Interrogating Hinduness
WHY I AM A HINDU by Shashi Tharoor Aleph Book Company, 2018, 320 pp., 699
July 2018, volume 42, No 7

I must say I thoroughly enjoyed Shashi Tharoor’s timely book: Why I am a Hindu. Not a scholarly work, but an eminently readable one.

Shashi demolishes the facile Right-Wing Hindutva assumption that the only criterion for ‘Hinduness’, is subscribing to their Talibanized ideology. He delves into the many centuries of Hinduism in India and talks about the tolerance, the welcoming inclusiveness and the profound metaphysics of Hindu traditions, all the way from the sublime non-dualism of Shankara to the atheism of the Charvaka. He also talks about the many syncretistic Hindu fusions with Sufism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Judaism. India was a land that welcomed religious and ethnic groups fleeing persecution in Europe, Iran and elsewhere.

Many of his sources come from S Radhakrishnan (a former philosopher-President of India), as well as from Gandhi and Nehru.

Yet, Tharoor does not shrink from citing more contemporary and controversial sources like Wendy Doniger. He somewhat airbrushes the oppression of the caste system and the systematic marginalization of women through centuries of Indian history.

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