VAIDIC FAITH !
reconversions under the auspices of Mr. Joodeo's "Ghar Vapasi
Andolan" have been reported from Dindoli (MP) recently. Since
priests of the Arya Samaj order have been reportedly used in this
programme, I feel obliged as one inspired by the Arya Samaj Movement,
to address the basic issue in this context. For any reconversion
enterprise to be morally and humanly legitimate, those who convert
the so-called relapsed Hindus must ensure that they provide a
socially hospitable home to the neo-converts. It is dishonest
to trumpet "Ghar Vapasi" ("Come Home") without the willingness
to offer a "Ghar" (home) to those who respond. This, if any, was
the disservice that the Christian evangelists did to the dalits.
They were promised a better home. But they found the millstone
of the caste order still hanging around their necks!
It is high time for the truth to be spoken, even if it hurts.
Hinduism is indeed in danger. But the painful truth is
that the real danger is not from an external enemy, like Christianity
or Islam. As a rule, the enemy within is far more dangerous than
the external enemies are. Hinduism has been in danger
ever since the birth-based caste order has been invented by the
ingenuity of the Brahminical order to perpetuate their arbitrary
advantages, consigning the lower castes to a sub-human existence.
The Vaidic faith was, ironically, converted from a noble, dynamic
and just social vision into an oppressive mechanism. This was
done at an enormous cost to the Sanatan Dharma, turning it virtually
into its opposite. Brahminical Hinduism is a contradiction
and caricature, as Swami Dayanand Saraswati made bold to say,
of its Vaidic ancestor.
the early challenges to the caste order began to emerge, the keepers
of the system issued the call to 'semiticize' or Islamize Hinduism!
This itself should have proved, if proof indeed was necessary,
that the agenda was a barely camouflaged project to protect the
caste system. Rather than return to the Vaidic vision, it was
found more palatable to turn Hinduism into a replica of Islam
or Christianity! The strange logic was that Hinduism could
be protected by making it a counterfeit copy of its enemies!
The fact that the oppressed people in their thousands, Ambedkar
and his followers being an example, have been forced to leave
this oppressive system should have awakened us to the need for
reform. It did not. Instead, attempts have been made all along
to tighten the chains of caste oppression and to arrest the process
of social regeneration. Even when we do not approve all that the
Christian missionaries have done in the past, we still cannot
pretend that the high caste pro-status quo agenda was not at work
in portraying them as the enemies of Hinduism. Today, as an
Arya Samajist, I do not wish to buttress the caste Hinduism that
opposes the awakening of the oppressed.
The spiritual destiny of India will be fulfilled only when the
passion for justice and equality that underlies the Vaidic faith
is translated into a social reality in the path of which the caste
order is the major stumbling block.
or rewarding anybody simply on the basis of birth is not only
incompatible with true religion, but also an affront to rudimentary
justice. That being the case, the need of the hour is not
to re-convert a few dalit Christians, but to re-convert Hinduism
back to the Vaidic faith. The Arya Samaj is duty bound to work
towards this noble goal as long as it remains faithful to the
spirit and mission of Swami Dayanand Saraswati.
hype about reconversion is based on the premise that tribals were
converted to Christianity by inducements and coercion. This is
a hypothesis that cannot stand the scrutiny of common sense. There
are strict laws against such forcible conversions in Madhya Pradesh,
Orissa and Manipur. Other states are free to enact similar legislation.
The obvious fact is that the dalits who converted to Christianity
knew that they stood to lose much by way of material advantages
such as reservations. This should have prevented them from converting.
If, in spite of this, thousands have embraced other faiths it
was entirely due to the oppressiveness of the caste order that
denied them freedom, human rights and dignity as was the case
against the absolutization of birth within the caste order, the
Varna Vyavastha that the Vedas envisage, base itself on action,
talent and aptitude (Guna, Karma, Swabhava). This is clearly
expounded in the Purush Sukta of Rigveda. It was further supported
by Lord Krishna in the Gita where he maintained - Chatur Varnyam
Maya Srishta Guna, Karma, Vibhagashah. Vaidic faith envisages
a dynamic social order in which every individual is free to exercise
herself/himself fully, and attain maximum growth and fulfillment.
It is a society characterized by equality of opportunity which
is incompatible with birth based privileges.
The most important choice that every human being must have
is the right to choose his temporal and eternal destiny.
Once gunas rather than birth becomes the basis for evaluation,
an individual becomes free to be a Brahmin or a Shudra. Turning
Brahmanism into a label of birth has emptied it of all its significance.
The caste system has robbed the Indian society of its dynamism
and has been mainly responsible for our successive subjugation
by external forces. Like the license Raj that protected the monopoly
of a few at the expense of many, the caste order, further crippled
by fatalism, has kept our life and society paralyzed for centuries.
A better alternative is to liberalize conversions, which is inevitable
after having liberalized everything else! Why shouldn't religions
compete among themselves on equal terms to prove and improve their
worth by deepening their social consciousness and human commitment?
It is a cheaper alternative to keep other religions in castes
just because the majority religion prefers to remain in caste.
consider the anxiety about foreign funding for Christian work
in India. While it is true that large amounts of money continue
to be received by Christian agencies, it is also true that these
funds support services for the neglected sections of our society.
Given the general economic backwardness of the Christian community
(the majority of its members being from the dalit backgrounds),
it cannot be expected to run thousands of institutions and welfare
programmes for the weaker sections without any overseas aid. Rather
than resent this, it would be nobler for the Hindu community to
emulate their example and work for people's empowerment. Unfortunately,
for all its numerical and material advantages, the Hindu
community has nothing comparable to be proud of. If only we were
to use the massive wealth accumulated in our temples, or the money
we burn up on our festival days, to help and educate the poor
we would have shown Hinduism in better light.
The best way to worship Saraswati is to launch an all out war
on illiteracy by starting schools and colleges with the resources
that we have. We shall honour Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth,
best by burning less crackers, practicing thrift and building
up the capital required for charitable services. Max Weber points
out that the economic progress in Europe was made possible by
the practice of thrift as taught by Christianity. In contrast,
we seem to have made a virtue of wasting whatever resources we
have. It rarely occurs to us to set apart anything in the religious
context for humanitarian efforts.
an Arya Samajist, I feel uneasy about the collusion between the
protagonist of the caste order and certain sections in the Arya
Samaj, as in the reconversion hoax reported for Dindoli. The Arya
Samaj priests are being used to reconvert ex-Hindus only because
Brahmanical Hinduism has no place for converts. It is a way
of neutralizing Christians without compromising the caste order!
Patronizing such a project amounts to a betrayal of the true legacy
of Swami Dayanand Saraswati. Swamiji's zeal for bringing back
relapsed Hindus was matched by his revulsion for the caste order
which he sought to dismantle. This cost him his life. No Arya
Samijist therefore can lend himself to anything that makes a mockery
of Swamiji's call "Back to the Vedas!" and his passion for reform.
more violence is practised to defend the caste system, the more
Hinduism will get discredited in the eyes especially of the coming
generation. In the days ahead we can no longer count on old
loyalties and blind faith. An age of free choice, symbolized by
the super market where people push trolleys of personal tastes,
has already come upon us. We had better improve the quality of
our brand rather than cry wolf against other brands. If the Tatas
had to do it in the field of automobiles, it may be unavoidable
for us to address this urgent task in the religious sphere.