Of the entire range of ancient world Epics in the oral tradition, I enjoy the Mahabharata the most. It tells many great tales, is sophisticated, perfect in structure and formatting and is, in my opinion a living breathing story that grows each day. In the towns and villages of India, storytellers still render portions of this Epic and add their own dramatic bit. I have not made a detailed study of the Mahabharata retold by among others, Ashok Banker and Shashi Tharoor; however some literary license must have crept in.
Would the violent and barbaric acts of India today enter the oral tradition, I wonder. Would those who believe they are Hindutvas create new threads of narration? What on earth is this Hindutva? Is it like the repugnant Aghora sect who believes in necrophilia? If believing in Hindutva means bullying, killing then all I can say is – I don’t know if Hinduism sanctions killing. I speak as a Hindu. My being a Hindu stands shamed today.
Fascists do not have any spiritual stirrings. They are blinded by dogma. During the Crusades in Medieval Europe – if the Christians or the Muslims were to be asked why they kill each other – would they have justified themselves by quoting from their religious texts? If the Gestapo were to be asked why they wish to destroy and kill, they would probably quote from their dogma, in justification. Today when the Islamic Nation bends religion to suit their fervour and their fevered killings, they would probably quote chapter and verse from the holy Quran to justify themselves and their acts. So too those among persons who call themselves practitioners of Hindutva, those who beat up and kill not only a poor man from a village in the badlands of North India, or those who kill celebrated thinkers, writers, pursued artists or who bully and target women who wish to live on their own terms – they too will swear this is what Hinduism wants.
Hinduism, as I know it is not this chest thumping fundamentalism. Hinduism is an exacting philosophy and very hard to follow, hence the 33 million portrayals of human emotions/ wish fulfillments in the images of gods, goddesses. In the Sunderbans area I remember there is a Hunter god who looks like a Sahib with some firearm who is a neighbour to the Bon bibi – the goddess of the forests but with some sort of Muslim coloration. Hinduism is the all encompassing, all embracing system that demands that each of us fulfill our individual destinies to reach our own ultimate realization. It is a joyous and generous belief system, as we have known it for centuries.
I have read the Gita, Bible, Quran and Dhammapada and believe that every religion says much the same thing. As the great Sage and Swami Vivekananda’s guru Sri Ramakrsna said ‘Jotho math totho path’ or that there are as many faiths as there are paths to realization. The Bible too says ‘My Father’s home has many rooms’. The richness of religions comes from diversity. But I wish there were no religions if that be the cause of aggression, death and destruction.
I end by apologizing for being so emotional or being all grave and grim. Here’s to joy!