Pseudoscience & Religion

The Inanity of Love Jihad

Once more he stept into the street,
And to his lips again
Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane;
And ere he blew three notes (such sweet
Soft notes as yet musician’s cunning
Never gave the enraptured air)
There was a rustling that seemed like a bustling
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling,
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering,
And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering,
Out came the children running.
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.
Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood
As if they were changed into blocks of wood,
Unable to move a step, or cry
To the children merrily skipping by,

Thus goes the tale of The Pied Piper of Hamelin where a cunning piper is said to have ‘whisked’ away countless children from their city. The Indian right wingers will have us believe that this is exactly what is happening in our society, and they call it ‘Love Jihad’. That a planned and co-ordinated effort, a shadowy conspiracy by Indian Muslims to ‘lure’ away innocent, vulnerable Hindu women and subsequently forcibly convert them out of their religion is underway. And that it is up to morally rich organizations such as VHP, Sangh Parivar, the RSS and other related groups to save the day!

A Love JIhad Poster

A Love Jihad poster exhorting ‘Hindu Brothers’ to protect Hindu women from Muslim men.

The people representing such groups accuse with much anger that these Muslims are engaging in such ‘woo’ing behaviour to slowly and steadily decrease the population share of Hindus (& Christians) and increase the population of Muslims using the women from the other communities. The rumour mills rant that these Muslim youth are funded with money to buy motorbikes, mobiles etc. to lure non-muslim girls. Obviously women fall for men who own motorbikes and mobiles!

This controversy that has grabbed Uttar Pradesh by its neck actually had its origins from a surprising state, Kerala. The current confusion in Uttar Pradesh is merely a repainted version of the smelly remains of a propaganda campaign in Kerala, and later in Karnataka. In Kerala, the chief minister of the state Oommen Chandy conceded in the state assembly in 2012 that 2667 women were converted into Islam in the state since 2006. The government later said there was no sign of an organised effort for forced conversions or “love jihad”. The propaganda later gained momentum with the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council too making similar accusations. Soon other right wing Christian and Hindu organizations followed suit.

When parents of two girls complained that their daughters were ‘cheated into Islam’, The Kerala High court in 2009 asked the state Government to look into the issue. The government investigated and told the court that although there were complaints of “love jihad”, there was no evidence to back such an allegation.

A similar request was sent by the Karnataka high court to the state government the same year, and the police in Karnataka too had a similar result to announce from their investigations.

Unlike Kerala though, the overwhelming lack of evidence did not deter the accusers in Karnataka. Karnataka’s Deputy Chief Minister KS Eshwarappa used the term on his campaign during the election campaign in 2013.

The controversy over Love Jihad is rather surprising as the rhetoric over the entire allegation sounds rather silly. To imagine that there is a planned conspiracy of Madrassas distributing mobile phones and bikes to Muslim youth to woo Hindu women is not just ridiculous, but an highly impractical and inefficient way to go about the imaginary oppression of Hindus. Yet this theory is spread by numerous RSS/VHP/Sangh Parivar based organizations. One of them, Dharma Jagran Manch, even went to the extent of running a campaign of tying Rakhis and pleading to Hindu Girls to ensure that they do not fall into the ‘traps’ of Muslim youth.

The campaign though baseless, and clearly pushed for political and communal agendas, can only result in the creation or propagation of numerous problems. It starts with the clear and definitive widening of the distance between the two religious groups. And the right wing groups merely keep adding fuel to the fire. For example, according to DNA, the local BJP group tried to spin a love jihad story into a relationship in Faizabad and violence immediately broke out. The total list of violent altercations over such imaginary issues is well into double digits.

The well-known Muzaffarnagar riots are supposed to have started with a cross-religious incident of sexual harassment. The number of people who died or where left injured and homeless is far too appalling. And now, this rhetoric has the capability to create a statewide Muzaffarnagar like incident.

