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October - November 2008
Can the resurgent Hinduism be labelled ‘laboratory of hate’?
The last two months have beeen traumatic for the followers of ancient ‘sanatan Dharma’ in India. Commonly called ‘The Hindus, the followers of the ancient Indian philosphy have been berated and branded as communal simply because they have started raising their voice for justice in their own country where they happen to be in a majority despite centuries of serfdom forced on them by the invaders from the Middle East and the West.
Today, the distortion of truth by Indian media and some members of government at the Centre is breathtaking and shocking.
I happened to read an article by one of India’s highly respected jouranlist Mr Kuldip Nayar (Deccan Herald Sep 12 2008). It left me numb for a few moments followed by anguish at the distortion of facts and half-truths put forward as arguments by this well-known journalist of India. If that is what the so-called secular Hindus think of the recent events in India then Hindus in India are almost moribund. They have had their day. As a religion, Hinduism in India is waiting to have its last rites performed by a combination of Maoists, Mujahidins and evangelical christian missionaries forces.
In his aforementioned article, Kuldip Nayar says that “The disconcerting aspect of Indian society is that tolerance and the spirit of accommodation are wearing thin.” And he blames the Hindus for this lack of tolerance. What happened in Orissa (the death of Hindu mahant, Swami Laxmanadanda Saraswati) was not such a crime that should have made Hindus attack churches and evangelical christians missionaries, according to Kuldip Nayar, were there to provide good education to the poor! But then, I ask Mr Nayar, what else were Swamiji and his followers doing for the last 20 years if not providing education to the poor.. Something really sinister!! They were, after all, providing education based on Hindu philosophy. And is that a crime?
Here is another example of distortion in Kuldip Nayar’s article. “The Central government too”, says this sage of the Indian media, “has done very little to guarantee the christians their constitutional rights.” According to Mr Nayar, the Orissa government led by Naveen Pathak has failed, “in its constitutional obligation to protect the minorites”, and hence should have been dismissed by the Central government.
Has the Government of Orissa not failed to protect the so-called majority ie Hindus? The 80-year old religious leader and educationist was mercilessly killed together with some of his followers. But to Mr Kuldip Nayar that is of little importance. Perhaps, Kuldip Nayar thinks there are far too many Hindus in India. A few can easily be dispensed with to prove that India is protecting its minorities at the cost of its majority; proving India to be a pluralistic society.
We can understand when Kuldip Nayar objects to nuclear deal with the United States or the economic reforms India is pursuing at a rapid pace. He is very emphatic on one aspect: ie; “the measures for enforcing secularism should be implemented.” According to him it means, “Religion will not be allowed to play a part in civil affairs.”
Kuldip Nayar perhaps does not agree with the principles of religion followed by Mahatma Gandhi in his political life. To Hindus, Dharma rather than religion is the right word given to the set of principles which guide them in their daily life. Hinduism, by its nature and philosophy, is a pluralistic religion. ‘Dharma’ to Hindus is individual as well as collective. To lead one’s life guided by ‘Dharma’ is the very essence of one’s character and is the touchstone by which one is known in civic life. The religion that teaches love, truth and non-violence can never be the ‘laboratory of hate’. as dubbed by Kuldip Nayar in his article.
The Hindus are now learning to stand up for justice and Dharma. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, they fought the mighty empire of Britain and won. The worm is turning. More appropriately, the elephant has awakened after centuries of slumber. In Jammu & Kashmir, the ordinary Hindus, peaceful and docile as ever, could not stand the resistance of Kashmiri Muslims, their fellow citizens from the same State, on the transfer of a few hundred acre of land for the benefit of pilgrims to the Amar Nath Shrine. They protested in large number but peacefully; and at last awakened the people of India to the injustice being perpetrated on Hindus in one of the States of India.
In Karnataka, Orissa and West Bengal, evangelical christian missionaries, loaded with money from the West are converting Hindus to christianity by false propaganda, coercion, cajolement and monetary hand-outs. The governemnts of states and the Centre are afraid of taking any action lest they be accused of harassing minorities. Similar incidents are happening in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where the Muslim missionaries with the help of foreign funds are opening ‘madarsaas’, the recruiting grounds of so-called Mujahidins. The perpetrators of bomb-blasts in various cities of India remain unpunished because it may upset the minorities. Then there are Maoists in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhatisgarh who are kidnapping small children from villages and training them in guerilla warfare against the democratic Government of India.
The present government at the Centre is frightened to take action lest it may be accused of persecuting the minorities. The majority, i.e the Hindus have it in their DNA to remain timid and docile. So, they do not matter.
People of Jammu, Orissa and Karnataka have shown that devotion to their religion does not mean that they will tolerate injustice for ever. The young man from Karnataka (a follower of Bajrang Dal) admitted on a TV channel that they are protesting against the devious means by which christian missionaries are converting poor and backward Hindus. He is not a terrorist. Nor is he against christians.
Hinduism, to give a simple analogy, is like an elephant, with all its bulging power, it is lazy and docile. Once provoked, it may go on to destroy its enemies. Hinduism, like an elephant, is also, much maligned and misunderstood, especially by people with no vision or intellect. As a blind person can touch only a part of elephant and then make his guess about what this creature is. People with inner vision and intellect can only understand the philosophy that is the foundation of Hinduism. In their deeds and rituals there is always love of nature, love of God and love of mankind. If India survives as a democratic and pluralistic nation it will only be because its denizens live a life of devotion to God, love for humanity and respect for neighbours. They may belong to any denominational religion but so long as they remain faithful to their ‘dharma’, follow the path of righteousness, they are basically following the principles of Hindu India.
The following verses from the Bhagvad Gita
‘Yada yada dharmasey glani bhaviti bharta...(whenever righteousness declines and unrighteousness predominates, I incarnate. In visual form I appear from age to age to protect the virtuous and to destroy evildoing in order to reestablish righteousness ‘dharma’)
summarises and enables them to accept all prophets and ‘sons’ of God who have taken birth since Lord Krishna gave His message to Arjuna.
I conclude with the words of George Bernard Shaw: “The apparent multiplication of gods is bewildering at the first glance, but you soon discover that they are all the same God. There is always one uttermost God, who defies personification.This makes Hinduism the most tolerant religion in the world, because its one transcendent God includes all possible gods. In fact, Hinduism is so elastic, and so subtle, that the most profound methodist and crudest idolaters are equally at home in it.”