Criticism from within

Thought worth pondering over:

Gandhi held the view that only adherents of a particular faith had the right to criticize its precepts or sanctions. By that token, it was both his “right and duty to point out the defects in Hinduism in order to purify it and to keep it pure. But when non-Hindu critics set about criticizing Hinduism and cataloguing its faults they can only blazon their own ignorance of Hinduism and their incapacity to regard it from the Hindu viewpoint. … Thus my own experience of the non-Hindu critics of Hinduism brings home to me my limitations and teaches me to be wary of launching on a criticism of Islam or Christianity and their founders.”

Critics from within had the capacity and empathy to reform and redeem their faith; critics from without the tendency to mock and caricature the other’s faith. Gandhi thus concluded that it was “only through such a reverential approach to faiths other than mine that I can realize the principle of equality of all religions”.

From Guha’s piece here. There is also this peculiarity that Guha notes, which, again, is worth pondering over:

One of the peculiarities of liberal discourse in India is that while there are many Hindu writers and politicians ready to criticize Hindutva fanatics, Muslim writers and politicians are hesitant to take on the bigots in their own community. It is disappointing to see even professedly modern, cosmopolitan politicians like Salman Khurshid and Omar Abdullah so reluctant to openly confront the likes of the Owaisi brothers and Azam Khan.

Back in 1937, Gandhi suggested that Hindus should stay clear of criticizing Muslim precept and practice, and vice versa. Perhaps in the peculiar conditions of colonial rule one had to be careful, since the British wanted Indians to divide, so that they could rule. But now that we are all citizens of an independent and democratic republic, the same constraints do not apply. To be sure, one need not be unnecessarily provocative. But one must still have the right to offer friendly advice, and even criticism, to fellow Indians, regardless of what religion or community they belong to.

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