Hindu Nationalism in Politics From the three research studies of Patricia Lawrence, Richard Davis, and Paola Bacchetta, it explains many concepts of Hinduism and how they are used to fuel political agendas. Reading their papers, they explain Hindu nationalism through the prospective of many people, ranging from Kamlabehn, a member of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, who is an atheist, to Vishwa Hindu Parisha who worships the god Rama. Also in these studies I came across, how Hindus would treat people from other religions with animosity.
The Hindus based their situation today on the story of Rama and how he (Hindus of today)defeated evil known as Ravana(the Muslims). Fighting over Rama birthplace is a way the Hindu use to show bhatki or devotion to the god, and see themselves as the warriors of Rama. Many of the groups in the articles below are fighting to get article 370 of the Indian constitution repealed. Article 370 of the constitution, states that Kashmir and Jammu are independent areas in India, though India does provide defense, communications and other necessities.
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Reason why that many Hindus want this article repealed is that the rulers of these areas are Muslims and as a results many Hindus in these regions have had many of their rights ignore, Many are not even allowed to own property in these areas and many have been forced to move out of the region as the Muslims leaders were allowed to do anything with impunity. In Paola Bacchetta, article, All Our Goddesses are Armed, she talks about the Rashtriya Sevika Samiti. An all women organization which is a part of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
A paramilitary volunteer organization that only allowes males to be a part of it. Now, It is the core of the Hindu nationalist movement. Samiti is a paramilitary group that is trying to revolt against the domesticated femininity, and help women have an identity of their own. The Samiti accepts people from a wide range of backgrounds just as long as they are women. (Bacchetta, p. 63) The group overall worships two goddesses, Bharatmata which they share with the Sangh and Astabhuja, who is only worshipped by the Samiti.
Bharatmata is described as belevolent, is violated by the enemies of the Hindu nation. A group in particular is the Muslims. She is referred to her as Parvati and Durga with some interpretations to Devi Mahatmya. (Bacchetta p. 64)The Samiti view the Muslims as an enemy of the Hindu nation in the method that they treat women in their society. Astabhuja also known as the eight-armed goddess, is strictly in the Samiti. She is not as benevolent as Bharatmata, and she also represents the symbol to unify all members. (Bacchetta p. 64)
In Richard Davis’s, article, The Iconography of Rama’s Chariot, He talks about another political force in the India, which is the Bharatiya Janata Party also known as BJP. Its founder Atal Behari Vajpayee is the Founder-President as well as the former Prime minister of India. Another one being the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Hindu fundamentalist group. Both are similar to the Samiti parent organizations, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, in which the BJP also has its roots, in providing equality for the people, but it also has right of center beliefs.
Some of them are a strong national defense, small government and free-market economic policies. In their group they follow the god, Rama. They want to go to the city of Ayodhya, which many Hindus, claim to be the birthplace of Rama and to destroy the mosque of Babri Masjid, to build a new temple for Rama (p. 28) Like the Samiti, they want to get rid of the Muslims as they have taken over certain lands that the Hindus consider to be sacred and in 1992, the mosque was destroyed. Vishwa Hindu Parish, the Fundamentalist group in India and a close political ally of BJP.
Their goals is to make India a Hindu Nation, ( By this, it means any Religion that can trace it’s roots back to India, such as Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism). Put a Stop to Conversion by foreign religions, such as Islam, and Christianity. Completely eliminate the caste system completely and creation of the Rama temple at Ram Janmabhoomi. They attack their Muslim enemies by, first referring to past Muslims, suhch as Babar, Akbar, and Aurangzeb, showing how they are conquerors. Framing the minds of the people of the Muslim Identity being ruthless warriors taking over land. Davis p. 49) While Modern day Islam in India is not like that, the VHP see the current day Muslims morally responsible for the deeds of their ancestors. One way that the Muslims can amend for the acts of violence that their ancestors committed is to return the land that is sacred to the Hindu people. But, there are some problems with retaking Ramjanmabhoomi. The existence of Rama cannot be historically proven. Along with that there is no historical evidence even though there is a strong backing of Rama bhakti tradition.
There has been many disputes secular historians and archaeologists of the evidence based on the Hindu nationalist interpretation. Then there are theories that is was a part of the British plan to divide and conquer India. Then there are those who devote themselves to Kali. Patricia Lawrence explains in her article, Kali in the Context of Terror, that in Sri Lanka, with the civil war raging on, many worshippers have been turning Kali(Lawrence p. 100), the most powerful and ruthless godess in Hinduism. The Tamil people of Sri Lanka are one of these people who have turned to her in these times.
After many years of oppression the Tamil form a group to fight for their self-preservation, they are known as Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam. Or TLLE. (Lawrence p. 103) This came about after independence from the British in 1948, the ones that secured political power were those of higher status. With the government modeled after the British, the Sinhalese people who were the majority acquired most of the power in government. Since the Sinhalese were primarily Buddhism, they gerenally disliked those from other religions primarily the Tamil people, who were for the most part Hindu, (some Tamil were either Christians or Muslims).
After the LTTE, they started to attack many of the Sri Lankan security forces, eventually becoming the dominant separatist group. Many of the LTTE would pray to Kali at temples and encate religious vows by piercing the skin or walking on hot, burning coals. (Lawrence p. 106) Though something interesting came up as the LTTE didn’t appropriate Kali in to their goal, and that is because while most Tamils are Hindus, there are some that are of other religions, and the LTTE is careful when it comes to this in order to avoid people dividing into group. (Lawrence p. 06) Those for hose LTTE members that have disappeared while fighting, many of their families pray to Kali in hopes that they return safe. As of now many people view Kali as the only one who can handle the situation in Sri Lanka, as the fighting gotted to the point where there are retaliatory killings of noncombatants. http://www. kashmirherald. com/featuredarticle/article370. html Class powerpoint, Kalyani Menon, 2008 Lawrence, Patricia Kali In Context of Terror Bachetta, Paola Goddesses are all Armed Davis, Richard The Iconography of Rama’s Chariot