For a long time, I have always faced the wrath of my parents and other staunch Hindu Brahmin friends, for being too radical and not following the rituals and procedures that has been laid out in my culture, which is supposed to be followed if I am to be called as a Brahmin. I have always hated following the rahu kalas and believing in stupid superstitions, long rituals and other poojas laid out in the various scriptures or which has been followed by our ancestors over a period of time.
The Hindu religion has always believed in and followed the caste based systems of society. The Shudras were supposed to be doing all the menial jobs like cleaning, washing, and other such trades. The Vyshyas were traders.The Kshatriyas were warriors and finally the Brahmanas were the people who were in fields like teaching and were supposed to reach the God and the Universal Truth. Now, in pursuit of the truth many down the line followed a certain path and tried to reach god. The various paths that have been laid out, must have been simple. But I feel, over a period of time, in order to maintain the supremacy in the social structure, the brahmanas made more and more rituals and complicated the whole issue by including many rituals and poojas, which by virtue of their complications and fear of antoganising the god, the common people followed them unquestioningly.
I feel, that if I have to search the truth, then I must have the freedom to choose my own path. This freedom has never been denied, but has always come under heavy prejudices by many who feel that not following what our ancestors have laid out, is a sign of confused mind, which is neither here nor there. Let me take a couple of examples, even at the cost being verbose.
Following the Rahu Kalam and Nalla Neram( The Bad and Good time of the day in hindu mythology).I personally have never bothered about starting a new venture on an auspicious time, or not starting it in rahu kala. I believe that there is never a wrong time to do a right thing. Believing in god, gives me faith. And that faith moves mountains. If things go wrong as they will, that faith is the anchor. But that does not mean that one must get overwhelmed by the rituals and sayings and forget the main objective. I can quote many examples, some from my personal life also, that even after carefully following the shastram and sampradayams, the efforts have not yielded any results, simply because they were not enough or were in the wrong direction.
Vegetarianism is another hotly contended item in the list. It is good to be a vegetarian because of all its good scientific advantages to health. But if someone says because I am a Brahmin and therefore I am supposed to be a vegetarian, then its ridiculous. Following a certain way of life is my choice. In the olden society, the Kshatriyas were always on the move and on campaigns and the Vysas were busy doing business which again kept them on the move. On the other hand, Brahmins were mostly confined to a one place like gurukul, temple or palace and lead a calm life, enhancing their knowledge, serving god and searching the truth by meditation and things like that. They were even prohibited from crossing the ocean. So the other community people were not bounded by vegetarianism except for the Brahmins for the simple reason that only they could have followed it by virtue of their lifestyle. But, today, there are more Brahmins going abroad, there are even those who have taken up arms as their profession, which was unimaginable even 300yrs ago. If they choose to exercise the option of non vegetarianism, then whats wrong in it?
For all those of you who quote ahimsa as the principle behind vegetarianism, then there can be nothing farther than the truth. We kill houseflies, cockroaches, snakes and all other living things. Is it not himsa? Nobody has been endowed with the right to choose what to kill and what not to kill!
Does, not following these makes me a non Brahmin or a fool? For times immemorial, Brahmins have staunchly believed and practiced social discrimination and untouchability. Even today, there are Brahmin households which has a separate tumbler for giving water to even fellow Brahmins from other subcastes. But many do not follow those principles, having realized the futility of such shortsighted parochial stands. In other words they have infact exercised their choice of not following them. In the same way, if one is convinced that vegetarianism or following Rahu kalam is not going to help in anyway his lifestyle, then whats wrong? Is it unfair for someone who chooses to be a good human being first and has a set of higher ideals rather than getting stuck in these rituals and sampradayas?
And finally, why does all religion preaches to renounce the self? Many feel happy to say that we are no one in this universe and cosmos. Why we must eschew comforts for reaching god. Why cant we be wealthy, proud of ourselves, comfortable and yet reach god? I feel there must be a simpler way to do any thing. Even reaching god. The Human mind has been empowered with a reasoning ability evolved over a billion years, simply not to renounce it, but to ask questions and find answers. And unfortunately, it has been indoctrinated for times immemorial that we are nothing and no one in this universe and things to that effect.
Having said these, When somebody, asked me a question as to where this freedom, which had never been denied in the first place has taken me, I was taken aback. Yes. It was one of the most profound questions, which made me realize that I need to take stock of all that I have learned and tried to follow.
This freedom has given me the power to choose my own path. As long as no one has ever known the path to the truth, the Brahman, I shall choose my own path. Sure, people like Vivekanada had made great progress, but for all you know, it could have been in the wrong jungle. So, not to regret later, I shall trace my own way, however hard, however slow. I may fail, I may get belittled, I may become an outcaste, I may reach nowhere, but I shall grind my own way in search of the truth. The Brahman.
In this search, till now I have realized a few things.
The self is supremely powerful, and if there is one omnipotent force, it is the self and hence, I start my search, inwards, to seek the truth, to search myself. The Krishna is in us. Deep inside. And in this experiment, I have the power to choose my tools.
I believe in equality and treating fellow human beings with respect.
Achieving purity of mind and thought is the end. All the poojas and sampradayas are mere means. There is no obligation for me to follow them as long as I am trying to reach the end, in my own ways.
I believe that pursuit of happiness is not a sin, but pursuing happiness by infringing on others is a sin.
I believe greed for anything is not a sin. But usurping from others to satiate that greed is a sin. As a corollary, I say It’s the greed for excellence among the very few of us, that has powered all development in this world today.
Seeking wealth is not a sin, but seeking it illegally and immorally is a sin.
I believe emotions like anger is not a sin. But taking out that anger on someone else is a sin.
I feel that we have been empowered with the ability to reason, not to simply denounce it and blindly follow others. The self need not be denounced. There is no need to sacrifice. I believe I have the power to be anything and anyone in this humanity, and such a quest is not a sin as long as I do it ethically. The self is supreme.
Every human being has got a deva and asura in him. Its that asura, we need to conquer, without pity, without remorse and that’s what I believe Bhagavat Gita preaches. That is our karma. To conquer the asura in us. Its not a war against anything else. It’s a civil war with ones own self!
Talking about karma, I have chosen the profession of arms. I fight for people I have not seen. I have killed/caused to kill people I don’t know and I fight for a cause I don’t believe. But I shall do it till my last drop of blood, because, that is my job, my karma.
At 16, when I asked myself and my near dears just before my exams, that if I don’t appear in XII class exams, will it invalidate all that I have studied and make me an illiterate, I was wondering about the truth. Now when I am actively posting this blog, I am seeking that truth.
I may be termed as arrogant and intransigent, But it doesn’t matter.Because, as I have said in my earlier blog, character is what I am, reputation is what others think I am. Character is a fact, but reputation is just an opinion. And, opinions are functions of time.
Last but not the least, In my death bed, in that moment before my last breath, when I close my eyes in naked honesty, If I realize that in search of that truth, I have made stupendous progress, but in a wrong jungle like a zillion others, I will only smile because it was my choice to choose that jungle. And I will be contented, because I fought till my end!!
This is what freedom means to me!!
So where is the brahmanan in me? If rituals and sampradhayas are all that brahminism is about, then I wish to be outcasted. But achieving purity of mind and thought, in search of that truth is brahminism, then I feel I am on the right track!