The Last Chance of the Hindus: Plea for a Contemporary Sanatana Renaissance

One major phenomenon over the last century that continues to astound me is this: the near-complete evisceration of the Hindu spirit.

Let me explain.

Beginning roughly in the mid-nineteenth century up to the mid-twentieth century, Bharatavarsha witnessed an era what can  truly be called the Modern Indian Renaissance or Punarutthana, a period of spiritual, philosophical, intellectual and patriotic Jeernoddhaara. 

This era was populated by a galaxy of stalwarts in almost all fields of human endeavour and encompassed the length and breadth of this vast Rashtra. Needless, the world of scholarship was no different. If time is a soil, it was at its fertile best in this era, supplying to India and the world such luminaries as Pandurang Vaman Kane, Mysore Hiriyanna, Jadunath Sarkar, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya, Parashuram Krishna Gode, Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Shama Shastri, Devudu Narasimha Sastry, Ganganath Jha, Govind Chandra Pande, S. Srikanta Sastri, Moti Chandra, Acharya Chatursen Sastri, Radha Kumud Mukherji, Kashi Prasad Jayaswal…the list is breathtaking both in number and scale of accomplishments. Here’s a small sample of the kind of peaks that these luminaries scaled.

While each of these scholars distinguished himself in seminal, exhaustive, and penetrating research in one area—P V Kane is most notable for his definitive work, the multi-volume History of the Dharmashastras, Jadunath Sarkar for his volumes on Aurangzeb, Surendranath Dasgupta for his five-volume History of Indian Philosophy, and others in a similar vein—they also distinguished themselves for their solid multidisciplinary grasp. They had attained enormous proficiency in multiple languages (both Indian and foreign), could decipher epigraphic sources, literary texts, numismatics, sculptural nuances, and so on. This is a truly dazzling accomplishment by any standard.

These scholars were household names in their own time. Yet, barring very few people in this age lorded over by the Internet regime where most information is freely, easily and instantly accessible, how many educated Indians are even aware that such scholars actually existed in flesh and blood just sixty years ago?

R C Majumdar

INLINE AD

That’s why I said it’s an astounding tragedy.

That the same land that produced Swami Vivekananda degenerated into becoming a communist hellhole about sixty years after that National Lion’s death. Let it be said that in a country like India, any state that is ruled by the Communists will become Islamic–Kerala and West Bengal are the shining real-world examples. A past example is that of Iran–the movement to overthrow of the Shah, which was led by the Communists was near-effortlessly hijacked by Ayatollah Kohemini; the rest is history.

Which is why I said it’s an astounding tragedy.

How did the ideals of Swami Vivekananda, the vigour of Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai become supplanted by the pusillanimity of Mohandas Gandhi? Don’t take my word for it. The iconic R C Majumdar was not only a world-famous historian and scholar, he was a patriot and a participant and an eyewitness to almost every major political figure during the freedom struggle. Here is how he diagnoses the scene.

The tragedy of Gandhi’s life was that [the] members of his inner council who followed him for more than twenty years with unquestioned obedience, took the fatal steps leading to the partition of India without his knowledge, not to speak of his consent…[Jinnah’s fight] was…a fight not for the freedom of India…but for the freedom of the Muslims from the tyrannical yoke of the Hindus, as he put it. He won the fight; the cult of violence decided the issue. To what extent Gandhi’s cult of non-violence may claim credit for the freedom of India is a matter of opinion. But there is no doubt that the creation of Pakistan was the triumph of violence—in its naked and most brutal form—and of the leadership of Jinnah. Nobody can be reasonably sure that India would have surely attained Independence…even without Gandhi, but it is extremely doubtful whether there would have been a Pakistan without Jinnah. So, if we are to judge by the result alone, the events of 1946-7 testify to the superiority of violence to non-violence in practical politics, and of Jinnah to the leaders of the Congress.

