I met a Swedish national in Berlin while I was taking rest in the Press Centre during IFA 2007 trade show. He said he is a part-time technology journalist and part-time pastor. He did his higher studies in UK.
“So…you are from India…are you a Hindi?” he asked, while having coffee with me.
“Hindi is a language. You mean to ask am I a Hindu?”
“Yes – I mean religion…”
“Yes. I am a Hindu by birth”
“Do you have Christianity there?”
“Yes, of course. Christianity came to India, centuries before it reached you in Europe” I said.
“Oh, really? Still you are a Hindu?” he asked again.
“Yes – why?” I was curious.
“Don’t tell me you worship monkeys and rats…” he said with a smile.
“As a matter of fact, yes, we do”
“You can’t be serious. You look like an educated person…”
“I am very serious and I worship monkey-god and an elephant-god…what’s that to do with education?” I said.
“You must be joking….People were worshiping animals and trees during pre-historic times…but todays educated people, no way!”
“In fact, we have a pantheon of many gods and we can worship god in any forms…”
“Hey, come on….there is only one GOD” he said.
“Really? I am not sure about it…”
“There is only one GOD…a singular GOD…”
“Better say, you have the concept of a single god…that’s your belief…”
“Concept? Belief…I am telling you the truth…”
“Who said so…?”
“All religious scriptures and sacred books say so… Christianity and Judaism say there is only one God. Islam also says so…”
“Those are great religions…what they say must be true. I don’t know about it… I am not a scholar in Semitic religions or in Hinduism. So let’s don’t talk about the Holy books and religions…I am not capable to discuss it….But about GOD, I have a question.”
“Yes – of course…”
“Ok… you shouldn’t feel angry…I didn’t feel angry when you ridiculed my gods…My question is based on your opinion of single god concept…” I reminded him.
“You say that there is only one god – single god, right?
“Your single God claims that he is the only God, who demands you to should worship him failing which he would roast you in hell fire…”
“It is not fully correct…but continue…I am listening…”
“That means. You are following Monotheism – that is the belief in a single god. Monotheism insists that only a single God exists. Other gods are “false” or even demonic…”
“Yes- you can say that…”
“For me, it is difficult to accept…”
“If a God says: “You will worship none but me, that you will associate none with me, and that none of you shall set up mortals as deities besides me. If you commit the foulest sin by worshiping any other Gods (other than me) or associating partner with me, I shall throw you in hell fire as a punishment for this sin.” – That’s what, in a nutshell, your GOD says right?”
“What’s wrong in saying that? You need to have faith in Him”
“Friend, isn’t this self-contradictory and dangerous?”
“First, explain to me about the contradictions…Had there been really only one God, it would not have been possible for man to find another God to worship, right?”
“Had the God been confident that there is no other God except him, he should not have been jealous of another God, right?”
“Yes – but who is jealous here?”
“Think…If the GOD knew that there is no other God, he would have been confident that people will not find any another God to worship, right?”
“These are all mis-interpretations….that’s not just right…” his voice became bit feeble.
“Think without biased, without conditionings…think with clarity….”
- The behavioral pattern of any single GOD in such concepts suggests that he is not confident that he is the only God. He seems always to be suspicious that there may be other Gods and people may worship those Gods instead of him.
- So the insecure GOD warns man not to worship another God. It, of course, is not a real god’s message. Can’t you clearly see the insecurity and whims and fancy of a narrow-minded human being behind this message?
- Can any GOD be always feel threatened that a member of his followers’ gang may slip out of his grip and start to worship another God (probably the real creator of the universe)? So he had to enforce strict law that if any one of his gang tries to desert Him, he should immediately be put to death for apostasy.
- How can any GOD be so insecure? The single insecure god theory converts the basic instinct to insecurity right from the childhood. The follower’s behavior may be fostered by GOD’s violent teachings for establishing Himself as the sole proprietary God of the world.
- And one more thing – you say, your singular god does everything. If there is only one powerful god who controls everything, doesn’t that also mean he creates bad things and causes bad things to happen?
“Do these reflections make any sense? Should I believe such a story or such a GOD?”
“You are talking non-sense, ridiculous…” his face turned red.
“Sir, I told you – why do you feel angry and insecure when I talk about your concept of god? We are having a dialogue here…”
“Shouldn’t I defend my beliefs?” he asked angrily.
“Now you are saying those are just your beliefs…”
“You may. But why should a human try to protect GOD? Why should you feel so insecure if somebody criticizes your concept of God? Isn’t it insecurity?”
“You won’t feel hurt when somebody criticizes your beliefs? You people worship cows…even dogs…are you not ashamed of it…”
“Do I look hurt? But fanatic followers – even in Hinduism – will get angry and violent. I am not fanatic or fundamentalist…I am a humanist…”
“Ok…ok…so you say defending the GOD shows insecurity?”
