Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Religious Doctrines and Dogmas


People often draw the distinction between being religious and spiritual, the trend being that people feel that there is a certain stigma attached to the label ‘religious’. Given that religion is more often than not founded on profound and lofty principles, why would there be such a need to do this?

In fact, many well-meaning intellectuals choose not only to distance themselves from religion altogether, but to actively speak out ‘against’ it. As an aside, I dare say these persons have not encountered the persons I have been so fortunate to both study and meet in person; no sceptic can remain one after having the experiences I have had, but I will not discuss these here.

Academics like the biologist Richard Dawkins, the psychologist Steven Pinker and the philosopher Daniel Dennet fall into this category. Dawkins sees himself as the modern day Charles Darwin, and a lot of his work has received critical acclaim for reviving the dying doctrine of evolution by natural selection. I call this a doctrine simply because classical Darwinism is certainly dead. The notorious missing link has never been found, and if it is it will be very difficult to preclude the researcher from superimposing his own bias on what was actually found, which can vary according to one’s theoretical assumptions at the outset – reconstructing bits of bone that is millions of years old requires a fallible person to do so, carbon dating is nothing close to accurate, etc.

Nevertheless, Dawkins has become a raving sceptic not only because he sees evolution as a complete explanation for life and all the mysteries that go along with it, but also because of the very sad and unfortunate history that just about every major religion in the world bears; some more than others, but all religions, mine included, have a cross to bear. Any honest adherent would have to face these facts and accept it graciously. We are all aware of the vicious and bloody Arab conquests done in the name of religion. Recently Islamic fundamentalists have shown what their interpretation of scriptural injunctions entail. There are passages in the Koran, for example, that quite explicitly advocate the brutal murder of “non-believers”, which is reiterated throughout the book. For example, the following verse from Surah Taubah is very often quoted by critics of Islam, to show that Islam promotes violence, bloodshed and brutality:

"Kill the mushriqeen (pagans, polytheists, kuffar) where ever you find them."
[Al-Qur’an 9:5]

A former student of mine (and needless to say, a devout Muslim) tells me that
critics of Islam actually quote this verse out of context. In order to understand the context, we need to read from verse 1 of this surah. It says that there was a peace treaty between the Muslims and the Mushriqs (pagans) of Mecca. This treaty was violated by the Mushriqs of Mecca. A period of four months was given to the Mushriqs of Mecca to make amends. Otherwise war would be declared against them. He thereby pointed me to the following verse to prove this point; verse 5 of Surah Taubah says:

"But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them,
and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is oft-forgiving, Most merciful."
[Al-Qur’an 9:5]

The idea of warfare and ultimatums seems somewhat out of place in a religious context. As an open-minded Hindu, this seems rather disturbing, to say the least. Describing God as a being that is “most merciful” and full of love, yet gets angry very easily, to the point where if you disobey you should not only be brutally killed here on earth, but will suffer in hell in the most hideous manner: you will be given a body to encapsulate your soul so that you are sentient, and you will have boiling oil poured over you by the “angel of death”, who will see to it that your body is replaced when it gets worn/burnt out. Such fear pervades the Islamic holy book, and in a place like Saudi Arabia people live in constant fear of being ‘caught’ for various things, like not praying during the mandatory prayer time, which happens five times a day. If you are found not praying, they check whether you are Muslim or not; if not, they take you to your place of residence, with a stern warning not to be seen during prayer time; if you are Muslim, you are given fourteen lashes and dismissed with a warning. If you look at woman, more specifically if you look into her eyes, you can be charged.

There are dozens of examples like this, but I will not go into detail here as I think the general point has been made. The standard objections regarding these points include:

-The version of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia and other such countries is
not the ‘correct’ one.
-These are based on mistranslations from the original Arabic.

Going back to the objection raised by my former student: he claims that it was okay to slaughter the kuffar back then because they violated the ultimatum, which was either to convert to Islam or be killed. Now, leaving aside the fact that this is precisely why fundamentalists think it is okay to blow themselves up in public places (they get a two-fold benefit: they’re dying in a jihad, and they they’re killing non-believers – who, by the way, for many include apostates, not just non-Muslims), this objection is problematic for someone trying to justify it because the tenets of the Koran are meant to be eternal, rigid, and with a set meaning; there are even caveats which state that if you try and alter anything in the Koran in any way (that includes disobedience and misinterpretation, wilful or otherwise), you are no longer a Muslim. So by grounding it in history, saying that this instruction was only applicable then, you relegate the scripture to the status of a historical text, open to heuristic and therefore variable interpretation. Aside from this, someone with this objection would also be logically committed to admitting that all the Muslims in Saudi Arabia are not really Muslim.

