Mine is a Layman’s View of Hinduism Says Politician Cum Author Shashi Tharoor

Mine is a Layman’s View of Hinduism Says Politician Cum Author Shashi Tharoor

New Delhi: Diplomat-politician-author Shashi Tharoor says he is no scholar of Hinduism and only seeks to give his readers an overview of the faith “as I understand it”.

“I am neither a Sanskritist nor a scholar of Hinduism and did not set out to write a scholarly exposition of the religion. Mine is a layman’s view of Hinduism, and my exposition seeks to give the reader an overview of the faith as I understand it, as well as accessible summaries of its main features,” Tharoor, a three-term Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram, writes in his just-released “The Hindu Way - An Introduction to Hinduism (Aleph/pp 305/Rs 799).

“My narrative weaves between personal witness and an attentive reading of the relevant scriptures and academic texts, their development by many thinkers and the practices and the challenges of Hindutva ideology,” Tharoor writes, adding his approach os to present both the ancient texts of Hinduism and the modern beliefs of Hindutva descriptively and on their own terms, rather than through the theoretical approaches of historians, theologians and social scientists.

Taking this one step further, Shashi Tharoor said during a panel discussion after the launch of the book on Thursday that the recent incidents of lynching were in no way representative of the fundamental core tenets of Hinduism.

Releasing the book, Senior Congress leader Karan Singh was equally harsh, saying that forcing people to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman” is an insult to not only Hinduism, but it is an insult to the deity.

What then, is the essence of the book, which follows the “tremendous response” to his previous work, “Why I Am A Hindu” that was intended to contrast the Hinduism that Tharoor grew up with, professed and practiced “with the narrow-minded faith of the Hindutvavadis”.

It is this: “In the twenty-first century, Hindusim has many of the attributes of a universal religion - a religion that is personal and individualistic, privileges the individual and does not subordinate one to a collectivity; a religion that grants and respects complete freedom to the believer to find his or her own answers to the true meaning of life; a religion that offers a wide range of choice in religious practice, even in regard to the nature and form of the formless God; a religion that places great emphasis on one’s mind, and values one’s capacity for reflection, intellectual enquiry, and self-study; a religion that distances itself from dogma and holy writ, that is minimally perspective and yet offers an abundance of opinions, spiritual and philosophical texts and social and cultural practices to choose from.

“In a world where resistance to authority is growing, Hinduism imposes no authorities; in a world of networked individuals, Hinduism proposes no institutional hierarchies; in a world of open-source information-sharing, Hindusim accepts all paths as equally valid; in a world of rapid transformations and accelerating change, Hinduism is adaptable and flexible, which is why it has survived for nearly 4,000 years,” Shashi Tharoor writes.

It is essential, the author notes, that if one desires to portray a Hindu vision to come to terms with the diversity within Hinduism itself. Each Hindu may have a different concept of his/her own dharma. (IANS)

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