Hinduism at the Crossroads after Four Thousand Years
Hinduism along with the Hebrew religion is the oldest among religions in the world. There is also no doubt that the reach of Hinduism was much greater than any religion at that time( 4000-5000BC) including Judaism. Islam and Christianity have come much later nearly 2500 years after Hindu practices had dominated the world. A look at the map of the globe at a period about 4000 BC( the age of the Mahabharata) will show that Hinduism had spread right into Arabia, Central Asia, and the Far East. In other words, it was a global religion.
The Hindus do point this out with some pride and many Hindu seers and saints pint to this fact, but a major point is overlooked. This will become obvious as one reads the article further. The fact is that the Hindu religion which had global reach began to shrink and shrank so fat that now all that remains of Hindu thought in the far-flung regions of Asia Minor, Central Asia, and the Far East are relics of some old temples and artifacts.
A case study of Afghanistan is important. This nation is now the hotbed of Islamic insurgency. But just about 2000 years back Afghanistan was a Hindu nation. Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan as per legend was created by the son of the god Ram. But today there is no Hindu temple or place of worship there and professing to be a Hindu is almost like signing your death warrant. This is not all "Kandahar" the most important bastion of the Taliban finds mention in the Mahabharata as " Ghandhar". I have been to this city and can say with authority that not a single Hindu lives there now. What a change! An area that had pristine Hinduism as a pillar has no trace of Hinduism. It was overtaken by Islam and now Ghazni and Ghori are the ones glorified.
I wonder if people and readers are aware that until the 15th century Iran was known as Paras. Or Persia.There the dominant religion was Zoarastirism, which is nothing but the old animistic Hinduism. Now it is a Muslim nation.
Its just not Islam but in the far east Hinduism has been bested by Buddhism. Cambodia is an example. At one time it was the bastion of Hinduism and Deb Burman, the Hindu King at that time constructed the most beautiful largest temple complex in the world at Angkorwat. A visit will show that now in Cambodia and Angkowat, there are hardly any Hindus. Where have they gone? Something similar happened in the island of Bali and Indonesia. Here the exit of the Hindu religion is very recent. Just 90 years back Bali was 90% Hindu, now it is down to 40%. Indonesia which was Hindu and Ram-Leela is still played there is 98% Muslim. No sword was used to convert the people to Islam and the fact is that Sufi saints from Islam spread the religion and Hinduism could not counter Sufism.
History books tell us that even Genghis Khan followed an ancient animistic Hinduism. He was NOT a Muslim. But soon Hinduism lost its foothold in Central Asia, which was part of the empire of emperor Kanishka. There is plenty of evidence available about the rule of Kanishka.He was a great king, but little was he to realize that a few hundred years down the line Hinduism would simply vanish in the region. Hindus may well reflect why all this happened. Why did Hinduism evaporate? There are many reasons but that I shall discuss in another article.
The Indian sub-continent was the bastion of Hinduism. After a brief stint Buddhism under Ashoka vanished and Brahminism or Hinduism came back. But there were unceasing campaigns by fanatic Muslim warriors who perfected the art of war and even in the great sub-continent, almost 30% converted to Islam. It will be wrong to say that all conversions were by the sword as the vast majority simply embraced Islam which offered refuge from Caste and untouchability. An example is Bengal, where the rigidity of caste led to almost 60% Bengalis converting to Islam. This was due to the Sufi saints who spread Islam. There was no forced conversion.
There was forced conversion like in the Valley of Kashmir and rule of Tipu Sultan, but one can say that perhaps just about 5% converted by the sword.
What could be the reason that the Hindus which once dominated the world are now confined to only a truncated part of the Indian peninsula' Here also vast areas of the North East are not Hindu. In addition India is home to the second largest Muslim population in the world. All of them are Hindu converts. A deeper look will show that though Hindus religion is very old, it failed to foster an identity. I asked 10 Indians as to who they were. All replied I am a Rajasthani, Tamil India, Punjabi etc. Not one replied "I am a Hindu". In contrast ask any Muslim or Christian he or she will say I am a Muslim or Christian. This is a fundamental difference. The difference is that there are 56 Islamic nations and nearly 87 Christian nations while there is only one Hindu nation. What fall for a religion that ruled the world is truncated to only one country. That is nothing to be proud of.
Hindus must retrospect and there is a need for Hindu belief to be strengthened. There is something wrong somewhere, otherwise, why would Hindu girls marry Muslim boys. No Muslim girls are marrying Hindus. Nothing is wrong with this but I will say is the moral fiber of Hinduism is weak. Maybe there are too many ills also. What can one say what will happen 500 years down the line? Hinduism in a minority? As we say anything can happen.
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