We often take comfort in the idea that ancestry of all in the Indian subcontinent is Hindu. Yet the History is replete with the descendants of a country, religion or ideology who completely disown their forefathers. 500 years ago Ireland had a rich Celtic culture and religion. With the advent of Christianity the people completely disowned their forefathers culture. They called them Pagans. Christianity has become solidly entrenched in Ireland. Ancient Greece had a mighty Hellenic culture and religion. With the coming of Christianity the Hellenic culture was completely abandoned. Britain in the 19th century colonized countries, promoted slave trade and apartheid. The great grandchildren of the 19th century Britain turned against all these practices and disowned their ancestors. Tens of thousands of English men and women took up the cause of freedom of people like Nelson Mandela and the colonized countries. China was a devout Buddhist country for centuries. With the coming of the new ideology of Maoist communism tens of millions of Chinese people disowned their Buddhist heritage and smashed as many Buddhist idols as they could.
So common ancestry has no binding force because a different religion or a different ideology turns one against their forefathers. We have to face the facts of History as they are. Just like Britain is a proudly Christian country where the Church plays an important role in the Nation, in India Hinduism should have a similar place with minorities practicing their religion freely. India will otherwise become a place where Hinduism will lose its space facing so many ideologies and ways of worship. That would be a tragic loss!
Nitin Mehta
July 2021

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