I am a Hindu

I am Hindu, and very proud to be one .. but I have often wrestled with that question. What does it mean to be a Hindu?

 I have spoken to some of the best minds, the most spiritual minds.  I have journeyed to many places in my quest. and I have to come to believe that the best way to describe Hinduism is to say what it is not. For how do you describe a ‘teaching’ that encompasses all possibilities and all of eternity, refusing to describe the infinite in finite terms ? That describes all of life and all thought as both illusion and reality at the same time ? There is no science , no thought, no possibility that Hindu thought does not embrace ? So there is only one way to describe Hinduism for me – although it may mean many things to other people – is that Hinduism is a search, a yearning, to find that which is infinite within ones own self, a yearning to experience that which is Eternal…


…So what is Hinduism not ? It is not centralized, it not an organization, it is not political. It can never be. For every time there has been an attempt to organize Hinduism as a political force, it becomes by nature a finite structured force that bears no relationship to the idea for a search for the infinite.
So to those people that ask why we cannot declare India a Hindu state I ask them to understand and trace back to what a Hindu state is ? And they will soon realize they are looking for an identity. And the very basis of Hinduism negates the idea of identity. For it is a search for ourselves beyond that which is called ‘Identity’.

Which begs the question, why we cannot accept our identity as just Indian ?

18 Responses to “I am a Hindu”

  1. Vinita says:

    Wonderfully articulated! Now, if the politicians and the so-called custodians of Hinduism get this as well…

  2. Amit Tyagi says:

    A very thought piece shekharji

    You are right Shekharji completely but this idea of identity is a forced one. Sometimes we have to react to conserve the very foundation on which it is built even if that works on the premise of”what it is not”

    It is definitely not a religion of believers but of seekers, having said that you need to have geo-political, social space to do that. You can not seek anything but shelter, food and your life it made to flee to Sinjar mountains like Yezidis have been made to.

    I am a proud Hindu like you, I am seeker but I am not ready to take things lying down if my very space is encroached upon.

    regards,
    Amit Tyagi

  3. Vishnu says:

    Brilliant.Have been accosted by the same search for long.Had gone through the basics of quantum physics, which is far easier to understand for the Hindu mind than others.The fact that the smallest God particle is there but not there at the same time instant (Heisenberg) will resonate with the Hindu philosophy of illusion and reality.The word illusion cannot capture the full nuance of the word Maya which also has a magical mystical component to it.
    The beauty of Hinduism is that as you said many things to different people, yet all of them may be right.I would like to add further that it may mean different things to the same individual at different times.I may be an atheist one time or a spiritual person another time or even ritualistic at times without compromising my Hindu identity.
    You are right.Trying to limit Hinduism like the monolithic religionists difficult.It is like trying to clasp a handful of water in a cusp.Invariably you can’t do that

  4. Ganesh says:

    Dear Shekar,

    While I thoroughly agree with you in spirit, yet what you have said is basically purely internal. And this authentic Hindusim as you have said is not that it has virtually exisitedby its very essence. So many genuiene Sages, Grihasthas, Ordinary people and the then existing Governments have recognised this very essence what you have reflected here and have in various ways carried forward the legacy of Hinduism.

    Internally Hinduism does not have any identity, yet externally from the sages of yore the identity of Hinduism has existed vibrantly just like the Sun shining in the sky.

    Atma is eternal but the body is not, but this body also is part of that Atman. As this body also needs nourishments like we take care of it so does Hindusim require an external identity and our vivid varied traditions have remained our identity since ages. Shekar Kapur is that eternal Atman, he has no form or identity in spirit, yet in every ordinary sense does he not require an identity to carry on? In the same way as they say “Manushyam Deiva Rupena” Man is the form of God, so is our country and world all together. In this context, Mother India is the form and mother of Hindusim.

    For us, it is not that ‘there is only god, for us everything is god. In fact only God alone is. Call it Brahman, Bhagawan, Truth as one’s inclination.

