Currently our freedom to practice our traditions and pass them on to our succeeding generations is being threatened in two ways. One, by a large-scale institutional foreign-funded conversion war being waged upon us; and Two, by an increasing encroachment by the Indian State and the Courts (often via foreign-funded PILs) on our religious, traditional, cultural and folk practices.
Our Constitution gives to every citizen the right to profess, practice and propagate freely their religion and traditions. However, such an individual choice is entirely different from an institutional conversion war where there is a well-oiled machinery that incentivises and coerces people to change their religion, which is nothing but an aggression on our culture, religion and civilisation. History is replete with examples all over the globe, where native religions, cultures and civilisations have been wiped out due to such institutionalised conversion aggressions. As we are the oldest surviving civilisation that is based on Sanatana Dharma, we are being targeted by all sorts of religious conversion forces. The best way to balance individual religious freedom and the civilisational responsibility of the Indian State to protect, preserve and nurture our glorious civilisation that is based on Sanatana Dharma, is by guaranteeing religious freedom to all citizens to practice or even change their religion, but make illegal all institutionalised conversion efforts aimed at destroying our religion, culture, traditions and civilisation.
Our country has an enormous diversity of religious, spiritual and cultural practices among Hindu communities that are being challenged in the Courts, often at the behest of foreign funded/inspired individuals/entities who have no skin in the game and are complete outsiders to these practices. Unlike religions of the Book, the diversity of native Hindu traditions evident by means of varied celebrations, observances and performances by different sections of people in different ways seamlessly combining spiritual and temporal aspects of life. These practices evolved over centuries do not require or find justification in any particular book or scripture, but form the lifeblood of popular Hinduism. These traditions continue over centuries because they are valuable to the community and their merits do not need to be evaluated through an external lens. It has often been the case, such as in dietary practices, that which ‘science’ deems backward often reverts a few years later to acclaiming the value of that practice. A colonised mindset using a limited skewed lens often labels through orchestrated media campaign these practices as ‘ignorance’, ‘superstition’, ‘barbarism’, etc in the typical manner of, give a dog a bad name and hang him by filing PILs etc. Traditions need no other justification than themselves, and our society has enough capacity and capable reformers to reform traditions as needed, and it is certainly not the job of Courts.
Judicial interference in our age old religious, cultural and folk practices has been causing enormous religious and cultural damage giving a death blow to our unique cultural practices that have organically developed making up the beautiful diversity of our country. Such unwarranted interference in our centuries old customs generate avoidable social resistance and upheaval such as in the cases of Jallikattu, Dahi Handi, Sabarimala, Shani Mandir, Kambala, etc.
As result of these two deadly threats, the very survival of our oldest civilisation is at stake now. The irony is that our forefathers kept our civilisation alive under extreme adversities of barbaric invasions and foreign rule and passed it on to us, but we, the Hindus of free India are allowing it to be destroyed. We have no right to diminish the value or destroy our inheritance be it tangible assets or intangible religious and cultural heritage. It is our bounden obligation to pass on the inheritance to our next generation at least in the condition we have received if not by making value addition to it.
If we don’t get rid of our collective lemming complex we and our civilisation would soon meet the same fate as that of all other Pagan civilisations such as the Mesopotamia, Rome, Greek, Zoroastrian-Persian, Inca, Maya, Aztec, etc.
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples-2007 (UNDRIP) to which India is a signatory, imposes certain obligations on Member-States to protect, preserve, nurture and promote indigenous religious, spiritual, cultural, traditional and knowledge systems by suitable legislative, governance and public policy interventions. Article 253 of our Constitution enables Parliament to make laws for the whole of India on any subject to implement international conventions etc. As such, the Central Govt is also under an international obligation to protect, preserve, nurture and promote Sanatana Dharma – the fountainhead of our civilisation – expressed in all its myriad forms and expressions.
The following excerpt from the preface to Election Manifesto-2014 of the BJP clearly demonstrates its unswerving commitment to build India on a firm civilizational foundation:
“BJP recognizes that no nation could chart out its domestic or foreign policies unless it has a clear understanding about itself, its history, its roots, its strengths and failings. In a highly mobile and globalized world, it is imperative for a nation to know its roots that provide sustenance to its people.”
“Indian freedom struggle, which was inspired by Tilak, Gandhi, Aurobindo, Patel, Bose and others, had a clear vision of the civilizational consciousness of India. These leaders had directed the freedom movement, keeping the Indian ways and thoughts in the centre of their action. They had a vision to reconstruct the political and economic institutions of India as a continuum of civilizational consciousness, which made India one country, one people, and one Nation.”
“After achieving independence, the leaders at the helm of affairs lost the spirit and the vision, which the freedom movement had evoked. ………. It is unfortunate that these leaders could not comprehend India’s inner vitality, which was the main force responsible for India’s survival despite several attacks and prolonged foreign rule and thus, failed to rekindle the spirit of India.”
“Even after nearly seven decades of our independence, the country has not been able to discover its innate vitality, the sense of time and the will to act. As a result, in spite of being the oldest civilization and a young republic, we are engulfed by a multi-dimensional crisis. ……………………. The tragedy is further heightened by their failure to diagnose the malady and find the remedy.”
Therefore, in pursuance of the commitment given by the BJP in its Election Manifesto-2014, and to give effect to international obligation under United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples-2007, the Central Govt is requested to immediately enact “The Freedom of Religion (Protection of Native Cultural and Religious Traditions, and Prohibition of Institutionalized Religious Conversion Activity) Act” for the whole of India, in the forthcoming session of the current Parliament itself.
Alternatively, an Ordinance may be promulgated immediately pending enactment by the Parliament.