A Hindu is a human being (or animal or object) who accepts this tenet of the Vedas: Eko Sad Viprah Bahudha Vadanti. http://satyaveda.wordpress.com/2009/02/17/the-vedas-are-monotheistic/
It means that there is one Reality and wise people describe That in many ways. A Hindu is one who is comfortable with the idea that his or her neighbours call God by different names and use different approaches. Whether it is Siva or Vishnu or Ganesha or Jesus or Guru Nanak or Jehovah or Buddha or Allah, whether you worship God once a year or every minute of the day, whether you wear nothing or only white, whether you eat meat or dried grass and whether you sleep on a bed of nails or on a bed of goose feathers, it makes no difference to us. Hindus accept atheists like Charaka and Douglas Adams and agnostics too in their stride.
The Vedas say that only God knows whether he created the universe or not., or may be even He does not know. In the Gita, Krishna says that he will strengthen the faith of people in whatever they already have faith in.
The single contrast between a Hindu and a follower of the other dominant monotheistic religions is that they say that ‘Their God is the only true God and their Saviour is the only true saviour”.
This makes it hard for the rainbow coloured Hindus. Half the world wants to dye us green and the other half wants to bleach us white.
How can a culture that is possibly 17000 years old, which learnt tolerance through her history, deal with younger religions who insist that they are right and feel free to come and convert and ‘reform’ you instead of Accepting you and Tolerating your ways?
Some Hindus believe that if we unite under one flag, Say Shri Ram, and resist the intolerance by becoming intolerant of intolerance, then we may retain some limited freedom to go about our own ways at least in a few regions of India.
But if we become intolerant, even of intolerance, intolerance has won and tolerance has lost. How can reason and tolerance win over unreasonableness and intolerance?
Some Hindus believe that nothing need be done. They say who can dye or bleach a rainbow? They can waste their time trying. We need to say nothing and do nothing. Look at how the Christians celebrate the winter equinox, which is the Sun’s birthday in traditions which worship the Sun and call it Christ’s birthday. They say the ancient Mitra worship tradition is actually living on. They say that in India, people were converted to Buddhism (East Coast – Andhra) and to Islam (Karnataka – Tippu Sultan) at various times in history. And they all reverted right back to Hindu ways of thinking. So why worry? They say that intolerance requires passion and energy to maintain it. Remove that and we are back to our free style of living.
Some Hindus think we should go out and preach Krishna consciousness or Vaishnavism or Saivism and so on. Some Hindus think we should go about converting people too. How can you convert someone to a million different traditions and philosophies? How do you “convert” someone to tolerance and acceptance?
When I see America today, coming to terms with various races and beliefs and learning to be Accepting of other cultures, I think, may be India was like this some 20,000 years ago.
I also see some Europeans and Perisans reverting to their Ancient religions (see vaidulite.com and national geographic) and resenting the middle eastern Euphrates – Tigris cultures that they feel were imposed on them. So may be if someone succeeds in suppressing the rainbow in India, it will rise in Europe, Persia and America.
Gandhiji’s answer was passive resistance. Do not agree and do not hit back. Hold on in your mind and in your heart.
What do I want? I want freedom for everyone to practice their own beliefs in dignity without being subjected either to intolerance or to chauvnism or to force. How will I work toward this.. through prayer., to That one God, that is described by millions of names, in millions of ways by millions of people.
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