Sunday, April 05, 2015

An age of double standards...

What if you have been brought up believing that everything around you is bad. There is nothing good in anything that you do. There is nothing good about the rituals, observances, traditions. There is nothing good in anything that your parents (or grandparents) do.

What if this was done, not actively, but very subtly, by poking fun at everything at you are. Or by ignoring it. That you believed that your culture was only something that happened behind closed doors. Right from your language to your food...What happens to you then?

A logical next step is rebelling, followed sometimes by rejection. Rejection of culture, tradition and then some. It is a rejection of who you are.

And once you have to got to the point of hating yourself, from then on, converting you to a different belief is not very difficult in general.

Once you are converted to a different belief, the self loathing continues.

The reference to the gentleman in the last post was a post conversion loathing of what one has left behind. And this continues.

So what is conversion? Conversion is all about rejection.
Rejecting the land - that land which you and your forefathers worshipped as your mother.
Rejecting the culture - the culture that states that your mother and father are your gods, as are your guests and teachers.
Rejecting the tradition - and while this may not mean much in an urban environment, it means much in a rural environment. So, when the same faith which guards animals and forests as sacred wealth is suddenly rejecting it and goes on to destroy those groves and animals for food? What happens?
Rejecting the language - the language that your forefathers spoke.

And all this in favour of what? A foreign tongue. A foreign god. A foreign culture. All built on rejection and negation of your land. If this is not cargo cult science, I am not sure what is.

And by the way this is where we are today - an age of double standards. Saying the Saraswati Vandana (or even using Sanskrit words or shloka) at a function may invite the ire of secularists. I remember when I referred to Ramayan to cite an example, the worthy leading the class said, he could not comment on the appropriateness of the comparison. Lighting a lamp is deemed offensive. Doing an aarti is deemed superstitious (while the number 13 is a secular, liberal superstition). Worshipping an animal is bad, but devouring the same killing it rather brutally is good. There are people in this country (from Mangalore, Kerala), who actually call English their mother tongue (yes, like really) and do not recognize any Indian language or festival as theirs. And while they celebrate English festivals with gusto (like Halloween for example) or festivals involving sacrifice of animals, most Hindu festivals have earned their ire. Recall crackerless Diwali, waterless Holi, idol-less Ganesha and so on.

Now, don't get me wrong. Acceptance is not blind acceptance. Faith is not blind faith -though one can argue that all faith is blind faith. And it does not mean that one does not question. It does not mean one does not change. But for sure, the old and the new can coexist. Clearly, you can embrace the new and keep the good things while rejecting the bad. One may not wash the ceramic floor with cow dung, but if you do have a mud floor and access to cow-dung, it may work well. The Indian closet works very well despite your own limited appreciation for it and preference to the western one. Convert by all means (hopefully not fraudulent), but you can still worship a specific god or one more god without having to reject everything here.

My limited point is, to borrow a psychological term. I am Ok, you are ok. This is the central tenet of Hinduism. There is no need to self loathe. Please don't loathe yourself or me. Let me be as I let you be. This is all I ask. Is it that difficult?

(Perhaps it is, because monotheistic faiths are built on a singular premise - my god is the only way. Unlike polytheistic faiths which say, all roads/gods lead to the truth...)


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