My Fascination with Hinduism

sunset at vellore/shelly paul
Image by Shelly Paul

A religion’s origin, that is lost in time. A religion, that has survived the influx of many other religions, cultures, its own corruption and foreign invasions. After several thousand years, Hinduism is still the predominant religion in today’s India. It is more a way of life than a religion. It permeates into everything that’s Indian. That is why it is hard to separate India from Hinduism. Everyone who is born Indian does have a degree of Hinduism within them doesn’t matter the religion they are born into currently.

My fascination with Hinduism starts from the time when I was a child and fell in love with the stories of ‘Amar Chithra Katha’ or ‘Rathnabala’. The simplified child’s version of “Ramayana” and “Mahabaratha” which comprise endlessly fascinating stories about the numerous gods that make up the complex and extraordinarily interesting religion called Hinduism.

In Hinduism, there is a god for everything. A God who creates, a God who destroys the evils of this earth and the God who protects all that is worth protecting. This is the Holy Trinity that keeps balance and harmony in the Universe.

There are gods for the five elements, there are gods for wisdom and knowledge, gods for every little thing in nature. Then there are gods customized to the local population. There is even a god for the misfortunes that befall us. Gods have hierarchies and a certain pecking order. Their lives are complicated by fellow-celestials and from time to time, a fervent devotee or two. Even the gods are not immune from domestic problems.

The domestic clashes of Shiva and Parvathi are common knowledge in the world of Hinduism. The result of one such argument resulted in the creation of an entirely new deity called ‘Arthanaareeswarar’* which is the conjoining of the equal halves of Siva and Parvathi.

Every celestial being have specific duties and purposes to fulfill. The gods can fall from grace if they violate the celestial codes while, the kindest of demons can be elevated to the level of gods. Hence, nothing is certain even for the gods. When the earth takes a turn for the worse the gods assume avatars and come to the earth to protect us from the evil that has befallen.

It’s a religion about cause and consequences about what is sown and reaped; about human frailty. It accepts the constancy of change. It ponders and examines human evolution through the fascinating stories it weaves.

The tales of Hindu mythology are the stories of everyday core human values that are universal and timeless – values that are essential for humanity to go forward in civilization. It teaches personal responsibility, humanity and above all a deep love of nature. There is a child-like innocence to these stories of gods and humans and demons.

If only today’s Indians would look into their own rich mythology for the wisdom they have forgotten. With excess and avarice the rule of the day, with over seventy percent of its population still suffering in poverty, with growing intolerance, with human rights and its women ripped to shreds; it is time to stop the empty rituals and prayers, it is time to shut the door on all its religious divisions and fragmentation.

It is time to ponder on these simple stories that teaches how to weave a rich tapestry of diversity; how to love our fellow-human; how to love this earth and all its creatures; to be humbled and awed by this incredible blessing that is the human-experience.

* ‘Artha’ means half. ‘Naar’ is woman. ‘Eswar’ means man or God.

3 thoughts on “My Fascination with Hinduism

  1. All said and done about Hinduism, it is very fascinating indeed. It’s amazing how thousands of years later, these stories continue to be passed down, articulated in many ways, volumes have been scribed, such that it’s become an integral part of people’s lives and beliefs.However, it’s also strange, if you think about it, with all the things that are happening around the world, we have not seen an avatar in the past few generations. There has been no saviour / incarnation, who has reached out and saved the world or the thousands of people who were killed unnecessarily by evil acts. It can be belittled saying “it’s his way”, but that’s not the way that has been defined in the sacred books. It was always taken care of and the elapsed time was not beyond one generation.So, these stories are quite speculative and the webs that were masterfully woven orare the foundation of the beliefs of hinduism can be questioned similar to thespeculation of the intepretation of the holy grail in Christianity.Something to think about.

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  2. so interesting! the part about reading amar chitra kathas made me smile wide. i loved those and still do to this day. to join the other commenter in discussing the avatars, i would often wonder whether the appearance of an Avatar helped the generation of humanity that existed in the time or whether the effects of the defeat of ‘Adharma’ in whichever form it existed went on to help many future generations in the form of the parables of the Avatars (Vishnu Purana) and teachings of the Buddha (as some Hindus believe Gautama Buddha to be the ninth Avatar of Vishnu). What appears to be common to the knowledge we all hold in our generation is that the significance of the times and lives of the Avatars became universally acknowledged (if not universally accepted) throughout the Hindu world. makes you wonder whether we would even be aware of the presence of such a life form in our midst if we were to come face to face with Him or Her, or whether He or She would use Facebook or MySpace or YouTube as tools to defeat Adharma (just fyi, in our times i tend to think ignorance and illiteracy are grave injustices and those tools are just indispensable to get your word across to anyone these days). i’m serious! for all of us who believe that the Kalki avatar is coming, would we recognize the next Avatar and do we really want to be present when it is time? i tend to think that our times are bad, but in no way are they representative of an irreversible and calamitous path to the complete disappearance of justice from the face of the earth. good still prevails in society which is why the world is not in any imminent danger. on a personal level, though, it is never too late to pay heed to the voice of Dharma which is inside us all and to vanquish whatever we consider to be the biggest Adharma of our time. i think writers like Lekha further that cause by writing and sharing such positive thoughts that inspire the better angels within us.

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  3. Couldn’t get to this for a while. Just been busy.
    How bad is bad.
    It’s good to think positive, hope for the best, keep an open mindset and be optimistic. These are the things I follow in life., I don’t believe that it would be difficult to spot the savior. If an evil person like Osama is so widely known and recognized, it wouldn’t be that difficult for the almighty to make him/her self known. However the tolerance levels for the evil / bad in the world is very subjective. So, in my books, whatever is happening in the world is not reversible. It’s done. Lives have been destroyed, injustices have happened, fanatics have prevailed. This needed to be stopped the right way, which didn’t happen. So, in my mind the validity of all the stories are up for discussion ’cause how bad is bad enough to intervene…..

    Think positive and live positive but don’t wait around.:)
    Malini.

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