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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Recalibrating and redistilling Hindu Philosophy A Hypothesis By a seeker

Background


I did some serious thinking and also got opinion of some friends before attempting to write this article. For a long time I have been intrigued by the fact that why we Hindus do not practice our religion religiously. Are Hindus, especially the modern ones withering away? Are they losing faith in their faith? Looks like; but why? I am seeking an answer to this question. I am not a religious scholar nor am I an authority on Spirituality. I am at best a techno manager and viewing this question in that context. I am a seeker and I am naïve therefore pardon some of my child like simple ideas and queries.

This is a common Man’s perspective and not of a learned scholar. I don’t claim to be literally perfect in terms of facts and figures about a subject as complex as Hindu Philosophy, and therefore want to put forth the ideas which are figuratively and allegorically correct .Idea is to convey this issue in simple words without any hair splitting


Old is Gold


We are proud that we are the oldest religion in the world which is inclusive and in the same breath we say ‘Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life’. Yet on all official documents against the column for religion all Hindus write –Hindu. Every religion teaches good things to its followers and these are teachings based on basic principles of life and nature. Hinduism is a little beyond this simple definition and many may argue there is no single definition for such a monolithic idea of life. I don’t think there is any conflict here but the statement itself is a bit mystic, seemingly paradoxical, especially in today’s age where people want things in binary and crystal clear. Why must a common Hindu need some highly qualified Pundit to understand basics of good living as a Hindu?


Multilateral, multifaceted and multifunctional approach


Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, henotheistic, monotheistic, monistic, agnostic, atheistic or humanist. In India which has maximum number of Hindus in the world, the term dharma is also interchangeably used with religion, which is broader than the Western term religion. When you say Rajdharma it means duty of a ruler. Parmo Dharma means ultimate or supreme duty. Therefore Dharma implies being duty bound. These are high and lofty ideas which may not hit the bulls eye with the generation gasping constantly running on day today basis with little time at hand for household chores, for fitness or family.


Looking at it another way in its entirety it is too big and too liberal. It is too democratic in its very essence and that could be its strength. It is Omni interpretable or multi interpretable. Or being too liberal could be its weakness too. If you have no strict rules you have no binding. When you do something religiously it implies, you do it regularly.


Art of communication is changing – Religion, philosophy or an Idea


To make things faster E mail was invented. People were using mobiles to speak and SMS for messaging. Today in a decade Whats app has replaced mail and a twitter an adjunct between SMS and Whats app with limited number of characters which forces you to communicate your idea in a very crisp to the point way to millions. At the same time from KBPS we moved to MBPS to GBPS and now TBPS.


Propagating your ideas – Propaganda


Religion is for the masses. The term ‘propaganda’ first came into common use in Europe as a result of the missionary activities of the Catholic Church. Gregory XV the pope in1622 created a congregation for the propagation of the faith! A college of propaganda was created to train priests for the missions. It was an honorable word. Literature was designed accordingly.


Hinduism as an all-encompassing philosophy includes a diversity of ideas on spirituality and traditions, but has no ecclesiastical order (an established Institute), no unquestionable religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet nor any binding holy book.


Every major religion has one Holy book. For example, Christianity has Bible, Islam Quran and Sikhism has Guru Granth Sahib. They all have only one God and/or a prophet.


In contrast Hinduism also referred to as Sanatan Dharam (An Eternal way) is an ancient religion (at least 5000 years old) with diverse traditions resulting in huge collection of knowledge spread over several scriptures. We have three big epics like Mahabharat, Ramayan and Bhagvad Geeta. Then we have Purans, Veds, Upnishads, Shastr, Strotas,Tantras and Smritis. (This is not an exhaustive list). A religion tends to merge with culture, rituals and tradition with porous boundaries and this is a well accepted fact. And that is very good.


Therefore one can say that Hinduism doesn’t have one single book which a Hindu believer can follow. Though Bhagvad Geeta has become a de facto holy book but may not be covering Hinduism in entirety.


For Christians Bible is a Holy Manual. That is why people call any wholesome all-encompassing guide for a topic as a Bible. You say ‘This book authored by XYZ author is a Bible for Marketing’. This implies that there is nothing more to it; one book is all that you need. If you have any doubt about marketing, you go back to that book. If it is the Bible for marketing then that is the ultimate and final authority on marketing. That is how it is perceived. There may be thousand other books but one is sufficient and all others are as reference books.


There are certain expressions derived out of faith. For instance we say “I go for a morning walk religiously”. The word religion itself implies regimentation, regularity and a sense of responsibility and above all a sense of commitment. In democracy you are free to drive on the road, but you need to still follow the traffic rules.


