SOME HINDU RITUALS
Being a science graduate and a regular reader of scientific researchers, it was hard for me to initially grasp certain concepts. But as I went more into my religion, the so-called Hinduism, I realized that science has a very long way to go towards realizing life and death, before they outreach a Hindu ideology. I have tried to reason out some of the Hindu rituals and these reasons are purely Vedic, put in my own words. I have honestly accepted the wrong that is practiced and more honestly elaborated the right that is there actually in the scriptures of Hindus.
OFFERINGS AND SACRIFICES
One year after my marriage, I along with my wife, went to a holy place of Lord Shiva, ‘Baski Nath’ in Bihar. We worshiped together, and when we came out of the temple, to my surprise and dismay, what I saw was something I had heard from the critics. I saw priests, performing the sacrifice of a goat. It was shocking to me as I saw them chopping off the creature and I saw such barbarism first time in around a temple. Hence, I was impacted deeply and my ideologies got challenged. I could not accept this as a part of my religion. I was never taught, at least, by my known ones about this. I always learned that this religion suggested vegetarianism on top of everything. But this killing was done by the very priest, whom we believe. I told my wife, ‘I don’t feel like coming to this place again unless I know the truth – the truth of the religion I believe.’ And I opened the books of highest regards again for answers – ‘Bhagwad Geeta’ and ‘Vedas’. I had been reading them earlier but had never come across any text that said of killing in the name of God. I intensified my research on this – How did this happen then if it is not in the religion? I went to various temples in various towns and met many priests. I interacted deeply with them and tried to understand their background as well in addition to their knowledge about the holy books. And soon, I understood where the mistake was.
The first thing that I found was that not all priests were Brahmins by birth. They had acquired the profession as they found it easy to support the livelihood without any illegal means. This was religiously not challenged, as the religion described Brahminism (knower of Brahma or creator) only by deeds and knowledge and never by birth. This was confirmed by following scripture of Bhagwad Geeta, Chapter IV, Verse 13.
‘The fourfold caste was created by the differentiation of Guna (knowledge and behavior) and Karma (actions and deeds).’
Second, I found that not all priests, Brahmin or non-Brahmin, had profound and exact knowledge as in Hindu texts. They learned some of the verses and some of the commonly known philosophies, some rituals and some behaviors following which they became unquestionable priests.
Third and most astonishing of all was an intrusion of political activists and external religions to defame the whole religion in a planned manner. There were few instances of Political relations with the priests and criminal incidences attached in some manner at those places. Anyway, my purpose was not to investigate and help law, my intention was to derive information regarding causes of such inhuman acts that went against my understanding of Hindu religion.
Anyway, I would depict the texts of Bhagwad Geeta to show what the religion actually says about sacrifices and offerings; following are the quotes from Chapter IV.
‘The process of Brahman, the clarified butter is Brahman, offered by Brahman in the fire of Brahman; by seeing Brahman in action, he reaches Brahman alone.’ – Verse 24.
The book first establishes a reason behind those sacrifices and beliefs. It says – first important thing is to understand that we act as per our perception and attitude. The ultimate goal achieved is totally based on our own configuration of understanding, nature, and actions. Brahman is a stage of ultimate knowledge about Life, God and Creation. And even the stage of Brahman is achieved by rendering ourselves, dedicating our desire (that burns as the fire within us), our vision and actions towards the process of Brahman. Here, starts the concept of an offering, offering the very self to a Brahman, if Brahman is the fire (desire) within to be achieved.
‘Some Yogis perform sacrifices to Devas alone, while others offer the self as a sacrifice by the self in the fire of Brahman alone’. Verse 25.
The first part of the sentence starts talking about sacrifice to Deities, but do not clarify what is sacrificed. The second part reflects similar offering as in previous verse –the self-sacrifice in the fire of knowledge (Complete dedication towards learning of truth).
‘Some again offer hearing and other sense as a sacrifice in the fire of control, while others offer sound and other sense-object as a sacrifice in the fire of the senses.’ – Verse 26.
It requires deeper knowledge to understand ‘sacrifice of sense-object in the fire of senses’. Vedas describes five basic work-sense organs and another five knowledge-sense organs. It describes the objectives of these sense organs and also binds them to the mind and ego of a person. Above sentence, by using ‘fire’ as a metaphor, indicates that it requires a huge effort and continuous practice to control our mind’s motivation driven by the senses. In order to attain this control, a person has to sacrifice many desires and concentrate on the self, which is what the true meaning of Yoga is – as we will see ahead.
