Thursday, January 19, 2006

Britney spear's new avtar

Just bumped into the story and was amused. How does it matter what relegion Britney spears is following ? The Indian media's obsession with the west is more than obvious here. It appers as if the western perception of what Hinduism is, seems to be the measure of the idea "look we are a great relegion, even Britney is joing us". I am not saying they say that, but it appears very evident, especially with Times of India. Ofcourse the common argument is, "Britney sells. The very fact that you are looking and commenting about it proves so are you not hypocritical ?".

A good question and a valid point. I dont seek here to deny that even my eyeballs raced, when I saw that news item. But then, does it take away the right/honesty to comment about it, even at the risk of being called a hypocritic ? I dont think so and lets say by making that loaded statement I am being self critical "Damm why am I so attracted by that stupid news item". Maybe some busty pics of britney or an exciting possibility of what will pop out when the page finally gets loaded. Besides, If a brain dead article on britney can sell 4 images of brtney's generous bust (cant comment on weather it is au`naturale though), why not use her to sell the idea of what I think being a hindu is ?

I smelt an opportunity, an entry point for me to give me my gyan of what is a hindu and who is a hindu. There are n number of definitions going around, but I thought this is a good time to talk about that.

Every man is born and as soon as he is born his death is certain. What he does in between is really not going to alter that reality. The perception of what happens after death and why the things that happen, happen is what drives man to look beyond the physics of living. There are no one single truth / holy-grail / messiah / morals set on stone in this. This "looking beyond the physics of things" is what we often call as being spiritual.

A spiritual quest is purely an existential quest in figuring out an abstract which is not apparent but impactfull. Therefore there is no one way or one guide book to figuring out this abstraction. Remembering and paraphrasing the famous words of Herman Hesse from his book Siddartha. Siddartha looks at Budha and says, "I know you have reached nirvana and you are in a blissfull state. Your face radiates a great sense of calm and peace. I also know that you cant teach me how to reach there."

Spiritual progress and the quest thereof cannot be denied to anyone irrespective of the path or morals upon which one lives. The morals of how we live and what we do is purely determined by the person's physical view of the world and her/his level of comfort.

Cave bound humans shared partners and mating rights. Some of the Hunting / gathering societies are cannibalistic in nature. In the eyes of a catholic way of life, the cannibal and the philandrer would both be viewed as aspiritual practices. All aspects of sex, food, actions are deterministic only within the confines of physical ties. To make it simple, what I eat would depend on what is available as food and what is valuable enough not to be frittered away by eating. Of course, personal taste plays a big part in the scheme of things. Some people would not be comfortable eating a meat, maybe because of taste or a strong sense of right/wrong. The action itself in that context assumes an underserving profoundness.

A seeking mind unable to ask the right questions seeks to establish a structure which is prescriptive about what is right and what is wrong. Right and wrong conduct, hence is limited in its usefullness. It doesent achieve much beyond social conduct and personal comfort. When I was a kid, I used to cycle to school every day. There were two routes from home to school and for some reason, I would prefer to go by one of them and not the other. For some unexplained reason (for which I would later invent justifications), route A seemed more favourable, even though route A was longer than B. The reasons that I came up are funny by themselves. Route A is empty. The roads are wider. Priya's home was on the way somewhere there.

To me, this is the true meaning of hindu. A spiritual progress based on a curious mind seeking to understand the whys. To be a hindu, you dont need any pre-requisites. Contrary to the belief which many (once including me) hold (held), it doesent require ordaination, it doesent require a god, it doesent require a belief system, it doesent require going to the temple or doing rituals. It also doesent require any changing of habits or cultural practices. All it requires is waking up and walking up.

There are no moral prescriptions either. If your society allows for free and unrestrained physical sex and if it pleases you, by all means indulge. If you are a prostitute bartering body for money, you can be a hindu too. What you do in real life doesent deny you spiritual progress. There are really no rules. Thats what makes me so damm comfortable to live by. What lessons you learn and how you conduct yourself in your own life is purely the result of what your spiritual path teaches you.

simply put an action say "sex" may be spiritually regressive and retrograde for person A. That in no means translates to the universal dictum "Sex is immoral". It only means that person A does not have the make up to spiritually be stimulated by sex. Maybe it is meditation for him. For person B, sex might be a highly spiritual experience. There is nothing immoral with that either.

Modern morality of life really is a product of victorian principles of conduct and Brahmin principles of sathvik life and bakhthi mode of spirituality. Love, devotiona and renounciation. That may be a valid path no doubt but certainly not the only path. There is one other path.

"Left hand path" or Vamachara. The goals are the same, the path may even criss-cross and borrow tools and techniques from each other, yet they are all meant for our progress. Understanding all paths and chosing the one we like is the key thing here.

Unfortunately hinduism is also losing its open character and is falling into the trap of prescriptive conduct. It might not be the best suited thing for many of us. For some of us who are indulgance seekers, spiritual progress is very much important and is possible within the confines of our apparently decadent lives.


At 7:21 AM, Blogger small squirrel said...

I have a lot to learn about hinduism. I have a lot to learn, period.

