Can Hindus Self-Govern Competitively?


No Hindu Mechanisms

What I discovered in this inquiry confirmed my worst fears: Hindus have no such mechanism, nor is one likely to emerge in the near future, especially given the voices that tend to block such moves. There were several individuals who did perform commendably in their personal capacities trying to help bring dharmic justice. Here I am referring to individuals who took the time and interest for several days, trying to understand the various facets and dimensions of the saga, and who acted with impeccable honor, clarity, morality and without any selfish interests.

Yet these noble attempts failed. Why? And what can we learn from this? There are several complex factors that make Hinduism dysfunctional when it comes to collective action in the kurukshetra compared to Christian, Islamic, Marxist/Subaltern and miscellaneous opportunistic identities.

The closest Hindus come to having a body like the World Council of Churches is the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, and it was disinterested in playing such a role. The role is critical it felt, but that it (HDAS) was not in a position to perform it. My sense is that despite a decade of Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s commendable attempts, this body is still not robust enough to garner the wide support needed in such a controversial matter. It deserves support to strengthen itself further. It is again pertinent to point out that the Church mechanisms were not built overnight. (Interestingly, HDAS got attacked by some Hindu journalists charging that it was trying to meddle in the matter, but the facts are just the opposite – HDAS senior persons felt right away that it would not get involved. For a rebuttal to these attackers see the article by Jayakumar.)

But there were numerous elders, both sadhus and civic leaders, who did make an honest attempt in their personal capacities to see if some collective actions could work out. More than SN personally, it was a matter of larger Hindu interests at stake. Some felt that SN should go away for at least five years and leave his institution in the hands of another sadhu who he would select. This would bring continuity to the lives of the hundreds of young men and women who did nothing wrong, but who stand to lose a lot having left everything and joined as ashramites or as other full-time disciples. It would keep the non-Hindu groups from getting control over the properties which had been funded by the pocketbooks of Hindu donors worldwide.

Such problem-solving attempts involve extensive consultations, meetings, negotiations and navigating amidst multiple egos and agendas – all without any predictable outcome in the end. This demands risk taking and leadership. As a historical note, the Church took centuries to develop its robustness, with considerable enterprise shown by numerous risk takers.

The question Hindus need to ask themselves is: Are Hindus willing to go through such processes that are not instant successes and bring no personal benefit?

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