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archive: Fundie, and proud of it

Fundie, and proud of it

Varsha Bhosle
Rediff on Net,
October 26, 1999

    Title: Fundie, and proud of it
    Author: Varsha Bhosle 
    Publication: Rediff on Net, 
    Date: October 26, 1999 
    "More than 900 million people are lost in the hopeless darkness of
    Hinduism. Pray that Hindus who celebrate the festival of lights would
    become aware of the darkness in their hearts that no lamp can
    dispel... Mumbai is a city of spiritual darkness. Eight out of every
    10 people are Hindu, slaves bound by fear and tradition to false
    gods... Satan has retained his hold on Calcutta through Kali. It's
    time for Christ's salvation to come to Calcutta." ~ From the Southern
    Baptists International Missionary Board's prayer book. 
    What an illuminating period the run-up to this Diwali has been. Now
    that, the omigawd, The Washington Post itself has published the
    Southern Baptists' guidelines aimed at converting Hindus to
    Christianity and called it "an aggressive new proselytising campaign"
    to boot, perhaps, Indian secularists will see in its proper
    perspective what we fundies have been fretting over all along. Even
    so, I know it's too much to ask of the great and the good; from a type
    whose very aim seems to be to "de-Hinduise" Hindustan, this latest
    Christian crusade will provoke no more than, "So what." 
    The Post story was broken by Hanna Rosin -- a Jewish name, if I'm not
    mistaken -- and follows nation-wide Jewish wrath at the Southern
    Baptists' distribution of pamphlets urging its members to evangelise
    Jews during their 10 holy days of Rosh Hashana last month. I can
    guarantee that there would have been no such taking note of the
    Christian battle against Hinduism -- if there had been none against
    Judaism... Furthermore, Rosin writes, "Compared with the Jewish guide,
    this one uses far less tactful tones to describe Hindus." Now why
    doesn't that surprise me? The goddamn Americans know the ground
    realities in India: With all our secular energies directed against
    those who seek to protect the religion of this land, Christians need
    not worry about how much offence they cause to how many millions.
    After all, Hindus are hardly a lobby to respect!  
    One illustration of Hindu self-esteem: According to the venerable
    Times of India, the Southern Baptists' calling Mumbaikars "slaves
    bound by fear and tradition to false gods" -- ie, Hindu gods -- and
    their equating Bengal's Kali Ma to Satan, is merely "eccentric." This,
    from the newspaper which Hindus have made the country's most widely
    circulated... Can't remember what this defender of the freedom of
    expression had said about the ban on Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses.
    Muslims, you see, are A Lobby. And Hinduism isn't a religion, anyway. 
    The Southern Baptists are NOT a fringe group. Established in 1845,
    this subgroup of Baptists claims a following of more than 15 million
    in the United States alone and is its second-largest religious
    denomination. They sponsor about 5,000 missionaries serving the US,
    Canada, Guam and the Caribbean, in addition to over 4,000 foreign
    missionaries in 126 nations around the world. They also count
    President Bill Clinton, from the southern state of Arkansas, among
    their followers... Secondly, Baptists form one of the largest
    Protestant bodies, to be found in every continent. Meaning, Hinduism
    is targeted not just by Roman Catholics -- another crew which
    proclaims that Diwali is based on "an ancient mythology" and won't
    take Hindu scriptures as such. What's it about Diwali that so frazzles
    these dweebs...?  
    At which point, I'd like to shove aside these abhorable
    particularities and reveal my fundie soul to you. Over the last three
    weeks, my mailbox has been swamped by messages and articles concerning
    the Dharm Jagaran Yatra; the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's call for a Papal
    apology; the Bajrang Dal's demands to the Vatican; the responses from
    various men of the cloth; the Communist Party of India-Marxist's order
    that Atalji "take immediate steps to curb the anti-Christian
    propaganda" etc. I'd scan all, file them away -- and return to the
    Catholic widow who gave my Indian self-image such a bloody fright... 
    Truth: I am not at all provoked by how Christians, or Muslims,
    perceive or project Hinduism. My personal reaction to the non-Hindu's
    trifling with my persuasion has always been along the lines of: How
    ludicrous, but what else can one expect from ignorant, bachcha creeds?
    If you notice, I didn't even allude to those Great Insults that shook
    Non-Resident Indians -- Madonna's video and the shlok in Kubrick's
    Eyes Wide Shut. I tend to take heed when secularists and non-Hindus
    gang up and make a religious issue into a political stick with which
    to beat the Sangh Parivar. Above all, I am a political animal, and I
    became one mainly because certain rotters refused to even consider the
    Uniform Civil Code.  
    >From my anger over the UCC, support for Ram Janmabhoomi was a hop
    away. Even so, it's not a religious issue for me. Eh...? Well, like
    all Hindus, I was taught that God is one but his avatars are many; my
    mother took us to Ajmer Sharief and Mount Mary with as much enthusiasm
    as to Saptashrungi. Later, when I reached the awkward age,
    Buddha-like, I mused: there's so much sorrow in the world, ergo God is
    a myth. And so I embraced Marxism -- which creed quickly reveals its
    "internal contradictions" to those with a modicum of intellect, and
    even as a teen, I had plenty. Next, the search for an identity began
    and it led me to review sanskars and examine Hinduism. Result: Wow!
    What laissez-faire! What a studied, practical and guilt-free
    foundation to live life! What a fabulous way to look at all the
    peoples of the world! I can be anything I want! I'm my own master! And
    so on... 
    I became a diehard Hindu. However, I'd be lying if I say that I
