I think Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came up with a “revolutionary” suggestion: leave the country’s problems to God and hope for the best. I watched an AAP spokesperson seriously endorse that premise. The economy, she says, is not doing well. Why shouldn’t we ask for divine intervention to fix it? After all, the vast majority of us are religious. Lakshmi and Ganesh are revered deities in the Hindu pantheon and represent wealth and well-being. Their images on our banknotes are sure to get the economy back on track and bring prosperity to us all.
AAP has hit a gold mine because there are enough gods and goddesses in Hinduism to bring us success in almost every field of endeavour. For example, to boost agricultural productivity and redeem the broken promise of doubling farmers’ incomes, the only political intervention needed is to ask farmers to pray to Devi Annapurna, the goddess of food and sustenance. Kartikeya, son of Shiva and Parvati, is revered as the god of war. The Ministry of Defense must simply affix its portrait to all weapons and all equipment, to guarantee our victory in the war. The worship of Kamadhenu, the patron goddess of cows, is enough to transform the largely pitiful state of our cattle population.
Similarly, the Ministry of Renewable Energy could make Vayu, the god of wind, its success mascot; the forestry department could worship Aranyani, the goddess of forests, to improve its functioning; the ministry of water resources could adopt Varun, the god of water, rain and the seas, to better achieve its goals; the meteorological department could pray to Indra, the god of rain and thunder, to make his prophecies more accurate; the Ministry of the Environment could appeal to Bhumi, the goddess of the earth, to make India less polluted; and the Ministry of Energy could adopt the portrait of Surya, the god of energy and light, to boost electricity production. Nothing more needs to be done.
What is sickening is that politics of this nature is based on the assumption that Hindus are mentally deficient. In other words, they have no mind of their own, no ability to assess proposals on merit, no knowledge of the real remedies to existing problems, and no idea of what governments’ real priorities should be. They are just cannon fodder to be seduced by any proposal that pays homage to their gods or religion. If this happens, they will forget their real grievances or expectations and flock like dumb sheep to the highest bidder for their religious beliefs, even if those offers are blatantly populist or impractical.
This attempt to belittle the Hindus is a serious affront to their status as heirs of a highly evolved and demanding civilization that dates back to the dawn of time. To see them as helpless, thoughtless puppets tossing about inertly under the obviously cynical tug of every puppeteer of competitive Hindu politics is insulting. Moreover, it devalues the profound scope and depth of Hinduism. We revere our gods and goddesses because they represent certain profound spiritual truths, within the larger context of Hindu philosophy. To use these deities for such cheap stunts is a slap in the face of a great religion backed up by an even greater degree of cerebration.
Essentially, religious politics of this nature is a return to primitivism. When, millennia ago, humans were just beginning to organize themselves into colonies and tribes, their knowledge was limited, their organized planning in its infancy, and their vulnerability to elemental forces they could neither predict nor understand, very high. . Then they had to depend solely on the gods and goddesses for their protection. Today, in the 21st century, as India plans a trip to Mars, to assert that we should helplessly embrace this same type of primitivism, is not only ridiculous, but would invite outright derision in any nation. modern.
Religion and philosophy are one thing, superstition and illusion are another. Let us not make fun of a nation which has enshrined in the Constitution the Fundamental Duty “to develop the scientific temperament, humanism and the spirit of research and reform” (article 51A h). Also please don’t give the bogus argument that science and religion are related. They are – and I wrote at length in my book, Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker – about how modern science validates the fundamental ideas of our ancient seers and sages, but not on this cheap level trivialization of one and debasement of the other.
The real patent of Hindutva politics lies with the BJP. The imitation of AAP can only be a photocopy. No one respects photocopies, especially when they represent an extraordinary bankruptcy of ideas. Unfortunately, power has become the only god of politicians today. On the altar of this expeditious worship, the common sense of ordinary citizens is flouted.
Pavan K Varma is a former diplomat, author and politician. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the position of this publication.
Read all Latest Reviews here