My wait didn’t go in vain. I knew it the moment the world learned that the Norwegian lunatic-killer took inspiration from a vast range of literature critical of Islam, Marxists and their fellow travellers and that literature included writings that emanated from people sympathetic to Hinduism. I knew someone would make a connection between Anders Behring Breivik’s heinous deed and Hinduism and everybody who’s ever spoken or written in support of Hinduism.
And so, the JNU-visiting Gorgon emerges once again on the pages of Open magazine to regurgitate her Hindu hatred. Unlike in her previous utterances of incoherence about Yoga, she doesn’t restrict her attack to anything or anyone specific. This time, she spares none. Her piece is like the textual equivalent of Breivik’s shooting rampage.
Before we get into the specifics of Nanda’s venomous anti-Hindu outpouring, it helps to examine how Open magazine has framed the article’s context. Take a look at the following pictures that appear at the beginning of the piece.
Picture 1: Photograph of what looks like an RSS camp with members doing PT drills
Open’s caption: PARALLELS OF PARANOIA The European Far Right shares something with its Indian counterpart: a vivid and highly vocalised fear of ‘Islamisation’
Picture 2: Photograph of prominent RSS guru and leader Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar
Open’s Caption: GROUPTHINK Guru Golwalkar of the RSS drew inspiration from Europe’s Nazis in the 1940s
What’s more significant is that Open has filed this story under the Bigotry category. A typical reader hurriedly glosses over seemingly innocuous phrases like parallels of paranoia and the Orwellian GroupThink but these small things send out powerful subconscious messages and create lasting associations. Ask anybody in the advertising industry. It’s also a vile form of chicanery in that these are mere assertions with no basis in either history or fact as we shall see.
At the outset, Nanda argues that Breivik was a product of “years of immersion in a worldwide web of anti-Islamic ideas espoused by cultural purists and nationalists of all stripes” and that India “figures quite prominently in this web of hate.” From here, she embarks on leaps of logic, distortion of history, selective quoting, and emitting copious amounts of bile against anybody who’s sympathetic to Hindu causes and revivalism and reserves special-quality bile to those that criticize Islam.
Two points are immediately apparent. The first is Nanda’s usage of the term “anti-Islamic ideas,” which simply means that even well-reasoned criticism of Islam is branded as anti-Islamic and therefore not worth examining. The second is linking Breivik’s mindless violence to these criticisms. If we apply the same reasoning to Meera Nanda’s nonsensical “critiques” of everything Hindu (from water conservation to Yoga to Ayurveda), can we make a reasonable case for a hypothetical Marxist nut who goes on a killing rampage of say Yoga teachers? If that sounds absurd, let’s see what she says in her now-familiar tone of supremely misplaced confidence.
THE SIMPLE FACT is that some of the most revered personalities of the Hindu Right have actively cultivated and nurtured links with the European New Right. We don’t have to go as far back as the Nazi-loving founding fathers of the Sangh Parivar.
The simple fact is that Meera Nanda is a liar. First, the reasons why Savarkar and Golwalkar admired Hitler are different but the burden of proof is on Nanda (if she believes in things like proof) to show otherwise. Second, Golwalkar disowned the book he wrote admiring Hitler, a fact Nanda cleverly conceals. What she also conceals is that the same Hitler was engaged in a sinister deal with the greatest Left Wing Satan of all time, Stalin. Nanda’s resume amply demonstrates her service to the cause of the Left. And thus it proceeds, the exercise of first laying the foundation based on untruths and insinuation. From demonizing Savarkar and co, she turns her attention to what she calls
…a newer generation of Hindu chauvinists that raves and rants against ‘Semitic monotheistic religions’—Islam, above all. This new Hindu Right has managed to move beyond the old Nazi fixation on racial purity to a new ideology of hate based on cultural and religious purity that is proving to be attractive to ‘crusader nationalists’ such as Breivik and his fellow ‘patriots’ from Europe, North America and Israel.
