I am a Hindu but don’t necessarily have any allegiance to ‘Sanatana Dharma’. My practice of reverence to the almighty was imbibed into Hinduism only because it didn’t match the way of the Christians or the Mohammedans or the Buddhist or the Jains or any other organised religions that existed on this side of the Sindhu river. The word ‘Hindu’ was conferred upon me by the Whites and it was in no way self proclaimed.
‘Sanatana Dharma’ could be an organised religion. It could be right in its own way to maintain a caste hierarchy (the Brahmins on the top and the Shudras at the bottom) and it probably could be right in its dictate about the existence of the ‘trinity’ – Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Lord Shiva the destroyer. But still I am a Hindu, and I need not necessarily follow those guidelines and doctrine.
Political dominance and the upper caste ascendancy have historically played a vital role in streamlining the thoughts and ideas of majority of the masses – and they didn’t spare the religious belief system either.
Gautham Buddha was anti Brahmins, anti Vedic practices, anti caste supremacy, and anti idol worship. Hence he said, close your fucking eyes and you can find God within you – what is the necessity of the outer spectacle and drama? Buddhism also was one of the first organised religions to move into India. Now how do we stop the majority from accepting Buddhism, which was a new and rebellious concept that invariably challenged the existing norm? Just announce Gautham Buddha as the 10th Avatar of Vishnu – job done.
This ‘Avatar’ game has been played by the dominant people time and time again. Shirdi Sai Baba with his own effort got enlightened just as Gautham Buddha and without creating any discrepancies amongst the Gods, implied ‘sabka malik ek’ (there is only one master) to all his disciples and followers. Now how do you bring him under the same umbrella of Sanatana Dharma? Photoshop a picture of Lord Vishnu behind his head. Problem solved.
Keralites have no business with the people of other states. They have their own spiritual practices and distinctive systems for time immemorial. They don’t celebrate Diwali, instead celebrate Onam and Vishu which other states don’t. Ayyappan was a prince, who was tortured by his step mother and forced to go into the forest to get Tiger’s milk in the hope that he gets killed. But fortunately he got enlightened in the jungle and came back riding on a Tiger. He was revered by the locals for his supernatural powers but then how do we tell to the world that Ayyappa belonged to the Sanatana Dharma? Weave a fable that Ayyappa was born to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, when Lord Vishnu took the form of a woman! A perfect crime.
Had the Whites and the Arabs not existed, the people residing in this land mass would have claimed Jesus and Prophet Mohammed as avatars of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva respectively. But they couldn’t – thankfully. And please try telling the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans that Buddha is the 10th Avatar of Lord Vishnu!
The ‘Hinduism’ that prescribes that a Brahmin by caste should perform all the rituals of all the important activities of my life – isn’t the ‘Hinduism’ I follow or allow myself to be part of. If my marriage has to be performed and solemnised by a Brahmin priest – no, I don’t belong to that Hinduism. If my newly built house has to be purified by prayers performed by a Brahmin priests alone – no, I don’t belong to that Hinduism. And if the last rite of my ancestors should ONLY be performed by a Brahmin priest – then no, I don’t belong to that Hinduism. Because I am a Hindu only because I am not a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Jain, or a Zoroastrian.
My grandfather was a Hindu, my father was a Hindu, I am a Hindu for now and my son can be anything he wants. I honestly bow down to all the religious practices and the supreme powers my ancestors respected and adhered to. They sure were Hindus but not in any way followers or part of the ‘Sanatana Dharma.’