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About Hinduism

The other day I had an exchange of an e-mail to one of my frined on Islam. Here is his reply.

The text you send makes for a good reading if one is religiously oriented.

I am not & moment I see direct references I cant go further as I have a mental block “I don’t value religion one BIT”. JUST as u have a mental block “u cannot think outside religion”.
It happens my dear! We all evolve values in life. All is correct.
I want u to read this too – coz ur religiously spiritual. & its written by [u will come to know when u read it].

I could not read this fully at all as when anything gets too religious – I SHUT OUT. For me my Values of my own life are so BIG that even I fear that I cannot keep up to it. I don’t need any doctrine written in some era to tell me that. I have had influences in life but I have always out-thought that. I live life in a simple way & the way I think is right “with my first ring”. Every time i see such “mindless” [according to me] orientations to religion my resolve to keep away grows stronger & ever stronger.

That’s y I am a difficult guy as my views r more with WHAT TO DO & HOW TO DO! Not with Follow a path so widely tread!!!

ATB. Enjoy ur Ramadan month! May u get what u seek & what u do!


I have copied below the text from the above link ( by my friend. Read it and mark your comments in the comments column.
[This article was written on a friend’s request]

My earliest encounter of Hinduism was through classmates, friends, neighbors, playmates.

Visiting neighbors / friends during Holi was always a memorable experience – the warmth, hospitality and, above all, the delicious food. And then there were ‘Abeer’, ‘Gulaal’ & ‘Pichkari’. In my opinion Holi signifies that there are lots of colors in one’s life and it is not just a two dimensional view in black and white. Your life is your canvass and you are absolutely free to choose your colors and paint your life. The painting can be good or bad but it is your own doing.

In North India, during Holi, you get a drink called ‘Jal Zeera’. It is a kind of digestive drink that takes care of indigestion and overeating. The idea behind this drink is to force you to overeat without worrying about the consequences.

Diwali has a spiritual message. I was reading an article about the significance of oil lamp [‘Diya’] in our life. The little earthen pot is one’s life, the oil represents the materialism and the wick [‘Baati’] represents the spiritualism. The more the wick is dipped in the oil, the less the flame / light. By involving oneself in extreme materialism one looses the spiritual part of life. However, the wick has to have contact with oil or else it will not burn / glow. And, I believe, the struggle in life is to always maintain the right balance.

My first encounter of Hindu religious ritual was during Saraswati puja in schools. Before ‘Visarjan’, the kids used to pick a part of the hair from the idol and keep them in the books of subjects they found difficult [mainly Mathematics / Science]. This, they believed, will help them pass the exam.

I was born and brought up in Eastern India and Durga puja was a ten days affair. It has a lot of cultural aspect attached to it (especially in Bengal). It was a mix of religion and cultural heritage passed on through generations.

And then I graduated, picked up a job and started working. And once every year there was Vishwakarma puja at my place of work.

And fire played a very important role in the religion. Every ‘Puja’ had ‘Havan / Aarti’ and that was fire, marriage had a fire to circumambulate, when someone died he was given to fire. I had a close friend and he said that his son was born when the cluster of stars were not good. And he made a special puja with big Havan and it was called a puja for ‘Mool Dasha Shanti’. This in plain English means a prayer to ward off the effect of the unfavorable zodiac condition at the time of birth.

To me Hinduism was: bring an idol, place it on a high platform, do ‘Havan’, do ‘Aarti’, do ‘Visarjan’ and wait for the next year to do the same. And in homes- keep small brass idols, some pictures of devi / devta, purvaj, guru and practice the same ritual except for ‘Visarjan’.

That, in a way, summed up my perception of Hinduism at that point of time. And most of my Hindu friends also had the similar perception of their religion.

I studied Sanskrit from grade eight to matriculation. I can still recite most of the ‘Shlokas’ I read and even explain the meanings. I was the most favorite student of my Sanskrit teacher ‘Pathak sir’. I was made to stand in the class and my teacher will mention my name and highlight my proficiency to inspire others. It was like ‘Look here – shame on you!’ I very strongly disagree to any correlation between languages and religion. Languages belong to humanity and not to a particular religion.

Almost all the ‘Shlokas’ I read had messages to make you a better person, make you more humane and inspire you to live life on a higher spiritual plane. To mention one that I like:

“Shad doshah purusheneh hatavya bhutimich-chata
Nindra, Tandra, Bhayam, Krodah, Aalasyam, Deerg sutrata”

[Those who wish to achieve ‘purushatva’ should get rid of sleep (long), languor, fear, anger, laziness and procrastination]

It so happened that during my training days in my first job in India I shared my apartment with a BHU IIT graduate. We ate in the same mess, worked in the same office and lived in the same apartment. It was a 24×7 interaction. The interesting part was that I graduated from AMU, Aligarh. It may be noted that AMU and BHU are the only two universities in India that have a middle name that represents a religious identity. The two of us were as diverse as it could be.

