Recently, Abrahamic & Non Abrahamic atheists have made attempts to desecrate the veneration of Goddess held sacred by a billion Hindus. This evoked a strong reaction from a lot of Hindus. Both sides have an obvious disconnect. This article intends to address the issue.
Why? Why would anyone want to make remarks about Goddess which would be considered objectionable by millions of people, Abrahamic atheists like @arminnavabi tell us that they want to ‘desensitise’ us like they do to Islam. This is where the disconnect lies. There is NO SYMMETRY
Abrahamic atheists come from religions that mandate capital punishment for blasphemy. In fact, capital punishment for ‘blasphemy’ predates introduction of Abrahamism in Europe. The Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced for blasphemy and eventually awarded death sentence
Abrahamic religions mandate capital punishments for blasphemy in their scriptures. The punishment awarded for blasphemy is deαth in Bible. This was strictly implemented in practice, 55000 people were executed in a single year alone in Spain in 1492 on charges of Blasphemy
These impositions continued into the early modern ages. In Britain, the last person to be hanged for blasphemy was a young student named Thomas Aikenhead in 1697. In US, a women rights and racial equality advocate named Abner Kneeland was sentenced for blasphemy in 1838.
Sometimes, offences as minor as coughing in the direction of Church attracted strict punishment under ‘blasphemy’ in the christian world during Medieval and Early Modern ages!, Even today, there are 27 countries in the world where Islam is the official state religion.
In many of these countries, blasphemy is an act which attracts death sentence. In many Christian countries, blasphemy attracts strict punishments even today under such circumstances, the very act of ‘blasphemy’ was hailed as quite revolutionary by several atheists, agnostics and free thinkers. It signified an act of defiance against an establishment which effectively suppressed their voices for ages. This was the ‘desensitisation’
However, such ‘desensitisation’ is utterly inapplicable in case of Hindus. There is no symmetry. Let us see why. As opposed to 16 Christian countries 27 Muslim countries & one Jewish country, There is not a SINGLE country in the world where Hinduism is state religion. No Hindu country in the world. Plus, Hinduism is an institutional orphan as Hindu temples are under the control of secular state functioning at behest of political parties using temples economically & politically for their own agenda Ergo, there is no “INDEPENDENT Hindu Church” Now, let us look at the history of ‘blasphemy’ in Hinduism.
The word “Blasphemy” has its origin in the Greek word “Blasphemein” meaning “to speak ill of (Gods)”. Although there is no corresponding translatable word in Hinduism, the one that comes closest is Dēvanindā (देवनिन्दा) Interestingly, this word Dēvanindā is completely absent in the all the early texts like Veda Saṃhitās, Brāhmaṇas, Araṇyakās and Upanishads which form the core texts of Hinduism.
It is also absent in ancient Indian epics such as Rāmāyaṇa. It can be found in some later texts. However, even in the instances where the word Dēvanindā (देवनिन्दा) is found, NOWHERE is it mentioned that देवनिन्दा should be treated with capital punishment. As an example, let us examine a usage of the word & the context in which it appears in a medieval Sanskrit text
The word Dēvanindaka देवनिन्दक appears in the 9th century text Hayaśīrṣa pañcarātra.
This text talks about characteristics of Ācāryas (Gurus).
It mentions that an Ācārya SHOULD NOT be a Dēvanindaka! That such a person should be AVOIDED. That is it! Just avoid the person!
No punishment other than “avoiding” Dēvanindaka is mentioned in this text. And nowhere in the ENTIRE Sanskrit literature is it mentioned that a Dēvanindaka should be awarded death sentence!
This conception in theory is very reflected very well in practice as we shall see below. There are many Arabic, Persian, English & French etc records of India throughout Medieval & Modern ages. There is NOT a single record that any Hindu was ever awarded blasphemy death sentence.
I repeat. Not a SINGLE record of blasphemy killiηg in Hinduism in the last 800 years In fact, even when the British ruled India,no law of Blasphemy even existed. No blasphemy law exists EVEN TODAY in India. The one that comes closest to blasphemy is section 295A of IPC which criminalizes insult to religion. It was first implemented by British in colonial age
Section 295 A has a very interesting history. It was enacted because Indian Mμslims demanded it in 1927.
Point to note: Hindus were quite happy without any blasphemy law even until colonial India. It was Muslims who DEMANDED it and forced the British Govt to enact the law. Indian Muslims demanded a blasphemy law after an Arya Samaji criticized Islαmic prophet in a book named Rangeela Rasool. The book was written as a response to the insult to Hindu Goddess by some members of Muslim community.
Note: Hindus responded to insult with criticism
To sum up,
- Hindus have no Hindu country.
- No universal Hindu church independent of state
- No blasphemy killings in any Hindu religious text
- No blasphemy killings in recorded history of last 800 years
- Plus, 1000s of Hindu temples have been desecrated. Hindu idols used as footsteps of Mosques & in toilets.
Hindu idols desecrated and most ancient Hindu temples of North India are in ruins. Abrahamics, whether atheist or religious, have been “desensitizing” us for 1000 years
What “desensitisation” exactly are they talking about? When they perform such an act against powerful Abrahamics sponsored by state & having independent churches, it amounts to defiance.
