Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
Usually I tend to rail against the Triune of Western religions: you can guess which three, since they are monolithic. And truth be told, the Far Eastern religions hold a bit of fascination for me, inasmuch as trying to understand them from a Western point of view is a challenge in and of itself.
What really grinds my gears about any religion from anywhere, is that the bulk of them tend to mistreat people: whether it be non-believers, women and children, or even their own neighbors who hold a differing opinion as to what’s what. I chanced across this article:
Once a year since 1950, India tries to convince the world (and itself) that it is indeed a superpower, with an epic show that takes over the grandest road in India, the Rajpath in New Delhi. The Republic Day parade celebrates India's nationhood with pomp and circumstance. This year, however, there has been a flurry of calls to boycott the event. For the first time, the Indian middle class is disassociating itself from this hoopla. The barbaric Delhi gang rape in December may have been the trigger, but, beyond that, there is widespread disappointment with law and order and the political class.
The appeal for a boycott started on social media. It was soon labelled anti-national by traditionalists. Not surprising in a country riven down the middle, but the fault lines are not Hindu-Muslim, class or gender based; the breach is between two Hinduisms.
Hinduism is an odd religion. It works very well as a way of life but no longer works as a faith. It's too old, too corrupt, has moved too far from its raison d'être. For the educated urban Indian, Hinduism is a cultural rather than religious identity. They embrace all that's enjoyable about the Hindu way of life: the festivals, the food, the colourful mythology, sophisticated classical music and dance. They may go through the motions of worship on occasions but have no real faith in their pantheon of gods and goddesses, some of whom are decidedly strange. Nor do they follow the proscriptions that have crept into Hinduism over the centuries. Practised thus, Hinduism is the most laidback and accommodating of religions.
But there is the "other" Hinduism thriving in the small towns and villages of India, a harsh, religion that oppresses women and the "lower castes". The dark side of India's economic boom is that the largely uneducated adherents of this form of Hinduism are pouring into every corner of India. They are on a collision course with the laissez-faire middle-class Hindus of the cities. These often "upper caste" Hindu men of the hinterland pour into the cities in droves, where they find themselves disabused of their fondest beliefs, such as their superiority over women. That's when atrocities against women – such as the recent outrages that have shaken India – happen. And the resurgent Hindu fundamentalist parties and publicity-hungry self-styled holy men manipulate these zealots for their own ends.
This is a tale as old as religion itself. It is especially tragic and horrific in countries that over-respect religious beliefs and somehow find that the simple act of belief is rationalization and carte blanche for the believers themselves. The recent rape of a 23 year old woman who just happened to be riding a bus past 10 PM speaks to that. Was it religiously motivated? Likely not, but the odds are good that the men involved in it were taught from childhood some patriarchal nonsense that women were inferior to men.
India has has some serious historical occurrences of religious violence over the centuries.
And to be honest, the world hears some startling, bizarre religious news from a country that has had civilization for well over 5,000 years. Such as a woman marrying a snake, a man sentenced to marry a dog, and a company voting Hanuman in as a member of the company’s boardroom (sorry no link – from memory only).
Hinduism is just as bad as any other religion – and in some ways worse. There’s just more to choose from in the rationalization of bad behavior.
Till the next post then.