Why I became an Atheist

I had come to the realization in 10th grade that Christianity and Hinduism couldn’t both be true due to irreconcilable differences. Growing up in the USA, you get a lot of Christian symbolism in television, movies, and sometimes in music. Even the use of the term “God” during the pledge of allegiance made me feel different because as a Hindu, I had been led to believe in a polytheistic view when growing up. I seriously began to wonder if Hinduism was really true around middle school. When I visited India as a kid (at age 12 for my cousin’s wedding), I realized that people really did believe in Hinduism and that Christianity was as vacant in the parts of India I visited just like Hinduism is vacant in the U.S., because there was no frickin’ way people danced around a fire pot for 8 hours to gain blessings for a wedding from various deities. That takes dedication . . . and I was on a rooftop with a bunch of other people sitting in the cold as some Hindu priest rambled on in some nonsensical ceremony while the bride and groom occasionally had to circle around the fire pot with him.

It was later on that I realized people just used their personal surroundings as a sort of “proof” that their religion was real because so many around them believe it. Moreover, I had to come to terms with the fact that if Hinduism is true then the majority of the 300 million people living in the U.S. and millions living in Europe were fooling themselves. By contrast, if Christianity was true, then 1.2 billion Hindus were fooling themselves. Worse than that, I had believed if Hinduism is true then believers of the Abrahamic faiths were condemned to live in misery in the world unless they recognized Hinduism – or in some cases end-up in some Hindu version of hell or reincarnation. To clarify, my belief on that was misguided as the Bhagavad Gita which I read years later clarified that all you have to be is a good moral person and that it doesn’t matter your religion (Hindu or not) to obtain Moksha (Self-liberation to either become one with Brahman or to beyond depending on the interpretation of whichever Hindu school of thought is believed in). Conversely, if the Abrahamic faiths were true then my entire extended family was being sent to hell since before I was born. So, I decided not to lie to myself about the negatives of religion.

By age 14, I became agnostic and began to question the meaning of life. Although, it was more accurate to say agnostic-theist; that is, I didn’t know whether there was a God or gods or not, but still believed. By age 15, I became an atheist-agnostic. And to be honest, I felt the shift from agnostic – that is, the feeling of being unsure of whether a God existed or not – to an atheist-agnostic was more profound and impactful to me personally. It was with the understanding that I couldn’t know whether a God existed or not, but that I didn’t believe in it on a personal level due to the comparisons I kept making. I was confused how anyone else could have confidence. If you were a Christian, then you must believe all non-Christians are going to hell. Muslim? Same thing. Jewish? It wouldn’t matter how many Christians or Muslims there were in the world and the appeal to conversion would stop mattering if Judaism was the truth. Hinduism, same thing.

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Arundhati Roy: A Fearless Human Rights Activist Or A Bad Joke?

I have no idea to what extent this view will be controversial or seem misinformed, but after looking into the political situation of India and its surrounding borders, I’ve come to the conclusion that this woman is either willfully ignorant, a charlatan, deeply hateful of her country and her fellow people, or some combination of each of those contentions.

First, I’d like to dissuade any readers that might jeer at me for being some BJP street thug as I’m often accused of online when making any opinion on Indian politics – particularly on websites like Quora. I’m a US-born and raised Indian and I’m only looking at this from a political science lens. I had initially been swept up by the anti-BJP rhetoric that seems to be permeating throughout the mainstream US media as of now, but after looking into matters further, I’ve concluded that the US government and media are too dumb to adequately understand the dangers of this anti-BJP narrative and the Christian missionaries who are pushing for forced conversions are only going to cause an utter bloodbath between Muslims and Christians thanks to the age-old Abrahamic cultural hate that’s existed since Islam emerged in world history.

