Hindu Dharma is greatly admired by Thai Government.
Dharma is ordering principle
Dharma in action
Sanatana Dharma (eternal ordering principle``) Samanya Dharma (common) Visesha Dharma (special) Varnashrama Dharma or Kula dharma (kula and social order)
Svadharma (Dharmacarth = dharma carati = nature (Thai) ; svadharma = responsibility, according to one’s nature.) Yuga Dharma (the age or period in history) Manava Dharma (human)
Raja Dharma (king) Pravritti Dharma (outer -- worldly life) Nivritti Dharma (inner -- spiritual life)
Dharma, two facets: social, personal
Social (abhyudaya): Ramo vigrahavan dharmah (R. Bala. 1.21.10)
dhr.tam (Atharva Veda)
‘Globe upheld by Dharma’ Metaphor of Varaha: Mahakuta, Deccan, 7th cent.
Dharma is NOT religion
Dharma: abhyudaya (social), nihs’reyas (atman)
Kanada of Vais’es.ika:
Atha_to dharma vya_khya_sya_mah Yatobhyudaya nihs’reyasa siddhih sa dharmah Vais’es.ika Sutra 1.11-.2
Maha_na_rayan.opanis.ad (Section 79.7) declares thus:
dharmo vis'vasya jagatah pratis.t.ha_ loke dharmis.t.ha praja_ upasarpanti dharmen.a pa_pamapanudati dharme sarvam pratis.thitam tasma_ddharmam paramam vadanti Dharma constitutes the foundation of all affairs in the world. People respect those who adhere to Dharma. Dharma insulates (man) against sinful thoughts. Everything in this world is founded on Dharma. Dharma, therefore, is considered supreme.
Dharma is that which exalts and bestows the Supreme Good or Absolute Bliss (cessation of pain).
"That which leads to the attainment of Abhyudaya (prosperity in this world) and Nihsreyasa (total cessation of pain and attainment of eternal bliss hereafter) is Dharma".
Pravritti-Nivritti In Patanjali Yoga Su_tra 3.13 three aspects of change are identified:
transformation of a thing (dharmi) into a property (dharma), transformation of a property into a mark (laks.an.a), and the transformation of a mark into a condition (avastha_).
This is then the basis of the “unreasonable effectiveness” of mathematics in the description of the world.
Change applies both to physical substance (bhuta) and to the senses (indriya),i.e.,to sensations.
Pravritti = social action (trivarga: dharma, artha ka_ma == righteousness, prosperity, desire) Nivritti = inward contemplation
Rishi Narayana: purusha sukta
Purusha as a metaphor of universal yajna,
tri_n.i pada_ vi cakrame vis.n.ur gopa_ ada_bhyah ato dharma_n.i dha_rayan RV1.022.18 [r.s.i: medha_tithi ka_n.va; devata_: vis.n.u] Vis.n.u, the preserver, the uninjurable, stepped three steps, upholding thereby righteous
acts. [gopa_, sarvasya jagato raks.akah: the preserver of all the worlds; the principal attribute of Vis.n.u].
The Rishi Narayana has described Pravritti. Upon that rests the whole manifest
universe with its mobile ji_va and immobile dha_tu, phenomena. Nivritti leads
to the unmanifest and eternal Brahma. MBh. Book 12 S’anti Parva. Moks.a dharma parva
Padma Purana : Dharma proceeds from ten facets: continence, truthfulness, austerity, charity, self-control, forbearance, purity, non-violence, serenity and non-thieving
Social action, Personal knowledge
Addressing his father, Suka said: The declaration of the Vedas are twofold. They once lay down the command, "Do all acts." They also indicate the reverse saying, "Give up acts." Where do persons go by the aid of Knowledge and where by the aid of Acts? Indeed, these declarations about knowledge and acts are dissimilar and even contradictory. I desire to hear this. Do tell me this.
Vyasa said: I shall expound to thee the two paths, viz., the destructible and the indestructible, depending respectively upon acts and knowledge. Listen with concentrated attention, O child, to me, as I tell thee the place that is reached by one with the aid of knowledge, and that other place which is reached with the aid of acts. The difference between these two places, is as great as the limitless sky. These are the two paths upon which the Vedas are established; the duties indicated by Pravritti, and those based on Nivritti. Mahabharata Santi Parva, Section CCXLI Tr. Kisari Mohan Ganguli
"In this world there is a two fold path; the path of knowledge of the Sankhyas and the path of action of the Yogis." --"The Vedic dharma (religion) is verily two-fold, characterised by Pravritti (social action) and Nivritti (inward contemplation), designed to promote order in the world; this twofold dharma has in view the true social welfare and spiritual emancipation of all beings." – Adi S’ankara (Gita Bhashyam)
nihs’reyas = highest perfection of life, absolute good, eternal spiritual welfare, spiritual fulfillment, liberation; synonym: moks.a, freedom from suffering.
Kaus’itaki brahmana Upanishad uses the term nihs’reyas in the context of a_tman.
II-13. Now, with reference to the Self II-14. Now, next, the assumption of superior excellence. Nihsreyasâdâna (the accepting of the pre-eminence of prâna (breath or life) by the other divinities). cf. Âsvalâyana Grihya-sûtras I, 13, 7.
Dharma as a principle of motion, of tradition (parampara): jaina, bauddha continuum
In the Jaina thought, dharma and adharma are defined as the principle of motion and principle of rest. The two phenomena are said to pervade the whole of loka-a_ka_s’a; they are subtle; movement is associated with either a ji_va or pudgala (being sakriya dravyas); the movement is dependent upon the presence of dharma.
Dharma dravya makes movement possible; an analogy is provided by fish swimming, while swimming is impossible without the presence of water.
Adharma dravya enables a moving object, living or non-living to come to rest. The analogy is of a bird coming to a stop by ceasing to beat its wings; this is contingent upon the bird ceasing to fly perching on a tree branch or on the ground. The two principles, dharma and adharma account for the definite structure of the world. So, too, ka_la is a dravya. [cf. S.K. Chatterji et al. (eds.), 1937, The Cultural Heritage of India, Vol. I, Calcutta, Ramakrishna Mission, p. 425].
In the Buddhist thought: anussava itiha-itiha-parampara_-pit.aka-sampada_ dhamma – a system of moral discipline which is based upon customs, usages, or traditions handed down from time immemorial. (Majjhima-nika_ya, I.520).
Impossibility of revolution under law: Rama Janma Bhoomi Mandiram
Idea of legal history
In 1888, in his Inaugural Lecture as Downing Professor at Cambridge University, Maitland raised the question ‘why the history of English law is not written.’ His answer was, first, ‘because of the traditional isolation of the study of English law from every other study,’ and second, because ‘history involves comparison and the English lawyer who knew nothing and cared nothing for any system but his own hadly came in sight of the idea of legal history’. ‘One of the causes why so little has been done for our medieval law,’ he added, ‘is, I feel sure, our very complete and traditional consecrated ignorance of French and German law. English lawyers have for the last six centuries exaggerated the uniqueness of our legal history…I know just enough to say this with confidence, that there are great masses of medieval law very comparable with our own’. (Harold Joseph Berman, 1983, Law and Revolutio, Harvard University Press) The central thesis of Berman’s book is that the papal revolution in Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries set a pattern of canon law which was later repeated.
The situation about the history of law of Hindusthan is little different.
Liberman can’t be faulted for what he has produced. He has been trained under the Roman jurisprudence just that, a string of evidences.
Unfortunately, Liberman, you have missed the central point. Here was a nation in search of methods to affirm her identity and the actions of the active revolutionaries cannot be straight-jacketed as a legal evidentiary documentation.
Temple for dharma
You may have known and may possibly also have mentioned in your Commission’s report after 17 years of inquiry that people called Sri Rama, vigrahavan dharmah (quote from Valmiki) meaning: personification of dharma.
It is too deep for tears, Liberman that you have been roped in by the politicos to indulge in quasi-judicing in a situation which cannot be remedied through Law.
Law and Revolution are antithetical, in a way. It is impossible to revolt under law as it has evolved. Revolution by its very nature has to be outside of the judicial system.
This is precisely what had happened during the events your commission’s report sought to inquire into and collect evidence.
A spiritual movement cannot be compiled as an evidence dossier, Liberman. It has only to be experienced. It is your good fortune that you got immersed for 17 years in many facets of this spiritual movement. I am sure you have grasped the essence of what it was all about. It was a desire by many people to have a shrine for their beloved Sri Rama who had given them their identity, Liberman. You might also have read an article which appeared in Marathi by Prof. Mehendale who cited evidence from an 8th century puranam which gave three routes from three different directions, to reach the janmabhoomi, Ayodhya, of Sri Rama.
Sure, law books will be thrown at me to say that the movement should have been ‘legally’ conducted. But, the problem is, legality if a papal canon and not a spiritual understanding of Hindusthan. I don’t want so far as to say that ‘law is an ass’ which can only bray and is incapable of the cry of revolt. But I will say this. This revolt will NOT go away.
As I read about your report, I have to underscore the impossibility of revolution under law; Rama Janma Bhoomi Mandiram has to exist in a dharma nation, Liberman. If you have not recommended it (or if it was not within the terms of your reference), we can only note that it is a pity that law has lost yet another opportunity.
