Hinduism in Contemporary India

This week’s post has some excerpts from a very interesting book ‘Hinduism in contemporary India’ by A.K. Saran.

Excerpt 1:

“One, a sacred or traditional society, say, the Hindu society, cannot be understood in a non-traditional frame of reference; and, two, the sacred and the secular are not two types of social systems in some order of succession or co-existence. Even more mistaken is the view that the sacred-secular or the traditional-modern represents a kind of continuum. In truth, the sacred (the traditional) constitutes and affirms, while the secular (the modern), insofar as it denies the Sacred or the Tradition, undermines and denies society.”
From the chapter titled ‘Religion and Society: The Hindu View’

Excerpt 2:

“Hinduism’s starting point is neither God nor the Creation (the universe, the world). It is the simple but inexhaustible question: Who am I?… The question is possible only from a plane on which knowledge and life, theory and practice, thought and action, form a unity. Hinduism does not require anyone to ask this question, but if I do ask it and it makes sense to me, I am bound to go on asking it until I find the answer or fail to find one; it is, however, not a question which I can drop at any time of my life. An analysis of this question will lead us into practically all the essential principles of society.”
From the chapter titled ‘Religion and Society: The Hindu View’

Excerpt 3:

“It is in Gandhi that we find the most uncompromising Indian opponent of modern technological society. This is of crucial importance in the present context; for the core of values of the Indian tradition cannot survive in a technology-centred society. Gandhi realized this with unfaltering clarity. This is vastly more important than his attempts to reform and modernize many aspects of the surviving Hindu orthodoxy. For he was not only against the domination of modern technology; he was also, and equally vehemently, opposed to consumption-centred competitive society. It should not be difficult for anyone to see that if his vision of a village-centred, aparigraha-minded society had been realized, or were to be realized, this would be nothing less than the restoration of the traditional values; for in traditional thought there is no room for revivalism, no going back to the past—the tradition can be only renewed through the reaffirmation of first principles, and not through any resuscitation of old institutional forms. Soon after its independence, India repudiated Gandhi completely and formally.”
From the chapter titled ‘British Rule and the Indian Value-System’

Excerpt 4:

“Today there is no living Hindu society in India. The process of decay of Hindu society and religion, which must be distinguished from Hindu spirituality, began very long ago. It reached a decisive phase during India’s encounter with Islam and continued in a different form throughout the comparatively brief but radically significant period of British rule. It has taken another form in Independent India. So far, I, for one, have seen no signs of a genuine renewal. And the future is dark; more so because our vision is obscured by a false light.”
From the chapter titled ‘The Crisis of Hinduism’

I am still processing the insights that this book opened up for me. I will probably read it through once more. If you found the excerpts interesting, you can buy the book here. There is also an interesting YouTube video about Saran saab’s work here.

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