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Hinduism in the Information Age

Published: 
Saturday, September 15, 2018
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The practice of Hinduism has been mostly confined to the Hindu homes and families in the scattered villages across the Indian sub-continent, and in Trinidad and Tobago since the days of indentureship. Even the structures created by Hindus were known as ‘Gurudom’ because it centred around a Hindu spiritual Guru or the Pundit.

The most important tool for the understanding of the Hindu religion and the foundations of Hinduism and its culture were not accessible because of state legislation.

Hindu leadership both in India and the Indian diaspora failed to understand the new information age required the mastery of television, radio technology, books and the print media, and in recent times Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and other social media technologies.

One of the greatest Hindu thinkers and writers today is a white American who has embraced Hinduism and is promoting the use of modern technology to transmit the message of Hinduism.

Professor David Frawley has written numerous books on Hinduism in the English language and in one of his essays on Hindus and the Information Age, he wrote:

“The image of Hinduism that prevails in the information age is created by non-Hindus and anti-Hindu forces, not only by intention but also by default because Hindus themselves seldom challenge wrong views or provide an alternative.

“In this way, Hinduism is being eroded, particularly in the minds of young Hindus, who seldom find their religion represented, or who find it denigrated in the media world around them that is rapidly becoming their reality.

“Hinduism has produced many extraordinary minds in modern times. Excellent Hindu critiques of the West and of the modern world can be found in the writings of great Hindu gurus like Aurobindo, Vivekananda, Shivananda or Chinmayananda.

“The problem is that their works get placed in the religious or spiritual field and do not enter into the intellectual realm.

“Their teachings are often confined to their disciples, who personalise them rather than promote them for their global relevance.

“Much of the work of creating a new Hindu intelligentsia should consist of taking the works of these great gurus and reformulating them for a broader and more intellectual audience.

“Hindu intellectuals have generally failed in the modern information revolution. They have not articulated their views in a clear way. They have produced little by way of books, and almost nothing by way of magazines and newspapers to express what they hold to be true, even in India.

“While other religions have given clear views of various social and political topics, Hinduism is often without voice.

“The most notable exception to this trend is the magazine Hinduism Today’ coming out of Hawaii (USA), organised and written mainly by Western Swamis. Yet such a magazine has no real counterpart in India or its different dialects.

“In this information war a different kind of warrior is necessary and a different strategy is required.

“This is not an entirely new issue because there has always been something of an information war in the clash of cultures, nations and religions that has occurred throughout history.

“But today it has much more importance in the information age and has become the central issue.”

The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha of T&T Inc. fully well understood the importance of using modern technology to spread the message of Hinduism.

It is for this reason that we applied for a radio licence which was denied by the government of T&T, showing preference instead to one of its supporters.

Led by attorney Anand Ramlogan, we took this denial to the High Court locally and then twice to the Appeal Court before going to the Privy Council in London, T&T’s highest court. It ordered:

“The board would pay tribute to the care and skill with which this case has been handled in the courts below.

“It is through no fault of the Court of Appeal and highly regrettable that the Court of Appeal was allowed to proceed on false premises.

It is in the light of exceptional circumstances not revealed to the Court of Appeal that the board concludes that the appeal should be allowed.

“As in Observer Publications Ltd v Matthew, so here the board considers that the only appropriate order is a mandatory order, in this case ordering the Attorney General to do all that is necessary to procure and ensure the issue forthwith to the appellant, Central Broadcasting Systems Limited (CBSL), of a FM radio broadcasting licence, as applied for on 1st September 2000, on an appropriate frequency to be agreed with CBSL or, in default of agreement, to be determined by the High Court on application by either party.

“The Attorney General must pay the appellants’ costs in the courts below and before the board.”

And so Radio and TV Jaagriti were born!

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