Abandoning Hindu customs?
#1
My first thread on here and I hope it will be a thought provoking one at that. Basically I'm born into a Brahmin family and it was a bit difficult to come out to my parents about the whole atheism bit, but for some strange reason, when I said I never was a Brahmin to begin with, my mom lost it. We had this argument where she badgered me to wear this "sacred thread" and I staunchly refused, saying that when I don't believe in god or Hindu spiritualism (the whole sanskrit, veda heritage story), I don't see why she's so hung up about the thread of all things. I mean, not believing in a god should rank higher on the OMG! scale than not wanting to follow Brahmanical rights and rituals. I mean I find the whole caste system vulgar; I don't take any pride in being Brahmin; it doesn't become my identity (I wish not to be labelled a brahmin boy) and I don't acknowledge my Brahmin "heritage".
Is it so wrong for me to not to conform to these ancient rituals and practices? I mean why can't my parents understand that it's my life and I don't want to follow those old practices? Huh
Anyone had similar issues?
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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#2
(21-Jun-2011, 10:41 PM)nick87 Wrote: I mean I find the whole caste system vulgar; I don't take any pride in being Brahmin; it doesn't become my identity (I wish not to be labelled a brahmin boy) and I don't acknowledge my Brahmin "heritage".

I'm glad you are here.

Quote:Is it so wrong for me to not to conform to these ancient rituals and practices?

Hell no.

Quote:I mean why can't my parents understand that it's my life and I don't want to follow those old practices?


Identity is actually more important than belief as far as religion is concerned. This is even more relevant in the case of Hinduism, where within the religion there is rigid stratification of society into sub-categories, each with its own identity.

I reject all religious identity, including the Hindu identity.

Quote:Anyone had similar issues?

When I was in my teens my mom was quite intrusive, trying to force me to conform. By the time I was 20 she had stopped and resigned herself to more passive methods. She still entertains hope that I will marry into the community (I'm not comfortable talking about my ex-caste background), but I just deflect any statements on that subject Wink
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#3
Thumbs Up 
A short and sweet reply, thanks!
More on the point, I enjoy a good Maharaja McChicken burger, I'm not averse to a rare partaking of Black Label with a splash of Evian, I swear like a sailor on required occasions and I HATE curd rice. That should take me off the Brahmin list in any event. Big Grin
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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#4
- Speaking of abandoning customs, one strategy that often works is 'demanding an explanation' and pressing the apologists for details. For example one can demand to know the contemporary significance or meaningfulness of the minutiae of the ஆவணி அவிட்டம் (thread-renewal rigmarole) ritual. Quite often apologists are unwilling or unable to supply details (finding an apologist who has done his or her scriptural homework is about as likely as finding an M F Husain-hater who has actually seen the paintings), let alone a justification.

However, before throwing up their hands, they will stage a tactical retreat and defend 'core beliefs' rather than 'rituals', by saying something like, "Well, what matters really is not the thread or the ceremony, but the practice of Gayatri Mantra that it sustains!" When pressed on this point, they may take one of two routes, saying that it is the mere sound of the Gayatri Mantra that benefits the practitioner (in which case you can demand to see peer-reviewed publications supporting this empirical claim) or say that it is the meaning of the Mantra that needs continued cherishing. If the meaning is what matters,there is no grounds to suggest that the original language and traditional chant are binding. In fact, considering S Radhakrishnan's translation: "We meditate on the adorable glory of the radiant sun; may he inspire our intelligence." we can even suggest the following way of 'cherishing the meaning' :- Forget the mantra and simply soak in the beauty of a sunrise or sunset thinking that We view the sun as it is, a fission reactor of the sort that cooked the star-dust we ourselves are made of, and use this understanding to inform our attitudes about our place in the world and our relationship with each other!

In short, instead of staging a dramatic walk-out as it were, discussions about customs are opportunities to provoke a rethink about revisionist Indology and perhaps even slip in an introduction to Cultural Naturalism!

- There is an important disambiguation regarding the word 'Brahmin' which often ends up getting used in two very different senses: (i) to refer to people having what was once called Brahminical ancestry (which is something accidental and one has no choice whatsoever in) and (ii) to refer to 'Brahmanical loyalists', to borrow Dr. Prabhakar Kamath's phrase, who are sworn adherents to the dogma of Brahminism (which is something quite voluntary and something someone can very justifiably held accountable for.). While making a clean break from the loyalist establishment, irrespective of what one's supposed ancestry maybe, there are several ways of making a statement.

While taboo-breaking remains a powerful statement to make, we must be careful not to fetishize apostasy as a 'rite-of-passage' in its own right. That a switch to omnivorous dining patterns or a switch out of teetotalism are surrogates for a declaration of freethought only in a particular social milieu, ought to be obvious considering that an atheist is the world's most famous vegan, and the world's best known debunker abstains from alcohol since he avoids anything that can 'fuzz the edge of his rationality'.