I’ve since changed my mind after researching the political climate of India and its neighbors. But I’d like to add that the BJP and so-called Right-wing of India’s political culture is overly sensitive to criticism and incredibly stupid in its responses. Thankfully, Modi and his administration are quite competent in deftly handling situations otherwise the corruption and anti-nationalist politics would continue dominating India. Instead of defending rapists, his government has pushed for reforms to punish child rapists, he’s pushed for job growth through environmental initiatives, he’s pushed for policies for child safety measures from abusive households, he’s pushed for women’s rights and celebrated International Women’s Day , and pushed for anti-corruption. The problem seems to be this overly paternalistic and frankly idiotic narrative towards college kids who want to protest for the rights of a convicted terrorist, a terrorist who clearly wants to kill the civilian public, and the college kids protest for that guy’s rights… for whatever reason. Nevertheless, admonishing them for drinking habits and sex is completely stupid. In a democracy, they should have the freedom to do as they please with their life choices. The BJP should have put more effort into the convicted terrorist’s criminal activity instead of personally insulting college youth.

I’m of the opinion that Arundhati Roy genuinely doesn’t give a shit about her fellow Indians based on her actions. The level of loathing and vindictiveness that this woman seems to have for India as a whole leaves me speechless at times. I don’t think any other democracy would have made her look like some activist fighting for human rights or presuming she has credentials where she really doesn’t since all she has offer is having written a best-selling novel once. I only speak harshly because it seems increasingly obvious to me that this woman, through her actions, deliberately tries to increase tensions and spur loathing and contempt among India’s civilian population. Under veneers of reconciliation and human rights, all she really offers is writing content that exploits scheduled castes, Muslim minorities, and so forth into hating their government and the majority population. I would actually contrast her with Amartya Sen, who I find gets just as much backlash from the BJP supporters but for far less justifiable reasons. Amartya Sen is ridiculed and lumped with Marxists like Pankaj Mishra, but having read his book The Argumentative Indian, I have not found this to be true. He’s further been criticized for wanting to “break India” by many BJP bloggers and Twitter handlers, but this is again untrue. Amartya Sen took extensive pains to celebrate the unity of India by pointing out the Heterodox tradition that foreign travelers independently detailed during ancient times. India is a heterodox culture which he feels proud to be a part of; from what I recall, he explicitly says this and suggests reading about great intellectual icons of India. I had assumed the BJP supporters had similar misapprehensions about Roy, but after looking at the evidence, I can only conclude that their criticisms about her are justified.

The reason being is that only someone willfully ignorant would ignore the devastating realities happening in each Muslim majority country around India’s borders and the selective narrative of the Rohingya refugee crisis that genuinely horrified me when I read more into it. I’d first like to begin with Afghanistan and detail what happened there when Islamic fascists consisting of the Mujahideen took over:

From journalist and Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at UCLA, Nushin Arbabzadah, in what was an attempt by a lecturer from a Liberal College to warn the US public about the dangers of Islam in an article about the Mujahideen and Islam:

28 April marks the 19th anniversary of the mujahideen’s victory over the Red Army forces in Afghanistan. The original mujahideen of the 1980s and today’s Taliban may use the same language of holy war, but their understanding of jihad is worlds apart. The key difference between the original mujahideen and the Taliban is that the former waged a traditional type of jihad. In a traditional jihad, if waged locally, a contest over control of resources takes place between rival strongmen who each run their own private armies. In this scenario, the ultimate legitimacy to rule draws upon military strength, but the contest itself is called jihad simply because Islam is the sole language of political legitimacy.

Crucially, in a traditional jihad, the victorious party has an unspoken right to pillage, rape and loot the conquered population. This is because militia fighters are not paid soldiers in a regular army and hence looting is the material reward they receive for fighting. The original mujahideen followed this traditional pattern of jihad upon coming to power in 1992. Since competition over resources rather than ideology is key to traditional jihad, the mujahideen’s war focused on Kabul where the nation’s wealth and the foreign embassies, another potential source of funding, were to be found.

Judging by a historical account from the 1920s, back then the women and girls of the conquered populations also belonged to the pillage package offered to militia jihadis. Hence, in the diaries of court chronicler Katib Hazara on the siege of Kabul in 1929, we read that the victorious mujahideen of the time had demanded to see the list of girls registered at a Kabul school so as to allocate female students to militia fighters.

