Sanatan Dharma and Western Intellectuals: Analysis by Scholar Salil Gewali

A person who does not properly know (a+b)2 and perpendicular should not speak about Integral calculus and Matrix Algebra. Unlearned political leaders with self-centered ambitions can hardly define Sanatan Dharma (or Hinduism). Sadly, such immature public figureslike Udhayanidhi Stalin, MK Stalin,  D Raja,Prof. Divya Dwivedi…who deliberately denigrated Sanatan Darma (Hinduism), hold sway over huge, unsuspecting masses in society. Such people as in Europe’s medieval times, lead public into the darkness of ignorance.They pose serious threats to the communal harmony among the different communities.

Unlike in the West, “Dharma” (religion) in the ancient scriptures refers to a far deeper meaning. If you go into it deeply, you will be amazed to find that it carries under its wing the intellectual wisdom of the highest order. 

Some ascetic said if anyone truly wants to know the depth of Sanatan Dharma, as enshrined in ancient texts, then he must go into solitude. Learning to swim in the “stillness” within by the practice of meditation alone helps prepare one to feel what exactly DHARMA is. As per the ancient scriptures, ‘Sanatan Dharma’ literally means “eternal and universal laws or principles” that govern “everything” and “everyone”, irrespective of culture, race, religion, belief, and practice. Dharmic or spiritual practices should not be touched by the blemishes of the material world. One has to transcend the mundane world and take flight to a higher dimension through self-practice. There is no question of hatred and envy for others in Dharma.

A great American thinker, Henry David Thoreau, writes in his masterpiece WALDEN: “In the Indian ancient scriptures, the idea of man is quite ILLIMITABLE and SUBLIME. He is at length lost in the SUPREME ENTITY himself.”Can our so-called intellectuals who look upon the Western intellectuals as their masters refute Henry Thoreau.  Therefore, there is a great mantra (mahavakya) in one of the Upanishads: “Tat Tvam Asi”, meaning “Thou Art That” — unity of an individual soul with “Brahman” — UNIVERSAL CONCIOUSNESS, we also call it God. 

Of course, the scriptures of “dharma” (or religion) not only speak of ethics, duty, the laws of karma, life, the afterlife and reincarnation; they also expound with absolute precision the cosmic setup and infinite timeline. A great American astrophysicist Carl Sagansays:“The Hindu religion is the only one of the world’s great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths.  It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond, to those of modern scientific cosmology.” — (source – COSMOS byCarl Sagan).

 What is most intriguing is that those Indian sages who talked about mysticism also talked about subtle and fundamental principles that govern everything, from tiny atomic particles to giant celestial bodies and their functioning and existential phenomena. This very grand concept of Dharma and its allied intellectual wisdom bowled over scientists like Schrödinger, Heisenberg and Oppenheimer almost a century ago. Erwin Schrödinger, the father of Quantum Mechanics, in his deeper studies of “particle” and “wave function”, concluded: “The unity and continuity of Vedantaare reflected in the unity and continuity of wave mechanics. This is entirely consistent with the Vedanta concept of ALL IN ONE.”(VEDANTA is Hindu philosophy based on the doctrine of the Upanishads).Please note that Schrödinger’s “Wave Equation” revolutionized the field of quantum mechanics and paved the way for numerous technological advancements. Its application in understanding the behavior of particles at the electromagnetic level has not only enabled the development of a plethora of modern electronic devices but also played a crucial role in satellite communication, Quantum enhanced GPS, space exploration, et al.

With the finding of pulsating vibration of Quantum physics, David Bohm, David Josephson, Archibald Wheeler, Jack Sarfatti, John Hagelin, and John Bells had made attempts to plunge headlong into the cosmic sea of “UNIVERSAL Consciousness” of Upanishads as an ultimate answer.

Here is another mind-blowing opinion by a prodigious American scholar, Huston Smith, who says: “While the West was still thinking, perhaps, of 6,000-year-old universe – India was already envisioning ages and eons and galaxies as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. The Universe so vast that modern astronomy slips into its folds without a ripple.” One of the most read scholars, Huston Smith’s “The Religions of Man”, sold worldwide over 3 million copies as of 2017. 

Furthermore, after taking a plunge into Indian scriptures, TS Eliot also exclaimed, “Indian philosophers’ subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys.”

Incidentally, yesterday, British Prime Minister Rishu Sunak, who was in India for the G20 summit, said that he takes pride in his ‘Hindu’ roots. To the media, he said, “I think faith is something that helps everybody who has faith in their lives, particularly when you have these stressful jobs like I do. Having faith to give you resilience to give you strength is important.”

What a paradox! Many pseudo-intellectuals in the home country choose to just dismiss and belittle Hindu culture and its intellectual heritage. They neither have respect for Sanatan Dharma nor have they ever put effort to delve into its extensive spiritual texts.

Nothing is more disheartening in the country than seeing the “Courts of Law” watch in silence while non-Hindu leaders disparage the profound WISDOM of Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism). There are countless instances when leaders and celebrities deliberately belittled Sanatan Dharma  andrespected courts did not utter a word against them.  However, when Nupur Sharma, an outspoken social activist, came out in defense of a deluge of offensive remarks made against Hindu culture, the same court yelled and lambasted her.What if Nupur Sharma on that fateful day was not “provoked”? At least chaos would not have ensued. Who provoked Ms. Sharma, and why are such provocations purposefully ignored while her isolated eruptions are not? Who will answer this reasonably?

Many saints were immediately put behind bars for hate speeches, while non-Hindus, with impunity, deliver hate speeches every day against Hindus, Sanatan Dharma or even the country in various public forums, newsrooms and social media platforms. If Courts of Laws were sincerely strict and unbiased as they are against Hindus, Udhayanidhi Stalin, MK Stalin et al would not have the audacity to ridicule Sanatan Dharma. Therefore, many other leaders are now publicly backing Udhayanidhi Stalin.  This is in fact a serious development in the country which is tantamount to leaving the entire Hindu population in the lurch. Are the “custodians” of the constitution listening?Pseudo-secularism has done greater harm to the nation and its integrity.

A Shillong-based writer and researcher, Salil Gewali is best known for his research-based work entitled ‘Great Minds on India’ that has earned worldwide appreciation. Translated into thirteen languages, his book has been edited by a former NASA scientist – Dr. AV Murali of Houston, USA. Gewali is also a member of the International Human Rights Commission, Zürich, Switzerland.