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Why Hindus always lose?

Vinod Kumar


I have been thinking on this for some time. It is not that I have the final answer, or any answer at all, but these are just my thoughts.

Hindus losing almost all the time, if not on short term basis but definitely in the long term, I believe stems from their basic ideology. It is, in my opinion, a classical example of when virtue becomes a vice. It is the way Hinduism as is known today developed and took shape. I liken Hinduism to modern scientific development. One observes and conducts experiment, others challenge, the issues and results are debated. Some times even wrong conclusions are drawn and accepted. No one has the final answer. Yesterday's accepted phenomenon are rejected today and the same might happen with what are today well accepted principles as new knowledge becomes available. Hinduism followed a similar path in human development.

The aim of Hinduism was to understand the nature of the universe, find the truth, and devise ways for people to live together amicably in a well knit society. Given the complexity of nature, it was indeed a hard and difficult process. Mistakes were made, mistakes were corrected. All Hinduism ( I am using this term for the lack of another more suitable term) was one big laboratory. There were conflicts within as there are even within the modern scientific community. In scientific research, results can be verified. In human laboratory there is no concrete and verifiable ways of checking and verifying the results. And individual ego is always a big factor wherever man is involved in the equation.

This created a society or a religion, to define it in modern lingo, where over a period of time some common way of living developed -- not necessarily ideal -- which society over a long period, given the current contemporary wisdom, thought was the right way of living. Whatever its faults, it had one unique feature -- again which has its parallel with the modern scientific community -- those who did not agree with one's research were not killed and one was always able to challenge others findings and disagree with it. And it was always open to change should further research and circumstances so demanded.

The Hindu society thus survived for millennia -- struggling and learning every day -- adapting as it moved from one large human experiment to the next, never stagnant albeit slow in development but still moving forward. It thus explored and leant more and more about the complex and unknown nature of the universe in which it lived.

To give an example of how it learnt and developed: from the old Pauranic concept that the earth was flat and it was supported on a horn of a bull, and earthquakes occurred when the bull shifted the earth from one horn to the other. The Hindu scientists over long period of research, observation and contemplation concluded that the earth, after all, was not flat and it was really not supported on the horn of a bull. It took a long time but concluded the earth was a sphere and it was not supported by anything at all. There was no top or bottom of the earth. People lives all around itů etc etc.

This is just to illustrate the scientific temper of Hinduism.

Hinduism of the past always faced problems with new thoughts and knowledge but since fundamentally it was based on search of truth, such conflicts and new knowledge did not result in any convulsions. New ideas if they had merit were accepted, even though it took time to absorb them. Old habits die hard. It was the nature of Hinduism that it converted from Brahminical ideas to Buddhistic creed without any mass upheavals, and then back to Hinduism -- a feat unparalleled in other parts of the world.

This gave Hinduism another characteristic which is not common in other modern religions. This is best put in words of a scholar from one of the religions that are challenging Hinduism most.

Alberuni, a Muslim from Central Asia, Khwarizm to be more specific, was a devoted Muslim and a scholar in his own right. He was a mathematician and an astronomer. Scholar of Greek and Arabic, he came to India with Mahmud Ghaznavi and stayed on India to learn about Hinduism and Hindus. He learnt Sanskrit and studied all of Hindus scriptures. Wrote 20 books about India. He was specially interested in Hindu religion and its sciences. He wrote what he observed and compared Hindu practices with Islamic practices.

Among others, what he found to be strange characteristics he found to be strange was, as he wrote:

"(Secondly), they totally differ from us in religion, as we believe in nothing in which they believe, and vice versa. On the whole, there is very little disputing about theological topics among themselves; at the utmost, they fight with words, but still will NEVER (emphasis added) stake their body or soul or their private property on religious controversy."

Of course Alberuni wrote much more about Hindus than this observation but for the time being let us concentrate on this. In itself, Hindus characteristic of not "staking their body or soul or their private property on religious controversy" is noble and is in accordance with the highest ethics of modern scientists. Religion in the spiritual sense to a Hindu was a matter of one's conscience. It was kind of blasphemous -- if I may use this term -- to expect others to agree with everything with one's own findings of spirituality. This was also strictly in accordance with the Vedic concept "Ekam satya viprah bahuda vadanti" and "sarva dharma Sambahava".

Would a scientist today stake one's body or soul or private property in fighting against those who don't accept his findings? Would he not just fight with just words -- arguments, article in journals, debate etc. etc.?

This was the temper of Hinduism. Hinduism in its long tenure never developed the idea of fighting and dying for its belief. Every belief was valid for a Hindu as he realized there is no one sure way to spirituality. Nothing is fixed in the Universe, It is ever changing. No one has the final answer.

For a devoted Muslim like Alebruni who are guided by their Holy Book to fight and lay down their "soul, body and private property" for the sake of their religion, this Hindu characteristic must have looked rather quite strange and it is no wonder that he mentioned it in his book.

Even today, despite all the efforts of some groups asking Hindus to fight to save their religion, this idea of freedom of thought and scientific temper is so deeply ingrained in the Hindu psyche, they have refused to subscribe to it. This is the very basis of their religion.

At times Hindus have fought back but in the long run they have losing the battle to protect their religion as "staking their body or soul or private property" for the sake of their religion was never a part of their spiritual thinking.

While this has resulted in continuous decline in the number of Hindus worldwide, but this concept of accepting new research has led the Hindus to new heights in the scientific fields. They are not bound by some dogma.

These are some thoughts. There are other factors also which we may discuss at some other time.

 

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