Today is Makara Sankranti, celebrated across India to both herald the beginning of longer days, and reap the harvest of months of backbreaking work in the fields. But the greater significance of Makara Sankranti like most Hindu festivals, is to highlight another living instance of the amazing cultural unity of India. People in Karnataka exchange a mixture comprising sugarcane blocks–artistically moulded into various forms and figures and shapes of Gods, Goddesses, flowers, fruits, animals–white sesame seeds, jaggery, and a piece of sugarcane. In Andhra Pradesh, sugarcane is replaced by the jujube fruit (Regi Pandulu) and sweets and delicacies are prepared and offered to God. Assamese are more creative: they have on offer at least 10 different varieties of Pitha, a kind of rice cake. Gujaratis wait for this to zestfully fly kites all over and make Undhiyu and Chikkis (sweetmeat made of sesame, jaggery and peanuts). Maharashtra feasts on tilgul (sweetmeat made from sesame) and Gulpolis, and wish each other peace and prosperity. Tamil Nadu gorges on varieties of pongal–thai pongal, mattu pongal and kannum pongal, each variety of pongal as a way of offering gratitude to the Sun, cattle, and friends and relatives. Every state and place–Bundelkhand, Rajasthan, Punjab, Bengal, Goa, Kerala, and Orissa–has its unique way of celebrating Makara Sankranti but contains a subterranean thread that ties all of them with India. The hand that spins this thread till today is the same hand that enabled India to withstand the most barbaric attacks in history. Festivals like this provide a clue to the reason behind this incredible strength of the hand of Sanatana Dharma.
Among others, Sanatana Dharma’s greatest strength is its amazing power of adaptability, which gives it this strength. It responds to change in a manner and quickness that perhaps none of the other religions (desert death cults are not religions) can. This adaptability as history shows us, is multipronged, multifaceted, and dynamic. It took varities of forms in art, painting, music, epics, literature, religious practices, and social mores. It discarded practices that were no longer suited to the changed times but replaced them with suitable modifications and/or evolved newer ones. The underlying idea was a resolve that Sanatana Dharma was something worth preserving and dying for its preservation if necessary.
The earliest threat to Sanatana Dharma came from Buddhism, which our secular dunces claim rescued society from the evil Brahmins/caste system of Hindusim. When Buddhism arrived, Sanatana Dharma had become overtly ritualistic, which was pretty much Buddha’s diagnosis. However, over time, Buddhism became missionary and while people converted in large numbers, an irreversible corruption had set in. Santana Dharma responded by evolving the temple culture. This ensured that ordinary people had a terrific alternative to worship God apart from rituals. The role of temple culture in sustaining and preserving Sanatana Dharma can’t be emphasized enough. It created whole cities and towns around it, gave rise to some of the most magnificent works of art the world has seen, and in effect, propagated harmony in society.
Needless, the next biggest threat to Santana Dharma came in the form of seas of men on horseback motivated by a murderous, imperialist ideology. Islam’s grievous and protracted assault on Hinduism sustained because of a lack of awareness of its true nature. This assault continues to this day in various forms–negation and distortion of history, secularism, and mafia-style politics. It took a few centuries, but Hinduism responded by evolving the Bhakti movement and retelling our epics. The Bhakti movement arose in the wake of Islam’s homicidal record of smashing temples and not allowing new ones to be built. Additionally, the egalitarian Dhimmi “privileges” that Hindus enjoyed made it almost impossible for Hindus to even give expression to their deepest religious needs. The Bhakti movement stepped in to check the real danger of Sanatana Dharma eroding forever. It basically said that God didn’t exist merely in temples or in the mantras but in each of us. They exhorted people to preserve their way of life and worship in whatever form–nothing was taboo. The Bhakti saints worshipped our Gods and Goddess in songs composed in simple and/or rustic lyric in the local language. Rama became every Hindu’s neighbour and Krishna was just waiting on the other side of the river. These saints drew parallels from daily life, which helped immensely in retaining Sanatana Dharma as a living tradition. Over time, the sword of Islam was blunted to a great extent. South India saw a host of poets and writers and saints embark on a retelling of our epics. Sanatana Dharma owes enormous debt to all these souls.
