Ennapadam Bhagavati

Bhagavathi at Ennapadam Temple at Kerala

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Chimera of 'Secularism

Freedom of worship is one of the fundamental freedoms in our democracy. It is postulated in the Preamble to our Constitution and several Ar­ticles define the scope and extent of the right. We are a people with deep religious moorings. At the same time, we have a living tradition of religious tolerance---the result of the broad outlook of Hinduism that all religions lead to the same God. It was this tradition that had largely brought about a happy coexistence between the different religious groups in the country for centuries. .

No doubt the forces of secularism, socialism and science in post independent India have released our people from the clutches of meaningless tradition of superstitions, but at the same time they have created in them a certain moral, cultural and spiritual vacuum that has not been filled by any other meaningful substitute.

The violent distur­bances of law and order that are taking place all over the country at present even at the slightest provocation bear ample testimony to this trend. The remedy to cure this malady lies in the proper understanding of Hindu religion and culture.

Our religion, with a long unbroken tradition of philosophy, culture and meaningful rituals, brings about a certain discipline which touches our conscience and helps us to struggle against evil and sordidness, saves us from greed, lust and hatred, releases moral power and imparts to us courage in the enterprise of fighting for a better social order. This discipline implies the submitting of our thinking and conduct to the truths of the spirit and the generation of a binding force that deepens the solidarity of human society.

Hindu Religion is not to be associated with the meaningless dogmas and creeds, rights and ceremo­nies which may repel many of us, but with the deep­est wisdom of the ancient seers of the Sanatana Dharma, which can safely guide us through the bewildering chaos of modern thought.

This Religion is to be associated with that ancient wisdom of ours which is international in feeling and intention and which by virtue of its vi­tality, has affected men of all races and has been able to survive political and social changes through the ages, and which must remain forever even while other achievements of man may change or perish from time to time.

When we talk of Hindu religion and secularism, we have to remember that Hindu religion is not in any way opposed to secularism. They are, on the other hand, closely interrelated. Indian secularism is not alien to Indian culture, despite the mischievous and vicious attempts of several politicians and irresponsible journalists in recent years to prove it to the contrary. Indian secularism is part and parcel of HIndu culture. In modern India, 'Secularism’ has been converted into a mischievous slogan by unscrupulous politicians and their paid and kept journalistic lackeys.

The concept of Secularism as it is commonly understood today is a force contrary to moral and spiritual values. Secularism is capable o1 three distinct meanings. They may be called. A) Spiritual; B) Rational, C) Materialistic. There is a common ground for all these interpretations. It is that in the political and economic life of India, parties and policies and loyalties should not be based upon religion but should cut across religions and be based on the objective of maximum National Welfare. While this may appear to be satisfactory for practical administrative purposes, yet the more fundamental approach towards secular­ism has to rest on more solid spiritual foundations which only in the long run will have a decisive wholesome impact on national outlook and behaviour.

The spiritual interpretation, of secularism is that all religions spring from the primary human crav­ing to understand and feel God or the infinite in which the entire universe in general and man in particular has his being. Therefore it is far more important that one should recognise and feel its presence than the manner in which it should be named, described and worshipped.

Hence the truly spiritual human being will re­spect all religions while clinging to his own. He will not allow differences of religion to come in the way of fullest cooperation in those fields where reason and science should prevail. This in essence was Gandhiji's view on secularism. Gandhiji’s view was derived from the traditions of Sanatana Dharma.

According to the rationalistic view of secular­ism, religion is essentially irrational and super­stitious and it should be progressively eliminated through scientific education. Till then It should be prevented by all possible means from intrud­ing into the social, political, economic and cul­tural life of the people. It should be strictly rel­egated to the home for the present and ultimately expelled from that refuge also. In trying to prevent the intrusion of religion into national and public affairs, coercion and physi­cal force should be avoided to the extent possi­ble, but wherever necessary the help of coer­cive legislation may be taken. This has been the policy of the Congress Party under the leader­ship of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

According to the materialistic interpretation bf secularism (Karl Marx?), religion is essentially an evil and has been the instrument of enslaving the masses by the oppressive and exploitive classes. Therefore it is nec­essary to suppress it by organised propaganda if possible and by force if necessary.

