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HINDU DHARMA VIS-a-VIS RELIGIOUS THEOLOGIES
“The religious theologies of two major aggressive traditions have brought about destruction to humanity much more than any other one culture or religion.”
— Swami Dayananda Saraswati
(Excerpted from: “Arsha Vidya Newsletter”, November 2003)
There are a number of unique things in our culture. Everything about us is unique. The way we dress is unique. Our music is unique. Nowhere in the world, the music has defined rags. There are many forms of music all over the world, but nowhere are the ascending and descending notes as we have. Our indifference to our riches, of course, is unique!
I have so much to talk about this uniqueness in our culture and today I would like to share with you what we call dharma. The world religions have no concept of dharma. It is startling. I have been attending the World Religious Conferences.
During the middle of December, I will be going to Jerusalem to attend a World Religious Leaders’ Conference representing the Hindu religion. The Chief Rabbi of Israel and one or two other Jewish religious leaders, who are the members of this Council and some Muslim leaders are meeting at Jerusalem to find some solution to current problems. Do you think it is possible? I know it is not possible, I know it can never happen, but I cannot give up an attempt to make it possible.
Only Hindu religion can make it possible. Others are all contending forces. The unifying force is only Hindu religion. It is startling. When I sat with all these religious leaders, I asked them, “Can you name a few values that are acceptable to all of us. Before forming the council of wold religions, let us identify some universal values”, I asked the leaders in the first meeting. They said, “Let us move to the next item.” This is because they cannot identify one thing common to all.
I proposed ahimsa. For us, ahimsa is paramo dharma. It is not that somebody; gives a slap on your right cheek and you show the left one. That is not our ahimsa. That is why they do not follow anything.
One fellow asked me this question, “Swamiji, you say, you are a Sadhu. Who is a Sadhu?” I said, “Sadhu is a saint.” “You are a Sadhu?” he asked. “Yes.” “Suppose somebody gives you a slap on your right cheek, will you show your left cheek?” Because somewhere it is said that when somebody gives you a slap on the right cheek, you are supposed to show your left cheek. “So, will you accept it?”
Now I have a problem. I am a Sadhu; I have to prove myself to be a Sadhu. If I say ‘yes’, then he may try to prove whether it is true or not and I will be inviting trouble. If I say ‘no’, then I am not a Sadhu. This is really a problem.
It is something like this. Somebody asked, “Will you go in front of a fool, or will you walk behind him?’ If you go in front, I am the leader. If I walk behind, I am a follower. It is a problem.
This fellow was very clever. I told him, “I won’t get the first one. Why should I get the first one on my right cheek? I will behave in such a way I won’t attract the first one”. That is the answer.
“Allowing people to trample upon our toes is not our concept of ahimsa. For us, this value is universal. We do not follow double standards. We do not have one type of value for Hindus and another type of value for non-Hindus. When hey do not follow the same thing that we have, then we are in trouble. That is what is happening to Hindus. We are in constant trouble because we follow universal values. And they go on trampling and bulldozing our culture wherever it is possible, and this kind of thing has been happening.
When I asked them, “Can you accept ahimsa, not hurting? All of them were silent. There were big Muslim leaders. There were leaders from Jewish tradition; they accepted. Parsi leaders accepted it. So too some other leaders of small groups of people accepted. But the leaders of two aggressive traditions did not accept it. Catholic did not accept, Protestants did not accept, and Muslims did not accept. None of them accepted the universal value of ahimsa. It was startling to me.
Then I tried another thing. “Will you accept mutual respect of religions?” I asked, because we are sitting in a world council, we are sitting at the same table. And they said, “We respect freedom of religion.” Think of that. Freedom religion means freedom to destroy me; that is the freedom. “We accept freedom of religion, but not mutual respect of religion.” It is because they have to convert. It is because they have to proselytize. It does not recognize other religions because God has given them the mandate. And so too, every denomination of Christianity.
Why I am telling you this is because, for them, there is no universal value called Samanya Dharma. That was startling thing to me. I knew, but I thought that in the Council of World Religions, the leaders who are representatives of their religions would at least concede this mutual respect and ahimsa. They do not. Then, what is it that we are meeting for, I do not know. Mine was a lone pleading voice. Big voice I have got that is all; it was a lonely voice. Nobody else agrees, except a few leaders who themselves are converted people and who want to go back to their native religions. Such people are available here and there.
We have Samanya Dharma. Samanya means samanam, (common) for the entire humanity. You talk to anybody, “Do you want to get hurt?” The reply is, “No.” “Do you want to be cheated?” The reply is, “No.” “Do you want to be robbed? Do your land to be encroached upon? Do you want to be lied to? And do you want to be exploited when you are in a weak situation?” The answer is always, “No, no, no, no,” from everybody. This is not taught by anybody. This is by common sense.
