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Hindus need to rediscover their values By: Raghbendra Jha

Sacrificer           Raghbendra Jha 
Sacrifice code       wfor0380
Sacrifice date       25 march 2009

Hindus need to rediscover their values

  • http://www.indiacause.com/columns/OL_050221.htm
  • http://www.indiacause.com
  • By: Raghbendra Jha
    February 21, 2005

    Of course all of us should practice religious tolerance. This is said
    very clearly in the Gita, where Lord Krishna advises Arjun to practice
    his own faith without belittling that of others. Religions tolerance
    is intrinsic in Sanatana Dharma and we do not need it to be imposed
    from outside. Our most secular and all time greatest political leader
    - Mahatma Gandhi - was also deeply and fundamentally
    religious. He was a great Hindu and often stated that going back to the teachings of
    Hinduism gave him the strength to solve many problems - personal,
    political as well as philosophical. Being tolerant of other religions
    does not mean that we start hating our religion and denigrating it.
    Doing this is exactly the colonial agenda, which so many Hindus have
    unconsciously adopted. The British realized that they could not
    conquer India without making Indians despise their culture -
    there are explicit statements by the colonialists to this effect. They would
    indeed be happy that the seeds of what the Raj had sowed have
    blossomed into such fertile trees now.

    Sanatana Dharma is great in itself and can bring peace and fulfillment
    to people. But few of us have tried to understand the true essence of
    Sanatana Dharma - yet some of us are ever ready to take up pen to
    denigrate it. Sanatana Dharma has for ages taught tolerance,
    non-violence and the brotherhood of the human race (Vasudev
    Kutambakam) long before any modern wave of globalization. Many rishis
    have undertaken penance and tapasya just to bring true knowledge and
    right practice to the human race to make them realize the great
    possibilities and power for good that exist within humans, far beyond
    merely eating, sleeping and procreating. Even the greatest Greek
    philosopher of all had asked Alexander to bring back a yogi from India
    for he wanted to know how it was possible for someone to actually
    renounce the material world. What this yogi told Alexander people
    know. Neither Lord Budha nor Lord Mahavira started the belief in
    non-violence. This is an ancient element of Sanatana Dharma. These two
    great avtars did the great service of reaffirming the tenets of
    non-violence, long practiced in Sanatana Dharma.

    Why were Hindus not able to protect themselves against foreign rule?
    This is a complex issue but two points can be made. First, the
    Sanatana Dharma does not favour an imperialistic mindset. India sent
    peace missionaries to Sri Lanka, China and many other countries -
    not armies. Second, many ancient cultures of the world have been attacked
    by foreign forces. But Sanatana Dharma is unique in being able to
    survive this onslaught. Does this not show the great strength and
    resilience, not to speak of the inherent greatness of Sanatana Dharma?
    Further, it is not true that there was no one to protect the Somanth
    temple from foreign attack. If one visits the temple one can see for
    oneself memorials to the brave soldiers who died trying to protect the
    temple. They were betrayed by one of their own. This, however, is a
    catch-22 situation. Hindus are accused of not protecting their faith
    but if they do they are branded communal.

    What happened, however, as a result of these invasions and, even
    earlier, because of the rigidity and hypocrisy of some in the priestly
    class was that the scriptures were misinterpreted, indeed violated and
    sometimes rewritten. The caste system became ingrained in the vicious
    form in which we find it today. Ancient scriptures speak of caste in
    terms of occupation and inclination not birth. No caste was inherently
    better than the other. For instance Bhakta Prahlad says to Lord
    Narsimham that a chandal who has God in his heart is better than a
    Brahmin who knows the twelve yogas. Lord Ram eats the jhoota bair of
    the bhilini Sabri. Such hallowed tradition is something to be proud
    of, but we Hindus have lost our sense of pride.

    Hinduism forbids violence in mansa, vacha, karma. So this teaches
    people to be gentle and tolerant. However, Hindus have forgotten an
    essential message of the Gita that one should not tolerate injustice
    because such tolerance creates more injustice in society and then
    society gets fragmented. Before this catastrophe happens people should
    learn to neither cause injustice nor tolerate it. If the Hindus had
    learnt this important message of the Gita India would not have been
    ravished by invading hordes for centuries. Unfortunately we did not do
    this. One of the consequences has been that our very scriptures have
    been distorted, indeed rewritten, by hypocritical priests interpreting
    religion in their own way. Some of these distortions are now,
    thankfully, being discovered. Hopefully, we will wake up before it is
    too late. We have been invaded several times because we have become
    too tolerant of injustice perpetuated upon us. We have to become
    self-respecting if we want others to respect us - otherwise we are
    condemned to becoming the laughing stock - and worse - of the

    Only a handful of people have been saving us during the long periods
    of foreign rule. Not having self-pride in our culture and our faith
    keeps us fragmented and vulnerable even after independence. Society
    becomes weak as a consequence. National and self-pride are very
    essential for a country to progress economically and spiritually. When
    self-hatred can make a person bitter and stunt their growth its
    consequences for a whole nation cannot but be catastrophic. Being
    tolerant of others does not mean that we start hating ourselves. When
    the world is in such a dangerous state it is crucial for India to
    maintain its national pride so that unscrupulous politicians at home
    and enemies abroad should not take advantage of our own weakness. We
    should be clear about how others view countries that are weak and the
    consequences thereof.

