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Why India should not be Secular



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Dear Raju,

You make some excellent points but we need to be practical. A fact of life 
is that we have 140 million muslims who must be seen as part of the same 
'secular' solution.  Unlike marxists/ communists, we cannot simply eliminate 
people who disagree with us.

More importantly, muslims themselves must see themselves as part of the same 
solution - we all know the old saying about taking a horse to water.  My own 
sense is that muslims really have no idea of, or experience in, living 
within the confines of a modern secular democracy.  As they progress up the 
learning curve, we will slowly and painfully arrive at a definition of 
secularism which will work for all.

In the meantime, however, a UCC must be established in India.  The current 
bill of rights creates, deepens and hardens divisions in society.  The last 
thing we need is for new divisions to crop up even as we resolve old ones.

Sanjay Garg


>From: "Raju Agarwal" <krantikari@hotmail.com>
>Reply-To: debate@indiapolicy.org
>To: debate@indiapolicy.org
>Subject: Re: Why India should not be Secular
>Date: Fri, 22 Dec 2000 20:33:32 -0800 (PST)
>
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>Please help make the Manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!
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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 India’s 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 God’s 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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