This mass paranoia can result in large scale vigilantism where people can actively intervene in any interreligious marriage. When these extremist groups keep asserting that they are not against real relationships but only Love Jihad incidents, who will segregate the two? And on what basis? And they keep insisting that only conversions are targeted. The Special Marriage Act, 1954 stipulates a condition that the names of the couples who expect to get married under the act must be displayed in their official notice boards for a month to ask for objections. But when this objection is never sought in respect of marriages between people belonging to the same religion, there is a clear incentive to convert to a common religion. Because the display of names for a month can mean that vigilantes have sufficient time to look up names and personally harass the couples to be.

A far larger implication of Love Jihad is a direct and appalling subversion of women’s autonomy and freedom. It challenges the notion that women are capable of reason and decision. It leaves to sword wielding saffron terrorists, the right that women should have over their personal lives. There is certainly never an allegation that Muslim women are luring Hindu men. This is because women are always assumed to be the target of ‘luring’ and assumed to be incapable of rational decision. This is simply yet another tool that would result in larger and stricter restriction on women’s rights. In a society which assumes that arranged marriages are normal and marriage out of love is an appalling level of transgression of women on their rights, the idea that women can choose people from other religions is simply too much for them to bear.

And the attack on other religions seems rather intriguing coming from the RSS, whose chief Mohan Bhagwat in a speech vehemently argued this:

All those who live here in Hindusthan are Hindus. Our style of worshipping may differ, some may not even worship at all, we may speak different languages, we may belong to various parts of this land, our eating habits may differ, yet we all are ONE. We are one nation. We are Hindus. Just as those who stay in England are English, those who stay in Germany are German, and those in US are Americans, all those who stay in Hindusthan are Hindus. It is a such a simple thing to understand. Hindutva is our nationality.

Yet, the same person, a few days later says that “Girls of the coming generation should be told the meaning of ‘Love Jihad’ and the ways to save themselves from their traps”. If all Indians are Hindus, then how can Muslims (who are also Hindus according to Dr. Mohan Bhagwat) engage in Love Jihad? Even if they do convert, wouldn’t they still count as Hindu according to him?

And the September edition of Panchajanya, the mouthpiece of RSS asserts similar accusations of Love Jihad and even goes to the extent of calling Muslims as non-humans and chimpanzee like.

So what would these extremist groups suggest as a solution to this imaginary menace? Apart from their vigilantism, would they push for legislation prohibiting inter-religious marriages? Legally, the constitution would certainly not allow any legislation that seeks to stop inter religious marriages. Yet such attempts gives us a stark reminder of the last time the same was attempted in recent history. Anti-miscegenation laws have been enforced worldwide in different countries on different basis for the better part of the last millennia. The last of this series of laws to be enacted on a large scale based on religious groups were the enactment of Nuremberg Laws enacted by Nazi Germany. The anti-jewish laws that were enacted by the Nazi government that ultimately ended with the holocaust started with “The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour”. Its very first section starts with the lines “Marriages between Jews and citizens of German or kindred blood are forbidden. Marriages concluded in defiance of this law are void, even if, for the purpose of evading this law, they were concluded abroad.” They were attempting to establish German purity. Other Middle Eastern and fundamentally regressive countries have such minor restrictions on marriages too till date. It is my hope that India too will not run for Hindu racial purity.

About the author

Soorya Sriram

31 Comments

  • “Police investigations in the case of disappearance of a 14-year-old dalit girl with a boy named Pardeep Kumar from Bihar last year, which has now been labeled as a case of ‘Love Jihad’ by the BJP leaders, have revealed that the boy actually belonged to a Brahmin family.”

    Source.

  • “Love Jihad” is just a humbug created by Muslimophobes hindus .