There lies the rub, Liberman, the satyam. Let me also add that a temple for dharma has to exist in the land that many rishis and muni walked. Gautama, the Buddha had also noted about this: esha dhammo sanantano, this dharma eternal
KalyanaramanDefining Hindu religion and its social order
By Ram Gopal (March 2008)
On March 20, 2007, the Allahabad High Court, (Justice S.N. Srivastava) made the following observation on a petition filed by one Phool Chand Yadav: “The questions needing consideration are, what the definition of religion is? Whether Hindus are members of one religion or a combination of various religious groups born and brought up in India from time to time… There are Buddhists, Jains, Arya-Samajis, Brahmo Samajis, Lingayats, Shakts, followers of ISKCON, Sikhs, Kabir-panthis and also many other groups”. Justice Srivastava further made an important observation, “Religious groups born and brought up in India, if taken separately might be treated as minorities in comparison to Muslims, whose population in Uttar Pradesh was 18.6 per cent.
(2) Meaning of the term ‘Hindu’ – ‘Hindu’ or ‘Hindi’ is the name by which people of Bharat, that is India, were known to the Persians and Arabs since time immemorial, long before they came to rule over India. In the pre-Islamic Arabic and Persian literature, the words ‘Hind’ or ‘Hindustan’ for Bharat and ‘Hindi’ or ‘Hindu’ for her natives were used frequently with reverence. There were close and cordial cultural relations between the Sanskrit speaking people of Bharat and the Arabic or Persian speaking nations of Arabia, West and Central Asia. Incidentally, the word ‘Hindu’ also got entry in a few Sanskrit works of 8th to 10th centuries AD. Therefore, the words Hindu, Hindi and Hindustan have a national and geographical connotation. When Arab, Turk and Mughal rulers became masters of Bharat, that is Hindustan, and Persian was made its official language for about 600 years, the words ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hindustan’ became house-hold. While these foreign rulers proudly called themselves “Shahenshah-e-Hindustan” (emperors of Bharat), those who resisted or fought against them were called Hindus.
When a substantial number of Hindu natives got converted to Mohammedanism (Islam) and became one with the foreign rulers, the word ‘Hindu’ got a religious connotation, a bad name. All the Hindu religious orders, namely, Vedic, non-Vedic, Shaiva, Shakta, Vaishnava, Jain, Bouddh, including their variants, were grouped into one as ‘Hindu Dharma’ or ‘Hindu religion’ and subjected to a special poll tax, called jizia. Thus, Hindu Dharma is a generic term for all India-born religious orders, a commonwealth of all India-based religions.
(3) What is religion? – The Chambers Dictionary of English language defines religion as “belief in, recognition of or an awakened sense of a higher unseen controlling power or powers, with the emotion and morality connected with such; rites or worship; any system of such belief or worship; devoted fidelity; monastic life; a monastic order”. Some one has summed it up as “a package of spiritual philosophy, rites and way of worship, a code of individual and social conduct among its adherents”. It is this part of Hindu Dharma with which we are presently concerned.
It is correct that Hindu Dharma, that is, Sanatan Dharma or Vedic Dharma, is a very wide term, which includes every aspect of human life, namely, spirituality (adhyatma), social order, polity, economics, health, rights and duties of the king and the subjects, (Raj Dharma), ethics, et al. At the moment, the attempt is to define Hindu religion in the context of spirituality and its social order applicable to adherents of Hindu religion, throughout the globe.
(4) Savarkar’s definition of a ‘Hindu’ – A good number of friends has suggested acceptance of Veer Savarkar’s definition of a ‘Hindu’. Savarkar was a great scholar, a greater patriot and a great freedom fighter. In the historical background, stated earlier, and Hindustan’s freedom struggle against the colonial rule of the British, he defined a Hindu in the sense of a national of Hindu Rashtra or Hindu State. His Sanskrit shloka reads: “Aasindhu-Sindhu paryanta yasya Bharat-bhumika/ Pitribhu punyabhushchaiva sarve Hinduriti smritah”, (All those who look upon the whole of Bharat, stretching from the Sindhus – the Sindhu and the Brahmaputra rivers – to the seas as their fatherland and holy land are Hindus). It did not refer to religion, because a nation can consist of people of different faiths. What we need now is a definition of Hindu religion and Hindu religionist which can be applied even to a Hindu religionist having become a national of the USA, the UK or any other country.
(5) The existing legal definition – After the Partition of 1947 and transfer of political power of Hindu India to the Congress, its first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru rushed to codify Hindu personal laws in the form of a Hindu Code Bill. Faced with practical difficulties, he divided it into four parts and got them passed as Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; Hindu Succession Act, 1956; Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956; Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. They define a Hindu by religion as follows:
(a) Any person who is a Hindu, Jain, Sikh or Buddhist by religion, i.e. Hindu by religion, (including converts);
(b) Any person who is born of Hindu parents, (viz., when both the parents or one of them is a Hindu, Jain, Sikh or Buddhist by religion), i.e. Hindu by birth;
(c) Any person who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew.
A position that ‘any one who is not a Muslim, a Christian, a Parsi or a Jew is a Hindu’ is ridiculous. It has often been interpreted to mean that persons, who do not follow any religion or even Hindu apostates, are also Hindus. Actual intention of the makers of Hindu laws was that such of the persons who are not covered by any existing personal law shall also be governed by Hindu law, because the term ‘Hindu’ by religion had remained undefined. Even before 1955, there were persons who could hardly be called Hindus by religion, yet Hindu law applied to them. That is why a negative definition of a Hindu was introduced, namely, a person who had no religion was also deemed to be a Hindu.
(6) Need for a positive definition of Hindu religion
During the past few decades, physical, ideological; and intellectual attacks on Hindus and Hindu religion have increased manifold throughout the world. Before any concrete preventive and curative action is taken it is necessary to state the precise parameters of Hindu religion, i.e., define Hindu religion in positive terms, to know what constitutes violation, attack or transgression of Hindu religion and where or how to defend it. It is also necessary to distinguish Hindu religion from other religions, especially, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. In the absence of a clear definition, it is not possible to identify Hindu apostates, invaders from outside or traitors within. At the moment, such apostates and traitors within are causing the greatest harm. On many important occasions, such apostates, holding high offices, become spokesmen and interpreters of Hindu religion, Hindu philosophy. They are the people who recently recommended Bharat Ratna , India ’s highest civilian award, to a criminal painter, M.F. Husain. Let such non-Hindus or even anti-Hindus be governed by Hindu laws in courts of law in their personal matters, like, marriage divorce, inheritance, etc., but they should have no business to be spokesmen of Hindu religion. Besides, a clear definition would enable the lay Hindu and Hindu society to guard against fake Swamis, Babas, Bhagwans, and Mahants and remove harmful weeds.
In this context, it will be useful to refer to what the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the former Chief Justice of India, Shri Gajendragadkar, observed in Shastri Versus Muldas, 1966 SCC 1119, and SCR 1966(3) 263:
“Beneath the diversity of philosophic thoughts, concepts and ideas expressed by Hindu philosophers who started different philosophical schools, lay certain broad concepts which can be treated as basic. The first among these basic concepts is the acceptance of the Vedas as the highest authority in religious and philosophical matters. This concept necessarily implies that all the systems claim to have drawn their principles from a reservoir of thoughts enshrined in the Vedas… The other basic concept, which is common to six systems of Hindu philosophy, is that all of them accept this view of the great world rhythm. Vast periods of creation, maintenance and dissolution follow each other in endless succession… It may also be said that all the systems of Hindu philosophy believe in rebirth and pre-existence”.
The Chief Justice Gajendragadkar also quoted with approval the following passage from Lokmamnya Tilak’s “Gita Rahasya” –
“Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence, recognition of the fact that means or ways of salvation are diverse and realization of the truth that number of gods (devatas) to be worshipped is large, that indeed is the distinguishing feature of Hindu religion”.
The main difficulty in giving a positive definition of Hindu religion arises because, unlike Christianity, Mohammedanism and others, Hindu religion does not have a single prophet or a single book of revelation, the reason being that Hindu religion is a commonwealth of various India-born religious philosophies, like, pure Vedic, Vaishnava, Shaiva, and Shakta, with all their variants, which claim their origin to holy Vedas and even some others who claim their origin to non-Vedic sources, like, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, which claim their origin to their respective founders, namely Gautam Buddh, Lord Mahavir, and Guru Nanak, respectively. Nevertheless, most scholars hold that their religious philosophies too conform to the teachings of the holy Vedas , the Darshan Shastras, (like, Sankhya, Vaisheshika, Nyaya & Yoga), Upanishadas and Bhagvatgeeta. Incidentally, the Arya Samajis vehemently oppose the idea that they are a separate sect or religion. They hold that their mission, as founded by Rishi (Swami) Dayanand Saraswati, (19th century), is to revive the original Vedic Dharma in its prestine form, not to start a new sect.
For ease of understanding, various Hindu sects can be classified into the following five categories:
(a) Sects which emerged up to the Mahabharata period, mentioned in the Bhagvatgeeta itself, namely, Gyan Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, (Nishkam) Karmayoga, Hath-Yoga, (propounded by Mahrishi Patanjali):
(b) Sects which emerged with Jainism and Buddhism, after 5th century BC.
(c) Sects which emerged after Pauranic literature and inception of worship through the medium of a murty/image/pratika.
(d) Sects which emerged during Islamic rule, for example, Sikhism, Kabirpanth and numerous other Bhakti cults, throughout India.
(e) Sects which emerged during the British Raj and after, for example, Brahmo Samaj, Rama Krishna Mission, Arya Samaj, Radhaswami sect, Nirankari sect, ISKCON, Sain Cult, et al.
