Hinduism is liberal, pluralistic and broad-minded
Voice of The Reader

Hinduism is liberal, pluralistic and broad-minded

May 11, 2018

Sir,

This is with reference to the rejoinder of U.B. Acharya to TJS George’s articles with their barely concealed antipathy towards Hinduism.

It is an irony that we live in a land where the beliefs and traditions followed by the majority of its people are ridiculed, criticised, harangued by all sorts of people who are either ill-informed, misguided or driven by personal agendas. Among them the worst are home-bred academicians/ historians, who wear their leftist chips arrogantly on their shoulders, most of them not realising that it is because they are considered Hindus they have the freedom to dish out all manner of drivel without the fear of their limbs being cut off (as with some other religion).

These fear-mongers fear that Hindu Nationalism will ultimately destroy the country. They despair that India is becoming more and more intolerant and freedom of speech is being denied to its citizens. The worst aspects of behaviour from these elements is highlighted to denigrate the whole lot of the innocent majority not realising that the majority does not subscribe to any form of violent behaviour at all.

Hinduism is not an institutionalised religion and is essentially non-doctrinaire. It is inherently an individual’s religion with everyone having the freedom to pursue one’s own goals treading one’s own path. One is urged to look within oneself to achieve self-realisation.

One has to understand that there are no absolutes in Hinduism and one is free enough to question all aspects of Hindu traditions or schools of thought. No one said Hinduism is flawless and beyond reform. There have been many reformers who have fought against injustices in the tradition but they have had the freedom to propound their own thoughts without fear. Hinduism is not a proselytizing religion by any stretch of imagination. There is nothing in it which exhorts Hindus to take to the sword and kill non-Hindus if they do not become Hindus.

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The two major points used commonly to belittle Hinduism are the caste system and rituals. While discrimination on the basis of caste is certainly abhorrent, one has to understand that we are prisoners of history and that man is imperfect. Over centuries, each caste or social group has tried to gain power and money by hegemony and deviousness using all means including Casteism. Oppression is more a social problem than one induced by religion. With education becoming more universal, one can see the diminishing importance of caste. The same goes for gender equality. It has always been a male-dominated society not only in India but all over the world. Again, with the emergence of universal education one can see the gap narrowing. And it is not the religion but social values which created the gap in the first place.

When we talk of rituals, all societies have rituals in one form or another. If one believes in a supreme being and one wants to propitiate him/ her, one has a tendency to do it ritualistically. Trashing the observance of rituals is denying one’s right to one’s faith and way of life. The critics of ritualism are those who shout themselves hoarse about individual liberty.

But the most important point to note is that no one is punished for NOT observing rituals. One can shun rituals, be an atheist or talk ill of orthodoxy, one is still not expelled from the Hindu fold (unlike in some other religion).

One needs to wonder how the Hindu way of life has survived for thousands of centuries despite having marauding invaders of other religions and scheming Europeans ruling the land. The answer can only be in the liberal, pluralistic and broadminded Hindu traditions.

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– Dr. V.R. Anil Kumar, Vijayanagar 4th Stage, 10.5.2018

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