Few thoughts on Hinduism
I was born as Hindu and have been following as said by my family, relatives and surroundings. Something I thought I have to oblige in my childhood. But when I was growing and started to reason (at least to myself) somewhere I started disliking few religious practices, customs and superstitions.
I started abandoning the ones which I hated the most. For a brief time, because of some of these, I could say I was an atheist. Like many times, I had questions which went answered — it is in our tradition & culture. Some vague superstitions in today’s time, which had to be followed because some saint said it long back or it is written in one of the holy books of the religion.
And there are so many Gods. So much confusion.
But with years and some maturity, I started to know them. I started finding reasons and thought-process behind instead of abandoning for the sake of it. I started finding some of them interesting — Intriguing. Not all of them, some I still find un-required practices(I will write another story for this, which I recently experienced).But, most of them exists for a reason, it is just that I was/am ignorant.
And these variants of practices & customs in Hinduism is because there are a lot of deities to worship. It is said, that there are 33 crores of them. But, I came to know that it is a myth because of misunderstood word Koti in Sanskrit. The actual contextual meaning is ‘types’. But it can be said, there are few hundreds considering different deities, their incarnations & Saints which are also worshiped.
Each one has a specific purpose, practices for worth-ship & offers specific worth to the devotees. For instance, Goddess Saraswati is for knowledge. Goddess Laxmi is for money/ wealth. The supreme Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiva) are the god of birth, life and death respectively. They have their own sets of worshipers. And of course, the Ganesha holds a special boon of being worshipped before anyone else. So, one can find a statue of Ganesha in most temples.
Also, they were religious & spiritual legends in human form at national, state and regional levels who are worshiped today. Famous ones like Shirdi’s Sai Baba, And few others for instance which are known in my state like Gajanan Maharaj, Swami Samarth, Sant Dnyaneshwar. All these have done profound work in their lives and contributed towards the Spiritual journey of mankind.
There is so much diversity in Hinduism that someone could find it as chaos and bound to have conflict among Hindus themselves. Also, there isn’t a supremo figure, so to say to bring harmony.
But, I find all these more interesting because I read this one thing some time back. Don’t really remember the post, mostly it was on medium only(so to him/her for this realization). Hinduism offers some many varieties or ways to worship. Like one can choose according his/ her needs and choice and also in accordance with time. A person who wished to be a Brahmacharya (unmarried) for a brief time at least, could worship Hanuman.
Then, the Radha Krishna is known for their immense love for each other. Although they didn’t get married. Krishna married to Rukmini and Radha to Abhimanyu(unsure of this name). But their stories beautifies the true love.
Again, so many religious festivals are celebrated specific to different deities. Like Navratri(nine nights) — celebration worshiping Goddess Durga, Diwali — 4-5 days festival with discrete reasons, Holi —cultural festival with mythological significance as well, Janmashthami — Krishna’s birth & 10-day celebration of Ganesha Festival. Although, this Festival might not be seen as religious anymore— it is celebrated by most of the people and not just Hindus.
There are so much and many customs, rituals, practices. Some I find reasonable, some I don’t (ignorant as of now) and few superstitious. But one interesting thing I find it is, despite of so much diversity, people don’t fight/ negatively criticize each other’s deity/ practices. Like Krishna ‘s devotee don’t fight with that of Shiva’ s. Rather respect each other.
The reason for this might be mythological stories. No hatred said so nothing like that followed. There is some unsaid supremo over all these Goddesses & Gods — which says that all are part of same family Hinduism.
I wish we had some supremo/energy/molecule/atom/quarks or anything to call, over all the religions — which would say that all are part of same family homo sapiens.
Anyway, Today I am interested to know about all these Hindu religious practices & customs. Different deities and cultures which grew around them. Their impacts on surrounding mankind. Believing it or not is a different thing. I am unsure about being theist or not. Because, Believe & Interest are distinctive.
Maybe I am in the grey area of being agnostic and theist. But I want to know more, learn more, read more, experience more about Hinduism — Technically my religion. I am no expert or knowledgeable in all these. One thing I am sure at least for myself. Religion as a concept is subjective. And in the end, it is some connection on a personal level rather than collective.
Postscript: Although I am Hindu by birth. And have been following to say for many years. But I do respect other religions. Rather, more than reverence, I try to find the essence and deeper understanding of other religions as well. Especially Buddhism and Islam. I have some affinity towards them.