All these sects carry impressions of the political turmoil and social upheavals of their respective periods, religious and cultural intermingling of races coming to India as refugees, invaders or traders, mutual conflicts and coalitions. These sects developed their own books of religion, mostly after their founders. For example, Vedantis have their founder in Adi Shankaracharya and their holy book is the Brahmasutra (Vedanta), based on Shankaracharya’s commentary on Uttar Meemamsa of Mahrishi Ved Vyas. Sects which came up with the Pauranic age, (5th century AD and onwards), like Shaiva has its holy books, ‘Linga Purana, Shiva Mahapurana and the Shaiva Agamas, glorifying Shiva. Vaishnava has Srimadbhagwat and Vaishnava Agamas, glorifying Vishnu as the Supreme God. Shakta sect, which prescribes worship of God in the form of Mother, has Devi Bhagvat and a number of books on Tantra. (Tantrism has been dealt with later under a separate head). Buddhism, founded by Lord Buddha, has its Tripitakas – Sutta Pitak, Dhamma Pitak, Vinay Pitak. Jainism, founded by Lord Mahavir, has its own over 40 Aagamas. Sikhisim has its Guru Granth Sahib, so on and so forth. Many sects which emerged during the Mohammedan rule and even thereafter, have a distinct Sufi influence, that is, overemphasis on Guru (Pir, Murshid) and an attempt to lay common ground between India-born religions and Mohammedanism of Arab origin.
All these branches of Hindu religion can be grouped into two broad streams. Firstly, those which believe in one Almighty, Multifaced, Omnipotent, Omnipresent God (Parameshwara or Parmatman), the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. They lay stress on His worship through Bhakti (Devotion) or performance of certain rites propounded by their Gurus or priests to invoke His Kripa. Secondly, those who do not bother about the nature or meaning of God (Parmeshwara) and stress on self-emancipation, doing tapas (penance) and pursuit of knowledge, as the means of attaining Moksha/Mukti or Nirvana. Significantly, the simplest and the best definition of ‘Dharma’ is the one propounded by the Vaisheshik Darshan, (1/12): “Yatoabhyudaya-nihshreyasa-siddhi sa Dharma”, (That knowledge and practice by which one makes progress in this world and gets moksha/mukti/nirvana after death). Here, there is no direct reference to God or Godhood.
Based on the holy Vedas, Hindu religion has six schools of philosophy, (Shad-Darshanas or Shastras). Of them, Sankhya Darshan, (of Sage Kapil), Vaisheshic, (of Sage Kanada), and Nyaya, (of Sage Gautam), lay stress on the path of Jnyan and tapas. These are also the foundation of Buddhism and Jainism. Many western scholars have termed these three Shastras as propounding non-God religion. So, for them, Buddhism and Jainism are non-God religions and hence non-Vedic. This theory is flawed, simply because all the six Shastras claim their origin and authority from the Vedas. So, Hindu religion is a commonwealth of all India born religious orders and a Hindu by religion is one who follows any of them.
(7) The Definition
After going through various Hindu scriptures, old and new sayings of great authorities, (like Lokmanya Tilak, Aurobindo Ghose, great Vedic scholar Swami Dayanand Saraswati of the 19th century, et al, and observations of the Supreme Court), the following elements have emerged as the essential common features of all the spiritual philosophies, within the commonwealth of Hindu religion:
i) Faith in the existence of one omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent universal God (Parmeshwara) and His multiple manifestations.
ii) Reverence to holy Vedas.
iii) Immortality and transmigration of soul, according to one’s ‘Karma’, (deeds or misdeeds).
iv) While ‘Swarga’ (Heaven) is desirable, Moksha/Mukti/Nirvana, meaning, liberation from all kinds of pain and sorrow – physical, mental and spiritual, is the ultimate goal of human life.
v) There are more than one way of worship and to attain Mokha/Mukti/Nirvana.
vi) Renunciation, not accumulation of wealth, helping the poor, rendering service to the needy, and doing one’s duty faithfully, are guiding principles of human life.
vii) Protection of cow progeny and abstinence from cow-meat.
Besides the above, non-violence, regard for all living beings, including trees, plants, and rivers, are distinguishing features of Hindu culture or Hindu way of life. The first Hindu law maker, Maharaj Manu has indicated four parameters of a religious life, namely, it should be in conformity with (1) the principles laid down in the Vedas, (2) the code of conduct prescribed by the Smritis, (3) ethical values, and, (4) where one has a choice between two or more alternatives, one that may be more satisfying, (Manu.2/12). In the event of a conflict between the Vedas and the Smritis, Manu has ordained to follow the Vedas, (Manu.2/13). He has also indicated ten signs of an ideal human life, namely, Dhriti (patience, calmness); Kshama (forgiveness); Dama (endurance); Shaucham (piety); Indriya-nigrah (control over senses); Dhi (wisdom); Vidya (knowledge); Satyam (truthfulness); Akrodha (control over anger), Manu.6/92. Later seers added non-violence as the 11th sign. With slight changes, these signs have been adopted by all sects of Hindu religion. Jainism and Buddhism lay special emphasis on non-violence. Also, each Hindu sect has developed its own code of religious conduct, way of worship, a set of does and don’ts, rites and rituals. Their core points are, however, similar, with small variance in details.
Consequent to the above, a person who does not believe in Parameshwara, does not revere the holy Vedas, does not believe in immortality, transmigration of soul and Moksha/Mukti/Nirvana, or does not abstain from eating or selling cow meat, is not a Hindu by religion, even though may be a subject of Hindu laws in courts or a member of the Hindu nation/a citizen of a Hindu State.
(7-A) - Hindu Sanskars (Rites or Purification ceremonies)
In addition, Dharma Shastras prescribe 16 main rites or ceremonies, called ‘Sanskars’ to be observed by Hindu house holders (Grihasthas). Now these are observed in slightly different ways in different parts of India and abroad. Some are more important in one part while some others are more important in others. Their names and significance are explained in Appendix “A”.
(8) Panch Mahayajna (5 important Yajnas) – Transliteration of ‘Yajna’ in English as ‘Sacrifice’ is not only wrong, but utterly misleading. ‘Yajna’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘yajan’ and means a sublime act of offerings or action with a view to invoking some Devi or Devata for the benefit of self, family, or humanity at large. In Vedic mantras, Yajna is also a Devata. [Incidentally, some of the Devatas named in the holy Vedas, e.g., Indra, Agni, Vayu, Vaat, Surya, are also, at times, indicators of Parmeshwara (God). More about Devatas in para. (10)]. The five important Yajnas to be performed daily by all grihasthas (householders) are (1) Brahma yajna, (2) Deva yajna. (3) Pitri yajna, (4) Balivaishvadeva or Bhoota yajna, (5) Atithi yajna.
Brahma yajna, also called Rishi yajna, (Manu.4/21), means prayers in the morning and evening and study of religious books. Deva yajna means performance of Vedic havan by lighting the sacred fire, burning fragrant herbs and chanting Vedic mantras in the name of various devatas. This should be done both morning and evening, along with prayers, already stated. However, if it is not practicable for any reasons, it ought to be done once a day, a week, a fortnight or a month. Balivaishvadeva or Bhoota yajna means feeding animals, (like, cows, bulls, etc.), birds, fish, etc., who need it. Pitriyajana means looking after and caring parents, teachers, sages and other elderly persons in the family. Atithi-yajna, also called Nri-yajna, (Manu.3/70), means welcoming and serving unexpected guests and men of learning with food, shelter, etc.
In addition, there are many optional yajnas for different occasions and different purposes, according to need, local custom or tradition.
(9) Caste (Varna) system - Let it be clear that Varna (Caste) system is not an essential part of Hindu religion, as often presented. It is a social order and a kind of division of labour in an organized society. Varna system, as envisaged by the holy Vedas is not to be birth based. There are numerous instances in the Mahabharata and earlier Hindu texts, (like the Upanishads), to prove it. The Purush Sukta of the Rigveda, (10-90-1/16, repeated in the Yajurveda, 31/1-22) has been misinterpreted in the post-Mahabharata period to support a birth based Varna system. A reading of the Purush Sukta, (consisting of 16 Mantras), as a whole would reveal that it has personified the Vedic society as an everlasting human organisation, a limb of Parmeshwara, the Controller of the Universe. The question arose, “What is his face, what are his arms, what are his thighs & legs, (“Mukhamkimasya, kau baahu…”). The answer given in the next Mantra is that “Brahmins (the learned ones and teachers) are his face, Kshatriyas (the rulers and soldiers) are his arms, the Vaishyas (the farmers & traders) are his thighs, and the Shudras (service personnel) are his legs. Except in a rare situation, how can one limb of a living body be superior or untouchable to others? Conforming to the above Vedic concept, Lord Krishna says in the Geeta, chap.4/13), “Chaturvarnyam maya srishtam gunkarma-vibhagshah”, (I am the creator of the fourfold human society according to aptitude and profession). There is no reference to birth, either in the Rigveda or the Geeta. Also, the words “Chaturvarnyam” and “Srishtam” are singular numbers, which testify that the four Varnas together constitute one singular society. Such a professional classification of people is universal. Notwithstanding this Varna system, Lord Krishna placed the entire humanity in only two categories, (Geeta, chap.9/12-13), namely, those possessing Asuri (Satanic) nature and those possessing Daivic (godly) nature. Enemies of Hindus, Hindu religion and Hindustan have, for centuries, tried to project different Varnas (Castes) as antagonistic and mutually at war.
The question of Panchama, (Fifth) – From time to time, the Marxists and other Hindu baiters make a very damaging statement that Shudras or the Dalits (SCs) don’t form part of the Hindu four-fold Varna system, and are placed in a separate category of “Panchama”. This is absurd and baseless. Nowhere, Hindu scriptures make mention of “Panchama”. The Manusmriti, (10/4), “Brahmanah, Kshatriyo Vaishyastrayo Varna dwijaatayah/ Chaturth ekjatistu Shudro na-asti tu panchamah”, (Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya, these three, (by virtue of Sanskars), are called twice born, while Shudra, (for lack of Sanskars), merely born as a human being, is the fourth one: there is no fifth).
