Haridwar conclave rants have put Hindu interests in jeopardy – R. Jagannathan

Dharma Sansad at Haridwar (December 17 and 19, 2021).

R. JagannathanAngry statements cannot substitute for good strategy if the war to defend Hindu interests is to be won. … The sadhus need to retract and do prayaschitta if they want to truly defend Hindu interests. – R. Jagannathan

The Hindu capacity to repeatedly score self-goals when they face existential threats on many fronts is truly staggering. At a time when the nation faces multiple threats, from the Pakistan-China axis of evil to the global academic move to delegitimise Hinduism itself by “dismantling Hindutva”, to aggressive efforts by evangelical and jihadi organisations to speed up religious conversions in India, and with “secular” governments and the judiciary slowly eviscerating Hindu interests, we now have a conclave of sadhus in Haridwar ranting about violence against our minorities. Among other things, videos show them threatening to not just defend Hinduism and their idea of a Hindu Rashtra, but “kill” some in the process. They have called for Hindus to arm themselves.

The Uttarakhand Police has registered a case against those who allegedly made such “hate speeches”, but more than the law taking its own course, the saffron group should ask itself whether it has furthered or hindered the cause of Dharma and the protection of Hindu interests. Has anyone other than those inimical to Hindu interests benefited from their anger-driven, uncontrolled rant?

In many ways, this is Hindutva’s “Godse” moment. A legitimate desire to protect Hindu interests at the time of partition ended up in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Godse’s decision to resort to murder not just delegitimised post-partition Hindu aspirations, but set back any effort to seek equal rights for Hindus.

From then on, Hindus and Hinduism became fair game for all political parties and the judiciary, all in the name of protecting “minorities”. More than Rabindranath Tagore conferring the title of Mahatma on Gandhi, it was Godse’s assassination that converted him into a martyr and sealed this title for him forever.

The truth is extreme pacifism may not be the answer when your core religious and Dharmic interests are at stake. Hinduism does not advocate ahimsa in all situations, and Gandhi himself said that if the only two options before you are cowardice and violence, the latter may be a better option. Gandhi’s non-violence was based on courage, not fear or dhimmitude. But he often did not live up to this claim of non-cowardice, for he could not even bring himself to condemn the Moplah massacres of the 1920s or the killing of Swami Shraddhananda by a Muslim fanatic. By choosing appeasement over speaking the truth in these two instances (among others), Gandhi did not show real courage to speak the truth to Muslim bigots—the courage he demanded from Hindus when confronted with injustice.

But this example is not about Gandhi, but about the need to inform our angry sadhus, who may well have good reason for their anger, that what they did in Haridwar is not going to help Hinduism or Hindus. They have set back the Hindu fight for religious and community rights for god knows how long into the future. They have indelibly etched the image of violent Hindutva in the minds of an already biased mainstream national and international media, and any assertion of Hindu rights in future will be seen with suspicion. It will be deemed to be a fit case for instant rejection by the judiciary or international opinion.

In the US, Hindu organisations like the Hindu American Foundation and Sewa are already being “cancelled” merely for having some members who may be linked to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Now, anything to do with Hinduism will be seen with jaundiced eyes.

The conclave’s organisers would do well to clarify what they really meant in their speeches, and make due amends to set the record straight, if what is being reported in the media is a distortion.

This is not to suggest in anyway that the fears and aspirations of the sadhus were wrong; just that they cannot defeat the very causes they espouse by mindless suggestions of violent conduct.

The rights of Hindus need a careful and long-term commitment to fight for justice on several fronts—the legislature, the judiciary, false media propaganda, caste discrimination, and, most of all, ignorance among the Hindu masses about the true meaning of Dharma. Violent rants cannot help the process when the Hindu masses do not know what all the fuss is about. The sadhus need to retract and do prayaschitta if they want to truly defend Hindu interests. Angry statements cannot substitute for good strategy if the war to defend Hindu interests is to be ultimately won. – Swarajya, Dec. 24, 2021

Jagannathan is a senior journalist and the editorial director of Swarajya.

Dawn News Pakistan