OPINION

The Beauty of Hinduism - If There is Any

May 10, 2007
Sujai

Being an atheist, writing about beauty of a religion sounds ridiculous and quite hypocritical. Having known its deficiencies and flaws, I am ready, for once, to appreciate its beauty. This is only to get these extremely annoying drones off my back that keep telling me why I am not a true Hindu. And this is to slam my front doors on those supposed upholders of faith who keep entering my home to tell me how I need to live, how I need to 'understand correctly' and what Hinduism means and how 'glorious' it is only if I were to attain the same knowledge they have attained through their rigorous study, dhyana, meditation, and after deciphering complex algebra.

I think I am quite OK being a Hindu only for one reason - that it allows atheism. And the second best reason is that I am born into it. For me being Hindu is another association, another label, like I am a Telugu, that I am of certain caste, that I am an Indian, that I am a man, that I am human, etc. Some of these labels I am proud of, and some don't matter - like caste. Being Hindu is one of those labels. I don't see a need to shed any of these labels - as long as those labels do not bother my lifestyle and me. I am proud of my roots - but that doesn't mean I consider my labels to be the best while some others are not. I don't go preaching how great it is to be Telugu or to be an Indian. I don't know if a Telugu is superior to Kannadiga or not. I do not deal with such questions and I don't need to answer them. While I am a proud Telugu, I will not die fighting for such a stupid cause as proving 'Telugu is superior to Kannadiga'. Such fights are for fools. I am no fool. When I say I like being a Telugu, it does not necessarily mean I hate Kannadiga. In the same way, being Hindu doesn't mean that I hate other religions.

I see beauty in Hinduism for various reasons. [In my attempt to eulogize a religion (which is not a sincere attempt) I am going to be very generous in giving these accolades. Remember, that for everything that is true for Hinduism, you will find exactly opposite somewhere else within Hinduism.]

These are some of the reasons:

1. There was no such a thing as 'True Hindu'. There are no sets of rules to be followed to prove that you are a true Hindu (till recently). As far as I am concerned, I could be an atheist and still be a Hindu. And someone out there could be praying to Ravana and still be a Hindu.

2. It did not have any single holy text (till recently). There are so many of them- you could pick and choose. It's like Starbucks - many varieties of coffee (and tea) are served.

3. It was not monotheistic (till recently), and that also meant, it was polytheistic. Any one living in this land could come up with their definition for a god and pray to it. No questions asked. They could pray to a widow, or a tree, a snake or a stone. One could even pray to an alien or a film actress (and I think both are the same).

4. It was evolutionary - it changed its form and shape and evolved with time (till recently). Different gods were popular at different times. It is like popularity ratings - sometimes it is David Letterman, and then sometimes it is Jay Leno. The TV shows keep changing. Brahma is now completely faded away. Ganesha is now more popular that his father. Few others, like Indra are completely not welcome back on the show.

5. It allowed for many interpretations of its mythologies. While Ram was good in one version, Ravan was good in another one. Good and bad were treated as something possible in a single human being. Bad does not mean Satan. And being evil does not mean a direct ticket to Hell. Even good people had to struggle hard to get into Heaven. Even the concept of Hell and Heaven change from one book to another.

6. It allowed for atheism. While there could be many gods, it was also possible not to have any god.

And what do I find these days? The very reasons why I like Hinduism are being discarded away by few posers who seem to champion the cause of Hinduism. Without taking my permission they want to represent Hinduism to me, tell me how wrong I am in my interpretation, and why I need to correct it. I say, 'Who the hell are you to tell how I should live my life?'

The beauty that I see in Hinduism is not found in the holy books, scriptures, or its mythology. It is not found in Vedic Sciences or Vedic Mathematics, its purported achievements of having built nuclear bombs or an airplane. I do not see beauty in its purported complexity of stanzas, slokas, hierarchies of castes, and detailed description of rituals such as ablution.