To her vomit-stained glasses, every critique of Islam becomes a “rant and rave” and a “hate-filled ideology.” This tarnishing technique is aimed at preempting attempts by people who want to study Hindu revivalism and/or critiques of Islam. Which becomes very evident because she devotes a bulk of her venomous piece to pouring dung on what has emerged in recent times as one of the most definitive critiques of Islam and Christianity, and equally, a forceful and authentic exposition of various aspects of Hinduism spawning history and politics among others. In a negative tribute of sorts, she says:
The new Hindu Right has been honing its radical critique of Islam and Christianity from the perspective of ‘yogic spirituality’ largely through books published by the Delhi-based publishing house Voice of India (VoI), which was founded in 1981 by two ardent Hindu revivalists and anti-Communists, Ram Swarup and his friend, Sita Ram Goel (both now deceased). VoI’s goal is to produce ‘bauddhik kshatriyas’ (intellectual warriors), who will defend Hindu society against the triple ‘threat’ of Islam, Westernisation and Marxism. The signature theme of VoI thinkers is to attribute these three ‘evils’ to ‘Semitic’ or monotheistic religions that are ‘inherently intolerant’ because they believe in One True God, One Truth and One Book.
And the underlined words show Meera Nanda’s signature theme of naked deceit. VoI thinkers do not attribute the intolerance because Islam & Christianity believe in One God and One Book but because the One God-One Book proponents insist that that is the only God and all other Gods are false and must be destroyed. Of course, Meera Nanda doesn’t mention the inconvenient latter part. It’s again a familiar trick: demonize everybody whom the so-called Hindu Right respects. Thus it’s unsurprising that Meera Nanda’s Galaxy of Hindu Villains stars such people as Sita Ram Goel, Ram Swarup, Koenraad Elst and David Frawley among others. Koenraad Elst gets five-star treatment. Here’s how.
Evidence of the global reach of the VoI-school of Hindutva can be found in the 1,518-page-long manifesto titled 2083: European Declaration of Independence that the Norway killer posted on the internet just hours before he went on his rampage. The manifesto makes two references to a Belgian writer, Koenraad Elst.
What is amazing is how she concocts phrases like VoI-school of Hindutva as though that is a self-evident truth. VoI or those who run it haven’t—in my readings—claimed themselves to be Hindutva votaries. Even if they did, it doesn’t blunt the kind of work they’ve done. If anything, the solid and sometimes, original research produced by VoI hasn’t ever been refuted anywhere so far. The likes of Nanda have merely ground their teeth in impotent rage and cursed the research but haven’t refuted it. Here’s a sample:
The first time Elst is mentioned is as the authority behind the highly contested claim that Muslims enslaved Hindus and drove them to their death in the Hindu Kush mountain ranges, now in Afghanistan. (This reference appears in an article by Srinandan Vyas, which is reproduced in the manifesto.)
Highly-contested claim eh? Now let’s see what exactly Elst has said, which Nanda has quoted in her putrid piece.
On p.140, an article by Srinandan Vyas quotes me as explaining that Hindu Kush, the name of a mountain range in Afghanistan forming the border of historic India, is Persian for “slaughter of Hindus”. Originally Hindu Koh, “Indian mountain”, it was amended to Hindu Kush because, as Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta explained, numerous Hindu slaves on transport would die there from the cold. So the name does not refer to the mass killings of Hindus by the Muslim invaders, of which there have been many, but to another factor of the bleeding of India by Islam, viz. mass enslavement.
(For those who want to read the scholarly version of the Hindu Kush event, here’s Elst again: http://koenraadelst.blogspot.com/2010/10/meaning-of-hindu-kush.html).
As for another compelling evidence that nails Meera Nanda’s “highly-contested” lie, we can ask her to look up Muslim Slave System in Medieval India by K.S. Lal. But then K.S. Lal is also published by VoI and in the Meera Nanda Cult of Logic, it stands as invalid proof. But back to Elst, who Nanda quotes again:
Elst is quoted here to suggest that though Islam is in decline, it can still take over Europe before it collapses. (Here Elst is quoted in an article by Fjordman, the anonymous Norwegian blogger well known for his anti-Islamic views and greatly admired by Breivik).
As before, let’s see for ourselves the exact words of Elst.
