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The Saffron Book

The fundamentalism was first used to describe the conservative Christian who referred to the holy Bible as his argument to resist Darwin's theory of evolution. Since Hinduism has nothing comparable to the Bible, its follower cannot be a fundamentalist.

20. Not Fundamentalism

Dear Hathikhanawala
I have noticed in the course of our conversations and correspondence a frequent use of the word fundamentalism. You were a little too young when this word began to be used in our country. That was in the wake of Sant Bhindranwale turning militant, around 1983.

Indira Gandhi and, in fact, all her supporters had to find a special word to condemn him and his fellowmen. They could not use the word communal because, in their idiom, the expression was earmarked for the devotees of Hindutva. They promptly imported the word fundamentalist from the USA.

The Americans had exhumed it in order to abuse Ayatollah Khomeini who had thrown out Washington's favourite Reza Shah Pahlavi from the throne of Iran. There is a reason why I have used the word exhumed. Fundamentalism had for decades been forgotten in the United States. It had come into prominence after World War I and, after a few years, had fallen into disuse.

The theory of evolution by Charles Darwin had crossed the Atlantic and gained currency in the USA. Many people, including the liberal among the priests, began to appreciate Darwin's contention. His great work, On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life had been published in England in 1859. A storm of protest soon arose over the book, reaching its height at Oxford in 1860 when a scientist called T.H. Huxley and Bishop Wilberforce fought a gun duel. The acceptance of the new theory threatened to pull the carpet from under the biblical doctrine of creation.

It was a challenge against religion by science. The Christian belief was that God created the world in six days. On the first day the heavens and the earth. Then light which led to the split between day and night. Then the earth's surface was divided between land and sea.Then came herbs and fruits, followed by sea monsters, reptiles and animals. Then came man and woman. And so on until the seventh day when God rested.

In 1923, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA reasserted the five points which were the pillars of the Christian faith: the virgin birth of Christ, his physical resurrection, he inerrancy of the Scripture or Bible, the substitutionary Atonement and belief in the miracles. The Assembly reprimanded the New York presbyter for licensing a student who refused to affirm the virgin birth.

In 1925, a teacher of science in Dayton, Tennessee named John T. Scopes was tried and fined a hundred dollars for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution. The origin of the word fundamentalism therefore related to a dispute between Christian conservatives and the liberals. The former were called fundamentalists by the latter. The liberals had the proof of scientific discovery on their side. The only way the conservatives could defend or conserve their viewpoint was an appeal to the fundamentals which were ordained by the Holy Book.

A Muslim can be a fundamentalist. Anyone who denounces change but cannot argue against it on the basis of reason or merit is vulnerable to the charge of being a fundamentalist because he takes shelter under what is written in the Holy Quran or the Hadith. This does not denote anything derogatory but is a fact because he or she abides by the fundamental. The controversy over the validity of talaaq pronounced thrice on one occasion or spaced over three months is an example of controversy between conservatives and liberals. The latter may call the former fundamentalists. So could be the case with those who oppose the grant of maintenance or alimony to a divorced wife, a la Shah Bano, on the plea of what was fundamentally or originally ordained.

On the other hand, a Hindu can be a bigot but he cannot appeal to or insist on-a fundamental. Hinduism or the  sanatan dharma is anadi anantor one without a beginning and without an end. It has no comprehensive code or final message or scripture. No single book Nor was there a founder or a last prophet.

The Saffron Book
Prafull Goradia
1. Awake and Unite!
2. Why The Saffron Book?

10. Small States
3. Vision
4. Economic Face
5. Abolish Casteism
6. Bride Burning, Divorce
7. Rape, Prostitution
8. Revolutionising Education
9. The Constitution

11. Nationalism
12. Pan-Islamism
13. Communism
14. Subnationalism
15. Casteism

16. Hindutva is Dialectical
17. Origin of Hinduism
18. Medieval Phase
19. Modern Resurgence
20. Not Fundamentalism
21. Not Fascism
22. Tolerance
23. Strengths
24. Weaknesses
25. Opportunities
26. Threats
27. Individual Brilliance

Hindu Paradoxes
42. Idolatry
43. Fatalism
44. Double Standards
45. Masochistic Fringe
46. Fifth Column
47. No Soul before Birth

48. Proselytising Unwelcome
49. Myth of Divide and Rule

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