Katib’s account might be exaggerated, but the story still reveals that there was an unspoken rule that women and girls were part of the conquest package. As such, the mujahideen’s struggle over Kabul was a continuation of traditional jihad complete with internal rivalries, pillage and looting. The mujahideen were part of the realm of traditional politics in which a conquered region is a turf that can be exploited by strongmen, who call themselves mujahideen so as to appear respectable.

Now, a Hard-Leftist may credibly argue that US foreign policy helped shape that situation. However, it doesn’t explain the utter catastrophe that is Pakistan, which a Pakistani government official has bravely spoken up about and extensively detailed in a book under threat to her own life. Pakistani Farahnaz Ispahani’s book, Purifying the Land of the Pure, goes into the extensive history and effects of the Islamic Republic upon Pakistani minorities who have been ruthlessly slaughtered by the Muslim majority country. The situation of Asia Bibi is only the tip of the iceberg for how destructive, violent, and outright murderous Pakistan is for Sikhs, Christians, and Hindus living as minority groups under Muslim rule. The vast majority of these groups have all fled due to a variety of reasons. From having hands chopped off for blasphemy offenses, to women in these religious minority groups being raped and then being forced to marry their Muslim rapists, to being murdered over a cup of water, being randomly attacked, and now that they’re a fringe minority, the majority Sunni Muslims have turned their sights on Shia Muslims and began murdering them en masse to continue these historic genocidal abuses.

The interview with Farahnaz Ispahani:

From 23% in 1947, Pakistan’s minorities today constitute a mere 3-4% of the population, says Farahnaz Ispahani, media advisor to the president of Pakistan from 2008 to 2012 in her book Purifying the Land of the Pure: Pakistan’s Religious Minorities.

She blames the successive Pakistan presidents and prime ministers for launching a slow genocide against minorities in the country to shore up their political base. She specifically blames Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the Pak army general who was the country’s 6th president, for creating a militant group to target Shias, Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians. Edited excerpts from an interview:

Could you tell us something about the title of your book Purifying the Land of the Pure: Pakistan’s Religious Minorities?

Pakistan itself means pure land. The reason I chose it is because I have traced in my book, using historical archives, how Pakistan which set out to be a secular albeit Muslims majority state, ended up becoming what it is today. When Pakistan was being formed in 1947, Pakistan’s population of non-Muslims was 23%, today we are somewhere between 3%-4%. So there has been a purification of minorities.

So my big question was where have they gone? What I have uncovered is quite devastating because it has not been one government or one man who has been culpable. It’s not only (former president) General Zia ul Haq. It has been from the time of Mr (Mohammed Ali) Jinnah, the Qaid-e-Azam of Pakistan, as he lay dying, already the political and bureaucratic wheels were moving towards a more Muslim state.

I am saying that for all religious minorities—Muslim and non-Muslim—there has been a purification. This is what I call drip drip genocide. Normally when people talk about genocide, they talk about Nazi Germany or they talk about Yugoslavia. In the case of Pakistan, this is slow genocide, this drip, drip, drip over 76 years.

You refer to the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) founder and ideologue Maulana Abul Ala Maududi in your book. Was this purification the handiwork of politicians only or did religious leaders and scholars also have a role?

Maulana Maududi did not support the formation of Pakistan; he did not think it would be Muslim enough. Mr. Jinnah, as he was dying, talked at length about Pakistan’s minorities and said no matter what someone’s faith was would not matter in Pakistan. But after he died what happened was, most of the people who were in leadership positions in Pakistan, in the Muslim League like our first prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan, were not from Pakistan. So they did not have natural constituencies as politicians.

You have a man like Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan who himself was very secular in most ways. He becomes the man who brings about the resolution which went into every single constitution we ever had, which was very clear in that it said that Pakistan was a Muslim state. And that the Quran and Shariat and Sunnah (verbally transmitted teachings of the Prophet) are to be part and parcel of the state. It was the ugliest form of realpolitik.

