Saturday, February 27, 2010

The (co)(s(m)et)(ic)(al) identity of the Hindu

1. The "cosmic" identity of the Hindu
While the world is ruled by countries and geographical areas dominated by the so-called 'book-religions' like Christianity and Islam, any of their individuals become shocked when confronted with the Hindu religion.
All of a sudden you realise that here is a religion that has nothing to do with power and economics (well ... this can be discussed), with trying to win souls or convincing others by any means.
Hinduism offers over 300000 supernatural beings to choose from. Each individual can choose almost completely free which avatar of the supreme Brahman or which deity he/she wants to worship. Each individual is as well free to define for himself how far he wants to follow the worshipping rituals.
All these deities represent a specific human experience of the cosmos.
For westerners it is very hard to understand how a religion being so diffused, without the use of power as we understand it, without central organisation and without clear personifications of the deities, can be so successful that it binds 1 billion people for thousands of years.
Though one may perhaps dislike many of the aspects of Indian society that seem to go along with Hinduism, for me, Hinduism presents itself as a far more realistical and truthfull faith in comparison to other religions. To my feeling (IF any faith is still needed), Hinduism gives answers for a lot of modern-day individual questions.
Hinduism should be cherished by the world and Hindu culture on its own should be called one of its wonders.

2. The "comical" identity of the Hindu
I cannot say I'm an expert in Hindu psychology at all. And the longer I reside in India, the lesser I dare to say anything about it also. Each time you think you 'understand' something, another thing happens which proofs you didn't understand it.
The beauty of it is that mostly Indians don't care themselves too much about their identity. Identity is for them something which is defined by others, and as such is subject to eternal change caused by the everlasting changes in the environment.
As a consequence they almost accept every change or situation without second thoughts.
For westerners, who usually try to build up their identity on the basis of principles which they try to keep as long as possible, this often gives the impression that Indians 'are not serious', that they are 'playing games' with you (and with themselves).
There's no "hard" or "principle-based" center to find in Hindu individuals. In the same way it is very hard to find arrogant (in the common sense of the word) ones. (What a contrast with Americans and Europeans here !).

3. The "cosmetical" identity of the Hindu

Could it be that the non-organised and cosmic orientation of Hinduism results logically in a mind which has an aversion of self-definition, is reluctant to choosing principles and plainly hates to have enough arrogance to take decisions and bear responsabilities.
Could it be that the lack of self-definition causes an overweighted attention for cosmetical identity building as is shown in the fact that half of the daily "quality" papers consists of reports and photos from the lifes of Bollywood actors.
Could it be that the choice of M. Gandhi (with his agression-free and often vague and unrealistic ideology) as "the father of the nation" is a consequent (but perhaps not so fortunate - because too vague) choice for a society based on Hinduism ?
Could it be that in the modern globalised world, Hinduism will become a threat to its own survival, because of its refusal to take itself serious when confronted with other cultures ?

If you look at where the budget spendings go, the US brand is based on "military and economic power", the European identity defines itself then as "social (security) and cultural (historical) power", the Chinese as "organisational efficiency".

What is the India-brand?