Contemporary Challenges Being Faced by Hinduism

      Global afflux of Hinduism is, however, only one side of the story. Journey of Hinduism is certainly not a bed of roses with only beauty and grace embracing it on its off take. There are many challenges and roadblocks standing tall to get resolved with urgency. Some of these are rather serious questions and are likely to shape its future course. The beauty of the situation, however, is that most of these challenges relate to the land of its own origin.

Global afflux of Hinduism is, however, only one side of the story. Journey of Hinduism is certainly not a bed of roses with only beauty and grace embracing it on its off take. There are many challenges and roadblocks standing tall to get resolved with urgency. Some of these are rather serious questions and are likely to shape its future course. The beauty of the situation, however, is that most of these challenges relate to the land of its own origin.
Challenges in Hinduism

Apathy in Education

      To begin with, entire academic spectrum in India is not paying due importance to exposure and growth of Hinduism through deep studies and researches in the realm of formal education. Leave aside special Universities focused exclusively on this great heritage, we don't even have general exposure on entire spectrum of Hinduism any time in his entire academic career of a student. Any level of our education system does not include the discipline of religious studies the way many Universities in West are known to have. A University course is just not a course by itself, it include Professors, evolving syllabus, research for study material, tracking of articles and books written, discussions, further writings and so on. It is a process, which certainly has a snowball effect.

      As a result, most people engaged in entire religious spectrum including the priests of temples, are not well trained in a scientific
manner. Whatever training they get, takes place only outside the University settings and which at best is equivalent to residential seminaries. Use of scientific methods for promoting religious studies will help our society in more than one ways. I am not at all suggesting such system for Hinduism alone. Let it be followed for all the religions under practice by Indian citizens. If proper academic system helps to promote all other streams of sciences why not expect the similar results for Religious Studies. Because if you don't study some thing, you lose the chance of helping it to flourish, exuberant, prosper and grow.

Lack of Public Debates about its Character

      Hindus in particular have this pious responsibility to strongly work for enlarging the sphere of Hinduism. Will the future of Hinduism get limited to its ritualistic practices being followed in homes and temples? The reply to this question lies in hands of Hindu practitioners. Today; there is a greater need for Hindus to work on public character of Hinduism. No, it should not get left to appear only addressing to symbolism alone.

      Hindus must make choices for initiating debates on all aspects of their religion and way of life. Ignoring or closing eyes from the stark realities will not help but harm the core of Hinduism. There is need to debate as to what our public values are and how do we rely on our traditional teachings and wisdom to shape our value system. Pushing the issues under carpet or leaving it for some one else will not help. Yes, Hindus have suffered immensely from gender bias, from castes divides, from social divides but so what? Shall we continue allowing past demons to remain ever stronger? Hindus will need to leave aside their individual focus and need to learn how to make use of their shared past to evolve public values and public behaviour.

Resurrection of Intellectual Discussions

      Hindus have to share the blame that in recent past, they have been shying away from intellectual debates and discussions to reinvent Vedanta for the present day environment. Remaining limited to idols and temples and conducting pujas at home with half knowledge is not our total religious practice. We have to go back to our doctrinal contents to redefine and reinvest the new forms of our proven doctrines of past. Leaving Hinduism to only Temples and Pujas will surely result in losing relevance as a modern-day religion capable of providing credible alternatives to many people who look for rational, logical and philosophical religion to help them guide their day-to-day life and address to that natural spiritual hunger better than other religions around the block.

Focus on Whole rather at its Parts

      Another problem arising is that most of the teachers of our time who are in any way engaged in proliferation or dissemination of Hinduism, end up taking some particular aspect of it as a personal branding and stop mid-way from connecting with it directly or completely. For example, all the teachers who got big ticket popular in India and abroad can be seen focusing on their own brand and not so much with Hinduism in totality.

