Diversity within unity in Hinduism

Palahalli S. writes from India:

Sanatana Dharma says, “Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti” meaning “The Universal Reality is the same, but different people can call it by different names.” This is from Wikipedia but Hindu books carry the same meaning.

Indian secular liberals, as is their wont, have perverted its meaning to, “All gods/religions are one and the same and their adherents worship in different ways.” Naturally, they include Islam and Christianity amongst others, in this scheme.

While reading your answers to Sandy R’s questions about truth and culture, it occurred to me that you are espousing the true meaning of this statement. [LA replies: I asssume you mean the Sanatana Dharma statement that you agree with, not to secular liberal perversion of it.]

The reality in India is of Sanatana Dharma peopled by diverse races and cultures that have bought into (been assimilated by) the above explained Vedic thread. That is another reason why you will not find uniformity and homogeneity amongst the Hindus.

To the Hindu of various castes and tribes, it becomes a simple matter to live with multiples of gods and goddesses that they may not worship or meditate upon, or do so to a select few of their choice per their inclination and by tradition.

Each caste and tribe is a repository of its tradition and unique culture. They by and large do not impinge on each other. Individuals may of course exercise their own choices. For instance, Brahmins are widely believed to be vegetarian. To eat meat is said to be the trait of the Rajasic (action oriented) warrior caste (Kshatriya). However, I am a meat eater while being a Brahmin.

Now all this is possible within the scope of Sanatana Dharma. This means there is an implicit understanding of boundaries, and people generally do not violate them. By violation, I mean they will not force their own norms and mores on other different groups. One may change over of course.

The truth is that no body of people can be “designed” this way but rather, they evolve by assimilating diverse peoples and making them feel at home and without loss to their own cultures.

Given all this, it is perhaps natural that Islam and to a lesser extent Christianity could not be assimilated with Sanatana Dharma in similar fashion.

Nowadays there is an intense secular-liberal thrust toward collapsing castes. Some Hindu conservatives have bought into it, too, in the name of “equality.” If the move is successful, one can well imagine the terrible impact this will have on Hindu society.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 03, 2009 12:52 PM | Send

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