Sunday, January 21, 2018

Some words about Hinduism und Vaishnavism

Hinduism is a true treasure trove for the adventurous seekers of truth and spiritually minded people. It is the most colorful world religion, because mysticism is not banished into a rumble chamber, stoned, crucified, or burnt at the stake. Non-violence is written in capital letters. When wars are fought, it is mostly on a philosophical basis and not bloody on the battlefield. Also things like inquisition, jihad, crusades and torture chambers are searched in vain. For animals Hinduism has more heart than other religions, except Buddhism. There are also no sects that have become too large or too powerful and consider themselves to be the measure of all things. No religion is more colorful than Hinduism. Nowhere else there is so much singing, dancing and fun. Hinduism is as diverse and crazy as humans. But Hinduism also has less friendly pages, to which I would like to dedicate myself a little bit more here. It is more important to know the downsides of a thing than all the good and marvelous things.

As far as the Vaishnavas are concerned, they belong to a mainstream of Hinduism. Vishnu or Krishna, one of the main gods of Hinduism, is recognized by them as the only God. The other gods of the Hindu pantheon are only demigods, angels so to speak. This one Krishna or Vishnu can be achieved through love (prema) and devotion (bhakti). Although the Vaishnavas are very different from the Christians in their appearance, they are nevertheless that flow of Hinduism which comes closest to Christianity. The Vaishnavas tend to accept all sorts of things when they think they can do better missionary work or serve God. Through and through mystics, they overcome all sorts of limitations, regularly annoying conservative Hindus and even other Vaishnavas.

Russian Vaishnavas holding a wagon festival

The Vedas: Gods, Heroes, Demons and Monkeys

Yeah, I love the monkeys. Monkey god Hanuman fights with an army of monkeys in the service of Prince Rama against the demon Ravana. How can you not love that? Vedic Hinduism is based on sagas and legends, enriched by theosophical and philosophical teachings. In order for these teachings to be better accepted and kept by the folk, the ancient Indian wise men and poets put them into the mouths of mythological gods and heroes. One can consider the Veda as an Indian variant of Iliad and Odyssey. The Hindus like to claim that the Vedic writings are historical. However, because virtually no historical or archaeological evidence can be found, they also claim that these are stories from millions of years ago, or if the stories are too fantastic, to be stories from other planets. Certainly there may be a historical core, but due to all the imaginative decorations and poetry, it is almost impossible to find out. Nevertheless, the stories still convey truths despite their mythological nature. And as far as the many deities are concerned, this is, of course, to be rejected as something real. Rama, Krishna, Shiva, Brahma etc. lived in the real sense as little as Zeus and Apollo once did - but they still contain something characteristic of the eternal and true God.


Guru-ism: Hello, I am Super-ego-man!

Anyone who believes that popes and patriarchs are the summit of priestly pride obviously does not yet know the Hindu gurus. Especially the more well-known representatives of this species do not know anything like a summit. There is simply no limit to what a Hindu guru would not presume. A guru is to his disciples, in short, more than just EVERYTHING, more important than God. Maharaja ("Great King") is just the least. Some claim to be more than all other masters, others claim to be masters of the universe (sic!), yet others claim to be as good or even better than Jesus, some are even considered incarnations of God. Sometimes, when you go for a walk in India, you are glad to not meet any incarnation of God.

Since Hinduism does not know Jesus Christ, but only a distorted image of the true Jesus, the place of the only true Master remains free and is occupied by the gurus, similar to the way the moon takes the place of the sun at night. Some few gurus are like the beautiful full moon, most are like the waning or increasing moon, the annoying ones are like the new moon. In principle they are imitators or placeholder of the one true Master, Jesus Christ, who is like the sun. The gurus resemble the moon, which in itself is a dark and cold body, but can reflect the sun's rays. Thus they are the masters of the night and have their use for the wanderer in the night. Before you can see the light, you have to deal with the darkness. But as soon as the day begins to set in, as soon as the one true Master, who is like the sun, rises above you, the gurus are superfluous and sometimes even in the way, like the moon, which sometimes eclipses the sun. In the daytime, the moon has expired, you may still see it in the sky, but the light comes from the sun.

Fortunately, despite all their hubris, the Hindu gurus hardly ever take themselves as seriously as the "representatives of God" - the moons - of other world religions. The reason for this is not only the relaxed attitude of Hinduism, but above all the fact that the Hindu gurus dismantle themselves before they or their followers become too powerful. Since a Hindu guru practically thinks he is God himself, it looks bad with the succession, because first of all God can never resign or even die, and if he does this completely unexpectedly, of course he has certainly not found a worthy disciple, because a second God besides the only true God, how is that supposed to work? Thus the gurus automatically disassemble themselves, if they haven't been caught up in any scandals before, or have run off with the donation box and a pretty follower to test the stability of beds and lead a less crazy life. Hindu gurus and pop stars are actually very similar.


