some frustrating experiences with Hinduism...
#1
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[fon‌t=Times New Roman][fon‌t=Verdana]Hi friends.I am a 22 year-old guy named Tarun.I am new to this bustling community of atheists. I wish to share some of my experiences that sowed the germ of dissent against religion in general and Hinduism in particular. Please bear with me.Blush

I was born and raised in a family of Brahmins(lol,why are Brahmin boys so likely to end up as atheists?)in New Delhi, the capital of this nation of a billion-odd humans. My family was marginally religious, whereas my father was(and still is) a skeptic who taught me to question dogma and religion. Still, there were the occasional Puja ceremonies and visits to shrines for the sake of 'tribal loyalties'.

Almost every colony in Delhi has its own Sanatana Dharma temple. They usually all look alike-red and yellow structures with images of Mata Rani(Durga) and Krishna prominently displayed on the doorways. The tradition of temples as an agency of adhesion for a 'Hindu identity' is rather strong in some areas of Delhi,where most people are descendants of refugees of the Partition-era(those Hindus and Sikhs packed off to India). These temples tend to be nerve centers of local politics and for pushing the Hindutva agenda. The processions from these temples appropriate the use of roads and sidewalks and cause unnecessary traffic snarls. Hard-working people are inconvenienced terribly(after a day of work) as the gods are taken out in pomp and circumstance. This is manifest especially in South Delhi where public spaces are steadily receding. Then there are the jagratas/jagrans or all-night parties for Durga and her coterie(lol). People sing bollywood-like songs and 'remix bhajans' in praise of Durga to the accompaniment of some harsh,jarring music.Students, office-goers and people of advanced years find it hard to sleep with the faithful blaring their prayers through countless speakers.Ask any person from Delhi and i'm sure he/she would be familiar with this phenomenon.
The local temples also serve as recreation centers for the aged residents. They are tacitly required to donate sums of money to the temple. Then, there are mindless rituals like amavasya and pooranmasi(full moon). Navratras, the nine days of special significance to Durga, are the most lucrative days of the year for these temples. Idols of Durga are offered clothes,jewelery and silver parasols-items that inevitably end up with the Brahmins.

I would now like to share a couple of experiences which brought about a sense of disenchantment:
1. I was in the 6th standard.It had just rained heavily and my grandmother decided to take me to the local temple since it was hosting some religious ceremony. She put on an old Sari but did not comb her hair properly. When we reached the temple,which was just around the corner, we saw it was very crowded with people jostling for space. There was a temple attendant posted on the gate. His job was to keep extraneous,ill-dressed individuals out and welcome the well-fed,well-dressed devotees having deep pockets. Somehow, as we approached the gate, the temple attendant pushed my grandmother aside and growled rudely,"jao!"(leave). I believe it was due to the old Sari and the unkempt hair. Despite being one of the oldest and most-respected residents of the area my grandmother was turned out in favor of well-dressed individuals alighting from expensive cars.A savage rage overcame me and I felt like sinking my teeth into the brute's flesh and kicking him hard. But, better sense prevailed and we left. My grandma muttered," What is the use? I don't think I would want to go in there after experiencing this." I vowed never to step inside the temple and have remained true to it ever since. How a 'temple' attendant could bring himself to push aside an old woman holding her grandchild's hand is absolutely beyond me. I argued with the head Pandit of the temple over some religious subject some years back and he was left clueless. He was ashamed to lose to a boy of 18. It is so sad that ignoramuses like these exercise control over people's minds.Mad

