Sunday, August 12, 2012
WHAT IS HINDUISM- REALITIES, MISCONCEPTIONS, ANSWERS, THE FOUR PATHS,
WHAT IS HINDUISM?
This is a difficult Question to answer. Because, there is no ISM like that at all! There is no RELIGION called HINDUISM, in the sense, other RELIGIONS understand RELIGION. This ISM is a culture developed over lakhs of years. It never remained STATIC over these years. It was always evolving until – the western Invaders invaded and conquered India politically. These invasions showed up the chinks in the armour of this culture. When the Invasions happened, the culture in India too was degenerating fast.
The invading cultures are fighting each other (and within themselves internally) all over the world all the time – till this day. But, in India, they need not fight each other – as, there is an easier prey called Hinduism. This is the fact of life today. Conversions are going on all the time. Hinduism cannot stop the conversions – until it removes the outdated caste system or at least its most suffocating aspects - from its midst.
This has to be recognized by every Hindu, every sociological reformer and every religious reformer. The caste system, as it was born, lakhs of years ago, may have been scientific, but, today, with changing social structures and needs, it has indeed become TOTALLY OUTDATED.
Just for example – the definition of a Braahmana, was always specific and too very rigid. No one by birth is a Braahmana. By appropriate Karma (method of living), one becomes first a Dvijanma, or Dvija. Life becomes very puritan and rigid for a Dvija and no average person of today would want to live that sort of life. Dvija becomes a Vipra by studying all Vedas, Vedangas etc , and rising much higher in his method of life. One becomes Braahmana (Not Bramin, as we call today) by acquiring Brahma Vijnana. So, what is this Brahma Vijnaana? This is the very essence of Hinduism – if it is an ISM. While BRAHMA VIJNANA is described and repeated often in many Upanishads, One can find its essence in ‘VEDANTA DINDIMAM’ – a very respected treatise on the subject.
In simplest terms – it is the ability (or experience) of a person - to experience himself in all that is around him and to experience all that is around him within himself.
You must be able to (i) experience yourself in all people, animals, birds, trees and all living beings (and even non-living) and (ii) experience all of them in yourself. Not mere seeing. It is the experiencing and the identification that counts. The experience has to be of a very High order. The one who does this - is BRAAHMANA. No one else.
In the most recent Past, the Great Adi Sankaracharya himself reiterates this in so many of his writings. He even confesses that – in one incident at Varanasi, he himself was chided by PARAMA SIVA himself for practicing a bit of UNTOUCHABILITY – and was ordered by Siva to stop such things and practice real ADVAITA. In my view, that story is intended precisely for people like us – not for Adi Sankara. Ramanuja stated this same principle in a very DOWN TO EARTH manner.
We know that Lord Rama treated Guha, the fihserman as his own brother. He treated Sabari, the tribal woman as his own and ate what she ate partially and gave to him. His friends were all sorts of people, animals and birds. We know all that – but we won’t practice that! His story was written by VALMIKI, whom we revere, but we don’t revere his people.This is the paradox today.
Lord Krishna was born a Kshatriya, lived as a Yadava, married in all castes, befriended all people, ate at the houses of Sanjaya and Vidura – the so called fourth caste people, shunning Bhisma, Drona and Duryodhana, gave his best boons to Kubja, the dwarf girl and to kuchela, his poorest braahmana friend – and demonstrated how life should indeed be lived. We consider his Bhagavad Gita as the epitome of wisdom, which it really is – but we do not want to follow his way of life ! Does it not look ILLOGICAL?
When I ask this question to some People, their pet answer is, God can do anything – but how can we. What about Sankara and Ramanuja? Follow them. No;they are Great people and can do anything – how cant we. Does is not look hugely illogical?
The very definition of Braahmana is – one who transcends all differences. Leave aside the old time Greats. Consider Ramana Maharshi – the most recent Everest of Hinduism. Can’t we follow at least his example? He preferred to sit with others and eat – if they are being differentiated against.
Gandhiji is another example. He is another Great Yogi of our times. What about Swami Vivekananda? We all accept his greatness. Why not follow at least his example? If we want contemporary examples – look at Sri Sri Ravishankar of Art of Living, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev of Isha foundation, Swami RamDev and so on – who are well known exponents of Yoga and exponents of Hinduism. Take any one of them as your example and follow – you will be a Good Hindu.
