28th July 2013 Update: This article seems to have got pulled off Google search engine results. I presume that is because of certain sentences in it which may have been deemed communally sensitive. My intent is not to increase communal issues but to decrease it and bring more peace and joy :). So I have attempted to reduce sensitivity of this article by suitably editing it. I wonder whether Google search engine folks will have this article back in its search results now.
In response to Mr. Ramchandra Guha’s recent article in a mainstream Indian newspaper I had written a mail to him (and the newspaper’s Letters section). The following is a slightly edited version of its contents.
I read Mr. Guha’s article, “What Hindus can & should be proud of“, in The Hindu dated 23rd July 2013.
I agree with Mr. Guha that the 1971 war victory was achieved by an Indian army consisting of people from various faiths.
I also agree that Babri Masjid demolition is not something which should fill Hindus with pride. Given India’s very turbulent history since the Mughal invasion such ‘revenge’ attitude can create horrific tension and bloodshed as we already have seen. In my humble view, for such centuries old matters, forgive and forget is what the great Hindu saints and Avatars would advise.
Regarding the “story of Hindu pride” part of the article, I agree that Hinduism has had horrific caste prejudice over centuries and the great Hindu reformers mentioned in the article have played a vital role in reducing or removing many of these horrific prejudices. Given the reports of atrocities on Dalits that one reads about, it is clear that a lot more needs to be done on this front.
However the article does not seem to mention saints and mystics of Hinduism or associated with Hindus, who were above such caste and other prejudices. They taught and practiced all embracing forms of Hinduism (and other religions too in some cases) which appeal to Hindus of all castes and many non-Hindus too. I am joyful about being a Hindu due to these masters and I thought I should mention some of them below:
- Meera whose devotion to Krishna won the admiration of Emperor Akbar and may have played a role in Akbar’s multi-faith initiatives and tolerance.
- Sant Kabir who was a student of a Hindu master and who taught a wonderful path of love beyond narrow ritualistic boundaries of religion
- The great Maharashtrian Bhakti saints of Tukaram, Namdev and Eknath as well as the Jnani Gnaneshwar.
- How Hindus accepted the spiritual power and grace of the outwardly dressed Muslim, Shirdi Sai Baba. Fascinatingly, he lived in a then dilapidated Masjid which he named Dwarkamayi – a Hindu name – but would, it is written, frequently refer to Allah (Allah Maalik). I am very joyful about so many Hindus having accepted the teachings of Shirdi Sai Baba, including the simple but very powerful statement, ‘Sabka Maalik Ek’, and the devotion to Shirdi Sai Baba among Hindus being seen in many places across the country today.
- Chaitanya Mahaprabhu showed the joyous path of chanting the name of the Lord and dancing in joy. Today’s worldwide ISKCON movement draws inspiration from that figure.
- The article mentioned Vivekananda but not his master, the great mystic Ramakrishna, who showed the path of Bhakti to so many people and continues to inspire the Ramakrishna mission.
I am not so well versed about South India’s great Hindu saints of the past few centuries. So I will just mention some names: Bhadrachalam Ramdas, Yogi Vemana, Purandara Das, Raghavendra Swami, Annamacharya, Thyagaraja …
I am particularly joyous about being a Hindu as this religion produced in the recent past, great Advaita masters like Ramana and Nisargadatta.
Please note that I am not mentioning names of contemporary Hindu mystics and spiritual masters to avoid controversies.