Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Everything that is wrong...

I am not trying to exclude my Western friends from this posting, but it may not be something that you relate to. Unfortunately, blogspot does not allow me to selectively modify the recipients for particular posts. So feel free to ignore this post.

I simply had to reply to this strange posting on blogspot by Arun, whom I found in the Pharyngula comments section for a post. His post really reflects everything that is wrong in modern India today with its inordinate emphasis on religion (despite its propounded status of a 'secular state').

I am going to put that post in here in its entirety, so that my discerning readers can see it for themselves.
From Arun's Musings
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Tirupathi Declaration
According to Swami Dayananda Saraswatiji there are far too many powerful people, even in India, in whose mental landscape there is no place for Hindus, and that unless Hindus act, Hinduism is finished. These forces include the Communists and the current ruling parties in India.

My comment - part of the problem is that secularism in India applies not to Hinduism - the government does not have any right to interfere in minority institutions, but runs and milks the manifold Hindu religious establishments.

Anyway, here is his declaration, and he hopes it catches the spirit of the people like the Quit India, 1942.

July 15, 2006

We Hindus assembled here declare
that we do not support, directly or indirectly,
any group, institution, religion, media,
or political force, which preaches, practices
or works against Hindu Dharma
in this country.

We appeal to all the Hindus
in this country and elsewhere
to subscribe to and support
this declaration,
the Tirupathi Declaration.

We want all the Hindu religious endowments
to be managed by Hindu bodies,
and not by the government.
We want the secular government
to release all religious endowments
from its hold.

This was my reply to him:

From your use of the honorific 'ji' after the name of Dayananda Saraswati, I suspect that you subscribe to that school of thought (or lack thereof). I cannot, of course, presume to teach you what is right and wrong. I can only say, and say it with pride, that Hinduism, the oldest religion/philosophy in the world, shall go on despite the weak-minded ramblings of Dayananda Saraswati and his ilk. The so-called Tirupathi Declaration is meant only to stir up a communal frenzy of the type seen more often in the Middle East or your esteemed neighbor. All sane and intelligent Indians should criticize it to the harshest possible extent.

Arun, do you know about the root of the word 'Dharma' (for that matter, does Dayanand Saraswati?)? It comes from 'Yah Dhaaranam Kritwaah' (what holds you together). Yes, it is an intensely personal experience, a communion with God, something not to be bandied about in public by the likes of Dayanand Saraswati.

I would not endeavor to preach here. But in your spare time, please try to look up, either in a book or in the internet, the origins of Hindu dharma, which long predates Dayanand Saraswati. You would notice terms like Advaita, Dvaita, Vishishtadvaita and so forth. The Advaita school of thought is one of the earliest Hindu philosophies, that declares the oneness of God. I don't know if you can really comprehend the enormity of it, but it really tells you that the one God is everywhere, from the smallest particles inside the atom, to the largest expanse of the universe; God is in everything, living and non-living, and in everyone, Hindu, non-Hindu, believer, non-believer. Do you realize that, Arun? God is in ALL of us, there is a spark of God in all of us, and all our lives we spend trying to realize that spark, in the end trying to merge with the universal God.

How do we, as Hindus, try to realize that spark, Arun? By trying to follow the basic tenets of any religion in the world, 'do unto others as you would have others do unto you', by striving to help others unconditionally, working towards eliminating the ills of mankind, poverty, disease, greed, and lack of education. This is how we are supposed to realize God, not by making incendiary statements, prosetylization, intolerance and general idiocy.

Do you really want to know what is wrong with India today? It is contained in the term 'religious establishment'. When purport of something as personal as religion is subverted into making establishments, be it Hindu or otherwise, it is bound to create confusion galore, for all establishments would essentially reflect the thoughts, ideas and even political aspirations of individuals. God, sadly, has no place in that!!

I hope you see the light, if not today, perhaps someday.

Unforunately, the Government of India has quite forgotten what is meant by a secular state, "a state with no state religion and in which the state is officially neutral in matters of religion, neither supporting nor opposing any particular religious beliefs or practices", a principle that is enshrined in the Constitution of India.


Blogger Arun said...

My reply to Jan can be found on my blog.

Wed Sep 20, 07:00:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Arun said...

The following should be replied to here:

"Unfortunately, the Government of India has quite forgotten what is meant by a secular state, "a state with no state religion and in which the state is officially neutral in matters of religion, neither supporting nor opposing any particular religious beliefs or practices", a principle that is enshrined in the Constitution of India."

Exactly. In order to become more secular, the Government of India should relinquish the control it has on Hindu religious institutions, and confer on Hindus the same rights and government non-interference as it confers on "minority" religions. That is what the latter part of the Tirupathi Declaration is asking for.

For Jan's western readers - dharma is better translated as "right and wrong" rather than "religion". The sources of dharma are tradition, the scriptures, reason, the thoughts and practices of those considered to be good. "Hindu dharma" is then the system of ethics/morality/values as embodied by Hindu scriptures, Hindu saints, teachers and heroes, Hindu tradition and reason applied to that. In universals it agrees with other dharma, e.g., you should not lie. In particulars, it can differ, e.g., just as cultures differ in rules of etiquette.

Wed Sep 20, 07:10:00 PM EDT  

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