Over the last few months scores of articles have been written about the problems in the BJP and the sangh parivar and the debate about returning to core values of Hindutva. The very term Hindutva has been used to avoid calling itself a Hindu party. The RSS and the various sangh affiliates want the BJP to return to its roots while the NDA allies threaten to desert it if it does.
I have often wondered if this is such a big issue at all. It is generally believed that the BJP is a protector of Hindu interests however much it may try to camouflage it by calling itself the protector of Hindutva.
I for one am convinced that it is a fantastic idea if the BJP or for that matter any party announces that it is a Hindu party.
Before I get condemned for this statement I would prefer to start ab-initio by defining the term Hindu. The term Hindu comes from the word Indus thereby defining the people who resided in the land east of the Indus. Since these people were part of a great civilization they came to be called as followers of Hinduism. Dr. Radhakrishnan called Hinduism a way of life. It is therefore important to analyse this way of life to establish the identity of Hinduism and the protector of this way of life becomes a Hindu party.
Unlike the other great religions of the world , Hinduism is not guided by various dogmas and commandments. The faith is “sanatan dharma” which means that which has been present always. Hindus believe in the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagvad Gita, which are books of teachings and worship a large pantheon of gods and goddesses. Several saints, teachers and reformers have also influenced Hinduism but the core remains intact.
What makes Hinduism unique is that while the other great civilizations like Greece, Rome and Egypt disappeared from this planet, it survived inspite of centuries of enslavement. Today it is probably the oldest faith in the world, nearly 500 years old.
The elements of Hindu philosophy need to be looked at in order to be assess whether any party is a Hindu party. The four Vedas are Rig, Yajur , Sama and Atharva veda. They consist of hymns to nature gods like Indra and Agni , procedure for rituals and rites , music and chants and magic chants and incantations in that order.
One of the most important ideas that came out of the Rig Veda is the cosmic order called “Rta”. The philosophy therefore preached that every action must be in the direction of ensuring balance in the cosmic order or environment.
The other important aspect of Hinduism is the “Varna vyavastha”or the currently called caste system. It is possible and probable that the Varna system was not meant to be hereditary but became so as times passed because castes became professional guilds. A person was in a varna both on account of his birth and his conduct. Out of the two conduct was the more important. Visible examples of this is the rise of Vishwamitra who was a Kshatriya to a Rishi and the lives of Dronacharya and Parashuram who were Brahmins but lived with and fought like Kshatriyas. One of the greatest evils of present day caste system certainly did not exist namely untouchability. Examples are Lord Ram eating berries tasted by a tribal low caste woman.
Interestingly the opponents of the caste system are today creating a new set of castes based on births and not merits. Therefore we have new castes like filmstars , politicians etc where children take the profession of their parents.
Early Hindu society and Varna Vyavastha, which was based on merit, shifted to a society based on birth. King Bharat gave his empire not to his undeserving son but to a more deserving person. The battle of Mahabharata was fought precisely for this reason of Yudhishthir being the more able claimant to the throne. This has also been clearly stated in the Bhagvad Gita.
Another aspect of Hinduism is the four ashrams viz. Brahmacharya , Grihastha , Vanaprastha and Sanyasa. It is expected that a Hindu will try to follow this path in life. Most problems in our society today are because we do not follow these stages in performing our various roles in life. So old people continue to cling to positions of productivity when they should be either guiding the youth or retiring to contemplate on the meaning of life.
One of the most controversial aspects of a religion is its attitude towards other religions. This also has been categorically stated in the Bhagvad Gita by Lord Krishna “whatever and whichever way men approach me, even so do I accept them, whatever paths they may choose finally lead to me.”
The total surrender Yoga that Lord Jesus spoke of can be seen in the Bhagvad Gita. The statement of the Sufis that “I am God” one can see in the Upanishads as “Aham Brahmasmin”.
The statement of Lao Tse that everything is Tao can be seen as “everything is Brahman” in the Upanishads.
In Hinduism alone can we sell the strange coexistence of an atheist, an agnastic and theist. When Socrates and Sufis were persecuted in the west, in India we adorned Sakhymuni Buddha who did not recognize the authority of the Vedas, and tolerated charvaka who ridiculed the Vedas and attacked the very existence of God. Probably only in Hinduism can we find a religion tailor made for each one of us, whichever be our way of thinking.
Why I have gone through this entire process is because I wonder why is it that political parties believe that to claim to be a Hindu party is wrong. Probably the Congress party under Gandhiji and Nehruji was more Hindu than the BJP today. That I believe is the true dilemma before India’s supposedly Hindu party.
I would now attempt to list down what it would do or not do as a Hindu party
– Work towards establishing the “Rta” or order in the environment. Therefore any action, which disturbs this balance, should be opposed. One would wonder if it would have supported the Sardar Sarovar dam. If its chief ministers would be silent spectators when tigers were disappearing. Whether it would focus on a temple structure when our rivers are overflowing with filth. When our temples are full of dirt and no effort is made to clean them.
– Work towards creating a Varna Vyavastha based on merit and not on birth. I wonder why they cannot establish the new Varna order. How can this society be great if the highest in the order i.e. teachers, judges, researchers and thinkers (the modern day Brahmins) are not encouraged, are underpaid and neglected professions. When soldiers and policemen are less paid than clerks and shopkeepers.
Let therefore our national policy of wages make these professions most attractive and put them at the pinnacle of the society.
– Follow the ashrams in its own party. When Mr Sudershan asks for the retirement of Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani I don’t see why all the leadership of the Sangh Parivar should not follow the ashrams by moving to vanaprastha and sanyasa. I am sure if all political parties along with BJP followed it we would be a better society.
– Follow the teachings of the Gita and other great religious texts, which means we will have to coexist with other philosophies and religions..
I could go on and on referring to our scriptures regarding behavior towards elders, children and women. I am sure if some of leaders claiming to be Hindu followed them the tone and tenor of our debates would be more civilized.
Let therefore the BJP become a truly Hindu party and follow the path of dharma. This will surely resolve a lot of confusion it is confronted with at the moment.
Would it not be a fantastic thing if BJP or any other party declared itself a Hindu party and conducted itself as per the great traditions and teachings of its philosophy?