“One may feel insecure when somebody questions his beliefs. If somebody questions truth, why should you feel insecure? Its truth after all…Should you defend the existence of sun? Your defending won’t change anything with sun…Don’t you think that fanatic god theory is the very root is insecurity – that is why we see a lot of followers have aggression and blind faith. We can find the seed of the real insecurity when a GOD is not confident that he is the only God in the world (and not in the universe)….”
“Your god doesn’t ask you to fear Him”
“No…Never…There are two things. One -The concept or notion of a personal God, hiding behind the clouds of secrecy, telling us irrational stories through few men whom he sends as divine messengers’ time-to-time, demanding us to worship him or punish us, does not make any sense to me.”
“What’s the second thing?”
“Is God as silly autocratic emperor who wants others to respect him or fear him? Can God stoop to such a low level of narrow-minded like a jealous human being? Or is it those human beings created such God?”
“So you don’t fear GOD…”
“I am afraid, I don’t…”
- The Monotheistic God is jealous and wrathful. There is one God, and one correct method of worship. Those who deviate are heretics and may be punished, tortured or killed. In its exclusive devotion to the worship of one God, monotheism has inspired much ferocity and fanaticism….that’s how fear comes in.
- At the heart of monotheism is the sure conviction that only a single god exists, a tendency to regard one’s own rituals and practices as the only proper way to worship the one true god.
- When one starts with the presumption that one is absolutely and utterly “right” and anyone thinking otherwise is just as completely “wrong”, it does not promote the flexible thinking required to keep pace with the rapidly fluctuating pace of modern civilized society.
- Monotheism “demands” a right/wrong, heaven/hell, black/white worldview.
- On the contrary, Polytheism is an open-ended and easy going approach to religious beliefs and practices, a willingness to entertain the idea that there are many gods and many ways to worship them. Many roads lead to the mountain top. A person may choose any path.
- Polytheism accepts that there can be more than “one true way”. This allows for more rational thinking when discussing things like belief system.
Hence, polytheism is more compatible with a naturalistic view of the universe than monotheism.
“Ok…I understand your view points, though I don’t agree with you… But you didn’t answer my question. What does your gods say about worshipping them and fearing them?”
“Very simple. An Indian saint, Adi Sankara said: “Aakashat patitam toyam, Yadha gachhati saagaram, Sarva deva namaskara: Keshavam prati gachhati!!”
“What- what’s that? Come again?”
“It is in Sanskrit. It means: Just as every rain drop that falls from the sky flows into the Ocean, in the same way every prayer offered to any Deity flows to the divine cosmic power (Kesava).”
“In short, you may worship or believe in any God. No problem…Even if you don’t worship or don’t believe, still it is no problem….This message from the GOD is so confident, so secure, secular and broad-minded. Because it can only come from the true creator of the universe, if at all there is a creator. And you are not asked to protect this GOD and resort to violence.”
“Ah..That’s why you don’t get angry?”
“Yes – You don’t have to spread the message of this God. You don’t have to defend the God. If somebody says badly about this God, I don’t have to get angry or fight for this God. A true Hindu believes that God protects us; we don’t have to protect God. So a true Hindu cannot get hurt in the name of God or religion….”
“So your religion is against single and personal god”
“Not like that… You can worship personal god or impersonal god…everything is manifestation of the same cosmic divinity…so no problem…you have freedom there too…You don’t have to market this God and convert others into his fold and increase market share. That’s why I remain as Hindu. How can you believe in concepts of any other insecure Gods?”
“OK, you made your point clear. But why do you worship monkeys, cows and elephants?”
“An ancient scripture says: “Isavasyam idam sarvam” (Isopanisad) …Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is Divine. This entire manifest Universe is enveloped by the Divine, the cosmic power….Hence you can see God in everything – the monkey, donkey, rat, and elephant or even in protozoa….”
“That means you can worship anything in this universe?”
“Yes – Be it Sun or Moon, Be it Hanuman or Ganapathi – whoever you worship, you are worshipping the cosmic power. My favorite God is Hanuman (Monkey-God). My traditional village God is Narasimha (Lion-God)….”
“Don’t you feel awkward? Shameful?”
“Why should I? I am not ashamed or apologetic to admit it….Nobody forced me to worship or believe in them. I had a choice there. I am in a democratic country. Nobody told me that this God would roast me in the hell, if I don’t worship it. I just love the stories of Hanuman and Narasimha. And I am free to criticize or make fun of those stories….”
“But, the animal gods are not scientific… So ancient tribes considered everything as GOD…There is no science in it…”
“On the contrary, there was scientific advancement among our ancestors…While my ancestors were learning and teaching the secrets of life and universe, the homo sapience of the West were still crawling in all fours and living in the caves….”
While my ancestors were calculating the exact distance to the minutest details, between the earth and sun or teaching Vedic mathematics and astronomy, the West was believing the earth is flat till a couple of hundreds of years ago.
– Should I challenge my ancestors and convert my belief to the extent that Coco Cola is better than natural honey?
