Tolerance of diversity is the foundation for a successful democracy. Discriminatory mindset and imposition of any particular ideology are the greatest threats to any democratic society. The Christian West devised the idea of ‘Secularism’ precisely to get rid of these hurdles. In contrast, the Islamic world remains ever obsessed with the outdated theocratic dictatorship under sharia jurisdiction. However, the great Indian civilization manages its ultra-diverse society on the strength of its unique ancient Hindu culture where tolerance of diversity is a ‘normal’ way of life!
When the colonial British were leaving India after gifting Pakistan to a gang of Muslim separatists, led by English educated Mohammad Ali Jinnah, they were convinced that India, a conglomerate of 565 princely States, would never stay united as one nation for long; it would fragment into several pieces within years. Most global leaders shared this opinion. Clearly, the myriad diversity – lingual, cultural, traditional, and geographical – was beyond their rational comprehension shaped by the monotheist Christian or Islamic philosophy that bifurcates people into ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’ and takes adversarial role against people holding different viewpoints. In fact, they had seen no prior example of such highly diversified society surviving for long anywhere in the world. And the Islamic world was typically “elate with the victory of Islam” as Islamic Pakistan was carved out. Of course, none of the ‘experts’ ever doubted integrity of Pakistan as a nation.
But history post-1947 proved all these ‘expert’ students of mono-culturism wrong, because the Indian ‘unity in diversity’ is still going strong at the age of 70! On the contrary, exposing the emptiness of the pan-Islamic brotherhood, “Islam” could not keep Pakistan intact even for a quarter century! In 1971, its larger population chunk, East Pakistan, broke off as sovereign Bangladesh! Since then it has been battling to hold together rest of its flock — the Balochs, Pashtuns and Sindhis — under ‘Pakistan’ label. And, they are all Muslims!!
It is amazing that in a monotheistic Pakistan, ‘intolerance‘ is a pan national phenomenon. The Sunni terror groups target Shia Muslims as well as the Ahmediya Muslims, who are by law not allowed to call themselves Muslim! Minorities — Hindus, Sikhs, Christians — remain ever under threat of misuse of blasphemy law. The Balochs remain relegated to the status of colonized people and remain terrorized by the army. … And the biggest comedy of absurdity is that Pakistan even now continues demanding Kashmir from India, in the name of Islam!! History has repeatedly demonstrated that religion (a type of fiction based on God) is too superficial to unite human societies. Why else would there be 57 different Islamic nations, instead of one single Caliphate run under Sharia!
Recent History of Fragmentation
Let’s look at the recent history of nation-state fragmentation around the world.
End of the First World War gave birth to several new nations – Finland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland, Hungry, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia etc. The Muslim Middle East is highly divided in several Muslim nations despite Islam everywhere. It is weird to see Shia Iran standing aloof from rest of the Sunni states as if there are two separate Islams! The Kurds remain restless for a separate nation. The dream of global Islamic Caliphate of the ISIS was born and gone already — why?.
Between 1989 and 1992 Yugoslavia broke into seven pieces. In 1991, the USSR gave birth to 15 nations. Chechnyans can’t stop dreaming of separation from Russia. Europeans who lecture the world on democracy and liberalism can’t stay united as one “European Union” despite the common Christian cultural mono-track. After Brexit, many more nations are likely to leave the EU. In Spain, Catalonians are restless for a divorce. In 2011, Sudan broke into two pieces.
In major democracies like the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, and Australia arrival of people from across the world has brought diversities over the decades. But the heavy pressure of Muslim refugees from the poverty and terror ridden Africa and Gulf is now making them realize the dangers of isolationist tendency of Muslims, who tend to create “no go” zones run on Sharia law in the host countries where even police hesitates to enter. Now these ‘developed’ countries are discovering new challenges of heterogeneity and multi-cultural social setup despite the romantic ideals of ‘liberalism’ and ‘secularism.’ Many people foolishly think that “secularism” unites people of different “faiths” in a ‘secular’ State. In reality, secularism is mere separation of religion and State policies; it unites nothing. It allows religious freedom to all groups but is helpless against misuse of religious freedom or religious ghettoization. In fact, the ideals of secularism and multicultural democracy can’t survive the onslaught of religious exclusivity and fanaticism. Again, Islamic Pakistan is a great eye-opener where non Muslim communities have shrunk from 24% in 1947 to less than 2% in 2018. One wonders why the champions of secularism, liberty and freedom are not worried about disappearance of around 1000 Hindus, Sikh or Christian girls every year in Pakistan. Monotheistic Bangladesh is also killing its minority communities.
