Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The matrix of secularism

You are born secular*#@. (Read definition below first to understand what is secular, so that you are not confused with real secularism.)

Most likely, your parents were born secular too. In the unlikely event your parents are not born secular, you are most likely considered uncool by your society around you.

Your school was secular. They taught you a sanitised form of history. Your subjects were secular. In your school in all likelihood, they did not teach you Indian epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata. Neither do you learn much about Chanakya or Sushrusha. You learnt precious little about Hindu culture. You had zero exposure to the vedas if at all. You learnt in English. If at all, you may have ended up taking Sanskrit as a second or third language at best. Your mother tongue if you are lucky might have been another language that you took - but thanks to Central and other boards, this is on the way out. If you can read books in any language other than English, consider yourselves lucky. You learnt very little about the Indian freedom struggle - other than Gandhi and Nehru. You learnt even little about the Maratha empire, except in cursory terms. As regards the history of the South of India - don't even ask - it is not even part of the syllabus. You learnt about the greatness of the Mughal empire while their atrocities were sanitized. Jaziya? That was just a tax. The English? Again, you learnt that they oppressed, but very little of their actual crimes against the country. The Portuguese? No - not a word about inquisition.

As for your children going to school today - they are learning an even more sanitized version of the same.

Your relatives are secular. They are modern. They don't follow much of your archaic customs. If you follow too much of your customs - you are way uncool. Go to temples? Pah, thats for oldies. Satsang? Bhajans? No way. Rock concerts - oh yes. Bolly pop - yay indeed. Western classical - ah, now you are talking.

If you celebrate Karwa Chauth  - that is patriarchal. Ganesh Chaturthi is noisy. Diwali is polluting. Holi wastes water. Jallikattu is bad for animals. Navratri is bad because it causes abortions (somehow). Everything else is regressive.

If you are lucky, you may have learnt classical music and dance - atleast in the South of India that is prevalent. Though for some reason, piano classes and western classical is preferred as cultural education these days. Like German and French are cooler subjects to take in school.

Your media and news are secular, brought up as they are in leftist beliefs. So, you learn that your festivals are to be celebrated silently, preferably in your closets. They tell you that discriminatory laws depending on which false gods you worship are the norm in all countries. They tell you that despite nearly half a century of encouraging religious terrorism, Pakistan is a secular state. They still tell you that we need peace with a country like Pakistan. Why secularism is linked with Pakistan, is a mystery I haven't figured myself - except for the fact that ISI is a good paymaster.

The media divas and journo tycoons find nothing wrong in anything that Congress does or ever ask Soniaji to give an interview or write an oped asking for her statesmanship. Again, don't ask me how is this connected to secularism. They almost whitewashed all of Congress corruption by painting all Indians as endemically corrupt.

Your media is driven by leftists who will never tell you the truth - about Rahul Gandhi for instance. Or Kamlesh Tiwari. Or Rafique Taliparamba. Or Sanal Edamaruku. Or Saif Ali Khans and Sharmila Tagores secularism for that matter. Because it is uncool to talk about the Christian and Islamist aggression in India. They will never tell you about them. If you talk conversion - you are immediately branded RSS (and somehow RSS is a bad word - despite its service to the nation from time immemorial). And somehow talking about Christian interference in politics from Kerala to Mizoram is bad. Or about calling Islamists out - that is also bad for some reason.

Even the Gita and Vande Mataram are deemed unsecular. Yoga is getting there. Ayurveda - well, they have told you that is mostly made of toxic metals that are bad for you. Hindu pilgrimages are bad - for the environment (Amarnath), patriarchal (Sabarimala), corrupt temples(Tirupati) or unhygienic (Kumbh Mela). Besides donating to temples is bad - they want you to donate to Christist NGOs.