(10) Devatas (gods) - Translation of the Sanskrit word “Devatas” as Gods or gods has caused immense confusion and loss. Briefly, “God” in English is what “Parmeshwar” or “Paramatma” is in Sanskrit and other Indian languages. Occasionally, “Devata” has been used for “Parmasehwar” in the holy Vedas and the Upanishads. A distinction between the two terms became difficult after the Pauranic age, (broadly, since the beginning of the Christian era).
In Vedic sense, “Devata” means one who provides, one who lights and one who gives knowledge, (“Devodanaadva, deepanaadva, dyotnaadva, dyusthano bhavateeti va”, Nirukta, chap. 7/Part.15). Vedic texts enumerate 33 Devatas, namely, 8 Vasus, (Fire, Earth, Sun, Air, Varun, Cosmos, Moon and Stars); 11 Rudras, (Soul and ten other body systems, which hold human body alive and whose departure leaves the body dead, causing pain and sorrow and so ‘Rudra’); 12 Adityas, (twelve months of the year), one Indra (symbolizing electric power) and one Prajapati (Yajna). To these were later added Mother, Father, Teacher and unexpected Guest, (“Matridevo bhava, Pitridevo bhava, Aacharyadeo bhava, Atithidevo bhava…”). It needs to be understood that Devatas owe their power to Parmeshwara, while Parmeshwara Himself is self effulgent. (This para. on Devatas is based on Swami (Rishi) Dayanand’s Rigvedaadibhashya Bhumika).
During Pauranic age, the number of Devatas was said to be 33 crore (330 million). In my view, (subject to correction), the Sanskrit word 33 koti meaning 33 kinds were interpreted to mean 33 crore, because the word “koti” means kind and also the numerical figure “crore” (10 million). During that period, even the total human population of undivided India was far less than this huge number of 33 crore. That apart, the recognized essential Devatas to be worshipped were reduced to five, Panchdevas – (1) Vishnu (and his Avatars, like, Shri Ram, Shri Krishna, Narsimha, and so on); (2) Shiva (Rudra); (3) Shakti (Durga, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Kali, Prithvi, Parvati); (4) Surya (Bhaskar, Aaditya, Pushan, Savitri); (5) Ganesh (Ganapati, Vinayak).
Controversy about Nirguna Upasana, (worshipping God without any murty/pratika/image) and Saguna Upasana (worship through a murty/pratika/deity) is separately dealt with in Appendix ‘D’
(11) Food - There is no hard and fast rule about food. Vegetarianism has been applauded throughout. There are guidelines for avoiding ‘Rajasik and Tamasic food items, treating cow a mother, and protecting her progeny. Hence, protection of cow and abstinence from cow meat has been included in the essentials of Hindu religion. This is the only outward sign of a Hindu religionist.
More about it in Appendix ‘B’.
(12) Meaning of various ways to Parameshwara, Moksha or Nirvan - It is true that, unlike Christianity, Islam and others, Hindu religion recognizes various ways to reach God or attain salvation, (like Jnyan-yoga, Bhakti-yoga, Karma-yoga, Nirguna Upasana, Saguna Upasana), but there can be only one way for an individual to tread, at a time, while respecting other modes. One who claims or prêtends to follow all religions or tread every path to Parmeshwara must be a fool or a cheat. Further, the most important part on the way to spirituality, according to Hindu religion, is “Aachar” (conduct) of the individual, not learning. It is often re-iterated that “Aacharheenan na punanti Vedah”, (the scriptures do not sanctify or condone a characterless person).
Incidentally, the Muslims, though a minority in India, got their strength to forcefully raise their demand for Partition and Pakistan in 1940, only after the passing of their Shariat Act 1937, which required every Muslim to follow only the tenets of Quranic order and forced them to shed all traces of their traditional Hindu customs and practices. Ahmediyas and some other Muslim sections, like the Khojas and Memons, who had been deviating from the Quranic injunctions in personal matters, got expelled from the Muslim fold. It did not, in any way, reduce the striking or multiplying power of the Muslims. It does not mean that Hindus should blindly copy the Muslims. But, there are certain universal fundamental principles or rules of an organized society which must be followed for self-preservation and for an orderly growth of the society. Too much of individual liberty leads to anarchy.
(13) Conclusion - All this debate is unending. Once ‘Hindu religion’ is properly defined and approved at all India level by an apex Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, hardly any sect within the pale of Hindu religion will talk of separation. Till that time, every sect is bound to seek separate recognition and higher placement. When roots and trunk of a tree get decaying, the leaves start falling apart. Defining Hindu religion is, however, impossible without active participation of Hindu Dharma Acharyas. Heads and executives of at least all those Hindu religious sects in India and abroad, who trace their origin from the holy Vedas, Upanishads or Shastras should work for it and ensure formation of an all India, (or global), Hindu religious & Social Order organization, which should work as a parliament of Hindu religion and personal law. It must also be kept in mind that “nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome” It may be that certain sects, to keep their independence intact, may not join today but will surely come around once a body like Hindu religious parliament takes a concrete shape.
Note: Separate papers/notes are under preparation on ‘Differences between Hindu religion and Abrahaminic religions (Christiniaty and Islam)’, ‘Description and respective importance of Hindu scriptures’, and will be provided on demand.
Appendix “A” Sanskars
Appendix ‘B’ Prohibition of cow meat in Hindu religion
Appendix‘C’ Some important questions regarding the nature of Hindu religion, what falls within the ambit of the commonwealth of Hindu religion and what not.
Appendix ‘D’ Saguna Upasana, popularly called, Idol (murty, deity, pratika) worship
Appendix “A” Sanskars
In addition to basic or essential ingredients of Hindu Religion, the Dharma Shastras prescribe 16 main rites or ceremonies, called ‘Sanskars’ to be observed by all Hindu house holders. These are (1) Garbhadhan (conception); (2) Punsavan (rite to get a male child, performed during 3rd month of pregnancy); (3) Seemantonnayana (rite to keep the pregnant woman happy and to protect the embryo, done in the fourth month of pregnancy); (4) Jatakarma (Birth/natal ceremony); (5) Naamkaran (Naming the new born child); (6) Nishkraman (First outing of he baby); (7) Anna Prashan (First cereal feed); (8) Chuda-Karma (Shaving head & nails); (9) Karna-bheda (Piercing ears); (10) Vidya-arambh (Starting elementary education, between 4-7 years age); (11) Upanayan or Janeyoo (Thread ceremony, initiation to regular schooling and to life of Brahmacharya, done between 8-12 years age, but earlier for better results, and in any case before marriage, because, without it the incumbent would be treated as fallen, say Shudra); (12) Veda-adhyan (Study of the scriptures); (13) Samavartan (Farewell to Gurukul, i.e., educational institution); (14) Vivah sanskar (Marriage); (15) Griha-ashram Sanskar (Initiation to family life, imparting rules of family life, Panch Mahayajna, etc.); (16) Anteyashti Sanskar (funeral ceremony). There also some other Sanskars, (ceremonies), of entering Vanaprastha Ashram (Semi-ascetic life) and Sanyas Ashram (Ascetic life) for those who opt for it. There is the well known maxim, “Janmana jayate Shudrah, sanskarat dwijamuchyate”, Skand Puran, Nagar Khand, chap.37/39, (By birth, every one is a Shudra; it is through Sanskars, (purification ceremonies), that one gets a second birth, as a real human being. With this standard, most of the so-called upper caste Hindus would fall in the category of ‘Shudra’.
(9) More about marriage and procreation – The increasing incidents of failure of marriages and children going astray in Hindu homes, especially after the reins of power passed to anti-religion (pervert secularist) hands in 1947, is largely due to lack of knowledge of the importance of Vivah (Marriage) and related Sanskars. I, therefore, take the liberty of quoting from Dr. Paras Diwan’s famous law book, “Modern Hindu Law”, Allahabad Law Agency, 1979 edition, to briefly show the importance of the institution of marriage in Hindu Dharma.
“Marriage as a Sacrament - Probably, no other people have endeavoured to idealize the institution of marriage as the Hindus have done. Even in the patriarchal society of the Rig-Vedic Hindus, marriage was considered as a sacramental union. And, it continued to be so in the entire Hindu period, and even in our contemporary world, most Hindus regard their marriage as a sacrament. We find the following passage in the Manu Smriti: ‘I hold your hand for Saubhagya (good luck) that you may grow old with your husband, you are given to me by the just, the creator, the wise and by the learned people’. x x x x
“According to the Rig Veda: ‘Be thou mother of heroic children, devoted to the gods, be thou Queen in thy father-in-law’s household. May all gods unite the hearts of us two into one’.
“Wife is also ardhangini (half of man). According to the Satpatha Brahmana, ‘Wife is verily the half of the husband’. Man is only half, not complete until he marries. The Taittiriya Samhita is to the same effect, ‘half is she of the husband that is wife’. From this notion of unity of personality of husband and wife, mutual fidelity of husband and wife is implied. Manu declared that Mutual fidelity between husband and wife is the highest dharma. Manu further said that once a man and a woman are united in marriage they must see that there are no differences between them, and that they remain faithful to each other”.
“Thus, Hindus conceived of marriage as a sacramental union, as a holy union. This implies several things. First, the marriage between man and woman is of religious or holy character and not a contractual union. For a Hindu, marriage is obligatory, for begetting on, for discharging his debt to his ancestors and for performing religious and spiritual duties. Wife is not merely a grihapatni but also dharmapatni and sahadharmini”.
