By Swami Asangananda Bharati
The Supreme Court pronounced, in its historic judgment in December 1995, that Hinduism is a way of life and not a religious concept as the protagonists of secularism and some so called secular political parties have made it a slogan of their policy, to oppose everything which carries as prefix or suffix the word ‘Hindu?.
In 1996, the famous jurist late Shri V.M. Tarkunde, pronounced his own judgment on the judgment of the Supreme Court which was published in an article on ‘Hinduism and the Supreme Court? in The Hindustan Times (March 10, 1996). He proclaimed that “the decisions of the Supreme Court are highly derogatory to the principles of secular democracy.” Thus, can we really say that we have a democracy at all? Is just dragging the illiterate people to the voting booths by slogans, like a shepherd drives its flock, democracy?
First of all, I would like to ask the learned jurist and protagonists of secularism: Do we really have a secular democracy? If so, what does it mean? Is our Constitution truly secular? He has, I believe and like him many protagonists of so called secularism, never contemplated on these questions. The ruling Congress governments, right from the beginning after Independence, have distorted secularism to pamper the Indian Muslims, whom I would call Muslim Hindus for their votes and then the Narasimha Rao government pampered the Christians, also for their votes by proposing to extend the benefits of reservation to the Christian Dalits. Who are these Indian Muslims? Who are the Christian Dalits? Christianity does not believe in castes and classes. Was this move of the government secular democracy? For him and some of the intellectuals of his thinking and so called secular politicians, anything said and done, with a name Hindu attached, is non-secular and communal, howsoever constitutional it may be, as is the present judgment of the learned Supreme Court judges. Everyone opposed to the secularism of these protagonists is communal. It is like the fundamental Muslims who declare non believers, non Muslims as kafirs. The way the Constitution has been raped by the Congress governments for their selfish political ends to appease the Muslims and now the Christians also, isn'tit derogatory?
Shri Tarkunde exercised his judicial reasoning to prove that Hindutva does not mean the culture of the Indian nation. Then what does? He has reasoned to show that Hindustan has no culture of its own because according to him, Hindutva cannot be understood to include the culture of the Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc. For people like him, culture and religion are the same, it appears. What is culture? The Webster'sDictionary defines culture as “enlightenment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training; acquaintance with and taste in fine arts, humanities and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills; the integrated pattern of human behaviour that includes thought, speech, action and artifacts and depends upon men'scapacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.” Doesn'tit fit the concept of Hindutva as the integrated culture of all the people of Hindustan?
The Congress governments, right from the beginning after Independence, have distorted secularism to pamper the Indian Muslims, whom I would call Muslim Hindus, for their votes and then the Narasimha Rao government pampered the Christians, also for their votes by proposing to extend the benefits of reservation to the Christian Dalits.
As such historically all the people of this land are Hindus, whatever may be their mode of worship—saying prayers and doing puja in a temple, performing namaz in a mosque, chanting hymns and sermons in a church, singing guruvani in a gurdwara, attending a synagogue.
Shri Tarkunde and many protagonists of misguided secularism in Hindustan are unaware of the brotherhood feelings that exist between various communities at the grassroot level in the rural areas until aroused by fanatic community leaders and politicians. Aren'tMuslim singers singing songs inspired by Krishna and Rama? Haven'tthe Muslim poets been inspired by Sanatan Hindu philosophy and thought? Haven'tSanatan Hindus written elegant poetry in Urdu and Persian and sung at Muslim shrines? Aren'tMuslim actors and actresses playing the roles of Sanatan Hindu religion and the Sanatan Hindus those of Muslim? Culturally and genetically we are all Hindus: Sanatan Hindus, Muslim Hindus, Christian Hindus, and so on. As the late Justice M.C. Chagla put it, “I am proud to call myself a Hindu because I trace my ancestors to my Aryan forefathers and I cherish the philosophy and culture that they handed down to successive generations.”
Hazrat Saz Rahman (Firdausi Baba) claimed that “Islam has to be considered the child of Mother Hind. Basically there is no difference between Hindu dharma and Islam. Both are one.”
This is the true import of culture. For Shri Tarkunde and people of his thinking, perhaps wearing a certain type of beard, donning a certain kind of dress, worshipping in a particular way or in a mosque or church, etc. makes for culture of the people. That is why they are confused between culture and religion. Historically and culturally we are all Hindus.
