14 January, 2016

What is your religion?

Ever since I have come to Europe, sometimes people have asked me about Hinduism. I get asked questions like are there many Gods? What book does Hinduism follow? etc. etc.

Frankly, I find it very difficult to answer questions about Hinduism. To be honest, I do not know about my own religion. Moreover, I was raised in a very moderate and not so religious household where nothing was forced on me.

But hey! Still if you do some research, by probably asking various religious "gurus", you would still find it difficult to understand this religion and narrow it down to specific 'points'. The reason is mainly because Hinduism is quite an obfuscated religion and is very heterogeneous. In fact, it does not fit the definition of a religion. It encompasses a variety of various "cultures" or "sub sects" which have a varied views on God and spirituality.

On contrary, religions like Islam and Christianity are well understood and known to their believers. Of course, it is all about interpretation, but people do follow a book of code and specific defined rules. Also people are aware about such rules. For example, Muslims and Christians believe in ONE GOD and forbid worshiping anything other than that God.

So, as I said that Hinduism does not have a single book of code and is a heterogeneous set of beliefs or values for achieving spirituality. Hence, below are a few points that give a very basic idea of this weird religion.
  • Many Gods - We have may Gods. The most popular ones are Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh, Durga, Balaji, etc. My grandma once told me that there are 10 million Gods appearing in different forms. My favourite God is Ganesh, the lord of wisdom who has an elephant head and a human body.
  • Trinity - The three supreme Gods - Bramha (the creator), Vishnu (the maintainer), Mahesh (the destroyer, also knows as Shiva)
  • One God - Yeah, one God. It is confusing. The many gods mentioned above are said to be the manifestations of the 'Brahman', the universe. But hey they are still different Gods. Although many Hindus believe in oneness of God (i.e. the supreme deity).
  • No God - Yep! If you believe that there is no God, it is perfectly okay. You will be called a 'nastik' but that is completely fine. My grandma used to call me a 'nastik' when I didn't used to pay attention to prayers or refute the authority of God. But that still made me a Hindu, I guess.
  • Karma - Almost all Hindus believe in the concept of Karma. In other words, what goes around comes around.
  • Reincarnation - The human body is believed to be a temporary house for our 'soul' and your soul is put into some other body after your death (if everything goes alright). You could be something else than a Human based on the 'sin points' that you have scored in this life (may be an ant if you sinned less, if you sinned zero then probably a human again).
  • Heterogeneity - Hinduism is very heterogeneous. There are various forms like Vaishnavism (Vishnu worshipers), Shaivism (Shiva worshipers) and many others that I do not know of.
  • Cow - The cow has a special status and is considered holy mainly because it gives milk. You will often hear people saying, "Cow is our mother".
  • Code Book - There is no single holy book that dictates and defines the religion. There are however various ancient scriptures. These include the Vedas, Puranas, Gita, Ramayan, Mahabharat, etc.
So there it is. A few points about this religion. Please note that this is my understanding and others could give you a different point of view. I am not really a religious person and most of the people in India are similar to me. So what do I follow? Well, I can say some form of Hinduism. I am a 'nastik' but I do like the God Ganesh (he is cute). In fact, it is apt to say that Hinduism is more of a culture and society thing.

Finally, in my opinion the concept of a religion is boring and it does not give you the freedom of thinking freely. Sorry to hurt your sentiments, I don't really care :D

Do write about your religion in the comments. It is interesting though.

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