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 Blooming Stars

Programming, Deprogramming, and Reprogramming the World – 14

            Hinduism was decaying and getting mired in deep muck mostly occasioned by a powerful, influential Brahmanic culture rotting in morally degenerate practices such as untouchability, child marriage, and forbidden status of re-marriage for widows. Especially in South India the Namboothiri Brahmins acquired considerable socio-economic power from the continuous wars between Cheras and Cholas, and used their powerful positions to carry out their oppressive social and religious dictates. When struggle for political independence from Western colonialism, that was equally rotting if not more, gathered momentum, enlightened intellectuals and reformers were forced to look into their own evil structures and systems.

            They knew political freedom from colonizers aboard could not be divorced from individual and moral freedom at home. Ram Mohan Roy initiated socio-religious reforms speaking against sati, caste rigidity, polygamy, and child marriage. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa inaugurated a new era sowing seeds of change for harmony of religions and service of humanity. Dayananda Saraswati, who inspired many reformers and freedom fighters who shaped modern India, renounced his comfortable life at home; he ran away from home to escape the will of his father who was determined to keep him at home in traditional roles; he spared no trouble in search of the soul of Hinduism in the centers of Hinduism. Putting his own life at risk he visited faraway places like Kashi and Badrinath, studied Vedas, experienced firsthand the appalling condition of Hinduism, and gave a clarion call for socio-political-religious reform. He was the first one to give the call for swarajya (self-governance) in 1876 saying “India for Indians” thus sounding the first death knell for British colonialism.

            His definition of dharma and adharma and the ten principles of Arya Samaj he founded conveyed the sound message that all actions should be performed with the prime object of benefiting humankind. He was highly critical of Christianity and Islam. Rather than discrediting Christian scriptures through his amateurish, uninformed discourses on them he could have done even better if he had confined himself to pointing out the hypocrisy and disconnect of a Christian colonial regime while the Christian missionaries attempted to spread the message of love through education, service, and conversion.

            Vivekananda, Gandhi, and Narayana Guru stand out as the three socio-spiritual-political reformers and architects of modern India who unstintingly built on their predecessors, and extricated Hinduism while it was choking on its own vomit, and restored it to its own pristine, Vedic purity and glory. While I high-light some I by no means want to discount the contributions and sacrifices of persons like Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Payne, Ramanna Maharshi, Rabindranath Tagore, Aurobindo Gosh and many others in the realm of the spirit.


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