The other option is just to be honest and admit that there are some inconsistencies inherent in the book, and that the some parts need to be looked at with a critical eye. This is actually what Muslims in more open societies do, but then there is always the issue of those who do not. An interesting, yet equally disturbing and shocking revelation, was brought to the fore in a recent production in the UK called Undercover Mosque, where they went into various mosques in the UK with a hidden camera and recorded the things that were said and advocated by their religious leaders. Given what you have read thus far, I’m sure you can imagine what the documentary revealed. By the way, the Islamic community there took the production company to court, saying that they misrepresent what was actually said in the mosques. After it went to court, and after the recordings were scrutinised by a judge in a court of law, it was concluded that the documentary was indeed accurate, which precluded the plaintiff from stopping the distribution of the documentary.

Regarding polygamy in Islam, I was referred to the following quotes:

"The righteous woman, if they enter Jannah, will accompany her husband,"

"...marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course."
[Qur'an 4:3]

"Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women, even if it is your ardent desire: But turn not away (from a woman) altogether, so as to leave her (as it were) hanging (in the air). If ye come to a friendly understanding, and practise self-restraint, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful."
[Qur'an 4:129]

Many Muslims actually see this practice as wrong, and countries which accept religious freedom do not condone polygamy. Once again, this is seen as a historical anachronism by some, claiming that during the war, there were many widows, and the prophet instructed his followers to marry them so they won’t be alone. Putting the fact that these widows were widows because their husbands were killed by Muslim warlords aside, this poses the same problem regarding historical heuristic interpretation mentioned above.

Despite attempts to keep the religion homogenous, categorical and straight-forward, there is still a lot of infighting. Sufis, for example, are condemned as being non-Muslim, as they apparently violate God’s instructions.

Judaism and Christianity are obviously not without problems of this kind. They advocate division and hatred by proclaiming themselves in various ways to be the only ones going to heaven, since Jews are the ‘chosen ones’, and Christians quote various maxims from the Bible, like Jesus saying “I am the only begotten son of my father”, meaning that there was no other prophet; “You cannot reach my father in heaven but through me”, meaning that if you do not accept Jesus as your saviour, you’re going to hell, etc. This gives Christians a sense of superiority, and gives them a license to look down upon other religions. Whilst the New Testament is a bit more benign, the Old Testament advocates meting out the death sentence for things like homosexuality, adultery, blasphemy, idolatry, talking back to your parents, and picking up sticks on the Sabbath! This is partly why Noam Chomsky says that the Bible must be the most genocidal book in our entire canon.

Dawkins rightly describes the God of the Old Testament as blood-thirsty, possessive and misogynistic. Few need to be reminded of the history of the Catholic church, their notorious witch-hunt and concomitant (and ingenious) torture methods. The list is well nigh endless, and Dawkins spares no detail in his notorious book, The God Delusion. After pointing these out, Dawkins asks us to consider what is left to respect about religion? Why do people align themselves with a tradition that has wreaked so much of havoc on the world? How can this alleged God, who is apparently so full of love, allow things of this nature to happen?

His answer, as you may well imagine is that since we cannot properly prove the existence of God, we should be either agnostic or atheistic. He points out that all religions in their own way encourage you to be a good person, but virtue and morality could just as well be independent of any religion. Besides, if your morality is religiously based, which religion should you adhere to, given that there are not only different religions with different doctrines, but also countless sects within those? And strangely enough, there are actually branches of Hinduism and Buddhism which are quite literally atheistic!

In light of all this Dawkins thinks it makes more sense to simply accept life as a product of natural selection, and apply the scientific principles of reasoning and logic when it comes to making everyday decisions, including those that pertain to ethics.

Dawkins also misses the simple point that the jurisdiction of science has most certainly not been agreed on, and there is no consensus as to what even counts as ‘science’, or a ‘scientific endeavour’. For example, given that Darwinian evolution is not testable, is it science? There have been many articles published on the effects of meditation on the mind and body; is that science? Can religion actually be studied scientifically? Does a philosophical problem preclude, pre-date, presuppose or transcend a scientific view of the said problem? If science means the use of maths/equations, as some of my colleagues insist, does that mean something like microbiology is somehow not a science? Since some linguists use equations to describe phrase structure rules (like Noam Chomsky and Zellig Harris), does that mean the study of language is a scientific endeavour?