What people like Liaquat and Chaudhury Mohammed Ali (fourth prime minister of Pakistan), etc., did was that they revived “Islam is in danger” as the glue to keep them in their positions. Mr. Maududi and his fellow clergymen therefore became of great value to the political leadership of Pakistan to justify their decisions, to keep them in power.

And as you go on, when you have the first proper martial law in Pakistan when General Ayub (Khan) takes over, you see the nexus of the military with the mullahs and politicians who were acceptable to the military.

You have talked of the links between politics, religion and the military. How did militancy come to be linked with this?

The first well-known and well-organised terrorist militia that we know about that dealt with religious minorities was created by Zia-ul-Haq. It was called the Sipah-e-Sahaba and its sole job was to harass Shias. So, that is the first group that we see that is armed and trained and reasonably openly by the (Pakistani) government of that time.

Some of these groups—not all—in some seasons cross borders and in some seasons there are at home purifying the land of the pure, whether it is blowing up Ahmadi places of worship or Christian worshippers at mass or Shia imambargahs.

So the state’s policy that goes back to the very beginning of mixing religion with politics and then religion, politics and the military together has resulted in a terrible situation not just from the point of view of Pakistan’s neighbours but for us Pakistanis as well. Over 60,000 Pakistanis have died due to attacks internally by terrorists.

Of all the politicians who have done their bit for the decimation of minorities, would you say that it was president Zia-ul-Haq who did the most damage?

Yes. Two things, he legalised Islamisation—whether it was bringing in the Hudood (ordinance in 1979 under which Sharia laws applied in cases of extramarital sex, theft and prohibition). From very little things like introducing prayer times in government buildings to very, very, very harsh laws of blasphemy. The other thing would be the birth of these jihadi groups in a very, very big way.

He attempted to alter our culture—Pakistani diplomats’s wives could no longer wear saris—they were considered Hindu and un-Islamic. You could no longer say Khuda Hafiz; you had to say Allah Hafiz.

These small things have now percolated down and they have shaped an entire culture. So that’s what he did, the small things changing the way people thought, the laws which were then impossible to get around and then the Jihadi groups.

How can this state of affairs be changed?

It has to be through political leadership, even though we saw in (Punjab governor) Salman (Taseer)’s case that in spite of everything when (his security guard) Mumtaz Qadri pumped his body full (in 2011) of bullets the other people stood there and watched. Later Qadri was garlanded and the judge who found him (Qadri) guilty, we had to send the judge and his entire family out of Pakistan. I was in government then. He’s never come back.

This book is like a death sentence for me. Civil society at that time had no leadership. And the reaction was don’t even talk about it. Don’t even mention Asiya Bibi (Pakistani Christian found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to death. Taseer opposed her punishment). Look at Salman, he was so foolish. There was no one willing to bury him. I had to find somebody, beg someone to read his last rites. And then, I had to get that person and their family out of Lahore.

So is this the worst for Pakistan and therefore can one say that change can only make things better?

I could never say something like that because its impossible to be so categorical. Pakistan is a functional state still and there is a lot of room for change. I hope things turn around. But I think a big part of it is that jihadi groups have to be dealt with. They can no longer be good jihadi groups and bad jihadi groups. There should be no jihadi groups. Countries can have militaries and countries can have diplomacy. Unless we move past this kind of a situation, the world is losing patience.

Any point when this could be changed?

From the very start. Mr. Jinnah was still alive and they have the temerity to block his speech from the radio. That entire speech was about how important Pakistan’s religious minorities were and how absolutely vital it was for pluralism and to have a successful state for all citizens to have a place. Once you end up introducing a religious law it is almost impossible to amend it or to change it because they are seen as protecting Islam and feelings of Muslims.

In the book, I break this down into four stages – and I call stage one Muslimisation. This comes about between 1945 and 1951. There is a massive decline in Hindu and Sikh populations and therefore Pakistan became more Muslim demographically.

