'Dismantling Global Hindutva' event an academic assault on Hinduism

Firstpost is convinced that Dismantling Global Hindutva (DGH), a three-day online conference (from Sept 10-12) planned by anonymous organise...

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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Hinduism has long been under the assault by western academia since the dawn of the colonial era of European supremacism, in which western academia openly promoted missionary activity, oppressive British rule and denigration of Hindus racially and culturally.

This colonial academic assault was aligned with media influences, extending to prominent newspapers and magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom, and echoed by political leaders up to Winston Churchill.

After India’s independence, the leadership of this anti-Hindu movement shifted to Marxists and Communists. They continued to perpetrate colonial stereotypes along with new alliances with missionary and conversion forces that they previously opposed, regarding Hindus as a common enemy. The Marxist view of Hinduism has a different terminology but similarly deems Hindus as superstitious and backward, and politically incorrect.

However, the spread of India’s dharmic traditions worldwide since Swami Vivekananda in 1893 posed a new challenge to anti-Hindu forces, with yoga, the Vedas, ayurveda and Sanskrit gaining global recognition that continues to expand today. This caused them to combine their assault on Hinduism with an attack on Hindu gurus, ashrams and yoga practices, labeling them as cults.

In addition, India today is rising as a nation economically and politically, now a major force on the world stage honouring its Hindu past. India’s recent revived Hindu ethos under BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has now become the primary target of anti-Hindu forces, as it threatens their power and influence.

Such anti-Hindu groups have no regard for India’s dharmic traditions, their profound philosophies, study of consciousness, and universal orientation. Their mindset reflects their political biases, which is to promote their own materialistic ideology and new revolutions, still hoping to remove Hinduism that has eluded them, though they could conquer China.

A stark new example of this ongoing academic assault on Hinduism is a Dismantling Global Hindutva (DGH) conference in the United States which denounces Hindu movements as a threat to humanity.

Click here to read stories on Dismantling Global Hindutva

This openly biased conference has no Hindu voice or Hindu point of view represented. It is a manifestation of the old British “no Hindus allowed” policy, a kind of academic apartheid. Its speakers are largely Indian, with noted Marxist journalists and propagandists at the forefront. There are no voices for American Hindus who constitute one of the most affluent and educated minorities in the United States, nor for the many Hindus, both American and from India, who are in the American University system and among its most numerous and successful students. While presented as an academic rather than a political event, its political motivation is obvious.

Let us examine how this academic assault on Hinduism, has developed, its distortions and the need to counter it.

1. From the Wisdom and Wealth of India to Poor Backward India of the Colonial Era

India was historically renowned for its wisdom and wealth from the most ancient times to the eighteenth century, when India still held ¼ of the global economy. India’s dharmic wisdom for centuries dominated Asia from Japan and China to Indonesia and Malaysia, extending throughout Central Asia, with influences into Europe. We find India lauded by the ancient Greeks and Romans up to the time of Columbus who reached American when he sailed to find a new route to the wealth of India. Colonial scholars had to work hard to reduce India to a land of poverty and superstition to justify their foreign rule.

In the colonial era, Hindus were subject to the same oppression as Native Americans, Black Africans and indigenous and native people who followed non-Abrahamic and non-western cultures. This oppression included British engineered famines up to the 1943 Bengal famine that killed millions. India’s religions, notably the Hindu, were denigrated as heathen, idolatrous and primitive to justify this cruel domination. Hindus were looked upon as an inferior race like dark-skinned people elsewhere.

2. From Indology to South Asian Studies

Colonial thought created a special new topic of Indology to control the study of India and Hinduism as if these were never studied before. Indology looked upon India not as a great civilization to be learned from, but as a colonial interest and source of wealth that needed to be controlled. The colonial British dismantled India’s extensive indigenous educational system and worked to turn Indians, particularly Hindus, into followers of British and European culture alienated from their own cultural background.

Indology departments were funded by colonial governments to promote their vested interests. They rewrote the history of India and the meaning of Hinduism according to their negative slant. Conversion was their stated goal for which they were amply funded. They translated Hindu texts in a superficial and misleading manner to promote their agenda of making Hinduism look backward and out of date, if not barbaric, as if they better understood Vedic texts than the Hindus themselves.

Postcolonial thought after India’s independence in 1947 continued the same prejudices but changed their identity from Indology to South Asian Studies, in which India ceased to exist as a major country or civilization and Hinduism ceased to exist as a defined or historical religion. India in their view is just a melting pot for invaders with no original or enduring culture of its own. Putting Hindu majority India and its long history and vast culture in a corner of South Asian Studies conveniently negated India’s cultural influence in the region, notably Hinduism.

3. From South Asian Studies to Neo-Marxism

This negationism of Hindu Dharma has drawn support from Nehruvian influences in India and the long-term alliance of the Congress party with Communism, including Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi with the Soviet Union, extending to alliances under Rahul Gandhi today with Communists in Bengal. The Congress replaced its earlier Gandhian views with Nehruvian Marxism as its dominant ideology. Nehruvian journalists in India often funnel anti-Hindu articles to western academia and media allies. Some anti-Hindu India journalists have positions in western media and academia.

Many of these anti-Hindu forces, notably Indian Marxists, are pro-China in their views and take Chinese support. Many fail to criticise the Taliban or Islamic terrorism, portraying Hinduism as a greater danger.

Anti-Hindu academics seldom portray or even recognise the history of the oppression of Hindus, whether under Islamic rule, British and European rule, or that of Hindus suffering today in Pakistan or Bangladesh. They ignore the multibillion-dollar multinational missionary business that still targets Hindus and India.

They avoid mentioning how much Hindus suffered under Islamic rule, and don’t note the genocide of Hindus in the Bangladesh War. For them, Hindu deaths don’t count, much as in the colonial era.

Yet note that this academic assault on Hinduism is not entirely shared at a political or diplomatic level, and the same leftist forces that are anti-Hindu are often against their own countries and cultures. India has a good diplomatic rapport under Prime Minister Modi with countries from Europe and the United States to the Middle East.

While many South Asian Departments tend to promote anti-Hindu views, it is important to recognise that they are small departments. Science and business departments do not necessarily follow their views. Many physicists continue to honour India’s dharmic teachings, as do those in the fields of psychology and medicine.

Meanwhile, the spread of India’s dharmic traditions continues worldwide and is undergoing an expansion in many countries. Fear of these growing is another factor fueling anti-Hindu movements.

Conclusion: Need to counter the assault on Hinduism

Given India is rising today and the continued global influence of India’s dharmic traditions and its global diaspora, we can expect this academic assault on India to continue and become more heated. But now it will not go unchallenged.

The new Hindu effort to expose and counter the DGH conference is a good example of this Hindu awakening. We must honour and support the individuals and groups behind this, notably the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) which has taken a guiding role in the Hindu response.

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