14 May, 2021

Who Milks This Cow?

Tracking that species of Hindutvawadi, obsessively trolling the Net, looking for slights to the faith

Narendra Bisht
Who Milks This Cow?

I was born in a home of broad-minded Hindus. My father, though by caste a Brahmin, never wore a thread. His own father’s brother was a lifelong opponent of the caste system; a hostel he opened for Dalit students still functions in Bangalore city. My mother went from time to time to a temple, but was happy to eat with or make food for humans of any background or creed. Two of her brothers had married out of caste; a third had married a German.

When, in 1984, I got my first job, at the Centre for Social Studies in Calcutta, I had to fill in a questionnaire which, among other things, asked me to denote my religion. I wrote ‘Hindu’, immediately attracting the ire of a friend who worked at the same centre. He felt that a secular state had no business asking for a person’s religion, and thus I should have left the answer blank. This friend was a Marxist, so (although he would not then recognise or admit it) he actually subscribed to a faith of his own.

As I saw it, I was brought up, if loosely, in the Hindu tradition. One could still be a Hindu...

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