Friday, November 07, 2008

The FUD of Hinduism

From the wikipedia article on FUD.
Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is a tactic of rhetoric and fallacy used in sales, marketing, public relations and politics. FUD is generally a strategic attempt to influence public perception by disseminating negative (and vague) information.


Recently, I, like many of you I guess, received a PDF titled "The Death of Hinduism", which in my opinion was a classic FUD piece that used misrepresentation and cherry-picking of facts to stir up paranoi among Indian Hindus that the Christians were converting everyone away from the right path, and therefore destroying the country. Those who want to spend time reading extreme-right wing paranoid propaganda can click this link, though I do not recommend it as a proper use of your time.

I have had many discussions on this with people, and perhaps will post something on it later [haven't had time to package my outrage properly], but Bharathwaj wrote a wonderful piece on this today. From the post:
I had just sent that person a small email with the following message.

"I dunno who you are and how you got my email Id. But I totally condemn this email. I m a born Hindu and I follow dharma. Whether people get converted or not, or whether the politicans support or not, its finally we who should take care of ourselves. I m living out of the country and I follow Indian tradition and values. I cant go and ask another fellow Indian why he/she is not following it. It just depends on themselves. I can find a lot of extremism in the attachment. Hinduism is all about acceptance and tolerance. That's where we tell "Hindusim is a way of living".


And for all those who doubt his credentials, note that he was the grad student who _did_ the pooja [yes, he, not the panditji from the temple] at the Hindu Students' Organization's Diwali function when I was at USC.

Swami, I'm proud of you! Keep it up!

23 comments:

  1. On this one, I'm with the ppt as well as the tolerance gang. There IS a problem, and being 'tolerant' of it is not going to sort it. I am at peace with the nicer aspects of all religions (Hinduism included), and agitated with the greedy aspects of all religions - Hinduism again included. There IS such a thing as overdoing the tolerance jingoism and losing objectivity. A truly objective view would highlight FUD of the other side of the fence too, and talk about the unethical means resorted to, just to increase headcount and send excel sheet statistics back to the vatican. The Catholic friends I have truly understand the love preached, and are extremely wonderful, talented people I bond with, but the missionaries that my family's come in painfully, tearfully close contact with preach alienation and I've seen them try to blow out my candle to make theirs shine brighter. The anger hasn't died down yet. There's enough statistics to prove that such things are more widespread than we'd like them to be. Of course, the vast tolerance and belief in universality that Hinduism has stood for is still the highest truth. I feel that truth with some, as much as I feel intruded by some others.

    -R

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  2. I can see where people like them come from. It is fed, as you mentioned, by paranoia - people hearing the worst stories and immediately starting to build a fortress around themselves, trying to gather as many people in behind it as they can.

    The problem seems to be stem from a lack of emphasis on the spiritual in any religion. Without it, I believe no choice is really informed, especially in something as personal as religion.

    Organized religion, no matter where you go, is just one big commercial dog-and-pony show, which ends up pushing consequences, rather than providing guidelines/guidance. When the religion an individual practices is governed by ritual, and embedded in FUD of its own ("you will go to hell if you don't do xyz," "you will be bitten by a serpent if you don't pray on Saturdays," or the much discussed "you will have a thousand virgins", etc.) you see a sort of tug of war on the soul. In other words, if I abandon my religion, I am damned, and if I don't embrace the other one, I am still damned.

    All very well if you have a degree and three square meals a day....

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  3. All about money & power. General public has been victim of all sorts of propaganda(religious/economic/political). It is the rule of nature religion & demography is dynamic (for good or bad). we human may not stop this. Just like stock market fall or up it just represents the collective effect of a large population where each one works for his/her personal greed.

    I am not a supporter of any group and I am fine with any religion as long as their is peace & harmony and no religious leader has power/money to decided innocent people's fate because when money & power is available it's misuse of even one organization can have ripple effects.

    Still the world stays real NOT ideal !

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  4. Well, the point of clash is and will always remain in any multi polar country. I just want to know why Missionaries do conversions in the remote areas of India? If they are damn sure about the ethical and moral supremacy of Christianity then why they dont dare to convert people in the places where rich and educated India lives? Why they publish a book maligning each and every possible Hindu God? If in order to covert people from one religion into other i have to use abusive language then where is the point.
    why instead of taking Indian names they take English names (People will give me examples of fused indo-english name)? I dont think there is any bit of relation between culture and religion. why the state of Mizoram has official script as Roman not any other indigenous script? Forceful/Alluring Conversions are completely against the very soul of secularism. Can you tell me any state of India having Hindu majority calling from Independence from India? Its very difficult for a Hindu to reconcile with the fact of his dying civilization. The basis of very civilization is her culture and they Hinduism is a way of living. This 'way of living' is culture and this is entirely different from the "Hindu Religion". People talk about tolerance of Hindu society. Can any one give me any instance when people of India (read Hindus) did not fight against the foreign invaders. Secular living is a different thing while if one sect starts maligning the other sect, retaliations bound to happen. Its a 100% damn fact that the conversions will make India a Hindu minority country if not today then by 100s years later. May be the concept of India is not at risk but the concept of Hindu civilization is completely at stake.

