Quantcast

Hinduism and the Modern World

Hinduism and the Modern World



The world, perhaps as usual, is in a state of crisis. Yet unlike previous crises, which were local in nature, the fate of the globe itself is now at stake, not only humanity but all life on Earth is threatened.  And in this extremity no nation has yet arisen as a defender of the Truth or spokesperson for the spiritual values of humanity. 

The communist nations, after decades of floundering in confusion and corruption, have recently faded with the collapse of their economic structures through perpetual mismanagement. Only the ghost or shadow of communism lingers, while whatever idealism it might have had has been traded in for personal gain. 

The capitalistic nations strive to maintain their wealth and affluence by exploiting the planet, selfishly consuming the future resources of humanity for their present transient enjoyment.  Between new technological wonders and a growing disillusionment with material gains, they move at an uneasy pace.

Hinduism in Crisis

A new “quit India movement” has arisen in recent years. Unlike the old quit India movement, which was established by Indian freedom fighters in the early part of the century to remove the British rule from India, the recent movement has an opposite intent-to embrace Western materialist culture and abandon traditional Hindu culture and spirituality perhaps altogether. 

This movement is very strong in India itself, particularly among so-called modern Hindus, who are largely Western educated and trained to look at their native tradition with alien values and suspicious eyes. The intellectual elite of India takes pride in being in contact with the latest developments in Western culture, art, science and technology, while remaining ignorant and unappreciative of traditional Hindu teachings.

Hindus do not have a history of invading other countries. They have not sent missionaries to other countries preaching to them that their own religions are evil and trying to persuade or intimidate them to adopt Hindus beliefs. They have not economically exploited other countries as their colonies. They have never said that Truth or God belongs only to Hindus and those who believe otherwise are unholy or sinners.

Misrepresentation of Hinduism in the Press

Hindus have a history of tolerance and respect for all religions, which is almost unparalleled in the rest of the world. Yet we find that in the news media, including that of India itself, anti Hindu attitudes are common. Hindus are spoken of in negative way that is not done relative to religious groups whose behavior has been more violent, exclusive or oppressive.  Anti-Hindu statements appear to be acceptable to everyone and no one questions them very much.

Hindus do not have a history of invading other countries. They have not sent missionaries to other countries preaching to them that their own religions are evil and trying to persuade or intimidate them to adopt Hindus beliefs. They have not economically exploited other countries as their colonies. They have never said that Truth or God belongs only to Hindus and those who believe otherwise are unholy or sinners.

Hindus have a history of tolerance and respect for all religions, which is almost unparalleled in the rest of the world. Yet we find that in the news media, including that of India itself, anti Hindu attitudes are common. Hindus are spoken of in negative way that is not done relative to religious groups whose behavior has been more violent, exclusive or oppressive.  Anti-Hindu statements appear to be acceptable to everyone and no one questions them very much.

What is Fundamentalism?

Fundamentalism is an easily discernible phenomenon in belief-oriented religions like Christianity and Islam which have a simple and exclusive pattern to their faith. They generally insist that there is only One God, who has only one Son or final Prophet, and only one true scripture, which is literally God’s word.

They hold that belief in this One God and his chief representative brings salvation in an eternal heaven and disbelief causes condemnation to an eternal hell. Muslims daily chant “there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his (last) prophet”. Most Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant, regard belief in Christ as one’s personal savior as the only true way to salvation.

Fundamentalists are literalists in these traditions who hold rigidly to their beliefs and insist that since their religion alone is true the other religions should not be tolerated, particularly in the lands where members of their religion are in a majority.  Fundamentalists generally hold to their religion’s older social customs and refuse to integrate into the broader stream of modern society which recognizes freedom of religious belief.




India and the Concept of Nation-State

India has been criticized for not succeeding in becoming a unified and disciplined modern nation-state like Japan and Germany. The ongoing disunity and separatist movements within the country appear to attest to this fact. However the problem is not as simple as this comparison might suggest.

India is a subcontinent like difficulty in maintaining its unity, it has done better than Europe, which even today is divided into various small states, much as if as the states of India were independent countries. The European concept of nation-state originally reflected small countries that were homogeneous in terms of culture and population, like Germany, France, and England.

It was a narrow idea of nationhood with a short history, creating nations out of countries whose existence could only be traced back for a few centuries, and which encompassed small land masses and a limited group of people, generally those belonging to the same ethnic group and speaking the same language. Such narrow nation-states fragmented the subcontinent of Europe and caused two world wars.

