Business Standard columnist Mitali Saran, who also writes for other news outlets like Scroll, NYT etc., recently compared a Vaishnavite tilak to a vagina. She made this comparison in response to a tweet where someone had posted a morphed image of BJP President Amit Shah wearing the Vaishnavite tilak known as ‘Urdhava Pundra‘ on his forehead.
Mitali Saran is a self-professed liberal, who by her own admission lives in a ‘ liberal elite cocoon’ so it is possible that she was unaware of what the tilak actually represents (it depicts Bhagwan Vishnu and Maa Lakshmi); but anyone who has lived any length of time in Bharat will know that a tilak is a sacred religious mark worn by many Hindus.
Saran knew what she was tweeting would offend Hindus – her political hate for BJP might have been the trigger, but she knew what she was doing.
Mitali Saran is not alone – there is a whole class of people who think & act like her in Lutyens’ Delhi and other elite pockets across Bharat. These people have deluded themselves into believing they know what is best for Bharat and its people. At best, they tolerate the practising Hindus who still constitute the majority in this country, but scratch a little below the surface and their contempt and deep anti-Hindu bias spews out.
It would be easy to dismiss Mitali Saran as just another self-loathing, colonized liberal but for the fact that people of her ilk, particularly those more adept at hiding their anti-Hindu animus and whose only connect with Hindu Dharma is their Hindu-sounding name, wield disproportionate influence over this country’s mainstream narrative & policy-making apparatus. So we need to understand what makes them tick, if we are to successfully confine them to the fringe where they truly belong.
Cognitive Dissonance of a ‘Free-Range Vagina’ ideologue
Saran’s writings provide a good idea of how liberals like her fashion their world-view. In this Scroll piece titled ‘Why India is terrified of free-range vaginas’, Saran describes herself –
I’m an Indian woman in her mid-forties, single, childless, jobless, who dresses like an uncool teenager, wraps presents in newspaper, drinks, smokes, occasionally pops into a bar or a movie theatre alone, drives around in the middle of the night, has no ambition, dances tango, has taken to the guitar, is a commitment-phobe and an atheist, and says no a lot.
Saran is free to make her choices. The problem starts when she starts deriding Hindu tradition for being all about female oppression, a recurring theme in her articles; when ultra liberals & feminists like her start projecting contemporary social ills (some real, some imagined) as core elements of Hindu Dharma, and start advocating their own lifestyle as superior. Although to Saran’s credit, in one interview she does say that a woman who chooses to be a traditional home-maker also has a right to exercise her choice.
But such flashes of common sense aside, Saran’s worldview is one in which she sees herself as a sort of revolutionary pioneer which the regressive Hindu society, especially the ‘enslaved women’, badly needs. Let’s go back to her Scroll article –
This country worships phalluses, but women are raised to believe in their own shamefulness, and taught that female modesty protects the whole world’s honour. There are degrees, of course—perhaps you’re a rural woman who allowed an unrelated man to see her face uncovered, or you’re a city slicker showing too much cleavage—but shame is the monkey on your back, and when it shows up, it imperils your whole family’s reputation. It’s been a long historical fall from the erotic celebration of Khajuraho to the prudery of today.
This is where a liberal’s cognitive dissonance is glaringly obvious for everyone, except the liberal clique. On the one hand, they claim to be progressive as they are comfortable discussing bodily functions and sex. But then, they try to shame Hindus and other pagans for things like ‘phallus worship’, fertility rituals etc? If Mitali Saran believes the Shiv Ling represents merely a phallus, why doesn’t she consider the yoni on which the Shivling rests as a vagina? So shouldn’t she be happy that Hindus worship both male and female divine energies? As an aside, this beautiful IndiaFacts article by Nitin Sridhar explains what all the Shivling truly represents and the various forms of worship associated with it – those genuinely interested in understanding this aspect of Dharma would do well to read the article and Nitin Sridhar’s work in general.
Who taught us that females need to be covered up?
Are women in Bharat brought up to believe in their ‘shamefulness’, as Mitali Saran asserts? We don’t know what Saran experienced in her childhood to arrive at this conclusion, but the fact is that Hindus have temples like the Shakti Peeth in Kamakhya where it is believed that the womb and vagina of Goddess Sati fell, and our tradition celebrates menstruation as a period of rest and sacred celebration. Saran tells us that her “parents were raised in boarding schools run by Irish nuns and Jesuit priests…they didn’t make a big deal of shame while we lived outside of India. I did ten formative years of growing up in Switzerland and Indonesia, blissfully unaware of the shit-storm that a bare leg or a public kiss could elicit.”
