Pseudoscience & Religion

Why I Criticize Hinduism The Most

Why do you criticize Hinduism more than any other religion? This is a question often posed to us – the rationalists, secularists and atheists in India- by the proponents of Hindutwa?

 The first time I heard this question it was not from a hardcore Hindutwa proponent, but a medical doctor in Kerala. It was in the late 1980s, when we, a group of young rationalist activists, approached this doctor for financial contribution towards a conference organized by our organization. We tried to explain our position telling him about the number of occasions when we had led campaigns against fundamentalists belonging to other religions, the number of publications brought out by rationalists in Kerala criticizing the religious texts as well as the obscurantist practices followed by Muslims and Christians. Our doctor, however, was not willing to lend his ears to our arguments and we were thrown out of his clinic with him refusing to give us any money.

Over the last two decades since then I have faced this question quite often, forcing me to think about it frequently. Let me hence enumerate the reasons why I find myself criticizing the beliefs and rituals of Hinduism more often than those of other religions.

1. The very first reason that comes to my mind is a question of statistics. More than 80% of the Indian population is Hindu. Naturally, more than 80% of our criticism would also be directed against the belief system of Hindus.

This is precisely the case in other countries too. I read quite a few well-known rationalist periodicals published from the US and Europe. In all these periodicals, most of the articles are devoted to criticizing Christianity, because that is the religion that the majority of their population follows. Wouldn’t it be irrational to criticize the rationalists of these continents as prejudiced against Christianity?

2. Second is my familiarity with the religion I was born into. I am more familiar with the beliefs, tenets, rituals, and practices of Hinduism than that of any other religion, and hence I am more confident in criticizing it.

So is the case with other rationalists, who were brought up among people adhering to other religious denominations. The writings of a Salman Rushdie, an Ibn Warraq or a Taslima Nasrin, for instance, are more frequently directed against Islamic fundamentalists than those belonging to other religions. (It should be emphasized here that I am not trying to elevate myself to the stature of these eminent writers).

The question of statistics referred to above once again comes into play here. Assume that one percent of any religious community in India become rationalists and start criticizing their parent religion. In India, according to Census-2001, we have 80.4% Hindus, 13.4% Muslims, and 2.3% Christians. This percentage would naturally get reflected in any given group of rationalists and, as a consequence, in the rationalist literature produced in India.

3. Third, there is a possibility that the liberalization or secularization of the religion of the majority in a country has a positive impact on the religion of the minority itself.

For instance, I have noticed, in Kerala, where I was born, the followers of Islam are much more liberal than many other parts of India. It is not possible for any section of a people, religious minority included, to be completely outside the sphere of influence of the society they are part of, however much the fundamentalist leadership is against it.

4. Fourth, the criticism coming from within a community is much more effective than those coming from people outside the fold. This is because criticism, however constructive they be, coming from people from outside a community would tend to be construed as xenophobia or even outright communal. In a perfect liberal-secular society, this should not be the case and every criticism, wherever it comes from, would be adjudged on its innate worth.  But ours is not such a society. It still has a highly conservative, semi-feudal setup with a significant presence of religio-fascist elements intolerant of any kind of criticism.

For instance, in Karnataka, at the time of my writing this, a violent intimidation is being unleashed against Christians by fascist Hindu outfits such as Bajrangdal. Churches were ransacked, religious statues broken, and nuns physically abused. One of the ostensible reasons cited for this attack was that a certain Christian sect allegedly had published a book in Kannada (Sathya Darshini) denigrating Hindu religious figures. Excerpts from the book reproduced in Deccan Herald (September 18, 2008, Bangalore) shows that they are nothing in comparison to the celebrated rationalist-reformer E.V.Ramaswamy Naiker’s acerbic textual criticism of characters in Ramayana. Though the Hindu-right did agitate against EVR and his Periyarana, it never took such a violent turn as has been happening in Karnataka at present. One of the reasons for the less-violent reaction to EVR’s work was he was seen as an “insider” as against the Christian critique of Hindu religious texts. (I am not suggesting even for a moment that the intimidation of Christians seen in various parts of Karnataka today is a Hindu-reaction to this book.  It is not. According to Deccan Herald, the book was printed in a press that was closed down a decade back. The attack in fact is a pre-meditated attempt of the Sangh Parivar to communalize Hindu society in Karnataka on the lines of Narendra Modi’s Gujarat).

