Sudhanshu Trivedi, MP, Rajya Sabha in one of his speeches had said that “India is the youngest country but the oldest surviving civilization“. As a great and old civilization we have enjoyed victories and endured tragedies. Any civilization surviving so long even after so many adversities is no small feat. And that cannot happen if a Civilization doesn’t have its strengths.
Let me list few of them.
- Excellent situational leadership abilities: Hindu society has abilities to produce leaders depending on situation. For e.g. when there was a need of blood and iron, Hindu society produced Chatrapati Sivaji Maharaj. When there was a need for colony builder, Hindu society produced Rajendra Chola who had colonialized even Philippines. When there was a need for social reform, Hindu society produced Raja Rammohun Roy and many others. When corruption was rampart, Hindu society brought in Modiji. When there was a need to organize, RSS as an institution formed and grew. When there was a need for women empowerment Hindu society produced Savitri Bai Phule. Not many civilizations have this abilities. For e.g., British brought in Winston Churchill to power during WW II, he was the best PM to lead Britain during a war time. But after the war got over, the British voted him/his party out of power. They knew very well that Churchill had the ability to lead the country during war, but not during peace time. Very less civilizations have shown this tenacity and resilience.
- Hinduism is inclusive: There are many Gods, Goddesses, and even followers of Arya Samaja don’t do Idol worship. All these contrasting and conflicting thoughts are assimilated in the ever encompassing Santana Dharma and coexist peacefully. We have Shaivites, Vaishnavites, Shakti Upasakas, Ganapati upasakas and many others sects. No one is forced, killed or raped to convert in order to accept a particular sect. There have been very rare instances where people were forced to accept one path or other.
- Hinduism believes in Democracy and participation of masses in decision making: Democracy in Santana Dharma is older than Roman Republic. The Mahajanapadas in ancient eras were democracies. The strength of any civilization comes from the lowest level of human settlement which could be villages, small towns etc. Right from the ancient ages, Villages had panchayats, where respected people decided on various matters including settling disputes. Due to this strength of Hindu Civilization, India has a federal form of Govt. where we have a 3 tier Govt looking at different aspects. We have the Central Govt, State Govt and Panchayat/Municipalities where powers/duties are well demarcated in the Constitution. If I compare this model with Islamic countries, they are heavily centralized, the person at the head runs the show and no one at lower levels have any practical powers/autonomy. This is actually the root cause of unrest across all Islamic dictatorships.
- Hinduism Offers Flexibility : Change is the unchangeable law of nature. Lets discuss Bhagwat Gita. When Lord Krishna spoke Bhagwat Gita, he very well knew that world is ever changing. Hence he defined a broad way of living. Unlike Islam, he did not say what to eat and what not to eat. For e.g. in Chapter 17, verses 7-10, he defines what Satwik, Rajasik, Tamasik foods are. Those definitions would fit even in todays modern days foods like Pizzas, burgers and Sandwiches. Bhagwat Gita defines broadly how to live the life, thereby giving flexibilities to adapt to changes as Human Civilization evolves. Bhagwat Gita doesn’t say how many witnesses are needed to sign a contract nor does it say whether trousers should be worn below the ankles or not, doesn’t define a criminal code, doesn’t define how the property is to divided among children’s after Parent’s death etc. Lord Krishna must have done this knowing that Human Civilization will evolve and hence if he codifies something (like say criminal procedure) that will become irrelevant over time. That’s why we saw, when Shariat was imposed in Afghanistan, it created the situation of 7th Centuries as the law code was made for 7th Century.
- Hinduism is open for criticism: Criticism is extremely important for any person, institution, Govt to become better and Hinduism accepts criticism in a positive manner. Blasphemy i.e. any one speaking against Holy Quran is punishable with death notwithstanding if he is the brother or father or son or wife. However, in case of Hinduism welcomes different thoughts. Lord Buddha spoke vociferously against the Vedas, but we made him the 9th Avatar of Lord Vishnu. Charbak propounded a different philosophy, Hindus did not stone him to death.
- Ability to Auto-correct: During the middle ages, many corrupt practices had been a part of Hindu society. For e.g., the religious institutions had become corrupt, status of women had degraded, business monopolies/cartels had been created due to a rigid caste system. However, many reformers – social, political and economic came forward and significant changes have been made for the advancement of Hindus. Doing something wrong may be okay if realize it later and auto-correct it.
These are noble strengths and hence it is important that Hindu as a society keep these strengths and improve on this.
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