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HVK Archives: The heart of Hinduism - an article from the archives

The heart of Hinduism - an article from the archives - The Times of India

Posted By Ashok V Chowgule (ashokvc@giasbm01.vsnl.net.in)
1 August 1912

Title : The heart of Hinduism
Author :
Publication : The Times of India
Date : August 1, 1912

We printed yesterday the last of the series of illuminat-
ing articles which Sir Narayan Chandavarkar has been
contributing for some weeks past to our columns. At no
time previously has there been a more earnest and sincere
desire among all classes to understand one another than
at present. The old sentiment that there was nothing
outside one's own creed or sect which was wrote knowing,
has been swept away by the steady advance of the histori-
cal sciences which have revealed unsuspected affinities
between widely separated institutions and customs. The
twentieth century may well be called the century of the
open mind....

The most important service which Sir Narayan Chanda-
varkar's articles have rendered, in our opinion, is that
they have directed attention to the life and conversation
of the humble worker in the field and at the loom as the
real fountain of the popular religion of the Hindus. The
vitality of Hinduism springs neither from the transcen-
dental philosophies which it touches with one hand nor in
the Animistic practices to which it extends the other,
but in its efficacy and sufficiency, to sustain and
solace the peasant in his field, the artisan at his
primitive trade, and the petty shop-keeper in the vil-
lage, amidst the many vicissitudes of a life always on
the brink of catastrophe. How Hinduism suffices for these
purpose. Sir Narayan has impressively told us in his
articles. By inculcating a spirit of resignation and
surrender to outward circumstances, Hinduism secured
stability to the social system with which it came to be
associated at the expense of political and economic
progress. Malhari the Mahar, whose story Sir Narayan has
narrated with so much charm and feeling, renounces his
patrimony the moment his unscrupulous brother thinks of
usurping it for his own use. No wonder that in India
unscrupulous adventurers have always been able to terror-
ise the peaceful population.

Another source of the vitality of Hinduism is undoubtedly
its recognition of the varied and manifold requirements
of the human heart. To the intellectual person whose
heart is set on Truth, it offers a vast speculative
literature unsurpassed for the wealth and variety of its
contents. To the lover of the ceremonial and the symbolic
it presents the most complicated forms of ritual that was
ever devised by any creed. To the emotional type of
devotee its "bhakti" side, rich in the lore of love, is a
perpetual joy. In popularising this last aspect of Hindu-
ism among the masses, the lead was taken by saintly men
drawn from among, all castes and communities. Many of
these men "could neither read nor speak they only loved."
They went about singing hymns or telling stories from the
legendary stores of the Hindu religion and were welcomed
wherever they went by the village population. A third
source of the vitality of Hinduism is, as has been well
brought out in Sir Narayan's articles, its deep-rooted

love of family life..... The Hindu wife is keenly con-
scious of the fact that, in spite of all its lack of
consideration for her creature comforts, her religion is
a powerful force behind her in safe-guarding the inter-
ests of the family. Hence her unwavering attachment to
the faith which regards the disruption of family life
with the utmost horror. The caste system, another bulwark
of popular Hinduism, is based on a profound knowledge of
human nature. The peculiarity of the Hindu caste system
is that there is not a single caste which is not able to
look upon itself as superior to some other caste. In
fact, the lowest castes are invariably more particular
about their being accorded their due precedence in social
matters than perhaps the higher castes who have no need
to stand on their dignity. When all is said, the fact
remains that Hinduism both as a social system and as a
religious belief has been the refuge and spiritual goal
of un-numbered millions for several centuries. Up to the
time of the Mahomedan invasion, it absorbed all those of
whatever race who came to this country, and so thorough-
ly, too, that they became its strongest champions in its
hour of need. It has reared up a philosophy which for
boldness of endeavour and keenness if analysis stands
high among the achievements of the human intellect.

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