When they perform it against Hindus, it amounts to oppression of the already oppressed. There is another important distinction. Hinduism,like the Paganisms of Europe, is a natural religion. Unlike Abrahamic religions which strive to eliminate pre-existing belief systems of whichever land they enter
Hinduism incorporates various native folk & tribal belief systems
There is no “founder” and no “prophet” for Hinduism. It is an amalgamation of all beliefs
There exists a European culture independent of Christianity. However, Hindu dharma is so closely intertwined with Hindu culture and civilization that it is impossible to separate the two. This is the reason why any attack on Hindu religion is tantamount to an attack on the Hindu civilization itself.
Many western atheists still call themselves “cultural Christians” and are quite defensive about their culture. Such a distinction is not possible in case of Hindus. Hindus don’t see acts of Abrahmic Atheists as much different from those of religious Abrahamics. This was also the case for European pagans. They saw not much difference between ‘atheists’ & ‘Christians’ In fact, the word ‘Atheist’ was first given by Pagans to Early Christians !
The word ‘Atheist’ comes from the Greek word “Atheos”=”without Gods”. The word was originally used for Abrahamic people like Jews & Christians who denied the existence of “ancient Gods”. To the Non Abrahamics, worshipers of “just one abstract God” seemed like extreme atheists
This is the reason why the “desensitisation’ by atheists has not been well received by most Hindus. Also, a word about Indian atheists. They do not understand that our circumstances are entirely different from those of the west.
They are blindly mimicking western atheists. Hindu civilization has produced atheists like Veer Savarkar, but most of today’s Indian atheists are blindly mimicking Sam Harris or Christopher Hitchens and translating their entire concepts in relation to Hinduism
This is a very disturbing trend. Now, there are a few people in Dharmic Hindu wing who championed the cause of the atheist who desecrated Durga. They claimed that he was entitled to desecrate the veneration of the Goddess under the concept of Freedom of Expression. A few words about this issue.
Yes, I totally understand and trust your commitment to Freedom Of Expression. But please understand that the persona of the Goddess means a lot more to many people than what she means to you. You might find such a desecration tolerable, but this is extremely hurtful for many.
I will give you an example.
Will you tolerate the desecration of national Icons like Shivaji Maharaj, Maharana Pratap, Sardar Patel, Ambedkar, Raja Ram Mohan Roy etc under freedom of expression. Even if you now say you do, I know from past experience that you don’t
Freedom Of Expression is not practicable in India. Sorry to put it crudely, but will you tolerate the abuse of your mothers, wives & family members etc under “Absolute Freedom Of Expression”? I know for a fact that many of you threaten with ‘legal case’ at slightest provocation. You threaten with a “legal case” at slightest provocation and personal abuse directed at you because Absolute Freedom Of Expression does not exist in India. Legally and constitutionally
You claim to champion FOE, but actually take recourse to a system that virtually stifles FOE, If you cannot champion Absolute FOE when it comes to you, championing Absolute FOE for atheists who desecrate the Goddess is pure hypocrisy on your part. That said, I wish to reiterate that I do not justify any abuse directed towards the family of atheist or their supporters.
It is very unfortunate that said atheist individual’s mother who had absolutely nothing to do with his actions has been abused. Please refrain from such acts. +9To wit, any attack or objectionable remark on the Hindu Goddess is an attack on the entire Hindu community and Hindu civilization.
There is no difference. Hindus should stand together and oppose such malicious attacks. Anybody playing “neutral” even now is being a traitor
PS: There is a reason why I used blasphemy in “last 800 years”.
There were a few cases before the last 800 years. One such example that of the great Shiva Bhakta Satti Nayanar who could not tolerate blasphemy. But it is uncertain if he actually killed anyone, similarly Bhakta Trilochana responds to a slighting of Narayana by his wife with a blasting poem. He says
नाराइण निंदसि काइ भूली गवारी ॥
दुक्रितु सुक्रितु थारो करमु री ॥
Why do you abuse Narayana, o ignoramus? Good/bad deeds are your karma (which decide your pleasure and pain) ,Similarly Sant Surdas (16th century) says to a Nindaka
छाडि मन हरि बिमुखन को संगु ॥
“O mind, do not even associate with those who have turned away from Hari.”
The “turning away” from Ninadaka was a quite common theme in vaishnava literature. But there were also other Bhakti poets who could not tolerate any insult & talked about “cutting tongues” of those who speak ill of God”
Yet, in practice, it remains a fact that there was not a single recorded blasphemy based capital punishment in Hinduism throughout the period
This must be distinguished from Hindu reaction to cow slaughter which evokes extremely violent response and led to riots because Hindus could not tolerate any physical harm to animal that they considered most sacred and embodiment of mother.
I don’t believe in absolute Freedom Of Expression. Those who believe in it should not complain about the consequences that are inevitable when they choose absolute FOS
Twitter thread by True Indology
Disclaimer: The opinions/facts expressed within this article are the personal opinions/facts of the author