Indian Civilization Survived 1000 Years of Islamic Plunder
A murderous political ideology was born in the Arab desert in the 7th century. As its adherents spread outwards they destroyed every civilization and culture on the way. Needless to say, they represented the medieval culture of loot and plunder. In the early 7th century a tribal chief Mohammad gave them yet another reason for violence — terrorize or kill in the name of Allah. In no time his followers occupied neighboring Iran and forced Islam on the Zoroastrian country and then pushed towards India — today’s Afghanistan was then part of prosperous and vast Hindu civilization.
Then for centuries, Mohammadan followers repeatedly invaded and plundered India in the most inhuman ways. In every attack, they indulged in unparalleled genocides, rape, conversions and mass-scale destruction of temples and education centers. If barbarian Khilji almost completely annihilated Buddhism from India as he destroyed the world famous Nalanda University in 12th century, the last act of mass scale Islamic savagery was after the Afghan victory in the battle of Panipat in 1761 over the Marathas. What is uniquely treacherous about this bloody battle was that the Afghan ruler did not come on his own to invade — he was invited to attack India by a Delhi cleric Shah Wali Ullah to protect the Mughal Muslim rule from the rising influence of kafir Hindus and Shias! Wali Ullah was a contemporary of Arab cleric Muhammad ibn Abd-al Wahhab (1703 – 1792) — the founder of political Wahhabi Islam that rules Saudi Arabia and inspires all Sunni terror groups today. Wali Ullah’s followers later founded the Deoband Madarsa, currently in the Western UP, and most Pakistani Sunni terror groups derive inspiration from Deobandi preaching taught in the training camps.
After the victory, again the Afghans indulged in the Islamic trademark mass slaughter, slave taking, rape, plunder and destruction in Delhi and Mathura region. In coastal Gujarat, the Somnath Temple was repeatedly destroyed over centuries to “glorify the great Allah” and humiliate Hindus. Yet, Hindus rebuilt it every time! They never lost trust in power of human goodness; this is the resilience that comes from their trust in the Hindu way of life that revolves around Dharma — a kind of purely spiritual universal humanism — and absolutely different from the West calls ‘religion’.
‘Dharma’ is the Glue that Unites Indians
‘Dharma’ is not a faith or belief, it does not reside in costumes, customs or rituals or in the idols of the temples – which are mere symbolic reminders. ‘Dharma’ lives in people’s understanding of ‘right human conduct’ and ‘right human values’. The 14th century, Muslim philosopher Amir Khusro wrote that Gujarati Muslims (offspring of Hindus converted under threat of life and rape) used to first pay respect to the Somnath Temple before departing for Hajj pilgrimage. Khusro noticed and wrote about it because it was unusual for his alien monotheist Islamic mindset. But it was absolutely normal for the Indian mind shaped by dharma understanding untainted by ‘faith’. The biggest tragedy of Indian Muslims is that they surrendered their own well-being to mullahs preaching politics in the name of Islam and failed to assimilate ‘Dharma’ in their life – the ultimate essence of even their prophet’s teaching!
‘Dharma’ is the essence and foundation of all India born philosophies. No foreign language has an equivalent word because no foreign society ever evolved enough to match spiritual subtleties of ancient India. Some ignorant Westerners equated the English word ‘religion’ with Dharma, and ended up creating an all round confusion everywhere, including in India. It was like saying that a football is same as a ping pong ball because both are round!! Unfortunately, under this wrong understanding many Indians have reduced their own meaningful ‘systems of living’ to the level of mere customs, costumes and rituals. It is really sad.
Why Religions Fail
Religions lack unifying power because they ignore the reality of human nature. It is a natural reality that no two person can have identical fingerprints, no two people can ever have the same mindset or even look alike. Diversity or dissimilarity is built-in the people – as a natural thing, knowing such natural manifestations is ‘Dharma’. It can’t be erased by inventing fictional god philosophies and trying to force them on all.
On the contrary, whenever, mullahs of any religion try imposing their ideology, they only create further divisions and frictions in the societies. Today there are 73 different sects of Islam and 146 subdivisions of Christianity! If each of these cults has its own unique “Truth” and unique “God” there must be 219 different “Truths” and “Gods” which is nothing but one nonsensical fiction inside another! Just take away the fictional god, and the religion collapses! There are wonderful atheists all around the world — they prove that god or god-fictions are not needed to live a meaning human life. It is also a common observation that so-called polytheists are more tolerant of differing opinions than cocky monotheists.
