The incessant need to put all religions in the same bracket has done more harm than good for Hindu society.
What is the situation at present?
The Hindu elite continues to shout its slogan of sarva-dharma-samabhãva vis-a-vis Christianity and Islam. It is rare to meet a member of the Hindu elite who does not shout from the housetops that Christianity and Islam are as good religions as his own Sanãtana Dharma. There is no dearth of dim-witted but sanctimonious scholars who line up quotations from the Bible and the Quran alongside quotations from Hindu shastras in order to prove the “essential unity of all religions”. Matters have come to such a pass that a Hindu who does not subscribe to this slogan suffers ostracism from the elite circles of Hindu society. Hindu politicians are the worst culprits. They are mortally afraid of being branded as “Hindu communalists”. And they have neither the knowledge nor the courage to change the universe of public discourse. The secularists have only to invent a new slogan, the Hindu politicians are the first to fall in line. The only purpose they serve is to keep Hindu society always on the defensive.
Neither the missionary nor the mullah subscribes to the slogan of sarva-dharma-samabhãva. Each one of them is convinced and proclaims publicly that his own creed is the only true one, and that to equate it with Sanãtana Dharma is the height of blasphemy. Each of them claims that Hindu society cannot stop him from converting as many Hindus as he can, by all means including force and fraud, without repudiating its own slogan and thus knocking the very bottom out of Secularism. Every Hindu objection to conversions, they say, exposes the Hindus as hypocrites who do not mean what they say. But if you ask the Hindu leaders to renounce this mischievous slogan, they denounce you as one who is trying to upturn an established Hindu tradition. They do not know that this slogan was coined by Mahatma Gandhi, and that it stood totally defeated in his own life-time. The future of Hinduism and Hindu society is dark if this is not debunked, and Islam and Christianity are allowed to march as they are doing at present.
What is the treatment prescribed for Hindus in case Christianity or Islam acquires state power in India? The prescription provided by the missionary as well as the mullah is again unequivocal.
The mullah says: “Allah has mandated the lands of the infidels to his last prophet who, in turn, has bequeathed them to the Ummah. India continues to be a Dar-ul-harb. It is our Allah-ordained duty to convert it into a Dar-ul-Islãm. Our scriptures prescribe a total destruction of kufr (infidelism) and shirk (idolatry). Allah is very jealous of his own position as the only one worthy of worship. He cannot stand the sight of these Hindu idols imitating his majesty and trying to share his divinity. These idols have to be destroyed and trodden under the feet of the mu’mins in order to propitiate Allah. The temples which house these idols have to be demolished and converted into places worthy of our own way of worship. We will, of course, invite all idolaters in India to embrace Islam, willingly and voluntarily. But if they do not come round of their own accord, we are afraid we shall have to use force in furtherance of the only true faith. Allah had sent his last prophet to save all mankind from perdition. The divine duty has devolved on the Ummah after the departure of the Prophet. We cannot turn traitors to his mission.”
If a Hindu protests at this revelation of the ‘divine duty’, he invites an angry howl from the Ummah. And the whole of it thunders:
“So you do not want us to be true to our religion as revealed by Allah to his last prophet, as enshrined in our sacred scripture, the Quran, and as enjoined by our sacred tradition, the Sunnah? What sort of a Hindu are you? Have you not read the books written by your own scholars and sages such as Dr. Bhagwan Das, Pandit Sunderlal, Rahul Sankrityayan, and Vinoba Bhave about the sublimity of Islam? Have you not heard the lectures on sarva-dharma-samabhãva delivered by your own leaders, day in and day out, and over all these so many years? It seems that you are not secular. It looks as if you are a Hindu chauvinist out to deny to us the fundamental right of religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution of the country. We appeal to you to shed your narrow Hindu communalism, and be true to your Hindu Dharma. We assure you that we shall not fail to be true to our Islam. This is the only basis on which our two communities can coexist peacefully till, in due course, the true faith triumphs.”