The above said religious concept of marriage is the genesis of Garbhadan Sanskar. Accordingly, pregnancy (conception) is not incidental to or a by-product of sexual gratification. It is a sublime conscious effort. It also means that sex without Sanskar is animality, unbecoming of a civilized person. Conforming to this ideal, Manu says, “Prajanartham mahabhagah poojarha grihdeeptayah/ Striyah shriyashcha geheshu na vishesho-asti kashchana, Manu/IX/26, (O, wise men, women deserve veneration and adoration, because it is they who beget you sons and daughters, who light your homes and who indeed are Laxmi (wealth), good luck and spelendour of your house; a home is no home without women).
[Unfortunately, these days, professional priests, films and TV serial makers have made a mockery of Hindu marriage rite or ceremony. I never find them telling the significance of this most important ‘Sanskar’, the meaning of ‘Saptapadi’, which contains seven sacred promises made by the bride and the groom to each other. By and large, marriage has turned into more of a commercial venture than a meaningful Sanskar. It is necessary to standardize and simplify Hindu marriage rites and ceremonies. The priest should suitably explain their meanings and importance in vernacular to the would be wife and husband]
Prohibition of cow meat in Hindu religion
Irrespective of the modern controversy whether the Vedic people ate cow meat or not, the fact is that at least for the past 1500 years, eating cow meat has been a great sin among Hindu religionists. During the entire over one thousand years of Muslim rule and the British rule, Hindus protested and fought for banning slaughter of cows. There is historical evidence that during the whole Mughal period, even the lowest classes of Hindus and Rajputs ate all kinds of meat, but strictly abstained from cow meat. Hence, only protection of cow and abstinence from cow meat has been included in the essential ingredients of Hindu religion. Cow progeny is the backbone of Indian agriculture and village culture. The Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda is dependent on cow-milk, products of cow-milk and cow-urine.
A good number of our friends suggested that vegetarianism is an essential feature of Hindu religion, while some others said that there was no prohibition in Hindu scriptures against meat eating. We were, however, unable to find any specific prohibition or hard and fast rule against eating animal meat in ancient Hindu scriptures, although vegetarianism has been lauded throughout. Incidentally, ‘mans’ in Sanskrit also means fruit pulp. The appropriate meaning should be inferred with reference to the context. The Geeta and other religious texts have classified food into three categories, namely, (1) Satvic (tending to promote saintly nature), Rajsic (tending to promote passion and earthly attributes), and Tamsic (tending to promote evil or lowly tendencies). Likewise, human activities or efforts are categorized as Satvic, Rajsic, or Tamsic. Vegetarian food is undoubtedly best suited to seekers of higher levels of spirituality. Hence, Brahmins are expected to always take Satvic, say vegetarian food. Rajpurusha, the Kshatriyas have to undertake various kinds of mundane duties, including waging war, in tough and taxing situations. So, Rajsic food (inducing violent behaviour), which includes animal meat (except cow meat) and even liquor is allowed for them. Tamsik food (inducing evil thoughts), which consists of base material, intoxicants, stale or contaminated food articles, must be discarded by all. Regarding actual food habits during the medieval period, there is a well researched and referenced book, “Food and Drinks in Mughal India”, by Dr. Satya Prakash Sangar, M.A. Ph.D, ex-Prof. of History, Ujjain University, published in 1999, by the Reliance Publishing House, Ranjit Nagar, New Delhi – 110008. It says:
“The Rajputs in general were fond of fish and flesh of goats, besides chicken. They did not mind taking hog’s flesh. They regarded it, however, as an ‘unpardonable offence’ to kill a cow or eat beef or veal. Careri (a European historian), avers that they abstained from the use both of beef and pork. He found those belonging to the Prabhu, (some low castes), eating all sorts of flesh excepting beef.
‘The Hindus belonging to the merchant class, termed by the contemporary travelers as Banias, were strict vegetarians and ate no flesh. Their food habits were generally identical with those of Brahmins…” (pages 9-10).
Irrespective of the modern controversy whether the Vedic people ate cow meat or not, the fact is that, at least for the past 1500 years, eating cow meat has been a great sin among Hindu religionists. In the Vedas and in the Smritis, heavy punishment has been prescribed for killing a cow or even injuring her. During the entire period of over a thousand years of Muslim rule and the British Raj, Hindus protested and fought for banning slaughter of cows on the ground of their Hindu faith..
These days, eating habits among Hindus have crossed all Varna (Caste) or community barriers. Eating beef (cow meat) is, however, still considered a sin, except by those who are on the payrolls of expansionist Muslim or Christian organizations or of five star hotels/restaurants, who serve beef and alcoholic drinks or those who, (through ignorance or under compulsion), have already started eating cow meat. Hence, it would be unrealistic to prescribe any definite rule regarding food or drinks, except on killing and eating cow progeny meat. We can follow an unwritten rule that, irrespective of individual food habit, (vegetarian or non-vegetarian), at all religious and cultural ceremonies, (including marriage), and other community feasts, let only vegetarian food be served and to avoid cow meat in all circumstances. In line with our scriptures and the growing world opinion in favour of non-violence and vegetarianism, preachers of Hindu religion are expected to tell their disciples and audience about the harm of non-vegetarian food and intoxicants and to bring them around to vegetarianism.
Some important questions regarding the nature of Hindu religion, what falls within the ambit of the commonwealth of Hindu religion and what not.
Is Hindu religion polytheistic or monotheistic? – There is an all round confusion about the meanings of these terms. According to English language dictionaries, ‘monotheism’ means belief in only one God; ‘polytheism’ means, plurality of Gods (gods); ‘dualism’ means that the world consists of two distinct elements, matter and spirit or two distinct principles of good and evil; ‘paganism’ means believing in pre-Judaism, pre-Christianity and pre-Mohammedanism, that is, heathenism or animism. From the foregoing, learned readers can themselves deduce whether Hindu religion is monotheistic, polytheistic, animism or paganism. In my view, all these terms and their meanings have been coined in the background of Judaism, Christianity and Mohammedanism. Hindu religion is much older than all these three. Hence, it would be inadvisable to place it in any of these categories. In a way, Hindu religion has elements of all of them and beyond, in that, it aims at freedom from the pangs of repeated birth and death. Thus, I think it better to call Hinduism as a commonwealth of most of the India-born religions. It is, however, not wise to extend its scope to all non-Semitic religions of the globe, as suggested by some friends.
_Is atheism part of Hindu religion? – By way of ignorance or mischief, some Hindu leaders and scholars have said that atheism is also a part of Hindu religion. Some have gone to the extent of saying that even the great anti-Vedas Charvak was a revered Rishi (Sage). It is absolutely wrong. The supposed founder of the Charvak sect, Brihaspati belonged to the early Christian era. It was in fact an anti-religion cult, whose motto was ‘eat, drink and be merry, through every fair or foul means’, because every thing comes to an end after death. Brihaspati rejected the theory of ‘Karma’ and immortality of soul. He said that “the Vedas were the handi-work of cheats, sycophants and demons”, (Trayo Vedasya kartarao bhand-dhurt-nischacharah…” Any one following or supporting this kind of philosophy must be seen as an enemy of Hindu religion and Hindu society. The character of a Charvak is found in the Mahabharata, Shanti Parva, chapter, 38, as the last surviving Rakshas (demon) friend of Duryodhana. During the coronation ceremony of Yudhishthir, (after the Great War), Charvak disguised himself as a Brahmin priest and reached the podium along with other priests. He made a last bid to kill Yudhisthir, but the genuine Brahmins recognised him on time and “burnt him to death”.
Significance of Shivalinga - English rendering of the Sanskrit word ‘linga’ as ‘phallus’ or penis is not only wrong, but horribly obnoxious. It must be the handiwork of some Tantric, a traitor, or anti-Hindu mischief maker. In all ancient Hindu religious texts in Sanskrit, e.g., the six schools of philosophy, (Shad-Darshanas), the Upanishadas, the Linga Purana, Shiva Mahapurana, the word ‘linga’ has been used in the sense of mark, sign or symbol. Thus, Shivalinga means mark, sign or symbol of Lord Shiva, i.e. (formless) Parameshwara.
The very first shloka of Section 2 of the Linga Purana, part I, says: “The non-material (formless) One is the root of the material world. The manifested world is called Prakriti (Nature), while the formless one is called Shiva. Thus, the manifested world, namely, Prakriti (Nature) must be seen as the ‘linga’, meaning mark, of Lord Shiva”. Shlokas 8 and 9 thereof re-iterate the theme, “As earlier said, Brahma Himself is the universe personified. Though formless, He is the Supreme Lord. He is the seed (beej); He is the Womb (Yoni). And, the source of both of them is formless (Nirbeejo) Shiva. Thus, the Supreme Lord is both seed and womb and also the universe”.
The above simile of seed and womb is also used in the Bhagvatgeeta, chap. 14/3-4, where Lord Krishna says: “My womb is the great Brahma (Eternal cosmos); in it, I place the germ; thence cometh the birth of all beings, O, Bharata (Arjuna). In all the wombs, where mortals are produced; O Arjuna, their principal base womb is the great Brahma, and I am their generating father”. Examples can be multiplied from the Darshan Shastras and Upanishads.
