In my last column I wrote that the Clash of Civilisations as envisaged by Professor Samuel Huntington would take place, with US, Israel and India on one side of the divide, and militant Islamic countries on the other side. India will be forced to side with the US because the fundamentalist terrorist Muslims will mindlessly leave Hindus with no other choice. They will radicalise the Hindu mind by ceaseless atrocities, and that will pave the way for a new Hindu mindset and aggressiveness. In that context, the US and Israel will be India'snatural allies.
Hindus may have been passive in the past but they have resisted atrocities with infinite patience, and perhaps patience to a fault. But even that passive resistance is why a thousand years of brutality and impoverishment thrust on Hindus, first from the Muslim invaders and later Christian imperialists, could not make more than 25 per cent Hindus convert to their religions. In other parts of the world it took just a few years of such savagery to convert one hundred per cent of the nations?from borders of France to the shores of Indonesia.
The 21st century Hindu is, however, not passive, but is confused on what to do, much as Arjuna was in Kurukshetra. Once the confusion goes, the Hindu will be ready to actively take on the world once again. We can, paradoxically and ironically, rely on Muslim and Christian fanatics to awaken the Hindu consciousness and purushartha to remove this confusion. But that would be by reaction. We need instead or in addition to clear the confusion by pro-active measures.
The confusion today is caused by the conflict between the innate Hindu belief that all religions lead to God, hence equal in that sense, and yet that other religions obstruct the Hindu'speaceful worship by propaganda, subversion, conversion and plain terrorism. The Hindu has no history of, or theological basis for engaging in a religious war, that is anything like a jehad or a crusade, and yet he is being challenged to do just that. But just as Arjuna was, the Hindu is confused on how he can fight a war with other religions which he respects as equally capable of leading to God. Moreover, a Hindu still thinks it is enough that he is personally true to his religion, i.e., if he is pious, observes religious festivals, and goes to temples. That is, the Hindu is an individualist, and lacks today a collective mindset that rises above caste and language. This mentality has to change, which the VHP had successfully attempted in the nineteen eightees and the nineties, but which collective mindset has been dissipated since for reasons known to all concerned.
This confusion will, however, inevitably go because of a skewing of the demography of India in favour of the educated youth and the proliferation of mass media. This synergy has to harvested pro-actively. Both the RSS and VHP have a national network of this educated youth, that can at short notice mobilise people even in the most adverse circumstance. I still vividly remember how the RSS in the Emergency functioned efficiently under the most trying and dangerous of situations. The brilliant co-ordination of the underground in the cause of democracy, led by the late Madhavrao Muley the then Karyavaha of the RSS, needs to be properly chronicled and become part of the textbooks of schools and college for future generations to know how democracy was restored in India?when the whole world and most of the Indian elite had given up hope.
What the Hindus lack today to remove the confusion is, therefore, not an instrument. The Sangh and its associated organisations and the Dharma Sansad is there to fill that role. There is also enough literature available to know the mindset we need inculcate today. What we need today, however, is a ?cutting edge? formation of national and international allies. Just as in the Emergency we were able to persuade at the national level Jayaprakash Narayan and Morarji Desai to cross the bogus semantic rekha of secular Congress and communal Opposition and form a Lok Sangharsh Samiti, and involved the NRIs abroad through the Friends of India Society International (which I founded in London in 1976 with the help of Sangh swayamsevaks), patriots today need to form a new front of allies to win the coming Clash of Religions.
Who can be these allies today? Within the country it can be any Hindu who is not involved in criminal activities and such those of the minorities who acknowledge that their ancestors are Hindus. This front can adopt a Hindustan Agenda for mental clarity, mobilisation of the people, and for implementation.
Internationally, it has to be of those who see the threat of Christianity and have affinity for the Hindu family of religions. Jews can be only passive allies with us for obvious reasons. Muslims of the world would have, however, not recovered from the lost Clash of Civilisations to be effective allies.
Hindus will, therefore, have only Buddhists to depend on the world over to combat the onward march of the Christian missionary. But where are the Buddhists ? They are all over Asia but followers of Hinayana Buddhism for historical reasons not very well disposed to Hinduism. Thus, Buddhists of Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam may not be in the forefront in the coming Clash of Religions.
