Thursday, May 15, 2008

Reviving Hinduism - “Altar Boyz,” (an Off-Broadway Musical) Style

When I look around, I see that religions overall are dying--at least with my generation. Most of my Jewish friends don’t keep Kosher, Muslim friends find Ramadan cumbersome, Christian friends sleep through Sunday mass—thanks to the hangover from crazy Saturday night parties, and Hindu friends go to temple every now & then, but it’s for the Indian goodies available there—saves you the time from cooking a meal, right?

My generation’s approach to religion is reactive. We go to our respective places of worship to either pray for our deepest desires to come true, or to seek atonement, not literally but more to get rid of guilt. I am neither a fanatic nor an atheist, but the inconsequentialness towards religion does bother me. Why are youngsters today, including me, borderline apathetic towards religion?

I am Hindu and Hinduism is the only religion I know well enough to be able to comment on. Personally, I think Hinduism is an accommodating, logical, and truly accepting religion. I am not saying it because I am a Hindu, but it’s a religion based on ahimsa (non-violence), scientific logic, and tolerance. So, why does not it connect with my generation?

Here is what I think: Hindu pundits are the biggest reason why my generation is losing faith in Hinduism followed by our inability to relate to the irksome and sometimes unalterable customs. It is not just the religion that I can’t relate to; it’s the misinterpretation and distortion of it. Why should I have to wear a traditional Indian garb, read some holy text in an archaic language or patiently listen to someone else do it, sing songs that have a dreary tune, and then pay these supercilious pundits to reach out to God on my behalf? What makes them superior and more in tune with the almighty? How dare these masochists, fascists, and sexists misconstrue the religion to further their gains? With time, like everything, Hinduism has evolved as well, but only for the worse. We owe the corruption to these cozeners, the Hindu pundits.

My generation is mostly comprised of multi-taskers. I personally do not have the time to wake up every morning and spend 40 minutes on something that I am not convinced is right. I (my generation) doesn’t like rigid methods of reaching out to God. One should be able to pray as and when the desire is felt as God is omnipresent. Any moment could be the opportune moment. We don’t need a mediator to communicate with God.

These are my two cents on saving Hinduism: Last week, my husband and I watched “Altar Boyz,” an Off-Broadway musical. The crowd, including us, went hysterical swaying to the music and soaking in the wittiness. By the way, the Show, in a nutshell, was basically about reviving Christianity. The lyrics were humorous and sanguine without being revolting. Maybe, Hinduism needs that “zing”.

In the movie “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai,” there is a scene where a bunch of hippies plays the song “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram” the complete modern way and in a funky tune---with guitar & drums. Until today, I hum that tune. What if Hindu texts and hymns were infused with the modern age raaga—pieces that touch the soul? Something one could listen to for fun and relate to? What if one could just shake a leg listening to the audio of a holy text instead of feeling pressurized to pay attention to some strange dude (pundit) on a power trip? What if I could follow my religion in my own way without being judged for doing so? I can see a lot of us part of being this reformed religion.

More until next time.

Copyright © 05.15.2008

“True religion is real living; living with all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness.”Albert Einstein


Bijay said...

All religions have passed through a process of evolution to keep pace with real life sitruation in a given time.Hinduism is no exception.But the basic theme of paying respect to a source of power beyond human control remains unchanged.

Jaya said...

just read your post.........amazing one - actually sets you thinking on what we and our children are heading for.

I believe that little nuances that we follow- like the sindur , a bindi or may be touching feet of our elders just keeps us connected and grounded and to many gives a sense of recognition and individuality.