Dismissal of Hinduism is not needed for preservation of India’s secular values, but it has to be disentangled with the vision of the ‘Hindutva Brigade’ that has no place for other faiths, say veteran Congressman Dr Karan Singh and senior party leader Dr Shashi Tharoor.They expressed their view of Hinduism at a lively discussion on the book ‘Why I am a Hindu’ written by Mr Tharoor, a also a well-known author and a former UN diplomat.
The two scholars also cautioned against the Hindutva Brigade’s attempt to equate Hinduism with nationalism. Mr Tharoor targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders of his part BJP for trying to appropriate Swami Vivekanada on wrong grounds, Dr Tharoor said.
“I have read the original text and I can tell you what he believes and what he stands for. When these people highlight sentences like ‘arise awake and stand up, and said things like ‘be proud to be a Hindu, what was it that he wanted to feel proud of. He wanted to take pride in the acceptance of other faiths,” Dr Tharoor said.
He said these people were citing Vivekananda’s statement that a Hindu may himself throw on the pyre but he will not light the flames of inquisition, but they were doing exactly the opposite. “In the name of Hinduism, they were blasphemously citing Vivekanand and trying to light the fires of inquisition against other people,” Dr Tharoor said.When asked how he would differentiate his admiration of Vivekananda as his icon from theirs, Dr Tharoor said in a lighter vein, “the only difference is that I have actually read him.”
“Anyone who has actually read Vivekananda cannot put him on the side of bigots, the chauvinists, and the people who are giving Hinduism a bad name.” Both Dr Singh and Dr Tharoor rejected a suggestion that they might be part of the Congress party’s attempt to reclaim Hinduism in the prevailing political atmosphere.
Pointing out that Jawaharal Nehru heaped great praise on Upanishads and Adi Shankaracharya in “Discovery of India,” Dr Singh said it would be wrong to say that Nehru was anti-Hinduism, as he had his own views which were different from his.Replying to a question, Dr Singh said Hinduism should not be confined to nationalism. “All Indians are not Hindus and all Hindus are not Indians,” he said. Pointing out that today millions of Hindus are living in different parts of the world, he said if nationalism was to be equated with Hinduism, it would mean disenfranchisement of all of these Hindus.”Hinduism is not irreconcilable to nationalism but it can’t be reduced to nationalism only,” he added.