Letters from a Malayali Hindu Sister to a Malayali Hindutva Sister : 2

Dear Chechi

Read your response. Was very glad to see it. Yes, when I wrote that it is better to die with the methanmar than to die in the KIMS Hospital, I was very serious. And when you said that I went to JNU and so love methanmar a tad too much, I thought I must write again.

Now, that’s plain wrong — saying that I love other people, including the methanmar, because I studied in JNU. You know perfectly well that I could have well developed that trait early, when we were children. I mean, there was good reason for me to scoff at your discovery that the only good folk are those who belong to our caste and our religion. Come on now — didn’t we all know, when we were around 13 or so, that it was impossible to get a job in a college run by our community organisation without paying an enormous bribe? Didn’t we know that despite all our claims to being educated and modern, a chap from a sub-caste who tried to propose a marriage alliance would be shooed away without much subtlety? And such sub-caste people were not likely to be invited to family occasions etc.? And did I not know, by the time I was 13, that our people loved to make snide remarks about people of other castes, make stupid jokes at their expense, etc. etc.?

Wasn’t it only natural that I wanted to escape this narrow and stagnant pool? But then, the desire to become a human being did come to me much earlier, you know, And that was through the prayers we used to chant when the lamp was lit every dusk. Remember? We used to chant aloud the work of the great devotee of Vishnu, Poonthanam, whose humility raised him higher than the greatest scholars of his times — the Jnanappaana.

Chechi, I fear that you have forgotten all that. If you hadn’t, then you wouldn’t have been glorifying pestilences, you wouldn’t have fallen over yourself singing the praise of the Modi-Shah fellows, calling them the saviours of the Hindu faith! There is no reason at all to brandish your hate of Muslims for you to say that you are thankful to be born in the land of Bharatha. You’d have known that straightaway, had you remembered the Jnanappaana! This forgetfulness is also why you have fallen for the vile promise that some people are making in Whatsapp forwards, that once the Muslims of Kerala are wiped out with the CAA, their wealth will be given to loyal Hindus. Oh, if only you remembered Poonthaanam’s words! He say that those of us born in Bharatham are fortunate because we have a greater chance of securing moksha — not because we can loot the blood-stained wealth of our brethren.

To tell you the truth — if you say that a true Hindu is the one who hangs around temples all the time, that’s an easy way to be Hindu for sure. Don’t you dare come to me with the shallow stuff they tell you.

Yes, you are right in one way. I went to JNU because I didn’t want to be the gullible good woman who they could manipulate. I learned there how to look closely and carefully at society, how to get past the tricks of the rulers through which they shove into our heads the ‘correct understanding’ and ‘true facts’. In other words, I learned how to find and tell the truth openly, courageously, more accurately. Yes, I know that your son-in-law scoffs at those of us in the social sciences. But that’s okay, because critical thinking has helped me to get past many lies, like the one about the micro-chip fixed to the new two thousand rupee note, which your engineer son-in-law had circulated, remember? But to recognise the humanity of people pushed into the avarna castes, and to see clearly that we will all die one day and so all this bluster and avarice is pointless, and to therefore avoid a bloated ego, I just needed Jnanappaana.

So — I am going to say this — it is not me, but you, who have given up Hindu goodness. It is you and others like you who have tried to defend the indefensible — like the rape of a little girl in a temple by many men over days, like the so-called living divinities who make a killing out of selling every variant of Hinduism to devotees, like the way our temples are being turned into businesses for the greedy and hideouts for haters.

It is into that emptiness that the Modi-Shah worshippers poured their poison. So please don’t try to preach to me about the Hindu faith. Alright, I can see that you are writhing in samsaara, you cannot free yourself of hate and all the passions that bind one to it. I don’t therefore blame or hate you. But please don’t peddle your state as a spiritually-elevated one.

Chechi, all I want to ask is whether we can read the Jnanappaana together again. I know that’s not in fashion. Nowadays, you and all the smart Hindutva ladies read the Narayaneeyamshudh sanskrit, written by Poonthaanam’s arch-rival for the affections of Vishnu, Melpathur Bhattathiri. You organise Narayaneeyam readings so that you can show off the latest gadgets gifted by your son-in-law, the new silks you have bought, and of course, invite the brahmin priests in fancy-dress who chant three minutes and speak to their cellphones for ten. Can’t blame them or you. This chanting is supposed to be effective as chanting, you don’t have to understand a thing, it isn’t meant to change you as a person. That’s not what chanting the Jnaanappaana does. It changes you, it widens the arteries of your heart currently blocked by the cholesterol of blind hatred.

Aren’t we all getting old, Chechi? You are 60; Chetan is 65. Not much time left on this earth, relatively speaking. Is it not time to make the best use of birth as a human being? Don’t we believe that we are born human only after many thousands of births, is it not the only chance we have to escape the cycle of rebirth and sorrow altogether? I tell you, these days, I take relief in the Jnaanappaana. When I see our leaders thump their chests, wipe their mouths in a vile gesture of hate, and smile grotesquely, gloating in the evil they do to Muslims and dalits, I just close my eyes and think of what Poonthaanam wrote: Kripa koodaathe peedhippikkunna nrpan/ Chathu krimiyaayippirakkunnu [The King who tortures without mercy/Perishes, and is reborn as a parasite, a worm] – and instantly feel sorry for them, Modi and Shah.

Why don’t you try that? You’ll have peace. Knowing that it is okay to shed hatred and embrace love. You don’t need JNU for that, trust me.

We believe that everything will end in a great deluge. Oh, that does look possible — all our hypocritical Hindu posturing as well as the ugly temples to wealth our Gulf-based sons-in-law build, all of it may be taken by the floods in Kerala. No use, tiling over the muddy path all the way to your son-in-law’s monstrous dwelling. Because the more you cover the ground, the greater the chance of flooding and water staying there. The flood will come again, and only then will you realise that we are living in times like those described in the last chapter of the Bhagavatham, when Dwaraka is destroyed by Nature’s fury and the complete irresponsibility and wantonness of its rulers. I pray that you will see then that the people who you admire are like the foolish, hubris-filled men of the Yadava clan that sealed the fate of Dwaraka.

With regards

Your loving sister

Devika

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