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Life lessons to learn from Hindus

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Hindus have a story of external invasions, internal conflicts, ignorance, betrayal as well as teamwork, reinvention, forgiveness, acceptance, friendships, wisdom, courage, sacrifice, and a lot more — It is a story of survival, a story of resilience, and a story of courage.

What kept them alive when no one wanted Hindus to live? What can we learn from them?

Below I list a few lessons that one can learn from Hindus:

1-Start with traditional approach: Initially, Rajput Kings resisted the invaders fiercely by fighting many wars. These battles bought loss to the invading army and made victory difficult for invaders. The benefit was that it made the progress of invaders difficult and at times Rajputs also won war’s like Solanki’s against Gori or Privithiraj Chawhan in the first battle of Tarain.

Rajput women performed “Jawhar” . Jawhar not only protected them from rape and torments of harem but, also prevented them from giving birth to sons and daughters who would have been only used in wars under the influence of fanatic teachings or would have been only used for enjoyment and to reproduce. Moral — When you are faced with a sudden and an unknown challenge use all the tested & tried approaches.

2- Negotiate: The “fight it out” approach had to be re-evaluated because now the enemy was an outsider with a different value system. Suddenly, the rules and morals of war that were applicable for thousands of years in the case of internal battles were no longer valid. Battles were not as per the Dharma of the land. So, now new ways had to be implemented. Rajputs started to negotiate through marriage alliances. This could have helped them protect their faith, women, and children in return. A great example is — Princess Jodha’s marriage with Akbar. 

Moral — When you are not strong enough to win the battle but, still strong enough to cause sufficient damage, then negotiate to save yourself.2-

3- Keep the right advisors: As per the Kshatriya dharma, Rajputs were programmed to die for their honor and motherland. Then why did they start marriage alliances? A king always consulted with advisors who were learned in various Shastras or sciences of war, politics, economics, etc before making a decision. These well-versed advisors could have advised the kings to negotiate. Dharma says that — If one has to choose between the good of one person vs good for a greater number then sacrificing one person for the greater good is meritorious. 

Sacrificing the life of one princess to save the lives, faith, and culture of thousands of women and children was righteous for a king who had to protect his people. It is evident from the fact that a lot fewer Hindu temples are demolished in Rajasthan compared to Uttar Pradesh, Delhi etc.. — where only a few ancient monuments remain in ruins.

Moral— Always keep good advisors and build relations with knowledgeable people. 

4- Everyone is a leader: When idol disfiguration, temple demolition, was the norm in the Ganges plains —ordinary local people in villages in central parts of India started to hide temples and caves under tree trunks, covered them with grass, grew plants on top of them and succeeded in saving a few beautiful pieces of Hindu art, culture and tradition.

Lesson — Think out of the box and be a leader. Everyone can lead.

5- Plan for disaster: Hindus had a tradition of memorizing all their knowledge and it was passed from one generation to another. This made sure that even if books are lost some of the knowledge will remain through oral tradition. Nalanda university which enjoyed its golden period starting from the 5th century AD was destroyed in 1295. The books were burnt and the monks were killed or they fled. But, the monks who fled passed on their knowledge through oral tradition. 

Lesson — When starting a venture make sure that you can survive even when disaster hits.

6- Develop Emotional Strength— A classic example is that of Maharana Pratap who fought for his country and Raja Maan Singh who fought alongside the invaders. Pratap maintained an iron heart against all deceptions from his own people and kept fighting his battle. Another example is of Prithiviraj Chauhan and Jai chand. Sambhaji Raje and his brother in law. Betrayal can have a long-term psychological impact and can shatter people but as a king, one has to be prepared for the toughest. They had emotional strength to not only give their lives but suffer excruciating torture before their deaths. When you start on a mission you will face betrayal, back stabbing but, you need to develop emotional strength to overcome the trauma of these events to keep your mission alive.

Lesson — Keep yourself mentally prepared for the worst and do not be distracted by people who pull you down, plan against you, and do anything that is not in your control. 

7- Accept your mistakes and be open to change: Everyone knows about the flaws in Hindu society during medieval times — one of them being “varnashram” which is rechristened as “caste”. Only Kshatriya by birth was allowed to become a king. However, Shivaji was not a Kshatriya but, that did not prevent him from becoming the king. Several workarounds were done by Hindu Dharamaguru’s for his coronation. The fate of Hindus would have never been the same without Shivaji. Another custom was of “sati”. Ahalya Bai Holker’s father in law prevented her from going Sati. Had Ahalya Bai gone Sati there would have been no resurrection of Kashi. Same applies to Jhansi ki Rani — Lakshmi Bai. Had she gone Sati there would not have been first war of independence.

Lesson— Leave the rigid rules and be open to change. Brahmins were the first to accept their flaws and initiate a change. So Accept your mistakes and be open to change.

8- Knowledge is power: During the 18th and 19th centuries, Hindu bashing was a common practice. Hindus were shammed to the point that they started believing whatever colonist’s wanted them to believe. Gandhiji writes in his book “My experiments with truth “ Shame is a painful mental state to be in and a proven weapon to get control of others’ minds. He further writes — Outside his high school, missionaries would stand and hurl abuses at Hindu God’s. It was not that he was intolerant but, it was very hard for him to tolerate. 
During these periods some affluent Hindus learnt English. Empowered by knowledge they questioned, reasoned, traveled to Europe, and brought to light the greatness of Indian culture. Swami Vivekanand is the greatest example of the power of knowledge and a gem of the Indian renaissance.

Moral: Keep learning, and reinventing yourself because knowledge is power for intellectual wars. 

9- Women’s leadership: Although, India is projected as a country where women are discriminated against and abused, surprisingly in all the struggle for preserving culture, religion, and freedom women have been looked up to as leaders. Rani Durgavati, Tara Rani, Rani Abbakka, AhaliyaBa Holkar, Rani Lakshmi bai.. and many more were accepted as leaders.

Moral: Take women in leadership roles. 

10- Unbiased leadership: There were at least 13 major commanders in Shivaji’s army: Siddhi Hilal, Daulat Khan, Ibrahim Khan, Kazi Haider, Siddi Ibrahim, Siddi Wahwah, Noorkhan Beg, Shama Khan, Hussain Khan Miyani, Siddi Mistri, Sultan Khan, Dawood Khan and Madari Meheta who were not Hindus. Shivaji embraced them as his own in an unbiased leadership.

Moral : Do not build a bias against an entire population of a community, be wise to choose the right people irrespective of their religion.

10- Build constructive passion: Although invaders destroyed thousands of temples, no Hindu King ever destroyed a mosque nor forced anyone to convert to Hinduism. Although missionaries used money to convert the poor Hindu population, and shamed many to convert to christianity; Hindu’s never followed these methods. They never indulged in a communal massacre, nor collected any extra tax from non-Hindus, neither lured anyone with money. Many Indian rulers after victory over invaders have built temples and repaired demolished temples. Hindu’s kept building while invaders kept destroying. Instead of being revengeful and focusing on destruction they focused on building.

Lesson : Never stop building. The power of construction is immense. Under any situation keep your constructive passion alive.

Now, the shrunk India and it’s remaining Hindu population faces many challenges. Distorted view of secularism is one of those. In this view the government, law enforcement and media opts for inaction against any hate crimes done agains’t Hindu’s. Not only that, it also supports and justifies the perpetrators of those crimes.

Will Hindus write a new story of survival? Will they at least, not further decrease in population? — Only time will tell.

 But, the Hindu’s story of survival for the last 1400 years, has taught the world valuable lessons for which the world should be thankful to them. 

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