This interview is in continuation to the ‘Interview with Maria Wirth by Pradeep Krishnan (Part-II)’ which was published on NewsGram on 25 July 2020.
World over Hindu philosophy is gaining wider acceptance. However, in India, teaching/ studying Hindu philosophy and its sacred texts are considered anti-secular. Your comments?
The word secular has been completely distorted in India. It is a shame that teaching Hindu philosophy is considered anti-secular, and fostering Christianity and Islam by granting them privileges, is considered secular. It should be exactly the other way round. Secularization in the west curtailed the power of the Church, including taking away their landed property. Why? Because the Church demands blind belief in its dogmas and had used state power to enforce this belief. You may not know that Christian lands had also blasphemy laws. Well, just look to Goa what terrible things happened there during Portuguese rule.
When scientific knowledge mainly from India (partly via the Arabs), reached Europe, the Church at first forbade such knowledge, even such basic issues that the earth is not flat and that the sun does not go around the earth. It persecuted scientists who did not budge from their (true) view. But in the end the Church could not prevent the knowledge taking root and lost its influence in state affairs. So a secular state is guided by reason and not by blind belief in unbelievable dogmas.
The different schools of Hindu philosophy are guided by reason and should definitely be taught in schools. Logical debate was highly valued in ancient India. The Upanishads are often in the form of question and answers. These are a treasure of highest knowledge. I really hope this absurdity of fostering irrational belief systems over the rational, profound insights of the Rishis will end soon.
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While Indian philosophy, culture and life style are getting more and more acceptance in the West, we Indians are busy aping the West. Your comments?
I gave once an analogy for this unfortunate situation: Indians are sitting on a box of pure gold without knowing it and are eager to get artificial jewelry from the West. It is plain foolish. However, meanwhile many Indians realized that the West is not what they had imagined, that it is not as cultured and actually morally highly degraded. Even science which the west is so proud of, has its foundation in Indian knowledge. Indians had discovered a way to express extremely huge and extremely tiny numbers, which the Arabs and the Church considered foolish at that time. Not anymore… Yet there is so much more. Every field of knowledge had its origin in India, but even Indians don’t know it. They learn that Copernicus discovered some 500 years ago that the earth goes around the sun… How wrong! It’s mentioned already in the Vedas.
In India, particularly in my home state Kerala, Christians, Muslims and Marxists are very active in converting Hindus to their fold. Your views on proselytization and checking conversion from Hinduism?
Those three forces, Christianity, Islam and communism, are very dangerous for Hindu Dharma because they have wiped out all ancient cultures on the earth. Just look around. In South America, Christianity vanquished Inkas, Mayas, Aztecs, in Middle East, Islam took over Egypt, Babylon, Persia. Ancient Indian culture, the cradle of civilization, is still alive but greatly diminished due to mainly Islam, but also to the other two forces. It pains me that many Hindus can’t see the danger yet. Those three don’t get along with each other, they are narrow-minded and demand that only their own view must rule the world, but they become allies in trying to wipe out the last great culture, the Hindu culture.
Hindus believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, a beautiful idea, but this applies only to well-meaning human beings. Enemies, who want to defeat you, must not be treated as family. All three want Hindu Dharma to disappear. Christianity and Islam are open about it. It’s no secret. Yet even a leader like Mahatma Gandhi seemed to have been ignorant about the goal of Islam and supported the Khilafat movement. Hindus especially in Kerala paid a heavy price for his support.
Hindus are in all likelihood the most good-natured people on earth. They have a highly refined culture. Yet, if they do not learn to analyze their enemies and keep allowing conversions to continue, they will be doomed. Instead of facilitating conversions, de-conversions should happen in a big way. There should be debates about the tenets of the different religions. It would become obvious that Hindu Dharma is the best option, greatly superior to the blind and divisive belief in strange dogmas. Vicious propaganda against Hindus and especially Brahmins is spread through media to make Hindus feel defensive and apologetic about their tradition. They have no reason to feel apologetic. Yet Muslims and Christians have every reason to feel apologetic. So far, Hindus did not challenge them. I wonder why.
