Prakash Bom, USA
We Nepalese people have after the successful historical people’s movements – ‘half a century long Socialist Democratic Evolution’ tried to understand the declaration of secular democratic Nepal with our reasoning, with our eagerness we have tried to revisit our nation’s history, with our curiosity we have tried to find the truth about our religious practice and traditions that have confined us to the poorest social, economic and political conditions.
People’s Rational for Declaration:
Rationally, if we honestly ask ourselves, “Who are Nepali people in the first place of our existence?” The obvious answer will be that Nepali people are not other than human beings who deserve basic human rights protections as per the United Nations’ Universal Human Rights Declaration (1948). Then after we are bona fide citizens of a sovereign nation of which sovereignty rests in us with the guarantee of our civil liberty as proclaimed by the Interim Constitution (2007).
Of course, we are happened to born with different ethnicities in different regions of the county living together with differences yet in unity for the common cause. We are conditioned with our different ethnic identity based on languages and dialects, religion, belief and ritual, tradition and rites, social values and practice (Ethnic Demography of Nepal 1996). Can we come out of it all and stand as a free individual human being? Surely as an individual we can but our society cannot liberate over night. This is our utter reality thus we need our government firm with its declaration to treat us without marginalizing none by providing equal opportunities in every aspect of our social, political and economic life. It is time to restructure our nation for us to participate in nation building process; for us to be able to live together in our society by the rule of law that is legislated by us.
Certainly if Nepal is to be declared as the ‘Hindu’ state then that will not help us to live together with these different ethnic diversities and religious faiths in unity for the whole nation. It will rather be discriminative of one from another as per its premise of caste system and hierarchical religious supremacy. Practice of Hindu religion in Nepal fundamentally based on feudalism and oligarchic hierarchism. This is the religion of an elites group of people, who have dominated the political, social and economic life of people (Lamitare, 1978).
People Revisited the History:
“Nepal has deliberately been declared as a Hindu state so that Nepalese freedom may be suppressed and forces of feudalism continue…” (Lamitare, 1978). Nepal was declared ‘Hindu’ state under the ‘partyless’ system Panchayet autocracy in 1962. Before party less Panchayet regime Nepal was never ever declared Hindu state. Why did the rulers in party less Panchayet autocracy played this role by dismantling democratic institutions established for a decade was the rebirth of the suppression of feudalism over the freedom of people of Nepal. “To many of the unlettered citizens of the country, the king was a spiritual force as well, representing the god Vishnu upholding dharma on earth. Within a span of ten years, the king had, in effect, reclaimed the unlimited power exercised by Prithvi Narayan Shah in the eighteenth century.” (Savada, 1991).
Declaration of the Hindu state played a major role with the politics of religion. Hindu religion became politically dominant in the nation even though Nepal is a country of multi-religion, multi-lingual and multi-ethnicity. Surely the declaration of Hindu state have had confined the ordinary people (by then only 30% literate) in the darkness of ‘Hindu’ tradition succumbed to its caste system, religious rituals and rites, superstitions and animal sacrifices. These are the basic practice of the Nepali Hindu feudalism. It is the system of belief and practice that are antagonistic to the wisdom and knowledge, education and freedom. It is a system of religious practice that marginalizes people who are deprived by the caste system in social, political and economic hierarchy (Lamitare, 1978).
Under Rana feudal oligarchic regime a tightly centralized autocracy even isolated the county from external influenced did not propagated the king of Nepal as the incarnation of protagonist god of Vishnupurana, one of the mythologies of Vedic literature. It was the Panchayat regime that propagated the king as the incarnation of Hindu god to politically manipulate people of Nepal (Savada 1991). The feudal elite groups were chosen ruling executives of partyless Panchayat system of government mostly from upper Hindu caste and elites of Hindu ethnic group (Rose & Fisher 1970).
Truth about the Religious Practice:
There are still many among Hindus who refuse to accept all religious Vedic literary works such as Ramayana (epic), Mahabharat (crusade), and Puranas (mythologies) as works of literature. The Feudal Nepali Hindu religious practices are mostly dominated by the Puranas. There are eighteen Puranas, the mythology of gods and goddesses. Among them the most dominant Puranas are Shiva- Purana, Visnu-Purana and Devi-Purana in the feudal Nepali Hindu religious practice and traditions (Kooij, 1978).
The word ‘Hindu’ is neither a Sanskrit word nor Pali nor Devanagrik nor Dravidian. The word ‘Hindu’ nor can be found in any Vedic texts – Vedas, Upanishads, Geeta, Sutras, Mantras, Puranas, Mahabharata, Ramayana and in other Vedic literatures considered to be ancient (Jayaram, 2000).
The word ‘Hindu’ according to the linguists is a Persian word. “The earliest reference of word ‘Hindu’ can be found in the Avestha, the sacred book of the Zoroastrians. The word “Hindu ‘ush” was also found at least in two inscriptions of king Darius (early 6th century B. C.), whose empire said to have extended up to the boarders of river Sindhu.” (Jayaram, 2000).
