The Purpose of Defending Dharma
by Stephen Knapp
(An excerpt from his book “Crimes Against India And the Need to Protect its Ancient Vedic Traditions”)
What has happened in the past is a matter of history, and the real history of India can show us how far the country and its culture has come, the many challenges it has endured, and how the greatness of India and its culture has remained, in spite of how much it has been attacked through the years. But the culture and people of India (Bharata Varsha) remain only after many courageous episodes, sacrifices, trials and tribulations of the common residents of the land. But such determination to never give up their culture and traditions makes them highly uncommon and commendable. It is also due to the credit of the heroes who fought and died for the privilege and freedom we have today that allows us to practice and take advantage of the Vedic culture that still exists.
Why should we review the history and development of India over the past 1000 years? To help show how fortunate we are and how important and relevant Vedic culture has been and still is to humanity at large. Plus, to show that only through our concerted efforts will there be the continuation of the Vedic traditions, Sanatana-dharma, or Hinduism as many people call it today. Thus, we should not take this lightly, but reflect on and learn the significance of India’s ancient traditions, and also participate in upholding them. That is what Dharma means, the natural laws that maintain all else, and Dharma is our duty to act in a way to help maintain Dharma. There are two parts to Dharma: the state of Dharma and the path of Dharma. The state of Dharma, or Sanatana-dharma, is our eternal Dharma, or our natural state of being as an eternal spiritual entity. Whereas the path of Dharma means the appropriate thoughts, words, actions, and attitude in the varying situations of life that help us enter into that state of Dharma.
There is now a growing interest in various aspects of Vedic culture in the West. For example, there has been a revival of the ancient medical system of Ayurveda, not only within India but also in the West, which is one of the greatest medical systems ever devised. This system is free from the allopathic medicines that often have harmful side effects and force the user to be dependent on drugs that merely make the huge foreign companies wealthy. The yogic sciences, such as pranayama, hatha-yoga, meditation, etc., that have been practiced for the development of body, mind and soul for thousands of years are also found nowhere else but in this great Vedic culture. Kerala’s kalaripayat system of martial arts is the great ancestor of the Asian techniques of karate, judo and others. This is because it was taken to the orient by Buddhist monks who had become familiar with it and then developed their own systems. The kalaripayat martial arts brought many instruments together, such as swords, knives, spears, flexible two-sided swords, etc., into a single system. Though these arts and practices are still used and alive in the ashramas across India, and in the homes of numerous people, they are not recognized by the government, nor promoted in a way wherein the people in general can be proud of what India and its ancient rishis have provided. Furthermore, the “secular” government of India even demeans many of these Vedic sciences and practices as ancient myths or remnants of the old ways as if they should be given up or left behind. Nonetheless, if children were trained in such things as hatha-yoga, pranayama, meditation, and Ayurveda, they would grow to be some of the healthiest and strongest individuals on the planet. And those that are trained in such a way are often just that, extremely intelligent, healthy, and strong individuals. This is what needs to be preserved.
Therefore, this book is to honor the efforts that have been shown by those in the past who fought and worked to protect India and its culture, and to help preserve India as the homeland of a living and dynamic Vedic tradition of Sanatana-dharma (the eternal path of duty and wisdom). Yet, there are many people who do not know of the many angles and ways in which this profound culture is being attacked and threatened. There is much to do to protect this culture, and until we are aware of how it has been assaulted in the past, and how it is threatened in the present, we will not have the motivation to take a stand and defend it. [This is what we cover in “Crimes Against India”.]
What is the true heritage of India, the basis for its existence? It is the law of Dharma, Sanatana-dharma. This is the foundation that has preserved the rights of humanity and the spiritual development of its people. This is the essential greatness of India. And this is also what its children from an early age should learn and understand about the great heritage of India. They should learn to honor and respect the Vedic literature, from the Vedas to the Mahabharata, Upanishads, Ramayana, and up to the Puranas. They should know that when the West was still in its developing stages, the land of India, Bharata Varsha, was already unsurpassed in what it would contribute to the world. And this is why India should never cut itself off from its profound past. It is what has built India into the great nation that it is.
