Why did it make us uncomfortable?

We had a wonderful time holidaying at Hassan during this long weekend. Both A and me are fond of old temples, and enjoy learning more about hows, whats and whys of History.

So during this trip, we went to a temple in Halebid and engaged a guide to show us around. He did seem to know quite a lot and we enjoyed his presentation. But there was something which made us uncomfortable. And I couldn’t put a finger on it. When we came back A referred to what the guide said and Bingo!.. that was it.. I remembered how he kept on narrating the ways ‘muslims’ destroyed this and that.. Now when I think about it, that was something which I wouldnt have felt good about especially if I had my (muslim) friends around. And it was strange how I didn’t quite feel it then, though the queasy feeling remained.

Wouldn’t it have been in a better taste had the guide just referred to the ruler by name and not religion? I know it is something which most of us would shrug off as a trivial issue. But if you had gone there with your muslim friends and the guide kept on referring to the community as THE ONES who destroyed the heritage, wouldn’t it have made you uncomfortable as well? If we don’t go by how technically correct that statement was,  doesn’t it make more sense to rather blame it on an individual’s  error in judgment that contributed to dark chapters of our history?

13 thoughts on “Why did it make us uncomfortable?

  1. You make a fair point, Puja. One which is aptly highlighted by your question – what if your muslim friends accompanied you.

    That said, a truly evolved society would not be bothered if the word Muslim were used in such descriptions. Because in that society, no person would be expected to carry the cross of another. So, to recognize the invaders by their religion would not be construed as a hint that muslims today are to blame for any of the past plundering. The way I see it, when finely dissected, it is not the uttering of the word muslim that makes one uncomfortable, but the unmentioned intentions that go with it. And those are a representative of our society’s current state of mind.
    But, we are a long way off from being a mature society. And until then, it is best that words be chosen carefully.

  2. true, ppl stereo type. the doings of an individual is often attributed to his bigger origin. This is specially true in case of religion.

  3. @All
    Alas this is not the kind of place we would have preferred to live in… the constant reminders, the the unmentioned intentions behind such carelessly made statements….

    So yes, I agree with “….until then, it is best that words be chosen carefully.”

  4. I’ll add one more layer:
    The motivation of the act can form a guideline. If the act was motivated largely based on religion, then I’d say mentioning the religion of the actors is not unfair. So, if temples were looted my muslim invaders because they were Hindu temples, then it is okay to say who did what and why.
    On the other hand, if someone robs a house and it is found the robber is a muslim, then it is not fair to mention his religion.

    While, we must be sensitive to people’s feelings, we must also not brush things under the carpet.

    It all ties backwards to what I said: the intent of your words is most important. And we are mostly smart enough to gauge that, whether or not it is stated explicitly.

    • Good and Valid points, Gurdas..
      But I still would refrain from generalizing anything..
      So even if “… temples were looted my muslim invaders because they were Hindu temples, then it is okay to say who did what and why.”, it still doesn’t change the fact that it was just one person (or maybe a small group) who did it and that one person (or group) can’t speak for the entire community… For me, it is no different from your second example: “if someone robs a house and it is found the robber is a muslim, then it is not fair to mention his religion”

  5. I would say people generally with such perceptions would be speaking out of ignorance. Sadly, there are many who love to generalize. I remember the movie “My Name is Khan” , where the protagonist wanted to convey a message on similar lines to people across borders.

    • Yeah.. and I believe it is not so easy to fight them.. they always have some ‘logical’ explanation or the other..

      Reminds me of a conversation with a hindu fanatic during a train journey from Delhi to Bangalore. She tried to convince me that the Babri masjid demolition was a reaction to mass hindu massacre in UP which has been a big state secret.. This lady was some political leader (BJP), based in UP (dont remember her name now)

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