By Prof. Jaimine Vaishnav
Humans are inherently nice and benevolent until they infatuate with politics. Politics, as you’re subconsciously aware of, is a perilous recipe. It has the potential to make you believe in absurdities and leave you in a mindless state of mind. The belief in absurdity is vociferously enough to make one even commit it and that’s how the economy of hatred, abhorrence, egotism and sadism functions. This social principle is a new normalcy, in today’s opinionated epoch, making us conservative of our ignorance, protective for our illusions and possessive of our identities at the cost of wisdom, mindfulness and knowledge. Such math is proportionally responsible for the social development of anger, Stockholm syndrome, Dunning-Krugger effect and Xenophobia. And, ‘new’ India is will-fully witnessing it.
The triumph of this evil is for the so-called knowledgeable folks to sit, observe and do nothing, but they’re not wrong either in their ‘silence’. They’re not consciously silent because they lack the courage to refute, debunk and learn. They’re spectators who — at some point — have been spiraled down by the online vigilant mobs (aka ‘moral police’) to shun, scorn and shame their democratic participation in the sphere of decent discourses. The toadies; trollers behind this illiberalism are fundamentally unfit to differentiate between Hindutva and Hinduism, in the first place, often end up doxing, intimidating, assaulting, stalking, threatening and condescending any genre of opinion that goes critical of their vested interest or political agenda. Empirically, they’re sourced from an organised IT cell that pays them, influences them and persuades them to resort to multiple logical fallacies. If these toadies were to exist with the same attitude 2500 years ago from today, I am certain that Buddha’s aptitude would be certified as ‘urban naxal’ for having preached his wisdom and learning on enlightenment, minimalism, caste-ism and communitarian compassion.
In the current atmosphere, especially on social media, the toadies endeavour to lynch anyone with heretical views. This genre of dictatorship is very antithetical to the axioms of democracy and constitutional norms. The toadies's sources are constituted from the misinformed facts and convenient data generated from the 'Whatsapp university.' Their ‘virtue signalling’ traits on social media are all-time-high, and, on the other hand, they would not mind shaming you and your parents (especially your mother and sister). Since they assume that they’re the party to the evolution of the oldest civilization on earth, their schadenfreude trait facilitates them to believe that they are privileged to do whatever they want to do. In their own geographical boundary of 32, 87, 263 km2, despite constituting the demography in majority, they feel victimized. The stats on hate crimes against minorities by the people of the majoritarian community, still makes them believe that they’re under threat from the minorities. Little do they know that their fixated bigotry (casteism) does not let them practice fraternity with their own community individuals, while repeatedly flirting with anti-islam, anti-christianity, anti-women, anti-homosexuality and anti-dalit views in a very conventional way.
If you attempt to have discourse tranquilly, they do not even tend to agree-to-disagree. All they anticipate is a consumption of echo-chamber views from your discourse, post or tweets, till they’re egotistically gratified. One can easily expect a thread of hateful comments that can affect your mental health status, if you’re not a rational practitioner of mindfulness philosophy. To my knowledge, I am witnessing a gradual increment of anti-Ambedkar, anti-Asoka and nevertheless anti-Buddha memes/postings and facts. I agree that they should be exposed, refuted and even debunked, but the application of language used in the discourse really does not proffer any intellectual orgasm. Once they’re done with Muslims, they would love to grill other minorities who do not pay obeisance to their latest ideological orientation. Surely, in the vedic age, this was not the policy of social discourse. But, in today’s era, every new minute, Hindutva is lynching the principles of vedic age and Hinduism. For those who have suffered from this online mobocracy would reckon with my experience and feelings.
Last week, on twitter, kept me immersed to debunk and refute some toadie's unintellectual tweets. On reviewing the books authored by Mahatma Phule, Dr Ambedkar, Gail Omvedt, Kancha Ilaiah and few others, followed by the readings of vedas, manusmriti and other ‘right-wing’ books, I am sure that statists will assume that I am a left-liberal commie but I am really helpless to make people understand that a book cannot be judged by its cover. I am neither right nor left because binary perception does not beget enlightenment, learning and wisdom. I am still a learner and a Buddhist. I was looking after sensible, critical and some humorous replies or discussions on toxic twitter, but the sacred session turned out to be a tribalistic conversation. Beginning with the very first ecstasy:
Deeply I can share my solidarity with the above twitteratis who are somewhere disappointed, angry and sexually frustrated. As far as I know Hinduism preaches rationality, scientific temperament and companionship too. It should not sound offensive, if the discourse on Hinduism entices the subject of casteism. To ignore the relevance of casteism in a political discourse with Hindus, would be like watering a dessert with no trees. Considering that not more than 6% have subscribed to inter-caste marriage system in India hitherto, against the booming 135 crores of total population. It is, thus, vital to entice ‘Annihilation of Caste’ in school curriculum.
Books like Understanding Caste, Why I am a Hindu, Who were the Shudras, Why I am not a Hindu, God as Political Philosopher, Buddhism in India: Challenging Caste, Caste matters, The myth of Holy cow, Rig Veda and Manusmriti are some fundamental starter-packs that every Hindu should thoroughly read, irrespective of their preconceived notions against the title or the author of these books, for a deeper understanding of anthropological and sociological accountancy of contemporary issues that prevailed and prevails in India’s 21st century.
The history of Buddhism and Hinduism in pre-Islamic era has been a matter of moral conflict too. They respect each other but it is not so obliging — in the current epoch — to appropriate the great King Asoka, for suiting the agenda of new India’s new history. An article in this case has extensively and brilliantly debunked the myth that Asoka was a Buddhist king before the Kalinga war. In parallel universe, there is also a voice emerging against Buddha for all the unknown reasons. But, unfortunately, nobody wants to bat an eye on how Buddha smashed Brahmanism and it's casteism in his time. It is completely erroneous to blame casteism on Mughals, Portuguese and English, when Shambuka and Eklavya already paid the price to casteism in the respective stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Thankfully, he has not been called ‘marxist’ yet (for his discourses mentioned in Tipitaka) even though I presented a libertarian case of Buddha. I Hope that hereon we see a dawn of friendship, acceptance and intellectual discourse, as that would also be the message of Buddha, because indecency, apathy and ignorance will never free us from the rat cycle of anger, hatred, greed and illusion.
Jaimine Vaishnav is a professor, blogger and a YouTuber based in Mumbai. He would not prefer using the surname 'Vaishnav' because surnames in India reflect caste identities. He writes on Buddhism, Economy, Casteism, Free Speech and other contemporary issues and holds 22 peer-reviewed research papers till date. Currently, in the final year of his PhD in politics, he celebrates libertarian tradition and practices Buddhism as his personal religion.