Pseudo-Secularism

Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Monday, January 20, 2003

Indian Secularism Vs. American Secularism:

Source: The Axis of Neocolonialism
by Rajiv Malhotra

One serious misunderstanding amongst this milieu of elitist Indians has been their confused interpretation of secularism. The USA is a good nation with which to compare India in matters of secularism. It does not define secularism as alienation from its traditions. Even though tracing back American civilization to the Greeks is a big stretch, this link and continuity is emphasized. Certainly, the Judeo-Christian foundation of Americanism is made loud and clear. Recently, there is a new movement to rediscover the Native American heritage as being part of the New Americanism. On the other hand, secularism in India has come to mean anti Indic Traditions, especially anti-Hinduism.

To get certified that they are secular, many Indians line up to prove how they hate Hinduism, or at least how distant they are from what they perceive as a denigrated identity. The historian, Ronald Inden explains the root cause of this dis-ease:

"Nehru's India was supposed to be committed to 'secularism'. The idea here in its weaker publicly reiterated form was that the government would not interfere in 'personal' religious matters and would create circumstances in which people of all religions could live in harmony. The idea in its stronger, unofficiallv stated form was that in order to modernize, India would have to set aside centuries of traditional religious ignorance and superstition and eventually eliminate Hinduism and Islam from people's lives altogether. After Independence, governments implemented secularism mostly by refusing to recognize the religious pasts of Indian nationalism, whether Hindu or Muslim, and at the same time (inconsistently) by retaining Muslim 'personal law'."

This agenda, built on a false definition of secularism, has been taken to such extremes that Sanskrit has been demonized, because it is seen as part of the Evil Brahmin Conspiracy to oppress all the victims of contemporary Indian society. Jawaharlal Nehru University, one of India's elite institutions in the liberal arts, and the seminary that produces many of these maladjusted intellectuals, has fought hard to resist the establishment of a Sanskrit and Indian Classics department, whereas it is proud of its faculty and curriculum in a wide variety of European languages and civilizations.

This is the result of sheer ignorance about the scope and value of Sanskrit literature. Indologists believe that there are over 30 million distinct manuscripts in Sanskrit, mostly not cataloged, with less than one percent ever translated into a non Indian language. The vast majority of Sanskrit texts is not about "religion," and covers a diverse territory of subjects - medicine, botany, aesthetics, fiction, jokes, sex, political thought, logic, mathematics, and so forth.

Sanskrit was the language of scholarship for a period of several millennia, in the same manner as English has become over the past century. To demonize and suppress this language and its vast literature, in the name of political correctness, is a tragedy against all humanity. Yet this is precisely what has been done for 50 years after India's independence.

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