The Human Truth Foundation

Fundamentalism and Violent Extremism

By Vexen Crabtree 2023

#christianity #extremism #fundamentalism #hindu_extremism #hindu_fundamentalism #hindu_violence #hinduism #india #islam #nationalism #religion #religious_violence #violence

Hindu extremism has somewhat increased over the past few decades1 by right-wing Hindu nationalists2, with the popularist Hindutva movement wanting to make India a more exclusively Hindu nation3. There are thousands of attacks against religious minorities every year. Violence nearly always involves anti-Muslim attacks, in India, with any reaction by their victims then stimulating Hindu mobs to enact further property damage and murder. For example, when the Babri Masjid mosque was destroyed by Hindu activists in 1992, thousands of protesting Muslims lost their lives in a very one-sided series of mob fights4,5. Hindu nationalists also sometimes target Christians6,7,8, for example, over Christmas 2007 in one state, a hundred churches were damaged and 700 Christian homes destroyed9.

Complicit in the discord are political parties that use race and religion to divide people and stoke hatred; since 1999 the most popular of these are the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who have orchestrated and encouraged some of the worst scenes of violence and destruction10, and are most involved in states where persecution by Hindus is highest9, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP)11 and Shiv Sena10. Hindu extremism has become "an impediment to the exercise and enjoyment of internationally recognized human rights"2.

The Bhagavad Gita can easily be searched for content that condones the righteous murder of enemies, right from its second chapter12. Despite all this, a common argument of Hindu academics is to point out, quite correctly, that Hinduism has a per-capital rate of violence far lower than Christianity or Islam, and that polytheism is more naturally inclined to be tolerant and accepting of others' beliefs13.

1. Freedom of Belief in India14

#blasphemy #christianity #free_speech #hinduism #hinduism_extremism #india #islam #religion_in_india

India's constitution gives some protections for freedom of belief and religion15,16, however, some states and some laws create restrictions that create unfair legal prejudices towards, or against, certain religious groups15,16. The 'Hindutva' movement seeks to place "Hinduism first" and is responsible for stoking intolerance and Hindu extremism17. There is a steady stream of violent events between Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities. In 2017, vigilante violence aimed at religious minorities, marginalized communities, and critics of the government–often carried out by groups claiming to support the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)–became an increasing threat"18. Section 295 of Indian Penal Code allows convictions for intentionally causing offense, which is frequently abused by religious communities in a way that prevents free speech and intellectual criticism, in the same manner that blasphemy laws come to be used elsewhere too.15. Hindu extremism has become 'an impediment to the exercise and enjoyment of internationally recognized human rights'2.

For more, see:

2. Baiting, Harassment and Violence Towards Non-Hindus

#christianity #extremism #fundamentalism #hindu_extremism #hindu_fundamentalism #hindu_violence #hinduism #india #islam #nationalism #religion #religious_violence #violence

Polytheistic religions such as Hinduism are naturally more inclusive towards others' beliefs and practices and this bears out in international statistics19, and you rarely see news outlets in the West reporting on Hindu extremism20. Some Hindus therefore argue that their religion does not have a problem with extremism19.

But since the 1940s, Hindu revivalism in India has shown a violent fundamentalist side1. "Some among India's Hindu nationalist reformers have also insisted on the need to establish a nation-state grounded on Hindutva, or 'Hinduness', presented as the authentic culture of the majority"3 and "Hindu nationalists have at times taken violent action against Muslims and Christian missionaries, in defiance of official state policies"6,7,8. "Local government often turns a blind eye to the attacks"9, especially in northern states.

Book CoverHinduism ... in recent decades has ... come to be mobilized in ways incompatible with human rights. [...] Hinduism has been mobilized by right-wing nationalists, under the label of Hindutva (Hinduness), exacerbating the recurrently violent communal struggles between Muslims and Hindus.

"Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice" by Jack Donnelly (2013)2

Some Hindutva groups are militant, whereas others are moderate; some are political, and others are apolitical. However, all of the strands 'are related to the central Hindu nationalist perspective.' In short, the Hindutva movement promotes Hinduism above all other cultures and religions.

"The Price of Freedom Denied" by Brian J. Grim and Roger Finke (2011)9

This movement has found itself able to mobilize large numbers as part of campaigns against Muslims and Christians.

