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David19
July 25th, 2009, 07:04 PM
I've been reading this section (http://www.hindubooks.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=723) of an online book by David Frawley (http://www.vedanet.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20), and he asks what makes a Hindu fundamentalist, which, apparantly, in the Indian media, and the world, the label fundamentalist is applied wrongly. He says:


While the news media of the Western World, and of India itself, speaks of Hindu fundamentalism, no one appears to have really defined what it is. Is there a Hindu fundamentalism comparable to Islamic or Christian fundamentalism? Using such a term merely assumes that there is, but what is the evidence for it? Are there Hindu beliefs of the same order as the absolute beliefs of fundamentalists Christianity and Islam ?

It is questionable that, whatever problems might exist in Hinduism, whether fundamentalism like that found in Christianity or Islam can exist at all in its more open and diverse tradition which has many names and forms for God, many great teachers and Divine incarnations, many scares books, and a pursuit of self-realization that does not recognize the existence of any eternal heaven or hell. There is no monolithic faith called Hinduism with a set system of beliefs that all Hindus must follow which can be turned into such fundamentalism.

Fundamentalists groups insist that theirs is the only true God and that all other Gods or names for God are wrong. Islamic fundamentalists insist that the only God is Allah, even though these also refer to a Supreme Being and Ultimate Spiritual Reality such as Allah is supposed to be. Christian fundamentalists will not accept Allah or Brahman a names for God as they conceive Him to be.

Hindus with their many names and forms for God don't mind accepting the Christian name God or even Islamic Allah's referring to the same reality, though they may not use these names in the same strict or exclusive sense as Christians or Muslims. A belief in God is not even necessary to be a Hindu, as such non-theistic Hindu systems as Sankhya reveal.

Fundamentalists groups insist that theirs is the only true God and that all other Gods or names for God are wrong. Islamic fundamentalists insist that the only God is Allah, even though these also refer to a Supreme Being and Ultimate Spiritual Reality such as Allah is supposed to be.

There are 24 pages to that section, but, the pages themselves aren't long at all (maybe a couple of paragraphs at most), so, it won't take you long to read the entire section, but, would you agree with Frawley?, do Hindu fundamentalists exist, or is fundamentalism more limited to Christians and Muslims?, is fundamentalism the right word for those Hindus that might hold wrong views (e.g. oppression of women, arranged marriages, the Caste system, etc)?.

For myself, and, I don't know too much about Hinduism (but, I want to learn), or the the politics of India, but, I think every religion or tradition (including Atheism) has its fundamentalists, the ones who see there way as the best way, the ones who think other people would be happier with their way, or the ones that, while professing "tolerance" will always laugh about, s****** at or make fun of Christians and Muslims and their beliefs (and the more anti-Semitic ones will target Jews too), that's something I've seen happen in Paganism, I don't know if that happens in Hinduism (although, some of Frawley's writings, and others, seem to verge on that, with the exception of attacking Jews).

What about you, though?.

BenSt
July 26th, 2009, 05:42 PM
I don't think that it's easy to really define fundamentalism, because I think that it exists in different contexts. I mean certainly in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the dangerous narrow form of fundamentalism comes from different sources and has somewhat different attributes.


For myself, and, I don't know too much about Hinduism (but, I want to learn), or the the politics of India, but, I think every religion or tradition (including Atheism) has its fundamentalists, the ones who see there way as the best way, the ones who think other people would be happier with their way, or the ones that, while professing "tolerance" will always laugh about, s****** at or make fun of Christians and Muslims and their beliefs (and the more anti-Semitic ones will target Jews too), that's something I've seen happen in Paganism, I don't know if that happens in Hinduism (although, some of Frawley's writings, and others, seem to verge on that, with the exception of attacking Jews).



There are 24 pages to that section, but, the pages themselves aren't long at all (maybe a couple of paragraphs at most), so, it won't take you long to read the entire section, but, would you agree with Frawley?, do Hindu fundamentalists exist, or is fundamentalism more limited to Christians and Muslims?, is fundamentalism the right word for those Hindus that might hold wrong views (e.g. oppression of women, arranged marriages, the Caste system, etc)?.


I think that we have to be careful here. Arranged marriages have logic behind them, mainly that marriage in the south asian context is used as a political, economic and traditional tool. It can't simply be said to be a wrong view, or a right view. It really does depend.

I think that Frawley is writing a very carefully written piece here, however it is also a piece that is very deceptive as well. The context of fundamentalism in Hinduism isn't based around Gods or traditions... but instead based around social norms and institutions, as well as the propogation of a perticular religious further and pride that borders on the racist (and at other times, blatantly racist)

In this section, Frawley asks questions...but these are loaded questions. The first question for example, subtly creates a parallel between religions that have a Hell and those that don't. Ofcourse a Hindu wouldnt condemn a non-hindu to Hell, because they don't have hell in Hinduism... however, death threats are made against people who do criticise hindu custom, like the film maker Deep Mehta.



