Western academia should acknowledge virtues of Hinduism and call out those spreading Hinduphobia

The Hindu dharma represents the world’s most ancient continuously practised, indigenous spiritual and philosophical tradition

Sean Bradrick September 16, 2021 19:10:50 IST
Western academia should acknowledge virtues of Hinduism and call out those spreading Hinduphobia

Representational image.

Firstpost is convinced that Dismantling Global Hindutva (DGH), a three-day online conference (from Sept 10-12) planned by anonymous organisers in the US, is a partisan and politically-motivated event designed to malign an ancient religion and its adherents. Through columns and reported pieces, this Firstpost series exposes why such programmes are misleading, agenda-driven, and nothing but thinly-veiled Hinduphobia.

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Hindutva is not a threat to academic freedom or to much of anything or anyone else. There is no Hindu Taliban. In the US, Christians constantly confuse belief with knowledge and call it science. They use it to take away a woman’s right to govern her own body. They use it to fight against cures for diseases.

The right wing in America are proponents of continuing to teach our children a false and bigoted history, which denies the facts of slavery, systematic racism and atrocities involving African-Americans and the indigenous people of our country.

In Afghanistan and other West Asian countries, Muslim radicals want to prohibit education for female children and teach their male children Islamic fundamentalism as per Sharia law. Hundreds of girls have been kidnapped from schools in Nigeria by Islamic radicals. The Taliban is banning art, music and dance.

They are a mass of men so weak and misogynistic that they feel offended by a woman’s beauty.

Click here to read stories on Dismantling Global Hindutva

We seem to be numb to such things in the US, and now we’re scared of Hindus and Hinduism, a people and a religion that have been historically pragmatic, benign and peaceful for many thousands of years. Are we scared of Hindutva or a government influenced by Hindu ideals? Do we think that Hindutva is a threat to academia? Oh the 'Hindu Nationalist' boogeyman!

Hindutva is something based on some principles such as ahimsa, karma, the love for nature, the idea that the world is one family and that there are countless valid paths to a God with many names and forms. It would certainly beat Sharia law in India.

Proponents of Hindutva also recognise an accurate view of Indian history, which has been distorted by India’s colonial era and modern academia. Hindutva is not a threat to academia, but academia is becoming a threat to Hinduism and to Hindus worldwide. Hindutva is inclusive and pro-science while being against sexism, homophobia, transphobia and rigid division based on creed and social class.

Hindutva proposes a uniform civil code be recognised by Indian citizens of all religions and social classes, while still affording individual freedoms. There are many countries and many politicians that have proposed or attempted to introduce such a code of ethics. They are the hallmark of democracy and used to bring social classes and people of various cultures and religions together.

Every democracy has been built on a foundation of laws of moral and civil codes. But when a branch of the Indian government proposes this, it is denounced as communal, insidious and fascistic. I am a proponent of Indian sovereignty.

As an American and a proponent of democracy, I realise India is an ally of the US and the largest democracy in the world. India has one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse, gender-equal governments in the world. What the Indian population wants to see in their society, culture and government is not the business of the American government or citizen.

India has never invaded another country. Hindus have no conversion industry to impose cultural genocide onto those of other faiths. Hinduism is not an imperialistic, monocultural, organised or institutionalised religion based in dogma and devoid of philosophy.

Hindus are not obsessed with increasing their numbers or trying to get others to believe in a certain manner or in certain theologies. In much of the world, religion has become an exclusive, intolerant political movement or regime that promotes and perpetuates imperialism, supremacism, egomania and schadenfreude.

The Hindu dharma is not a dogma and is not prone to these dangerous aspects of fundamentalist, evangelical and purely faith-based orthodoxy. Hindus don't tend to go around saying their belief is the one that's true. Hindu pluralism and multiculturalism is pacifistic.

The Hindu dharma represents the world’s most ancient continuously practised, indigenous spiritual and philosophical tradition, which focuses on inner knowledge over outer belief and finds its basis in timeless truths and natural law.

It is also an intellectual and multi-cultural tradition attached to sophisticated schools of philosophy, a system of medicine and psychology, architecture, astronomy, metaphysics, mathematics and various art forms.

