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The term Hindu Terrorism is a Misnomer
08/02/2010
By Ram Puniyani

When many acts of terror by people like Pragya Singh Thakur and Dayanand Pandey etc. are coming to fore the word ‘Hindu terrorism’ is being used by many for such acts of terror. The investigations have shown that these groups, inspired by the ideology of Hindu Rashtra; Hindutva, Sangh Parivar, may have been involved in Malegaon blasts, Mecca Masjid, Ajmer, Goa and even Samjhauta express blast. One recalls that immediately after the blasts many Muslim youth were arrested on the ground that they have been part of the conspiracy. The victims were mostly Muslim in these blasts. The blasts were planned to at times when maximum congregation of people is there, around the time of Namaz etc. The voice of human rights activists that the reckless arrest of innocent Muslim youth must be stopped and real culprits caught hold of, took a long time for being heard as the bias of investigation authorities was too gross to look the other way around.
 
The tide turned with the Malegaon blast investigation when Hemant Karkare could lay his hands on impeccable evidence of involvement of Sadhvi Pragya and Company. Incidentally Hemant Karkare was called Deshdrohi and anti-National by Hindutva leaders. He also got killed on the fateful night of attack on Mumbai on 26/11 2008. The organizations like those associated with Bajrang Dal, Abhinav Bharat and Sanatan Sanstha have been accused of being involved with these acts of terror. At the same time the followers of Hindutva politics are stating that these acts of terror can not be linked to Hinduism as terrorism is the monopoly only of Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). According to some commentators these latter religions are associated with religious terrorism, while there is no history of Hindu terror.
 
As such the common factor of Abrahamic religions is that they derive their lineage from Abraham; believe in single God and single ‘book’. In Abrahamic religions there is a prophet who has brought the message of the almighty God to the human society. In contrast Hinduism does not have such a prophet as it went on evolving over a period of time and adding different traditions under its umbrella, Vedic, post-Vedic, medieval and many contemporary ones. In Hinduism the concept of supernatural power is very diverse, from Animism, to polytheism, Monotheism to even atheism, all can come under the spectrum of Hinduism. This also enables the interpreters to take liberty and present their version as ‘the Hinduism’. In the complex phenomenon of religion there are religious books, religious institutions and religious practices, which need not be precisely the same.
 
Religions have to be interpreted in the context of social situation of the time. There is mention of peace and harmony in most of the religions while one can also pick up the aspects related to violence from their scriptures. This aspect of violence again depends on interpretation. Same text is interpreted in different ways by different commentators. The isolated examples of violence in Abrahamic religions don’t make them preachers of violence and terror, as terror and violence both are the products of social situations, not religious doctrines. Many a times the rulers; kings, cutting across different religions, have used the cover of religion to expand their kingdoms, Crusade; Jihad and Dharmyudh. Surely the wars unleashed by kings cannot be called as religious acts or conforming to religions teachings in any way.
 
As such while on one hand Hinduism will talk of Vasudhaiv Kutumbkan, (Whole World is a single family) on the other there is an in built structural violence in the form of caste system, from Vedas to Manusmriti. Many a Hindu Holy Seers defend caste system even today. In Mahabharata Lord Krishna exhorts the hero, Arjuna, to take up arms, commit violence, to do the ‘religious duty’; to fulfil khstriya dharma(religiously ordained duty of a warrior) In Ramayana Lord Ram kills Shambuk to save Hindu religion. Pushyamitra Shung also did the massacre of Buddhists for saving Hinduism. Khap Panchayats today are giving death fatwas for young couples, in the name of religious-caste traditions. Girls are beaten up in Mangalore pub again in the name of Hindu traditions. The mass violence directed against minorities is instigated ‘to save’ the religious communities, to save Hindu religion.
 
The practices of many followers of most of the religions need not be exactly in accordance with the scriptures. In the same religion we have people like Hitler and Nelson Mandela. In the same religion we have people like Mahatma Gandhi and Nathuram Godse. In the same religion we have Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan and Osama bin Laden. To think that any violence is due to religion is a totally misplaced understanding of the religion and society.
 
Unfortunately in contemporary times US designs for controlling the oil wealth has resulted in a politics which has resorted to the cover of religion. It was in the US brainstorming centers that the core words of Islam, Kafir and Jihad were given deliberate twist to train the Al Qaeda for US goal of getting Russian army defeated in Afghanistan. US media also coined and popularized the word, ‘Islamic terrorism’ and it has become a part of the social thinking. To associate religion and terror is surely one of the biggest crimes against humanity. It is due to the popularization of the word ‘Islamic Terrorism’ that people started thinking of violence with religious prefix. So naturally when one after the other terrorist group, belonging to Hindu religion and inspired by the politics of ‘Hindu nation’ came to surface especially after the Malegaon blast, some journalists and others started using the word Hindu terrorism, and this also caught on.
 
This word is as much wrong as the word Islamic terrorism or Christian terrorism. Christianity also talks of peace and the word Islam stands for achieving peace by submission to Allah. One can say that life of Gandhi has been the epitome of practiced Hindu values. On the other hand people like Godse or Osama bin laden have political goals and they have been presenting these political goals in the language of religion. In the face of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, Swami Dayanand Pandey and company, all those inspired by the agenda of Hindu Rashtra, the temptation to call this terrorism as ‘Hindu terrorism’ has to be resisted. Religion needs to be de-linked form politics and terrorism; both.