Saturday, January 30, 2010


The real challenge that Gandhi had taken up seemed to be about the survival of the Hindu tradition as a tradition. That is, according to him, traditions lived and survived through their capacity of elevating people morally and spiritually. If Hindu tradition was not capable of doing so to all the people inside its fold, its degeneration and corruption were inevitable. Gandhi seemed to have understood the real challenge of Christian conversion: a challenge for the survival of traditions that are very different from religions like Christianity and Islam. If these traditions had something to offer to humankind, they should be able to show it. If they did not, they might as well perish and all might as well convert to Christianity. This was the uncompromising position Gandhi took. - Sarah Claerhout, Ph.D thesis, "Losing My Tradition - Conversion, Secularism and Religious Freedom in India, available via TheHeathenInHisBlindness yahoo group.

Why I quote it is because this very challenge has been raised by my niece (though she may not recognize it as such). What of our specific culture and tradition can or ought to survive in this globalizing sea of cultures? What constitutes the limits of acceptable change — are there any limits? What is the "meta-tradition" or philosophical outlook within which changes are not seen as abandoning our ways? That is why the above strikes a resonance with me.