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Re: Why India should not be Secular



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Prakash,

For the moment, I wanted to educate people about Hinduism.  I also wanted to 
challenge the commonly held assumption that 99.9% of Indians have, which is 
to automatically accept the Western solution of Secularism, without first 
considering our own Indian alternatives.

I plan to develop this further over the next week and will email you Part 2 
once it is completed.  BTW, you said I went on to extoll Pluralism, did you 
mean Hinduism?

Raju


>From: "Cprakash" <Cprakash@goplay.com>
>Reply-To: debate@indiapolicy.org
>To: "Raju Agarwal" <krantikari@hotmail.com>, debate@indiapolicy.org
>Subject: Re: Why India should not be Secular
>Date: Sat, 23 Dec 2000 09:25:30 -0800 (PST)
>
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>Dear Raju,
>
>what did you exactly want to convey thro the roller coaster ride of
>an essay of yours ? You started by saying india should not be secular
>and then go on to extoll pluralism and end by saying that hinduism is
>the spiritual ancestor of pluralism.
>
>IPI is a forum for a debate on the system. Now what changes would
>your ideas bring into the SYSTEM of indian laws and polity ?
>i.e. How will india declaring itself as a "pluralist" state, instead
>of a "secular" state make a difference to the average man and his/her
>interaction with the government ?
>
>please elaborate (we can take this debate outside the forum as hte
>other members seem to be overwhelmed by the whole topic )
>
>regards
>prakash
>
>"Raju Agarwal" <krantikari@hotmail.com> wrote on Friday December 22,
>2000 at  9:21pm:
> >---------------------------------------------------------------------
> >Please help make the Manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate
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> >Why India Should Not Be Secular
> >
> >The proponents of Secularism argue that this construct is essential
>in
> >order for different religions to peacefully coexist with each
>other.  The
> >problem with this argument is that it falsely assumes that all
>religions are
> >based on the idea of exclusivity and therefore will be hostile to
>one
> >another.  The truth is, that while this may be a valid supposition
>in the
> >case of the Abrahamic religions, it is certainly not true in the
>case of
> >Eastern religions in general and Indian religions in particular.
> >
> >All religions are not based on the same philosophical underpinnings
>and
> >therefore should not be labeled with the same brush.  Moreover, the
>very
> >concept of (organized) religion is alien to India.  There is no
>equivalent
> >of the English word religion in any Indian language.   The closest
>Indian
> >word is Dharma which does not connote exclusivity.  Even the term
>Hindu
> >is a Persian word that refers to people living east of the Indus
>(Sindhu)
> >river.  That is, the term Hindu in its original sense refers to all
>Indians.
> >  Hinduism therefore, is just the ism of the Indian people.
>Hinduism
> >has no Church, no Pope nor even a common Bible.  As noted
>previously,
> >Hinduism is not a religion.  It is a paradigm like religion and
> >Secularism itself, which has proved to be more successful in
>bringing
> >about the peaceful coexistence of diverse spiritual traditions.  For
> >example, despite Indias spiritual diversity, there was no equivalent
>of
> >The Crusades in India.  There was no war between the Vaishnavites
>and
> >Shaivites or between the Advaitists and Dvaitists.  There was no war
>between
> >the followers of this Prophet and that Prophet, this God and that
>God.
> >Whenever a new Prophet gained prominence in India, the message was
>spread
> >through peaceful means and there was no religious persecution from
>the
> >established order.   Shankara did not raise an army to spread his
>message
> >and his first devotee was the head of the Dvaitist school of
>thought, which
> >was the prevailing philosophy at that time.  Al-Biruni put it
>succinctly:
> >They (the Hindus) are opposite us in every respect.  They do not
>give their
> >life or their property to defend their religious beliefs.  If they
>fight,
> >they fight only with words.
> >
> >Unlike the Judeo-Christian concept of religious exclusivity, Indian
> >spiritual traditions are based on the idea of Unity in Diversity.
>Hinduism
> >remarkably reconciles seemingly irreconcilable religious
>differences.  Just
> >as light is known to have both wave-like and particle-like
>characteristics,
> >in Hinduism God is considered to be both without form and attributes
> >(nirguna) and with form and attributes (saguna).  The one does not
>negate
> >the other.  Consequently there is no compulsion for believers in the
> >impersonal form of God (Brahman) to feel any antagonism toward those
>that
> >worship idols and believe in the saguna view of God (i.e. Lord Ram,
>Lord
> >Krishna).
> >
> >In Hinduism, believers in one spiritual tradition do not see
>themselves as
> >having exclusive knowledge of Gods true nature or His word.  They do
>not
> >consider themselves to be the chosen race anointed by God to spread
>His
> >Word.  They do not think that all non-believers have been misled by
>Satan
> >and will be damned to spend eternity in Hell.  In fact, just as the
>concept
> >of religion is alien to India, so too is the concept of Satan.
> >
> >By contrast, Lord Krishna says in the Gita Just as all streams flow
>into
> >the sea, so do all paths of worship lead to Me.  He also shows His
>disciple
> >Arjuna His cosmic form (vishwa roop) within which Arjuna not only
>sees all
> >of the forms of God known to him but many more forms (i.e. Gods)
>that he has
> >never seen before.   Hinduism believes in One God that manifests
>itself in
> >infinite forms.  Just as Lord Ram and Lord Shiva are considered to
>be
> >manifestations of the same Divinity, Jesus and Allah may also be
>viewed as
> >manifestations of that Divinity. The God realized soul, Shri
>Ramakrishna
> >Paramhansa, used the analogy of three men, Hindu, Muslim and
>Christian,
> >standing on opposite sides of a lake.  The Hindu drinks the water
>calling it
> >Jaal, the Muslim drinks calling it Paani and the Christian drinks
>calling it
> >Water, but in each case the taste is the same and the thirst equally
> >quenched.
> >
> >The fundamental problem with the idea of Secularism is that it does
>not
> >address the root problem of religious violence  religious bigotry.
>Mahatma
> >Gandhi described violence as consisting of three forms: violent
>actions,
> >violent words, and violent thoughts.   While the concept of
>Secularism
> >successfully put an end to the era of religious warfare (i.e. The
>Crusades),
> >it has hardly made a dent in reducing religious bigotry.  For
>example, a
> >prominent American television Evangelist recently called India a
>nation of
> >900 million Satan Worshippers and asked his followers for donations
>to
> >establish a Missionary movement in India that would go to every
>village in
> >the country.  The Pope has frequently stated that all religions are
>not the
> >same and that Christianity is the true religion.  During his recent
>visit
> >to India, the Pope said that the mission of the Church in this
>millennium is
> >to bring the masses of Asia into the fold.
> >
> >Because of its failure to address the issue of religious bigotry,
>Secularism
> >has not been successful in creating a society in which all religions
>can
> >truly peacefully coexist.  In order for this to happen, adherents of
>a
> >particular religion must think beyond merely tolerating another
>religion,
> >they must accept its divinity.  This may be difficult but it is not
> >impossible.  There is no verse in the Bible for instance that
>specifically
> >says that God does not manifest Himself in forms other than Jesus.
>It is
> >only a matter of changing the prevailing interpretation.
> >
> >In fact, this idea is the basis of a new paradigm known as
>Pluralism, that
> >is quickly gaining popularity in many academic circles engaged in
>the study
> >of Philosophy and Religion.  Whether you call it Hinduism,
>Pluralism, or any
> >other ism, this idea is destined to become the future religion of
>mankind
> >(whatever religion means).
> >
> >In some sense, Hinduism is the evolution of Secularism.
> >
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