India is a “secular” country — as per the Indian Constitution in its current form. But most Indians neither understand, nor introspect on what is really meant by “secularism.” Nor is this taught in any school.
What IS Secularism?
As per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, secularism is “indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations.”
As per Google, secularism is “the principle of separation of the state from religious institutions.”
As per Wikipedia, “In political terms, secularism is the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institution and religious dignitaries(the attainment of such is termed secularity). Under a brief definition, secularism means that governments should remain neutral on the matter of religion and should not enforce nor prohibit the free exercise of religion, leaving religious choice to the liberty of the people.”
All definitions concur on one aspect — separation of the state and religious institutions.
Why Hinduism is NOT “Secular”
Anyone with common sense, can, by now, see that Hinduism and secularism have nothing to do with each other. How can a religion be secular? By its very definition secularism means agnostic to religion. It is like comparing an orange with a kiwi.
Non-interference with other religions, which has always been a practice in Hinduism, is not the same as secularism.
Many Hindus keep chiming how Hinduism is secular by its very nature. They need to reword their statement. Hinduism is non invasive by its very nature.
Hinduism believes in:
अभयं सर्व भूतेभ्यो |
Translation: I am a threat to no one, no one is a threat to me.
True non-invasiveness is enshrined in many scriptures, teachings and practices of Hinduism. Hindus are ingrained to let others practice their religion as long as they don’t attack Hindus and threaten their existence. That is all that Hindus ask for.
There is a parallel debate on should we or should we not call Hinduism a “religion.”
Hinduism is one of the most practiced religions in the whole world! Yes, it is a whole lot more than just a religion, but denying it as a religion means stripping off Hinduism of its very identity on a global arena. Those who preach and pitch this doctrine, usually do it with the agenda of cultural misappropriation. Hinduism is a religion; ofcourse, there is no likeness between Hinduism and other major religions of the world, because it does not thrive by converting people forcibly or leaching resources from people.
Creators of the Constitution Did NOT Intend India to be a Secular Nation
The words “secular” and “socialist” — both of which are typically thoroughly misunderstood by 99% of Indians to begin with — were not a part of the Indian constitution originally. They were plugged into the Constitution via the 42nd Amendment in 1976. No clear explanation of why these clauses are being added, nor of the meaning implied by these terms, are given in this amendment. It states:
Amendment of the Preamble.- In the Preamble to the Constitution,-
2(a) for the words “SOVEREIGN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC” the words “SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC” shall be substituted;
Nothing whatsoever is mentioned as to why this amendment.
The same amendment begins with the following text:
“A Constitution to be living must be growing. If the impediments to
the growth of the Constitution are not removed, the Constitution will
suffer a virtual atrophy.”
That being so, there is no logical reason of why the preamble of the Constitution cannot be amended to remove these terms.
Secularism is Separation of State & Religion
The biggest irony is that secularism is currently not even practiced in India!
The state continuously meddles in the affairs of the temple, funds churches and mosques, tries to regulate Hindu festivals in an uncalled-for way, without any scientific backing for their claims, and continues to limit the right to religious freedom of Hindus, even when their very existence is threatened by other religious ideologies. If the state is not supposed to meddle in crimes by other religions, it is also not supposed to limit the religious freedom of Hindus.
Surprisingly, even the most “secular” Indians seem to not be able to get this through their heads. The reasons for this are obscure and currently unknown.
Last modified: December 17, 2020