Tuesday October 23, 2018

Understanding the New Religious Movements (NRM) in Hinduism

We talk about Hinduism that existed centuries back to the movements it has given rise to today and also clear your doubts about sects & cults

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A group photo taken in Shimoga in 1944 when Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (seated fourth from right, second row) came to address the State-level Hindu Mahasabha. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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August 25, 2016: Lifting up the veil that hangs between the ancestral thoughts and the modern religion, we talk about the prevailing religious movements, which are new in thoughts and old in ideologies.

Different Sects in Hinduism 

Currently, Hinduism consists of 4 major sects-

  1. Vaishnavism (Vishnu)
  2. Shaivism (Shiva)
  3. Shaktism (Devi)
  4. Smartism (five deities treated as same)

All of the above sects follow different rituals and traditions. They have different symbols and images in the name of God. These sects as one would know are surviving for many, many years as they modify themselves depending on the prevailing concepts.

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Important examples of a sect improving, rejecting and redefining according to the worldly demands are Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. These three movements acquired their own status and evolved retaining some concepts and traditions.

Sects vs Cults

“Oh Dammn! He belongs to the Ku klux klan clut.” The word cult is always used in conjunction with a nefarious act. If you belong to a cult, you are cool but like the cruel kind of cool. According to the western world, you are living a secret and a dangerous life. However, in the modern world, if ‘Ku klux klan’ called themselves sects they’ll be the holier than thou group instead of a street gang and that’s where the difference lies.

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Technically, there is no difference between a cult and a sect except in our attitude and interpretation of the word. Over the years, the word cult has gained a negative impact whereas the word sect emits warmer and calmer vibe. To eschew from such discrepancies, there was a more generic term coined called new religious movements or sectarian movements.

New Religious movements

Glorious ISKCON Mandir at ‎Delhi‬, is a well known Vaishnav temple of Lord ‎Krishna‬ and Radharani in the form of Radha Parthasarathi, Delhi, ‪India‬
Glorious ISKCON Mandir at ‎Delhi‬, is a well known Vaishnav temple of Lord ‎Krishna‬ and Radharani in the form of Radha Parthasarathi, Delhi, ‪India‬

With a new era comes in the need of evolving whilst keeping the old traditions alive. New religious movements are nothing but a term used to identify groups that are religious ethical and are of relatively modern origins. Usually, these movements are lead by Gurus who have a long list of followers and share modern thoughts along with the ancestral knowledge that has been passed on.

Here’s a list of some of the famous NRMs

  1. The Ramakrishna Mission
  2. The Brahma Kumaris
  3. The Satya Sai Baba Society
  4. The HareKrishna Movement (ISKCON)
  5. The Osho Movement

They compromise in the face of a more convincing argument and hence absorb a new idea. Hence, their main aim is to submit to faith and spirituality.

– by Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram. Twitter: @BladesnBoots

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  • Antara

    Fascinating facts about the Hindu sects and cults!

  • Anubhuti Gupta

    Has anyone noticed that newer religions are more tolerant and peaceful with lesser restrictions on their followers?

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  • Antara

    Fascinating facts about the Hindu sects and cults!

  • Anubhuti Gupta

    Has anyone noticed that newer religions are more tolerant and peaceful with lesser restrictions on their followers?

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The Other Side of “Hindu Pakistan”

Although, the mainstream parties stay away from nominating Hindus, this time there are many independent Hindu candidates contesting from general seats — mostly from the Sindh province

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Hinduism
The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures.

Sagarneel Sinha

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s remark that India would become a “Hindu Pakistan” if the BJP is elected again in 2019, sparked off a major debate among the political circles of the country. BJP didn’t let the opportunity go by launching a scathing attack on Tharoor and his party for insulting Hindus and Indian democracy, forcing the Congress party to distance itself from its own MP’s comment. Only one year is left for the next general elections and in a politically polarised environment such comments serve as masala for political battles where perception is an important factor among the electorates.

Actually, Tharoor, through his statement, is trying to convey that “India may become a
fundamentalist state just like its neighbour — Pakistan”. Tharoor is a shrewd politician and his remarks are mainly for political gains. The comments refer to our neighbour going to polls on 25 th of this month which has a long history of ignoring minorities where the state institutions serve as a tool for glorifying the religious majority bloc and ridiculing the minorities. This compelled me to ponder about the participation of the Hindus — the largest minority bloc of the country, in the upcoming polls.

There are total 37 reserved seats for minorities in Pakistan — 10 in the National Assembly
(Lower House), 4 in the Senate (Upper House) and 23 in various state legislatures — 9 in the Sindh assembly, 8 in Punjab and 3 each in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistani Hindus, like other minorities have the dual voting rights in principle. But the reality is they have no rights to vote for their own representatives as the seats are reserved — means the distribution of these seats are at the discretion of parties’ leadership. Practically speaking, these reserved seats are meant for political parties not for minorities. In case of general seats, it is almost impossible for a Hindu candidate to win until and unless supported by the mainstream parties of the country. The bitter truth is — the mainstream parties have always ignored the Hindus by hesitating to field them from general seats. In 2013, only one Hindu candidate — Mahesh Kumar from the Tharparkar district won from a general seat, also became the only minority candidate to make it to the National Assembly from a general seat. This time too, he is nominated by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — a major centre-left party of Pakistan. However, there are no other Hindu candidates for a general seat from the two other significant centre-right parties — former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and cricketer turned politician Imran Khan’s Tehreek-E-Insaf (PTI). Although, there is a Hindu candidate named Sanjay Berwani from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) — a Karachi (capital of Sindh province) based secular centrist party of Pakistan.

Shashi_tharoor
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s remark that India would become a “Hindu Pakistan” if the BJP is
elected again in 2019, sparked off a major debate among the political circles of the country.

The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures. It means that despite the state’s hostile policies, Hindus have been able to remain stable in a highly Islamist polarised society. 90% of the Hindu population of the country lives in the Sindh province. Hindu population in Umerkot,Tharparkar and Mirpur Khas districts of the Sindh province stands at 49%, 46% and 33% respectively — making them the only three substantial Hindu districts of the country. The three districts have 5 National Assembly and 13 Provincial seats. However, Hindus have never well represented from these seats.

Although, the mainstream parties stay away from nominating Hindus, this time there are many independent Hindu candidates contesting from general seats — mostly from the Sindh province. Many of them belong to the Schedule caste — the Dalit community. A recent report based on Pakistan Election Commission’s data says that out of 2.5 lakh women of Tharparkar district, around 2 lakh of them are not included in the electoral list — means that they are not entitled to vote for the upcoming general elections. All over the country, there are about 1.21 crore women voters who will not be able to vote in the elections. The reason is the lack of an identity card. Most of them are poor who are unable to pay the expenses required for an identity card. This has made difficult for independent Hindu Dalit candidates like Sunita Parmar and Tulsi Balani as most of their supporters will not be voting in the upcoming polls. In Tharparkar district, around 33% percent are the Hindu Dalits — brushed aside by the mainstream parties. The reserved seat candidates are based on party nominations, where mainly the upper caste Hindus are preferred. Radha Bheel, a first time contestant and the chairperson of Dalit Suhaag Tehreek (DST), a Dalit organisation, says that the fight is for the rights of the lower socio-economic class and scheduled castes. Sunita, Tulsi, Radha and the other independent Hindu candidates know
that the possibility of winning from the general seats is bleak but for them the contest is for their own identity — an identity never recognised by the political parties and the establishment of Pakistan.