hindu survival, Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana dasa)


    Here, I feel, is a most necessary commentary about the survival of Hinduism, Vedic Culture in general in India. I have long posted the ideas that the Vedic tradition as we find in India today is sometimes rapidly in the decline. The causes are many. Even though I come across those Indians who agree, I also come across those who have indefatigable optimism that the Vedic culture will never fade away. I have written many arguments both for and against that view, based on the teachings of Bhagavad-gita (in which Lord Krishna said that He came to again re-establish Dharma, meaning that it indeed had faded away) and in factual situations seen in India all the time.
    I am convinced, moreso than many with whom I speak, that there is a great need to work on more than a philosophical basis, and with a greater need for unity and cooperation amongst all of us devotees and Dharmists, if we are to make sure Vedic culture is preserved, protected, promoted and perpetuated in its homeland, or even all over the world. Right now there are only a few organizations in India which are really doing anything to accomplish this, such as Iskcon, Swadhyaya, Swami Narayana group, and others. And we need more. Though I am a westerner, and even on occasion feel the discrimination of Indians towards me for that reason, it has not damped my determination to continue to spread the philosophy and the culture of the Vedic point of view, and what I see most valuable about it, in whatever way I can. And, fortunately, many are those who have appreciated my efforts and feel I am one who has the kshatra spirit to keep working in this way.
    This present article is by another outsider, meaning non-Indian born person, who has written much about the political side of Hinduism. I have not always agreed with everything that Dr. Koenrad Elst has said, but his points in this article are more than valid, at least in the portion of the article that I present below. In some ways this is like an article between friends, since I have met Koenrad, along with others that are mentioned below, such as Swami Dayananda Sarasvati, Subramaniam Swamy, Prof, Yashwant Pathak, David Frawley, Ashok Chowgule, and N. S., Rajaram. I have met or know them all, and even shared the lecture stage with most of them at one time or another. This is my other identity or other world in which I live besides being a simple Hare Krishna devotee. So I agree with the need of the Kshatra spirit to save Vedic tradition, over and above merely keeping the traditions alive. And without that, the slow death of Vedic culture in India is not only in view, but also inevitable if more is not done to preserve, protect, promote, and perpetuate it, as the article that follows briefly shows.
    Hari Om and Hari bol,
    Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana dasa)
I am concerned about the defense of Hindu ciilization while those who speak in the name of 'tradition' don't seem to see beyond preservation in a form they consider 'pure'. But purity is in the eye of the beholder.
700 years ago, when the first wave of Islamic onslaught threatened finish Hindu society, Madhavachary (Vidyaranya), told his younger brother Sayana: "Set aside your works and commentaries-- and go to Pampa-kshetra (modern Hampi) on the Tungabhadra. That is where we are needed."
We are at a similar point today. No civilization can survive without kshatra-bala. Lack of a kshatra tradition finished off Buddhism in Eastern India (now stronghold of Islam) and Central Asia. Gandhi-Nehruism has placed Hinduism in the same position. Agamas and purity of Vedic rituals will not save it. They cannot protect themselves let alone protect others.
Every invader seeks to emasculate subject people by destroying kshatra. Muslims did it, the British did it, but the British also gave Hindus the opportunity to regain their kshatra spirit. But this is what Gandhi and Nehru tried to undermine in the name of ahimsa. (I am working on an article on this.)
India has a professional army of high quality, but no kshatra in its political class, which is made up mainly of unscrupulous baniya spirit.
What Hinduism needs is revival of the kshatra spirit, not revivalism through ancient ritual practices-- or disputes about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. There will neer be a shortage of such spirits.
N.S. Rajaram
On Fri, Sep 7, 2012 at 11:49 PM, Ishwar Sharan <ishwarsharan@gmail.com> wrote:
Dr. Rajiva, I would like to bring this particular chapter of the discussion to an end for the time being. If you wish to respond to Dr. Elst, pls do so in the comment box below the article. The comment box will take any amount of text which can be copied and pasted into the box, with email and name added in the appropriate fields. Thank you. - IS

IS posted: ""The good thing about being an outsider is that, while one may not see what goes on inside the black box of Hindu society, one can see the input and output all the better. From the outside, it seems that Hindus are not dead yet, but are losing ground all "
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Is the traditional Hindu way good enough? – Koenraad Elst

http://bharatabharati.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/muslims-partitioned-india-not-the-british-koenraad-elst/"The good thing about being an outsider is that, while one may not see what goes on inside the black box of Hindu society, one can see the input and output all the better. From the outside, it seems that Hindus are not dead yet, but are losing ground all the time. So, from my vantage point, I can see very clearly that there is no reason for the smugness emanating from Vijaya Rajiva’s article." - Dr. Koenraad Elst

Hindus and outsiders

Prof. Vijaya Rajiva thinks that I as an outsider cannot really help the Hindus. So far, so good: if Hindus don’t help themselves, there is indeed no outsider who can save them. However, she also says (indeed it is her chief message) that Hindus don’t need outsiders because the traditional Hindu way is good enough. But is it?