On p.339, an article by Fjordman on Brussels Journal quotes me as predicting the impending implosion of Islam, then paraphrasing me as warning that before the end comes, Islam can still come to dominate Europe. Islam’s intention to take over Europe is well-documented, and like other historical facts it is not susceptible to being altered by Breivik’s irrational crime. As it happens, my thinking about the magnitude of the risk of Islam succeeding in taking over Europe has evolved, I am now less pessimistic about it than in the 1990s. But either way, it is perfectly legitimate to think about these serious matters. So no, I do not feel embarrassed in any way by seeing these observations of mine reproduced by any of Vyas’s or Fjordman’s readers. As the French saying goes, la vérité est bonne, “truth is a good thing”. It never causes harm by being known.
On the contrary, if I could turn the clock back, I would try to save Breivik’s victims by advising Breivik to read the Brussels Journal. There he would have learned that the threat is not quite as dramatic as he imagined, indeed quite manageable by normal democratic means; and that killing Muslims (let alone non-Muslims) is not the way to counter the expansion of Islam.
Meera Nanda quotes him correctly but partially and selectively. Read the underlined words above and draw your own conclusions. What was Meera Nanda banking on: the non-availability of information, ignorance, laziness—or all of the above—of her readers who would, like in the old days, take her word at face value? She heaps more scorn on Elst linking him with think-tanks and organizations and parties and blogs that espouse hatred of Islam. Guilt by association, etc. But there’s a reason why she has reserved the worst of her demonic ire towards Elst: because of this scholarly whacking of yet another old masterpiece of Nandaesque Nonsense. And on and on she harps about VoI authors interspersing her rant frequently with “right,” “right wing,” “extreme critics of Islam and Christianity” before finally arriving at this:
… the founding fathers of VoI also tried to encourage the revival of pre-Christian and pre-Islamic pagan religions on the assumption that these ancient Indo-European religions shared the polytheism and ritualism of Hinduism.
On the assumption Ms. Nanda? Really? For all her unquenchable Hindu hatred, we must regard her as a scholar even if her scholarship is in the disservice of truth. On that basis, what kind of a scholar uses the word “assumption” as loosely as she’s done here? There’s a vast body of scholarship that has shown—with proof unlike Nanda’s Scholarship-by-Assumption & Assertion—parallels in the so-called pagan religions. Google for “pre-Islamic Gods in Arabia.” Also, why do we find so many similarities in “nature Gods” in ancient Hinduism and the Greek mythology/culture? And why do “pagan” cultures like Hinduism regard Feminity with reverence and why Semitic religions have only a Male as God? And why except for Hinduism, none of these “pagan” religions and cultures have survived. It’s because Hinduism has lived to tell the tale.
From here, she embarks on an even viler journey.
NOW THAT BREIVIK’S manifesto has revealed the names of anti-Islamic authors, bloggers, websites and groups that shaped his thinking, the great washing off of hands has begun. Just about everyone named by Breivik has issued stern statements distancing him/herself from his violent deeds.
This statement is unmatched for its pure villainy. Washing off of hands? Those named by Breivik have done the right thing, the decent thing, the moral thing. Is it their fault that Breivik took a reasoned criticism of Islam to an extreme level? Nanda characterizes this extreme behaviour as “shaped his thinking” by which she tries to imply that Elst et al brainwashed him. Which is perfectly accurate given Nanda’s worldview, which works in the reverse. If that’s villainous, wait till you read the next sentence where she quotes Elst again:
Elst himself posted a statement stating that ‘The Brussels Journal never ever carried calls to counter Islam by means of bombs and shoot-outs… It only carried criticism of Islam, but that is a perfectly legitimate exercise.’
And here’s Elst’s complete statement:
Beirvik’s manifesto contained the reproduction in full of some articles from the Brussels Journal, a libertarian-conservative blog website. Predictably, the Belgian and some international media, which never liked the website’s consistent stand for freedom of speech in the face of Islamic attempts at muzzling it, have tried to impute responsibility for Beirvik’s hideous act to this defender of freedom of expression. But in reality, the Brussels Journal never ever carried calls to counter Islam by means of bombs or shoot-outs, whether of Muslims or non-Muslims. It carried criticism of Islam, but that is a perfectly legitimate exercise. As Karl Marx put it, criticism of religion is the start of all proper criticism. Enemies of the freedom to criticize religion are simply enemies of freedom.