‘Some again offer all the actions of senses and the functions of the vital energy, as a sacrifice in the fire of control in Self, kindled by knowledge’. – Verse 27.
Again it requires understanding what the actions of senses are and how are they different from the senses itself. What is meant above by vital energy? I have already mentioned above about ‘fire’ being correlated to the power of control in self.
‘Others again offer wealth, austerity, and Yoga, as a sacrifice, while still others, of self-restraint and rigid vows, offer the study of the scriptures and knowledge, as a sacrifice’ – Verse 28.
And last, of all, it has mentioned few of the practices performed in those days, when Bhagwad Geeta was written, some 5000 years ago. People at most offered wealth, austerity and rigid vows as a sacrifice. Probably, this was the limit as further in the whole book; I never found anything about the killing of animals as sacrifice. I have, thus every reason to believe that the practices have come into practice only after invasions.
It is also noticeable from the above texts, that nowhere does the texts try to create boundaries. Unlike all other religions of the world, we never find Hinduism talking that you cannot do this or you are bound to do that. This is the first step towards creating a tolerant society. The detailed description of life, living styles, human, God, and creations opens the mind of followers, leaving them in a positive mode of ever-growing knowledge and ever-improving attitude and lifestyle. This is the second important aspect of the religion that confirms peace in the society.
Anyway, what I found in the books was exactly what I had known about the religion. There was nothing about the killing of animals and the knowledge was astoundingly of the highest level, as I had always known.
Moreover, offerings and sacrifices as a culture inculcate a very positive attitude in individual and bind the society on the ground of human values. I wonder how pure would be those days when people respected Brahmins and Brahmins would live upon the ‘Dan-Dakshina’ of people. The corrupted English version of ‘Dan-Dakshina’, is ‘Donation-Commission’. Actually, now we find people criticizing Brahmins for asking ‘Dakshina’ and they immediately categorize them as greedy. Unfortunately, they have forgotten that it is our culture to look beyond the greed of holding more and more property and help the growth of healthy society. The first attitude that builds with the practice of ‘Dan’ is that we get freed from the feeling of Greed and attitude of holding things. The West practices the pride to take and hold, while we practice the pride to give and get satisfied. The power to give (‘Dan’) immediately takes our attitude to build satisfaction with whatever we hold – this is the hardest thing we find in the world to be gained – and it was so easily achievable in the ancient Hindu culture. There are numerous examples of such powers, Raja Daksh, Raja Harishchandra is very well known names, for example. The power to give also confirms with one’s ability to hold the power to build. Every individual, irrespective of their Varna, had the power to give ‘Dan’. This practice had many indirect attitude build effect in disguise. Respect towards Brahmins and poor immediately killed individual arrogance and helped him to learn and earn more and live a satisfied life. Fortunately, it still exists in some shape – what is needed is to regain it with respect and in pure forms. This might look absurd to people brought up under western education style, but let them then come up with a suggestion of how would they evolve a culture of highly satisfied society, a society that knew to respect Worshippers of Lord, a society that knew to regard Guru and elders, a society that had every child free from diseases and mental illness.
Hindus do not only worship Cows. They worship countless creatures and things around. Before commenting on this as an insane activity or meaningless act, one must first define what they exactly mean by worship. Having done that, they would end up in discovering a big gap between the meaning of worship in Hinduism and in other religions. For Hindus, worship is a shape of highest regard, love, and faith. These three things are required by every individual irrespective of religion, region, beliefs, color or creed to exist. Thus, a Hindu would worship his parents, teachers, natural powers, and overall God with true understanding. The question remains – why the cow?
According to Hindu philosophy, there are at least six kinds of mother:
1. Mother who gave birth
2. The mother who brought us up: Often mother who gave birth also brings us up, but is not a necessary case and hence who brings us up is a mother.
3. The mother who is a source of our life: Those natural powers which are feminine in nature, like the power of a woman, love of a mother, etc., often worshiped as Deities.
4. Mother who holds us as we are: Our motherland, which has fed us without any condition
5. Mother who feeds us: The Cow who feeds us throughout our life
6. The mother who is seen as a mother by others: Our ‘Guru’ mother, our friend’s mother, any woman who is a mother, any elderly lady, etc.
Thus, Hindus consider Cow as the mother. Motherhood according to Hindus is the greatest relation and of highest regard – higher than the understanding of God. In fact, Hindu philosophy has proven that God cannot be realized without the love for mother. The very basis of our existence is our mother. Hindus respects and worships not only this relation but also the responsibilities and feelings that this relation holds. A mother gives birth to a child, brings him up, feeds him, enlightens him, and supports him in all circumstances (good or bad). The cow is one among all animals who feed us throughout her life. There are huge numbers of milk products that we consume throughout our lives. Children, who do not get their mother’s feed, often are supported by cow milk. Hence, cow milk is one primary food that supports our life system.
