Ever wondered why only the Indian way of life could survive in the world from ancient times? Because it was evolving continuously! In a generic term one can say Hinduism (though I don’t like to use the word), as a religion had evolved continuously. Evolving? And a religion? Am I talking rubbish?
No Sir! Speaking with a sober mind, this was probably the only religion that changed with time. As I don’t prefer to call Hinduism as a religion – for it doesn’t have a prophet, set of customs and practices (there are many sets for each set of followers). At the best, Shaivism and Vaishnavism can be called religions. And I agree many other sets are there like those who worship Shakti and those who worship themselves (like me?).
Why there is evolution in Hinduism, when any dogmatic doctrines are tied up with lots of customs and practices? Even in Hinduism, we see many customs and practices that are rigid – till someone challenges and changes them – from within. Normally in any religion the doctrine is unchangeable and questioning it considered blasphemy. Even on blasphemy, Hinduism is a bit different. Remember the story of Jaya & Vijaya – the gatekeepers of Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Vishnu?
When they were cursed to separate from their loving Lord, the Lord lets them to choose from two options of three lives as his enemies or seven lives as his devotees. Here comes the twist – they choose to be his enemies so that their lives can be short and their return to Vaikuntha is expedited. I call this is seeing long term. They curse their beloved Lord in three lives and become notorious villains of Indian mythology. It is said every time Ravana took the name of Rama in anger, his chances of going back to Vaikuntha have increased.
The fundamentals of this religion or the way of life have roots that allow people to analyse the doctrine and acting is left to their discretion.
इति ते ज्ञानमाख्यातं गुह्याद्गुह्यतरं मया |
विमृश्यैतदशेषेण यथेच्छसि तथा कुरु ||
This is the shloka from the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 18, verse 63.
iti te jñānam ākhyātaṁ guhyād guhyataraṁ mayā
vimṛiśhyaitad aśheṣheṇa yathechchhasi tathā kuru
Translation: I have given you the most confidential of all knowledge. Analyze it critically and act as per your wish and understanding.
Krishna was not asking Arjuna to follow his preaching blindly! Neither was threatening that he will rot in hell, for non-compliance (so ISO like)! This one shloka distinguishes India from the rest of the world.
Here, Krishna was telling Arjuna that he has to analyse the knowledge and act as per his own understanding. Now, take out the portion whether Krishna was a god or not. Consider it was only an ancient text that Vyasa was penning down for future generations. What he is implying here? He very well know all those who read Gita in future may not have the same level of knowledge or understanding like Arjuna (even considering a character – Arjuna’s character was that of one superior warrior, an excellent archer and accomplished person in his trade!).
So, unlike making a compulsion to follow the preaching blindly without questioning, why Vyasa wanted others to analyse it? And whoever analyses will question some of the things that were told in the Gita, for without questioning there is no critical thinking and without critical thinking no analysis is complete. He is inviting criticism of his own words!
Any religion was basically a sort of solution when the seeker questions the reason for existence of self and others – the entire universe with all its ways of functioning. Kaal, the time was nothing but an eternal flow of life that sprouts new ones and engulfs those who finishes their mission. With time, everything changes, but time itself. What is correct at one point of time may not necessarily correct at another point. Hence, the concept of absolute truth – as the ultimate object of the seeker. Till the time he attains the final goal, everything he/she finds was only a relative truth. Hence, the need for critical analysis.
It was the legacy of those people with vision that could foresee eons into the future that laid such flexible foundations to the native way of life in India. This flexibility was at the core that guided and changed various customs and practices of this religion. Many a people have interpreted old scriptures to the best of their knowledge, albeit with their own prejudices that were consistent with the culture of their times. So, there were many variations of same scriptures that have fanned out in the sub-continent.
The seed of analytical thinking that was sown by the ancient people inhabited this country had evolved over a period of time and could result in the development of science of various disciplines.
Equality is the law of nature. Everything that goes up comes down. When practitioners became preachers, they became mere followers of a religion, who blindly follow whatever was told to them. When again people question themselves (before someone else reminds them to do so), they will start become what their forefathers were, once upon a time.
Religion explained becomes Science and unexplained Science is religion! Let the religion become a scientific one so that again there can be people with self-attainment. A society with realistic people would be a safer and prosperous one – for everyone knows their capabilities and well, limitations!