Let me start with a revelation – The lynch mob in Dadri was not Hindu. It is a mis-characterization and I feel offended.
Mahatma Gandhi challenged the British by pointing out the hypocrisy between the unChristian treatment they meted out to Indians and the merciful, kind religion they professed Christianity to be. Now seems to be an opportune moment to borrow an arrow from Gandhi’s quiver.
A significant part of the Indian population follows Hinduism. What does Hinduism stand for as a religion? Here’s my take. It is a religion which promotes healthy skepticism. It accepts that there are multiple ways to achieve enlightenment and oneness with the Almighty. Hinduism accepts idol worship and it accepts no idolatry e.g. Arya Samaj. It accepts asceticism to achieve enlightenment. It also accepts Charvaka’s philosophy that one should drink ghee and enjoy life, even if he/she has to take a loan.
Hinduism is not a stagnant pond brimming with its own water, but an ocean, accepting from all rivers. It does not differentiate between the lazy elegance of the Ganga, and the impatience of Mandovi and the Zuari. It creates Mughlai cuisine when it meets the Turks and the Mongols. To meet the taste palate of the vegetarian Hindu, it spices up soya chunks and paneer with a Mughlai touch. When it goes to Indonesia, it becomes one with the local culture, giving them Kakawin Ramayana.
Hinduism takes and it gives, it evolves and it lives on – not like an embarrassed cockroach after nuclear holocaust, but a proud flag-bearer of the various cultures which it has met in the course of history. To borrow from the Discovery of India, it is “like some ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed, and yet no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erased what had been written previously.”
Enough grammar – now let us go back to the beginning of the article. What happened in Dadri was not done by Hindus. If they were Hindus, they would have practiced healthy skepticism as to how a family who had been their neighbors for years is a law breaker. The sequence would have something like this:
“Dear Akhlaq bhai, someone is floating rumors that you are cooking beef.”
Akhlaq could have answered in the affirmative that it was indeed water buffalo beef, which is allowed. He could have said it was mutton and offered the visitors to try some mutton curry. He could also have said that it was cow beef, in which case the his neighbors would have either chosen to advise him against consuming it or they could have chosen to call the Police and booked a case against him.
Having closed the matter, the village elders would have gathered and decided how else they can help protect the revered cow. They would have used the internet to find out that they should promote indigenous breeds of cow and that buying jersey cows is akin to getting a step-mother home, because she lactates more than your real mother. They would have stopped using polythene, so that stray cows do not end up eating polythene in search of food. They would have also stumbled upon veganism, and approached with curiosity, a vegan’s premise that milking cows is cruel in a way. They would have solved the problem and felt enlightened.
Instead here is what happened. They used social media and the temple premises to spread rumors. The vigilantes did not confirm if the rumors were based in reality. Akhlaq’s family was fatally attacked.
Let me conclude by borrowing from two other religions – Christianity and Islam. Their holy books warn against false prophets – impostors in the guise of well-wishers who aim to lead us astray from the path of righteousness. The Dadri killers are false prophets. They have no religion, just like terrorists.