It is very unfortunate that, without reference to the original sources, modern scholars are making their own innovations and trying to rationalize Shivalinga as phallus and Vedi (seat of the Shivalinga) as vagina on the pattern of Tantrism. It is blasphemous and must be opposed tooth and nail. For them, here is an extract from (late) Swami Shivanand’s famous book “All About Hinduism” (Appendix II): “The popular belief among foreigners is that the Sivalinga represents the phallus or the virile organ, the emblem of the generative power or principle in nature. This is not only a serious mistake, but a grave blunder. In the post Vedic period, the Linga became symbolical of the generative power of Lord Siva. Linga is the differentiating mark. It is certainly not the sex mark. You will find in the Linga Purana…”
Jainism and Buddhism – A close look at Jainism and Buddhism would show that they contain all the basic features of Hindu religion, except reverence to holy Vedas. As earlier stated, their religious philosophies are in tune with Hindu scriptures, like, the Sankhya, the Nyaya, the Vaisheshik, Patanjali’s Yog Shastra, and to a large extent, the Upanishads and the Geeta. Thus, they follow at least four of the six schools of Hindu philosophy. The Nyaya Darshan stresses on Jnyan, knowledge, based on logic. Sankhya Darshan starts with the premise, “Complete riddance of all the three types of sufferings, (sufferings from within, sufferings caused by external bodies, sufferings caused by nature, like flood, earthquake, etc.), is the chief objective of living beings”. The Yog Shastra is for the discipline of mind and body, through Yama, Niyam, Aasan, Pranayam, Pratyahara, Dhaarna, Dhyan and Samadhi, (called Ashtaangyoga). All these form the foundation of Jainism and Budhism. The Vaisheshic Darshan (1/2) starts with the statement that “Dharma is that knowledge and that action which brings happiness in this life and salvation after death”. There is no reference to God (Paramatman) here.
Lord Mahavir, the executive founder of Jainism and Lord Buddha just kept mum about the ‘Vedas’ and ‘God’, but did not denigrate them. In all probability, it may be because during their period, the holy Vedas had become too ritualistic, accompanied by indiscriminate animal sacrifice in the name of God or various other devatas. In a way, ‘God’ had taken the shape of ruthless despot, needing perpetuation through elaborate sacrifice, which involved a lot of violence. In their original form, Jainism and Buddhism are high philosophies, laying greater stress on individual’s own efforts rather than depending on the mercy of God. These are extensions of Jnyan (Knowledge) and Vairagya (abstinence), referred to in Shrimad Bhagvatgeeta. Both Jainism and Buddhism believe in the immortality and transmigration of soul and salvation (Nirvaan). Their sacred verses (hymns) too begin with the sacred sound of ‘OM’, the Vedic name of Parmeshwara. Like most Hindus, Jains too worship Lord Ganesh and Devi Lakshmi.
Neo or modern Buddhists in India are hardly Buddhists, by religion. In fact they can be termed as political Buddhists. Their number is increasing just because ‘Buddhists’ have been included in the list of national minorities, at par with Mohammedans and Christians, and are entitled to special rights and reservations in government jobs. Hardly any of them has seen, much less read, any of the authentic Bouddh scriptures, the Tripitikas. Of these, I have read the Vinay Pitak and Dhammapad, the most important part of the Sutta Pitak. Dhammapad has 423 shlokas in Pali language and contains teachings of Lord Buddha. Of its 26 chapters, the sixth one is titled “Pundit” Vaggo (Varga, chapter) and the 26th is titled “Brahman” Vaggo. Had Buddha been so anti-Brahmin as now propounded, the two chapters of Dhammapad, could not be named after “Pundit” and “Brahman”. I give here two shlokas as sample, “176 – Ekam dhammam ateetass musavaadiss jantuno/ Vitinnaparlokass natthi paapam akaariyam”, (Those who violate the one Dharma, i.e. Truth, tell lies and are careless about after life, can commit any sin). “177 – Na ve kadariya devalokam vajanti/ Bala hawe nappsansanti daanam/ Dheero ch daanam anumodmaano, Teinewa so hoti sukhee paratth”, (The misers don’t go to heaven; these stupid fellows don’t realize the virtues of alms giving; the perseverant man takes pleasure in giving alms and, through it, attains happiness in the next world).
Sikhism – The thesis that Sikhism is different from and even anti-Hindu religion is of recent origin. The British originated it in the 19th century. In their foolhardiness, ignorance or slavish mentality, many Indian scholars have fallen prey to it. They have closed their eyes to the fact that it is only in a Hindu family that one brother is a Sikh, while others may not. It is not to be found in a Muslim, Christian, Jew or Parsi family. After Partition, Pakistan has been instigating and enticing the Sikh youths to break away not only from Hindus but also from the Indian Union. A good number of them fell in their trap and started killing Hindus in mass scale during 1980s. Some books have also come up to say that the Sikhs are more akin to Mohammedanism than Hinduism. In his well documented book, “The Great Guru Nanak and the Muslims”, (Kirti Publishing House, 15-A, Chandigarh ), Shri N.D Ahuja, M.A. (History), M.A. (Persian), etc., and a Professor of he Panjab University, has rightly concluded, (p.183), “The creed of Nanak (founder of Sikhism) may be called a continuation of Indian spiritual idealism with belief in basic principles of ‘Karma’, ‘Punarjanma’ (transmigration of soul), Mukti, Nirwan (Salvatiion), Prapti, Gyan, Bhakti, etc., and thus Sikhism may be located within the pale of Hinduism”.
Guru Gobind Singh ji, the founder of the Khalsa Panth, (now identified with the Sikh religion), had himself defined the relationship between Hindu Dharma and Sikhism, in the following words, “Sakal jagat mein Khalsa Panth gaaje; Jagey Dharma Hindu,Turuk bhand bhaaje”, (May this Khalsa sect roar throughout the world; (And), may the (parent) Hindu Dharma awaken so that the conflicts created by the invading Turks be wiped out). After the British transferred the political power to their Indian clones and left in 1947, the new masters renewed the game of fragmenting Hindu society, with a vengeance, by declaring the Sikhs and Bouddhs as national minorities, like the Parsis, the Jews and Mohammedans and conferring special rights on them. This is in spite of Explanation II under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, (Right to Freedom of Religion), stating that “a reference to Hindu in this Article should be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.
The terms like, ‘Hindutva’, Hindu Chauvinism’ and ‘Hindu Revivalism’ are related to Hindu Rashtra, Hindu Rashtriyata’, and ‘Hindu Rashtra-vad’. In English, these terms mean Indian-ness, in relation to Indian nation, Indian nationality and Indian nationalism, respectively. Related to ‘Bharat’, they would mean Bharatiyata, Bharat Rashtra, Bharat ka Rashtravad. By linking these terms with Hindu religion, the enemies of Hindus and Hindu religion have done a great damage. Rightly or wrongly, Hindu sages had segregated religion from politics long back, because “Truth”, the mainstay of Hindu religion, changes its meaning in politics. There is a world of difference between a simple truth and a political truth.
The Sikhs, the Jains, the Buddhists, the Arya Samajists, the Ramakrishnaites, and many more are thus members of the common-wealth of Hindu religion. Many sects originated in the past just in opposition to the absolute power of the priestly class during the degenerate birth based Hindu caste system, some to face new challenges, and yet some others to meet the changed political and social changes. However, emerging from the same root and trunk, they have retained the basic features intact. Even so, for political or other reasons, if members of any sect say that they are not ‘Hindus’, we can only feel sorry for them, but cannot stop them.
Communism - Communism originated as a modern political thought in Europe , but its anti-God and anti-national or transnational attributes brought it in conflict with all major religions of the world. Its propounders say that there is no God or soul; nationalism is an outdated bourgeois concept. Mohammedan countries have banned it. Most of the Christian countries have abandoned it. Some nations, like China and Cuba , have nationalised it. In Hindu India, it has acquired the status of a new religion, in the dubious name of ‘secularism’. Due to a combination of three factors, namely, patronage of Indian government, Islamic opportunism and Hindu inertia, Communists have had a field day here. In national politics, they are sharing power with the ruling Congress party, without responsibility. Allying with the Muslim separatism, they are the people who rewrote school and college text books to glorify the erstwhile Mohammedan rule and denigrate or show Hindu religion, Hindu icons, and Hindu rulers in poor light.
They are the people who have been demeaning sublime images of Lord Ram, Lord Krishna, Lord Hanuman, Devi Durga, Devi Saraswati, Mata Seeta, Mata Lakshmi, Shri Ganesh, et al. They are the people, who represented to the President in 2006 to legalize homosexuality. They are the people who have been defending the malignant paintings of MF Husain and commending him for India’s highest civilian award, ‘Bharat Ratna’. In the political arena, they have always been opposed to Hindu ideals and have always allied themselves with anti Hindu forces- Indian or foreigners. In a nut-shell, Communism and Communists are the worst enemies of Hindus and Hindu religion. During India’s freedom struggle they had whole-heartedly supported Muslim League’s demand for partitioning India. A true national government in India would have banned it soon after Partition and packed it off to Pakistan or Soviet Russia. Hindus still retaining them as their kith and kin are doing it at the peril of their own life and Dharma. Here is an ancient piece of wisdom, “Dushta bharya, shatham mitram, bhrityashch uttardayakah/ Sasarpey cha grihe vaso mrityureva na sanshayah”, (One who has a rogue wife, a treacherous friend, an insolent servant, or a cobra in his house, is sure to meet death).
Tantrism - Practitioners of Tantra, called Tantrics, believe in occult powers, controlling spirits, (wandering souls), and using them at will to harm some one, bring good fortune, or ward off evil spirits. Tantrism claims its origin from Lord Shiva and a part of the Shakta sect, referred to earlier, as worshipping God in the form of Mother. The claim is false. Tantrism is a hybrid of pervert Shaktas and pervert Buddhists, which cropped up sometime during the great Gupta period, (4th to 7th century AD), or soon thereafter. Their scriptures, called ‘Aagamas’, were composed during that period. These are in Sanskrit. But, everything written in Sanskrit language is not sacred.
