Once in a while I recall that I am born a Hindu. This is usually around times when a whole lot of people are suddenly finding the need to defend Hinduism.
1. This is a little ironic. Why do you need to protect that which cannot be destroyed? Can the words or images of another person kill or harm your religion? To those who believe in God/s: even if all the people who believe in God should cease to exist will God/s cease to exist? Similarly, does Hinduism need the acceptance and support of all those being fought against in order to exist and flourish? It seems very reductionist and belittles Hinduism for anyone to say that the religion needs protection.
2. This business of religious sentiments being hurt is even more ridiculous. Why are Hindu religious sentiments hurt only by words and images but not by un-Hindu actions such as rape, murder and the racism being practiced against people from the NE in Delhi, or the displacement of Muslims in Muzaffarnagar or a thousand such atrocious acts? We are a religion that believes in the whole universe being a family, isn’t it? Why are we not religiously wounded by such major offences that hurt millions of the universal family but hugely traumatized by minor pinpricks such as a book that will be read by a few thousand people?
3. Being the transcendent religion that believes animals and trees and various forms, animate and inanimate, have the element of the Divine running through them and are therefore nothing but mere manifestations of the Unified One, how can we even distinguish between ‘ourselves’ and ‘others’? Surely the distinction is impossible and the very idea of ‘not tolerating’ someone or some view would be inadmissible – for even the so-called offender is nothing but another manifestation of the same ONE divine. So the idea of ‘getting upset’ so militantly at someone’s view is, in my view, very un-Hindu.
4. In an ecological worldview that goes well beyond the physical world, the notion is that every component have a just and fair place, the justness and fairness of which is determined by the degree to which it links with others and desists from eating into others’ space and resources. Which is the idea behind being ‘content’ – to occupy that which fulfills your need without competing with another’s, thus maintaining the ecosystem. Wanting more than this justifiable space and resource takes you into the realm of that which does not (because it should not) exist – maya. And we are taught not to want more than our remit for this reason. This is a key principle by which the universe maintains its balance, and disturbances take place when this balance is upset. Every time we seek to dominate or attribute to ourselves the right to determine others’ activities in their spheres (such as what they may think or write), we are guilty of going beyond that which is justly ours – and again, being very un-Hindu!
5. And finally, like all great religions, Hinduism too believes that real victory is one that is over oneself. No matter how much you ‘defeat’ your enemies, if you are unable to overcome yourself, that is, your own limitations and the un-divine aspects of yourself, you cannot be considered a victor. So if anyone is claiming victory at having ‘vanquished’ something offensive, do desist, for you have not won.