Why the name ‘Hindu’ - Our social diversity, sign of evolution –Many sects but one dharma –Its twofold object – Reasons for present perversion – Varna vyavastha: Original form; not the cause of slavery; present day perversions – All our languages national- Myth of Tamil separatism- Why Hindi as official language- Present linguistic chauvinism – Aryan Dravidian controversy , a political game – The fresh dissensions - Realise underlying unity- A duty by birth .
Since times immemorial, a great and cultured people called by the name ‘Hindu’ have been living here as the children of this sacred motherland . There are, however , some who object to the name ‘Hindu’ saying that it is comparativly of a recent origin and moreover given to us by the foreigners. They suggest the name ‘Arya’ or Bharatiya in the place of ‘Hindu’ .
Why the name ‘Hindu’?
‘Arya’ is an old and proud name, no doubt. But it has gone out of use especially for the last thousand years. Moreover, the mischievous propaganda carried on by the British under the cover of historical research during the last century has struck deep into the minds of our people the poisonous roots of the cooked up Aryan-Dravidian controversy. The use of the ‘Arya’ would therefore be self- defeating in its purpose of bringing up before our eyes the picture of the whole of our people stretching from Himalayas to Kanyakumari, irrespective of all denominations, past and present.
‘Bhartiya’ too is an ancient name associated with us since hoary times. The name Bharat appears even in the vedas. Our Puranas have also spoken of our motherland as Bharat and of our people as Bharatis in fact, it connotes the same meaning as ‘Hindu’. But today, there is a misconception regarding the word ‘Bhartiya’ also. It is commonly used as a translation of the word ‘Indian’ which includes all the various other communities like the Muslim, Christian, Parsi, etc., residing in this land. So, the word 'Bhartiya' too is likely to mislead us when we want to denote our particular society. The word 'Hindu' alone connotes correctly and completely the meaning which we want to convey.
Nor is it historically correct to say that the name 'Hindu' is of recent origin or that it was given to us by foreigners. We find the name Sapta-Sindhu in the oldest records of the world - the Rig-Veda itself - as an epithet applied to our land and our people. And it is also well known that the syllable 'S' in Sanskrit is at times changed to 'H' as some of our Prakrit languages and even in European languages. And thus the name Hapta-Hindu and then 'Hindu' came into currency. Thus 'Hindu' is a proud name of our own origin and others learnt to denote us by it only later on.
According to the Brihaspati Agama the word 'Hindu' is formed with the letter 'Hi' from the Himalayas and 'Indu' from Indu Sarovar (the Southern Ocean), conveying the entire stretch of our motherland.
The Brihaspati Agama says:
~~~~~~~ WM ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~,I
~ ft II
(The land created by the gods and stretching from Himalayas to the Indu (i.e.Southern) ocean is called Hindusthan.)
The word 'Hindu' has been especially associated with us during the crucial period of the last thousand years of our history. Right from the days of Prithviraj, all our great nation-builders, statesmen, poets and historians have taken the name 'Hindu' to denote our people and our dharma. The dream of all our valiant freedom fighters like Guru Govind, Vidyaranya and Shivaji had been to establish Hindu Swaraj. The name 'Hindu' carries with it the fragrant memories of all those great lives, their deeds and their aspirations. It has thus become a word that at once reflects the unity, the sublimity and the speciality of our people.
There are some who have the habit of dubbing us as narrow and parochial in our outlook because of our insistence on the word 'Hindu'. Pandit Nehru too levelled the same charge when I met him once. He said, "Why are you always harping upon 'Hindu' 'Hindu'? By this, you are only shutting up yourself within your four walls, not allowing the fresh breeze form the outside world to come in. There should be no walls separating us from the wide world outside. We should pull down all such out-dated barriers." Pandit Nehru was a big man and he spoke with great emotion. I calmly replied, " I totally agree with you that we should allow fresh breeze to come in form all ideologies prevalent in several countries, sift them and assimilate whatever is beneficial to us. But to do that, is it necessary that we should demolish the walls of our house and bring down the roofs upon our heads? On the contrary, would it not be wise to keep our house intact and just open the windows and doors to let in the outside breeze? I feel that broadmindedness, if stretched beyond the practical limit, would only end up in finishing our national entity. And I must say it is our so-called narrow national outlook which will ultimately help raising up our nation even while absorbing what is desirable form the outside world." To this, Pandit Nehru remarked, " Well, I concede that such conviction is needed to put in determined efforts for any cause."
