What do Arundhati Roy and Justice Saldhana have in common ?

published on February 18, 2011

Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

Both set up a straw man, and then try to demolish it !  What or who is this straw man ?

Arundhati Roy in her  ramblings on Naxalism, social justice etc. uses the phrase the
‘Brahmanic Hindu state’ to vent her anger against the Indian state. Justice Michael F. Saldhana  speaks about a mythical Brahmanic dominance of Hindu society. Both are Roman Catholics and they are often joined by deracinated Hindus who either are ignorant or deliberately feign ignorance about the origin, structures, religious and cultural practices of the Hindus.

Roy, ofcourse, vitiates her criticism of the corporate exploitation of the tribals by her lunatic comments about the Brahmanic Hindu state. True, the majority population in India is Hindu but it is hardly the fault of these citizens ! And a good percentage of these Hindus occupy important positions in government and in the various professions. An increasing majority of these Hindus belong to the OBC (Other Backward Castes). Narendra Modi ,Chief Minister of Gujarat, is one outstanding example. Mayavati, the female Chief Minister of the largest Indian state, Uttar Pradesh, is from the Dalit segment of Hindu society (formerly the Untouchables).

While throughout Indian history there have been Brahmins who held prestigious posts such as advisors to rulers, or who have become wealthy, these were always in the minority. The majority were simply of the priestly varna/jati. And today, they are important for religious functions. They perform the age old rituals which are a part and parcel of Hindu society since time immemorial, since the time of the Vedas, when there were different groups of individuals who were called upon to perform the Vedic rites.

Today, many Brahmins are actually poor and one hears of them performing the menial tasks in cities such as the cleaning of toilets. And in the rural areas they are not the wealthy segments of society.

Justice Saldhana is peeved because the Somashekara Commission in Karnataka did not find any government involvement in the localized attack on churches in Karnataka. Nor was the Sangh Parivar (the favourite whipping boy of the liberals and Digvijay Singh and his protégé Rahul Gandhi)involved. The destruction of church property was undertaken by individuals who were outraged by the activities of evangelical Christian groups who had put out scurrilous literature denigrading Hindu gods and goddesses and ridiculing and abusing Hinduism.

In his criticism Justice Saldhana ironically points out that impartial inquiry reports cannot emanate from government appointed commissions, and the BJP government in Karnataka is a ‘Hindu’ nationalist party ! The reader should note that Saldhana is the President of the Catholic Association of South Kanara. Presuambly, his commission of inquiry would be neutral and impartial !

Saldhana’s own partisanship and bias is evident in his refusal to accept the Commission’s report. He is a Roman Catholic for whom anything ‘Hindu’ is an object of suspicion and his hatred, so it seems. Witness the straw man he sets up :

“ Brahmins . . . . . have played a leading role in Karnataka’s Hindutva movement.This is unsurprising, as Hindu nationalism is driven primarily by Brahmins desperate to preserve caste privilege. As those at the very top of the Hindu caste system, powerful Brahmins have the most to lose from any spread of Christian egalitarianism. So they are compelled to fight Christianity – unless ofcourse the Holy Spirit transforms and humbles their hearts.” (Quoted in ‘The untold facts about “Harsher Report” on the attacks on churches’ Haindava Keralam , 16/02/2011).

One wonders what ‘Christian egalitarianism’ the gentleman is talking about. Did he mean conquest, war and violence ? Did he mean the separate pews for converted Dalits in Christian churches ? Did he mean the separate corners in which Dalits are buried in ‘Christian’ graveyards ? The present writer has talked to Dalits who have become disenchanted with their new religion and have returned to their ancestral religion.

Indian Catholics (belonging to the Roman Catholic Church) are not anti patriotic in general and many quietly practise their religion in a country noted for its religious tolerance. During the recent conflagration in Egypt, some Muslim students were asked about how they felt in living as Muslims in India, and all agreed that this was a good experience. The most articulate of them said the following: I feel blessed, in no other country is there peace and democracy and educational opportunities for Muslims as in India. A view echoed by the noted journalist M.J.Akbar ( himself a Muslim) who had famously said in one of his blogsites that in the whole world, in India alone have Muslims enjoyed uninterrupted democracy in the last 60 years !

Needless to say, this state of affairs has been threatened by the intensification of the assault on Bharat by the two proselytizing faiths : Islam and Christianity.

The Islamic angle is a case in itself. But the Christian assault takes place because of the overwhelming sponsorship of Christian groups and organizations emanating from the West. Since independence they have conspired to balkanize the country so that the Christian faith can spread unquestioned and unopposed. It also helps that real political power is in the hands of an Italian Roman Catholic, quite indifferent to Hindu India, and is said to be behind much of the discrimination practiced against Hindu religious centres and institutions.

Hence, people like Saldhana spread various canards, the leading one of which is that of a dominant Brahmanic Hinduism. This is a deliberate misrepresentation since Hinduism is what it is: a way of life in which the population can cherry pick and choose their religious texts and beliefs, without any single pope or head of church or any one text which would be their Bible par excellence.

That Hindu rituals are conducted by a segment of the population since Vedic times is nothing that Hindus themselves are ashamed of or which they reject.

And heaven help this tolerant population from the wiles and machinations of the proselytizing faiths ! And thank heavens for that segment of the Hindu population which has preserved the great texts of Hinduism starting with the Vedas, through thick and thin and down the centuries, through every invasion, through every brutality of the invaders, through the cruelties of the infamous Goa Inquisition of the 16 century ! And who have preserved in various ways the great epics written by non Brahmins, such as the Ramayana, written by Valmiki (OBC, a hunter ) and Mahabharat (Vyasa, the fisherman’s jati). Hindus do not want to burn their epics, but hate filled individuals such as the individual who calls himself Pathmaraja Nagalingam (of Navya Shastra fame) would like to.

Hindus have no problems with  the so called ‘Brahmanic’ state (so hated by Arundhati Roy) or the ‘Brahmanic’ Hindutva so hated by Justice Saldhana ! It is easy to see why both would like to see the demise of Hinduism. The fact that it is not going to happen does not deter them as they continue to spread the poison of their communalism. It merely lengthens their own frustration and deluded mind sets. And it helps them in holding on to their ill gotten gains in the very country that they despise. Most importantly, it attempts to hold back the sterling work done by Hindus to bring about social justice in their communities, and which Roy et al pretend to work for.

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university)

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