“The Hindu Way” of Shashi Tharoor – Book Review

By: Parmand Pandey, Advocate, Supreme Court (Secretary General IPC)

Writing about Hinduism – or the Hindu way – is not an easy thing for everybody. The Hindu way as reflected in its ancient and authentic texts like Geeta, Ramayana, Upanishads etc. has been well acknowledged by the western intellectual giants as being the highest flight of human mind touching the mystic relmns of this visible creation and what lies beyond that. Argueably, it may not be a thing of everyone’s competence who has a superficial and practical knowledge of this mundane world to write about Hinduism or its ways. Shashi Tharoor certainly falls in this category. One may justifiably say that by writing about the Hindu way, Shashi Tharoor would be writing more about himself and his little knowledge of the subject he is dealing with than about the Hindu way.

‘The Hindu Way’, the new book of Shashi Tharoor, is more or less like a tutology of his previous book, ‘Why I am a Hindu’. It does not shed any new or deeper light on Hinduism. Verily speaking the book disappoints even to a layman. In the first few chapters, one certainly gets the glimpse of almost all the philosophical branches of theistic Shad Darshan and also about atheistic sects like; Charvak, Buddhism and Jainism but in the concluding chapters, he has unfairly fulminated against Hindutva.

Hinduism is a civilisation, not a dogma. There is no such thing as blasphemy in this religion. It allows each believer to stretch his or her imagination to the personal notion of the creative godhead of divinity. It is all-encompassing, and it allows the violence and nonviolence, permits to be teetotaller and a drinker at the same time. It lays emphasis on abstinence (Brahmacharya) but does not lag behind in advocating for sex education as it is in Kamsutra. However, profligacy has not been approved anywhere except in hedonism of Charvak.

In a way, Hinduism looks to be full of so many paradoxes and contradictions that it can be said by an ordinary person of average mental calibre to be nothing but a tangled jungle full of religious chaos. But it does not look so to a wise person, who keeps abrest himself with the modern scientific knowledge. There is a famous example – propounded by none other than by Albert Einstein while explaining his theory of relativity to laymen – that the speed of a train moving on its track at 50 kiliometers per hour ‘is not the absolute speed’ of 50 kilometers per hour; that this speed would be different for the passanger who is travelling in this train, for a person who is flying in an airplane over this trian, for a person who is stationed on Moon and observing this train’s speed through telescope. Einstein said it is correct to say that this trian is moving at the speed of 50 kilometers per hour but it is not correct to say its speed is only – or absolutely – 50 kilometers per hour. Is it not amazing? And, it is scientific. Hindus books of wisdom had said long long ago this modern scientific knowledge in these words: “Satyam Ekam Vipra Bahudha Vadanti (the truth is one, but wise people say it differently)”. It looks from his book that this Hindu truth is beyond the comprehension of Shashi Tharoor.

The writer seems to be right in saying that the name Hinduism itself is an imported one (though there is one contrary opinion too of some Sanskrit scholers saying on the basis of ancient Sanskrit texts that “Hindu” is derived from “Sapt-Sindhu Desh – land of seven waters”) but there is no denying that it is the only religion in the world, which has no founder and provides scope for everybody to follow the religion in any manner whatsoever. It is better and cannot be compared with other main – Abrahmic – religions of the world like; Islam and Christianity, which have been founded on certain dates by certain persons possessing divinity. One would be supported by science in saying that if there is ONE DIVINITY – or one eternal truth or God – this truth or divinity of God by the law of Nature must be opened to search and revelation to all humans equally; it cannot be restricted to only one person or one prophet. This restriction is absurd on the face of it; because, what will you make of it when two prophets make their own exclusive claims of revelation but who contradict each other? Does Shash Tharoor have an idea of this untenable claims to exclusive revelation of God, when he writes about the Hindu way?

However, in Hinduism new ideas and thinking have been piling up from time immemorial. It is the development of Hinduism. Rather it is the purification of Hinduism, which had got polluted with the passage of time and needed restatement of the truth commensurate with new circumstances. This is the reason why Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism etc. all originated from Hinduism (with the same fundamental traits like the importance of personal conduct, belief in rebith, emphasis on self-help etc.) and have integrated and amalgamated with it. None of these Indic faiths lays claim to an exclusive revelation of divinity to itself – or its founder. All these Indic faiths show a path to divinity, which path is out of many paths.

There has hardly been any problem in the harmonious coexistence among them all. Hindu thinks that the other person may be adopting a different method of worship but he or she is also the part of Hinduism. This problem actually came only when the other religions, which have originated outside India and are not so eclectic, started asserting ‘either their way or no way’. But for a person like Tharoor all blames are in store for Hindutva.

In this book, he has taken the liberty to criticise and condemn the Hindus but has not spoken a word about those Christians, who have been engaged in proselytization by adopting all illegal and immoral gimmicks. Similarly, Islam has a history of forcing itself upon Hindus. The writer of the book himself has said that when the marauding army of Tipu Sultan was looting, plundering, raping and killing the Hindu men and women in Kerala, his great grandmother had concealed a good quantity of golden ornaments to an unknown location, which could not be found out later because nobody had any inkling of the place where the gold ornaments were buried.

There is no doubt that while the Christians spread their religion in India by cheating, fraud, deception, chicanery and inducement; the Islam was spread largely by the use of force and fear among the people. Both religions never believed in the coexistence and were always at warpath with other religions. However, Shashi Tharoor has given only those examples which denigrate and denounce Hindus. He has spoken about the demolition of Babri Mosque in Ayodhya but has not uttered a word about those who pulled the temple to erect the Mosque. He has conveniently forgotten the cold-blooded killing of 60 and odd Karsevaks in Godhara but goes on lecturing on the cow vigilantism. It is strange that he is ashamed of the awakening among Hindus but waxes eloquently in favour of such tolerance of Hindus, which bordered on to the timidity and cowardice.