    Nevertheless we see that in order to to solemnise Muslim – non Muslim marriages (esp. in lower middle classes/lower classes) non-Muslim spouses convert to Islam ,is comparatively more than vice versa .There is rather a sociological explanation about this , than any Love Jihad. Islam is the world’s most well organised & systematic religion while Hinduism remains the most divided & haphazard religion (Just a group of pagan faiths that have outlived ).This is due to increasing dilution of religious identity among all non-Muslims as against the comparatively “stronger sense of Religious identity” among many fellow muslims.
    As Christanity became visible in India , it was the most progressive religion , seeing this Anglophone Bengali Brahmins out of shame started Hindu-reforms that ultimately culminated in Anti-Religion movements but on the contrary reforms among muslims were lukewarm & there was lack of anti-Religious agitations by Left-leaning upper middle class muslims . Even when Prof DD Kosambi exposed the flaws of Hinduism , Prof Mohammad Habib wrote mostly in defence of Islam. Muslim Reformers like Sir Syed ,Iqbal & later Jinnah (& so on) focussed on Modernisation of certain aspects of Muslim society but were defensive about the Identity aspect .In India this was valid to a certain extent due to muslims being minorities but sadly it also continued in Pakistan ,even after partition.
    For eg. Jinnah was not an orthodox man yet while he got his Parsee wife converted to Islam , he was vehemently opposed to his daughter Dina Wadia’s marriage (& subsequent conversion) to Zoroastrainism. Despite this fact many liberal muslims hail him as a secular man of the ilk of Nehru or Ambedkar .
    Even if all Hindutvavadis are physically obliterated , this lack of concurrence in Hindu & Muslim Reforms will always be an Achilles Heel for Indian Secularism. Its paradoxical reinforcement by Progressives of Hindu backgrnd (eg. Nehru) is mentioned by MJ Akbar in the following :

    http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/thesiegewithin/hear-it-indian-secularism-is-both-enduring-audible/

    CONCLUSION :
    It is high time that Hindu & Muslim Reform movements are integrated together to create common secular laws for all Indians & encourage common progressive ethics for all (at least those of middle classes) pushing religious identity to lesser relevance as compared to ethnic , national etc (like in East Asia). After all one cannot have different rules for Hindu Jats ,Rajputs ,Dalits on one hand & Muslim Jats,Rajputs ,Dalits on the other.
    Who would take the initiative , how would they achieve it & after how many generations more ? Those are vital questions

    • eddy,

      Uniform Civil Code seems like a no-brainer to secular-minded individuals. I have always been surprised at why Indian leftists are not on board for it despite the fact that the cause is championed most strongly by the Indian Right. I used to think it was cowardice. How wrong I was

      This set me straight:

      http://kafila.org/2014/10/01/uniform-civil-code-state-of-the-debate-in-2014/

      Nivedita Menon argues against the need for “uniformity,” as uniformity often just means adhering to the norms of the dominant community. She also fights against the assumption that Muslim men are polygamists and that the secular Hindu code created by people like Ambedkar is necessarily better than the Muslim code.

      About uniformity: “Within a framework of abstract citizenship, in other words, it becomes possible to claim that it is ‘communal’ to raise the issue of (minority) religious identity, and ‘casteist’ to assert (‘lower’) caste identity – while the norm is assumed to be the dominant community and caste.”

      • ###Nivedita Menon argues against the need for “uniformity,” as uniformity often just means adhering to the norms of the dominant community. ####
        I have already mentioned that the uniform laws should be made through debate. On further clarification ,right , minority argument must be given weightage .If you also want then apply Muslim laws even for non-muslims—- nothing wrong in that ,is it.

        But why Uniform laws for non-muslims & different laws for muslims. If no “Secular laws” can be made that can be uniformly applied to all Indians since many Left-leaning Muslims have not come to the stage that they can reject Shariah as we reject Manusmriti, then apply Muslim-origin laws for all—nothing wrong in that. After all religion is no permanent identity; people have hopped from one religion to another. And also we are here talking about inter-religious marriages & yet we do not want to fight for Common Laws.

