Meera Nanda returns with more nonsense
by Adity Sharma on 02 Dec 2013 75 Comments

When historians and Indologists are not preoccupied with denouncing the dangers of Hindu revivalism, they can be found hurling intellectual-sounding invectives at the evils of Hindu Dharma. Meera Nanda belongs to that special tribe of individuals with impressive credentials and a strong attachment to all things that have perverted secularism’s original meaning in India. A microbiologist, Nanda prefers philosophizing about issues of which she has little knowledge. While Nanda has not quite reached the dizzying depths self-acclaimed historians and Indologists such as Romila Thapar, Arundhati Roy, Wendy Doniger, Vijay Prashad and Angana Chatterji occupy, she is doing her utmost to attain that coveted depth.


In her latest essay on India’s superstition industry (In the name of faith, Frontline, September 18, 2013) Nanda recycles the same accusations she has been spouting for years. The article is about the arrest of Asaram Bapu. It is interesting to note that when it comes to accusations against Hindu leaders or Gurus, there is nothing like giving the benefit of doubt in the world of India’s secularists. Nanda excoriates the neoliberal regime which, according to her, has given rise to the superstition industry, and weaves a dark tale of the evil nexus between faith, politics and money, all the while taking pains to lay the entire blame for all ills on the Hindu tradition itself.


One quotation stands out amidst the rubble of accusations, “When our elected representatives, policymakers and state functionaries approach the religious establishment as devotees, rather than as officials of a secular state with a constitutional mandate to create a secular public culture, what we get is a culture seeped in a disregard for the law, and a culture that protects irrational beliefs from critical scrutiny.”


In the Name of Faith


Oh, very right, but there is one small, insignificant problem. Nanda and her tribe of fatuous historians do not actually intend that all religiosity and the Indian State be divorced from each other. Oh no. This is only intended for the polytheists who have yet to be civilized, and herded away from their idolatrous ways. Proof? Take for example, Nanda and her tribe’s complete silence on the aggressive proselytising (by hook-or-by-crook) going on in many parts of the country. Christian missionaries, both White and non-White, receive staggering sums of money by a conglomerate of Western institutions which, if carefully analyzed, dwarfs the amount Hindu institutions receive.


One such powerful institution is World Vision International, a Christian entity which seeks to proselytise the poorest sections of society through offering them much needed succor. But along with providing basic necessities, World Vision and other Christian organizations are busy harvesting souls for Christ. World Vision’s website unashamedly announces: “We proclaim together, ‘Jesus lived, died, and rose again. Jesus is Lord’. We desire him to be central in our individual and corporate life.” Where is Nanda’s condemnation? Is she diligently working on it? Doubtful. She feigns ignorance about these activities, which not only alienate people from their ancestral roots, but also create resentment and strife between different communities (see World Vision’s Mission Statement).


Nanda has a huge problem with the purported “State-Temple-corporate-complex,” In fact, she has written a book on what she and secular scholars want to pass of as “research.” But what about World Vision’s goal of lodging Jesus in an individual’s private and corporate life, is that not hypocrisy?


But play word association with Nanda. Mention the words (proselytisation) or (Christian missionaries), and the only thing that will most likely come to her superficial intellect is the Stains family being burned alive by an unruly Hindu mob. More Proof? With her impressive qualifications, surely Nanda is aware that Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia are feverishly pouring millions in an effort to export Wahhabism which upholds and propagates the crassest elements found in Islam. Islamic countries send Imams and other religious scholars to brainwash millions of youth in non-Muslim countries to become true Muslims, and the hundreds of terrorist attacks across the globe are hapless witnesses to this legacy.


When Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, who has openly vilified non-Muslims in his sermons, was officially welcomed by India in 2011, the secularist halfwits did not screech with self-righteous indignation. A banquet was thrown in his honor! Was that not an egregious violation and neglect of the Indian State’s duty towards maintaining a secular character? Is it not even more disturbing that no one thinks it necessary to protect India’s secular character from such flagrant displays of religiosities?


They do speak though. Oh yes, they hoard their holier-than-thou secular energy in reserves to use against Hindu leaders. When democratically elected Narendra Modi was denied a visa to attend a private meeting in the United States, the same halfwits who get tongue-tied at the sight of a cleric like Al-Sudais, simply could not conceal their glee. But perhaps an important scholar and philosopher like Nanda failed to decry Al-Sudais’s visit in her writings because she was out on an important fact-finding mission for her next anti-Hindu project?


Zakir Naik, Islam apologist extraordinaire, is another glaring instance where Nanda keeps her excellent lambasting skills in check. Naik has traveled the world spewing anti-Semitism, staging fraudulent conversions, and holding a sham annual Peace Conference. In 2006, Naik launched another propaganda outlet, Peace TV, that runs in several countries. Surely, these extravagant endeavours cost hundreds of millions. Yet, zakaat (Islamic charity funds) keep on flowing in Naik’s direction. So, one wonders in earnest why Nanda who has made a lucrative career out of dishing out nauseating doses of diatribes against Hindus and Hindu Dharma, is silent on Naik’s sources of funding?


Plenty of Pie for Everyone


Nanda’s lopsided analysis and incessant diatribes laced with venom against Hindus and Hindu Dharma stink of the mindset that plagues most academics in and on India. In her zeal to portray Hindus and Hinduism as entities straight out of a Neanderthal world, she ignores that Christian and Islamic televangelists and preachers also indulge in globe-trotting to raise more and more funds to harvest the poor souls steeped in ‘darkness’. India is a favorite destination for American televangelists


But a few Hindu Gurus duping gullible masses are inconsequential when measured against the belief systems Nanda and her secular cronies laud as progressive. If Nanda seriously wished to present an analysis of how individuals in the guise of religious garb dupe the gullible masses into opening their hearts and trick them into writing out fat checks, she could do a fair analysis of examining the merits of all belief systems, because surely Hindu Dharma alone does not stand indicted.


Chucking the Irrational and Superstitious


This condemnation of secularist propaganda is not an endorsement of, or an attempt to whitewash, certain gender and caste based practices that have crept into Hindu Dharma. These need to be dragged into the open, acknowledged, analyzed, and where needed, jettisoned, as is envisioned in the Dharma itself. From ancient times in India, it was common for Hindu thinkers to have scriptural debates. Sages from Hindu and Buddhist backgrounds also engaged in debates on practices and customs.


Superstitions have the dangerous potential of preying on society’s vulnerable and marginalized and can become an albatross around the neck of a civilization that has stood the vicissitudes of time because it does not clash with new scientific approaches to understanding the world, and does not have dogmas that could be endangered by the surfacing of new truths and insights about the world.


Adity Sharma is a student at St. John’s University School of Law in New York; her writings have appeared in beliefnet, chakranews, HVK, and counterpunch




Banquet hosted in honor of Al-Sudais.


Secularism a threat to Islam, Naik says


Private jets, 13 mansions and a $100,000 mobile home just for the dogs

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