Hinduism is such a fascinating religion that the more I delve into it the more I am fascinated by it. It seems to offer something to everybody. Look at Adi Sankara, on the one hand, he has given us so many stothras like the Ganesh Pancharatna, Kanakadara etc. and many other vaidik rituals and in the same breath he speaks of a god with no form, of advaita philosophy which speaks of the highest state Aham Brahmasmi, oneness with an impersonal god Brahman. In this, lies the beauty and grandeur of Hinduism. Ekam Sat Viprah bahudah vadanti- Truth is One, the wise call it by different names. It is this apparent flexibility in the religion that has attracted followers from all parts of the world, because nothing is forced here and a genuine seeker can find answers to any question in our scriptures. There have been atheists and agnostics, believers and Vedantins- there is space for everyone here. I find this really amazing. Many paths, one summit.
The next thing that I like about this religion is reincarnation and the theory of karma. Otherwise how else can we convince people who question us about the apparently different lives that each individual leads though born of same parents or under same or similar conditions? Why, even the lives charted out for identical twins remain so different and distinct from each other. We have the most convincing explanation- Poorva janma karma. In other words, we will remain in the cycle of reincarnation until we are able to rid ourselves of all karmic debt. Once we are completely free of karma, our soul will be liberated from the curse of reincarnation and reunited with Brahman, the infinite perfect being. So in other words, we keep reincarnating until we progress over a period of many births and reach the ultimate goal of liberation. But then liberation or moksha itself does not come easy. Our scriptures tell us there is no single window clearance for us to get liberation. We have the Yogas, which are methods and disciplines and we can use one of these or a combination and attain liberation or moksha. That’s a state where we are beyond birth, death, grief, pain or any such thing. We reach the state of Godhood. And so we have the many paths, the yogas- Raj Yog or the Path of breath control, Karm Yog- the path of service, Jnan Yog- the Path of knowledge and Bhakti Yog- the Path of devotion. The last one is the easiest and we see majority follow it diligently. Pujas, bhajans, discourses all these are done to show our devotion.
Each time I read some work or the other, my understanding grows a little more and I salute the ancient wisdom that could accommodate so many strands of thought without fearing that it would threaten its survival. In fact this oldest religion has stood the test of time only because it keeps reinventing itself fresh each time a philosopher or thinker propounds a new thought born out of the existing isms. Even the other religions born out of Hinduism share so many similar features that I feel like jumping in glee at the thought of vedic Hinduism being such a wonderful mother. There are so many commonalitiesin other school of thoughts like Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism which derived many concepts of reincarnations, karma and destiny from the main stream Vedic Hinduism.
We will continue with this discussion in my next article too.