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Friday, January 11, 2019

Hinduism (Sanātana Dharma) In Peril?

This is the English translation of the Editorial of R̥ṣipīṭham, Telugu magazine, published in its December 2018 issue. The magazine is edited and published by Brahmasri Sāmavēdam Ṣanmukha Śarma. Brahmasri Śarma is the foremost exponent of our Sanātana Dhārmic lore. His encyclopaedic knowledge and felicity of expression that makes complex tātvic principles intelligible to common people attract large audiences to his discourses in India and many other nations. Apart from public meetings he appears on several television channels to give discourses on our ancient wisdom. He is a prolific writer and produced many books on Sanātana Dhārmic literature. The translated version of the editorial is published with permission.  

“This is the twenty-first century. We have been progressing technologically and scientifically. Globalization has erased national boundaries. Is it necessary in this day and age to harbor religious chauvinism? Does religion really matter? Let us eschew narrow-minded religiosity.  What the country needs is development. Basic necessities like food, water and infrastructure facilities like roads … these should get our attention rather than religion.” 

These are lofty ideals. As the poet said they are “Good sentences and well pronounced!” But they are preached only to Hindus. Or are only uttered by Hindus! There may be broadminded people in other faiths too but they remain mute. And remain faithful to their religious institutions.

How ideal would it be if everyone practiced their religion in individual or family settings without disturbing social harmony! But do we see such an atmosphere in India? The intolerance of non-Hindu religions towards Hinduism is a fact of everyday life that cannot be concealed. It is a perilous reality that the Indian polity has been ignoring.

A few months ago the pontiff of a non-Hindu religion clearly and unambiguously pronounced “We should elect a leader who accords precedence to our religion. Only our religion should rule the nation.” Another non-Hindu religion has been giving a similar call for long. It must be noted that no Hindu pontiff resorted to such pronouncements.

Does any public or media ‘intellectual’ ask “Should such calls be permitted in a nation that is constitutionally secular?” Neither do our political leaders condemn such demands. On the other hand they lose no opportunity to propitiate the proponents of non-Hindu religions. They offer to construct monumental places of worship for them and allot hundreds of acres of public land although such deeds are ultra vires of the Indian Constitution. They are allotting hundreds of crores for their religious festivals. While the Hindu places of worship are state-controlled and income from them expropriated, places of worship of non-Hindu religions are beyond the ken of common law. Governments cannot demand that income from their places of worship be used for ‘secular’, even developmental purposes. On the one hand Indian states grapple with deficit budgets and on the other they shower largesse on non-Hindu religious institutions.

The actions of some state governments and pronouncements of the highest judiciary have the effect of undermining ancient temple practices and traditions that stood the test of time for thousands of years. Even state governments led by parties that are ideologically atheist have succumbed to the diktats of non-Hindu religious interests to coerce Hindu organizations. Statutes are amended to appoint non-Hindus to temple management boards.[1] In the national congregation of a non-Hindu religion recently organized in Secunderabad, a resolution was passed to the effect that its adherents should work collectively to bring to power a government in which their religion has a veto.

In a recent bizarre incident, adherents of a non-Hindu religion who went to ‘bless’ a Hindu Chief Minister signaled that he should erase the tilak on his forehead, and he meekly obliged! Incidents such as these should have raised the hackles of Hindus but lamentably it did not happen.

A slogan painted in large letters on a sacred hillside on the way to a famous Siva shrine in Andhra Pradesh declared that the ‘god’s messenger’ of a non-Hindu religion was the ‘Lord of all’. When a few Hindu devotees sought to erase it, they were arrested by the police and cases booked against them as ‘rowdy sheeters’. The charge against them was that they were disturbing communal harmony! What did the original slogan-painters do? This incident shows not just the state government’s anti-Hindu approach but how it accords preferential treatment to non-Hindu religions.  

Curiously the two non-Hindu religions don’t take on each other. Their collective target is Hinduism. It is only hapless Hindus who convert to other religions. Forgetting that their ancestors were Hindus, adherents of these non-Hindu religions openly keep abusing Hindu gods and goddesses. In many organizations adherents of the non-Hindu religions coerce their Hindu subordinates to convert. If they do not obey they are penalized. Their career progression is hampered.

In organizations in which non-Hindus rule the roost, applications submitted by Hindus are often binned or action on them inordinately delayed. The situation prevails even in security and law enforcement departments. The oppressed Hindus are afraid of bringing the realities out into the open. Many of them quietly convert succumbing to allurements or coercion. This is not to say that non-Hindus should not occupy superior positions. All citizens of this country should enjoy equal rights and have equal opportunities. But shouldn’t people in positions of power discharge their duties justly instead of using their positions and powers as coercive weapons for spreading their religion? It is time Hindus woke up and refused to tolerate political leaders of whichever hue, who pander to other religions and coerce Hindus. It is due to corruption in the Hindu religious and endowments departments and aggression of other religions that the Hindu temples are in a pitiable state.

A religion based political party which committed atrocities against Hindus before independence (but for Sardar Patel they would have ‘ruled’ the erstwhile princely State) has been indulged by all political parties in power in ‘secular India! It continues to spew venom against Hindus. If anyone points this out they are labelled ‘Hindu chauvinist’. Those who call for ‘one nation, one community, one law’ are labelled ‘religious bigots’.

All in all it is a scary scenario for the Hindus. They should wake up; be aware of the impending danger and get ready for self-protection. If not their apathy would undermine the nation’s progress. If the Hindus do not act, they will be reduced to the status of second class citizens as in Kashmir and North Eastern states. They should remember that even if they decide to run away, there is no other nation in the world to give them asylum!
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[1] In a landmark judgement, the move to appoint non-Hindus to Hindu temple management boards has been struck down by the Kerala High Court. SeeDevaswom Commissioner of Travancore/Cochin Devaswom Board Will Always Be A Hindu, Declares Kerala HC”. 2018. LiveLaw.in. November 25, 2018. Accessible from https://goo.gl/SGcCmG

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