Are the Hindus Destined to Become an Extinct Race?
By Ishani Chowdhury
In the Spring of 2000, the democratically elected Fijian government led by Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry was held hostage by a guerrilla group, headed by George Speight. They were demanding a segregated state exclusively for the native Fijians, thereby legally abolishing any rights the Indian inhabitants have now. Port Louis, Mauritius witnessed three days of racial violence in February 1999, when popular reggae singer Kaya died in police custody. Riots quickly developed along racial lines with black Creoles attacking Hindus. Police stations housing terrified Hindus were not spared. Likewise, Northeast India has witnessed a surge of nearly 200% in their Christian population in the past 25 years due to the wily tactics of foreign missionaries. So strong is their grasp there that practicing Hinduism is forbidden in these areas. Durga puja has become almost obsolete as deities are destroyed or stolen in broad daylight. This confrontational climate has led to numerous militant outfits, sponsored by the Church, who are fighting for secession from India.
Every minute of everyday an innocent Hindu is attacked solely because of his faith. It is absolutely heart-wrenching to see that being Hindu gives almost everyone the right to automatically verbally and physically abuse us. Have we taken ahimsa [nonviolence] to such an extreme that merely standing up for one's own rights has become a dreadful thought? It is a sad fact to say that while Southern Baptists are openly calling for the conversion of "heathen" Hindus, that the vast majority of us sit quietly in our fancy homes and luxury cars falsely reassuring ourselves that "they do not mean me." But indeed they do, and it is happening every minute of everyday in almost every country in the world where we live. So pathetic is the present situation that not only are we being abused and terrorized by the minorities in our own country, but also by the majority population in the lands where we live abroad. Indeed we can distinctly go down in history as the most cowardice race that has ever lived.
This long tradition of having a slave mentality started thousands of years ago. History has been witness to the numerous onslaughts that we have suffered not only due to disunity, but also to our selfish interests. Even the prior knowledge of Alexander's conquest did not stop many Hindu kingdoms from willingly joining hands with him. This led to the successful expansion of Alexander's empire. Even after Alexander's death, many kingdoms, such as that of Raja Parvataka's Keykai, chose to remain a lackey to the Greek governor appointed to the region. It was only one brave man who came forward to set India free. It was the passion in Chanakya's heart that led him to form the great Mauryan Empire, an empire which brought together the many small, fragmented kingdoms. For the first time it was demonstrated how one man could stir a person's soul and become a force to reckon with.
But history has played a cruel joke, for the Mauryan Empire lasted but a short time, and so by the seventh century AD, we became the targets of another set of tyrannical conquerors -- the Muslims. For eight hundred years we watched as our women were raped, our treasure house of books burned (including the world-renowned Taxila and Nalanda university libraries), our temples destroyed, our people sold as slaves to Middle Eastern countries, and killed or forcibly converted. At that time very few Hindus, if any, chose to rise. Instead, we were too busy being a traitor to our own people and becoming a foot-boy for the king. The Koran, with the countless verses calling for jihad against the "infidels," became a weapon for every Muslim ruler from Mahmud of Ghazni to Tipu Sultan. So poisonous is the Islamic creed that having a Hindu lineage did not even matter as was the case with Jehangir, son of Akbar and his Hindu wife, Jodabai.
By the arrival of the Portuguese and the British, much of Gandhara (present-day Afghanistan) and Western India (present-day Pakistan) was demographically lost to the Muslims. The terrible pogrom known as the Goan Inquisition led to the forcible conversion of Hindus to Christianity and the large-scale confiscation of ancestral property. Scores of temples were demolished and churches built in their place. To add insult to injury, one of the greatest so-called "saints," Francis Xavier, feverishly declared "When all are baptized, I order all temples of their false gods destroyed and idols broken into pieces. I can give you no idea of the joy I feel seeing this done."1 With the cross in one hand and the sword in the other, these European forces went about annihilating Hindus, so much so that we have now lost about 35% of our Goan brothers to Christianity.
The British drained us of our wealth and left us crippled in 1947. The rising, violent Muslim demand for the separate homeland led to the vivisection of one-third of India. As Gandhi was preaching "shanti, shanti" [peace, peace], Muslims perpetrated the most heinous pogrom remembered in partition history, the Noakhali Danga. There is not one family in India that has not seen or suffered the brunt of partition. Gandhi did not do much or say much when his fellow Hindus were being hounded like prey, instead he accusingly stressed to us that we be kind and considerate to our "gentle" Muslim brethren. One cowardice act led to another, as Nehru created our problem of Kashmir and chanted "Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai" while the Chinese were attacking Arunachal Pradesh. By this act, we have lost a large portion of our land to yet another set of modern invaders.
