The myth of an ‘amorphous’ Hinduism

The myth of an ‘amorphous’ Hinduism

Going through many discussions on matters that pertain to Hindu culture, one finds that there are two distinct sets of opinions on the matter of what Hinduism is. There is one school of thought that seeks to ban anything it perceives as un-Hindu or as being ‘against Indian culture’. The group opposed to this line of thought takes a moral high ground and speaks of the universalist nature of Hinduism — it speaks of the accepting Hindu, the spiritual Hindu, the universalist Hindu. It says that people who say something is un-Hindu, are actually un-Hindu themselves because Hinduism accepts all ways of thought.

Hinduism is not amorphous. It is large and has no visible limits, but what gives it shape is its core, which is pluralism.

People who castigate others for objecting to something from the Hindu point of view, often take the moral high ground and say that because Hinduism is all-accepting, any idealistic opposition is un-Hindu. They say that because Hinduism is accepting and assimilating, it must accept unquestioningly everything that is thrown at her. This is not valid.

Indiscriminate acceptance makes any organism unhealthy. This is especially true in the case of cultures as cultures survive on values. Hinduism is what it is because it is based on a particular set of values.

One of these values is openness. But openness does not mean swallowing without swallowing. When a new idea comes in, it must be debated, its pros and cons measured, and a place for it must be found in the vast spaces inside Hinduism. The fact that some people’s calls to debate are taken to mean that they are intolerant is unfortunate indeed.

The call for debate is not censorship. It is the exact opposite of censorship. It does not seek to silence voices, it seeks to expand the dialogue.