5:36 pm - Monday August 21, 2017

Part 2 : Hinduness – discovery of an attitude

“With every man, there is an idea; the external man is only the outward manifestation, the mere language of this idea within. Likewise, every nation has a corresponding national idea. This idea ( for India ) is – working for the world and is necessary for its preservation”

Swami Vivekananda

 One with nature – Naturally

 

Hindus like me overwhelmingly are seen to love animals. Our theoretical position in favor of vegetarianism is a matter of ethics more than just healthy eating habits. Our thoughts patterns are guided surreptitiously by our ‘ Vasudaiva kudumbakam’ Hinduness and the belief that the divine resides in every form. Every form of life is entitled to protection and nurture. Hindu mythology has, in its own way contributed to this idea. Have you noticed how almost every animal and bird is associated with a God in Hindu Mythology ? The elephant as the vehicle of Indra, Bull of Shiva and Parvati. Vulture is associated with Vishnu, Even the mouse is revered as the vehicle of Sri Ganesha. Thus every act of dana to others is an offering to the divine self. Do you know that we have temples in India which feed mice, and rituals where snakes are given milk ? All life is sacred. No life-form is haram.

 

As for our attitude towards nature, for Hindus it is – Matha Bhoomi or Mother earth . Our approach to the environment is one of devotion – not exploitation. The west is slowly veering towards this concept. The west started off with ‘Exploitation of nature’ as a model of development. Then they tried for a transactional relationship. Now they understand environment as a crucial issue and are coming around to the view that the best attitude to ensure environmental protection is to cultivate devotion towards ‘Mother earth’. Do you know that the annual ‘Earth Day’ in the USA in 2011 started with ‘Prithvi Sukta’ from Atharva-Veda (composed around 1200 BCE) invoking the Goddess earth ? The suktha says – ‘Mata Bhumih Putroham Prithivyah: ‘Earth is my mother, I am her son’ and is considered as the oldest and the most evocative environmental invocation.

 

Just as Hinduness resonates with in modern environmentalism, Yoga and Meditation too has gone international in a big way with adherents world-over adopting new variations to suite their lifestyles. Today Yoga has far more devotees than many belief systems. One has to just Google ‘Yoga’ or ‘Yoga in America, Europe’ to see its spread.

hindu-1

 

 

The world is slowly veering towards our philosophy. Inclusive Hinduness is seen by many as the method by which the present issues of conflicts can be addressed. The conflicts which see around us today – In Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Nigeria stems from the poisonous ‘ We have the monopoly over truth’ attitude. The best antidote would be to address issues at the fundamental level by effectively countering divisive ideas with an inclusive one. The idea that there are different paths to the same truth and that divinity in all peoples should nullify the ideologies fuelling religious and sectarian conflicts. Thus, along with democracy, secularism, healthy living and environmental conservation, the message of peace can be ours too.

 

I am not implying everything is so rosy at home. Our country continuous to be plagued by material poverty, illiteracy and associated maladies. A land where the themes of Kabir and Ravidas were revered is seen to retain the stigma of casteism even today. Even so, India has come a long way fighting these evils – but we need to go farther. Only an empowered people of a strong nation can make a difference and claim to be ambassadors of change. We have to master our weakness – our lack of knowledge about our country and its culture, lack of discipline and our reluctance for teamwork. We need to learn about our past in order to be proud and confident about ourselves to move towards the future. Our Hinduness is not a gift which we can confine to ourselves. It is so powerful, this attitude, that it can move the whole world. It is the spark which can set the world aflame and take it into a new millennia of light.

 

The essence of Hinduism is derived from Vedic religion. So one would still continue to be called Vedic even if he or she has never visited India, read any Indian text but still follows the basic tenet of rejecting falsehood, accepting truth, and being inclusive. Hence the identity of Hinduness transcends geographic barriers. It has the dynamism to adapt itself to the diversities of the whole world and to make it a better place. To understand this and to understand who we really are is the first step towards making a fundamental difference in the world.

 

(Concluded )

Disclaimer : This is my personal discovery of Hinduness and should not be construed as being that of any association.

Girish P

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