      They are all doing a great work for their own selected aspects but how much they could promote Hinduism in totality? This has resulted in a situation where in America you come across people appreciating a teacher but not knowing that what he practices is just another small module of Hinduism. As such Hinduism is looked down in many quarters while its individual parts get appreciated. Teachers and Preachers have to recognise that it is their obligation to also promote the big picture; after all, any part cannot be bigger than the whole. Swamy Narain temples may be seen as somewhat exception to this rule as they show all sects of Hindus with their promoters and founders to help the visitor know about the total Hinduism spectrum in addition to the deities founded in the temple. All involved must desire more such efforts. Our learned teachers must be proud of universality of Hinduism concepts and traditions. Now, there should be no fear or mishmash as there is nothing to hide or be ashamed of.

Need for Combining Hinduism with Ayurveda, Vedanta and Astrology

      Actually the crux of all its challenges can be summarized in a single point as to how do we resurrect the great sense of Sanatan Dharma with its complete package involving the well-being of body and mind by Ayurveda, complicated but effective science involving astrological predictions under Jyotish, worship of Ishta Deva at bouse or temple to secure mental peace and guidance for refraining from bad karmas, widely examined multiple philosophies, alternate concepts of Karma Yoga, Gyan Yoga, Bhakti Yoga as promoted by Gita, exotic concepts of Tantra, Mantra, Kundalini and Chakras and what not. The fact that Hinduism alone offers unmatched inclusivity for all forms of worship, room for all sort of sects, all possible options to choose what suits one particular individual's own orientation for Self-realisation, in itself is a great portal tor it to deserve whole hearted promotion so that more people benefit from this great tradition.

Forcing Support from Governments

      Interestingly, Hinduism faces more challenges at its home than on foreign soil because all past governments in free India have remained completely apathetic rather than indifferent or nostalgic towards it. Under the disguise of being secular, most Indian politicians have done great injustice to not let its citizens know the great powers, which can be unleashed by proper propagation of this great tradition.

      The argument is that they have many other priority areas seeking their attention and resources. Actually, the prevalent social tension and ignorance of the main strata of Indian population serves their political interests because change in status quo might make them less powerful and can make it more difficult for them to win elections. Just imagine if just Ayurveda is given a total boost for a decade or two. What impact it can have on rural health, on economy of all Himalayan states, on tourists arrival for alternate healing, on generating employment for teachers, practitioners, processors, laboratories, research centres. This is just one such example. Point is that promoting our own great tradition will only bring greater advantages than blindly following traditions of others. This kind of promotion is beyond individual's efforts. These kinds of changes require political will and commitment of national resources.

Promote Unity among all its Practitioners

      Another well-accepted challenge before Hinduism is the lack of unity among its practitioners. The sectarian divisions, the caste based biases, the difference in methods of worship are some of the issues we have to accept as they are. But these have always been there and these have not come in the way of our unity. Again, going back to the basics of Sanatan Dharma as the way forward will remove all differences.

      Concepts of the eternal Dharma are accepted and appreciated by all Hindus. They have to forget the sectarian variations and consider them as private matter away from public domain and come together to galvanize under Sanatan Dharma in its purest form where it has no disunity even with outside religions. Existence of some points appealing to some and not appealing to others is but an important feature of Dharma. This variation is to be celebrated and not confronted. Sanatan Dharma is the trunk of all subsequent branches which developed their own colours and shapes for their leaves and flowers. But our trunk is absolutely common and nourishes us all. Let us come down a bit from our leaves and flowers and assimilate upon this trunk.

Not to Shy Away from its Superiority

      We also have to call spade a spade and deal with the situation accordingly. It is fine to say that all religions are same and they all teach good things. But wait a minute, all religions are not alike. Are all flowers are same? Are all foods same? Are all individuals same? If we have to compare on some very basic level, these all may be accepted as it is. But they have their own unique features, which make them special or ordinary. At deeper levels, we have to ask, what the purpose of religions is. Is it not to help seek individual's association with his divinity, with his God? But if one is told to follow the path of some great person from past and follow him blindly without even asking any question, is it not a case where freedom of individual's own experience is taken away? And if other religions prescribe that while there is one that does encourage the individual to experiment and choose the right suitable option, from very many, to seek the divinity, are they similar or not so similar? Hinduism is unique and must be accepted as such.

