Karan Singh Distills His Understanding Of Hinduism
NEW DELHI, (IANS) – ‘The Eternal Religion: Glimpses of Hinduism’ (Speaking Tiger) is a collection of essays and experiences of statesman and philosopher, Dr Karan Singh that are made available conveniently, seven decades since, as a 22-year-old, he wrote his first newspaper article that was published in installments by a national daily.
Karan Singh’s shorter popular pieces are available and easily accessible, but his elaborate compositions seemed difficult to lay hands on, until the publication of this book. Sharing his thoughts and interpretations at this point in time is also significant at a time when religion and politics are mixed to make a deadly cocktail.
Singh’s endeavor has always been to rescue a faith that is as pluralistic and inclusive as Hinduism from distortion by politicians. Hinduism, he says, is an “eternal religion because of both its antiquity and inclusiveness.”
He explained that Hinduism is a “multi-faceted, extraordinarily diverse” system that even gives its followers the freedom to worship without a physical representation of a god or goddess being around. It is a great tragedy that people rush through life without looking inward. That is the essence of Hinduism — looking inwards,” Singh said.
“In my view, it is the only religion that allows for multiple paths to the divine,” he summed up, emphasizing that “this choice that Hinduism offers is unique, so putting it in a single mold would be doing injustice to it.”
Singh said he was “shocked beyond belief” at the comment of “responsible ministers and MPs” (referring to Stalin) and added how appalled he was at the young leader’s statement, especially given that Tamil Nadu is replete with significant temples and is home to a rich cultural legacy.
“It is very rare that I get angry, and this got me angry,” Singh said, referring to Stalin’s much-criticized remark that Sanatan Dharma is like “leprosy” and should be “eradicated”.
He pointed to the possible consequences if such a remark were made against Islam. “Kya battamizi hai, sahab (it is most uncivilized),” he said.
Karan Singh agreed that “there are terrible things like untouchability” associated with Hinduism, likening it to ancient Greece, where the culture was based on slavery. He called it an “abomination”.
“An abiding disaster in Hinduism is untouchability. It is an insult and a disgrace to Vedanta and the Upanishads.” Singh said.
He, however, pointed out that “you cannot speak against casteism — it is not just legalized but also constitutionalized!”