which rests on just one.

By striving for racial equality in the West, the global left has propagated a system of identity politics that deserves critical examination on its terms. The idea that minorities should be looked at through the prism of skin color, against white Christian nationalism, is remarkable in its creation of an embracive consciousness. The origins of such consciousness are crucial to the construction of identity in countries with a history of subjugation and attenuation. Sadly, Hindus have been victims of both racial inequality in the West and prejudice by Muslim and English conquerors who had sought to annihilate Indian spiritual traditions. That is why the Ayodhya Ram Temple movement gained momentum after Prime Minister Modi understood the need to restore the Hindu faith by representing those Hindu interests that are necessary to counteract this Western/global/Islamist/Communist combine.

Leftists have underscored time and again that there are linkages between religion in India and race in the West—but coupled with caste, the talk gets muddled and insidious. Caste in India is conflated with race in the West and a lot of anti-caste rhetoric is intellectual browbeating–where caste is used to maximize anti-Hindu hate by pushing for caste destruction/annihilation. Fortunately for leftists, they have come to occupy high positions in the media, academe, and powerful institutions. They are opportunists par excellence. The irony of the Indian left is that many in that cult are Brahmins themselves and believe that Hindus have never been victimized, but the only victims are those of caste-based discrimination! According to them, as every Hindu Shudra has faced discrimination, he should therefore exit the faith or destroy his faith!

Here’s the rub: there is no denying that caste problems exist in India and have contributed to a type of inequality that is based on birth and privilege; but no Hindu self-realized master has spoken about it in the way that the so-called liberals have, the way it has been demonized to the extent that the caste system has become a cause célèbre synonymous with Hinduism.

Take what Arundhati Roy said recently about caste: “What Swami Vivekananda said [about religious conversions of the untouchables] was very much part of the politics of privileged caste anxiety over demography that began around then. It was the genesis of what we know today as Hindutva.” If someone says Swami Vivekananda is prejudiced and wrong they cannot simply assert so but offer careful arguments. That is the Indian way, the Hindu way. Alas, we are damned in this echo chamber of leftist claptrap.

Neither race nor religion is caste. All three have different historical, social, and philosophical origins. The need to enquire into their similarities is the need of the hungry, destructive monopolists to occupy and rule the world. It is crucial to locate caste, race, and religion as ideas and practices formulated and generated in different parts of the world. Racial identity in the West is far removed from the suppositions of caste and religious discourse in India because partisan bias contaminates them. Hindu gods and Hindu sages have never symbolized or sanctioned casteism. However, white racism is a result of specifically formulated political, religious, and economic aims of European colonialists.

Critical to understanding this global movement to conflate race with caste is the push for political power. In this context, therefore, it is both right and wise to be a right-wing Hindu in India and a leftist Hindu abroad. The Left may think that such a positionality is a contradiction and an excuse to claim minority status abroad but it is emphatically not. If we destroy Hinduism in India, India—and the world—will break up, for it is ‘Hindutva’ (Hinduness) that provides the putty to blend multiple identities into a coherent whole. If white racism is decimated, the West does not lose anything or anyone, for such prejudice does not stem from diversity and mutual respect: it is borne from a fractured self that does not promote peace in the external world.

Hindu nationalism is an inner awakening, an ode to the glorious past, present, and future of India. It is subsumed under a larger awareness about the nature of the universe, that life is about liberation from the cycle of birth and death, and that there is a process before one is granted that. White racism attaches itself to divisiveness and a space devoid of any philosophical, moral, or spiritual grounding. This is why Mata Amritanandamayi (affectionately known as Amma) supported the building of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya and approved its consecration. Self-realized masters are Hindu and believe that India is a Hindu nation where religion propels the state into action and is the raison d’être of its composite culture.

Welcome home, NRI.

Dhruv Ramnath

Dhruv Ramnath is a freelance journalist, filmmaker, and photographer who graduated with a degree in Social Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.