Where Has Hinduism reached today ?
What used to come as Best seller few years back “Monk who sold his Ferrari “might change its title and best seller might rename it as “MONK who Bought Ferrari” What else could have given NDA a feel good factor of Shining India is that at least one section of Indian society which was usually found outside Temple queues and Langer waiting for Alms are now in AC ashrams and roaming in Ferraris.
Although, I wish take a stroll on the current situation of Hindu Shrines and why Ashrams became more powerful than Temples? Why Hinduism is becoming more extremist and losing tolerance? Why new masses are more Semitic conscious and how it will impact Brand India in long run.
Moral watchdogs would cry foul over the material wealth accumulated by these sanyasis and satellite TV Babas who have changed the landscape of Indian or rather Oriental Spiritualism. Cosmetic as it may look yet I will call it adaptability of the Orientalism rather than being fundamentally dogmatic and confronting the modern society heads on. In next few paragraphs, I am writing this article in one go except for spelling corrections . I will majorly focus on Hinduism and touch base on some more offshoots and co religious doctrines as they face stiff competition from the Semitic set.
Religion in India has become hottest commodity post liberalization and to it sells as brand worldwide. In this age when middle class young generation of Hindus has settled in far flung areas of world. India was known to world by two figures till 1990, Vivekananda speech in Chicago and then Swami Prabupada “Hare Krishna “brands. Soon as the various segments landed on shores of America, Europe, Gulf and Australia,
A new wave of Indians swept the world arena. Strong, resilient and yet flexible to celebrate local religious and cultural festivities but bring in Indian value chain of Spiritualism on to foreign shores. For thousands of years they were forbidden by religion from crossing seven seas to the extent that Mahatma GANDHI too had cleansed himself of this sin after returning from South Africa. With Satellite TV and Internet, now Hinduism could reach them to their bedrooms every morning and they could transfer WESTERN MONEY GRAMs to the Ashrams and Temples across the world.
Around same time a New set of Indians were brewing up who had aged into a comfort zone of Middle class and wanted Air condition Yoga to cure their Hypertension and Sugar without a drop of sweat oozing from forehead. This stylish yet lazy class stayed back indoors. They would freak on Kebabs and Beer in evening but have herbal tea in morning.
Away from this high speed drama of changing landscape, inurbane and rural India sunk further into chaos. There youth left for towns and wanted to replace old scooter with hero Honda, old bullock carts with tractors and old cultivable Farm sectors soon became hot spots for SEZs. Yet the economic prosperity that ushered in rural India touched not a fraction of its population as small land holdings dwellers got lost in this race. They became boot legers, unskilled labors or suburban confused home maids for whom “Sulabh Shochalay “ too was a luxury.
Everyone thought that Religion has taken a back seat but undercurrents of religious animosity in the subcontinent always made spiritualism to come in negative bracket. Whether, it was Dr Zaik Naik condemning Idol Worship on PEACE TV and spreading more hatred or VHP Chief calling for end to Babur’s descendants. Both confrontations have another set of so called irreligious fatigues gun wielding Maoists and Communists. But the fact that Indian Civilization was so deep that none could comprehend it.
Whether Seven lakh Hindus were driven out of Kashmir or few hundred Muslims killed in Riots in Gujarat riots but it never changed anything else in rest of India. Spirit of India was sleeping or too resilient to face such shocks.
As time moved on , I too was very confused over the morality of spiritualism in India. From 1980’s till today, from Kashmir to Kanyakuamri , I have been following the traits of Hinduism and it amorphous / crystalline forms.
My surprise was an exothermic reaction that becomes endothermic after Baba Ramdev was beaten out of Ram Lila by Corrupt Ravanas of Modern India and Yet India remained silent . Whether a Hindu Saint like Sai Baba was ridiculed for having enormous wealth or Shankracharya was charge sheeted in false case.. Astonished was the fact that TV broadcasts on Tirupati for being richest temple was showcased as immoral , Waxing moon spectacle of Lord Ayyappa was questioned for superstition and even the very existence of RAM in India was dismissed as mythology. A Muslim MP and now CM of Muslim majority state in India challenged whole of Hindu India to dare and try to take an inch of Land from him in holy shrine of Amaranth. But Indian Hindus chose to remain silent.
