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Challenges for Hindus in the 21st Century: 10 Reasons that will Surprise you!

Hindus make up 89 percent of the population in Nepal, 82 percent in India, 52 percent on Mauritius, 38 per cent and 37 per cent in the South Pacific and the Caribbean

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A man posed as Shiva, a hindu deity. Image source: www.ibtimes.co.uk
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According to Heinrich von Stietencron, “Statistics have taught us to regard Hinduism as the third largest contemporary religion in terms of the number of adherents, after Christianity and Islam. Hindus make up 89 percent of the population in Nepal, 82 percent in India, 52 percent on Mauritius, 38 per cent and 37 per cent in the South Pacific and the Caribbean; and they also live, as extremely large and, for some years, rapidly growing minorities, in the USA and Canada, Australia, Southeast Asia, the Arab countries, Africa and Europe. The Hindus number around 900 million in total.”

François Gautier, a French political writer and a journalist based in India mentions about the challenges faced by Hindus in just 10 points. In the present day scenario, a huge mass of Hindus has come face to face with a number of challenges posed by the 21st century. It is essential that we look at the following-

  • Polytheism and Difficulties: Hindus have a large number of deities, whom they worship in an elaborate manner. The practice of polytheism has led the Christians and the Muslims, who are devout monotheists, to question Hinduism.

But we have to remember that since the very beginning, Hinduism has believed in monotheism. It believed that there is one God and the others are just reincarnation or manifestations of his one true self. This belief of Hinduism had been persistent since the Vedic Ages. However, in the modern times, the ritualistic worship and narrow sectarian outlook towards other religions have brought Hinduism at loggerheads with people from other beliefs.

Hindus must reassert and reinterpret their religion and set an example for religious tolerance which had been preached by the Vedic sages in ancient times.

Slum children are a common sight in any film on India, made by a foreign director. Image Courtesy : screencrush.com
Slum children are a common sight in any film, made in India, made by a foreign director. Image Source: screencrush.com
  • The Image of Impoverished India: The foreigners have an image of India which is highly stereotypical in nature. They believe that India is a nation of poverty-stricken people and therefore they disregard the Hindus and treat them with contempt. They are not taken seriously anywhere outside India. There is definitely, an economic crisis in India and there is a recurring issue of deficit budget in India but the fact that India has grown over the years is undeniable.

According to Gautier, the economic liberalisation of 1991 has changed the face of trade, insurance, and banking. There has been no famine since Green Revolution. Unemployment is being dealt with schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme. Thus, it is the time that the people residing in abroad start taking Hindus seriously, feels Gautier.

  • Hinduism and Caste: The Caste System of India had been there since the ancient times. What’s new? The concept of reservation that came into being after India became independent in 1947. B.R. Ambedkar fought for the emancipation of the lower castes and against caste discrimination. But never did he once disregard the question of merit while talking about reservation for them in educational and occupational institutions, feels Gautier. But time and again, first world countries look down upon India due to the system of caste that prevails in our society. Yes, it is definitely not desirable but at least we have a system to try to help them develop themselves.
The 1993 Mumbai Blasts. Image Courtesy : bbc.com
The 1993 Mumbai Blasts. Image Courtesy : bbc.com
  • Hindu Fundamentalism: According to Gautier, while studying comparative religion, we learn a simple truth. No religion in its core is violent or preaches violence. It is through the ages of transformation and the influence of people who practice the religious fundamentalism that a religion comes to meet ends through violent means. India has always been home to a multitude of other religions. As Rabindranath Tagore had pointed out that India never had the racial or any kind of unity like Europe or America. But the basis of unity in India was something entirely different, rooted in the brotherhood of men.

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On the other hand, Gandhi was devout Hindu who believed in Satyagraha and abstained from all kinds of violence. The British Press created a hullabaloo over the Babri Masjid incident but what they never care to see that not one Muslim was killed in the process unlike the attacks and bombings of Mumbai in 1993, where a number of Hindus were brutally killed in vengeance. Not only that, history remains witness to the narrow parochial nationalism of Europe  and  its results. The Holocaust and the World Wars were the events which destroyed mankind.