5. The fifth and most important reason is the brutal fact that the Hindu fundamentalist forces (RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini, etc) have been on the rise since the late 1970s.

The formation of Janata Party government (which included such disparate political formations as socialists and rightwing Hindutwa elements) in 1977 after the infamous emergency gave legitimacy to forces such as RSS. Since the 1990s, Hindutwa forces have used extreme violence to intimidate minorities and secularists. The violence in 1990 following the Ratha Yatra of L.K.Advani, the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, the state-sponsored violence (in which more than a thousand people were murdered) against Muslims following the burning of a train in Godhra in Gujarat in 2002, the continuing (even at the time of penning this essay) violence against Christians in various parts (especially in Orissa and Karnataka) of the country, the attempts to saffronise education and secular institutions during the NDA government, the attacks on exhibition of paintings of MF Hussain, etc are ample evidence of the presence and rise of Hindutwa fascism in the country.  There is no point in calling myself a rationalist if I do not take a stand against this fascist intimidation and violence and speak for the rights of the intimidated.

I hope the above satisfactorily answers the question posed at the beginning. It is quite possible that other activists campaigning for secularism may have many other reasons to cite in addition to what I have attempted to point out. I would be glad if they come out with their arguments.

 

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Manoj TV

43 Comments

  • Its unfair to ask others to come up with other important reason but you almost covered majority of the reasons, say like 80% hindu majority. Let me crush some of my neurons and try………..mmmmmmm
    Not only the emergency augmented the raise of hind fascism, but the pseudo secularism of the congress party for vote bank from minority to win key constituency also played some roles. I dont think that congress is a party which adore secularist values, so emergency expelled its own cadre so they learned to hindu fascism, but people start to take fascistic perspective due to the congress’s pseudo secular approach for its vested interest.
    Then, one other most important point, well it go back to the statics, how come any rationalist cant look at the segregation of the majority of the people by religious values, those who commit such sin are self identify them-self as hindus…..how come any rationalist who cant look at the enormous majority of these malevolent Gurus, who are happened to be hindus and commit crimes in the name of same religion…………
    I think these are worth points you missed…….
    Personally I am sick of this Pseudo science called vedic Science…………

    • why are you sick of vedic science, it basically means scientific knowledge which was possessed by people of indus and other such civilizations of that time. it does not override modern scientific knowledge nor its proponents ever say so( leaving some exceptional cases ) , most of its proponents only want the genuine credit to be given to it, which is usually given to greeks and other ancient people of the other side of the hemisphere

  • I partly agree with the above comment. The massacre of Sikhs in Delhi and other parts of North India immediately after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and the statement (When a big tree falls, the earth will shake) of Rajiv Gandhi justifying the massacre were evidently indicate the presence of Hindu fanatics within the Congress party.

    The appeasement of fundamentalist leadership of minorities (not the ordinary believers belonging to the minority religions, it should be noted) is also a fact – the law enacted in the wake of Shah Bano judgement, the ongoing protest lead by the student wing of Congress against a school text-book in Kerala are examples.

    But it may not be correct to equate Congress party, which uses appeasement of religious fundamentalists for electoral gains) with BJP, which has an umbilical relation with Hindu fascism.

    – Manoj

  • Agree with all the reasons you have given. I would add this too:

    Hindu fundamentalists often argue that Hinduism is such a liberal religion and its teachings should serve as a model for the world. And that the others are not so. That might be true but I don’t see reforms in Hinduism happening and the Hindutva organisations who should actually be doing this have nothing other than confrontation with Islam and Christianity on their agenda.

    They expect the Muslims to throw out the Shariat and the pardah but will not do anything to cleanse their own caste ridden society!They see cruelty in other religions but forget their own history or get away by interpreting it differently. If they could put themselves in the shoes of the minorities and get a taste of being cornered it would help them take a more liberal view.

    The demand for an Uniform Civil Code would then not be a demand for imposing a Hindu civil code on the rest.