As Saran herself points out, what changed from the time when sex was considered a natural part of life as represented in the erotic sculptures of Khajuraho, to the present day? Khajuraho temple complex was built by Chandelas between 950 & 1050 CE…just before the Delhi Sultanate was established in 1206. Where does Saran think the practise of purdah & ghoongat practised by many Hindu women in North India originated from? We are a society where the Queen of Travancore felt no shame in being topless while meeting a Dutch representative in the 17th century. What impact do ‘intellectuals’ like her think the Victorian morality brought by the British colonials had on our society?
It is these Abrahamic influences that made sex a dirty/forbidden act and created the idea that women need to stay indoors or cover up from head to toe when outside to stay safe – after all, when a society is under unimaginable external stress, it has to adapt and find a way to survive. But you will never hear a liberal talk about how the idea of ‘original sin’ as forbidden sex between Adam and Eve shaped the Christian world, or how Quranic verses ask women to cover themselves from head to toe to avoid being molested.
The West has undergone a sexual revolution in the last 50 odd years and outgrown their former prudishness – but they have now gone to the other extreme. They hyper-sexualization of kids as young as 12-13 cannot be healthy for any society…Saran and other liberals need to watch the movie ‘She’s Too Young’ to understand the harmful physical and mental consequences of sexual promiscuity on both boys and girls, especially when they are in their teens and emotionally immature.
Rather than blindly ape this idea of Western social progressiveness, we need to get back to the balanced worldview where sex (kama) is part of the 4 purusharthas – definitely not something to be ashamed about, but neither worth obsessing over. Parents need to be open with their children and answer any questions around sex, at the same time we need to help children focus their energies into other areas like sports, studies, drama, arts and not obsess over relationships with the other sex as modern, Western pop culture drives them to do.
Sexual violence is a real problem facing our society today, but we have to find our own solutions – the problem is just as acute, and sometimes more, in other parts of the world.
Mitali Saran’s predictable politics
Overt or covert anti-Hindu sentiments harbored by liberals like Mitali Saran almost always lead to visceral hatred for the RSS and BJP – in their mind, these two organizations are representative of all that is ‘evil’ about Hindu society. This creates a huge blind spot and makes them arrive at desperate conclusions like endorsing an insipid dynast like Rahul Gandhi for PM. They become blind to the fact that in supporting the ‘secular’ camp, they are supporting some of the worst misogynists and intolerant people like Islamists, communists, Christian fundamentalists and regional nepotists.
Saran uses the tragic death of an 8-year-old in Kathua to declare in New York Times that ‘India is sliding toward a collapse of humanity and ethics in political and civic life.’ She cares two hoots that the accused party in this case is only demanding a CBI enquiry, given the serious questions that have arisen over the J&K police investigation thus far. The agenda is clear – tar the country with whatever brush is available while Modi is in power, to hanker for a return to the ‘secular’ wonderland we were supposedly inhabiting before May 2014.
The Lutyens’ Network
Guilt by association is an old trick of the left-liberal camp. Since 2014, the Lutyens’ cabal has been crying itself hoarse claiming ‘the RSS parivar is taking over every institution in the country’ – so its time their own deep-rooted connections were analyzed just to understand what we are up against.
Mitali Saran is the daughter of Malini Saran. Malini Saran is the sister of Anita Shourie (wife of Arun Shourie), Ajai Shukla (controversial ex-Army officer turned NDTV commentator who is alleged to be a broker for several foreign defence companies) and Manju Dubey (wife of Suman Dubey – a journalist and hardcore Nehru-Gandhi family loyalist, who is also one of the accused in the National Herald scam). There are some more connections mentioned in this twitter thread.
This is not to say that all these people work as one big, coordinated anti-Hindu machine – they have their differences of opinion, most starkly exemplified by Arun Shourie who has done tremendous intellectual work to expose the anti-Hindu forces in this country. But groupthink is a powerful force in any community, and the liberal elites are no exception.
Moreover, the problem is not merely with the worldview that Mitali Saran holds – she is entitled to her opinion just like Arundhati Roy or Teesta Setalvad. The problem is more with the likes of Business Standard, a mainstream newspaper, offering a platform to people like her and mainstreaming their fringe, half-baked ideas.
Mitali Saran is just the obvious and not so smart face of the anti-Hindu sentiment that seethes within Lutyens – it is the ringmasters who provide a platform to her ilk (Aroon Purie, TN Ninan, Shekhar Gupta etc), those who promote such Hinduphobia on the think-tank circuit (Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Shiv Vishwanathan etc), the bureaucrat-academia nexus which facilitates them, and their political and corporate backers (Business Standard is owned by Kotak Mahindra bank for eg.) who need to be held under scrutiny.
Hindu-bashing must have a punitive social, economic & legal cost associated to it. For eg., can we start a campaign to #BoycottBusinessStandard until Mitali Saran is removed from the paper? Else, the anti-Hindu Lutyens’ establishment will continue to call the shots, temporary changes in political power notwithstanding.
Did you find this article useful? We’re a non-profit. Make a donation and help pay for our journalism.