I have been wondering why India's Hindu party combines religious fundamentalism with nationalism, free market economics and hatred of special programs for disenfranchised minorities, just like many American Republicans.
Is this just a reaction to the self-proclaimed international left, which sought to create atheistic socialism around the world? Or is there more to it?
Aatish Taseer ponders another part of this conundrum in a Times Op-Ed:
When I was in Sri Lanka in 2013, the Bodu Bala Sena, a radical Buddhist nationalist group, had conjured up a prudish Buddha who scolded young girls about their clothes and told them what time they should be home at night. In reality, the Buddha, like many Eastern thinkers, was generally reticent on the subject of sexual morality. Sex concerned him only to the extent that it interfered with men realizing the fullness of their spiritual lives.The belief that Hinduism was sexually puritanical until corrupted by outsiders, which is widespread among Hindu nationalists, is downright weird. Of course I recognize that the western fascination with the Kama Sutra et al. probably exaggerates the sexuality of traditional Indian culture, and ancient India no doubt had its puritans. But as Taseer says, ancient Indian art of all kinds was full of sex.
Similarly, in India, a breach has appeared between a sensuous and liberal past and an ugly, puritanical present. In my daily reading of Sanskrit poetry, there are women with disheveled hair, half-open eyes and cheeks covered in sweat from the exertion of coitus. But turn on the television and the minister of culture, who says that the Hindu holy books are ideal texts for teaching moral values, informs modern Indians that “girls wanting a night out” may be all right elsewhere, but it is “not part of Indian culture.” (He seeks to cleanse Indian culture of the pollution of the West, but if it’s sex the minister worries about, he’ll have to cleanse Indian culture of itself. No one did it better than ancient India.)
But somehow in India a longing for "traditional religion" has become allied to a drive for sexual purity. It seems that in the modern world those things just go together, whether that makes any historical sense or not.