Thursday, October 29, 2015

Different faces of the modern Hindu

            Ever-changing is the nature of everything in the universe. Nothing has changed faster than the faces of Hindus in the last century. From a self sufficient, efficient system, Hinduism has been totally destroyed by our colonial past. From having a system which was dominating global economy, arts, science, philosophy, the society has degraded to a corrupt, self doubting, hypocritical, tamasic majority. 

It must be noted the only community that talks of Vasudaiva kutumbakam is Hinduism. We, Hindus, do not believe if people don’t follow our ideologies burn in hell forever.  Sandhyavandana mantra, chanted daily says, “akasat patitam toyam yada gachchati saagaram, sarva deva namaskara kesavam pratigachchati”.  Just like rain falling reaches the sea in different ways, devotion or prayers to any God or entity reaches the same Supreme Consciousness. This mindset is deeply ingrained in the various attributes of Hindu Society. One is able to see these traits orthodox Veeraraghava Iyengar1 training D.A. Joseph, despite the odds. Late APJ Kalam tells how the orthodox temple priest, father of his best friend, intervened strongly to restore Kalam’s friendship, when the teacher was using religion to separate them2.

We are going to explore the different faces of the modern Hindu. This is not comprehensive or definitive, but intended as a key to unmask the attitude behind the behavior of many of us. This definitely is not meant to be stereotypical or profiling. Besides merely identifying such behavior, we will also explore how such an attitude from each category is impacting the society. We will also venture to understand how each group can modify their attitude for the better good of Hinduism and humanity. The groupings are not in any particular order and may not follow any particular pattern. Some of the individuals will exhibit traits of more than one group and it is very difficult to label anyone forever.

            Orthodox: Traditionally, it used to be a significant majority. Today their influence is at best limited to real few situations and locations. One can see them in some small fraction of homes, temples, mutts. Their viewpoint is typically frozen in time.

            Their interactions with the modern world, makes them unable to relate. Many times, as traditions are passed as a culture, without many giving a thought to the why behind the traditions. It makes them very vulnerable in a world that demands explanation at the tip of their fingers. What makes the scenario bleaker is the fact many traditions have corrupted, stretched beyond the original purpose or time. 

            Their strength is hidden in their weakness. They can begin to dive deeper into our scriptures and increase their level of comprehension. They also must begin to exercise influence in their circles and raise their understanding of Hindu practices. The biggest stumbling block is not orthodoxy, but the lack of depth. Conviction is not their issue.

            Ritualist/Blind Follower: This used to be one of the largest groups. Today, bulk of the groups have spun off from this block as a reaction of failing to evolve. The difference from the above group is the further disconnect from the core Hindu values, but over emphasis on rituals. This will include right from our priests to many amongst us, especially the older generation. They maintained a grip by enforcing the rules without understanding. In  a modern world, this has hurt their relevance.

            They have been the reason behind many groups making fun. They have made the idol the ideal and not the other way around. Many times, blind following has given rise to hypocritic practices and a bigoted outlook. Hiding behind such practices, one makes neither spiritual growth nor an impact for the betterment of others. 

            This crème of this group, like priests of temples, must start understanding that they need to translate the ideas to the modern world. They need not give up all their rituals, but carefully explain their context by diving deep into scriptures and themselves. They also must get educated by reading about the forces in the world. There have been lots of writers like Kannadasan who wrote Arthamulla Indhumatham, meaning of traditions and rituals in Hinduism. Best will be Kanchi Shankaracharya’s Hindu Dharma or Deivathin Kural, talks given over decades compiled in the form of a priceless treasure.

            Convenient: These are people who follow Hinduism or hide behind some Hindu ideas for their convenience. These people are outright hypocrites. Selective practicing is not the issue with them as much as their selective interpretation. They will not hesitate to twist and bend the values to suit their convenience. A streak of this trait exists in most groups, as it is human nature. All fake swamis will be leaders in this category. Also will be the political manipulators who pit the different sections of the society.

            This group amplifies the darker side of human nature. When their hypocrisy gets exposed, it maligns the name of Hinduism. 