Assuming online identities proclaiming an ideology is another statement one could make. I can for instance catchily call myself वर्ण वैर वारक: (Caste Hatred Remover) as a pseudonym on a whim, but I somehow think that a disavowal of loyalism to orthodoxy with our everyday names, not dwelling too much on the nomenclature that is ours only by accident, is a statement in its own right.

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#5
I am glad you took a right decision .. to seek the truth rather than live with false hope and belief.
but do know that , if you trying to convince your parents , especially grandma , grandpa , you will end up dejected.. fpr them these belief have become a part of them..and its not easy to reason with such strong belief..

Be glad that our generation is becoming rational and more people are coming out of thier belief systems
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#6
Mr.Arvind and Mr.Naveen,
thank you for your replies. Sadly some elders think that the atheism is a by-product of growing up, hormones, social pressures and in short just "a passing fad". They don't understand that I cannot unlearn all the science I've been taught and I can't close my eyes to the knowledge of the caste system; the prejudice and hatred of one set of group over another. I can't reconcile over the time spent in chanting elaborate verses in an obscure language that simply venerates the sun god. In other words I've seen too much, read too much and heard so much from the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens, Spinoza and Nietzsche that it's not possible to go back to religion and rites/rituals.
There's an elderly member who said gravely that I will turn to god in my darkest hour and I will repent all the things I've said or done till that point. It scared me a bit in the earliest days of my coming out of the atheist closet, but today I just see how sad that man was for trying his last gambit to keep me in the fold.
Thanks for your opinions and views, keep 'em coming.
Nick.
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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#7
(22-Jun-2011, 10:54 AM)nick87 Wrote: Mr.Arvind and Mr.Naveen,
thank you for your replies. Sadly some elders think that the atheism is a by-product of growing up, hormones, social pressures and in short just "a passing fad". They don't understand that I cannot unlearn all the science I've been taught and I can't close my eyes to the knowledge of the caste system; the prejudice and hatred of one set of group over another. I can't reconcile over the time spent in chanting elaborate verses in an obscure language that simply venerates the sun god. In other words I've seen too much, read too much and heard so much from the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens, Spinoza and Nietzsche that it's not possible to go back to religion and rites/rituals.
There's an elderly member who said gravely that I will turn to god in my darkest hour and I will repent all the things I've said or done till that point. It scared me a bit in the earliest days of my coming out of the atheist closet, but today I just see how sad that man was for trying his last gambit to keep me in the fold.
Thanks for your opinions and views, keep 'em coming.
Nick.

This is the what we all hear from time to time... for not those strong headed , these may sound as last warning to get themselves into thier belief .. Its also classical example (in a hidden way though )of http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager , if there is nothing harm in believing it , which will yield good result , why not do it along ?

I used to hear " you are too young to know god. When time comes , you will seek his favor"

One elderly in my house used to be a Sai baba devotee , but when i showed her the lingam trick and vibuthi trick years back , she was stunned , and now instead of believing in him she says " what ever he may be , he has done some good deeds ..."

As Kamal Hassan told in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2gbPzvoXUQ
there is a general rationalism growing among people .. more people are questioning the old tradition..
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#8
Quote:This is the what we all hear from time to time... for not those strong headed , these may sound as last warning to get themselves into their belief .. Its also classical example (in a hidden way though )of http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager , if there is nothing harm in believing it , which will yield good result , why not do it along ?

I used to hear " you are too young to know god. When time comes , you will seek his favor"

One elderly in my house used to be a Sai baba devotee , but when i showed her the lingam trick and vibuthi trick years back , she was stunned , and now instead of believing in him she says " what ever he may be , he has done some good deeds ..."

As Kamal Hassan told in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2gbPzvoXUQ
there is a general rationalism growing among people .. more people are questioning the old tradition..

Pascal's wager is a cowardly way of trying to gain god's favour by feigning belief and it is ridiculous to think that an omniscient god wouldn't be incapable of sorting genuine genuflection from insincere lip service. The thought that it is still used as an argument to say " what do you stand to lose by believing" is laughable. Also condescending is the "you are too young (substitute with inexperienced, immature etc) to know god". As if the nay sayers themselves have a vision of the truth of god. And finally the human ego is far too fragile to admit defeat. Rather than acknowledging that Sai Baba is a duplicitous fraud, a possible pedophile and con artist, the devotees would stoop to deriding you for shattering their belief system. No
And thanks for the Kamal link. +1 respect for him.
Cheers,
Nick.
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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#9
It is by accident that we are born to a family with certain tradition or caste or whatever terms used. We are all born atheists since a new born child will always be non-conformist. You being recusant towards your family tradition is your achievement attained by your intellect and discretion of the matter concerning 'god'. So, bravo to you!!

Being born to an atheist family (only my parents though not any of my relatives!), i consider myself very fortunate and i do not know how it feels to unlearn all those years of conditioning and choosing your path!! But i can only imagine the joy of the triumph that you have achieved not over your family but on discovering the rational path. I do not think that you have to excessively worry about convincing your family though it would be nice if they at least accept your thoughts. The only important thing is to remain true to your conscience.

