Some French Perspectives
Purushottam Agrawal
VIOLENCE/NON-VIOLENCE: SOME HINDU PERSPECTIVES by Edited by Denis Vidal , Gilles Tarabout and Eric Meyer Manohar, New Delhi, 2004, 328 pp., Rs. 650.00
May 2004, volume 28, No 5

Religion is not about love and compassion only. It is also about exclusion, hatred and violence. Being a total narrative, religion gives meaning to existential and societal concerns of the believers. Unlike the secular narratives, religion also claims a virtual monopoly of satisfying the spiritual yearnings of human beings. Such a totality will contradict itself if it were only to concern itself with “good”, and “noble”. It has to perforce tackle the dark abysses of the human mind as well. It has to explain the inexplicable, has to bestow ‘goodness’ on something which is otherwise considered ‘evil’ in the religious discourse itself. It is a logical outcome of the claimed totality that each and every religion has a mechanism and theorization to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ violence, has a system of separating those who are to be ‘loved’ from those who are to be ‘hated’ or ‘tolerated’. Mediated through religion, the idea of purity transforms itself into the mechanism of ‘exclusion’. This leads to what Barrington Moore has aptly described as ‘slaughter in defense of moral purity.’Moore calls it ‘a monotheistic invention’, (and rightly so as the proselytizing zeal of monotheistic religions has fortunately been absent in the non-monotheistic traditions).

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