21 September 2007

Hindu Rashtra - 5

Why India Is A Hindu Rashtra


"Why make such a fuss over this issue? Why not just maintain a polite silence? All this talk of Hindu rashtra may offend some people. Why is it so important that we openly proclaim this truth?" Because identity matters. It is important to know who we are and where we come from. Every individual is special. Who you are is your unique gift to society. What is true for individuals is also true for civilisations. Every civilisation has something to give to the world - which it can give only if it knows its true nature. A civilisation that loses its sense of identity is of no use to the world.

Yes, we should be welcoming and hospitable to others. But you can be welcoming and hospitable only if you have a house of your own. Identity is that house. Gandhiji said, "Keep your doors and windows open. Let the winds come in from all over the world. But do not be blown off your feet." Note that he said, "Keep your doors and windows open". He did not say, "Break your walls down". Just as we need four walls and a roof to protect us from heat, cold and rain, we need an identity to survive in the real world, in the world of culture and politics.

"Who am I?" is the most fundamental question a human being faces. Our civilisation gives us the answer to this question at two levels: the ultimate and the immediate. The answer at the ultimate level is "I am Brahman". And the answer at the immediate level is "I am a Hindu".


20 September 2007

Hindu Rashtra - 4

Why India Is A Hindu Rashtra


The case is overwhelming. Yet secularists refuse to accept the obvious truth. What could be behind this cussedness? A desire to be broad minded, open, universal and tolerant? But those are exactly the values Hinduism stands for! There is no contradiction between asserting India’s Hinduness and wanting India to continue as a tolerant, pluralist society.

Secularists say declaring India a Hindu country would undermine the secular nature of our Constitution. They don't see that a secular state is perfectly consistent with Hinduism. In Hindu India the state was always secular; there was never such a thing as a Hindu state. Whichever sect a king belonged to, all his subjects had complete freedom of belief and worship. He did not discriminate among his subjects based on their sects; all subjects were equal; all sects were respected. Thus when the founding fathers of our Republic made India a secular state, they were not importing anything from the West (never mind what Nehru thought). They were merely staying true to Hindu tradition. Incidentally the Constitution did not originally contain the word 'secular'. The founding fathers saw no need for it. A secular state was a given. It needed a cynical politician like Indira Gandhi to insert the word into the Preamble. How unnecessary!

Secularists say declaring India a Hindu country would pave the way for a Hindu theocracy. A Hindu theocracy is not possible because Hinduism is not an organised religion. Secularists are unwilling to admit that Hinduism - with its tolerance and catholicity - is responsible for India being a multi-religious country today. If India is a vibrant, pluralistic democracy, it is mainly because of its Hindu majority. Thus accepting India’s Hinduness will only strengthen, not weaken, our secular polity.

19 September 2007

Hindu Rashtra - 3

Why India Is A Hindu Rashtra


India is the oldest surviving civilisation in the world. The older civilisations (Sumer and Egypt) vanished long ago. Many younger civilisations (Greece, Rome, Persia, etc) also arose and fell. But India is still standing after 5000 years - despite being subject to countless invasions, conquests and long periods of foreign rule. How is this possible? How can a nation survive such severe trials? What gave it the strength to go on through its dark periods? What held it together through all the ups and downs of history? The answer is Sanatana Dharma.

Secularists say there was no India before 1947. They say the British made us a nation. I repeat: our nation is first and foremost a cultural entity. India may not have seen much political unity in its long history, but there was no lack of cultural unity. This land bound by the seas, the Himalayas and the Indus was one cultural unit. Its people may have followed different sects and worshipped different gods, but they all shared certain common core beliefs (such as karma and moksha). Irrespective of where they lived, they made pilgrimages to holy places scattered all over the country. The great epics were treasured in every home across the length and breadth of the land. It is not a coincidence that Shankara set up his four mutts in the four corners of India.

Thus it is Hinduism that binds this country. Secularists talk only about India's (and Hinduism's) diversity. They do not see the unity underlying this diversity. What unites us is much more than what (apparently) divides us. They say Hinduism is just one of the many religions in India. They are wrong; it is the first among equals. They say India is a salad bowl and Hinduism just one of the ingredients in the bowl. They are wrong; Hinduism is the bowl.

18 September 2007

Hindu Rashtra - 2

Why India Is A Hindu Rashtra


A nation is defined by its culture. Secularists want us to believe that a piece of land + some people + some laws are enough to make a nation. This is a dry and lifeless idea of nationhood. It is incapable of inspiring love, loyalty, pride and a sense of belonging - all of which make life meaningful and give us a reason to sacrifice for the common good.

A nation is above all a cultural entity. This is especially true of India. And Indian culture is basically Hindu culture. This is reflected in our greatest achievements in art, architecture and literature. The Vedas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the great temples of South India, the plays of Kalidasa (the list is endless) - which are the wonder of the world - are all essentially Hindu. It is also reflected in the lives of the greatest men produced by this land. From Buddha and Shankara down to Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi, they are all known primarily for their contribution to Hindu thought and their upholding of Hindu values.

