Should Hindus do nothing to save their tradition?
by Virendra Parekh on 19 Jan 2015 15 Comments

Hindu secularists have infinite capacity for self-deception. Even when reality stares them in the face, they manage to convince themselves that there is really speaking no problem at all, things will eventually sort themselves out and, in any case, there is no reason for them to worry - or act.


Faced with Islamic separatism, gangsterism and jihadi terrorism, they have invented a ‘real’ Islam which is enlightened and tolerant if not benevolent to non-Muslims but is misinterpreted by some misguided elements. When confronted with social disruption and political disaffection wrought by missionaries converting people through money, muscle and manipulation, they assure you that Hinduism is in a great era of resurgence and the puny efforts of foreign missionaries cannot threaten it.


Their most favourite deception is coloured with flattery. Hinduism is an eternal tradition, we are told; it has continued to flourish in the face of sustained onslaughts through ages and cannot be destroyed by shallow belief systems which lack depth and interiority. This superficial praise is actually a pretext for doing nothing. Indeed, this high-sounding view of Hinduism is often used as a handle to browbeat and rundown those who point out the dangers it is facing.


It is, therefore, necessary to take a hard look around and within to ascertain whether Hindus can adopt a laidback approach and Hinduism can be blissfully abandoned to its own devices.    


It is true that Hinduism has survived murderous onslaughts of determined enemies and retained a great deal of its identity and vitality. But we shall be deceiving ourselves if we pretend that no harm has come to it. It survives as a wounded civilization, bleeding profusely. We need not go back to the Arab invasion of Sind (712 AD) or Mahmud Ghazni’s raids at the beginning of the last millennium. Let us go no further than the last hundred years or so.


While there is no doubt that the Hindus have tremendous progress in material sense, they have suffered heavy losses and reverses in terms of territory, demography, politics, ideology and morality.


Large parts of Bharatvarsh have now been ceded officially and permanently to self-declared enemies of Hinduism and Hindu society. The land of Saptasindhu, where Vasishtha and Vishwamitra chanted Vedic hymns and performed sacrifices and King Sudas defeated his adversaries in a fierce battle recorded in the Rigveda, is now largely enemy territory. We cherish the memory of Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, but three-fourth of Bengal is now foreign territory. The remaining one-fourth is rapidly Islamising under the benign gaze of its secularist rulers.


Back in those days, Hindus constituted about 80 per cent of the undivided pre-partition India or what is now fashionably called the Indian subcontinent. Today, they constitute about 66 per cent of that area. In other words, the ratio of Hindus to non-Hindus has come down from 4 to 1 to just 2 to 1. Even in the truncated post-partition India, the proportion of Hindus has been declining at an alarming rate in Census after Census. The situation is so grim that the government is unwilling to disclose the communal composition of Indian population as per Census 2011. Most probably it has fallen below 80 per cent.


Political losses have been worse. Nehruvian secularism was aimed at moral disarmament of Hindus, and it has succeeded remarkably on that front. A constitution, made by enlightened and patriotic Hindus, discriminates against Hindus. Islam and Christianity can be taught in government-aided schools and colleges, but not Hinduism. The government can and does interfere with the administration and management of temples; it often diverts temple funds to non-Dharmik and even anti-Hindu purposes. But it does not dare touch mosques or churches.


In the name of secularism, we have created a polity in which all the rights, privileges and prerogatives belong to non-Hindus, and all the duties, obligations and responsibilities are saddled on Hindus. A missionary converting Hindus to Christianity is only exercising his fundamental right given in the constitution, but any attempt to bring them back to their ancestral tradition is frowned upon as an assault on minority rights, a divisive endeavour.


In the early years of independence, Muslims were apologetic for breaking up the country. Today, they hold, or they think they hold, the key to political power in India. No leader, however honest, competent, popular and patriotic, is regarded as fit to rule India unless he is accepted or at least tolerated by Muslims. Although Hindus constitute 80 per cent of the population, the 12 per cent minority has acquired a veto over who can and who cannot rule the country. It is too early to say whether Narendra Modi has broken for good this Muslim stranglehold on Indian democracy. 


Even more significant are the ideological losses. A hundred years ago, Swami Vivekananda could declare India as the homeland of Hinduism and Hindu society. He, like countless other leaders, could identify Hinduism as the essence of Indian nationalism. Hundred years ago, Maharishi Aurobindo could say at a public meeting that India rises with the rise of Sanatana Dharma, and India declines with the decline of Sanatana Dharma. Hundred years ago, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan penned his classic ‘Indian Philosophy’ without including Islam and Christianity for the valid reason that they are not Indian and they have no philosophy.


Nobody accused Vivekananda, Aurobindo or Radhakrishnan of being a communalist, a Hindu Supremacist, a polarizing figure preaching a divisive and disruptive ideology. But today that view of India as the cradle of Vedic culture, of Hinduism as the essence of Indian nationalism, the very perception of India as Hindu Rashtra is unmentionable in politically correct circles. From a nation, Hindus are reduced to a community. Under Nehruvian secularism, Hindus are just one of the five-six communities inhabiting this land. They have no special right or title either to the land or its ethos. In fact, an educated Hindu is expected to behave as if he is making amends for being a Hindu.


The multi-pronged attack on Hinduism has, if anything, intensified in recent decades, whether by jihadi terrorism, fraudulent conversions, or the pronounced anti-Hindu bias of the mainstream media. The film industry, which exercises powerful influence on the highly impressionable young generation, is dominated by an unending succession of Muslim stars. Is it purely an accident?


Narendra Modi’s resounding victory in the Lok Sabha election has been interpreted as a massive self-assertion by the Hindus who feel cornered on all sides in their own country. Even if it is so, his ascension to power is only the beginning of a marathon effort at Hindu self-renewal. Notice how often he is urged even by his ardent supporters to ‘tell off loony hotheads of Hindutva’ and focus on development instead. His silence on the Hindutva issues is very eloquent; but if it is all that he has to offer then it may not be adequate.


Make no mistake about it. Hindu civilization is locked in a deadly battle for survival in the only land it can claim as its own. Its old enemies are adopting ever new tactics. It is an unequal fight. Hinduism which has no organisational centre is expected to fight a highly powerful church in terms of finances, organisation and motivation to protect its numbers. Hindus who cannot sustain animosity against anyone for long are up against incessant streams of jihadi terrorists raring to enjoy celestial nymphs in heaven after embracing martyrdom in the cause of Allah. The financial, organisational, political and manpower resources of Hindu organisations are a drop in ocean compared to the task before them.


The nature of war has changed. The means that enabled Hinduism to withstand the might of the Mughal empire may not be much use now. In fact, history tells us that Hindu rulers went under precisely because of their failure to grasp and respond to the changes in the nature of warfare.


World history is replete with narratives of mighty civilisations and religions which disappeared without a trace. It would be folly to assume that Hinduism can survive and flourish even if Hindus do not do anything to save it from its inveterate enemies. The political and demographic space available to it is shrinking fast.


To the secularists, all this may be nothing more than false alarm raised by communal forces with a divisive agenda. They may not shudder at the prospect of Hindus being a minority in India and Hinduism becoming extinct.


The question is: what is the response of normal, average Hindu? On the answer to that question depends the survival of Hindu civilisation.  

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