I think it is found in its simplicity and diversity. It could be taken up by anyone at any time (of course, some of the Hindus were kept out of temples forever). It could be anything to anyone living anywhere. What was true in Hinduism was also false in Hinduism. For some Amavasya (New Moon) is not auspicious while it is auspicious to some others, and they are all Hindus. For some cow is sacred and therefore it is not eaten and for few others it a source of protein for many centuries, and they are all Hindus.

And I don't think Hinduism is so fragile that it needs protection from goons such as Bajrang Dal, fanatics such as VHP, or sympathizers and protectors such as those seen on this forum. It has withstood onslaught of many monotheistic, authoritarian and dogmatic religions and has remained vibrant - continuously swelling in its ranks. It has retained its fabric and has continued to be a strong religion. Why should it need soldiers to defend it? And from whom?

What good is it if it can be understood by only those very few elite individuals who can unravel and solve the arcane and obscure conundrums and puzzles? If it can be understood by only few, then how come it is such a mainstream religion?

Hinduism belonged to the people of this land. It will evolve, and it better evolve. It will mean differently to different people. We don't need your Vedas to be Hindus nor do we need to pray to your prescribed gods to be Hindus. I am a Hindu in spite of every rule you impose; and that identity you cannot take it away from me. That's what I like about Hinduism!

I maintain most of my blogs at sujai blog. E=mc^2.
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#1
Ed Viswanathan
URL
May 10, 2007
07:08 AM

Namasthe Sujai: I am so happy I came across your blog.

Amazing. This is one of the best supportive article about Hinduism, I have read, that too from a proclaimed atheist. Amazing indeed.

Hinduism does NOT profess monopoly on God or truth. Hindu scriptures state SALVATION IS FOR ALL irrespective of one is a Hindu or not.



The concepts of UTMOST FREEDOM OF THOUGHTS And ACTIONS. That what attracts many to Hinduism. Hinduism never forbids any one to question its fundamentals.

You are 100% right. Even atheists can call themselves as Hindus. That is very true.

In fact the CHARVAKA philosophy or NASTIKA philosophy, [existed during the Vedic period] founded by CHARVAKA rejected the existence of God and considered religion as an aberration.

Voltaire in Essay on Tolerance wrote:

I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death, your right to say it.

Hinduism is the symbolic representation of what Voltaire wrote.

#2
Balaji
May 10, 2007
07:52 AM

here is another atheist from hinduism. i totally agree.

hinduism is nobody's property.

the sad thing is that it is being hijacked by 'taliban' type mindset 'hindus' with a severe persecution complex.

#3
Shyam
May 10, 2007
04:30 PM

Congratulations on putting to correct words what I have completely belived in.

#4
Diganta
URL
May 11, 2007
03:02 AM

I would like to elaborate on Atheism in Hinduism in my next blog.

#5
Jaffna
May 11, 2007
01:11 PM

Sujai,

Nice and thoughtful post. I did not quite expect this from you.

The spirit of skepticism is visible in the Upanishads. My favorite school of Hindu philosophy is the Sankhya - it does not depend on the concept of God to explain evolution, life or the intellect.

A quick correction though. Hinduism is not India-specific. It is 'indigenous' to Nepal, parts of Indonesia and parts of Sri Lanka. Many in the 10 million strong Indian diaspora - Fiji, Guyana, Malaysia, South Africa, Trinidad and elsewhere practice it in one form or the other.

Anyway, thanks for the post. I respect the candor.

#6
Ravi Kulkarni
URL
May 12, 2007
06:57 PM

Dear Sujai,

You articulated the very thoughts I have always had, but have not been able to express. Great article. There is more to hinduism of course, but the profundity of thought and philosophy that's hinduism, is most evident in its liberal tolerance of what constitutes a hindu.

Kudos!

