Bright Book-Burning History
INDIA THAT IS BHARAT
SECULARISM khatre mein hai in India, so rush to its rescue, oh ye faithfuls of the world ! That cry seems to have gone round the world. Why else would every Tom, Dick and Harriet professing to be a professor somewhere in the west pontificate in the very Indian Express every alternate day on how defending Hinduism in this Hindu country in a court of law is actually dastardly disservice to secularism? This is bad enough, but what is worse is that the court actually upholds that defence as legally acceptable. In such an abominably anti-secular situation, how to save secularism from communal cusses, the Hindus? Of course by secular scurrility. So someone dismissively damned the defence as a fly-by-night operation mounted by fundamentalists. But do these fundamentalist fiends, the Hindus, deserve such decorum in language. A learned lady thinks not. So one Martha Nussbaum, alleged to be a “distinguished” professor of “Law and Ethics” at an American university recently adorned the columns of The Indian Express to castigate the Indian court for upholding a “law for bad behaviour” favouring “bullies”. But is that enough castigation? Not for this alleged lady. So she calls them “ominous thugs”. How refined for a female who passes off as a lady, and professes to be a professor to boot ! What is more remarkable, if this westerner is secular, The Indian Express is oh-so-secular, for when the ex-army chief referred to “presstitutes of The Indian Express” the paper was livid with rage, but it does not mind calling Hindus “ominous thugs’—in bold type. Oh, well, Satiricus supposes this is a welcome sign of the international spread of Indian secularism. After all, how can secularism be served unless every anti-Hindu book is made a must-read? But here Satiricus wonders…should abusive anti-Hinduism be the only way to serve secularism? Why not equally abusive anti-Christianity as well? Ah, there’s the rub, as Shakespeare said but Nussbaum forgot to. For the Roman Catholic Church has an “Index”, that is, a list of books that are banned reading for Christians. This list, drawn up four hundred years ago was withdrawn forty years ago on paper—but not in practice, for an Indian clergyman’s impiously frank book was put in the Index only a few years ago.
In fact Satiricus has sorrowfully seen that in historical times a far more direct method was adopted to deal with books, but not, alas, in the service of secularism. An illustrious illustration was that there was mass destruction of books of the Aryan civilizations of South America when their authors were slaughtered for the glory of Christ. Then in medieval times the great library of Alexandria was said to be burnt down by Muslims but was actually burnt down by devout Christians. What does this show? It shows that there are books and books, as Charles Lamb said; some of them are to be chewed and digested, he said, ‒ but forgot to say that some are to be burnt. Maybe he chose to forget that Christianity has a bright book-burning history.
COMING down to Doniger’s book, which is neither banned nor burnt, the legal verdict against it shows that where ignorance is bliss it is a folly to be wise not only for a Hindu journalist like Satiricus but also for anti-Hindu scholars like Doniger, Nussbaum et al. So here’s a brilliant idea—if ignorant Doniger’s anti-Hinduism book is a praiseworthy example of secular scholarship, why can’t equally ignorant Satiricus write an anti-Christianity book showing equally praiseworthy secularism? He could easily enumerate the highlights of his scholarship with such statements as follows: 1. Christianity is a curse, an enormous perversion, too venomous, and a blemish of mankind. 2. Christianity is not simply untrue, it is false and even abhorrent. 3. The Christian god is cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust. 4. The Christian god ordered and carried out massacres. 5 Jesus is a lie. 6. Jesus never existed. 7. The Bible contains a blood-thirsty book. 8. The Bible is full of childish superstitions, and a Bible-educated person is an ignoramus. 9. The Bible teaches a Christian to hate his own family. 10. No book, apart from the Bible, so fully teaches the degradation of women. 11. The gospels are fiction.
Will Doniger feel disgusted with these statements? Will Nussbaum go numb? Will not only Christian professors but all those who profess Christianity haul sacrilegious Satiricus to court for making such horrid statements against their religion? They well might, but if they do, the charge won’t stick, because Satiricus has a fool-proof defence—the truth that he did not make those statements at all ! Then who did? Then who said those terrible things? They did: 1. German philosopher Nietzsche. 2. Dan Barker, an American leader of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. 3. US President Thomas Jefferson. 4. The Bible itself. 5. Pope Leo X. 6. The Dead Sea Scrolls. 7. German scholar Koenraad Elst. 8. Bernard Shaw. 9. The Bible itself. 10. An American, Elizabeth Cody Stanton. 11. Bible researcher John Allegro. The defence rests.