Beach 10 : Hinduism for the Next Generation
Wave 6: What it is to live as a Hindu?
Even the insiders in Hinduism do not usually know what is right at any given point of time or in any given circumstance. This is because there is too much flexibility in the norms and practices of the religion and too many varieties of rules and regulations. What are the essentials that should occupy the attention of the practising Hindu? What is the minimum that should be protected for the next generation in terms of observances, attitudes and the ways of life? Can these things be passed on to the next generation in a meaningful way, meaningful to the next generation, particularly those of the younger generation who are bred and brought up in an environment where they have no impact of their own religion on them? Can the ways of Hinduism be explained to them in a language which makes sense to them in their modern text?
Hinduism is not simply a religion in the sense that there are several religions in the world and they all speak of God, soul, morality, merit versus sin, mortality versus immortality, good versus bad, heaven versus hell, and ways of living so that ultimately one reaches salvation. Hinduism is an Action Plan for how to live in peace and die in peace. Hinduism bereft of this Action Plan for one’s daily life is nothing but a bundle of academic and esoteric adventures in human thought, though remarkable for their profundity. These adventures in thinking are all recorded in the great scriptures called Upanishads. But since they are very abstract they will not have any impact on you until you have related them to the context of your daily living. When we say that Hinduism is an action plan for daily living so that one can live in peace and die in peace, we do not mean that one should retire from all the dynamism of life and its challenges in the vibrant external world of activity. Hinduism has a unique way of allowing you to be in the midst of worldly activity and still keep you cool. This they do by recommending what they call Karma yoga, elaborately explained in the Gita, which is the one scripture for all Hindus that bridges one’s worldly finite interests and intelligence and the philosophical infinities and wisdom of the Upanishads.
One major difficulty with Hinduism is that you cannot expect to understand it in bits and pieces. For everything in Hinduism a proper understanding comes only in the context of a global perception of the entire gamut of the religion. This global perception is what is explained in the Upanishads. Essentially it says that the innermost core of every human being, the micro of the micro in him, is divine. The baser instincts of man come from the mind which has accumulated them through its several lives of association with this particular soul. These accumulated imprints of the mind are called vAsanAs. The eradication of all vAsanAs is what makes for release from samsAra, the cycle of births and deaths. All the prescriptions of Hinduism are intended to help the mind rid itself of all its load so that in that pure mind God will reflect Himself.