Had it been a case with Muslims , by now we would have another Pakistan in heart of India for sure with Hyderabad or Srinagar as its capital. Was it humbleness or belief in God or laziness of AC rooms or over busy schedule to book more Flats in Suburbs or chance to wait for appropriate moment. This only time can tell.
Here , It is important to understand the degrading system of old Hindu institution and new forms that are mushrooming to reclaim that space. What is more fugitive in intent and purpose is to under the Hindu Psyche of thoughts in religion and God where nothing can touch the faith and God will automatically take care of things. But what has happened in last 60 years of Indian Freedom has shaken the basic ground of Hinduism which wasn’t in such a state of dismay ever since Aurangzeb ruled this part of world. Even the grand statured personalities of Hindus who laid foundation of such visionary Constitution of India couldn’t save its degradation but unfortunately contribute to it.
First let’s take a dig at constitution itself before us more into more operational issues. I quote a leading Hindu fraternity magazine Shehjar “It is important to understand that Hindu Religious Endowments and Charitable Trusts Act, 1951 is in compatible with Articles 25 and 26 since the government control of Hindu temples violates Articles 14, 25 and 26 of Indian Constitution which bestow the fundamental rights to equality, freedom of religion, and freedom to manage religious affairs.”
On what basis is such a big drawback hitting this religion can be garnered from the fact as to the damage it is causing in the affairs of Temples/Shrines. Somewhere it helped initially in binding the fractured society together and letting lower castes more rights into Temples but since Temples/Shrines were cash cows for GOI and its Babus as such they left no stone untouched to make the hay when it is shining. Some key examples are
· biggest land deals of Temples in Kashmir to Mafia /land sharks ,
· postponement of Hindu Temple Shrine act bill in J&K ,
· Kerala Land Reforms Act, over 12,000 acres of Guruvayoor temple’s land has been sold off
· in Sabarimala, 2,500 acres of temple land has been sold by the government’s Board,
· 1000 pillar Mandapam in Tirumala complex was demolished
· Depleting condition of major shrines across from Gangetic plains on banks of Ganga and not more 12 work orders to rescue the prehistoric sites.
· In Bhadrachalam and Simhachalam, hundreds of acres of temple land have been given to Christian organizations.
· The Endowment department has sold over 1600 Acres of Srisailam Temple land to various Missionary Organizations. A
· In 2005, 245 acres of prime land belonging to Seetharama Chandra Swamy temple at Devarayamjal was sold at throwaway prices causing huge loss to the temple
## Above example have been quoted from J.G. Arora/Shejaar
There are 100s and 1000s of such example where Govt intervention has made matters worse. Not only have the temple trusts depleted but the people who were custodians of these shrines have become beggars and reduced to penury or thuggish ( examples to follow ) .
I start my journey in 1984 from J&K till I reach Tirumala of today.
My uncle went for Vaishno Devi trip and came back with ears twisted and vowed never to visit it again for reasons that Brahmins of that place have made life of pilgrim’s hell and loot them on every small pretext. He was shell shocked and prayed till his death that some miracle happens. By 1986 , a new Governor Jagmohan set up the Mata Vaishnodevi trust and liberated it from the clutches of gentry which had thought that Temple would be their private property. Brahmins became State employees and rampant corruption was auditable. Within few years and till today , Facilities of this shrine are the best in the sub continent. But transpired between these 30 years were a surplus cash and huge reserves in crores. Emphasis on to spend this money back to religion , Culture and society were scuttled for reasons well known to the politically and communal charged environment of J&K. Baba Sheikhdom University came up with Govt funding in DODA, World Islamic University came up in Srinagar but till date even after 12 yrs , A Hindu seat of learning University isn’t taking its form, So the money that Govt f JK is generating from here isn’t getting utilized back to the same people rather filling pockets of contracts who get contracts for road widening and Debri lifting for maintenance of shrine every now and then.
