Hindu Dharma has always welcomed debates, exchange of ideas and emergence of new sampradayas (community/sect/denomination) that have co-existed in harmony. However, while earlier we had a network of well-grounded Dharmic institutions and gurus, scholars who acted as a sort of filter to assess the teachings and philosophy of new gurus, that system has been systematically degraded during colonial rule and even more so under the hostile gaze of the ‘secular’ state.
Hence, we have seen the emergence of a variety of new-age gurus and babas, each with varying degrees of authenticity and intentions. While many of these new-age gurus are doing good work in upliftment of Hindu masses (especially the confused urban crowd) , and while most of them maintain better moral and ethical standards compared to the religious hierarchies and clergy of foreign religions, it is still important to point out certain flaws in their teachings.
In this article, we share a thread by a non-Bharatiya Hindu practitioner, @English_bahen, which provides a fresh perspective on how some teachings and actions of new-age gurus can have unintended consequences due to a desire to gain more ‘secular’ acceptance :
The 5-star Gurus are doing more damage than good to Hindu Dharma. As a white Hindu, I can tell that many Bharatiya Hindus don’t realise that the excuses that they give for these 5-star Gurus for saying things like “Yoga is not Hindu” is borne out of colonial education system. I can show how illogical these excuses are.
Claim 1: Saying Yoga is not religious or Hindu is the only way to attract westerners.
It is not so. Westerners like strength, clarity, labels. I feel proud when I tell other westerners that I am Hindu. They respect me and it drives their curiosity. They’d snigger if I said I am into “mysticism”
When speaking English, it is dangerous to say that Yoga isn’t Hindu. Imagine I am harassed for doing Pranayam in a park. The courts hear 5-star Gurus saying Pranayama isn’t Hindu. Then Pranayama isn’t a protected characteristic and no crime has taken place! That’s Hindu cultural genocide.
Claim 2: Westerners aren’t interested in Shaastras
No! I’m well-connected with westerners who proudly say they’ve converted to Hindu Dharma. Most of us were attracted because of the Shaastras. For me, it was the focus of the Shaastras on Dharma – fighting for righteousness.
Denying westerners the Shaastras and focusing only on Asanas and Pranayama means that they only experience physical and mental benefits. Result is that all they “know” about Hindu Dharma is its caste system. And as long as they have a Yoga mat under their arm, they’ll tolerate Bharat for a few weeks.
Claim 3: Hindu Gurus speaking about Jesus, Quran helps convert Christians/ Muslims to Hindu Dharma
Nothing is more off-putting than hearing Neo-Gurus praise other religions. When you’re seeking an alternative to Christianity/ Islam, the last thing you want to hear about is Jesus/Quran.
Praising Jesus/Quran aids conversion of Hindus to Christianity/Islam. My research found that when Neo-Gurus celebrate Christmas, say Mahashivratri is not Hindu, etc., their social media comments are bombarded by Christians and Muslims using it as an opportunity to preach from Bible/Quran.
It is because of this nonsense that I have “Hindu” in-law family who say their Ishta Dev is baby Jesus! Hindu Dharma has so many Devas, Devis, Rishis, Acharyas. Aren’t they good enough? Why praise people who believed Moorti worship, reincarnation, etc., will send you to hell?
Why is it so important to attract westerners, Christians, Muslims in the first place? Is it worth alienating 1.3bn Hindus from Hindu Dharma, watering down their beliefs and losing them to Abrahamic faiths in order to attract white skin and Abrahamics? Aren’t Hindus good enough?
Claim 4: Watering down Hindu Dharma is only way to appeal to dhimmified Hindus
Watering down Hindu Dharma causes dhimmification. When Neo-Gurus post about Christmas 5 times, Dhimmies will expect them to post about it 6 times next year. And they will. This will lead to incremental dhimmification.
I admire 5-star Gurus for how accessible their materials are, how organized and professional their events are but I love Hindu Dharma and Bharat. I worry about its survival too much not to speak out when their strategies cause damage. These 5-star Gurus must take corrective actions.