Today when I came cross a sentence in a book which read, “It’s the 21st century, and people still believe in ghosts”, I said to myself, “Point”. Just then, another thought struck me. It’s the 21st century, and people still believe in God. People including me, that is. I guess every person reached a phase in life when this kind of a doubt takes over one’s faith. If you see this page on Wikipedia, you’ll find that many people across the world are atheists. They do not believe in God. If you’re a believer you might wonder, why don’t they? Or you might wonder, why do I?
The atheism movement is spreading to all parts of the world, and has even reached the blogosphere, as I found out here. And I’d admit that the tenets of those faiths which talk about God as a real entity among a myriad of other fundamentals, are very hard to grasp if you’ve been exposed to science in any definitive way. How can we, in the 21st century, believe that there is a man up in the sky who can see everything and who knows everything and who can hear everyone? Yet, a majority still do believe this, and unfortunately, many also believe that if a person calls this person by a different name, he deserves to die.
So now what about Hinduism, with not one, but innumerable Gods? How can I defend my polytheistic faith when I criticize monotheists? Firstly, I do not criticize any religion. Faith is one’s personal domain, and I have neither right nor intention to question that. Getting back to Hinduism, I might sound chauvinistic, but Hinduism is the religion with probably the most freedom in modern times. Yes, in the middle ages, there was a lot of dogma, what with the Brāhmans controlling all aspects of social and personal life, and often exploiting the weaker castes. But with the advent of modern times, that flavour has faded away, atleast in places where there has been a dawn of the modern times.
One of the fundamental tenets of Hinduism is that God is in everything, and everyone. Thus, a person can worship God in any form he likes, be it material or person. In a way, it automatically justifies all other religions, rather than calling their followers infidels who are deserving of hell. And then, there are the innumerable Gods and Goddesses. They are nothing else but a representation of different aspects of humanity. If you worship the Goddess Saraswati, you’re effectively worshiping the pursuit of knowledge. And if you worship the Goddess Durga, you’re simply venerating strength, to fight against evil.
Many (not all, definitely not all) modern Hindus understand that their scriptures do not relate actual facts and happenings, but are guidelines for living an ideal life. I remember my mother, a pious woman herself, told me when I was a kid that the Rām and the Krishn I so loved watching on TV didn’t really exist as Gods in any part of history, but were mortals from whom many drew inspiration. Perhaps, if others, both in Hinduism and outside of it, were to have a similar midset, there’d be harmony, and not bloodshed, in the name of religion. I’m religious. Not an atheist, not a fanatic, and definitely not a Scientologist. The defence rests hence.