The role of intuition as intellectual revelation is also not appreciated by people who see science (whatever that means) as the be-all-and-end-all of intellectual practice. Dawkins merely dismisses Einstein when he attributed his most important insights to reverie, and even said that Einstein probably didn’t mean it when he said that he has great admiration for God – rather presumptuous claim! Philosophers like Sarvapali Radhakrishnan have written extensively on the role of intuition, and even tried to reconcile it with the rather parochial approach of Western philosophy.

Scientists cannot merely ignore phenomena that do not appeal to them. True science is about explaining facts. The ubiquity of religion, for example, is not something that can be ignored, or summarily dismissed as delusional. This aspect of the topic will be explored in more detail in other chapters.

As an aside, Dinesh de Souza passed a comment about Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion, which I think is quite apt and deceptively insightful:
“This is what you get when you let biologist out of the lab.”

That being said, does this show that eastern religions are better? Well it is clear that religions like Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism do not condone violence in any form whatsoever, to the point where a true practitioner would not harm ANY living creature intentionally, and be a strict vegetarian. They do not seek to convert, and actually often advise against it, in the belief that anybody can be a good Christian/Jew/Muslim, etc., and that you are born into a particular set of circumstances for a reason; therefore converting is a form of escapism which defies your karmic path. I disagree with this, like most other practitioners, and believe that people should be free to choose.

Many great Western thinkers admire Hinduism and eastern traditions for various reasons; these include none other than Albert Einstein, Arthur Schopenhauer, Alan Watts and William Blake. I will dispense with the details here, for the interested reader can follow it up if he so wishes. I wish merely to point out that despite the far reaching influence of Hinduism, most do not even understand its basic tenets – and by most I mean Hindus themselves. This serves to perpetuate all the misunderstandings and gross misrepresentations so rife amongst non-Hindus.

have yet to meet a Hindu who truly appreciates the various contradictions inherent in his religion. Aside from being open to proselytism, Hindus seem to embrace mutually exclusive doctrines. Unlike most Christians, Jews and Muslims, Hindus can never state with rational conviction what their stand point is on many issues. Adding to this problem is the fact that Hindus are brought up to tolerate and accept other religions, not in the mere democratic sense of allowing other people to believe what they want whilst disagreeing, but in a more fundamental sense as in, for example, proclaiming that prophets like Jesus and Mohammed were indeed authentic prophets as their followers claim them to be. Once admitting this, the Hindu is faced with either accepting or explaining statements like:

- I am the only begotten Son of my Father
- You cannot reach Heaven but through Me
- Those who do not accept Jesus Christ as the only Saviour is doomed to eternal

The dilemma comes in either not taking these statements too ‘literally’ (often a euphemism for I choose to reject that so I’ll pretend I can explain it away some other way; hence the inverted commas), or accepting what is apparently logical and converting. They do this in the hope that they will now be ‘saved’ and therefore go to Heaven, wherever or whatever that is; they are often frightened into the logically untenable option of rejecting to convert and going to hell, which is defined (in Christianity) as an eternal punishment for not accepting Jesus.

They face the very same dilemma when they meet Muslims. Hindus accept Mohammed and as the prophet of Islam, and accept that He must have been sent by God. However, the Muslim will then point out various facts, including:

- That Mohammed came here to ‘correct’ the corrupt practices that have become the
norm with the religious zealots, including the Jews and the Christians
- Mohammed is hailed as the LAST and DEFINITIVE prophet, while acknowledging and
endorsing the Jewish and Christian prophets, He certainly supersedes them;
hence, his word and teachings are to be given precedence
- The obvious upshot of this is also that there can be no other prophet succeeding
Mohammed, and the Koran is to be the final word on all matters religious
- Those who do not accept this decree will be, you’ve guessed it, condemned to hell – again defined as a logically untenable ETERNAL punishment, etc.

As before, the Hindu now has a choice to make...

Hindus are unable to ‘defend’ themselves when faced with situations like this simply because Christians, Jews and Muslims CAN say, more often than not, quite categorically what their religion is about, what their beliefs are, and what the goal of life is for a ‘true’ follower (ie. score enough brownie points to get in to heaven).

