‘In Sanatan Dharma the need for turning secular never arose’



CowSanjeev Nayyar

The Supreme Court judgment on the Ayodhya Acquisition Act, 1993, has some thoughts on the subject, excerpts. Former Chief Justice A M Ahmadi said: “Notwithstanding the fact that the words socialist and secular were added in the preamble of the Constitution in 1976 by the 42nd amendment, the concept of secularism was very much embedded in our constitutional philosophy. The term ‘secular’ has advisedly not been defined presumably because it is a very elastic term not capable of a precise definition and perhaps best left undefined. By this amendment what was implicit was made explicit”.

Secularism has come to mean that the government has a right to take over, manage Hindu temples and in some cases donations made in temples go to the state treasury but this is not applicable to Muslim and Christian places of worship! Or appoint non-Hindus to oversee sacred shrines and events like the Kumbh Mela!

Next question: is the word secular native to India?

The concept of secularism originated in Europe where the church, controlled education/ property etc, became so powerful that even the king felt oppressed. So secularism meant separation of the church and state with intent to curb the influence and power of the church.

The situation in India was different. Sanatan Dharma or Hinduism, as it is erroneously called, was neither governed by a monolith organisation like the church nor did it own property and control the state. Thus, the need for turning secular never arose.

The concept of an all powerful central organisation, like the church, goes against the very grain of Sanatan Dharma.

Thus, as a concept secularism is as alien to India as a three-piece suit is to Lalu Prasad Yadav and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M Karunanidhi.

Oh: but then how did secularism enter India?

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