Especially, India’s wonderful and immense Vedic spiritual knowledge is what has provided the deepest insights into the real identity and purpose of humanity. No other culture has provided such knowledge and realizations about who and what we really are. It has provided the profound keys to the mysteries of life, such as why we are here, where we have come from, what happens after death, what is the soul, what is the spiritual dimension, what is God, and so on. India has kept this truth, in spite of all the invasions and disruptions in her civilization, and the genocides and attempts to cause the complete demise of Sanatana-dharma. The spiritual knowledge and developmental processes remain. But we must make sure that it stays with us, which it can only do if it is held sacred in the heart of every Indian, and every person who values what India and her great rishis of ancient times have given to us. In the darkest of eras that this world has seen and will see in the future, this will remain India’s gift to the people who inhabit this planet. It is this spiritual culture of Sanatana-dharma that remains the ultimate spiritual guide of humanity with the freedom to investigate it in whatever way is best for each individual. This is the reason why India is here, and for the contribution that she makes, and the reason why we must work to protect it.
The fact remains that through the Vedic spiritual knowledge, there is more information about God and the many forms of God, the qualities and characteristics of God, the nature of the soul and our relationship with God, the spiritual dimension, and the purpose of this world than you can find most anywhere else. The Vedic culture does not have just one book upon which it depends, but has a library of Vedic literature, extending from the four Vedas, Upanishads, Vedanta–sutras, Bhagavad-gita, and through the Puranas, and more. Only those who fully study the contents of these texts, or even the essence of them compared to other religious books, can understand and support this point of how much more the Vedic culture and wisdom has to offer.
Therefore, everyone should engage in a preliminary study of such texts to find out the value of what they have given to the human race. If humanity had learned the true depth of knowledge held within the Vedic scripture, there would have been a decidedly different atmosphere and direction in society. Instead, India and the great sages have held onto this knowledge and presented it for everyone’s benefit, but there needs to be more than that. We can see that many have misunderstood this knowledge, or allowed themselves to become distanced from truly comprehending and utilizing this sacred and fathomless wisdom. For example, I have traveled all over India and I will say that most of India’s social problems are not because of its culture, but because of the forgetfulness and distancing itself from this culture and knowledge. At the core of the Vedic spiritual information, as found in its Vedic texts and insights provided by the rishis, is the true guideline for the development of the planet and the direction and spiritual destiny of all human beings. Fortunately, this is still available and waiting for the attention of people everywhere, if they will only dive deeply enough into it to perceive it.
For this reason, defending the Vedic culture is part of our Dharma, part of our duty and religious principles for the future benefit of India and humanity at large. Or, you could say that defending Dharma is our Dharma.
India is facing numerous threats from such directions as Pakistan and China on the political front, but also from within by those who would prefer to see the demise of India’s culture for their own agenda, be it political, religious, or otherwise, which we will point out more carefully as we go through this book. For this reason, India must keep its options open and learn to rely on its own resources, being as self-sufficient as possible, regardless of what the rest of the world may think. India is certainly one of the oldest and most profound civilizations on earth, and there is no reason why it should not be proud of its past, its great history, its development, and its potential for a bright and positive future. But India and all Indians must be ready to stand up and protect their country and its culture from all external and internal threats with great determination.
However, to do this there may be a need to use strong measures against extreme situations. We are all for establishing peace in the world, for that is a state of Dharma, but some violence may be necessary to preserve Dharma from violent forces, to bring about peace, as we have seen from the past. This does not mean we use violence that is based on ego, or a political agenda, or for revenge. But it is for the defense and protection of Dharma. This was the reason for the Kurukshetra War, which lead to the speaking of the Bhagavad-gita by Lord Krishna to His friend and warrior Arjuna. In this way, Arjuna understood that the purpose of acting as a warrior was to preserve the moral and religious principles as held and presented in Sanatana-dharma. But part of that included the destruction of the asuric or demoniac elements that were determined to ruin society by neglecting or even demolishing and annihilating the great spiritual lifestyle as found in Sanatana-dharma, the great Vedic culture.