Initiation: My name is "Juggernaut's slave"!

Initiation means for the Vaishnavas to leave the old life behind and start a new life or to open a new chapter in life, whereby there are many variants of initiation. The most popular ones are the initiation as Vaishnava (diksa), which is comparable to the practice of monastic vows, the initiation as Brahmin, the Hindu variant of priestly ordination, and the initiation as sannyasi (mendicant), for which I cannot think of any comparison from Christianity. The Vaishnavas are wasting an endless amount of energy in arguments about initiation, which in itself clearly shows what is to be kept of all these initiations. On the one hand, they see it as a mere ceremony, but on the other hand, their whole world revolves around who has which initiation and, above all, from whom. For the initiator always functions as a guru, not as in Christianity, where it makes more or less no difference who inaugurates someone.

The disciple benefits from the fame of the guru, just as in the world a student benefits from a famous professor, so it is a big problem for the disciple if the guru is not in good standing. The grotesque exaltation of a guru is therefore based on the efforts of his disciples to worship him like a god and to give him the greatest titles.

Hindu gurus use the initiation to take control of their disciples. The disciple should leave his old "sinful" (= non-guru-driven) life behind him and start a new "spiritual" life. That's why he gets a new "spiritual" name. Thus the disciple lives a chain dog life, an alien life dictated to him by his guru often down to the smallest detail. It's like the disciple is wearing a mask. This can be quite funny for a while, but at some point he will find out that he doesn't control the mask as he might have thought, but the mask controls him. An identity crisis is thus inevitable. Eventually, the person behind the mask can't stand it anymore and tears the mask from his face. So he has at least made a valuable experience of what spiritual life is NOT. Spiritual life does not mean putting on a show. It's not about titles and honors. You have to grow into a real spiritual life and this takes time and humility and you don't just blind out a part of your life.


Idolatry: Money, Money, Money!


Hanuman statue in Andhra Pradesh
What is idolatry? Virtually everything can be made an idol, be it a picture, a statue, a person (including yourself), a book, an animal, a plant, a stone, namely by making it a deity. Only through idolatry does something become an idol. Instead of just looking at a statue, reading a book, treating a person with respect, one begins to perform a "holy of holies" act about sacrificing all sorts of things (which one then appropriates oneself, because that's what idolatry is all about in the end). This was also attempted in the case of Jesus, even during His lifetime. And like any normal person, who sees such annoying behavior, He admonished: "Do not make Me an idol!" Fortunately, Judaism was completely opposed to the worship of portraits, relics and statues, because otherwise we would have had similar problems in Christianity as in Hinduism.

An idolater soon realizes that other fools admire him as especially holy and they even begin to sacrifice to his idol. That's how the big moneymaking develops. Finally temples are built, festivals are held, processions are made and above all a lot of noise and shouting. The donations flow, and idol temples are the richest institutions in the country. The ancient commanders and kings knew exactly: If you need money to pay for your army, attack the next temple of idols, and you've taken care of it.

It is sort of sad that even the Vaishnavas engage in this business and promote it. According to their philosophy, their pictorial forms of Vishnu etc., as they are designed according to the descriptions in their Holy Scriptures, are spiritual and not material forms, that is to say electrified and therefore as good as electricity. But they miss the real point, because idol worship remains idolatry, even if it is organized around a spiritual form. Spiritual images and statues can be useful to give beginners and children an idea of spiritual life, but once they are made idols, there is a danger.

One may dismiss idolatry as mere spectacle and money-making, which is why it would not be such a dramatic phenomenon. The problem with idolatry is that an idolater remains attached to the exterior even in the case of spiritual figures, risking spiritual death. This happens when he thinks he is doing enough, when he participates in the whole theater, gives donations, throws himself to the ground and so on. But this is not so, because the true spiritual life is not an outer life, but an inner life.


Caste system: Don't touch me! I'm poisonous!


The driving force behind the caste system are the Brahmins, who are spiritually at about the level of ancient Judaism, when Moses called the Levites to priests, a birthright. The Vaishnavas have been at odds with these birthright followers for centuries, but they still fail to get rid of the caste system, because the ancient Indian scriptures are infested with it. There are constant recitals and considerations about who was born into which caste, and thus the caste system remains a constant curse of Hinduism. It is one of the main reasons why Hinduism has difficulties to spread outside of India, because all not born in Hindu families are seen as barbarians and who wants to belong to a religion in which one is fundamentally disregarded because of his birth?

