Rajiv Malhotra answers to question on 'Secularism and Dharma'

Discussion in 'India' started by Hindu, Sep 19, 2015.

  1. Hindu

    Hindu Member Staff Member

    Transcript (link for the video is provided at the end of the transcript text)

    Question asked: Is it unreasonable to define India as 'Hindu Rashtra' in modern times?

    Rajiv Malhotra : So, in this book being different, I would like you to read a chapter on 'Secularism and Dharma'. I will give you a synopsis. Secularism is a Western concept, to solve a western problem. Those of you who have a sense of Medicine, know that you need to solve the disease, but you cannot put that solution where there is a different disease. The problem in Western Religion was the 'Exclusivity Claim', which means 'Only I am Right, others are Wrong', which is built into the western religion. Not only, the 'Religious claim' of the Church, that it is the ONLY bona-fide religion and others are not Valid, but also Science if it questions, has to be killed or persecuted, because even Science cannot have it own independent inquiry.

    So, This was the state of European culture, European intellectual life for a long time. And a reformation to limit the powers of the church, because the church was asserting the Official powers (It had the Fatwa Power), the Bishops could announce Police authority, arrest people, kill people and they did that in Millions for a long period of time. So, Secularism was to curtail the excessive State Authority and State Power that the Church had, not only over the people who dissented and belong to some other religion, but also people who were Scientists.

    In India, the Dharma never had a posture against scientific inquiry. The Raja never had authority to impose his dharma over others. Manu was very clear that Raja must practice his dharma, and he must allow others to practice their dharma. In fact, not only its theoretically the case, but in practise like, when the early Syrian Christians came, the Raja even gave them Land, so as when the Zoroastrians from Persia came to India, they were also given land to live and practice their religion. And Hinduism is not necessarily a one religion like in a western sense, it got a lot of claims within it, there are people who believe in different philosophies, there are people who are Atheists, which is also ok, you can be a Nastik.
    So, there is a built-in 'Pluralism' within the Dharma has made it different than the built-in 'Exclusivity' in the Abrahamic religions. And I explained (in book being different) why exclusivity is built-in abrahamic religions, because of the historical prophets being exclusive, and One prophet has to be Right and others have to be Wrong. I gave it a term 'History Centrism'.

    Now, If the Dharma has a built-in pluralism (Sapeksha Dharma) which means inclusive of all the dharmas. Sufis can have their dharma, Muslims can have their dharmas, as long as you also Respect others to have their dharma. I explained this in the first chapter of my book 'being different' that We can have difference with 'Mutual respect'.
    Mutual respect means I respect you for being different but, I want you to respect me also. Its NOT a one way, that I respect you and you can disrespect me. No, we BOTH have to respect each other. This is a very deep principle in Dharma.

    So, rather than Secularism, which was a solution to a problem that Europeans had, which was NOT a problem we had. Because, we never persecuted scientists and beheaded them like they did with Galileo, Copernicus and these kind of people. We never said that if your scientific conclusion is different then you are disobedient and its a blasphemy. We never had any blasphemy law kind of things. So, free thinking was there always.

    So, rather than Secularism as a Solution to our situation, there is a idea of 'Pluralism', built into the Dharma itself. Lot of Indians believe that Secularism is a Gold standard because they have been brainwashed. They don't even think what it is, where it came from, what does it do. They are just taught that way and they have learnt it from childhood and parroted saying ain't we Seculars, this and that.

    So, this is to understand that Secularism is a Western idea to be able to create a space with different religions can be tolerated and science can be tolerated, We have a different idea that is 'Sapeksha Dharma' which also gives you pluralism in our own way.

    As far as would India be a Hindu society, I use the term Dharmic Society. India is a Dharmic society and I do not use the word Hindu, because Dharma also includes Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, it includes anyone which complies with the basic principles like Mutual respect.
    So, the people who themselves want to be called as Hindus are fine, or something else are also fine. But, if you use Dharma, then Yes, Indian civilization is a Dharmic Civilization. This is my position.

    Question - So, you would mean to say that the alternative name to be ask for India to be named as a Dharmic Nation.

    Rajiv replies- Yes, as it would be very strange for someone to say 'I do not want to be Dharmic' unless he is a Corrupt person. Imagine, the person in the Government saying, I am Non-Dharmic. This would suggest that he is a corrupt guy. So, I think it would be very difficult for someone to reject Dharma, no matter who they are, because basic ethics, basic responsibility, basic life-style of respecting yourself, your family, your community, animals, nature, society, the world, the environment are all part of Dharma. Dharma is not just religion between me and God, it is all encompassing human ethics and responsibility.
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