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Healing the bruised psyche of Hindus

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I beg your pardon.

Being Hindu is an honour. Being Hindu means being part of a sanskriti or culture, thousands of years old, which is rich, complex, intelligent beyond belief. It is an ancient culture that holds out brilliantly as sanatana dharma – the eternal principle. Even in today’s post-modern era it prevails and informs its followers in marvellous ways. More importantly it delivers. This is because it is not circumscribed by narrow tenets, but is fluid and expandable. Hinduism is a living thing. It breathes.

For a while now, the term ‘Hindu’ has been vilified causing grievous harm to the community’s sensibilities. As a practising Hindu, I wish to set the record straight.

Time has come for sacred Hindu symbols of worship and temples to be accorded the glory and reverence they deserve. The epic Ram Mandir that will rise up at Ayodhya will go a long way in healing the bruised psyche of Hindus worldwide.

These temples and sacred symbols of worship are a vivifying and central part of a Hindu’s life. They are the living gods and goddesses that animate the daily lives of millions. They breathe, they give solace. They are the biggest devotional support system, for believers across the board, and not the least, the poorer, non-elitist sections of society. 

However, for all that, traditional Hindu modes of worship have been pushed to a dark corner by the intelligentsia and are even mocked by a world getting rapidly and dangerously westernised. The British were banished in 1947 but the colonial mindset still clings. Macaulay derided our rich ancient culture and mocked that, a single shelf of a good European library, was worth the whole native literature of India! That uninformed utterance summarily dismissed our Vedas, the Epics and the Puranas!  Little wonder then that our pompous rulers had to bite the dust, deluded as they were in regarding  sophisticated knowledge of temporal matters, as ultimate wisdom.   

Truth is, though all religions have fascinating aspects,  Hinduism runs away with the trophy! It is infinite, endless, ever-creative and evolving. It covers the entire canvas of human experience; its free-flowing expansiveness cannot be contained in a few holy texts or to any one portion of life. It is about the total life experience – dharma, artha, kama and moksha. It is both, about living in the world and rising above it in transcendental awareness. Hinduism, if a religion, is not just about God, it is about everything – in fact it states that God is everything. Be it the stone or the tree or the heart of man (or ant), He pervades it all. Isn’t that wonderful?

The source of the wonder is that it is the only religion which didn’t start with a prophet, it came before, and its prophets and avatars and saints later. That deserves some thought. It came not from the mouth of a Messenger, then from where? Was it the All High directly beginning to reveal Himself, to evolving humanity, in the first divine burst of Revelation? But how was it to be done? God wanted to say something and needed an ear and intellect to pick it up. It was here that the yogis and rishis, meditating for millennia, came into the picture. Maybe, it was their concentrated and unyielding search for the meaning and purpose of existence, that wooed God from out of His high heavens into willing acquiescence! It was always His plan anyway; to give hints, and signs and have Man, His grandest creation, recognize Him, the Creator – and more importantly to love Him. Our scriptures state, all are but sparks of the Divine, and there is only the One, and everything has come, in a guise of maya, from ‘That’. The whole game, or divine sport, (or leela) is based on that. God is sporting in myriad forms, experiencing Himself through the illusory ‘Other’ to love Himself. What a Master plan!

So, Hinduism is unique as it affords multiple perspectives, making it expandable and accommodative. The whole mystery of existence is endeavoured to be explained in the sacred texts and holy utterances of the sages and saints of this great religion. The many Gods and Goddesses are symbols of the multiplicity and variety which is human life. Promoted by the belief that the whole world is one family – Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, Hinduism offers a universal code for living a harmonious life. Reverence for all sentient beings and the belief that the Divine pervades every atom of creation makes Hinduism the most inclusive of all religions. 

Every street of India has a shrine. And nine out of ten modern day professionals genuflect and fold their palms into a devotional Namaste while passing the spot. People from every class and strata of society acknowledge the presence of deity everyday in their lives in some way. It could be a chant of the sacred Gayatri Mantra, or a clasping of palms in a jai before a home shrine or in the street.  How can you deny or berate this reality? More importantly, how can you deny the Hindu population it’s inviolable right to reclaim this culture, suppressed and demeaned by political opportunists in the name of secularism??

In the face of all the  technological progress, this is a power of another nature. It is the power of faith and  spirit. Science and technology can reach the moon and evaluate barren rock but they can’t get to the heart of the matter.  Importantly, they, nor nobody, can banish spirit!   

Yes, let’s unabashedly celebrate the glory and wonder of our grand Hindu culture and spread the message for the benefit of all humanity. 

Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavantu

-Shammi Paranjape

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