    But would that tolerance to other religions be enough to bring any beneficial change in the country?

    Murali

  • I do agree with Murali.

    As to Uniform Civil Code (UCC), one of the major obstacles to sell it to the minorities, apart from their fundamentalist leadership, is the clamour of the Hindu fanatics for enacting the UCC giving the wrong impression that what will be brought as UCC is a Hindu Personal Law. It may be noted that the Hindu right was against even the enactment of Hindu Code Bill. The demand from UCC should be made from a secular perspective, emphasizing the rights of the individual, especially women. After all, it is the women who suffer the most under all personal codes based upon religion.

    I agree that tolerance towards other religion definitely is not enough to bring any major beneficial change in the society. But tolerance of all differing viewpoints is a must for the well-being any society.

    – Manoj

  • More than 80% of the Indian population is Hindu. Naturally, more than 80% of our criticism would also be directed against the belief system of Hindus.

    =>
    A more rational/logical explanation should be the negative impact, damage and number of disruptive events in the society/world caused by adherents of a particular religion. Missing the forest for the trees isn’t helpful.
    =>

    Second is my familiarity with the religion I was born into. I am more familiar with the beliefs, tenets, rituals, and practices of Hinduism than that of any other religion, and hence I am more confident in criticizing it.

    =>
    With so much diversity in tenets, beliefs and rituals of Hinduism as well as so many different schools of philosophy which would take some considerable time and effort to study and understand, your familiarity only applies to a very small section of the population. Besides, in my experience, what I’ve found is that most people “rejected” Hinduism based only on their personal negative experience, or because they were forced by their elders to do certain rituals. Extending your specific knowledge to the entire population of Indian Hindus is not rational or logical, and is fraught with inaccuracy.
    =>

    Third, there is a possibility that the liberalization or secularization of the religion of the majority in a country has a positive impact on the religion of the minority itself.

    =>
    History does not bear this out completely, given that both Islam and Christianity have been in India for centuries. Yes, Sufism can be cited as an example, but today, even that is being threatened by the Wahabbi strain from outside – we don’t exist in a bubble. Besides, wasn’t it the secular and pluralistic nature of Hinduism that allowed people of different religions to find shelter in India and continue practicing their religion (Parsis, Jews, Syrian Christians, Dalai Lama), as well as allowed different philosophical schools within Hinduism to flourish and co-exist?
    =>

    Fourth, the criticism coming from within a community is much more effective than those coming from people outside the fold.

    =>
    There is some merit to this argument, assuming that the community is open to criticism from inside, and there’s no concept like ‘fitna’ to prevent community members from speaking out and implementing progressive changes. Yet, if you are a Hindu (given that you are part of that community), what’s the basis of your Hindu identity, if not religion? If you consider yourself an Indian and an atheist, then it shouldn’t matter whether you criticize Hindus, Muslims, Baha’is or Sikhs – all are fair game since they’re all Indians, and with access to the internet, lack of knowledge about their tenets or customs or beliefs is not a valid excuse anymore. And if someone could write “Rangeela Rasool” decades ago when there was no internet… 🙂
    =>

    The fifth and most important reason is the brutal fact that the Hindu fundamentalist forces (RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini, etc) have been on the rise since the late 1970s.

    =>
    Correct. But have you given some thought to the conditions that made it possible for their ascendancy, and who created those conditions, and whether those conditions still exist or not? If you did, it’s not evident in your post. (Hint: so-called “secularism” that was added to the constitution during Emergency as well as its perverted application by all political parties, with Congress showing the path – yet your post doesn’t even mention Congress. Is that rational? Do you by any chance vote for Congress or are sympathetic to it?)
    An atheist is an atheist – you seem to be making categories of atheists based on religion.
    =>

    Are you sure that you didn’t leave out some very obvious reasons (“elephant in the living room,” as they say) for why you don’t criticize Muslims in India and only stick to Hindus?
    – Do you consider Muslims as Indians? If you do, then you should build some partnerships with like-minded Indian Muslims, because we cannot leave one community behind while we move the rest ahead. Get some Muslim writers to join Nirmukta.
    – Are you afraid of your physical safety if you criticize Islam?
    – Are you concerned that given the current “liberal/progressive” environment, if you criticize Islam, you would be labeled as a Hindu fanatic or an Islamophobe? That is indeed the most effective tactic used to prevent people from speaking out and leads to self-censoring.

