In the recent years, organized Hindu groups have been trying to thwart any attack on Hindus and Hindu Dharma through agitations, demonstrations, and boycott calls. Be it the case of Islamic terrorism, cow slaughter, a Bollywood movie hurting Hindu sentiments, painting or any other piece of art aiming to denigrate Hindus. Many considered PK movie offensive and recently there was a call to boycott Ae dil hai mushkil as it featured Pakistani actors. Despite high decibel protests, both PK and Ae dil hai mushkil did good business.
Hindu groups protesting events that project Hindu culture and symbols in bad light is an encouraging sign as it shows that there is a rise in the level of awareness about Hindu identity. However, the repeated failures of the above-mentioned methods prove that these are sentimental knee-jerk reactions. It also proves the fact that majority of Hindus are unmindful of the various threats posed to the community. Many of us might be wondering why there is no unified response from the Hindu community on issues that have a bearing on their future if left unchecked. If we examine closely, we will realize that many Hindus are culturally alienated today. They place a high value on anything that is foreign and deride anything that is native. And this process of abandoning Hindu culture for foreign culture started in medieval times as soon as Hindus encountered Islam.
Today’s Hindus are not only westernized, but also Islamicized to a large extend. Our dress, food, language, system of education, all is western. Then how can we take pride in our society and culture? An average Hindu must first shed cultural alienation and start realizing the worth of Hindu culture. After all, how can we expect an average Hindu to respond to a sudden boycott call when he has not responded to a rousing call to Hindu nation penned down several years ago.
Boycotting Pakistani artists, actors, and cricketers is OK, but what about our own politicians, media persons, academicians, bureaucrats, and other elites who are guilty of riding roughshod over Hindus. In every sphere of life, we can find people parroting the anti-Hindu script, hence the need to overhaul every facet of our life.
Before we undertake any exercise to revive Hindu Dharma, it is important to know how things have come to such a pass. Preachers of monotheistic religions have used every trick in the book to convert Hindus to their fold. They have not shied away from using physical force, monetary force, spreading falsehoods, and attacking Hindu practices to seek converts. Unfortunately, our immediate ancestors never challenged the principles of Monotheistic religions. The very few who stood up to the challenge, played by the rules set by the opponents.
Independent Bharat that came into being after partition never bothered to correct the excesses against Hindus. Instead, it continued with the old ways of humiliating Hindus. The levers of power and media were and are still grabbed by people who have contempt for Hindu Dharma. The advent of Internet and other social media has provided Hindus another opportunity to present their view of Dharma. It is high time, we use all that is within our power and at our disposal to bust the lies, and highlight the strengths of Hindu Dharma and weaknesses of monotheistic religions.
It is an exercise to be undertaken by scholars, but ordinary Hindus can also play a part in shaping the future. If one applies the mind, one can easily put up a strong defense of Hindu society.
Christians and Muslims accuse Hindus of being worshippers of multiple-gods. These people make fun of 33 crore deities and say that they believe in only one God. A usual response from Hindus is that we too believe in only one God and these are minor deities. The better response for such attacks would be: Show us the proof that God is one? A belief in multiple gods makes one tolerant. Having multiple choices of worship results in a better relationship between the God and supplicant. Monotheism is akin to Monopoly where power is concentrated in the hands of a single entity that manipulates at will and sells whatever it wants without any accountability. Polytheism on the other hand offer a choice to devotees and thereby offers a better end-product for devotees customized as per their nature.
Similarly, one can argue that idols harm none, but a formless God that commands believers to smash heads of non-believers does great harm to humanity.
It is a common sight to see Muslims engaged in businesses in and around different Hindu pilgrimage sites. Not only they have free access to our holiest shrines, they control some of the affairs related to the pilgrimage and earn their livelihood. Pony owners, craftsmen operating in the holy towns of Katra and Haridwar are some examples. One can also see Muslims selling flowers outside famous temples. Believers in monotheistic religions do not and will not allow Hindus to do the same. Muslims do not even allow Hindus to visit Mecca or Medina. If ever they would make such a concession, it would be on the condition of conversion.
One of the emerging trends across the country is the mushrooming of Peer babas (Muslim shrines). Most of these Peer Babas, dargahs, and other Muslim shrines are carefully being built adjacent to the famous Hindu temples. One must note that a vast number of Hindus visit these famous temples and make contributions in cash and kind. By carefully establishing dargahs near famous temples, Muslims are ensuring that they receive a part of the donation from Hindus. They have succeeded in their design as one can see Hindus donating generously to Muslim shrines. What sort of a syncretic tradition is this in which Hindus pay respect to dead Muslim foreign saints while Muslims refuse to reciprocate? Why this one-sided traffic?
One must also note that the revenue earned by the state wakf boards who oversee the management of Muslim shrines use the funds collected from donations for the welfare of Muslims only. On the contrary, donations made to famous temples are now utilized by state governments for the welfare of all.
Those of us who eat Halal meat instead of Jhatka give weird justifications such as Halal is good for health, it tastes better etc. Not going into the merits and demerits of Halal vs Jhatka, it is important for Hindus to realize that Halal is a Muslim way of slaughtering which is preceded by reciting Koranic verses.
Many Hindus invite Muslims to perform in marriages, wear Pathan suits instead of traditional Kurtas. Some wear Karakul caps instead of traditional Pagris. So, we are abandoning everything that is our own – Gods, saints, artists – and experimenting with foreign.
So consciously or unconsciously we are closing economic avenues for Hindus, making Muslims prosper at the expense of Hindus, and then curse them when something goes wrong. It seems our foolishness knows no bounds. The usual refrain among Hindus is to lay all the blame on politicians who don’t allow Hindus to unite. But there is no use of such complaints when we ourselves too are guilty of not equipping our children with sound values. So, why not start the process of revival at home.
So, what is it that the Hindu tradition must adjust? As Western world-view is obsolete, I think we need not to make ourselves adaptable with Western values. Instead, we need to shed years of self-delusion of cultural synthesis.
Contemporary thinkers do not, apart from a few exceptions, concern themselves with these questions. Aurobindo Ghosh realized several years ago that the spiritual rebirth of Bharat came absolutely before everything else, including political freedom. The Hindu political parties are very much aware that the real challenge to tradition is from false synthesis ideology and vague secularism. Yet, they choose to remain silent and do not take an independent stand on issues that affect Hindu Dharma.
A lot of groundwork needs to be done within the community before any sort of call evokes a unified response from the community.
(This is the first article in a 3-part series on the challenges facing a potential Hindu resurgence. Part 2, Part 3)
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Sateek Prabuddha article.
Very good article. A colleague of mine used to eat Halal food only (she was a Hindu). I asked her why, and she came up with the most bizarre reasons including “in Halal, animal feels no pain” (!). I explained that it is just the opposite—animal is slaughtered slowly and most cruelly, all the while it begs for its life. Jhatka is at least more humane in that animal is put out of its misery quickly.