A friend forwarded me this Newsweek article talking about how the evolving religious viewpoint in USA is looking kind of like Hinduism.
I always thought that Hinduism is more of Meta-religion, more of a framework where spiritual traditions evolve. Having multiple gods gives a sense of fragmented-ness, a sense of lack of coherence in spiritual beliefs. But at the same time it gives a tremendous ability to transform itself.
There is no single governing body for Hinduism. There is no indoctrination as such, where you go to a specific place on a specific day and you hear about what is right practice of Hinduism and what is not Hinduism. There is no conversion machine, no coordinated effort to take Hinduism to people and make them Hindu.
Being polythestic (that is the correct word for worshipping multiple gods) gives Hinduism a solid respect for diversity and tolerance for other religions. Because then one more religion or prophet is just one additional gods, which is not a problem at all. That’s why you will find Hindu people going to a durgah or church far more often than the other way round.
Also if you are not familiar, you may find it hard to believe but even the religious Hindus don’t regularly worship or pray to more one than one god. Mostly people find one of the few big gods, like Rama, Krishna, Shiva to whom they resonate to, or to whom their family has been praying. There might be other idols in the house, but one god or goddess gets most of the attention. In a sense, they are practicing one-god worship. Just that their god does not make it necessary to eliminate other gods from the picture.
Was this diverse nature part of the vision of founding fathers of Hinduism? Again, I don’t think there were any founding fathers as such. The traditions, the philosophy and the rituals can be traced to ancient civilizations in India, but there is no defining moment that made Hinduism this way.
In many ways worshiping multiple gods satisfies more of a political need rather than spiritual need. It is likely that many many empires, gurus and prophets over the years fought and finally decided that since we cannot eliminate each other, let’s learn to live with each other, respect each other.
Modern world is going on strikingly similar path. It is slowly dawning to people that fighting is not worth the gains most of the times and that violence is a bird that always comes back home.
Even if people get converted to your religion, they can still screw you. So world is better off by being let others be themselves. My god is good and your god is good too.
So tomorrow people might be worshiping Jesus, Mohammad and Moses together. Not too far from worshiping Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh. Just different names.
And, to me that looks a lot like Hinduism.
Filed under: Christianity, Community, Fundamentalism, Hinduism, History, India, Indian History, Islam, Life, Philosophy, Religion, Spirituality, Thoughts | Tagged: bramha, god, idol, jesus, mahesh, mohammad, moses, Religion, vishnu |