Yes, I am proud to be Hindu. Indeed, very proud. More than proud, I feel myself lucky. Very very lucky to be born a Hindu.
And why should I not feel so? People go crazy when they win a million dollar jackpot. So why should not I celebrate when I have won something more precious than millions of such jackpots! Now that He made me a Hindu, I have nothing more to ask from Supreme Lord. It is now my turn to repay for this rare privilege that he has gifted me. Hinduism is my most precious possession.
No, don’t take me wrong. I have nothing against other religions. On contrary, I completely respect all. I respect every individual’s freedom to choose any religion for herself without fearing any backlash either in this world or hereafter. And I proudly would stand to defend this right of each individual. This, again, is a core principle of Hinduism that makes me love being Hindu so much!
I believe that all philosophies, religions or ideologies have a lot of good things. I won’t argue why Hinduism may be best for you. That is your personal choice. I am here to tell you why Hinduism is my personal favorite.
Hinduism is that way of life that has no comparison, no peers, no equals. If I have to die thousand times, I will always wish to be born again as a Hindu. If I were to be threatened thousand times with death to leave Hinduism, I would gladly choose to rather die than leave Hinduism.
Hinduism, in fact, is not a religion in first place. It is neither a philosophy or an ideology. Religions, philosophies and ideologies are too time-bound, too specific, too geographical.
Hinduism, in contrast, is a ‘celebration’ of ‘being human’. It is all about ‘justifying’ being human. Hinduism, in fact, is synonym for ‘being human’.
Let me tell you a very few reasons, why I am so proud to be Hindu:
Reason 1 : Hinduism – the Oldest wisdom
Hinduism is the oldest wisdom known to humanity. In a narrow sense, people say Hinduism is the oldest religion. But reality is that Hinduism existed when division of humans on basis of religion was non-existent.
The source of Hinduism lie in 4 Vedas – wonders of human civilization. Vedas are the only texts that have been preserved in such a scientifically secure manner that even a variation of one syllable or pronunciation is not present. Further, Vedas are the only texts for which there is no reference available in history to suggest that they were being created. All that historical research tells us is that these 20,000 plus mantras were already existing when that research was being compiled.
These Vedas form the foundation of Hinduism. Vedas alone are ultimate evidence in matters of any dispute. If one browses through Vedas, you would find the best of ideals and wisdom, spanning across all subjects, without any reference to history, geography, people or events. Vedas are timeless and ever-relevant.
In modern era, after rise of modern religions and hence the agenda to prove their own religion the best, there have been attempts to malign the Vedas and offer misdirected interpretations of Vedic mantras. And thus for a layman, it becomes impossible to decide what is right and what is wrong – whether Vedas and Hinduism are indeed perfect, or it is yet another hoax.
But Vedas themselves come to rescue in this confusion, and offer the second reason why I love being Hindu so much
Reason 2: Hinduism – Enlightened Way of Life
Vedas themselves assert that one should not be bookish in exploring truth. Even so-called books of Vedas are not to be trusted blindly. Vedas assert that the wisdom of Vedas is already embedded inside our thought process. And human life is an opportunity to extract that wisdom out through rational thinking, noble actions and positive emotions. Vedas – as books – are supposed to simply assist this process.
In fact Vedas are derived from root Vid that means knowledge or enlightenment. So even if one scandalously destroys or distorts all the Vedas, no worries. One simply needs to take recourse to rational thinking, noble actions, positive emotions and nurture out the Vedic principles by integrating wisdom of enlightened ones in the society.
Thankfully, Vedas are not destroyed and by reviewing them we can speed up the process of enlightenment.
Vedic mantras are supposed to have therapeutic and psychological benefits even when recited without understanding them. But Vedas truly benefit those who are enlightened, who seek knowledge in life, who strive to live as per that knowledge.
Vedas are like sun or water. They benefit all. But those who dig a bit deeper, and are enlightened ones, can use the same sun and water to lighten our nights, run our machines and power the lives in ways truly unimaginable.
The thrust of Hinduism and Vedas is on this enlightenment, and NOT on a blind dogmatic belief in any book or verse.
Reason 3: Hinduism – Honest Liberal Way of Life
I am not sure if one can be a Muslim if he outrightly rejects Quran, or one can be a Christian if he outrightly rejects Bible. But yes, one can be a Hindu even if he outrightly rejects the Vedas, so far he has done so with best of his intent and intellect.
To be a Hindu, you don’t need certificate from any temple, church or mosque. You need not recite any verse. You need not believe in any particular God or book. You simply have to be honest to yourself.
Hinduism firmly believes that each of us at each moment in life is different. Hence our needs and understanding also are bound to vary. So it is foolish to judge a person by his current set of beliefs. The goal of Hinduism is not to enforce a pre-decided set of ideas, books, Gods, avatars or prophets. Its goal is to provide a nurturing platform for each of us at each moment. We used to read nursery rhymes as children, science as adolescents and specialize in medical, engineering or accounts as grown-ups. In same manner, Hinduism allows different options to all of us at all times to choose what is naturally best for us and progress from there. It is an advanced educational system that caters to needs of all in a customized manner. It is not a deprived school in a remote village that has only one Class 5 fail as the teacher and hence everyone is forced to read and mug the same set of books.
