Friday, August 19, 2011

Koenraad Elst on "Hindu Activism Outside the Sangh"

I really cannot adequately express my admiration for this essay by Koenraad Elst: Hindu Activism Outside the Sangh Parivar

Hindus today make up, by far, the largest religious community on earth to have successfully resisted the combined agression of Islam, Christianity, and Communism. We must include Communism in that list, because had it not been for the Communist takeovers in China, North Korea, and Southeast Asia, our world would be home to hundreds of millions of additional Buddhists, Taoists, Confucianists, and practitioners of even more ancient shamanic/animist/polytheistic religious traditions (and also home to that many fewer atheists, agnostics, and other people with "no religion" or who are "non-religious"). Meanwhile, in India itself, Communism's enfeebled South Asian cousin, Nehruism, has done all it can (which is fortunately very little) to bring about the eradication of Sanatana Dharma.

The people of Bharat (one of the ancient names for "India") first encountered the Sword of Allah well over a thousand years ago, and by the 18th century, the Islamic Mughal Empire ruled nearly all of the Indian sub-continent. European Christians were also on the scene by the 16th century. The Portuguese used their artillery to destroy Buddhist and Hindu temples, and in the year 1600, the Holy Father in Rome approved (after years of lobbying by the Jesuits) the establishment of a branch office of the Inquisition in the Indian city of Goa.

But despite the worst that the monotheists (and their Nehruite allies) have been able to do, the percentage of people who identify their religion as "Hindu" in India today is higher than the percentage of people who identify as "Christian" in France, Germany, the UK, and Spain!

And yet when we look away from the abstractions of history and demographics and instead cast our gaze upon Hinduism "on the ground" as a social/political force in contemporary India (and the wider world), the story is not quite so inspiring. Fortunately, Koenraad Elst has done us all a favor by looking deeply into the matter and as a result he has provided us with a clear-eyed and unsparing analysis of both (1) "the RSS man" , that is, "the Sangh" (the public "organized" face of Hindu activism, especially RSS/Sangh Parivar), and (2) as per the title, "Hindu activism outside the Sangh" as well.

Despite pulling no punches about the modern state, and recent history, of Hindu activism, Elst is able to convincingly argue for an uplifting and optimistic perspective. He even speculates that a very likely scenario is for "the Sangh" itself to gradually and organically be transformed into a movement that lives up to the proud heritage of Hindu resilience and resistance, and, more importantly, that builds upon that heritage to ensure that Sanatana Dharma will not merely survive, but thrive and grow.