Sunday, July 10, 2011

Reciprocity & Hindu Anger

Written by Francois Gautier
Wednesday, 29 December 2010 06:37

Reciprocity & Hindu Anger

This starts as a beautiful story. Once upon a time, there was a tiny village in South Arcot’s district of Tamil Nadu, called Kuilaplayam. Now Kuilapalayam is like hundreds of villages around Pondichery: it is peopled with Hindu Vanniars, a caste slightly higher than the untouchables, poor, living off agriculture, usually a few meagre fields of cashew nuts. But then Kuilapalayam just happened to be in the midst of Auroville, the international township, founded by the Mother of Pondichery, based upon the ideals of the great yogi and revolutionary, Sri Aurobindo.

Thus Kuilaplayam prospered: its inhabitants learned trades needed for the city: carpenters, masons, craftsmen, some of its children attended Auroville's schools and were educated along with western kids and in time graduated and went into white collar jobs. From a few cycles 40 years ago, Kuilapalama has today motorcycles, tractors, cars, vans, cable TV, cell phones, etc. The main road of Kuilapalayam which used to be only shady huts, became lined-up with fancy shops which sold everything, from vegetables to handicrafts.

And then the unavoidable happened: a Kashmiri Muslim from Chennai heard about Auroville and the prosperity of Kuilapalaym and understanding that he could make a packet with so many westerners passing though Auroville, he opened the usual shawls & carpets’ shop in the village. Now Kuilapalayam never counted a Muslim amongst its population in its 1200 years of recorded history; but in the true Hindu tradition, this one was welcomed and nobody raised an objection, although he was competition for some of the other shops. Our Kashmiri Muslim, seeing his success, called his cousin in Kolkata, who came and opened another shop; and that one phoned his friend in Mumbai, who also landed-up and opened a third shop. Still nobody found anything to say. Kashmiris are sociable fellows and they quickly made friends with Westerners, most of them blissfully unaware of the political situation in India, so business was booming, till they were seven or eight Kashmiri shops in Kuilapalayam. And again nobody complained, even when the fellows started doing their naamaz openly. “Isn’t God everywhere and isn’t He Krishna, as well as Allah”, said one of the villagers?

Then Rathinam, one of the young boys of Kuilapalayam, who had gone to study in Delhi, told his parents when he came back, about the fact that not only no Hindu were allowed to buy land or start a shop in the Valley of Kashmir, where the shopkeepers came from, but that four hundred thousand Hindus, were chased out of the Valley by terror, many of them having been murdered and that they were living as refugees in Jammu and Delhi. His parents started talking to their friends and there was the first hint of resentment against the newcomers.

Fifteen days later, the Amarnath row exploded. Rathinam’s father went to see a group of Kuilaplayam Kashmiris having tea and told them that Hindus never complained about their government giving billion of rupees in subsidies to Indian Muslims so that they can visit their most Holy place, the Mecca. “But when Hindus, he continued, need shelters, toilets and basic facilities at height of 15.000 feet to worship at Amarnath, one of the holiest places of Hinduism, why do you Kashmiri Muslims deny it to us” ? The Kashmiris looked a bit uneasy, then replied “that anyway the Amarnath ice lingam had been discovered by a Muslim shepherd and that Muslims had always welcomed their Hindu brothers to Armanath”. But this did not convince the Kuilapalayam man who had heard from his son that many grenade attacks had happened over the years against the Amarnath pilgrims. And anger started mounting in Kuilapalayam.

So it is all a question of reciprocity. Most Hindus are peace-loving people. The average Hindu that you meet in a million Indian villages, such as Kuilapalayam, is easy-going and accepts you and your diversity, whether you are Christian, Muslim, Parsi or Jain, Arab, French or Chinese. He goes about his business and usually does not interfere in yours.

In fact Hindus take it a little further: they hate trouble and go out of their way to avoid it. Have you noticed how every time there is a possibility of a strike or trouble, Hindus stay home? Or how - forget about rioting - Hindus never speak-up, complain or protest in a united manner. There is a UN Human Rights conference on terrorism in New York coming-up on 9th September and they have been desperately trying to get Hindu surviving victims of recent bomb attack to testify; but none are willing to come forward for fear of reprisals.

