When Germany is Christian, is India Hindu?

Though I live in India since long, there are still some points that I find hard to understand – for example why many so called educated Indians on TV discussion forums become agitated whenever ‘Hindutva’ is mentioned. The majority of Indians are Hindus. India is special because of its ancient Hindu tradition. Westerners are drawn to India because of it. Why then is there this resistance by many Indians to acknowledge the Hindu roots of their country? Why do some people even give the impression as if an India that values those Hindu roots was dangerous? Don’t they know better?

Their attitude is strange for two reasons. First, those people have a problem only with ‘Hindu’ India, but not with ‘Muslim’ or ‘Christian’ countries. Germany for example, is a secular country and only 59 percent of the population are registered with the two big Christian Churches (Protestant and Catholic). Nevertheless, the country is bracketed under ‘Christian countries’. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, stressed recently the Christian roots of Germany and urged the population ‘to go back to Christian values’. In 2012, she postponed her trip to the G-8 summit for a day to address the German Catholic Day. In September 2011, the Pope was invited to address the German Parliament. Two major political parties carry ‘Christian’ in their name, including Angela Merkel’s ruling party. Government agencies even collect the Church tax (8 percent of the income tax) and pass it on to the Churches.

Germans are not agitated that Germany is called a Christian country, though I actually would understand if they were. After all, the history of the Church is appalling. The so called success story of Christianity depended greatly on tyranny.  “Convert or die”, were the options given not only to the indigenous population in America some five hundred years ago. In Germany, too, 1200 years ago, the emperor Karl the Great ordered the death sentence for refusal of baptism in his newly conquered realms. It provoked his advisor Alkuin to comment: ‘One can force them to baptism, but how to force them to believe?’’ Heresy was put down with an iron hand. I still remember a visit to the Nuremberg castle prison as a school kid. There, we were shown the torture chamber and the torture instruments that were used during inquisition. Unbelievable cruelty!

Those times, when one’s life was in danger if one dissented with the dogmas of the Church, are thankfully over. And nowadays many in the west do dissent and leave the Church in a steady stream – in Germany alone over 2 million officially signed out in the last ten years and during a survey in 2011, 5,5 million Germans ‘considered’ leaving the Church – partly because they are disgusted with the less than holy behavior of Church officials and partly because they can’t believe in the dogmas, for example that ‘Jesus is the only way’ and that God sends all those who don’t accept this to hell.

And here comes the second reason why the resistance to associate India with Hindutva by Indians is difficult to understand. Hinduism is in a different category from the Abrahamic religions. Its history, compared to Christianity and Islam was undoubtedly the least violent as it spread in ancient times by convincing arguments and not by force. It is not a belief system that demands blind belief in dogmas and the suspension of one’s intelligence. On the contrary, Hinduism encourages using one’s intelligence to the hilt. The rishis enquired into truth, discovered universal laws and showed how to live life in an ideal way. Hinduism (please don’t get irritated by this ’modern’ word. In today’s world it is in use for the many streams of Sanatana Dharma) comprises a huge body of ancient literature, not only regarding Dharma and philosophy, but also regarding music, architecture, dance, science, astronomy, economics, politics, etc. If Germany or any other western country had this kind of literary treasure, it would be so proud and highlight its greatness on every occasion.Yet we Germans have to be content with only one ‘ancient’ epic which was written around 800 years ago and probably refers to incidents around 400 AD. That is how far back ‘antiquity’ reaches in Europe, and of course children in Germany hear of this epic, called ‘Nibelungenlied’, in school. Naturally westerners consider the existence of Sri Krishna and Sri Rama as myths. How could they acknowledge a civilization much more ancient and much more refined than their own?
Inexplicably, Indians cater to western arrogance and ignorance by downplaying and even denying their tradition. There is a “Copernicus Marg’ in New Delhi and Indian children do not get to hear in school that the rishis of the Rg Veda knew already that the earth is round and goes around the sun – thousands of years before westerners ‘discovered’ it. (Rg 10’22’14)
When I read some Upanishads, I was stunned at the profundity. Here was expressed in clear terms what I intuitively had felt to be true, but could not have expressed clearly. Brahman is not partial; it is the invisible, indivisible essence in everything. Everyone gets again and again a chance to discover the ultimate truth and is free to choose his way back to it. Helpful hints are given but not imposed.

 In my early days in India, I thought that every Indian knew and valued his tradition. Slowly I realized that I was wrong. The British colonial masters had been successful in not only weaning away many of the elite from their ancient tradition but even making them despise it. It helped that the ‘educated’ class could no longer read the original Sanskrit texts and believed what the British told them. This lack of knowledge and the brainwashing by the British education may be the reason why many ‘modern’ Indians are against anything ‘Hindu’. They don’t realize the difference between western religions that have to be believed (or at least professed) blindly, and which discourage if not forbid their adherents to think on their own and the multi-layered Hindu Dharma which gives freedom and encourages using one’s intelligence.

