India Is a Hindu Nation: Why Feel Shy About It?
I have lived in India for my entire life, but some things have intrigued me. One of the things that bug me and for which I have no immediate explanation, is that why a great number of educated Indians become agitated when India is referred to as a Hindu country?
The facts are palpably clear that the majority (almost 80%) is Hindus and also Hindu tradition dates back to 5000BC. This was a time when most other civilizations were in the Stone Age. Another facet that must be mentioned is that Westerners from Europe and America are attracted to India because of Hinduism and for no other reason. Despite this, there is an educated elite that wishes to deny the ancient roots of Hinduism and the deep philosophy that can be traced to thousands of years before Muhammed or Christ appeared.
To my mind, this approach looks strange. A little dissection shows that these so-called elite seem to have a problem only with “Hindu” India. They have no qualms with the “Muslim” or “Christian” countries. An example may perhaps bring out the hypocrisy of these so-called Hindu elite.
Germany is a nation with a long and tortured history. It has seen the rise of Hitler with his race policies. But now it is a secular country. The dominant faith is Christian and only 59 percent of the population is registered with the two big Christian churches (Protestant and Catholic).
Despite only 59% have registered as Christians the German nation today is bracketed as a Christian nation. Nobody seems to have any objections to this terminology, but India which is 80% Hindu is objected by many to being called a Hindu nation. I will remind readers that Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, stressed Germany had Christian roots. People can’t forget that in 2012 she exhorted the people of Germany to go back to their Christian roots.
There is no agitation in Germany to considering Germany a Christian nation, though the history of Christianity in Europe is far from reassuring. The Baltic States were Christianized by the sword. Entire indigenous tribes in America were converted at sword point. Even in Germany 1200 years back, Emperor Karl the Great in an act of tyranny ordered the death sentence for all and sundry who refused to be baptized.
Those times are of course over and Christianity is much more liberal now. Many are leaving the church who does not agree with the dogmatic policy of Christ as the only savior.
Situation in India
In India, the entire scenario is confusing. One fact is that Hinduism is different from Islam and Christianity. Both Islam and Christianity at some point in time used the sword to devastating effect for conversion. But Hinduism is the only religion that spread by love. There has never been any violence in the spread of Hinduism.it spread in ancient times by convincing arguments and not by force. It is a belief system that is cerebral and caters to the higher echelons of the mind.
However, unlike in the other nations Indian's do not value their tradition. Perhaps 900 years of Muslim rule and 200 by English have weaned away the educated elite to denigrate the ancient philosophy. They can’t read Sanskrit and have been so brainwashed that they feel “modern” and Hindu cannot go together.
The role of the missionaries cannot be underestimated. These men on orders of the Vatican decry Hindu gods and bring out the ills of Hinduism like caste. Unfortunately we have an elite that feels it is passé to criticize being Hindu. There is an inherent sense of shame and such elite feel happy in Moslem and Christian companies. The Indian Congress party has had a big hand in this and the leaders even Gandhi will have to answer to the bar of history.
At the same time, many Westerners, including staunch Christians, know the value of Hindu culture and surreptitiously appropriate insights from the vast Indian knowledge system, drop the original Hindu source and present it either as their own or make it look as if these insights had already been known in the West. Isn’t this sad? Yet Hinduism still has a lot to offer as it is an ocean whose depth cannot be fathomed
Recently the Dalai Lama said some time ago that, as a youth in Lhasa, he had been deeply impressed by the richness of Indian thought. “India has great potential to help the world,” he added. It is not only the Dalai Lama, but a new enlightened elite in the west is having a relook at Hinduism and the infinite wisdom that is hidden within its folds. Yet the Hindu elite is running away and that will spell doom for them in the long run.
Maybe things are changing with the advent of Narendra Modi and the BJP. One can sense anew pride in being a Hindu. Dr. Subramaniam Swamy the ex-Harvard professor and leader of the BJP have opined that India is already a Hindu country and now only a formal declaration is needed.