In India, except for the small number of Communists, the general public opinion is vaguely di­vided between the first two interpretations.

Under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru, the rationalist meaning of secularism has come to prevail generally among the politicians and the Union and State government have during the last fifty years tried to function as if religions did not exist in India or at least they should not be given any quarter or recognition unless they came under the category and label of ‘minority faiths', like Christianity and Islam.

Any religion or faith coming under the category 'minority faith/religion' becomes automatically 'secular' and ‘cosmopolitan'. Applying this thumb rule, 'Hinduism' by the virtue of the fact that it is the faith of the majority, becomes automatically a 'communal and non-secular' faith.
Nehru's anti-Hindu agnostic materialistic and rationalistic thinking had a disastrous, impact on the philosophy and working of several academic institution's established by Gov­ernment of India like the Indian Council of Histori­cal Research (ICHR), Institute of Advanced Stud­ies (IAS), Simla, National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) etc. All these institutions were fully loaded and packed with Marxist intellectuals who were all inducted as part of 'Nehru Rojgar Jobbery Programme'.

As Arun Shourie brilliantly puts it: ‘These intel­lectuals and their patrons have worked a diabolic inversion. The inclusive religion, the pluralist spir­itual search of our people and land, they have projected­ as intolerant, narrow-minded, obscurantist, and the exclusivist, totalitarian, ­revelatory religions and ideologies --- Islam, Christianity, Marxism-Leninism --- they have made out to be the epitomes of tolerance, open-mindedness, democracy and secularism.'

In India today, in the name of 'secularism', anti­ religious forces sponsored by so-called ‘secular' humanism or communism, condemn religious pi­ety, particularly and only in the majority community. In its name privileged ‘minorities’ of Islam and Christianity are immune from such attention and have succeeded in getting their de­mands, however, unreasonable accepted by the Government all the time. In its name again, politicians in power adopt a strange attitude which, while it condones the religious and social susceptibilities, of the minorities, is only too ready to brand similar susceptibilities in the ma­jority community as communal reactionary and fascist.

The blatant misuse of this word 'secularism­’ continues unhindered, uninhibited and unchallenged. Whenever Sanskrit, the bond of unity, is given its due place in our language formula, the majority is blamed whenever and wherever there is a communal clash, regardless of the merits of the question. If our places of pilgrimage like Benaras, Mathura, Dwaraka, Haridwar, Rishikesh etc. continue to be converted into secular slums through mindless enforcement of pernicious, unimaginative and soulless government policies, then the springs of traditional tolerance of the ages will soon dry up in different parts of India.

I am convinced that this distorted view of secu­larism has been at the root of deterioration in the standards of probity, decency, decorum, dignity integrity and honesty in all walks of national life in India. I think it is also at the root of the general frustration and discontent among all sections of our people and more particularly the youth. It is certainly possible for a rational agnostic to be a highly moral and responsible person,

But for. a people whose moral life derives its strength essentially, from the ancient Hindu religion, indifference to the latter inevitably means the de­cay of the former. This unnatural bifurcation of the spheres of life into the secular and the spiritual has had its deleterious effect on the minds of men in India. It has tended to slacken moral standards in the name of efficiency and expediency.

It has worked for a colourless anaemic religion to which men pay lip homage. We have created generation of men and women who are smart, superficial, trim and alert, but have no moral earnestness or love of truth. Our knowledge is diffuse, directionless and we are all distraught in mind and tired in body and listless in our manner. W have given up strife against lusts of the flesh, and rationalised it with the help of the behaviourist psychology of Freud and others from the West.

