Hinduness – discovery of an attitude – Part 1

via Girish P published on June 14, 2015

” Hindu is someone who sees unity in all of human diversity “ -  Param Poojaneeya Sarsanghachalak Mohanji Bhagavat .

Growing up with English in a middle class aspirational environment, I was never fully comfortable with ‘Hindu philosophy’.  However, my association with the RSS in the formative years ensured that there was no counterculture idiocy feeding  into my natural hedonism. Yet as for the doctrinaire part of Hinduism, I was  reluctant to commit myself. The self- justification for this intellectual isolation was the conviction that If you had read a book or two, hated structure, and had a taste for the surreal, that part was not for you. It was like a church, and I was born with a non-believer’s heart. I was satisfied with what little I thought  I knew about Hindutva. It gave me the identity I wanted and held me within its fold along with the brotherhood of the saffron. I thought I had found my home.

With age and experience the gap between what I really felt and what the Hindutva ‘clan identity’ gave me gradually widened.  The muscular posturing and comfort of being ensconced in a cocoon of as ‘one of the guys’ was no longer sufficient.  Still, it took me years to figure out the fundamental difference between what I understood as Hindutva or Hinduness and what others called their own Semitic ideology. It was not Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Marxist  any more. Through the medium of the Hindutva ideology, I finally discovered my attitude of Hinduness. This Hinduness, which stood well apart from other belief systems, could, like a mother hold all the diverse entities together. It was not divisive. While I had earlier seen Hindutva as an Idea, an ideology, Hindutva or Hinduness which I understood later on was something quite different. Like the unified field theory in quantum mechanics, it could also explain diverse phenomena  as being part of a single whole. 

Veer Savarkar had written in 1923 that Hindutva included the sum total of ideas and ideals, systems and societies, thoughts and sentiments nurtured through the centuries by our people and codified into concentrations of knowledge by our Rishis in the form of Vedas and Upanishads.  It is this Hinduness which has defined our responses to within and without. It is the instinctive sense of justice and kindness we feel. Many of the things which had felt right – Democracy, environmental protection, peaceful coexistence and respect for diversity – had come ‘naturally’ as it had been imbibed in my consciousness. At the same time my inclusiveness put me at odds with any exclusivist idea which sought submission of others. This is a fundamental logic of existence and pluralism – one cannot be so ‘plural’ or ‘liberal’ as to include that which excludes or annihilates existence and pluralism itself.

This Hinduness is dynamic. It had evolved through the contemplative geniuses of our Rishis, and then got further refined by the lessons learned through its practice. Many new improvements have been adopted. There is no need to believe that this process of its evolution is over. In modern times we have heard about the principles of Hinduness through the narrative of the modern Rishis -  “Ego is purified by Sewa and wealth gets purified by Daan” – says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Engineers will tell you that if such words find a resonance within you, it means that there is something inside you which has the same ‘natural frequency’.

Doing your own thing – In worship and politics

Rig Veda says  Ekam sad vipra bahuda vadanti—’All religion is one, but sages call it by various names.’  There is no separation between believer and Non-Believer. There is no heretic in Hinduism. No reason for an inquisition or religious war or conversion. We can do our own thing in the realm of worship ( Or lack of it). It is but natural that Atheism was accepted in our culture (Atheist philosophers were called Charvahana Munis ). Hindus have internalized a million form of worship within ourselves. India’s religious harmony is born out of this respect for diversity of worship. This internal democracy in the domain of worship has been reflected in the sphere of politics when after Independence in 1947, we instinctively adopted a multiparty democracy. It could not be otherwise. A people who were one with diversity even in the crucial area of worship could simply not insist on a theocracy, a one party state,  or a dictatorship. So our secular democracy too is a natural expression of our Hinduness. Thus Hinduness has defined our Nature, mindset, thought pattern, actions  and socio political systems.

On the other hand, that part of our country which broke away from our inclusive faith, Pakistan,  automatically adopted theocracy and is in the path of recurrent internal conflicts unable to find resolution with diversity.

Disclaimer : This is my personal discovery of Hinduness and should not be construed as being that of any association.

( To be Continued ….)

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