Issues

Hinduism is a violent faith

There’s a chapter in Subhash Gatade’s below-the-belt book Godse’s Children (Pharos Media). It is: “Shastrpujas: what’s religious about worshipping weapons?” Contrary to the general perception of Hinduism being an irenic (peace-loving!) faith, it’s a religion that has violence embedded in its fabric and bloodshed in its spirit. Because of its inherent violence and obscurantism, two philosophies alienated themselves from its wider canvas and came to be known as Buddhism and Jainism (History and doctrine of Buddhism by Edward Upham, 1829).

If Hindus consider a few Quranic verses, quoted out of context, as violent and potentially dangerous, one finds Hinduism’s all ancient scriptures advocating the use of weapons and justifying bloodshed. Nationalist Indian historians are happy to heap blame for the destruction of Hindu temples on the waves of Muslim iconoclasts who wreaked havoc on their country from the time of Muhammad ibn Al-Qasim onwards. He came to Sindh in 712 AD. They’ve less to say about the destructive role of Brahmin zealots in the overthrow of Buddhist viharas and the absorption of Buddhist beliefs and iconography into reformed Hinduism - just as they remain largely silent about the impact on the rest of Asia of what was India’s greatest export: the civilising influence of Buddhism.

In these same circles, the pioneering work of orientalists such as William Jones, James Princep and Cunningham is often portrayed as part of an anti-Brahmin, pro-Buddhist conspiracy of “Britishers” against Mother India. Adi Shankar was so paranoid to “save” his great Hinduism that he wrote a treatise in Sanskrit justifying the weapons and even “ritualistic sacrifice” to the deities. To him, Shankar’s Trishul (Trident) and Durga’s so many weapons in as many hands were exhortations to the devotees to emulate their deities in every respect, especially in terms of violence. That’s why he’d lay down the conditions that in philosophical discourses with Buddhist monks and scholars, whoever would lose, would have to resort to self-immolation. Many Buddhists monks immolated themselves having been defeated by the redoubtable, but extremely cunning Adi Shankar. Orientalist David Gardley opined that “Since deities are often the mental manifestations and imaginary projections of a race, community or a homogeneous group, it superimposes its own thoughts, views and ethos on the deities”.

The very mentality of the followers of Hinduism has been violent, blatantly violent at that. There’re instances recorded by the great historian and professor of history at Dhaka University Professor Ramesh Chandra Majumdar when Hindus, especially Hindu-Brahmins of the Eastern India, massacred non-Brahmin Hindus when Muslim invaders passed through their villages! Such desecrated Hindus had no right to live, believed the Brahmins and quoted from their antiquated scriptures, why gods wanted to annihilate such defiled Hindus (Oxford University Essays on Hinduism, 1965). It’s but obvious that its deities also became like that to suit this violent streak. Hinduism, “the existing paganism” (Edmund Blunden’s phrase) always approved of violence, justifying it as a measure to thwart challenges from outside and within.

History will bail me out that the Deccan plateau was red with blood of the Shaivites and Lingaites. Shaivites claimed that it was Lord Shiva’s divine order to kill the followers of the opponent sect. And that’s why he brandished his trident. Krishna, if at all he existed (though chances of his existence are very very bleak), was the main cause of Kurukshetra that witnessed unprecedented bloodshed. That’s the reason, scriptures of Jainism consign him to Raurav, the seventh and the lowest hell. When a religion believes so much in sanguinary myths and violent ways through its deities, how can it claim to be non-violent and peace-loving? Peace’s at loggerheads with such blood-thirsty faith. Brutally speaking, Hinduism institutionalised violence.

However hard the Hindu apologists may try to explain away why their gods and goddesses are shown brandishing weapons and oozing blood from mouth as in the case of Kali and other demi-gods, they can’t convince any sane mind. Even a child will refuse to be convinced by their imbecile logic and insane arguments. The bottomline is, Hinduism like many other faiths is violent and opportunistic. 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 October 2011 on page no. 2

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