Dear Adi Shankara,
Jai Ganesha! Humble obeisance to the great ones who knew the Unknowable and held Truth in the palm of their hand! You can imagine my surprise to receive your InterDimensional Fax this morning. I thought Hinduism Today was high-tech, but not any longer. Anyway, let me respond quickly to your queries.
First of all, the rumors you heard are true. We are publishing in this issue a synopsis of the Smarta Sampradaya. This is the final installment in our series of overviews of the four main Hindu denominations, the first three being Vaishnavism, Saivism and Saktism. Your quip about saving the best for the last did not go unappreciated by the staff.
Secondly, your request for information showing how the Indian/Hindu population is holding up in these demographically turbulent times has been assembled by our research minions in the form of a graph, appended below. I hope it covers your area of concern. As you will see, India was almost 30% of the human family when you were here last in the year 820CE, and that has diminished to 17% today. Don't be alarmed, though. The downward trend has stopped. Hindus are one out of six of the world today, and the percentages are on the increase.
To answer your last question, yes, your profound work remains intact and continues to illumine the world. The attainment of Nirguna Brahman is not exactly on everybody's To Do Today list, but serious seekers persist, and they do it in the old-fashioned way because, as you know, there is no other way to do it. Personally, my only two complaints about how history has honored your brief and extraordinary 32-years is that: 1.) so much stress has been placed on your reformation work and so little on your reverent inwardness and; 2.) your philosophical enemies (and not a few Smarta allies) have over-simplified your insights into maya so that now it is glibly asserted that "the world and even the Gods are mere illusion." I guess it is no easier today than it was twelve-hundred years ago for people to distinguish subtly between relative reality and absolute reality. Never mind all that. You did more than anyone to drive the truth home that Atman is Brahman, that man is God. People haven't stopped talking about it.
Thanks for the kind words about our humble newspaper. We are honored that you consider it a living example of your own mission, even though we agree to disagree on a few philosophical matters. Such is the greatness of Hinduism, that it gives shelter to so much rich, spiritual diversity. Who could not love a religion in which there is no such thing as a heretic, no such belief as blasphemy and no such place as an eternal hell?
Your brother in saffron,
POPULATION OF INDIA COMPARED TO WORLD THROUGH HISTORY
Year India Popul. India % World Popul.
-2000 5 million 22 27 million
-500 25 million 25 100 million
10CE 35 million 20.5 170 million
500 50 million 26.3 190 million
1000 79 million 29.8 265 million
1500 105 million 24.7 425 million
1700 165 million 27 610 million
1900 290 million 17.8 1.6 Billion
1992 895 million 17 5.3 Billion
2000 1.2 Billion 20 6.2 Billion
Source: Atlas of World Population History by Colin McEvedy & Richard Jones. 2000 Projection by World Watch.
Article copyright Himalayan Academy.
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