Why Religion Was Not Taught in Schools

Teaching Hinduism in an academic setting is part of western influence, particularly because of Christian teaching in Sunday school and bible class during the colonial period.

In traditional settings in India, rituals were taught and learnt in a home atmosphere while puja were performed on everyday basis and also on special occasions.

Because many western Hindus feel the need for their cultural and religious identity in an alien atmosphere, particularly where their faith and traditions were challenged by other religious views, they feel it necessary to teach them ‘systematically’ both at home, in temple and special classes arranged for the purpose.

There is nothing wrong with this and we need to applaud them for doing it. But imposing their view of India based on their need is also becoming part of the Western Hindu agenda which I call as the ‘Native Invasion’ on India. What they will teach in a systematic way about Hinduism would be more philosophical/theological with a particular point of view. Of course some general teaching also could be given on some scripture like Gita.

But at the end, who is teaching and how the slokas and mantras are translated and interpreted also will play a crucial role in those teachings. At the least, some basic things can be learnt about some scriptures.

So though I welcome such thoughts, imposing them on others based on their experience is not correct and blaming Nehru and calling him a foolish person shows the immaturity of that person rather than helping to understand the Indian reality which is home oriented culture and tradition and not academic.

Hinduism is basically a religious of rituals. From the Vedic time (yajnas) down to the present day, the main focus of Hindu spirituality is centred around rituals to perform (how, when, who and why). In fact the Vedas are mainly concerned about rituals to earn the favour of gods.

Later Samhitas and Brahmanas mainly elaborate on this. In fact the Brahmanas mainly deal with how to perform the rituals with all the details and every act and part of rituals were explained and interpreted. The later speculative views about rituals are nothing but an (early) attempt to give intellectual explanation and understanding about them. In other words rituals came first and texts came later. And all the philosophical texts are nothing but elitist attempts to give rationalistic interpretation about the rituals.

This being the fact, any academic teaching about Hinduism without knowing the minute details of rituals (which also vary according to sects, region and even families) won’t do full justice to learn about Hinduism.  And all the minute details about rituals plays a crucial role in performing the rituals.  Which one needs to be done first and who can do it and how to do it are very important. Though the family priest can guide, it is the family elders, particularly women who know the details and will play an important role in it.

This cannot be taught by any academician. This does not mean that we should oppose or criticise such attempt to teach Hinduism. Though we should welcome such attempts, we should also point out the complexity of learning about Hinduism.