Promote its Unity on Collective Basis

      Yet another major challenge for Hinduism is the missing sense of "Hindu Unity". Vedic path of spiritual progress offering great individuality and freedom to choose is the logic quoted behind Hindu's individualistic approach. But it has to change if Hinduism wishes to survive in future. Hindus have to learn from Muslims and Christians who have developed strong community feelings and are together when it comes to making political selection, opposing anyone writing against their faith, custom or any individual. Hindus have to learn to react in groups. Closing eyes from group working will create serious problems for sustaining its longevity. Pressure groups have a role to play. If a single Hindu cannot take part in a group, he or she can extend their support to some group.

      To begin with, new generation people active on social media at least can start showing their resentment every time some media reports something against Vedic path or some politician comes in favour of some unreasonable point favouring others. It is sad that organisations like RSS and VHP are being disliked and written against by majority of Hindus forgetting how much important role they play for reducing the pressures that many other Muslim groups wish to exert. The lame duck attitude that Sanatan Dharma is ever lasting and will remain valid forever is like not learning anything from last 1200 hundred years of history. Should Hindus forget that their not being united allowed Turks, Mughals and English rogues to rule over all Hindus in their own land for such long period and should they forget that all the plundering of India done by those foreign looters. Lack of Unity can create similar situation again. Like all Muslims and Christians, Hindus must throw their political weight behind those politicians who have atleast strong Nationalistic attitude if not clearly Hindu religion.

Need for Shunning Caste and Creed Differentiations

      Hindus are unable to through their castes or immediate group for their identification. Even today, caste based divisions have not been thrown out of window. On all-important occasions like seeking marital alliance or seeking reservations, even young age Hindus are seen clinging to their immediate groupings. While it is true that every group must gain identity and must stand on its own but changed social conditions must be given a chance. World of today is different than earlier. In the past, local identities were important to secure benefits by working as pressure groups but today are the times of meritocracy. In a highly networked environment where most people are exposed to work and spend life in places far away from their places of birth, the clinging to groupings will not help in any way. Hindus must think as a Hindu first and then bring in their other identities for their public interactions.

Extend Protection to Weak and Suppressed

      Hindus have a lesson to learn from others in terms of organising and extending protection to its poor or suppressed members. Donation and charities are considered very highly for bringing instant karmic dividends but options available today for such philanthropy are limited to temple "Dan Patras". But Hindu temples are not known for running socially useful programmes at all. And temples have never been considered favourably inclined towards the Dalits, backwards, untouchables, the Adivasis and those poor Hindus who deserve to be helped. This is the same part of Hindus that is prone to conversions in distress.

      Other religions like Christianity come forward and offer inducements and allurements and get them converted out of Hinduism. Now Hindus are open for charity do not lack resources but there are no proper organised instruments to connect the intention with delivery. Hindus philanthropy needs proper direction and some credible organisation with pan India spread need to take the lead to come up socially beneficial schemes to address Hindu poor. Looking for such help to only governments is never a solution for a democratic federal structure in India where average politician is not encouraged to have a longer than five year's horizon for implementing their schemes. Handful of well oiled organisation operating in any area can bring a see change in the positivity for Hindu religion and can have a far reaching impact.

      Under such situation, it is but natural for an individual to look aside with the feeling that what can I do alone. But sea is made from collection of drops. Let each one of us contemplate as to what little can we do to secure, promote and preserve our great traditions for our next generations and some options will emerge. This is the least that we owe to our faith. Taming a blind eye will leave it orphaned. Most of us privately agree for individual and moral responsibilities of its practitioners but we are very weak when it comes to take some concrete steps. We must always remember that waiting for people like Adi Shankara or Vivekananda carry its own risk and is not a good option.

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