In the light of Hitchens’ views on Hindu Nationalism and Hinduism, how hypocritical can the bhakts get?
As the Indian media allows more and more ramblings of the chaddhi-clad Mohan Bhagwat into its airwaves, the Indian public has been yet again subjected to canons of opinions from all sides of the political spectrum. This, as usual, has led to confusion and chaos and the discernment of the actuality of the situation has been clouded. In addition, radicalism has been refueled and ideological myrmidons are on their feet again. However, in the midst of the accusatory exchanges between Hindu nationalists and the left, a very peculiar irony surfaces in form of a tidy question: Do bhakts, who have pro-actively circulated the works of late Christopher Hitchens on social networking sites criticizing Mother Teresa, know what the journalist thought about them and their ideology?
Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of RSS, claimed that Mother Teresa’s social service had an ulterior motive: to convert poor people to Christianity. This is true. The Teresa of Calcutta, an over-hyped media-darling, can be called one of the most successful human PR tools ever used by an organization (in this case, the Roman Catholic Church)
The case against Teresa goes as follows: She preached that contraception (or artificial contraception, as the Roman Catholic Church calls it, as if there’s any other kind) was morally equivalent to murder and that abortion is the greatest threat to world peace. She advocated suffering as a gift from god. She opposed every possible method that lead to women empowerment. She groveled before tyrants, frauds and dictators for money, and justified their regimes with saccharine remarks. All above, combined with others, were the flaws extracted by the late Christopher Hitchens after a detailed study of her life and times.
Hitchens, whose criticisms went in vain if not followed by acerbic commentary, also called her a ‘thieving, lying Albanian dwarf’ and a ‘douchebag’. But as far as Hitchens’ mordancy went, he could justify each and every word he said about anyone- semantically, literary, historically and even philosophically- given the breadth of his tremendous knowledge and intellect.
On the other hand, we have Mohan Bhagwat. A man who has learnt to live with a bitter mouth and a button-tightening paunch. Mr. Bhagwat, unlike old lad Hitchens, comes across as a terrible failure if one was to enquire about his legitimacy as a source of criticism. A sensible, thoughtful and a reasonable individual –not the Indian media – would easily dismiss any statement that has its origins in the extremist Hindu nationalist circles with a flick of the wrist.
But now that we’re stuck with it, a question arises: How should we view Bhagwat’s yammering? What we must concede is the following: that these yammering are accurate claims, but, made by a man who is dangerously wrong and schizophrenically paranoid. If the saffrophile decides to criticize the gaunt Teresa, he has a burden -doubly heavier- to justify the acts carried out by the RSS and other bodies associated with it, particularly the recent conversions. The mass conversions that are being carried out in the corners of the country, and the methods employed by the media to discuss them, have actually made the masses wonder whether ‘reconversion’ is that bad an idea after all.
The RSS, alike the Missionaries of Charity, have been enticing the marginalized and the destituted populace for the sole purpose of converting them to Hinduism in the name of monetary gains. Moreover, unlike Teresa, Hindu chauvinist and fanatics associated with Mr. Bhagwat’s organization have been regularly resorting to militant means of an ugly and sinister nature. Let’s not forget that Missionaries of Charity were never involved in violence. On the other hand, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the notorious militant wing of the RSS, were the main participants in the anti-Muslim pogroms carried out in Gujarat in 2002. From murdering the Mahatma to slaying thousands of innocent civilians, the RSS has never given up on its Mephistophelian values, satisfactorily meeting the definition of the word ‘terrorist’, and that too since a half a dozen decades.
The fact is, had ‘Internet Hindus’ carried out a better research or had read more of Hitchens (an abject expectation at best), they would have also found out that not only Christopher Hitchens castigated Mother Teresa for her questionable religious proselytization, but also harshly critiqued Hindu Nationalism as something that is ‘infinitely more tender to cows than to Muslims’ and called Hinduism a “heathenish polytheism.”
Hitchens always did a great job at making his worldview crystal clear: that religion is a poison and anyone who claims the opposite, and promises divine rewards and enticing necro-prospects, must be distrusted. Had efforts been made to discover such ideas of Mr. Hitchens by the bhakts, there is little doubt that Hitchens would have counted among the league of other public intellectuals whom the Hindu Nationalists detest, for that is what has defined them and their ideology since 3 quarters of a century.
By: Ayush Tiwari