And it is not just for the reason of feeding, Hindus worship the cow. The cow is a natural power as well. Hindus used to wash their house with Cow Dung, a very healthy methodology to keep diseases away. Urine of Cow is used in curing many deadly diseases including cancer.
It is just not the usage for which Hindus worship the cow. A cow is one of the most humble and harmless animals. Hindus are not brutal who would just overlook the suffering of these humble creatures for the sake of their dirty taste of tongue of which there is no end. Hindus realize that these creatures are as live as us, and they suffer as deep as us. Thus, if they are responsible for holding our life, they are worth worshipping as our own mother. This is a value for a Hindu, a value that helps a Hindu to deliver high contribution towards human society also. Such morality of social betterment starts developing from awareness of these things.
Unlike the West, where every human pet dogs and cats, Hindus used to pet cows. It is up to the thinkers to decide which is better – living with cats and dogs or living with cows. We very evidently find the result of reducing cows in the country in terms of consumption of contaminated milk and milk products. On 11th July 2007, India TV had released news related to Animal Fats being used in a production of ‘Ghee’ in huge quantity all over the nation, and largely at ‘Aligarh – Uttar Pradesh’. It is but obvious that demand of ‘Ghee’ and milk products ever remains as they are life supporting food in India. But to meet the demand, there are not enough cows left to provide sufficient milk – the alternative is ready – take out fats from killed cows and other animals, process it and present it to the nation as a Milk Product. It is up to the people of this nation to decide – they want to have pure Milk from Mother Cow, or they want to feast on Fat Milk from Dead Animal.
MARRIAGES, SEX, AND DOWRY
The world knows that Hindu families are the strongest families, in the sense nearly all cases they do not break apart. What is the secret behind this? Is it because this is a male dominated society? I do not think so – there is no society as much dominated by emails as Muslim society, but they are not stable in nature. Then is it because women are bound to worship and obey men? I do not think so because women worshipping men is just one part of the coin, the other part containing men worshipping women. As I said earlier, worship in Hinduism is not bowing before an image, idol or human. Worship means realizing respect, love, and faith altogether. And it is this form of worship that existed in every Hindu family. Surely, this is one of the important facts that held Hindu families intact.
The natural reasons start from the way the partners start their relations. The two genders are created by nature to realize an important aspect of the same nature – Sex. Every creature had this capacity, but all other creatures than human practiced it only under the natural influence and for the pure purpose of reproduction. And obviously, the act is momentary in nature. Thus, Hindus seriously believe that Sex, as considered as physical enjoyment, is temporary in nature and if practiced in an uncontrolled and unnatural manner takes away mental peace and strength required to hold family intact. Thus, premarital sex and extramarital affairs were not allowed and are looked at with disregard even today. Among the marriage partners too, sex was not a very important aspect and depended upon the moods of partners. For a Hindu woman what is more important is holding on the value of virginity (Virginity in natural terms means biological virgin, but in philosophical terms it meant holding the values of the family she belonged to, maintaining the reputation that she held a strong concern about her life and prestige of her family) and delivering all to one and only one man, a man who is a partner of lifetime and not one time sex partner. Sex is the last thing to be given to the partner, as it is a power of a creature that can produce life. This power was not taken granted by Hindus, and they always were of the opinion that no scientific power can also achieve the greatness of producing life. And hence, proper utilization of this power was a necessary condition. And to make this act a respectable realization, the power was even attached to one of the deities. And this respect created an atmosphere where it was possible only after marriage and with husband alone. The relationship was further strengthened by the meaning of God attached to each of the partners, thereby making sure that no other individual proved to be superior to a woman than her husband and she ever remained committed to her husband. A similar meaning of Goddess was attached to the woman keeping the man in the boundary of belongingness. Moreover, this had a very positive impact on the society in terms of health and morale of child produced. There used to be nearly no health hazards due to sex, forget about AIDS and another western world gift of sexual diseases. Children produced used to be of pure nature and were not impacted by the temptations of sex and other harmful manners.
The way Hindu marriage takes place plays a very important role in keeping the family intact. Love marriage was there but not too common in practice and most of the times, it used to be arranged marriage.
