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3

This post speaks for itself. Harbir Singh is basically calling for violence against Muslims. I am writing this blog to preempt overreactions and suggest that the only correct answer to what is very wrong is doing what is right in an impeccable manner. Hate and violence is not right. Hindus should not support this, Muslims should not react to this in an inappropriate manner.

harbir Singh Muslim threats
This is a communally inflammatory and offensive post by Harbir Singh already going viral on Social Media.

The post was published here. It has since been taken down and Harbir Singh's profile unavailable (unclear whether deleted or suspended). Harbir Singh is a columnist and works at Capital One. He writes for several newspapers including Times of India, Toronto Sun, New Delhi Times and The Nation (Pakistan).

Two things I can say here:

  1. Let the law deal with him. This is definitely illegal.
  2. Insist that publications that give reach to his voice stop publishing him and evaluate existing content for communally sensitive incitement.

Because India is a highly predictable country and outrage is the default mode, I think it is important that everyone stay calm and not give an unheard of journalist the credibility of either speaking for Hindus or making Muslims speak things they will regret. Don't prove the idiot right by making threats. Don't prove the idiot right by supporting this nonsense.

Keep calm and insist on what is right. We still have the law. We have courts.

5

With Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi due to arrive in the UK, protesters of the Awaaz Network projected an image of Modi holding a sword with an "Om morphing into the Swastika" next to him. This has triggered a lot of outrage and offended feelings among many.

I see it as missing the woods for the trees. I am reminded of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons with their black humor that can show an innocent Syrian refugee child, one of many Syrian refugees no one wants, washed up on the beach, dead just short of reaching safer shores while a MacDonald's poster beckons garishly. Black humor it is called. No one took joy from seeing that innocent dead there in the middle of an otherwise beautiful photograph. No one enjoyed being reminded about it by a cartoon.

Today, there are those who look at the Om morphing into a Swastika and are going into eloquent flights of offense taken. On behalf of "Hindus who revere the symbol", of course, rather than saying "that offended me". As though those doing it were not Hindus with their own sentiments about the symbols - whatever they may be. I think, like that cartoon, the poster that Awaaz Network projected on the British Parliament is a description of reality.

This is what is happening today. People's faith is indeed being morphed into something dark. That is how from revering and worshiping a cow, our "faith" is manifesting as lynchings. That is how countless people with Hindu beliefs are being harnessed to power a political movement. That is how countless people are being conditioned to defend symbols and prevent "offences" to them - EVEN AS THEY OPPOSE THOSE DOING THE CONDITIONING.

The obscenity is not in stating it, the obscenity is in doing it. The poster merely points out that this is happening. I don't think anyone at all missed the meaning of the poster. In choosing to fixate on the specific use of the symbol and delegitimizing its use, we see even those normally opposed to Modi in effect implying "no, he isn't that bad". Because that is what it amounts to, to object to that poster.

Finally, in an atmosphere of overabundance of religious touchiness in India, I would say that even if it actually were an insult, a little responsibility would be welcome in not encouraging a wider audience to learn to take offence.

There is a need to recognize that taking offence is also contagious. When you are supposedly spreading tolerance, the constant stimulation of noticing intolerance will trigger touchiness in the same way one on a diet at a food festival may be tempted to try something that they wouldn't normally. It is up to the evolved mind to recognize where strong emotions arise from, and determine how they may be expressed without being sucked into a game you claim to oppose.

This is not to say that one may not have unfavorable opinions, but the independent mind should attempt to be relatively free of knee jerk reactions triggered by provocation. There are a million ways to object and yet, we find supposedly liberal people providing reasons that are not all that different from those who habitually react with disapproval to perceived insult to religions.

With the same result, probably the reason Awaaz Network chose to project this. It got a lot more attention and triggered a lot more discussion than the average anti-Modi content. Because it speaks an unpleasant truth. A truth that is so unpleasant, that many would shy of voicing it even in criticism. And those who disapprove, as usual, provided it the power to reach more people.

When you don't understand, you react.

When you understand, you respond.

 

3

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar converted to Buddhism on 15 October 1956 at Deeksha Bhoomi, in Nagpur. Around 8 lakh followers converted in his steps. At this time he took 22 vows, more like open declarations. These are a rejection of Hinduism as unequal and something that the upper dominant public "memory" rarely remembers. We'd like to begin and end Ambedkar with the constitution and a few photos.

has now withdrawn a book about Dr Ambedkar from school syllabus, because it contained this "objectionable" content against Hinduism. The publisher had added them in the blank space left after the content of the book - not entirely an inappropriate choice given that these are perhaps 's most influential words ever as a part of the 's largest religious conversion.