See ya smile
(22-Jun-2011, 11:43 AM)nick87 Wrote:
Quote:This is the what we all hear from time to time... for not those strong headed , these may sound as last warning to get themselves into their belief .. Its also classical example (in a hidden way though )of http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager , if there is nothing harm in believing it , which will yield good result , why not do it along ?

I used to hear " you are too young to know god. When time comes , you will seek his favor"

One elderly in my house used to be a Sai baba devotee , but when i showed her the lingam trick and vibuthi trick years back , she was stunned , and now instead of believing in him she says " what ever he may be , he has done some good deeds ..."

As Kamal Hassan told in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2gbPzvoXUQ
there is a general rationalism growing among people .. more people are questioning the old tradition..

Pascal's wager is a cowardly way of trying to gain god's favour by feigning belief and it is ridiculous to think that an omniscient god wouldn't be incapable of sorting genuine genuflection from insincere lip service. The thought that it is still used as an argument to say " what do you stand to lose by believing" is laughable. Also condescending is the "you are too young (substitute with inexperienced, immature etc) to know god". As if the nay sayers themselves have a vision of the truth of god. And finally the human ego is far too fragile to admit defeat. Rather than acknowledging that Sai Baba is a duplicitous fraud, a possible pedophile and con artist, the devotees would stoop to deriding you for shattering their belief system. No
And thanks for the Kamal link. +1 respect for him.
Cheers,
Nick.

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#10
Glad you have come out. Now, don't be afraid of upsetting the applecart. Family members will (naturally) perceive as if we have deviated from the path of virtue & are bound to incur the wrath of their god(s). But over a period of time, my folks have realized that I have reasoned myself into this position and not just trying to be a rebel. They agree that I am right but that they can't let go of it all as they have been living with it for ages!

I always make it a point to try to be present during the rituals AND ASK UNEASY QUESTIONS & LAUGH OUT LOUD at the silly antics.

In fact, during the house warming ceremony at my place, I initially refused to participate but later agreed. I was there all along. Refused to take off my footwear (& gave a mouthful to the priests who had come when they asked me to remove my slippers.. asked them not to bother me with their bullshit and to just do their worthless rituals and get the shit out OR answer my probing questions!)
All along, I use such instances as opportunities to open up the topic of religion & rationality and make people see reason! During that house warming function, I was wearing a T-Shirt that I had made which read,
"RIDICULOUS RITUALS
POIGNANT PRAYERS
FETISH FIRE SACRIFICES &
SILLY SUPERNATURAL IDEAS!

It's really an appalling stranglehold that such archaic beliefs have on minds warped since childhood! - Prof. Richard Dawkins"

On the back side it reads, a logo that I had designed
a big red "A" (OutCampaign) around which it reads LIVE, LOVE, LEARN and below it it reads ATHEIST

I use this T-Shirt as my uniform whenever I go to some religious ritual/ function! :-)
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#11
Wow!! Superb smile
(30-Jun-2011, 08:22 PM)gunniboy Wrote: Glad you have come out. Now, don't be afraid of upsetting the applecart. Family members will (naturally) perceive as if we have deviated from the path of virtue & are bound to incur the wrath of their god(s). But over a period of time, my folks have realized that I have reasoned myself into this position and not just trying to be a rebel. They agree that I am right but that they can't let go of it all as they have been living with it for ages!

I always make it a point to try to be present during the rituals AND ASK UNEASY QUESTIONS & LAUGH OUT LOUD at the silly antics.

In fact, during the house warming ceremony at my place, I initially refused to participate but later agreed. I was there all along. Refused to take off my footwear (& gave a mouthful to the priests who had come when they asked me to remove my slippers.. asked them not to bother me with their bullshit and to just do their worthless rituals and get the shit out OR answer my probing questions!)
All along, I use such instances as opportunities to open up the topic of religion & rationality and make people see reason! During that house warming function, I was wearing a T-Shirt that I had made which read,
"RIDICULOUS RITUALS
POIGNANT PRAYERS
FETISH FIRE SACRIFICES &
SILLY SUPERNATURAL IDEAS!

It's really an appalling stranglehold that such archaic beliefs have on minds warped since childhood! - Prof. Richard Dawkins"

On the back side it reads, a logo that I had designed
a big red "A" (OutCampaign) around which it reads LIVE, LOVE, LEARN and below it it reads ATHEIST

I use this T-Shirt as my uniform whenever I go to some religious ritual/ function! :-)

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#12
Gunniboy,
Cheers for that reply. I too like to ask questions, but the folks or anyone else for that matter always have a factory-made reply (like it's for this spiritual reason or the other...or thank god you were a Hindu; you won't have the freedom to be an atheist in Christianity or Islam!) which makes retorts difficult or pointless.
Make no mistake, I'm not trying to talk my folks out of their Hindu beliefs, but I do try to point out that the beauty of the world doesn't always need a bunch of "holy" texts, rituals and story book characters. They think that I'm a nihilistic person, because a world without god seems purposeless and bleak and I have nothing to fill the gap with...
I contend there was never a gap to begin with.
Also would LOVE to see that T-shirt of yours! A photo of just the shirt posted here would be awesome!

Peace. Flowers
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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