Millennium Post

At the wrong end of Hindu stick

At the wrong end of Hindu stick
I am a Chaturvedi Brahmin born in an upper middle class family of western Uttar Pradesh. We originated from Mathura, the venerable land of Hinduism but came and resided in Qamiganj Teshil of Farrukhabad district of UP. We were pre-independence land owners and were the only Brahmin family in a town dominated by Pathans. Naturally enough, we have family ties with the kin of Dr Zakir Hussain, India’s third president as also with Dr Khurshid Alam Khan’s brood including his son and former Union minister Salman Khurshid. Never ever have we been discriminated against and the reverence which was bestowed upon my great grandfather and my grandfather was an extension of the love and respect that emanated between the sides.

We are god fearing people but we haven’t had any religious indoctrination. Maybe some of the family members in earlier times were put through it, but the presence of a Maulvi Sahab to teach Persian was always given preference back then. My family members, barring the generation I come from, are and were fluent in Persian and Urdu. We treated the language as a literary device and not a means of propaganda. Sanskrit has naturally been flowing in our veins too, but we don’t use it any more.

If we talk about religion and the wretched caste system in Hinduism, we stand at the top of the table. The last name Chaturvedi denotes- someone who has not only read all the four Vedas but imbibed all its values too. Vedas are religious scriptures and are considered by Hindus as sruti- something which has directly been denoted by God and has not been written by any human being. If a Hindu were to publicly desecrate them, he would earn the ire of the entire community. He may also be hacked to death.

Chaturvedi’s are required to be steeped in tradition, culture, religion and an extreme form of idol worship. They are educationists and are required to abstain from eating meat, consume liquor or any other type of addictions. They are supposed to treat a Kshatriya as a Kshatriya, Vaish as a Vaish and spite at the very existence of Shudras. They are not required to mingle with Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and even Jains as these religions try to question the superiority of the Hindu religion. They are instead expected to chant in Sanskritised Hindi and in today’s times, support the Bhartiya Janta Party, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Rashtra Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bajrang Dal and a host of other saffron outfits.

If I take mine and especially my family’s case into consideration we would be ostracised from using Chaturvedi as our last name. But why is that so? It is because of the following reasons- We have had very strong ties with the Muslims, we do not support the caste system in principle, there is no restriction on eating non vegetarian food and certainly no limitation to smoke and drink and indulge in ‘vices’ as a lot of other respectable Hindu families might call them. There is also no requirement to be associated with saffron outfits as we do not support any of their antics. It is another matter though, that we have been Congress loyalists but had Netaji Subhas not died an untimely death, we would have clamoured to be associated with the Forward Bloc. We are also allowed to marry out of our religion because for us the meaning of a human life is not limited to being stoic about the faith we practice. But we detest what the BJP, RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal do in the name of religion.

Detractors can have their own sense of belief but it is not necessary for us to support the elevation of a former RSS pracharak as the prime minister of the country. In my family, there is visible angst but with my grandfather having left for his heavenly abode, the oratory skills of the new PM seem to have taken over some members of the family. There is a very thin dividing line between who supports whom now. But being a man permeated in legacy, I still distrust and am naturally skeptical of the promises that have been made by the right winged coteries. 

For it is true that the horrors of the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition, the 2002 Godhra Riots, the Naroda Patiya and Gulbarga society massacres, Best Bakery murders, the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter, the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter still hang in sight. I thus cannot support Mr Narendra Modi and his protégé Mr Amit Shah as the supreme leaders of India. However powerful they may be, the idea of Hindutva- the theory on which they model their politics, is in itself false. There is no such thing as Hindutva and it is only the manifestation of the extremist Hindu mindset that it has its existence.

Coming from Uttar Pradesh, the hotbed of Indian politics or if I may be allowed to call it, the epicenter of religious contraptions, I understand how the BJP employed its best (I beg to differ) thinking mind when the 2014 Lok Sabha elections came calling. Being the master’s man that he is, and also having the RSS background necessary for indulging in mud-slinging communally laced rhetoric at other parties, Amit Shah overturned the tables in the state. Never before had the BJP registered such a massive victory in the Lok Sabha elections in India’s largest and most populous state. But as citizens of a developing country like India why are we singing eulogies to it? Are you a believer of Hindutva? Or are you a believer of feigned counterfeit poltics where the leader of the nation just prior to him being elected as the PM was the chief minister of a state where he orchestrated one of the worst pogroms in this country? While he may be serenading billions and billions of people with his alleged display of effectiveness, don’t we all know that Amit Shah has primarily been chosen to obey the master’s orders as also keep the road ahead, free of stumbling blocks? Hasn’t he been given the position of the BJP president to launch scathing attacks with or without media glare and attention, as and when required? Emboldened by his party’s performance, he seems to have even decided to leave natural allies behind. And this is all happening in the name of the Hindu religion whereby even the spiritual heads from Mathura, Ayodhya and Benaras have come out in full support.

As a Brahmin Hindu, I disapprove of divisions on communal lines. We may call India- Hindustan but we must also not forget that there is co-existence of other religions too. When the Constitution gives a free choice to practice whichever religion one wishes to, who are these political parties to dictate terms then? Where did this anathema of religious conversion or ‘Love Jihad’ suddenly come from?  Will it be possible for the RSS to negate the allegations of picking up boys as young as four and five from the poorest of families and inculcating in them religious intolerance along with drills of militarised training? Agreed that the boys are Hindu but a mind as young as that is incapable to differentiate between what is wrong and what is right? People may now question me about my stand on Madarsas, where apparently young boys and girls are given the same set of teachings. I openly abominate them too.

We are not a theocratic state and neither are we aspiring to be one.  And if a Chaturvedi Brahmin is saying all this, you can very well gauge the fallibility of religious attachment and enchantment with Hinduism now.  Should I even be proud of being called a Hindu then? I should be, but not before I become instrumental in cleansing the society of Hindu extremists who have taken diabolism to another level. Well if need be, they can hack a human to death while still protesting and brandishing arms and ammunition on any instance of cow slaughter. They have blood braying eyes with savagery written all over their faces and they have the licence to kill you too. This is exactly what happened in Gujarat some years ago.

It amuses me that how Indians are still a naïve bunch of people, harping on whatever the dominating class has to say all the time. How else could the HRD ministry decide to scrap German and substitute Sanskrit then? Who protested? Why should we not learn German and why should we be made to learn only Sanskrit? Does Hinduism criticise multilingualism? Or is it the subverted mindset of RSS pracharaks and their top echelons of leadership to silently keep feeding our minds with a concerted attempt at making Sanskrit the court language? To remind our worthy saffronite politicians, we do not live in a society where there is a king and there is his durbar and where only court languages are spoken. We are a modern society with the choice of professing, what we think is right and what we think is wrong.

I recently read two very inspiring pieces. One of them was written by a young yet established journalist, somebody who is also the recipient of countless number of awards and other by a national and internationally acclaimed documentary filmmaker.  While the former was about the reality of the Naroda Patiya massacre, the latter was the first part of a speech, the filmmaker had given and talked about how the RSS attacks the very idea of a India as a nation.

They were poignant pieces and anyone who considers himself as part and parcel of long haul journalism would have loved them. Both questioned the fanaticism of the Hindu mind and I must admit that they forced me to question my own beliefs as a Hindu Brahmin of the highest order. Till the time politics shall be played on counts of religion, such dilemmas will crop in the minds of people who think independently. It is pitiable; we always need an awakening for our conscience. We must stop the process of religious indoctrination before it becomes too late. India is a secular country but I doubt if it is going to stay that way in the times to come.
Devang Chaturvedi

Devang Chaturvedi

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