No – I don’t need a certificate or empirical scientific proof approved by any international scientific body to understand the presence of God in monkeys and lions. At least monkeys are our ancestors and lions are the kings in the forest. It is anyways better than worshiping an insecure GOD. And I don’t expect monkey or lion to show any magic and miracle to prove that they represent divine energy…
Every God – everything in the universe – is manifestation of the divine power.
And the Hindu scripture neither demands you to worship the GOD nor will a Hindu be roasted in hell. Even if you don’t worship GOD, nothing can change – because your karma decides your destiny- the God has little or no role in it – The Gita too assures this.
“I hope this answer to your question – why do I continue to be a Hindu? I follow “THIS” Hinduism; hence I cannot be a fundamentalist or fanatic….”
“Hmm…Somewhat…but don’t say that you are right and I am wrong…”
“I don’t. What’s more, let me admit – the entry level Hinduism has some mal-practices and superstitions without any scientific base. (Read up-to-date science. tomorrow this can change). Most of the people blindly follow lot of tradition without understanding its true meanings or relevance. Some of those practices are either unessential or irrelevant in today’s life….”
“That’s true in all religions…”
“In all other religions you can see the follower has learned everything about his/her religion and can beautifully explain all aspects his/her religion. An ordinary Hindu doesn’t know or learn about his religion. The Gita is read by less than one percent of Hindu population. That’s the problem with a Hindu….”
“You told me about worshipping trees…And why do Hindus worship trees?”
“Hinduism has always been an environmentally sensitive philosophy. It is a totally green religion. Our ancestors were not very much interested in automobiles, petroleum products and plastics. What pollutes the earth? What causes cancer? A cow or an automobile?”
– God exists in everything. The trees are held in a special esteem in Hinduism as they provide food, oxygen, shelter, etc. By associating religion with plant kingdom, our ancient Indians tried to instill in us a reverence for them, so that we may protect, preserve and cultivate these beneficial plants in the future.
– Plant kingdom gives me everything I that I need – so what’s wrong in worshiping it? Worshiping a tree is better than worshiping an imaginary God, isn’t it?
“OK – but I have a genuine question now…If you don’t have a personal God, how will you pray? What will you pray? What will you ask for?”
“Should we pray? What should I pray?” When we know that isavasyam idam sarvam, what’s there to pray? I am part of GOD and the GOD is part of me. I cannot exist without GOD and GOD cannot exist without me.
* Aham Brahmasmi (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad)
“I am Brahman” I am integral part of cosmic energy.
* Tat Tvam Asi (Chandogya Upanishad)
“Thou art That” The identity of individual self as a part of the whole which is ‘tat’, Brahman.
* Ayam Atma Brahma (Mandukya Upanishad)
“This Self (Atman) is Brahman”
* prajñānam brahma
“Consciousness is Brahman” (Aitareya Upanishad 3.3 of the Rig Veda).
“As everything in the universe belong to me, what else I need? What would anybody gain by a prayer? God has provided me everything I need (not what I WANT)”
“That means you don’t need anything?”
“If I answer philosophically, I need something, only if it is lacking in me. Nothing lacks in me. I don’t feel I am imperfect or anyways inferior to anybody. Because, I am created by a perfect divinity. It just can’t go wrong.”
There is a divine assurance for this:
”Om Poorna Madah Poorna Midam Poornaat Poorna Mudachayate Poornasya Poorna Maadaaya Poorna Mevaa Vashishyate”
(That is perfect; this is perfect. What comes from such Perfection truly is perfect. What remains after Perfection from Perfection is yet again perfect)
The cosmic created me just as it created you. So nobody can be imperfect. At least accept this truth: “I am perfect with all my imperfections”
I don’t have to pray for anything as the force behind creation has seen to it so perfectly that everything is perfectly managed for me. For instance, before I was born, the cosmic has in-stored my food as my mother’s milk – who can take care of better than this? Everything is being taken care, so meticulously – so what should I pray.
Whatever I need will be given to me by the divine. Am I a fool to think that even a grass can move without the cosmic knowledge? No, I don’t have to remind the cosmic what I need. It knows better what I need. Any situation in life appears with cosmic wisdom – who am I to question it or challenge it or pray against such a situation?
“You mean to say you don’t have prayers?”
“We do have…. my ancestors taught me three most important and non-personalized prayers”
* “Asatoma Ma Sadgamaya tamaso ma jyotirgamaya mrtyorma amrtam gamaya Om santhi, santhi santhihi” (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad).
Take us from darkness to light’; from ignorance to awareness; from incompleteness to totality. Let there be peace everywhere. This is not a personal prayer.
* ”Loka samastha sukhino bhavanthu.”
May happiness be unto the entire world.
Not just me. I should not pray for any selfish gain, my ancestors taught me. If your neighbor is starving and I am binging, where is the happiness? The entire world should be happy.
* “Om Bhur Buvaha Suvaha
Thath Savithur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayath” (Gayatri).
We contemplate the glory of Light illuminating the three worlds: gross, subtle, and causal.
I am that vivifying power, love, radiant illumination, and divine grace of universal intelligence.
We pray for the divine light to illumine our minds.
~ By Uday Lal Pai