Saturday, April 23, 2005

Hindu Gods

The concept of god would look very complex in Hinduism. People would argue that Hinduism accepts both idol and symbol worship; Hinduism is actually a monotheistic religion(or way of life). But the majority Hindus are generally idol worshippers and pantheists. I wonder whether Shankara's 'atma', 'paramatma' doctrine has any relevance in Hinduism practiced by the general public. But one aspect of Hinduism that depressed me over the years is that the belief is sustained by the fear not by the devotion.

Fear and religions:
Most of the religions cater to fears of after life. Every religion tries to instill a fear of hell into its adherents. Here the God will punish the wanderers after their death. But Hinduism differs in this case. Just like the religion the gods are also unique in Hinduism. Actually, Hindus have two types of powers. Deva(god) and Daiva(Spirit). And these together will always punish their believers for doing something right, moral and totally harmless unless they are pleased.
Generally the spirits are simply spoilsports in everything. You have to always keep them in good humour. By the way, who are these spirits? They are Lord Shiva's Ganas(some kind of army set). Ofcourse, they got that place because of the Vaidiks efforts to assimilate all the cults into a single Brahmanical religion.

God as a nasty mafia don:
As I said before, the uniqueness about hindu gods and spirits is that they will give you all the troubles even if you are doing something right, moral and totally harmless unless you please them. Ofcourse, if the gods and spirits are pleased then you can indulge in all kinds of activities, good or bad notwithstanding, they will protect you.
That's not all. Let's say, you don't believe in any of these shantis, poojas and yaagas(hindu rituals). They(gods and spirits) don't punish only you for that. They might target your close relatives for your sins. So you don't have any respite from them. Unless your close relatives are also rational like you, the fear that fills your surroundings will be unbearable.

Everybody is equal before hindu gods:
I have to admit this aspect frustrates me all the time. I am an atheist. But I would like to oppose Hinduism for the only reason that it supports the concept of god or some supreme power. I won't be having any problems with its moral teachings and its stress on disciplined lifestyle. But Hinduism is highly perverted. It doesn't make any difference between a person into corrupt practices and a straight person. I find it really disgusting when the offerings from all sorts of people to Tirupati's temple is accepted without any reservations. I would expect some official declaration from Hindu religious heads to the effect that the god accepts gratitude only from the straight persons. I am sure all the sins must have been listed in the scriptures. Atleast let the simple have some sort of consolation that their after life will be better than those who could afford to offer greater riches accumulated from wrong means. Otherwise, it's an outright humiliation for the straight, simple believers.

Let life be simple for simple people:
The greatest favour that Hinduism can do for the simple people is to offer them a life without fear. Most commonly, they all believe in god and a religion based solely on devotion and disciplined lifestyle will be just perfect for them. I am not sure whether Bhakti(Devotion) movement stressed on disciplined lifestyle. But I don't see Bhakti movement's influence in South India.

Caste and Hinduism:
I no longer hold Hinduism responsible for the Caste system. I consider it more a racial and class problem. Hinduism as a way of life can do as good or bad to lowest castes as it would do to the highest castes. The rise of Nadars(Tamil Nadu) and Tiyyas(Ezhavas, Kerala) using Hinduism without depending upon Brahmins has convinced me that if not better but it could be as good as Christianity or Islam in imparting a disciplined lifestyle.

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