Sign of Evolution
Let us now take a look at our Hindu life. When people, especially outsiders, see the multitude of our faiths, sects, castes, languages, customs and habits, they are confounded, and they exclaim, "With all these heterogeneous elements and discordant notes, how can you call this a single society at all? Where is the single way of life you call 'Hindu'?"
The unique feature of 'unity in diversity' has expressed itself in all spheres of our social life, in its material as well as spiritual aspect. It is like a bright lamp covered on all sides
Well, this question stems from a superficial view of our Hindu life. A tree, for example, appears to be full of heterogeneous parts like the branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. The trunk differs from the branches, the branches form the leaves-all as if entirely different form one another. But we know that all these apparent diversities are only the varied manifestations of the same tree, the same sap running through and nourishing all those parts. So is the case with the diversities of our social life which have been evolved down these millennia. They are no more a source of dissension and disruption than a leaf or a flower is in the case of a tree. This kind of natural evolution has been a unique feature of our social life.
In fact, in the scheme of nature, the evolution of life has followed the same pattern. Life, in its primitive stage, is in a shapeless condition and is called 'amoeba'. It is an unicellular organism, complete in itself. It can be split into two similar ones. It is in the primary state of protoplasm and stands in the lowest rung of evolution. As evolution progresses, various life species come into being with differentiated organs to fulfill the increasing number of functions. Finally, the human body is formed which is a tremendously complex mechanism composed of innumerable organs, each endowed with a specific function, but all of them bound with one another in a common current of life. That is the highest evolved form of life on earth. So we find that the different organs or diversities are not a sign of immaturity or heterogeneity but of a highly evolved state. All the organs, though apparently of diverse forms, work for the welfare of the body and thus subscribe to its strength and growth.
The Unique Picture
Likewise is the case with society. An evolved society, for the proper functioning of various duties, develops a multitude of diverse functional groups. Our old social order laid down a specific duty for each group and guided all the individuals and groups in their natural line of evolution just as the intellect directs the activities of the innumerable parts of the body. The highest scope for development of the individual was secured in the process of his best service to the Virat Purusha (Corporate Person) of society. Such was the highly complex and organised structure of society that we had envisaged as the practical ideal and strove to realise it in life. This state, looked at from a distance, appears as a bewildering diversity but, in fact, denotes the highest evolved state of society that ever existed on the face of the world.
But the present-day mind, accustomed to viewing things through the medium of foreign 'isms' and their high-sounding slogans of 'equality', has failed to grasp this unique feature and has raised the cry that the various diversities of our life are all so many sources of dissension and should therefore be eradicated and rolled into a 'classless' society. Merely because the various limbs and organs in a body appear different and play their own specific functions, should we call them different 'classes' and proceed to remove them all to make the body a 'classless' entity? If we do that, will that be evolution or murder?
with glasses of various colours. The inside light appears to take on the different hues and shades according to the angle from which one views it. It is this wondrous variety of expressions that has made some people say that ours is not one society, not one nation, but a 'multinational country'!
We shall be able to analyse the present-day maladies of our social life and be able to devise ways and means to remedy them if we start with this correct appraisal of our social life.
'Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vadanti'
The first special characteristic that strikes the eye of an outsider is the bewildering variety of sects and sub-sects like Shaiva, Vaishnava, Shakta, Vaidik, Bouddha, Jain, Sikh, Lingayat, Aryasamaj, etc., obtaining in the elastic framework of our dharma. A great masters and sponsorers of all these upasanas founded these various forms of worship to suit the various mental aptitudes of our people, but in the last analysis referred them all to the same goal of realising the Ultimate Truth-variously called Brahma, Atma, Shiva, Vishnu, Ishwara or even Shoonya or Maha Soonya.
See how the following shloka beautifully comprises and harmonises the various sects and philosophies in the Hindu fold:
(He whom the Shaivas worship as Shiva, the Vedantins as Brahma, the Bouddhist as Buddha, the Naiyayikas (rationalists) as Karta, the Jains as Arhan, the Meemamsaka as Karma, may He, the Lord of the three worlds, fulfil our desires.)
There is a revealing anecdote in the life of Sant Tulsidas. People at one place took him to the temple of Sri Krishna, knowing fully well that his single-minded devotion was to Sri Rama. The saint stood before the idol entirely unmoved. He then prayed to Sri Krishna:
dkgSa oj.kkS Nfo vki dh Hkys fojktr ukFkA
Rqylh eLrd rc uoS /kuq"k ck.k ysÅ gkFkAA
(How shall I describe your radiant features? You are indeed gracefully decorated. However, Tulasi will bow down his head only when you take bow and arrow in your hand..)
And it is said, the idol of Sri Krishna was transformed into the form of his chosen deity Kodandadhari Sri Ram.
But the diversities in the path of devotion did not mean division is society. All are indivisible organs of one common dharma, which held society together. The same philosophy of life, the same goal, the same belief in the supremacy of the inner spirit over the outer gross things of matter, the same faith in rebirth, the same adoration of certain qualities like brahmacharya, satya, etc., the same holy samskars, in short, the same lifeblood flowed through all these limbs of our society. It was the propoounder of pure Advaita (non-dualism), Sri Shankaracharya, who prescribed the Panchayatana pooja--the worship of the five deities, Surya, Shakti, Vishnu, Ganapati, and Shiva--for the sake of the common man. What a glorious example of the harmony of the various paths to God Realisation! Diversity of sect had seldom caused bloodshed or unholy rivalry amongst our people in the past. Even while one tried to establish one's own thesis or while attempting to disprove the others there was never any breaking of heads. This deep current of inner unity is described beautifully in Shivamahimna-stotra:
=k;h lk«[;« ;¨x% i'kqifrer« oS".kofefr
çfHkés çLFkkUks ijfenen% iF;fefr p
#phUkk« oSfp×;kêtqdqfVyUkkUkkiFktq"kk« Uk`.kkesd¨ xE;Lroefl i;lke.kZo bo AA
(As the one ocean of all waters, You are the one goal of all men, who, according to their diverse tastes, take to the several paths, straight or crooked, considering this as superior or that as wholesome among the differing paths-the Vedas, the Samkhya, the Yoga, the Shaiva and the Vaishnava faiths.)
This has been our tradition right form the hoary Vedic days down to the present times. All our great spiritual masters have upheld this unique and all-comprehensive aspect of religion. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has declared, "As many views, so many ways." There can be as many faiths and creeds as the variety of attitudes and aptitudes of individuals.
The formation of many of these sects and aspects of philosophy served another very useful purpose. They helped to protect and maintain the integrity of our people. The Sikh sect, for example, came into being to contain the spread of Islam in Punjab. Later on, recognising the need of the times, Guru Govind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, armed his disciples and turned them into a band of national heroes. When the Christian missionaries were trying to woo the people on our West Coast of their faith in the name of an all-merciful personal God, Sri Madhwacharya rose with the bhakti aspect of our dharma to neutralise that foreign poison. The efforts of Ramanujacharya and Basaveshwara too were inspired with the aim of removing feelings of high and low that had crept into the people and unifying them all in a common bond of devotion of God.
