Educate Yourself on Hinduism first
While attacks on Hinduism continue unabashed in India and across the world, what are we Hindus doing to counter it? Are we even prepared to counter it?
Attacks on Hinduism is rampant. Everyone from abrahamic religions, communists, atheists and fascist leftists have made Hindus and Hinduism their common target. These communities, when seen from a global perspective, is a staggering number compared to the population of Hindus. And they are the people with money, power and media! And Hindus have been braving it. They have been braving it for a long time – for over a thousand years now.
Although there is a sense of unity that is rising among Hindus in recent times, the question is, is it enough to counter the attacks?
In my opinion, hindus are far more vulnerable now compared to say when they got independence from British. That is because Hindus at that time were far more rooted in Hinduism than now. Today, more than 90% of Hindus do not know the fundamentals of Hinduism. They are Hindu’s because they are born into it. They are emotionally invested in it because it is their identity. But it is not enough to counter HinduHate. Schools they go to, teach them how Hindus suffered at the hands of Hindus. Local and international mainstream media they consume, teach them how evil Hinduism is. Movies and TV shows they watch denigrates Hinduism. Temples they go to do not teach them about Hinduism. Their own parents do not know ABC’s of Hinduism and keep their kids completely preoccupied with everything impermanent (artha kama purushartha).
One thing every child should know first is to be able to clearly discriminate between what is permanent and what is not. “NityAnitya Vastu Vivekah”. Anything that is anitya (impermanent) will not last forever. This knowledge is in fact the first prerequisite or pre-qualification, to be able to learn and understand Tattva Bodha (Text on Atma Vidya). Any adult who is able to clearly see the difference between the two, will obviously never get enamored by things that are impermanent in nature. Do one then need to educate such an individual about lust or anger.
How can any parent impart this knowledge when they themself do not know. How can such a Hindu protect Hindusim? How can such a person counter HinduHate?
This is why every Hindu should commit to educating themselves on fundamentals of Hinduism first. And that must happen right now. Imagine the plight of a technician who has zero knowledge of the product and helping customers! It is better for the technician to take a break from the job and spend some time learning the product instead of being humiliated on a daily basis.
When it comes to seeking, often in India, I see people who have achieved a certain degree of success in their chosen fields are sought to opine on matters of spiritualism. A surgeon may be accomplished at surgery, but that doesn’t mean you seek his advice on matters of law! Likewise, if you want to learn Sanatana Dharma, learn it from an accomplished Guru. Ultimately, is that not what Guru means – a person who removes the darkness of ignorance with the light of knowledge. In Vivekachudamani, Adi Shankaracharya has laid down a long list of qualities and qualifications that are necessary for a Guru. One needs to know what to seek; and from whom. This gullibility in people is what the film stars often exploit and position themselves as their leaders. Just to clarify, this has nothing to do with education or lack of it. I have seen this gullibility from medical doctors to PhD holders.
As to the question of where to start, I think Tattva Bodha is a great starting point. While Tattva Bodha itself starts with “Adhikaritvam” – list of qualities a person must possess to learning it, it is really one of the introductory texts that is taught in Vedic Pathshala. It introduces a number of “terms” with detailed meanings that every Hindu must absolutely be aware off. It breaks down the nature of “I” from its Grosser body all the way to its connection to ParamAtma.
For people interested in Tattva Botha and for those who understand Tamizh language, I would highly recommend the class by Swami Omkarananda available on YouTube. It is a short text, so the lectures are not too long to start with. It is Advaita Vedanta. But people can start with any other scripture they are comfortable with, as the essence of Hinduism doesn’t change with scripture. Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, another essential text for all Hindus, is great starting point too.
Even if you don’t necessarily consider yourself ‘a protector’ of Dharma, you should still learn it. At Least it will give you some clarity about the mundane things you or your wife or parents do on a daily basis – like lighting a lamp, wearing tilak on forehead, going to temple or celebrating Hindu festivals. More importantly it will help you and your children be more confident Hindus and in countering innuendo’s from your non-hindu colleagues, classmates or evangelists knocking at your door to challenge you.
Finally, if you do manage to take a class on Tattva Bodha and pay enough attention to understand it well, I can challenge you that you will not stop with it. It will begin a churn in you to dig deeper and deeper. You will develop a strong appetite for something you never knew you had. And it is a welcome appetite! For that I offer my one thousand Namaskarams to Jagadguru Sri Bharathi Tirtha Mahaswamigal and Jagadguru Sri Vidhushekhara Bharathi Mahaswamigal for being that ever present guiding light, to Swami Omkarananda, whom I have never met, and yet for creating that appetite in me through his online classes, to my Father-in-law for painstakingly teaching a slow learner like me whatever I have learnt of the Vedas where I can easily spend a few hours each day connecting with Para Brahman and to my parents for creating an ambiance of festivity with a new kolam, bath and Naivedyam every single day during my childhood.
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