Stage two is Islamic identity. This is where you see from 1958 onwards state-sponsored text books reject pluralism, paint religious minorities very negative, highlight and glorify Islamic history with no South Asian basis. So an attempt was made to forge a Pakistani identity purely on the basis of Islam.

The third stage is Islamisation. This is where legislation in an attempt to make the country’s laws more Islamic resulted in creating a legal framework against the minorities. It started in 1974 and continues up to 1988. This was all done in General Zia’s time.

Stage four is militant hostility towards the minorities, which is the stage at which we are and we have terrorism and organised violence.

First Published: Tue, Jan 19 2016. 12 35 PM IST

Farahnaz Ispahani is a real human rights activist, and a real academic since she has the credentials and fact-finding methods to back up her research. Link here for her book.

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Review of Unifying Hinduism by Andrew Nicholson: Errors in Reasoning

Although I’d like to praise this work, as I largely liked Nicholson’s analyses and enjoyed reading some of them, I’m compelled by my own academic standards to give Unifying Hinduism a negative review. First, let me just say that for the average reader that this book will possibly satisfy interest in examining interesting parts about Hindu philosophy that can be parsed through this text, but its largely with opinion pieces presented with an academic veneer. I read this book in conjunction with Oxford’s handbook of Indian philosophy in the hopes of better understanding the ancient Indian theology and its differences with Modern Hinduism since it was argued by Western academia that modern Hinduism can’t be called anything but a modern invention in reaction to oppressors. Nevertheless, I’ve since concluded these people don’t even bother following the clear references in the text, or understanding the legacy of inclusivity within Hinduism, or look into India’s history for a fuller understanding, or well . . . anything resembling what is typical in academia. Religious Studies is known as the least academic of all disciplines since it doesn’t use actual history, archaeology, or any type of credible research; the Oxford handbook is rife with paranoid conspiracy theories taken as fact, as an example. Religious Studies seems to try to purport some privileged understanding, but they seem to hold no real knowledge of Western analytical philosophy and seem to just be glorified translators with mistaken perceptions on their knowledge.

I was initially discouraged because reading the arguments of Edward Said, and the fact Indology takes them seriously, was very disconcerting. Nicholson prefaces the book by detailing how an entire school of Indology is based on Edward Said’s views on indigenous people. Said seems to be considered a pillar of Indology, and his assertion is that indigenous people were formed into their way of thinking by imperialism and therefore have no right to any opinion regarding their own ancient texts. Said argues none of an indigenous person’s views are credible, because they’ve been brought up as a result of imperialism. Allusions to the idea that indigenous people were merely savages before Western colonization abound as implications for this reasoning. However, Edward Said’s entire argument is a fallacy of Circular Reasoning; he asserts the premise with the conclusion. That is, he argues that indigenous people are products of Western imperialism and therefore can be dismissed because their opinions are products of Western imperialism. This is very flawed reasoning and the fact it’s a respected opinion in Indology seemed asinine to me since I could easily pick apart the flaws using analytical philosophy. In fact, this is even more bizarre than at first glance, since Indology seems to parade analytical philosophy in many of its texts . . . but don’t even have a basic understanding of it. There’s simply no logical or reasonable basis to respect Edward Said’s assertions; he’s homogenizing billions of people based on their ethnic background and literally devaluing the very idea they have any say based on their race. Moreover, the premise is false; it was the literal opposite of what Said espoused. Schools from Ireland to India were shut down or demolished, people were repeatedly starved, and mass genocides in internment camps due to cholera or starvation or both ensued under imperialism. As a direct result, religious fanaticism increased to a fever-pitch in response to such brutality. Pre-modern India, with mathematicians like Aryabhata and Brahmagupta, were more focused on logical reasoning than the sadly illiterate India that followed after British colonial rule. Nevertheless, I thought it couldn’t be comprised of all what Nicholson had to say, so I bought the book and eagerly began reading.