A perverse way of life of the Tantrics, their perverted form of rituals, and their perverse philosophy of ‘Panch (five) Makaars’ – Madya (alcohol), Maans (meat), Matsya (fish), Mudra (posture and gold coins), Maithun (copulation) – and worship in mysterious ‘Chakras’, have kept them apart from the civil society. In terms of the Geeta, they are the lowliest, ‘Tamsic’, people. The Tantrics, however, claim that through these ‘Five Makaars’ and the ‘Chakra pooja’, (including worship of sex organs), they acquire occult powers. [Personally, I have not yet seen any evidence of their claim] Incidentally, following the course of Patanjali’s Ashtangyoga, (Yama, Niyam, Aasan, Pranayam, Pratyahar, Dharana, Dhyan, Samadhi), under an accomplished Guru (teacher), Yogis get certain occult powers mid way, but they do not use them, except occasionally for the benefit of some one in dire need. Tantrics, on the other hand, have just materialistic goals. They selectively practice certain yogic exercises, chant selected ‘Mantras’ (in their pecualr mode), and worship select deities. to acquire their occult powers. Their deities include peculiar forms of Shiva-Parvati, their family members, their Ganas (servants, like Bhairon, Nandi), but not Vishnu or His avatars (Ram, Krishna). They invoke Tamsic or Aasuri (Satanic) powers. Their places of Sadhana (worship) are generally cremation grounds. The naked and obscene postures of their deities are used by enemies of Hindus to attack or demonize Hindu religion.
Thus, Tantrism is not a part of Hindu religion. Most of the Tantrics are cheats and criminals. In other religions, like Mohammedanism and Christianity also they exist and are called practitioners of ‘Black magic’. At best, Tantrism can be tolerated as another non-conventional therapeutic system. The Ayurveda recognises ‘Tantra’ and ‘Mantra’ as one of the curative therapy for mysterious ailments.
Saguna Upasana, popularly called, Idol (murty, deity, pratika) worship - Even by most conservative estimates, Hindu, that is Sanatan or Vedic Dharma, has a history of 10,000 years old. “Saguna conceptualization, description of the Almighty, giving shape or form to His various powers and attributes, elaborate upasana prescriptions and practices, gradually appeared at a later date in the long developing life of Hinduism”.
Except a few misguided ones or non-Hindu sects, no Hindu religionist practices Murty-puja in the sense propagated by Christian and Islamic missionaries. Every Hindu religionist knows that God (Parmeshwara) is formless and omnipresent. Further, Parmeshwara is both Father and Mother, (Twameva Mata cha Pita Twameva). In this situation, how can there be His image, statue or idol? In fact, in the midst of the present Kaliyuga, (age of Kali, that is Darkness), about 2,000 years ago, for the ease of layman’s understanding, sages of the time, in their poetic language, personified (1) the Creative Faculty of Parameshwar as Brahma, (2) Executive Faculty as Vishnu and (3) Dissolution Faculty as Rudra, also called Shiva. According to Hindu theology, no matter gets completely destroyed; it only changes shape. This very thesis accounts for the concept of the continuous cycle of 12,000 year chaturyugi, (comprising Satyuga-Tretayuga-Dwaparyuga and Kaliyuga), till this planet earth is alive; Pralaya, Mahapralaya, Kalpa, continuous play of formation, dissolution, re-creation of celestial bodies, like stars, planets, galaxies, etc., are parts of this cycle, so much so, that even the life of Brahma, (with reference to a particular planet, like our earth), is bound by time, unlike Parameshwar, Who alone is beyond time and space. The murty, pratika or deity is more in the sacred imagination of the devotee. We do “avahana” of our Ishtdevata through the image or the sculpted deity and when we are seen worshipping that image, we are, in fact, invoking the Ishtdevata, who is at our heart and mind. This way of worship is in conformity with the Vedic teachings.
Oneness of Parmeshwara is well stated in the Rigveda, (1/164/46), “The learned ones describe one and the same Truth (Parameshwara) by various terms, like, Indra, Varuna, Mitra, Agni, Divya, Garutman, Yama, Vishwatma. Viewing Parameshwara in various names and attributes, learned artists of the Pauranic age made images of various Devatas, namely, Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra (Shiva), Indra, Durga, Saraswati, Parvati, and so on, with their variants. The purpose was that an individual devotee could fully concentrate on one aspect of Parameshwar, most dear and near to his or her heart and soul and assimilate virtues of the chosen deity. Nevertheless, prayer or worship of every deity begins with the sacred sound of ‘OM ’ or ‘AUM’. denotative of the formless omniscient, omnipresent Parameshwara. This sound of ‘OM’ is in use by every Hindu sect, including Sikh, Jain and Bouddh. Thus, murty, pratika, or deity worship is now a part of Hindu religion. At the same time, there are still many Hindu sects and Hindu religionists who worship or pray without the help of a murty or image, in the original Vedic way. They are no less Hindu religionists.
Another important aspect, which most people don’t know or realize and which preachers of murty (pratika) worship don’t explain, is that all moortis, idols, or statues in a temple are not worth worshipping. Only that one is to be worshipped which has been duly consecrated for the purpose through an elaborate process of Jaap, Havan (with Vedic mantras) and undergone Pran-pratishtha ceremony, and installed in the garbhagriha of the temple or in a specially earmarked place in a house.
A word to Vedics or Vedantics – All murty-less (Hindu) worshippers, (including Arya Samajis), believe in Patanjali’s Yog-Darshan. Its first chapter (Samadhipad) begins with the Sutra, “Yogash-chittavritti-nirodha”, (Yoga is the process of controlling free movements of mind). Describing various methods of controlling the mind, Sutra 1/39 states, “Yatha-abhimat-dhyaanaadva”, (And, also by concentrating on the deity of one’s choice). Thus, worshipping God (Parmatma), through the medium of a murty.or pratika, (popularly called ‘idol’), is not against ‘Shruti’ (Holy Vedas). The condition is that the medium itself should not become the goal. The Vedic Mantra, “Na Tasya pratima-asti, Yasya naam mahaddyashah…” (Yajurveda, 32/3), has been often translated as “There is no moorti, idol or statue of Parmeshwara”. During the Vedic period, ‘idol worship’ did not exist. So, in the context of that period, the said Mantra actually means that there is none like Parmeshwara; He is ‘Apratim’: nothing can come up to Him: He alone is shining throughout the universe”. So, there ought to be no quarrel between Saguna Upasakas and Nirguna Upasakas. (Incidentally, long back I learnt from a reliable source, that Swami Dayanand Saraswati, the founder of the Arya Samaj, had his next programme of attempting ‘synthesis’ of the two systems, but was poisoned to death before he could take it up).
Difference between worship through murty/pratika (Saguna upasana) and worship without murty/pratika (Nirguna upasana) – Here is an extract from “All About Hinduism”, by (late) Swami Sivananda, a publication of The Divine Life Society, Shivanand Nagar, (Uttrakhand)– 249192, (4th edn. 1988, p.106): “Upasana is of two kinds, viz., Pratika-Upasana and Ahamgraha-Upasana. Pratika means a symbol. Pratika-Upasana is Saguna-Upasana. Ahamgraha-Upasana is Nirguna-Upasana or meditation on the formless and attributeless Akshara or transcendental Brahman. Meditation on idols, Saligrama, pictures of Lord Rama, Lord Krishna Lord Siva, Gayatri Devi, etc., is Pratika-Upasana. The blue expansive sky, all pervading ether, all pervading light of the sun, etc., are also Pratikas for abstract meditation. Saguna-Upasana is concrete meditation. Nirguna-Upasana is abstract meditation.
“Chanting of Om with Atma-Bhava, service of humanity and country with Atma-Bhava, mental Japa of Om with Atma or Brahma Bhava, meditation on Soham or Sivoham or on the Mahavakyas such as Aham Brahma Asmi or tat Tvam Asi after sublating the illusory vehicles through ‘Neti, Neti’ doctrine, constitute Ahamgraha-Upasana or Nirguna-Upasana.
“Saguna-Upasana is Bhakti Yoga or the Yoga of devotion. Nirguna-Upasana is Jnyana Yoga or the Yoga of Knowledge”.
25th March 2008
The Cure for Terrorism is Virat Brihad Hindutva
[Three Part Series]
Subramanian Swamy (Nov. 2008)
What does the despicable terror and mayhem in Mumbai on November 26th signify for India? Shorn of the human tragedy, wanton destruction, and obnoxious audacity of the terrorists, it signifies a challenge to the identity of India from radical Islam. Cinema actor Shahrukh Khan may wax eloquent about the “true Islam” on TV, but it is clear that he and other such Muslims have not read any authoritative translations of the Koran, Sira and Hadith which three together constitute Islam as a theology, and which is a complete menu of intolerance of peoples of other faiths derisively labeled as kafirs. Hence instead of talking about the “correct interpretation” of Islam they ought instead be urging for a new Islamic theology consistent with democratic principles.
In 2003, two years after the 9/11 murderous and perfidious Islamic assault on USA, resulting in killing of more than 3000 persons within two hours, and which was perpetrated by leveraging the democratic freedoms in USA, the Saudi Arabian Embassy in the website of its Islamic Affairs Department [www.iad.org] laid down what a “good” Muslim is expected to do. Dr. Steven Stalinsky of the Middle East Media Research Institute[MEMRI] based in Washington DC accessed it and published it in issue No.23, of the Institute newsletter, dated November 26[what irony!] 2003. I have to thank a NRI in US, Dr. Muthuswamy for this reference. In that site it is stated:
“ The Muslims are required to raise the banner of Jihad in order to make the Word of Allah supreme in this world, to remove all forms of injustice and oppression, and to defend the Muslims. If Muslims do not take up the sword, the evil tyrants of this earth will be able to continue oppressing the weak and helpless”
Now who is more authoritative—Sharukh Khan or Saudi Arabia ? Obviously the latter.The above quote is what in substance is being taught in every madrassa in India, and can be traced back to the sayings of Prophet Mohammed. I can quote a plethora of verses from a Saudi Arabian translated Koran[e.g., verses 8:12, 8:60, and 33:26] which verses justify brutal violence against non-believers. If I delved into Sira and Hadith for more quotes, then I could risk generating much hatred, so it will suffice to say that Islam is not only a theology, but it spans a brutal political ideology which we have to combat sooner or later in realm of ideas.