So much for the claims of Buddhism being "a part of" Hinduism. Unless their Brahmanical symbols are respected, they will not allow the words. So this Brahmin publishes them with pride on my blog and states that there are still Brahmins who manage to be human beyond indoctrinated prejudices of birth. And there must be more.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar's contribution to the deprived classes of has given him the status of a God among them. Over half a century after his , people come from all over the nation in his memory by the lakhs - something no politician alive has managed beyond rigging up paid crowds and transporting them by bus.

I say his words have legitimacy and deserve to be read. Here are his 22 vows.

  1. I shall have no faith in Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh nor shall I worship them.
  2. I shall have no faith in Rama and Krishna who are believed to be incarnation of God nor shall I worship them.
  3. I shall have no faith in ‘Gauri’, Ganapati and other gods and goddesses of Hindus nor shall I worship them.
  4. I do not believe in the incarnation of God.
  5. I do not and shall not believe that Lord Buddha was the incarnation of Vishnu. I believe this to be sheer madness and false propaganda.
  6. I shall not perform ‘Shraddha’ nor shall I give ‘pind-dan’.
  7. I shall not act in a manner violating the principles and teachings of the Buddha.
  8. I shall not allow any ceremonies to be performed by Brahmins.
  9. I shall believe in the of man.
  10. I shall endeavour to establish equality.
  11. I shall follow the ‘noble eightfold path’ of the Buddha.
  12. I shall follow the ‘paramitas’ prescribed by the Buddha.
  13. I shall have compassion and loving kindness for all living beings and protect them.
  14. I shall not steal.
  15. I shall not tell lies.
  16. I shall not commit carnal sins.
  17. I shall not take intoxicants like liquor, drugs etc.
  18. I shall endeavour to follow the noble eightfold path and practise compassion and loving kindness in every day life.
  19. I renounce Hinduism which is harmful for humanity and impedes the advancement and development of humanity because it is based on inequality, and adopt Buddhism as my .
  20. I firmly believe the Dhamma of the Buddha is the only true religion.
  21. I believe that I am having a re-birth.
  22. I solemnly declare and affirm that I shall hereafter lead my life according to the principles and teachings of the Buddha and his Dhamma.

High time India knew more about Dr. Ambedkar than the carefully controlled "wrote the Indian constitution" which is about the limit of what our upper caste dominated public space has carefully caged him in.

For the curious, Google up why Ambedkar resigned from the cabinet. Spend some time thinking about it, and what it means for concerns we face today. A great leader doesn't deserve to be shoved into a closet of cliches.

A parable about how rituals are born and what they become when they are done for any other reason than the result of the action being performed.

There was once a great zen master of fame far and wide. He had created a school of sorts and disciples flocked from far and wide to be with him. Such was his influence, that his word became a guideline for them to follow. The most important thing he claimed to have taught to the masses was, "Think for yourself!"

backlit silhouette of a monk praying
Monk at prayer in monastery

One day, as the master and students began their morning meditation, the guard dog started barking. No reason could be ascertained, and the dog wouldn't quiet. To restore calm and bring proceedings back on track, the master suggested to his favourite pupil, that the dog be tied in a storeroom at the other end of the building from where, his barking would not disturb them.

On the next day, the same thing happened, and the same solution was followed. On the third, the students, unwilling for their master to be bothered by such a trivial matter regularly, tied up the dog in its designated place on their own.

With the passage of time, it became an automatic procedure. The dog used to be tied in the distant storeroom for the duration of the morning meditation session.

Years passed, and the master, who was already old, at the beginning of our story passed away. A star student of his returned from a distant land to take his place. Disciples came and went, but the dog continued to be tied in the storehouse for the duration of every morning's meditation.

Years passed, and the dog, who was a mere puppy at the beginning of our story passed away too. A new dog was brought to be tied in his place during the morning meditations. Scientific explanations of the benifits of tying a dog in a distant storeroom during morning meditations were proved to be right by the intellectuals of this new school of thought.

And the biggest learning they claimed to learn from the ways of the great departed master was, "Think for yourself!"