3. Examples of Hindu Mob Violence in India

#extremism #hindu_extremism #hindu_violence #hinduism #india #islam #religious_violence

What we see is not just that one group of activists can be violent, but, that inter-religious struggles are almost automatic flashpoints of general upset and aggression across the country.4

4. Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2 (Arjan and Krishna)

#bhagavad_gita #christianity #hindu_extremism #hinduism #india #islam

Sanction of Hindu violence against others is easily found in the Bhagavad Gita, which waves of fundamentalist and Hiduvatna activists have used to justify their incitements to mob violence against Muslims and Christians in India:

Book CoverAt the beginning of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna is contemplating the forthcoming battle between the Pandavas and their cousins the Kauravas. Filled with sadness, he refuses to fight and tells his charioteer, Krishna, of his reason. Krishna replies:

"Great warrior, carry on thy fight. If any man thinks he slays, and if another thinks he is slain, neither knows the ways of truth. The Eternal in man cannot kill: the Eternal in man cannot die. He is never born, and he never dies. He is in Eternity: he is for evermore... When a man knows him as never-born, everlasting, never-changing, beyond all destruction, how can that man kill a man, or cause another to kill?...

Think thou also of thy duty and do not waver. There is no greater good for a warrior [kshatriya] than to fight in a righteous war. There is a war that opens the doors of heaven, Arjuna! Happy the warriors whose fate is to fight such war. But to forgo this fight for righteousness [Dharma] is to forgo thy duty [Dharma] and honour: is to fall into transgression... And to a man who is in honour, dishonour is more than death... Can there be for a warrior a more shameful fate?

In death thy glory in heaven, in victory thy glory on earth.

Bhagavad Gita 2:18-21, 31-4, 37. Quoted in:

"The Phenomenon Of Religion: A Thematic Approach" by Moojan Momen (1999)23

The problem is that this gives divine assent, and ultimate sanction, to war or killing, that a person finds "righteous". Hindus and Muslims have, for example, been fighting throughout the lands of Pakistan and in India, for many decades with both sides attacking communities and religious centres. This is a 'righteous' war based on nothing but differences of religious belief. Any discontent can lead to 'righteous' killing when there are strong feelings, and (some) Hindu texts give people an intellectualized excuse to indulge in murder. People can't really die in Hindu mythology, therefore killing isn't really killing. And righteous killing is better than dishonour. These are dangerous ideas.

5. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Others

#hinduism #india

One author argues "that Hindu fundamentalists have had more political success than most others because they were able to put their leaders into government in the period 1999 to 2004" and points out particular bodies responsible for encouraging the discord, "the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), and certain key individuals, especially ideologues like M. S. Golwalkar (1906-1973) and Deendayal Upadhyay (1916-1968)"11. Mumbai (Bombay) in Maharashtra has been "systematically destroyed" by that state's Hindu fundamentalist party, the Shiv Sena, who are "determined to rid the state... of all 'alien influences'"10. This xenophobic, fundamentalist and conservative trend based on religious identity continues, and of the parties involved, the BJP have been most influential.

The BJP in India are Hinduism-first nationalists24, formed in 19809 and float on a popularist platform of anti-Muslim and anti-Christian campaigns, which often lead to mob violence and deepen social divisions in northern India.

The BJP came to power by denouncing Nehruvian secularism, advocating a quasi-militant Hindu nationalism, and encouraging anti-Muslim and anti-Christian rhetoric. [...] The rhetoric of hatred [of Muslims] appealed to its core voters. [...] In Gujarat [2002] the local BJP government... allowed and even assisted in the massacre of thousands of innocent Muslim men, women, and children and the ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands from their neighbourhoods and towns. It was in some ways India's first state-sponsored pogrom. Most troubling, all evidence suggests that it has helped the BJP with its Hindu base.

"The Future of Freedom" by Fareed Zakaria (2003)10

Some argue "that Hindu fundamentalists have had more political success than most others because they were able to put their leaders into government in the period 1999 to 2004", especially the BJP11.

It wasn't until the 1980s and 1990s that the impact of the [Hindutva] movement was openly displayed in the political arena. When it formed in 1980, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) quickly mobilized the Hindu nationalist vote and became a major force in national politics. The number of seats held by the BJP in the Lok Sabha (lower house of the Indian parliament) jumped from two to eighty-eight in 1989 and continued to climb throughout the 1990s. In 1999 the BJP and its allies took over power at the national level and remained there until a surprising defeat in 2004 and another defeat in 2009. Even with a reduced role in national government, however, the influence of the BJP and the larger Hindutva movement remains [and] violent persecution is higher in the states where the BJP is either in power or is part of a ruling coalition (twelve of twenty-eight states in 2008).

"The Price of Freedom Denied" by Brian J. Grim and Roger Finke (2011)9

6. Extremism in World Religions25