And after all this, you rebel in your teenage years - against any imposition of Hindu culture on you - little realizing that you are playing into the very hands of what Macaulay wanted you to be. Read this Minute - point 7 onwards and you will know what I mean.  Point 16 stands out:

Another instance may be said to be still before our eyes. Within the last hundred and twenty years, a nation which had previously been in a state as barbarous as that in which our ancestors were before the Crusades has gradually emerged from the ignorance in which it was sunk, and has taken its place among civilized communities. I speak of Russia. There is now in that country a large educated class abounding with persons fit to serve the State in the highest functions, and in nowise inferior to the most accomplished men who adorn the best circles of Paris and London. There is reason to hope that this vast empire which, in the time of our grandfathers, was probably behind the Punjab, may in the time of our grandchildren, be pressing close on France and Britain in the career of improvement. And how was this change effected? Not by flattering national prejudices; not by feeding the mind of the young Muscovite with the old women's stories which his rude fathers had believed; not by filling his head with lying legends about St. Nicholas; not by encouraging him to study the great question, whether the world was or not created on the 13th of September; not by calling him "a learned native" when he had mastered all these points of knowledge; but by teaching him those foreign languages in which the greatest mass of information had been laid up, and thus putting all that information within his reach. The languages of western Europe civilised Russia. I cannot doubt that they will do for the Hindoo what they have done for the Tartar. [Macaulay Minute]

Now, Imagine this matrix. You are born secular. You are taught secular. You are fed secular.  You red secular books  in general. How can you read anything indic? The great authors were all Westerners after all. How will grow up to be anything but secular in this matrix?

Except that there is the internet. And you can choose to take the red pill - rather the saffron pill of real secularism. If you don't, you are a product of the matrix of secularism. Congrats.

*Secular: This means that you are modern. You hate most Hindu traditions - but on the other hand, you are ambivalent towards most Abrahamic traditions. You hate many Hindu practices - like putting a bindi on your daughters forehead, or tying a thread around the wrist or worshipping at temples. You hate yourself for being a Hindu. You believe in soft Hinduism - that should not raise its voice about anything, but others are entitled to burning down things at the slightest non- provocation. You believe in limited freedom of speech - especially if some people get offended, then that freedom of speech is not good. You are perfectly ok with Hindus discarding their practices and religions, and equally at home when the other religions go down the opposite side. It is perfectly ok for someone to insult Hindu deities, but it is not ok for someone to do the same for other religions. It is ok for someone to question Hindu traditions, but not ok for someone to do the same for other religions. It is ok  for books written that denigrate Hindu practices, but not ok for books that do the same to other religions.  MF Hussain paintings are good, Hebdo cartoons were of course, provocative. Hindu fasting on Ekadashi are bad, but Ramzan fasting is good. A sufi, qawalli night is cool - but a bhajan, satsang is uncool. Hindus abstaining from alcohol is bad, but Lent is good. Beef bans are bad, pork bans are good. Halal meat is great - you don't know that Jhatka exists. Most likely, you rebel against Hindu practices at home - after all they are old, meaningless and patriarchal. You believe Congress is secular, BJP is communal. You think celebrating a cracklerless Diwali, waterless Holi, noiseless Ganesha is a great idea, but not so for minority festivals - after all, you believe that minorities in this country are under threat. You do not support any Hindu superstitions like fasting on eclipses - but other superstitions are fine. Indeed, you believe that there are no religions which have any superstition including Santa Claus. You believe in feminism - but only for Hindus. You don't believe in bull- fights which are, of course, cruel to bulls - but chicken lollipop and beef burgers are cool.  Uniform civil codes are a bad idea - after all minorities need to protect their own culture, however regressive. Urdu shayaris are good, so are Urdu medium schools, but thank god they don't impose Sanskrit in schools - that would make your French so bad. I suppose you get the drift here.

#Disclaimer: You may not be entirely an extremist in the above continuum, but you may believe the above in varying degrees.

@Not to be confused with real secularism for any rhyme or reason. Real secularism is where "God is one, but their routes are different". Where one has to give up old practices - and take to newer ones - without bringing in religion. Things like equality to women, financial assistance to all regardless of religion, scholarships to all regardless of religion, equal footing to schools run by any religious denomination - these are for everybody.  Real secularism is all about live and let live and about keeping religion out of politics and governance. Real secularism is about respecting the culture of the country that you grew up in - and that means everything. It is also about reading History and Culture with an apolitical lens and that means swallowing some harsh truths. Again, you get the drift.

Yes, this blog is unsecular too. If you are reading this blog, congrats, chances are that you may start thinking about finding your way out of the matrix. 

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