            It is harder to appeal to this group, but other groups can be vigilant and expose the double standards, be it the practitioner is famous or a lay man.

            Casteist: This is a very visible group due to some extreme actions. They can be behind politics and communal actions. The current Indian politicos have exploited the superficial differences amongst the socio-econo-political framework of the nation and engineered some deep fractures.

            Votebanks, communal politics have been the outcome. The slippery slope of votebank politics keep these fractures deep and do not allow reconciliation of the different factions.

            Raising the social consciousness and incessant drive to our core values and educating the constituents of the group to be charitable to a larger group will hold the key to turning the impact to positive.

Masses: The vast majority are perhaps social hindus and not religious hindus. They follow customs, celebrate festivals like Holi, Dussehra, Diwali, Sankaranti. The fabric of past connections keeps the unity of India on certain counts. Diversity which is the hallmark of Hindu Pluralism gets amplified by regional and linguistic diversities. This group is today under the sway of the media, which tries to sensationalize and politicize every aspect of the Hindu society. The media twists even core aspects of Hinduism like Itihasas and puranas to fit their marketing of soaps. The gullible masses even learn Itihasas not by reading or listening to pravachans, but by watching TV or cinema. To make it worse, media and twisted educational policies have resulted in the rapid erosion of core Hindu values and in turn replaced by materialistic, non-indigenous values.

The Masses today under the sway of the media, in turn affect the market due to their size. This vicious cycle of downward spiral has accelerated with the passage of every single day. The masses today are constantly fed with pseudo secular, pseudo rational, leftist or ideas ejected from the West. Wallowing in this mire, the masses are not only vulnerable to proselytizing forces, but also have given birth to a more desensitized generation.

The greatest weakness can become the greatest strength. This group has always been led by leaders, be it spiritual or political. Lack of value based leadership has been hurting this group the most. Correcting the narrative, taming the unruly wild media can all aid. But to do that without ruffling more feathers will be a task for the leadership.

Materialist: This group may not have been privy to the Charvaka philosophy that could not hold theological ground in ancient India, but they literally follow the motto of Eat, drink, be merry and they seem to have added don’t worry about anybody except the three most important individuals in the world – I, ME, MYSELF. They are more like the materialistic west, except the finesse or the progressive western values. Needless to say that Hinduism is a casuality. They believe “the end justifies the means”.

They act like quicksand in the society, especially for the value. Selfishness becomes magnified due to the limited successes in some realms by this group. This false sense of achievement gets promoted as a model in the society. 

The entry point into this group is when they need spirituality to either calm their tense nerves that is excited with the never ending pursuit of material trinkets or when they realize the vanity of living without values. The biggest advantage with such group is that they can support the larger causes either for their fame to boost their ego or when they realize the vanity.

Atheist: In some sections of society, this group is very strong. They dominate the left controlled media. They usually end up with lots of literary power due to their strong influence with the pen.

They usually amplify only the negatives in the hindu society. Their idea is to replace the pluralism with a sort of artificial homogeneity. They can understand neither the diversity nor the unity.

This group can be very useful. If one were to utilize their criticisms as a field of improvement. Today, atheists are a growing group across the world. As long as they can be grounded in Dharma, they can provide a useful framework to revive Hinduism.

Basher/Shredder: This is a very boisterous group. They facilitate the Breaking India3 forces. They dig all the negatives in the society and put the spotlight on them. They have such a serious poor self-image, they derive pleasure only by bashing anything Indian. To them the colonial masters should come back to rule then it will be better. They feel anything Hindu is outdated, useless, backward thinking. In a sense, their actions mirror Mohammad Ghazni, plunder and pillage the Hinduism by attacking the fabric of the society. They are energized by the Sepoys. They encourage Fakers to neutralize anything in Hinduism.

They align with all the negative elements that threaten Hinduism, like the atheists, fakers, proselytizers, pseudo seculars.

This tamasic element is a representation of this Yuga dharma – Kali. Not easy for normal people to handle. We will talk of a special breed of people to counter towards the end of the article.

