Why should Nepal be a Hindu Nation?
Nepal is in the process of drafting a new democratic constitution. There are many issues among them the reinstatement of Hinduism is one of them as Nepal was declared secular state without people’s mandate. It was neither the demand of the popular movement nor the agenda of any political party. Sanatan Hindu religion has been the social, cultural and religious tradition of Nepal since ancient time. Historical facts and evidence since ancient time clearly suggest that Nepal has deeply rooted Sanatan Hindu tradition and that tradition continued from various prehistoric periods: Gopal Banshi (cow-herder), Mahaiṣapālavaṃśa (buffalo-herder) to Kiranti, Lichchavi, Thakuri, Malla, Shah, Rana dynasties and even today.
Land of Hindus
Though there are many interpretations about the origin of Nepal, there is no doubt that the name ‘Nepal’ comes from Sanskrit, the language used in the religious scriptures of the Sanatan Hindu. Therefore there is clear link of Sanatan dharma and Nepal for thousands of years. The names of places mentioned in Hindu religious scriptures like Kailash, Pashupatinath, Gokarna, Muktinath, Janakpur, Ruru, Barah, Lumbini, Devghat and hundreds of pilgrimages, shrines, temples, monasteries, dharmashalas and ashrams dating back thousands of years are the testimonies of this fact. The ancient temples existing for thousands of years are the clear evidence of the existence of Sanatan Hindu religion in Nepal. The evidences of even before the ancient and modern history clearly suggest this land to be known as holy land because of the ancient rishis and maharshis, who created the greatest of the greatest religious scriptures of the universe.
The longest ruling clan Kirantis, Lichchhavis and Mallas have made remarkable contributions in the promotion of religious way of life during their reigns constructing most of the famous temples of the Kathmandu valley, where there were many temples than houses and was known as the city of temples until a few years ago. Even some kings of the Shah dynasty and Rana rulers promoted religious culture and refused to allow the entry of British empire ruling in India. The British empire which had ruled most of the world then, was requesting the permission for a route to Tibet for trade but Nepal government refused with the notion “with the merchants come the musket and with the Bible comes the bayonet.” However, Nepal could not face that pressures and had to fight the war with mighty British Empire in India. After the defeat in the war, Nepal lost one third of its land, and with this the entry of bible was easily accessible into the Himalayan nation.
Though the Rana and Shah dynasties were autocratic, they were too some extent were able to stop the entry of western imperialist religion. Even after the first revolution of 1950, which opened the door for democracy ending the dynastic rule of Ranas, Nepal remained Hindu nation. The struggles for the restoration of democracy continued as the then King Mahendra sacked the elected government in 1960 and ruled the nation as an autocratic ruler banning all democratic political activities. The 1990s popular movement, which was inspired by the collapse of the Communism from the USSR and Eastern Europe, limited the role of monarchy. However, even after the end of direct rule of the monarchy, the constitution promulgated after that gave continuity to the Hindu nation. Amidst the Maoists’ civil war and the royal palace massacre, the new king Gyanendra became ambitious to be an autocratic ruler. His ambitious mission to crush the democratic rights united all political forces- democratic and Communists- in one fold and a massive peaceful popular movement compelled the king to give up his power. The parliament which was restored at the height of the movement in 2006 abolished 240 year old monarchy and declared Nepal a republic country. The new interim constitution also declared Nepal a secular state, which was neither the demand of the people nor the agenda of any political party. How would people accept this ?
The main demand of the popular movement, which brought millions of people in the street, was the end of king’s rule and restoration of democracy. Prior to the popular movement, the main political parties including the Maoists had signed a 12 point understanding in New Delhi. The demand of the popular movement and the 12 point understanding are the main bottom line of Nepal’s political development. However, ‘secularism’ was neither the demand of the popular movement nor any parties nor the 12 point understanding. Therefore declaring secular state was against the mandate of the people so it is against the demand and wishes of the people.
Hindu culture in daily life
Over 94 percent of the population are the followers of Hinduism (81.3percent), Buddhism (9 percent), Kirantis, Jainism, and Sikhism and belong to the Sanatan Dharma (Omkar family). The Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Kirantis and other religious adherents lived together respecting each other for thousands of years. Celebration of dozens of festivals like Dashain, Tihar, Teej, Rakshyabandhan, Shree Krishna Janmashtami, Ekadashi (in every 15 days) Aunshi and Purnima (new moon and full moon, twice a month) are also the part of daily life. There is no almost a single day when there is no any festival, rituals and celebratory occasion in Sanatan culture. Most of the people in Nepal engage in Vedic rituals on a daily basis. People perform daily chores such as worshiping early in the morning after bathing, recitation of Gayatri and other mantra, reading religious scriptures, singing devotional hymns, meditation and reciting scriptures.
Sanatan Hindu religious tradition is deeply rooted in Nepalese society. Adherents of this tradition perform 16 sanskars (rituals) from birth to death and there are hundreds of other religious ceremonies, rituals, festivals and traditional performance during their life time. Some people even follow Hinduiusm and Buddhism and other rituals and it is in the blood and genes of Nepalese. There is the saying that the people of Kathmandu have more festivals and rituals than the whole days in a year.
The very meaning of Sanatan Dharma is ‘eternal’ or universal principle’ that governs everyone irrespective of culture, race, religion, belief and practices. These truths of universal principle are believed to be divinely revealed to ancient rishis and passed town orally for many years and written down thousands of years later. This is the most tolerant dharma with social harmony with different religious sects. There is no practice of conversion in Hinduism like in other religion.
However, with the declaration of secular state, media reports suggest that the conversion has sky rocketed. The population of Christian was 0.4 percent in 2001, however, this number jumped to 1.4 percent while the number of Buddhists gone down. With this the social harmony has shattered. Religion is a completely personal and private matter but there is no informed choice to the people of underprivileged areas of Nepal. Conversion can create problem of radicalisation so there is the need to think about it in time. The news reports in the local media reveal that conversion has flourished and with this there is clash and conflicts with different caste and creeds in the society. Political parties and activists are saying that the conversion has created conflicts in the name of caste, religion and ethnicity. Neither converting a few millions of people can make the Christianity a great religion, nor can it create social harmony existing in Nepal for centuries. In view of the centuries old tradition, popular demand and wishes of people, and create social harmony existing among the people of Nepal for centuries, declaration of sanatan dharma with religious freedom is the most appropriate option in the new constituion. People’s aspiration is the most democratic process and all must respect their choice. There are many countries in the world which are Buddhists, Islamic, Christian and even a small country Israel, surrounded by Islamic countries, is a Jewish state. There is no Hindu nation in the world. Hinduism is the pride, glory and identity of Nepal. Sanatan dharma Hinduism is the oldest religion with great scriptures like Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagwat Gita etc.
When there are more than 40 Muslim countries and over 70 Christian countries, why can’t Nepal become a Hindu state as a representative of about a billion Hindus all over the world? Either there should be a referendum to give people the right to vote or Nepal be declared Sanatan Hindu nation.