One problem is the fact that Hindus do not know when their religion originated. Without a founding prophet, there is no person to look to for answers regarding even basic questions.

In fact, Hindus see nothing wring in advocating Hinduism not as a religion at all, but as a “way of life”. Hence, there is no contradiction in being a Christian and a Hindu (a Christian would never agree that things could be so the other way around), for example. Hindus see this as a plus, implying open-mindedness, universalism, etc.; others see this as Hindus having no philosophy or authoritative beliefs of their own.

Another is the multiplicity of scriptures that Hindus have. Swami Vivekananda boldly said in one of his talks that there could not have been a man in history who has read all the Hindu scriptures – being a very learned scholar himself, he did not seem to exclude himself from this category. I had the great honour and privilege of knowing and learning from a great Hindu monk, who went by the name of Swami Shankarananda. He dedicated most of his life to the study and practice of yoga within the Hindu framework. Prior to being initiated, he spent twelve continuous years studying various aspects of Hinduism. This included six hours a day dedicated to scriptural study. One would think that this would be enough time to have mastered at least a basic overview of Hindu scriptures in its entirety. Yet, during one of my
Q & A sessions with him, I asked him the following question: What does the Sankhya say about the creation of the universe? His response: I don’t know; I’ll have to look through some information I’ve got and get back to you on that.

This was a very surprising answer, given his training and his background. I do not mean to denigrate his legacy; indeed, as you will see later, I revere this man as my guru and mentor. My point is simply that if there are things about Hinduism that HE did not know, what to talk of the rest who have NOT had that training?

It is no mean feat to undertake a serious study of Hinduism. Dabblers will certainly either get confused, or be misled into believing something that is not representative of the Hindu religion. The Hindu scriptures include the Vedas (there are four of them) and Upanishads (there are a hundred and eight of them left, with twelve being the “principle” Upanishads), the latter actually being the end portion of the Vedas, actually. It is said that they adequately summarise the Vedas such that a study of the Upanishads would make a study of the Vedas redundant. In addition to this, the book that speaks of Lord Krishna’s experiences on the battlefield, the Bhagavad Gita, is said to summarise the crux of all the Upanishads, making it unnecessary to study the latter. However, the Bhagavad Gita is largely allegorical and symbolic, and like all great works of literature (if it may be so-called without relegating its status as a scripture), it is open to multiple interpretations.

There are various other epic scriptures (in the form of story) in the Hindu religion. Second to the Gita is the Ramayana, which tells of the exploits of lord Rama, after his fourteen-year banishment into the forest. This too is richly allegorical, and open to interpretation.

Aside from the mainstream scriptures, there are the more controversial aspects of Hinduism. One of which would no doubt be offensive symbolism. For example, in the Mahabharata there is an episode famously known as the Rasa Lila. This is an episode where Lord Krishna dances rather seductively with the Gopis, charming them, flirting with them, and stroking them in a risqué manner. Their husbands were very worried about them, as the Rasa Lila took place over a few days, and these cow-herd girls did not care worry about their husbands, or the housework that they were busy with, etc. because they so captivated by the Lord.

In his book Lord Krishna: his lilas and teachings, Swami Sivananda, before his rather succinct commentary on it, spends a good few pages explaining why the Rasa Lila should not be given a sexual interpretation, and that those who do are simply of a base nature. As I said, when married women state that they are willing to leave their husbands for the all-attractive Krishna, that Lord Krishna teased them and played with them by stroking their thighs, etc., it is difficult not to, which is why this particular part of scripture is not given much attention. Of course the commentary points out that the Lord’s mind was pure, and that despite his indulgence, it was only to make the Gopis feel important for the time being, and to show them that their lechery will necessarily be ephemeral, and that they should look to transcend such feelings, etc. Other orthodox commentaries concur broadly on this point.