In 1971, while troops under Indira Gandhi's direction liberated Bangladesh, it turned a blind eye to the nearly three million Hindus killed by the Pakistani army and the ten million refugees that flooded the border. She willingly fed, sheltered and handed over 90,000 captured Pakistani troops. Inconsiderate of the fact that we lost hundreds of our soldiers in the front line, she returned to Pakistan a portion of POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) that we managed to re-capture from them. Is this the way one treats one's enemy? Certainly let us not forget Kargil, when bodies of Indian troops were found butchered, their genitals severed, tongues cut and eyes gouged out. This scene takes you back to the medieval days when Muslim kings would not only kill their own relatives for power, but use these same exact means to slowly torture them to death. Indeed, the injunctions of the Koran are followed even in this most advanced day and age. And what does our beloved India do after seeing the condition of these unfortunate Kargil martyrs? Exactly what she did over eight hundred years ago, absolutely nothing!
Our government has become a lackey for the minority population, just begging to appease them at any instance they get, even if it may be an unreasonable, outrageous demand. But what has happened to the 85% of the population who are Hindus, do our votes not count? Apparently not. And how is it that our most "loyal" civil servants are feeling this way? It is simple, because we ourselves do not care what is happening, so why should they?
The fault lies not with ministers, governors or the Prime Minister, it lies solely with us. We are the people, and the voice of power. If we are weak, why should they even bother? But, if 12% of the population, the Muslims, scream and shout, they win the battle, as well as the war. While the rest of the world's democratic, secular countries only allow for one man to marry one woman, India has given Muslims the special privilege of marrying up to four wives, not to mention alimony for only three months. Even the Supreme Court did not have a say when Rajiv Gandhi overturned their verdict in the Shah Bano case, and instead enacted a law making sure that the court finds no scope of jurisdiction in the matters of Muslim marriage, divorce, etc. in the future.
Minority institutions, namely churches, madrasas (Islamic schools), etc., in India receive special funding from the government. Likewise, minorities also receive subsidies on pilgrimages, such as the hajj [a Muslim's pilgrimage to Mecca]. Yet there is no such facility for Hindus, even though we have become a minority in six states in India.
Millions of Kashmiri Hindus have been driven from their ancestral land and are living a dismal life in squatter camps, yet not one government minister is doing anything to address the situation. Sixty ancient temples were destroyed in 1992, but no one said a word. Hindu marriage parties and neighborhoods are singled out and attacked, even children as young as eight are not spared and our papers remain silent. We have become refugees in our own homeland.2
We are not second class, but third class citizens in our own country. Documented numerous times, Christian missionaries are openly calling our devas "shaitans," compelling tribal converts to illegally confiscate land for building churches, urinating on deities, forcing marriages of Christian girls to Hindu boys (so as to make the "nonbeliever" a convert) and pressuring converts to force family members to embrace Christianity.3 SIMI, the Students Islamic Movement of India has declared an open jihad against Hindus. Posters being circulated include one that exhorts young Muslim boys to follow the teachings of Islam passionately and trample upon those who are kaafirs (non-believers in Islam).4
If tribal Christians pelt stones at Hindus and we retaliate, we are blamed. If Christians and Muslims openly slander our devas, it is considered natural, but if we try to defend ourselves or retaliate in kind, we are considered communal. It has come to the point where even saying that one is Hindu is a shameful thing. Many organizations are aghast at the thought of putting the sacred Om on booklets, or rush through pujas so as not the risk losing the audience. We have successfully demeaned and cheapened our religion to such an extent that images of deities are sold on shoes and goddesses are drawn naked. Has Hinduism become so much of joke that Christians and Muslims find it so easy to "buy" a Hindu convert? How can a few saris induce one into discarding his ancestral faith? Why are millions of Hindus fleeing Bangladesh, is it because the rest of the Hindus can not help or stand behind them? Has Chanakya's dream of a united Hindu nation become a mockery?
While India is a total failure in protecting the Hindu population (case in point: Kashmir, the Northeast, the border districts of West Bengal) Hindus in other countries are not that well off either. According to the Fijian constitution, Indians can not own land, and Parlimentary seats are not allocated as per normal democratic means. On July 27, 2000 two hundred terrified Indians were rounded up and held hostage by George Speight's supporters. Even at 44% of the population we can not do a thing, and the Indian government does not say a thing.