A recent Pew poll in India found that 84 percent of those polled say that “to be truly Indian, it is very important to respect all religions.” The poll also found that “Indians are united in the view that respecting other religions is a very important part of what it means to be a member of their own religious community (80 percent).” The poll found that “People in all six major religious groups overwhelmingly say they are very free to practice their faiths, and most say that people of other faiths also are very free to practice their own religion,” according to the Pew Research Center’s website.

Keep in mind India has approximately 204 million Muslims, compared to the less than four million in the US. Still, there seems to be more Islamophobia in North America. The US had a Muslim ban, India hasn’t, despite there being hundreds of known Islamic terrorist cells in the country.

Hindus have faced some form of oppression or persecution from Islam, Christianity and colonialism for well over 1,000 years. Presently, they are regularly attacked by politicians, the media and academia. Much of anti-Hindu sentiment recently in the US has come from the Hinduphobic hate speech of Rutgers’ sensationalist and associate professor of South Asian History, Audrey Truschke.

Truschke is known more for her animosity towards Hinduism, and therefore Hindus, than she is for her academic or historical accuracy. She seems to have a personal vendetta against all things Hindu. She seems to be on a mission to spread misinformation, false narratives and negative stereotypes about Hindus, Hinduism, Hindu scriptures and Hindu deities.

Truschke makes up her own anti-Hindu version of Indian history and interprets Hindu scripture from a bigoted perspective. She’s gone so far to call a Hindu god “a misogynistic pig”. She regularly spews anti-Hindu hate speech on social media, and she’s a denier of Indian Hindu genocides enacted by Islamic invaders.

She claims that proponents of Hindutva are opposed to academic freedom and critical thinking, even though Hinduism is intertwined with philosophies of reason, epistemology, ethics and logical methodology. It has been for millenia.

I have to wonder if Truschke ever feels hypocritical when she’s attacked pieces of classic Indian literature, then turns around and claims that she’s a proponent of academic freedom. Did she feel hypocritical when she bullied a freshman student for writing an essay on Hinduphobia?

Does she feel hypocritical when she spews constant hate speech online, then whines when she receives some harsh criticism from not only Hindus, but from her academic peers, politicians and adherents of Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism? She’s obviously only a champion of her own academic freedom and of the other Hinduphobes who egg her on. I

t’s obvious she is purposefully outrageous to gain some sort of notoriety or recognition. She has chosen not to participate in any debates with any Hindu scholar or any historian who disagrees with her. When asked to do so, she becomes dismissive and condescending, because she knows she would be destroyed in such a discourse.

It’s unfortunate that Rutgers has made this bigoted supremacist Audrey Truschke into an idol of academic freedom. Truschke uses her position at Rutgers to spew nonsensical, xenophobic hate speech on a daily basis in her classroom and on social media. She has a malicious intent and has caused her own Indian Hindu students social, psychological and economic harm.

This is why there are civil laws protecting marginalised minorities against slander, defamation and discrimination. Anyone familiar with this matter knows that if she were to attack and malign Jews and Judaism, Christians and Christianity or Muslims and Islam, she'd have been promptly fired.

As this story starts to receive more attention in our brave new “woke” world, the people will see all this for what it is. It’s just another case of the white oppressor and the fascist trying to turn the tables, project and blame the victims. Truschke would like nothing more than for Hindus to start hating their own religious tradition, culture and way of life.

Her mission however, is almost comical and her academic integrity is most certainly like a bad joke. She, her cronies and Rutgers will end up being exposed as the Hinduphobic racists that they are, and they will land on the wrong side of history.

Instead of demonising Hinduism and vilifying their Hindu students, Rutgers University should acknowledge and celebrate the value Hindu students bring to the school. It should acknowledge and celebrate Hindu contributions to the world through philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, metaphysics, yoga, medicine, art, music, dance and linguistics. They should stand with the Hindu Students Council at Rutgers.

Sean Bradrick is an American-Hindu activist, author, ayurvedic counselor and yogi. Views expressed are personal

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