I’m banging an old drum here, so if you’re tired of hearing about my despair about Hindu faith in action, look away now. Actually don’t, because this is less despairing and more optimistic than previous posts (besides, I like the attention).
If you’d told me a year (or even 6 months) ago that religiosity would be on my mind I’d probably have slapped you silly. But that’s the truth partially because of my recent research project into faith-based social action, and partially because I’ve felt a certain spiritual emptiness.
Reconnecting with Hinduism has been a wonderful, energising, pacifying experience. This could well because my Hinduism is idiosyncratic and highly customised to my needs: it’s all about prayer, meditation and yoga for me. The smell of incense alone calms my spirit.
At the same time I’m impressed by the turn from dogma to praxis in some modern forms of Christianity. You could call it faith in action. I realise now, despite flirting with the idea in the past, that I could never be a Christian. I could never be anything other than a Hindu.
In that sense I feel a great attraction to Mahatma Gandhi‘s syncretic fusion of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. From the little I know this which went beyond theological reconciliation to a kind of “theo-ethics” which asserted the common humanitarian commitments of each.
This is as far I go; I have nothing else but questions. Did Gandhi inspire a Hindu reform movement that was outward-looking, founded on faith in action and practical intervention? If there is such a movement, has it had any purchase in the Hindu diaspora? I’d love to know Gandhi’s articulation of a pacific masculinity has been championed recently (notably by Martha Nussbaum), but I’m more interested in what he has to say about how Hindu praxis can intervene in the world around us.