Fifty thousand Hindus in and around Dhaka, Bangladesh were killed in 1964 when a holy relic from a mosque was stolen in Kashmir. In 1992, three thousand Hindu temples were destroyed and thousands of Hindus killed in religious riots in Bangladesh. This is not something new. "There were riots in East Pakistan almost every year, and severe killings in 1944, 1947, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1960 and 1963," states S.K. Bhattacharya in Genocide in East Pakistan/Bangladesh. Added to the long list of mass attacks is the daily harassment of Hindus. The Dhaka newspaper Sangabad reported on September 24, 1989, the story of Ms. Birajabala Debnath of Niradabad. She became a widow after her husband was murdered because he refused to give up his land to his Muslim neighbor. Then she and her five children were abducted in the middle of the night and murdered. Amnesty International's 1996 report details the attack on innocent Hindu students at Dhaka University's Jagannatha Hall. Seven hundred law enforcement personnel raided the University's only Hindu hall firing tear-gas, stealing valuables and raping and beating students. The three hour raid saw hundreds of deaths and injuries.5
There have been legal assaults against the Hindus by the Bangladesh government as well, most especially the Vested Property Act, formally called the "Enemy Property Act." It allows for the lands of a person who has fled the country to be seized and redistributed. In 1989, Bangla Land Minister Sunil Gupta stated that between 1984-1989 700,000 acres of land was confiscated from the Hindus, plus thousands of homes, shops, ponds, etc. The Bangladesh government is totally nonchalant about this and other incidents. It can be safely said that the government is indeed playing a major role in systematically exterminating the few remaining Hindus. Even as early as 1971, the new Bangladesh government chose to turn a blind eye to the incidents that were happening around them.
The Ramna Kali Bari in Dhaka, hundreds of years old, was shelled by the Pakistani Army and the new Bangladesh government confiscated the land, bulldozed the remains and turned the 66-acre area into a park. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheik Hasina goes one step further to say "Bangladeshi Hindus have one foot in India and other in Bangladesh" and asked, given the divided loyalty, what should they expect and how much the local Muslims will listen to her government. It seems as though Sheik Hasina is suffering from an acute case of amnesia as it was her family that the Indian government saved from the hands of a military coup and the assassination of her father in 1975. Indeed, the Koran's injunction of not trusting a non-Muslim, as stated in 4:144 of the chapter entitled An-Nisa (Women): "O ye who believe! Take not for friends unbelievers rather than believers: Do ye wish to offer Allah an open proof against yourselves?" is followed to this day.
Bangladesh has indeed followed in Pakistan's footsteps of exterminating Hindus. Pakistan's Hindu population, once numbering 15% has been reduced to about 1%. In a recent Indian Express article, the remaining few are adopting Christian names so as to escape persecution by the Muslims.6
India Today's November 8th (2000) article details the life of Pakistani Hindus who are crossing the border to settle in India, all due to sustained harassment by Muslims.7 Bangladesh has successfully driven its once 35% Hindu population at partition to a mere 10% now. Conceivably, by 2050 Bangladesh will achieve the status of Pakistan: no significant Hindu population.
Nepal, the only Hindu kingdom in the world, has not escaped either. The Christian population, which was almost nil in 1960, has increased by leaps and bounds. Billions of dollars have been pumped in for conversion activities. Christians are asking everyone, via the Internet, to save the "lost Hindu" souls of Nepal. Islamic madrasas are cropping up in the border districts. The Muslim population of 2.5% in 1981 has increased to 3.5% in ten years. In December 1998, Muslims held rallies in Janakpur, Sita's birthplace, calling for the conversion of Nepal to an Islamic state. It is indeed apt to ask if Nepal, in effect, is a Hindu state.8
While Americans are displaying pictures of Sri Krishna in gay magazines and branding the images of our deities on lunch boxes and t-shirts, half-way around the world, Hindus are losing their lives to Christian and Muslim fanatics. What is the use of organizing massive conferences detailing our past history when we are losing our future every single minute? Can such conferences save our fellow Hindus from the wrath of Abrahamic radicals? How many of the world's one billion Hindus protested when 25 Hindus were massacred in Kashmir?9
Compare this with the immense Hindu response that was given when one bamboo church was burned in the Dangs. Are Hindu lives that dispensable? The Kurds, a people without a homeland, rocked the world with simultaneous protests when their leader was handed over by Greece to Turkey. But the Hindus remained silent when in 1997 50,000 Reang tribals fled Mizoram -- in fear of the Catholic spree of looting, burning, raping and killing. We are blissfully ignoring Sri Krishna's message to Arjuna: to fight adharma [non-religion] wherever it may be.
It can safely be said that not only are we the most cowardice race that has ever lived, but also the most selfish one. Sending our children to Ivy League colleges can not wash away their Indian features or their Hindu heritage. We are doomed to be confined to the exhibits of a museum to be gawked at by curious onlookers, for many of whom we are ancestors.
Let us remember Swami Vivekananda's words regarding conversions: "And then every man going out of the Hindu pale is not a man less, but an enemy more." At the same time, let heed his warning: "Religion and religion alone is the life of India, and when that goes, India will die, in spite of politics, in spite of social reforms, in spite of Kubera's wealth poured upon the head of every one of her children."