      • Also from the article is that both Hindu and Muslim rates of bigamy/polygamy are around 6%, with the Muslim rate slightly lower. And since there are more Hindus than Muslims, it means that Hindus account for the bulk of bigamy/polygamy!

        The Muslim conception of marriage as a contract has also helped many women in divorce cases.

    • On the flip side, there is a tendency to homogenize Indian Islam. Ever heard of the pirs and their devotees? Indian Islam is also “divided” and “haphazard.”

      • **Indian Islam is also “divided” and “haphazard.”**

        That points to the fact the Islam (Not just the Indian version but from other parts of the world as well) is very diverse much like Hinduism and other religions.

        • Which is why I posted that fact,. No one is saying that diversity is sufficient to dismiss claims of a religion being unitary.

          Please re-read the preview from Ambedkar. His full essay is online. There is no Hinduism. Only Brahmanism. And Brahmanism belongs to the upper castes who are not a majority. Hbrahmanism is the hegemonic religion, not the majoritarian one. Also note that Brahmanisms unity comes from the colonial period. Before, vaishnavas and shaivas were at each other’s throats.

          Or you can say that Hinduism is a coherent entity. And then you will have to agree with the hindutvawaadis and other Hindus who praise it for its innate tolerance and diversity.

      • Even devotees of the pirs, everehere. My own family is. During Childhood I had stammering problem , & my mother (a quasi-religious Hindu ,Doctor in Philosophy) took me to the nearby dargah at Agra. When I completed my boards , she took me to another dargah which her father often took her too.

        In my entire comment , where did I challenge Islam’s diversity ,I am really puzzled . I just called it Organised i.e.all diverse sects united by a common person- Muhammad ,all revering a common scripture -Quran & believing in Ummah.

    • **Hinduism is also quite organized. Denying that maybe a result of Hindu privilege. We tend to notice the flaws of the others more easily than we do in our own.**

      It is amazing how one tends to look at ones own culture as diverse but view the other’s culture as a monolith. That (Hinduism unlike Islam is diverse and undefinable) has been the only theme in all the comments this Eddy character has been posting under various comment threads. This is completely idiotic.

      • Well in his defence, Hinduism is undefinable. Ambedkar ponders this in his Riddles.

        India is a conjeries of communities. There are in it Parsis, Christians, Mohammedans and Hindus. The basis of these communities is not racial. It is of course religious. This is a superficial view. What is interesting to know is why is a Parsi a Parsi and why is a Christian a Christian, why is a Muslim a Muslim and why is a Hindu a Hindu? With regard to the Parsi, the Christian and the Muslim it is smooth sailing. Ask a Parsi why he calls himself a Parsi he will have no difficulty …i because he is a follower of Zoraster. Ask the same question to a Christian. Now ask the same question to a Hindu and there is no doubt that he will be completely bewildered and would not know what to say.

        There’s really no such thing as “Hinduism,” that is a modern invention. There is something called Brahmanism, but so-called lower castes are not part of that. Hinduism is thus not a majoritarian religion. We also have to realize that the upper castes have unprecedented access to their scriptures now: Vedas, Upanishads, etc. Vedas before were recited as magical spells, not read as history.

        I think today, Hinduism is a bona fide religion, but in the past ,gods seem to have been more fundamental than overarching systems for people outside of the world of Sanskrit. That’s why Brahmanism could spread. Just convince the local people that their local god needs to be worshipped in the Brahmanical way and let them call their god what they want while you declare him to be a form of Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva.

      • Seriously, I don’t think anybody understood Indian society the way Ambedkar did. Ambedkar just got India, not only with regards to caste, but really, everything else. I wonder how different India would have been had he been Prime Minister and not Nehru.

        • You are the only one who has exemplified my point further , unlike this Captain Mandrake thing.

          I am aware of Islam’s diversity ,even the Indian ones . But there is no denying that Islam is superior in its organisation than anyother religion living.

