Who is a Hindu?

Vivek Ramaswamy, GOP candidate for President, speaking to the press on the issue of religion. PHOTO: Twitter post July 30, 2023, @VivekRamaswamy

News India Times recently reported that Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican candidate for President, was attacked over his Hindu faith by Lord of Hosts Church Pastor, Hank Kunneman of Omaha, Nebraska, a supporter of former President Donald Trump,

Indian-American Democratic lawmakers, Ro Khanna, and Raja Krishnamoorthi throwing aside party affiliation, rose to Ramaswamy’s defense on grounds of religious freedom and the promise of the American Constitution. Both Congressmen belong to the Hindu faith.

This begs the question, who is a Hindu?

In 2009, Lisa Miller penned the column, “We are All Hindus Now” in Newsweek. A related version is available online at this link.

A laudable definition of the term Hindu, is thus: हिनान गुणान दूषयति इति हिंदु: (Hinaan gunaan dushyati iti Hindu): One who considers the inferior Gunas as defective is a Hindu. This definition, or something close to it, is said to be of ancient origin. Hidden in this innocuous definition is the entire scientific framework for human transformation for a better and more peaceful world.

The Bhagvad Geeta provides the definition of the three Gunas (components) of the human mindset: The S component – Honesty, truthfulness, steadfastness, and equanimity. The R component – Attachment, ego, ambition, bravery, greed, and a desire to live, and the T component – Lying, cheating, causing injury in words or deed, and sleep. The definition of the three components is such that perfection (pure S) or for that matter, pure evil (all T) is precluded. Excessive R and T components are the inferior Gunas. And they are to be destroyed in favor of a rising S component.

The definition of the three components leads to a scale of internal excellence. The maximum S component is at the top of the scale while the maximum T component at the bottom and all the other combinations of the three in between. The definition of the term Hindu suggests that one who engages in, and progresses in the struggle to rise in internal excellence is a Hindu. Internal excellence has nothing to do with race, caste, religion, gender or national origin.

The noble ones are towards the top-end of the scale, wicked ones towards the bottom, and the rest of us somewhere in between.

Now, internal excellence cannot be measured but emotions can. Positive emotions (unconditional love, kindness, empathy, compassion) strongly and positively correlate with the S component while negative emotions (anger, hatred, hostility, frustration, resentment, jealousy, fear, sorrow) strongly and positively correlate with excessive R and T components. Thus, the scales of internal excellence and emotional excellence are entirely equivalent.

The pursuit of positive emotions at the exclusion of negative emotions is a well-posed scientific problem since measurement devices for estimating emotions are available and the process with which to rise on the scale of emotional excellence is meditation, or more generally yoga, known for thousands of years.

The importance of emotional excellence has been understood since ancient times. There are numerous stories of Paratpara Shiva and Adyashakti in the Puranas wherein Adyashakti takes on various forms like Kali and Durga to destroy the demons of negative emotions.

In the eighteen chapters of the Bhagvad Geeta, Shri Krishna prods Arjuna, and through him humanity, to engage in the struggle to rise in positive emotions at the exclusion of negative emotions.

The importance of emotions for societal well-being is beginning to be recognized in America.

Peter Salovey, President of Yale and John Mayer of the University of New Hampshire coined the term Emotional Intelligence in 1990 and Daniel Goldman popularized it with his New York Times best-seller, Emotional Intelligence in 1995. According to HBR, Goleman’s paper on the topic is one of the most archived in their publication. UNESCO reportedly sent out a communication to 140 Ministries of Education urging them to introduce SEL (social & emotional learning) as a curricular requirement in schools. Yale even has a Center for Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is an intellectual inquiry to fundamentally understand the importance of emotions within oneself and in others while emotional excellence additionally includes the wherewithal of bringing about the required positive changes from within with meditation, or more generally yoga. An intellectual inquiry is essential and important, but insufficient. For progress, the required positive changes must be brought about from within.

The root cause of many of India’s serious problems, and indeed throughout the world, is lack of emotional excellence. Rapes, lynching, bureaucracy, polluted Ganges, shoddy performance, etc., etc., are only symptoms.

Successful pursuit of emotional excellence delivers a myriad of benefits: Health & wellness, performance, leadership improvement, creativity and innovativeness, interpersonal relationships, and peace. I have published numerous articles in America and in India that provide details. I have also published two books on the scientific framework of external and internal excellence.

Emerging as a Hindu, if correctly interpreted, is an endeavor worthy of pursuing for everyone across all races, religions and nationalities.

Acknowledgments. The author is grateful to Dr. Mukul Gadgil, Dattatray V. Retharekar, and Dr. S. N. Bhavasar for their help with the definition of the term Hindu.

About the Author

Pradeep Deshpande is Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at the University of Louisville and President of Louisville, KY-based Six Sigma and Advanced Controls, Inc. Deshpande has written about and presented his “scientific framework for external and internal excellence toward a better and more peaceful world,” in India, US, and elsewhere.



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