    Any kind of biased feeling towards one group or another is harmful for
    society. If despite the Supreme Court's directive India still
    does not have a Uniform Civil Code for all citizens shall we call it a tribute
    to India's secularism or a deliberate attempt to keep society
    fractured and condemned to underdevelopment?

    The havoc unleashed during Muslim rule led to panic in Hindu society.
    Through enticement or, more usually, by wielding the sword Muslims
    started mass conversions of Hindus. Partly in reaction to this
    desperate situation Hindus started degenerate practices such as child
    marriage and sati. Remember the most famous incident of sati in modern
    times was that by Rani Padmavati. She found this necessary to maintain
    her honour because these invaders did not leave any beautiful girl
    young or old; married, widowed, married or single. It is true that
    Raja Ram Mohan Roy fought against sati and it was a noble job at that
    crucial time. However, one should also keep in mind what Swami
    Vivekananda said about Raja Ram Mohan Roy's work. The swami had
    Said that this job should not have been done on behalf of the colonial
    rulers but because there was enough ammunition within Hindu thinking
    to outlaw and heap scorn upon the practices of sati and other
    practices that denigrated women. The swami said that Roy wanted
    perfunctory reforms whereas he was interested in fundamental reform
    that would bring well-deserved and long sanctioned dignity to Indian
    womanhood. (Even in the Rig Veda there is a passage that exhorts
    widows to own property and go to court if they don't get it

    The Rig Veda also leaves the widow free to remarry, if she wishes.)
    Swami Vivekananda was very clear that first and foremost he wanted a
    spiritual rehabilitation of Hinduism; integrating it with Western
    scientific thinking was, if at all, of secondary importance to him.
    The British, of course, took the credit for outlawing sati as if they
    had got rid of an "inhuman practice" from the "evil" religion of Hinduism. At least now self-respecting Hindus should know this.

    Sanatana Dharma has had a long tradition of rishis, poets and social
    reformers who have spread the message of love, peace and harmony for
    the whole world - not only for a small religious group. In modern
    times India has been blessed by the likes of Kabirdas, Chaitanya
    Mahaprabhu, Guru Nanak and Swami Vivekananda etc. These great people
    did not need any foreign belief to preach love and peace; nor did they
    believe in conversion either way. They deeply knew that India's
    soil was (and is) fertile ground for the seeds of love and peace to grow
    and blossom. They taught humans that they could attain great heights
    of accomplishment and bring much need peace to the world if they had
    love and true understanding of Indian spiritual values.

    We do not agree with the liberal view on this as propagated by
    philosophers such as Bertrand Russell. Russell did not perhaps
    understand the difference between having faith and being a fanatic.
    Fanaticism is based on ignorance, and has little regard for the
    morality of its actions. It also has a huge arrogance in the inherent
    superiority of the beliefs of its own sect. But a person with faith is
    different: he/she does not doubt their faith. Adiguru Shankaracharya,
    Kabirdas, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Guru Nanak, Mahatma Gandhi and Swami
    Vivekananda never had any doubts about their faith. They were very
    clear about their faith. They believed in debate (tarka) - indeed
    Shankaracharya celebrated it. However, they were all deeply rooted in
    their faith and the finest specimens of what the human race can
    produce. Does that make them a fanatic in the eyes of Bertrand Russell
    or his modern followers? Faith gives people strength to do what is
    moral - dharma sangat - but have the breadth of heart to embrace
    all humanity. Tarka enhances knowledge but doubt takes us nowhere and
    condemns us to a spiritual whirlpool. In recent times Mahatma
    Gandhi's personal faith in God and his resultant pursuit of truth and
    non-violence are not the result of doubts. Though there were many
    other factors that brought freedom to India surely Gandhi' faith
    played a pivotal role.

    What would Russell say about his faith - was Gandhi a fanatic? Gandhi never condemned Hinduism - he called it the founding stone of his consciousness. If anyone wants to learn from him they should learn self-respect and his tolerance of other religions while keeping his feet firmly within the folds of Hinduism. It was his strong faith in Lord Rama - not Russellian doubt - that gave
    him the courage to withstand many trials and tribulations including personal
    tragedy, imprisonment and several other pains. If one read
    Gandhi's writings one finds repeated instance of such assertions of faith.

    To be truly tolerant and regenerate the energy of their great and
    humane civilization, Hindus need to rediscover their true values -
    undistorted by the actions and writings of hypocritical priests or the
    modern secularists. In this lies India's true redemption as a nation and, indeed, a powerful message for peace and brotherhood for the whole world.

    Alka Shekhar Jha and Raghbendra Jha


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