Please read the first post in the series to better understand and appreciate the purpose of these posts: https://hindudharma.or.id/hinduism-a-misnomer/
Making rounds in various Hindu groups, the message under the above picture is very clear: Stop slaughtering animals. Dharma does not depend upon such bloody rituals. The Sacred Fire of Yajna – prescribed by the Dharma texts – is to burn away our negative traits and tendencies.
It was meant for Hindus, the Sanatanis – for those who accept Dharma as their way of life. It was not meant for others, not for those who followed any institutionalized faith or belief system.
Let us presume that the one who started it was a Hindu, a Sanatani, a follower of Dharmika Way of Life. I choose to believe that he or she must have meant well and done it in the spirit of a healthy self-criticism. Indeed, many who received the message did accept it in the same spirit and forwarded it to their families and friends – that’s how I got it too.
Yes, thousands of years ago, our ancestors did perform animal sacrifices, and in the most elaborate manner, thinking that that was the only way to appease the natural forces and elements they called devas and devis – the light beings, loosely translated as gods and goddesses. This was a norm then – a long long time ago.
More than 5000 years ago, however, amendments were made…. Shri Krishna made it very clear in the Bhagavad Gita that the greatest offering that anyone can possibly make is that of True Knowledge, the Knowledge of Being. Share your wisdom with others, and serve all forms of life with the spirit of bhakti or devotion.
If we find solace in and through rituals, then offer fruits, flowers, water – and having offered them to the Deity, share them with family members, friends, and the needies.
Krishna’s injunction is now an accepted norm. Well, generally so, with some exceptions of course…. hence this writing. Generally speaking, even the non-vegetarian would not perform or take part in a ritual involving animal sacrifice.
The Lord is glorified as Pashupatinath, Govinda, Gopala – The Lord Protector of all Animals, all Life Forms. And, any service rendered to Manava or Fellow Human Beings is considered as service rendered to Madhava, the Lord of All Beings.
Yet, it seems some pockets within the Dharma fold have not understood this simple fact. They, yet, have to realize that All Life is One.
They still perform animal sacrifices…..
Coming back to the first picture making rounds with an appeal to stop slaughtering animals…. While commoners took it positively, some scholars saw it as a threat to Hindu-ism. Their argument: We already have so many external forces attacking us, what is the point of viralizing such appeals and arming our enemies with additional weapons to attack us more forcefully?
We can understand their concern. Very much justified, since they perceive Hindu Dharma as just another ism. And, isms– dogmatic, doctrinated and institutionalized faiths and belief systems – do dread such self-criticism. It is most certainly not healthy.
All Isms – dogmatic, doctrinated and institutionalized faiths and belief systems – go by the books. The rituals – integral parts and parcels of their books – can and should not be changed or reformed, not to talk about total transformation.
Hindu Sanatana Dharma, however, does not go by the book…. Dharma is neither a bookish faith, nor a dogmatic and doctrinated belief system. Dharma does not dread change, reformation, even a total transformation. Indeed, from age to age, Dharma has given rise to Thinkers, Reformers, Sages, Saints, Sadgurus, and Avatars – Manifestations of the Divine – for this very purpose.
Once we free ourselves from this ism-mentality and accept Hindu as Dharma in all its glory and majesty, we shall no longer dread change.
We will ever be engaged in self-introspection. We will not shy away from self-criticism. We will gratefully welcome criticism from any and all quarters, for it is only then that we can keep improving, keep evolving, keep growing, keep advancing, and keep progressing.
Our critics are not our enemies or predators.
They are our teachers, our mentors – we learn from them.
“Dharma realization” is all that we need to meet the challenges before us…. This realization will awaken the warrior within each one of us. Let us drop this Ism Mentality that is making us so fearful of extinction.
Looking at the prayer houses in the west turning into clubs and pubs, many of our Dharma Warriors living in the West are naturally fearful. They worry if Sanatana Dharma suffers a similar fate. Yes, it may, it will, if we reduce our Dharma to just another ism, NOT OTHERWISE.
The fear of extinction is unwarranted.
Sanatana Dharma cannot become extinct, as long as it keeps evolving.
Different is the fate of institutionalized faiths and belief systems, which, by their very nature, cannot evolve. They cannot change, for they must go by their books.
Rise up, O Warrior, rise up in faith that the way to serve Dharma is by means of ever evolving, ever reforming and transforming for betterment – not dreading the changes, stopping and becoming stagnant.