Sunday, October 23, 2005

Ridicule of Hindu Religion

It was breakfast time at Semiramis Intercontinental hotel in Cairo, this place becomes a UN gathering with hoard of tourists from all over the world. This time, a middle-aged lady from Venezuela was sitting next to me. She could neither speak nor understand English. All she could make out from our conversation that I was from India and kept on asking me if I was Buddhist. She had not heard about Hinduism and it was futile even to discuss about the same.

Even in the Gulf states that has dominant presence of India and Indians, awareness of Hindu religion is only through Hindi Movies. Most common people associate Hindu with Hindi. in Arabic, India is referred as Hind. Any discussion on world religion often covers Islam, Christianity, Judaism and sometimes Buddhism. Hindu religion is definitely not on high recall list. When I mention of me being Hindu – it does bring an element of surprise of their utter ignorance about Hinduism. The fault is not theirs, Hindu religion has never been vocal in propagating the religion nor it received any royal patronage the way Islam, Christianity or Buddhism got from state sponsorship. Moreover, since Independence, India has been vociferous in proclaiming a secular country to the rest of the world and in that enthusiasm often provided generous leverage to minority religions. Despite onslaught of foreign invasion over centuries, If Hindu religion has largely remained intact it is not just due to its inherent strength and appeal but also to its adaptability in assimilating various divergent religious thoughts, ideas and practices. In fact, it is difficult to delineate between a culture, philosophy and religion when it comes to certain practice or norms in Hindu religion.

These days world situation seem to have polarized on religious lines, but I still feel Hindu religion need not change its gears in terms of its advocacy and promotion. But what pains and hurts me most is the manner in which Hindi movie and advertisement industry ridicules Hindu religion, their priests, worshippers and the worshipping environment. So often in a movie, Hindu temple precinct is shown as a safe cache of firearms, saffron robed yogi as an accomplice of a villain who is involved in every nefarious activities. Can any Hindi movie portray Muslim Cleric or Mosque in similar manner ? Even an innocuous advertisement of incense sticks would show romance of youngsters while Puja is being performed. Can they dare to show anything like that while Namaz is being recited ? I think Hindus over the years have become tolerant to many such skewed portrayals. Thousands of years of magnanimity and flexibility of Hindu Religion practitioners may have influenced most Hindus in becoming moderate. But does it mean they need to be so docile to accommodate any cynical and wrong portrayal of their religion in their stride. It is true some of controversial personalities like current Shankaracharya, Chandraswami, and Dhirendra Bramhachari have helped media with their glamorous deeds but there were also others like Ramkrishna Paramahans, Swami Vivekananda, and Arbindo whose work have never been projected.

I am not staunch Hindu conformist but I do feel sad the way Hindu religion is portrayed in Hindi movie industry. As Hindi movie gets more popular across the world, so is the chance of people forming a skewed opinion of Hindu priests, yogis, and saints? I would rather have people not just from Venezuela but also from nearby region be ignorant of Hindu religion than form a wrong impressions .

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