Monday January 30 2006 00:00 IST,PTI
SANTINIKETAN: The largest peer body of historians in the country has expressed strong views on Hinduism not only terming it as ‘intolerant’ but also challenging claims of Hindu religious groups that the religion was free from the much debated practice of conversions.
Making a strong statement against what it called a jingoist, communal and obscurantist perception of India’s past, the 66th session of the Indian History Congress (IHC), currently on here, saw a forceful and no holds bar attack on the ‘myths and false stereotypes that have moulded public opinion’ in favour of Hinduism without much historical proof.
Delivering a 47-page address on ‘looking for a Hindu identity’ at the inaugural session of the meet here on Saturday, IHC General President and eminent historian Professor Dwijendra Narayan Jha said the distorted notions of Hinduism had received an unprecedented boost from communal forces, which have inducted a virulent version of Hindi cultural chauvinism into contemporary politics.
‘A myth, which, through repetition, has been made to stick to Hinduism is that it is a tolerant religion. There is considerable historical evidence to question the stereotype of India as a land of religious tolerance. A religion with a caste system and untouchability as characteristic features is incapable of promoting tolerance’, Jha said.
Quoting copiously from medieval texts, the historian said not only had the religion been hostile towards Buddhists, Vaishnavites and Shaivites but also denigrated the Jains in abusive language while the Brahmanical sects played a leading role in fomenting religious conflicts and sectarian violence during early medieval period.