Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Somebody once said Hinduism is not a religion; it is a way of life. While searching for the meaning of Soundarya Lahiri I came across some verses. I am amazed how such simple texts have such profound meaning. Most of the slokas have very simple meaning, simple enough for a common man to understand and yet for one who wants to dig into it, he can find numerous interpretations and deep philosophical meaning.

My personal favorite has always been

“ Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti”.

Simply translated it just means “Let everybody in the world be happy. Let Peace prevail”. Now that’s obvious, all of us want each other to be happy. But look into it deeper, it says “loka samastha”… everybody in the world, no geographical boundaries, no religious boundaries, no ethnic boundaries, no language boundaries…. Only a person with a pure heart without any tinge of hatred against anybody can wish that. If only every one of us thought this way wouldn’t this world be a beautiful place?

I like another one from the Isopanishad

“isavasyam idam sarvam

yat kinca jagatyam jagat

tena tyaktena bhunjitha

ma grdhah kasya svid dhanam”

Direct Translation: “Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong”.

Can anything be simpler than that? Accept what is yours; do not accept what is not yours. Nowhere has it said that you will rot in hell if you don’t do this or that. Everything is self controlled. Knowingly or unknowingly if you do take something which is not yours, you will somehow have to give it away. With this there is no “fear” factor. Everything is controlled by him and he will lead us to realization.

Though I don’t deny that entry level Hinduism is filled with superstitions and blind beliefs, once you come out of that circle and start thinking independently you will realize it’s the most democratic way of finding God. You go find God however you feel like. Like a treasure hunt. Each clue will lead you to the next level. I don’t see any other religion giving so much of freedom. Maybe because of this depth, this level of maturity in the religion has helped us survive even after decades of influence by other religions and constant efforts to convert us all.

An American colleague once asked me ‘How do I convert to Hinduism”. I said just start thinking independently and freely. You can be a Hindu even if you pray to Jesus everyday.