Faith and Citizenship – Hindu View


The question of loyalty to Britain has recently been the subject of public debate. That many immigrants have failed to integrate in this country long after coming and settling here has caused concern. Cultural differences, faith issues, and a loyalty divided between the country of domicile and that of one’s birth, or the birth of one’s parents, have been quoted as factors that impact on this sense of loyalty.

Where do Hindus stand on this issue?

Many Hindus were born here, but quite a substantial proportion of the Hindu population were born in countries outside Britain, principally in India and East Africa. Despite this, the question of integration and loyalty to Britain has not been an issue with the Hindu community. Hindus take pride in their culture and faith, but recognise that there are good values in all cultures. Our scriptures advise us to absorb what is good from other individuals, societies and cultures – R’g Veda, I-89-i, says: ‘Aa nau bhadhraah kr’tavo yantu vishvatah’ Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides’ .

Hindus must follow the path of dharma. In the social context, the Supreme Court of India defined dharma thus: ‘Dharma is that which upholds, nourishes or supports the stability of society, maintains social order and secures the general well-being and progress of mankind.’ Thus it is clear that a Hindu should not indulge in thoughts or deeds that are anti-social or anti-national. One of the four obligations that an individual has to discharge is manava-runa – duty to society and to fellow human beings. Our scriptures make it clear that, to uphold dharma, society needs the State, and that the rule of law must be supreme. A Hindu has a clear responsibility to other people, to other beings, to nature, and to the society and the State – with greater emphasis on one’s responsibilities than on rights.

Prime Minister spoke recently of the need for all of us to share certain common values – belief in democracy, the rule of law, tolerance, and equal treatment for all… at the same time having the ability to ‘worship God in our own way… take pride in our different cultures’. As Hindus, we have no problem whatsoever with that, as these values are entirely consistent with the teachings of our scriptures.

Dr. Girdari Lal Bhan, December 19, 2006


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