LETTERS to the Editor
A Rationalist Hindu View
In response to "Theoterrorism As Statecraft" by Professor I. K. Shukla ("Up Front," May/June 2001), which is simplistic though well motivated, there are a couple of points I wish to make that the enlightened readers of your magazine, as well as the average U.S. citizen, should know.
Regarding the destruction of the historic mosque built by the first Moghul king, Babur, it has been the traditional belief, substantiated by some evidence, that the mosque was built after destroying a Hindu temple located there, again believed to be the birthplace of Rama. For the Muslims, the mosque ceased to be a place of worship long, long ago and had only a historical significance. Those in the forefront of the Hindu revival movement--called the Hindutwa Brigade and the Sangh Pariwar--wished to restore the Hindu temple in its original site. Some of their leaders even offered to relocate the mosque to some distance, removing it brick by brick and reassembling it, as is the practice with archaeological structures. It was unfortunate that the mosque was destroyed by mob frenzy, but the comparison to the planned destruction of historic statues in Afghanistan by the Taliban isn't appropriate.
Regarding Hindu attacks on Christian churches, they seem to be directed against mass conversions of Hindus--in particular, the tribal community. There is no attempt to Hinduise Christians. Hinduism is not a proselytizing religion and is tolerant and respectful of other faiths; this makes it a soft target for poachers. Imagine the native Americans being converted wholesale by Hindu missionaries and they, in turn, demanding a separate homeland. The equivalent to such a thing has been happening in India. The northeast frontier state of Nagaland has become a majority Christian state and has been demanding secession.
A majority of Hindus don't subscribe to the extreme views of the fringe. However, they are apprehensive regarding Muslims. Gandhi once wrote: "The average Hindu is a coward and the average Moslem a bully. …