Today Secularism is the fashion in India. It is the “in” brand. It is the brand to give oneself, lest one be called “communal”. Many Hindus who are born in Hindu families, who carry the seeds of their Sanatana Dharma in their blood and their consciousness, have become ardent and vocal secularists. This article is addressed to the Secular Hindus, and is an effort to engage their minds, in the hope that some of them may be open to a fresh evaluation.
First of all there are two kinds of Secular Hindus.
1. Type A - Those who think that all religions are equally valid – “Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava” kind.
2. Type B - Those who think that all religions are equally invalid – The Atheist, Anti-religious, Anti-Spiritual kind
Let us look at each one in turn. The first kind of (Type A) Secular does believe in religion, at least in his own Hindu religion, and values it. He believes in the dharmic values that the Hindu religion, inculcates in him, and he recognizes the place of Spirituality in human life. He may himself be a deeply devout, and spiritual person. He most likely goes to temples occasionally, performs some form of puja, bhajan or yoga or other devotional activity; he may even have studied the Bhagvad Gita or some other Hindu scriptures to an extent; But he has not done any serious study of the world’s other religions. He has not done any deep research on the Bible or the Koran, and cannot distinguish clearly the major distinctions between them and his own Dharma. So he naively believes that all religions are the same; they lead to the same goal; they are all different paths to the same end. He may have even been told by some well meaning Gurus and Acharyas that this is indeed so. So having reached this "secular’ position, he then proceeds to condemn as “Hindutva” and “Communalism” anyone who makes distinctions between the religions, and thereby raises a warning regarding the future of Hindu society.
The second kind of Secular (Type B) does not believe in Religion of any kind. He abhors and disdains them all equally and regards them as the superstitious by-product of humankind of a bygone era. He is modern, and does not need any religion, either his own or another’s. Thus having begun his inquiry into the subject with this prejudice, he then proceeds to ignore all scriptural study altogether. His acquaintance with his religion is therefore very cursory, and he does not feel the need to study this any further. He identifies himself, with a rational and scientific view of the world, easily gets carried away with modern western scholarship, which proposes all kinds of new philosophies, (like Marxism, Communism, Capitalism, Materialism etc.) which he deems adequate for his purpose. Not only does he not study other religions, he doesn’t even study his own. He most likely loathes “Swami’s” and “Gurus” and avoids them. Because he is a Hindu by birth, he is compelled to profess that he does not practice it, he does not believe in it, and he goes out of his way to condemn his own religion. He is deeply ashamed of his own religion, and keeps criticizing it at every turn. A few of them also take to studying the Hindu religion, but specifically for the purpose of criticizing it – The intention is not to learn, but to condemn. So there are legions of scholars, who pick up topics such as Caste, Sati, Idol worship, Brahmins and heap volumes of criticism on their own religion of origin.
The Type A Secularist is someone we can call the Gandhian Secularist. Mahatma Gandhi deeply and sincerely believed in the possibility of unity amongst Hindus and Muslims in India. Whether we agree with him or not, this was his stand, and he brought the great strength of his spiritual and moral force to bear upon this possibility. He hoped and wished that he could forge a unity between Hindus and Muslims that would allow the two communities to co-exist peacefully in Independent India. Whatever Mahatma Gandhi was, he was not ignorant. He took very studied positions on almost all issues. He saw that India’s Muslims were mostly Hindus in prior generations, perhaps long past, but nevertheless they carried the Hindu culture with them in some small measure. They had converted under the relentless pressure of Islamic rulers, and frequent threat of violence. But this was all long past. He saw that Hindus and Muslims were now cast together in this country, to weave a common destiny and they cannot be separated easily. He in fact may have been the one who created the slogan “Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava”. This is an inclusive Secularism, that believes that we must treat all religions equally, all people equally regardless of their religion etc. Even today there are many Gurus and Acharyas who say this – they even quote a Rig Vedic verse called Ekam sat vipraha bahauda vadanti and apply this verse to prove that all “Dharma’s” must be looked upon equally.