    It is wrong on our part to not protect this identity externally in the name of internal spirit.

    We ought not confuse the internal with the external even though there is no difference in spirit, just as man and woman are the same in spirit, yet we cannot say the same externally and authentically, we treat the woman as our Mothers in our tradition, and this identity needs to be protected.

    Warm Regards,
    Ganesh.

  5. Ganesh says:

    CORRECTION:

    “us, it is not that ‘there is only god, for us everything is god.”

    should be read as

    “us, it is not that ‘there is only one god, for us everything is god.”

    *One

    If you can please accomodate the correction on your aporoval.

    Thank you

  6. Jaya says:

    “Hindu”is a pure technical(Artificial)term,invented for the social and political convenience.U can put this term in the column “Religion”and that is the end of it! I am not Chtistian,Muslim,Jew,Parsi etc…that,s why I may be Hindu. Indian Philosophical tradition(Thought) never uttered the term “Hindu.”U can be Theist/Atheist,Orthodox/Heterodox(Acceptance or nonacceptance of Vedas),Ritualistic/Pragmatic,Jain/Dalit/Aadiwasi….etc.,Materialistic/Spiritual and can be Hindu.Buddha,Mahavir and Charvaka challenged Vedic religion(And not Hindu)One should study,learn,explore,understand the realities.E.g Samkhya and Mimasakas were Orthodox thoughts(Believers in Vedas)but they were radically atheist.

  7. Anuradha GR says:

    Befitting! Hinduism is a concept…. Formless, limitless, with no beginning…. No end….. One can quantify, qualify, mould or mix their faiths as per their will or choice. Hinduism is freedom from bondage, both extremal and internal….

  8. tskraghu says:

    Interesting thought! Would like to hear more on your exploration.

    I suppose it is the fear not without substance emnating from history and wanting to defend one’s right to be a Hindu whatever that means to one.

  9. Anukrti says:

    Well written, Mr. Kapur. Of course Hinduism can also be defined as a set of teachings, as rituals and classifications, as uplifting thoughta expressed in ppoetic scriptures and many others. The fact that it lends itself to so many descriptions without conflict is its strength, like a metal which is tensile and can take many forms but still retain its basic form.

  10. Surabhi says:

    Pranaam Shekhar ji

    Thoughtful! Worth a share.. the meaning of Hindu. Our thoughts create our world. Spiritual path.. refine everything. A wonderful piece from a great thinker. Thank you Shekhar ji.
    Regards
    Surabhi

  11. Anil says:

    I like your last comment. Why can’t we accept ourselves as Indian. And also the fact the Hinduism is a search. A search for many things. I’m sure that all of us at some point wonder what it’s all about and beat ourselves up for not finding the answer. I’m a brahmin born in Africa but having spent most of my life in a western country, and I ask myself and others so many questions about my identity. Especially as Brahmin, what I should do and not do. My constant question, when someone says, as a Brahmin I should not do something or behave in certain manner, is “who said that and why” I find it hard to understand why I have to be a certain way because of who I was born as. Why the restrictions when all I want to be is me, and Indian. !!!

  12. Vibhaker Baxi says:

    I do substantially agree with the thrust of your thinking as portrayed above. In the end being Indian (which you prefer as an identity than being a Hindu) in any case brings one back to the same! After all, the term India and Indian derives from the same Indus Valley origin where the seeds of Hindu civilisation are planted! It is just a politically more correct and an anaesthetisised “Western” implant for a Hindu? You are falling in the same trap as the Western oriented secular liberal Indians who feel uncomfortable with a Hindu (I.e. Indian) identity. You certainly cannot say the same of subcontinent’s Muslims when they are far happier being identified with Wahhabism as their identity, albeit that also is delusional!