Cultural Hindu: To this group, Bollywood represents Hinduism. They will argue, Hinduism is a way of life. Don’t ever try reasoning even Hitler and Osama bin Laden had a way of life. They think culture changes all the time, so trying to revive anything old is waste of time. So Sanskrit was our culture, a bygone one. They cannot discern the deteriorating state. If one were to point out even how the movies has changed in the last hundred years, they will rush to point out it is evolution.

They are much influenced group.

An altering landscape can bring more sense. If more of society follow a dharmic pattern, they will follow this new trend.

         Self-appointed Fixer/Social activist: These people believe my way is the right way. They value their intellect over traditions or even better explanations. 

            They are influential, as they do not hesitate to put work behind their ideas.

           Most of them are ego driven and not principle driven. When their energies can be redirected with a better rationale or yoked with the wisdom of the rishis, they can provide a very powerful impetus in fixing the ailing aspects of the society. 

            PseudoSickular: This group is ascendant in their visibility and very opportunistic in their outlook. Due to the polarized nature of Indian politics, they are very active currently.  Their attitude is to bash Hinduism to prove their secular nature. They take extra precaution to always take side with some minority to showcase their neutrality but only take potshots at some dysfunctional aspect of Hinduism. They will not care to note the difference between Varna and Caste, for instance. If one brings the proselytization efforts, hindu fakers, digesters, they retort survival of the fittest, but they won’t acknowledge the Hindu response to protect themselves. This clearly exposes their pseudo interests. 

            They amplify only Hinduism negatives to maintain a wrong one-sided narrative. They are very effective in eroding the masses faith. They are almost like cancer in their attitude and effect.

            We will talk about addressing this group later. Their ridicules and impact must be challenged by reviving the good elements in Hinduism.

PseudoRationalist: Very common in circles influenced by EVR Periyar and followers. They believe that they can explain everything through science, but their science is very shallow. They are also PseudoSickular, except in their self description. They need to be dealt in the same way as PseudoSickular. 

PseudoScientist: This group is the exact opposite of the above. They are enamored with anything Hinduism. They are the ones who propagate ideas of flying vimana technology or other underexplained concepts as lost treasures.

Their actions most of the time only act as fodder for other groups, as they unwittingly dwell on unrealistic aspects.

This group, if they finetune their approach can start with more low hanging fruits like popularizing Ayurveda and Siddha traditions. They can propagate the research on science and technology in ancient India. Rajiv Malhotra’s Infinity foundation has done phenomenal work and efforts like these can be propagated as they alter the narrative. Michel Danino is another example of bringing out our treasures from Indus Valley Civilization. The attitude of this group can alter the ridicule of lesser known practices to the brighter jewels in Hinduism. Not all what was practiced in a distant era may be valid; hence it must be understood in correct perspective.

ApprovalSeeker: This group looks to the West as their salvation. They believe Hindus were and are a bunch of distorted entities. They believe the ones that are vetted by the West are fine to continue. So if there is a ayurvedic drug included as a part of some marketed product, it becomes kosher for them. Yoga is acceptable because the west also follows it. Basically, they are suffering from serious identity crisis.  

This group is very vulnerable to proselytizing forces. This is a support group for the Sepoys which relies on groups like these to get their message across. They are also very sympathetic to PseudoSickular or PseudoRationalist forces as they appeal to their mindset. Basically this group has weak connection to the roots.

Increasing awareness of the richness in Hinduism and creating a more positive narrative, not an artificial one, but one based on practices is critical to break the spell on these ApprovalSeekers. 

NRI Masses: In many cases, one can witness the dramatic change in majority of the Indians who land abroad, especially the ones who have decided to relocate. The NRI masses usually limit their displays and affinities to popularly accepted practices. Bollywood is still their emblem of Indian culture. Some sporadic numbers live in a bygone era talking of yoga or temple or cultural activities. For the majority it is “Dollaraya Namaha”, very selfish unlike the roots of Sanatana Dharma.

Most of the first generation migrants seek connection to mainland at later stages in life. They get disenchanted at the rapid changes that have already taken place in the interim. 

Educating themselves with the roots, raising awareness by reading Breaking India, by Rajiv Malhotra, reengaging them in the nation building process can be some of the simple steps one can take in leveraging the enormous power this group wields by the power of the purse. Since most of them are elite export of India, they can also counter the divisive forces operating from outside.

