May 17, 2014
Vaishakha Krushna Paksha Trutiya/Chaturthi, Kaliyug Varsha 5116
An Instrument for Organizing the Global Hindu Community
At the end of World War II, the world witnessed the rapid emergence of newly independent countries unshackling themselves from the clutches of weakening colonial powers. Bharat was in the forefront of countries in obtaining independence to chart its own destiny. Hindus in Bharat as well as those throughout the world saw these changes and the opportunities that arose with great expectations.
Bharat finally obtained its independence on August 15, 1947, although this independence came after a painful and horrific partition of Hindus’ historic and spiritual homeland. During the violent cataclysmic event of the partition of the historic land, the world witnessed one of the largest migrations and mass slaughter of people ever seen in recorded history, with the Hindus bearing the brunt of the killing and forcible displacement. The overwhelmingly majority of the Hindu population was driven out of West and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
It was through this ultimate ordeal under which Hindus finally obtained their independence after one thousand years of brutal occupation by hostile, genocidal, non-Hindu forces. After partition, Hindus of an independent Bharat and those Hindus residing outside Bharat hoped to build their future. Hindus had suffered humiliation and impoverishment for a thousand years of hostile anti-Hindu rulers, but had survived. Hence, with great expectations and possessed with tremendous potential, Hindus looked to the future.
However, even in an independent Bharat, Hindu interests were compromised due to various factors. Along with the problems the Hindus have to deal within Bharat, Hindus all over the world are facing serious threats to their right to exist. Problems were particularly acute in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where Hindus suffer numerous instances of mass genocide, forcible displacement and conversion. Hindus living in other parts of the world such as the Caribbean, Africa, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Fiji etc were facing discrimination and humiliation largely on account of their Hindu identity. There was neither a government nor an organization world wide to effectively look after the interests of Hindus.
It was in the context of this background, Hindus from different backgrounds had decided to form an organization to strengthen Hindu society throughout the world. Prominent and respected Hindu leaders such as Swami Chinmayanand Saraswati, Shri M. S. Golwalkar, and Shri Shivram Shankar Apte, undertook the initiative supported by Sardar Master Tara Singh, Jain Muni Sushil Kumar and Rinpoche Kushok Bakula called an unprecedented meeting of social, spiritual, cultural and political Hindu leaders and chiefs of many different sections (sampradayas) of Hindu society such as, but not limited to, Shaiva, Vaishnava, Veera Shaiva, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, Arya Samaj, and others at the Sandeepani Sadhanalaya, Powai, Mumbai.
Over forty important Hindu spiritual and civic leaders took part in this meeting and held lengthy deliberations and discussions to formulate a way forward. Several ideas were put forth. The assembled leaders finally formed the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) on the day of Krishna Janmashtami (which commemorates the birth of Bhagwan Krishna), on August 29, 1964.
Over the past 49 years, VHP has served Hindu society with great effort by bringing together Dharmacharyas of all Sampradayas of Hindu Dharma. It has also started a wide range of service and education projects to serve the less fortunate members of Hindu society. VHP has played an instrumental role in restoring pride among Hindus about their glorious heritage and made efforts to unify Hindus across many different lines. The most prominent example of VHP’s contribution to the Hindu Resurgence was during Sri Ramajanmabhumi movement, which was the monumental agitation by Hindus demanding the restoration of the holy site of the birthplace of Bhagwan Rama to Hindu society.
The VHP has been extraordinarily successful in its chosen mission and continues to serve the Hindu society through seva, and provides a platform for Dharmacharyas to come together. Major shifts have taken place in the world economy since the late 1960s. There is a market driven world order and Hindus have kept up with the times by taking advantages of the new avenues of movement and economic opportunities. Along with the economic opportunities, Hindus are facing numerous challenges especially in the form of human rights violations, active discrimination against Hindus, cultural assaults and other forms of existentialist challenges.
Recent developments in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia have shed light on the challenges confronting Hindu society. In Bharat, Hindus continue to face disadvantage and discrimination vis-a-vis other communities. The responses to any such challenges are complex and will have to be addressed outside of the current institutional framework.
Our forefathers have worked hard to nourish and preserve Hindu society. For the most part, other societies which were ruled by either imperialistic Muslim or Christian forces failed to retain their native religious traditions and instead were converted to the religions of their conquerors. Examples of this dynamic can be seen in Iran, Iraq and Central Asia in the aftermath of being conquered by Muslim Arabs, and also with the whole of Europe rapidly succumbing to Christianity shortly after being conquered by Christian forces. Hindu society, however, in the subcontinent valiantly resisted over a period of 1200 years, the attempts by Muslim and Christian to oppress and convert the Hindu population, with Hindus comprising 75% of the subcontinent’s population shortly before the horrors of Partition.
Now is the time for the present generation of Hindus to take this valiant legacy forward and to assume the implied responsibility of shaping and nurturing Hindu unity and organization throughout the world. This task needs to be undertaken with a single minded focus of rebuilding the spiritual and material heritage of Hindus.
Currently, Hindus are facing serious challenges and are being attacked from all directions in many areas of the world such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Africa, the Americas, Europe, Fiji and the Caribbean. The remaining Hindu inhabitants of Pakistan and Bangladesh are repeatedly subjected to numerous hardships and atrocities. Given this scenario that confronts Hindus, it is necessary to assemble once again to formulate effective strategies and solutions as well as mobilizing the means to address these myriad.
World Hindu Foundation is organizing the first World Hindu Congress on 21-22-23 November 2014 in New Delhi.
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