Despite not being a devotee of many a mutt head and despite making only rare visits to temples — though I have shot a documentary or two on temples — I am a Hindu, and a proud one at that.
Let me try to enumerate my reasons for being one.
1. Hinduism has no Satan. So I need not look upon life as a perpetual fight against darkness. I need not have the feeling of being shadowed by an Arch Villain.
2. Hinduism is not about believing, but experiencing. Hinduism doesn’t say that you must believe all that it says You can joyfully disbelieve many Hindu ideas without inviting curses from God, of all persons.
3. Hinduism doesn’t have eternal damnation. So you do not need to squirm at eternal retribution being awarded for some actions. Even human courts are prepared to look kindly upon a reformed criminal. Would God do otherwise?
4. Hinduism doesn’t go about telling other people that they are worshipping false gods. Thankfully, Hinduism is free from the worse-than-AIDS virus of conversion. It believes in a million ways to God…but none that is dyed in hatred and narrow-mindedness.
5. HINDUISM IS FREE FROM THE TYRANNY OF ONE SACRED BOOK. In Hinduism, Revelation does not Rail at me. Despite looking upon its Vedas as scriptural proof of God, there are enough traditions in Hinduism which give more weight to individual experience – anubhooti. ‘The words of the Veda return without reaching Him’, says the Veda itself. I appreciate this humility a great deal. I cannot stand scriptural inerrancy.
6. Hinduism adapts itself to the times. Once Hindus were used to child marriage ; now they have almost given it up entirely. I need my religion not to be oppressively unchangeable.
7. Unlike the Semitic religions, Hinduism believes that Man can become truly liberated in a spiritual sense. The word for such a man in Hinduism is, ‘Jivan Muktha’. Jainism has the jina and the siddha, the liberated soul, and Buddhism has the bodhisatwa (bound for nirvana).
8. Hinduism has had hundreds of Mahatmas who have lived the highest ideal. They are living proof of the divine life on earth.
9. While being culturally bound to the Hindu way of life, Hinduism does not seek to be theocratic and take the law into its hands. Hinduism has no shariah.
10. THERE IS NO ‘JUDGEMENT DAY’ IN HINDUISM. The law of karma says you are the maker of your Destiny. You are your own judgement day, every second of your life.
11. HINDUISM LOOKS TO GOD IN THE HEART (you need not look to prophets, books and divine intimations amidst thunder and lightning).
12. IN HINDUISM, God and divine beings are INTIMATE BEINGS CLOSE TO US. Unlike the followers of Abrahamic religions, Hindus don’t shudder at the sight of an ‘angel’ or of God.
13. CASTE WAS INDEED A FACT OF HINDU SOCIAL LIFE, BUT HINDUS ARE LEARNING THAT IT’S NOT HINDUISM PER SE.
14. HINDU MAJORITY INDIA HAS OUTLAWED UNTOUCHABILITY. THE TRUE SPIRITUALITY THAT HINDUISM FOSTERS, SHOULD MAKE MEN HOLD CHARACTER, NOT CASTE OR ITS ABSENCE, AS OF PRIME IMPORTANCE
15. Hinduism has a spectrum of practices – yoga, tantra, mantra, yantra — to make for a higher consciousness in man.
16. I support Hinduism not for itself, but because it paves the way for a greater life of the spirit.