Monday, February 25, 2008

Comment on my post "The psychology of the new Hindutva terrorists"

As you know, I generally do not publish comments from people who do not now me or at least enter into some minimum relationship with me by giving me some minimum information on themselves (though they do not have to reveal that information to the public on my Blogsite).

However, an anonymous person who calls herself/ himself "universalhindu" has sent me a comment on my post "The psychology of the new Hindutva terrorists". I feel that her/ his comment merit publication under the right to reply (usually, anonymous comments are simply hate-mail).

She or he says: "When somebody from the film world distorts history blatantly just for the sake of box office affecting Hindu sentiments Hindus naturally will feel hurt and point out the injustice and protest. Anybody who sees 'Jodha Akbar' will definitely feel the armtwisting of history to suit purse linings of the film team. "

This is a very similar argument to those used by Muslims who wanted to ban THE SATANIC VERSES, and those of Christians who wanted to ban some of the filmy/ novels of Dan Brown. No doubt there are some Buddhists who are indulging or have indulged in similar behaviour somewhere - and Marxists - and so on.

The question is what to do when someone is distorting, you believe, the truth about something or someone you hold dear.

The first matter to explore is whether the "distortion" is meant as entertainment or as a serious attack.

If it is intended as entertainment, then one naturally will not like things that are dear to one being used for that purpose. However, in the modern world, it is not possible to prevent entertainment even if it is offensive to you. One person's joke is another person's insult. We should all learn to grow up and not have infantile prickliness about things that are not intended seriously.

A film or a novel is not a work of history. It is an imaginative exploration of some theme for the purpose of whiling away the time. If one happens to get some instruction from it, that is a bonus. But one does not go to these sorts of things for instruction. One goes for escape, for emotional release, for fun.

Naturally, the novelist or film-maker wants to make money. But at least he/she is trying to make money by doing something productive, and not simply by cheating or by getting bribes. If he/she/they produce a moderately satisfactory product they will make a moderate amount of money; if they provide an outstanding product, they will make an outstanding amount of money; if they provide a poor product, they will end up losing a lot of money. In all such matters, the market decides. Either you believe in the virtues of a free market or you don't. If you don't, then you believe in controlled markets and the limitations and foolishnesses of controlled markets have been demonstrated for decades if not centuries.

In India, it has historically been proven that "devotional" type films produce many times more money than "anti-religious films". So I doubt if the people involved in "Jodhaa Akbar" were actually trying to attack any religion, let alone any of the religions of us hindus. These filmi guys were simply trying to produce a piece of entertainment - but they did it in a way that happens to hurt our sentiments.

However, today the situation is that one gets "distortions" even in works that present themselves as serious works of history!

For these, as for works of entertainment, the best strategy is rational debate in the open market of ideas. Ultimately, people believe what they want to - and whatever they believe shapes not only their individual lives but also their family lives and their community and national lives. Ultimately, history judges the fruit of whatever one believes. The difference between secular, atheist, marxist, buddhist, etc beliefs is clear for all to see in the communities and nations such beliefs have produced and are producing.

THE SATANIC VERSES was not the first "attack" on Islam. In fact, there are any number of much more blasphemous literary works (well, at least poems!) available in Urdu and Persian to my knowledge (I don't know Arabic, but I can't imagine that they don't exist in that language too). Many of these go back some centuries. Similarly, attacks on Christ go back right to his own time, two thousand years ago. But the followers of Christ continue to grow and grow (not only within the horrible thing called "Christianity"). And the followers of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) are today the 2nd largest conglomeration of religious people in the world.

Dear "universalhindu", please focus your efforts on positive rational debate that commends whatever you believe to thinking people and not on such negative things as violence - that will bring only disrepute to whatever kind of belief you hold.

In most parts of the world, mobilisation of the "faithful" for violence is merely a pretext or a mechanism to mobilise them for the sake of grabbing political power. But once political power has been grabbed in this way, it is usually only to the benefit of the few who have grabbed power in terms of money under the table to them.

We see this under Bush in the USA, we have seen this in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other so-called "Islamic countries" for nearly a century now. We have even seen it in our own country, when the BJP was in power. Not that the other political parties were or are any better!

My point is only that religious mobilisation can land a corrupt group of people in power but that does not help the nation or even the community that allowed itself to be mobilised for the purpose. Sphere: Related Content

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