Hindu traditions can be classified into 2 groups:
- Those who live within society, and;
- Those who live outside of society — forests, caves, nomadic, begging, etc
These groups have found a harmonious and mutually respectable way to not only live with each other but respect each other.
This is just one methodology for classification. Similarly, there are other valid metholodologies for classification of Hindu society. All of them are valid and also all of them are invalid. It is this complex multi-layered, multi-dimensional, multi-logic open architecture of Hindu society that allows it to constantly self-liberate itself from within.
The best of Hinduism is the tradition of renunciation i.e. Tyaga. Disengaging with society and all its attachments.
Sri Krishna as a house-holder in Mahabharata redefines “renunciation” reversing the disengagement from society when society was self-destructing itself. He does what needs to be done knowing that it would lead to the loss of his family, kingdom, life, and glory.
Similarly, Adi-Shankara as sanyasi redefined the renunciation that eventually leads to the rise of Naga Sanyasis. These Naga Sanyasis dis-engaged from society completely so as to protect it. These Sanyasis fought the battles against the invasions that lasted over 600 years. They did it all along but not following any of the social conduct of the society, by living outside it. By not seeking any of the gains.
Swami Vivekananda redefined the renunciation again by re-organizing them back into society while keeping them disengaged.
This re-definition is a continuous process. And maintenance of the diverse society has been constant and non-negotiable.
Practicing Hindus have always found a way to respond to society when needed.
Over the millennia let’s look at some of the ideas that allowed Practicing Hindus to respond to society at large.
Ahimsa — the primordial principle of existence. This has resulted in the creation of infinite possibilities of traditions. All these traditions co-existed but inspired each other. For eg., Sabarimala is one of the 10,000s of thousands that cater to a cross-section of non-menstruating women and men who have lived a lifestyle of sanyas (temporary or permanent). Kamakhya Temple is about worshipping menstruating divine. Aravan temple in Tamil Nadu specifically caters to transgender communities. Every possible permutation and combination of individual needs is catered to provided their primordial principle is “Ahimsa”.
Ganga is the largest diety for Hindus (everything and anything is sacred). And is the most worshipped deity in the world in any religion. This worked as a natural check again human excess at the first layer. It’s no accident that the first world’s first eco-movement “Chipko movement” (tree-hugging) started in Hindu society by the rural and tribal women.
Sanyas lifestyles including devadasis (both male and female renunciates, permanent and temporary). Sanyasis both males and females dedicated their life in the pursuit of enlightenment. Their traditions as complex and wide-ranging from being cave-dwellers and nomadic beggars to politicians and administrators. Sometimes renunciates engaged in warfare, sometimes in providing healthcare, and sometimes providing sexual education. There is no one rule that fits them.
Freedom and self-sustainability of temples and gurukuls. It’s common knowledge that temples were centers for learning, education, business, healthcare. It provided all the necessary support for individuals for both sanyasis and householders. It supported practicing Hindus (or anyone else) for all their cradle to grave, material to spiritual needs.
The vastness and complexity of the voluntary self-sustaining ecosystem created by Hindus are immense. The imperialists had to break the backs of the resistance. Anything that interfered with immoral occupation and exploitation of Hindus had to be outlawed. Most of that can be traced to the Criminal Tribes act of 1871. Any group at the forefront of the independence was brought under criminal tribes i.e. criminal by birth. Over 400 communities ranging from Sanyasis to transgender, hill-tribes to traders, warriors to farmers were included in this list.
It just didn’t stop there, different laws were passed to cripple and take over of education systems, the temple administration. Outlawing of all-female monastic traditions and deliberate destruction of Ganga.
All these changes were brought in to protect Hindus from themselves. After 1947, the view taken by the British has not only continued but continued to grow as well. The default assumption of the government is that Hindus are not capable to take care of their religious traditions. Hindus DNA has a criminal disposition and their practices and thinking are outdated.
All laws and procedures that govern Hindu practices assume the infantility and criminality of Hindus much like their colonial masters. A person in India can claim to be civilized by declaring the barbarity of Hinduism. A Hindu has to defend his practices every day not only to the mainstream but also to government, law, and judiciary.
From 1000s of judgments it all but apparent that Hindu practices are criminal, barbaric, and unconstitutional. Even in cases where Hindu’s rights are protected by law, they need to constantly prove their legality under law.
It’s not uncommon for Judiciary in their opinion to declare all Hindu religious leaders and practices as undesirables and unfit for protection of their fundamental and human rights.
Practicing Hindus have not only been robbed of their right to practice their religion in peace by the Indian State but they have been declared are undesirable “Basket of deplorables” as well. Mainstream Institutions not only tolerates the persecution of Practicing Hindus but also give their explicit support and encouragement.
Mainstream Institutions at their core believe the elimination of Practicing Hindus is essential for the betterment of society.
Today Practicing Hindus are less than 20% of the population in India and are the most persecuted lot. They don’t enjoy the same legal protection of fundamental rights as other communities and individuals. Practicing Hindus are less than 5% of the global population. There is no platform available to them to let the world know about their persecution.