Since Hinduism gives me this choice, and even encourages me to fearlessly counter the most popular variants, I find Hinduism more human, more liberal, more honest and more natural to me than any other way of life I am aware of.
Reason 4: Hinduism – Truly Global
Most religious books have a local flavor. For example Judaism, Christianity and Islam have texts that have a very strong Middle-East flavor. Stories, rituals, culture and practices that relate to Middle-East era of middle ages. And that adds a wonderful vintage beauty to these texts that any literature lover would admire.
Hinduism also has certain books – Purans, Ramayan, Mahabharat etc – that have a strong Indian flavor. Of course, as Indians, there is an amazing wealth of wisdom in these books that also gives reasons to be proud of our heritage, irrespective of all the distortions that have crept over ages. And hence, they provide historical reasons to be proud to be Indian!
But essence of Hinduism lies in those texts that are truly universal and timeless. Of course Vedas form the crux of this global wisdom. But then there are also peerless texts like Yoga Darshan, Nyaya Sutra, Vaisheshik Darshan, Sankhya Darshan, Vedanta, Upanishads and Gita – that have astonished and inspired scientists and scholars across the globe with their timeless universal wisdom. The beauty of these texts lie in they having no flavor – Indian, Middle East or African. They have no vintage feel to them. Instead they are always as fresh and as contemporary as they were ever. I simply love this freshness!
These texts – the soul of Hinduism – are as relevant to someone in Australia as to someone in Africa or in even Antarctica. All other historical texts associated with Hinduism simply attempt to explain these timeless wisdoms through time-bound incidents.
Reason 5: Hinduism – Principles over Persons
A Christian cannot be Christian unless he believes in Jesus Christ. A Muslim cannot be Muslim if he refuses to believe Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as last prophet. Regardless of whatever good that may be in texts of these religions, one must first believe in these pre-conditions – the special status of these people – to be eligible for anything else in these texts.
For example, if I believe in all the noble verses in Quran (which I firmly believe in), but reject those verses that call Muhammad Sahib as last prophet (because the concept of avatars or prophets does not appeal to my rational mind), I will not be considered a Muslim. In fact if I call myself Muslim because I like a large number of verses in Quran, but reject the concept of Prophethood, I may be put to death in certain countries on charges of blasphemy.
Christians have become much more liberal but nonetheless the word ‘Christian’ itself states that belief in Christ is a must.
Now this may be a very good thing to inculcate discipline in certain situations. I am not arguing their merits or demerits.
But to my democratic and liberal mind, Hinduism appeals so much more for respecting and even celebrating my individuality. It makes me feel so much special and values my uniqueness. It has no concept of blasphemy. It is not threatened by views, deeds, speeches or writings of a few individuals. On contrary, it embraces even them into its fold, if they are driven by honesty.
Hinduism, due to its emphasis on honesty, does not offer any mandatory persons as pre-conditions. Yes, a large number of people may worship Krishna, Ram, Durga, Kali, Shiva, Hanuman and many other Gods and Goddesses. Some worship a particular God or Goddess exclusively, some worship everyone. There are innumerable Gods and Goddesses and many are of even recent origin. For example Santoshi Mata, Gayatri Mata or Sai Baba. For many it has become even a fraud business to resurrect a new God or Goddess and mint money on religious feelings of masses. Yes that is an issue of concern and pointed by many as weakness of Hinduism.
But that is not the complete picture. In reality, Hinduism offers freedom of choice without being dictatorial or judgmental. What critics of Hinduism forget to emphasize is that Hinduism is the ONLY way of life that ALSO offers worship of principles ALONE. In fact even the so-called idol worshippers agree that while idol-worship may be first step, the ultimate goal is to reach a state of worship of principles ALONE.
Thus huge number of Hindus believe in formless God. Many are even atheists. Many believe only in core tenets – Patience, Forgiveness, Self-control, Non-Stealing, Purity, Control of Sense, Wisdom, Knowledge Enhancement, Honesty, Non-Violence.
So you can be a Hindu even if you don’t believe in any particular person or avatar or even concept of God. You simply have to be honest to yourself, and need not even take certificate of honesty from anyone.
And that is exactly why so many reform movements took place within Hinduism. Many schools fiercely debated and at times even abused other schools of thought. But that did not make them less Hindu. All of them naturally assimilated within Hinduism.
Sometimes freedom also tends to nurture social evils due to lack of enlightenment of masses. This is true for any society and any sphere of life. People misuse freedom to break signals and behave like rowdies. That does not mean Freedom is bad. It means there is need to emphasize the importance of responsibility that comes with freedom. It means we need to find ways to make freedom even more meaningful.
Hinduism offers a way to combat these through wisdom and intellect. That is why Hinduism is not static. It is ever-flowing and ever-dynamic. It makes me love and enjoy being Hindu so much more!
To read second part, follow the link: http://agniveer.com/why-i-am-proud-to-be-hindu-part-2/