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I.3. The Reemergence of the Hindu Mind

Part I.3

The Re-emergence of the Hindu Mind

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The Perennial Hindu Mind

 

������ The Hindu mind represents humanity�s oldest and most continuous stream of conscious intelligence on the planet. Hindu sages, seers, saints, yogis and jnanis have maintained an unbroken current of awareness linking humanity with the Divine since the dawn of history, and as carried over from earlier cycles of civilization in previous humanities unknown to our present spiritually limited culture. The Hindu mind sustains a connection with the cosmic mind and the blueprint of creation and evolution in this physical world, as well as our connection to worlds more subtle and spiritual. The Hindu mind has a vision of eternity and infinity. It is aware of the vast cycles of creation and destruction that govern the many universes and innumerable creatures within them.

 

������ The Hindu mind is not a name and form based intellect, just as the Hindu tradition is not a name and form based tradition. It is not attached to a particular name that can be used like a title or slogan to promote an exclusive or simplistic belief. One can call the Hindu mind the �yogic mind�, �Vedic mind�, Dharmic mind�, �Atmic mind�, or other terms, which indicate some aspect of it. The term �Hindu�, possessing limited ethnic connotations in the minds of many, may not be the best, but it is the one most used today and remains most convenient for purposes of communication. More accurately, the Hindu mind is the mind of Sanatana Dharma (Sanatana Dharma Buddhi), the universal or eternal Dharma that transcends person, history, institution or social identity.

 

The Hindu mind does not seek to impose itself upon people from the outside through force or persuasion. It is not interested in a mere change of names, labels, titles or beliefs. It looks to restoring our linkage with the higher consciousness behind the world, whatever name or form we might want to approach it through. The Hindu mind�s wish is that we reconnect with our true Self and Being that transcends all outer appearances and religious divisions�and that we honor all the various expressions that Self takes, which can never be reduced to one religion, philosophy, language or culture.

 

������ The Hindu mind is not simply a religious mind, though it contains what is probably the world�s most extensive devotional tradition for worshipping God in all forms whether male or female, personal or impersonal. The Hindu mind covers all aspects of human life and culture, linking us to the cosmic mind and the full range of existence in all worlds, physical, subtle and causal. Hindu texts like Yogic and Vedantic Shastras address the religious issues of God, creation, the soul, liberation and immortality. Yet other texts, like the many Dharma Shastras, deal with the proper social order and how to maintain it. Other texts cover science from astronomy and meteorology (Jyotish Shastras) to medicine (Ayurveda Shastras). Art, music, dance, sculpture and architecture are also discussed in numerous Hindu texts and teachings. The Hindu mind is a comprehensive and universal mind that has examined in depth all aspects of existence, whether classifying the myriad types of mantras and deities, foods and herbs, dance steps or gestures, or stars and universes.

 

Historical Background

 

������ The Hindu mind in ancient times was one of, if not the dominant force, shaping world civilization, particularly the civilization of Asia, which dominated the world until recent centuries. Hindu thinkers were contact with the great thinkers of ancient Egypt, Babylonia, Greece, Rome, Ireland, Persia and China�perhaps also Mexico and Peru. Hindu yogis and sages watched the fall of the monumental cultures of the early ancient world like Egypt and Sumeria. They saw the arising of the monotheistic cults of Christianity and Islam and how these marginalized, if not destroyed the older occult and spiritual knowledge of their countries.

 

������ As the western world lost its ancient spiritual traditions, Hindu sages saw Indic civilization spread east to China, Indochina and Indonesia, with both Buddhist and Hindu forms spreading in various ways and in different intermixtures. Later, they saw a slow encroachment of Islam on the western outposts of Indian civilization in Central Asia, Afghanistan and Sind. Around 1000 AD, they witnessed the eruption of Islamic armies into India, that in the thirteenth century ravaged nearly the entire subcontinent. Many Hindu and Yoga groups and teachers went into hiding, taking refuge in the Himalayas or the mountains of the south. They saw many of their ashrams, temples, libraries and universities destroyed, and many of their teachers killed or imprisoned.

 

������ The Hindu mind, under siege during the Islamic invasions, lost its eminence in the world forum during the colonial era. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century great western thinkers like Voltaire and Goethe praised the Hindu tradition and the Brahmin class that sustained it. However, those seeking to convert or conquer India tried to turn the Hindu mind and lofty spirituality and philosophy into mere idolatry, eroticism and superstition. No doubt Hindus contributed to these distortions, having lost sight of their real traditions, getting enmeshed in mere outer ritualistic practices and customs.