In the last parts of the book, he has betrayed himself to be a pseudo-secular politician. Being the Member of Parliament from the Congress party for two times from Thiruvananthapuram of Kerala, he has not spoken a word about the killings of Hindus in his own state but has jumped and trained his guns against the speeches of Yogi Adityanath and Sadhvi Ritambhara. This is the height of the duplicity. This book is like a newspaper which bears the name of Hindu but, in its content, it is anti-Hindu. The author of the book wants to be given the complete freedom to criticise, lampoon and haul up the practitioners of Hinduism but has no guts to analyse the problems which have been bedevilling the country and why the Hindus have been pushed to the corner, which has left no choice for them but to retaliate in their own way.

Hinduism says that there are many ways to get salvation ‘ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti’. This is the magnanimity of Hinduism, and it should be protected with full tenacity by all Hindus as it provides space for one and all. The soaring majesty of Hinduism or what Swami Dayanand Saraswati called the real Sanatan Dharma, is that it considers the whole world as its family (Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam). How true are the words of Dr Radhakrishnan, who had said that ‘God is in the world, though God is not the world, and the world is not God; He is more than the creator, He preserves, protects, destroys, remakes and strives continuously, alongside human beings’. The intention of the writer of the book appears more to mock and ridicule the Hinduism than to help readers in knowing about this fascinating religion.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Balraj Sagar
    Nov 03, 2019 @ 21:26:26

    I perfectly agree with your assessment of the book and its author. Shashi Throor presumes to be a great scholar which he is not. He is a Hindu but totally westernised and biased against Hindus. He hardly understand what to speak about its depth, not even superficial good knowledge of it. In fact, he seems to have read Hinduism through the English texts and through the eyes of foreign writers. Will he explain, why where all other ancient civilizations perished before the onslaught of Christianity and Islam, Hinduism still holds its head as a great force and is ready to become Great Guru of the world. Its eternal strength lies in its philosophy, high thinking, of accommodation of all sort of thoughts. He speaks of Hindu intolerance. He should know that Lord Buddha and Charwak were contemporaries. When both were preaching at the same time at two different places in Patna, people listened to both but none threw stones on any. Will such examples be found in any other religion.

    Liked by 1 person


    • IPC
      Nov 03, 2019 @ 22:10:08

      You are absolutely right; he has got his knowledge of Hinduism through the superficial books – and often loaded with Christian bias against Hinduism – of western writers. Nothing more can be expected of him, while writing supposedly intellectual books about Hindus. He is already a discredited person, whether it is his opinian about India (cattle-class remark) or about a benign religion like Hinduism. He got name and fame because he was pampered by Congress (at UNO nomination etc.). He is exposed of his lack of knowledge of Hindu way in this review of his book.



  2. Dev Jali
    Nov 04, 2019 @ 09:45:54

    Dear Sir,
    A very good critical review of the orientalist mish-mash that Shashi has been sprouting. He suddenly discovered Hindu and Hinduism when in the campaign for UN Secretary Generalship, his opponent, Ban Ki Moon campaigned on “Christian” values. Needless to say our Shashi lost the battle and lost badly.
    I urge all of you, especially the lawyers, to be aware of the path breaking research of Prof. S N Balagandhara and his team on how oriental research had to discover “religions” in India and the “caste system” as the super structure of “false” religion. As a starter, I would recommend reading his book “Do All Roads Lead to Jerusalem?: The Making of Indian Religions” to understand the entire orientalist description of India that evolved from 17th century onwards and continues till date which has become the commonplace description of India today.
    Indian Constitution is the result of such orientalist description and as a document shows no empathy for Indic thoughts.
    Devendra Jalihal

    Liked by 1 person


  3. IPC
    Nov 04, 2019 @ 10:59:06

    Thanks for suggesting the reading of the research of Prof. S N Balagandhara and his team and his book “Do All Roads Lead to Jerusalem?: The Making of Indian Religions”. Certainly we will read the book. It has been said by the leading voices of India again and again – to bring the truth home – that India in its body (as a nation) and in its soul (its spiritual light) has been under assault since generations by all those who felt threatened by the power of this India. The latest assault is from the western “make-believe expert” of Orientalism. We would like to salute all those who are making research and exposing these make-believe experts. Now at least we know that Prof S. N. Balgangadhara and one more – Sri Rajiv Malhotra – are devoting their energy in this direction.



  4. Santanu Dey
    Nov 05, 2019 @ 13:58:48

    What more can one expect from a self-seeking politician like this man who has lot to answer for his personal character? One thing that I appreciate him for is that he has not shunned the pathetic political doctrine that signifies the political group that he represents, though many of his more illustrious colleagues might have thought twice before publishing a creation like his present one. Besides this man, whatever he does, is for his personal glorification and to make himself more acceptable and fashionable to the fair sex in the elite circle so he can entice his next companion to be discarded in the coming 3/4 years for another.

    Liked by 1 person


    • IPC
      Nov 05, 2019 @ 14:53:34

      Yes, his personal character that gives clue to his future moves – and may be the motive to write such book – is reflected in the episode of late Sunanda Pushkar. The ostensible reason for writing this book seems to be his effort to establish himself as the leading light of the camp opposed to Hindus and their political ascendency in India. His book has no depth of even touching of the core base of Hinduism but he may establish himself as a hero of this opposite camp.



  5. Parmanand Pandey
    Nov 07, 2019 @ 12:16:00

    Nobody can be allowed to denigrate Hinduism only to be in the good books of his/her masters.

    Liked by 1 person


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