This common sense born structure of value system has got to be there, in as much as human being has got choice. He has got a free will. If you have a free wheel, a lot of speed and a lot of power, you must have a gear and a brake system, correct? Sometimes you have to back up, sometimes you have to turn left; sometimes you have to stop. So, this break system is a must, a gearbox is a must. We have that brake system. We are endowed with the faculty of choice. We need to choose our food. What do you eat, when do you eat, where do you eat. How much do you eat, how often do you eat, how much do you eat? Everything, we have to choose. When there is a choice, I should say yes to something. Therefore, that capacity has to be from within, not from outside. Every individual has got a brake system given by Iswara.
Religious theologies of the two major aggressive traditions have brought about destruction to humanity much more than any other one culture or religion. In fact, even the holocaust in Germany and Poland, is all because of religions. In Goa, millions were destroyed, you do not know. This is much more than the holocaust. Millions were destroyed and we are going to create a museum in this country about the holocaust that we had in Goa and other areas. It was religious genocide. There was total destruction much more than what happened in Europe during Hitler” rule.
The destruction caused during Aurangazeb’s time is never talked about. Now it is all the more important for the Hindu voice to be heard than ever before. The Hindu voice is dharma. The two religious traditions do look upon the world as meant for human consumption. God created the world for man to eat it up. Animals can be eaten. They are meant for eating by human beings. Some are not eaten because the meat is not interesting, that is all – until you develop a taste for it. Nothing is prohibited. Anything that swims, that flies, that crawls, that walks can be eaten. Only that which talks cannot be eaten. That is because of the fear of criminal case.
For us (the Hindus), this jagat is a manifestation of Ishwara. You talk to any villager in this country, “Hey, Arumugam, where is God.” He never went to school even for shelter during rains, because there is no school to go for shelter anywhere. We know it first hand. He will look at you up and down. He does not even understand the validity of the question. Where God is, not our question. Our question back is “What is not God?” That is Hindu religion.
God cannot be sitting in one corner in heaven. They say that. Where is He? We look up. Then, I have to ask heaven should be a big place because all of us are going there. If we are all Hindus, we do not go. And all others are going there`, and if all of them end up in heaven, what is His address? It may be a huge planet and at the other end, He may be there. Then, I have to ask for locality. Then, afterwards I should ask for the street, house number, the floor and the apartment number. It must be a big apartment with so many rooms. Another interesting thing is, they say, He is formless. A formless person needs a location! They say the formless God is male!! This also I talked in the World Council of Religious Leaders.
I say this all because you are bombarded every day and you need to know. I do not come and bombard you every day. I do not ask them, “Please give me time so that I can discuss with you about God.” They come and ask us. No physics professor goes and knocks at the doors of anybody asking for time so that he can discuss about particles. You should go and ask him what are particles. He does not knock at your doors. This is our tradition. We do not knock at others’ doors.
That is why I want to tell you that Dharma for us is universal. It is the same for everybody. Whether you profess this faith or that faith, it should be common for all. I can grant freedom for you to believe whatever you want. I give you the freedom. But at the same time recognize dharma. It is very important.
Everyone is a born consumer. Everybody, as a child, is a consumer and does not contribute anything. As an adult, you are not only a consumer but also a contributor. The Western society is indulging in consumerism. It gives a card. You need not have money, but you buy. And pay through you nose every month, and this is consumerism! This is not our culture. We earn, we save, we cut our coat according to the cloth and we try to slim, not to grow. Therefore, our culture is entirely different. Even economically, they are learning now. The economics of Hindu society are much more precious for the world to learn. Consumerism has brought in problems after problems.
Growth lies in your contribution. This is our culture. You contribute more than what you consume. You are then a grown up person. Gandhiji was a great leader in our country because he tried to contribute more than what he consumed. We worship cows not just because we take its milk etc. Not only that. It consumes simple grass, and afterwards gives life-saving, nourishing milk. And, therefore, we say that is a symbol of our culture. Consume less and give everything. Correct? That is our culture. That is why the cows should not be allowed to be slaughtered. It is a symbol of our culture. We have a sentiment for that. And that inner growth does not happen, sir. You need to be a contributor. You need to grow and you will grow into the status of a contributor only when you do not grumble and come to know about yourself and your culture. You have to look into your culture, for there is so much to learn; there is so much to discover. Our own riches embarrass us.
Be a contributor. In the process, you also grow. And you also help people who need to be cared, and in the process you get cared also. With this appeal, I just thank you all and I thank the Lord that we are able to do all this.