If you want to understand Upanishads and Vedanta – listen to a veteran like Swami Paramarthananda or his Guru Swami Dayananda, preferably by attending their classes directly, and if not, by listening to their lectures available on the internet. You will certainly know the extraordinary Greatness of this ISM.
One may say – why not follow the example of one of the Peethadhipathis. Fine. Do follow the way they live. It is too difficult. The way they live a wholly structured life of 24 x 7 x 365 - they just don’t have time for anything of this world beyond what they are already doing. I only wish that they take their time to REFORM HINDU indifference towards its internal differences, prejudices and neglect of each other.
Adi Sankara was different. He took time for everything. Including the reformation process of Hindu Practices. But for him, many Upanishads may not be available to us today. But then, he left his mortal body TOO EARLY.
If we really, really have a hundred REAL Braahmanas (fitting the definition) in India today, in our midst, this country would see a huge cultural revolution – where all people will prosper, all people will be equally happy and all people will know what in reality is HINDUISM. We just don’t have such persons in our midst at least. Not even one in a Crore.
This is my belief. If you feel, there are more than 100 such persons – I will be more than Glad. I do not mean, there are no Good people. You and I are all Good. But our Goodness, of people of all castes in India – does not reach that level specified in the definition of Braahmana.
Another Factor is – given our own obsession for money, power, sex and violence, even if we find such Great persons, most of us will consider such persons as fools and mad persons –who don’t want prosperity of the western kind.
What we therefore see today in India – is IGNORANCE of our self and of our culture.
This ISM – has many colours. It is the ISM (NOT religion) suitable for each INDIVIDUAL. It is the only ISM which incorporates Karma, Bhakti, Dhyana, and Jnana Paths for people of different types.
The Karma Yogi sees divinity in his actions – and Krishna has extolled EXCELLENCE in EVERY HUMAN ACTION as the REAL KARMA YOGA. This is the definition Krishna gives to Karma Yoga (Yogah Karmasu Kausalam).
He doesn’t say – get five Bronze in Olympics and be satisfied with them. No. EXCEL in all of your ACTIONS. And, if you don’t get Gold, don’t bother. Don’t be morose. After all, all of 100 competitors cannot get Gold. But, all of them can make their Best Effort. Another important factor is called Pancha Maha Yajna, which term is not even known to most Hindus today. One has to selflessly serve (i)Gods (ii)Sages (Rishis) (iii) Forefathers (living & Dead) (iv) Other Human Beings and (v) all other living beings (animals, birds etc). Each of these has to be done DAILY - by every Hindu. While there are other facets of Karma Yoga, which are extremely scientific – this one INJUNCTION of Lord Krishna, if we adopt sincerely – India will come out of all of its social, economic and Political retardedness. At this point of time – what is it we excel in? Can anybody mention a thing or two?
Bhakthi Yoga, the second path, comes easily to some people. Surrender to – a Guru, a God, or any Great wise man – is all that is needed. Women especially – can easily excel in this path. This is by far the easiest path. For Man –Ego – is one problem in this path. Until the Ego goes, he has to struggle in Karma Yoga, which provides many methods to get rid of this Ego Problem. Therefore, Bhakti is not easy for Men. A Bhakthi Yogi can see God anywhere. In ancient India, women worshipped their Husbands as equal to God. And then, the Husbands get compelled to act like one. Husband was the most easily available, and most harmless living face – for women. In fact, the most benevolent face, that a woman can see – is her husband’s face. A husband has to treat his wife as his best half, and vice versa, as per the vows they both take in their marriage. “Dhrmecha, Arthecha, kaamecha”. In a nut shell, in all activities, in this mortal life, he and she vow,”thou shalt be part of me always”. In such a society, a man’s love for his wife is IMMENSE. The Hindu society was a Great insurance against any mistreatment of women. Bhakti, essentially, came to man, because, of the woman. She performs most Pujas – and involves him in them. This is the only culture, which believes that the most ancient GOD-FORM was the Shakthi, the all pervading Goddess, whom we depict in female form.
Bhakthi does not need knowledge. It gives knowledge. Many things will come into the knowledge of the Bhaktha –automatically – from nowhere. God becomes compelled to appear before him in any form he or she wants. Radha may want him to appear as Krishna. Ramakrishna may want to appear HER as KALI. Any form will do for Bhaktha. Lakhs of years before, Prahlad had said – My father, God is here, there and everywhere. You cannot say, God is not here. God is only there.’ When his father wanted him to show God in a Pillar, God did appear through the Pillar.