The Christian missionary also talks in the same vein, though his language is less crude than that of the mullah, and his manners are more sophisticated. His methods of salesmanship are more mature. Also, the mullah is aggressive because he knows that a whole Islamic world supports his onslaught against Hindu society and culture, and because he finds that the Indian ruling class gets really frightened by his threats to mobilize frenzied Muslim mobs for committing gangster acts. He has demonstrated any number of times that his threats are not empty. The Christian missionary, on the other hand, knows that he does not enjoy such solid support in the West, and cannot mobilize Christian mobs on the required scale.
Hindu society is thus trapped by a slogan which it has itself coined and made current countrywide. It is the same sort of trap in which a democratic society finds itself the moment it grants that the Communist fifth-column or a fascist phalanx is a legitimate political party entitled to enjoy freedom to function and expand.
The Way Out
Hindu society has to realise that Christianity and Islam are not religions but political ideologies inspired by imperialist ambitions. These ideologies came to India as accomplices of Islamic and Western armies. Those armies have been defeated and driven away. The ideologies which came with those armies should now find no place in India. They, too, have to be defeated and dispersed. Hindu society has to recover the ground that was lost to these ideologies during periods of Islamic and Christian expansion and domination. Those sections of Hindu society which were forced or lured into the folds of these ideologies, have to be brought back into their ancestral fold. This is the minimum task which Hindu society has to set before itself. The maximum task is to carry the campaign against these ideologies into their own homelands, and to free large sections of mankind from the abominable superstitions which breed intolerance and aggression.
The cultural climate in the modern West is favourable for the spread of Sanãtana Dharma. The West has repudiated Christianity and returned to rationalism, humanism and universalism, all of which are values cherished and promoted by the Hindu view of life. But the West does not realize that the massive finances which the Christian missions collect over there in the name of doing social service in “a poor, starved, diseased and illiterate India” is used by the missions for the nefarious work of subverting the only sane society which has survived the depredations of genocidal creeds. Hindu society, particularly the Hindus settled or working in the West, have to provide this information to the West so that the menace of Christian missions is challenged in their own homelands.
It is true that Christian missions are involved in the foreign policy manoeuvers and intelligence networks of the various Western nations. The systematic building up of a Christian missionary like Mother Teresa by the U.S. State Department provides an obvious pointer. But Western foreign policy establishments are using Christian missions because Hindu society has made them respectable in India. The day that respectability is destroyed and Christianity and its missions are exposed for what they are, the Western nations will have no use for them.
Islam is a harder nut to crack. The Islamic countries everywhere are closed societies presided over by theocratic states which do not permit any scrutiny of Islam or the propagation of a rational and humanist view of life. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism in many Muslim lands has let loose a reign of terror against all those enlightened sections which have tried to free their people from the stranglehold of a fanatic falsehood. The Western democracies, particularly the United States of America, are encouraging this fanaticism in the fond hope that it will stand as a bulwark against Soviet imperialism.* A dark night envelops the Islamic countries at present due to a combination of historical circumstances, and there seems to be little hope that the Muslim masses will be able to emancipate themselves in the near future.
But it is also a fact that the rise of fundamentalism in a closed creed is a sign of panic, and sounds its death-knell. Christian fundamentalism which surfaced in Europe in the form of Protestantism proved to be the death-gasp of Christianity. For, fundamentalism brings to the fore, in one fell sweep, all the crudities of a closed creed – crudities which normally remain hidden under borrowed cultural trappings.
There is a large number of Muslim students, scholars, scientists technicians, and other sections of Muslim intelligentsia who find no place in their closed societies, and who have fled to other countries including India. Here is a fertile field in which Hindu society can sow some seeds which will bear fruit in due course. These refugees from Islamic terrorism have to be convinced that it is not the politics of their motherlands that has become perverse, it is the culture cultivated by Islam which has poisoned their societies.
But before Hindu society can perform these minimum and maximum tasks, it has to revive its own spiritual centre and reawaken to its own ancient heritage. The rest will follow.
References / Footnotes
– The Soviet Union is dead and gone, but the US support for Pakistan, one of the front rank promoters of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, continues. The aim of US foreign policy now is no less than the disintegration of the truncated Hindu homeland. Nehruvian secularists are now waiting to be hired by the US establishment, as they were by the Soviet establishment in the past.