Amarnath yatra and hundreds of other temples in Kashmir vandalized each year and so many of them flattened that KPSS chief Mr Tickoo has given up the struggle citing the govt will and HINDU India’s immense lack of enthusiasm to save the temples of Kashmir. Even if someone tries to rebuild the temple or increase facilities, things turn into communal flare-up. Wasn’t vandalizing and destroying temples in Kashmir an equal act of repression as BABRI demolition ? Why has India as Nation and its State remained a mute spectator to such an ethnic cleansing? ?
I move further to the place where my mortal remains would most likely be finally immersed: “Haridwar “. IN KUMB 2010 , the whole town must have been visible from space and the sea of Humanity which came here for holy dips was phenomenal. I have no reason to explain the faith un-shattered from ten thousand years from these people who come on the banks of Ganga every time. So what shattered me really. IN every temple if you enter , local Brahmin would hold your hand and put verminon on your forehead , unless you pay him something, he won’t leave it. There was a temple on river bank in such a bad shape and under construction reasons brick batting between Govt and Private ownership of our Mahant. It was black spot on charming face of haridwar but none cared. Outside for millions the facilities were in such doll drums as if someone had been thrashed badly and casted in spell to go for pilgrimage. Without realizing that it is as important as HAJ for Muslims, GOI turns a blind eye. Road from Delhi to Haridwar isn’t 4 lane at times and in bad shape. If HAJ terminal and HAK subsidy was important, isn’t connectivity to such an important Hindu place important. I wonder in bewilderment?
I travelled to Mathura and Vrindavan , every tourist guide was claiming to be upper caste Brahmin and if he/she wasn’t entertained , they would openly claim that their SHRAPP would annihilate us. I was casually discussing with a gentleman Brahmin inside the temple premises of Banke Bihari and after our discussion was over , he asked for money on the pretext that it was Religious consulting. If I failed , eh would again put a SHRAPP on me. I was amused at the behavior. With 6 month old baby in my lap : there came a call from top priest from inside.. Give me Rs 500 and I will take her to the LALANs lap. As if this was McDonald outlet. I was shocked and wanted to pull out all these priests out from temples and replace them with someone who was more honest. After the Dharshan my mind was so much brushed with anger and fit of rage at the sight of mismanagement of such an important place Mathura vrindavan along with such thugs guarding our religious places. Next to the temples was a more commercialized and more best selling HARE KRISHNA temple complex. Well managed and well advertised. I wondered why can’t GOvt intervene here or where are those intellectuals of Hindu society who should dare these young vandals guarding my temple as priests and bring dishonor to my deity and my religion ? Why shouldn’t this whole mess of bad networked roads , chaotic by lanes be replaced with something which I see Roman cathedrals or Islamic centers in Gulf ? How long will this remain in hands on bigots ? Where is this money going which every pilgrim puts in to enhance the qualities of this shrine ?