The feudal Nepali Hinduism is intermingled with the ethnic beliefs, superstitions, rituals and rites even though some studies assume that in ancient Hindu epic Ramayana and crusade Mahabharata references are found regarding ethnic group of people such as Kiratas in the hills and Sakayas in the plains (Savada. 1991). It was often practiced taboo among the elders of middle class Hindu both Brahamins, Thakuris, Ranas, and other Chhetri about reading Geeta - “those who read Geeta will lose their minds.” In fact the elite feudal rulers regulated the feudal Nepali Hinduism in the state governance structures. They literally managed the people and themselves to get succumbed to superstitious, rituals, rites and worships. Feudal Nepali Hindu society indulges more ethnical festivities, rituals and rites than Vedic. Vedic rites are just practiced on the childbirth, marriage and death ceremonies. Vedic rites and rituals are non-violent, non-life-sacrificial. But feudal Nepali Hindu rituals, rites and worships are violent and animal life sacrificial. One of the bloodiest festivals is the Vijya Dashami. The whole country sacrifice not less than a million animal lives – goats, chickens, pigs, buffalos, ducks and so on.
Therefore, it is obvious that feudal Nepali Hindu practice is devoid of Dharma or religion practice in the context of six Vedic schools of thought – Shamkhaya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimansa, and Vedanta, & Buddhism. The word “Dharma” in Sanskrit means to observe natural law or reality as they are. In simplest sense it means, “the way things are or the law of nature that sustains the universe.” (Tandon, 1995). The feudal Nepali Hindu practice cannot even come close to the Dharmasharam of Manu Smriti or practice of Varnashrama system even the caste system propounded by Manu Smriti conflicts with the Sutra of Vedas (Dr. Sharma, 2004). The feudal Nepali Hindu caste system is the most gross and deplorable of the Varnasharama system of Manusmriti. The system is still in effect and it has marginalized lives of majority of people – ‘Hindu Vaisyas, Sudhras, Dalits, and other indigenous communities.’ Manu-smriti itself discriminates lower Hindu caste and women particularly. The main populations of Nepal are the lower Hindu caste and indigenous people (Gurung, 1996). Manu-smriti deprives these group of people from acquiring knowledge of Sutras of Vedas in all Hindu dominated countries of South Asia (Dr. Sharma, 2004).
Vedic Sutras or Darshanas - philosophies constitutes an integral part of the culture of the great diversity in thought and practice nurtured by its liberal pluralist way of life. These Vedic Sutras were churned out from the rigorous dialogues that occurred in these six schools of thought – Samkhaya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimansa, and Vedanta. Samkhya postulates that the universe consists of two eternal realities – matter and nature (Purus and Prakriti). Liberation (kaivalya) consists of the realization that purusha and prakriti are indeed different. The founder of this philosophy was sage Kapila. “It has put forward a theory of evolution to explain all objects, animate and inanimate, of this world as an infinite number of permutations and combinations of the three gunas - sattva, rajas, and tamas. Its essence consists of two principles: Prakriti and Pursusa. It opposes Vedic sacrifices but not the Vedas. It does not deny God but states that His existence cannot be proved.” (Sinha, 2003). Yoga philosophy is the further development of Samkhya philosophy in which self-realization or Moksha is attainable through the physical and the mental discipline that transcend Sattva (subtle), Rajas (active) and Tama (gross) gunas or attributes
(Woods, 2003). Nyaya philosophy describes four sources of knowledge – perception (pramanas), inference, comparision and testimony. Logic in Nyaya is a valid way to obtain knowledge to gain release from sufferings. Sage Gautama was the founder of this philosophy (D’Almeida, 1973).
Vaisheshika – in this school of thought, all objects in the physical universe are reduced to a certain number of Atoms (Pramanu) and God is regarded as the fundamental force that causes consciousness in these atoms. Sage Kanada was the founder of this philosophy (Bahadur, 1979).
The fifth school of thought called Mimamsa, which insists on the spiritual power of mantras and yajñas, compiled verses of Vedas, established the authority of rituals and rites in daily religious practice. Mimamsa believes in salvation through Vedic rituals and rites rather than liberation. Mimamsa adopted Manu-smritis (documents on tradition and customs) for Varna-ashrama Dharmas in Veda. However, Vedanta the sixth of thought discards the Smritis and adopts Surtis of Veda for the salvation. The Mimamsa authority over the Vedas gave the birth to Brahminism that took the supreme position in Varana-ashrama hierarchy. The socio-politics of the caste system is the Brahminism (Dr. Sharma, 2003). For example, Vedic Sutra the hymn of Rigveda the Gayentri
“Om bhūr bhuva sva, tát savitúr váreniyam, bhárgo devásya dhīmahi, dhíyo yó nam pracodáyāt” meaning: ‘O nourishing Sun, solitary traveler, controller, source of life for all creatures, spread your light and subdue your dazzling splendor so that I may see your blessed Self. Even that very Self am