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  5. Also its a well proven fact that the money taken from the Hindu temples is utilized for the well keeping of Mosques.

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  6. @Neeraj:
    "Also its a well proven fact that the money taken from the Hindu temples is utilized for the well keeping of Mosques."
    Please provide a citation for this "well proven fact". Money taken when? Today or 300+ years ago?

    Moving on, I disagree with forced conversions too, and do not like the extreme christians who try to force their religion on others. However, we need to realize that the way to preserve "Hindu culture" is to enforce the law of the land, which actually forbids forced conversions.

    Also, regarding the name thing, I am hearing views all over the spectrum. Some of my hindutva friends tell me how they take english names, while others point out how they are "sneaky" and "maintain their names and even lifestyles". Which is it?

    And finally, if someone wants to really convert out of their own free will, why not let them? What is next, Brahmins talking about how non-Brahmins are joining the ranks of academia, thus causing a death to Brahminism?

    In my opinion, the Hindu way of life is the same as the Indian way of live -- a continually changing entity. The vedic way of live got spoiled the moment we stopped burning our widows and started touching the untouchables, or stopped rigorously following the "ashram" system of the 4 stages of life. Hinduism of that definition has been killed by Hindus themselves, if you look at it that way.

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  7. @R: "but the missionaries that my family's come in painfully, tearfully close contact with preach alienation and I've seen them try to blow out my candle to make theirs shine brighter."

    I completely agree, and indeed, extremist christians are not a breed that I like. What I want junta to realize that we [Hindus/Indians/whatever] are not at threat from "christianity" but from "extremism".

    But we don't see a PPT on that being emailed around, do we? I wonder if it due to the fact that human beings find it too tough to think along complicated lines.

    My stance: Dear govt., please enforce the law of the land. It will stop forced conversions, as well as "retaliatory" killings.

    But we don't see the govt. doing that, do we? In addition to the appeaser-Congress party, not even the BJP govt in K'taka has caught the crazy missionaries distributing literature maligning Hinduism. How many missionaries were caught in the 5 years of the NDA govt.? Ever wonder why even when the BJP was in power, it was not "saving Hinduism"? My take -- because solving a problem means that you can no longer campaign to solve that problem.

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  8. The BJP government has banned the very guy who wrote the book Haqeeqat (written by MJ Mathew). I dont want to say what he has written (believe me it is the worst abusive book). I do believe that Hinduism is continuously evolving entity. But I can not accept people after converting adopting new names. Why a new Muslim needs to have an Arabo-Persian name instead of Indian name. Why he needs to learn Arbic script. Why Urdu has an Arabic script? Why not Devanagiri? People needs to differentiate between a culture and a religion. Persians (Zoroastrians) are the best examples. Although they are less than a lac in India and they are living here for more than a thousand years there is not stroy every heard about their tension with Hindus. Then why there is tension with Christianity? The spread of Christianity is as bloody as the spread of Islam and this is more than strong enough reason to make any hindu to tremble.
    If i want to convert to Islam, why i have to change my to name to Abdul, Kareem to etc etc... I abhor caste system and even Idol-Worship to some extent. I completely understand the how the very impurities penetrated in hindusim post Gupta period. We are evolving and we have rectified quite a lot. We abolished Sati Pratha, Child marriage, even to caste system to some extent. These are no minor achievements in last 200 years or so. When people were condemning Darwin's theory Hinduism was evolving. I am totally against the extremism of any form be it hinduism or any other religion. I also believe that the law of land is strong enough to take care of them.

    As far as money taken from hindu temples. I am talking about post 1947. I dont have a proof at this moment but i read it some where few years back in a highly reputed book.

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  9. @neeraj: Following your why-change-name issue -- I am assuming that you are _not_ in agreement with my other hindutva-is-in-danger friends who claim that the christians are actually taking Hindu names so that the Hindus do not realize the true extent of conversions. Right?

    But wait, when a white guy joins the ram krishna mission, is he not given a Sanskrit name? When Narendranath changed his name to Vivekanand, wasn't that a problem too? Why do our missiles have Sanskrit names and not Tamil ones?

    Dude, let people take whatever name they want. It is their freedom to choose.

    Also, urdu has a Farsi script because it was invented as a language between the then rulers of India and the locals. Of course, the rules chose the script. Why focus on that instead of the fact that urdu is grammatically identical to Hindi.