 

������ Though subject to much denigration, the Hindu mind quickly reemerged with strength in the late nineteenth century in India through such figures as Swami Vivekananda, the chief disciple of Ramakrishna, and Swami Dayananda of the Arya Samaj, who issued a call to return to the Vedas. Under Vivekananda the neo-Hindu movement went to the West and spawned the Yoga-Vedanta movement that has become an important aspect of culture all over the world. Since Vivekananda a continual stream of Hindu teachers has traveled throughout the world and impacted western society in a profound way, not trying to impose the Hindu religion on people but reflecting the concern of the Hindu mind for Self-realization and the creation of a global spiritual culture.

 

������ In India, the Hindu mind started and shaped the Indian independence movement. The prime figures of this movement in the early twentieth century were, at least in their private lives, staunch Hindus and practitioners of Yoga. These included not only Mahatma Gandhi, but also Tilak, Aurobindo and Subhas Bose, even Savarkar who opposed Gandhi on most political issues. Hindu religious leaders gave their inner support to the movement, whether Chandrashekhar Sarasvati, the Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram, or the great jnani, Ramana Maharshi.

 

������ However, after achieving independence instead of taking control of the country and charting a new course in harmony with its spiritual past, the Hindu mind, perhaps exhausted by the struggle, lost control of the intellectual ethos of India. The Hindu worldview of Vivekananda, Aurobindo or Gandhi was replaced by a leftist-Marxist worldview, guided by Nehru, who was a Fabian socialist with little regard for anything Hindu. To shore up their position, the leftists in India created an alliance of anti-Hindu forces, including even missionaries, which they did not do in any other country. Post-independent India became structured by Marxist economic and social policies, creating a bureaucracy similar to and as rigid as that of the Soviet Union. The textbooks and media of India, guiding by their English and Marxist elite, banished Hindu concerns and made them the main target of their abuse and ridicule. �Hindu� became a dirty word for them and the idea that there was any Hindu civilization was scorned, just as it was by the previous colonial masters. The result was that independent India was still ruled by a foreign and hostile mindset.

 

Reemergence Today

 

������ Nevertheless, the Hindu mind, being the native intelligence of the country, could not be suppressed. It continued in India through the religious and spiritual concerns of the common people. In the late twentieth century, it gradually emerged again. New groups are arising today that find great value in the Hindu tradition and look once more to Vivekananda and Aurobindo. They are adding a Hindu voice to the social and political concerns of the country, to uphold the traditions and civilization of the region. They have discovered a pride in being Hindu that is not sectarian or belief-oriented but based on a recognition of a great literature, culture and yogic science. They are reexamining history from a Hindu perspective and exposing the colonial distortion of their Vedic heritage that fails to recognize the spiritual root of Indic civilization. They are realizing that appeasing minorities, a prime leftist policy, is not the way to bring India forward but that what is needed is re-expressing the country�s dharmic concerns and practices.

 

������ Not surprisingly, outside interests are suspicious of any Hindu awakening in India, though they do not mind the ruder Islamic awakenings in other countries! It is true that some new Hindus groups may be tinged with fanaticism and extremism, but to a slight degree. We should note that when oppressed groups begin to assert themselves, like a person who has long been beaten down, they can express an anger that is not always appropriate to the current situation. In addition, most Hindu groups have not been media savvy. They are often intellectually unsophisticated or inarticulate in the modern context or in the current global English idiom. Some naively extol everything Hindu, including out of date social customs and regressive beliefs.

 

Yet more commonly, leftists in India have made the allegation of extremism against Hindu forces that is at best an exaggeration and at worst a complete invention. This anti-Hindu propaganda has been a ploy to discredit the Hindu cause and protect their citadels of power that a Hindu revival would take away from them. The leftists have thrown their typical denigrating slurs against Hinduism as fascist, Nazi or fundamentalist, perhaps hoping that these distortions will arouse negative reactions and keep people from really looking at the Hindu cause.

