Sometimes, atheism is just another Hindu privilege

A thing that many Hindus never tire of bragging about is that Hinduism is atheist-friendly. As in you can be a Hindu and not believe in god or gods and its still acceptable.

This is true. And though I have written a long essay about why phrases like "Hindu Atheist" are kind of pointless, I don't think that's the only problem here (and I say this as an atheist myself). Atheism is often used as a cop-out by Hindus who don't want to engage with the ugly aspects of their culture. They look at religious violence being committed in the name of their faith and can respond with something offhanded like "LOL these religious loons. Thank dog I have nothing to do with them!"

It is, at the end of the day, a privilege to be able to distance yourself from your religion while still managing to hold on to every social, cultural and political advantage being Hindu endows you with in India. And the same goes for people who are Hindu but don't necessarily identify with bhakti culture. They listen to the likes of Sadguru and distance themselves from the JSR-chanting murder mobs as if they're a level above it all. As if that strips them of the responsibility of having to acknowledge their privileges.

Hinduism is indeed a religion that can accommodate a wide range of spiritual approaches. But though people practising those approaches claim it sets them free, that freedom is often also a freedom from responsibility. It causes them to live in a digital era hippie commune that isn't entirely unlike a carefree caste in itself. One where strife and struggle are frowned upon and only joy is worshipped. That's why their babas are always smiling and dancing.

Being universally accommodating is all fine and dandy but if it acts like anesthesia for your conscience, then I am sorry but you're not better than the rest of your community. You're actually worse because not only are you too afraid of confrontation to be compassionate, you are also someone who has convinced himself of the exact opposite.

So with all due respect to Richard Dawkins and whichever feel good guru you consider your master, I propose that you resume calling yourself Hindu. Because that at least would be honest. You would at least not be running away from the reality of what it means to belong to a majoritarian culture that looks down upon the weak and the downtrodden and considers itself the very definition of purity. This is the only way you are going to be a useful ally in the fight against fascism in India of 2020.

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