I like the fact that Hinduism cannot be discretely fit into a particular system of beliefs. To me, it’s more a way of life than what the word ‘religion’ has come to mean today. I have always looked at Hindu ethics, rituals, theology and philosophy as an abstract work. I look at it as food for thought; as a mask which, if overlay’d on the context of a situation you are in, guides you to the right action and gives you valuable learning for life.
Considering the thousands of Gods and Goddesses as only symbolic representations of the ‘right’ in the situations/circumstances depicted by their tales – I have come to respect all of them equally. I feel comfortable visiting just about any temple (or Gurudwara, Mosque, Church for that matter), bowing to and worshiping the presiding deity of the place with all my heart, no matter which one it is. Whenever I have felt blessed in my life, I have never been able to tell which God or Goddess did the blessings come from. This only further strengthens my belief in The One, who just happens to have so many names.
Recently I got acquainted with a genuinely kind person who happens to be a staunch follower of a recently founded (400 to 500 years old) Hindu sect* that looks at worshipers of more than one deities as short-sighted people who cannot see or understand the difference between the Supreme Power [let's call it Lord X] and His incarnations. They believe that devotion of such worshipers remains in crude form because they cannot worship any one deity wholeheartedly. Thus, my friend doesn’t bow to other Gods or take ‘Prasad’ from temples other than their own.
(* Until now, I didn’t know Hinduism was also divided into sects! I’ll pretend I still don’t know. It’s better that way!)
Now, I found myself absolutely unable to digest this. This gave me an opportunity to sit down and evaluate my beliefs against his. It didn’t take me too long to realize that his beliefs carry only as much weight as mine. I wasn’t being any different when I was telling you what I think Hinduism is and what it should be. Until they come to guide your actions downhill, beliefs are beliefs. Just that! For anything they mean, they shouldn’t mean a thing to you.
No matter what his perception of any other individual in his head is, this man is a kind man. He won’t abuse or hurt anyone. He won’t lie for anything. He won’t smoke or drink. No matter what he practices, he won’t force anything upon you or stop you from practicing your own set of principles. In the end, this is what matters. Your actions define you. Your actions will take you to your destiny. Whats in your head is insignificant. What you do and put out there is the key.
‘You are an actor, not the judge’