Dr. Koenraad Elst stands as a lion among sheep when it comes analysis religions and it’s effects of politics in India. Elst is an indologist and has that reputation where he is hated by both Sangh Parivar as well as the secularists alike.
In his latest blog he says that many Hindus seek his advice on how to handle the problem that Hinduism faces. He gives a very generic advice and some points in his advice resonate with me so well. The point which I too had in my mind all along was the one about creativity. The strength of Hinduism lies in creativity but we have not realized it. Our epics and puranas are work of creativity which have made such an impression on public psyche that it simply refuses to wear out. But in recently history we have not really contributed much as a “Hindu” artists, writer or movie makers.
One very good thing by which Hinduism stood out, both in its Vedic and its Puranic phase, was its unbridled creativity. Today, this is what is sorely lacking. Sita Ram Goel diagnosed the Hindu activists among his fellow students ca. 1940 as the most mediocre of the lot. Those who had nothing to offer individually gravitated towards causes which tilted them above themselves but to which they themselves had indeed little to offer. They gave their time and energy, nobody can deny them this dedication, but a winning movement cannot be built exclusively of such grey people.The creative people are on the other side. Most Bollywood actors and directors are either on the anti-Hindu or, at best, on the mindlessly Hindu side. They have named their industry after its American counterpart and some say their product is lousy, but at least they know how to attract money and they certainly have a good time. Hindus ought to feel jealous, if at all they have the ambition to do as well as Bollywood.
Creativity was to be found in the late M.F. Husain, hated by the Hindus and disliked by a great many Muslims too. He was driven by hate, old and uninspired hate, but undeniably he created things in painting. Hindus could do nothing but demand a ban, the most humourless and uncreative solution. No Hindu came forward to be the anti-Husain, let alone some original way to silence him.
It was different once. Every art form was steered to new heights by Hindu artists. Every province of India had its own variation of the performing arts. In the visual arts, no tradition was a match for the richness in characters that the fable collections, epics and Puranas had to offer. Whereas Chinese and Japanese classical music are museum pieces next to omnipresent Western classical music (at performing which the East-Asians excel), Indian classical music remains as the only rival. More individualistic yet more complex, it differs from European classical music the way adult music differs from children’s songs. Hindus are fairly good at maintaining what was great among the inventions of their ancestors, but not so good at giving a creative answer to today’s challenges.