There has been a continual debate in the last few decades leading to mocking and denial of respect amongst Hindus itself between people who follow traditional puritanical orthodox sanātana dharma values and utilitarian Hindutva values. Such debates have culminated online in name-calling of groups as ‘trads’ and “raita”. In this editorial, we present the need to protect promote both sets of value systems while making an argument that one of these value systems needs to be in prominence until such time due to issues of modernity.
We need to keep alive the absolute orthodox strain (symbolised by people like Karpātri Maharaj et al). Even if that strain is kept non-prominent. However, in given times, it is illogical for that puritanical strain to aspire to be the operating system of desh. For desh to operate on that degree of purity, the consciousness of the ordinary population in general and leadership, in particular, has to be dwelling in a much higher plane than where it is right now (near absolute base). Absolute orthodox strain (and those people who are unapologetic to speak absolute puritanical views no matter how politically incorrect they are) must be kept alive at all costs.
Yet, they need to understand that they cannot win and survive on their own today. They face absolute extinction if they do not go silently to the background and let others lead the movement. They cannot afford to (and should not) take any position which will sabotage the chances of a utilitarian strain of dharma. If expressed in classical Sanskrit terms, it is much easy to describe.
VarNāshrama and Satidharma is shāshwat dharma (SD). Utilitarian Hindutva is āpaddharma (AD). We are living in times of āpadā (crisis). In times of crisis, āpaddharma trumps shāshwat dharma. Proponents of SD should understand and accept this and fly as much below the radar as possible. Lest they risk losing credibility (and loss of credibility among the general populace towards shāshwat dharma).
Proponents of āpaddharma (AD) should understand that they are merely flavour of given times and do not speak of or represent eternal Sanatan values. Real sanātana values are represented by SD. As long as they are clear about this in their mind, they won’t needle the SD people needlessly beyond a tolerable point.
We are in delicate times. The decision is – do we need to survive this crisis merely as a people or a living and eternal civilisation with a unique worldview to look at all aspects of life. This is a problem definition. Does there exist a workable solution for that? Without so many memories, now cast in stone in form of history, can there ever be a workable solution around this? Some of it has been elaborated here
The Bane of Ossified History
Modern History is no longer vague as it used to be for those trying to understand in the past. Everyone tries to understand it and take lessons from it now – in fact it’s human nature that searches for the truth that is driving this interest in History. So, one can’t deny History’s role. The historical facts or fixation on some historical facts for pushing or opposing a narrative has already begun.
Unless there is an all-around nuclear cataclysm – with the population reduced 100 times we won’t see Histories erased from the consciousness. In this context, western frameworks became dominant only by capturing and wielding the historical narrative. While Hindus haven’t yet attempted a counter reply post-1947. We can see that a Hindu civilizational renaissance has already started economically and if it sustains itself politically and culturally, the Hindu thought which springs forth won’t be just searching for a strategy to go back to the root of what our Rishis or Sages did. At least that is not how it will manifest, to begin with – since it is (and will be) mostly spearheaded by utilitarian Hindutvavadi AD strain.
In the ancient context, such thinkers of Sanatan parampara would have conceptualized birth-based varna vyavastha to reduce friction in settled kingdoms and other components of society living together in the same space. This could be why a guru mediated identification of varna as alluded to in Smritis (i.e. conception that all were born Sudra(v4) and the v1-v3 if present and nurtured manifested by manhood acknowledged sanskaararas done by shrotriya and brahmanishTHa guru) would have been ossified into a birth-based varna categorisation. In such ‘Pre-modern’ situations SD was merely dealing with various less complicated jaatiya belief systems which ultimately were rougher analogues of SD itself.
But the challenges of today and the future are completely different beasts. The problem/weaknesses of shāshwat dharma is that during its key evolution phase (lasting from janapadas to mahajanapadas – roughly 1000 yrs) it was not subjected to exposure to desert monotheistic cults like Jew/Christian/Islam troika. We can assume that the Greco-Roman pantheon, the Egyptian and other Middle Eastern polytheist belief systems were the “other” if at all that some travelling Indic scholars who cross populated may have wanted to compare. The later-born Nastika faiths being Indic born did not countenance total war like the abrahamics.
In effect what we lack in SD is a concept of “us” vs “other” which can effectively fight the total war imposed by Abrahamics – in a no quarter given existential fight. Even a concept of “us” – which signifies the duty on all Hindus/Dharmics to unite is the minimum needed – which is why it is the first and foremost goal of the present Hindutva project. But then what of the “traditional” SD’s current interpretation as it passed on mostly unchanged after the post-MBH war phase?
We can imagine no situation in the near foreseeable future where the collective consciousness of Hindus can reach a carte-blanche situation today (as when the floods of Manu) when slate on earth was wiped clean. We all now have the deep imprints of Abrahamic/Western modern philosophies ingrained either through subliminal acceptance via modern education or through dialectics with the “other” even in those traditionally trained in say gurukuls or guru shishya parampara. So, the “other” is real, present and 24×7 presenting a challenge to which we must rise instead of being fixated on a version of shāshwat dharma which cannot counter the “other” of this day and age.
