As a life-long student and keen admirer of Sanatana Dharma, which is the very essence of Indian civilization, I would like to urge all Hindus, both in Bharat and around the world, to unite in terms of doctrine and organization, because otherwise external and internal adharmic forces will annihilate, or at least marginalize and discriminate against, Hindu religion also in her historical homeland – Bharat. Listen to the warning of another Western admirer and staunch defender of Sanatana Dharma, Frenchman Francois Gautier: “The enemies of Hindus are united, even if it is in disunity, even if it is a temporary arrangement based on a common hatred. Christian conversions, the onslaught of Muslim fundamentalism, the abhorrence of communists for Hinduism, the infinite dangers of globalization and americanization, the disregard of India’s intellectual elite of India for their own culture and spirituality, are slowly but surely making a dent in India’s psyche … Disunity has always been the curse of Hinduism and India and whichever enemy conquered this country, did it not because of superior strength, but because they were helped by Hindu betrayers. Remember the last great Hindu empire, that of Vijaynagar. The Christians have a Pope, the Muslims the word of the Koran, communists have Der Kapital of Karl Marx, but Hindus are fragmented in a thousand sects, which often bicker with each other.”[i]
Sad and above all brutal downfall of once mighty and splendid Greco-Roman pagan civilization[ii] should serve as a clarion call to Hindus regarding the aggressive missionary designs of intolerant and totalitarian-minded Abrahamic monotheisms (Christianity and Islam) in India. I am always perplexed and profoundly saddened when I read in Indian newspapers and magazines some self-proclaimed “experts” who falsely claim that the West has become so developed and powerful due to “rational Christianity”, while on the other hand, India has lagged behind, allegedly because of “superstitious and oppressive Hinduism” etc. The plain truth is – intolerant and oppressive Christianity almost totally obliterated Greco-Roman civilization[iii] and upsurge of the West began in 14th century with renaissance when Western elites commenced gradual and painful disentanglement from the iron embrace of Christian dogma. What does the French word renaissance mean? It means rebirth. Rebirth of what? Of classical pagan civilization in Europe, of course!
My firm conviction is that Hindu religious and political leaders must finally realize that we don’t live in satyayuga anymore, that the world entered kaliyuga, period of spiritual darkness, strife and blind materialism, long time ago. Consequently, Sanatana Dharma, if we want it to survive and even thrive in this murky period, must adapt in terms of doctrine, organization and scope of operations. Many Hindu leaders and sages in the last two centuries have come to this fundamental conclusion (Ram Mohan Roy, swami Devananda Saraswati, Swami Vivekananda, Vinayak Savarkar, Aurobindo Ghose, swami Chinmayanda Saraswati etc.), but so far insufficient and lukewarm steps have been made to bring in life all necessary measures and institutions for unification and survival of Sanatana Dharma in kaliyuga. Therefore, I propose following comprehensive measures to be implemented in a reasonable period of time (10- 15 years):
- Agreement on common religious doctrine: An incredible and bewildering array of doctrines, spiritual lineages (sampradayas) and sects might seem as a positive, vibrant and inclusive aspect of Hinduism to some people, but in reality it has become a huge shortcoming long time ago. Namely, this astounding diversity has enabled enemies of Sanatana Dharma (both domestic and foreign) to depict is as a bundle of contradictions, as a quasi-religion without internal coherence, collection of weird gurus and embarrassing customs … On the other hand we have a long, elaborated, venerable tradition of Vedantic thought, which culminated with brilliant works of swami Vivekananda and Aurobindo Ghose.[iv] These two giants of Vedantic thought not only achieved synthesis between advaita and dvaita Vedanta, but furthermore, were able to achieve superb synergy between Vedanta and modern Western philosophy. That’s why I am convinced that this, let me call it, integral Vedanta is the most adequate doctrinal basis for a truly unified and global Sanatana Dharma. There can be no doubt about it – many “Hindus” will adamantly reject this proposal and continue to insist on their sectarianism, but then everybody will finally know that these people are not really interested in well-being of Sanatana Dharma as a whole, but only in their petty sects and their fat off-shore bank accounts …
- Establishment of common religious organization: First of all, I have to say that with the inception of World Hindu Council (Vishwa Hindu Parishad – VHP) in 1964 major step in the right direction has been already made and we have to commend brave and visionary individuals and organizations for that. Nevertheless, much remains to be done: I am not in favor of establishing a Hindu “Vatican” with a Hindu “Pope”, but a high council of major acharyas and shankaryas would be very recommendable, both in terms of Hindu representation and efficiency. It should be complemented with a central administrative-expert institution, which would both prepare Dharmic position on pressing contemporary topics (spirituality, rituals, economics, politics, environment, sexuality …) and have a leading role in executing the orders of above mentioned high council. These two institutions ought to be also in charge of discerning, which religious self-identyfing Hindu denominations are truly Hindu and which not. Why is this so important? Because we are globally faced with many “religious” organizations, which are just disguises for self-aggrandizement, sexual abuses and enrichment of their leaders, not to mention a flood of New Age sects, which are mostly, so to speak, unpalatable salad bowls of all sorts of ideas and practices.
