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An Atheist's 'Hinduism As I Understand It'

Viewed 4579 times 2018-5-10 12:54 |Personal category:Quote Me|System category:Life

I have long been known as an atheist from the days of my youth. I used to rebel against blindly following what I could not understand or what no one could explain clearly. I have not changed much, but I have gathered my own understanding of the culture I was born into and the philosophies it represents. Here is my take on Hinduism as I understand it now.

1)  Laws of Nature are the true Gods and Deities.

2) Only that which is eternally true is the One Constant God. The rest are fleeting.

3) These laws include Principles, Truths, Qualities and Feelings.  Energy, Transformation, Power, Light, Darkness, Time, Attraction, Fairness, Justice, Compassion, Dispassion, Pride, Fear, Fearlessness, Anger, Love, Jealousy, Mischief, Greed, Desire, Lust, Chaos, Probability, Inertia, Innocence, Moods - are all deified in Hindu mythology.

4) All  deities  are worthy of focused attention, being meditated upon and invoked to guide our actions in life at different times. All of these  which help us do the right thing are considered 'Divine'. Some are revered as Gods to emulate and some as demons to be aware of and to avoid or deal with thoughtfully.  To value, to focus on reverently and put to practical use is considered true worship.

5) Most Gods are given a human, part-human, animal or other life form in mythology to make them easy to remember, to easily bring to mind their most prominent characteristic or quality we need to focus on. A popular story is woven around each character in a story that represents one or more qualities, characters or principles - pure or combined.

6) Seeing 'God', termed 'Darshan'  (meaning 'catching a sight') is not really about sight, but 'Insight', which is why it is sometimes achieved with the eyes closed. The story associated with a deity and its figurine or image in front of us, when looked at with a focused mind is supposed to give us flashes or insight or remind us of past insights that is relevant to our current situation. When we see a principle in operation with great clarity in our  minds, this is 'Darshan'.This can be done anywhere, even in imagination.

7) Anyone, human or animal or plant that demonstrates a certain quality or principle or value is considered just a manifestation of the Deity it represents. Hence, people, images and anything that brings to mind a certain worthy quality or principle, at a given time, are worshiped or acknowledged as a form of the God or deity.  A godly person is a God, a godly animal is a God in that form, at that moment. It might change and our attitude towards it might have to change too. If Kindness is a God, a kind person is that God. It is the quality that is being truly worshiped, not the mere form.

8) Many qualities that we in modern or unthinking times blindly term as 'bad' or 'negative' are also considered equally worthy of attention, representation in a place of worship or as general reminders in everyday life. They may have terrifying or non-elegant images, but are treated with the same respect as any other.

9) People are free to choose a deity or two or more, whichever they please from among a great number of mythical characters and images to focus on regularly or on some specific occasions or situations. They are all just a personal choice to help connect one to one's spirit, the divinity and the entire universe. People can change with times and situations. It is considered best to let people be that way and hence, by logical inference, many different models, mythologies and practices can lead people to the same spiritual truths and destinations. A person who understands Hinduism this way sees and accepts many religions as equally true, no matter the place, the people, the language, their culture or even the times they live in.

10) It is observed people choose their heroes that reflect most closely, their own inner nature - their spirit, their inner-most desires, tendencies and preferences and circumstances. It is believed that is the best way for each thinking individual to develop their own personal, direct connection to God and develop their own spirituality. Spirituality, as I understand in the Hindu context, is basically the summary of one's outlook or attitude towards all that we consider other than our own self.

11) We each have to put in effort and have the responsibility to develop our own spirituality, its growth and fruition with a direct  person connection and link to God, no middlemen to negotiate on our behalf.  All others who claim some knowledge can only share their views and perhaps point out some directions and pitfalls as fellow travelers who have _perhaps_ seen a bit more than us. It is not for them to force or tell us what to believe or do without being asked for advice. Even then, one can take or discard a piece of advice to make one's own choices and act. No person can absolve us of our sins or grant us merit in spirit. In Hinduism, as I understand, God is supposed to be on direct dial for each and everyone - no call forwarding or intermediary messaging service is to be used.

12) We all have the freedom to think, choose and act. No one is exempt from the consequences of their actions (which includes their intentions and real motives), not even the mythological characters worshiped as Gods. That 'law of Karma' - just a simple law of action and associated logical consequences, is considered one of the fundamental laws of nature and is itself considered worthy of worship and attention.

13) It is perfectly consistent with being an agnostic or atheist (as unbelieving in any particular single model or definition of God) and accepting the above.

All of these, as I have gathered seem rational, logical and make sense to me. A lot of other claims about trivia, minutiae and practices about Hinduism don't always make sense all the time.

Copyright (c) KIyer 2018
All rights reserved

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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