In his white paper titled Cultural Hindutva and Islamophobia, Prof Mohan Dutta of Massey University New Zealand makes unsubstantiated claims intended to defame Hindutva and related organizations. The paper is not only biased but rests on misconceived premises and conclusions. His defamatory political campaign against Hindutva masked as scholarship naturally drew the ire of Hindus. What are Prof Dutta’s claims and why are Hindus upset?
To advance his thesis, Prof Dutta uses the Marxist framework. The Marxist interpretive framework, similar to the colonial framework, distorts local cultures, histories, and values. Berman (2018, para 9-10) notes’’ Marxism was not about achieving an egalitarian society: it was the vehicle through which party activists and thugs could pursue their own will to power…. The Marxist pursuit of power also meant denouncing all religion, which Marx described as an opiate, a drug intended to lull its consumers into passivity and false consciousness, so as to keep them from the truth (his truth).’’ Given that Prof Dutta is ‘’unashamedly Marxist’’, his description of Hindutva is obviously biased.
Frameworks alien to local cultures and language distort the truth as renowned scholar Edward Said (1978) contends in his book Orientalism. Said is critical of both imperialists and Marxist frameworks. They impose ‘’a language and a culture, whereas cultures, histories, values, and languages of the Oriental peoples have been ignored and even distorted by the colonialists in their pursuit to dominate these peoples and exploit their wealth in the name of enlightening, civilizing, and even humanizing them’’ (Hammadi, 2014:40). As noted in the United Nations Permanent Forum (2003) ‘’Colonizers had tried to make decisions for indigenous peoples in policies, religions and law. Despite the fact that indigenous peoples had their own customs and cultures, their status as a people was denied. They were considered as animals and people incapable of taking decisions’’. Longkumer (2017:263) cites Frawley ‘’Hinduism is the largest indigenous tradition in the world, which is inclusive of all indigenous traditions (Bhide 2004:xx)”. Furthermore, Hinduism (a subset of Hindutva) falls within the UN and Marriam Webster dictionary definition of ‘’Indigenous’’. Consequently, to understand Hindutva, one has to use the Indigenous Hindu lens and not the colonial or Marxist lens. Yet, Prof Dutta chose the Marxist lens probably with the intention to deliberately falsify and misrepresent Hindutva. Other reasons why the Marxist framework is inappropriate are indicated in subsequent paragraphs.
Distortion of history
Citing Sharma (another Marxist), Prof Dutta claims that Hindutva portrays Muslims as invaders. But several Muslim historians have already described Muslims as ‘’invaders’’ of India. Elliot (1869:44) cites Tarikh Yamini of Utbi (a Muslim historian) who writes ‘’The Sultan gave orders that all the temples should be burnt with naphtha and fire and leveled with the ground’’. Dr Ambedkar (author of Indian Constitution) writes “Mohammad of Ghazni also looked upon his numerous invasions of India as the waging of a holy war. Al’ Utbi, the historian of Muhammad, describing his raids writes: “He demolished idol temples and established Islam. He captured. . .. cities, killed the polluted wretches, destroying the idolaters, and gratifying Muslims. He then returned home and promulgated accounts of the victories obtained for Islam. . . .and vowed that every year he would undertake a holy war against Hind.” Prof Dutta may refer to the 200 pages Part II of Vincent Smith’s Oxford History of India so also the history books authored by R, C. Majumdar or Yadunath Sarkar that chronicle the Muslim invasion and destruction of India. Historian Dalrymple (2015) writing about Islamic conquests of India notes ‘’conquests themselves were marked by carnage and by the destruction of Hindu and Buddhist sites’’. In recent years, Marxists are trying to whitewash the atrocities committed by these invaders.
Disenfranchisement of Muslims: Really?
Prof Dutta’s assertion that India’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) disenfranchise Muslims is blatantly false. Political parties opposed to PM Modi are raising that bogey. The CAA introduces a faster route for Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities (Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsees, and Christians) in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. The USCIRF and United Nations both have documented that non-Muslims face religious persecution in these countries. The dwindling population of Hindus in these countries vouches for it further. The Lautenberg Amendment (1989) and the Spector Amendment (2004) in the USA similarly accorded Jews and other persecuted minorities fast-track citizenship.
Furthermore, every country has its own NRC. India, under Nehru, started preparing one in 1951 but update thereof was stopped by his party, the Indian National Congress (INC) that ruled India 70 odd years. It was politically unsuitable. Most illegal immigrants entering India were Muslims – a potential vote bank for the INC. In contrast, granting citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim refugees was not a priority they were considered the vote bank of the BJP – PM Modi’s party.