    Here’s what I think:
    1. Universal application of the concept of secularism needs to happen. Currently, its meaning as well as application is nothing but perverted, with all political parties indulging in it.
    2. Law-and-order situation needs to change and become stricter.
    3. Better journalistic standards – readers jump to conclusions based on faulty and biased reporting.

    Once these three are in order, you won’t need to write a post justifying why you only criticize Hinduism, and will be free to criticize any religion.

    • Kaafir,
      Thanks for your comment. I will leave it to Manoj to respond to the relevant points addressing his post, but I would like to address one part:

      “Are you sure that you didn’t leave out some very obvious reasons (”elephant in the living room,” as they say) for why you don’t criticize Muslims in India and only stick to Hindus?
      – Do you consider Muslims as Indians? If you do, then you should build some partnerships with like-minded Indian Muslims, because we cannot leave one community behind while we move the rest ahead. Get some Muslim writers to join Nirmukta.
      – Are you afraid of your physical safety if you criticize Islam?
      – Are you concerned that given the current “liberal/progressive” environment, if you criticize Islam, you would be labeled as a Hindu fanatic or an Islamophobe? That is indeed the most effective tactic used to prevent people from speaking out and leads to self-censoring.”

      Let me reassure you that none of the reasons you mention as possible explanations for the absence of ex-Muslim writers at Nirmukta had even occurred to me.

      On the contrary, I tried to make the group as broad and representative of the country as possible. I specifically targeted ex-Muslims and women writers in order to create a balance, even if it was to be a contrived balance. I was turned down by three ex-Muslims from India and two from Pakistan.

      Even after they were assured of their anonymity and offered their pick of a pseudonym, not one wanted in. We are still looking.

  • Ajita, I didn’t say those were the reasons for not having ex-Muslim writers here, but nice to know you tried.

    By the way, even after you know the situation, you choose to focus on Hindutva alone? Who’s going to bell the cat that needs to be belled? 🙂

    • It seemed to me that the reasons mentioned were implied as “possible explanations” for the absence of ex-Muslims. Sorry if I misunderstood.

      What makes you think that I focus on Hindutva alone? Your extensive knowledge of my views? Let me ask you in the same vein, why do you choose to focus on rationalist criticism of Hindutva alone? Neither question is meaningful.

  • “What makes you think that I focus on Hindutva alone?”

    Oh, my mistake. I thought that Manoj’s views expressed here were reflective of Nirmukta.

  • I rhetorically ask a stupid question to show how such a question is just as illogical as the one you asked, to which your answer is to pretend that I meant the question in earnest. Either you didn’t read the next line which said “Neither question is meaningful”, or you chose to ignore it so you can answer it and pretend that I am stupid enough to ask such a question.

    We are into “rational and logical thinking”, neither of which I’ve seen any evidence of from you.

  • Good debate on the subject. I would like to debate what is termed as a religion.

    Going by what is followed and practiced a Religion is a set of guidelines propagated by one person in one space and one time. Like Budhha during 500BC period in Nepal and north India, Christ during 0 AD in Jerusalem, Muhammed during 300 AD in Mecca (?). There has been hardly any further revealations, research, updation, revalidation of the doctrines. As because those guidelines were bound by space and time, the guidelines relating to daily lives mostly veered around the space and time they lived. That is why some portion of these doctrines (varying in each) have become outdated and against modern free think and living.

    That way Hinduism (a terminology given by outsiders) is a compilation of the early rituals, thoughts and reseacrch on life philosophy. The earlier vedas gave information on rituals followed whereas the Upanishads and vedantas gave the higher level philosophy. Then came the puranas, epics (history) and other literatures to reach out to the general mass at that time to educate them on the rights and wrongs. However those were meant for the consumption of that time.

    India, being mostly depending on agriculture, had lots of time to spend on this research and that is why the tradition of India had been spiritualism. Even now we have plenty of names who have affected our lives. Take Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, Shankaracharya, Satya Sai, Ramana, Aurobindo, Yogananda so on and so forth. These people have constantly repackaged the basic philosophy with the need to the society at that point of time. Even Budhha, Guru Nanak and Jain deed at those times.

