While the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ narrative, popularised by right-wing Hindutva extremists, has had its own ramifications with respect to caste in India, the Shankaracharya of Puri has advocated that non-Muslims in India identify themselves as Hindus- showing an open disregard for religious minorities in India.
Here are five components of the story:
- While Article 25 of the Indian Constitution grants every citizen the freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and prolongation of religion, Puri Shankaracharya wants the it to be amended so that all non- Muslim minorities are declared as Hindus.
- He says that Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs, etc. are/were a part of Sanatan Dharma and political parties declared them to be minorities for power and votes.
- He believes that the Indian Constitution declared tribals to be minorities in order to erase the identities of Hindus from the country. He also believes that Hinduism is the foremost religion of India.
- He pointed out various similarities in the ideologies of Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus- their belief in rebirth, belief in Ganges to be a holy river and cow to be a sacred animal, their belief in Om, which is the origin of their faith. Article 25, according to him, should be amended to declare these minorities as Hindus.
- He also talks about ‘roti-beti ki maryada’ – signifying that though the upper caste food may be shared by all, upper caste daughters should only be married to upper caste males in order to ensure pure breed.