Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Friday, February 4, 2011

119. Being a Hindu

“Are you Hindu?” he asked me.
I was bending down to tie up shoe lace. Still I managed to look at him in an instant (without breaking my neck, that is.)
No, he was not mischievous. Nor was he teasing me. He looked very serious.

Actually, just a nod from me would have settled the matter.
But as it always happens with me, it triggered a chain of long hidden thoughts.

I was with a group of total strangers. We all had joined together one Sunday afternoon with a group named ‘Delhi Metro Walks’. The idea was to explore Old Delhi that evening and taste typical Delhi food. We were walking, eating, chatting for last few hours. We were a group of just 9, and more than half of them were obviously non Indians.

On the way, we came across a Jain temple. Some were not interested but I went in. It was not an ancient temple as such and I was disappointed with it.

While coming out, I was thinking about ‘Role of Temples’ and suddenly this question was thrown at me.
And this young man, non Hindu, non Indian asked me this particular question.

I am rather stubborn about certain things. One of that is ‘not allowing people to recognize my religion from any external signs’. For long, strangers have assumed me to be anything but Hindu. So, when this man asked me this question, I was really surprised.

“I was born and brought up in a Hindu family”, I answered honestly.
Now it was his (and others’) turn to be amazed.

“What do you mean? Have you changed your religion?” he asked.

“Oh, no, that is not the case,” I said, though my ideas about Religion are still evolving.

From casual conversation, the discussion was fast turning to be very personal.

“Being Hindu is very easy”, I was thinking aloud.

What is the essence of Hinduism?
For that matter, what is the essence of any religion?
Philosophy, Ritual and Social Rules are the three major aspects of religion.

Now the social code has been replaced by Law. So, no question of following religious rules.
Ritual I have hardly ever followed. That has not stopped me from being a Hindu.
And Philosophies – there are so many, I like many of those. I like Charvaka and Shankaracharya, Gautama the Buddha and Ramanujacharya, Kapila and Patanjali; Shrikrishna and Ramkrishna Paramhamsa, Tukaram and Kabir, Aurobindo and J Krishnmurty .. the list is unending. I can criticise any one of them and every one of them and still I can be a Hindu.

Hindu philosophy in a way is a big 'HoldAll' and I like it that way!

Some say: Rebirth, Law of Karma, Liberation are the basic tenets of Hinduism. I don’t think I believe in any of those seriously. Intellectually I can argue about it and write articles .. but they do not constitute my core values of life.

Still I am 'a' Hindu – because I am born and brought up in a Hindu family and I have not converted to any other religion.

You can do anything, you can do nothing, you can criticise, you can rebel....but still the Hinduness remains intact.
That is the beauty of ‘Being a Hindu’.


  1. That was a good thinking post. The beauty of Hinduism lies in its all inclusiveness and freedom. you can BE a Hindu without having to be born one or converting to one.

    Unlike you though, I find the ideas of rebirth, karma and freedom very valid since it imparts accountability to an individual's actions. you reap what you sow, it the best thing about karma.

  2. hinduism is most user friendly!

  3. It is a way of life. And sure it is.

  4. I always believe in one thing - Hinduism isn't a religion, its a way of life!
    Its not a religious identity, its a cultural and social identity!

  5. Thanks zephyr. I do understand your acceptance of rebirth,, karma .. those are some of the most logical thoughts. I am amazed by the logic, but ... never mind that 'but'!

    Deepakbhai, 'user friendly' is rather a new era description! But good one :-)

    Chowlajee, Vidyadhar ..yes it is a very open ended and all inclusive way of life ..

  6. Hinduism is a way of life. One that not necessarily insists on the building of a temple or slaying of a goat !

    Hinduism is all encompassing and as far as i know, doesnt 'assert' supremacy ! leaving that too open to people ! Standing very tall at that

    Its a different version altogether, of what reaches the mainstream polical arena or the ritual laden 'religious' arena !

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    btw, simply beautiful expression of religion. I totaly agree tht social code has today been replaced by Law. Religion, in my view, is a collective set of personal beliefs tht seek to unite, unfortunately today, it does act contrary to tht. But loved ur post...really got me thinkin!!!

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  8. Well written as usual Savita.
    I guess most people today are (y)our kind of Hindus!

  9. Well Said my Friend... Hinduism is a way of living which lets an Hindu to live on his own way without any dominations on him. Simply - Hinduism equals to freedom of life without hurting anyone...

  10. If Hinduism is such an open minded and all inclusive way of life, not a religion, then why the antagonism amongst the staunch and devout Hindu's towards other religions and why make an issue of "Converting" to another religion, since Hinduism is not a religion but a "way of life", "a philosophy" any way?

  11. facebook.com/hindisongs

  12. Kavi, yes political Hinduism is beyond our understanding!

    R-A-J, welcome to Times Change.Thanks for your kind words.

    Satya, there are hopes if most people are like this :-)

    Well said Krishna and welcome to Times Change.

    aksd, welcome to Times Change. And yes, that is the question many of us struggle with :-)

    Anonymous,you have either placed wrong comment or you have placed it at a wrong place .. or maybe it is both :-)

  13. Savitadi,
    May I suggest one more name to add? That’s “Charvak” who was an atheist. I am under impression that Buddha too was an atheist. I wonder why he was added as Tenth Avatar, while Buddhism was almost routed out from India.

  14. Remijee, I love Charvaka philosophy (and I feel that it is misunderstood by many), so have already mentioned him. The term Atheist in ancient times meant 'non believers' of Veda (and not God) - so Gautama the Buddha is atheist in that ancient sense too. Buddhism has played a major role in Indian renaissance, so I think it is right for us to accept him as Avtar.

  15. did you know that temples came to India only after the Romans invaded


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