Many of the educated class do not realize that on one hand, westerners, especially those who dream to impose their own religion on this vast country, will applaud them for denigrating Hindu Dharma, because this helps western universalism to spread in India. On the other hand, many westerners, including Church people, very well know the value and surreptitiously appropriate insights from the vast Indian knowledge system, drop the original source and present it either as their own or make it look as if these insights had been known in the west.

Rajiv Malhotra of Infinity Foundation has done painstaking research in this field and has documented many cases of “digestion” of Dharma civilization into western universalism. Hindu civilization is gradually being depleted of its valuable, exclusive assets and what is left is dismissed as inferior.

If only missionaries denigrated Hindu Dharma, it would not be so bad, as they clearly have an agenda which discerning Indians would detect. But sadly, Indians with Hindu names assist them because they wrongly believe that Hinduism is inferior to western religions. They belittle everything Hindu instead of getting thorough knowledge. As a rule, they know little about their tradition except what the British told them, i.e. that the major features are caste system and idol worship. They don’t realize that India would gain, not lose, if it solidly backed its profound and all inclusive Hindu tradition. The Dalai Lama said some time ago that already as a youth in Lhasa, he had been deeply impressed by the richness of Indian thought. “India has great potential to help the world,” he added. When will the westernized Indian elite realize it?

 

by Maria Wirth

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198 comments

  1. Excellent analysis of a deep rooted problem in India. Two points:

    1. This ‘sickness’ of anti-hinduism was rooted by the British and accelerated by Nehruvian propagandists after independence. We now call them as leftists in India. Or more appropriately as pseudo-intellectuals and misguided secularists. Most of these people ‘flourished’ under Congress party rule in India.

    2. Recent election of Modi has kind of change the entire game. Now the ‘sleeping’ rightists, i.e., hindus are asserting themselves, rightly, to correct this aberration in our identity. Hence all the recent noise and friction is a consequence of this tussle. Now the majority Hindus are taking back their rightful place in our nation’s history and identity.

  2. Nayan Bhatt · · Reply

    Our country was rulled by mogals & britishers for more than 600 years, who lead country for independent India the leaders dna change & learn British policy, ‘divid people & rulled the country, for long tenure after independent congress dna adopted same policy because for fathers leaders had mix blood of old rollers, so what happened even in congress party may not agree on many national issues with leadership, but they do not have voice to speak, leaders are using; ‘Sam dam dand (deth even) bhed’, to keep as slave & they use media purchase policy through many power, looking this beneficiary politics business so many regional parties took birth & on similer Anamat game keep dividing people because their leaders are also came out from same roots of Congress, by playing successful cast & anamat card leders become karods pati, unbelievable inlegal properties, the people of country remains in divisions, poverty, unadulterated & always in anxiety. Today people have no faith in media they work as poppet of political parties through money power, some journalists have lost ethnics, good moral and even carectours & involved in looting country with helping politicians.

  3. Ramesh Menon · · Reply

    It the better interests of the world , it is important that Hinduism and Indian culture exists in its true form. Hinduism is not just a religion. It is a thought or a Culture which promotes Peace,Love and togetherness. ‘Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu’ is its essence. It is also a culture which is based on ‘Sacrifice’ and not on ‘Consumerism’. The Puranas, the Epics teach us that eternal peace & happiness can never be found in amassing wealth/property/gifts/worldly passions and it’s craving can only lead to unhappiness, guilt, boredom, frustration and eventually leading to self destruction. On the other hand our culture is aimed at attaining spiritual satisfaction and advises ‘seva’ or selfless work for others. Even the normal greeting ‘Na-Ma-Asthe’ means ‘not me but you are important to me at this juncture. How wonderful is our Indian culture!!
    It is important for all religions in India that Hinduism exists or India will also end up in civil war like Syria or Afghanistan and large scale violence will create irreparable imbalances.

