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Why I’m Not a Hindu

Published : Saturday, 15 June, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 646

Why I’m Not a Hindu

Why I’m Not a Hindu

A Sudra Critique of Hindutva Philosophy, Culture and Political Economy…

As a foreigner living in India for almost a decade, Im always looking for books that offer insight into cultural and political realities that remain obscure even after many years in country. I stumbled upon this book and the diametrically titled book, "Why I Am a Hindu" by Shashi Tharoor. I figured the two books might cover the pro / con accounting of Hinduism through two personal accounts of how a couple of thoughtful individuals perceptions of the religion differ.

Having read this book, chronologically the first, I discovered that the two books might not mirror each other as well as Id thought. For one thing, this book is really more about: a.) why dalitbahujans shouldn be considered Hindu, and b.) why following the dalit cultural framework would be better for India than following Hinduism. Thats not to say that the book doesn count off many theological points that rub the author the wrong way, socio-politically speaking. It also displays no shortage of anger (which one could certainly be argued is righteous, but nonetheless detracts from the feeling of scholarly objectivity that one might hope for in such a book.) But, at the end of the day, this is a book about caste, and how the system is used by the few to oppress the many. [It also turns out that both books cast themselves in opposition to the Hindu nationalist movement.]

In short, the author argues that the "high castes" of Hinduism (i.e. Brahmins and Kshatriyas) are parasitic, misogynistic, violent, oppressive, corpulent, and demanding of "spiritual fascism." On the other hand, the Dalitbahujans are painted as productive, egalitarian, democratic, creative, less materialistic, and capable of creating a sustainable path toward a healthy India of the future. I don know whether I came away with a much better insight into the truth of the situation, but as a social scientist I learned that what is true is often not so important as what is believed to be true - the latter can have huge impacts regardless of its objective truth. I say this because the author does make a lot of gratuitous assertions - unsupported statements - and these are particularly difficult to process when they address the motives of high caste people. He also sometimes whitewashes the "sins" of other religions to make the argument that Hindus are the worst / most unreasonable of all religions.

While its certainly true that the caste system has been oppressive and that the oppressed are within reason to be angry and to insist upon change, its hard for me to get a good read on what is true regarding the details because the author takes a preaching-to-the-choir route and doesn really provide the evidence an outsider would need to judge. That said, the book still offers a great deal of value because it tells one what the author (and presumably many others) feel to be the truth of the situation.

Courtesy: Amazon. In







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