    believe in Parmeshwar. There were some damn great human beings who
    became idols and ideals to follow -- is how I see religion. As for our
    scriptures, they are so darn scientific that they couldn't possibly
    have risen from mere faith. For faith is blind. And Hinduism is
    anything but blind. And so I developed an arrogance about my religion.
    Next thing, I wanted to protect *my* way of life as based on my
    religion. Naturally, Hindutva -- the political shield of Hinduism -
    soon entered the picture. And here came a major block -- diehard
    Hindus themselves... 
    I cannot, do not and will not accept all the views of the Sangh
    Parivar, since too many of those have little to do with Hinduism as I
    understand it. And so we fight, bitterly at times. And so I fight with
    even dear Rajeev, who's so "acceptable," so non-offensive -- and so
    much more entitled to the tag "fundamentalist" than I. You see, Raj
    believes in God and quickly takes offence by a shlok stuck in a movie.
    I don't. I believe in Hinduism. Go figure. 
    It took me a long time to resolve how to deal with the VHP and with
    Raj. The crux was this: Vis-...-vis Hindutva, are they my enemies or
    friends...? For they do threaten my lifestyle and beliefs, and often
    annoy the shucks out of me. Right, I was doing exactly what every
    fundamentalist does -- expecting others to stay within my personal
    belief system. Because I don't believe in God, I sneered at the
    temple-going Raj and scoffed at the saffron-clad MPs in Parliament...
    Right, I was behaving exactly contrary to whatever I'd absorbed from
    the Gita... 
    The point is, no one is ever hundred percent correct: Not I, not the
    Pope, not Atalji, not Rajjubhaiya, not Mao, not Bukhari -- and
    certainly not the media. Which brought me to a shattering realisation:
    NO ONE is ever hundred percent dispensable: Not the pinkos, not the
    secularists, not the minorities commission, not the human rights
    activists -- and certainly not the media. All these arms of
    socio-political life are *essential* to act as checks and balances on
    the others: If I, a fundie, want Hussain's Saraswati to be exhibited,
    I should be able to enlist Communalism Combat to wage such a war... A
    strong opposition is required to keep a democracy healthy. And
    Hinduism is democratic -- which is why there always will be dissension
    among Hindutvawadi entities. We're very unlike Communists and
    Congresswallahs, you see. 
    Which brought me to another realisation: Right from the dawn of free
    India to date, the Congress and the Left have systematically tried
    everything to snuffle out ALL opposition to their schemes. The
    Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, falsely accused of instigating and
    abetting the execution of Gandhiji banned. The Hindu Mahasabha --
    banned. The VHP -- banned. The BJP -- untouchable. The "secular"
    establishment's hunger for power-brokering has reached such a stage
    that Sikhism is touted as a swayambhu religion, as are Buddhism and
    Jainism; tribals are being persuaded that they are "animists"; and
    Dalits are told that unless they form a common platform with Muslims,
    Brahmins will keep them enslaved... All in all: Hinduism is evil, and
    the rest of you must dissociate yourselves from it. 
    The story of post-Independence India is the story of Propaganda -- set
    to serve the "secular" establishment -- and this is the numero uno
    reason why there is religious and caste strife in this country.
    However, any group that is repressed, springs up with a vengeance, and
    the voice of the disgruntled Hindu had always been stifled. Which now
    explains the rising graph of the BJP's fortunes... 
    With that, I come to the atrocities against Christians and the rape of
    nuns and the murders of foreign missionaries and the Pope's visit and
    the VHP's agitation against evangelists and their conversion
    activities... There is a part of me that ridicules our silly obsession
    with religion. But, a larger part is occupied by the Hindu vigilante,
    one who FULLY supports the VHP and the Bajrang Dal in their aversion
    -- yes, forget the euphemisms, I detest anybody who seeks to make less
    powerful my community -- to Christian propagandists. 
    Look at it this way: If past governments had heeded the fears of
    reactionary Hindus and implemented measures to safeguard the
    Constitution -- which forbids conversion through allurement and force
    -- would there have been a Graham Staines? Why wasn't the Orissa
    Freedom of Religions Act, 1967, under which missionaries have to
    inform the authorities of their conversion efforts, strictly enforced?
    Orissa's Director General of Police, Dilip Mahapatra, has said that he
    had received a "number of complaints and evidence" that Arul Doss was
    involved in "illegal conversions." What was the Congress state
    government doing...? 
    Today, because there is a VHP, the media, even if to mock and
    criticise it, publicises its demands and thus propagates its line of
    thought. The VHP is a foil, a check, a balance to all those for whom
    it is profitable to make Hindus an impotent political group. The Sangh
    Parivar -- until such a time that another national Hindu organisation
    emerges -- is just as cardinal for Hindus' future in this country as
    is the Supreme Court for litigants. It would be extremely asinine,
    arrogant and self-defeating of me to deny the VHP its plaudits just
    because I do not accept some of their madcap schemes. I solve my
    duvidha in mixed metaphors: I will fight the madcap battle when I get
    to that bridge. But as of now: Rah, rah, VHP! 
    We're witnessing the results of the changes in the demography of the
    Northeast, in Bengal, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur... Like Raj says: "The
    meek don't inherit the earth, they get sent to concentration camps.
    Hindus need to learn to push back and fuss." So sue me, but when the
    end is the preservation of Hinduism in its homeland, ALL means stand
    justified. Bajrang Dal, rah, rah!

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