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 welfare.
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
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