Monday, February 20, 2012

History, Culture and Sanatana Dharma

There are various religions in the world and they have associated cultures. They have their history and their historical figures. Be it Judaism, be it Buddhism, or be it even Marxism, each of them have their history. And in Sanatana Dharma as well we have the "history" and "culture". We, as Hindus, are as much proud of our history and culture as many others. But then what is our distinguishing feature?

There are many evangelical religions, and many of them have wrecked havoc in the world. It might not be too inaccurate to state that the history of evangelism is soaked in blood of millions. We often hear that Sanatana Dharma too spread across the globe, how was it different?

First and foremost we need to appreciate that history is important. To forget history is to be condemned by history. Then why is it the case that most evangelical religions like Christianity and Islam and anti-religions like Marxism strive to destroy the history of their converts while spreading the message?

In our opinion, this is so because the understanding and wisdom in these systems are not history transcending and culture transcending. If someone someday proved, for example, that St. Paul is not a historic person, what would happen to the Church? If someone someday questioned the historicity of the Buddha what would happen to Buddhism? Please observe that many people many a time question the historicity of Bhagwan Ram and Bhagwan Krishna, however Sanatana Dharma never feels threatened! And that's not because Hindus do not know them to be historical personalities, rather it's because Hindus also know them to be history-transcending personalities.

Secondly, it is also important not to be a prisoner to history. History is a particular sequence of events as Culture may be a particular set of working hypotheses. However, please note what happens to the notion of understanding. Understanding, has to be event-sequence independent and working-hypotheses-set independent to be eternal and universal, that is to be Time-less and Space-less. At the same time, it must not conflict with particular sequences of events and sets of working hypotheses. Once we have such an Understanding (or System of Understanding), it is not only universal, more over it can also spread without having to destroy any particular history or culture, further it will rather assimilate diverse histories and cultures and fulfill them.

So on one hand, a Particularist Civilization, can not but destroy histories and cultures as it spreads while remaining hostage to the danger of historical revision. This is also the reason why many religions destroy all books and monuments of the conquered people and remain perpetually scared of inquiry. On the other hand, Sanatana Dharma assimilates histories and cultures of peoples who come into its fold while imparting them with its own history transcending and culture transcending understanding.

This is why, many belief systems force slavery to particular kinds of uniformization, standardization and homogenization. While Sanatana Dharma not merely assimilates, but rather gives freedom for multiplicity, variety and diversity.

This throws up an interesting possibility. Any honest revision of history will strengthen Sanatana Dharma wherever it may be. This is why we recommend that we must encourage people to investigate their cultural roots and history. Whether in Arabia or Iran, whether in Americas or Europe, we must encourage the peoples to investigate their history and cultural roots. This revision will not alter or destroy their history or roots, rather this will fulfill them. At the same time, beware of those who destroy and alter your history, for they not only destroy your history and culture, they also destroy your potential to attain Understanding.

Welcome to the doors of Understanding of Sanatana Dharma.

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