There exists a difference between the two types of marriages. While love marriage takes place because partners know each other, as it seems to them for few years, and decides to get into the boundaries of marriage. And here lies the weakness of love marriage; the couple thinks that they should get bound by marriage when actually they are already bound. Thus, they fail to understand the boundaries and its meanings as they have unknowingly already gone through it. Another drawback of love marriage is that in most of the cases love is not formed out of understanding; it is formed out of attraction. It is the attraction that binds two individual for some moment, at least till before marriage. After marriage, the illusion breaks the two persons come to their reality. If they both are of same nature or either of them is adjusting, the relation persists, else they part. Thus, having an adjusting nature as one’s own character is a necessary condition for the stability of love marriage, which is not realized during the illusion of attraction which always sees compromise to meet adjustment.
Unlike love marriage, arrange marriage starts with an understanding and adjustments present in mind. Though it appears that this adjustment is done mostly by the girl, in reality, both partners make this adjustment. The girl has to go and fit in the space of husband and his family, while the husband and his family have to create space for the girl to fit in. Love follows through the committed nature of the wife and this love is not an attraction, it is a responsibility and overall it is a relationship that has started with the name of God and develops so deep that even if the partners are too extreme opposite natures, they do not depart and learn to live together in support of each other. Thus, there is no illusion, no preset conditions that are required for the stability of the family formed out of arranged marriage, it is simply out of a high-value process, and they live together life long.
The only concept wrongly introduced into arranged marriage is dowry. In fact, the dowry was never a drawback in ancient Hindu society. To my knowledge, there was no concept as dowry at all or else I would have found the word ‘Dahej’ (the Hindi word for Dowry) many times in myths – I did not find it even for a single instance. Dowry is the name given by English historians and Long Leaders of this country to ensure that Hindus have one more criminalized practice in their religion. Hindus never knew Dowry. The practice of Hindus was based on ‘Kanya Dan’ meaning donating the daughter. This again looks bad – but it simply means the ‘Daughter have to start a new life hereafter, her husband being her primary responsibility’. ‘Kanya Dan’ is a phase of change of life from being under parenthood to being a parent. Thus, this was an important stage of life, which if it was not deep routed; families in Hindus would have also seen the fate of Muslims and Christians. And hence there were ceremonies and rituals attached to this, ceremonies to cherish the start of a new life and rituals to start it with purity and firmness and under the support of God. It is important to understand that woman after marriage goes to the husband’s house and husband’s house is her own house thereafter. She dedicates the rest of her life towards the benefits of her husband and does all that is within her capacity to see that it flourishes to the maximum. And hence, the woman is called as ‘Goddess Laxmi’ of every house.
Indian societies, as per law, had the practice of dividing parental properties only among the sons and not daughters. And thus, daughters enjoyed the property of her husband and no of her brother, keeping in view that a balance was required as her brother would also have a family to hold and her share in it would reduce his strength. Even today, this is a general culture and not a necessary religious law. And hence, as a parenthood out of love for the daughter, parents used to furnish their daughter with as much richness as possible so as to make sure it did not effect son’s share, though in Indian families of high values brothers were ever ready to sacrifice everything for their sisters. And the offerings were taken as a gift of love by the parents of husband side. Nothing seems to be wrong by now, as all is happening by mere feeling of love and sacrifice.
Slowly in modern India, this offering took shape of demand from the husband side. How, when and where it started – no one knows. But it started only in recent centuries during the late British invasion. Probably, seeing this high culture of love and sacrifice, English Historians through their devastating imagination, first gave it a shape of dowry on papers, which passed on as information down to the societies rich and poor who were fighting for their own existence and had little to ponder on their original values. Anyway, what is given a name of dowry was simply an instance of love within a family.
No doubt, this has taken to somewhat a bad shape nowadays in some of the families. But even now, dowry is not a hard and fast rule followed during marriage by all families – it is still a gift without demand. Government and law, if finds it wrong, they are themselves incomplete to implement the equality practice of parental property being distributed to the girls as well. And many times, the media makes a hype of events that are occasional and impose it on the whole community practicing it.
Hindu science has realized that every creature is composed of five basic elements (Panch Mahabhuta): Sky, Fire, Air, Water and Earth (Described in detail in Chapter ‘A Hindu God’). The science says that death is a phase of transformation, which cannot take place effectively unless the composing elements are disintegrated back to its originality. If the body is cremated, it would be a process of submission of a body only to the earth. And hence, the process of burning was accepted which allows the Sky, Air and Fire part of the body to disintegrate to their respective elements immediately during burning. The remnant thereafter is earth, which is then allowed to be submerged in River, disintegration to get further back into Water and Earth elements.