Nowadays spiritual leaders, particularly Hindu saints, make it a point to state that all religions are the same. However, Christina and Muslim leaders/ scholars assert that ‘salvation’ is possible only through their chosen path. What are your comments?
I have written a lot about this issue, as I probably can see clearer that Christianity and Islam will never say that all religions are the same. They will never respect Hinduism. In fact, my strong conviction on this issue lead to an unfortunate discord with Rajiv Malhotra, who seems to believe that those religions can see sense. Yes, their leaders may even see sense, as they can’t be so stupid, but they won’t admit it because it would be the end of their empires. The foundation of these two institutionalized religions is the claim that the Supreme God has ‘revealed’ the full truth only to Jesus or Mohammed respectively, and he wants all human beings to follow their teaching. Once they back down from this obviously false claim, they lose their identity. They collapse.
Of course this would be the best thing that could happen, but they won’t do it voluntarily. Hindus need to needle them, need to expose the incongruences, need to have genuine debates, not the fake Interfaith Dialogues where Hindus are not asking any probing questions of them but just affirm how great all religions are. This is very dangerous. Time is running out.
Now, with social media around, we can debate even in the virtual space. And it has already an effect. More Hindus realize the value of their tradition, and many Christians and also Muslims lost faith and say it openly. There was a hashtag on Twitter some time ago “Awesome without Allah”. This wouldn’t have been possible even 5 years ago.
But the pushback of those religions is very strong. Recently, when some Tablighis exposed their goal of wanting to exterminate Hindu Kafirs, the image of Islam was hit badly. Immediately, a massive propaganda exercise tried to paint the atrocious conduct of Tablighi Corona patients as fake news and instead vilified as usual RSS in a big way, hoping that attacking RSS will take away the focus from Islamists. Unfortunately western media bought since long into the bogey that RSS is fascist. In my view, the RSS is almost too good-natured and maybe naïve, in the sense that they believe that Indian Muslims and Christians still have a connection with their tradition and will come back if they realize the goodness and truth of Hindu Dharma. Yes, some may have a connection, but my experience with Indian Christians shows that most are more indoctrinated and rigid than European Christians. They need to be challenged if, what they believe, can possibly be true.
How do you view the caste system and its resultant discrimination meted out to the downtrodden masses of India?
In my view, the caste system is unfairly misused to demonize India and Hinduism. A study of history would show that it has been misrepresented, probably with the agenda to convince Hindus and the world that their tradition needs to be replaced with the “true religion”. All over the world children hear in school that the core of Hinduism is a terrible caste system, which of course is not true. I also heard it already in primary school, long before I knew that Germans had systematically killed 6 million Jews not long before I was born.
When I came to India, I started wondering why Indian society is so much condemned for ’not being equal’, as if other societies are equal, and why Hinduism is blamed for it. Are people not aware that the caste system is abolished since Independence and that the lower castes were given many privileges – so much so that sometimes a higher caste even demanded to get downgraded on the social ladder? In which other country does this happen? Are people not aware that insulting a Dalit results in immediate arrest? That India’s President is a Dalit? That a former President, Chief Justice and Chief Minister were Dalits? Don’t they know about the reservations in government jobs and educational institutes? Dalit students even need lower marks to get entry. It has reached a point where it has become reverse discrimination.
In other societies the present generation is not held accountable for the sins of their ancestors, like Germans for the terrible holocaust of Jews. Why is this attitude not extended to Hindus? Unfortunately, too many Hindus flog themselves for the alleged ‘atrocities’ which their forefathers are accused of. There is a good chance that those atrocities never happened, certainly not the type of atrocities for which Islamic groups are infamous, and which intriguingly are generously overlooked.
The traditional structure of Indian society in the Vedas was not based on birth but on inclination and profession. That children usually took up the profession of their parents happened all over the world in earlier times, but even Manu Smriti says that one’s varna (caste is nowhere mentioned) can be changed by consistent conduct which fits another varna.
