What do we desperately need: Secularism or “वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम”

The Indian culture is perhaps one of the world’s most old heritages. The culture has espoused the idea of global brotherhood, irrespective of caste, creed, religion and social status centuries ago. The notion of वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम existed in India even when the west was not even born. The idea of secularism is a flawed product of west because it’s paradoxical to what we experience in the real world. We would deal with the draconian interpretation of secularism in the Indian context later on but let’s deal with the classical western definition of secularism, its flaws, and finally let’s compare it with the notion वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम and see why the former is merely a small subset of what the latter actually conveys.

As we know many cultures believed (some still continue to believe) in an archaic belief that the earth is flat. An equally archaic belief that the earth is the centre of the universe too was in the vogue in medieval era. However both the antiquated beliefs have now been scrapped.

There are people who believe in eternity, a philosophical approach that considers an individual or a school of thought forever relevant. I call them fanatics. You’ll find those fanatics everywhere; they’re very easy to single out. There exists a fanatic in each and every person; however intensity of fanaticism may vary from person to person. Such people are vehemently resistant to any kind of change because they believe in the hollow supremacy of the “myth” they believe in. Religious faithful are the most commonly recognized fanatics; yet you can see them in all walks of life. Howsoever old-fashioned their beliefs maybe, in most of the cases, these fanatics don’t harm the others. But then this is not the case with everyone.

The classical definition of secularism stands for the separation of the State from the Church. But then the question which naturally would arise is: We may separate the State from the Church, but can we separate the Church from the state? Given the fact that the majority of the population is believer or theist, how do we expect the administrators who govern the State be atheists? And if they are not atheists, how would we achieve the crucial separation of the Church from the State? That is why I argue that the notion of secularism is a flawed.

Now one may come up with another gem from the rich Indian Culture, namely सर्वधर्मं समभाव, and try to sell this as the core of secularism. Fair enough, but even this idea is flawed and I’ll explain why! To my knowledge, no religion would ever want its followers kill the unbelievers or those who are not followers of that particular religion. No religion would ever want some of its followers to oppress the others. But the history suggests us that all such things have already happened, and are still happening; of course the intensity has been damped compared to the olden times. Why did those wars happen in the first place, if all the religions solicited and spread peace? The answer is: It’s the flawed interpretation, by those who had and still have vested interests, which shall be deemed responsible for all those wars in the name of the religion. But then a religion is nothing without its proper interpretation, and hence such “misinterpretations” are inherently unavoidable. Moreover the notion stands for the notion only talks of giving equal respect to all the religions and not to compare one religion with the other. So even if one stands for सर्वधर्म समभाव would he be able to convince people not to participate in such things in the name of the religion? I don’t think so.

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Now I talk about वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम and why we desperately need it. The notion वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम stands for the harmony between all the living beings, be it a human or an animal, of the world. It actually solicits peace, tolerance and harmony between the humans, regardless of their caste, creed, religion, and nationality. It tells the world not to differentiate between the creations of the same creator. Now would you not concede that we still are suffering from communalism, racism, hostility, enmity and other such menaces? And don’t you see the permanent solution of all those problems in the notion वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम? Moreover, would you not concede that the notion सर्वधर्म समभाव is a small subset of what वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम  stands for? Hence I say  what we desperately need is वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम and not secularism in order to restore peace and harmony.

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One thought on “What do we desperately need: Secularism or “वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम”

  1. Excerpts and comments.
    >> “The classical definition of secularism stands for the separation of the State from the Church. But then the question which naturally would arise is: We may separate the State from the Church, but can we separate the Church from the state? Given the fact that the majority of the population is believer or theist, how do we expect the administrators who govern the State be atheists? And if they are not atheists, how would we achieve the crucial separation of the Church from the State? That is why I argue that the notion of secularism is a flawed”.

    True, the classical definition is separation of the state from the church. This definition and the practice pertains to Europe, not applicable to India. In Europe there was only one religion/church from whose clutches the state that had to be liberated. This would be applicable to any other country, where one single religion holds sway. Whether, such as country chooses to be secular or not is a different matter.

    Given the plethora of religions and sub-religions, secularism in the Indian context means equidistant from all religions. Even the faith followed by the majority, Hinduism, is not some single monolithic faith.

    Hence the contention that secularism is flawed does not hold. In Europe, the classical definition holds true and in India, the equidistant definition is true.

    >> The notion वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम stands for the harmony between all the living beings, be it a human or an animal, of the world. It actually solicits peace, tolerance and harmony between the humans, regardless of their caste, creed, religion, and nationality.

    True, in an ideal world. Is there a Utopia anywhere? Not that I know of. With countless faiths / sub faiths, there are bound to be frictions, differences with intolerance and bigotry rearing thier ugly heads that would lead to violence and vandalism. The solution is that the authorities must not play favourites. That is where the Indian definition of secularism comes in. Having said that, is it possible for the state to remain impartial? Given that it is manned by members from within, it is not always so, but there are checks and balances with different branches of the Governments to make sure that impartiality is not a casualty.

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