Not only that, but everywhere in the world, Hindus are hounded, humiliated, routed, be it in Fiji where an elected democratic government was twice deposed in an armed coup, or in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where Muslims indulge in pogroms against Hindus every time they want to vent their hunger against India (read Taslima Nasreen’s book “Lalja”). In Assam, Tripura, or Nagaland, Hindus are being outnumbered by Bangladeshi illegal immigrants and terrorized by pro-Christian separatist groups, such as the Bodos or the Mizos, while local governments often turn a blind eye. Their temples are being taken over in many states like in Kerala or Karnataka, and the donations appropriated by the state governments.

Yet, in 3500 years of known existence, Hindus have never military invaded another country, never tried to impose their religion upon others, by force or even by induced conversions. No, it has rather been through peaceful invasions that Hinduism has stormed the world, whether in the East, witness Angkor Vat, or in the West today, where the by-products of Hinduism, yoga, meditation, ayurveda, pranayama have been adopted by millions.

Hindus also gave refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world from the Parsis, to the Jews (India is the only country in the world where Jews were not persecuted) to the Armenians and the Tibetans today. The first Christian community of the world, that of the Syrian Christians, flourished in Kerala, thanks to Hindu tolerance; Arab merchants were welcomed by Hindu rulers to do trade and live in India, while freely practicing their religion, from very early times. It’s a pity that these two communities turned against their Hindus brothers and sisters, the former by way of lured conversions, and the latter with bloody invasions.

Thus Hindus, who accept everybody, welcome all religions, allow Indians from other parts to trade next to them, as it happened in Kuilapalayam, do not receive in return any gratitude and the same respect. On the contrary, they get mocked at, bombs are planted in their markets, their trains; their temples get attacked, they are chased out of their homelands; television an newspapers make fun of them, their own politicians ostracize them…

So, sometimes, Enough is Enough. At some point, after years or even centuries of submitting like sheep to slaughter, Hindus, the most peace-loving people in the world, those the Mahatma Gandhi once called gently ‘cowards’, those who cringe in their houses at the least sign of riot, erupt in fury - uncontrolled fury. And it hurts. It hurts badly. It happened in Gujarat. It is happening now in Jammu. It may happen again elsewhere, as Hindus are reaching a boiling point.

Yes, one should condemn the pogrom that happened in Gujarat, but one should look also in the causes. It is not only the 36 innocent Hindu women and children who were burnt savagely in a train by a mob of criminals, worse than animals. It is also how much silent frustration and anger must have built over the years, decades, or centuries even, amongst Gujarati Hindus, that in one moment, 125.000 Hindus, normal, peaceful people, many of them Dalits, tribals, or even upper middle class, came out on the streets of Ahmedabad with such fury. Yet, 25% of the people killed during the riots were Hindus; yet, according to police records, the 157 subsequent riots which happened in Gujurat were all started by Muslims.

Instead of trying to put water overt the fire, instead of appealing for calm and communal harmony, instead of giving us all this eyewash about a 500 year old Dargah mostly patronized by Hindus (but do Muslims visit Hindu temples in return), political leaders, journalists, as well as spiritual leaders, should do well to look at the root cause of Hindu fury, and try to address their demands and frustrations.

Journalists should also do a little bit of introspection and try to think for themselves. It is unfair, as it has been done in Ayodhya and after the Gujarat riots, to put so much blame on Hindus as if they are the worst criminals in the world and the destroyers of Nehruvian secularism. Millions of temples were destroyed in India by Muslim invaders, some of them the most sacred to Hindus, like the Kashi Vishvanath, Krishna's birth temple in Mathura, the rebuilt Somnath temple and the Treta-ka-Thakur temple in Ayodhya, and Hindus hardly ever protested. When they dare to destroy one disused mosque, without any human casualties, what a hullabaloo has been created year after year by journalists, Muslims and secularists. When Islamic militants plant bomb, they kill scores of Hindus every time. Do Hindus plant bombs upon Muslims? Does one journalist dare to say that? How long can Hindus accept everybody get beaten up and receive nothing in return?

Lastly, is there still a prejudice in Western society against Hindus? President Sarkozy said that he went to the Olympics’ opening ceremony because you cannot ignore a quarter of humanity. Well, can the world continue ignoring Hindus, 850 million in India, a billion worldwide, one person in six, one of the most peaceful, law-abiding, successful, tax paying communities on this planet ? Is it not time that a Hindu spiritual leader, God to tens of millions of Hindus, be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

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