 

������ Yet the Hindu cause is not alone and is discovering new allies. First is the Western Yoga and New Age movement that honors the spiritual and ancient culture of India, chants mantras, honors deities and practices vegetarianism. Many westerners come to India to study with Hindu gurus, visit temples and ashrams and attend religious festivals like the Kumbha Mela. A New Age movement has also arisen in India, bringing in western new age views of healing and spirituality as well as western versions of Indian teachings. This is very helpful because in India, intellectuals denigrate Hindu traditions as backward, right wing and conservative. To have them supported by progressive and futuristic elements in western society neutralizes these charges.

 

The second group of new allies is the neopagan movement in the West and the resurgence in native traditions and ethnic religions all over the world. Such groups now recognize Hinduism as an important kin and ally, the main native tradition that has survived the modern world. A new movement to promote religious diversity and pluralism, including protecting native cultures from missionary assault, has arisen often led by Hindu teachers.

 

Third are allied dharmic traditions in Asia, particularly the Tibetan Buddhists who have taken refuge in India, largely because of the tolerant nature of the Hindu mind, not because the socialist government of the country that was sympathetic to the Chinese. The Dalai Lama himself has supported India�s nuclear testing, India�s defense in the Kargil War in Kashmir, and the criticisms of Christian missionary activity by Hindu gurus. He visited the Kumbha Mela in 2001.

 

Fourth are new western thinkers in ecology, psychology and spirituality, who are finding an affinity with the Asian traditions of honoring nature and respect for the Earth. They are receptive to native ways of looking at culture and the land, which makes them more receptive to Hindu Dharma.

 

Fifth are Hindus overseas who now have a significant and often affluent presence in the United States, the Caribbean, the UK, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. They are building temples and schools worldwide, showing a modern image of Hindu culture that is successful in the western world, particularly in cutting edge fields of software, engineering and medicine. The presence of successful Hindus in their West is a great remedy against stereotypes of Hindus as poor, uneducated and superstitious.

 

������ As a result of these concurrent factors the Hindu mind is coming forth again. We can now recognize an emergent Hindu view on religion, on spirituality, on history, on ecology, on medicine, on the social order and on science. A comprehensive Hindu view of all aspects of life is slowly gaining articulation. The coming century, with a probable shift of civilization once more to Asia, will witness the continuing expansion of the Hindu mind and its global influence.

 

The western world will have to face a Hindu critique as well, questioning the materialism and commercialism of the West that is often culturally at a juvenile level. Christian missionaries will face Hindu criticism and debate, questioning their very need to convert, and the basis of their theology that requires only one Son of God for everyone. The Islamic world will encounter a dynamic Hindu mind that cannot accept the rigid Islamic formula of One God, one scripture, a last prophet, paradise for the believers and hell for the non-believers as an adequate formulation for a true religion. At the same time, the tolerant and synthetic Hindu mind will welcome and absorb into itself genuinely spiritual, mystical and occult knowledge from all traditions, even from the very groups that have traditionally opposed it.

 

������ Naturally, there will continue to be a tremendous civilizational bias against the reemergence of the Hindu mind because it threatens the political and culturally hegemony of the other groups that have already divided the world�s territory among them. In spite of such opposition and possible deliberate obstruction, the Hindu mind will continue to unfold. It is quite at home in the planetary age, in tune with cosmic intelligence, and capable of tremendous transformation and adaptation. The Hindu mind has the strength and insight of innumerable yogis and seers. Its links go beyond the earth and the physical plane to the very roots of creation in the cosmic mind, to the very Self of all beings.

 

The world need not fear the Hindu mind. The Hindu mind treats all beings and all cultures as sacred. It works to promote Self-realization on both individual and societal levels. It has no agenda of conversion or conquest. It is not seeking to defame or eliminate any genuine impulse to truth whatever name or form it takes. The Hindu mind is not trying to impose a single name, savior or institution on the world. It is not rushing to any historical goal or fearing any Armageddon. All time is with it and it honors the great civilizations of the ancient as well as of the modern world.Its purpose is to help us reclaim our true nature and live in harmony with the nature of all. It is not motivated by money, power, and territory or by the need to save souls. One could compare the Hindu mind to the grace of the Divine Mother who is seeking to foster her own children according to the needs of their nature, with a special regard for each and favoritism for none. As Sri Krishna states in the Gita IX.29, �I am the same in all beings. I have no favorite and no enemy. Those who worship me with love, I am in them and they are in me.�

 

[1] I must thank Bansi Pandit for making this idea popular in his recent book The Hindu Mind. Koenraad Elst�s recent Decolonizing the Hindu Mind developed the idea further.

 

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