‘Paranoia’ is a word in English which means a thought process that causes one to have an irrational suspicion or mistrust of others. People with paranoia may feel like they’re being persecuted or that someone is out to get them.
While unscrupulous politicians and their minions in the country have long been playing upon the paranoia of the people to set one group upon another for petty political gains, they now seem to have taken the discourse to another level. Of late, they have started targeting religious scriptures of other faiths. Their latest invention is that Quran calls for killing of Hindus. Since religious education is quite uncommon, chances are they get away with such allegations without being questioned as many gullible people fall prey to their propaganda even though a simple logic rather than a religious discourse is enough to nail the lie.
Yati Narsinghanand Sarawati is a case in point. His sphinx-like rise in the firmament of the country’s hate-mongers is quite phenomenal. While his USP too is Islamophobia, he has surpassed others of his ilk in both vitriol and histrionics. His explosive and hysterical fulminations against the community describing all Indian Muslims as the jihadist enemies of Hindus who do not deserve the right to life catapulted him to a pride of place among the rightwing hate mongers. What’s more, he calls Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and even Sai Baba jihadis and traitors.
While Narsinghanand has been using uncharitable remarks for Islamic holy figures including Prophet Mohammad for quite some time, he came into sharp focus with a video clip posed on YouTube on March 12, 2021, showing him using choicest abuses against the prophet of Islam.
While Muslims sharply reacted when he passed some objectionable remarks against their Prophet, none seems to be keen to address his other more diabolical remarks against the community for reasons best known to them. One of them is that ‘Quran calls for killing of Hindus’. In fact, his very philosophy of hatred is based on the assumption that Muslims are essentially anti-Hindu or programmed to hate Hindus, a notion that negates centuries-old legacy of harmonious co-existence of the two major communities.
Apart from being baseless, the allegation is an insult to the intelligence of an average educated person who knows the scripture is based in a far-away Arab land. Why and how could a book have mention of a religious group which has no relevance for it? Can anybody believe someone claiming there is a mention of Muslims of Christians in Manusmrithi?
What is more, the word Hindu or Hindustan is of relatively recent origin, coined by a Persian chronicler as early as in the 17th century, at least 1,000 years after the holy book came into existence. Yet there is no dearth of people who take pride in following such hate mongers. If this is not paranoia, what is?
Narsinghanand Saraswati routinely targets Muslims and Islam with vengeance as if he has some personal scores to settle with the community. The impunity with which he levels frivolous and outrageous allegations against an entire community with impunity betrays his assured immunity from penal action, a privilege not available to his opponents. Even as he keeps on issuing death threats to the members of the community strangely the civil society in general and Muslims in particular tend to ignore his utterances as harmless rants of a deranged mind overlooking their mischief potential of his call to kill Muslims in the season of lynching.
He claims to have read the Holy Quran, but chooses to draw his own inferences from the text based on his whims. Like Satan citing the Bible, he deliberately quotes Quranic verses out of the context to suit his narrative. If there is an iota of truth in what he claims to be an ominous design of Islam to do away with entire non Muslims populations worldwide as he suggests, why no one ever in the 1400-odd year history of Islam pointed it out. In fact, all his allegations are a figment of his own imagination.
The stereotypes of Muslims prevalent in our society give a big boost to the hate-filled ideology of the likes of Narsimhanand Saraswati. These stereotypes are mainly based on perception rather than the reality. As a matter of fact, Muslim community in India, contrary to popular perception, doesn’t belong to a homogenous group. It’s, in fact, a conglomerate of diverse groups divided, vertically and horizontally, ideologically, ethnically and culturally.
What’s more, even the Muslim rulers of the medieval times did not belong to one particular ethnic or cultural group. Rather they belonged to as diverse backgrounds as Arab, African, Turkish, Persian, Afghan, Central Asian. Yet they are deliberately being defined as a homogenous group so as to associate all of them with contemporary Indian Muslims with a mala fide intent. This way, the rightwing finds it easier to blame contemporary Muslims for all the perceived omissions and commissions supposedly committed during the medieval times.
In an age of constitutional democracies when a son can’t be held responsible for the wrongs committed by his father, there are many like Narsinghanand out there raring to get even with a 20-crore strong group to avenge the perceived wrongdoings supposedly perpetrated in the bygone era by their supposed ancestors. The irony never misses on anyone except, of course, some who are blinded by the shrill rightwing propaganda.
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The opinion expressed in the article is of the writer. Writer is a freelance journalist/journalist based in Delhi