‘Hinduism is under attack from inside, from people claiming to be its champions’

The economist Kaushik Basu, a brilliant free-thinking mind of the kind no longer in fashion, laments in today’s Indian Express that India’s “global stature in the world of knowledge, science and culture seems to be eroding” as news about cow slaughter, gau rakshaks, anti-romeo squads, banning momos and religious intolerance hogs the headlines.

“The tragedy is that what the Hindu fundamentalists and bhakts are pushing India towards is a travesty of the original bhakti movement which began in Tamil Nadu in the 6th century, and stressed the personal nature of religion and emphasised the philosophy and syncretism of Hinduism.

“In the mid-19th century, Karl Marx marveled at the remarkable resilience of Hinduism. Whereas in many developing countries, as colonialism spread, the early religions vanished, in India Hinduism withstood repeated attacks and domination. It was non-aggressive but strong. Every time the foreign powers left, there was Hinduism, sometimes a little wilted but ready to sprout again….

“What we are doing now is attacking the religion from within. Marx may have been right about Hinduism’s resilience to outside attacks but what we risk now is irreparable damage by the very people who claim to be its champions. Hyper-nationalism is a manifestation of an insecurity about one’s place in the world, whereby you want to shape your country and religion in the image of the very countries and religions you claim to detest.”

Read the full article: Resisting the moral retreat