    Luckily in this philosophy the freedom has been given to the individuals regarding where they want to start or what they want to choose. The learned and analytical people having a bit of understanding of life philosophy is not interested in ritualistic life. He may start from gathering higher level knowledge through meditation, guru or books. Or he can start missionary life (even being in family) as a karmayogi. Or he can even provide his own interpretation of the life through his own research and analysis (as the saints mentioned above and others have done).

    Nothing is stopping you to think freely (even if it means questioning anything related to your traditional belief and rituals) as this will make the system better.

    Mind that rituals are the coatings of the house which needs change as the climate and weather changes.

    The house remains intact as that is out of the researches and revalidations though out the history.

    That is the greatness of this belief and way of life and the philosophy which is also called the Sanatan Dharma or the Eternal Knowledge.

  • <>

    Amusing! Islamic appeasement in Kerala has a long history. The supposedly rational Communists carved out a Muslim majority district – Malappuram – in the 1950s, for no other reason than to curry favour with the fundamentalists. For over 20 years now, the practices of Muslims in N.Kerala has been slowly but surely becoming more rigid and backward. Notice the increasing use of hijabs, and even burkhas, the proliferation of mosques, and the consolidation of jihadist groups such as Madhani’s PDP. Besides in Kerala the Muslims and Christians toether outnumber the Hindus. But while Hindus are not permitted to set up their own secular educational institutions, Christians and Muslims are, leading to a mushrooming of evangelical and jihadist freindly schools and colleges.

  • Though the comments seem like an accusation against rationalists, I find myself in agreement with every statement Kanaadaa makes. It is really a sad state of affairs that a very large number of Muslim women are now donning burkha/hijab, which was unheard of in Kerala two decades back.

    I am also mostly in agreement with Kanaadaa’s remark on the formation of Malappuram district, though the explicit rationale of forming the district was the backwardness of the area. However, with the extremely limited political authority a district administration has, in what way this could have helped Muslim fundamentalists?

    Proliferation of mosques also is a fact. But isn’t it also a fact that temples and churches have also been mushrooming across Kerala during the same period?

    – Manoj

  • While I responded to Kanaadaa’s comments, I failed to mention the increasing religiosity seen among a large section Keralaites – not only Muslims, but Hindus and Christians too.

    While Muslim women wearing Burkha is perhaps the most visible sign of this phenomenon, the religiosity shown by other groups also is equally disturbing. Young men wearing sandalwood paste on their forehead while roaming around in public places, married women sporting sindoor to indicate their marital status, celebration of alien festivals such as immersing of Ganesha idol in water bodies, Rakhi, etc were not part of Hindu community two decades back. Among Christians, prayer congregations such as in Pota are the obvious signs of this longing for this increased religious identity.

    And it is wrong to say that the Christians and Muslims taken together outnumber Hindus, if one goes by the last official census. According to Census 2001, the percentage of Hindus in Kerala is 56.20% (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala_ethnic_groups, accessed today).

    Again, what is wrong even if the population of these communities exceeds that of Hindus? I am not asking this as a rhetorical question. Please tell me what precisely is wrong with that? From a liberal point of view it hurts me if any religious faith plays a decisive role in ones life. But tell me, what is the Hindu perspective?

    – manoj

  • Also, people who are supporting this, please give me the name and address of the supposedly good ones in and around Chennai, I will go and if allowed provide you a whole audio transcript.

    • I can’t make head and tail of this comment. Supporting what or whom? Supporing the arguments in my main article? Arguments in my last comment? Supporting Kanaada who commented on my article?

      And, what is this audio transcript about? A rabid speech of a Hindu, Muslim, or Christian fanatic? Or even a secular fanatic!

      – manoj

  • You may be right. One thing, If you criticize Hinduism, there will be no harm to you. Try criticizing others, You can see what happens. Hope you know what happened to a professor in Kerala

    • This is a case of special pleading. There are multiple cases of Hindu violence instigated by those offended when their religion was criticized. There are thousands of examples of people, including us Indians, criticizing Islam and other religious belief systems. Of course modern followers of Islam are more fundamentalist in general that modern followers of Hinduism, but take it easy with the generalizations.