Secondly, the name 'Hindu' which signified our all comprehensive dharma has fallen into disrepute. People have begun to feel ashamed of calling themselves Hindus. Thus the
It is our misfortune that this all-embracing aspect of our dharma has been lost sight of today. There are several reasons for this sad state of affairs. The narrow concept of religion that the West practised seems to have had its effect upon us. In all those Semitic religions-Judaism, Christianity and Islam-a single way of worship is prescribed for all. Those creeds have but one prophet, one scripture and one God, other than whom there is no path of salvation for the human soul. It requires no great intelligence to see the absurdity of such a proposition. Naturally this Semitic concept of religion bred intolerance and divided people in the name of religion. Some countries in the West therefore got disgusted with feuds begotten by such religious fanaticism and took the extreme step of ousting religion itself. The Communist and Socialist philosophies, as taken up by Russia, are extreme instances of this revolt.
This has had its effects on our country also. People forgot that narrow sentiments of sectarian antagonism had never existed here. In their blind following of the Western developments, they too began to deride and disclaim dharma in their life. That has resulted in disrupting the benign bonds that used to hold the people together and inspire them for higher life.
We are witnessing its disastrous effects today. Stories of mutual derision, even to the extent of becoming household jokes, are rampant throughout the length and breadth of the country. There is talk of 'domination' and 'imperialism' of one sect over another. If we are to speak in terms of 'domination' then we have to say that the North is being 'tyrannised' under the philosophical 'imperialism' of the South! Because, all the major schools of philosophical thought that have encompassed the whole of our land including the remotest corners of the North were propounded by the great teachers born in the South. Shankara, the propounder of the incomparable Advaita Philosophy, Ramanuja with his effulgence of Bhakti of Visishtadvaita, Madhwa with his sublime appeal of Dvaita, the duality of soul and God, and Vallabha too who looked upon the universe as a blissful projection of God Himself-all of them are from the South. So, should we say that the south is philosophically dominating over the whole of the country? How absurd! Well, is my head dominating over my legs? Are not both equally the parts of the same body?
The part which is geographically called north is as dear to us as the one called South. Ganga is as holy to us as Cauvery. The great Shivalinga formed out of ice in the Himalayan cave at Amarnath claims the same devotion from all of us as the Linga at Rameshwaram. We are intrinsically one, transcending all superficial barriers of distance, creed or sect. It is because this sap of unity is dried up today that all the various branches of the great tree of our dharma are falling apart.
golden thread that strung together all these pearls of various spiritual hues and shades has been torn asunder and the various sects and creeds have begun to take a pride in their own exclusive names and parading themselves as non-Hindus.
Some of the Sikhs, Jains, Lingayats and Aryasamajists declare that they are separate from Hindus. Some prominent Sikh leaders are demanding and agitating for a separate sectarian Sikh State - though under the grab of a linguistic State, the Punjabi Suba. And strengthen their demand some of them have stooped to justify the creation of a separate State for Muslims, i.e., Pakistan. They have even gone to the extent of seeking its sympathy and help, forgetting all the barbaric atrocities and insults they had suffered at the hands of Pakistanis during the days of Partition. What greater misfortune could there be than that the present Sikh leaders should come forward to treat their great sect on par with the avowed destroyers of our desh and dharam and even seek the help of those very hostile forces from whose aggression it was born to protect the society!
The head of the Namadhari-panth of Sikh once said, "A person who is not a devout Hindu cannot be a Sikh either, cannot be a disciple of those great gurus who shed their blood in the cause of the mother society and mother religion, i.e., the Hindu". Sri Guru Govind Singh had declared, "A true Sikh is one who has faith in the Vedas and Bhagavad-gita and who worships Rama and Krishna." It is undiluted loyalty to these words of gurus that makes a true Sikh. Those Gurus had forged that band of heroes for the protection of Hindu Society and called the Sikhs as being devoted shishyas (disciples), or as Khalsa for being virtuous and valorous, or as Akali for being the worshippers of Akal--the timeless Reality.
