Every time I read about what happened to the eight-year-old in Kathua, I fight a big lump in my throat. Reading the ghastly details of the case, tears well up in my eyes and I mourn the murder of an innocent girl. But along with that, I also mourn the murder of my faith Hinduism in the hands of these barbaric creatures ( I refuse to call them men or people, for these people are not human in my eyes) and the death of humanity at large.
Yes, the horrifying death of that little Muslim girl, for me, is a punch in my face. It exemplifies everything that has gone wrong with my religion in recent times. They not only captured and tortured an innocent life but by doing so in the name of religion, they also – at the same time – captured and strangulated a religious faith whose core principles are world peace, truth and enlightenment. They committed such a heinous crime that it makes it extremely difficult for people like me to look at a fellow human being in the eye and say that I am a Hindu.
But having been a devout Hindu all my life, I find myself asking time and again, does my religion deserve this kind of mortification? Because honestly, what constitutes a religion? It is not some abstract concept or philosophy perpetuated by scriptures. It is a living breathing entity made of the collective consciousness of the people seeking it. It is not only made up of people like the rapists in Kathua but also of people like you and me. When cancer cells invade any part of the body, the treatment is to kill every single one of them; if not treated, the cancer invades and takes siege of the whole body. Similarly, when cancerous thinking invades the collective consciousness of a religion, it is time to nip it in the bud, cleanse the dirty muck created by demented, diseased minds. Or else be prepared to face the consequences.
This is also what Hinduism preaches. In our scriptures and philosophy, we are taught, “Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitaha”– Dharma protects those who protect it. By using the name of a religion which urges us to see God in small children, to brutally torture and kill a young girl, what dharma (religion) are these beasts following? By supporting these demons in their crime and by defending this inhuman act, what dharma are the cops, lawyers, lawmakers and politicians following?
This is not Hinduism. This is hooliganism at its worst. Whether we choose to protest, raise of our voice or choose to be silent spectators, the truth is that it is time for some serious introspection – as an individual, as a community and as a nation at large.
Is this the face of my religion that I want my kids to see? Is this the face of my religion at all? If not, why are we letting these fake representatives get away with polluting a beautiful stream of knowledge and wisdom from which many generations have benefitted, with blood and tears of innocent children and adults? Shouldn’t we disown such fake troublemakers immediately??
From the land where after every ritual we chant om shanti shanti shanti ( the mantra for universal peace), how did we become a land where violence and brutal force are used as symbols of religious power? How did our places of worship – where after every offering, we chanted, “Sarve janaha sukhino bhavantu (Let all human beings be blessed with happiness and peace)” – become places to commit horrendous crimes in the name of religion? From the country where sages performed penance for years to attain wisdom and renounced the materialistic world to seek knowledge, how did we end up becoming a country where self-proclaimed godmen engaged in goondagiri (hooliganism) and so-called priests perpetuated and took part in ghastly inhuman acts?
If this rape and murder of an innocent minor in a temple, by the people who are supposed to make and protect laws and the atrocious way in which this crime was planned and committed cannot stir your conscience and make you seek answers to questions like these, then you cannot claim to follow any God or any religion. For what is the purpose of such a God or such a religion, which does not make you think, act and feel like a human being first?
If you are a Hindu with any sense of respect towards your religion, it is the time to take sides. The question here is not whether you stand with the eight-year-old or not; the question is not even whether you stand for justice or not; the most pertinent question is whether you will stand for your dharma or not. For if you do not stand by it today, it will not stand by you tomorrow when the need arises.
If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.