I have had various conversations about my religious beliefs with all kinds of people. It is fascinating what people think Hinduism is actually about, and how I am not so sure myself. My idea of Hinduism has changed with my age. When I was little I just went along with everything the elders in my family did – be it Aarthi, the showing of the fire or the incense sticks that have to be in odd numbers and other rituals, they were just like a kind of games with a set of rules!
The Gods were introduced to me not through a priest but in stories told by my grandmother. These Gods were benign or malignant depending on the moral that needed imparting. They were also not that different from humans, albeit their super-powers like ability to manifest in more than once place at the same time, throw fireballs etc. They were approachable, made mistakes and killed demons – it was all pretty straight-forward Godly stuff.
Then I grew up and wanted to believe that someone out there is listening to me – especially me! I am so special that he/she is going to make everything go my way. My life till date has been a very happy one and I believed that it was because I went to the temple and did that particular deed.
Now that I am much older, I think I understand better what religion means to me It was not doing that particular thing that made everything work but optimism. I do not believe God is listening to me because I am special. It is because I am listening to God and/ common sense! The universe tells you what is right and wrong, universe tells you what is important and what is not, all you have to do is focus. It is hard some times to do the right thing without having done the wrong thing first. That is called a learning curve and experience.
To quote Ralph W Emerson
“We acquire the strength we have overcome”.
And most of the time, we do alright.