Ravi Kulkarni

#7
Chandra
May 12, 2007
09:06 PM

Sujai

Well written. I agree with you on this- 100%.

rgds

#8
Aditi Nadkarni
URL
May 13, 2007
12:12 AM

Sujai:

You said: "Having known its deficiencies and flaws, I am ready, for once, to appreciate its beauty."

My favorite line! For the past few weeks, through a couple of articles, I tried to touch on the unquestioning attitudes of people who claim that their persuasions (especially religious) are infallible and cannot be questioned, discussed or even interpretated. I think with this sentence you said something very profound. In essence, a true belief system for any religion should be one that sees the flaws and either accepts them or recognizes their extent, otherwise it is abysmally and disappointingly blind.

Loved the article.

#9
Arvind from london
May 23, 2007
01:05 PM

Hi there, I was really getting tired while reading my law books, and came across your views and felt fentastic, it is true that hindus are born and not converted. nobody can take away your hindutva from you, whether you believe it or not, it is there and will remain, atleast hindus are not blowing themselves to prove that they are hindus. for centuries hindus are oppressed and exploited even within india, Is there some thing is wrong within our system or in our blood. I read your view and thought you are really angry on the indian community at large, i.e. caste system and other bits you mentioned. nevermind, the way system operates around a globe,it is sad and same as in india about bureaucracy and rest of it. it will go on on on. be happy. and enjoy the life if you can. though we believe in reincarnatin I don't know, whether I would be taking birth again, as nobody has come back and told me Hay, I born as Catholic in UK. Ha ha ha.

#10
Shaan Khan
URL
May 23, 2007
05:53 PM

Sujai

To extrapolate your argument, I might qualify with a little strech of imagination to be a Muslim Hindu.

For Arabs in the Middle East, Hindi or Hindu were all people (regardless of religion) living in Al Hind or by the Indus River or Hindi River. Now I was born in what used to be Al Hind. Hence by a little strech of imagination I am Hindu as much as I am Muslim. Hence I am a Muslim Hindu.

Now with a few more people with such inclusive leaning, we might we able to stop all wars.

#11
Man singh
URL
May 23, 2007
07:59 PM

Sujai,

you somehow miss the most important part of Hinduism. Its capacity to make its follwer see God.

Go through all rel;igions of world and check if anyone claoms that it will show you God?

Check if any religion on earth past or present gives systematic methodology to reach God?

here there are plenty of methods and promisese potential for you to establish one more method if you are creative and sincere.

Yes Sujai. Staring from Prahlad, Dhruba, Arjuna, Shabri, Valmiki, Vyasa, Tulsi, Surdas, Mirabai, Tukaram and ramakrishna Paramhansa, all saw God and presecribes methods to you also can see.

This is what a perfect religion has to offer.

See what your 5 senses can show you.
Go deeper and see what you mind(Manah) can show you.
Go deeper and see what your intellect(Budhi) can show you.

Go even deeper and beyond mind and see what you soul(Atman) can show you.

this systematic procedure described in ancinet scriptures which people call today Hindu(though our forfathers never bothered to us this word as they were pure humanists).

At the level of soul a creature (even animals) can see God and approach God directly. Its amazing but true Sujai.

So far question of defenderd of Hinduism is concrened, it seems if a village is attacked again and again by dacoits, innocent peace loveing villagers also loose their patience , take laathi in their hands and one fine day beat back the trouble making dacoits.

Let's analyse the activities of gangs of mao, marx, macaley and jehadis and establish if a defence system for this humanism known as Hindusim is needed or not.

Bajrangis may not be perfect but are the best when none else is there to take the front line.

When village is being attacked, even if khota sikka of village beats back the dacoits , this khota sikka become hero.

Let's introspect the sociopolitical situation of India since 713 AD and how this humanism came on the verge of collapse. Thanks to Guru Gobind Singh, this Humanism was saved.

same way today , this humanism is under attack from various quarters we belive it or not and defending this humanism is equally important.

Do you have any aletrnatives how to defend this humanism from the above mentioned gangs of mao, marx macauley and jehadis?

