Such debased collective behavior points to deep-rooted causative factors, that need to be studied, analyzed, debated, and their awareness spread. The causative factors include larger cultural and attitudinal issues, and their study and analysis may entail a detailed and sustained effort into Hindu history, spirituality, and philosophy. Also, an organized study of and education on Hinduism’s ideological adversaries is warranted.
Author Sita Ram Goel analyzes the Hindu behavior in history and points to the issues in the larger Hindu cultural sphere, where the Hindu mind and intellect pays no or very little attention to terrestrial life (Artha, Kama), and is pre-disposed to focus on the after-life (Moksha). Writes Goel in his crisp ‘Story of Islamic Imperialism in India’ in Chapter IX titled “The Determinants of Hindu Defeats” (excerpts) –
To start with, what strikes me most is the steep decline in the Hindu spiritual perception. The sacred and philosophical literature produced by Hindus from the 5th century onwards compares very unfavourably with similar literature of an earlier age – like Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the earlier literature Manusmriti. The earlier literature dwells naturally and effortlessly on the Himalayan heights of the human soul, but at the same time it pays due attention to every detail of terrestrial life. The family, the clan, the village, the janapada, the rãshtra – life at each of these levels is sustained by a dharma appropriate to the level and complexity of relationships involved. The janmabhûmi, the motherland, is equated with the janani, the loving mother, and endowed with sanctity higher than that of heaven. Human society in its smaller as well as larger segments is an enabling environment in which the individual seeks abhyudaya, mundane welfare, as well as nisshreyas, spiritual salvation. Society has a lot to give to the individual in terms of upbringing, education, status within the brotherhood of the varNa, and livelihood in the fraternity of the jãti. But society also demands a lot in terms of self-discipline, performance of duties due from one’s station in life, and sacrifice which mostly means living for others.
The failure of Hindu spiritual perception had something, perhaps much, to do with the failure of the Hindu cultural vision. There was a lapse of historical memory and cultural tradition about the essential unity, integrity, and sanctity of what the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Puranas, and the Dharmashastras had clearly defined as Bharatavarsha. This vast land which Islam has dismembered in due course into the separate states of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Hindustan, and Bangladesh had been a single indivisible whole since times immemorial. Bharatavarsha had been termed by the ancients as the cradle of varNãšrama-dharma, witness to the wheel of the caturyugas, and the kShetra for chakravãrtya, spiritual as well as political. This historical memory and cultural tradition was alive as late as the imperial Guptas. Kalidasa had clothed it in immortal poetry in his far-famed RaghuvaMša.
This failure of Hindu cultural vision had serious consequences. Hindus failed to organise a collective effort to guard the frontiers of Bharatavarsha. Hindu princes in the interior did not rally round Raja Dahir when Muhammad bin Qasim violated the sacred soil of Sindh. They made some better effort when the Hindu Shahiyas of Udbhandapur were challenged by Subuktigin. But the effort fizzled out before long, because very few of them had their heart in it.
The third failure which was closely linked with the first two was the failure of mental alertness to what was happening in the world around. Hindu merchants were still selling the products of Indian agriculture and industry in all lands invaded by Islam. Hindu saints, particularly the Buddhist monks, were still practising their austerities and preaching their sermons in their farflung monasteries in Iran and Khorasan. But none of them could see the storm that was rising on the sands of Arabia and sowing a harvest of mass slaughter, pillage, plunder and enslavement, not even when it swept over neighbouring lands. They waited where they were till they were slaughtered and/or plundered in their own turn, or, if they fled back home, they did not say the word that could have served as a warning.
Nor were the Hindu princes in a mental mood to heed any warning even if it had been tendered to them. An awareness of what was happening in neighbouring lands was no more needed by them. Each one of them was busy with his immediate neighbours. There was no lack of martial spirit, or sense of honour, or sentiments of chivalry in them. But all this wealth of character was wasted in proving their prowess over primacy of the right to a first dip in holy rivers and tanks, or to the hands of pretty princesses. What they lacked was statesmanship which is always an outcome of an alert and wide-ranging mind. They learnt neither from their own defeats, nor from the victories of the enemy. They mended neither their statecraft, nor their system of revenue, nor their military establishment, nor yet their art of warfare.
Goel writes the above in a historical context, but the point is equally valid in contemporary Hindu temporal life. The Hindu spiritual vision stands compromised today manifested by existence of various ‘Hindu Congregations’ and guru cults. Also, the cultural failure is seen in complete absence of contemporary Hindu intellectual output on politics, statecraft, economics, and humanities, compared to an era bygone exemplified by Ramayana, Mahabharata, Samhitas, Puranas and other Sastras. The mental failure manifests in the pursuit of completely misdirected and unproductive public activism.