    • I criticize Islam and Christianity as well as Hinduism when I get into a casual debate. Funnily enough Hindus are the ones who get over defensive every time I criticize their religion.

  • Description of a indian atheist: – “i am a indian atheist, i justify criticizing hinduism more becuase i know i will be safe. i fear that i might be be attacked if i criticize islam or christianity. afterall everyone loves their life and me too, hehe”

  • Firstly, apologies, I do realise this article is old but I would like to add my 2c worth to the reasons given.

    1. The problem with statistics is that they are in the eye of the beholder. Yes over 70% Indians are Hindus. However, Hindus numbers grow by birth only, voluntary conversions numbers and ‘statistics’ will show more convert to other religions. So should you not try to address this growth?
    2. Ahhh, so as a ‘Freethinker’ you have decided to rely on familiarity. I suppose freethinking for you does not mean learning new things or familiarising yourselves with the new. Still essentially Hindu are we?
    3. There is a possibility!! sure and it is also possible that your mother is an alien. If you have a quick look at, lets say the Netherlans, you will see that a liberal majority makes no difference. Tell me how this has affected Islam in the Netherlands for the better?
    4. If you still believe you are within the Hindu community you are being dishonest, If you are indeed an athiest then you belong to the Indian community same as Islam, christianity, Jain etc etc, so this argument is hogwash.
    5. Why is this ‘fact’ brutal? How do they really compare to the Indian Mujahideen? come on, as a fellow athiest I find dishonesty in your arguments as the reason why you get asked the question in the first place.

    Anyway, good luck.

    • 1. How does it invalidate the fact that Hindu beliefs and superstitions are the major problem that most of us deal with in India? Also, you’re simply wrong about the numbers. As the article points out, the number is closer to 80%, not 70%.
      2. This is a disingenuous argument. Freethinkers are much more likely to explore and adopt ideas that are new. But in this context, familiarity has to do with expertise and area of interest.
      3. Firstly, the possibility of your ad hominem statement is much lesser than that proposed by the author. Likelihood and degrees of certainty are relevant when trying to ascertain the truth. Secondly, your example is not any more convincing because of its anecdotal nature, and considering that the author is only talking about a possibility, whereas you are asserting as truth, makes you full of it.
      4. Your comment in this point is a perfect example of what the author was trying to convey when he says “In a perfect liberal-secular society, this should not be the case and every criticism, wherever it comes from, would be adjudged on its innate worth.”
      5. The fact is there are plenty of BRUTAL fundamentalist Hindu elements in India, and you are whitewashing them, just like the Muslim moderates try to whitewash Islamic fundamentalism. It is you that is being dishonest, and it is people like you, apologists for a regressive religion that is damaging India, that are asking such questions in their religious fervor.

    • Let’s say there is a garbage dump right next to your house. Keeping that in mind,

      1. The problem with smell is, it is in nose of the breather. Garbage is thrown all over the city, so you will not care at all about the dump next to your house.
      2. Ahhh, as a person who values sanitation, you decided not to rely on proximity. Your expertise is best used at other garbage dumps in the city.
      3. It is categorically impossible that instilling a hygienic ethic will cause someone to take notice of the dump next to your house and remove it.
      4. You are not being dishonest in thinking that the garbage dump is not next to your house and is at some far off place.
      5. The fact that there are drug resistant bacteria in the dump near your house is not important nor is it brutal.
  • criticism of hinduism is welcome,i am also an agnostic.i firmly believe that despite many many shortcomings,worthless rituals & practices,shameless & foolish following of thugs and criminals like asaram etc.,hinduism is the only religion which respects critics like Charvak & Brahaspati etc.we need healthy,constructive and good intentioned critcism,this will cure our society.Hindu fundamentalism & orthodoxy is self destructive,it never harms non hindus,but one shouldn’t overlook the islamic terrorism which is barbaric cruel,primitive & most venomous of all religions.

