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.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

No compulsion to follow one religion

by Dina Nath Mishra

The concept of secularism born out of intra-Christian clashes in Europe was developed to sort out problems between the State and the Church. Its transplantation in the Constitution of India has created unparallel maladies of political, social, economic and even psychological nature in the last 60 years. The Indian polity is suffering because of this thoughtless transfusion. In no democratic country does a majority community have no rights which the minorities have. That's why we see sect after sect appealing to the Supreme Court seeking for treating them as minority.

Swami Vivekananda dazzled the World Religion Congress at Chicago some 100 years ago, inspired generations with his electrifying Hinduism. One can't think of this institution approaching Supreme Court for minority status. Swami Narayan movement is a symbol of Hinduism throughout the world and its Akshardham temple provides beacon light to Hindus in India and abroad. It, too, approached Supreme Court for minority status. There have been at least six cases of this nature in Supreme Court.

Why did they do it? Only because Articles 30 and 31 of the Constitution have robbed the majority community of its rights. While some of bigger Hindu temples are managed and controlled by the Government, the Government can't touch any minority religion's place of worships or their institutions. They are free to do whatever they want; they are free to teach Bible to all students including Hindus. Same is the case with Muslim institutions. Government institutions and the school managed by private institutions can't preach Hindu religion. Nowhere in the world does this anomaly exist.

A World Conference of Spiritual and Psychological issues is going on. I had an opportunity to meet some of them. One of them informed me that according to the survey conducted by some US University, among foreign students 85 per cent of the Christian students responded to the question as to what Christianity is, satisfactorily and so did 80 per cent Muslim students. But only 15 per cent Hindu students could answer questions on Hinduism satisfactorily. Why? Obviously our students in the schools are not taught about their dharma because of the constitutional inequality. That explains their ignorance about their religion. Three generations void in teaching about their dharma has played havoc with our society. They do not imbibe the value of dharma during their learning career.

Value deficiency of Hindu students is resulting in many inhuman tendencies. Through dharma we imbibe human values, which hold society in a wholesome way. Hindus do have religious freedom but not the religions. That is why Prime Minister spoke of minorities having "first right on the country's resources". That is why high subsidy of hundreds of crores are doled to Muslims. The whole electoral system has been polluted. The vote-bank politics tends to appease Muslims by accepting their most un-reasonable demands. That is why a senior leader in Bihar declared that if his party wins, there will be a Muslim Chief Minister. That is why Osama Bin Laden look-like are paraded during election campaigns. That is why Muslim voters distort the election results either by voting en-bloc in favour of or against some one. In fact, they enjoy a limited veto in the electoral process. Fictitiously tabulated grievances of the Muslim community by Sachar Commission provided alibi to the Government to dole out to the Muslims thousands of crores. Not only that, their separatist and politically motivated demands, too, have been conceded forgetting the lesson of the country's partition altogether.

Article 18 of the universal declaration of Human Rights pre-supposes concept of religion itself, concept associated with western religion and culture. But eastern and specially Hindu religion and culture have a different concept of religious freedom. Unless human rights discourse is able to harmonise these two concepts of religious freedom, there is bound to be conflict.

For example, in 1985 census of Japan 95 per cent of the population declared itself as followers of 'Shinto'. Simultaneously 75 per cent of the population declared themselves as Buddhists. The census in the West insists on one religion one individual. The multi-religious identity of the East applies to India to a greater extent. Here Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism may have their primary identity of religion, but they may have association with another religion. There is no compulsion that an individual belongs to only one religion. But the Constitution of India, following British line injected one religion for one individual. The secularism born out of it breeds sectarianism and communalism whereas those who profess more than one religion tend to harmonise relations between sects and religions.


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