I just read an article by Swati Thiyagarajan, an environment editor with NDTV. She talks about how she has a multicultural life, being a Hindu Brahmin married to a South African and claims that her personal choices are ‘lovely contradictions’. My first thought on reading the article was this, “She speaks like me.”
I have spent so much time reasoning with others about how our religion or caste or social practices cannot govern our choices or the way we lead our lives. These are mere barriers that do nothing to integrate the community. I myself am a non-vegetarian Hindu and my life isn’t very different from that of a religious rule-following Hindu. Food habits are a matter of geography and availability, not religion. Caste came into being as a social order to ensure that all jobs were taken care of and that each member of the society contributed to it. But today, caste has led to a depressing state of affairs. It is a different debate whether it is the idea of caste that led to it or its implementation.
As Swati rightly points out, being human is probably of greater importance than being religious. No scripture can actually guide us in life, because what’s right for someone else may not be right for us. What suits a particular situation is something we have to decide based on our conscience. One of the discussions I had with a friend about right and wrong helped me look at these two words and their implied meanings in different light. I did argue earlier that what is wrong is wrong and if it changed with situations then the subjectivity ruined the essence of it all. But my friend had a different opinion. Right and wrong are not clearly objective. Wrong is only what causes harm to another. And that statement made more sense to me than any scripture ever written.
Swati’s article was a beautiful reminder of how we are claiming to be Hindu by actually forgetting some of the most important lessons that Hinduism teaches us. It is a reminder of what religion has been reduced to – rules governing food habits, rules governing marriage, rules rejecting secularity, rules breeding no tolerance to other practices. Indeed, it is a shame.
On a light note, I should mention something interesting that happened with me. I was looking for some fellowships to fund my education and the search results were unbelievable. Fellowships for the reserved caste, fellowships for catholic Christians, fellowships for vegetarians! How about Fellowships for the Deserving? Does it really hurt that much? Is it politically that incorrect? Does something as basic as education have to be under the influence of false societal barriers?
For a straight-to-the-point view on the real state of affairs in this country, read through Swati’s article by clicking on the following link:
Featured image picture credit: PM Venkatesh