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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Why Hindu is a Hindu ?

An odd sort of joke about Hinduism in general is that where the Western religions face up to scientific discoveries with an attitude of "That's blasphemy! You're going to Hell!", Hinduism faces up to them with an attitude of "See? I told you so! We knew it centuries before you did!"

Hinduism as a collection of schools of thoughts is extraordinary, but when you top it off with senseless rituals and practices, contradictory theories, and nationalism and Hindutva forces, it is as dangerous as any other religion. It doesn't denounce brain and have more sophisticated worldview than the Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition.

It is difficult to debate Hindus because they take advantage of the fact that Hinduism is an unorganized religion. It is fragmented to the level, where one can cherry-pick the "goodies" and glorify Hinduism, but when shown the utter inconsistencies, majority easily disqualify it saying that some sects have them and not Hinduism as a whole.

And due to Hinduism's inherent nature that "Everything is God", nobody really cared what to worship and what not to worship. One thing about Hinduism is that it also embraces atheism into its fold, thus arguing with a Hindu is a pointless exercise.

Why a person follows ones religious identity ? Ask this question to a Christian, Muslim and Parsi, the answer xyz is a follower/believer of Jesus/Islam/Zoroaster. Now ask the same question to a Hindu and there is no doubt that he will be completely bewildered and would not know what to say. Why Hindu is a Hindu ?

B R Ambedkar provides an insight of this puzzling identity question ----

If he says that "I am a Hindu because I hold to the beliefs of the Hindus" his answer cannot be right for here one is confronted with the fact that Hinduism has no definite creed. The beliefs of persons who are by all admitted to be Hindus often differ more widely from each other than do those of Christians and Muhammadans. Limiting the issue to cardinal beliefs the Hindus differ among themselves as to the beliefs which arc of cardinal importance. Some say that all the Hindu scriptures must be accepted, but some would exclude the Tantras, while others would regard only the Vedas as of primary importance; some again think that the sole essential is belief in the doctrine of karma and metempsychosis.

A complex congeries of creeds and doctrines is Hinduism. It shelters within its portals monotheists, polytheists and pantheists; worshippers of the great Gods Shiva and Vishnu or of their female counterparts,.as well as worshippers of the divine mothers or the spirits of trees, rocks and streams and the tutelary village deities; persons who propitiate their deity by all manner of bloody sacrifices, and persons who will not only kill no living creature but who must not even use the word 'cut '; those whose ritual consists mainly of prayers and hymns, and those who indulge in unspeakable orgies in the name of religion; and a host of more or less heterodox sectaries, many of whom deny the supremacy of the Brahmans, or at least have non-Brahmanical religious leaders.

If he says that he is a Hindu because he observes the same customs as other Hindus do his answer cannot be true. For all Hindus do not observe the same customs.

In the north near relatives are forbidden to marry; but in the south cousin marriage is prescribed, and even closer alliances are sometimes permitted. As a rule female chastity is highly valued, but some communities set little store by it, at any rate prior to marriage, and others make it a rule to dedicate one daughter to a life of religious prostitution. In some parts the women move about freely; in others they are kept secluded. In some parts they wear skirts; in others trousers.

Again if he said that he is a Hindu because he believes in the caste system his answer cannot be accepted as satisfactory. It is quite true that no Hindu is interested in what his neighbour believes, but he is very much interested in knowing whether he can eat with him or take water from his hands. In other words it means that the caste system is an essential feature of Hinduism and a man who does not belong to a recognized Hindu Caste cannot be a Hindu. While all this is true it must not be forgotten that observance of caste is not enough. Many Musalmans and many Christians observe caste if not in the matter of inter-dining certainly in the matter of inter-marriage. But they cannot be called Hindus on that account. Both elements must be present. He must be a Hindu and he must also observe caste. This brings us back to the old question who is a Hindu? It leaves us where we are.

Is it not a question for every Hindu to consider why in the matter of his own religion his position is so embarrassing and so puzzling? Why is he not able to answer so simple a question which every Parsi, every Christian, and every Muslim can answer? Is it not time that he should ask himself what are the causes that has brought about this Religious chaos ? "

Only rigid rule defining the identity and followed by Hinduism is the caste system. And Hinduism become extremely authoritarian if you try to leave the caste or go for inter-caste marriages. As the Bible and Koran has allowed for the justification of slavery, the Hindu texts have allowed for the subjugation of a significant group of people under the caste system. It can't be denied that the Hindu texts are still used to support the caste system.

This undefined territory can only give space to people to exist as an individual and think freely. That is where I differ from Dr. Ambedkar about chaos factor. Any system or an institution will only produce followers.Organization made by human will always be incoherent and suppress the uniqueness and individuality of the participant. Nobody can regard a rag (Religious textbooks) to be binding and infallible because a philosopher or prophet came forward to lend his authority to such a proposal.

One thing become clear that Religion isn't definitely the source of all morality. And any religion and institution denying them will decay with the time.

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