The Partition of India both on its left and right, (picture Bharat Mata with her two hands cut off) delivered Gandhian Secularism a decisive blow, and rendered the possibility of unity amongst Hindus and Muslims, as almost an utopian fantasy. The Partition was brought upon India, because the Muslim leadership decided that it was impossible for them to live in a Hindu majority India, and they needed their own Islamic State. The Hindus kept on saying that we can all be friends – Hindu-Muslim Bhai Bhai etc., and held out the hope that we can be one country. The Muslim leadership said – No; that is not possible. The matter is really simple – If in a relationship between a man and a woman, if the woman or the man decide that a relationship is no longer possible, then the relationship breaks down; it matters little whether the other person keeps saying “No, we can still be in a relationship”. Similar is the case with Hindus and Muslims – Only the Hindus keep saying “all religions are the same; we can all live peacefully together”; The Muslims laugh at the naivety of the Hindus, and say – “No Islam is special and different. We can all live peacefully together but only if you convert to Islam first”. So now we have unfriendly states on either side of India which have actively decimated the Hindu population within their respective countries, and are supportive of terrorists who have the most evil designs on India.
The Type B Secularist is someone we can call the Nehruvian Secularist. Jawaharlal Nehru believed that religion itself was irrelevant and somewhat backward and superstitious. With his western education and temperament, he was attracted to Karl Marx, Lenin, Stalin and the Russian experiment. These were all “Godless” and “Unspiritual” ideologies. It did not matter to Nehru, that the Communist experiment in Russia had resulted in the massacre of millions of people under the regime of Josef Stalin. He ignored that, (by what logic he justified this in his own mind remains to be discovered) and allied himself and our country closely with Russia and the Socialist way of life. Nehru thought that the primary ill of Indian society was its poverty and lack of development, and he committed himself energetically to India’s modernization, albeit driven by the State. In doing this he and his people fashioned a Secular State out of India, which ignored its Hindu Dharma, its Dharmic institutions, and Dharmic education.
Nehruvian Secularism has also been dealt a mortal blow in more ways than one. Communism is dying all over the world – Only in India it seems to have some left over momentum. Socialism has given way to Capitalism all over the world; In 1991, in India, a Congress Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and his Finance Minister Manmohan Singh presided over the reversal of the trajectory that Nehru had set for India. India is rapidly demonstrating that left alone, people develop themselves. Development need not be moderated and regulated by the State. Power when concentrated in the hands of a few, ultimately corrupts people – Indira Gandhi and her Emergency was a demonstration of that. But as much as she loved staying in power, even she could not cross the line as Joseph Stalin did – through dictatorship and murder on a vast scale. This can be attributed to the essential dharma of our land. Russian communism had no dharma at all – It was pure Adharma. Pakistan has no Dharma at all – It’s leaders have no regard for its own constitution. They amend it left and right to suit their private needs. Most of their transitions of power have been through murder and bloodshed, which is an essentially Islamic tradition.
But what is indeed strikingly common to both kinds of Secularists (both Type A and Type B) is that they don’t apply themselves and study the major religions and scriptures of the world, nor the history of major civilizations. Because even a cursory study of the Bible and Islam, will reveal how violent they are towards unbelievers and kafirs. Every religion has to deal with the ethics of human behavior – both amongst the followers of their religion, as well as between the followers of their tradition and those who do not follow their tradition. Equality, Tolerance and commitment to Peace, is good not only for the believers, but also necessary between believers of a particular faith, and those who subscribe to a different faith. In this latter characteristic, Hinduism is vastly different and has an infinitely superior record compared to both Islam and Christianity. While Hinduism is inherently pluralistic, and it allows many traditions to co-exist peacefully, Christianity and Islam are very severe towards the non-believers. While Hinduism is inherently Dharmic towards all people independent of what they believe in, Christianity and Islam offer their protection and allegiance to you, only if you convert to their creed. They prescribe the worst form of violence towards the kafirs and unbelievers – And this is borne out both by their scripture as well as their history. It only takes a cursory study of their scripture and their history, to find the patterns and correlations emerging. Their history is consistent with their ideology as embedded in their scripture, and their scripture contains the kernels of their ambitions and conquests, in the past, present and future. Christianity and Islam are fundamentally organized to be in a state of permanent conflict with the world of non-believers and kafirs. Whatever rudimentary notion of Dharma they may have, when it comes to their interactions with unbelievers, they are 100% Adharmic, even Asuric.
