You will be fascinated to learn
that Hinduism is breaking out in a neo-orthodoxy called Hindutva, with Hindu
supremacists burning missionaries alive and engaging
other non-inclusive, intolerant practices.
year in the village of Manoharpur, India, a mob of
Hindu supremacists burned to death Australian
missionary Graham Stewart Staines and his two young
sons. The mainstream U.S. media, which typically casts
its jaded gaze on that part of the world only to
report death tolls after typhoons, bus, or train
disasters, responded predictably. But while the
American public generally responds to news from this
part of the world with a bewildered shrug, the
response to this story was one of collective,
visceral, revulsion. For many Americans, still reeling
from another horrific event that recently occurred on
their own soil – the Texas dragging death of James
Byrd Jr. – the story put India squarely on the map,
bringing a grotesque culmination to preceding weeks of
church-burnings and rumors of anti-Christian hatred.
The U.S. government is noticing
this, to the dismay
of Hindu immigrants.
I learn this from the atheists
who really do despise all religions equally.
They close on a hopeful note,
the last century a diaspora of Indian émigrés spread
their culture to
communities as far afield as Johannesburg and
Jackson Heights; at the beginning of this
century Indian cuisine, music,
literature, and film enjoy an unprecedented
That Indian culture not only competes with but also
penetrates the commercial
monolith of Western culture testifies to
its modern robustness and vitality. For its
part, the religion called
- the amorphous family of traditions and
philosophies that comprise historical reality,
and not the neo-orthodoxy of
the Hindutva movement – will continue to endure
of its inherent inclusiveness, tolerance, and its
unique recognition that no creed has a monopoly over truth.
Now, I believe them, though
thousands wouldn`t. Specifically, the thousands
slaughtered during India`s Partition,
wouldn`t, if we could bring them back to life and ask
But some evidence of this tolerance would be welcome, as the news from the
Middle East, Ulster, and Africa seems to point to the
contrary position, that fanatical
religion drives out tolerant religion, (usually
with fire and the sword).
Of course, this would be bad
enough if it were confined to India.
But it`s not.
May 16, 2001