Original Research

For the greater good: Hinduism, selflessness, and social cohesion in South Africa

Mathias Y. Shunmugam, Maniraj Sukdaven
Theologia Viatorum | Vol 48, No 1 | a245 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/tv.v48i1.245 | © 2024 Mathias Y. Shunmugam, Maniraj Sukdaven | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 April 2024 | Published: 05 July 2024

About the author(s)

Mathias Y. Shunmugam, Department of Religion Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Maniraj Sukdaven, Department of Religion Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

The heinous ideology of apartheid in South Africa created a citizenry of distrust, disharmony and discord. With the demise of apartheid in 1994, the South African society needed a process of healing. There were and are attempts to bring about social cohesion through various discourses via the South African government and non-governmental organisations. It has been 30 years since the end of apartheid, yet South Africa still grapples with deep-seated distrust, disharmony and discord among its citizens. In 2021, this issue extends beyond the divide between white and non-white citizens to include tensions among other racial groups as well. This article attempts to offer a perspective on social cohesion from a concept known in Sanskrit as Nishkama Karma which means, in its basic form, desireless desire or selflessness. The idea of Nishkama Karma is examined by the researchers by referring to the commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita by Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhva to formulate an understanding of Nishkama Karma that can contribute to social cohesion.

Contribution: This article contributes to understanding the Hindu concept of Nishkama Karma as a contributor to social cohesion in South Africa and also examines the important role that different religions play in supporting governmental objectives in the country.


Keywords

social cohesion; South Africa; Bhagavad Gita; Nishkama Karma; Hinduism; science of religion; Shankara; Madhva; Ramanuja

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

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