"Our mind is like a garden, which can either be intelligently cultivated or be allowed to
There is now a wind of change sweeping through our immigrant society today. As the entire generation of our fathers and elders who first came to this country is getting older, the newer and younger generation of Hindus, born and brought up in Britain, is growing up and with them are growing new problems. Youth itself is not a problem. More than 2300 years ago, even Plato wondered: ‘What is happening to our young people? They disrespected their elders. they disobey their parents.They riots in the streets, inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?’ As long as young people exist, these problems will exist, but in case of an immigrant society striving to retain its own identity, these youth problems aided by the identity crisis can ferment into social decay of menacing proportions. In our case, it is simply the question of survival of Hinduism in this country.
Action must be taken now to ensure that Hindu retain their self-confidence, pride and their way of life. The solution is found in the words of Sri Aurobindo, ‘The future belongs to the young’. So let us help them to mould it.
Many organisations representing various castes and creeds have sprung up to face this challenge, but they simply promote their own views and faith; inspite of their best intentions they do not realise that this is not the time to talk about petty differences of caste and creed, neither is it the time to split our youngsters into different disunited groups. We should aim to bring Hindus of different views and hues on a common platform of sangathan (unity). The time has come to unite our youth and guide them in the right direction of Hindu unity because in unity and unity alone lies the survival of Hinduism.
Many of us are perhaps familiar with dozens of so called youth organisations, which pretend to unite our youngsters by organising recreational/sports activities but with no definite objective or training programs. Such recreational activities for pure enjoyment can be found elsewhere and they alone can not have the desired long-term impact on the youth. It is understadable that the youngsters today have many more intersts to occupy their time and mind. What is required is a youth activity combined with direct or indirect teaching (sanskars). We have to attract them and then teach them. That is where an organisation like the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh can help. It is making a big contribution in its own unique way. For example, it is now well known for its well planned and disciplined training camps and even more popular is the annual Hindu marathon in which Hindus from all walks of life are encouraged to take part.
The definite objective behind the Hindu Marathon is to promote the concept of ‘Vasudhaiva kutumbkam’ (whole world is one family) and unity among the Hindus. We need such new ideas to involve our youngsters to help spread this vital message. The organisations like Sangh can teach the youth, the self-respect and pride, it can teach discipline and fire enthusiasm in their hearts. By training the youth, we can continue to uplift the Hindu society inspite of living in our adopted country in minority numbers.
One very important ingredient required to create the feeling of belonging to Hinduism is to ensure that our inquisitive youngsters are explained the multi-religion and multi-faceted Hinduism in the simplest possible terms. They should be made to understand that there are many faiths, many scriptures and many gurus within Hinduism. Hinduism is not a prison but a home of ideas promoted by many learned men and women over thousands of years. Each person is free to choose his way depending upon his intellect and his faith. There is a lot of variety but a string of unity runs through them just like many different flowers in a garland. Most difficult of subjects can be explained simple; for example, I was once questioned about the origin of Lord Ganesh (Hindu God with an elephant face).
To provide an explanation from mythical Puranas (scriptures) would have caused more confusion than understanding. So the elephant face was explained as a symbol for stability and strength; in olden days the elephant was considered to be the mainstay of an army. It should be noted that Hinduism is full of symbolic explanations. In case of Lord Ganesh (Ganapati), it teaches to remain strong and stable, and that is why Ganapati is often worshipped before start of any work like laying foundation of a new building or starting a new business venture. Is not it an immortal way by which the Hindu sages (rishis) had tried to establish the good qualities in the society through a marvelous story and symbol of lord Ganesh? We should not impose meaningless rituals on our youngsters, but should provide and understandable and convincing explanation. Some work has already been done in this area of education, but a lot needs to be done in this area of education, but a lot needs to be done to simplify the principles and teachings of Hinduism from complex poetic Sanskrit into a common man’s language.
We must at the same time recognize the social pressures put on our youngsters today. They all seek success and acceptance by the host society. No one likes to be a failure, and the youngsters of today is expected to compete and succeed, but in this process of material gain and social acceptance by the host community, he or she should not reject or suppress his or her own identity. The youngsters should note that it is a well-known conclusion drawn by many management consultants and social researchers that in order to succeed, one must have the qualities of discipline, self-respect and above the self-confidence. All these qualities can only be truly gained by those who know they are and are proud of being what they are. Our challenge is to help our youngest in knowing their true Hindu identity and help them succeed for sake of -our future generations.
The challenge before us is to ensure that the whole present day generation of young Hindus id courageous and clear-hearted, not coward and selfish. The time has come for the hard working and aspiring youth to take the lead. Failure and lofty aspirations alone has no place in our society today. As Shri Eknath Ranade, whom was the moving force behind the creation of the Vivekanand Rock Memorial at Kanya Kumari had said.
“Challenges do not occur to everybody. Only those whose life has a purpose have the opportunity to face the challenges. It should be a matter of pride for us if we are to face challenges.”
In short, if Hinduism is to survive here, we must do the following:
- Ensure that our youngsters remain Hindu. Help to create the feeling that they belong to Hinduism and Hinduism belongs to them.
- Explain Hinduism to our youngsters in a way that they understand it and come to respect it.
- Inculcate unity, discipline, self-confidence and the essential element of pride in belonging to Hinduism.
Our aim in this country is to face this challenge and succeed. Each one of us will be a successful man, a better citizen and above all will be a Hindu. We are going to succeed and lead them from the front.
By Dr. Nawal K Prinja
Virat Hindu Samelan Booklet