He was a ‘Shiv bhakt’ and a practicing Hindu. I used to pray five times a day. Between the two of us there was never ever any conflict of any sort. We had all kinds of religious books and we read them together. We shared our understanding of each other’s religions. And it was then I was exposed to universal messages of Hinduism.

The definition of ‘jad’ [non-enlightened] and ‘chetan’ [Enlightened], and the reasons to acquire the second and get rid of first. The relation between ‘praan vaavu’ [Life air] and ‘Brahma vaayu’ [Cosmic air].

The importance of ‘Sanskar’ in comparison to ‘Sanskriti’. ‘Sanskriti’ can only be retained if you continue to hold to your ‘Sanskar’. ‘Sanskar’ is the value system embedded in you. One has to ‘Aatm saat’ his sanskar. ‘Sanskriti’ is the external manifestation of ‘Sanskar’. Good sanskar means you come above narrow mindedness, selfishness and being self centric and do not let ‘sankirn vichardhara’ [tunnel vision] destroy your spiritual well being.

One very interesting difference, that I learnt, was between ‘Shishtachaar’ and ‘Samvedna’. In present day material world we use more and more of ‘shishtachaar’ and less and less of ‘Samvedna’. And, to me, this is the greatest value erosion in modern times.

It was during this period that I learned things like –

‘Eko Aham dujo na asti’

‘Tat twam Asi’

‘Aham Brahma asmi’

In some of the other religions such thoughts are not permitted or even strictly prohibited / penalized. The idea, as I understand, is not what appears to be on its face value or by its lingual translation. I tend to believe that it invites you to reach a higher plane of living. Good can only be achieved by doing good and being good. And there is no limit to goodness. It is not like having something on a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 represents the ultimate goodness. There is no 10 when you pursue goodness. The higher end of the scale is infinity and if you reach infinity, from the perspective of Hinduism, you may say ‘Eko Aham dujo na asti’, ‘Aham Brahma asmi’.

Infinity and the word of Om has many mentions in the Hindu scriptures-

‘Om purnmidah, purnidam, purnat purn mudach-chitay

Purnasya purn maday purnameva avshishyate’

[This world is infinite and that God is infinite, this infinite [world] comes from that infinite [God] .And if you take this infinite [world] from that infinite [God], infinite [God] still remains.]

And then there is –

‘Omityakakshar param omityakakshar Brahma

Omitya kakshar gyatwa yadich-chati tasya tat’

[The word of Om is the ultimate truth; the word of Om is the Brahma

If you know the word of Om; whatever your desire will come true.]

The universal message of unity as one global family is conveyed in –

“Ayam nijah parovetti ganana laghu chetsam

Udaar charitranam te vasudhaivya kutumbukam’

[In summary translation –“For the enlightened people the world is a family”]

The universal message of non-violence is very strongly summarized in –

Ahimsa parmo dharma’ [Non-violence is the highest religion]. I personally believe that non-vegetarianism is deeply related to the doctrine of ‘Ahimsa’.

The value of hospitality is conveyed in ‘Atithi devo bhava’. [Guest is god]

In the recent past I mentored a young grade 10 girl in a youth leadership program and she had a powerful message at the end of her speech-

‘Samast loken sukhinav bhawanti’

“Let there be peace and prosperity [harmony] everywhere”.

Unfortunately, these messages do not get manifested in practical life.

I find so many Hindus who are non-vegetarian. Or it may be that I mostly interact with urban professional Hindus only and it is more prevalent among them. One of my Muslim friends in Delhi told me that so many Hindus have started being non-vegetarian that the price of meat is sky-rocketing!

In late eighties I was posted in Allahabad. I used to visit Kumbh mela out of curiosity [Naga sadhus]; to drive my jeep on pontoon bridge or to strike a conversation with a Saadhu if an opportunity came across.

It was during one such discussion that a saadhu told me:

Quote: “Child (Bachcha)! Try to live a ‘Satwik’ life [Pure, clean, no adulteration of your value system, not having desires beyond your very basic need].

Still, you are a human and you will do wrong – ‘Do pashchachtap’.

If you stop at ‘Pashchatap’ the clock may turn back and you will repeat again.

You must do ‘prayashchit’. Unquote

And I think from the perspective of Hinduism, ‘Moksha’ and ‘Nirvana’ can only be attained when you emulate these higher & universal thoughts in your life.

If life can be represented by a jar full of sands and pebbles. The rituals / non-productive activities (sleeping, eating, bathing etc.) represent sand. When one imbibes the basic teachings and higher thoughts then only one collects pebbles. Pebbles are what you will look back to in future and feel great about. Unfortunately we give more importance to rituals and we continue to fill our jar with sand.

I wish to close by saying once again:

‘Samast loken sukhinav bhawanti’

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