Some arguments are just teeming with arrogance. In one such argument in favor of a unified Hinduism, Nicholson argues in support of a Hindu identity and contends the assertions of his Indologist colleague Paul Hacker who tries to assert some bizarre generalization that a billion Hindus feel inferior and his even more bizarre re-contextualization of Modern Hinduism and pre-modern Hinduism into some neo-terms that have no basis. I held a favorable disposition for Nicholson and an unfavorable one for Hacker, I readily admit this and I found Nicholson provided a better argument . . . but by the end, Nicholson diverges into ad hominem and implies Hacker has no right to an opinion because he’s a Christian. I sort of just stared at that as it took me a moment to process that a Western scholar could be so blatantly bigoted and provide such a ridiculous error in reasoning. Nicholson attempts to argue a middle approach that rejects what he sees as Hacker’s presumable extremism. He doesn’t seem to understand that he’s using the logical fallacy of ad hominem against Hacker. He’s also committing the middle-ground fallacy. He doesn’t seem to understand that he’s given ample cause to dismiss this entire branch of Western academia as worthless; if even his fellow Indologists are considered to have valueless opinions, based on a bigoted notion against their religious beliefs, then how on earth is one suppose to make any progress in this discipline? What does progress even look like? What viewpoints can even be called worthwhile? Also, Indology admits it makes random guesses and will never actually progress with anything meaningful. What even is this? How can an entire department of academia lack so much in its credibility?

Sadly, this isn’t the first time Nicholson has done this. Andrew Nicholson, the translator of Siva Song and author of this book Unifying Hinduism, seems to lack the critical thinking faculties of the much-loved Analytical Philosophy that his colleagues repeatedly harp about when he adamantly defends his thesis advisor. He made a response to Rajiv Malhotra, claiming on twitter that Malhotra had plagiarized him, yet he never took Malhotra to court. In his criticism of Rajiv Malhotra, he actually argues that Malhotra has no right to an opinion because he doesn’t understand Sanskrit; Nicholson proceeds to completely destroy his own argument against Malhotra’s assertions that Western academia is making spurious assertions against Hinduism by attributing his own personal guesses on ancient Hinduism to the influence of his thesis advisor Pollock. Why is this self-refuting? Because it means that both Nicholson and Pollock’s ideas have absolutely nothing to do with Hinduism and are their own personal opinions on the religion. If Pollock’s ideas are original, which I don’t dispute, then he isn’t actually doing research since that means he isn’t trying to uncover an ancient philosophy of a religion analogous to an archaeologist, but rather just making things up without sufficient evidence. Evidently, Malhotra has no right to an opinion because he isn’t a translator and Hacker has no right to an opinion because he is a Christian.

In what could have been an interesting final analysis, Nicholson consistently asserts his confusion about why Islam wasn’t integrated into Hinduism and tries to use the Rama re-tellings of replacing Asuras with terms identifying Muslims as proof of Hindu bigotry. He poorly asserts that arguments about Islam being nihilistic is proof Hindus were ignorant since it was the same assertion against Buddhists. He seems entirely unaware of the genocide of approximately 80 million people that Islam committed in Northwestern India, he seems to fail to understand that the re-tellings are parallels to the religion of Zoroastrianism which also forbids the usage of interest rates and believes in sinfulness, and it’s made abundantly clear that he has absolutely no understanding of Islamic theology at all when trying to figure out why Hinduism never tried to adapt it. He consistently asserts Hindu bigotry, but makes no attempt at actually comparing the religions. How hard would it have been to simply seek advice and information from a fellow colleague within his own Religious Studies department? Failing that, how hard would it have been to google search a local Mosque or Islamic center and go ask about Islam there? How hard would it have been to simply research Islamic theology through google or go on the multitude of Islam learning websites to gain a better understanding in order to compare and contrast the religions? Yet, he doesn’t even bother to put even that much effort into this chapter that supposedly tries to compare the religions. This is just laziness on his part and it really repudiates his credibility. Even a ten minute google search of the basic facets of Islam would have answered this question; Islamic jurisprudence is specifically designed to prevent such attempts since any outsider’s views on the theology is considered worthless unless they follow Sharia, Jihad against non-believers of the Abrahamic God is a religious doctrine among the four forms of Jihad that a Muslim must commit to, and any Hindu that did compare them would have been brutally murdered similar to the massacres that made the Hindu Kush (Hindu Murder/Hindu Slaughter) mountains that the Islamic invaders named in their triumphant massacre of approximately 80 million people. Something these Indologists evidently refuse to even engage within any discussion. Never mind the silent destruction and cultural genocide of Zoroastrianism in Iran, Zoroastrianists and Jews of Iran are still persecuted to this very day in modern-day Iran.

