The ‘glue’ that holds India together?
A scholar has argued that Hinduism is what ties together India's incredible diversity
In a recent book, the scholar of Hinduism Diana Eck argues that despite its extraordinary diversity, India has survived because it is held together by what one reviewer called the ‘glue’ of Hinduism. British colonial civil servants underestimated this factor, says the book, which is why they believed that India would be liable to break up if it was independent.
(Indeed, Winston Churchill said that India would return to "the barbarism and privations of the Middle Ages" after the British left.)
The argument of the book (although I have only read the review, not the book itself) struck a chord with me, as it reminded me of one of the first things that I noticed about Hinduism. I first encountered Hinduism in its Nepalese 'form' in Kathmandu in the late 1970s. I was impressed by its 'binding' quality in an ethnically diverse community.
Possibly, it is this binding quality that speaks to people from other communities. This aspect could be of particular interest to our modern society, where many traditional community bonds seem to be breaking down. A lot of people in the ‘Western’ world don’t know much about Hinduism. However, as India becomes a more prominent global power, I believe that this could change.