What Hindu has ever condemned non-Hindus to an eternal hell, or issued declarations asking for the death of anyone for merely criticizing Hindu belief? Where have Hindus ever stated that it is punishable by death to criticize Krishna, Rama or any other great Hindu leader? There are certainly plenty of book, including many by Christians and Muslims, which portray Hinduism in a negative light.


However, I will give him this... he makes a good point in the following:



Traditional Hindus do exist. There are Hindus who are caught in conservative or regressive social customs, like untouchability or mistreatment of women, which should not be underestimated. There are serious problems in Hindu society that must be addressed, but these should be examined as per their nature and cause, which is not some uniform Hindu fundamentalism but wrong practices that are often contrary to real Hindu through.

To lump them together as problems of Hindu fundamentalism fails to examine them adequately but, rather, uses them as a scare tactic to discredit Hinduism as a whole. There are some Hindus who may believe that their religion is superior and want to keep it separate from other religions. In this regard they are no different than orthodox Christians and Muslims.

However, that being said... there are elements I really disgree with in this very sentiment. By saying that these issues are merely issues to be addressed and that they are contrary to true Hindu thought...is making a mistake. Because then you are suggesting what is and what is not true hinduism. If they are contextual, then thre is something to work with...but I think Frawley is showing himself in this statement.

I really didn't both to read more past this to be honest David because I find this piece of work to be very decievingly written. We know that within Hinduism there is a system that has developed that links all of the different sects and traditions. I'm becoming more and more aware of this oneness as I have chance to look more into the system of Sampradyas. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that the fundamentlism I see, atleast, is the ethnic/linguistic and nationalistic ideas of Hinduism that is seeping into politics. These ideas are taken up not by specific groups, but by pan-Hindu groups that share common ideals that are commonly found in Hinduism. I know I talked about the BJP and Hindutva in another thread, but it's these types of groups that we see as being fundamentalists because of the types of actions they perform. Frawley wrote:



Hindus are called fundamentalists for wanting to retake a few of their old holy places, like Ayodhya, of the many thousands destroyed during centuries of foreign domination. Several Hindu groups are united around this cause. This, however, is an issue oriented movement, not the manifestation of a monolithic fundamentalism. It is a unification of diverse groups to achieve a common end, not the product of a uniform belief system.


He's basing the definition of fundamentalist on the christian context, and the more well known context, and ignoring the dangerous trends that exist in the hindu context. He says here that this is an issue oriented movement... but the issue did not exist before it was made into an issue. The controversy of Ayodhya is still a major thing and it was here that fundamentalism poked it's head. the groups that were 'united' here... are all proponents of an India without any 'foreigners'... including Muslims, Christians... infact, all religious groups not categorized as Hindu. So, in this way, I can easily say that Frawley is wrong in his assement and that there are groups that are proponents of a monolithic set of principles... that is, those principles that are categorized as being Dharmic.

I would read this page here for a much broader definition, although it's wikipedia I think it does a good job.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalism#Hinduism

David19
July 29th, 2009, 10:08 AM
I think that we have to be careful here. Arranged marriages have logic behind them, mainly that marriage in the south asian context is used as a political, economic and traditional tool. It can't simply be said to be a wrong view, or a right view. It really does depend.

Thanks for correcting me, I admit I don't know too much about the context of arranged marriages, I can understand that, from one POV, they make some sense (e.g. like you said, for political, economic, etc motives/tools).


I think that Frawley is writing a very carefully written piece here, however it is also a piece that is very deceptive as well. The context of fundamentalism in Hinduism isn't based around Gods or traditions... but instead based around social norms and institutions, as well as the propogation of a perticular religious further and pride that borders on the racist (and at other times, blatantly racist)

That's what I'm finding from learning more (from both you, and reading some of Frawley's writings and other Hindu Nationalists). It seems some seem to have a really India-centric view of things (like apparantly, viewing Hinduism as the most perfect religion, and all religions evolved from them, or making Zoroaster into a renegade Brahmin (maybe you can correct me, but, I've never read in any historical sources that Zoroaster was connected at all with the Brahmins, in fact, he was Persian, and was more a reformer in the ancient Persian religion, I'm not sure if he ever visited India or not, though).


In this section, Frawley asks questions...but these are loaded questions. The first question for example, subtly creates a parallel between religions that have a Hell and those that don't. Ofcourse a Hindu wouldnt condemn a non-hindu to Hell, because they don't have hell in Hinduism... however, death threats are made against people who do criticise hindu custom, like the film maker Deep Mehta.

