shiv wrote: I would also like to point out that at least some of what we say and think might also, in the same manner, carry Islamic baggage or influences. I am dead certain this is the case
There is absolutely no reason to deny this influence, it will be nothing but coginitive dissonance as you call it to deny these influences from the ways of Islam on the Indic mind. It is a fact, since time immemorial that the subjects follow the religion of the King, in large parts. In India, it is true that most conversions did not happen through the sword, directly, neither was it the peaceful and brotherly message of Islam but the conversions were largely through patronage. One does not have to look very far to prove the influence of Islam, on the Indic mind.
Islamism as you know, is a well developed framework that makes changes where necessary, subtle and temporary sometimes to suit the circumstances. Call it Sufism or the development of the Hanafi variants of Barelvi and Deoband or Akbar's proclamation to disband Jaziya or the eventual hardening of Aurangzeb to the Tablighi movement in early 20th century, resulting in Maududi's vision of TSP today. Even now, it changes depending on circumstances as one can see between TSP and India. It hardens and softens based on the need of the hour.
Even in the language we speak, where does Hindi end and Urdu begin (only purists would know)? My grand mother wrote in Guru Mukhi, a persian derived script widely used to write Sindhi and Punjabi. It will be downright stupid not to acknowledge the varied influences on the Indic mind, including that of Islam.
However, I do make one small or large exception, for both the Sanatan Dharmic systems and Islam. Islam did not have any signifiant impact on the evolution of Indic spiritual works (there is evidence that the advent of Islam shut the evolution of Hinduism). Islam did have a large impact on the social and political life of India, for that is what Islam is, in large parts. Very little, if any, Indic spiritual systems were added to or changed, because Islam offered little to none by way of the spirit, as understood by the Indic mind.
Likewise, Islam may change its profiles and be wielded by rulers of various shades, but at its core there is a constant and written unyielding framework, adhered to by the Sunni theologians across, Arab, Turkish and Indic lands, across time spans. The Sunnah and Quran together will arrest the variants and seek to move them in a common direction. For, till these books exist, no other path breaking ways are open.
In the interaction between Islam and Sanatan Dharam, people changed and bent, but not their respective inner cores. For one cannot change and the other did not find anything worth changing to. It is this lack of acceptance of the other's theology that was, is and will continue to be the source of friction.
That brings me to the second point you make - in the second para quoted above. What is the way forward. Do we seek "forward" by engaging reverse gear attempting to remove X, Y or Z influences as Pakistan is doing?
Or do we battle the people who are trying to do that and say - we need "forward" not "reverse"?
If we do, what is forward?
Indic way of life has been an evolving concept - always. There is no question of a "reverse" to a certain golden era. However, it is important to recognize and be conscious of the two "external" frameworks that were imposed on the Indic people.
I will repeat this again, our forefathers (over 70% were lawyers, trained either in England or in the English system) in my view, erred in not seeking to understand this and seeking to restore the balance. They did something worse, they ignored the Indic frameworks and gave it a cold shoulder. They did not stop there, they went further and institutionalized the two external frameworks. Islam by way of secularism and the west in the name of democracy.
The way forward needs to restore the primacy of Indic thoughts and processes. For once, we have to stop being afraid and seek ready made answers in other frameworks, primarily western today, be it the language of freedom, democracy, secularism, human rights of the individual or the rational mind. Indic systems, are not in denial or opposed to any of these but these things need to be viewed and prioritized and given its due place based on the needs of Indic society.
I do not have any ready made answers to the way forward but at the same time, we need to shed our fears and get comfortable in our own skin and develop our own answers. We need to restart the evolution of the Indic framework without shackles or doubt.
I will say one more thing. It will be a mistake to dismiss the evolution of the modern individual centered rational mind and associated systems. Although, I think it is limited, it is an evolution of the people of the west and we should all welcome it.
The world my children and theirs will inherit is going to be very interconnected. If we do not have mind bridges to connect with the west, it will produce conflict as has been the case with Islam.
The way forward has to take the two models, one of the Indic spiritual mind and the modern rational mind and make them connect. For, either of them in their extremes is not proven to work!