          • the eddy,

            While I feel we are on the same wavelength in many respects, I don’t agree about Islam’s organisation. There is no material network that Islam possesses that other religions do not. If you are saying that Muhammad unites them, does Jesus not unite the Christians, Moses the Jews, Vishnu the Vaishnavas?

      • ###(Hinduism unlike Islam is diverse and undefinable) ####

        I never said that You are putting words into my mouth for creating a retort. My all comments on Indian Islam here or on FTB have pointed to the diversity of our Muslim brethren (caste , ethnic or sect). In fact I have also opposed the term “Muslim Invader” as a misnomer on one of the threads , if you read me carefully. Satish Chandra equated my usage of “Organised” to “a flaw” or “monolithic” ,you in fact went to the extent of calling me a “Hindu Supremacist”.

        “Hinduism”- the religion is not just diverse , but also infact of recent origin created by Raja Rammohun Roy (an Anglophone Brahmin) & Monier Williams.You would know that if you prefer to read “Romila Thapar over Meera Nanda” , “Debi Prasad chattopadhyay or D N Jha over Prabhakar Kamath” , “Dipankar Gupta or MN Srinivas over Ambedkar”— i.e. the research of professional historians & sociologists over the opinion of amateur ones.Only then can Sanskritisation & thus also hindutva be stopped.

        • “Romila Thapar over Meera Nanda” , “Debi Prasad chattopadhyay or D N Jha over Prabhakar Kamath” , “Dipankar Gupta or MN Srinivas over Ambedkar”

          I don’t think there’s a competition, we can read all of them. Meera Nanda’s “God Market” is a welcome appraisal of how Hinduism in contemporary India operates. M.N. Srinivas is a legend, but Dipankar Gupta, despite being a scholar, also thinks that caste identities can stay since caste is about “culture.” You can probably tell by my posts that I really like Ambedkar– he anticipated Srinivas’s concept of “Sanskritization” in the 1920s! Ambedkar might be outdated in some respects, which is to be expected, but his insights are very valuable even today.

          • ###Meera Nanda’s “God Market” is a welcome appraisal of how Hinduism in contemporary India operates.###

            Iam sure you meant what is sometimes given the misnomer “neo-Hinduism” , which is on a rise among middle class-ISKON being the ugliest of them

            ###Ambedkar might be outdated in some respects, which is to be expected, but his insights are very valuable even today.###
            Indeed he was one of the greatest visionaries of previous century ,but when dealing with subjects of History of Philosophy(DC Chattopadhyay) ,other histories & sociologies ,it is better to prioritize the professionals.

    • ###Hinduism is also quite organized. Denying that maybe a result of Hindu privilege.###

      The only Hinduism that is organised can be classified into :a) neo-Hinduism which consists of ISKON ,Arya Samaj,that Mahesh Yogi thing,Brahmakumaris , Ramakrishna Mission. b)The other ones are the Brahminist religions : Smarta (headed by these Shankaracharyas) ,Shaiv Siddhanta of tamil nadu etc.

      But the majority of Hindus (the non-middle-class) belong to those rural folk-religions that share certain elements of Sanskritisation [at least I am sure about the North & North-west tribes/castes] & also Islamisation [visiting of Dargahs partly points to that].But this results into frequent conning by charlatans. Maybe Dipankar Gupta’ article explains better :http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/indias-godman-syndrome/article6633497.ece

      ###We tend to notice the flaws of the others more easily than we do in our own.###
      Being “organised” is not a flaw , rather it is power & it works both ways. On muslim terrorism , we do see “Moderate muslims” coming out & trying to rebuff it alongwith the “Muslimphobia” that it generates , on the contrary why don’t Moderate Hindus come out against Hindutva .Is “moderate hindu” a misnomer or they simply don’t want to organise despite knowing this would not just harm non-Hindus but also justify Hinduphobia ? (maybe you can enlighten me on that).

