Author: Rabinarayan Swain.
In the era of intellectual imperialism, the Non-Left is slowly learning to give importance to ideas and it’s proponents, not just to politicians, but despite the Non-Left’s relentless trolling of people like Ravish Kumar or Romila Thapar or Devdutt Pattanaik, these divisive figures remain entrenched, which makes critiquing and exposing them regularly a necessity.
So Devdutt I-am-the-final-authority-on-Hinduism Pattanaik, along with abusing common people and intellectuals like Śrī Rajiv Malhotra and Śrī David Frawley also manages to find time for writing weekly and fort nightly columns in various news papers.
He writes a fortnightly column ‘Who is a Hindu?’ in The Mumbai Mirror and on the occasion of Eid, he has written it’s latest installment- ‘Why Hindus should read Islamic mythology?’ As he is getting to be well known as a vicious Hinduphobe (not just a closet one, as in his previous avatar) by many, possibly, as a reaction he has consciously chosen to follow the footsteps of western post modernists i.e bashing Christianity while praising and defending Islam against its critics. This particular article reflects how Pattanaik is preposterous and dangerous at the same time.
Pattanaik begins by claiming that mythology doesn’t mean fiction in the 21st century and it means “the cultural truth of a society”, “collective fiction (fiction nonetheless) of a society that binds them together”. He invokes the concept of ‘post structuralism’ to come to his aid. He then expresses resentment on the label that Islam has acquired as Judeo-Christian or Abrahamic, saying that such labelling has come into play only in the 20th century. However, he fails to establish it’s fallibility. He mourns that despite the world’s oldest mosque being situated in Kerala (a debatable claim), Indians still doesn’t know enough about Islamic mythology while they have knowledge of Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata and biblical myths due to missionary funded education. Then he says that,
The idea of India and the idea that ‘all are equal before law’ comes from the Islamic world view.
Finally he cites some biblical episodes of fraternal rivalry and parallels them with Devāsura, Naga-Garuda and Pāndava-Kaurava fight to conclude that we have many things in common. “Such battles over inheritance remind us that despite difference in cultures and religions, we are all human”. Here I’ll first refute his sameness myth using post structuralism and then proceed to the 1st part.
Post structuralism says that since the author is dead what he has to say doesn’t matter at all and it’s for the reader to find whatever meaning from the text according to his mind set. So in the present context it would mean two things.
First, the atrocities committed in the name of Islam has nothing to do with it’s theology and second, ṛṣis like VyāsaDeva or Vālmīki have nothing important to say to us.
This is nothing but the removal of the sacred aspects of Sanatana’s narratives. These two enable Pattanaik to straitjacket our vast Ārṣa narratives to a mere fight among brothers over inheritance and putting it into the same epistemic category as those of the Abrahamic ones. He completely ignores the fact that Devas or Pāndavas were Dhārmik and virtuous but as post modernism makes everything relative and subjective, so good and evil also become relative.
This makes Asuras equal to Devas and Islamic stories equal to our Itihāsas.
But while legitimizing all the world views, Pattanaik and other apologists like him never bother to address the key differences between Hindu Dhārmik and Abrahamic world views. Pattanaik himself cites the example of Jacob-Esau, Cain-Abel and Issac-Ismael, all of which are from the old Testament. As all the Judeo-Christian faiths regard Abraham as the 1st prophet and are based on his teachings of only one God, calling them Abrahamic is not a offence to their theology. The world view of Islam is not different from the world view of Judaism and Christianity, it’s only more aggressive. The same idea of original sin, difference between Sacred and Material, believer and eternal heaven, non believer and eternal hell, no rebirth, no notion of karma, hatred for idols and history of iconoclasm is found in all three Judeo Christian faiths. (For a more detailed discussion, the reader should read up Śrī Rajiv Malhotra’s magnum opus- Being Different). But still Pattanaik thinks that studying ‘Nabi Vamsa‘, a 17th century text, composed in Bengal or Cira Puranam, a Tamil text, based on the prophet’s life, would have given Hindus a better understanding of Islam. While I am just glad that he hasn’t advised Hindus to recite ‘Allopanishad’ daily, still it should be understood that these secondary narratives and stories have no significant role in defining Islamic theology and its world view.
It’s the Quran and Hadis that shapes their world view. And the irony is apologists of Islam like Pattanaik will simply call a person, an ‘Islamophobe’ if one raises questions about Islamic worldviews after studying it’s primary texts.
Pattanaik says the idea of equality is inspired from Islam and so does the idea of India. He seems to be ignorant that Islam recognizes only Dar-ul-Harb (land of non believers) and Dar-ul-Islam (land of believers), and no other nation. At least Hindus, after suffering from a thousand years of Islamic brutality , paying Jiziya tax for their faith, shouldn’t be the people believing that Islam, of all things, promotes equality. However many Macaulayised, culturally self alienated Hindus, sadly , look up to asuras like Devdutt Pattanaik as their guide to navigate the civilisational encounters. Their pitiable condition is nothing but , ‘अन्धेनैव नीयमानाः यथान्धाः’, the blind being led by the blind.
Post structuralist apologists like Pattanaik, by deconstructing the balanced and evolved natural social structures, aim to create social voids and disharmony, which can then be filled by the worst among man’s power structures.
For anarchists (asura-s) like Devdutt, it is not that they are arrogant and ignorant to realise it, it is just that they expressly indulge in such intellectualism as they derive immense sadistic pleasure from causing adharma, human pain and distress.
Hindu Lives DO NOT matter to this Islamophilic MythMaker
Rabinarayan Swain is currently studying MBBS. He belongs to Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya and inspired by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo. View More.