Reinforcing and Fortifying Caribbean Hinduism

 While the entire world may see India as the cradle of Hinduism and a good share of what publicizes itself as Hinduism comes from whatever the media says about India, we in the Caribbean/West Indies especially Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname have forged our own direction for Hinduism. Our ancestors came from India, but every action taken by India Hindus no longer pertains to us. Yes it is true some traditions, ideas and off course the roots of the religion itself remains with us, but we have created our own path. To say we take all our cues from India is to underestimate the achievements and the progress the Indo-Caribbean diaspora has made in the past two centuries. There are many cultures, countries and their diaspora in the West who differ completely from their mother culture in the East. Can we say that Muslims in the West Indies are an exact replica of the ones in the Middle East?

      To say that the receding issues of the caste system, dowry and other social problems that had once crept into India ever pertained to us in the Caribbean is a joke at best. When was the last time people asked for a huge dowry to marry their sons and daughters in the Caribbean? When was the last time parents refused a marriage taking place over caste problems? Do any of us even know which caste we belong too? There are over 3000 so-called “castes” in India most of us are only aware of the Brahmins and it is a common joke in the temples/mandirs whether a pundit is a Brahmin or that you are a Brahmin because you’re a Maharaj. The idea that all of India’s fading social problems exist within our Caribbean Hindu society or that it is the norm is one being propagated by some of our Hindu “intellectuals”. Perhaps they can tell us when was the last time they attended a child marriage in Trinidad or Guyana. These things are not the norm!

      Now we do have other problems that can be addressed, however, other than that, to spread the idea that child abuse, rape and incest pertains to the Indian race in the West Indies is to misinform the entire world about who we are. These things again are not the norm. There is child marriage in America, is this the norm? There is incest in America, is this the norm? Now marrying your cousin in some countries, that is the norm, but not for us. Hindus would consider that disgusting. If one is referring to reforming how Hinduism is taught in the West Indies in general, yes it should be done, but it has to be about reforms that are relevant to us and our social issues. We cannot correct our problems by using a sensationalized version of India’s data sheet.

     I do believe Hindus do not have a proper education in Hinduism. Not only do they not understand the Shastras, they do not have a sound education in our history and our social issues. Hindu children are not properly educated form young on the basics, at least, the principles, core beliefs, rituals, scriptures and their meaning. I believe deep inside of every Hindu they may “understand” on some subconscious level what their ancestors conveyed to them, they may understand the liberal, all-encompassing and non-exclusive nature of Hinduism, but if they are not able to articulate these ideas properly missionaries, politics and other tactics will leave us in shambles eventually.

    Since other religions practically have a two thousand year head start on us and we need to catch up and we need to do it fast. This means we have to stretch our hands and resources far and wide, and we must do them all at once. Simply educating Hindus is not going to work. We need our voices and our issues to be heard. We need to come together and hold many conferences. We need to challenge missionary work and the right of Hinduism to exist. Hindus are like a school of fish, even if we are educated we can maneuver and swim in the other direction, but if we don’t learn to stand and defend our position sooner or later another net will be cast and it is we who will suffer. When the historic Temple by the Sea was vandalized in Trinidad did we come out in numbers to protest? No. When Dr. Ravi Maharaj, a Hindu, was murdered in Trinidad and his killers plainly mentioned they did it because he was an “Idol Worshipper” and it was their duty to do so, did anyone make the slightest reaction? No. But every Hindu on Facebook had something to condemn Sat Maharaj on his recent comments about letting Hindus work their own issues without outside intervention. Therefore the world continues to see us as easy prey and cowards! This is what I mean by politicizing Hinduism. We need to be loud or any struggle for change will be a farce. However, Hindus feel that by raising their voices they will be called racists and bigots. Yes, Hindus are afraid of any type of confrontation. We think that by keeping quiet we will be left alone, but we are wrong. This is the easiest way to go, silently! Others say Hinduism is all-encompassing and within it “politics is already subsumed” However, so is knowledge itself, but do Hindus display it? No. Just because something is assumed to be there does not mean it is being practiced. The Dhanurveda is our Veda based on the art of war and politics, how many of us have read it or are aware of it? Astrophysics exists, are we all aware of its basic principles? Their logic does not hold.