An evangelic mullah was once asked, “Why do you say that your religion grows with number? Why don’t you say Islam grows when Muslims become more pious and peaceful? He had no answer. A follower of political Islam is like a die-hard comrade working to impose communism on everyone. A fanatic Mullah who claims patent on his imagined “Only God” and wants to impose it on everyone through Gun is far too dangerous for the humanity than all the atheists, polytheists, racists and fascists put together.
In the past two millennium, the insane “believers” have killed more people in their so-called holy-crusades or holy-jihads than all other wars of the history combined. Religions have grossly devalued human life. Since its birth, Islam alone is supposed to have killed 270 million people around the world. The history of Islamic expansion is nothing but a repetitive tale of human genocide and terror “in the glory of Allah.” For example, the genocide of Armanians and other ethnic minorities by Ottoman Turkey and the biggest holocaust of human history that happened in India: 1000 Years of Islamic Jihad in India.
Dharma Unites Humanity
Dharma operates on an entirely different plain away from the world of fanaticism and hysteria associated with self-imposing cocky religions. Recognizing and respecting human diversity is an inherent part of Indian ethos which directly comes from the knowledge of “Dharma” which in simple terms is the knowledge of natural and universal truth. So, talking about dharma means dealing with nature’s pre-existing order that applies on human beings. It has nothing to do with so-called concepts of ‘theism’ or ‘atheism’ produced by philosophers.
Dharma permeates all Indian philosophies, whether the Vedic knowledge, teachings of Buddha and Mahavira, Shankaracharya and countless rishis and sages of the ancient times and saintly people of recent centuries like Guru Nanak, Sivananda and Ramakrishna. Dharma is closer to what we call ‘Science’ today, but has a much broader span although both deal with discovering truths of nature. The domain of Science is the physical universe. Dharma’s domain is life forces, human mind and its characteristics and connection of physical and mental forces. Scientific knowledge has given people enormous physical comfort. Knowledge of Dharma is geared towards individual peace, deeper peace, and finally absolute tranquility – also called Nirvana or Moksha which is the goal of Indian life. Both science and Dharma demand people to have open mind and freedom to think freely. There is no question of imposing anything on anyone in any manner. In comparison, for example, a Muslim mind remains confined to thinking in terms of — Islam allows it or Islam doesn’t allow it. It is a mind that has no freedom to explore as a human being or come to its own conclusions.
All the India-born different philosophies like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism etc are today seen as separate entities due to Western thinking which identifies things by division. But the strand of Dharma connects them all in mutual harmony. They all teach Dharma conduct in their own ways. They all promote practice of non-violence, non-greed, self-control and understanding the natural law of Karma which means doing good deeds bring good fruits in future and harming others invite pain and misery. They all aim to make people better human beings that means focusing on right human conduct. It makes rituals, customs and costumes totally absurd and useless.
The highly profound Vedic literature resulted from the experience of countless Yogis and sages of the past; they were adept spiritual scientists exploring the inner world through meditational techniques. They discovered that everything is interconnected through some divine force that pervades everything and every being – this reality has been also often called God and personified by people in different ways. Thus, Indians respect all forms of life — not just the human life — as well as appreciate nature’s gifts like rivers and mountains; and see humanity as one big family (vasudeva Kutumbakam). In the past, this knowledge has permeated throughout India, right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Meghalaya to Maharashtra, and beyond.
In fact, in ancient times when the Dharma was practiced by societies in most of the East Asia and Afghanistan and beyond, the Western and Chinese travelers saw just “One India” everywhere, despite so much visible diversities. Early Christians and Muslims, who were forced to escape their homeland to avoid persecution by people of their own ‘faith’, found safe shelter on the Indian soil, among congenial Hindus. But unfortunately, they also brought with them the virus of faith-based discrimination. Muslim invaders brought the weirdest form of religious barbarism – if you don’t accept my god I will kill you! Absurd and Silly. This filthy thinking badly polluted and suppressed the Dharma spirit of Indian way of life for centuries under the Muslim rule. Now Indians have the opportunity to rediscover the strength of their ancient civilization, which alone can also make the world more peaceful.
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