Book Review: A critique of Hindu dharma

Bordering over the different dimensions of religiosity and faith Hindu Dharma and the Cultural Wars is a praiseworthy attempt by Koenraad Elst. The author meticulously dwells on the notion of Hindu dharma and its antagonist forces that are always on the prowl to play the shoddy politics of polarisation and tarnish the image of Hindu dharma. These destructive forces are not only foreign agencies. They emerge from within the Hindu dharma also.

The book which is a collection of 25 essays contemplates over the various facets of religion in general and Hindu religion in particular. The writer bursts the old fossilised myth about Hindu (which was even endorsed by Mahatma Gandhi also) that “The Muslim is a bully, the Hindu a coward.”

History bears the testimony that Hindus have been gallant warriors. They can’t be accused of lacking in spunk and valour. Doubtlessly, Hindus have suffered a lot and borne many inhumane atrocities but their suffering can not associated with any timidity on their part.

From its very origin, Hindu dharma has preached and practiced the gospel of peace and bonhomie. Unlike the other predominant religions fundamentalism and extremism have never been the governing principles of Hinduism.

The beauty of Hinduism lies in the idea of “live and let live”. To buttress his standpoint that Hindu is not a coward the author has quoted the references of the freedom of Bangladesh and the victory of Kargil. Hinduism has given many greatest gifts to the world and Yoga is one of them.

Though after the commercialisation of Yoga (which is a billion dollar industry now) many other communities are trying to claim their monopoly on the practice of Yoga, the truth can not be belied that yoga is intrinsically Hindu. It has its foundational roots in Hinduism.

This fact can be corroborated with many historical pieces of evidence. Undeniably, Eastern culture and western culture are two distinctively diverse phenomena. They have their own beauty and grace. Here, the author quotes Rudyard Kipling who remarks, “East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”

It would be unfair to dub the author an apologist of Hinduism and its culture. He has presented a very dispassionate and ringside view. In his analysis of Indian secularism the author calls the validity of Secular Indian State in question.

He opines that if secularism means separation of the government from the religious institution, then the constitution should not exert its influence in defining the religious laws of the state. The idea of Civil Uniform Code has also been well critiqued.

Theron, the author takes up the comparative study of monotheism and pluralism and offers many altogether novel perspectives. This work is replete with many new profound insights on several contentious issues which must be carefully comprehended by all.

And the author stresses the immediate need for engaging in amicable discussions to resolve the religious conflicts prevalent in the modern-day world. Indubitably, it is the high time for the Hindu community to recognise their shortcomings and refurbish the roots of their religion.