In our behaviour, there is an increased insensibility and a frightening decrease of civility, de­cency and sense of jus­tice. We just shift and drift and erect defence machines to hide our real nature. All this is the result of dethronement of faith and the enthronement of 'Sham Secularism' of post independent In­dia. The only way out is a call back to religion and the influence of re­ligion not only in individual but also in pub­lic life.

Mahatma Gandhi who in his speeches and writings preached that politics, to be use­ful or popular or true, must be founded on religion. He stood for the spiritualization of politics. He had found politics in the rut of Western materialism and opportunism and he wanted to save it from the low estate into Which it had fallen. 'Back to religion' was his exhortation. And India today mustlisten to his call, if it is to save not only its soul but its body, that is, its physical well ­being. Great and eminent men like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Sister Nivedita, Anne Besant, Shri. Aurobindo and Mahatma Gandhi have all passionately underlined the man-making, soul-elevating and nation building impact of Hinduism through the age on the people of India.

Mahatma Gandhi probably had Marxist intellectuals like Jyothi Basu, and other Communists in mind when he observed 'Rationalists are admirable beings; rationalism is a hideous monster when it claims for itself omnipotence. Attribution of Omnipotence of Reason is as bad a piece of idolatry as is the worship of stones believing them to be God. I do not plead for the suppression of reason but for the recognition of that in us which sanctifies reason’.

Especially as a means and instrument of national integration, religion will prove, more dependable than 'secularism'. Religion holds people together, while secularism is divi­sive; religion is construc­tive, while secularism is destructive; religion inspires while Secularism criticizes, religion builds while secularism dissolves; religion unites the people while secularism makes people look at one another with doubt if not suspicion.

True and positive secularism derived from the timeless Hindu culture of India­ should keep all religions in India at peace. It should care for spirituality so intensely as to validate every pathway to God without any hindrance.

Dr S. Radhakrishnan dealt a dastardly blow to all the self-styled pseudo practitioners of `secularism’ in India today (our unscrupulous politicians and our ill-informed journalists etc) when he rightly observed: `The ideal of secularism means the we abandon the inhumanity of fanaticism, and give up the futile hatred of others and other faiths’.

In a truly secular state, there will be the true spirit of religion, and the environment necessary for the development of a gentle &and considerate way of life'. Are we going to brave enough, wise enough and mature enough to accept this great challenge of the future?

I would conclude in the words of Dr Ananda Coomaraswamy (1877-1947): “When I survey the life of India-during the last 3,000 years and bear in mind her literature, tradition and ideals, the searchings of her philosophers, and the work of her artists, the music of her sons and daughters, and the nobility of the religion they have evolved and when from these elements I form in my mind a picture of an ideal India and an ideal earthly life, I confess it is difficult for me to imagine a more powerful source of inspiration or a deeper well of truth to draw upon.”

The tragedy of the Hindu nation in India today is that Government of India --- starting from the days of Nehru till Dr Manmohan Singh today --- want the Indian Nation to be raised upon the barbarous cultural foundation laid by the Islamic marauders like Mir Quasim, Mhommad of Ghazni, Mohammad Ghori, Kutubuddin, Iltutmish, Balban, Allauddin Khalji, Mohammad Bin Tughlaq, Taimur, Sikkandar Lodi, Ibrahim Lodi, Babbar, Humayun, Sher Shah Suri, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jehan, Aurangazeb, Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali.

Apart from the above mentioned "compassionate Islamic invaders", the Government of India under the evangelical stranglehold of that anti-Hindu Roman Catholic dictator from Italy would like the Hindu nation to be handed over on a platter to the Pope in Rome so that his Christian missionaries can carryout their mega conversion programme of “harvesting” the maximum number of “pagan Hindu” souls with out any let or hindrance, without any mercy or scruple of conscience. The Union surrogate Cabinet has been packed with carefully selected Christians, crypto-Christians and other Sonia toadies to take this massive conversion programme to its logical conclusion.

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