Blog Post

The Tenacity and Resilience of the Hindu

A Blog Post

In my conversations outside India, people told me several times that they met many Indians and found them to be "nice and gentle," but never rude. Some even said that it was not the case with the people from neighboring countries. They found them to be different in behavior and temperament and wondered why it was so, since they too came from the same roots and had the same history.

It is true that a majority of Indians who live abroad are well behaved, agreeable and gentle. They avoid attracting attention to themselves and live their lives, limiting their attention to their careers, children, friends and family. They are also tolerant and different in thinking and attitude from people of other countries and cultures.

However, beneath that soft demeanor they are also tough and resilient. Their gentle behavior should never be mistaken for weakness. Politically, India might have been invaded by numerous foreign powers, but the people of the native faiths (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism) remained mentally and spiritually invincible. They might have been defeated in wars by foreign powers in the past, but most of them descended from ancient spiritual communities and warrior groups who knew how to deal with suffering and live with humility.

The history of India stands testimony to this. It validates their tolerance, courage, strength and commitment to their gods and their culture. India was ruled by Muslim kings and emperors for about 900 years and by the British for nearly 350 years. During this long period, Hindus withstood persecutions by Muslim rulers, and religious and racial bias and discrimination by the British.

It is a wonder that although Hindus had no centralized religious authority like the Church and although they were subjected to innumerable hardships and discrimination for nearly a millennium, a majority of them remained loyal to their ancestral faith and their ancient gods. The Muslim rulers of both the North and the South killed millions of Hindus in wars and conducted systematic persecutions, forcing many to convert under the lure of political or economic privileges or the fear of death.

Despite such harsh measures, they could not shake the faith of the natives. Most of them remained rooted to their culture and ancestral faiths. The British outwardly remained secular but allowed missionaries, the Vatican and European organizations to engage in religious propagation and conversions. However, neither of those efforts were successful in converting the native Indians (who were known as Hindus in those days). Until this day, a majority of them (80%-85%) practice their faiths with pride and conviction.

India is the only country where its ancient culture and native faiths survived centuries of foreign oppression, colonialism, imperialism, the Industrial revolution, two World Wars, scientific rationalism, and an organized onslaught by well-funded foreign institutions to undermine and degrade them. India is also the only country that gave birth to at least four major world religions and innumerable religious and spiritual movements.

Hinduism survives and continues its long journey because of its dedicated guardians like this writer, the ascetics and the gurus, who volunteer as a service and sacrifice to God to protect and preserve its knowledge, traditions and practices for posterity. They ensure that from generation to generation Hinduism emerges with increased strength, knowledge and wisdom to meet the needs, expectations and aspirations of its religiously vibrant and diverse community. This has been going on for centuries and will continue in future also.

I have no doubt that the people in the West who are now part of the Hindu global community will enrich it further and ensure its future continuity.