The history of the world is full of violence done in the name of religion. Even in the modern era, nothing much has changed. Is a serious misunderstanding in approaching religion behind all the atrocities?
When I did a study to understand this concept of religion and how humanity should approach it, I found a few surprising points that the world really needs to understand.
The ancient Indian sages really built a very different a system of approaching religion, which currently is being overshadowed by attempts to organize religions and divide humanity.
Here are seven perspectives that help you understand not just the Hindu system but an approach to all religions.
- Hinduism is not a religion, but a platform
You know about software platforms, such as Windows, iOS or Android. These platforms allow multiple applications to stay together, but function independently. The existence of any one application on your mobile device will not affect the existence or functioning of another. And hundreds of apps go together.
The ancient sages of India did not try to force one form of religion or God on people. They tried to discover all possible methods to approach the God. Patanjali worked to discover the paths of Yoga, while Gorakhnath discovered hundreds of Tantric methods. Thousands of people approached the God through mere devotion while many others devoted themselves to unselfish work and got enlightened.
Upanishads and other Indian scriptures are full of such methods and success stories, and they all guide individuals in their quest towards the God. This takes us to the next point, the democratic approach.
- Hinduism is highly democratic in its approach
There are billions of human beings on the earth and each one is unique. The sages knew that one method would not work for all.
Everyone in the world cannot take the path of devotion. Some believe in Purusha Prayatna (the human effort) and they easily ridicule devotees for being lazy and unproductive. But, devotees believe that nothing happens through human effort, it is the god who is behind everything.
The sages of the past strived to discover all possible methods so that no individual with the different mental setup is left out.
The same reason is behind the concept of millions of Gods worshiped in the Hindu culture.
- There are no millions of Gods – there is one god, for you
Hinduism believes that the God is beyond all forms and names. That does not mean God is incapable of taking any form. It simply means that all that has taken form in the existence has come from the formless almighty. And everything is one.
Hinduism believes that God is not a person, but an experience of being one with the whole. So, whichever the form you worship – a stone, a tree or an animal or a human being – you will start experiencing the godliness in that form.
While there are millions of Gods, each individual is free to choose his/her God. When this individual chooses his/her own favourite God-form, a million others are dropped. This chosen deity helps the individual reach his/her ultimate experience.
Are you forced to install every app in the play store on your device? You are free to choose your apps, right? Similarly, you are free to choose the path that suits your mindset. That’s truly a democratic outlook that this religion has.
And, even if you don’t believe in the God, Hinduism accepts you.
- No-God approach is part of Hindu system
Let us understand this: What we think or believe does not affect the truth in any way. Even the believers and non-believers, whatever may their practice be, they are part of the existence, hence one with the God. So, the Hinduism does think that the non-believers, the doubters, the naysayers – all become part of the Hindu approach to divinity.
Take an example of a fish in a sea. How much ever the fish fights with the sea, it is part of the sea. Similarly, whatever our intellectual thought-process be, our innate being is always one with the existence.
Hinduism believes that even this doubting, questioning and banning the religion is also a quest towards the ultimate.
So, those who take the atheistic path are part of Hindu culture. And every new path taken by an individual can be a new religion in Hindu system.
- You can start your own religious path
ISKCON, which is highly popular in the west, says that Krishna is the ultimate God. But, for Shaivas, Shiva is the supreme lord. However, they don’t fight each other but respect each others’ path. Each system of the Indian spiritual journey considers others as fellow seekers and even is ready to help them.
Similarly, if one new realized person begins his own religious path, Hindus don’t consider this as sacrilege. And every new spiritual flowering is always celebrated.
- Celebrating the ultimate, that is what Hinduism is all about
Hindus have the most number of festivals in the world. Not just that, they celebrate each day owing it to a particular deity. Mondays are auspicious for Shiva devotees, while Tuesdays and Fridays are auspicious for Goddess Parvati and her avatars.
Hindu festivals are not just cultural but are deeply connected to nature. The Hindu culture has given a great significance towards conserving flora and fauna than any other in the world. That will be another article. For now, let us remember that Hindus always revere, protect and celebrate life.
Thank you for reading. Let me know if you have any questions.