Saturday, January 21, 2012

Some Don'ts regarding the Hindu Manifesto.

After the article (see here) in DNA published last year, which has been removed from the DNA site in a cowardly fashion, there has been a renewed discussion about Hindutva. As we have always maintained, Hindutva of the Sangh Parivar has been a somewhat flawed concept. Now we have the Hindutva notion of Shri Subramanian Swamy. In his talks he has been speaking about Hindu Values. In fact his point that those denying their Hindu ancestry must be disenfranchised drew a lot of fume and smoke from the bleeding heart Secularists. Shri Rajiv Malhotra has also been in news for his new book titled Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism. Shri S N Balagangadhara has also been working on his research programmes: Comparative Science of Cultures, and Rethinking Religion in India.

In this context, we quote from an anecdote in which a traditional Brahamana was lamenting with his teacher that he was being looked down upon by his other Brahmin colleagues who obtained Secular English Education and were making more money. His teacher, a great wise man replied: "If they look down upon you, why don't you also look down upon them for having become 'Secularised'?" The questioner was totally stymied. The wise teacher continued: "Someone looks down upon you because you too look down upon yourself." The incident is narrated in this book.

So Shri Subramanian Swamy points out that we need not be defensive or apologetic about Hindutva. Shri Rajiv Malhotra points out that the West has been looking at us through its own glass, and we need not look at ourselves through their eyes. Rather, we can look at the West with Hindu eyes and form our own assessment. Shri Balagangadhara too emphasizes that if the West thinks about us in terms of Indology, then we too must form a subject called Westology and look at the West.

All these are bold and welcome suggestions. These remind us that we need to be Confident of our own being and heritage. This is a very very important point and must be the foundation on which we build our world view.

However, this post is to be about don'ts! So let us return to the topic.

There are many things in our tradition which we do not appreciate well yet and there are some whose current practices are somewhat questionable. The most commonly cited examples are casteism, and supposedly wasteful practices during Hindu Festivals. We do not know about others but Shri Swamy seems to be in favor of abolition of caste. His point is that caste is not a Hindu concept, rather a Portuguese concept and word. His view on Varna and Jati are not so well known to us, but he seems to have hinted that we should stop identifying ourselves with Varnas and rather identify ourselves with being a Hindu. This again is a commendable point but is somewhat inappropriately put.

We believe that Varna system came about as a consequence in Social life of the Spiritual Truths discovered by the Rishis of Sanatana Dharma. Thus, if there are any flaws in the current practices, the solution is not the abolition of the concept of Varna system, rather a rediscovery of the system. And once we energize the channels of dissemination for Spiritual Truths, necessary and appropriate Social Truths will be rediscovered as well. As Swami Vivekananda once pointed out: India's life line is in religion and philosophy, intensify her in these channels and the rest will take care of itself. Thus when any attempt to reform the Society is undertaken, the focus should be on regeneration from the fundamental principles of Sanatana Dharma.

As we have mentioned in one of our earlier posts that Sanatana Dharma is inherently universal. We need not do anything further to accommodate anyone. We are open to all, but those who wish to be away, we need not make any extra concessions to accommodate them. Rather, we must strengthen ourselves. The social evils of current practices in caste system can not be wished away by wishing away Varna. They can be properly and comprehensively handled only by the rediscovery of the healthy and vibrant Varna system which we will spontaneously rediscover. Until then we can exercise circumspection but surely must not resort to condemnation.

In summary, a few of the things we Hindus must guard against is:

1. Being apologetic about idol-worship.

2. Being apologetic about Varnashrama.

3. Being apologetic about Hindu Festivals. For example, Bali or sacrificial practices. Or for that matter, being apologetic about vegetarianism.

4. Being apologetic about defending our rights to be who and what we are.


Similarly we must also not fall prey to subversive ideas like

1. Non-discrimination as the highest principle in Social and Political life.

2. Mohandasian non-violence as the defining feature of Hinduism.

3. Equality before the law. (We will write more in some future post to explain our position on this.)

4. That Parliamentary Democracy is the best suited for us.

5. Infallibility of our current Constitution.


We welcome readers' comments and additions to these points.

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