Research, Essays, Commentaries – Inspired by the Social-Cultural-Political Thought of Sri Aurobindo (PLUS a bit of photography too!)
All quotes are from Sri Aurobindo’s essay – A Rationalistic Critic on Indian Culture. All photographs by Suhas Mehra. Introductory text and selection of passages by Beloo Mehra
A casual look at most of the commentary that appears in the Indian popular social-cultural discourse (print and broadcast media, films etc.) on any matter related to Hindu traditions or rituals is enough proof of the widespread ignorance that prevails regarding some of the basic truths and fundamentals of Hinduism.
If we are asked, “But after all what is Hinduism, what does it teach, what are its fundamentals and what does it practise?” we can answer that it is founded upon a few basic ideas or rather fundamentals of a highest and widest spiritual experience. (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 20, p. 193)
For more on these fundamentals, see this post.
Here we are concerned primarily with the ignorance regarding what may be called as some of the external layers of Hinduism, the outer forms, particularly the need for outward practices, rituals, customs, traditions, etc.
It could be a result of deep indifference, deep-seated inferiority complex, or sheer prejudice against Hinduism that many educated Indians, and especially Hindus don’t even bother to question the ignorance peddled by these so-called modern-secular-rational-educated ‘opinion-makers.’ Worse, many of them end up buying into this pseudo-rationalistic-secularist and ignorant criticism of all things Hindu, and end up believing the whole ‘religion is opium of masses’ kind of dogma without ever questioning even the role of religion itself.
They end up buying into the false idea that just because Abrahamic religions elsewhere have led to much hatred, violence and division, same must be the case with Hinduism and/or other dharmic traditions. Worse, they end up believing that just because religion elsewhere has been opposed to reason, science and inquiry, same must be the case with Hinduism. Such false equivalences are borne out of deep ignorance of the nature of Hinduism and Dharmic traditions in general.
The passages selected for this photo-feature provide a response to such ignorance. This response was written more than 100 years ago to another prejudiced rationalistic critic of earlier times. The nature of this critic’s attack on Hinduism in particular and Indian culture in general, was in Sri Aurobindo’s words “journalistic pugilism…of a peculiar kind…a furious sparring at a lay figure of India which is knocked down at pleasure through a long and exuberant dance of misstatement and exaggeration in the hope of convincing an ignorant audience that the performer has prostrated a living adversary.” (CWSA, Vol. 20, p. 99)
Sadly, the times have changed but the same prejudiced criticism of all things Hindu still remains. This time similar “journalistic pugilism” is peddled mostly by mentally colonized Indians themselves, which is even sadder.
Such ignorant and prejudiced criticism must be challenged.
(* Replace ‘European’ with ‘Western/Modern-Rationalistic’)
(*Replace ‘European’ with ‘Western/Modern-Rationalistic’)
Linking with ABC Wednesday, N, N is for Nexus
To see more photo-features on the blog, click HERE.