Further from here , I reach Tirumala with great faith and devotion . Before my ascend to the hills would start , I would see Christian cemeteries dotted along the roads to announce their evangelistic arrival and wake up lord Venkateshwar . I had heard that Govt has replaced the old system and revitalized the system to make the people believe that dharshans don’t need money only and everyone has equal rights. There are 3 queues Rs 50 /Rs 300 / Free and VIP. I being a GC person as such preferred Rs 300 and it tool good 8 hrs waiting before I could have Dharshan. I was tortured and crippled as I reached the frontal golden temple gate but was motivated by the fragile faces in other queues. Thousands of people waiting from 24 hrs in Free Queue for Dharshan. A family waiting in queue from last 12 hrs because they couldn’t afford Rs 50 or more. While I was coming out from temple , thousands were sleeping in the temple premises , young and old , rich and poor , lost and found , known and unknown , from across the country so many languages and cultures boiling together in front of Lords Golden temple. I was wondering what motivates them to have faiths till in Hinduism when Christian missionaries can allure these poor people so easily. When they can attend Sunday masses with food , money and clothes in abundance , what binds them to this religion ? Why should a poor farmer whose crops are ruined and who is entangled from Moist heart land of Bastar come in general compartment of scorching sun to Tirumala , stand with his siblings and 90 yr old father for dharshans of Lord Venkateshwar rather than take easy money from Missionaries or convert in local mosque and get rid of farming loan. Couldn’t he be the next one among 150K farmers who committed suicide in farm crisis of India? System to reach God has been made very difficult for him, far beyond sustenance so how will this religion survive in the competitive world where Gods Angels and Evangelists do direct door to door marketing. How long will people queue up in this mismanaged infrastructure in the name of HINDU ? How long will Govt wait and watch till numbers dwindle and only 1 queue stays where people finally pay JAZIA to enter. Not to forget how the temple priest employed by GOVT struggled to take away my money from my hand to give extra 10 seconds dharshans. That incident left me shattered to see Got appointed executives behaving as Thugs right inside the Garb Greh , in front of lord.
Looking at few of these examples, I realize the fact that since Temple Shrines and Pilgrimage centers of Hinduism have become inaccessible to normal Hindu and the system set by Government has failed. Moreover where ever Government hasn’t intruded yet , it is decaying even faster. So alternative form of religious centers have come into existence called ASHRAMS A private entrepreneurship
As I said , Faith survives when avenues survive and RSS used to say long back “HINDU GATAH DESH BATA” . How true is that statement comes to be noted down that people found alternative ways of reaching god through age old tradition of Guru Shishya Parampara” ( Guru Disciple ) Ashrams raised the bar of healthy religion and spiritualism debates , revitalizing the old forms of Hinduism with modern day thought process. Middle class could easily relate with it along with their White skin generation of Followers to find solace in Oriental Ahimsa. Politicians , beurocrats , film stars and who is who of Page 3 were found around the new creed of celebrity Saints.
Gone were the days when we had to track through Himalayas to meet our Gurus and Saints but a new breed had arrived on stage where you can E Dharshan or Satellite channel viewing for them. Things moved fast and Hinduism adapted very fast to IT revolution of India. Astronomy and Astrology of our Brahmins was computerized. So big pothys were replaced by Sony Vios and Blackberry suitcases. Unlike in Arab were Clerics were against the new tide , Unlike in West where clerics still were ceased in Churches , Oriental philosophers left no stone unturned to market them and give a good run for the money of Evangelist who thought India would be WHITE MANs BURDEN for ever.
Today when everybody criticizes the Babas for grabbing so much money and power, we must look within ourselves as to what is responsible for this new power center in religion. A systematic degradation of Hindu seats of learning and institutions left a void in the system which was filled by this new order. Whether some of them are real good ones yet we can comprehend for some it is a money making business. But by persecuting these Saints and Babas, GOI is unveiling a bigger danger of forcing Hinduism from path of ahimsa to path of HIMSA. This will have disastrous consequences on Indian civilization.
All I see today is Brahmins who are taking care of temples have become bandits on Govt pay roll ,those not on rolls are begging outside temples .
Rest all Spiritual investment is going into Ashrams which are maintained by some good Saints but some by greedy Babas.
Solution is in mandatory introduction of HINDU Shrines Bill across India on the lines of AUQAF trust which handles the HINDU Shrines as per constitution independent of GOVT but by senior Hindu intellectual who have visionary sight and make constructive / futuristic move to save this religion from further deterioration. We can envision a course correction on the lines of SGPC as well.
Before Hindu Saints become Mukhtada al sadars of Iraq, GOI must act proactively by strengthening the traditional centers of Hinduism and make Hinduism more accessible to common man , the way Gandhi thought it should ! The way Vivekananda Presented it in Chicago and the way we read and experienced it.
May be time has come for Arya Samaj and Brahmo Samaj movements to be reinitiated ?