By Sucheta Rustagi
New York, USA (CHAKRA) – This article will attempt to analyze why Hindus quite often do not feel comfortable speaking about their religion or identifying with aspects of it. The average Muslim, Christian or Jew never has to even be asked about which faith they follow, rather they are upfront and open about their views and beliefs. However, this is not the case for many Hindus that I have come across. If the topic of religion even arises in a conversation, many Hindus do not want to discuss it. The question is why? Is it because culturally and traditionally, Hindus are taught to exhibit respect for others that a Hindu chooses not to speak about religion, in fear of offending someone? Or is it that Hinduism is just a very complex religion which requires an immense amount of studying and research to get even a little grasp of? Or is it the essence of the religion itself which encompasses humility and self realization, causing a Hindu to choose not to speak about it and instead keep within oneself only? Whatever the reason is, it is causing a great deal of damage to Hinduism. Whether a person chooses not to study the complex religion or fears offending someone, the avoidance of speaking out about ones views, identity or interest in the religion is bringing down the percentage of people that are seen to follow Hinduism. The less we speak and learn about our values of Hinduism, the less these values are known to others and thus the less they are recognized by society as a whole and in comparison to other religions. We must unite and take action to learn more. Combined minds always work better than a single mind.
As Hindu’s we can take pride in the fact that Hinduism is the only religion which does not promote conversions of any form and equally respects all religions. It is evident that many Christians and Muslims support the act of converting whether it is by standing outside a stranger’s doorstep or in a coffee shop preaching of their own faith and the “ultimate path to salvation”. One might say that saying the previous statement in itself is contradictory to the reality of Hinduism being a humble and all accepting religion. How can Hindus say they are all accepting yet find and share such flaws of other religions? Is that not participating in the exact same thing as other faiths are taking part in? Absolutely not. It is one thing to manipulate disadvantaged people in society to follow one’s own religious path and it is another to stand back and observe the clear flaws in any act of manipulation. As any research or field worker would observe and analyze to come to a conclusion without bias, a Hindu or a devout of any other religion may do the same.
The more us Hindu’s fail to be more proactive towards our religion, the less our religion and people are being recognized in society as followers of the Hindu faith. The people we become, whether we are first, second or third generation in the Western world, is in most cases a result of our religion. Sadly, we give no credit where it’s due. We take pride in being educated, all rounded, and some of the kindest most accepting people on this planet, yet we fail to understand why we are the way we are and exactly what impacted our life decisions and outcomes. This is not to say, that other religions do not have a positive impact on its followers but instead these people attribute their actions to their religion. Instead the average Hindu tries whatever possible intentionally or unintentionally to disassociate themselves from their religion. For example, if one were to login to Facebook or any other networking website, it is rare to see a Hindu identify himself/herself as a Hindu. Instead they fill up their facebook newsfeed with status updates such as “Eid Mubarak”, “Merry Christmas!” “Many innocent lives are being lost in the Muslim World—Lets make change!” This is all fine in the name of celebration, best wishes and humanitarian cause, but why not updates for Hindu celebrations or special events? Also, what about when the Mumbai attacks happened at the Taj Hotel and many other locations? It was rare to see a Hindu comment about this catastrophe.
In the end, let’s accept and we do—that we are not here to compete and fight for who’s better than who or which religious path is best but instead give our roots and the reason for who we are a chance. Care about others but in the act, do not forget our people who need our support first. A Hindu needs to remember that any Muslim or Christian or Jew, although helping other communities of people in need will help their own communities first and then others. We need to do the same. Help our religion and people unite and grow first and then help others. If our own community does not help each other then who will? In the end we will all be left with severe identity crises not knowing who we are and where we come from with no moral path to follow and identify with. We are deteriorating and participating in cultural suicide and whether we want to accept the truth is up to each one of us. Keep the world’s most ancient religion alive.