Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
As a Hindu I am an atheist. I am proud of the fact that my State Orissa which is the home of the largest percentage of Hindus in whole of India had given birth to atheism in Indian philosophy .The great ‘Muni’ Kapila who founded the ‘Samkhya’ philosophy belonged to my State .His philosophy gave the greatest challenge to Vedic philosophy and its impact on society was so immense that the latter tried for centuries to diminish it but failed. From Kapila’s own village Kapileswara near Bhubaneswar and from his own clan ‘Shakya’ arose the greatest of atheists known to the mankind as Buddha whose preaching pervaded whole of the world. Both of these sons of Orissa are revered as Lords by the Hindu. So, Hinduism comprises both theism and atheism. These two opposite aspects constitute a common culture.
As mentioned above, I am an atheist. But I am a Hindu. I have never been excommunicated from the Hindu society for having professed atheism. This is simply because Hindus do not belong to a religion.
Vast majority of the Indians is Hindu. Polytheism being the mainstay of Hinduism, the theist Hindu is latitudinarian in principle and practice. Toleration is synonymous with his religion that includes in its fold even the atheists. It must not be forgotten that the Constitution of India which grants absolute freedom to every citizen to follow and practise any religion of his or her choice, was created basically by the Hindus This magnanimous mindset would never have deteriorated had the practitioners of other religions not continued their hyperactive engagements against the Hindus in independent India .To point out in Orissa context, according to Census of 1901, it was the most Hindu province in the country where 94.7% of the total population followed this faith .This percentage has shrunk severely and the number of followers of other religions has witnessed phenomenal rise .This is through conversions , basically .To what has it led ? It has led to the alleged killing of Graham Staines and his two sons in that part of Orissa which is known for its natural tranquillity .Had there been no conversion there would never have occurred any such killing. Secularism has contributed to such conversion and weakened India by weakening the nationality of the vast majority of Indians .As long as India remains secular, conversions shall not stop. Unless conversions stop, it would be difficult for India to remain composed.
History is witness to the fact that our Country was curtailed in to pieces on the basis of religious nationality. Such a sorry state had developed because of conversion from Hindu religion to others. To get a clear picture of the scenario we may look in to the pages of the Encyclopaedia of Religions and Ethics that notes as follows :
“According to the Census of 1901,the total population of the Indian Empire was 294,361,066, of whom 207,147,026(70.3 per cent) declared themselves to be Hindus .xxxx If to the body of declared Hindus be added Sikhs(2,195,339) and Jains(1,334,148) both of whom claim to be Hindus ,the total adherents of Hinduism amount to 210,676,513 If the estimates of H.Zeller be accepted, Hinduism thus stands numerically third among the religions of the world ,being exceeded only by Christians(534,940,000)and followers of Confucius(300,000,000)
“The distribution of Hindus throughout the Empire varies greatly.The most Hindu province is Orissa where 94.7 per cent of the total population follow this faith. In succession to this follow Mysore (92.0 %);Madras (89.1%);Bombay excluding Sind and Gujrat (88.9%); Hyderabad or the Dominions of the Nizam(86.6%) The United Provinces of Agra and Oudh(85.4%);The Central Provinces(82.7%); Central India (80.9%) Baroda (79.2%);Bombay Presidency(76.5%);Travancore(68.9%);Bengal Presidency(63.3%).
The least Hindu portions of the Empire are the N.W.Frontier Province with the Panjab (35.6%);Sind(23.4%) and Burma(4.3%); in the first two Hinduism having given way to Islam,in the third to Buddhism.In Eastern Bengal the percentage of Hindus has been reduced by the notable extension of Muhammadanism,and in Travancore of Christianity.(page:686,Vol.VI)
From this record of history it is clear that heavy conversion of Hindus to Islam in the N.W.Frontier Province and in the Eastern Bengal ultimately led to partition of India on the basis of Religion-Nation .The current separatistic unrest in the North-Eastern part of the Country stems from the strength the Christians have acquired through conversion .Can the Hindus, the vast majority of India, who had with much pain in the heart of their hearts tolerated partition of their Motherland on the basis of religion, afford another separation on the same basis ? In view of the past experience ,how can they tolerate further expansion of other religions at their own expense in their own soil ? The secularists ought to apply their mind to this problem. Instead of criticising the active Hindus, they should raise their voice against conversion.
It must be admitted that majority of the Hindus who are deeply disturbed over reduction of their strength by conversion do not get the required leadership from the latitudinarians in their own vocation as they prefer to stay aloof lest the style of secularism they profess gets affected. Such a predicament is prodding the Hindus in to the fold of the fundamentalists and tartuffes.