By Manju Gupta
The Hindu Way by M.S.N. Menon, RMG Publishers, 132 pp, Rs 95.00
The publishers have made a beginning with this book under its ?Grow with Us Books? series, wherein titles meant to inspire a new generation of Hindu nationalist scholars will be brought out.
The book under review compares the Hindu religion with Christianity and Muslims by saying, ?While Indians took to speculation, the rest of the world took a different route. They said: God created everything. How did they know? It was ?revealed?, they said. Thus the Gospel and the Quran, became the last word for Christianity and Muslims. There was nothing more to know for them. With what result? While the Hindus continued to speculate over the mysteries of the universe, others had nothing to do.? He praises the Hindus and quotes Dr S. Radhakrishnan who said, ?The Aryans did not possess the pride of the fanatic that his was the true religion,? and was never afraid of dissent or diversity. ?It is the spirit of accommodation and tolerance that made India a peaceful haven to so many religions and peoples.? He continues, ?Little do these people realise that the Hindu civilisation is based on freedom of enquiry, that we cannot change it without destroying the very foundation of our civilisation.?
In the next two chapters the author quotes extensively from Mahatma Gandhi'sviews on Hinduism who did not ?consider myself fit to interpret Hinduism except through my own life… Believing as I do in the influence of heredity, being born in a Hindu family, I have remained a Hindu. I should reject it if I found it inconsistent with my moral sense or my spiritual growth. I have found it to be the most tolerant of all religions known to me.? Yes, it is the tolerance of Hinduism that it allows anyone to convert to it without going through any rites or rituals. Hinduism is essentially a way of life; it is not a religion.
Chapter 4 talks of the Jews and makes an interesting observation that the Jews came from either Iran or from a town near Srinagar in Kashmir, so much so that the grave of Moses has been found in Kashmir.
Another interesting aspect is the parallel that the author draws between Krishna and Christ, and between Buddha and Christ. At times it seems that either all the gods of all religions descended on earth at the same time or could it be that there was one God only who roamed the earth in diferent forms?sometimes as Christ, at times as Krishna and at other times as Buddha? The rest of this chapter is devoted to Christianity, so much so that it seems the author has studied more about Christianity than any other religion.
Chapter 5 is devoted to idolatry in which the author rightly points out that ?idolatry has been held against Hinduism as its principal blot. But it is the most natural thing.? The author explains through the 64 kalas (arts) created by the Hindu civilisation to honour its gods, and to please both the mind and the senses, while the ?Semitic faiths, more so Islam, put restrictions on both. It discouraged music and dance, prohibited painting and sculpture and insisted on simple architecture. As a result, Semitic faiths, more so the Jewish faith, are marked by the poverty of their civilisations.?
In the next chapter the author finds Islam incompatible with democracy wherein the individual is not free. The author expounds on the emergence of terrorism, the Taliban and how correct he sounds when he says, ?The support of Britain and the USA to authoritative Muslim regimes has been another reason for the absence of democracy in the Muslim world. They (Britain and USA) see any disturbance in the status quo as a threat to their oil interests. The Islamists feel that the West is a threat to Islam. The continuing support of the West to the secular and Westernised elements proves their point.? Absolutely correct, but then does this not mean that modernisation should not be allowed to penetrate Islam and does it not mean leaving the Arabs in the past?
The last chapter is devoted to chitrashalas and encouragement given to art and architecture, dance and drama by the Hindus who were the most civilised people in the world during the period of Mohenjodaro civilisation.
(RMG Publishers, 250-A Pocket I, Mayur Vihar, Phase-I, Delhi-110 091.)