Recently, in the times of Corona Virus, I hinted in a tweet that untouchability may have had its origin in hygiene. My tweet provoked furious reactions from all sides, much to my astonishment. It was clearly an overreaction, as hygiene might indeed have been the reason. There are rules even within a family, for example somebody, who has not yet taken his bath, must not touch the one who has already finished his. It seems that ‘social distancing’ was the greatest fault the British could find with Hindus, and so they made it look really bad.
Caste is still a highly emotive issue, yet it is basically redundant in today’s times where nobody knows the caste of the person who sits next to him in the bus or plane. Jobs like cleaning the sewers need also to be done and we all need to be grateful to those who do it, and definitely not look down on them. This looking down on those who have a lower status in society is unfortunately a human trait which needs to be overcome. It is there in all societies, and has nothing to do with Hinduism, on the contrary. Only Hindu Dharma claims that the essence in all, Brahman, is the same. Moreover, in one’s next life, the role one plays is likely to be different, depending on one’s karma.
The continued attacks on the caste system may have one more reason. Like the joint family, the caste also, apart from imparting skills and knowledge, provides a sense of belonging and security. Western society has become very lonely. Single households are common. I hope that Indian society won’t become as lonesome and individualized as the West. Attempts to break the Indian society are surely on.
We have been continuously destroying our planet earth by our actions? What is the solution? Even though we worship the river Ganga, at several places it has been completely polluted. Why this paradox; while Hindus worship the rivers/mountains/tress, we indiscriminately act against our mother nature. What is the solution?
The solution may have just come in the form of the Corona Virus. Half of the world is under lockdown and air and water have a chance to get purified. Prime Minister Modi put it aptly at the recent G20 Summit via video conferencing. Humanity has to become the focus again, not business. If this is the outcome of this crises, if we realize that we don’t need so many material things, that happiness doesn’t come from outside, if we would develop compassion and stop killing millions of animals daily for meat… the crisis would have a positive outcome, in spite of a downturn in the economy. I feel it is a chance for India. India has the knowledge how to live a fulfilled life. India has a huge population that still is connected to its traditional values and knowledge. There is a good chance that Bharat Mata becomes again the Jagadguru, as she was in ancient times. It would be a great chance missed, if we went back to our old ways of exploiting nature after the crisis is over.
What can we do to build a strong, united and culturally vibrant Bharat?
In my view, we need to bring the huge part of the population, which has converted out of Hinduism during the long, oppressive foreign rule, back to follow their own conscience and not blindly believe in a doctrine, which wants India’s ancient tradition dead. It is probably the single most important issue to achieve a united, strong and culturally vibrant Bharat.
During my studies in Germany I was not at all interested in religion. I had lost faith in Christianity and many of my friends, too, and we felt, religion was on its way out. But when I came to India, I slowly realized what huge role religions play in dividing the country. And with ‘religion’, I don’t mean Hindu Dharma but Islam and Christianity, which the invaders brought to India and which were pushed down the throat of many Indians.
Intriguingly, Hindu Dharma is constantly accused of being ‘divisive’, which is mischievous, because out of the three, only Hindu Dharma is all-inclusive. I suspect that this false accusation is meant to keep Hindus perpetually on the defensive and not let them realize that it’s actually Christianity and Islam which divide.
India cannot afford to have some 300 million Muslims and Christians, who are taught that Hindus are inferior. Both dogmatic religions claim that their God rejects non-Christians respectively non-Muslims (called ‘heathen’ or ‘kafirs’) and will throw them into hellfire. Now if you believe that your God doesn’t like certain people, will you respect them? Of course not. You can respect them only as brothers and sisters when you lose this blind belief and start reasoning that the one great Creator of this vast universe cannot possibly reject a huge chunk of humanity because they do not follow what one person said a long time ago. This reasoning needs to be fostered. If not, it is becoming again very dangerous for Hindus, because this arrogant mindset “God loves only us” can even lead to genocide without feeling any guilt. Millions of Hindus were killed just for being Hindus.
