Acceptance of diverse, different or contrary ideas is the foundation of a successful democracy; it’s also the art of successful living. The Christian West devised the idea of ‘Secularism’ — separation of State and Religion — to achieve this goal, after it discovered that imposition of (Biblical) ideas by the theocratic State as ‘laws’ on people was stifling creativity and creating dissatisfaction in those who differed. Even if 100 percent people were Christians, they still couldn’t always agree with every State dictate. It’s quite logical because people have creative minds and they think differently. In contrast, the Islamic societies still remains obsessed with the theocratic dictatorship under sharia jurisdiction. Even now some Islamic societies are so rigidly dictated that having differing views is enough to invite severe punishment, even death. However, theocracy had never been a part of the Indian civilization. Kingdoms and monarchies existed but they never dictated how and what people should think and believe. People always enjoyed full freedom even in “god-matters” – even to reject this imaginary entity! The guiding principles of Indian ways of life has always been the “Dharma” — universal human ethics and morality for peaceful living. Dharma is neither a rigid or dogmatic belief system like Christianity or Islam, nor depends upon ‘belief’ in any special imaginary god. As a result, presence and acceptance of diversity is a ‘normal’ way of Indian (Hindu) 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 position 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 the rootless Islamic Pakistan was carved out from the Hindu dominated British India. Of course, none of the ‘experts’ ever doubted the integrity of Pakistan as a nation because it was mono-theistic, Islamic.
But history post-1947 proved all these towering ‘experts’ of mono-culturism and mono-theism wrong, because the Indian ‘unity in diversity’ is still going strong beyond 70 when the monotheist Islamic Pakistan could not stay intact even for 25 years! In 1971, its bigger population chunk, East Pakistan, broke off as sovereign Bangladesh! Neither Islam nor cocky Islamists of Pakistan could hold their “Islamic society” intact. 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!! The much boasted Two-Nation-Theory became Half-Nation-Theory! And the absurd way things are going in Pakistan, it could soon become a No-Nation-Theory!! The terror exporter is dangerously close to becoming a Chinese colony, under debt-trap.
It is amazing that in the 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 conversion and misuse of blasphemy law. The Balochs remain relegated to the status of colonized people while Pak-China jointly plunder their natural resources and torture people. … But the biggest comedy of Pakistani absurdity is that even now it wants Kashmir from India, in the name of Islam!! History has repeatedly demonstrated that religions (which are mere god-fictions created by medieval tribals of the middle east) are too superficial to unite human societies. Why else would there be 57 different Islamic nations, instead of one single Caliphate run under Sharia! Yet, ‘experts’ remain obsessed with the simplicity of mono-culturism and continue to dread the diversity of multi-culturalism.
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! Yemense are all Muslims; yet Yemenese society is falling apart as Shias and Sunnis can’t tolerate each other. Muslim Balochistan is desperate for freedom from colonial oppression of Islamic Pakistan. 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 wider range of diversity over the decades. And they had been traditionally lecturing rest of the world on the virtues of freedom, liberty and tolerance. But now the heavy pressure of Muslim refugees from the poverty and terror ridden Africa and Gulf is now creating wrinkles on their foreheads. They are apprehensive of the isolationist/separatist tendency of Muslims, who tend to huddle together as a bloc and then demand to live under ‘their sharia laws’ rather than follow laws of the land.
Now these ‘developed’ countries are discovering entirely new challenges of heterogeneity and multi-cultural social setup despite the usual 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 and religious or ethnic ghettoization. In fact, the ideals of secularism and multicultural democracy can’t survive the onslaught of religious exclusivity and fanaticism.
Indian Civilization Survived 800 Years of Islamic Dark-Age
Ever since Mohammad bin Qasim invaded Sindh in the 8th century to punish Raja Dahir for sheltering Prophet Mohammad’s kins, Islamic invasions on India became a routine affair. Coming from the tribal societies that lived on plunder and booty, invaders saw India’s ultra-prosperous yet peaceful society as a perennial source of “booty”. For centuries, Mohammadan invaders repeated their typical Islamic ritual of genocide, arson and plunder, capturing women and children, rape, forced conversion into Islam and destruction of Hindu temples and education centers. In the 13th century, barbarian Bakhtiyar Khilji almost completely annihilated Buddhism from India when he destroyed the world famous Nalanda University and burnt down its vast library — it continued to burn for 3 months, historians documented. The last two Islamic plunders took place in 1739 and 1761. In 1739 when Persian King Nadir Shah defeated Mughal ruler Muhammad Shah (popular as Rangeela for obvious reason!) at Karnal, emptied Mughal exchequers and collected an enormous sum from the nobility and public — and carried out genocide of over 20,000 Delhiites. He left with so much wealth that for three years he did not have to tax his people in Persia! Then in 1761, after the Afghan ruler Abdali defeated Marathas he celebrated his victory by unleashing genocide, plunder and destruction of Temples in the Delhi, Agra, Mathura region. In fact, Abdali invaded India 8 times between 1748 and 1757.
In the coastal Gujarat, the Somnath Temple was repeatedly destroyed over centuries to “glorify the their Allah” by humiliating Hindus. Yet, Hindus remain resilient; they rebuilt it each the mullahs desecrated it. They never lost trust in the power of “humanity” — a virtue that comes from their trust in the Dharmic fundamentals of life.
‘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 to lead Dharmic life. ‘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 (descendants of past Hindus converted under threat of life or 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 maulvis preaching politics in the name of Islam and failed to assimilate ‘Dharma’ (ethics and morality) 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!! But unfortunately, under this wrong understanding many Indians have reduced their own profound ‘systems of living’ to the level of mere customs, costumes and rituals under the onslaught of foreign religion. It is really sad and Indians need to wake up.
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 knowing ‘Dharma’. It can’t be erased by inventing fictional god philosophies and forcing them on people.
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 that grows when Muslims become more pious, more compassionate and more peaceful? He had no answer. A so-called ‘radical’ Muslim is like a die-hard comrade trying 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. Nothing is ever imposed on anyone in any manner. It’s quite in contrast with religions. For example, a Muslim is taught to remain strictly confined within words of their medieval god-Book that tells what is “allowed” and what is “not allowed”. He has no freedom to explore thing freely as a human being or come to its own conclusions. Then, if he can’t believe in unseen Allah or the god-Book, he has serious problems — he can’t be Muslim and some fanatic mullah might try harming or killing him. Non compliance can be highly dangerous.
Coming from religion’s believer/non-believer thinking, foreigners have inherent problem in grasping Indian’s Dharma mindset. In their efforts to make their learning easier they categorized various sections of Indian society as following different ideologies like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism etc. It certainly reflects their analytical mind that fragments large things, but it misses out the vital integrative aspect of Dharma which is at the core of all of them. They all highlight Dharma conduct in their own ways. They all promote practice of non-violence, non-greed, self-control and understanding the natural law of Karma — good deeds bring good fruits in future and bad-deeds invite pain and misery. They all aim to improve people’s conduct. It means rituals, customs and costumes are mere symbolic and focus always stays on conduct.
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.
Swami Vivekananda’s Famous Speech at Chicago
You may also like to explore: World Needs More Dharma, Less Religion!