The learned jurist and others like him are confused about Hinduism and Hindu also. It is true that there is no religion like Hinduism. Hinduism is a way of life, way of thought on matters spiritual as pronounced by the Supreme Court. The word Hindu was used by the Muslim invaders from the Arab countries to describe the people of this land around and beyond the River Sind, as they pronounced Sind and Hind. This is borne out by Arabic literature also as in Arabic/Persian they call numbers as Hindsa, because they learnt mathematics from Hind; the name of the wife of the ruler of Mecca, with whom Mohammad fought for Mecca, was Hind. As such, historically all the people of this land are Hindus, whatever may be their mode of worship—saying prayers and doing puja in a temple, performing namaz in a mosque, chanting hymns and sermons in a church, singing guruvani in a gurdwara, attending a synagogue.
I would say we are all Hindus—children of Mother Hind. Our country is Hindustan and our culture is Hindutva. This is the true concept of Hindutva which must be understood and inculcated in the minds of all the people of this nation, if we want to cultivate true secular democracy. The presently confused and wrong concepts were the creation of the foreign rulers of this unfortunate land in order to divide the people and, perpetuate their rule. Regrettably, our Constitution puts a seal on these divisive policies in the name of minorities, scheduled castes and tribes, etc. which has been strengthened by the ruling Congress and other allied governments during the last half century for their political motives for votes and is still being exploited by the political parties and communal leaders, with the result that a spate of caste and communal parties have sprung up in recent years, vitiating the body politic of the country.
Religion wise also, in essence there is no difference in Vedic/Sanatan dharma, Islam and Christianity or Jewish religion while Shri Tarkunde and the people of like thinking think that they are all different. Doesn'tVedanta of Sanatan Hindus propagate Advaita philosophy and Hindus? Brahman and Muslims? Allah of Islam, god of the Christians being the same? The Quran and the Bible also believe in rebirth and reincarnation as the Sanatan dharma. If the people of these faiths are ignorant or kept ignorant by their Imams and religious leaders, whose fault is it?
The criticism that the Hindus worship many gods and goddesses is based on utter ignorance, even of some Westernised Sanatan Hindus. Sanatan Hindus worship many devas, not gods. Devas and gods are not synonymous terms. There is no proper equivalent word for deva in English language, hence the misunderstanding. Devas can be understood as ‘bright beings?. All beings, animate or inanimate, possessing noble qualities of usefulness to human kind are devas and worshipped by humans. Mohammad, a human being of noble qualities and enlightenment, who became a prophet is worshipped by Muslims; Christ and other saints were human beings of noble qualities who are worshipped by their followers. Sanatan Hindu dharma goes many steps ahead of all faiths in that it declares all that exists in Nature, which possesses usefulness to human beings, are devas worthy of worship. That is why they worship the Sun, the Moon, the air, water, fire and even certain trees, etc. as devas. What is wrong with it? Aren'twe indebted to them for our existence itself? Other faiths which do not believe in it are ungrateful to Mother Nature.
This is part of the culture of Hindustan, which is Hindutva or Hinduism. A large section of the Muslims and Christians of Hindustan too believe in it and practise it in their life. They sing bhajans and kirtan of Rama and Krishna, practise many Sanatan Hindu rituals and festivals, etc. A Muslim worker, a meson confided to me that his grand daughter got small-pox and he prayed to Mother Durga and she became well. In another instance, a Sanatan Hindu, who worked as a painter in my house, asked me if I could help his brother who was not paid his wages by a contractor. I asked him to bring his brother to me. He came with him the next day and when I asked him his name, he was a Muslim. Then I asked him, “You said he was your brother?” He replied that he was from his village and is like a brother. These are instances of true secularism and culture which Shri Tarkunde and persons of his thinking and the politicians do not know of. If they know, then they do not want to propagate it among the masses for fear of losing their political clout. After all, genetically and historically we are all Hindus. The same blood of the ancient saints and sages flows in the veins of these masses as in that of the Sanatan Hindus. What if their forefathers were converted to other faiths under compulsion? If, say, my son adopts any other faith for some reason, will his culture change? Will his blood be different than that of mine or my forefathers? NO.
I would like Shri Tarkunde and the people of his thinking to think rationally on these important matters for the nation and for secular democracy to grow, instead of flowing with the wrong currents of thought created by vested interests, nationally and internationally. They should remove the webs of prejudice from their minds about the misleading concepts about Hindu and Hindutva and try to propagate right thinking, which is in the interest of the nation for its integration as one people. The nation does not mean the geographical region, but its patriotic people. I would like to address the media and the intelligentsia of the country, and the political parties to ponder over what I have tried to elucidate for the larger interests of the country and its people, or else the future of the nation is doomed.
(The writer, formerly known as Dr Om Sharma, is a disciple of Swami Rama of the Himalayas and Director of Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy, NIL 24A, Malviya Nagar, New Delhi.)