Sunday, July 20, 2014

Flexibility Issue

It is certainly not an exaggeration if we say that Tolerance and Flexibility are the assets of Hinduism. It  gives complete freedom of worship, adapt various cults ,advocates various paths of Truth to attain salvation by offering numerous choices to choose from. But it is not fair to cross the flexibility limit. It may be argued that any such deviation is not meant to undermine the established values. Yet the deviation do happens although not with any intention to change the practices that are being followed for centuries.

In an attempt to show/exhibit the devotion to a particular person, imaginations reach the sky by comparing or equating that person with God or Goddess. No one denies the greatness of the person but the only question before us is how can he/she be viewed on par with the Gods. Let them even build Temples for their favourite Gurus separately and conduct pujas in their own way. They have the right to do that and at the same time they can refrain using the platforms set for the Gods traditionally.

A spiritual fair is conducted every year in Chennai to show case the services rendered by various organisations . Social service organisations take part in the fair and the areas covered are Health,Education, Charity, Farming, Go-shalas , Publications etc.

The floats from the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh attracted the visitors. The models of the Temples of Srisailam, Kaanipakkam etc  were exhibited on the floats. People were educated  towards the use of Technology in stalls that highlighted the services offered through internet.

The stall from Saradha Ashram of Ulundurpet deserved praise as it spoke volumes of the yeomen services carried out towards charity. Here came the flexibility issue. They had installed a model of a big Shivalingam at the entrance in which the figure of Swami Vivekananda was present in the Bhanam part of the Linga. They could have rather installed the Lingam and Swamiji separately instead of showing Vivekananda inside the Lingam. As a student of Ramakrishna Mission' s Vivekananda College I have great respect and regard for Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna and Sharada Devi. But the point is they should not be a part of a portrait of a Hindu God or Goddess . We do hope that people like Sharada Ashram take the message in the right spirit and continue their charitable activities.

One of the recent posts in Facebook showed a  Bhajan Bhagavathar singing a song sung in praise of other religion. It is true that it may be viewed in a secular spirit. But then the platform used was different and the venue was not meant to show the flexibility.

Let everyone be well within the framework of the traditional boundary and it is left to the individual to follow it religiously or not. Let him remember that the trespass into the other boundary will not help both parties involved. In fact it will dilute the principles of both of them and result into a confused state of mind.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Let Cult be in its original place

Guidelines are flouted in air when it comes to vested interests. In the process of achieving ones own desire, the rules are either skipped or ignored. It is because of this attitude, guidelines had to be formed in the past to adhere certain discipline. Anyone following the guidelines strictly is said to follow the rules religiously. People should honour the disciplinary ways instead of trying to modify them as per their wish. Incorporating non standardised procedures will also pave way for deviation from the said path.

People have the liberty to choose from various cults around us . But the fundamental platform should never be altered. Hinduism 's greatness lies in allowing people to choose their Gods/Goddessess /Saints as all paths lead to salvation at the end. It is based on this fact we call God by many names. Saint Manickavasagar says that the God is formless and without any name ;Yet we call Him by 1000 names.

By granting so much freedom Hinduism can never become weak. Each form of worship can only strengthen it further. Since Guru leads us to God, his role can never be undermined. At the same time, it is not proper to forget God and hail the Guru. Prominence to Guru worship should never be allowed to sideline the worship of God.

Examples are many when we come across Saints taking the centre stage. People are often attracted by their miracles and become ardent followers of them. In fact many such new cults have emerged in the last century. If the saints are alive, people go to them with lot of faith and they even start building temples for them once they leave the world.

Media is also doing its part by giving publicity to these cults and the samadhis of saints become a place of pilgrimage. It becomes a money spinner for Tourism department as they can arrange package tours covering these places.

The prominent saint's Samadhi becomes the seat of their operations. They form a Trust and run charitable activities. New Temples for the saints are encouraged by them by prescribing certain guidelines. Ashtothras and Sahasranamas are written for the saints. Websites are created to propagate their activities.  The followers thus become the disciples of the saints and their focus turns more on them rather than the traditionally worshipped Gods.

The website of a famous place prescribes the structure of a New Temple in the name of the saint and outlines the ways of worship. It says that the Temple is open to people of all faiths. It clearly states that the plan of the temple shall not include idols of any other Gods or Goddesses within the premises. In the presence of a separate shrine for other Gods and Goddesses there shall be a separate entrance and exit .

As long as the traditional and unique ways related to Gods and Goddesses are not altered and extended to the newly formed cults there cannot be an issue at all. It is all because every cult has its own standard and discipline. For example Rudrabishekam , once related to Lord Shiva is extended to many deities now. One can see the priests chanting Rudam,Chamakam and Purushasuktham to the samadhis of the saints while doing abhishekam. When the other cult has so much clarity to state that other idols of Gods and Goddesses are not allowed within the complex it is not clear why they should adopt the Mantras that are not relevant to them. But it is happening regularly in a saint’s Temple in Chennai.

When they want an exclusive Dharbar hall for the saint, how is that new shrines for the saint are allowed to be built inside the Temples of other Gods and Goddesses which is nothing but a double standard . It definitely amounts to trespass into the faith of others to force the entry of their cult with a long term goal of taking over the supremacy. Hindu Mutts and HR&CE should break their silence on this issue and spell out their stand.

Shivagamas are followed for the construction and maintenance of Shiva Temples. No new shrine is supposed to be built inside a Shiva Temple in memory of a saint against the guidelines of the Agamas.  The plan cannot be changed to the wishes of those people whose sole aim is to propagate their cult. This wrong practice should be nipped in the bud. By saying this we do not under estimate the faith of other cults. With due respect to all faiths we only request them not to dilute the tradition and practice the religion in a religious manner. Let each cult be in its original place without trespassing into any other cult.