Hinduism has been so denigrated, bullied, abused, defiled, degraded and spoiled by so many forces over the past ten centuries - especially by the Islamic invaders, followed by the Christian despoilers, and now Madison Avenue commercialism and consumerism - that one can scarcely even say that it still exists today. It is an "old rag" of a once elegant silk sari. This has come about chiefly because the sensitive, intelligent Hindus have been reluctant to stand up or to cause controversy, preferring to suffer in silence than to create a scene.
The so-called militant Vishwa Hindu Parishad until five years ago was an innocuous organization which did little more than hold pujas, Sanskrit camps and religious discourses. One must ask: what has happened to turn such a pacifist, conservative, timid organization into the energetic forceful, proselytizer that it has become today?
You can scarcely find a real "Hindu" in India today. Most of our educated intelligentsia have taken their education in Christian-run schools, which use insidious indoctrination to make the children ashamed of their own practices and beliefs. The upper class has been completely seduced by Western consumerism. The poor are so brutalized and de-sensitized by the cinema and by cheap country liquor, that temple rituals and rites are just occasions to get drunk.
Twenty years ago, when I came to India, the hut families next door had ten children each. My educated high-class friends had only one or two children at the most. Now, the children of the hut families all have ten children, and the children of my brahmin friends have two. So in two generations the ratio which started as two to two went to ten to two and now one hundred to two. This same phenomenon has occurred with Muslims and Christians. The percentage of the Hindu population goes down each generation, and the percentage of the Christians and Muslims go up. As well the Hindus are becoming de-Hinduized - turning more and more to an existence with no element of religiosity. Hindus are more prone to this than others in India, because there is no structure to "keep them in line." That firm structure still exists in India in the Muslim and Christian religions.
India is no longer Hindu India, and I have seen this change myself in the short course of 20 years. That, plus the favored treatment which the minorities receive at every turn (like bribes from the politicians for the guaranteed voting bank), has actually ended up in the persecution of Hindu religion in the land of its birth. All these frustrations and inequalities are now starting to erupt, and they have crystalized into such issues as Ayodhya, making it such a volatile symbol. These are all facts which cannot be ignored. How Ayodhya is to be handled, of course, is a matter for debate and discussion. The situation is so complex you have to live here to understand it. It should not be judged by people living outside of India. You cannot buy a loaf of bread in India without indulging in very complex politics. Religion has been thoroughly politicized, not by the Hindus themselves or their organizations, but by politicians of all creeds, and particularly by the agnostic and atheistic politicians who seek only material gain and power.
Article copyright Himalayan Academy.