So Nanda’s omission of Elst’s mention of media criticism is necessary to hide her real grouse against Elst. He’s a vocal critic of Islam and makes no bones about it. And that’s Nanda’s biggest problem. Like her Marxist compatriots worldwide, she cannot digest any criticism of Islam. She exhibits the same intolerance to its criticism as a famous Left lunatic who wrote about how the US “invited” 9/11. If Islam doesn’t assimilate in a host country, it is somehow the problem of the host country. If Taliban wants to impose Islam, it’s because the US is bad.
A term that’s recently become popular among these intolerant defenders of Islamism is Islamophobia. The term simply means that if you criticize Islam in any way, you deeply fear it. So everybody from Shivaji to Swamy Vivekananda to Sita Ram Goel to Pat Condell to Ayan Hirsi Ali to Koenraad Elst to Daniel Pipes to Geert Wilders are Islamophobes. This term although essentially meaningless is actually a shield to deflect, deter, and put a sense of shame into people who want to critically examine Islam. This term is a stock favourite among the self-proclaimed multiculturalists who were lions in the heydays of Marxism and who’ve now been reduced to wearing multicultural sheep-clothing. Meera Nanda offers a ready exhibit of this sheep-bleating:
…the agenda of the Islamophobic Right is much larger than spilling blood in the streets. As he made clear over and over again, Breivik’s primary objective was to ‘create a platform to consolidate anti-Marxist forces before Europe is overwhelmed demographically by Muslims’. In other words, his first priority was to take down ‘cultural Marxists’ or multiculturalists, who are supposedly ‘appeasing’ Muslims…Breivik advises his Hindu nationalist brothers to first go after the ‘cultural Marxist government’ and its left-wing sympathisers
The truth is on the wall. Let’s take India’s case where the Marxist brain operating for 60+ years has systematically and comprehensively polluted public discourse, appeased the Muslim vote bank(eminent examples are Kerala and West Bengal, which have handed over large parts of these two states to rabid and violent Islamists who now have the power to make laws), and are in the process of creating an entitlement economy (the NAC and its toxic schemes constitute rear-entry Communism). This selfsame phenomenon is prevalent in differing degrees across Europe. Why doesn’t anybody ask the question that until Muslim immigrants flushed its lands, postwar European society was relatively stable and conflict-free? Perhaps Meera Nanda doesn’t realize how ridiculous this sounds coming from her, but let’s hear her out. This is pure comedy.
But what exactly do Breivik and his stormtroopers have against these multiculturalist ‘cultural Marxists’? The answer is simple: cultural Marxists say ‘all cultures and religions are equal’. The problem with cultural Marxists, Breivik says, is that they are egalitarian and want to create ‘a society not merely of equal opportunity, but equal condition’. But it is ‘evident’ to him that all people are not equal, because all cultures and religions are not equal. Multiculturalists and cultural Marxists are, therefore, guilty of spreading the ‘politically correct’ but false ideology of tolerance and equality of all faiths and all cultures.
This equality is not acceptable to cultural nationalists: if all cultures are equal, how can they oppose the influx of what they see as inferior cultures? If all cultures are equal, how can they carry on their ‘consciousness-raising’ campaigns against The Quran and Sharia? If all cultures are equal, what is special about their own Christendom?
Instead of my observations, here’s an excerpt from one of the best critiques of multiculturalism that I’ve read (Recommended reading).
Multiculturalism rests on the supposition—or better, the dishonest pretense—that all cultures are equal and that no fundamental conflict can arise between the customs, mores, and philosophical outlooks of two different cultures. The multiculturalist preaches that, in an age of mass migration, society can (and should) be a kind of salad bowl, a receptacle for wonderful exotic ingredients from around the world, the more the better, each bringing its special flavor to the cultural mix. For the salad to be delicious, no ingredient should predominate and impose its flavor on the others.
Even as a culinary metaphor, this view is wrong: every cook knows that not every ingredient blends with every other….These practices send the message that newcomers to Britain have no obligation to learn English—indeed, that the obligation is the other way around: that the British state must make itself clear in Arabic, Farsi, Russian, Somali, Swahili, and many other languages…We must persuade, not coerce or indoctrinate, and to do so we must first disabuse our intellectuals of the notion—frivolous but damaging—that society should be a cultural salad.
