While addressing a seminar on ‘Identity and Integration’ on August 2, organised to mark the 50th anniversary of UK-based charity Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat told the audience that Hinduism does not allow forceful conversion by any means.
“After contemplating any philosophy or any religion, if one of his own will and wish decides to convert to it…Our tradition says every individual can independently decide what his faith should be. But using other means and converting people by lure or some other means, that is aggression on individual rights and that should not be allowed,” he said to PTI.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh “Sarsanghchalak” was addressing a seminar on ‘Identity and Integration’, organised to mark the 50th anniversary of UK-based charity Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), in London last evening.
Bhagwat mentioned, “Hinduism is a sanskriti and not a religion” and also “Hindu is a tradition” that believes in “accepting, respecting and celebrating” numerous identities.
“We have no problem with identities; we can live as an integrated society, humanity and universe. It has been achieved and lived by common people and can be found anywhere Hindus live. Hindu identity says diversity is to be celebrated,” he said to PTI.
“Unity in diversity” was the central mantra of Hinduism and Bhagwat mentioned verses from the Atharva Veda, a Hindu text, to show that diversity existed even in ancient times.
“Despite our history, we don’t treat anyone like a foreigner…Only politics sometimes disrupts all this. But these are ripples and then we revert to normalcy because it is in our blood,” he said to PTI.
“Ultimately we are all human beings, all ‘atmans’ (soul). We respect and accept everyone’s identity but have an eye on the underlying unity. That example has been created by Hindu society anywhere in the world and can resolve all conflict,” he added further.
The 65-year-old RSS leader was in the UK and was invited as the chief guest of HSS UK’s Mahashibir 2016, which concluded over the weekend. He was surrounded by heavy security presence at the Navnat Centre in the south London.
The seminar on August 2, concluded his UK tour and included panellists like Dr Girdharilal Bhan, former national president of VHP, Samani Pratibha Pragya, head nun of Jain Vishva Bharati London, and Gauri Das, managing director of Bhaktivedanta Manor ISKCON UK.
While focussing on the Hindu diaspora in the UK, Bhagwat said, “Hindus don’t insist call yourself Hindu. But the values are all the same…We all believe in the unity of existence and doing Sewa (service). Don’t fight among each other, stay united and work for the world’s good, mentioned the PTI report.
The westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures"
and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those "holy books"
only in the drawers of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our
“butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods' idols !!!
Any auspicious days in Hinduism are expected to be observed with a complete purity of action and thought. The same holds true for other religions too. As per the Hindu scriptures, the believers are required to stay away from any kind of sense gratifications, particularly when the specific days are dedicated to Gods and Goddess such as Navratri, Laxmi Puja, Krishna Janmashtami, Shivaratri, to name a few. The pathway to devotion and spiritualism should not be “desecrated” by the blot of the brazen entertainment. The scriptures logically explain why it is antithetical, and its adverse consequences.
But, what a huge irony, rather a blasphemy that many people these days have started to choose the auspicious days of Gods to satisfy their base senses. Without a wee bit of regret, a certain class of people holds almost every auspicious day as the most “unmissable” occasion to booze with the friends, and what not, and stagger back home, lol! Such bizarre practices are fast catching now than ever. Sadly, hardly any conscious people and spiritual organizations stand up and take the right measures to check such godless deviations.
What is quite unpleasant is that such a kind of unholy practices are often being facilitated by certain “Hindu intuitions” as well. On this past Laxmi Puja, the “propitious time” to perform the ritual had fallen between 6 PM to 7:53 PM. Yours truly decided to use that span of time for meditation. But hell broke loose. Apart from fireworks around, the Bollywood songs in high decibel burst forth from a certain Hindu institution quite frustrated the mission.
One senior citizen laments – “Nothing could be irreligious than the fact that a favorable time for “puja” is also being used for the wrongful purposes. We rather expect the “Hindu institutions” to teach our children Bhajan, Kirtan, and other spiritual activities, not the loud and feverish parties and disturb others.”
Another college student adds “Having been much disturbed by the noise pollution, I have persuaded my parents to shift our place of residence to elsewhere, not at least near holy places with an unholy mission. I have started to see such institutions with the eyes of suspicion these says.” Is it that our institutions are unable to use their “discretion”, and as a result, they fail to differentiate between right and wrong? One is deeply apprehensive that Bollywood songs and vulgar dances might as well be included as a part of the “puja ritual” as we have long accepted the fun of fireworks bursting as an integral part of Laxmi Puja which in fact is just an entrenched “misconception”.
Needless to say, our roar for consumerism has almost drowned the whisper of inherent spiritualism. We are only just sending out the wrong messages. I’m afraid, the whole culture itself might be looked down with derision by other faiths. It might just become a subject of ridicule! It is no exaggeration, such negative notions against the “wrong practices” are all what we often read these days in several newspapers and social media. Do we want others to demean our profound spiritual heritage thus? I believe it calls for a serious soul-searching.
Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”. It warns in the strongest terms that mankind should absolutely be careful not to fall under the influence of any short-lived sense gratifications. Or else, our endeavor to “practice and preserve” the sanctity of a religion/spiritualism will be a futile exercise.
However, on the other hand, the westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our “scriptures” and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those “holy books” only in a drawer of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods’ idols !!!
Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.