Saturday, December 8, 2007

Secularism?

By Biswo Poudel:

I think we are taking this 'we are secular country and so prime minister shouldn't do this and that' thing way too far. How far are we going to push this argument to bother an old, ailing and frail prime minister? What else can he not do? Perhaps he shouldn't wear a red tika in public anymore. Perhaps he shouldn't go to temples anymore. Perhaps he shouldn't seek the blessing of deities anymore. Perhaps he should not mourn his Bhauju's death and let his head unshaved. Perhaps a secular country should privatize the temples (and to please the 'progressives', nationalize all corporations in the country). Why is it that the atheists have no inhibition in wearing their 'faith' (or lack thereof) on their sleeve, and why is it that we faithful have to be so subdued? Isn't communism a religion itself? Religion believes in the existence of the god, communism believes in the nonexistence of the god on unsubstantiated ground without offering any valid reasons for our origin, motive and so many other phenomena.

Hinduism, and Buddhism to some extent, permeates our society, it has been our guiding principle, and to refute it, in the minimum, we need a leader who can pull more crowd than Ramdev for a morning calisthenics, or we need a leader who can inspire people to donate more money for philanthropy than Pundit Pokhrel. Those who have to close the schools and drag kids to fulfill their crowd requirement, or those who don't have a courage to go to election to write a new constitution or approve the current changes in the constitution including secularism, hardly have any moral authority to speak against our religious tradition or religion per se. Under our secular partymen, the Moslems have been attacked in Kapilbastu and their mosques have been razed. Secularism in Nepal has nothing to do with protecting and empowering Nepali Moslems and other minorities who are sitting ducks for proselytizing evangelists from far flung countries: our country was made 'secular' to please the foreigners and the self loathing leftists. Does any 'progressives' have the guts to take it to referendum, they way they want to take the monarchy?

And Not all devout Hindus are for king: I visited Devghat in Chitwan immediately after the success of Jana-Andolan 2. In that sacred place, I was blessed with a meeting with a shree 108 Guru who oversees some of the Devghat's activities. I asked him whether he approved of the king Gyanendra or monarchy in general because another religious leader there seemed to do so. He told me that a king who has betrayed people's trust has no right to rule the country. I asked him specifically about Gyanendra and he categorized Gyanendra as one of those without any right to rule the country. And then he told me, to disassociate Hinduism from monarchy, that Hinduism has no relation with the monarchy, nor does it teach its followers to be obedient to the king. " Who do you think fought against the brutal kings long before these revolutionaries were even born, long before there was Marx?" He said. In deed, the first war against slavery was waged by Vishwamitra. Our scriptures are brimming with the examples of Rishis seeking to overthrow bad rulers.

Hinduism is as much of about diversity and tolerance as anything else. It doesn't attribute a shape to god (Nirakar god), it doesn't preclude atheism (Charwak is immortalized), and it doesn't even believe in conversion. You can pray any shaped god, you can even rail against it, and you can be apathetic to it. Those who actively seek to behead the nonbelievers, those who profess a monolithic state system, and those who carry the baggage of a failed system propounded by a failed German economist have neither a moral stand to face Hinduism, nor stamina to withstand it. I personally am always proud of the rich culture, and venerable tradition our esteemed ancestors have bequeathed to me, and would continue to observe it as much as I can, if needed publicly otherwise privately, full with the faith that it will guide me to the light even where there is a lot of darkness around [ tamasomaa jyotirgamaya].

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