    • Hindu fundamentalism & orthodoxy is self destructive,it never harms non hindus

      Hindu fundamentalism is not that different from any other fundamentalism. It kills indiscriminately. Like how the Sangh Parivar has targeted Muslim and Christian lives. The fact that you ignore such an obvious thing shows where your priorities lie.

    • Vinod,

      I will try put some perspective around some of your comments:

      From my understanding of the history of Vedic/Brahminic medievalism, I cannot agree with the assertion or opinion that Hinduism respected ancient heretics like the Charavaks or Brihaspati. You are surely aware of the fate the greatest heretical religion of the world, Buddhism, in India. A proper study of the evolution and demise of Buddhism in India is necessary to understand the nature and depth of intolerance of ancient and medieval Vedic/Brahminic religion against the threat that Buddhism posed to it.

      Hinduism only absorbed the symbolism of Jaina and Buddhist systems without owning or appreciating their ideals and morals. You will find Mahavir idols in Hindu temples, but never that of Gautama. That by itself speaks volumes of the visceral hatred Hinduism had and has for Buddhism.

      As an agnostic that you claim to be, you should be knowing better than being taken in by the tokenism that today’s Hindu leadership shows towards heretics and Buddhism.

      Is it not unusual that Charvaka works only exist as Purva Paksha in theistic works and not in their original copious form?. And the reason for including them in the Purva Paksha was not to tolerate or respect them, but to demolish and debunk them!.

      What is meant by a healthy, constructive and good intentioned criticism of Hinduism?. You have go beyond mere words and terms and define these in detail. Should we not criticize the idolism of this faith or its many bizzare anthropomorphic gods. Should we not examine and tear down the irrational concepts of Karma, maya, reincarnation and avatara. More importantly should Hinduism not be held responsible for the continuance of casteism?

      There is really no way to examine Hinduism without offending the faithful and injuring their sentiments. You can provide ideas on how we can kid-glove around this task and yet be serious in the task of reforming or better still dismantling Hinduism.

      Since this post was about Hinduism, Islam would not figure in it. But I agree with your views about Islam and its extremely incendiary and inflammatory potential and actual damage from both a cultural and political perspective. As the blog author Manoj pointed out earlier, we dont want Hinduism to end up with the same fate as Islam.

  • @Ranganath,

    What is wrong with the concept of Karma? Isn’t it rational? If something bad is done by you, bad WILL happen to you. If something good is done by you, good will happen to you. Is there any kind of fanaticism or irrationalism there?

  • This is a nonsensical argument. Hinduism is not without it’s faults. Not by a long shot. But in NO WAY does it deserve MORE criticism than Islam, Christianity or Judaism.

    The reasons put forth in this article are not logical at all:

    The very first reason that comes to my mind is a question of statistics. More than 80% of the Indian population is Hindu. Naturally, more than 80% of our criticism would also be directed against the belief system of Hindus.

    That logic would only work if you assume that every religion has an equal amount of notions that is wrong/unethical/inhuman, etc. If religion A has 80 out of 100 followers but only has 5 harmful or undemocratic ideas or norms as compared to religion B’s 20, then objectively, religion B will always deserve more criticism.

    Second is my familiarity with the religion I was born into. I am more familiar with the beliefs, tenets, rituals, and practices of Hinduism than that of any other religion, and hence I am more confident in criticizing it.

    That’s simply the effect of the Proximity Principle. It’s not an unbiased, logical reason why one should criticize Hinduism more. It may be the reason why people criticize their own religions more than others but this is not specific to Hinduism in any way.

    Third, there is a possibility that the liberalization or secularization of the religion of the majority in a country has a positive impact on the religion of the minority itself.

    Possibly. But one could argue that such a non-inclusive program is, by definition, not secular and has the potential to only increase socio-economic gaps between religious groups.

    Fourth, the criticism coming from within a community is much more effective than those coming from people outside the fold.

    This is the only valid argument I could find.

    The fifth and most important reason is the brutal fact that the Hindu fundamentalist forces (RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini, etc) have been on the rise since the late 1970s.

    So has Muslim fundamentalism. And a lot of remarks made under this point is off the mark.

    There is a lot to criticize Hinduism over. And I do it all the time. But there’s no logical way to justify why it should be right on top of anyone’s list.

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