I haven't heard of Deep Mehta, is he Hindu or Muslim (or Christian)?, how come death threats were made against him?.




He's basing the definition of fundamentalist on the christian context, and the more well known context, and ignoring the dangerous trends that exist in the hindu context. He says here that this is an issue oriented movement... but the issue did not exist before it was made into an issue. The controversy of Ayodhya is still a major thing and it was here that fundamentalism poked it's head. the groups that were 'united' here... are all proponents of an India without any 'foreigners'... including Muslims, Christians... infact, all religious groups not categorized as Hindu. So, in this way, I can easily say that Frawley is wrong in his assement and that there are groups that are proponents of a monolithic set of principles... that is, those principles that are categorized as being Dharmic.

I remember you saying that in the other thread, that they seem to want to make religions like Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, even Zoroastrainism, into a subset of Hinduism, and "foreign" religions, like Christianity and Islam, wouldn't be welcome there, although, I've also read the Wikipedia article on Hindutva (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindutva), and it says:


The term Hindu in the conviction as well as in the constitution of the RSS is a cultural and civilizational concept and not a political or religious dogma. The term as a cultural concept will include and did always include all including Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Muslims, Christians and Parsis. The cultural nationality of India, in the conviction of the RSS, is Hindu and it was inclusive of all who are born and who have adopted Bharat as their Motherland, including Muslims, Christians and Parsis. The answering association submit that it is not just a matter of RSS conviction, but a fact borne out by history that the Muslims, Christians and Parsis too are Hindus by culture although as religions they are not so.

I was just wondering is the Hindutva movement considered in the same league as the groups you mentioned, or is it more liberal than the other groups?.



I would read this page here for a much broader definition, although it's wikipedia I think it does a good job.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalism#Hinduism

Thanks for that.

BTW, there's another link that I've found that Frawley is associated with, it's:

http://www.burningcross.net/

Basically, from the articles on it that I've read, it seems, IMO, just to be really fundamentalist, for example, it has to idea that everything good is somehow Indian or Hindu in origin, that even Zoroastrianism is Indian in origin, it is really anti-Christian (and I'm assuming they're anti-Muslim too, although the site is more focusing on Christianity), etc. Just from reading the site, I think they can really benefit from reading great Hindu's like Parmahansa Yogananda (www.yogananda-srf.org), Swami Vivekananda (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swami_Vivekananda), Sri Ramakrishna (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramakrishna), or Sai Baba (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sathya_Sai_Baba). I know Hinduism is very, very diverse, but, I think, those are great examples of what Hinduism.

Garm
August 6th, 2009, 04:26 AM
I find this obfuscation on Frawleys part rather disgusting

I don't have the competence to wade in to the theological arguments and certainly Toby's reply was very comprehensive but I have tried to learn a bit about the history of the region and it strikes me the Indians have had a way of sweeping the post partition violence under the rug.

Half a million, one million, two million, the figures vary, but a huge number of people were slaughtered in a frenzy of religion based identity politics. It was a two way street and the Muslim leadership bore just a bit more responsibility for provoking the situation but the Hindus were prepped for it in advance and were quick to escalate the situation every step of the way.. The underlying current is still there, that's why India and Pakistan feel they have to keep nukes pointed at each other.

Fundamentalist has become a term to describe religiously inspired violence in addition to adherence to dogma, perhaps unfairly to the majority of Fundys

But given that such a definition, fairly or not, has become common currency, there are and have been Hindus to whom this can apply

Infinite Grey
August 6th, 2009, 05:27 AM
Fundamentalism is wicked easy to indentify and define - simply it means: Strict adherence to a set of principles - often but not nessessarily religous in nature. Often it a result of and/or hostile towards perceived doctrinal compromises found in the modern world.

In the west, we see mostly Abrahamic religious fundamentalism and have come to associate it as Frawley seems to do, with monotheism and the concept of "one true god" - but these traits are not necessary for fundamentalism.

Hinduism has a great deal of fundamentalism - hell the biggest population of creationists are Hindu believing the Hindu creation myths as being literal.

In Nepal, you still occasionally get human sacrifices and the like up in remote areas.

Gaudior
March 15th, 2011, 07:21 PM
People are people. There are extremists and fundies in all walks of life. Hinduism is no exception here. There are some who believe that Westerners are Mlecchas (barbarians) and have no right to practice Hinduism whatsoever. Some have a great hatred for Abrahamic faiths (which, to some extent can be understood given that there are unfortunatly Christians and Muslims who terrorize others in India) and anyone associated with them.

It used to bother me but not so much anymore. I just realize that, again, people are people, and for all the fanatics there are in any walk of life, there are many more who are not :) We all have flaws. I choose to focus on the positive, rather than the negative.