Saturday, February 11, 2012



'The Second Front and Dharma'


- Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

Feb. 9, 2012

Osho had the good sense to wear white and so did his followers at the ashram in Pune. But recently we had the spectacle of an individual donning the ochre robes of a sannyasin and indulging in acts that brought shame to the Hindu Samaj. It was left to other people to do damage control and try to peddle this as some form of Tantric Hinduism ! The Hindu Samaj was not impressed. There is a moral here for all those who over reach themselves in the world of Dharma. For example, author and writer Rajiv Malhotra would like to usurp the role of a traditional acharya and explain the difference between Spirit and Shakti, as if it were a brand new insight. This adventure of ideas would be perfectly valid for a writer if it was presented as such by the writer, rather than as an attempt to supercede the traditional acharya by what seems to him to be a world shaking discovery. It is world shaking to someone who is both an autodidact overwhelmed by what he sees as his own achievements ( a weakness with most, though not all autodidacts) and a novice in the world of spiritual life.

In an article in Sookta Sumana Mr. Mahotra writes that several Hindu dharma gurus and organisations have in most cases succumbed to mapping Dharma on to Western universalism. He does not indicate which ones, but more importantly, he ignores the thousands of traditional acharyas who expound Dharma authentically to the Hindu Samaj and who have no interest in mapping anything on to Western universalism, let alone Dharma ! The author has no time for them since he is self absorbed in his own redefinition of Dharma and what its purpose should be. Further, it is clear that he has a small select group in mind who will "teach dharma internally, i.e. to the next generation. " Even more revealing is the "way they represent dharma externally in a variety of bodies- such as interfaith dialogue forums, academic religious studies forums, and policy making forums that include international as well as national"( 'Re-clarifying what Being Different is and is not', Tue.,, Feb.7, 2012).

The cat is out of the bag. Shri Malhotra wishes to (1) bypass the traditional acharyas, (2) train some up for interfaith dialogue,(3) and appear at international forums. The traditional acharyas's role of expounding dharma to the Hindu Samaj is entirely circumvented in this new enterprise.

Why is this dangerous to the Hindu Samaj ?

The traditional acharyas, gurus,maths and the aam admi Hindu have been and will continue to be the backbone of the Hindu Samaj. Weakening them and eventually destroying them has been the age old dream of the proselytising religions. Their ongoing life has been described in various negative ways by deracinated Hindus and in the past by such eminences as Max Mueller and Macaulay whose precise aim was to destroy Hinduism. Any Hindu who attempts to repeat this enterprise, whatever the idiom and the arguments advanced, is playing into the hands of these nefarious elements.

What is Mr. Malhotra's motive in embarking on this ill starred enterprise ? Merely the vanity of an author ? Delusions of grandeur? A self absorption that prevents him from seeing what is evident to any thinking observer ? He happens to be the current CHEERLEADER of the misguided enterprise and therefore is now the target of criticism and rightly so.

From Adi Sankara to Swami Vivekananda and from thence to present day traditional acharyas who are engaged in sterling service to the Hindu Samaj there is a deep spirituality to their work. Should the Hindu Samaj be distracted and misled by the new entrepreneurs who have neither the learning nor the spirituality to provide any leadership to the Samaj , especially when there is no noticeable lacunae in that domain ? The Hindu Samaj should be careful before they are led into artificial battles, ill thought out strategies and downright imbecilities.

The inroads made into Hindu society by the asuric forces are being made since the start of something called interfaith dialogue. Writers such as Tamizhchelvan, Radha Rajan, Sandhya Jain and others have written in detail about this problem. Now, we have the second front of diasporic Hindus (wittingly or unwittingly) engaging in the sale of damaged goods. The Hindu elite can be entertained in a variety of ways and writers such as Malhotra should make this clear. Their adventure of ideas should be presented as such and not as a substitute for the work of authentic acharyas. Tampering with the indigenous tradition by creating bluster and din is a hostile act towards the Hindu Samaj (whether the author subjectively believes it to be otherwise).

A forceful writer George Thundiparambil has written a trenchant critique of Malhotra's involvement with interfaith dialogue and ends with the hope that the author would do prayaschitt. The present writer echoes that hope. Meanwhile, the equally serious issue of flooding the Indian market with damaged goods when the authentic ones are already there must be addressed. Any dispassionate observer of the scene will realise what is being attempted and it must be resisted.

(Dr. Vijaya Rajiva is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university. Her academic training is in Philosophy, Political Science, Political Economy and History).

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