I was reading an article this morning which reported how an Australian was harassed in Bengaluru because he bore a tattoo of a Hindu deity on his shin! This rather bizarre piece of news made me think if we as a nation have double standards when it comes to religion? This disturbing thought further found respite rather tragically in a harrowing piece of news which broke last week. A toddler who is just over two years old was raped barbarously in Delhi during Navratri. On one hand the nation was worshipping Devi and celebrating her nine avatars; and on the other hand such wrong was done to a girl child, and that too, a toddler! This rather appalling news left me helpless and speechless.
Another conversation between colleagues (let us call them John and Nash) elsewhere cemented my view that we do hold a double standard. Here is what I recall from their conversation:
John and Nash were discussing Amish’s latest book. Being a keen reader, John just bought the book, and was eager to find out what stories and perspectives it offered. Nash had an opinion on the book already. Nash explained John that the book opens with Lord Rama and Lakshmana hunting a deer during their exile period as they are on the lookout for real food. Nash’s explanation followed from his strong views that the book had inappropriately suggested that Rama and Lakshmana were non-vegetarians. Not understanding whether Nash was making a remark only at that book, or generally of all works by Amish, John prodded Nash to offer a bit more commentary on Amish’s earlier books. Nash’s opinion of Amish did not come up, but Nash did praise the richness of Amish’s narration in earlier books; such as his portrayal of Lord Shiva as chillum-smoking-uber-cool deity.
On the surface, it appears as though Nash is on the right-side of Hindutva. But as a close colleague to this Nash, I do know that he is a vegetarian who occasionally indulges in Hookah and Drinking. So, to me, it appears that Nash could not cope up with the non-vegetarian attribution made to Rama, but did not find any inconvenience in accepting a smoking Shiva.
Ah! Could there be a better example of selective perception than this? I have a feeling that, in India, we just indulge in Nash’s-like behaviours more often especially from a religious vantage. We just abide by those aspects of religion which are conducive for us and very cosily ignore the others. Praying to a deity for nine days in a year and not respecting women for the rest of the year!? Only one of them comes from a religion. That is easy to find out. No hesitations there. Religion disapproves the other—and most of us dodge our moral fibre smugly in voicing it.
Nash clearly demonstrated double standards. I wonder how he would have reacted if someone told him the fable of Kannappa who offered meat to Lord Shiva? Not sure if Lord Shiva could have enlightened Nash about how obtuse Nash’s reasons for acceptance of God were!
The core of any holy scripture or any religion is simple. It is to respect a living organism and not to err. I quote Gandhi here: Be the change that you wish to see in the world! This Dusherra take a pledge that you would spread the goodness that is you.