The Militarization of Hinduism
Posted: Saturday, August 3, 2002
By Stephen Kangal
The subtle, almost subversive attempts being currently pursued to indiscriminately import the fascist tenets of communalism, revivalism and the fundamentalist agenda of the Brahminic Hindutva Movement from the fundamentally different experiences of the Indian sub-continent and to foist it on the unsuspecting Hindu community of plural Trinbago, constitutes a threat to the hitherto harmonious and peaceful co-existence presiding over Motherland T&T.
The Hindutva Movement is a Vedic-inspired manifesto fabricated to promote the militarization and politicisation of a brand of Northern Indian interpretation of Hinduism. Its origins were given shape, form and momentum by financing provided by the petty industrialists, sections of the middle class and the rich, landed peasantry of Northern India. Some Indian critics refer to the Movement as repackaged Brahminism.
The Northern Indian States of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar provided the bulk of the sources of Indian indentured labourers consigned to the islands of the Caribbean, Fiji and Mauritius in the post-emancipation 1845 period but this is no basis to justify introducing the fascist tendencies of the Northern Indian Hindutva Movement into T&T.
We must remember that the term Hindus was originally a geographical concept descriptive of the inhabitants who occupied the fertile plains of Indus Valley. It was not a religion. In fact Nehru and other reputable publicists still dispute whether Hinduism today can be regarded as a homogeneous religion as the Hindutva Movement is trying to institute both internally in India as well as amongst the 20 million people in the Indian diaspora. So that this predilection for legitimising BG Tilak’s definition of who is a Hindu (Newsday July 16) and giving it global application is a deliberate over-simplification of a very complex matter. However, it is consistent with the hidden Hindutva/Brahminic agenda. Tilak was one of the early strategists/exponents of the Hindutva Movement.
The Hindutva Movement, contrary to the embellished and deliberately distorted image conjured up in the almost totally Internet- plagiarized (hindu.org and indolink.com) Newsday’s article of 16 July ( p.10) and followed up by two subsequent articles( the sacred cow( July 24) and the Kashmir Problem July, 30), is a Hindu nationalist initiative geared to promote the hegemonic interests of the off- white Brahmin/Bania, landed aristocracy and petit bourgeoisie of North India.
The objective is to further institutionalise and consolidate the anti-humane, anti-all- men- are- born –equal, sinister caste (Karma-Dharma) system, which wrecked havoc among the poor indentured labourers in T&T. This is conducted via a concerted, well-orchestrated and co-ordinated subversive agenda to continue to consign non-Brahmins to pseudo- congenital servitude under the façade of making the rigid acceptance of the twin and mutually reinforcing Hindu Dharma- Karma concepts fundamental to the Hindutva’s brand of militaristic and imperialistic- prone radicalization of Hinduism.
In fact the decision taken during the period of indentureship but more especially in the post-1868 period by the pseudo- low, non-Brahmin caste indentured labourers to join the several Christian faiths in T&T provided recourse for our exploited ancestors from the sectarianism, hegemonic Brahminism and the inhumane, degrading, illiterate -inducing prejudices to which they were subjected. Accordingly it was not because they rejected the noble religious tenets and principles immortalized in Tulsidas’ Ramcharitarmanas, the fountain of Caribbean Hinduism. It was not because the Presbyterian Missionaries were at fault as some would have us believe. In fact the all-pervading Hindu culture which flowed in their veins constituted an inalienable, hereditary facet of their cultural endowment as they still do today even if they are Presbyterians, Catholics, Pentecostals etc., if one understands the pervading influence of 6000 years of Hinduism. The Hindutva Movement has also fomented atrocities waged against Christianity in India.
The Hindu Christian converts in T&T were freeing themselves from the bondage and second-class status imposed by the hegemony of the Brahmin priestly caste/class as well as from the degradation imposed by the decisions of the Brahmin-dominated Panchayaats. Some have attributed the Brahmin status claimed by many in T&T more to boat (Fath Al Razack) than birth.
The Hindutva Movement is an Indian sub-continent 20th Century fascist movement driven by an agenda to infiltrate all key and strategic aspects of national life in the Indian sub-continent via its political ( BJP), religious (the Vishwa Hindu Parshad_-VHP) and communalist (Bajrang Dal) arms. The Movement may be an understandable social and political response to the complexities of Indian society. We cannot indiscriminately be receptive to this hegemonic attempt which can lead to the artificial radicalization of the traditional peace-loving practices of Caribbean Hinduism in T&T.
We in T&T cannot afford to be a conduit for promoting such extremist propaganda especially the communal violence mounted against our Moslem brothers and the sudras ( untouchables) in the Hindu, Brahminic- controlled (BJP), Indian sub-continent.
We are civilized, educated people historically abandoned by and distanced from New Delhi. We are enjoying relatively high standards of living from our perseverance and thrift that pre-empts us from subjugating ourselves to the slavery/ extremism agenda of Hindu fundamentalism.
For us the concept of Shanti is pivotal to our genre of Caribbean Hinduism. It was immortalized in soca music by the late Lord Shorty and has had a civilising, stabilising and non-aggressive, peaceful co-existence shaping of our national character in an insular domain which is T&T.
We have to appreciate the man-land symbiosis/relationships and its attendant character forming in all its manifestations. Island communities are fundamentally different from the extremism/ aggressiveness associated with continental domains. Compare the Indians of T&T and Guyana and make your own judgements. Caribbean Hinduism has thrived by the oral tradition without any help from New Delhi and we can do without new radical, irrelevant doctrines.
I am not for one moment legitimising and supporting our traditional docility and apolitical behaviour that marginalised the Indian electorate until 1986 in the rural periphery of egalitarian politics. Thanks to our African brothers we have learnt to develop and sharpen our political assertiveness and disengage our selves from the drag effects of the doctrines of karmic theology. Thanks to our parents and our driving ambitions to succeed, we have emancipated ourselves from the drudgery of cane and rice to enter the realms of the professions and the white-collar space.
In return we have exposed our African brothers, inter alia, to the fundamentals of house and property ownership, thriftiness and strong extended family relationships. The continuing, spontaneous cross- fertilization of appealing aspects of our distinct and separate cultures, not to be confused with douglarisation, is the way forward. This interface can be effected without compromising the originality of our indigenous cultural legacy, purity, value systems and the authenticity/ spiritual foundations of our religious practices. We do not need to copy the Delhi-based Indians whose experiences are different from our own.
Indo-Trinbagonians have to disengage themselves from any involvement in the Indo-Pakistan conflict as well as the rivalries and sabre rattling for supremacy and dominance within the Indian sub-continent symbolised by the hegemonic agenda of the Hindutva Movement. We cannot willingly submit ourselves to being culturally/ politically re-colonized, re-indenturized and re-castified.
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