Indeed, post-Independence, not only was the aforementioned Modern Indian Renaissance scuttled, the process of scuttling it acquired state patronage under the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. As one of the supreme ironies of life, Nehru who rallied against colonialism throughout his Prime Ministerial tenure, retained that most visible symbol of colonialism: the English language. It is now a matter of speculation in hindsight how the fortunes of Bharatavarsha would have panned out had Nehru delivered the “tryst with destiny” speech in Hindi or Sanskrit instead of English. Equally, as a great champion of democracy, he heralded Dynasty in Indian politics to the extent that after seventy long years, the fate of his Congress party is the fact that its supreme commander is a white foreign woman and her entire party is happy to play the role of willing slaves at the feet of this woman. How different in character is this shameful spectacle than Indians back then who were content to feed off the crumbs thrown by the British Viceroy and other high-ranking colonial officials?  

Apart from the socialist seeds of India’s economic impoverishment that Nehru sowed, his coopting of the Communists who systematically set the intellectual, educational, and cultural agenda proved equally destructive. Dr. David Frawley provides[1] a glimpse into how this agenda has panned out:

One of the main purposes of history books, as taught in different countries in the world, is to instill a sense of national pride and honor—in short, to inculcate a sense of patriotism and nationalism. Whether it is the United States, Great Britain, Russia, Germany or China, this is certainly the case today and has been so as long as these countries have existed as modern nations… However, India is a strange and unique country in which history books are often anti-national in nature. India has largely kept intact the British approach to Indian history devised in the colonial era. Students of such textbooks come away apologetic or confused about their country and its traditions. Textbooks in Marxist ruled states of India like West Bengal and Kerala leave their students with a sense of the greatness of Communism… History books in India try to ignore the dominant Hindu ethos of the country and its history before the Islamic period… The real danger in India is not the arising of a chauvinistic nationalism like that of Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy…but a lack of national spirit and historical consciousness that keeps people alienated from their roots and the country divided. [Emphasis added]

Indeed, till the late 1980s, this Nehruvian discourse ensured that Hindus were continually put on the defensive. Thanks to having a near-total stranglehold over avenues for the dissemination of information, the purveyors of this discourse also acting as the gatekeepers of information actively suppressed the airing of contrary or alternative views. Two well-researched books that illustrate in firsthand detail as to how this was accomplished include Secular Theocracy Versus Liberal Democracy[2] and Perversion of India’s Political Parlance.[3]

The Renewal of the 1990s and Contemporary Challenges

However, as a parallel development, a much-maligned and unpopular section of activists, academics, scholars, thinkers, and writers worked silently and at great professional and personal cost. Over a course of nearly forty years, they achieved two things primarily: they produced well-researched volumes in the defence of Sanatana Dharma and exposed imperialistic ideologies like Islam, Christianity, and Communism. This in itself is a story meriting an independent scholarly study.

Which is why I again say that it’s an astounding tragedy.

Today we have a wealthy cricket commentator named Ramachandra Guha who is hailed as the latest eminent historian and pens a screed titled Makers of Modern India, which carefully omits the name of Swami Vivekananda, it largely goes unchallenged. Not only that. There’s not a single publication to either counter this thick pamphlet or something original on the real makers of Modern India–some of the names I mentioned in the opening of this essay fit the bill. Forget even this, there’s no effort to even revive such extraordinary classics as Builders of Modern Indian Philosophy. 

In a parallel development, even as the Nehruvian Stalinists were wreaking havoc in the sphere of public discourse, various organisations and individuals also defended and championed Hindu causes in the political, social and other spheres. This paved way for yet another (sort of) resurgence of Sanatana Dharma in the 1990s. Long-forgotten but valuable Hindu traditions, texts, and knowledge bodies were revived, and focused research began in areas like Ayurveda, astronomy, metallurgy, education, architecture, etc.

Most importantly, the resurgence of Sanatana Dharma that began in the 1990s has given significant international exposure and support for Hindu causes to the extent that India is now in a truly post-Nehruvian era although the power centres to disseminate the discourse of this resurgence continue to be in the thrall of the Reinvented Marxists. This difficulty is compounded by two other prominent factors.

The first of these has its roots in the mental and psychological colonisation of Hindus who are genuinely proud of their traditions and heritage but are on the defensive, offering knee-jerk and emotionally-charged reactions when faced with intentional provocation about their traditions, arts, practices, traditions, history, and indeed, their very identity. It will take decades of quiet, sustained and confident effort to completely cut off this mental colonisation.