Moreover, the long process of Ritual brings in the families together, helping the affected family to complete the process, which goes on for at least 10 days. One of the major reasons of having a long phase ritual was to allow the family under the coverage of other relatives, settle against the setback. Though the pain remains, the family learns to live further and live without any negative attitude developed due to the incidence.
TEMPLES – IS IT JUST FOR WORSHIP
It first appears to people that Hindus go to temple just for worship, and worship idols. The perception is one of the many threads that bind a Hindu to the temple.
If one sees the shape of the temple and the way it is built nearly always with stone, one would surely develop some meaning out of this. The shape and the use of stone together keep the temple cool at all temperatures. Moreover, use of water inside it by the worshippers further cools it. Thus, Hindus also go to temples during day hours, particularly in summer to find naturally cool and peaceful place.
Temple in India has always proven to be the best Stress reliever. People undergoing to whatever level of stress, simply visit the Temple, render some prayers with their heart and faith and find peace by staying there for some hours. Thus, we have seldom found people in India committing suicide, bar for those who have adapted to western philosophies. As the stress gets controlled, many more unsolved health problems, emerging in the modern world are yet absent among Hindus.
HINDUISM – THE TRUE WAY OF LIFE
The truth is simple and eternal. Truth does not require any cosmetic to show off itself. The truth is what is holding the world. But, when truth requires another truth to prove itself when a truth is not accepted as simple as it is, we find people adding the word ‘True’ before the fact truth. Thus, when western people didn’t know that Earth was spherical and some notion of it being spherical developed – people were found to be saying ‘The earth is truly spherical’. Thus, to falsify a false belief that was true in the mind of people, we use the related words of truth in order to emphasize upon the reality. The earth is spherical is enough to say that it is simply spherical. But the usage of word ‘truly’ enforces knowledge upon ignorance. Many times the emphasized usage of such words becomes a habit and this is well understood by people then. Thus, Hinduism is a way of life – was simple enough to speak about its truth. But, when other religions repeat this for their religion also, it seems like the say ‘way of life’ is stolen or made common. And hence, it now requires differentiating Hinduism again on the same ground. Thus, the topic here has to be now ‘The True Way of Life’.
The lifestyle of Hindus is configured more as per the rules of Vedas, as propagated to them through saints. As the world of chemistry and biology are secrets of nature unfolded in the world of materialism, so are the Vedas facts of nature unfolded in the world of both material and non-material. While it becomes meaningless now to remember who found which Chemical element and compound, and the whole focus remains on understanding the Chemistry world, so do the Vedas overall focus is to develop humans to the heights of God. The saints in India undergo years of studies and Yoga practices in places like the Himalayas, before attaining to sainthood. They then come back to the normal life stream, with the single idea of making people healthier in understanding and leading their life. Thus, unlike all other religions and societies of the world, Hindu saints run trusts purely for the purpose of promoting a healthier lifestyle, among the Hindus particularly. Unlike all the trust of Muslims and Christians, who use their fund for conversion, these trusts of saints help poor and ill section of the society to come up to normal life-stream. They do not teach anything that goes against Islam or Christianity or against any other religion of the world. They even do not talk anything about Hinduism. They are the greatest philosophers of the world and they teach only lifestyles.
Thus, the societies of Hindus are formed by these saints and the saints in turns are formed by Vedas. The society practices Vegetarianism, at least by the knower of Vedas or true followers of these saints, they believe in God, they believe in peace, they believe in humanity, they have pity for animals and other creatures of earth, they understand the importance of the life of all existence on earth. Hence, they prove to be the most peaceful and tolerant society on earth.
No other religion on earth has such unbiased existence, and this makes Hinduism as a way of life. It is not a statement, just for say. The statement has its presence in every house of a Hindu.
And this is the reason, highest personalities like Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekanand, had to say that if India has to rise again, it has only option to take shelter of Vedas. Because, Vedas are books of highest values, and greatest natural science and no other religion or book in the world can bring in identity or leadership to Hindus than Vedas. Vedas are our originality and we can lead the world only in our original foundations. In all other methodologies, we would simply be the followers. Our identity remains in retaining and promoting what we have. We lose ourselves in order to follow the faiths and practices of other countries, which actually stands far immature in contrast to Vedic formulations.
I do not say that a Hindu should stop learning of western cultures. I simply say that Hindu should not let western culture indulge in their culture. Under the modern education system, as already in practice, a Hindu should additionally go ahead to learn Vedic science so as to realize the better part of modern education. For Hinduism is all about eliminating ignorance with the light of knowledge and the highest knowledge of all sciences, the deepest and the purest is the knowledge of Supreme for a Hindu, that can be realized by direct perception, endowed with immense merit and of imperishable nature.