Hindu supremacy is a narrative pushed by the Marxists to defame Hindutva. Neither the Hindu scriptures nor the writings of Savarkar or Golwalkar that Baber (2000) cites mention it. Prof Dutta and his ilk are deliberately superimposing such a narrative to thereafter brand Hindutva as fascism – a fraudulent conspiracy.
To educate the Marxists, ‘’ an Islamic supremacy clause constitutionally forbids the adoption and incorporation of laws and regulations that are antithetical to Islamic norms’’ (Dadkhah 2018:95). Luo (2020: para 2) highlights Christian supremacy ‘’ the American church is still struggling to eradicate the legacy of the slaveholding religion’’. Emerson et al. (1999) highlight the black-white divide in the Church. Pluett (2020, para 3) notes ‘’white supremacy permeates all parts of American society, including its religious institutions’’. Interestingly, Marx’s and Engels’s ignorance of non- Western societies (Moore 1975), doesn’t stop Prof Dutta to apply the Marxist lens to Hindutva. His contention of Hindu supremacy is flawed. It would require a comparative study of the supremacy paradigm in various cultures, religions, or ideologies. The Marxist dictatorship of the proletariat is per se a supremacist ideology that led to the subjugation of those branded as bourgeois – conform or perish. Mudslinging Hindutva is easy and a risk-free political strategy as, unlike Marxism, Hindutva theory is predicated on non-violence, making it easy to take a swipe. But non-violence doesn’t mean abdicating the right of self-defense.
Prof Dutta castigates the Chinmay Mission for using cultural strategies to disseminate the supremacy of Hindutva. He makes an outlandish claim that Hindu supremacist doctrine is reflected in the teaching of the Vedas. It is a clear case of misrepresentation to mislead readers. Prof Jain (n.d.) rightly points out ‘’ Without adequate knowledge of Sanskrit and other Indian languages Marx and his followers misinterpreted important Vedic terms’’.
Marxist’s interpretation of Hindu texts often borders insanity. Jain (n.d) notes ‘’ it is indeed difficult to digest such gross generalization such as that the Bhakti movement, which comprised the religious experience and aspirations of a large part of Indian population and which provided a remarkable stimulus to artistic and literary creative activity during almost two millennia, owed its success to the fact that it suited the feudal ideological perfectly and the Gita is no more than a manual for feudal relations’’.
Chinmay Mission website details community programs like tree planting, blood donation, and aged care. Yoga and meditation activities are also routinely carried out in Hindu temples and cultural places. Woodward (2011, p. 53) notes ‘’ Yoga offers an effective method of managing and reducing stress, anxiety and depression and numerous studies demonstrate the efficacy of yoga on mood-related disorders’’. The United Nations General Assembly resolution on 11 December 2014 also acknowledged that ‘’yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being’’ (U.N., 2015, para 5). Harvard University researchers found strong empirical evidence of enormous benefits that result from mindfulness, including its contribution to reducing anxiety levels (Powell, 2018).
Only a Marxist can think that these activities are examples of Hindu supremacist ideology. If it was so, then all community service-related activities such as Christian Yoga, or Christian or Muslim charities would qualify as Christian or Islamic Supremacy, wouldn’t they? The concept of services is alien to the Marxists. They focus instead on power grab and dictatorship.
Prof Dutta’s assertion that Chinmay Mission cultivates Hindu pride and thereby promotes Islamophobia is laughable and indicative of Marxists’ schizophrenia.
Prof Dutta reiterates a fraudulent claim made by another Marxist (Bidwai) and describes the VHP as a terrorist organization. If it was, it would have appeared in the Australian Government’s 26 terrorist organizations list or in the similar lists of New Zealand, UK, or US governments, for example. Most organizations in these lists are Islamic terrorist organizations.
Prof Dutta is hiding from the readers, the US State Department report which listed the Communist Party of India (Maoist) as the deadliest terrorist organization. Even during the rule of nearly seven decades of the Marxist-backed UPA party in India, VHP was never a proscribed organization in India.
Probably, the guilt that the Marxists feel in their heart of hearts, manifests itself in slandering Hindutva and related organizations. Obviously, Prof Dutta’s claim about VHP is unfounded – a product of Marxist delusion. But deliberately providing such misleading information may satisfy the definition of academic fraud.