The other and greater threat is the fact that Sanatana Dharma today, more than at any other time in history, is being relentlessly assaulted from almost all quarters: the ongoing triple Jihad with India as a prime target, the worldwide Christian conversion industry, the Reinvented Marxists, the English media, minority-vote-bank-pandering politicians, compromised academics, think tanks and NGOs. Unlike the earlier eras where physical force formed a major arsenal of warfare, today, it is done silently, through infiltration and subversion from within. Here’s an example of this. Take the case of your daughter or son who has just graduated. She or he is talented and shows lot of promise. Here’s a reasonable prediction of what happens next. She or he will join as a young intern [4] working on a prestigious project at a think tank located and based in India. This intern–i.e., your daughter or son will have no idea that the output of his/her research will be used by the said think tank as inputs to manufacture negative opinion against his/her own country, or even worse to foment internal disturbances.

This then is a new front of a civilisational battle that India is little equipped to fight as things currently stand. Indeed, the aforementioned nexus of subversion was successful in denying the US visa[5] to a Constitutionally-elected Chief Minister and in stoking a riot-like situation to halt[6] the Kudankulam nuclear power project. In the last four years, such instances of fomenting disturbances, creating riot-like situations, etc have almost exploded.

In essence, the undeniable fact is that a good number of these attacks originate from Hindus themselves—either from those who have an agenda to push or from those who are being used as pawns.

Then, on yet another crucial front, as the eminent demographer, Dr. J.K. Bajaj notes, the physical space of Hindus has been shrinking continually under their very noses. Hindus have irretrievably lost large parts of the North East to Christianity and continue to witness the consequences of a massive, ongoing conversion drive often with the active support of the Government—the wave of conversions in Andhra Pradesh under the Chief Ministership of Y.S. Rajashekhara Reddy is the most glaring example of this fact. Islam continues to gain ground through the power of sheer numbers and illegal immigration. West Bengal represents the basket case of this phenomenon: thanks to a ruthless policy of encouraging illegal immigration over a protracted period, Hindus there routinely face attacks on their way of life, their women, places of worship, and institutions from Muslim goons. The state government is complicit in this assault by taking no action against the culprits.

The comparative Hindu response at various levels to these atrocities and threats falls woefully short to say the least. In terms of sheer numbers, the best minds that can mount an effective counter to such a multi-pronged assault have been lost to lucrative careers in engineering, management, medicine etc.

The intent here is not to sound alarmist but to present the real and demonstrable challenges that Sanatana Dharma faces currently, and to draw from history some lessons that enabled it for hundreds of years to survive, adapt, and bounce back, and how it maybe made capable of reasserting itself in our own time, and to show the world the value it offers for mankind.

Remember: this is the very last chance that Hindus have to revive themselves. The world loses nothing if Islam or Christianity is lost both in theory and practice. But the world will become truly soulless if Sanatana Dharma is lost.

Notes

[1] Hinduism and the Clash of Civilizations: Dr. David Frawley, Voice of India, 2001

[2] Edited by Sitaram Goel: Voice of India, 1998

[3] Authored by Sitaram Goel: Voice of India, 1984

[4] See for examples:

  1. NGOs Activists and Foreign Funds: Radha Rajan, et al. VIGIL, 2006, Chennai
  2. Breaking India: Aravindan Neelakandan and Rajiv Malhotra, Amaryllis, 2011
  3. So, you feel for Amnesty International: Wipe away those tears and sample some of its vitriol: Sandeep Balakrishna, Firstpost, 18 August 2016

[5] U.S. Evangelicals, Indian Expats Teamed Up to Push Through Modi Visa Ban: Zahir Janmohammed, India Ink, 5 December 2013

[6] Obama quietly reverses Hillary’s ‘get Modi’ policy: Sunday Guardian, Madhav Nalapat, 19 April 2014

Sandeep Balakrishna
Writer, author, translator, and socio-political-cultural analyst. Author of "Tipu Sultan: The Tyrant of Mysore," "The Madurai Sultanate: A Concise History," and "Seventy Years of Secularism." He has translated Dr. S L Bhyrappa's magnum opus "Avarana" into English.