Hindu Passivism and Missing Political Sophistication on the Israeli-Hamas Conflict

Hindus, this is not your war. You are already in a war and are unaware of it.

Hinduism has often been associated with passivism, with religion being identified as a critical factor in reinforcing this perception. Themes of peace, harmony, and universality are integral to Hindu culture. Nevertheless, it is essential to remember that one of the most renowned Hindu texts, the Bhagavad Gita, delves into the complexities of participation in warfare. Shri Krishna underscores the importance of fulfilling Kshatriya dharma by engaging in combat when necessary in his counsel to the reluctant Arjuna during the Mahabharata war. In contemporary times, Hindus express a sense of satisfaction when witnessing the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Palestine. What initially began as an anti-Hamas retaliation has evolved into a situation that can be best characterized as a humanitarian crisis quickly growing into a war crime, irrespective of one’s stance. Hindus in India contend with challenges from various quarters, particularly minority religions. However, the government’s inability, notably the Ministry of Home Affairs, to curtail communal violence is a primary reason why Hindus exhibit support for Israel. This support, however, extends only to a superficial level, as Israel’s concern for the Hindu community is limited beyond the superficial.

Dharmic vs. Adharmic Wars

The 1947 independence has been a façade; while Israel and the U.S. Have made weapons available to their citizens, the British systematically disarmed Indians after 1857. An independent India under the Congress party nor the Bharatiya Janata Party has taken any initiative to re-arm the citizenry. Unless a nation can take proper self-defense measures, there is no hope for protecting family, women, society, or religion. Pacifism is peddled, and violence is condemned in independent India. There are no provisions for Hindus and Indians to defend themselves from the threats within. The over-glorified pacifism is misplaced, rendering the public utterly dependent on the State Mai-Baap, which seems missing in action.

Also, throughout the history of Bharatvasha, noncombatants were never involved in the war – even in the Mahabharata war, farmers, artisans, and blacksmiths were not killed when Hindu kings fought—Hindu kings operated with ethics and dharma. Only Abrahamics have violated the dharmic rule, and the Islamic and British colonial invasions have seen bloodbaths of noncombatant Hindus. Contemporary Indians need to ponder the ethics of dharma; when 100s from the military or civilians are killed, is it dharmic to obliterate 2.5-3 million civilians in retaliation?

Deficiency in Political Sophistication

The Hindu response to the Israel-Hamas conflict reveals a lack of historical senses and political sophistication. Despite the absence of cultural or religious commonalities between India and Israel, these two nations have developed a mutually beneficial relationship, often misconstrued by unsophisticated Hindus as an enduring commitment equivalent to a seven-lifetime marriage. Hindus in India encounter challenges from so-called influential minority religions, and the Indian government’s response has been far from the decisive actions usually taken by Israel within her homeland. Consequently, some Hindus fantasize about foreign nations addressing this terrorism by minority concerns, leading to unwarranted enthusiasm for international conflicts. It is pertinent to question whether the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs has ever deployed a military strike force to eliminate terrorists within Indian communities, i.e., Kerala or Bengal. The answer is negative. If Hindu and Indian men act pacifist with the State missing in action as a protector, who will deploy forces to isolate and neutralize violent enemies within? As a result, Hindus have adopted a passive, vicarious role, rallying behind an imagined guardian who addresses concerns abroad while they remain passive on domestic issues. Many have altered their profile pictures to support the Israeli flag and the Star of David, actively engaging in online debates that favor Israel. Surprisingly, this fervent support is prominent among Kashmiri Pandits, who, despite their historical grievances, invest time advocating for foreign conflicts rather than addressing their predicaments. Instead of holding their government accountable, the Hindus are preoccupied with distant conflicts.

One must ask whether a single Israeli would reciprocate by displaying the Indian flag or a Hindu symbol such as “Aum.” The message is clear: Hindus must awaken to the reality that external parties are not their saviors and must confront their challenges on home soil.

The Concept of Imagined Masters

A considerable portion of Indian commentary on the Israel-Hamas conflict frames the issue simplistically, aligning support with Israel. However, such a viewpoint, wherein a foreign nation is perceived as a savior, indicates a cognitive ailment. A pertinent example is the plea made by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha temple inauguration committee for President Joe Biden to attend the event, highlighting a pattern where Hindus financially support political figures without receiving commensurate recognition or support in return. Despite contributions from affluent Hindus, including those associated with BAPS, Biden did not attend the event, further exemplifying the pattern of Hindus pursuing individuals who regard them as subordinate. This pursuit of imagined masters is a recurrent theme, and the Hindu is always the loser.

One big difference between India and Israel is that everyone in the Israeli cabinet has served in the military, including billionaires and high-net-worth people – their kids and grandkids have served in the military, but this is not the case in India. India seems allergic to utilizing combat veterans for domestic and foreign security decision-making. Not to mention that the army is one of the more secular institutions in India, which raises even more questions should the legislature ever utterly fail. There must be a clear gap in what generations of non-serving citizenry constitute a free republic. There is a lack of skin in the game, and thus, a dangerous lethargy lurking in the public psyche. This lack of investment in the idea of the Indian nation is very unlike what is seen in Israel or even Russia. A question to think about is why should civilians with no combat experience supervise and order people into combat; whom does this inspire? Every Raja throughout history – Shivaji, Rana Pratap, and Guru Gobind Singh led at the FRONT of their armies and was also the chief minister of security. Again, it has something to do with not having skin in the game.

India’s lack of military service and legacy is one of her weakest points. Unlike Israel’s minister of defense, whose offspring is in the army, and Netanyahu’s offspring, who also serves in the military, what are Rajnath Singh’s and Amit Shah’s children doing? They are not only not serving in the armed forces but have turned security into a bania business, inviting the vilest and failed nation to play cricket and parading Hindu women item dancers in front of the namazis to add insult to injury. Ajit Doval’s son is dealing with the Saudis, and Jaisahnkar’s son is an American citizen! This weak phenomenon does not hold for Russia, China, or Israel, where top leadership and their kin are foreign citizens or are happily dealing with hostile nations for profit. This mess is only evident in India. A true Ram Rajya should hold Rama’s wife and sons above suspicion, and they should never be doubted as supposed foreign agents. By and large, Hindus demonstrate a lack of political acumen, with many remaining passive and cheering from the sidelines, falsely believing that local and global conflicts will not engulf them. They must be aware of the United States’ dual role in international affairs and its deep State’s involvement in perpetuating conflicts.

Furthermore, Hindus often overlook the interests and alliances of the Muslim and Christian world in international relations. One noteworthy aspect of India’s recent foreign policy has been its refusal to take sides in the Ukraine conflict, defying international pressure. This display of sovereignty marks a positive shift from India’s historical deference to real and perceived international authorities, though will it be long-lasting? Also, Hindus must realize there will be repercussions for taking a side in the Israel-Hamas conflict that was never theirs. 

Nonetheless, Indians and Hindus must become aware of the possibility of foreign involvement in Indian matters, especially during elections. In the realm of international relations, there are no lasting allies, and Hindus must promptly understand this vital lesson as the results of their actions become evident. When conflict arises, which has already occurred in India, there are no imaginary saviors to rely on; the notion of waiting for a messiah is not a part of the dharmic belief. Instead, the only option is to stand up and face your own challenges, as advocated by Shri Krishna.