Sunday, January 06, 2008

Who am I?

When someone asks me what religion I follow, I am usually at a loss to answer. Most of the time, I say I am a Hindu. But am I really Hindu? How do you define a Hindu?

In a judgement, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that "no precise meaning can be ascribed to the terms 'Hindu', 'Hindutva' and 'Hinduism'; and no meaning in the abstract can confine it to the narrow limits of religion alone, excluding the content of Indian culture and heritage." The Supreme Court also ruled that "Ordinarily, Hindutva is understood as a way of life or a state of mind and is not to be equated with or understood as religious Hindu fundamentalism. A Hindu may embrace a non-Hindu religion without ceasing to be a Hindu and since the Hindu is disposed to think synthetically and to regard other forms of worship, strange gods and divergent doctrines as inadequate rather than wrong or objectionable, he tends to believe that the highest divine powers complement each other for the well-being of the world and mankind."

"When we think of the Hindu religion, we find it difficult, if not impossible, to define Hindu religion or even adequately describe it. Unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet; it does not worship any one God; it does not subscribe to any one dogma; it does not believe in any one philosophic concept; it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed. It may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more." That is the Supreme Court of India trying to define it.

Which leaves me even more confused than ever. Do I even have to believe in the existence of God to be a Hindu? I don't think so. In my case, I use the term Hindu as a tag to define my identity, so that people know where I come from.

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1 comment:

Does it matter said...

Oh yes, identity!

And one of the other things about hinduism is it is not an organised religion. You could be an atheist, not visit temples ever, and yet no one need to know that you are a non believer, because there is no organised friday-namaaz, or sunday-church prayer sessions.

Is it not luck to be born in such an open religion..

Only if all our politicians would let it remain something to be proud of. I hope it remains this way.