“All the major faiths in the world, have been competing for dominance of the world, since recorded history.”
One of the gravest error, I did here, is to paint all the religions with one brush. A faith must be classified on the basis on how it was originated and How it was/is being used.
Hinduism, the most ancient faith system, developed over a course of centuries, which accommodated various local cultural practices, beliefs during and after Vedic period (c. 1500 to c. 600 BCE). The scholars of that time, brilliantly encompassed diversified local practices, deities, and still were able to provide a common narrative. Naturally the narrative resulted a forbearing and tolerant faith system, or way of life, now known as Hinduism.
Deliberately, scope of reform was kept open, that is the reason why, while most of the other religion are rigid with time, Hinduism has gone through many reforms, whenever required by the changing time and society. As the old saying, if you don’t change with time, even the good turns into evil.
It is pertinent to analyze, despite being the oldest faith system, why Hinduism remained limited in geography, and even went through subjugation for centuries in the hands of the new political religions which originated much later (1st to 7th century) and quickly dominated the world.
Those new religions which originated in medieval period, were designed/ originated and used mainly as a political/power tool and used as a means to hoard the masses, stifling the dissenting voices. The most significant feature of these new religions was “Submission” and not “Shastarth” (debate). The doubting voices in Hinduism were encouraged in form of Shastarth, other religion brutally muted them in name of blasphemy.
The new form of religion was brutal, submissive and thus it quickly spread with force of sword. May of Pagan regions, (like old Persia now Iran) were quickly humiliated and converted quickly by end of 7th century. Then started numerous attacks on Indian sub-continent as well, where Hinduism had flourished over the centuries.
Muslim conquests on the Indian subcontinent mainly took place from the 12th to the 16th centuries, though earlier Muslim conquests made limited inroads into modern Afghanistan and Pakistan as early as the time of the Rajput kingdoms in the 8th century. With the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate, Islam spread across large parts of the subcontinent. In 1204, Bakhtiar Khilji led the Muslim conquest of Bengal, marking the eastern-most expansion of Islam at the time.
One of reason of the defeat of the region, where people and the kingdoms followed Hinduism, was the lack of coherent political ideology. Hinduism, as earlier explained, lacked a political/power wing, as it was designed as a path to attain spiritual objectives, unlike other religions where dominance and power over the world is commanded.
With lack of common political narrative, factions emerged among several ruling kingdoms within the Subcontinent. Many of the local rulers compromised and formed nexus with invading forces, thus weakening the resistance and ultimate result was subjugation of entire region by the much smaller invading forces. This can be attributed to the lack of uniform political ideology under the Hinduism, the common religion followed by most of the kingdoms before the Islamic conquests.
But despite the subjugation over centuries (from 12th to 18th century), Hinduism sprung back, even more resilient than before. Isn’t it surprising that whereas Persia was 100% converted within 50 years, Hinduism survived over centuries of being ruled over by the same forces? Why ? Did the invading ideology become suddenly liberal when they came to India, as many falsely believe today? The Reason was simple, Development of political wing in Hinduism, i.e. “Hindutva”.
The history of post-independence is only 70 year old, and the dynamics between the religions is centuries old. Someone who reads history only post-independence (from British Raj) and develops narrative of tolerance/lack of enmity and uniformity in designs of different religions is actually closing his eyes towards 99% of the history, which existed right before that.
“History imparts important lessons, those who fail to pick it up, are treated the same way by the history itself.”
These people naively claim the rise of Hindutva started with Jan Sangh moment in contemporary India, or even during in the current ruling dispensation under Narendra Modi. However even a part-time reader of history, can trace back the peak of Hindutva, during Maratha resurgence in much of 18th century. Even before that It was simmering in the local populace, over centuries of brutal subjugation.
There are people, who praise Hinduism but abhor Hindutva. It is same like praising God of Creation Brahma, but abhorring his creation “the universe”. It is pertinent to note from the lessons learnt in history that without the protection of Hindutva ideology a peaceful/ Hinduism cannot even survive.
The aim still remains the same of entire “Hindu way of life” to strive for spirituality, only it has also learnt to defend itself by carving out a defensive ideology i.e. Hindutva. Without Hindutva, Hinduism was/is and will be vulnerable.