      But plz do not deviate & moreover all my comments have also pointed to the diversity of Indian muslims (caste ,sect or ethnic).
      The point is if we want unity we need Common laws & common perspectives —- let them be minority-driven (to expunge fears of majoritarianism) but finally they have to be uniformly applicable to all people.

      • My point is there is more uniformity to Hinduism contrary to what you assert. You can hand wave away Meera Nanda all you want, but as Dr. Richard Carrier points out in the comments section of his review, such hand waving is suspect.

        • This is completely unrelated to the conversation or the article, but I have always wondered as a freethinker what to do about this. Every morning on the way to work in hyderabad, I pass a Maisamma temple. Maisamma is a village goddess honored by the so-called backward classes. I tend not to criticize when people go to Maisamma temples because of caste privilege problems. But lately, many of my Hindu friends are going to worship Maisamma, as are “backward” class friends of mine. I am finding it difficult to critique Maisamma with my Hindu friends without crossing a line with my other friends.

        • With due respect , Meera Nanda in all her articles(at least which I read) deals with neo-Hinduism sects/cults that are rising among middle class, things which I have already classified as “Organised Hinduism” above.

          The rise of these groups , particularly ISKON among middle-class has a lot to do with the rise of capitalism.These families mainly Caste & OBC Hindus are embracing them increasingly ,mainly in search of a more Organised Faith as they leave their former “unorganised” semi-folk semi-feudal Bhakti-Sufi religions (syncretisms of folk Hinduism & folk Islam).The upper middle class ones are ashamed of Brahminism & thus choose neo-Hinduism , while the less educated lower -middle class either chooses neo-Hinduism or Brahminical Bhakti .I have observed that shift even between my father’s generation & my grandfather’s.
          This is bound to increase with Urbanisation & the NRI Hindus are always to be the most ardent votaries of neo-Hinduisms than their Indian counterparts.
          This is in fact consistent with Marx’s theory of Social Evolution which maps Capitalism as a process after Feudalism & prior to Socialism.

          The “unorganised” is being overshadowed by the stronger “organised” ones politically & socially ,but nevertheless still former outnumbers the latter as still India is rural & tribal .
          Nanda’s work only shifted the focus to neo-Hinduisms , while I am talking abt all those who are dubbed as “Hindus”.

          • Eddy,

            “Hindus” for me all Dalits, some OBCs, and adivasis. Living in Hyderabad, I have seen Brahminical bhakti and neo-Hinduism coexist. Take the Shankaracharyas for example. They subscribe to neo-Hinduism and are organized, but they also promote the bhakti cults by sponsoring temples, etc.

            Even abroad, neo-Hindu money is used to sponsor “traditional” Hindu practices, because neo-Hinduism co-opts them.

            This is essentially what Nanda is arguing, in part. She never makes the distinction between “neo” and not, but there is no evidence that traditional Hinduism is declining at all. It in fact ebbs because of neo-Hindus, who rationalize ritual and mythology and many gods away with talk of “saguna,” “nirguna,” or “ritual and myth is needed for masses to understand philosophy.”

    • The Sangh Parivar is often conceived of as a threat to Hindu diversity by both South Indian Hindus and “Hindu” adivasis and dalits, who protest against the suppression of folk culture.

      Similarly, Islam in the subcontinent is being Arabised. The Pakistani writer Mina Malik Hasan has noted that in Pakistan, she has seen the phrase “Khuda Hafiz” be rapidly replaced by “Allah Hafiz.”

      http://kafila.org/2014/09/15/a-short-memoir-on-the-arabisation-of-islam-in-india-shireen-azam/

