There was different education for different Varnas and this was administered by Brahmanas in Paathshala and Toal and was supported by village communities. Colonial rule emaciated this system by controlling the patronage-teacher funding link and derecognizing of this education. Education policies in independent India ensured that seat of scholarships and learning like Temples, Mutts, Pathshala, Tols were secularized, mummified, exploited and rendered lifeless. Their funds and properties were misappropriated and supports were withdrawn in all brazenness.
At the same time government assistance and privileges to minority institutions especially for Missionary schools and even Madarsas grew leap and bound. Strange it may sound that once Ramakrishna Math and Mission had to bid for non–Hindu minority institution status to preempt government take-over!
What are sources of morals and ethics and how they functioned to create what we can call a “Dharmic universe”? Injunctions present in Vedic literature are elementary blocks for moral-ethical values of Indian civilization. In Vedas there are simple rules of conduct like one should always speak truth, elders should be revered, and non-violence is supreme dharma etc.; and then there are Varnasharma rules. Vedic injunctions in accordance to Varnashrama rules create dharmic universe.
This is Bharata, the crux of Indian civilization. Elaboration and illustrations of functioning of dharmic universe in different space-time-causation are dealt in Smriti-Puranas and Etihaasa. This is the reason Ramayana and Mahabharata, the epitomes of moral and ethical deliberations are held in such high esteem in the tradition. Modern education reduced their status to level of epics and myths.
Dharmic identities are based on a very broad range of conceptions that allow every conceivable idea except the mutually exclusive one. The same apply to various sects or schools that appeared with great force at various times. Such sects-movements show focus on some particular-narrow issue that were very relevant and require total commitment, but once their space-time bound utility is lost these sects merge in flow of Sanatana dharma; by that time some new sect/school gains relevance.
Since new sects instead of eliminating the past as Jahiliya wants to prove themselves as the correct version of the tradition, the relations between various sects remains cordial. The orthodox tradition sees new sects as vigorous youthful forces and appreciates their contemporary relevance. Wars among sects are rare in India and if they appear their motives are secular and political. We attribute this maturity to Ahimsa.
The propaganda of wicked Brahmanical conspiracies to eliminate Buddhism lies exposed today. We feel that real reason behind decline of Bauddha lies in some tendency of mutual exclusivity that appeared couple of centuries after Mahaparinirvana of Buddha. Shramana and Vihara enjoyed close relations and dependence upon royalty, powerful Brahmana elite and rich urban Vaisya class. Bauddha thought rejected ancient social order of Varnashrama along with numerous Vedic and heterodox avaidic schools. Buddha’s thought in social arena proved more a sort of destructive force.
However it failed to offer alternate constructive criticism to the existing social order. While Buddha’s concern appears more spiritual, concern of later day Shramana leaders took recourse to excessively philosophical thought or political devices. This rendered these Bauddha monks further irrelevant to masses spiritually. Bauddha institutions and patronages was multiplying while their following kept diminishing. Jaina thought too offered an alternative to Vedic thought, but later day Acharya treaded a more middle path as far as Varnashrama was concerned.
Moral and ethical values are shaped by fundamental conceptions like self, universe, God, truth, time etc., which remains key concern of religion. Different conception of law in Vedic and Abrahamic tradition and their value universe is well understood today; while dharmic law is essentially self-regulatory in nature. A transgression is punitive intrinsically because undertaking of such Karma is violation of transgressors’ personal dharmic code. The intrinsic logic to follow morals goes to the divinity of the universe.
The Vedic thought of predominance of Karma (over everything including God) which blossomed later in Purva or Karma Mimamsa is fundamental to Indian conception of law. The law of Abrahamic traditions is canonical. It seeks moral-ethical order in society based on code of conduct derived from supernatural authority often revealed to Messiah. The judicial structure and processes and legal codes bear a clear prejudice towards this Abrahamic way of thinking. Persons working in judiciary derive their power from knowledge of code revealed in past.
This system derives power for brute force of state; the moral and ethical concern becomes secondary in Justice. The moral authority and power of judicial system can’t survive without state power. This is reason judicial legalism bears antagonistic stance towards dharmic world and its values; which in reality is the hatred of other non confirming tradition shared by Abrahamic faiths. The criticality of Varnashrama for Sanatana Dharmic tradition and resultant efforts to demonize it by various proselytizing forces lies here.
The need to understand fundamental religious conceptions of Vedic and Abrahamic traditions cannot be sufficiently emphasized. To facilitate the same a noteworthy distinction is reproduced here. It very succinctly summarizes differences that lead to creation of such divergent paradigms.