Hindu Faker/Digesters: Fake Christian copycats, missionaries have now taken this to a very high level. Orange robes for Christian followers, churches modeled after south Indian temples, even jesus replacing Krishna in chariot and efforts at every level to erase the Hindu identity. This article is one such exposure. We have Christian Yoga, Jewish Yoga and now even Muslim Yoga. We have all our traditional practices like Thoppukaranam for Ganesha, a practice very common in South India, now being re-exported to India and elsewhere as Super Brain Yoga. While the fakers and digesters try to steal every idea, pseudosecularists, sepoys and other divisive elements keep cheering this as a welcome measure. All the efforts are either to discredit Hinduism of its identity or steal ideas for their proselytization efforts. Here is a sample website which claims Vedas and Christ - The Vedic Bridge. The entire effort is fake, and aimed at gullible, poor self image Hindus who can be converted. One of the biggest negatives is the enormous energies associated with a neo convert, who is already having an identity crisis and poor self image, makes his priority to dent his former roots to gain some acceptance in the new circles.

Church that is a copy of a south Indian Hindu temple

Christ depicted as Yogi. Even Surya Namaskar copied

Copying Orange robes and even prayer postures of Hinduism

Thanks to Rajiv Malhotra, these cases are increasingly getting documented. It is a shame that more people are not in the bandwagon exposing these charlatans. It is critical that the Hindu society wakes up to not just document, but also fight back. It is not only a question of identity, but also a form of colonialism.

It is high time to spread the Hindu Good News to counter other so called Good News that is spread.
Sepoy: The best one can do is to listen to these two brief videos from Rajiv Malhotra. Some sepoys like Mihir Sharma, who know their roles very clearly and also many of Wendy’s children (a term coined by Rajiv Malhotra to identify with the followers of Wendy Doninger’s ideas who believe in absurd illogical interpretations of Hinduism, with the sole purpose of demeaning it). Some of the sepoys have no clue that they are busy advancing the vested interests of the West. Either case, they do lots of deliberate damage.

Rajiv Malhotra explains Western Civilization
Rajiv Malhotra explains Sepoy nature

Sepoys have now become the primary mode of the Western forces that want to fracture the Hindu society. They also are trained in concepts of Universalism to quell the difference in the identity. Once the Hindu Identity is lost, digestion and destruction of this fabric of Hindu civilization becomes a by product. Sepoys must be countered by the solution referred towards the end of the article.
Activist/Aggressive: This group displays their affinity for Hinduism too strongly, sometimes rubbing the wrong side. There are too numerous organizations which believe in this kinda of response. I truly believe this is due to the extreme pressure exerted by the other groups we discussed above that pushes some to the extreme.

This extreme display not only polarizes but many times feeds right into the hands of the divisive elements.

Care must be taken to channelize the energies in a proper way. In the name of Hindu revival, it should not engineer more communal fractures. Plurality and tolerance are the hallmark of Hindu civilization and it must not be replaced by non indigenous traits. 

Non_Indian Hindu: Many eminent contributors like David Frawley (Pt. Vamadeva Shastri), Stephen Knapp, Ram Dass and Michael Cremo represent this group. Incredible contributions from such stalwarts, first in absorbing and later in transmitting the orthodox traditions with scientific analysis have enriched Hinduism. They also add credible defense to sepoys and Wendy’s children. They are not playing the role due to their love for Hinduism alone, but, because once a person starts thinking Dharma at the foundation of his thoughts; they have no other choice to act in defence of Dharma.

As a community that looks for acknowledgement from West a lot, these westerners typically bring a surge of energy, but it is upto the subcontinent Hindus to catch that spark and realize their potential.

TruthSeeker: This has always been a minority even during Krishna’s time. The energy levels locked up in this group can shake the universe. Personally, I feel, these powerhouses must take some time to impact the society. Their power comes from following Dharma and other spiritual practices.