Clubbing the two together and deriving a logical inference I would assume that a religion needs to be presented in a well defined boundary through one book carrying all major tenets of that religions philosophy as an essence and also needs to be practiced religiously with certain regularity.


Hinduism also has hundreds of deities to choose from.


Brahma,Shiva,Vishnu,Ganesha,Shiva, Laxmi and then there are other forms like avatars , Ram and Krishna . Then you also have Hanuman and Kali and there are separate temples for them too. You can worship a snake, a river, the sun, a tree or a plant (Tulsi). Is this too liberal? That is one question that needs to be answered.


Where reason fails faith begins


Why people believe in god why they have faith in a faith? For a normal human being life is an enigma. You don’t know where you have come from and when and where you will go after death. Therefore you don’t have any control either on your birth or your death. In addition, you have little or almost no control on your life too. That is why it is often said ‘Karam Kaar Phaal Ki Ashaa maat kar’ which roughly translates into ‘Do your job but don’t crave for the result’; this implies that leave it to God.

Birth of our universe is still the biggest mystery. Hindus call universe as Bhramand . Great scientists like Narlikar, and Stephen hawking and hundreds others tried to determine the age of the universe. Let me briefly explain the Big Bang theory which is the most accepted hypothesis in this regard.

The Big Bang hypothesis states that all of the existing and past matter in the universe came into existence at the same time, around 13.8 billion years ago. At that time, all mater existed in the form of a very small, compact ball with infinite density and very intense heat, which is now called the ‘Singularity’. Suddenly, the Singularity began expanding rapidly, and the universe as we know began to be formed.

‘The more I study science, the more I believe in God’ — Albert Einstein

Then what was before the Big Bang? Most scientists, including Hawking, have no idea of time or the nature of existence before the Big Bang. They take the origin of the universe 13.8 billion years ago as the starting point of time. Before this, God’s hand prevailed is what the scientists say.

If you have no control on your birth, your death, your destiny and you don’t know when the universe was created and when will it end, then there is something much more powerful than you and you need to submit it to that power. That is when faith begins.


SWOT analysis of Hindu Dharma


Strength: The oldest religion of the world which has withstood the onslaught of other religions and test of time.


Weakness: Very vast, very liberal, spread over huge number of scriptures and hence difficult to interpret for a common man. You need a guru or a priest to understand it- even a fraction of it. This can be a deterrent for people to practice it rigorously. Therefore most Hindus get into devotional obligation after they have finished their responsibility- almost retired. For a modern day Hindu youth it appears too complicated and you can’t make every living Hindu a monk or a saint.


Opportunity: It is time to condense the entire philosophy of Hinduism into one book and that could be our Bible. This needs to be simplified with certain guidelines to be followed strictly like a ritual. Can we oversimplify it in terms of commandments? Can we have one religion one book?
‘If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t know
it yourself ’


—Albert Einstein
Threat: If this is not done quickly with a sense of urgency and collectively, we may have more non practicing Hindus for the name sake and things may become bad to worse with more and more religious poaching ,which has already begun.


One religion one book


I have tried to establish a need to distill the entire wisdom into one monolithic book. I assume and imagine that all the wisdom enshrined in thousands of pages spread across different volumes is complimentary to each other and there are no disagreements or contradictions and that would make the task easier.
I have written around thirty plus books till now but I also get overwhelmed by the massive gyan explosion given in Hindu scriptures.
If we cursorily examine the Global religious Gyan we could look at the following.
As a ball park figure- Bible is of around 1200 pages, a Quran approximately 604 pages a Guru Granth sahib 1430 pages.
Hinduism in contrast spreads across as a massive rock of Gibraltar.
Bhagvad gita with 700 verses spread across 924 pages approximately. Ramayan 24,000 verses and Mahabharat 200,000 yes two hundred thousand verses. I am not counting the other major scriptures, some mention earlier in this article.


Singularity

The whole universe started with one small point which had infinite mass and infinite heat. We need to make a manual of Hinduism for a practicing Hindu, where you have say 20 things to do and follow religiously to call yourself a practicing Hindu and if done it will make more Hindus follow it.


Conclusion


It is time to take stalk of things. Let us not pretend that all is well and we are still living in a world which believes in equality and fairness. All the Hindu philosophers need to come together and have a marathon session of ‘Atma chintan’ – self introspection and come to a consensus. If we are such a democratic religion let us look at our religion’s constitution also democratically. We need to present our philosophy in a much more practicable and easily palatable and digestible form. I feel to re invigorate we need to re-engineer our ideas.
I rest my case.

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