Hinduism in the twenty-first century Challenges and Opportunities?
A talk by Vamadeva Shastri (David Frawley)??
By N Nagaraja Rao?
The ability of Hindu dharma to spread in the coming century depends upon two factors—better education in Hindu dharma and Hindu culture; revealing greater connections between Hindu-based yoga and healing movements. These two factors go together and rest upon a renaissance on Hindu learning and teaching, as well as a clearer sense of Hindu identity. They both require a more articulate and supportive Hindu community, with different Hindu sampradayas coming together under the common banner of Sanatan Dharma. They rest upon a stronger and more self-confident form of Hinduism that does not need to include other religions as part of its own self-definition, said Dr David Frawley.
He was delivering a lecture on “Hinduism in the Twenty-First Century: Challenges and Opportunities” organised by Social Cause at Mekaster Auditorium, Osmania University Campus in Hyderabad on February 29.
Dr Frawley said: “Hinduism has become a much more positive term in the West than it was even a couple of decades ago, and has lost a lot of its negative colonial and missionary stereotypes. That Hindus in the West have a very high level of income and education, and upper level jobs, has gone very far to change the image of Hindus as economically deprived and superstitious, and makes them into an appealing commercial and political group. Hindus are now the best educated and most affluent minority in the US except for the Jews and have an average income twice that of other religious groups.”
Hinduism as a religion predominates in India and Nepal and influences the surrounding countries in a major way, as far as Indonesia, where traces of older Hinduism remains, particularly in Bali. This is part of the earlier historical spread of Hinduism but still constitutes the major Hindu population in the world today. Since India’s Independence in the middle of the last century Hinduism and Hindus have gained in resources and power, though they have had to compromise a lot along the way. There has been a tendency to identify the main issues of Hinduism with those of India or Hindus in India, which remains very important. However, today now this India-centered Hinduism has two new related worldwide movements that add a new dimension to what Hinduism is.
Dr Frawley articulated that he found a number of Western Buddhists to be philosophically Hindus or Vedantins. They accept karma and rebirth, the existence of the Atman, Brahman, Ishvara, but identify themselves as Buddhists because of their identification of Hinduism with reputed caste and other social inequalities. Western commercial and multinational business forces also have targeted India and Hinduism in various ways, mainly as a new consumer market. Yet they are willing to allow an Indian or Hindu face for their operations. Their aggressive commercialism is as much a threat to India’s culture as to Hinduism, as well as to the environment, but is not overtly promoting conversion. Yet on the positive side, many Hindus are excelling in the global business economy. Hinduism can provide much of the solution in terms of ideas and practices, if it is taught and articulated in the right manner, and its dharmic values brought out.
Sri C Uma Maheswara Rao, Rtd. IAS officer presided over the function, while Dr Sahadeva Dasa, president, ISKCON, Secunderabad was the Guest of Honour in the meeting.
Sri Uma Maheswara Rao said that present generation especially younger generation has to keep themselves aware of Sanatana Dharma. He warned of the evils of localisation, globalisation and cut throat competitions among various religions and evangelists to gobble up Hinduism by various enticements.
Dr Sahadeva Dasa said religion is the main difference between animals and human beings. Any human being without religion is compared to a “two legged animal. He also said that Sanatana Dharma needs to be propagated by all Hindus to make it stronger and youth should be encouraged to defend Sanatana Dharma. He recalled that Shri Prabhupada, founder of ISKcon, arrived in the United States with just seven dollars in Indian rupees and began to share the timeless wisdom of Krishna consciousness. His message of peace and goodwill resonated with many young people, some of whom came forward to become serious students of the Krishna tradition. Summarising his speech, Swamiji said by “sincerely cultivating true spiritual science, we can be free from anxiety and come to a state of pure, unending, blissful consciousness in this lifetime.”
Dr Susheela Somaraju, president of Social Cause, presided over the meet and Sri U Atreya Sarma, vice-president, proposed a vote of thanks.?