India and Hinduism in the Mahabharata

One not uncommonly comes across the opinion today that India was never really a nation but that its nationhood was only recently invented by the British through their definition of the region as part of their empire. Similarly we are told that Hinduism was up to recently not a religion at all but merely various local cults and that Hinduism as a single religion was an idea developed along with the idea of India as a nation that as a religion Hinduism is basically a creation of modern political interests.

These ideas are often used to discredit India as a real country or Hinduism as a valid religion. They are used by Marxist and leftist elements or by non-Hindus to draw Hindus into their fold. However, such ideas are clearly refuted by the most important work of literature that we have from India, the Mahabharata.

Vedanta, Unity and Universality, the Unity of Truth

“Truth is only One:” thus have the sages declared since the time of the most ancient Rig Veda. If we did not have any sense of this one Truth why would we seek to know anything at all? The sense of an underlying order, harmony or law behind existence is the basis of all systems of knowledge. Even to speak of falsehood or unreality is only possible if one recognizes a lasting truth relative to which it can be compared.

If such a truth or rationale for existence can be found it cannot be a mere material or unconscious force. The very fact that the world is intelligible indicates that its basis is intelligence. An insentient force cannot produce order, nor can it organize itself, much less perceive itself. 

There must be a universal power of consciousness for there to be any order to the world and to the movement of the forces which constitutes it.  And if this One Truth is a power of consciousness, how can it be apart from our own awareness? How can any cosmic consciousness be separate from the consciousness of the individual? How could any form of life or mind be excluded from it? Therefore the one Truth must reside within us and within all beings.

The Value of Hindu Culture for the World

To find truth, all the great sages have told us that one must go beyond all outer divisions of race, creed, caste, nationality or culture. Only those who can step beyond the outer identities that divide human beings can arrive at the one source of all things– the true Self of all beyond time, space and circumstance.

This, however, does not mean that culture has no purpose or value in the spiritual life. Many of the same sages were also great founders, upholders or reformers of culture. Many left not only works on spiritual knowledge but those on the arts and sciences, and social and political issues. This in fact was the tradition of the Vedic seers, who first established Hindu culture in ancient times. 

They were said to be “bhutakrit,” world-makers or establishers of culture and custom.  If we look at humanity through history we can observe that men and women of spiritual realization have not come equally from all cultures, which would be the case if culture were merely a neutral factor in the spiritual life.

~ Excerpted from the book “Arise Arjuna: Hinduism and the Modern World” by David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Frawley)  

LIKE US ON FB & SHARE OUR PAGE WITH FRIENDS TO HELP IN SPREADING SANSKRITI.




Related Post

4 Responses to "Hinduism and the Modern World"

  1. Culhane  January 21, 2015 at 9:54 am

    If you want to be love you must become love, love is all inclusive true Western Hindus are in my experience only seeking truth and when they are wrong they come to realize a higher truth life is very different here and there are perspectives from situations that dont exist in India most of us are very well educated and dont mean to offend traditional ways we as a culture are learning how to make this system apply to our lives in a meaningful way and still find acceptance within our society i was born to a Catholic family at a very young age maybe 4-5 i decided to become a hindu at 34 years old i can say i dont regret a day of my life but I had struggled with my family’s acceptance now they are comming around to wanting to know why I have devoted so much of my life to a culture and way of life that is alien to them in closing i think its all about love having the power to cross all lines be patient with us most come to Hinduism with great curiosity and a wish to become the best people we can be

    Reply
    • JK  March 29, 2015 at 6:02 am

      🙂

      Reply
  2. Rajesh  September 26, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    I think this is totally wrong.
    Degrading girls n or women, corruption between us, paying under table, for everything, the people in power getting away with anything, rapes, this got nothing to do with modern or westerns world

    It’s simplely us, we don’t respect our ownself, n kept a blind eye for the unfair from the people in power or oneself who want to bribe our way thru….

    Ofcourse we can’t blame us so we blame the modern world.
    So the modern world or western world did not give us pavements to walk, clean water, electric,……..!!!!!

    Come-on wake up.

    Reply
  3. Sudha  March 19, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Namaste,
    Happy to see this magzine. .
    Definitely we need to educate our present generation. .
    Hope people will read this to get aware of Our beautiful culture and tredition
    Good luck
    Sudharani

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.