A very dear friend was upset with my blog last night on Mother Teresa and that has prompted me to write this blogpost. Am an only child and friendships meant/mean the world to me. Its a quality that I have inherited from my father. Appa kept in touch with his friends right through his life and I have followed suit. Am in touch with friends from school, my first job and so on.
Till five or six years back there were no discussions about religion when we all met. Politics was a point of discussion and nearly all of us agreed that the CONgress party was corrupt and India was going to dogs. Everyone spoke of leaving the country and settling down in Europe/Australia or the US. In fact many of our friends and relatives are settled in these countries. They left 20 or 30 years back, some even earlier.
The general opinion was “Nothing will change in India and if you want a good quality of life, its in one of the developed countries”. Then Modi Ji came along. Suddenly we started noticing the public discourse changing and the tone and tenor of criticism changing.
Coincidental with Modi Ji becoming the Prime Minister, I quit my full time corporate work and Krishnan and I started our ShikshaDaan Yatra, aiming to cover all the districts in India by road. We managed to cover about 147 districts before Covid hit and the Yatra came to a standstill.
Our road travel across India opened our eyes.
Krishnan and I have never been into visiting temples or being regular with any Hindu rituals. I studied in a Kendriya Vidyalaya from 3rd std till the 12th and KV’s are melting pots. No one knows or bothers about the other person’s religion. Krishnan did face a bit of bullying on account of his being a Brahmin in Chennai. Tamil Nadu’s hatred for Brahmins is well known. When Krishnan beat up the bullies, they stopped taunting him ! An important lesson learnt.
Anyway, our travels across India and exposure to our “real” history over social media from 2015 onwards showed us that we had also been “Dhimmi Hindus” as Shefali Vaidya says. We were and are genuine agnostics but paraded ourselves as seculars !
So much for misunderstanding the word “secular”. In “Indian” English, secular means dissing Hindus and appeasing Muslims and Christians. Well, I still would have been fine with it except for the fact that Hindu festivals were always demonized and our culture and traditions are constantly being derided.
When we travelled in Tamil Nadu, we realised that several churches had sprung up every where and the Uber drivers spoke about getting monthly payments into their accounts if they attended Church on Sundays ! They spoke of how they had to attend only that Church which had converted them in order to get the money.
We then heard the true hate speeches given by pastor Mohan Lazarus where he calls the Hindu temples as residences of Satan and the Devil….. and still continues with his given name “Mohan” which is one of the names of Bhagwan Krishna. 😔
Friendships – Christianity and Islam
Neither Krishnan nor I have changed because of Modi Ji or BJP. We haven’t been paid by RSS nor have we become fundamentalist Hindus. But our perspectives on this prickly topic have changed. I realise that whenever I post something against rape accused Father Mulakkal or Mother Teresa or incentivised conversions, Christians get offended and when I post about Islam and Islamic terror, Muslims get offended.
But, as a Hindu I should never feel offended by Muslims and Christians calling a Shiv Linga as the phallus or Bibles getting distributed inside Srirangam Temple or 50 TV channels in Tamil Nadu proselytising or Muslims walking into a Hanuman temple with their slippers on or cosmetics and medicines being labeled Halal or girls being misled in the name of Love Jihad ….. Why ?
Just as you feel Allah is the one true God, I feel Krishna is the one true God… the difference is I don’t expect you to accept Krishna as the one true God but you expect me to accept Allah as the one true God. Prickly indeed.
I have several questions – Why should the fourth largest Church in the world be built in Punjab ?? Why should an Indian Muslim be allowed to marry four women ? Why is the Supreme Court wrong when it exonerates Modiji but right when it refuses to hear Kashmiri Pandits’ pleas ?
Another school friend of mine is devoted to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. I don’t like him and she knows that. It hasn’t dented our friendship. I don’t like most of the Hindu spiritual leaders, but no Hindu has a problem with that. Why ?
I value friendships above religion but I won’t stop writing about Hindu phobia, Hindumisia and the special variety of “secularism” practised in India.
My submission is that Islam and Christianity unfortunately are being used for political gains. A true Christian or a true Muslim may not be bothered about who I pray to because his/her relationship with their God is private and unique just as mine is. But political Islam and Christianity are terribly bothered with who I pray to – a billion people getting added to either of their ranks means political supremacy and power.
Friendships are getting sacrificed in this political game….
The expectation is that I as a Hindu will once again stay mum and speak about humanity and secularism etc. Well, that was before I became woke (pun intended) and aware.
I won’t come into your house and destroy it because I don’t like your face or the religion you practise but if you come into my house and bully me or incentivise me to change my way of living, well, there will be a response. I write about it the way I see it, BUT, am always open to facts and always willing to change my mind if something is wrong with my logic.
One of my school friends called me a hypocrite or someone suffering from BiPolar disorder just because I liked the tweet of a corrupt politician from BJP. I liked the tweet not the person. I don’t like BJP, the party, but am a huge fan of Modiji and a few of his ministers. Does that make me a hypocrite ? I don’t like Kamal Hasan, the man, but am a huge fan of Kamal Hasan, the actor. That doesn’t make me BiPolar.
As far as friendships or work relationships are concerned, we haven’t bothered about who is a Christian or a Muslim or SC/ST or Tribal or an atheist, we still don’t and in the last 1/3rd of our life we don’t intend to start. Our friends are wonderful people with whom we have shared the ups and downs of our life and stood by them like they have for us. Our ex and current colleagues likewise were assessed on their merit and capability not the colour of their skin or their religious affiliation.
When we give scholarships through ShikshaDaan, we don’t ask about the student’s religion or community, only their financial background as these scholarships are meant for the financially underprivileged.
Like always, I don’t have any hidden agendas, what you see is what you get. If you don’t like what you see, then it isn’t meant to be.
In conclusion, I only have this to say to all my friends – Krishnan and I haven’t changed one bit. Our friendship means the world to us.
But, not talking about certain individuals and institutions using religion to divide and incite people against India or Hindus is not an option. I write about things that I feel strongly about and this is certainly one such topic. I certainly hope our friendships will survive my opinions and blogposts.
This post too is with a lot of love, not hatred. Hope it comes through.