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Understanding the Neo-Hindu Mind

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As discussed previously in the "Neo-Hinduism, What Is It?" thread, much of what is today considered as "Hinduism" is really different from traditional/classical Hinduism both in form and emphasis. This new form of Hinduism, or "Neo-Hinduism" appeals to a very specific mindset. While traditional Hindu schools of thought are often based on a rigorous approach to the source material (i.e. Vedas and/or other ancillary texts), Neo-Hinduism schools often pay only lip service to the scriptures and take a more emotional and non-intellectual approach to the scriptures.


Now one may wonder why Neo-Hinduism philosophy has so taken hold of the imagination of the modern Hindu as to render him utterly incapable of even grasping the concept of a more intelligent, traditional, and dignified Hinduism. When modern Hindus are so quick to dispense with superstition in favor of science, why do they nevertheless turn to the nebulous domain of wishy-washy, politically-correct, Neo-Hinduism? Would they not instead prefer a more traditional school of thinking which is based on a stronger intellectual foundation? To understand this, one has first to understand the mind of the Neo-Hindu.


In the first place, Neo-Hindus are not the product of a traditional Hindu educational system. Rather, they are almost all the result of the British educational system and its modern day, secular Indian counterpart. Neo-Hindus have been brought up to believe in all of the anti-Hindu bias that was integral to Eurocentric education.


The Neo-Hindu has thus been made to feel that Hinduism is inferior to Judeo-Christian culture. He considers the "polytheism" of Hinduism to be superstitious next to the "monotheism" of Semitic religions. To him, the colorful temple worship of traditional Hindu culture is inferior to the bland, simplistic style of worship that is part of Christianity. He is ashamed of "idol-worship" that goes on in Hindu temples and would prefer instead to meditate on some abstract god in the sky as is done in Christianity. When he thinks of "Hinduism," the Neo-Hindu can only conceive of "caste system" and romantic tales of discrimination against noble but helpless "backward castes" by opportunistic and exploitive "higher castes." Secretly, the Neo-Hindu believes that Hinduism is responsible for bride-burning and all sorts of criminal activities that have been historically depicted as "Hindu" in nature. He also believes that brahmins have only been good for exploiting others. Thus, he cannot bring himself to identify with his traditional Hindu culture, which he considers to be superstitious, casteist, and misogynistic. The Neo-Hindu actually believes that religion and belief in God are the cause of all problems in the world, although he would never say this openly.


At the same time, the Neo-Hindu cannot bring himself to simply convert to Christianity since that would require him to accept an intolerant belief system that is clearly foreign. He is prepared to accept foreign biases that are couched in the form of "education," but he cannot make a clear break with his own religion and culture. The result is that the Neo-Hindu has a "love-hate" relationship with his religion. He considers it backward and is ashamed of it, but he needs an alternative to Christianity.


This is how Neo-Hinduism has come into the equation. Neo-Hinduism thinkers will try to convince their followers that they represent a more enlightened or evolved version of the religion practiced by their bride-burning, casteist, and superstitious ancestors. In essence, Neo-Hinduism perpetuates the racist and and bigoted views of Hindu culture by implicitly accepting them as real and then contrasting them with the supposedly more "modern" views propagated by Neo-Hindu leaders. Neo-Hindus are taught that all religions are good and correct; therefore he need not disagree with or judge any belief system negatively, and this in turn obviates the need for thinking properly about what is "right" and "wrong." Since Neo-Hindus are mostly Neo-Advaitins, the Neo-Hindu is taught that he is God, his friends are God, and everyone else is God, etc. This is very good to the Neo-Hindu, who considers devotion to God to be akin to inciting sectarian violence, but at the same time does not want to explicitly denounce religion, which would be intolerant. So he instead accepts an ideology that gives "God" an abstract place in the scheme of things, but not one that requires surrender or devotion. Since true sadhana becomes optional in the Neo-Hindu view that places everyone on the same level as God, the Neo-Hinduism leaders instead recommend social services as a surrogate form of sadhana. This is very much appreciated by the undisciplined Neo-Hindu thinker who only officially accepts the importance of religious endeavors but secretly considers them the domain of the less intelligent. The Neo-Hindu cannot understand why one would choose to offer prayers to a Deity whom one cannot see or feel, but he can readily understand feeding the poor and building hospitals, which he immediately accepts as the greatest religious sadhana.


In summary, the Neo-Hindu is deeply ashamed of his religion and culture, having been taught to see it through the eyes of Eurocentric, Christian proselytizing scholars. He accepts Neo-Hinduism as the means by which to assuage the anxiety born of his inferiority complex vis-a-vis Western culture.

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All very good points. Neo-Hindus also come forth as proclaiming freedom and equality, that they presume are restricted in traditional hinduism. Very difficult to reason with, due to their underlying disbelief in the goals of Hinduism. Talk about reincarnation, moksha, etc and they will dismiss you. So they have pre-decided the extent of limited utility of religion - anything more is 'superstition' - , and pick and choose based on what pleases their ideas of right and wrong.


For some, provided they have an open-outlook and feel a sense of hindu culture, they should be free to not own up to that culture/religion explicitly in their lives. They believe all rules and regulations are chains on their freedom imposed by religion and discriminating past societies. It is truly a pain in dealing with these characters - somehow the education has to happen earlier in childhood that they may grow up with a better understanding less clouded by western views.

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