- Conducting unified, well-planned and massive missionary activities: Although the false notion that Sanatana Dharma has never been and should not be a missionary religion is unfortunately still present[v], one has to be aware of the essential fact that in the 21st century world has really become a global village and if organized Sanatana Dharma is not able and willing, so to speak, to bring war to the turfs of its competitors, aggressive Abrahamic religions will inevitably gain the upper hand. Including in India! Besides, there are many millions of people all over the world (especially in the West) who already practice one or more Dharmic practices (meditation, yoga, ayurveda etc.). Why not bring these multitudes – if they want it, of course – totally into Hindu fold? Again, various Hindu organizations (Ramakrishna Mission/Vedanta Society, Chinmaya Mission, ISKCON …) have performed relatively well in this field of activity, but unified, thoroughly-planned and well-executed approach would yield much better results.
Spiritual and civilizational essence of Sanatana Dharma will remain the same, but it will be equipped with all necessary means to ensure its survival and success in the clash of civilizations of the 21st century and beyond. Common doctrine and religious organization will undoubtedly act as a formidable force/influence-multiplier for Sanatana Dharma. Generally speaking, Sanatana Dharma should be evolving in more exclusivist and assertive direction, especially toward Abrahamic faiths. In this context, different representatives of Hinduism should not be reluctant to point out obvious deficiencies of Abrahamic faiths and sternly denounce a whole array of horrendous massive crimes, which were committed in the name of Christ and Allah. Sanatana Dharma is by far the oldest extant religion and civilization on Earth and, and as it was repeatedly emphasized by great French connoiseur of world religions Rene Guenon, Sanatana Dharma represents a direct successor of “Primordial Tradition”, that is original religion of mankind.[vi] Consequently, one should extol with a pride supremacy of Sanatana Dharma over other religions.
At the same time I would like to urge my Indian friends to tackle wholeheartedly and without delay very complex and challenging issues of contemporary India (degradation of varna system, economic and social development, build-up and improvement of infrastructure, pollution of environment …). It is my firm conviction that Indian patriots should also strive to improve a dismal geopolitical position of India, which is a sad result of Nehruvian incompetence and naivety (Chinese occupation of Tibet, creeping Chinese encirclement of India from all sides, constant Pakistani-jihadi threat, Naxalite terrorism etc.). Let me finish my article with unforgettable words of great patriot and sage Shri Aurobindo Ghose: “I say that it is the Sanatan Dharma, which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it it moves and with it it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish. The Sanatan Dharma, that is nationalism.”[vii]
[iv] My proposal to all patriotic Indians is that they should start to promote three great personalities as central national figures or even icons – king Shivaji Maharaj, who valiantly defended Sanatana Dharma against Muslim Mughals in 17th century, swami Vivekananda and Aurobindo Ghose. It is namely becoming more and more glaring that neither Mahatma Gandhi nor Jawaharlal Nehru deserve these exalted positions, because both were in fact detrimental to India and Hinduism. Significant symbolic step would be also political proclamation that Bharat is Hindu rasthra (Hindu nation) by lower house (Lok Sabha) of Indian parliament, taken into account that there isn’t (yet) 2/3 parliamentary majority, which is required to pass an amandment to the Indian constituition.
[vi] English expert on global religions and my dear friend Lara Atwood is even convinced that Vedic Hindu religion represents the most intact surviving remnant of this ancient solar religion, which spanned the whole globe before the deluge at the end of the last Ice age.
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Marko Osolnik is a diplomat-analyst from Slovenia (Europe). He writes about contemporary international relations, modern geopolitics/geoeconomics, relations among major global religions and civilizations, history of religious ideas and esoterics.