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Oct. 1, 2022

October 2022 - Defending our Dharma

October 2022 - Defending our Dharma

What happened in the UK

In the past few weeks, we have seen religious violence in the guise of protests, where a bunch of people identifying as Muslim decided to terrorize Hindu temples in the UK, specifically in Leicester and Birmingham, and also people who identified as Hindu. Social media played a horrible part in this, with misinformation spread on Muslim social media groups stoking Hinduphobia sentiments. Law enforcement seemed rather lax. The UK government…well, the less said about that, the better. Before I start, I am not a supporter of the BJP or RSS; in fact, far from it. I am not a fan of Modi Ji either. But as I identify as a Hindu, what do I think about these attacks? I condemn any form of violence or terrorizing. I don't see any value in this; it serves no purpose. Anyone claiming that violence and vandalism are appropriate is nothing but a danger to the very fabric of society.

I was lucky enough to be part of a few Twitter spaces hosted by a friend Vivek, and I was encouraged to see the unity of Hindus in dealing with this and then shocked at how people were willing to show their hatred. I often was left wondering what would our ancient Rishis be thinking.

The Short-Term and Long Term Solution

First, I think it is best to get a reality check. Violence against Hindus isn't going to stop, and I fear it will only worsen. With this in mind, I do think that all temples need to think of security measures and receive help from law enforcement. We need to ensure our local politicians know about our presence and to ensure that we maintain positive relationships with them.

Do we lower our standards?

Some suggestions were that Hindus should be proud to shout 'Jai Sri Ram and that we should lower our standards. The standards in question are our mentality of accepting and respecting all religions, tolerating even the hatred that comes our way, and even remaining non-violent in times of crisis. Firstly, we must self-defend if someone attacks us due to our religion. Our Bhagavad Gita suggests that this is fine. Now, shouting slogans without purpose means nothing nor brings respect or attention to the injustices. Our standards are high; hence, we are one of the oldest religions in the world. Our humane and humble approach toward spirituality is what is endearing about Hinduism; it is what draws non-Hindus to learn about our spiritual heritage. I will not ponder much further other than we don't need to say slogans like 'Jai Sri Ram' rather we need tk\o do something more practical - condemn the actual violence itself. Raise slogans about putting an end to violence, discrimination, and hatred. This approach is much more powerful. When we think universally, the universe will support us!

Our Solution

My advice as we advance is for the long term and must be analyzed that way. Hindus need to stop being 'cultural' Hindus. So what do we need to do:

  1. Most important is to learn our Scriptures - we need to learn the basics and I suggest we start with learning the foundation.

    • Regardless of one’s sampradaya or tradition, we must learn Tattva Bodha and Atma Bodha from Adi Shankara ji.

    • Following this, we need to read The Bhagavad Gita and listen/watch/read any commentary of this text according to your sampradaya/lineage.

    • Read The Upanishads as these are philosophical insights contained in the Vedas.

    • Read Swami Vivekananda’s 4 Yogas

  2. Explain our deities and the significance of their attributes - Western academics unfortunately translated our deities as gods and goddesses and this has caused major confusion. This has been felt when I interact with people on TikTok Lives. For example, Ganesha ji is referred to as the elephant god. Now, the better way to explain Ganesha ji is say he is the deity that represents the remover of all obstacles. Or Devi Lakshmi is the deity for wealth and prosperity. We need to change our language to ensure others get the best understanding. It’s not enough to just put montages and get lots of likes.

  3. Explain our rituals, prayers etc - if we follow any rituals then we should explain most, if not all of the elements. This helps not only fellow hindus but those that do not understanding the significance of fasting, or bathing before we pray etc.

  4. Be proud of our diversity - the beauty about the Hindu diaspora is that we are vast just like the attributes of Brahman. We should wear this badge proudly. So if someone you know has a cultural tradition within Hinduism and they have explained it well, support them and encourage them to keep sharing. For example, I may disagree with a Hare Krishna’s philosophy but I can appreciate a video made by their devotee. If I want to debate it, I can either write a respectful comment or ask for a friendly debate.

  5. Hold Inter-faith Dialogue - If you know a decent person from a different faith then you can debate or have a dialogue with them. Have a structured format, maybe have a few questions where you both can discuss. There is no need to have any winners in these debates either. Try to understand them so they may one day change their behavior and understand us.

  6. Participate in a Hindu Live Stream - Support it as much as possible. Join in the comments and discuss. If you can go to a Garba during Navratri or to Mahashivatri event then you can go on these live streams. If you want to learn more about Hinduism, ask questions. If you have doubts, ask them whatever you need addressed.

  7. Be Proud and be Self-Realized - be proud of your heritage, of your origins, of the philosophy. Be thoroughly convinced that Sanatana Dharma is the best path that you know. Most of all, this pride is not about identity as a Hindu, our Rishis and Sages envisioned we will be bolder than this. They wanted us to be self-realized being and trust me, the anti-hindus don’t know how to deal with a self-realized being.

  8. Learn from history but hold onto our Philosophy - It is important to address colonization along with cultural appropriation. Both have impacted the very fabric of hindu identity and traditions. We have to raise how colonization has created anti-hindu sentiments but this cannot be what we just talk about. There is so much philosophy that we cannot cover even a speck of it in one whole lifetime. So the best thing to do is go back to my first point and start sharing what you learn from there!

  9. Support Hindu Content Creators - This is an important one because most of the other faiths now have content creators that are full time and we need to step up on this! If you know a Hindu content creator has a Patreon, a PayPal, GoFundMe or any other tools, go and support them. The more resources they have, the more content they share. This leads to more correct information about Dharma on social media, which is the best exposure! People will see with their good senses that Hindus are pretty cool people and there is nothing to fear about.

This way our standards will remain high, and we will fight Hinduphobia with the highest dignity. We have had empires collapse because of our unity and need to stay together. We have made much progress, but much more needs to be done. I hope you will join me in either teaching about Sanatana Dharma or, at the very least, learning and supporting it.