Some may quote back at me verses from Manusmriti about brutality to women and scheduled castes. But as a Hindu I have the liberty to disown these verses[since it is a Smriti] and even to seek to re-write a new smriti as many, for example, Yajnavalkya have done to date. Reform and renaissance is thus inbuilt into Hinduism. But in Islam, the word of the Prophet is final. Sharukh Khan and other gloss artists cannot disown these verses, or say that they would re-write the offensive verses of the Koran. If they do, then they would have to run for their lives as Rushdie and Taslima have had to do. Leave alone re-writing, if anyone draws a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed, there will follow world-wide violent rioting. But if Hussein draws Durga in the most pornographic posture, the Hindus will only groan but not violently rampage.
We Hindus have a long recognized tradition of being religious liberals by nature. We have already proved it enough by welcoming to our country and nurturing Parsis, Jews, Syrian Christians, and Moplah Muslim Arabs who were persecuted elsewhere, when we were 100% Hindu country.
Moreover, despite a 1000 years of most savage brutalization of Hindus by Islamic invaders and self-demeaning brain washing by the Christians, even then, Hindus as a majority have adopted secularism as a creed. We have not asked for an apology and compensation for these atrocities. But the position of Hindus in this land of Bharatmata, where Muslims and Christians locally are in majority, in pockets---such as in Kashmir and Nagaland, or in small enclaves such as town panchayats of Tamil Nadu, is terrible and despicable. Even in Kerala where Hindus are 52% of the population, they have only 25% of all the prime jobs in the state, and are silently suffering their plight at the hands of 48% who vote as a vote bank. .
The 26/11Mumbai slaughter therefore should teach us Hindus that the time has come to wake up and stand up—it is now or never. If we do not stand up now to Islamic terrorism, then India will end up like Beirut, a permanent battlefield of international terrorists, buccaneers, pirates and missionaries.
What does it mean in the 21st century for Hindus to stand up ? I mean by that a mental clarity of the Hindus to defend themselves by effective deterrent retaliation, and also an intelligent co-option of other religious groups into the Hindu cultural continuum.
Mental clarity can only come if we are clear about the identity of the nation. What is India ? An ancient but continuing civilization or is it a geographical entity incorporated in 1947 by the Indian Independence Act of the British Parliament ? What then does it means to say “I am an Indian” ? A mere passport holder of the Republic of India or a descendent of the great seers and visionaries of more than 10,000 years ? Obviously our identity should be of a nation of an ancient and continuing Hindu civilization, legatees of great rishis and munis, and a highly sophisticated sanatana philosophy.
If Hindu culture is our defining identity then how can we co-opt non-Hindus, especially Muslims and Christians ? By persuading them by saam, dhaam, bheda and dand that they acknowledge with pride the truth that their ancestors are Hindus. If they do, it means that they accept Hindu culture and enlightened mores. That is, change of religion does not mean change of culture. Then we should treat such Muslims and Christians as part of our Brihad Hindu family.
Noted author and editor M.J. Akbar calls this identity as of “Blood Brothers”. It is an undeniable fact that Muslims and Christians in India are descendents of Hindus. In a recent article in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, an analysis of genetic samples[DNA] show that Muslims in north India are overwhelmingly of the same DNA as Hindus proving that Muslims here are descendents of Hindus who had been converted to Islam, rather than repositories of foreign DNA deposited by waves of invaders.
Akbar thus asks rhetorically: “When have the Muslims of India gone wrong ?” and answers: “ When they have forgotten their Indian roots”. How apt ! Enlightened Muslims like Akbar therefore must rise to the occasion and challenge the reactionary religious fundamentalists. That is India is not Darul harab to be trifled with. In a conciliatory atmosphere the minorities would willingly accept this. It is also in their interest to accept this reality. Hindus must persuade by the time- honoured methods Muslims and Christians to accept this and its logical consequences.
This identity was not understood by us earlier because of the distorted outlook of Jawarharlal Nehru who occupied the Prime Minister’s chair for seventeen formative years after 1947 and for narrow political ends, had fanned a separatist outlook in Muslims and Christians.
The failure to date, to resolve this Nehru-created crisis, has not only confused the majority but confounded the minorities as well in India. This confusion has deepened with winter migratory birds such as Amartya Sen descending on the campus of the India International Centre to preach inane taxonomies such as “multiple identities”.
There has to be an overriding identity called national identity, and hence we should not be derailed by pedestrian concepts of multiple or sub-identities.
`````````Without a resolution of the identity crisis today, which requires an explicit clear answer to this question of who we are, the majority will never understand how to relate to the legacy of the nation and in turn to the minorities. Minorities would not understand how to adjust with the majority if this identity crisis is not resolved. In other words, the present dysfunctional perceptional mismatch in understanding who we are as a people, is behind most of the communal tension and inter-community distrust in the country.
`````In India, the majority is the conglomerate or Brihad Hindu community which represents about 81% of the total Indian population, while minorities are constituted by Muslims [13%] and Christians [3%]. Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, and some other microscopic religious groups, represent the remaining three percent. Though also considered minorities, but really are so close to the majority community in culture that they are considered as a part of Hindu society. Unlike Islam and Christianity, these minority religions were founded as dissenting theologies of Hinduism. Even Zoroaster can be traced to leader of Vahikas in Mahabharata who migrated to Persia. Kaikeyi in Ramayana was from Persia when that country was hundred percent Hindu. Thus these religions share the core concepts with Hindus such as re-incarnation, equality of all religions, and ability to meet God in this life. That they feel increasingly alienated from Hindu society nowadays is also the consequence of India’s identity crisis caused by British historians and their Indian tutees in JNU.
The India of today would not have been in existence had the attempts to divide Hindus succeeded. In the 20th century, a sinister attempt to divide the Hindu community on caste basis was made in 1932 when the British imperialists offered the scheduled castes a separate electorate. But shrewdly understanding the conspiracy to divide India, Mahatma Gandhi by his fast unto death and Dr. Ambedkar by his visionary rejection of separate electorate, foiled the attempt by signing the Poona Pact.
But the possibility exists that such attempts at dividing India socially may be made again in the future, a possibility that cannot be ruled out. Indian patriots will have to watch against such attempts very carefully. Segmentation, fragmentation, and finally balkanization have been part of the historical process in many countries to destroy national identity and thereby cause the political division of the nation itself. Yugoslavia is a recent example of this, which has now been divided into four countries, largely due to Islamic separatism and Serbian over-reaction.
Virat Hindutva can be achieved in the first stage by Hindu consolidation, that is achieved by Hindus holding that they are Hindus first and last, by disowning primacy to their caste and regional loyalties. This would require a renaissance in thinking and outlook, that can be fostered only by patient advocacy and intellectual ferment.
For this we need a new History text, and a proper understanding of the distinction between the four varnas [not birth based but by codes of behavior for devolution of power in society] and jati [which is birth based and mostly for marriages]. Just as Valmiki and Vyasa are regarded as Maharshis despite being of different jati from Parasuram, hence Dr. Ambedkar should be called a Maharishi for his sheer depth of knowledge of Indian history. That he had become bitter because of Nehru systematically sidelining him is no reason not to do so.
India thus needs a Hindu renaissance today that incorporates modern principles, e.g., of the irrelevance of birth antecedents, fostering gender equality, ensuring equality before law, and accountability for all. It is also essential to integrate the entire Indian society on those principles, irrespective of religion. Uniform civil code for example, is something that the vast majority of Muslim women want, but because this demand has been usurped by those who deny the equality of nationality to the Muslims, hence comes the resistance to a eminently reasonable value. The Muslims think that this is the first step in several to subjugate them or wipe out their identity. But Muslims have quietly accepted Uniform Criminal Code [the IPC] despite that it contradicts the Sharia.
In other words, Hindutva has two components---one that Hindus can accept [such as caste abolition, eradication of dowry etc.] without any other religion’s interests to consider. The other is the embracing by minorities of the core secular Indian values which have Hindu roots. This would require, particularly Muslims and Christians, to acknowledge that their ancestry is Hindu, and thus own the entire Hindu past as their own legacy, and to thus tailor their outlook on that basis. This would integrate Indian society and make the concept of an inclusive [Brihad] Hindutva and rooted in India’s continuing civilization.
Thus, if India has to decide to have or not have good relations with Israel, Pakistan, Iran or US, it cannot be on the basis how it will impact on India’s Muslims and Christians, but on what India’s national interests require. If India has to dispatch troops to Afghanistan, Iraq, Sri Lanka or Nepal to combat terrorism, that policy too has to be decided on what is good for India, and not what any religious or linguistic group identifies as it’s interest.
Thus such an Hindutva is positive in outlook, while raw Hindu xenophobia is negative and based on Hindu hegemony which will frighten all. Such an Hindutva will resolve our current energy-sapping identity crisis, which otherwise will completely emasculate India in the long run. The choice for the patriotic Indian is thus clear: We need a clear and positive view of our national identity based on our Hindu past and a Hindu renaissance to unite the Hindus with constructive mind-set as well as persuade the minorities to be co-opted culturally with Hindu society.
Once being Indian means virat brihad Hindutva, we can tackle terrorism by an effective strategy of defence. What are the components of that strategy is the subject matter of my next column here.