From my understanding there seems to be a lot of conflict about hinduism itself, as there is in many religions. I have heard there is no conversion... either you are born a hindu and you are one, or you are not and therefore never will you be. I have never gotten a straight answer on this question, even after many conversations with hindu priests.

anyway, fascinating one, vasu! :)

At 7:20 PM, Blogger Deepti said...

nice one :) About Hinduism.. in certain parts i do agree with you.. Hinduism is not a religion , its a way of living.. and a living which we all ( in our decadent lives) have long forsaken.. if you were to read the works of david frawley... you would come to understand a whole lot of things.. Like for one .. did you know that the Vedas ..which forms the backbone of our religion does not prescribe god?
///Spiritual progress and the quest thereof cannot be denied to anyone irrespective of the path or morals upon which one lives. ///
I disagree at this point.. Spiritual progress cannot happen if in your quest your morals and actions cause harm to other beings ... being a vegetarian? it's a principle born out of not wanting to kill... to live and let live.. Can you arrive at moksha when the path you choose leads you to hurt others on the way.. can being a bandit be your path to salvation with bloodied corpses littered in your path? That is where rules of the modern society come in.. Most of them might be balderash.. but a little bit of conformance to certain aspects of them is a must... the right to live and let live.. the right to not injure others ? Are not those societal dictates good? Live your life.. but learn to dump the crap and live with the good.. which ppl and life arnd you offers...

At 1:37 AM, Blogger Vasu the terrible said...

@SS - There is one saying, you havent heard. "Every human is a hindu by default". We are all products of a scientific world, requiring logic premise and proof. That is linear thinking. The result ? we require simple answers most of them given just to reenforce already held belief.

The starting line that I would give for any question about some aspect of hinduism would never be deterministic. Einstein, Hiesenberg, Nhiel Bhor all of them scientists walked on the border of of spirituality and science. you know why ? they were exploring quantum physics. All their deterministic science just couldnt provide answers and some of them saw the spiritual beauty within those atoms. the whole philosophy of requiring one core message, conclusive proof etc. is counterproductive because it seeks a quick, simple and easy solution from the environment without any active participation by the soul. Spirituality is hardly that. Its a personal progress of the soul cannot be denied by anyone else except by the soul itself. Doesent matter if you are a pope or a roadside hooker. Both have the same road ahead.

@Deepti - Hinduism is a way of life open in its offer of various paths towards progress (spiritual). Morality today as defined in law relating to personal preference is nothing to do with spirituality. Morality and rituals may be useful tools for some (maybe you), but that cant be said of my friend in great nicobar who eat their dead.

I agree with you on social norms of behaviour. My only point is that by itself doesent add any great value to one's spiritual progress. Social norm has social limitations. Usefull in the social sphere of co-existance.

Thats what I meant when I wrote

>>The action itself in that context >>assumes an underserving >>profoundness.

Your sense of right and wrong is different from my sense, even though my behaviour (social) would be the exact same as yours. That doesent say anything because I am still engaging in the physical world. The day I dis-engage social acceptability would hardly matter.

>>Right and wrong conduct, hence is >>limited in its usefullness. It >>doesent achieve much beyond
>>social conduct and personal >>comfort

This is precisely what I meant. An answer to your question weather a person who eats meat can progress spiritually ? is a simple yes. Because spiritual progress has nothing to dow with your social choices. Even he believes that bad begets bad, just that he has a different list of bad things than that of yours.

One last point I would like to make is, every philandering, meet eating, alcoholic, cannibalistic human doesent have spiritual progress. Like the former this is also true.

Once again, thanks for posting your opinions. I respect that.

At 3:32 PM, Blogger the wannabe indian punkster said...

Hey Vasu!
I know youve read my post on Hinduism and thanks for the comment!
I think a summation on Hinduism itself is very difficult but I found a description on :
which pretty much fits the bill of what Hinduism is about so here goes:
Hinduism is the world’s oldest living religion. It is a rich collection of hundreds of spiritual and philosophical traditions followed throughout Asia for more than 5000 years. Most traditions within Hinduism share certain distinctive, core beliefs despite the absence of an identifiable beginning in history, single founder, central religious establishment or sole authoritative scripture. Two of these core beliefs are that of tolerance and pluralism. While tolerance and pluralism are valued by many religions, these concepts are the very essence of Hinduism and are expressed through the diversity of Hindu practice and centuries of peaceful coexistence of various faiths.
This is essentially what I believe about Hinduism....and I would also like your thoughts on the subject.
keep clicking!

At 11:44 AM, Blogger crazywhale said...

"I feel good when I do good, I feel bad when I feel bad, and this is my Religion"

Religion is a dicipline
The discipline details a certain steps to follow
These steps provide control and calmness to the body
The feel factor guides the way we behave (moral guidelines)
The way we behave makes us what we are.

If Hinduism is about tolerance, it not by the mere writing, but by what discipline it provides.

The choices we make do affect our discipline and in turn could trigger a rippling effect.

"The chains of habit are too light to felt, but too heavy to be broken"
mankind is a slave of many habits. These habits are derailing spiritual progress in many ways.
Consider alcohol. Many of us have had it and have had it to many extremes. The face lights up when we hear about daru. But the effect could be plentiful. We have seen fits of moral degradation even during the consumption. Unwanted fights, abuse, misbehaving with girls to many more. The worst is the effect on the body. I had a friend who was so influenced by alcohol, that he gave his life to it. Yes, bloody liver cirrhosis. Even my hand shiver as i recall seeing him in the hospital. He bloated to a size of double and then gave up.

The steps(rituals) we follow also have another side to it. Community effect. This keeps the check in place and promotes the existence of the rituals.

Its a pity that we in India want to be more westernized, while the people in west are seeking discipline from India. Yoga no doubt is growing.

I am not a strict disciplinarian myself, but I wouldnt deny its importance towards spiritual progress

At 10:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What 'bout Henn?
hydrocodone and acetaminophen


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