  13. Phadke says:

    Namaskar Shri. Shekhar Kapur,

    Thanks for this post. I loved this post and your thinking process.
    Yes. At my end. I call myself, treat myself and request all around to treat me as Indian.
    That’s it. No additional attributes and meta data attached with me.
    I am enjoying my life being Indian.
    Enjoyed it till yesterday.
    Enjoying it as of now.

    Best regards,

    Subodhkumar Mangala-Narayan Phadke
    Full name.
    I prefer and loved to be called as Mr. Phadke. That’s it.

    Read my thoughts on LinkedIn: http://in.linkedin.com/in/phadke
    Read my thoughts on Google+: google.com/+SubodhkumarNarayanPhadke
    Read my thoughts on Medium : https://medium.com/@SNPhadke

  14. Horst Vollmann says:

    Hello Shekhar:

    You have beautifully described the noble and transcendental side of Hinduism, the one that makes us yearn to live within its lordly heights. But there is another side to Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and the religion of Islam. A sinister, brutal and primeval force that makes us shudder and want to run away from them as fast as our feet can carry us.

    The dark side of all religions is that they are high-jacked for the unsavory agendas of people, nations and splinter groups that are driven by the hunger for power or a rigid adherence to an intolerant deity that bears no resemblance to the lives we are living.

    It is always a risky statement to proclaim one’s pride in being part of a religion, a philosophy or for that matter a nation. People have a craving for an identity, to be part of the herd, to belong. It sets them apart from other nations, groups and cultures. The paraphernalia and symbols of national pride are waved with fierce pride. Such acts can easily deteriorate into elitarian thinking to demonstrate that one’s country is superior to the next one. Politicians play with such emotions to the hilt as the current American election battle testifies.

    Compassion, a sense of brotherhood, charity and kindness are falling by the wayside as the handling of the refugee crisis sadly shows.

    Again, when we declare our allegiance to a religion, a philosophy, we inadvertently become part of a group no matter how much we want to retain our individuality.

    Let me elevate your thought at the end of your beautifully written treatise and establish our identity as just human. Wouldn’t we all gain from it? Prejudices would yield to a spiritual kinship if we could just deeply believe that pride is not a sentiment we ought to strive for.

    Kind regards.

    Horst

  15. AP says:

    Very simple and enlightening !!!!

  16. Sriram Chadalavada says:

    This is such a wonderful blog about “neti neti”. I have a film story on a modern/scientific Dharmic/Hindu topic that I want to pitch to you. How can I do that?

  17. Horst Vollmann says:

    Hello Shekhar:

    You have beautifully described the noble and transcendental side of Hinduism, the one that makes us yearn to live within its lordly heights. But there is another side to Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and the religion of Islam. A sinister, brutal and primeval force that makes us shudder and want to run away from them as fast as our feet can carry us.

    The dark side of all religions is that they are high-jacked for the unsavory agendas of people, nations and splinter groups that are driven by the hunger for power or a rigid adherence to an intolerant deity that bears no resemblance to the lives we are living.

    It is always a risky statement to proclaim one’s pride in being part of a religion, a philosophy or for that matter a nation. People have a craving for an identity, to be part of the herd, to belong. It sets them apart from other nations, groups and cultures. The paraphernalia and symbols of national pride are waved with fierce pride. Such acts can easily deteriorate into elitarian thinking to demonstrate that one’s country is superior to the next one. Politicians play with such emotions to the hilt as the current American election battle testifies.

    Compassion, a sense of brotherhood, charity and kindness are falling by the wayside as the handling of the refugee crisis sadly shows.

    Again, when we declare our allegiance to a religion, a philosophy, we inadvertently become part of a group no matter how much we want to retain our individuality.

    Let me elevate your thought at the end of your beautifully written treatise and establish our identity as just human. Wouldn’t we all gain from it? Prejudices would yield to a spiritual kinship if we could just deeply believe that pride is not a sentiment we ought to strive for.

    Kind regards.

    Horst

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