The Death of Traditional Hinduism

The Death of Traditional Hinduism
The Death of Traditional Hinduism

A tragic occurrence in the very long history of Hinduism was witnessed throughout the 19th century, the destructive magnitude of which Hindu leaders and scholars today are only beginning to adequately assess and address. This development both altered and weakened Hinduism to such a tremendous degree that Hinduism has not yet even begun to recover.

British Attack on Hinduism

The classical, traditional Hinduism that had been responsible for the continuous development of thousands of years of sophisticated culture, architecture, music, philosophy, ritual and theology came under devastating assault during the 19th century British colonial rule like at no other time in India’s history.

Innovative Cultural Genocide

What the Hindu community experienced under British Christian domination, however, was an ominously innovative form of cultural genocide. What they experienced was not an attempt at the physical annihilation of their culture, but a deceivingly more subtle program of intellectual and spiritual annihilation. It is easy for a people to understand the urgent threat posed by an enemy that seeks to literary kill them. It is much harder, though, to understand the threat of an enemy who, while remaining just as deadly, claims to seek only to serve a subjugated people’s best interests.

Anglicized Hindu Intellectuals

During this short span of time in the 19th century, the ancient grandeur and beauty of a classical Hinduism that had stood the test of thousands of years, came under direct ideological attack. What makes this period in Hindu history most especially tragic is that the main apparatus that the British used in their attempts to destroy traditional Hinduism were the British educated, spiritually co-opted sons and daughters of Hinduism itself. Seeing traditional Hinduism through the eyes of their British masters, a pandemic wave of 19th century Anglicized Hindu intellectuals saw it as their solemn duty to “Westernize” and “modernize” traditional Hinduism to make it more palatable to their new European overlords. One of the phenomena that occurred during this historic period was the fabrication of a new movement known as “neo-Hinduism”.

What is Neo-Hinduism?

Neo-Hinduism was an artificial religious construct used as a paradigmatic juxtaposition to the legitimate traditional Hinduism that had been the religion and culture of the people for thousands of years. Neo-Hinduism was used as an effective weapon to replace authentic Hinduism with a British invented version designed to make a subjugated people easier to manage and control.

The Christian and British inspired neo-Hinduism movement attempted to execute several overlapping goals, and did so with great success:

a) The subtle Christianization of Hindu theology, which included concerted attacks on iconic imagery (archana, or murti), panentheism, and continued belief in the beloved gods and goddesses of traditional Hinduism.

b) The imposition of the Western scientific method, rationalism and skepticism on the study of Hinduism in order to show Hinduism’s supposedly inferior grasp of reality.

c) Ongoing attacks against the ancient Hindu science of ritual in the name of simplification and democratization of worship.

d) The importation of Radical Universalism from liberal, Unitarian / Universalist Christianity as a device designed to severely water down traditional Hindu philosophy.

The Death of Traditional Hinduism

The Death of Traditional Hinduism

The dignity, strength and beauty of traditional Hinduism was recognized as the foremost threat to Christian European rule in India. The invention of neo-Hinduism was the response. Had this colonialist program been carried out with a British face, it would not have met with as much success as it did. Therefore, an Indian face was used to impose neo-Hinduism upon the Hindu people. The resultant effects of the activities of Indian neo-Hindus were ruinous for traditional Hinduism.

The Dilemma

The primary dilemma with Hinduism as we find it today, in a nutshell, is precisely this problem of…
1) Not recognizing that there are really two distinct and conflicting Hinduisms today, Neo-Hindu and Traditionalist Hindu; and
2) With Traditionalists being the guardians of authentic Dharma philosophically and attitudinally, but not yet coming to full grips with the modern world, i.e., not yet having found a way of negotiating authentic Hindu Dharma with an ability to interface with modernity and communicate this unadulterated Hindu Dharma in a way that the modern mind can most appreciate it.

A Confused Existence

Hinduism will continue to be a religion mired in confusion about its own true meaning and value until traditionalist Hindus can assertively, professionally and intelligently communicate the reality of genuine Hinduism to the world.

~By Dr. Frank Morales


Click here to post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • It is partial correct but i believe it started before britishers, as we have many hindu piligrimages got destroyed in muslims rule.

  • I have 2 comments. One is that there was no Hindu left to explain the power of Hinduism and its worship to the British because the muslims had killed all our leaders and destroyed evidence. Even now we r still struggling to rise due to the muslim barbarism.. That was the reason why Hinduism went down.
    The 2nd point is that it is up to Hindus now to redefine Hinduism. Here is one definition.
    Hindu religion is a religion that teaches one multiple paths to spirituality.
    One can chant mantras, do yajnas, sing bhajans, Deity worship, Read scriptures, do Yoga etc.
    We respect multiple scriptures, Gita, Upanishads, Vedas, etc.
    This religion is the only religion that gives choice to the Hindu and so is truly democratic Religion that we are proud of.

  • This article is 100% correct. The first victims to succumb to this were the Brahmins of India who unfortunately got enamoured by the pale skin of the British. The Brahmins also became greedy and changed their mode of living to suit the new culture, took up modern education, took up clerical jobs etc. and actually embraced the new life.

    The other castes which always looked up to the Brahmins to show them the way also soon followed this path much to the glee of the Britishers.

    I am saying this despite being a Brahmin because this is the truth. The way out of this mess will also have to start with the Brahmins who need to give up their quest for wealth accumulation and luxurious life. They need to go back to the traditional way of life, education etc. They need to go back to their main responsibility of protecting and preserving the Vedas.

    Easier said than done but that is the only way we can go back to our rich heritage.

  • This is certainly true, but Swami Vivekanand prevented the worst from occurring, and re-established self-respect of Hindus.

    His birth was certainly a blessing for the Hindu people.

  • This is not new to Hinduism Adi Shankara revived it to its glory nearly a thousand years ago After thee onslaught of the Moghuls n the British the time tested truths in the vHHindu scriptures still remain and have given birth to many saints in this holy land we call India

  • I strongly differ. Lord Krishna says Dharma changes with time and space. The strength of Hinduism is its democratic ethos and capability to assimilate all types of beliefs and traditions. This is the most scientific Dharma and can transform any true seeker. It took under its wings Rahmaan, Raskhan and many others and even today thousands of Christians and others are either inwardly converted or ready to convert. Britishers tried to confuse Hindus but only one speech of the great modern saint Vivekananda changed all. May be the nonviolence movement which keeps on creeping in weakened the edifice to some extent but great Rishis and Munis who live in Himalayas will come and show the true light like Viveka Nanda . It is the Dharma by God himself.

  • its never too late . even if today modi govt. starts hindu books like geeta n ramayan in school system , hindu dharma can revive very fast.

    swami dayanand is very much ignored where as swami vivekanand glorified . if hindus can read ‘satyarth prakash ‘ with open minds , no one can beat hindus .

  • Well not exactly because contrary to the views expressed in this article, Hinduism has always changed and adapted to changes in this way. In the medieval age the Bhakti movement changed Hinduism in response to foreign invasion. In the British period too Hinduism changed in response to the challenges of the age. A religion which is static faces crises like Islam today. Hinduism has continually changed from the time of the Vedic yajnas. This change is positive, what is not is the hypocrisy, commercialisation involved in many of the practices and pujas now. This has to be cleansed.