A useful guide to know Hinduism
By Manju Gupta
Semetic Challenges by K.S. Narayanacharya, Kautilya Institute of National Studies, 86 pp, Rs 60.00
Prof. Narayanacharya hails from a family of Vedic scholars and has been a professor and principal of Karnataka Arts College. He is a passionate advocate of Hindu values as lasting solutions for the maladies afflicting our society and proposes a new standard of measurement to determine the greatness or otherwise of world religions. He says, ?A religion must truly be judged not for teaching its own tenets, but for how it views those practicing other religions and how it wants to dispose of them or live with them.?
Prof. Narayanacharya quotes the Semetic religions as saying ?since God has gifted the entire world to us, it is our rightful duty to convert or exterminate people of other religions depending upon their consent or refusal.? Hence, in the opinion of the author, ??Thou shalt not exist? is the Eleventh Commandment.? He adds that when the true religious spirit evaporates, as it does in Semetic religions, all sorts of dubious methods like Crusades, Inquisition, Jehad are used as the more violent methods than the surreptitious moves like allurements, fraud, calumny, iconoclasm against other religions in general and Hindu Dharma in particular.
A very pertinent point made by Prof. Narayanacharya is the ridicule of idolatry in Hinduism by other religions. He correctly points out that all human experiences and expressions?religious or otherwise?involve symbols, images, metaphors, similies, etc. The Semetic religions themselves use the Cross, the crescent and the star symbols in as much an ?idolatrous? way as the Hindu Dharma is accused of using its images.
He then promises the efficacy of the universal spirit of Dharma for the ills besetting mankind. He is convinced that there is no way of making self-righteous Semetic religionists and pseudo-secularists see the wisdom of Dharma. Equating Dharma with Hindu religion banishes ?our foundational concepts of imperialism, righteousness and cosmic order, and submissiveness to it out off our constitution. It does not occur to us that while religion is based on dogma, sets of beliefs, creeds decreed by individuals, Dharma is above all, above individual whims and fancies and for all times.? The author sounds justified in saying that the remedy lies in making Dharma the basis of all that we think and do. So long as aggressive ideologies of Semetic religions, with a no-holds-barred religious dogma for the entire mankind is held by them, violent conflicts and wars are inevitable. He continues that this is so because Semetic religions view plurality of religions on the intolerant basis of ?live and let die?. None can deny that for survival and well-being of mankind, understanding, cooperation, love, mutual respect, peace, respect for order, common civil law, fear of transgression of Dharma, acceptance of multiplicity of way of living and worship, and unity in diversity are the essential needs rather than an imposed doctrine from outside or by force of law.
Discussing the dismal consequences of the various European events like the French Revolution, medieval Christianity, plunging Europe into dark ages, horrors of Industrial Revolution and its consequent colonialism, imperialism and communism, Mughal and British rule in India and the rise of fundamentalism, the author feels that to make Ram Rajya a reality, Hinduism has to overcome its inherent weaknesses and grow stronger than ever before, particularly to face the global challenges of terrorism and fundamentalism.
The author advocates spiritual universalisation (Hindutva) as the only course to all challenges of varied forms of fundamentalism. He tells all religionists that you can have any symbol you please to realise your goal of reaching God, like the linga, images, idols, trishul or the crescent moon and star or the Cross as they also are a part of Nature and venerated by Hindus. But the objection is to the ideology of ?kill? or ?convert and destroy? those that do not follow you. He rightly concludes that religion can be practiced in one'sown way within society but with a social responsibility and with God-respecting cherished human values within the civilisational periphery when ?all else is madness that mankind can ill afford.?
(Kautilya Institute of National Studies, 977 ?Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Krupa?, Geetha Road, Chamaraja-puram, Mysore-570005.)