Sanatan Secularism Part 01

Published: Tuesday, Dec 20,2011, 22:42 IST
Sanatan Secularism, Mohammad, Quran, Hadiths, Islam, Jesus, Christians, Christianity, minority appeasement, pseudo-secularism, Zakir Naik, Bhagwad Geeta Ban, IBTL

So often have I stumbled upon Facebook profiles or living creatures that proudly proclaim their being ‘secular’, in the ‘Religion’ section/in a context of that, and I have always wondered, “Isn’t ‘secularism’ an attribute that characterizes states in their approach of treating their citizens equally irrespective of their religion?” In the light of that, extrapolating it to individuals, a secular person would simply mean one who treats humans equally irrespective of their religious affiliations, or the lack of that.

Having earned some reasonable understanding of the Sanatan Dharma (commonly known as Hinduism), I can vouch for its motto, “सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिन: सर्वे सन्तु निरामया: सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु मा कश्चिद दुःख भाग्भवेत” that is, “May all be happy, may all be healthy, may everyone possess goodwill towards everyone else, may no one suffer”. Evidently, this verse testifies the inclusive nature of Sanatan Dharma where there is no discrimination on the basis of religion. It is the message of Universal Brotherhood, that this verse so strongly carries. “वसुधैव कुटुम्बकं” i.e. “The whole world is family” further corroborates this concept of Universal brotherhood. And, realizing that mind has this unique ability to conceive notions,  and they will differ from one mind to another, Sanatan Dharma provides another masterly verse, “एकं सत्य विप्राः बहुधा वदन्ति” meaning “It is the One Truth that different learned people express differently”, one that elegantly removes any basis of conflicts, to provide a ground for the other two verses. With this in place, the debate of whether or not God should  be worshipped in form or formless, is rendered meaningless. It’s one God, omniscient, omnichronous and omnipresent, and as Sanatan scriptures proclaim, whichever form you invoke God in, you reach Him in that form.

With the above insight, one can safely conclude that anyone who believes in these core nuances of Sanatan Dharma, inherently satisfies the pre-condition of being secular. So what’s innate, what’s inherently there, need not be injected, or artificially transplanted, as doing so would not only be unnecessary, it would be preposterous in the sense that it assumes a lack of the same in the subject. Clearly, before the advent of any ‘religion’, the concept of Secularism could not have existed. Modern terminology gives the word ‘pagans’ for the believers in Sanatan Dharma for those times, ‘Hindu’ being barely a millennium and a half-old word. The advent of Zoroastrianism, followed by Buddhism and Jainism also didn’t call for a need for ‘Secularism’. In fact, in this land which we now call India, under the emperors who traditionally believed in Sanatan Dharma, Buddhism, which was essentially an extension of Sanatan Dharma’s principles, spread and prospered. With localized and sporadic exceptions of usurping the religious freedom of Sanatan Dharma adherents for short spans of History by emperors who had rested their faith in Buddhism, there are no major long-standing conflicts recorded by historians. Same can be said about Jainism too, for Buddhism and Jainism, both were an elaboration of moral guidelines and a deep dive into philosophical aspects of life ranging from sufferings and its causes to Ahimsa. Buddhism embraced and elaborated on the Karma-principle of Sanatan Dharma. Neither of them was in real conflict with Sanatan principles.

2000 years ago, with the advent of Jesus Christ, a new faith took birth - Christianity. In the pre-renaissance era, Christianity spread in Europe. The most fundamental beliefs of Christianity included salvation by faith, not by actions, a point which is contrary to the Karma principle. Christianity rests on “Jesus Christ as the only path to God and eternal salvation”, again, contrary to “one Truth, many manifestations” theory of Sanatan Dharma. Bible, the holy book of Christianity, proclaimed the Universe having come into existence some 4000 years before Christ, and how “God created the world in 7 days”. This was again in contradiction to what Sanatan Dharma texts had proclaimed, that the Universe undergoes cyclic creation (expansion) and destruction (contraction) over timelines that range into Trillions of years – a parallel to the modern String Theory of Cosmic Evolution. While the advent of Christianity spread the message of Christ’s love and faith in the areas that were dark, it also became a cause of conflicts with those who didn’t believe in the “only” truth doctrine. It so happened because to spread the message of Christ was considered obligatory for Christians.

