Tarun Vijay |
May 2, 2007,
First published in Sunday Times of India
Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, must be a long place from India's Sanskrit learning centres and if a "fun-filled" spoken Sanskrit residential camp named Shraddha (devotion) for teenagers alone gets booked three months in advance, there must be something extraordinary about it. The interesting part is that the youth who have grown up in the US and made Sanskrit a part of their daily lives shall teach at the camp.
In China there is a renewed interest to know and learn about Hindu dharma and when I was there on a fellowship from Sichuan University, the vice-president of the university asked me to help them understand Hindu movements and write a book on the contemporary Hindu scene.
While the richest steel man of this planet Laxmi Mitttal is a devout Hindu so is the firebrand icon of entrepreneurial dynamism Anil Ambani , who took 17 friends on a special jaunt to Kailas Manasarovar , including the charming Adi Godrej family; and he told me once that his mornings begin with a puja to Ambaji.
Hindus are on an unprecedented rise all over the globe and they have startled the world with their prowess in mathematics, science, technology, industry and medical sciences. An average Hindu in the West is considered an honest, persevering, talented and compassionate vegetarian with an extraordinary capacity to adjust with the local societies and serve the adopted land with unquestionable loyalty. Hence Vodafone, Citibank, Pepsi have them preside at top positions.
The new Hindu is assertive and sensitive, not aggressive or a silent spectator to the assaults of the secular Taliban. So he stands up against a Durga being painted with whiskey bottles in her hands by an Amsterdam ad agency, or a Ganapati on the toilet cover, and voices strong protest against the destruction of the ancient Ram Sethu down south.
Faithful to his roots yet free from ritualistic blind dogmas, he gets angry at hypocritical religious behaviour. So while Indira Nooyi would dazzle the audience in the Ashok Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhawan receiving the coveted Padma award in a South silk saree, she may not be an exhibitionist and declare that she is an ambassador for Hindu dharma or go to a temple in the full glare of the media.
Dharma is a very personal and valuable theme for a modern Hindu, not to be worn on the sleeve. And to make corrections and improvements is an ongoing process for every devout that makes his faith - Sanatana , meaning always with the times, ever-changing yet eternal in its basic message.
The message of love, compassion and respecting (not tolerating please, that word spells negativism) the other viewpoint. That's the attitude and a belief distinguishing us from the Semitic streams. All roads lead to one God and all prophets have spoken well for humanity - that's a Hindu speaking at home or in a congregation without hesitation. He won't mind bowing his head before the inspiring and the compassionate altar, a picture of Jesus or an Islamic place of reverence, without compromising his own convictions. That's the reason he hates the politically-charged groups, parties and so-called ideological war horses, which have hardly done anything to correct or make amends in the caste-ridden structure or in the attitude towards women.
See the Provoked and decide which society you belong to. The Hindu who worships Durga during Navratra but kills the same Devi when she arrives in the womb? Or the Hindu who claims to see Ram in every creature, but refuses to dine with his co-religionist if he happens to be from a so-called "lower caste"? Hence the anger within in the new, real Hindu. Against the loot of the pandas in pilgrim centres, mismanaged temples and a complete control of the so-called high castes on every decision-making body of the society.
The reservation issue may be a difficult one, but pray who stops the high and mighty of the Hindu "high caste" to start centres of excellence for their disadvantaged sections so that they never ever feel the need to use the reservation ladder? While the stereotype basks in the meaningless repetition of the old dogmas, the newly-risen Hindu has started working on such development themes bringing Laxmi and Saraswati on the same platform.
For a Hindu, the spread of his vast entrepreneurial empire has to be greeted with the Gayatri Mantra (Videocon ad) and Vande Mataram (the Kumarmangalam Birla campaign) but nevertheless the biggest challenge comes from within and not from outside "enemies".
Job reservation for non-Hindus, the arrest of Shankaracharya on Diwali night and refusing to execute a non-bailable warrant against the Imam, the temple takeover spree by the state power, stopping of morning bhajans in trains, subsidy to Haj and silence on Hindu pilgrimages, biryani for terrorists and no hope for patriotic Kashmiri Hindus uprooted from their homes in the Valley -- all these issues make him uneasy.
This anger for the inner corrections and a will to excel has given a unique hue to the new rise of the Hindu which is the only assuring factor in spite of the cacophony of various interest groups working to confuse the march of the Sanatana Dharma .
The author is the Editor of Panchjanya, a Hindi weekly brought out by the RSS. The views expressed are his personal.