How is Hinduphobia Normalized?
While some instances or experiences of Hinduphobia are overt and intentional – making them easy to name – there are many instances where it is subtle, coded, and even justified, making it more difficult to name, explain and advocate against. It can be helpful to remember why Hinduphobic rhetoric often goes unchecked in the West.
Identifying, unpacking, explaining, and combating Hinduphobia is an act of decolonization and decoloniality.
This is not easy work, especially because it begins with examining our own lenses and assumptions. Hinduphobia is baked deeply into popular understandings of India and Hinduism. Much of Indian and Hindu history and Sanatana Dharma has been misrepresented and distorted by Indology and South Asian studies; these distortions have embedded themselves so deeply into school textbooks and curricula in India and around the world that they have come to be understood as fact. These “facts” have been incorporated into social justice rhetoric and frameworks, making them interwoven with concepts of morality and liberation. This can make it very confusing to identify and articulate when someone is making a Hinduphobic claim, even one that is very blatantly anti-Hindu.
This is just one example.
As you can see, these colonial lenses and narratives are insidious. There is a lot of work to be done to disentangle colonial theories and lenses from conventional wisdom about Hinduism.
You may already have a strong intuitive Hinduphobia detector. You know something feels off, but you’re not able to put your finger on it or successfully communicate it. The more you equip yourself with knowledge and with community, the more your vivekam and skill will blossom, and the more easily you’ll know – straight away – that you have experienced or witnessed Hinduphobia and how to educate those around you.
Keep unlearning and unpacking what you’ve been taught about Hindu and Indian history, and critically examine what is being produced about both from the Western Academy. (The Resources Guide in this manual is a good start.)
Join communities that take up the complex work of decolonization and Hinduism through readings, discourse, and other media. Hindu Students Council and Hindus for Decolonization are great ones to start with!
Take courses about Hinduism taught within Hindu institutions, including those that are focused on critically examining Western scholarship.
Attend Understanding Hinduphobia’s annual conference and/or watch conference sessions online.
Set up a watch party and watch 1,000 Years of Colonial Trauma (a presentation series) – This 8-part series by Zarna Joshi, a community organizer and educator, deftly weaves together a comprehensive overview of Hindu history with contemporary issues and discourses of social justice. It is a must-view for anyone looking for a deep, decolonial understanding of the roots of contemporary Hinduphobic narratives. We highly recommend watching this with a small group of trusted friends – the information is intense and can trigger a lot of complex emotions and reactions.