In fact their whole life, even to this day, is permeated with the same thoughts and feelings as the rest of Hindus. Even as recently as a couple of decades ago one son from every Hindu family used to be named Sikh. Our blood relations continue even to this day. It is only the poison of political ambitions that has roused the demon of separatism in that otherwise devoted and heroic 'sword arm' of Hinduism.
The Anti-Hindu Government
Even our persons at the helm of affairs have unwittingly fallen a prey to the pernicious idea of Sikh separatism. We often hear them calling upon 'Hindus and Sikhs' to lie in amity and harmony. It never occurs to them the persons in such high positions using an expression, which puts a seal of sanction of separatism between Sikhs and the rest of Hindus would only further embitter their relations. It is clearly written in our Constitution that the term 'Hindu' includes Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists which means that the expression 'Hindu and Sikh' is opposed to the Constitution. What is misfortune the persons of such a stature should unconsciously insult our Constitution in this way!
Similarly, in a handout of Harijan Sevak Sangh the words 'Hindus and Harijans' were freely used.
Once some brethren belonging to the Jain faith posed a question to me as to how they can look upon themselves as Hindus since they had their own distinct Jain anushasan. I posed this query before a great Acharya of the Jain faith. The Archarya replied:
"The Vedas are a storehouse of knowledge par excellence. All types of faiths are accommodated in that. Some faiths are suited to men with a preponderance of rajas, while some are intended for those with tamas. Veda-Mata has not condemned anyone and discarded him as unfit for spiritual progress. Each one has been shown a path in line with his natural propensities so that he can go ahead without inhibitions. Veda-Mata has also shown a path to such of those souls who are highly sattvic by temperament. Well, the Jain faith has picked up those tenets and gone ahead. In fact, the role of Jain faith had been to make the entire Hindu society more and more sattvic in its spiritual content." The Jain sadhu ended his wise explanation with a pithy remark, "How can one who says that he is not a Hindu be a Jain at all?"
The narrow loyalties and mutual animosities among our various sects and sub-sects have become so acute that their rivalries and conflicts have reached ridiculous proportions, making us a laughing-stock in the eyes of the world. Years ago a quarrel arose among two branches of the same sect about the namam ( a religious mark ) to be applied on the forehead of a temple elephant-whether it should be of the 'Y' or 'U' shape. The case was taken from one court to another, and finally to the Privy Council in England! The Privy Council, however, refused to give its judgment, for the simple reason that elephant on whose froehead the namam was to be painted had died already!
The tragedy is, all such nonsense goes on under the name of dharma! What surprise is there if, on seeing such perversions, the people lose faith in dharma itself? It is not the defect of dharma but of ourselves. Dharma is like fire, a source of great power. Just as the fire can burn in an oven to cook a sumptuous meal or can burn down the house itself, so also dharma could be a source of strength and unity as it used to be in olden times, or it could be turned into a source of dissension and disunity as at peresent.
The policy of the present Government has only added fuel to the fire. The very word 'Hindus' has become an anathema to our present rulers. Whoever disclaims the Hindu fold and parades himself as a non-Hindu minority finds a special favour with our Government. That has resulted in many of our sects vying with one another to claim that they are non-Hindus and to stretch their hands for special privileges in the share of power and pelf. And especially when they find that our leaders go to the extent of granting special political status to non-Hindu, anti-Hindu communities, their separation and even anti-Hindu spirit is all the more roused. They find that for being anti-Hindu, the Muslims got an independent State of their own. The Christians, too, are well on the way to achieve their independent 'Nagaland'. The Christian institutions, which even to this day fly the Union Jack on August 15 and carry on fanatic Christian propaganda, have no fear of losing their Government grants. On the other hand, if a Hindu educational institution starts Hindu prayers and Gita recitation, Government comes down with a heavy hand with threats to stop its grants.
How unfortunate that our own leaders, our own people, should be digging at the roots of our social cohesion and destroying the spirit of identity that informed and blended all the various sects into a harmonious whole in the past!