In my earlier post comparing a Dharmic and Secular overlay i touched upon the need and inherent advantages of a Dharmic Society (One that runs on the tenets of Dharma) vs a Secular society (One that runs on the tenets that it is Religion/Sampradaya neutral, and therefore treats all with the same deference/distance/domination as per various interpretations. In this post here i would, for the benefit of myself and other readers, like to objectively map the salient differences between the two, including some similarities.
Secularism was formulated to merely contain Sampradayas from becoming Politically overpowering and dominating; whereas Dharma based on universal human values allowed the spawning of multiple Sampradayas in harmony enabling freedom to search newer paths for seeking spirituality.
Secularism puts a kind of freeze on one’s experiment with faith. Faith tends to become frozen solely based on one’s official birth in one. Consequently the impetus to experiment and mix within different Sampradayas is practically absent in Secular societies, as Sampradayas fight to prevent being swamped by Secularist domination of their faiths. The innate human need to experience spirituality merely degenerates in crude attempts to blatant appropriation (like Yoga/Meditation being unabashedly appropriated by various Sampradayas in US). That appropriation in effect invites reaction, disgust and a degree of polarization in society which consequently results in an unhealthy relationship between various orthodoxies. In this context it may be recalled that not long ago in India no eyelids were batted when the first born became a Sikh, while the other siblings were Shiv Bhakts, Vaishnavs or (or not even) belonged to any other Dharmic Sampradayic affiliation – a tradition for centuries where the eldest son was given to the Guru!
Misinterpretation of Secularism: UK can profess to be secular while in reality it is a Christian nation; many in India interpret and practice secularism merely as minority appeasement, whereas some ‘minorities’ won’t allow even basic tenets of classic secularism like say uniform civil code to prevail, inviting reaction from some of the majority. Dharma has no such narrow sectarian provisions, and promotes only those Sampradayas to flourish in their entireties that abide with Dharma.
Dharma’s basis lies in providing the firm conviction that the aim of Objectivity must be enshrined in giving uncompromising import to Truth. Thus, Dharma did not prevent the emergence of new Sampradayas that challenged the conventional Sampradayas, even associated cultural practices and brought fresh ideas in every age. Consequently Dharma ensured that spiritual search was not limited to only those belonging to one sect, or following only one book, or surrendering to just one particular notion of the Almighty Creator.
Secularism on the other hand for some reason amounts to the misplaced notion that Objectivity means giving equal opportunity to the adherents of liberal thinking, illiberal thinking and those professing liberalism as a convenient façade to promote their exclusive agenda. This version of secularism coupled with Democratic norms would ensure that the true pluralist liberals taken in by the mask would end up losing to the exclusivists in the long run. The liberals would go miles to accommodate the exclusivists who would never concede even an inch, particularly when they have demographic advantage. This has a build in recipe for long term ruin of the liberals in our liberal democratic secular societies.
There are similarities between Secular State entities and a Dharmic State too that we can touch upon, for example the notion for respecting other faiths. However, a Secular setup envisages equal respect to even those Sampradayas that don’t abide by Dharmic or Secular laws. In reality a liberal democratic society should be actively working to change the thinking of such Sampradayas, or refuse to give them equal status on par with genuine pluralist liberal Sampradayas. That is not bigotry but an essential condition for survival of pluralist liberal ethics and numerous other non-political and completely spiritual centric Sampradayas.
We can learn from the examples of Rama, Krishna, The Gurus, various Rishis and Kings of ancient Bharat. They all strived to create and sustain a pluralist Dharmic state/society. Kind but Tough, Pluralist but Harmonious, Wealthy yet Sustainable were the guiding beacons of their lives. It was due to this heritage that people of India never fought inter-Sampradayic wars as were fought in the West, and Middle East. It was because of this tradition that we always warmly welcomed various religions/ sampradaya’s that came to our shores for refuge, and allowed them to preserve their distinct identity over many centuries. The deep respect our pluralist people have for other faiths must in no way mean disrespect for Dharmic Values. If there is disrespect and assault on Dharmic values, a time will come when Dharmics would rally. And history shows that Dharma always prevails. Yet all Dharma asks for is to respect it, give it its rightful place. It promises to protect those that honor it; those that stand for it.
Leaving a predator amongst lambs is not giving an equal chance of survival. A Dharmic state would ensure that the Wolves are not set inside its boundaries on the slogan of ‘equality’. That is not equality. That is providing a platform however unintended for the predator to ultimately win by disarming the Spiritualist pluralist and non violent Sampradayas. The distinction between the long term fate of a Secular Democratic Society and that of a truly Dharmic Society must be clearly understood. Else the survival of Pluralist liberal thinking is in great danger.