  • Hindus in the West and their Lack of Respect for India: Hindus in the West have sought to blend in with the foreigners, forgetting the importance of their own culture. After all, Britain should still be indebted to India because of all the riches that belonged to us and was taken away by them. Their civilization became rich owing to our wealth. Yet, they never seem to utter a word of gratitude. The Hindus is west, instead of spreading the best of their culture in abroad, feeling ashamed of their origin. That is unacceptable and cruel. They have to keep in mind that theirs is a culture not worth forgetting. They should try to retain their originality instead of becoming an Anglophile.
Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google. Image Courtesy : africanews.com
Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google. Image Courtesy : africanews.com
  • Political Power: Hindus look down upon politics as a dirty field of work, riddled with corruption and crime. They tend to stay away from participating in politics apart from casting a vote on the day of the election. Often, India is deprived of bright young people who would have been an asset to Indian politics because they have been raised with the notion that politics is not a desirable career option for them. Top foreign companies like Google and Apple are led by Hindus. Therefore it is essential that they run for political offices as well.
Indian Prime Minister Modi with American President, Obaba.
Indian Prime Minister Modi with American President, Obama. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons
  • Modi Agenda: America often brings up the issue of Gujarat riots in order to malign Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But what they choose to overlook is the noticeable development Modi brought about in his own state Gujarat and how not only Muslims but hundreds of Dalits and lower caste Hindus got killed in the riots of 2002 in Gujarat.
Narendra Modi with Chinese Foreign Minister. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons
Narendra Modi with Chinese Foreign Minister. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons
  • India Equivalent to China: Foreign investments have found their way to China but refuse to happen in India. India is China’s geopolitical partner. But the West seems to ignore that fact and donate everything to China, turning a blind eye to the sub-continent of India. It is unfair for India. Modi is aiming for liberalisation of the economy and it is the primary duty and opportunity for countries abroad to help India. China is a democracy just for the sake of calling it one, however, India is a democracy for real and that never seems to be the concern of the foreign countries.
The sculpture of Arjuna of Mahabharata. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons
The sculpture of Arjuna of Mahabharata. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons
  • The Greatness of Indian Mythology: Whilst, the westerners are occupied with their illustrious Greek and Roman myths, Hindus have their own series of mythological epics. They possess the Iliad and the Odyssey like we boast of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. These are not only amazing reads but these are epics that teach you everything and every value that you need to know about Bharatvarsha. The myriad of characters and their personalities are no less than the Gods and Goddesses of Greece and Rome. Not only that, our history has witnessed great warriors like Shivaji, Maharana Pratap, Lakshmi Bai who are at par with Alexander, Porus, and Joan of Arc of the West.
Chaitanya and his disciples. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons.
Chaitanya and his disciples. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons.
  • Spreading Happiness in the West: Tagore had said, India had been under the influence of spiritual people like Chaitanya , Nanak, and Kabir, which is why the minds of the Indians are quite a bit different from that of the people in the West. Swami Vivekananda had enthralled the audience in Chicago Conference by his speech on Hinduism and India. Thus, the concept of spirituality had always remained an integral part of Hinduism. We had Ayurveda treatments i.e. natural cures for illnesses and pranayama, a form of yoga, from the very beginning. India is a nation of people who want to practice the art of tolerance and peace as preached by Hinduism.

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Hinduism is by large misinterpreted and mistaken to be something it is not. With the change of time, the religion should also alter its age-old rituals which have become meaningless today. Otherwise, it will be difficult for Hinduism to survive in a world where people look down upon the politics of religion.

-Modified by Aitreyee, a staff-writer at the Newsgram. The article was originally published on the official blog of Francois Gautier

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  • sanjay

    What horseshit

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Well can think deep on it! But may b they are true facts. Summed up brilliantly anyway!like lot of thinking

  • Arya Sharan

    The Hindu caste system is something that is a barrier in our development and needs to be abolished soon.

  • Chitranjan Kumar

    very good article and really a true patriot of india will think like this.हमें अपने धर्म और देश को नए समय के साथ सही चीज़ लेकर आगे बढ़ाना है .योग उअर भजन कीर्तन ,कर्मा योग हे हमारे धर्म को सही दिशा दे शक्ति है .हमारा देश हमेश और आगे भी विश्व गुरु बना रहेगा.वन्दे मातरम

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  • sanjay

    What horseshit

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Well can think deep on it! But may b they are true facts. Summed up brilliantly anyway!like lot of thinking

  • Arya Sharan

    The Hindu caste system is something that is a barrier in our development and needs to be abolished soon.