He harps about the Hindu extremism, yet seems to be utterly ignorant of the fact India took in Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir that were being persecuted with kidnappings, mass murder, and organized rape campaigns by Muslims in all three countries and rebellious Indian State. Evidently, Pakistan is happy to protest against extrajudicial killings by their police on Pashtun groups that support Al Qaeda and the Taliban, but don’t concern themselves with the sprees of murder, rape, and torture of Hindu and Sikh minorities that have all but left for India for their own safety. Nor does Nicholson seem to think over Intra-Abrahamic violence that could also pose a substantial problem to his own confusion of why Hinduism never adapted to anything of Islam’s theology, he seems blissfully unaware of the outright genocide of Christian Iraqis by ISIS. Both of these events are contemporary and happened only a couple of years ago as of this writing. This shouldn’t be perceived as an attempt to deflect Hindutva or Indian army human rights crimes. The deaths of journalists throughout India and the Indian army’s rapes and murders should absolutely be held accountable with punishable jail time, but these horrible crimes cannot be the only issues highlighted regarding controversial topics for the sake of intellectual honesty. I don’t support the anti-intellectual stupidity of Hindutva or would ever condone what unsavory people in the Indian army have done to civilians, but the refugee crises that Islamic militia groups caused cannot be ignored. Hundreds of thousands of Hindu and Sikh men, women, and children were being gang raped and/or murdered by Islamist groups in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. This is not limited to just them as victims; reports of Christian minorities being gang raped and mass murdered have also abounded but gain less notoriety in the West for whatever reason; evidently, forced conversions in safer countries like India of Hindus who respect Christians is more important to US Christian missionaries than helping their fellow Christians who suffer in the absolute worst offenses to human rights and human dignity under Sharia (Islamic Divine Law) in three separate countries. Not surprising, since helping their fellow Christians would cause them great personal risk and would actually be an act of compassion; instead of their forced conversions and unvarnished hatred of Hindus who respect their beliefs.

He and fellow Indologists argue about theories on how to unify Hinduism or why it’s impossible to unify Hinduism, but after reading several chapters of this book and the Oxford Handbook of Indian Philosophy, I no longer believe they have honest intentions. In fact, I suspect this entire academic discipline never had any honest intentions and never focused on explicit texts or social customs. It should come as no surprise considering its imperialistic background. Nicholson admits that various forms of belief were accepted under the inclusiveness of Ancient India, he uses one example of Rama’s belief and how people who believed in Rama were free to practice belief when placed under as a component of Vishnu, but he actually seems to argue that this doesn’t prove any unified form of Hinduism. After that, he goes on the most vapid of arguments saying it doesn’t prove inclusiveness just because Hindus were inclusive by nature… What is even being argued anymore? He tries to argue the word Hindu not being used constitutes there being no unified Hinduism, but that’s an argument of semantics. Sanatana Dharma could easily qualify and we’d know what was being referred to. Overall, the fact they try to ignore the inclusiveness or denigrate Hinduism as not unified when not even looking at any historical accounts, denigrating the inclusivity they themselves find in their Sanskrit translations, and the fact they pick and choose such as when Nicholson ignores the parts of the Bhagavad Gita (in which Krishna says all ways, even those that don’t believe in him are acceptable and can lead to Moksha (self-liberation) so long as someone is selfless and helps others) in order to argue that Samkhya isn’t atheistic when their previous research asserts it had theistic and atheistic followers and that by the time of medieval translations the entirety of India had recognized Samkhya as atheistic school of Vedic theology.

