The modern traditionalist vs The traditional rationalist
Casteism is bad. Sati is bad. So many Gods is bad. So much wastage on rituals is bad. So many blind beliefs are bad.
And most people through generations watched silently as a dominant part of their mental makeup was ridiculed. Most realized the fallacy of Caste and Sati. They tried to reconcile with the castigators or ended up in changed paths. The descendants of such people who have changed paths, out of guilt or fear, have now taken up the mantle to ridicule the faith of their ancestors.
But now things have changed. The information revolution made people more aware and confident. Thanks mostly to the tireless internet warriors who bring out local narratives, alternative historical views and, at times, scientific evidence to counter the biased and crooked mainstream propaganda.
The “rational” in us accepts the fact that simple and logical traditions designed to address specific problems of a specific time in history have been twisted and used by crooked minds even after they have gone past their expiry date. The same kind of mindset possessed by the intelligent crooks of our times that ridicules a simple and inclusive custom as ‘pagan’ and ‘without scientific basis’, has been at work then too. Then it was the personal agenda and greed driven by a cunning mind twisting facts about traditions and now too, it is the same kind of people driving agendas on a larger scale.
The common people though have gone beyond these crooked narratives. They have more information to validate the twisted narratives and more confidence, therefore, to take up a debate. Yes, there are bad things that got absorbed over centuries. The same is identified and will be cleaned albeit over time. But what of the tremendous good in this culture? Who would forsake an entire garden because of few rotten fruits?
And who are these modernists and rationalists whose contempt for all that is not understood in their culture is only because of its familiarity? Why do they readily accept or ignore more outlandish claims of other cultures? If what was truth hundred years ago is proven to be a falsehood now, why is it not possible that what is believed to be falsehood now would be proven true hundred years hence? If science stands for all things that could be explored in the external, why it’s counterpart cannot be a culture that encourages you to explore the internal? The common people of our civilization are just waking up to this realization of the tremendous good and great alternative human journey our culture offers.
The crooked rationalist is now scared at the prospect of being challenged. Their predecessors never had to face this challenge of the common people armed with common sense and information vociferously countering their mal-agenda. This is a hitherto unknown scenario for them. So they digress, deviate and obfuscate the entire argument.
Many such reasons are at the root of the current environment of perceived polarization. It is not Hindu vs the rest, it is not science vs religion, it is not left vs right. No. It is a battle for identities. The common peoples rise of self-consciousness, of the alternatives views of history, confidence arising out of a sense of camaraderie with millions of others who seem to be just like them is driving this demand for a debate. All thanks to the internet and social media. The now vocal Indians are not willing to forego much in the name of modernization/rationalization. That is the crux and that is a fantastic new development.
They demand that the misguided rationalists use more than just a lack of empirical data to disprove long-held beliefs that seem to deliver results but not follow a cause-effect model. Lack of understanding seems to be the weakness that a liberal rationalist has cleverly converted into a weapon of defence. Where is the data, they keep asking? Unlike in the past, the modern Indian is not depressed in his inability to answer this demand for data. Instead, the counter question now is, “where is your data”. At the same time, while the newly risen Indian is happy to present the “evidence” that things seem to have worked (and continue to work) in mysterious ways – be it the renewed emphasis on Yoga, Meditation or Mantra – to deliver a better body and mind.
There also seems to be ample support from the scientific community on the rigour and depth of the ancient learnings. So now the counter-challenge is to let the rationalists disprove the possibility of an inner journey towards an ultimate truth. The rationalist is not used to being challenged and has no understanding or appreciation of the finer aspects of human existence. So the badmouthing and ridiculing escalates, armed with an ecosystem of those incompetent at the core yet successful at the fringe.
That is the new scenario we have thanks to this redefined identity of the modern traditionalist. There is no need for the rationalist to run away from this scenario if only he/she could realize the tremendous transformational benefits this Sanatana Dharma can bestow upon on their own existence.