An average, devout Hindu knows next to nothing about Hinduism while his Muslim or Christian counterparts know enough to defend their respective faiths. And so the average devout Hindu does one of these two:
- Feels ashamed and/or scared to admit in public that he is a Hindu
- Gets extremely defensive instead of using knowledge and cold reasoning to defend an attack on Hinduism
You can cite historical attacks, mental and colonial slavery and a thousand other things to explain this. While all of them are true, after numerous repititions, they begin to sound like excuses. The place to start if you want to really defend Hinduism is to equip yourself with knowledge and be battle-ready always. And the time to start is now.
The Internet with gazillion resources on various aspects of Sanatana Dharma singularly fails in one aspect: there’s absolutely no solid, original source of information that Hindus can rely upon if they want to learn about the..err..Essentials of Sanatana Dharma. As a voracious consumer of everything from the classics to absolute junk, I can assure you this is the case with regard to Hinduism. Go to any average site dedicated to Sanatana Dharma. Here’s what you’ll typically find:
- Loads of stories from our Puranas/mythology
- Badly-written and sometimes, misleading stuff on the Ramayana and Mahabharata
- Prayers, mantras, and chants dedicated to Hindu Gods and Goddesses
- Vague stuff about science in the Vedas
- Yoga–well, asanas and pranayama–Kundalini, meditation, the Nectar of Life etc
- Information about gaining mystical and ultra-sensory powers
- Commentaries upon commentaries by every other self-styled Swami on the Vedas and Upanishads
This is not so much to disparage such sites as much as it is about pointing to the fact that such sites don’t really help the average Hindu seeking to correctly understand Sanatana Dharma. These sites write pages upon pages about the derivatives of the spirit of Sanatana Dharma. None of them really discuss the primary sources. Translating the say, Durga Saptashati does not qualify as discussion of the primary sources in the same way as stating the “benefits of chanting the Saraswathi Sukta” doesn’t qualify as the symbolism, meaning, spirit and essence that Saraswathi embodies. It’s like stating that “one of the benefits of a rigorous training in Mathematics is the development of your logical faculties” but not attempting to solve a single mathematical problem.
Sanatana Dharma certainly encompasses the Vedas, Upanishads, Yoga, Tantra, Mantra and the rest but it is fundamentally much deeper and immensely wider in scope than these concepts. Limiting Sanatana Dharma to Vedas, etc means severely restricting its ambit, which spreads across disciplines like aesthetics, poetry, prose, drama, sculpture, painting, architecture, folklore, social observances, politics, and statecraft among others. For instance the celebrated ekam sat vipra bahudaa vadanti (Truth is One, which the Sages call by many names) is often used as a classic example to show the “innate equality between all religions of the world.” And it is true. But is it really? Putting it in context yields this:
Indram mitram varunam agni mahuradho divyah Sa suparno garutman |
Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti ||
This is the complete verse (Rg Veda, Hymn 164) and it’s clear that the other Gods referred to here are Indra (Rain), Mitra (Sun), Varuna (Water), Agni (Fire), etc. Equally, it is clear that these are not Abrahamic Gods, which by the way are “jealous Gods.” But the ekam sat verse stripped off its complete context yields a thoroughly misleading meaning, which thousands of Hindus have themselves internalized and believe it to be authentic. It is this kind of all-encompassing knowledge that is essential to both understand and defend Sanatana Dharma. You can learn more of Sanatana Dharma and indeed, the entire culture of India by reading Kalidasa and Bharata Muni (author of the seminal Natyashastra) than chanting the Bhriguvalli a million times.
And it is this gap that a new blog fills. Without sounding over-dramatic, ladies and gentlemen, I’m most glad to announce the launch of Prekshaa, a blog dedicated to, in the words of the authors, “be a source of original and reliable articles on Indian Culture.” It is a collective effort of a group of people passionate about learning about their roots and sharing their knowledge with the world. Like me, these kind folks were unfortunate enough to be cursed with an upbringing that included a more or less thorough English education and are now keen to fill the cultural chasm that such an education has caused. While it is predominantly in English, a few posts are written in Kannada and Sanskrit. There’s something about the “native flavour” that even the best translation cannot capture. It’s the difference between eating the fine, brown-upper-crust Masala Dosa in Karnataka and eating the same Masala Dosa in say Chandigarh. Prekshaa, which variously means “clear vision,” “vision,” “intellect,” “discrimination,” “reflection,” “contemplation” is rather apt to describe a blog, which has its sights set on Indian poetics, philosophy, creative writing in Sanskrit and Kannada, classics, “guided” travelogues, and biographies of illustrious people who contributed to Indian culture among other topics. As a pretty illustrative sample of the quality you can expect from Prekshaa, I present The Abandonment of Sita.
Perhaps the biggest strength of Prekshaa is the fact that it is backed by the walking Encyclopaedia of Sanatana Dharma, Dr. Ganesh…but why are you still reading this? Go forth now, to Prekshaa!