      Hindus are afraid, we have been taught to be afraid and we are continuously being preached to about peace and understanding. This “peace” is always at the expense of Hindus. Why is it Hindus cannot speak up when we were denied a TV station in Trinidad? I will say it loud and plain, this is racism towards Indians and Hindus since Hinduism is seen as the ultimate “Indianism.” Today Muslims have more rights than anyone else in the West because of their continuous involvement in politics. Where are the Hindu politicians of America? Are they meditating about the politics subsumed in Hinduism? How Hindus appear to the world and the fate of this religion will depend on their political development whether in the West Indies or India. Case in point, as Hindus and Indians gained political power in Trinidad suddenly Hindu schools began to spring up in masses from mud huts to concrete buildings. Hindu issues are a product of their lack of political progress and strong mentality to control their own destiny. We are always depending on others or waiting for someone to give us the thumbs up. Muslims, Christians and converted Hindus are more likely to proudly speak on behalf of their religion than Hindus. That comes from fear of being victimized as a Hindu.

     Trying to eradicate Hindu social issues is not the only problem. Many of these problems do not even stem from Hinduism itself, but from Western and Islamic colonial subjugation and deliberate manipulation of the Hindu systems in order to wipe out the religion. According to Thomas Babington Macaulay, he wanted to make Hindus feel their religion was inferior and they did this by giving them a British education, filled with false histories and commentary about Hinduism from its inception to its heroes, all fabricated in a way so they will become, “a truly dominated nation,” as he clearly stated to British Parliament. Hinduism is not wiped out yet, but the other sides have succeeded many times over. Even the educated Hindu who wants to reform Hinduism thinks that caste, dowry and child marriage are products of Hinduism. Our original system called varna was manipulated to mimic the backward peasant-surf system of the Europeans. Where was the child marriage before Hinduism was adulterated? Hinduism speaks of Rama going into the forest for his period of education and recommends marriage after 25 years of age. Child marriage came into the equation when desperate Hindus found the only way to save their daughters and keep Hinduism intact was to marry them off young before they were abducted during Islamic rule. Ask the suffering Hindu Pakistanis today, history is repeating itself in front of our eyes. They say they have no choice, but to marry their children young because this means less of a chance they will be abducted and forcefully converted.

    Anyone, even with the best intentions, preaching that caste, child marriage and certain other issues stem from Hinduism is repeating a well-constructed Western version of Hinduism. It is the blame and shame game. These persons are also a product of the Western biased colonial version of Hinduism still being taught in the west and even to Hindus in India. They are charvaka Hindus (foreign-educated) even if they do not know it. The idea that our religion is so damaged and flawed was purposefully put there to shame us when it was willfully manipulated. However, yoga, karma, dharma, Ayurveda, basically all the good things are conveniently not Hindu, but some invading “Aryans”, if such a thing existed, gave it to us. Our pundits repeatedly tell the young congregation these practices belong to the world even if it is Hindu. They are sending our future generations out to battle with no weapons for self-defense when they keep preaching this poison. Apparently nothing except negativity is Hindu which leaves the concept in the Hindu mind, why be Hindu? While I do believe West Indians are generally not so educated in Hinduism in the sense they cannot articulate, give definitions or provide a formal discourse on it, there are many who can. Again, those who are educated need to speak up, they need to come forward and not be afraid. We are looking down the barrel of a gun.

     Before we take up any kind of action to protect and propagate our Dharma we need deep self-introspection into our priorities and our course of action. We need to ask who are our enemies? What do we need to do to bring respect to Dharma and protect the Hindu community? What is the exact course of action? What has worked for others that we can utilize? Fortunately, unlike India we are not weighed down by centuries of maladapted and foreign manipulated social customs. Hinduism does not need any reformation, but Hindus need reformation in their thinking. What Hinduism does need is a little fortifying and reinforcement. I am not limited to simply my writing. My protests, clubs, the organizations I support and my very mannerisms reflect my Indianisms and my commitment to Hinduism.

Satya Sanatan Dharma ki Jai!

Vassan Ramracha.