2. This experience was singular in that it involved supposedly 'educated' and 'free-thinking' individuals. Friends, you must have noticed a rise in the ranks of Neo-Hindus. They like to think of themselves as spiritual,intellectual and ideological heirs to the glorious legacy of Hinduism. I was in the 9th standard. I loved participating in painting competitions. A particular competition was hosted by a school in Delhi. The participants had to express their ideas about the dangers of smoking, through collage-work and paints. Our art-teacher accompanied a group of three students(including myself) to the venue and we set to the task. I had a bunch of Hindu religious magazines-Gitapress magazines,the ones with those bright,shiny pictures of gods-that i decided to cut up and include in my message for 'no smoking'. So, the final result was a vibrant poster with images of Krishna and Vishnu,among others, forming a message 'smoking kills'. My friends thought it looked brilliant and so did my art-teacher. A great surprise was in store for me.
The works were to be judged over a period of 10 days and the prizes to be distributed afterwards. I was confident my piece,for all its innovation and vibrancy, would definitely score in the top three. When we gathered for the prize-distribution ceremony at an up-market venue in central Delhi, i was amazed at the tony crowd that had gathered there. The works had been judged by a lady who headed some NGO or some body rallying against smoking and drug abuse. The lady fitted the bill of the perfect Neo-Hindu. Her speech was peppered with references to spirituality, the 'Universal Truth' and moral condescension. She was wearing a 'tilak' on her forehead and talking in an accent. You meet a lot of her tribe in meditation centers and expensive ashrams. Anyhow, the prizes were distributed and I was distraught to discover that I had not won any prize other than the 'consolation prize'. Then we were requested to move over to the gallery area of the venue to view the works of the participants at leisure. I was amazed how poorly executed and childish the top-three works were. I had worked infinitely better than these guys who seemed to be 5 year-old kids despite being in the 9th/10th standard. After about 20 minutes of perusing the entirety of the displays, I was left shocked. My work had not been put up on display at all. All my friends' works were there. Childish attempts too had been honored with a place. I tried going through the displays again and after 3 attempts could not locate my work!Cursing I asked the organizers about my work and they replied,"it was unsuitable to display". I did the math and figured out the crazy,Neo-Hindu lady must've been shocked at seeing her beloved blue-and-green gods forming a part of the message "smoking kills". I was amused when I tried to imagine the expression on her face when she would've been asked to 'judge' my work. Oh beloved Krishna! what have they done to you?lol. Apparently, using the images of gods for anything other than worship,even for propagating a useful message,does not sit well with people like her. How a person who believes in censoring artistic thought and freedom in favor of religious bias gets to be the judge is beyond the realm of my comprehension.

So,this was a rather wordy account of my experiences with the religion I was most used to. Despite the drivel about 'spirituality' and 'universal truth' Hinduism suffers from a number of chronic maladies.

Best Wishes.

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#2
Welcome to Nirmukta, Tarun! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Neo-Hinduism is neither spiritual (if it means attaining happiness) nor the holder of Universal Truth. What it is, is a lying opportunist, in view of revisionism of Indian history and co-opting modern day science to paint some legitimacy to scriptural nonsense. It is also arrogant in saying that Dharma is eternal and that it is the ideal way of living.
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#3
Quote:So, the final result was a vibrant poster with images of Krishna and Vishnu,among others, forming a message 'smoking kills'.

Tarun, what are you, a modern day MFHussain or what? :-) You didn't take photos of your exhibit back then did you? If you had, you could have had your "revenge" on the internet.
Welcome to the forum.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has - Margaret Mead
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#4
(15-Feb-2011, 08:01 PM)astrokid.nj Wrote:
Quote:So, the final result was a vibrant poster with images of Krishna and Vishnu,among others, forming a message 'smoking kills'.

Tarun, what are you, a modern day MFHussain or what? :-) You didn't take photos of your exhibit back then did you? If you had, you could have had your "revenge" on the internet.
Welcome to the forum.

Thank you for the welcoming words.
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#5
Now i know how MF Hussain feels, hahahaa! It is too bad I didn't click any pictures back then. I was very disturbed and left the venue right after the disconcerting discovery. BTW I didn't stop making collages with pictures of Hindu gods after the incident. I made a huge collage some months after the said incident and had it framed. It was also displayed in the art-room of my school. So I had a mini-revenge, hahaha
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#6
Nothing to add - just wanted to say great post Tarun, and welcome.
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