The modern era of Hinduism faces a host of various challenges, many of which are restricted to Hinduism, unlike many other religions. These challenges threaten the stability of the religion as a whole, and also create doubt in its many followers around the world. Today, modern Hinduism faces a number of challenges that threaten its overall stability. Although arguably outdated, the caste system is still an integral component of daily life for Hindus. Unfortunately, discrimination against differing or lower castes, particularly against the “untouchables,” has effectively halted Hindus from becoming a united group of religious followers. Discrimination is so prevalent that Hindus from upper castes are ultimately unwilling to mix with those of the lower castes, thereby diminishing many of the Hindu principles that the faith greatly expounds upon (Thaiyar, 2).
In addition, the diversity of Indian people also intensifies the issue, as many followers speak different languages, hence making communication amongst castes and groups even more difficult. As a result, the disadvantaged and impoverished people of Hinduism are, more often than not, isolated or neglected by their own fellow Hindus from other, upper castes. This creates a harsh and firm social barrier that restricts the religion from becoming more unified (Thaiyar, 2).
Hinduism has also faced many challenges since the introduction of Christianity and Islam. Hindus and Muslims have existed together in the world for a long time; however, many Muslims have converted to Hinduism, thus bringing about several contentious policies implemented by the government. For example, the Indian government offers subsidized airfare packages to Indian Muslims who wish to make the Haj pilgrimage. Hindus have critized this practice greatly, as this is seen as the government favoring Islamic practices over Hindu practices. Additionally, this is also greatly exacerbated by the long-standing history of persecution from Muslims in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan (Thaiyar, 1).
Another major challenge Hinduism faces today is the role of women. More and more often amongst various religions, the role of women has been challenged. Traditionally, the status of Hindu women has always been that they are lower in comparison to men, or subordinate. However, continuing westernization has, over time, led to equal rights and more education for women, including Hindu women, yet there are still many challenges for them (Thaiyar, 2).
Mixed religion marriages also greatly affects efforts to preserve and spread Hinduism, due to globalization. Hinduism itself does not have an initial founder, but instead has many beliefs and ways of worship (Dattani, 1). Hinduism also does not seek out converts either; however, many Hindus convert to Christianity, Islam, or Jainism. As a result of not effectively recruiting new followers, the population of Hindus across the world has continued to drop over time.
Another large challenge surrounding Hinduism is the lack of proper leadership within the religion. In recent news today, there are almost no Hindu opinions expressed in the news or other forms of media in regards to international aid, foreign policy, discrimination, environment, terrorism, abortion, employment, and many other issues. As a result, many followers of Hinduism feel voiceless at the state, national, and international levels. This leads to a number of issues, such as lack of solidarity, isolation of religion, and feelings of incongruity (Dattani, 1).
In summary, there are a number of challenges that the modern Hindu community faces today, such as a lack of proper leadership, lack of unification due to social and caste systems, and the changing status of women. All of these challenges threaten the preservation of this ancient religion, as well as its future in the modern world.
- Dattani, Pratik. “The Challenge of Mobilizing the Next Generation of Young Hindus.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 1 Feb. 2013. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.
- Thaiyar, Sriram. “Arise Arjuna: Hinduism and the Modern World.(includes Review of Awaken Bharata: A Call For India’s Rebirth)(Book Review).” International Journal of Humanities and Peace 2002. Print.