Why do Hindus reach their “Secular” positions and conclusions without proper inquiry? This is what is called “Avichara Siddhi” – A conclusion reached without much thought or research. It is like a conclusion “The sun goes round the earth”. Well it is obvious - We can see it go round and round, yet it takes some inquiry (Vichara) before we can say, No – The earth is spinning on its axis, and that merely creates the impression of the sun going around the earth. Why have Hindus become so lazy intellectually, that we will not apply ourselves to the proper study of these topics? Why do we jump to some conclusion first, without appropriate research and then keep repeating our position, ad nauseum? Why have we become mere sloganeers shouting ourselves hoarse with our position, which has not been properly thought out and formulated in the first place? Lastly in our hurry to embrace Secularism, we have thrown the baby out with the bath water, we have abandoned our Dharma altogether. Today, we find secularists everywhere – on TV, in the Radio, in the news magazines; in the universities; in politics. It has become our new creed. To falsify the Secular creed is to invite the worst form of counter attack and slander.
Today India is developing fast. Our economy is growing. A section of our society is becoming affluent. But corruption is also rampant in every walk of life. The politicians are leading the nation in being self serving and corrupt. The concept of Dharma, Ethical Values, a sense of Sacrifice and Service that Swami Vivekananda talked about has not permeated our public life. Will modernization solve all our problems? Is it sufficient to modernize without a corresponding effort to establish Dharma in the land? Corruption is Adharmic. Capitalism generates great wealth alright, but it distributes this wealth in a very uneven way. What are the rich of our land going to do with their riches? Will they use their riches in service of the poor? Capitalism is Adharmic too – in that it engenders no value system. What do the affluent do for their society – during their leisure? If we were to follow the inspiring example of the west – we know the answer. The great fruit of capitalism is mindless entertainment, endless pleasure seeking and non-stop shopping. Can the task of caring for the poor be left in private hands, or do we socialize it and give it to our politicians? We need to resurrect Dharma into the center of our lives. How are we going to do it, if we keep on swearing by secularism? Hindu Dharma emphasized people’s duties and responsibilities. Not their rights. Today, we have only a screaming group of casteists and castes, who are ever more shrilly demanding what is due to them i.e. their rights. There is no possibility of Dharma in this. A secular education does not guarantee an adequate appreciation of ethical values, duties, responsibilities and a deeply imbibed sense of discernment between right and wrong action. How do we give our children a matrix of moral values and norms, if we ignore our own Hindu Dharma in our secular schools and colleges? How do we inculcate in our next generation, a value for Dharma and Moksha which are indeed the unique civilizational characteristics of our Hindu society, if we don’t even address these in our educational institutions? This is the unsolved problem of our time. We sowed seeds of “Godless” ideologies drawn from the west, and we are harvesting a rich bounty of corruption across the length and breadth of our land.
So, we appeal to our secular brothers and sisters – Please think first; study your own scripture first; then study the other’s scripture; then study the history of all the religions; See the correlations and correspondences for yourself. Then let us see if you continue to be secular. You may discover that it is only in the comforting cocoons of ignorance, illiteracy and mindlessness that secularism can flourish. You may find that Secularism cannot stand even the most rudimentary intellectual scrutiny. But please do not defend your Secular value system on the foundation of your unwillingness to study these subjects; Please do not say – I won’t read my scripture; I don’t have time; I won’t read history; I don’t have time for that; I will not attempt to read the scriptures of other religions; I have even less time for that; But I know I am a secular Hindu; and I know I am right and all the rest of you are communal.