The ignored core of inclusiveness

As the race between the BJP and the Congress about who is a better Hindu — Modi or Rahul — intensifies, let us take a look at what religious texts say about the essential qualities of a good practitioner of this ancient religion

Harish Narang

A new debate has been let loose in the public domain: who is a better Hindu — Modi or Rahul Gandhi! The basic intention behind this spurious issue, like dozens of such issues being thrown up every day, is to divert people’s intention  from the real issues confronting the nation at this crucial juncture like grave crisis in agriculture leading to suicides by farmers, graver economic crisis with NPAs of PSUs rising manifold, petrol prices touching alarming levels, rupee plummeting against dollar, FDIs shrinking, stagflation a real possibility, communal harmony being torn to tatters by cow vigilantes and mandir fanatics, Army jawans and officers being sacrificed at the altar of false muscle flexing with neighbours and new records being set of nexus between corrupt politicians and criminal corporate. 

However, before voters are influenced by the debate, it is necessary to take note of what the qualities of a good Hindu are.  According to ancient texts that speak of being a good Hindu, these texts lay down clearly a belief in the  concept of Vasudev Kutumbkam, that is, one who believes — to use a modern term — in the philosophy of inclusiveness. Next, a good Hindu, should he wield power like a king or a leader, should observe what has been called Rajdharm of treating all his subjects equally and justly. Third, a good Hindu should not only fight evil but should not even tolerate it. Remember what Bhagavad Gita said: toleration of evil is a sin. A good Hindu should ensure respect for women for it is said in the scriptures that gods reside where women are respected. Fourth, a good Hindu, unlike believers in many other religions, is expected to never believe in intolerance of other faiths. Fifth, karuna/dayaa (compassion) is an essential quality to be practiced in his/her daily life by a good Hindu. Recall what is being said about this by way of advice: dayaa dharam ka mool hai (compassion is the essence of dharam). And lastly, a good Hindu is advised to shun pride. In fact, pride, in Hindu dharam is held equivalent to sin: paap mool abhimaan (pride is the basis of sin).

The qualities of inclusiveness, practicing equality and justness when in power, fighting ‘tolerating social evils, say, atrocities on the weak, minorities and women, not believing in superiority of one’s own religion, believing in and practicing of dayaa/karuna in one’s daily life and finally shunning pride, that is a sin. Has Modi observed these qualities, specially being an elder, being in public domain and wielding power to practice all this during the past 20 years or so. 

Let us recall the atrocities on Muslims and Dalits in Gujarat when Modi was the Chief Minister, especially the image of a Muslim man crying and seeking help with folded hands that caught the attention of the world media, the frantic appeals and personal phone calls to him by Ehsan Jaffrey before he was murdered in cold blood, the refusal by Modi to accept a gestural offering of a Muslim cap, showing no compassion when Muslims were being butchered in Gujarat in the wake of tragic burning of a coach in the Sabarmati Express when even the Prime Minister Vajpayee berated him, boasting of possessing a 56-inch chest in dealing with the situation on the LoC, keeping absolutely mum about manifold increase in killings of jawans and officers on the LoC with the only focus on surgical strikes, killings and rapes of women and Dalits on a daily basis during the past four years of his government, keeping absolutely mum on the issue of his own educational qualifications. Do these make him a good Hindu?

Answers to these questions should make the question ‘who is a better Hindu’ completely irrelevant. 

— The writer is a former professor, JNU, New Delhi

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