However, there is a branch of Hinduism called Tantra, which is actually documented as amongst the oldest of Hindu scriptures. One of these scriptures has been bastardised by the movie of the same title: Kama Sutra, which means something like “love precepts”. A word on this matter before going on. In Hinduism, we believe that there are four stages of ‘life’:

- Brahmacharya
- Grihasta
- Varnaprasta
- Sannyas

The first pertains to student life, the second to married life, the third to retired life, and the last to a life of renunciation. It is believed that every person is meant to go through these stages. Each stage of life has certain recommendations in order to be successful at it. For example, chastity and obedience to your teacher are important to being a good student. Sublimation of your veerya (expained only recently as sublimation in modern psychology) is important as your semen contains very concentrated and pure energy, which will be wasted if used sexually, and will be transformed into a profound creative force if not. Aside from ethical considerations, the eating of meat is also forbidden because it dulls the mind, and induces laziness. There are various scriptures meant to be specifically for students, with concomitant rules and regulations. Just as school students find appeal in the universal charm of story-telling, some scriptures are in the form of stories, which is why we have so many epics, and the richness in symbolism is there simply because students appreciate the symbolism in a more sophisticated manner the more advanced they get.

Likewise, in the stage of married life, which is the second one mentioned above, there are various scriptures which tell of how to conduct yourself as a householder. This includes the rites and rituals that ought to be performed during the wedding ceremony, what being a good mother entails (summarised quite nicely in Swami Sivananda’s book, Sthree Dharma), what being a good father entails, etc. Of course, there is guidance on being a good husband and a good wife as well, together with the duties and prayers each has to do to maintain a spiritual atmosphere in the home. Key to a healthy marriage is a healthy sex life, which is what a part of what the Kama Sutra is meant to address.

Scriptures like the Vedas and the Upanishads are meant for the final two stages of life, when you have gathered life experience, with more than just a bookish knowledge of your profession, have passed the stage of material acquisition to the point where you see its futility, have conquered sexual desire, etc. It is only in this context that a reading of the said scriptures, together with their moral implications, makes any sense. This is why Vedanta entails having a rather sophisticated view of the world, and requires standards of discipline not otherwise expedient.

Now getting back to my point on tantra. The tantric scriptures advocate using the pleasures of the world to heighten your awareness and therefore your consciousness. This is not very different to the Shamans who use peynote during various rituals to get more in touch with nature. In addition to other worldly pleasures, tantra advocates using sex as a means to heighten your energy levels. It claims that by concentrating on a particular whilst engaged in sex, you exchange and heighten your energy levels to such an extent that you experience exactly what you would experience during conventional meditation, but at a much faster rate. The trick is, however, to not only delay orgasm, but to not take the experience to orgasm at all. I’m obviously summarising and therefore compromising the subtleties and complexities of the technique and philosophy behind the practice, but my point is simply that it is there! It exists, and is actually more widely practised than one would assume. In his book, which he by the way regards as one of his masterpieces, Essays in Life and Eternity, he dedicates a very terse chapter to tantra, entitled Tantra Sadhana. He says in the said work, for example, that greatest obstacles to spiritual perfection are wealth, power and sex, and it is these that the Tantra intends to harness. He is careful not to go into detail though, pointing out only that this practice is secret, and based on the belief that everything has a dual nature, often represented by Siva and Shakti (or the Yin and Yang in Chinese philosophy), mind and matter, good and evil, etc. The idea here being that one can be used as a ladder to reach the other, instead of pretending that it does not exist, or that it ought to be completely shunned. The Upanishads, for example, states that the world does not exist, and that God is only thing that is real. People never question this when a swami says it during his speech in an ashram, but when they’re on the road and a car is speeding towards them, they would very quickly jump out the way, instead of questioning the reality of the incident. Hence, we have to accept at least the relative reality of the world, together with its dual qualities.

Swami Sivananda agrees on these points in his book Tantra, Nada and Kriya Yoga, but also pays it only lip service. Towards the end of the book he also concedes that Hindu icons were meant to embody this fact in its symbolism. The most oft-writ about example of this is the “Shivalinga”, meaning symbol of Shiva.

The Nationmaster Encyclopaedia has to following to say about the Linga; please note that I am QUOTING:

Lingam is usually found with Yoni, the pedestal. As such, Lingam represented the male entity of the universe, while Yoni represented the female; it was natural togetherness of the male (Shiva) and female (Shakti) (Lingam and Yoni) as the point of energy, point of creation, and point of enlightenment. Such revelation was later enriched by many philosophies and theologies as man's knowledge of God widened with civilization. The word is first attested in the Brahmanas, both with general meanings of "sign, mark, characteristic" and of "gender mark, genital".

Various interpretations on the origin and symbolism of the Shiva lingam obtain. While the Tantras and Puranas deem the Shiva lingam a phallic symbol representing the regenerative aspect of the material universe, the Agamas and Shastras do not elaborate on this interpretation, and the Vedas fail altogether to mention the Lingam.

