The recent decision by CNN to broadcast a show called “Believers”, which portrays a very maliciously distorted picture of Hinduism, is only the latest example of Hindophobia.
See the petition: Stop Reza Aslan’s Hateful Show Against Hinduism.
It shows real malicious intent when CNN, for the segment representing Hinduism, choses a fringe Hindu sect like the Aghoris (a handful of people, no more than a thousand in a population of over a billion Hindus). Could CNN not show something that is more representative of all Hindus? Like the fact that Hinduism is the most pluralistic culture on the planet, with thousands of faiths, practices, spiritual traditions, customs, languages, attires, cuisines, etc. And if you really want to showcase a practice how about showing something practiced by almost all Hindus, like the act of taking darshan at a Hindu temple via the puja offering of flowers, bananas, coconuts, rice, milk, sweets, deepa, incense, mantras, to gods and goddesses bedecked with flowers… Not to mention, how about starting with yoga, practiced by 20 million people in the West, as many in the West are not aware of its Hindu roots.
But what is more dangerous, is that the host is being extremely deceptive (in fact an outright lie) when he tweets that this is not about Hinduism, but about Aghoris, as he starts by saying he “came to Varanasi, India, to do a show about Hinduism“, and furthermore injects serious distortions of Hinduism. For example, 1) the host starts with saying “Hindu’s obsession with ‘purity’…” (an outrageous lie/distortion), 2) “…has created what we now know as a caste [system]” (which is also a outrageous lie, as the caste system was created by the British by exploiting jaati), 3) next he states that the Aghoris are “outcasts” (which is also a distortion, as Hindus don’t consider them as outcasts, and by that logic every sadhu would be seen as an “outcast”), 4) next he states that “more and more middle-class Indians,… disgusted with the caste system in India, have begun to adopt Aghori ideals… by taking care of the weak, the hungry,…” (this distortion by omission effectively hides the fact that there are countless Hindu spiritual organizations (with hundreds of millions of caste-agnostic devotees) have been providing humanitarian services to millions, from feeding the hungry, free medical care, shelters, to massive environmental contributions), 5) next his portrayal of cannibalism in Hinduism albeit via Aghoris (this distortion by omission effectively hides the fact that Hindus have the highest percentage of vegetarians in the world, by dharmic choice, and conversely, Abrahamic religions have the highest percentage of meat eaters), 6) last but not least shocking the world into revulsion and disgust for Hinduism by showing a Hindu (albeit an Aghori) drinking his own urine, living among corpses in cremation grounds, describing the Ganga as “it’s basically just a giant toilet”, etc.
Lying like this is a symptom of fear (and a sign of one’s own insecurity). What is CNN afraid of or makes them so insecure that they go out of the way to produce such junk? Do they think that the 20 million people practicing yoga will start becoming Hindus? or is it so that by denigrating another culture you make your culture look more superior? That too, to even trust a Muslim like Reza Aslan, to do a show about other religions (given their track record of not being pluralistic and open, even with their own denominations). The extent to which he uses distortion by omission, reminds me of Islamic idea of taqiyya (the use deceit for the purpose of spreading Islam), which includes kitman (deceit by omission) and tawriya (deceit by ambiguity), and taysir (deceit by outwardly agreeing, while inwardly you do not).
The more a society is bereft of a rich culture of its own, the more it is prone to put mud on others. Looking for warts in other cultures, to seek, expose, and entertain themselves on, appears to be a pastime for such cultures.
Here’s a segment of the show:
Rajiv Malhotra & Hindu Students Council on CNN’s Believer:
Reza Aslan Cannot Be Trusted
The irony is, while he fights Islamophobia, he seems to have no problem in promoting Hinduphobia (anti-Hindu bias, racism, prejudice,…).
Why would CNN hire someone with such poor track record, having serious credibility issues, to produce a segment on Hinduism, that too a Muslim (regardless of the fact that he professes to be a student of all religions (his actual background is in Creative Writing))?