The British takeover of India launched the other desert death cult Christianity, on Sanatana Dharma, which had begun to unshackle itself from Islam’s 800-year long attack. Christianity’s attack was refreshingly sophisticated but equally brutal. When it failed to persuade through several attempts, it reclothed its message and equated its Prophetic preaching with whatever parallel it found in Sanatana Dharma. In effect it said Christanity is no different from Santana Dharma–only the Gods and saints were different. Initially, significant numbers of “upper caste” Hindus converted. However, the gains were insignificant because almost in no time, the Hindu response was swift. Besides, a fierce tide of Hindu resurgence led by the likes of Swami Dayananda Saraswathi and Vivekananda pretty much scuttled conversion attempts. The Church quickly realized that it cannot win converts if it takes on Sanatana Dharma purely on the ground of religious precepts. Which is pretty much when the missionary vultures descended on the weaker, and poorer sections of Hindu society. The Church continues this preying activity unchecked today–any deception including but not limited to murder is justified in the service of the humanity, welfare, kindess, love, and compassion that Jesus Christ stood for. However, the greatest damage that the British enslavement of India did was to create the Macaulayite Class, who branched off later as Brown Sahibs and Marxists. This was something Islam couldn’t accomplish in 800 years. Sanatana Dharma responded in various ways: the likes of Swami Vivekananda tirelessly reawakening the Hindu pride, a whole galaxy of scholars who began digging into different aspects of their past and publishing it to the world, and freedom fighters who found inspiration in Sanatana Dharma‘s epics, scriptures, saints, and warriors.
Post-Independence, the Nehruvian regime continued the project of destroying Sanatana Dharma that the British had abandoned in a hurry. Till the late ’80s, the toxic atmosphere ensured that Hindus were ruthlessly put on the defensive. However, as a parallel development, an unpopular section of academics, thinkers, writers, and scholars worked silently and did two things, primarily: they produced top-notch defense of Sanatana Dharma and studied and exposed Islam and Christianity for what they are. Various organizations defended and championed Hindu causes in the political and social spheres. This paved way for yet another resurgence of Sanatana Dharma in the ’90s. But most importantly, it gave tremendous international exposure and support for Hindu causes. Obscure but valuable Hindu traditions were revived, and research began in areas like Ayurveda, astronomy, metallurgy, education, architecture, etc. However, this resurgence didn’t carry enough sustaining power and while it trudges ahead silently, the pace leaves a lot to be desired.
As we speak, Sanatana Dharma is relentlessly assaulted from almost all directions: Islam, the Church, Marxists, media, establishment, politicians, academics, and NGOs. What’s worse is the fact that a large portion of these attack originate from Hindus themselves. Hindus have mostly lost large parts of the North East to Christianity and continue to witness the results of a massive, ongoing conversion drive, while Islam continues to gain ground through the power of sheer numbers. Repeated attacks on Hindus, their way of life, places of worship, and institutions are denied, justified, obfuscated, or brazened away. Hindu response to these acts meet the same fate, and neither is the response significant. The continued apathy especially from the newly-emerged but large middle-class Hindus only adds to the magnitude of the threat. We only need to wait and see if Sanatana Dharma is capable of reasserting itself and showing the world the value it offers for eternity.
Tags: Attack on Sanatana Dharma, Cultural Unity of India, Defense of Hinduism, Defense of Santana Dharma, Dharma, Hindu, History, Indian Philosophy, Indian Politics, Makara Sankranti, Pseudosecularism, Pseudosecularism Hall of Shame, Response of Hinduism to Challenges, Sanatana Dharma, Sankranti, Strength of Hinduism, Strength of Sanatana Dharma