A lot has been written, discussed and acted upon the Hindu Apathy. The Hindu apathy can be loosely defined as, the sense of utter disregard and the sheer lack of concern towards the Hindu dharma and traditions, by the Hindus themselves. This article chooses to address the cause of this Hindu apathy by examining its effects first.
We see this Hindu apathy in different forms, such as questions and answers laden with Hindu apathy. For example, we see Hindu apathy questions by the youth such as “What has Hinduism given to the world except for caste system and misogyny”, to Hindu apathy answers and advice by the elders such as “There is no use in following the tenets of Hinduism for you (youngsters). Study well and excel in your careers, post-retirement you can dedicate your time and energy (which you would no longer have with you) for Hinduism”. We also sometimes listen to “Hinduism is the root cause of suppression of women’s rights” and so on. Because of such thoughts and such a mindset, a Hindu would never react to the Indian government looting Hindu temples and funding Islam and Christian religions. Similarly, a Hindu would gladly accept that there are faults in Hinduism and also blatantly admit that these fault lines are the cause of the downfall of Hinduism. We also proclaim that the west is following yoga, meditation,etc., so Hinduism is in safe hands. Such statements, mindsets and inaction lead us to categorize a devout Christian evangelist, who harvests souls for a living, as secular and a devout Hindu, who does a simple pooja daily, as orthodox and superstitious.
A simple effect of this Hindu apathy is, most of the Hindu readers of this article, might not even be sporting a bhasma or a tilak on their foreheads. Or perhaps we might come across many Hindus declaring this “I am donning western jeans as I am more comfortable in jeans than dhotis, we must change with times and dhotis must no longer be worn”. Or we might even hear to people basking in the past glory as “our forefathers performed japas and poojas throughout the year, we have not been taught such things and neither do we have the interest nor do we have the time to engage in such activities”.
What stops a Hindu from engaging in his or her religious duty? What stops a Hindu from defending his dharma against the onslaught of Abrahamic religions? What stops a Hindu from taking pride in following the tenets and traditions of the Hindu Dharma?
The answers to the above question lie in the words- Macaulay’s education system. The famous English Education Act 1835 was crafted by Thomas Babington Macaulay to ensure a successful replacement of Samskrita (Sanskrit) with English. Outwardly, it may look like a simple language replacement exercise akin to how we change our languages in school. But deep down this dark well of poison, is the slow replacement of everything Bharateeya to everything British. Fast forward to 2020, we can see the effects of Macaulay’s education system. Most of the English medium school students hardly know any Indian language as much as they know English. Since jobs and professions have been designed to cater to the west, job seekers also prefer knowledge of English alone as necessary and sufficient. People spend their savings to learn a foreign language but hesitate to even by a periodical of an Indian language. Strangers, whom we would have otherwise addressed as “Mama/Mami, Chacha/Chachi etc., are now called “uncle and aunty”. A Hindu, who used to take great pride in Athithi Sathkara (hospitality to guests), now expects guests and visitors to seek an appointment before arrival.
How much the language replacement exercise has affected our thought process and belief system is something worrisome. It has damaged our thoughts to such an extent that even traditional Sanskrit scholars who are known for their scholarship disregard Ayurveda as obsolete and non-suitable. Allopathic medicine, in which drugs are tested on rats and monkeys is acceptable than Ayurveda that has time-tested and divine remedies, which have worked wonders on our immediate ancestors. So much so that, we even look forward to western appropriation for any scientific discovery or invention made by India in the Indian soil, using Indian resources.
How do these cultural changes cause Hindu apathy? This Hindu Apathy is the direct outcome of the removal of Sanskrit from our day to day lives. Due to English education, we are anyway burdened with English and the “return gifts” of science and math at school level and we are in no hurry or no mood to even try to study any Sanskrit shastra. A classic example would be- Nyaya Shastra or the school of logic, is a type of Indian philosophy which discusses different types of materials in this world. It explains gravity as the force by which objects are attracted to the core of the earth. It even uses gravity to explain the properties of matter such mass, fluidity, etc. All this is explained in the very first book of this shastra. But we all only know of Newton and his apple, much like we know the Englishman and his English.
The modern education system has rendered Sanskrit a “killed” language. We have Sanskrit as an option in schools just to fetch marks. Most of the Sanskrit exams in universities need not be answered in Sanskrit completely. Western academia presenting Sanskrit as ancient, dead and poisonous are rubbing salt into the wound. We also see the western appropriation of Sanskrit texts. Even with this appropriation, such as filing patents on turmeric, or the famous “Aapke toothpaste mein namak hain?” (Does your toothpaste contain salt?), we still choose to remain faithful to the western academia for bestowing this appropriation upon us.
For many questions posed to a Hindu, about and against Hinduism, the Hindu has no answer or has an incorrect answer. This again is due to the lack of knowledge of Sanskrit. Only a person with a strong base in Sanskrit can tell you why the Manusmriti does not give “independence” to a woman. Only a Sanskrit speaking person can tell you the difference between Jati and caste or moksha and salvation or Esha and Jesus. Only with a good knowledge of Sanskrit will a person know that the Atma is different from the English Soul. A Sanskrit speaking person would easily tell that Jyotisha is astronomy and not astrology.
The rampant conversion to Abrahamic religions is also due to the over dominance of English and the absence of Sanskrit. Innocent Hindus are forced to believe in the return of Jesus as they do not know Sanskrit and do not want to believe that there is a Kalki who is on the way to root out adharma and adharmic religions. The lack of Sanskrit knowledge has deprived the masses of the great Sanskrit literature, which discusses a whole range of issues from trivial issues such as cooking and music to advanced and complicated issues such as enlightenment and afterlife.
Thus, we see that the education system, which is a product of the English Education Act of 1835 and the brutal killing of Sanskrit by the Hindu brethren as the root cause of this Hindu Apathy. Though these appear as two different causes, they are essentially one and the same, since this was the ulterior motive of the Act.
How do we tackle this apathy? How do we instill interest into a Hindu suffering from this disease? For this, a major step would be to take Sanskrit to the masses. At the individual level, we all must learn Sanskrit language to the extent of understanding our scriptures at least. This would act as a backbone to instill the interest and enthusiasm. To drive away the apathy, when a significant population has learnt Sanskrit then the government must make Sanskrit as the main official language. If this is not happening due to political interests or lacuna, then the common man must make this happen. How? By using Sanskrit in his daily life. For example, what stops a departmental store to put boards in Sanskrit at various counters, even today (when there is so much hatred for Sanskrit)? Or, why can’t a video-creator create funny videos in Sanskrit? Or what stops us from writing the addresses on our postcards/ couriers in Sanskrit?
That the current Indian education system has ruined Indians and uplifted westerners is a known fact, we also know that it is the present education system that has brought about all sorts of issues ranging from poverty to brain drain. But as individuals, we can do little to change or even make an impact on the broad education system. To make an impact and change this trend of Hindu apathy to Hindu empathy and Hindu alertness is possible only by taking small yet strong steps. Such a step would be to learn and promote Sanskrit in whatever possible manner. Even if it does not culminate into changing the education system or affecting the Hindu apathy in the Hindu community, it would have at least removed the apathy in us, the individual Hindus.
Featured Image: My Voice – Opindia
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