Sunday, September 13, 2015

Indian Scholar Who Criticized Worship of Idols Is Killed - The New York Times

An Indian scholar whose criticism of idol worship had angered religious groups was fatally shot Sunday, the police said.

The killing of the scholar, Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi, drew immediate comparisons to the 2013 murder of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, who spent decades debunking gurus, sorcerers, healers and godmen.

Two men entered the home of Mr. Kalburgi on Sunday morning, opened fire and fled on a motorcycle, according to Ravindra Prasad, the police commissioner in Dharwad, a town in the state of Karnataka in southern India.

A neighbor, Nagaraj Tigade, said he helped take Mr. Kalburgi, 77, to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead.
The police said they did not yet know the motive behind the killing. “Right now there is no breakthrough,” Mr. Prasad said.

Mr. Kalburgi, who taught classes in the Kannada language at Kannada University in northern Karnataka and was a former vice chancellor of the university, became the target of protests and threats last year, when he spoke out against idol worship and superstition at a public event.

A religious activist filed a complaint in June of last year accusing him of “offending religious sentiments,” according to Hindustan Times.

Indian Scholar Who Criticized Worship of Idols Is Killed - The New York Times

See also:
Who killed Dr Malleshappa Kalburgi?
Many believe Dr Kalburgi made many enemies within his own Lingayat community - an influential Hindu sect that dominates life and politics in Karnataka - with his outspoken remarks about its traditional beliefs and practices.
As Raghu Karnad writes perceptively in The Wire website, Dr Kalburgi's murder may have more to do with the "fine rivalries and high political stakes within Lingayat caste politics".

Dr Kalburgi was a scholar of the vachana verses, the founding literature of the Lingayats. Vachanas are like daily rituals, helping people to lead their daily lives.

He had "frequently riled the Lingayat orthodoxy" with his interpretation of the verses and had received death threats from conservative members of his community.
"What Dr Kalburgi was giving was a liberal interpretation of the verses, which was more cosmopolitan and modern in its approach", says an expert. This, writes Karnad, had "implications not only for the theology of the Lingayat establishment, but for its enormous political and financial power".
Former Karnatak University vice-chancellor M M Kalaburgi, who had run-ins with hardliners, shot

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