  • Chitranjan Kumar

    very good article and really a true patriot of india will think like this.हमें अपने धर्म और देश को नए समय के साथ सही चीज़ लेकर आगे बढ़ाना है .योग उअर भजन कीर्तन ,कर्मा योग हे हमारे धर्म को सही दिशा दे शक्ति है .हमारा देश हमेश और आगे भी विश्व गुरु बना रहेगा.वन्दे मातरम

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Hinduism Should Not be Viewed Through the Narrow Prism of Marxism

Regarding menstruation, the seers of ancient India set down certain dos and don’t. It is no exaggeration that they realized the subtle intricacies of not only the tangible body and but also various sheaths of spiritual bodies

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Hinduism
Indeed all ancient Hindu scriptures put the female on the same footing as the male.

By Salil Gewali

“A little knowledge is more dangerous than ignorance”. And far more dangerous is when that little knowledge is spread in the society being propelled by the fuel of “prejudices”.  This write-up is with reference to a number of articles by a certain class of writers published in the mainstream media. Those articles are intended to rake up the issues in order to push the sacred temple of “Sabarimala” of Kerala or Shani Shingnapur and the culture associated with it, into the mire of controversy. Tarnishing the image of Hinduism is the main goal. Not unexpectedly, some stories even proclaim that in India “women” are thus demonized and their menstruation is abhorred.

Having gone through some of them I immediately contacted a number of top scholars in Kerala for hands-on verification — whether “women” are being despised so heartlessly or not. Since one of my books is translated into their language I did that with all ease. Not a single scholar (women included) informed me suggesting that they, or temple management of Sabarimala, have ever “despised women”, or hated “menstruation”.  I rather got an earful for asking such absurd questions.  They instantly reiterated referring to Hindu scriptures which teach all and one to look upon women as “Motherly figures”. One scholar remarks, “this confrontation has actually been orchestrated by the politicians with the help of certain forces which want to demean our culture”.  I heaved a sigh of relief!

Indeed all ancient Hindu scriptures put the female on the same footing as the male. But some vested interests with an ulterior motive have been distorting the true history/legends of India and also merrily belittling or shrugging off the literary treasure troves of the country. It was first done by the British in order to divide and rule Indians, in which they were very successful. And later, the legacy has been faithfully and aggressively carried forward by the Indian intellectuals influenced by certain thinkers and writers of the West and their culture.

Hinduism
Representational image.

Well, the seers of ancient India not only knew as information but they “fully realized” that everything, in and out, is pervaded by “Brahman” (Almighty). The modern science too has arrived at the “same conclusion”. The father of Quantum Mechanics — Erwin Schrodinger has scientifically discussed this fact in his world-famous book – “What is Life?”.  All knowledge associated with the ONENESS of Universe and the “Unity in Diversity” is systematically enshrined in 108 Upanishads.  They expounded with a force that “Purusha” (male) and “Pratriki” (female) both combine themselves to put forth the infinite COSMIC CREATION. One without other is like the fire without the heat. They are mutually complementary, inter-dependent and inter-related. The “discrimination” of any kind, not just “against women”, but even against the tiny “insects” and “plants” are considered irreligious. I would also request such biased scholars to read between the lines from the literature authored by Sri Aurobindo and Vivekananda who just quote from them to gloss over the footprint of their agendas. One wonders when they will learn to shake off the baggage of prejudices against while getting down to study the literature of the home country.

Now about the legend Ayyappa of Sabarimala in brief. The story which is long and interestingly too drawn-out, says —  Lord Ayyappa, who was born out of Lord Shiva and the feminine energy of Lord Vishnu, had exceptional power. His birth on earth was in order to kill a female demon– Mahishi. After having been killed the demoness, the curse against her ends. She again takes birth, this time the Goddess incarnate. This is laws of karma works. When she grew up she approached Lord Ayyappa for the marriage. But Ayyappa, who was practicing celibacy, denied. But, he consoles her saying that he will only marry her when no “first timer” will visit his temple for blessings. However, Lord Ayyappa asks her to reside just near to his temple. Later, in her memory, the devotee constructed a temple known as Malikapurathamma just adjacent to the temple of Ayyappa.

Since Lord Ayyappa, who was known for his celibacy, and had promised to marry Malikapurathamma, it has become a sort of a tradition among women not to visit the temple.  It should not be  misunderstood that it is apparently as a mark of showing respect to both Lord Ayyappa and Goddess Malikapurathamma.