Islamophobia of the Marxist
Prof Dutta accuses Hindutva forces of Islamophobia but hides from readers the Marxist’s Islamophobia as reflected, for example, by the mass detention of Uyghur Muslims, forcing detainees ‘’to pledge loyalty to the CCP and renounce Islam, they say, as well as, sing praises for communism and learn Mandarin’’ or the building of public toilet at Uyghur Muslim Mosque site. Has Prof Dutta raised the issue of islamophobia by Chinese companies that banned namaz in Pakistan? Muslims should not forget how the Afghan Muslims were treated during communist rule or the ethnic cleansing of Turkish Muslims (Kamusella, 2020) or Bosnian Muslims. Chinese consider Islam to be a mental disease. Such disrespect of Islam is not seen anywhere in the world. Many non-Marxists consider Marxism as a type of delusion or schizophrenia. Thirty years after the fall of communism, people in former Eastern bloc countries feel their lives are happier.
Like the Marxists, Muslims also appear to be Islamophobic, else why would they flee from Islamic Law promised by the Afghanistan Taliban? Similarly, the Shia and the Sunni Muslims hate each other. Pew Research found that ‘’people in countries with large Muslim populations are as concerned as Western nations about the threat of Islamic extremism’’. But why should they be concerned? Haven’t ISIS or ISIL or Taliban promised implementation of Islamic Law? Why did the Christians flee the Middle East? Was it Christian Islamophobia? The genocide of Bangladeshi Muslims was committed by Pakistan, an Islamic country, and these Muslims too found refuge in Hindu majority India. Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar too found a safe haven in India rather than in 50 odd Islamic countries. By seeking refuge in a Hindu majority country, haven’t they demonstrated Islamophobia and simultaneously endorsed that they feel safe in a Hindu majority country?
Did Prof Dutta push the New Zealand or the Chinese government to provide refuge to the Rohingyas or the Afghans? or are these governments Islamophobic and refused to accept Muslims in large numbers? His Marxist moorings preclude him from seeing the reality around, instead he ‘’invents’’ Islamophobia in Chinmay Mission! He is on an expedition to defame and deliberately misrepresents Hindutva. He hallucinates about the threat of Hindutva and makes unsubstantiated claims that are then lapped up by the Marxist ghetto and thereafter reproduced. His claim that Hindutva engages in ‘’othering’’, is again laughable. Actually, his paper ipso facto evidence how Marxist engage in ‘’othering’’ Hindutva. The erection of the infamous Berlin Wall was a monument of ‘’othering’’ by the communists. Marxism inherently involves ‘’othering’’ – proletariat vs bourgeoisie, and so does the proselytizing religions’ creed, otherwise, why would they engage in religious conversions and conquest of ‘’others’’ by crusades?. Hinduism has since antiquity encouraged the free flow of thought and thus nipped in the bud the process of ‘’othering’’. Rigveda asserts ‘’let noble thoughts come to us from all sides’’.
Gramsci advocated in the 1920s that Marxists need to capture bureaucracy, universities, and media-cultural institutions to usurp political power (Sharpe 2020). The effect of this advocacy is seen in many Western universities that were the signatories to the recent Dismantling Hindutva Conference. Academics deconstruct. Dismantle appears to be a word straight from the Marxist lexicon! In particular, the humanities faculties have been captured by the Marxists in many countries, for example, the JNU, Jadavpur, Jamia Milia, the University of Hyderabad in India. These universities are the hotbed of Marxist activities in India and provide the needed academic cover for Maoist and Islamic violence, in league with like-minded political parties and left-friendly media. The neo-Marxist Frankfurt School of Social Research too provided a base. Uhlmann cited by (Sharpe 2020) notes, ’’Frankfurt School academics […] transmitted the intellectual virus to the US and set about systematically destroying the culture of the society that gave them sanctuary’’ during Nazi atrocities.
Rashmi Samant, the first female Indian Oxford Student Union President was harassed by Hinduphobic leftists, evidencing Marxist silencing free voices. It appears that cultural Marxism has made a home for itself in Massey University. But the University needs to be cautious and carefully watch such on-campus sprouting of violent ideologies.
Savarkar writes ‘’ Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva…. Hinduism means the system of religious beliefs found common amongst the Hindu people.’’ Hindutva refers to a ‘’ common classical language Sanskrit and represented by a common history, common literature, art and architecture, law and jurisprudence, rites and rituals, ceremonies and sacraments, fairs and festivals’’. Accordingly, from a Hindu lens (an appropriate framework to use to be fair to the Hindus), cultural Hindutva would encompass languages and literature, poetry and drama (of say, Kalidasa), the bhakti movement, Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra, Vedic civilization, philosophical systems, epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, economics and political science of Kautilya, the work of Tiruvalluvar, surgery of Sushruta, pharmacology of Charaka, Ayurveda, Yoga, meditation, Vedic mathematics, astronomy, ecology, science and technology, war strategies of Shivaji and Bajirao, temple architecture, sculpture, music, dance, paintings, Angkor wat, Bamiyan Buddha to mention a few cultural forms, artifacts and advances of Hindutva besides the community work as well as every day religious practices. Prof Dutta is encouraged to study the nine volumes titled the Cultural Heritage of India published by The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. Hindus are naturally outraged by the Marxist spin on their tradition.