    Nice to see you asking for the law to be upheld, but why give BJP a clean chit by abolishing ONE person? Is that achievement enough in 5 years?! How are they upholding the law against the extremist christians today in Karnataka?

    In any case, good discussion :). I think I will dedicate a full on this.

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  10. "Dear govt., please enforce the law of the land. It will stop forced conversions, as well as "retaliatory" killings."


    I guess, this is what so called extremist Hindu parties urge.




    As for the violence: read this link [warning: I read this news in local news paper as I stay near to this place. The actual news in local news paper was that catholic "sales" guy were openly alluring poor people by offering cash.. but alas this link tells the just opposite]
    http://www.christianpost.com/article/20070110/anti-christian-attacks-continue-in-india-over-new-year.htm

    As I believe and will continue to believe that wherever there is money there is power and potential misuse. No one is good or bad. Just give all money to Hindu organization (or to any damn group)... They will do the same thing..

    Remember golden days of India/Hinduism ... It was because Asia Pacific region was rich and powerful at that time.

    [See the power of money.. I really couldn't search the news which I read in local paper a year back... because anti Hinduism news don't get coverage]

    Indian are poor ..and they will take sides of anybody who comes to help them be it naxelites/ terrorists or catholics.
    It's all due to the failure of govt.


    Lastly I would say just one thing there is a logical difference between "Common knowledge" & "the fact"
    And the fact is conversion for money is taking place (it is not forceful ... !)... and they buy people from where they are cheap to get.

    Simple & selfish "FREE" trade !!!

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  11. @pankaj:
    "Dear govt., please enforce the law of the land. It will stop forced conversions, as well as "retaliatory" killings."

    The word retaliatory was in air-quotes to signify that I do not blindly buy the black-and-white story of "hindu angst made me rape that girl" :).

    My demand was for the govt to catch the guys who convert tribals to christians illegaly, as well as those who burn and rape to protect "dharma".

    I like your money and power point, and indeed, that is what this is all about. The threat is not to "Hinduism" or any other religion, but to moderatism and middle-class-ness.

    But until we see it for what it is, we will keep cutting the pie in the "religion" dimension, and end up killing people, or condoning violence, either overtly or covertly.

    BTW, on the alternative media front, maybe your local friends may want to post on merinews.in -- it allows citizen journalism.

    Neeraj: Given that you understand the moderate streak in all religions and oppose extremism, what do you propose is the solution to this threat to Hinduism?

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  12. Following your why-change-name issue -- I am assuming that you are _not_ in agreement with my other hindutva-is-in-danger friends who claim that the christians are actually taking Hindu names so that the Hindus do not realize the true extent of conversions. Right?

    100 % right

    About missiles taking Sanskrit names. i do agree these van have Tamil names as well. But to the very fact that "Old Tamil Literature" i.e. the Sangam literature is very much akin to Sanskrit and Tamil has inherited quite a lot Sanskrit words. Another point is about givings names from a dead language. As the dead language does not change.. so its good for those names... similar is taken by the west in using Latin words... .

    I am not giving BJP government a clean chit but atleast it has done some thing...

    I do know.. that Persian, Sanskrit, Hindi and Urdu all are very closely knitted language... derived from the same source... the Avestan/vedic language... But the script is not Avestan or vedic.. The script is entirely Arabic.. Why in India we need Arabic? We can have Devanagiri script for Hindi. Mind it it will make relations between Hindu and Muslims more cordial.

    Your logic behind changing the name is not strong. There is always an added condition of changing your name after converting to Islam. I dont know a Muslim convert having an Indian name.

    I am against any sort of extremism or fundamentalism. But my point will always remain... if you want to save your country, you have to save its culture, civilization and people else its just a piece of land and humans are wild beasts.
    Indeed its a nice discussion..

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  13. Neeraj: Given that you understand the moderate streak in all religions and oppose extremism, what do you propose is the solution to this threat to Hinduism?

    Hinduism can only be saved by telling the people what Hinduism exactly is. How its different from Christianity? In village people generally dont know Christianity. they think that Christianity is some other Hindu sect and they just start worshipping Christ (without knowing what exactly he he did). A common tendency of Hindus. We worship all the saints be it Khwaja Sahab, or Piya Hazi Ali or Jesus. what a great quality we have. Christians take advantage of this very fact. Hinduism can only be saved by serving the poor, backward, illiterate Hindus with double the zeal of Christian missionaries. We have to win their hearts. We have to tell them how great our religion is? I feel ashamed when i read a Nun raped by fanatic Hindus. Its a real shame. These fanatics are doing no good to Hinduism.

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  14. @Neeraj: Thanks for clarifying your stance on the name change part, that indeed the Christians who convert from Hinduism _do_ change the names as a rule.

