Of course such a claim would sound preposterous and obnoxious, of course I'm saying Hinduism is the best religion because, through my name you could probably guess, I'm a Hindu. I'd request you to avoid that tangent for a bit and indulge me for a minute.
You be like, let's hear this fool (eyes rolling) ...
I'll take that ... let's go with that.
Quick question -- God exists, or no?
If you've doubts about this, it's alright, it is an opinion that god is an imagination, no higher force, no miracles, no cause or reason. It's an opinion and it's alright, a debate for another day.
For now let's assume God Almighty exists and pretty much running the things behind the scenes. And religion is a means to connect with God.
Well if there's one God, there should be one path to reach him right? Not quite, if God is omnipresent, then ways to reach Him must be numerous. Religion is a way to connect the mind with the higher force. At least that's what the intent was, before religion got corrupted with power, politics and identity.
If all human minds are not identical there cannot be a just one way for them to connect to ONE GOD. And the God has to be one, not many, it's more elegant to think that way. The moment you reach many Gods theory you enter the weird area of those gods probably being aliens. That's a theory too, but do you want to think of being controlled by some advanced civilization than a loving God?
It's all estimates really, no wonder most atheists consider religion and God to be the most elaborate trick played on human mind. But they're also the most bitter, unhappy bunch.
Reiterating again, for the scope of this article God exists.
Reiterating again, for the scope of this article God exists.
Monotheistic religions were onto something when they proposed the unity of God and declined the multi-God hypothesis. Like I said before it's more elegant that way, also simple.
Religion should be simple. Probably that's how it'll survive in the future. But another side of the coin tells us, human mind, the target audience for the religion paradigm, is not simple. It's probably the most complex creation of God or nature, depending on your leanings.
And this mind when imagines God, it imagines him in myriad of ways. Just millions of versions really. And then the competitive human mind wants to prove that his God is better than the God of the next door Joe. Knowing fully well that God has to be one, has to be. Because if the "non-believers" are praying to a God of a different name and different storyline, it's still has to be the same God, cause the God is one in reality. This is when God and religion becomes an identity issue. Because of ego.
Humans need God, yes, even if he does not exist. You know why, because humans need hope. We're all dying in the long run and we don't have a clue where we came from. Good is the anchor in this vast universe of loneliness.
But we are also supremely stupid. It's not our fault, we're evolving. Animals are stupid right? So what if we're at the top of the food chain? The God that we fight for is human, as human as we are. Because that is the extent of our imagination. Religion probably aimed to help us reach God, but instead human brought God to his level.
Our God needs pleasing, has a huge ego, needs to be protected, gets so offended, needs to teach a lesson, has a strict moral code. In reality out god is human, because the idea of God is limited by our puny little minds.
Oh the humanity! Right?!?
Monotheism could have worked really well in an ideal world where every heart was pure and made of ice cream. But that's not true. The path of religion doesn't need to be so narrow that you can build gates and install gate keepers. That's the recipe for disaster. You don't know where that chain reaction will take you. Actually, we do know, we are there right now. A pile of huge mess.
The path of religion needs to be wide. Real wide, like the sea. So wide, that it can absorb and soothe each mind. Hinduism may appear polytheist from the outside, but the real intent of idolizing millions of deities is to package shapeless-formless-omnipotent-unfathomable ONE GOD into human-understandable culturally-relevant deity. To an outsider, it may appear confusing and unnecessary, but at the bottom of the pyramid, at the individual level, it works.
Now few of the minds might be wondering. Buddy, do we need the religion then? Let the man follow the natural spiritual course, why bind it with a religion?
Humans are naturally spiritual, we crave answers, we're conscious, we're stressed out. But you know what else we need? We need structure. Hence the government and hence the religion. Free range humans never reached anywhere. At least not in majority. You may have one Buddha, or may be a few, but who will serve the spiritual needs of the less enlightened?
Religion is a requirement, hence it evolved. It's a spiritual structure for humanity. It needs to evolve further, post science and democracy, for that it needs a foundation. And that foundation can't be a narrow back alley, it has to be the sea. The ocean.
Hinduism can be that foundation. It's a structure without a structure. It is so vast so open that it can absorb your personal spiritual preferences and not judge you. This is also the reason it has survived for so long. 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' - The World Is My Family, slogan suddenly makes so much sense.
A Christian may hate a Muslim, a Muslim may hate a Jew. But a Hindu-Christian would love a Hindu-Jew. And a Hindu-Muslim too, why not. Never seen one in reality, but why the hell not? It's probably only a Hindu in this world who'd find some divinity in all paths. They'd happily pray to Sant Issah Masih and Sant Mohammed. If Hindus can worship 10 million Gods, those Gods may know how many gurus, then why not the man who died for your sins? And why not the 'prophet', who claimed he saw God in a cave. Why not? All are welcome.
This is the beauty of Hinduism, they can find divinity in a stone, then why not in a person close to God? May appear a little gullible, your average Hindu, but his own spirituality reflects in the deity or the guru.
When you're a Hindu, you may become an arya samaji and stay away from idol worship or a Hindu-Sikh who has no qualms on praying to Guru Granth Sahib in Gurudwara or a Sufi, who you see and can't tell if he's a Hindu, a Sikh or a Muslim. This freedom and openness of heart is needed in your spiritual journeys.
Standalone, Christianity and Islam are great religions, but could have worked on probably a more homogeneous species, like ants or bees, not humans. This is the essential flaw, human mind, needs variety and breathing space.
Hinduism is not perfect, but there's a reason for that - proximity to Islam. The competitiveness I mentioned earlier, that again is at play here. Hindus have lived for so long in proximity with Islam and their worldwide brotherhood, that their openness is no match for that focused Islamic energy. Many now want to reshape Hinduism like Islam, where intolerance is the norm. It may appear rigid, but in reality it's an act of defense. On it's own, it has no standing. There's just so many mind games that Islam is capable of playing that it's own followers are mere pawns, what would an average cow loving Hindu do? Modern Islam would chew you raw and spit you out.
Did I miss Manu? He was a giant step-back for the Indian civilization. He should be called the grandfather of modern Indian politics. Wonder had he met Mohammed, there would have been some great scope of bromance right there. Could have hated women together, those two. May be Manu could have segregated Islam a bit with his caste innovations, could have disspiated that evil brotherhood marching towards world domination today.
Though the great thing is, Hinduism has the ability to change, evolve, absorb, adopt and reshape. It's like the water of Ganga, which doesn't go bad with all the pollution thrown in. This quality makes Hinduism an ideal candidate to become the light in these dark times. This is what a religion should be like, so varied, so vast that it has a place for everybody. Even the atheists, don't believe me, read the RigVeda.
This is the idea of Hindutva. And India has successfully practiced it all these centuries, despite all the problems, today we survive as the most diverse nations in the world. A big credit of that goes to the Hindu majority. Hindutva is often misunderstood, and fault is it's proponents too. You can't have your most unpolished and inarticulate people become your mascots. And that needs to change. The discourse needs to move away from identity and ego. The approach shouldn't be that of a fire-fighter but a light bearer.
Written by Ishaan Mohan Bagga
Follow him on twitter @IshaanMohan