Hinduism wants people to see God in every shape and every form in the Universe. The Sun, the Moon, the earth, the tree, the elephant, the bird, the cobra – the stone, which some other cultures ridicule – everywhere, Hinduism wants you to experience (Not just see) God. For the innocent man – this is the easiest way – to experience God and become one with him. All people cannot and need not read Vedas and Upanishads, puranas etc- which take more than one life time to read, understand and appreciate. If you can see God everywhere – it is done. You know what is to be known from the Vedas. But, if you read a few small parts of Vedas,or Upanishads (especially without a competent Guru) you will be more ignorant than these innocents who have read nothing. You will misunderstand and misinterpret. For you, a stone is a stone, a cobra is a cobra, a bird is a bird. You can see nothing beyond that. But an innocent Bhaktha, who wants to see God can certainly see him anywhere in any of these things. It is not his hallucination. God is everywhere – and is there, where Bhaktha wants to see him. God is a willing slave of his Bhakthas. Well. We can extol Bhakti Path any amount of time. But, India knows it too well.
What about the man whose Ego does not allow him to see the God everywhere – say, in a stone Idol? First, take to Dhyana Marga, or Yoga Marga. These people (me included) are too logical, to see God in a stone Idol, in a tree etc. For such people, Yoga Path is simply superb. Pathanjali has laid out the same in the form of brief principles, but this path is also lakhs of years Old. Here, an accomplished Guru only can teach you the path. A Book cannot. Even Patnajali’s book, with all its Jargon, seemingly explains but all the time, confuses.
You may not believe in a God. This is not a bar for Yoga Path. But, you must be willing to purify your mind of all the impurities. That is a must for Yoga. You must not tell lies, must not be greedy for others’ things, must not steal, and must be totally non-violent and so on. If you can’t do these – you are unfit for Yoga. Surely, Yoga Pranayamas and Aasanas can still benefit you. But, You can’t go beyond them. God – in this path – is not for you. There is no such thing as – God will forgive you – whatever sin you do. No. You must pay for all of your sins in some ways. But still, there is a way, in which the most advanced Yogis can clear away all of their past and future sins. And, they can REALIZE THEMSELVES in this birth itself. In the YOGA PATH, self realization is the ultimate Goal. Without knowing yourself, there is no knowing of God. Will you know God? Don’t bother. Know yourself. Somewhere on the path, you will know God too. For LOGICAL PEOPLE, this is the best possible path. You don’t need to believe anything except you. All along the path – experience it yourself, know it personally and proceed further. All along the yoga path, there are also seemingly great rewards coming your way. In a worldly way – these are extraordinary rewards. But, for the Yogi, these are nothing. Self realization – is the only thing. What on earth is this? Same thing as in Bhakthi or Karma yoga paths. Experience yourself in the entire world around you – and experience the same world within you.
The fourth is Jnana Marga – the path eulogized by the Upanishads, which are in one sense, the most important part of Vedas. Just find and believe in an accomplished enlightened Guru – become his devoted disciple - and he will take you through the Upanishadic path, the path of wisdom – towards – NOT GOD – but towards your SELF. All that you need to do is simplified in 3 words – Sravanam, Mananam, Nidhidhyasanam. Listening, remembering, Internalising. For this, absolute devotion to an already Jnani - Guru and faith in him is a must.
So, what about God? We are talking again of SELF only!
Which God are YOU talking about? When you know the SELF, you will know that GOD Also, automatically. You may call him by any name you like him when you meet him. But, you may not need a name then.
Well. Briefly, these are the four important paths – for four different personality types amongst us. It is not easy to explain them in such small article. But, this is the essence. Without understanding an IOTA of all these, I find some people saying, HINDUS worship IDOLS as Gods, one IDOL can be broken into two, then it becomes 2 Gods and so on. Well. If people want wisdom, if People want TRUTH – they must approach one who knows TRUTH. Vedas don’t teach. Upanishads don’t teach. They are like CODES, in a SCIENTIFIC JARGON. Only a Guru can teach and explain. The very definition of a Guru is one who removes the darkness of Ignorance. A Book doesn’t do that Job. So-choose, whichever path you want. And, tell those who do not know but want to know. And, Ignore people who adamantly want to be Ignorant.
Sarve Janah Sukhino Bhavanthu