Prof Dutta ends his loaded white paper with a suggestion that Hindutva organizations should be put under a scanner given the global and domestic Islamophobia. Hindutva is an open house and Hindu organizations welcome such scrutiny. Truthfulness, non-violence, non-greed, non-stealing, moderation are the foundations of Hindutva enunciated by Sage Patanjali. These value systems are the very antithesis of the Marxist precept and practices that are characterized by violence, terror, and power-grab as Prof Cohen-Almagor (1991) details.
Pew research study of US Hindus found them as a community to be rich, smart, and pious. They are not only the most financially successful religious groups but are also very well-educated. Hindus occupy top positions in the corporate world, for example, the present CEOs of Google, Microsoft, IBM, Nokia, and Arista Network (a woman) are Hindus. The loser Marxists are naturally antagonistic towards the Hindus. Marxists can’t create, they can only destroy. They live in capitalist countries – the systems they oppose.
While Hindutva would welcome any scrutiny, would Prof Dutta be prepared for similar scrutiny of cultural Marxism and how it is spreading its tentacles in Aotearoa? Such scrutiny in India led to the conviction by the judiciary of a Marxist Professor Saibaba for supporting violent attacks on the police. The Beijing police recently cracked down on Peking University Marxist students. It seems the Marxists are afraid of Marxists! US government recently charged a Harvard as well as an Arkansas professor for hiding funding received from China – an example of Marxist bribery which calls for close scrutiny.
A question that begs an answer is why do the Marxists hate Hindutva?
The genesis of the Marxist hate of Hindutva
Though this topic would require a separate article, mention of a few key points would help. The major ideas of Marx are (a) class conflict: people in power exploit the workers (b) the dictatorship of the proletariat or workers. The transition from capitalism to communism or from private property to collective ownership (c) conquest of political power by workers (d) internationalism or political structure beyond national borders (e) religion is opium leads to the enslavement of workers. We examine the last of these first.
Marx was exposed to Abrahamic religions only and rightly pointed out that they dissuaded people from the truth. But Hinduism is a way of life and not a religion at all. Accordingly, the application of the Marxist framework to Hinduism is flawed ab initio. Consequently, the entire false propaganda edifice built by the Marxists against Hindutva falls flat. Marx was, however, right when he contended that religions are divorced from science, for example, Galileo, was persecuted by the Church. Interestingly, the Marxists too persecuted intellectuals as noted in a subsequent paragraph. However, in Hinduism. science and religious practices flourished simultaneously. Ancient Hindus made significant advances in science and technology, astronomy, and architecture. There was no conflict in science and religion as witnessed in the West. Marx contends that capitalism is oppressive. There is some similarity here as Hindu ethics emphasize, among others, non-greed or asteya. Chamanlal (2014) notes that socialism in ancient India dates back at least three millennia before Marx.
Furthermore, the four varnas of the Hindus are a division of labor so that there is no concentration of power in one Varna – intellectual power (Brahmins), political power (Kshatriyas), economic power (Vaishyas), services, or labor-power (Sudras). Varna is worth-based not birth-based. No hierarchy was implied in the Varna system. The authors of Ramayana (Valmiki) and Mahabharata and hence that of the Bhagavad Gita (Vyasa) would be Dalits even by present-day classification. Apastambha Smriti notes ‘’one should learn from women and shudra as a part of our totality of knowledge about dharma (Olivelle, 2000:15). Interestingly, Gandhi supported Varnashram Dharma while Savarkar opposed it.
Again, Marxists consider themselves atheists. Hinduism too is largely atheism as there is no concept of a creator God. Going by these similarities, one would expect that Marxists would embrace Hinduism over the Abrahamic religions. Paradoxically, the reverse is true. The bête noire of Marxists – Savarkar – advocated scientific temper, dined with Sudras, and was an atheist. Accordingly, the Marxists should like him but they hate him! The Marxists seem to be a confused lot or have nefarious designs.
