Hindus must respond to malaise of Hinduism

While the Guyanese nation as a whole need to take a serious look at their institutions and begin to re-examine them for relevance to their present circumstances, the condition of the Hindu section – 28 percent at the last census, and dwindling under unrelenting Christian proselytization – is most dire. Whether it is suicide, alcoholism, domestic violence, or other dysfunctional responses to societal pressures, the Hindus are the ones most affected. We cannot pussyfoot around this fact.
While their challenges are also national challenges, Hindus would have to take a lead in dealing with them.
I suggest that, firstly, we would have to engage in a reinterpretation, reformation, reaffirmation and re-grounding of our dharmic [religious, cultural, educational and social] institutions and traditions to deal with the present place (desh), time (kaal) and circumstances (parishtiti) in which we find ourselves.
Brought as indentured labourers (Girmitiyas) between 1838 and 1917, Hindu dharma was subverted through the regime of “discipline and punish” on the sugar plantations. As such, there must be a constant unmasking of the “social maya”, or hegemonic structural forces, that keep us entrapped by their various champions and promulgators.
The “Dharma for the age”, relaunched many times in our long history by applying eternal principles to present challenges, can be summarised in four SUTRAS [maxims]: LOK SANGRAHA, LOK SANSKAR, LOK VIYAWASTHA and LOK KALYAAN. When their principles are fully implemented within the concrete circumstances, they lead to the Hindu vision of the ideal society – RAM RAJYA.
LOK SANGRAHA – to gather the people together.> Hindus have to see themselves as one
family. In the words of Swami Vivekanand: “Then and then alone you are a Hindu, when every man who bears the name from any country, speaking our language, or any other language, becomes at once the nearest and the dearest to you…when the distress of any one bearing that name comes to your heart and makes you feel as if your own son were in distress…when you will be ready to bear anything for them”.
The Hindu believes that, ultimately, the whole world is one family – VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM – but understands that love, like all other relationships, must begin at home.
LOK VIYAWASTHA – to organise the people.>  For us in Guyana, coming overwhelmingly from the Eastern UP-Western Bihar, this was reinforced by Sant Tulsidas in his magnum opus, Ramcharitmanas –  SANGHA SHAKTI KAL YUG: in this age “organisation is power”. While there were many negatives, the plantation experience produced an unintended consequence when it united the Girmitiyas against their common oppressor – the colonial power. For Hindus, many of the abuses of the jati system [status by birth, commonly dubbed the “caste system”], for instance, were eradicated in Guyana.
LOK KALYAAN – the welfare of the people.> Guyanese Hindus have many organisations, but they are ill-equipped with the resources needed – human, material, ideological … etc. – to effectively serve the needs of the community. This is one main reason why there is a lethargy in the community’s activities and responses to challenges. The “Purohit”, or ritual expert of the sixteen life sacraments, for instance, has been transformed into the “Pandit”, but has he/she been trained for this role by institutions created for this purpose?
Hindu organisations have to become much more activist-oriented and focused. One glaring lacuna to be filled, for instance, is the need for social counselling against alcoholism, wife battering, and suicide attempts.
Hindu organisations and leaders have to also become more outspoken when Hindu interests and rights are threatened; this is their duty. Hinduism does not end in the mandirs; it does not even begin there. Our organisations have also to expose others to the Hindu vision; not in the aggressive, offensive manner of the Christian evangelicals, but in the Hindu tradition of sharing without asking for conversion. We must teach as well as learn…we who were Jagad Janini [world teachers] cannot be students only.
Hindu organisations must stop blaming the “enemy” only, and take charge of helping Hindus to craft their destinies. A great deal of responsibility lies with the professional class. They are figures of respect in our communities because that is part of our tradition. They, however, have a reciprocal duty, as part of that same tradition, to go among the people and share what their common dharma has bestowed upon them.