We have long heard of the “clash of civilisations”. But what is occurring could be better described as a clash of cultures or a “cultural war”. This is happening at many levels social, religious, political, and economic.
Fueling this clash of cultures are the forces of globalism. On the positive side, the global platform is bringing all countries together in a common network of communication, in which each group can have a voice, particularly in the social media. But on the negative side, the dominant global culture remains that of the old colonial powers, their values and modified traditions that have changed their language more so than their approach over the decades.
Colonial powers used to pontificate over non-western cultures, claiming to civilise them – even India and China that already had older complex civilisations. They used military force to sustain their foreign rule, pushing their colonies into servitude. Today these same countries claim to represent democracy, progress, human rights, free markets and multiculturalism, which are often uncritically equated. Yet when other countries do not go along with their leadership, they are still willing to use intimidation to force their compliance.
Beneath the veneer of multiculturalism the fact is that traditional cultures in the world are rapidly disappearing owing to their domination by the forces of globalism, which serve to undermine local cultures. Modern multiculturalism appears to consist of people of all cultures being westernised. If we look at the major cities in the world where globalism prevails we find the same stores, behavior and expressions indicating this.
Hinduism Under Siege – New York Times and Colonial Prejudices
This new cultural war has specifically targeted Hinduism as constituting the largest traditional, spiritual and pluralistic culture remaining in the world. Hindu Dharma is outside of western cultural and religious forces, and most able to challenge them at a civilisational level than perhaps any other culture.
Hinduism has the oldest, most profound and many-sided culture in the world. This extends from ancient village customs to the highest spiritual knowledge of exalted gurus. It includes intricate arts and crafts that connect us to the Earth, as well as the most sublime practices of Yoga that direct us beyond time and space. It involves the world’s largest cultural events and the greatest variety of temples and holy sites.
This cultural war against Hinduism is now targeting local festivals that keep Hinduism alive in the common people. The current effort to ban Jallikattu is but part of the ongoing attack on Hindu culture. It is not about protecting animals but about eliminating competing cultures.
The New York Times, regarded as progressive, in a recent article by Ellen Barry responding to the Jallikattu event, criticised India as a land of superstition and oppression. The article described Jallikattu as part of “the tension between the hold of established cultural practices and new efforts by activists to safeguard rights, whether minority, individual or animal.” In other words, established Indian cultural practices are bad and biased, while efforts by activists to eliminate them altogether, largely funded by western sources, are justified.
The newspaper described Jallikattu as merely “bulls given alcohol and abused”, along with people dying and being injured. It then compared Jallikattu with dangerous Hindu and Jain rituals such as – worshipping scorpions and letting them run over peoples’ bodies, making children fast to death, throwing sheep off of cliffs, and making precarious human pyramids of Dahi Hand in honor of Lord Krishna. A more denigrating picture of Hindu culture would be hard to imagine.
One is reminded of the remark of Mahatma Gandhi on American writer’s Katherine Mayo’s negative comments on India that she was but a “drain inspector.” In other words, for the New York Times there has been no progress relative to its reporting of India from the colonial era to today.
This cultural war is real and much of India’s westernised media is supporting it. If Indians do not stand up against it, their culture will be eliminated like many other traditional cultures of the world have been already.
Fortunately, in Tamil Nadu, people are beginning to protest in defense of their culture and its festivals. A greater awakening of this type is necessary throughout India. The Kumbha Mela or Saraswati Puja may be targeted next if such campaigns to ban festivals win.