See Indians as Indians, rather than a narrow religious or political conclave

first_imgDear Editor,I have read Ravi Dev’s recent ruminations on Hindus and Hinduism with great interest. I understand some of Ravi Ji’s quest for a Hindu political stance in Guyana, given the negative perception bestowed on Hindus and Hinduism in the historical context in the country and Region. However, such a quest is difficult to pursue because of its inherent challenges – some of it alluded by Dev himself.The first challenge is the definition of a Hindu: who is a Hindu? How does one define “Hinduism”? This is a difficult question to answer in Guyana as well as it is in the rest of the world. However, the answer might be given in a statement that is heard often in Guyana: “Hinduism is not a religion; it is a way of life”. If this is the case, then what is this “way of life”? Is it Sanaatan Dharma where the worship of murtis is important? Is it the reformed Hindu Arya Samaj distinction? Or is it ISKCON or the Sai Baba inclusive expression? In India, there have been attempts to re-convert Muslims and Christians to their “Hindu” origins (ghar wapsi). The challenge for these re-converters is what to re-convert them to! Which caste, for example, should these re-converted be deemed?Just about a week ago, Mohan Bhagwat, Chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in India made a bold, significant statement regarding his idea of Hindutva; see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1vOfKYrjjk.He has emphasised the inclusiveness of Hindutva to include a place for those who worship differently and stated that if one is not comfortable with calling Muslims, for example, “Hindu”, then these worshippers are certainly “Bharatiya” (Indian). Commentators have been quick to view Bhagwat’s statement as cheap political rhetoric.However, others have perceived this statement as the beginning of the RSS to be more inclusive of what it is to be Hindustani (Indian).Christians in and out of India have also begun to recognise the importance of respecting Indigenous cultures when appropriating the truths of the gospel. An increasing number of Christians sing bhajans and geet; they have kirtan music and conduct satsanghs and express themselves in pakka (authentic) Hindustani forms. This is largely the Hindustani “way of life” that Guyanese speak of when attempting to describe the Hindu religious expression.It is prudent to perceive Indians in Guyana and elsewhere as “Bharatiyas” (the product of Bharat) rather than a narrow conclave of a religious or cultural entity.Yours truly,Devanand Bhagwanlast_img read more