1400 years ago, the world saw the rise of another belief system – Islam. Based on “There is only one God, and his name is Allah, and Mohammad is his prophet (last or not, Islam is divided on this issue) and Quran is the verbatim word of Allah as revealed to Mohammad, which no one can ever alter.” Quran comes down heavily on idol-worshippers (the pagans/Sanatan Dharma adherents) and Jews and Christians, with the latter termed as people of the book, but whose book has been corrupted, and labelling all of them under the blanket keyword of ‘kafir’ or infidel/disbelievers. And, to establish the rule of ‘believers’ over the entire world remains the ultimate goal of Muslims, as per the guidelines provided in the Quran and supplementary texts, Hadiths.

While Jesus is traditionally believed to be celibate, Islam’s prophet Mohammad had at least 11 wives, the first of them Khadija, a rich business woman who was some 15 years older than Mohammad who became the owner of her business after marrying her, to Ayesha, the daughter of Abu Bakr, who Mohammad married at the age of 54, when she was 6.

While we know Jesus to have lived the life of a saint with miraculous powers, the life of Mohammad was of a warrior who, following the commandment of Allah in his dreams, initiated an armed movement to make people believe in what was revealed to him as the only true faith. The revelations to Mohammad as documented in the Quran are very detailed. For example, they include explicit permission from Allah to make the women who were wives of war prisoners as your own wives, not to take back the gifts given to a wife while abandoning her, not to marry those women whom your father has married (unless it’s already so happened), not to marry your own mother or the wives of your own son, eat any flesh except that of swine etc. Allah’s directives include never trusting any Jews or Christians and following only what’s revealed for that’s the only true wisdom. These commandments come with a promise that Allah will cast fear into the hearts of those who do not believe, and a scary hellfire is reserved for them, while for those males who believe, there is paradise with ‘incentives’.

With Quranic wisdom openly challenging pre-existing beliefs, ground was paved for religious conflicts. Consequently, following centuries witnessed Crusades to liberate the holy land and Jihad to make people believe in Allah. The homeland of Sanatan Dharma too got a taste of it and after centuries of holocaust and suppression of religious freedom under various Islamic rulers, followed by relatively liberal British rule, the land got independence. In the meantime, Europe and America had seen a new concept, “Conflict of Science and Religion” where the advent of Modern Science had challenged the dogmas of Church and had even resulted in many scientists facing persecution at the hands of Church. However, with the evolution of a ‘modern’ world, one tired of the bloodshed and conflicts that marred what we term as “medieval era”, the concepts of “religious tolerance” had made Christian dominated nations adopt ‘Secularism’ as an obvious solution, where state would not discriminate among citizens on the basis of religion. Though this was in contrast with Muslim majority nations, which were essentially Islamic in nature.

By the time of Indian independence, the region where Sanatan Dharma had always been followed until just few centuries ago, which ranged from Iran (Aryaan) in the west, through Kandhar (Afghanistan), Tibet (Trivishtap) in the north, to Malaysia and Indonesia in the South East, had shrunk to the modern day India. All this while, while Sanatan Dharma survived the onslaughts, its flavours like Buddhism got largely eroded from their cradle land, while they prospered elsewhere, in China, Thailand, Japan etc. But, the independent India, in the guise of democracy, was an oligocracy and an aristocracy where the strings of power were in the hands of those who were educated under an education system conceived by British ‘visionary’, Thomas Babington Macaulay. The education system was proposed by Macaulay with the sole intention of destroying the Sanatan roots of Indian culture and value system and a sense of identity that came with it. While the division of British India was agreed upon on a religious basis by educated Indian leaders (although reluctantly by many of them), the ‘need’ for making India ‘Secular’, which was an obvious inference of the Macaulayized system of Education, resulted in India being declared a Secular nation. This came with total ignorance of the very basics of Sanatan Dharma, whose being the driving force would have eliminated the very need for secularism, as we agreed upon in the beginning of the article.

Continued at Sanatan Secularism Part 02

Author : Abhishek Tondon
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Disclaimer: The author is a commentator on issues of national interest. These are his personal views and do not necessarily reflect IBTL's opinion.
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