      • I hop that North Indian Hindus too saw that a threat to their folk & Prakrit cultures — after all Sanskrit was never our mother tongue not even in 2000 yrs or so.
        Islam in Punjab & Kashmir had undergone Persianisation even before this Arabisation started,though it is Punjab’s Prakrit culture that is their ancestral culture.
        I read Dawn & Express tribune mostly daily online alongwith the Hindu to see the Editorial & I see a drift between liberal ideas here & there , & this is dangerous.For eg. While Manusmriti was rejected by all liberal Hindus (religious ones) ,it is quite uncomfortable to see liberal Muslims stuck up with “Good Shariah vs Bad Shariah” debate .Untill they do not overcome , we all our stuck up too [I say that as I share tribe-name & thus ancestory with many of them].
        A reason why I plead that we need common laws & need to create common perspectives among both hindus & muslims in India-at least middle class &also the need to integrate Hindu & Muslim reforms need to be regionally.Also ensure all inter-religious marriages are “secular-ones”.

      • Gopal ,
        We have deviated from the Subject of the Article .Nevertheless, the following is in reference to your last comment:
        a)Though I agree with you mostly but You said that Shankaracharyas subscribe to neo-Hinduism ,rather are not they heads of Smarta- the oldest living Brahminical sect? ( since my knowledge of them is bookish)

        b)I meant “rural folk Bhakti” & “folk adivasi” religions are declining not Brahminical Hinduism.

        c) Hinduism’s recent origin is often credited to Roy ,Vivekananda & Monier Williams by Thapar etc. But the following recent book convincingly challenges that , placing the roots of Hinduism in Vijnanbhikshu-a 17th century Vedantist doxographer & Dara Shikoh.(Iam reading it in bits & pieces ,since the book is expensive):

        Unifying Hinduism by Andrew J Nicholson
        https://books.google.co.in/books?id=LSg0RGmMaTwC&printsec=frontcover&dq=unifying+hinduism+by+andrew+j+nicholson&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6e2bVO21DY7buQSet4DQCQ&ved=0CBsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=astika%20&f=false

        • eddy,

          You’re right. I think we’re mostly in agreement, so further discussion is pointless.

          Regarding the Shankaracharyas, I have read some writings by one of them that smacks of neo-Hinduism. It is called “Hindu Dharma” and it is filled with casteism and misogyny, but also finds place to voice neo-Hindu concerns.

          Neo-Hinduism has percolated very far into the population, Terms like “sanatana dharma,” etc. are all of neo-Hindu origin.

          I am familiar with Nicholson’s book, though I have not read it. I believe he says that Hindu unity was started in the middle ages and not in the 19th century when Vijnanabhikshu created the astika/nastika divide.

          But please see Satish Chandra on Meera Nanda. I agree with him.

  • eddy,

    With due respect , Meera Nanda in all her articles(at least which I read) deals with neo-Hinduism sects/cults that are rising among middle class, things which I have already classified as “Organised Hinduism” above.

    This piece I linked to above says this right in the first para:

    India is on track to become a significant world power within thirty years, and Hindu nationalism is on the rise there, not in decline. There are even well-funded efforts now to spread Hinduism into other countries. Hindu nationalism, Hindu supremacism, Hindu fundamentalism, Hindu terrorism, and Hindu evangelism are terms once thought to be oxymoronic but now are a reality.

    Meera Nanda’s book is about that. So I don’t know from where you got the idea that her writing is all about neo-Hinduism of the middle class.

    • I agree that I wrongly used “neo-Hinduism sects” ,while talking about her work. But then there are limitations in words : neo-Hinduism can still be defined like any religion but usage of “Hinduism” remains vague.

      Though All terms- “Hindu Fundamentalism” etc are urban middle class neo-Hindu phenomenon ;as “Brahminical Fundamentalism” will hardly be endorsed by urban Hindus (which includes OBCs & non-Brahmins) & the “rural/adivasi” religions though backward ,are mostly syncretic .
      In fact urban Hinduism is mostly a shade of neo-Hinduism ,if we extend the term to even Rammohun Roy etc ,& thus its apologetics too.

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