Accordingly, the Hindu cultural renaissance will be coloured deeply and automatically and thankfully with solutions to fight against the Abrahamic other while retaining the “Core”. So, what is Core what is periphery to shāshwat dharma is the only moot question in a period of swift and often catastrophic change. I imagine centuries of stress-causing continuous change – which shāshwat dharma is going to be subjected not of its own volition but by the need to compete with the “other”. It is unimaginable from today’s position that Abrahamic ideas embedded deep into western civilization bedrock will disappear anytime soon – as they continue as “other” standing in competition to SD ideals.
Since there can’t be a carte blanche situation again in the shāshwat dharma timeline in foreseeable future this reality must be accepted and fashioned to design an adaptive Hindutva (AD) response based on prevailing āpaddharma. As this response is adaptive to the varied stimuli our society encounters, it has to be Eehalaukika (this worldly / strictly material). This is because the opposing party (the four Abrahamic – Judaism, Xianity, Islam, Communism) do not have Adhyātma as the feature – Adhyātma simply cannot exist in the Abrahamic framework.
The Way Ahead – Negotiables and The Non-Negotiables
Shāshwat dharma is the core of our civilization. VarNāshrama is the core of our shruti smriti purāNokta sanātana varNāshrama vaidik Hindu dharma since it is the basis of apaurusheyatva of drashTa and continual journey of the consciousness based on karma and karma-phala cycle of prakruti. Our problem is that due to vicissitudes of time, neither the enforcers nor the enforced nor the of bystanders around varNāshrama are on the same consciousness level nor materially affluent as is required for seamless enforcement of varNāshrama based dharma. How to view all this that has happened from the Hindu lens? What has happened is the inertia of this sanskāra prevailed on our collective psyche for a long time and we (as a society) have lost our adhibhautik- adhidaivik-Adhyātmik compatibility to even understand varNāshrama in its essence, forget practising it in earnest.
That lingering sanskāra was abused by a section of society that wanted its perks but abhorred its responsibilities. All that is happening in the last 150-200 years is the result of this cognitive dissonance. Fixating on impression of these 150-200 years on collective psyche of a civilisation as old as ours is not correct. Also, fixating on this dissonance leads to vote-bank politics (because we also moved to democracy – a shudra-dominated polity). Thus, what is happening can be seen as phala of karma of those generations which abused the perks owing to their position and inertia of sanskāras.
A Hindu way of dealing with this, in my humble opinion, would be thus: A new purāNakathaa that would tell us how Shri Hari did garva-haraNa of those who were misled and who abused their position due to the influence of these three abrahamic asuras. No specifics. Specifics cast in the stone lead to lingering animosity. Rajiv Malhotra calls it history centrism. But as at the end of every story – Shri Hari reinstated Shruti smriti purāNokta sanātana varNāshrama vaidik Hindu dharma. This smooths out all the rough edges without actually blaming anyone. And everyone is happy.
What To Do Meanwhile? What is An Actionable Plan for The Shāshwat Dharmis and Āpaddharmis to Constructively Co-exist and Achieve a Common Goal?
Shāshwat dharmis components should focus all their energies on keeping this Shruti Smruti purāNokta ārya sanātana vaidik varNāshrama Hindu dharma in their circles and not try and interfere in socio-politics except in support to AD on crucial occasions. They need to extend support to AD in all their pursuits to help Shri Hari defeat Mlechha. If by 2100, we have 1000 such Brahmins left who have kept shākhā of all Vedas alive and institutionalised, we have won.
AD, on the other hand, need not unnecessarily continually mock on those following shāshwat dharma and their insistence on being as true to the sanātana as possible. Appreciation, financial help, physical protection by AD towards the sustenance of SD is of utmost crucial. If by 2100, if ADs ensure our 70% demographic dominance in the geography of what is left today as India intact without losing too much a territory while still being practising Hindus (even if in their AD interpretation), we can call it a victory.
Āpaddharmis can do all sorts of experiments (like Arya Samaj, ISKCON, Osho, Jaggi, Sri Sri and many others) outside the ambit of SDs without pissing on the insistence of SDs to adhere to their fads. SDs too should understand when to speak what. Some things are politically incorrect. In current times, the sociopolitical role of SD is to only vote for AD Hindutva person/party/alliance without expecting any direct favours from AD govt in return. Due to history centrism discussed above and due to participatory democracy (which inherently is a shudra mode of governance since it relies on numerical superiority – and not based on intellect, strength or wealth), there is a herculean task in front of ADs to bring all Hindus under a common umbrella – This includes a large chunk of those whose ancestors were abused for few generations by some of the generations of the ancestors of those belonging to V1, V2, V3. The history centrism has ensured that those memories are kept fresh in minds of all the people and actively used to widen the fault-lines within the larger Hindu society. So just like SD, the job cut-out for AD is herculean and fraught with pitfalls. The last thing we want is infighting within the ranks.
That āpaddharmis, by virtue of being in power, protects shāshwat dharmis is enough. When SDs start poking nose in AD socio-politico-economics, it gets irritating and counterproductive. When ADs start interfering in SD modus operandi of doing things their way in their domain – and selectively neglecting to give patronage (financial, appreciation and physical protection), āpaddharmis are not doing its duty.
(Note: This Editorial was written by the popular Twitter handle @Kal_Chiron in consultation with an Indic research scholar who wishes to remain anonymous.)
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