There are so many contradictions in this post. It only reflects the complex world that we live in and that everything is not black and white – there are always subtle shades of gray in everything that we deal with.
First off the block – Hindustan Times is leading today’s news with an article that a white woman and her Indian husband was denied entry to the Lingaraj temple in Varanasi ostensibly because the woman is white and non-Hindus are not allowed entry in that temple. This happened despite the fact that she converted to Hinduism and married an Indian person through Vedic rituals. So much for Hinduism being a tolerant religion! Read the complete story here or go to epaper edition of Hindustan Times at www.hindustantimes.com/epaper (free registration required but totally worth it).
Now on the flip side – Hindus in the UK have come up with a totally unique and non-violent way of protesting against something that they feel is a slight to their religion (and I agree). Apparently, the postal department of UK has come out with a stamp that bears imprint of a 16th century painting that depicts a clearly Indian family (with teeka and all) praying to an image of Jesus.
Now there is nothing wrong with that; except the fact that the painting was originally done to show and glorify the work of early missionaries in converting and proselytizing the native Indian population; nothing wrong with proselytizing either – if done in the right spirit. But it is common knowledge that conversion and proselytizing during the middle century and during the British rule was done with the firm belief that all native religions are false religions and it is the duty of the white man to bring salvation to the brown man through conversion. Moreover, the denomination of stamp is such that it will only be used to send international mail. Hindus in UK requested the postal department to stop the sale of this stamp but they would not budge so now they are protesting by sending thousands and thousands of unstamped mail to the UK mail department to clog the system as a form of protest.
Now how unique is that! Even if you don’t agree with the reason for the protest, you have to appreciate the unique form of protest. Compare that to some of the violent protests that we see when Muslims think that a Western government insulted their religion. Read the entire article here.
And continuing the mad flip-flops (I must agree that Times of India is in great form today) – there is this outstanding article on the caste prejudices still prevalent in Hinduism and amongst Hindus and how we carry our prejudices with us even when we leave India. The article also tells us how B.R. Ambedkar suffered, both during his time and continues to suffer to this day because of his supposedly lower caste.