I strongly doubt whether Hinduism will ever overcome the abominable caste system. That would need a step like from Judaism to Christianity, and who, apart from the Lord Himself, could do such a thing? Even Gandhi couldn't do it. The father of the nation was against the caste system and yet it still exists. Those who suffer most in the caste system have been solving their problem for centuries by converting to another religion. Therefore, many Indian Christians are former "untouchables". Even the unpleasant nationalist Hindus are aware of this fact, but they too are not able to overcome this curse of Hinduism, but attack non-Hindus.


Neighborly love: Why?

Begging girl in India

In my opinion, the greatest and most threatening evil in Hinduism is lack of neighborly love. Neighborly love means leaving each one his own, and if he does not have it or cannot obtain it, to give it to him. If no one gets infectious diseases out of misery and poverty, no one becomes criminal or incites revolutions, then society as a whole will benefit. Not even an enemy should be denied a living because an enemy who has nothing left to lose will defeat his opponents.

The lack of emphasis in Hinduism is less due to a disgusting misinterpretation of the teachings of reincarnation and karma, according to which the poor in an earlier incarnation were bad people and should now pay for it. Rather, it is true that the poor are in most cases made poor and kept intellectually and materially poor by heartless rich man and rulers.

The reason for the lack of neighborly love is rather to be found in the fact that Hinduism has arisen in India. India is a country where you can survive without a house and even without clothes, because the climate is subtropic. Nature is also very lush, which is why you can get the necessary food with comparably little effort. The Indians did not need to emphasize neighborly love because they could manage well on their own and were less dependent on the help of others. In cold and less fertile countries, charity is more strong, because otherwise people would not have survived a winter. This explains the particular hard heartedness of Indian wealthy people, of whom there are many, although India is considered a poor country. They live in their palaces and have no problem with it, if the greatest poverty prevails in front of their door. Even with children, they have no sympathy. At the same time, they are scolding the West as rotten and consider themselves to be the best people in the world. I therefore see with a certain horror when India gains increasing influence in the world. As long as Hinduism does not find more neighborly love, it will hardly ever succeed outside of India and other climatically similar countries, because the followers will simply not be able to survive.

One might ask: If non-violence is a high ideal of Hinduism, why not neighborly love, doesn't it somehow belong together? The reason for this is because non-violence is founded in the actually selfish fear that what one does to others is doing to oneself. "If I kill this mosquito, I'll be born a mosquito in my next life and I'll be slain." No one wants that, of course. A non-Hindu would rather kill the mosquito, so that others would not be disturbed or become ill if stung.


Hindu extremism: Hate and violence

The World Watch List of Open Doors lists India in the unglorious eleventh place ahead of Saudi Arabia (!). The increasing influence of intolerant Hindu extremism poses major problems for those of other faiths in India as the violence and attacks of local Hindu groups such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Shiv Sena or Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and angry mobs of villagers incited by Hindu clergy are not stopped by the authorities. These local, state and national authorities are often dominated by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This has nothing to do with the truly religious Hindus, who reject violence, but is nevertheless a great disgrace to a country that is admired for its non-violence and Gandhi.

In general, nationalism and religion are not really compatible. We are all children of the same one God and especially Hinduism rejects identification with material things and circumstances. Nationalists are like watchdogs, deterring thieves and murderers, which may well be necessary, but they also scare off innocent, good and desirable fellow human beings and possibly even attack them, because dogs are devoid of any real distinctiveness. So it is best not to keep them and even if they are necessary to educate and keep them in such a way that they do not harm others.

Extremism is one of the safest signs of being faced with false prophets, power-hungry priests or  hatemongers. Hindu extremism is essentially founded in the caste system and is promoted by its beneficiaries, the Brahmins, temple priests and businessmen from this environment. Unfortunately, these wolves in sheep's clothing have a strong following among the stupid in the people. So it is difficult to deal with this phenomenon.

What anyone can do is not unnecessarily provoke Hindus. Show consideration. No one has to eat meat and kill cows to survive in India. Same goes with drinking of alcohol. Even if there are many things that can be criticized in Hinduism, and some of them must be criticized, this should not be exaggerated. Everyone first of all sweeps in front of his own door, there he has dirt enough for it.

As soon as the Hindus realize, in this world or the next, in this life or the next, that their gods do not exist and their gurus cannot save them, they easily find the only one true Master, Jesus Christ, and the only true God who incarnated in Jesus Christ on earth. This insight can be forced as little as the sunrise. When the time is right, the Lord reveals himself. Until then, Hinduism is a good preschool and way better than a sectarian Christianity. Hindus find truth much easier than sectarian Christians - like the old pagans found to Jesus rather than the Jews. The first will be the last.

Thank you for reading.

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