Sunday, January 22, 2006

All religions are same!

I thought of writing this after hearing my friend Prashanth’s experience. Prashanth once visited Kumar’s home. During a conversation, Kumar said all religions are same. Prashanth asked him if that is the case would it be fine if his children embrace Islam or Christianity. Kumar answered in negative and accepted that it is rather dangerous to say all religions are same.

‘Hinduism, Christianity and Islam are all same’ is a common sense among Hindus and only among Hindus.

(Let me keep aside one potential topic of debate, that is, if Hinduism can be called as a religion. For time being, I consider ‘Hinduism’ as a religion.)

Not surprisingly (or surprisingly) you will find only Hindus having this notion of sameness. Muslims do not say all religions are same. Christians do not say all religions are same. They are very clear about what their religions are. Well, there may be few individual Muslims and Christians in your neighborhood who might actually say ‘all religions are same’, but the issue is not about few individuals.

There are many Hindu Swamis who say all religions are same. But not a single Muslim Cleric would ever say ‘Islam is same as Hinduism’ and not a single Christian Father would ever say ‘Christianity is same as Hinduism’.

Why Hindus make this claim?

1. Hindus feel inferior to other religions and think that by propagating the sameness of religions they can be on par with people of other religions.

2. Hindus arrogantly think they are doing a favor to other religions by making their religions same as Hinduism.

3. Hindus have not understood what Hinduism is and what Christianity and Islam are.

Third is the most important reason that should be addressed urgently. One needs a genuine understanding of all religions in an objective manner including his own. Hindus lack this seriously. But for few exceptions, many of our Swamis and temple priests are ill equipped to answer questions regarding Hinduism. And it is too much to expect from our parents.

Our previous generation was busy fighting for their survival in an era of Nehruvian economy and did not really have time to read and teach their children about Hinduism. Yet, they continued to be practicing Hindus without being aware of the inner details. Whether they were convinced or not their children also followed their parents.

Present young generation cannot be convinced easily. They are exposed to a lot of things in the early stages of life because of media. They want to know who we are, what Hinduism is, why so and so rituals are carried out, what is the significance of a particular practice and etc. If you don’t answer, they find no reason in following Hinduism. If you say all religions are same you will probably see your children converting to other religions. If questioned, they would shot back at you, ‘you taught me that all religions are same, so why should it matter to you if I am a Muslim or Christian? This is what happens if you propagate the idea of sameness of religions.

Many Hindus in this generation are hypocrites. They are Hindus at home without having any knowledge of Hinduism. They condemn Hinduism outside their home and claim it being the same as other religions. The danger ness of such attitude may not be affecting the present generation in visible terms. But watch out for the coming young generation, you will see it clearly.

Additional reading: Myth of Hindu Sameness by Rajiv Malhotra


At 2:47 AM, Blogger Hate India said...

I agree with the Blog. Hindus must first understand their religion before commenting positively or negatively. Most of the self-hating Hindus site Caste system and other social issues as examples for not getting deep into the religion. These are selfish people will do anything to please Abrahamic people

At 6:31 PM, Blogger Sailesh Ganesh said...

You probably have no understanding of Hinduism either! What Hinduism tells us is that though the truth is one, there are different paths leading to the same truth, each of which is equally valid.

There is of course no such thing as all religions being the same. All that Hinduism tells us is that all religions are equally valid. There is a difference between the two, and I hope you try and understand that difference.

The first two reasons that you provide made me laugh (no offsense!). Hindus who know their religion would attest to the fact that Hinduism does not have to do anything to be "on par" with other religions. In fact, the philosophy of Hinduism is no profound and logical that it makes Christianity seem like kindergarten stuff. You dont have to agree with me, just look at the latest results from quantum mechanics that seem to be more and more in agreement with the philosophy of Hinduism.

Again, those who know their religion will not behave in an arrogant manner towards other religions.

Let me reiterate, the tolerant attitude of Hinduism is its greatest strength! The narrow-mindedness of other religions is their greatest weakness.

Where I agree with you is the fact that most Hindus have very little idea of what Hinduism is all about. The need is to educate Hindus about their "religion". Belittling them because they do not know much about it will serve no purpose.

At 10:06 PM, Blogger habc said...

sailesh - you said

"there are different paths leading to the same truth, each of which is equally valid"

There might be different paths to a mountain peak - but the point is that different religions may want to climb DIFFERENT mountains - dude you may want to read Rajiv Malhotra's article that was referred to in the blog entry

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