It takes only a Marxist to not recognize a commonsense fact that cultures are not equal because people are not equal and that criticism of a culture or religion doesn’t mean criticism of its adherents. Or the fact that there is such a thing as a violent religion. Using her own leaky logic, can we conclude that Meera Nanda hates Hindus? But we digress. From eulogizing multiculturalism a.k.a. Marxism, Nanda turns her attention yet again on the dreaded Hindutva folks. Guess who she picks on this time? Subramanian Swamy for his ill-advised piece in DNA and then claims that
What distinguishes the VoI-brand of Hindutva—and pushes it into the global network of Islamophobia—is its staunch opposition to the mantra of sarva dharma samabhaav, the Hindu equivalent of multiculturalism. Hinduism, they assert, is not any ordinary religion, but rather contains the very essence of religion itself: it is sanatan dharma, the Eternal Cosmic Truth. To equate Hindu dharma, this mother of all Truth, with violent, materialistic and monotheistic ‘creeds’ like Islam amounts to equating dharma with adharma,..As Sita Ram Goel, the founding member of VoI, put it, “To entertain samabhaav (equal regard) for Islam and Christianity, by giving them the status of dharma is to extend [an] invitation to doom… These ideologies are not worthy of being called dharma in any sense of the word. Contrary to this, they are brimful [sic] of imperialistic expansion.”
All of this is accurate and is backed by mountains of historical proof. If Islam was a religion in the true sense of the word, why did the warriors of Islam who went about conquering the world report to the HQ a.k.a the Caliphate for a few centuries? That’s imperialism, in case Nanda doesn’t know the definition. Why did the Church need to wield political power if its primary job role was disseminating spirituality? Alien Islamic invaders as well as fully-Indian Sultans regularly sent gifts and slaves to the Caliphate. Contrast these with an Alexander who invaded India but didn’t impose his belief system on Indians. Also, Dharma at the very basics is that which is in consonance with a natural order and forbids encroachment of another person’s property or beliefs or lifestyle. Most with commonsense would agree that this is a recommended approach to life and religion, which is why it is valid for all times and hence called Sanatana or Eternal. It takes only a Meera Nanda to spew poison against people who uphold a religion that espouses it.
And then she fires her final salvo where she draws a neat equation of Breivik=Elst. In her own words:
Once they got rid of the mantra of sarva dharma samabhaav, VoI militants declared an open war against Islam. Their new consensus is that rather than ‘appease’ Muslims by pretending to respect their religion, Hindus need to debunk the claims of the ‘false’ and ‘monstrous’ doctrines of Islam. Indeed, Koenraad Elst has himself applauded this new war on Islam…he has proclaimed that, “Every Muslim is a Sita who must be released from Ravana’s prison. We should help Muslims in freeing themselves from Islam.”
This is exactly the agenda of the Norway killer—to ‘educate’ Norwegian society, including Muslim immigrants—that ‘Islam is not a religion but a political ideology.’
If Meera Nanda had even a shred of decency or honesty in her, she’d ask these questions:
- Why are so many Westerners angry and/or scared of Islam and Muslims?
- Why didn’t we see issues like the Minarets ban, burqa ban and Londonistan even 30 years ago?
- Why has the United Nations’s resolution on Freedom of Speech invited such stark and widespread criticism?
- Why is outrage generated over building a mosque at Ground Zero?
- Several such similar questions but you get the gist
Instead, she does what cowards are best at doing: she evades the issue by demonizing the people who are unafraid of telling the truth and using that demonization as a weapon to prevent people who seek it. Come to think of it, Breivik has delighted the likes of Meera Nanda. Imagine if it was a crazed Islamic fanatic who had done the shooting. Meera Nanda & co would have had sleepless nights trying to brew some “explanation” about how Norway treated its minorities badly etc. Instead, the shooting was done by a self-confessed Right-wing Nationalist much to their glee.
Hence this toxic piece.
Postscript: For all her self-righteous verbal dysentery against anybody who criticizes Islam, Meera Nanda must read her own piece. It drips copiously with words like “violent,” “anti-Islamic,” “Islamophobia,” “extreme,” “hatred,” “Islam-bashers,” “Nazi-loving,” “exterminate,” and so on.