The major difference between Hindutva and Marxism are: (a) Hindutva emphasizes harmony while Marxist sees conflict everywhere (b) Hindutva emphasizes non-violence but Marxist support violent capture of political power (c) Hindutva is about choice or democracy but Marxism is about dictatorship (d) Hindutva encourages critical thinking. Marxism is about regimentation and subjugation. (d) Hinduism developed out of debates, discussion, and dissent. Charavaka or Buddha or Mahavira could fearlessly dissent from the established Hindu thought. But dissent is disallowed in Marxism. Peaceful demonstrators were crushed under a tank in Tiananmen Square, and intellectuals and critics were branded as capitalist stooges and deported to Siberia. ‘’ The Khmer Rouge, in their attempt to socially engineer a classless communist society, took particular aim at intellectuals, city residents, ethnic Vietnamese, civil servants and religious leaders’’. Up to two million people were massacred by this communist regime. Furthermore, ‘’ During the 20th century, a number of regimes underwent Marxist-style revolutions, and each ended in disaster. Socialist governments in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Cuba, and elsewhere racked up a body count of nearly 100 million people’’ (e) Marxism is about establishing dominance over multiple countries. Hinduism is not interested in subjugating other countries. The Hindutva manifesto is vasudhaiva kutumbakam or the whole world as one family where all beings – not just humans – live in harmony. The peace-loving, non-violent, world-harmonizing Hindutva is the very antithesis of Marxism. Respect for all – humans, animals, nature – is the hallmark of Hindutva, however, dividing humans as per self-decided standards is idiosyncratic of the Marxists. They live in a world of make-believe. Marx considers religion as opiate yet Marxism itself is a religion.
We witness daily the ideological and practical bankruptcy of the Marxists. Internationally, the difference in the standard of living of people in East European countries and the West is apparent. After the fall of the USSR, East Europeans had a sigh of relief. China too embraced the market reforms as Marxism failed to remove poverty. The Marxist who ruled West Bengal state in India for over 30 years, completely ruined the state economy and are responsible for much of poverty in the state found economists Panagaria et al.(2014). The rejection of communists by Indian voters’ election after election is a testimony that people have no faith in their ideology and practice.
Marxism has been expelled across the world. It is to be found only in universities and in research papers produced within a closed club. But instead of introspecting, Marxists make Hindutva their scapegoat. It doesn’t make sense to be obstinate about an ideology when the outcomes thereof are the very opposite of what was intended perhaps by Marx. The proselytizing creeds as well as the Marxists need to learn from Hindutva. They need to learn why Hindutva continues to be the oldest living tradition when others perished with time. The tradition of questioning its own assumptions is seen from Rigvedic time itself (Nasadiya sukta for example). Making amends as required by debates and discussion has been Hindutva’s hallmark. Marxists and others have become like stinking ponds where water does not flow. They are political philosophies aimed at grabbing political power and subjugating the rest. Hindutva is about freedom of thought, harmony, happiness for all (sarve bhavantu sukhino – Brihadaranyaka Upanishad). It will be in their own interest if proselytizing creeds and bankrupt ideologies walk out of the prison, they have built for themselves
In sum, the white paper of Prof Dutta is like a propaganda blog – an anti-Hindutva rant of a frustrated Marxist. Once afflicted by Marxism, one loses critical thinking ability and looks at the world with a jaundiced eye. It is a sort of schizophrenia, a mental disorder that, among others, results in faulty perception, inappropriate actions, and negation even when reality stares at the face. They see conflict everywhere. No wonder the Marxist framework often yields absurd conclusions. Their ‘’manufactured’’ product is consumed by their ilk alone.
Marxists are like the proverbial blind man, searching for a black cat, in a dark room that is not there! Prof Dutta’s work in question resembles Katherine Mayo’s 1930s book titled Mother India. Her outlandish claims had angered Hindus then. Mahatma Gandhi remained silent for months but when pressed for a comment dismissed her work as a drain inspector’s report. Would Gandhi say the same after reading Prof Dutta’s white paper?
For the upset Hindus, my suggestion would be to sit back and relax. As indicated earlier, the law-abiding, non-violent Hindu contributes to enrich the economy and culture of the country wherever she or he lives. Overseas Hindus are IT professionals, engineers, medical doctors, chartered accountants, scientists, lawyers, or business executives. It is common knowledge, in India that the best and the brightest study the above disciplines while the left-overs enroll in disciplines like sociology, history, arts, etc. But going by the Hindu ethos, let us be kind towards them too. After all, they need to earn a living and some, it seems, earn it by spitting on their own ancestry!
 Milind Sathye is an Australian academic. Views personal and as a private citizen.
DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.