It seems peculiar to me how so many Indologists can translate texts in which deities of various Gitas explain repeatedly that all other Gods and Goddesses are unified with them and that Brahman is an aspect of them; but somehow, even despite Nicholson himself translating the Ishvara Gita which has 2 whole chapters devoted to Shiva explaining how all the other deities and him are unified, they somehow conclude there is no unified Hinduism . . . despite the explicit, blatant, and repeated assertions on this unity in the texts themselves. In Siva Song (Ishvara Gita), Great Goddess Song (Devi Gita), and the Song of God (Bhagavad Gita), they all detail this unity with Brahman and the voluminous amount of other deities. If they had argued denominational differences, that would have been valid based on the evidence, but instead they argue different religions even when religions like Rama grow out of Vishnu. It no longer makes any sense. Hinduism has been based on inclusiveness, the belief in Brahman, and even acceptance of Atheism since ancient times; in fact, myself and even the average Westerner who’ve asked questions or been curious about researching Hinduism come to believe – based on Hindu theology – that it’s just separate interpretations and denominations of a unified belief and that people can take whatever interpretation they like from the Upanishads, Gitas, Vedas, and Mahabharata to form our own interpretation. The philosophical aspects of selfless service or doing good based on intrinsic desire in the Upanishads is just as paramount in understanding Hinduism as a philosophy too. Truth seeking and selflessness are paramount teachings. That’s how my family has seen it, how I’ve seen it, how the average US citizen who takes an interest sees it, and even how historically pre-modern India saw itself – the last one is according to Nicholson himself. The belief that they’re different religions seems largely unfounded and the Oxford Handbook of Indian Philosophy repeatedly references a paranoid conspiracy theory of an Aryan invasion, doesn’t use actual history or archaeology, and doesn’t present any credible evidence for its assertions beyond guesswork; Nicholson’s book also follows suit in this meaningless and trite guesswork presented as “academic” but lacking any actual substance or evidence-based reasoning. Therefore, this book by Nicholson, and possibly everything Indology does from Pollock’s racist and Nazi-friendly assertions (since the Aryan Race Theory is a debunked Western conspiracy only asserted by Neo-Nazis outside of Indology) to Doinger and Larson’s poorly reasoned and poorly argued books, and essentially this entire attempt by translators to act in the most pretentious manner possible should be rebuked and identified as the poorly reasoned trash that it is.

None of these people display any firm understanding of Analytical Philosophy, Nicholson’s book repeatedly uses several logical fallacies, his reasoning of Hindu bigotry largely lacks any historical or reasoned basis and he clearly never bothered to look into Islam before positing possibilities of why Hinduism never adapted it (in fact, I provided a more valid reasoning in this one review then he did in his entire chapter about the subject in his book), and like with the Oxford handbook, Larson’s books, and the actual texts of Hindu theology; I’m simply given more reasons to believe Hinduism was a unified theology and that Nicholson and his ilk are simply acting in bad faith since they never bring any valid evidence for their assertions. In fact, Nicholson’s very book gives ample evidence to this; from his ridiculous ad hominems, to the fact that he pointed out a medieval Marathi text that proves awareness of Islam was very well known at the time of its conquest in India. However, this example of the Marathi texts only gives me further credence to doubt the veracity and validity of Indology as an academic discipline since an entire department claiming to do religious studies was too lazy or too stupid to look into other language translations of a country with approximately 3000 different languages to verify any of their guesswork on evidence. These Indologists instead chose to make assertions strictly based on their fabricated ideas of Sanskrit teachings with no attempt at evidence-based research at all.

I can only conclude that the assertions of this book, and frankly all of Indology, are a worthless failure. These people are translators and they don’t have any special or privileged knowledge. Their books are nothing more than wild speculation and are of no value to understanding Hinduism / Sanatana Dharma.