This need can be seen as recently as during the establishment of independent India in 1947. Passive resistance or constitutional agitation was never enough to achieve an independent India. Firm actions or even some violence is also occasionally necessary, but only when it flows from the cause to defend, preserve, and protect the Dharmic and Vedic or spiritual path of life. And today’s Dharma is to safeguard it and keep it free from all demoniac forces who would wish to see it destroyed, or who wish to control the population for their own irreligious or adharmic agenda. This is also the real liberation of India, which is not only a theory, but a practical application for directing it on the path to its higher destiny. And that destiny and purpose is to remain the homeland of a dynamic and thriving Vedic culture. To do this will take more than mere physical strength, but the strength of higher knowledge, deep inner and spiritual realizations, and a collective cooperation amongst all Hindus and followers of Vedic culture. We must work together as fellow practitioners of Vedic Dharma. We must view ourselves as equal members of a Global Vedic or Dharmic Community, a worldwide Hindu family. I have often said, if the global Hindu society could ever become truly united, there would be no force strong enough to conquer it from outside. It is only the divisiveness or lack of cooperation from within that creates the weaknesses that make it vulnerable.
However, over the long term, a cultural revolution is better than a military or militant revolution. Or, as they say, the pen is mightier than the sword. This means that the Vedic spiritual knowledge is what can help people understand, maintain, and be convinced of the importance of the Dharmic culture. This is actually what has kept the Indian people dedicated to the Vedic traditions for so long, in spite of how they had been persecuted by so many invaders. Working together in this way to promote the Vedic universal spiritual truths is what can bind people to the cause of preserving the culture of Sanatana-dharma, as long as we also allow everyone to participate. This is how people develop the determination and sincerity to follow it and uphold its standards. This is how people remain resilient to keep it in their hearts no matter what else may happen.
This resilience of Vedic society has already been shown by its ability in passing the tests of time. It is one of the oldest living indigenous cultures in the world, and certainly the largest, and has withstood numerous attacks and invasions, especially through the past 1000 years. But why the area of India was ultimately conquered for a time was because of its weaknesses, which were due to a lack of unity amongst the kingdoms to work together, which we will also more fully explain in later chapters. It was this lack of cooperation that allowed the adharmic forces to come in and create havoc for the millions of people in India.
In this way, we must not repeat the same mistakes as in the past. We will never be able to completely analyze the immense physical and emotional harm done by the long history of Islamic invasions and attacks, and the enormous amount of destruction of Vedic temples and the slaughter of Hindus. We also can not properly estimate the damage done to the spiritual culture of India and its people. So many sacrifices had to be made merely because of the Muslim invaders who so wanted to demolish the culture of India and all representations of it. Or of the British who wanted to possess and control it. The damage and harm that was done still exist in many ways, such as the more than 90% of converted Muslims in India whose families were once Hindus. Or in the form of Pakistan which has been an enemy to India ever since its creation. Or in the form of trouble found in Ayodhya and Kashmir where the militants cry for an Islam separate from what was once their motherland of India. We cannot allow for the reappearance of these same mistakes that permitted these things to happen. We must be stronger than that if we are to keep India as the homeland of a dynamic and thriving Vedic tradition. We must be pro-active, cooperate, and work together, and must recognize ourselves as members of the Global Vedic Community working to protect our freedom to practice Vedic Dharma.
In the end truth prevails, and this book and the information within it is an indication that the truth of India’s history and the greatness of its Vedic traditions are finally coming to the fore again. As I stated in the beginning of this book, this is not an attempt to invoke old hatreds or vengeance, but it is a matter of making sure we remember what really happened to India and her people, and do not allow for the same mistakes to occur again, and to take notice of the freedom fighters who have worked and fought hard and even gave their lives for the future of India and our right to continue to observe and participate in the Vedic tradition. This is the real history of India, which must be retained. After all, the world remembers only what you let it not forget. These heroes who fought for the future of Sanatana-dharma are the examples of fearlessness and dedication, who were focused, strong, assertive, self-controlled, virtuous, self-reliant, and who strove for excellence in the same way we should be as taught by the principles of Vedic Dharma. This is the importance of truly following the Vedic path.
Within the Vedic system of daily practice or sadhana are the tools, such as puja, worship, yoga and meditation, bhakti or devotion, pranayama, philosophical understanding, etc., that can provide the means for us to perfect ourselves and reach a higher dimension of perception of who we are and our purpose in this world. This naturally brings with it fearlessness, self-confidence, assertiveness, inner peace, freedom from ignorance and limitations, and the empowerment to continue with our development and progress, and attain the Grace of God by our devotion. This will also allow us to work toward and attain any constructive goal, as we can see from the examples of the many previous acharyas and spiritual masters who have already done the same thing. This only shows that on the spiritual course of Sanatana-dharma and in the service of the Divine, anything is possible, up to and including moksha, or complete liberation from any further material existence and all its limitations.