This may sound very gloomy, but knowing one of these predator religions, as they are rightly called, as an insider, I may be able to see the danger clearer. Hindus are very good-natured. They cannot believe that others can be so unreasonable that they want Hindus subdued if not wiped out, only because they worship the Supreme Intelligence under a different name. But it is officially their doctrine: Islam has the goal to make the whole world accept Islam and Christianity has the goal to make all Christians.
I had suggested since 2016 in articles and at the Ujjan Vichar Kumbh, to petition the United Nations to ban the dehumanization of Hindus as heathen and kafirs as a blatant violation of their dignity and equality. Not because I have trust in the UN, which I don’t have, but to internationalize the issue and make it clear that indoctrinating children into hate for Kafirs and disdain for Heathen is absolutely unacceptable, yet it happens on a daily basis in religious class world over.
Since no Hindu organization took it up, I drafted a petition myself and sent it to PM Modi and also contacted several Hindu organizations which all were in favour of it. I hope something comes out of it. Pakistan keeps petitioning the UN to ban Islamophobia. In contrast to Pakistan’s petitions, India’s concern is genuine and urgent.
Maybe now, after the Tablighis demonstrated how ‘good’ Muslims are meant to treat Kafirs, Hindus have finally woken up. If this is the case, there would be at least some positive outcome of their vicious conduct in trying to spread the virus.
Most Christians in Europe, except for the clergy, don’t believe any longer that Hindus are rejected by God and will burn in hell unless they convert. That means, it is possible to get out of early childhood brainwashing. I am also an example. We Hindus need to tell the followers of these two religons: ‘you have every right to worship the Supreme Creator by whatever name you want. But you have no right to claim that He loves only you and hates me, when you don’t have any proof except that one person allegedly said it many centuries ago’.
God has given us intelligence. Truth is self-evident. Nobody needs to be threatened to believe in what is true. Only untruth needs threat and violence and blasphemy laws, which both Christianity and Islam made terrible use of.
Moreover, we have samples in Pakistan and in the ‘Christian West’ what the outcome is, when their religion dominates. These societies certainly are not ideal.
If Indians follow again Dharma, reason, intuition and take the help of the profound insights of the Rishis, I am convinced that Bharat will quickly become strong, united and culturally vibrant. Hindus owe it to their forefathers who have left them such precious knowledge in so many fields that they honour it and defend it, if need be.
Your message to the Indian youth?
You are so lucky that you were born in India. Be proud of your identity, not in the sense of being arrogant, but holding your head high. You belong to the most ancient civilization that has given maximum knowledge to the world. Without the amazing knowledge of your ancestors, “western science” would not exist.
A few days ago I saw a video of a young, modern looking Muslim woman talking about Kalonji seeds and how they are helpful against Corona infection. She expressed awe that Prophet Mohamed knew about these seeds and the comment section was full of praise that their religion has such precious knowledge.
Now compare this with the vast knowledge that is there only in Ayurveda for example. The benefits of Kalonji seeds are also mentioned and probably the knowledge travelled to Arabia… yet many Indians are not proud of their heritage and their amazing history and the high culture that was there already during Ramayana and Mahabharata times. Or maybe they don’t know about it?
My message would be: you are the torchbearers for a better future for humanity. Do not copy the West. It went down on a wrong path. Many Westerners realised it and turn to India’s wisdom. Learn about the wisdom of your forefathers, know about the richness of your land, for example the amazing temples which hold many secrets and do sadhana, in whatever way it suits you. Do not abuse your body by eating junk food or even taking drugs. Try to discover your true essence that is Satchitananda. Make the Divine in whatever form you prefer, your best friend. Remind yourself that Bhagawan is REALLY present. This makes life worthwhile and fulfilling. Nothing in this world can compare with the bliss and love that is your own already, waiting to be discovered in the depth of your Self.