Abstract: There are numerous Islamic and Christian majority states in the world, many not espousing tolerance. Why should one country that is primarily Hindu in population and culture be considered to be a threat to global diversity?
A certain section of the generally leftist media has proclaimed that PM Narendra Modi is a dangerous Hindu nationalist leader, and that Hindus in India are dangerous and intolerant, posing a threat to world peace and religious harmony. This extends to the New York Times and the BBC, the perpetual antagonists in such anti-India dramas over the decades. This cry against “dangerous Hindus” has grown more shrill after the massive national landslide victory of Modi and the BJP in the 2019 elections, and amplified by the reintegration of Kashmir in August, which outraged the anti-Hindu vested interests to new heights.
To have a proud Hindu leading a country that is 80% Hindu today – and has remained so through centuries of brutal foreign rule – is considered to be intolerable to those used to keeping Hindus under their domination as second class citizens. Modi’s BJP is highlighted as an inherent threat against minorities in India who cannot feel safe under Hindu majority rule, though Hindus were rarely safe when leaders of foreign religious persuasion were in power.
Though democracy is said to be the rule of the majority, it seems that this does not apply to Hindus. In India the consensus has been minorities-rule, gain special status and state benefits, while Hindus should feel guilty to still be a majority, as if India’s partition in 1947 was their fault.
Let us search for these dangerous Hindus and their doctrines, not just in India but globally, and see what we can find either hidden or in the open.
Hindus like other religious and cultural groups have spread globally in recent decades. In fact the Hindu diaspora has been a great success and has astounded those who either knew little about Hindus or who had negative opinions about them. Hindus are at the forefront of knowledge, medicine and economics in the countries they have come to make their homes.
Major Hindu communities and temples can now be found in North America and Europe and many other countries. This draws the question: Is there any place where immigrant Hindus reside that suffers from threats of Hindu aggression, Hindu ghettos where non-Hindus cannot safely go, where western women are likely to be assaulted by young, aggressive Hindu mobs? Are there Hindu mafias controlling crime, Hindus living in high numbers on welfare roles, Hindus spreading out into the streets to practice their religion and disrupting public activity, or Hindu refugees trying to cross the borders in large numbers?
On the contrary, immigrant Hindus count among the most peaceful, affluent and well educated of all immigrant groups, and are not causing difficulties anywhere that require special attention. They are assets to their communities on all levels. In fact they have at times become the targets of attack and intolerance, not the other way around.
There is the related issue of global security, with an almost unending war against terrorism over the last twenty years. Are people in the different countries of the world, worried about Hindu terrorists perpetrating violence at public events, hijacking airplanes, planting bombs, or posing other clandestine security dangers that must be carefully guarded against?
Are immigrant Hindu preachers radicalizing children and asking them to take up a path of violence, calling for a rejection of every belief except the Hindu and not honor the laws of the land where they reside? Are there guns or explosives hidden in Hindu temples or schools? Hindu gurus mainly teach Yoga and meditation as part of programs for world peace, personal healing and individual spiritual practices. Yet that does not allay the media suspicion that dangerous Hindus must be out there somewhere or hiding under their good behavior.
Meanwhile if we look at India compared to nearby Pakistan and China, India has the largest diversity of minorities safely practicing their religions. Meanwhile Hindus in Pakistan have almost been eliminated and Shias are under regular threat, not the Balochis who are fighting for their survival. Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims are cruelly oppressed in China, and are looking at either at becoming Chinese or ceasing to exist. Even within India Hindus have been violently driven out of Kashmir and are often unsafe in areas where minorities form the local majorities.
Are Hindus aggressively promoting One Hindu God, One Hindu Bible, Salvation or Heaven only for Hindus and damnation for everyone else? Is there any exclusive Hindu belief that Hindus must convert the world to and by any means possible? Hindus believe in karma and rebirth, many lives for the soul, and the eventual Self-realization for all. Hindus have numerous gurus, deities, temples, practices and celebrations. There is no monolithic Hindu orthodoxy that aims to dominate the world, and no Hindu uniformity in practice, dress or thought that any Hindu group aims to impose upon everyone.
Hindu armies have never invaded other countries or promoted conversion by force to Hinduism. There is no worldwide Hindu missionary movement comparable to the massive well-funded global organizations that promote Christianity or Islam, and making the claim that truth only belongs to Hindus. In fact even in India one is more likely to be approached by Islamic or Christian preachers trying to convert you than any Hindu religious leader doing so.
Of course in India, a country of 1.3 billion people, one can pull up incidents in which individuals from minority communities are victims of crimes for various reasons. But similar incidents can be found against Hindus, even more so. The anti-Hindu media likes to take any crime done by Hindus on non-Hindus as a Hindu-perpetrated hate crime, but comparable crimes against Hindus by non-Hindus are portrayed as mere personal crimes or property disputes and any religious angle is dismissed as distorted propaganda. In a crime the victim’s religion will only be named if it is non-Hindu, while the perpetrator’s religion will only be named, in fact broadcast with great fanfare, if Hindu.
India as a country has suffered from terrorism for years and with numerous deaths and destruction. Today India has ISIS, Jihadi terrorists and a long history of Maoist-Naxalite terrorists. Let us not forget the many thousands these have killed. In this violence Hindu aggression or retaliation has been negligible.
There are numerous Islamic and Christian majority states in the world, many not espousing tolerance. Why should one country that is primarily Hindu in population and culture be considered to be a threat to global diversity? On the contrary, India is a land of diverse ancient cultures because of the pluralistic nature of Hindu thought. These Indic traditions should be preserved as a global heritage, just as the many indigenous traditions of the world deserve to be protected.
These indigenous traditions of India were suppressed during the long period of foreign rule, and post Independence India under the Congress Party seldom supported them. The real issue, therefore, is the need to respect Hindu Dharma as any great religion and to honor India’s vast and unique civilizational heritage as well. It is not Hinduism that the world needs to fear but the failure to preserve the profound heritage that it represents.
Hindu Dharma remains an enemy of exclusivist theologies and materialistic ideologies that find dharmic values and yogic spirituality to be a threat to their hegemony. This occurs not through any overt action on the part of Hindus, but by an inherent hostility at a belief level to the different vision and greater connection to the cosmos that Sanatana Dharma represents.
The image of the dangerous Hindu is ploy to cover over the ongoing cultural aggression that still refuses to accept India’s profound civilizational value that is largely Hindu in nature, and can guide the world forward to a higher consciousness.