23 October, 2020

The Hindu Code, In Vanishing Ink

A polytheistic religion fosters a natural hospitality to ideas. So argued the author of the ‘banned’ The Hindus: An Alternative History in this essay for Outlook Turning Points 2014. We reprint.

Narendra Bisht
The Hindu Code, In Vanishing Ink

Many people, in India and elsewhere, regard India as a paradigm for religious pluralism: its dominant Hindu majority lives in close symbiosis with a substantial Muslim population (the third largest in the world) and a number of other religious minorities. Moreover, the basic character of Hinduism throughout its history has encouraged interaction and coexistence with other religions, an attitude that many Hindus today still maintain. Yet some advocates for Hindutva have argued that India is—or always was, or should be, or all of the above—a country for Hindus alone, or at the very least for Hindus to rule alone. This present political conflict between attitudes to the religions of India is muddied from the start by a basic lexical confusion about the meaning of the word ‘secular’.

‘Secular’ originally denoted attitudes or...



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