Realization of the responsibilities one has to play to the society is critical. Even Swami Vivekananda put the priority on impacting the society first, rather than his personal emancipation. Acharya Ramanuja led by a stellar example of raising the spiritual consciousness of the masses and not only his personal one.
            Revivers/LoneVoicers: Every time Dharma gets under stress, Krishna says HE will appear to tame the evil and revive Dharma. Countless such great souls have appeared. Here is a short list Adi Shankara, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda, Swami Chinmayananda. These men of dynamic action breathed life into Sanatana Dharma. But waiting for such great souls to appear is very immature. Instead we must be focused on preparing ourselves to this great MAHABHARATA happening now.  


        Ahimsa Soldier / Intellectual Kshatriya: Kanchi Shankaracharya Chandrasekara Saraswathi called for Ahimsa Soldiers to play the vanguard role in this modern Kurukshetra. Rajiv Malhotra has coined the term Intellectual Kshatriya for the ones who are ready to expand their knowledge about these divisive forces and who are willing to confront them. These are two flavors of the same idea. One must be ready to understand Hinduism in the correct perspective of the great Rishis. One must also have enough intelligence to do Purva Paksha to understand more about these forces. Without a proper Purva Paksha, there is no possibility to launch a suitable counter attack on these forces. Just like a soldier will fight for every inch of the land he is fighting for, just like a kshatriya will lay his life for the defence of Dharma, the Ahimsa Soldier / Intellectual Kshatriya holds the ground and take the attack to the opposite camp. Determined to expose the true identity behind the mask of these forces, an Ahimsa Soldier understands the value of joining forces with like minded Intellectual Kshatriyas.

            The task ahead is humongous. No one person can take all these forces. So it is paramount to collect and organize on multiple fronts just like these forces are working on numerous angles with the sole purpose of breaking the greatest civilization that ever existed. Every Hindu must identify by introspection what mask they are wearing and how it is impacting. This cannot be expected from the fakers, sepoys, pseudosicuklarists, pseudorationalists or even the masses. So the sensible must understand the value of this great erosion that is happening and the great divisive forces that are operating with the sole intention of decimating this civilization.

             May Paramatma give the right buddhi to discern and guide us on the right path in this great Kurukshetra that we are all in. There is no choice of staying neutral as we observed. Sitting on the fence in the name of pseudosickularism hurts Hinduism more. Let  us all become Intellectual Kshatriyas, Ahimsa Soldiers in this great battle. To be effective at that one must devote time to learn, engage with others on multiple modes, sharpening the intellect, do our own tapasya, yet at the same time learn to work in groups and learning from other's tapasya.

Om Tat Sat


Suggested Reading:
·         Rajiv Malhotra


  1. Nice although I must say I don't fall under any of the categories you've described.

    1. Thanks Shriram. Like I had a disclaimer, this article is not comprehensive and I am sure more people can have greater insights than I do.

      Curious to see what you feel yourself as?

  2. Priya Satchitananda, Like you name your work comments and articles are taking good shape and will in no time become leading light (and love) for Dharma followers. My suggestion would be to make two broad categories like the Dhama Followers and Dharma Imposters and then make different categories under them. This way it will be easy for readers to identify ones role in the camp and then try to move forward. A very nice article indeed....


    1. Namasthe Shiva. Thanks for your time and thoughts. I had been given this insight. Subsequently I tried to organize and serialize. I was not able to successfully. The urge to capture the thoughts was higher as I have lost many in the past. Subhasya Sigram. I guess didnt want to asubhashya Kalaharanam. But I think your idea of Dharma Followers and Dharma Imposters is an excellent one. I will definitely work on your thoughts

  3. Sadar Pranam Sir, Thank you for sharing your works...knowledge with us, which will reach/benefit several others. May the blessings of Pramatman always be with you in this Tapasya.

    1. Appreciate your time and feedback. I am guilty of sitting on the sidelines for too long. I would urge all, based on this hindsight, even with our limited vision and strength, to ACT. Take baby steps and you never know what doors open up to serve. Share your strengths with like minded and have an open mind to learn from each other. Check the ego at the door. You have immense potential. Don't wait for the perfect alignment is what I have learnt in this process. Serving without expectation starts the inner cleansing process, put one on the road to greater wisdom and deepens one's shraddha & Bhakti. Why delay.