Hindu Identity - Spirituality and Politics
Ever since the Rig Veda said “Ekam Sat Viprah Bahauda Vadanti”, Sanatana Dharma has fostered a diversity of beliefs, systems, paths and practices. Even in the conception of the one Brahman, being manifested as many Gods, i.e. many Devatas, this essentially pluralistic, liberal framework has prevailed in our Bharatavarsha. Even as a spirit of “Live and Let Live” has informed and permeated our civilization, it has progressively given rise to numerous sects, sub-sects and sub-identities, that learnt to live together without conflict.
Today, with the long and hoary passage of time, Hindus generally have a stronger attachment to Sub-Identities, rather than their over-arching Hindu Identity. For example, Hindu people identify themselves as linguistic groups such as Tamil, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi etc. Secondly, they also identify themselves by caste - such as Brahmin, Bania, Reddy, Yadav, Jat, Kamma, Ezhava etc. Thirdly, they are also divided by Sampradaya identities - such as Vaishnava., Shaiva, Kashmir Shaiva, Vedantin, Vishishtadvaitin, Gaudiya Vaishnava, etc. Fourthly, many Gurus and Acharyas, emphasize their own specific version of the interpretation of the Shastras, and create new Paramparas and followings. So you have the specter of Ammachi followers, Sai Baba devotees, Art of Living group, this Swamiji and that and so on.
In this background, Hindus, even though they are supposedly a majority in India, do not behave like a majority. They behave more like a large collection of small minorities. While from a Spiritual / Religious point of view this is not a problem, and India has always valued a certain inherent diversity, and a co-existence of different paths, sects and sampradayas, this is a very serious problem, from a political stand-point. For example, when the Kanchi Shankaracharya was arrested, it was very difficult for a Hindu in Assam or Himachal Pradesh to feel personally impacted. Even the Hindus in Tamilnadu, did not get terribly agitated – Or if they did, they expressed it merely by doing more intense Puja and Abhishekam, not by taking to the streets, and making some kind of political statement. Similarly when the Kashmiri Pandits were being persecuted, it is difficult for a Hindu in Tamilnadu to feel any impact. Even as Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh were being killed and persecuted by the thousands, the vast majority of the Hindus in India were able to ignore the problem completely. The predominant Hindu sentiment is one of aloofness and alienation – “As long as it didn’t happen to me or my immediate family, or my caste or community, why should I bother about it”.
In any modern democracy, (where numbers matter) assembling a coherent identity, translates to influence and power. This has always been the case through history. Politics has always been about "Us" versus "Them". So unless Hindus learn to forge together a larger overarching identity, and start behaving like a more coherent and homogenous group, they are in for trouble. This is because, there are many forces, which are very insistent and powerful, and patently anti-Hindu in the world today, which are very active in India. More and more, Hindus will find that their rights are being taken away, and their freedom is being attacked, their institutions are being destroyed and they won't even know why – and there are many examples - Rama Sethu, Amarnath, Plight of Kashmir Pandits, Arrest of Kanchi Shankaracharya, Distribution of Temple lands to Non-Hindu people, Usage of Hindu money for Non-Hindu purposes, such as for Haj pilgrimage, Ram Janmabhumi and so on. Each one of these issues is extremely intractable, and there is virtually no political energy behind the solution of any of these issues. Hindus will inevitably come out losers in their own country where they are supposedly a majority. All political decisions will be secularized, cannibalized and made on behalf of arbitrary groupings of various minorities, and never for the Hindu community as a whole. And Hindus will forever remain at the receiving end of the prevailing political dispensation, being a majority in name only, enjoying none of the advantages of any majority nor any of the advantages of any minority community. This is the fate of the Hindus today – They are neither a majority (by behavior) nor a minority (by identity) – A sort of a Trisanku Loka, neither here nor there. While they may be individually strong in some instances, they are collectively weak, in almost all instances.
Spiritual Masters and Teachers, our revered Gurus and Acharyas, therefore have a responsibility in this regard to foster, nurture and develop this Hindu identity. They have to move beyond the largely prevailing attitude of staying strictly out of Politics and focusing only on Spirituality and Religion. It is insufficient, to stick to a spiritual and religious stand-point, and can take the view, that ultimately all Identity is a form of Maya or Mithya; We have to transcend all identities anyway, to attain Moksha; There is no value in harping on the Hindu Identity, when the real goal of Spirituality is to dissolve our Jivatma into the Paramatma; Further, Spirituality should not be corrupted by Politics; Therefore it is best for the Spiritually minded to stay strictly away from any activity related to Identity formation – especially if it is a Hindu Identity; In any case, it is easier and less controversial to talk about “Peace” and “Love” and soft matters of the heart – than to demonstrate courage and fearlessly take up unpopular and difficult issues, and take a real worthwhile stand on anything.
Therefore we call upon the Spiritually minded in India, to take the lead, to demonstrate courage, and come out on the side of the Hindu Identity, for the sake of the Lokasangraha, for Dharmasamsthapana, for the sake of this Eternal Dharma called Sanatana Dharma. They must be at the forefront of infusing Politics with a sense of Dharma, for the sake of our future generations. They must be the inspiration behind the emergence of a new vibrant Hindu leadership which boldly attempts to bridge Spirituality, Religion and Politics. Every individual Hindu must make a personal 'connection' between living life as a Hindu, in one's everyday life, doing Puja, observing festivals like Diwali, visiting temples, and occasionally hearing pravachans etc. and the activity of forging together a collective identity, that goes beyond linguistic, caste, sect and sampradhaya distinctions.
The “Hindu Vote is Sacred” – This must be our new Mantra. May this new Mantra ring in every nook and corner of India. We need a new Hindu Front – a Hindu wave; a Hindu friendly Government unfettered by the considerations of Coalition politics; free to pursue a Hindu agenda, for the sake of this land of Dharma. May such a Front, guided by the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, be formed, to consolidate the Hindu Vote bloc, as never before achieved in India. May all Hindus who are aware of this problem, and resonate with this participate in precipitating this Hindu Wave, and the possibility of a Dharma Rajya.
Last Updated (Tuesday, 16 August 2011 05:43)