An Indian Islamist, speaking on a Times Now panel on Hinduphobia yesterday (20 January), indirectly affirmed that it exists. The discussion was held in the context of a statement made by India’s Ambassador to the United Nations, T S Tirumurti, that Hinduphobia is as real as Islamophobia or Christo-phobia or anti-Semitism.
Tirumurti said: “Emergence of contemporary forms of religiophobia, especially anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias, is a matter of serious concern and needs attention of the UN and all member states to address this threat.”
When this issue was raised by the TV anchor, Taslim Ahmed Rehmani, president of the Muslim Political Council of India, simply dismissed the idea out of hand, saying that Hinduism is a “way of life”, and by implication Hinduphobia cannot exist. He also went on to say that Hinduism is not a religion.
This is an inadvertent admission of Hinduphobia or even Hindumisia (Hindu hatred), and a confirmation that the phenomenon goes to the very root of Abrahamic dogma, where religion is defined in a very specific way. To be called a religion, it must have a historical founder, a holy book, and a set of fundamental beliefs.
It did not occur to Rehmani that he had scored a self-goal, for the mere non-acknowledgement of a religion or its dismissal as “way of life” does not mean that Hinduphobia does not exist. You can be phobic not only to a religion, but a way of life too.
In fact, phobias and contempt for non-believers are central to Abrahamic religions. This allowed early Christianity to debase and demolish pagan cultures and their monuments, including Hellenism. It allowed Islam to do the same to the remaining cultures that it sought to dominate, demonise and destroy after conquest and subjugation. So, yes, Hinduphobia and pagano-phobia are central to the way the Abrahamic religions have defined themselves. They are as much against other religions or their ways or life as they have belief in their own faith and dogmas.
The problem is that colonised Hindus are eager to obtain certificates from the West that theirs too is a religion with sacred scriptures and fundamentals, when they need not accept the Abrahamic definition of religion. They feel apologetic about the fact that their religion, defined more by tradition, rituals, practices and ways of doing things, has no founder, just as tribal and pagan groups had none.
It is time for Hindus and other pre-Abrahamic religions or “ways of life” to stop believing that they lack something. This is not to deny the Abrahamics their right to their own definitions and ways of life. But there is nothing – absolutely no reason to think – that our god or gods somehow sold us short on scripture or fundamentals. They didn’t. They gave us much more than what the Abrahamic gods gave their faithful, including the capacity to reason, doubt, and search for elusive truths without being constrained by religious dogma.
What is good is the new Indian determination to call out Abrahamic hypocrisy and bigotry that serves their hegemonistic purposes while ignoring the rest. Tirumurti, incidentally, is not the first Indian flagging this issue. Earlier, in December 2020 and later in October 2021, India’s first secretary in the permanent mission to the UN Ashish Sharma and our Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan made similar points at the UN.
The real task we have on hand is the decolonisation of Hindu minds at home and those who went abroad with self-loathing and diffidence about Hinduism.
Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!