Some Tantras consider the lingam to be a phallic symbol and to be the representation of Shiva's phallus, in its spiritual form. Accordingly, the lingam contains the soul-seed containing within it the essence of the entire cosmos. The lingam arises out of the base (Yoni) which represents Parvati according to some or Vishnu, Brahma in female and neuter form according to others. Tantra (Sanskrit: weave), tantric yoga or tantrism is any of several esoteric traditions rooted in the religions of India. Shiva is a form of Ishvara or God in the later Vedic scriptures of Hinduism. The word yoni is the Sanskrit word for the female reproductive organ.

The puranas, especially the Vamana purana, Shiva purana, Linga purana, Skanda Purana, Matsya Purana, along with the Visva Sara Prakasha, have narratives of the origin and symbolism of the Shiva lingam. Many puranas attribute the origin to the curse of sages leading to the separation of and installation of the phallus of Lord Shiva on earth; many also refer to the endlessness of the lingam, linked to the egos of Lord Vishnu and Lord Bramha. The Puranas are part of Hindu Smriti; these religious scriptures discuss devotion and mythology.

In simple terms, it is the phallus / penis being worshipped while it is in deep trouble inside the yonic/ vagina and we are proud to worship this eternal symbol of glory under the moon.

Say what you will, but there it is. Granted, there is what you would call orthodox Hinduism, and unorthodox Hinduism (astika and nastika in Sanskrit), the former accepting the authority of the Vedas as taking precedence over all other scriptures. But there are problems even with this. Most Hindus consider the Hare Krishna movement to be unorthodox, yet they subscribe to the Vedas and take it as having precedence over all other scriptures; they see the Gita merely as a summary of and commentary on the Vedas. Also, since most Hindus claim to follow orthodox Hinduism, why is it that the Lingam is almost universally used, despite having not been mentioned in the Vedas. As I said, scriptures that do mention it do so in the said context. Why do they not just use a murti of Shiva, as is common practice with the other deities?

It also known that some Hindus so appalling things like practice black magic and slaughter animals (and the two are actually not mutually exclusive). There are so-called scriptures like the Indarjal dedicated entirely to this end! How many Hindus are aware of this? Once again, we can easily say that this is not really a scripture, or that this forms part of the UNORTHODOX wing of Hinduism. But then how would you explain the fact that the Atharva-Veda also has black magic spells? Granted, there are other benign and even beneficial spells in it, but this does not account for the darker part. In addition to this, there are instructions on how to perform ritual slaughter! It speaks of how to use the animal’s energy to clear your own path for success, etc. This explains why the practice of ritual slaughter is so rife. As the point is now made, I will not elaborate with further details.

Suffice to say that as a result of this, there are various sects, factions and schools of thought, and it is no exaggeration to believe anything and virtually do anything, and still be correct in calling yourself a Hindu. It is in this sense that we can say that Hinduism is a way of life, not really a religion. My point here is not to berate my religion, but to point out that we have an extremely rich and profound tradition. However, it is not good enough to merely proclaim this, as it sounds quite clichéd and therefore vacuous. When confronted with the facts regarding animal slaughter, sex rituals, the eating of meat, the charge of polytheism and idol worship, etc. it simply makes us sound ignorant and ineffectual to say:

- Well, TRUE Hindus do not slaughter
- Well, TRUE Hindus know there’s only like one God
- Well, ja pigs are like worse then other animals so IF we eat meat we
mustn’t eat pigs, oh ja and cows too
- We don’t believe in black magic
… etc.

As Hindus, we need to be ambassadors of our religion, and not live in ignorance of the religion we practise. In pretending that our scriptures do NOT say what they actually DO, we sound as foolish as those Muslims who fail to understand that taking certain tenets of Islam at face value lead some people to do terrible things, and denying it, or declaring all Saudis as heretics simply commits you to a logical position which you would not be comfortable with.

Let us accept that there are aspects of our religion, inherent in our scriptures, which we choose not to accept because we are open-minded, free thinking rational beings. The latter quality is something which Hinduism encourages, unlike other religions. But in order to do this with any conviction, we need to be clear of what actually is out there, and why we choose not to adhere to that particular aspect of Hinduism. Otherwise, we sound like fumbling fools when confronted with the facts.

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