Sanatana Dharma & Hindutva, A.H. Srinivas, Shri Kashi Sesha Sastri Religious Trust, 540 pp, Rs 300.00
Written by an ex-serviceman, who being philosophical and spiritual, developed interest in spiritual scriptures while serving the nation. What is more, he is a scholar of comparative religion and is familiar with the fundamental tenets of Islam, Christianity and the Hindu tantras.
The title of the book refers to Sanatana Dharma and Hindutva. Sanatana in Sanskrit means ?eternal? and is derived from ?sanat? meaning always, old. To the Hindus, Sanatana means eternal with constancy at its core and consistent adaptability to the ever-changing environment. Dharma literally means that which holds or bears, i.e. decree, statute, law, conduct, etc.
The word Hindu is characterised by faith in a set of religious notions such as God, Vedas, varna, ashrama, rebirth or reincarnation, kama and moksha while Hindutva is a sum of religious attributes.
The book under review is divided into three parts?scriptural basis of Hindutva, state of Sanatana Dharma and remedial measures to preserve and perpetuate Hindutva and Sanatana Dharma.
In the first part, the author discusses the three forms of Dharma in Hinduism?conduct in worldly affairs and social relationships (smarta); conduct in religious and socio-religious life (shrota); and conduct in spiritual life (paramarthika). The first and the third parts transcend caste, creed and religion. The second pertains to one'scompetency to follow the Vedas. In the third part, the author talks of the varna and jati system and emphasises that competency in the Vedas is prescribed only for religious conduct and jati is merely for religious performance and not for division of persons into high and low classes in the societal structure. The author regrets that though Smaratha Dharma and Paramarthika Dharma advocate only guna and kama (competency and aptitude), we are giving priority to misguided notions of secularism, casteist considerations and reservations over competency and aptitude in the social field. He says, ?Names of castes by birth should not be dragged in because of lack of competency and aptitude?. (Let'shope Arjun Singh like V.P. Singh realises this before it is too late). He says only Sanatana Dharma had introduced ?caste by birth? along with competency and aptitude. This was merely to give importance to initiation and performing of ritualistic duties. Since Vedic time, the society has been based on the varnashrama system under which occupations of people were given caste connotations and which over the years got distorted to the caste system. Here he says before we say the system is not good for the society we should hold discussions on Truth:
Ekopi veda-viddarmah yam vyadaste dwijottamah
Savigneya parodharmo magnamam-uditoyutai
(Even one Brahmin, who is well versed in the Vedas and Vedangas and knows and practices its disciplines, may be taken as follower of correct Dharma. But if people who are ignorant and decide about Dharma, then it is not correct.)
In Part II, the travails of Hindu religion are traced to their sources. In an analytical study the author talks of corruption in elections, delayed justice, religious antagonism, cries of jehad, misinterpreted casteism and secularism. Here he reveals his profound scholarship in comparative religion by quoting copiously from the scriptures of other religions like the Quran, Bible, Zend, Talmud and Confucianism to show that the values of Sanatana Dharma are reflected in these religions also. The author talks of the significance of sanyas diksha for realising change and degeneration of all universal creation, guarding the society against ills and degeneration for which one'slife is too short, and finding God realisation so as not to remain attached to social responsibilities till death. ?Salvation is known as parma purushartha, i.e. the foremost aim of life? or else be prepared to undergo the cycles of birth and death repeatedly.
Part III of the book analyses the contemporary crises ravaging the Hindu Dharma and suggests remedial measures on the social, religious and political fronts. On the social front he says,
Yauvamam dharma sampatti
Ekaikapynarthaya kim yatra chatushtayam
(Youth, wealth, property, power and position, and indiscretion if unethically used can lead to disaster and what to speak when all four are combined.)
On the religious front, he says that a national policy should be formulated for preaching and practicing the separate religions and propagation of any religion must exclude religious conversion of innocents and illiterates.
On the political front, he suggests major changes in the election system, i.e. reformation of elections, candidates and elections, mode of governance, more economic transparency of representatives elected and acceleration of the judicial process.
In short, the author advocates establishment of an Indian congress of religions which would restore Ramrajya, the foundation for which was based on Hindu Dharma and which should be the dream and hope of every true Hindu.
(Shri Kashi Sesha Sastri Religious Trust, Adi Shakthi, No. 14/116 First Cross Road, Munireddy Layout, Chikkakallasandra, Subramanyapura Post, Bangalore-560 061.)