However, what is significant for us today is the revival of Mahayana Buddhism in China. China today faces an onslaught from the Church, but at the same time does not want any demonstrative collective adherence to any religion. Thus, the Chinese government is averse to organises dissent in any form, religious or otherwise. For example, China bans the Falun Gong. But two trends within China make that country and it'speople our potential ally in the future in the coming Clash of Religions. The first is the Chinese government'spropensity to challenge the Vatican? the fountain head of international proselytising activities with it'sstorm troopers, the Opus Dei. Recently, the Chinese had ordained Bishops in China without the customary mandatory nominations from the Vatican, thereby causing a world wide furore in the Vatican and amongst the Catholics.
The second trend is the increasing revival of Mahayana Buddhism endorsed by the Chinese government in the name of creating a ?harmonious society? in China. Alarmed by the social tension created by the widening income disparities, the Chinese leaders want Buddhism to douse the fire of jealousy thus caused.
Recently, China'sofficial media, Xinhua news agency has reported an official, Ye Xiaowen, as saying that ?Buddhism has a unique role in China in promoting a harmonious society?. He added that ?religion is one of the important social forces from which China draws strength?. Since then the World Buddhist Forum met in Hangzhou, and the Buddhist temples began to be renovated. In Shanghai alone, in the last five years, more than 25 Buddhist temples have been revived. Training of monks is also permitted.
The Chinese Communist leadership realises that the rich-poor and Coast-hinterland economic divide accentuated by economic reforms can cause a major class struggle and upheaval. Hence, officials feel the mental equanimity that Buddhism teaches is a way to contain unhappiness of the people when some get rich too fast.
The undercurrent of Mahayana Buddhism in China has always been strong. In 1936, the famous Chinese poet and President of Beijing University, Dr. Hu Shih was invited by Harvard University to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the founding of Harvard. Dr. Hu delivered a speech titled ?The Indianisation of China? in which he complained how deeply the Chinese had imbibed Hindu concepts of purvajanma karma, re-incarnation, nishkam karma and others through Mahayana Buddhism. Dr. Hu, a Christian, then argued that unless the Chinese purged themselves of these Hindu concepts, China would not progress.
The Communist leaders of China have eschewed religion, in fact, tried to suppress it. But in private they express genuine admiration for Buddhism. Now that respect has become open with the acceptance of the goal to create a ?harmonious society?. In 1981, when I met China'ssupreme Deng Xiaoping in Beijing and urged him to re-open the Kailash Manasarovar pilgrim route, he readily agreed but said I must walk there first to get God'sblessings. When I looked at him a bit surprised, Deng added that Kailash was a Buddhist mountain too and Chinese respect that. Chairman Mao had in 1949 reportedly told the Indian Ambassador when he first met him after Communist take-over of China, that his mother (a Buddhist) had told him that if he did ?good work in this life?, he would be re-born in Xitian Jongguo (an earlier name for Yindu(India)-meaning western heaven and middle kingdom).
The India-China religious compact that I advocate here to combat crusading Christianity is not urgent. It cannot happen before the Clash of Civilisation is over, i.e., after Jehadi Islam is de-fanged. Thus, the succeeding Clash of Religions may be two decades away. But then we must set into motion now the facilitating arrangements for the compact to click in place when the time comes. Henceforth, Sino-Indian cooperation must include religious issues delicately and carefully framed, but with increasing width and depth. Delegations of spiritually empowered persons must be exchanged. Past links such as Bodhidharma going from Kanchipuram to teach Dhyana (Zen) and Wu Shih martial arts in Shaolin should be publicised. The ground must be prepared for a Brihad Hindu unity between India and China.
The coming Clash of Religions, principally between Hinduism and Christianity will be largely intellectual and political, and not like the hot conflict in the Clash of Civilisations. Hence, we need to formulate concepts that challenge Christianity.
One of those concepts is to literally dissect Christian theology as between what Christ preached and what Saint Paul allegedly interpolated, embellished, fabricated and superimposed on Christianity. In fact, Christ was not a Christian but a Mahayana Buddhist, which religion he imbibed in Kashmir. He also studied in Puri in Orissa. After suffering brutality in Israel, he is believed to have returned to Kashmir, where after living for several years, he was on his death buried near Srinagar.
Is there any shred of evidence for all this ? This will be adduced in my next column. But those who have read Da Vinci Code of Dan Brown should not find what I have said above surprising.