A diagnosis of the Hindu situation

Yes, the traditional Hindu way has some remarkable achievements to its credit, no one should deny that. The very existence of a Hindu civilization after more than a thousand years of Islamic battering and a few centuries of European colonization is indeed not so evident. Hindus have fought, and there was something invincible in the Hindu social structure.
However, the losses were also staggering. A part of the Hindu biomass, i.e. Hindu people, went over to the Islamic enemy. They secured an Islamic territory in 1947 as well as legal, constitutional and de facto privileges in the Indian republic. Christianity tried several strategies to win converts, at first rather unsuccessfully, but now with increasing results. At last, the climate is right, with a defenceless Hindu society offering little resistance against the conversion wave.
Meanwhile, the world has changed. As I have argued in my article about missionary anti-racism, the Christian Churches and the missionary apparatus have adapted admirably, crossing the floor all the way from association with colonial racism to a Dalit-Dravidianist discourse which borrows fromanti-racism. They have many successes to show for it. Though the Indian Churches have cooperated with the governmental goal of reproductive self-restriction, they have still made demographic gains, with the reality being far more impressive than the official figures, which are already impressive enough.
Indian Islam too, for all its looking back to a medieval Prophet, has adapted sufficiently to make and consolidate its gains. After winning a separate territory in 1947, it gained a promising foothold in the Indian Republic, secured a partisan anti-Hindu section of the Hindus (“secularism”), made the media and academia toe an anti-Hindu line, and gained enormously in numbers both through a consistently high birthrate and through immigration.
Hinduism, by contrast, is losing constantly. It is fragmented along caste and ethnic lines (worsened by the “secularist” regime) but also along ideological lines, chiefly secular against Hindu activist. It is divided against itself. There is a Hindu nationalist movement, but it is warped by the “Western” nationalist viewpoint and deliberately unable to wage the ideological struggle against Hindu society’s non-Hindu besiegers. Its recent help to the people from the Northeast is commendable, but proves also how formidable the problems inside India have become. Traditional Hinduism is losing its grip even among nominal Hindus, who learn the government version of culture and history in their schools and watch TV-programmes on stations owned by foreign or Indian (but either way anti-Hindu) magnates. That is why the Hindu historian Sita Ram Goel concluded his diagnosis with the observation that the death of Hinduism is no longer unthinkable.
There is very little sign of Hindu forces adapting themselves to the new realities. A few individuals show a remarkable sense of initiative, like Swami Dayananda Saraswati (who patronized the Jerusalem declaration), Subramaniam Swamy (the convert to Hindu nationalism), Prof. Yashwant Pathak (convener of the Elders’ conferences) or Swami Vigyananda (VHP general secretary); but over-all, this seems too little. The main representative of the Hindus in politics, the BJP, has completely abandoned its Hindu agenda, showing not just the weakness of character of people in the party concerned, but the weakness of the Hindu spirit to which they respond. The Hindu masses haven’t got a clue, though they react healthily whenever they have to deal with hostile subversion or violence. They long for leaders, but most leaders disappoint them. Hindus are mostly stuck in the past, and I interpret Vijaya Rajiva’s article as a defence of this tendency to live in the past.
The good thing about being an outsider is that, while one may not see what goes on inside the black box of Hindu society, one can see the input and output all the better. From the outside, it seems that Hindus are not dead yet, but are losing ground all the time. So, from my vantage point, I can see very clearly that there is no reason for the smugness emanating from Vijaya Rajiva’s article. One can argue about the methods proposed by “alarmists” like N.S. Rajaram or Ashok Chowgule, but their diagnosis that threats to India and to Hindu society are looming large, is only realistic. One does not have to be a foreigner to see what those Indians see, but suffice it to say that in our own way, we can see it too.

Another example of how Westerners may see what Hindus don’t, was given to me by a reviewer of my 1997 book BJP vis-à-vis Hindu Resurgence. Like Vijaya Rajiva, he hoped to be delivered from those non-Hindu busybodies trying to defend Hinduism. Apart from myself, he also directed his ire against David Frawley, namely for writing in his autobiography that he was a self-taught Sanskritist who had read the Vedas all by himself. In the reviewer’s opinion, Frawley should have been initiated into the Vedas by a recognized Vedacharya. Well, then he would have studied the Vedas through the eyes of Hindu tradition, which captures and transforms the message of the Vedic seers, whereas now, he accepted the face-to-face encounter with the Vedic seers themselves. It has not kept him from becoming far more Hindu than myself, but I note that to some Hindus, he has remained an outsider nonetheless.

So, a Westerner, or indeed a globalist, may miss certain things, but conversely, they see things which Hindu nationalists fail to see. That is why I am not apologizing for being an outsider.

Hindu survival

However, I have no quarrel with Hindu tradition. For me, everyone is free to practice religion as he likes (within the usual confines of morality). There may be something to living Hinduism which I cannot feel, and what I do see and feel is already glorious enough. So, by all means, go ahead with it. Only, I am curious to know what those traditional methods of survival are. Among them is certainly the continuation of Hinduism as a living religion. In that sense, I have no quarrel with Hindus forgetting about politics and taking part in religious activities such as rituals and festivals.
It’s just that I think this is not enough to survive. Many people have practiced their religion but turned out to be no match for the “asuric forces”. So, on top of continuing Hindu tradition, I’d like to see what strategies are being deployed to outwit these asuric forces. Don’t tell the details to an outsider like me, but then at least show me the results. Show me how the Hindu percentage in India is increasing again. Show me your victories.
» Dr. Koenraad Elst distinguished himself early on as eager to learn and eager to dissent. He studied at the Catholic University of Leuven, obtaining MA degrees in Sinology, Indology and Philosophy. After a research stay at Benares Hindu University he did original fieldwork for a doctorate on Hindu nationalism, for which he obtained magna cum laude in 1998. As an independent researcher he has earned laurels and ostracism with his findings on hot items like Islam, multiculturalism and the secular state.

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