The Future of Hinduism
Hindu community constitutes about a seventh of the world population with over a
billion people living in various parts of the world, with the large numbers being
concentrated in the Indian subcontinent. The community is in a transformative state
as many processes are happening simultaneously in their macrocosm with urbanization,
modernization, migration and growing inequalities in income levels and living standards.
The community also faces a number of social problems and maladies such as abuse
of minor girls, rapes, dowry problems, persecution in countries like Pakistan and
Bangladesh, gender discrimination, illiteracy, evils of materialism, conversions,
caste inequalities, poverty and so on. Looking at the confusion and commotion among
Hindu groups one may wonder about the future of Hinduism.
Hinduism emerged through many problems and challenges in the past. However, the
problems it faces today are very different and more intense because of the speed
with which both information and misinformation can reach the people. A thousand
years ago it was extremely difficult for a ruler to reach out to his people on a
daily basis. Missionaries from abroad had to travel hundreds of miles to reach the
villages where the masses lived. Nowadays you do not have to even go to the villages.
You can enter the minds of people through television, radio, newspapers, and the
Internet. Then we have extremist elements in various parts of the world who are
intent upon spreading terror and chaos.
We believe that despite these glaring problems and challenges, Hinduism will survive
and plod on into the next century, provided the world manages to survive against
the suicidal tendencies among a few destructive groups and their passion for wars
and violence to settle differences. If history is any indication, Hinduism will
survive not because it has a billion followers, but because it has a dedicated minority
of scholars, spiritual masters, religious teachers and priestly families, who transcend
their self-interest in the service of their faith.
Ever since the tradition made its early appearance in the Indian subcontinent a
few thousand years ago, a majority of its adherents have remained mostly on the
fringes of the religion. They played an insignificant role other than acting as
witnesses to the events that unfolded before them. It was the elite which carried
forward the torch of Hinduism. It is highly doubtful whether the first Shankaracharya
who is considered an important personality in the development and preservation of
Hinduism was ever popular among his contemporaries, or known to the masses. The
people he met and interacted were mostly scholars, priests and a few influential
people. Many Hindus even today may not know much about him. Even today many Hindus
who live in villages do not know who he was. They may mistakenly consider him one
of the many Shankaracharyas who head the various spiritual organizations that were
established by him.
The hard truth is that in all these centuries and millenniums, Hinduism survived
largely because of the intellectual work done by a few priestly families, scholars,
and ascetic groups, and because of the patronage and protection given by warrior
kings and wealthy merchants.
Even if we take out the past caste equations and solely go by individual nature
and behavior, the pattern still remains, except that the rulers are out of the equation,
and the governments who now regulate the lives of Hindus do not render any service
to Hinduism even in countries where Hindus form a majority. Actually, in many countries
they discriminate against Hinduism because most Hindus do not perceive it as a problem
and do not use their influence to protect their faith or their community.
Fortunately, as before Hinduism has a few dedicated writers, religious teachers,
spiritual masters, committed community leaders, religious institutions, and a few
educated land owners and wealthy merchants. They support Hinduism despite the cold
shoulder they get from the politicians and the vast majority of their own the community
members. You may consider them the elite section of modern Hindu society, the Brahmanas,
Kshatriyas and Vaishyas by nature, service, and profession, not necessarily by birth.
The rest are all Shudras, by temperament, choice and profession, even if by birth
they are from higher castes.
These modern Shudras practice religion only for selfish ends. Unless there is something
in it for them, they will not even bother to appreciate the good work done by others
for the community. You will find these Shudras in all wakes of life and you can
observe their indifference and ignorance. They will go to temples to bribe the gods
and demand reciprocal benefits, celebrate a few festivals, watch devotional programs,
perform some ceremonies, and in extreme cases indulge in magical rituals. There
their faith ends. Most of them cannot go beyond these superficial aspects of religion
because they are too poor or too ignorant or too busy to focus upon their own spiritual
Therefore, for some decades in future you can expect a lot more commotion, confusion,
evil, crime, politics, corruption, gender discrimination, and many such evils in
Hindu society. You can also expect problems to Hindus worldwide due to religious
wars, crimes and violence from extremist elements in all religions. Going by the
current trends Hinduism may likely undergo a radical transformation and become more
Christianized because of the corrupt influences, and misinformation. The film industry
will continue to distort Hinduism and Hindu culture for its own ends, until people
forget its true and essential nature and remember only the mythology and the false
imagery the film world creates for them.
However let us hope that in the eye of that storm, under such dark clouds, dedicated
and pious modern Brahmanas and Kshatriyas of the modern Hindu community, from all
caste and national backgrounds, will carry forward the light of knowledge and wisdom
contained in the ageless scriptures of Hinduism into the next century.
The Antiquity of Shaivism
Your Life As a Hindu
Dealing With Misinformation and Negative Propaganda. Do You Care?
Hinduism in America
Is it right to impose a one language policy in India?
The Future of Hinduism
The Meaning of His Own Name a Politician Forgot