For the sake of a line,” Nepal shall remain as a Hindu Nation” — struggling to get in within the lines of the new constitution, this small Himalayan nation, gradually recuperating from a massive earthquake a few months ago, is again overrun by series of street clashes, public demonstrations, cries and calls. While, one group is desperately demanding Nepal as a Hindu State the other lots mostly emanating from ethnic fraternities are vehemently opposing the idea and calling for a secular Nepal. The grim and degrading scenario has become the routine of the day leading to the obstruction of daily lives of the general mass. Indeed, Nepal is presently going through an incalculable spell of doom and uncertainty.
Scanning through the region, though Bhutan has a credible presence of Hindu population, it is still globally seen as a Buddhist nation. Beginning the decade of 80’s, the fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck maneuvered a policy of integration that candidly tightened royal grip on the prominence of Hindu cultural life in the south. The resentment that grew in the south unfortunately culminated into ethnic cleansing.
But today the scenario is of mending the fences. After transformation from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy brought about by the fourth king himself in 2007, a new lease of hope to continue the cultural and religious life, for the rest of the minor religious groups prevails. Interestingly, the new Buddhist King can be seen inaugurating Hindu temples and receiving blessings from the pundits (priests), often. A shiva temple in Samtse is built on generous sponsorship of the fifth King.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is built on a frame of Islam wherein all the minor and ethnic groups enjoy equal rights despite some sporadic disputes and violence unleashed mostly by terrorist outfits. Bangladesh, another giant in the South East Asia, has been able to accommodate all faiths and creeds in spite of having a Muslim majority. Hindustan, indigenous name for India, is all comfortable with the presence of all sects and beliefs, though faith-triggered violence at local level have dotted the history of India. Meanwhile, as a big brother and presumed caretaker of the entire region, India is also pulling hard to see Nepal as ‘an only Hindu State on the planet’—- for Nepal is not only recognized as a country of valiant Gurkhas and the Mt Everest, the tiny Himalayan nation is widely seen and understood as a center for consolidating and disseminating Hindu ethos, philosophies and values among Hindu populace all across the globe.
Sadly, and seemingly in an absence of extensive research and valid judgements, Nepal—also admired as a Shangri-La of the East—is again going through a series of religious turmoil with unpredictable odds.
Hardly any one realizes the fact that if there can be a hundred Islamic and Christian nations with their ‘Christian or Muslim only’ constitutional provisions for their head of the states; democracy and pluralism can still flourish in a royal Britain with a Church of England taking care of the faith officially and any US president taking oath on Bible without murmurs from citizens belonging to other denominations, why on earth, a lonely Hindu nation can pose such perceived threat to democracy and egalitarian values, while it ensured full freedom to all for propagation and practice of whatever they believed in? To spill the fact right here, over 80% of the population in Nepal remain Hindus.
Agreed, that the current spill of violence and frustrations are grossly alluded to the social imbalances and chaos emanating from the age long practices of untouchability, castes and classes which have been long embedded in Hinduism since time immemorial. Many in the lower echelon believe that the religion has suppressed and victimized a sizeable section of the followers creating social and economic gaps due to which they have not been able to rise and excel in the sea of ordinary humans. Many independent observers believe the caste-based segregation among the population might be the chief instigator leading to a number of offshoots, fragmentations and switching to other faiths from the mainstream Hindu. Moreover, in the context of Nepal, a few of the self-styled marginalized groups are quick to cry foul, openly propagating that Hinduism is a brain and power tool of some delusively bigoted and perceived segments, especially Chhetris and Bahuns to rule and dominate others !
Furthermore, as if like venting an ire to someone or paying an old score, some breakaway fanatics and converts are all out openly ridiculing our Vedic discourses without an iota of regard to other faiths. Almost every day, journals, broadsheets and other social networking outlets are washed with contempt, satires and pictorial pummels against Hinduism despite knowing the fact that besides being too liberal, this Vedic religion is also on the wheel of radical transformation.
However, as modern humans in a civilized world, it is also equally important to accept the fact that things are getting better. Yes, there are many ills and age long notorieties making inroad and infesting Hinduism which might have been the stumbling blocks within the social strata. But we, as modern Hindus, have also reached a stage where we can pick the right and discard the wrong. Reforms, refining and inclusions within the religion is steadily happening in a greater pace. Hindu scholars, pundits, theologians and think tanks are all in a lookout for feasible solutions to accommodate all and timely stem the staggering rise of dissenters, converts and off shooters within the Hindu denomination.
Hinduism is one of the oldest and major religions of the world, and given that the small and beautiful Himalayan nation bereft of her ‘Hindu’ crown largely in the name of secularism, Nepal—as an only Hindu State and the last bastion of Hinduism—will only lose her charm of being an universal epicenter of hope, charisma and divine relevance. Not only the larger populace in the country, perhaps all Hindus across the sphere, at this hour of impending doom are relentlessly praying not to see the last nail in the coffin—- the elimination of the iconic tab “Hindu” alongside Nepal in the upcoming charter of Nepal’s republican polity.
Editor’s note: The opinion expressed in this writing is solely of the author and does not reflect in any way of BNS.