I find the Sangh parivar’s focus on ‘converting’ Adivasis’ to Hindusim very odd. But, even odder is the Sangh parivar’s dedication to a term used by Persian invaders to describe a geographical entity – the people of the Indu river. Indoos. Technically speaking the only Indoos are on the other side of the border
Hindu is a catch all term used to describe anything from animism to atheism and a whole of lot if ‘ism’s’ in between. Technically speaking – and technicality is both the soul of law and theology – when you have a term that describes multiple paths – then surely Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Douglas Adamism, Mormonism, Iskonism, etal – can be considered to be equally valid paths.
But, unfortunately the Hindutva movement has nothing to do with the broad canvas that is called Hinduism. It is a narrow one way path filled with hatred, fear and venom. It has anyone who does not adhere to their narrow view of the world in their crosshairs. In that sense, they probably have more in common with the Al Qaeda than with the bulk of people who practise “Hinduism”. (aside, you should see my driver on his way into town – there is a little namaskar – at a church, a mosque, a temple, a tree with a garland – practically anything that has ‘religious’ significance’. You should see some of the villages in Maharashtra – the mosque and the temple sharing a commong wall is not an invention of cinema, it exists.)
Instead of doing damn fool things like distributing tridents, burning churches and mosques, terrorising missionaries, burning libraries, breaking and looting business establishments – if the Hindutva movement focussed on service and karma yoga – then maybe people will join them without any compulsion.
This current rant of mine has been brought on by two very differnt stories in todays’ newspaper.
The first was on the poorest district in India. No it is not in Bihar or Orissa. It is in Gujarat. The district is Dangs.
The second story is also about Dangs. It is about how the Sangh parivar is going to hold the Sabari Kumbh Mela to convert Adivasis to Hinduism. Both questions can be asked here – Why, would you convert some one from “hinduism” to “hinduism”. or how can you convert someone to something that doesn’t exist. If Hindutva mean Vaishnavite tradition or Ram worship – then it is not “hinduism” it is Vaishnavitism (if such a word exists). On the other hand if you are going to accept the term “Hinduism” warts and all – then it already includes the religion of the Dang people – whether it is tree worship or the worship of Jesus and Mary.
Also, will it not be better for the Sangh Parivaar if they actually ended up expending their organisational effieciency – and the parivaar is one of the most organised political entities in Indian – on alleviating poverty rather than a mela. If they built schools, hospitals, and funded projects that generated employement – maybe they will get more converts to the cause, rather than having a bunch of aggressive hindutvadis descend on the area for a week and have a free for all party.
And finally, if they really wanted to do service to the cause of Ram, then they should leave the Adivasis alone. For if they remember the Ramayan – then they should know that Ram never imposes his values on Shabri. On the contrary, he accepts her traditions without judgement. Maybe, if the Hindutvadi’s read the Ramayan or the Mahabharat – they would realise that this thing that they call “hinduism” is not about temples and buildings and symbols. It is simply following the path of righteousness.