The Illogic and Inanity of the Religious Right in India

S.K. Arun Murthi

wrote a short critical article a few weeks ago on the ideas of some ancient Indian schools of thought. My critique was aimed at revealing how such ideas are pseudoscientific and pseudo-philosophical and, therefore, incompatible with that of modern science (I had written this article in the context of ISRO co-hosting the ‘Akash Tatva’ conference with RSS-affiliate Vijnana Bharati).

A few days later, I received WhatsApp messages from two of my acquaintances. These messages, with attachments of videos, a tweet and a news item featuring Hindutva ideologues, clearly reveal their support for the Hindu Right. These were sent, perhaps as a response to my criticism, to indicate to me the meaningfulness of traditional scriptures, customs and rituals. 

One of my acquaintances – a corporate finance professional – is unabashed about his right-wing leanings with intense religious overtones and is an ardent advocate of Hindu cultural superiority. 

The other is a retired philosophy lecturer who claims to be a moderate and distances himself from the Right as well as the Left inclinations in views. He proudly says he occupies a middle ground but his views betray, albeit in a circuitous way, his leaning toward the Right. He refuses to accept the label of Hindu Right – perhaps to portray himself as a person of progressive outlook – but puts forward those very Rightist views on some occasions.

What is important to note is that these two individuals typically represent a fair chunk of educated professionals holding views about the superiority of ancient Hindu civilisation. 

In this, they are greatly influenced by English-speaking Hindutva ideologues whose videos and writings are widely shared on social media these days. What carries influence is the rhetoric of greatness thrust on the shastras (i.e. Hindu scriptures), customs and rituals. Further, these ideologues assert that these customs and rituals are imbued with (rational) meaning. This meaning construction is central to their narrative of pride in a ‘superior’ Hindu identity and also explains their influence….