True, other religions have also made their contributions. Islam, for instance, has given us the Taj Mahal and Hindustani classical music, among other things. But these achievements were the result of foreign cultures mixing with the foundational culture, like rivers merging with the mighty ocean. And there can be no doubt what that foundational culture is. Secularists talk about composite culture. They refuse to recognise that we have a composite culture today precisely because of Hinduism's tolerant and assimilative nature. Honesty lies in giving credit where it is due.

17 September 2007

Hindu Rashtra - 1

(This is the first post in a five-part series)

Why India Is A Hindu Rashtra

Secularists just don't get it. They are simply not willing to admit that India is a Hindu country. The point is so obvious that one doesn't know where to begin 'proving' it.


Firstly, it's a matter of simple numbers. India is 80.5% Hindu. Muslims and Christians are 13.4% and 2.3% respectively. That alone should be enough to clinch the case. But there is more.


Throughout India’s history, Hinduism has been the land’s dominant tradition. In fact, for a long time it was the only tradition.

India's history began with the Indus Valley Civilisation (3000 BC – 1700 BC). Elements from this civilisation were absorbed into the way of life that developed during the Vedic Period (1500 BC – 500 BC), forming what we today know as Hinduism.

The first alien faith (Christianity) arrived in India only in 50 AD, when we had been a purely Hindu civilisation for 3000 years! (And how much headway was made by this faith can be judged by the fact that after 2000 years of missionary activity and 200 years of European rule, it is still a mere 2% of the population) The second alien faith (Islam) arrived in India in 712 AD. So Islam has been in the subcontinent for only 1300 out of 5000 years of our history.

Secularists disagree with the above argument, saying that India was a "multi-religious" civilisation long before Christianity and Islam arrived. They point to Jainism and Buddhism. What they don't realise is that Jainism and Buddhism are not separate religions. These are just two of the many schools of thought (or 'sects') within Hinduism. Mahavira and Buddha did not teach anything fundamentally different from the Vedas. Their revolt was against the empty ritualism and ill practices that Vedic religion had degenerated into, not against the Vedas themselves. With their emphasis on concepts like satya and ahimsa - which are what the Vedas also teach - they succeeded in restoring Sanatana Dharma to its true spirit (A similar revival can be seen in the Upanishads during the same period, albeit at the intellectual level). The teachings of Guru Nanak 2000 years later should also be seen in the same light. Thus Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism are just different streams (and such beautiful streams!) flowing into the great river of Sanatana Dharma. Yet secularists like Amartya Sen insist on saying that Ashoka, arguably India's greatest ruler, was "a Buddhist, not a Hindu".

13 September 2007

Scientific Temper?

The UPA government has stated in an affidavit to the Supreme Court that Rama did not exist and the events in the Ramayana never occurred. Its argument is that there is no historical evidence for the same. Fine. The next time a case concerning Islam comes up, I would like to hear the UPA say, "There is no evidence to prove that Allah revealed the Quran to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. Going strictly by historical evidence, the Quran was written by Muhammad himself." And when a case concerning Christianity comes up, I would like to hear the UPA say, "There is no evidence to prove that Jesus was the son of God, born to the virgin Mary. Going strictly by historical evidence, Jesus was the son of Joseph, and Mary was not a virgin."

Seriously, what are the chances of this happening? The truth is that 'secular' parties take Hindus for granted and consider Hinduism a soft target. In this country 'secularism' in practice means 'anti-Hinduism'.

07 September 2007

The Politics Of God

There was this brilliant article* on secularism, religion and politics. In it the author tries to understand Islamic extremism - its absolute refusal to separate religion and politics - by looking at Christianity's own history. He notes that separation of church and state in the West is itself a relatively recent phenomenon, and is still an experiment.

For more than a thousand years religion and politics went together in the Christian world too. Then the Reformation happened, dividing Europe into Protestant north and Catholic south. The next century and a half saw the two sects busy killing each other (the French Wars of Religion, the Thirty Years' War in Germany, the English Civil War, etc). Finally they realised this madness had to stop, otherwise there wouldn't be any Christian left alive. Thus was born "The Great Separation". And the man who led them on this path was Thomas Hobbes, with his 1651 work Leviathan.

[I had always thought that the father of Western secularism was Machiavelli - the first European thinker to offer an amoral (not immoral) view of politics. Hobbes I knew mainly in a negative light, for his advocacy of despotism and criticism of democracy. So this article was news to me.]

The article is written in a completely Western context, talking only about the three Semitic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. That is understandable - the author is a Westerner (and a Christian) and the hot issue facing the world today is radical Islam. However it would be interesting for us to ponder over what all this means in the context of Hinduism.

(*Unfortunately the article is no longer available for free at the original site. You can try accessing it here.)