We have seen how Gandhi failed to defend this humanism and around 3 million innocent Hindus Muslims Sikhs and other parts of humanity lost their lives and billions of dolloers damaged.

My feeling is that if `attempted conversion' is stopped with full freedom to convert out of our own will, bajrangis will become irrelevant.

But when state tries to demonise the victims and tries to protect the culprits, bajrangis rise and rise and rise.

Let's attack on the root of the problem ie dacoits and should not demonise village youth busy in fighting with dacoits and their associates.

I told you who are foreign invaders and their associates:

1. Communists (mao and marx)
2. Christian missioneries(not all christians)
3. jehadis (not all Muslims)
4. Macauleyites (not all english educated folks)

Yes your article was awsome. Let's ensure safety of the humanism described by you before it reaches to Museum. Civilisation of Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Maya, Inca etc is resting in the Museums due to religious conversions inspired by politics. (Spritual conversions never create any problem).

India also facing similar conversion attacks today as Greeks , Romans, Egyptians faced oneday.

Choice is ours if we want to see this humanism in Museum or....

Let's come out some better security alternative then bajrangis. Till then Bajrangis are the only choice in teh market.

#12
Deepa
May 23, 2007
10:53 PM

Recently I exchanged some notes with a Christian evangelist. Can some one please respond to these questions?
> Why do I believe things I do?
> My beliefs mostly follow from study of Indian subcontinent history
and
> existing cultural patterns,Vedic texts which dates 5000 years ago.

So you believe the things you do because someone wrote them down a long
time ago?

> My
> main gripe against Christianity (nothing against Jesus or God) is its
> evangelical nature.

Would it be "loving your neighbour" if Christians knew that everyone
had
rebelled against God, and it was vitally important to ask his
forgiveness and enter into a relationship with him, to save yourself
from the righteous punishment to come - and didn't tell anyone?

> Jesus didn't travel in India, or preached in South East Asia, For
that
> matter, neither did Muhhammed.
> There is nothing in Bible or Quran about
> India.Jerusalem,Israel,Rome,Italy are as foreign to me as planet
Jupiter.
>
http://www.stephen-knapp.com/christianity_and_the_vedic_teachings_within_it.htm

You can't have it both ways. That document says:

"There is also evidence that after the crucifixion Jesus traveled
through Turkey, Persia, and then India."

Either he did or he didn't. Pick one :-)

> Hinduism wasn't started by anyone,there is no founder, there is no
> theology class,texts are at least 5000 years old, and all historical
> references time as ancient as 10000 years ago.

So you think that the older a text is, the more worth listening to it
is?

> Nobody is imposing those
> values referenced in those texts.It is upto individual, and it made
> sense to me, so I follow them.

So you actually believe the things you do because they "make sense"?
Can
you explain that a bit more? What makes them make sense? Do they
explain
things you didn't understand before? Or give you deep insights into the
way the world works?

> So, in summary, I am glad that you found God, but claim of
> Christianity,that anyone else, because, he or she doesn't believe in
> Jesus will go to Hell is just far too much.It is very short sighted
> view.

What makes it short sighted? Where is the rule written that the world
is
not allowed to work this way?

> There are indigenous population in all over, who believe in some
> view of Higher Power .
> Will I go to heaven?Do I care in what life form I will be born next?
> Nopes!. But I care what is happening to me now. I constantly question
> why did some bad things are happening to me now,and they are not
> affecting other people,why so much suffering in my family..since I
> haven't done anything wrong in this birth, I believe that it is
> something in previous births/alignment of stars at time of my birth/
> something beyond my control.

You believe that the alignment of stars at your birth has an effect on
the rest of your life? Why? On what evidence?

> But, I can control future things in my
> current life by constantly doing good deeds and remembering God.

But who is this "God" you speak of? What is he like? Is it possible to
know him, or know about him? If I have in my mind a completely
different
idea of God to you, is one of us right and the other one wrong?

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