If we can spread this consciousness, this will also bring about a new Era of Dharmic influence, free from the oppression of adharma or non-Dharmic cultures and religions who try to oppress anything different from them. But for this to happen, Dharmists or Hindus need to see clearly that there is nothing wrong with standing up for and working to preserve, protect, promote, and perpetuate the Vedic heritage and its traditions. Other saints and Indian heroes have already shown this example. There is nothing wrong with sharing the profound and spiritual nature of the Vedic teachings, knowing that they have already benefited thousands and millions of people, and can continue to benefit all of society. It is all in the presentation. If we can present this in an intelligent manner, or even simply share the basics of it from one person to another, then it will naturally be attractive, and people will want to know more about it. Not everyone may be ready for it, but everyone can use some aspect of it.
It is not the Vedic style to make unwilling converts, but the universal spiritual truths within can be useful for anyone, regardless of a person’s background, culture, or religion. Thus, everyone can participate to whatever degree is right for them. That is the liberality, flexibility, and beauty of the Vedic system.
However, we need to realize that the Vedic culture is often more respectful toward other spiritual paths and the people who follow them than they are in return. Vedic Dharmists or Hindus have often gotten themselves into trouble because of this. Thus, there is a need to defend the Vedic tradition from those who, in their ignorance and lack of understanding, may want to destroy it. Dharma must be protected from adharma. We cannot be such humble Hindus that we allow others to come in and destroy us. What good would that do? We cannot humble ourselves out of our own existence. We must be willing to stand strong for Dharma. As Albert Einstein once said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
Hindus, Vedic Dharmists, prefer to live in peace. They do not want to be aggressive toward others, and are usually not, but they also do not want to see people from other religions come to their country and try to make converts by falsely denigrating the Vedic culture. Why should they be provoked when they do not go around purposefully trying to provoke others by demeaning ones religion? Nonetheless, there may be times when we must be willing to stand up for what is right.
We have to remember that the method of destroying a country and its culture, and then controlling it, can be done in one of two ways. One is to go in as invaders and bomb it and engage in a military operation, which is not so efficient. Or you can develop the propaganda to create divisions amongst the society and enflame all sides against the others so they kill one another, thus causing complete disunity amongst the people so they cannot gather the strength to fight the real enemy. Thus, they also become vulnerable to domination by outside forces because of the weaknesses within. The British did this masterfully to India and its people. However, the best way to counteract such an endeavor is to develop a cultural revolution by which people in the society become united by a common identity, a common cause in a fully cooperative effort that excludes no one, but welcomes all. Nothing could provide such a vehicle for this sort of unity more effectively than to focus on the unifying and universal spiritual principles of the Vedic tradition of India. Herewith, by spreading such knowledge freely and effectively, using all avenues of promotion and distribution, a unifying spiritual revolution, gathering people from all walks of life and offering peaceful coexistence with one another, along with inner spiritual strength and support amongst all people, could be started. This could offer the ultimate defense of any outside force by merely failing to give it any recognition or acknowledgement, other than pushing it back and out of the way where it belongs.
The way we can best make a stand for Vedic Dharma is to spread the Vedic spiritual knowledge and encourage people to participate in it. That can help people understand, maintain, and be convinced of the importance of the Dharmic culture. This is what I mean when I say that over the long term, a cultural revolution is better than a militant revolution. This is actually what has kept the Indian people dedicated to the Vedic traditions for so long, and it can continue to do so well into the future if we do our duty and promote the Vedic spiritual knowledge and welcome anyone and everyone to participate. We can all be Vedic Ambassadors in this way.
Followers of Vedic Dharma must also become united. We must see beyond ethnic, national, class or caste divisions, and see ourselves as members of the Global Vedic Community, one family united in the universal spiritual knowledge that the Vedic scriptures advocate. We must see with this vision so our true spiritual potential is realized. This will create an air of positivity, which lends to an optimistic and constructive future for ourselves and the whole world. It is not enough to keep it to ourselves. But it is to our advantage when we work for the benefit of others and provide the means so that they can learn and participate in the Vedic traditions. This is Dharma, our Dharma, and Dharma will protect those who help protect it. That is one reason why it is sanatana, or that which exists eternally. Now let each of us do our part.
Dharma Rakshati Rakshitah