  4. […] The article first appeared as – https://mariawirthblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/when-germany-is-christian-is-india-hindu/ […]

  5. Divakar vinnakota · · Reply

    I subscribe to the above views.Lets look at the number of christian meetings that are held in public places in cities and villages across India in the last few years of BjJP rule.Compare them to the no of meetings that were held in the ten years of UPA regimeThey were a daily feature.Look at the no of churches that have sprung up across india in the last twenty years..They are absolutely diaproportionate to the christian population .Who is funding them. This is a feature since the advent of Sonia Gandhi to India.Sonia may not have such a personal agenda but the congress cronies around her do this.If BJP is a pro hindu party then all other parties should be termed Anti Hindu parties. Mani Shankar Iyer says that we have moved on from the stigma of emergency bur they will never allow the country to move on from Aoidhya, which too was an aberration. The state funds Haj pilgrimage and yet it wants the state to be called secular.Look at the masterpieces of our parliamentary legislation.
    1.Special status for J&K for some time.Now they want it to be permanent.This is dividing the country.
    2.Reservations for ten years is another divisive legislation.They have got ion top of a tiger and they dare not get of it, Is it wisdom.A line should be drawn some where.The same with the language policy.the legislation was for ten years only but it continues.
    What are the consequences oif the above.Now every caste wants reservations,including the Patels!!!.Rahul Gandhi speaks for them. The hypocrisy and political brazenness is scary for the country and its future,
    In 60 years the country has not been able to develop J&K.In 60 years you have not improved the lot of SC’s and ST’s.Is it not failure on the part of the congress party.was it deliberate that you never allowed J7K to integrate completely in to India Is it not a failure. It doesnt matter if you loose elections for twenty years Rahul, work for merit and efficiency everywhere.you agitate for removing reservations and abolish special status to J&k..The congress will have a rebirth.India is a predominantly hindu country because it was so born.So please do not destroy the last bastion of of indias coltural fabric.

  6. sandip patel · · Reply

    Great article. Worth spreading.

  7. Trinadh · · Reply

    Yes u r some what true.but see the history of other countries,muslims invaded iran and iraq they were successful in converting them from zorastrianism to islam in 15 years,similarly egypt converted in 10 years after invasion which has rich tradition and culture.and christians also successed in converting africa and south america completely to christianity with in a short span.But see india which was under the muslims rule for 600 years and under the british rule for 300 years.yet they were not successful in converting them and still more than 80% of the people are hindus.this shows the commitment and will of hindus in order to protect their culture and civilization.it has deep rooted in india and has strong pillared.this is bcz of tolarence towards other religions and accepting them while protecting their own religion.so there is no need to bother about that.s.i think its the time for hindus which is growing popular in world.we can also see e.g as world yoga day june 21st.jai hind

    1. you have highlighted all relevant details thank you they could not convert Indians to Islam or Christianity why? can any one explain the reason for this? so it means they failed to convert Indians so they continue with their modern tactics to do the same now with money power donations etc We Hindus should unite forgetting our caste and raise our voice

  8. keeping a conniving behaviour, its good to appreciate every culture. but in true sense one should imbibe indulge and be proud of the culture which has been bestowed upon him/her by the motherland. No religion preaches violence and vehemence over other individuals, people with hidden motives and avarice seek such lower steps to misguide the crowds. Believe in peace and sovereignty is what keeps us human.

    great article and yes indeed indians should be proud of their rich heritage and culture, which has scientific and rational approach for life.

    1. please learn about the doctrine of the dogmatic religions before claiming it is people who misunderstand and not the doctrine. is it not unacceptable that they claim Hindus, Buddhist, atheists.. burn for ever in hell if they don’t convert to the true (there are two claimants) religion?

  9. Dear Maria Wirth,

    There was no Hindu or Hinduism till the colonial period. The Vedas were there as a scientific and philosophic text to follow and live a healthy life. But, Hindus were never there. Most sections of India was divided into communities based on caste and class. So, there was never a need for a unified concept such as ‘Hindu’ since the people believed that they were never equal to another category. Even with the Mughal Empire and other colonial influences, India was divided. The Mohammedans named a certain group of people residing on the India river, Hindus and hence, the name came about. The name was picked up during freedom struggle as a way of resisting the colonizers. Then the great Vedas and its knowledge got attached to the terms Hindu and Hinduism.
    And what about untouchability? Where does that fall in the great peaceful and forward Hinduism? The Indian elite and upper caste people inflict atrocities on lower caste people even today because India was never united as Hindus but was a place divided into communities based on caste and class. So may be the world can learn and share certain knowledge written in the Vedas but that does not mean that Christianity, Islam,Jainism and Buddhism is any less spiritual or knowledgeable than those practicing Hindus. But am not one to defend religion either because many have died defending their religion and degrading. India is currently moving towards a Hindutva nation. But India was never a Hindutva nation. Then, this attempt becomes a matter of forced nationalism and to show other countries how united India is through religion. But what about the Buddhists in India who have been in India long enough. What about the Christians, Muslims, Sikhs? We are all Indian, not Hindus and definitely not in Hindustan. We live in Bharat. With India’s history or communal violence, its more important that we stay Bharat and not Hindustan!

  10. Check this link and watch the video. Where is the peace?

    As B R Ambedkar said once, “I believe in a religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity”.

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