    Regarding urdu, the script is Farsi, not Arabic [different scripts]. It is something that people have been using for some time now. Do you think forcing junta to abandon their script will cause less damage than it will create harmony? I am sure you understand how easily it will be used by extremist muslims to say that majority Hindus are forcing their will on them.

    The argument of Sanskrit being a "dead language" and hence being good for naming is a weak one, sadly. The tomahawk cruise missile is not named in Latin, and I am sure there are words in ancient Tamil and we can have a raja vali, or Murugan missile if we wanted to.

    "I am not giving BJP government a clean chit but atleast it has done some thing..."
    So, to be consistent, you have similar feelings for Congress given it caught/killed Atif and gand, thereby 'doing something', right? My take -- they have both failed!

    "There is always an added condition of changing your name after converting to Islam."
    Good point. I will check with my friends and get back. But am curious, if a christian converts to Hinduism, is he allowed to keep his christian name? I am wondering if this is a property of the "conversion process" or that of Islam or Christianity specifically.

    "if you want to save your country, you have to save its culture, civilization and people else its just a piece of land and humans are wild beasts."
    Beautiful point, and same with your anti-extremism stance.

    Indeed, I would love to educate our fellow-citizens about the culture of the country. But am always confused, what does it mean to be an Indian? Do we have a list we can refer?

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  15. Farsi script is nothing but derived from Arabic. It was formed as result of Arab occupation of Persia post 700 AD.

    Well, you have to be Secular fundamentalist. We have to be like Kamal Attaturk who transformed the entire nation.

    I do agree.. we can have Tamil, Telugu, Kannada names... Good point..

    I dont think one require to change his name when he converts to Hinduism. if its the case then its totally wrong. I dont think people are required to go through a formal process to become Hindu. If its the case then its against its formal doctrine..

    There are many books... but the best way to define india and find an Indian in you is to travel across the entire piece of beautiful land.. they call India... :)

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  16. @all: Minor addition, while we are in agreement that extremism and violence is wrong, and talking about solutions, you may want to read my comments on this post at mutiny. If you are short on time, just scroll all the way down and read my last comment :).

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  17. Agree that Farsi and Arabic may have common roots, but the point remains, asking urdu to be written in devnagri is similar to asking bangla to be written in devnagri, or if you are feeling more adventerous, asking Marathi to be written in Devnagri. Do we really want to try that? If it ain't broken, don't fix it is what I say :).


    "There are many books... but the best way to define india and find an Indian in you is to travel across the entire piece of beautiful land.. they call India... :)"
    Indeed, and that is perhaps the best way, but on a practical way, if you and I both agree that there is a problem of junta not knowing what being "Indian" means, then don't we need to come up with a concrete set of points? Otherwise, it will be open to interpretation, and the inconsistencies will creep in. So yeah, we need a list. What are the _common values_ of all Indians? Until we define them, this line of action will not bear fruit. After all, don't the extreme Hindus also claim that they _understand_ what being Indian is all about? Clearly, their views are all not the same as yours or mine :).

    "Secular fundamentalist." Good oxymoron, and indeed, kinda like militantly moderate, which I also agree is the solution :).

    Regarding the conversion to Hinduism, it happens, just ask anyone who has been accosted by a hare-krishna at the airport, so I am sure there is a process now. Can you please find our more about it, while I check the name-change-in-other conversion angles?

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  18. Will do that...

    anyways nice discussion so far.. Will write down lines.. defining Indian..

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  19. Sounds good.
    Also, please find time to read my comments on the mutiny post I linked to. It is geared towards the "solution" angle.

    as I say in chat, over, and out :).

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  20. @Neeraj: Just checked with my muslim and catholic friends here. Statement of fact: Neither Islam nor Christianity _requires_ a name change upon conversion. There is actually a girl in my group who converted to Islam and did not change her name.

    So yes, name change: not needed, but perhaps done by the priest-in-question anyways. Then it becomes a problem of implementation, not of the idea itself.

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  21. Discussion is very intersting, i would like to give the missing data which animesh bhaiya asked for

    "In 2002, the Karnataka Govt.’s revenue from temples
    was Rs.72 crores. Out of this, 50 crores were given to
    Madrassas, 10 crores to Churches and only 10 crores to Temples."

    "Abdul Rehman Antuley was made a trustee of the
    famous Siddhi Vinayak Temple in Prabhadevi, Mumbai.
    Can a Hindu - say Mulayam or Laloo - ever become a
    trustee of a Masjid or Madrassa?"

    Let us proudly say we are secular and we are not a victim of some paranoia, let us be human first, so what if Hindu population is decreasing..dont fear friends

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  22. @Mayank. Nice assertions. Citation Needed.

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  23. you want links or what?
    regarding antuley, type his name and you would get loads of documents


    Regarding distribution of funds: it was published in Daily Pioneer, October 7,2003.

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