It is not being facetious to say that if there is one book that all ?secularists??and especially those in power presently?must make it and urgent point to read is Dr K.S. Narayanacharaya'sshort?indeed, all too short,?treatise of Fundamentalism Versus Hinduism. They might, thereafter, get better educated and use words like ?secularism?, ?fundamentalism?, ?communalism? a little bit more carefully. Secularism is probably the most prostituted word today in India. It has lost its original meaning which is separation of religion from the state. Such are the times today that if one confesses even privately that he is a devout Hindu, one can expect to be condemned as a ?communalist? if not a latter-day fascist.
It has been the fashion among our semi-literate ?intellectuals? to quote with great fervour that Hinduism looks at all religions with equal respect. Sarva dharma Sama-bhava. What a wonderful thought! The only trouble is that the semetic religious don'tfeel that way at all. Neither Christianity, nor Islam has any use for the ?samabhava? approach. They want all the rest to get converted into their folds.
The legacy of such great and tolerant leaders like Gandhi and Nehru has fooled educated men and women for a long time through media propaganda. Secularism, to their mind, is being anti-Hindu. Hinduism by definition, are fundamentalists while Muslims and Christians are secular. The word ?fundamental in itself is innocuous and harmless, as Dr Narayanacharya points out in this short study. All that it means is something foundational or basic to a thought system, ideology or outlook. But, as Dr Narayanacharya rightly points out, if these foundational or basic ideas are inhuman and dangerous to the larger interests of humanity, particularly to those who do not subscribe to such closed ideologies, then fundamentalism acquires an anti-human or anti-civilisational abusive meaning.
The tragedy has been that a Hindus society demoralised after a thousand years of alien rule has fallen easy prey to our contemporary ?secularists? afraid to assert themselves and fall back on their old tried and trusted culture. Dr Narayanacharya demands that ?we have to disabuse the minds of our young men and women, as also of the Macaulayised older generation, on certain fundamental truths, not realised due to confusion, suppression, fear, inhibition and ignorance?. Whatever one might say of Hinduism?one should really call it Sanatana dharma?there is no ?Hard? Hinduism, just as there is no ?Soft? Islam or Christianity. What exists in India today is a demoralised Hindu society tired after a long drawn out and heroic fight with barbarians and their murderous creeds. India has seen the destruction of large number of temples with a certain amount of equanimity, mixed with fear. Even in so limited an area as Goa, Christian forces have decimated temples with utter ruthlessness. But Hinduism has survived because its strength lies in its universality, and may one add, its humanity.
Again, as Dr Narayanacharya puts it beautifully: ?The Buddhist sense of growing identity, the Jain sense of moral purity and self-efforts to seek perfection, the Vedic goal of achieving victory over forces of evil in man, Sankara'sidea of man'sinherent Divinity, Ramanuja'sidea of inseparable relations between man and God, Madhva'sidea of eternal plurality, Vivekananda'scall for achievement of Perfection, Sri Aurobindo'sidea of man becoming Superman? are all signs of growing, living organic thought-current, life current for which there is no parallel anywhere in the world?. It is in the acceptance of this that makes for a peaceful world. In Indonesia social harmony was made possible by the people by grafting skillfully the Islamic mode of worship with its Hindu cultural basis, eschewing fundamentalism. That is by no means ?secularism?. It is the height of wisdom. It is only in Indonesia that a currency note can carry the figure of Ganesha, that the Indonesian airlines can be called Garuda Airlines. Hindutva is a call to a people to recover their self-respect and to think afresh of their ancient heritage which has been so much and so often a subject of secularist slander, derision and disrespect. Hinduism transcends the scheme of dividing humanity into believers and unbelievers. It stands for the inescapable values of peaceful co-existence and the perfection of the inner man. To damn it as our ?secularists? do is to damn our ancient heritage?a heritage unequalled in any part of the world. It is only in India that we can hear the prayer: sarve janaha sukhino bhavantu. It is this universalism that is, in the final analysis, the essence of Hinduism.
(Kautilya Institute of National Studies, 977, Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Krupa, Geetha Road, Chamarajapuram, Mysore-570 005.)