Answering Maria Wirth: the great Indian identity!

My friend GV shared an article by a German named Maria Wirth yesterday, where she says, many ‘modern’ Indians are against anything ‘Hindu’, and how India’s ancient traditions/culture has much to offer to the world, which the elitist Indians do not fathom.

My take: I definitely agree India has much to offer to the world. Sanatana dharma (eternal righteous codes) is filled with rich treasure. However, I don’t think we suffer from belittling our religion/region.


Most possibly, we don’t want one.

Why you ask?

I have been brought up in a Tambrahm setting, until I moved out of the city for my graduation. What have I observed is, there are 3 types of people:

a) who ostentatiously oppose anything that is not theirs,

b) neutralists, if I may call ’em that, who neither oppose, nor do they openly embrace other approaches, and

c) the rest who think it’s pragmatic to not get associated to any of these.

For all I know, I am under the 3rd group, because differences are simply tiring me. I admit most of the people I know are agnostics, atheists, people who shun talks on spirituality, or say Sanatana Dharma. I admit that many Indian Christians and Indian Muslims are much vocal and attached to their faith, than many Hindus.

As a Hindu myself, I don’t talk about my religion much. This is the first time I am doing that. I talk about spirituality though, because religion alienates, and those differences are frightening the hell out of me. Why? I don’t want to consciously or unconsciously talk about religion, which could create more partition, more divides. I want us to be one with all that is.

I agree man is a social animal, and we all love to belong somewhere, but this belongingness has brought forth a whirlwind of differences amidst human minds.

Caste distinctions are still playing a role  in our educational system, and in political party votes – the two major pillars in a country’s progress. But is it our right to point the blame somewhere else, when all of us make the society – ‘together’? How many of us in our everyday conversations have stood a testimony to generalizations – elitist or not, dogmatic or not, orthodox or not, literate or not – people generalize. 

Mallus to being selfish, Madrasis to be unruly, Northies to be snobbish, Sardars to ignorance, Christians for conversions, Hindus to fanaticism, Indians to poverty, Aussies to be racist, Muslim dominated countries to terrorism, etc. Or how Barney Stinson makes fun of Canadians in HIMYM.

If in Tamil Nadu someone speaks in English, hell breaks loose; or when a Tamilian doesn’t know Hindi, he is butchered for not knowing the National language. Language is important – yes, but when has the means become more important than the end? Isn’t communication the primary purpose of using a language? Why do we have to be biased about what mode we use? Why in the process of wanting to belong, we end up isolating a sect from the whole?

I am proud of my culture, country, diversity. Most certainly, yes. At the same time, one man’s pride is another man’s vanity.

So there that answers your question Dear Maria. We don’t fear our identity, we fear the repercussions the first set would create on the rest. If belongingness would let the world embrace, I am happy to belong, else I would rather alienate myself if it would bring in peace. religion-india

To be honest, I even had incredulous doubts on patriotism, something on the lines of what Mansi Bhatia wrote in her blog:

“I thank him but I also wonder

If we are not our own enemies

Forging boundaries and the idea

Of controlled territories

Why can’t we live in a world

Devoid of father- and motherlands?

Why can’t we take care of the earth

And be a true patriot of this land?”

Full post here:

There was no India/Pakistan before the independence struggle, we were brothers/sisters of one motherland. Today, not even a century later, you cannot watch a YouTube video of Indo-Pak cricket match without reading the abuses that are hurled at. Why? What happened there?

I do see your point Maria, for want of a liberal/peaceful setup, we are probably patronizing ourselves. India sure has a rich heritage, and a rather unique sophistication, but a lot has happened over time – lives have been lost – millions – in the name of religion – so I don’t want to go down that road.

I am neither a Tamilian, nor a Hindu, though circumstantially I am one. I wouldn’t call myself an Indian either, I am simply a human, trying to find divinity. Again using the word divinity would not let me be a part of my fellow atheist/agnostic brothers. Why would I even do that?

To me divinity is love, because everything else in the world might lead into differences, but love never will! That doesn’t mean I would say ‘hell with hindutva’; I will still go home and chant a line from rig veda that says: ‘ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti‘; I will still fold my hands in reverence when I pass by a church; I will still look upto to the life of Gauthama; I will still visit dargahs, so on and so forth.

a true indian

That dear German is the true Indian – modern or old, doesn’t really count, what counts is to be true and rooted, not to hindutva, but to our diversity.

To live and let live, for didn’t the rig veda say: ‘Truth is one, the wise call it in many names’.

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