The Western faiths have always catered to a difference in Science, Government and Religion; especially the latter two, wherein each tries to supercede the other. This struggle of power led to the rise of a concept called ‘Secularism’.
Classically speaking, secularism, in plain words, was a separation of Church and State, where both entities aimed to gain dominion over the people. This power struggle led to a tug of war between these two entities. The conflict between King Henry II and Thomas Becket is a stellar example of this very fact; depicted prolifically in Literature and popular media.
In our Indian context, Dharma did not aim to rule society, rather it tried to explain the forces that makes society work, allowing Dharma to pave its natural course, hence Science, Faith and Government evolved hand in hand in an undifferentiated manner, as one smooth continuum; neither one in conflict with or threatened by the other. Therefore, Dharma is non-separate from its cultural/regional practices. In fact, the culture itself evolved to incorporate the values of Dharma, because it is Dharma itself that explained it.
Secularism, on the other hand, is an ideal handed down to us unwittingly. Ideals should evolve as a need to serve us better, they are not to be inherited from a colonial power without discerning. Most complex living beings have an immune system fortified by a battalion of antibodies, that will identify and neutralize a foreign object and prevent bodily harm. If the immune system fails, the body is susceptible to disease. Extrapolating the same principle to society, we are stricken by an intellectual disease, and the resulting illness is socio-cultural decay.
The reason is simply this: In India, Secularism aims to separate the culture of the nation- which is inherently Dharmic in nature- from its people. This form of Secularism only facilitates to destroy the nation morally from within, by doing away with the dharmic carpet which forms the basis for our cultural ethos. And of course, if secularism n India isn’t clumsy enough, we have to further contend with it’s more rancid manifestation- pseudo secularism- the dangers of which we all know only too well.
We may accept rights and individuality. We should not, however, accept a forced ideal of sameness. It would be unwise for Indians to fall under such narrow, impaired, imposed and socially awkward definitions such as ‘Secularism. Rather, we must strive to preserve our ‘soft-capital’ through all means possible, in all areas of life, and provide that social ‘immune system’ which we all sorely lack. I sincerely thank Mr. Rajiv Malhotra ji, for inspiring us to “reverse the gaze” and look at the world from a Dharmic perspective, and also my friend and fellow writer, Karthik Vaidhinathan ji, for his valuable inputs.
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