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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204 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!

    1. Dear Suryasimon,
      Hindu was the name given to people living by river Indus, but the actual name of Hinduism is Sanatan Dharma. And you say, Hinduism (Sanatan Dharma) did not exist before colonial period? It existed well before your westerners used to roam naked. Yes India was divided by caste and communities, but they all were part of Sanatan Dharma. They all accepted vedas, and many traditions were common. Some traditions varied according to the region, which is obvious. And that is what Sanatan dharma (hinduism) is. There is no one single belief. It is based on facts according to the people living in that region. And if you say Hinduism didnot exist because India was divided based on caste or creed, then by that logic, Christianity, Islam, they don’t exist either. Islam is divided too between Shias and Sunnis. They both have very different beliefs and are always ready to kill each other. Christians have Catholics and Protestants with very different beliefs. Also, whole world including many great historians acknowledge that Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion, so I guess they are all idiots. And yes, there were some bad practices like untouchability, sati, but many such malpractices exist in all other religions too. Hinduism doesn’t claim to be perfect or above any other religion. Infact, if you have read vedas and ancient texts and not western history, you will understand, Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. India, since long was a hindutva nation and will remain a hindutva nation. A hindutva nation doesn’t mean a nation of Hindus, it means the nation which acknowledges it’s Hindu roots and those Hindu roots also include Islam, Christianity and other religions in India. Hinduism is ever evolving and is not extremist. Hindutva is not extremist unlike extreme Islam and extreme Christianity (which you cannot deny but you will never say it loud). Hinduism has never forced people (on large scale like the abrahamic religions) to convert to hinduism. To acknowledge our own roots is wrong? Please have a thorough knowledge of history instead of having opinions on some half read knowledge.

    2. Narayan Srikanth · · Reply

      Here is a typical non Hindu, whose forefather was a HIndu perhaps. It has become so explicit that in supporting their own faiths, they become more Christian than the Pope and more Islamic than Mohammed, and that gives its own inimical push to becoming anti Hindu. Sanatan Dharma says that all people on earth are born Hindus , whether you like that concept or not is another story. It is time INdia realised its potential as India and Hindutva provides the passage for such a transition. In every country the social issues are governed by a single law, where as in India a Catholic funded hospital can refuse a termination of pregnancy for medical reasons, and thats illegal to deny medical help, and Muslims can generally get away saying our religion runs ahead of the nation.

  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”.

  11. P Kashyap · · Reply

    Factual and clear analysis. Atleast Christians, the non practising ones of Europe, have understood the crimes committed in the name of religion by their violent misguided ancestors. They acknowledge the futility of blind and closed faith and question the religious leadership vocally. Strangely, in India, the Christians are playing a dubious game. Kerala comes to the forefront in digestion of Hindu Vedic practices like Thulabharam, Annaprasnam, Sahasranamam, devotional rolling on the floor, even Padmasana! These mercenaries do not understand the grave folly they are committing in the name of cheating unsuspecting gullible people and tricks them to join the faith.

    Whereas, on the other hand you have the most violent Abrahamic faith, Islam, whose practitioners display no remorse in committing violent acts backed by citation of Quoranic verses.

  12. Chandrashekar Guruvegowda · · Reply

    But we must be careful about what is passed off as Hinduism Only in the last hundred years after the birth of the RSS this controversy of “Hindutva” has cropped up. As majority of Indians are Hindus from time immemorial it is like asking the fish why they are in they are in water But what are the so called fringe elements are representing ? A violent and aggressive face of Hinduism ? No they are not because there is no aggressive or violence that is perpetrated by Hindus down centuries . Why did Great and enlightened Hindus like Raja Ram Mohan Roy , Dayanand Saraswathi or Bankimchandra Chattopadyaya fought for reformation of the ” Hindu” society in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries if all were hunky dory with Hinduism ? Why there were movements against untouchability in South India ? Why should our own ” Hindu” people had to enter the temples forcefully ? The present day “Hindu” activism is nothing do with a civilised past but it is an attempt to hoodwink people into a barbaric past of suppression and oppression. It is a blatant attempt to bring back brahminical hegemony of Manuvada as education and technologies are erasing the boundaries between the castes . But only these fringe elements are at the forefront and not the elitist Hindus like the sauvvy politicians and intellectuals who wear saffron ? After all saffron is a symbol of detachment from worldly affairs. But Alas now people wearing saffron have made their way into the portals of power . May I ask you now, Who is distorting Hinduism ?

  13. I am proud to be Hindu,I believe in VEDAS (in Sanskrit vedmeans knowledge….which hasno limit ).Shri Maria wirth is eye Openers for westernised materialist Indian ..Nothing to bother, coming 50 years will spread correct knowledge. We appreciate German people for their knowledge, philosophy and swastick signed… Thanks maria…

  14. Religion is a sensitive issue to discuss in India. Especially when it comes to talking about the sense of Hinduism, there are two contrasts that happen. One, most people from the highly-educated brackets of India suddenly adopt the “secular” image to project that they believe in the higher goal of “No Religion” as their only religion. Two, most people from the illiterate brackets still believe in the caste system. Please note that while the initial origin of the caste system was based on karma (or work), soon the roots were forgotten to give way for the system to be based on birth.

    Roots, we see, have been forgotten, which is the real cause of the problem. Interestingly, forgetting the roots is still a result in itself. It was the systematic brain-washing during the British Raj that triggered us to forget our roots and modify the reality to believe in something that was never from the Hindu origin. Being a Hindu, I know that the real “secularity” is in realizing that the god is omnipresent and formless. He (or She, because Hindus have goddesses, too) is in each one of us either rich or poor, either literate or illiterate, and is devoid of what karma they follow.

    I like your approach of putting things in perspective. And, the more they remain in our perspective, the more likely we are to consider them while making decisions and forming and giving opinions. It is time, I agree, that we must look into our ancient texts for answers. Bharatvarsha, as it was called before being Indianized, was about exploring and maintaining the state of oneness with the supreme power that resides within all of us. The essence of being Hindu is not in following a religion, but in making sure that the tenets and root knowledge be spread to acquire wisdom, logic, and awareness across all levels of the society.

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