Wanted: Hindu Luthers. Our “scriptures” are locked in Sanskrit shlokas; translations in thick books cater to narrow audience
By Parth ShahCan you recite the Gayatri mantra? Did you undergo the saptapadi ritual? Hindu-majority country that we are, most of you will respond in the affirmative, even if you take pride in your rational and modern outlook. And excellent odds are you cannot translate any of those shlokas.
This disconnection of religion and language is today the biggest threat to Hinduism. Millennials will discard Hinduism, for they will see it as nothing but a set of meaningless rituals pursued by illogical parents driven by greedy priests claiming to “manage” the wrath or goodwill of an assortment of Gods. Our logical illiteracy will facilitate survival of the remaining Brahmins till their kids migrate to non-religious careers. What will not survive is the heritage of Hinduism, the wealth of its wisdom.
Hinduism is far beyond rituals. It is a variety of philosophies, some even exploring atheism. Hinduism promotes the exploration of thought, without enforcing boundaries. In the Geeta, even Krishna tries to justify his arguments logically in not one, but two widely different schools of thought: saankhya and yoga, exemplifying the awesomeness of this religion. It gets richer as we explore Jain and Buddhist proposals. But we miss this wisdom, for our “scriptures” are locked in Sanskrit shlokas and translations are thick books catering to a narrow audience.
For Hinduism to survive, its true beauty must reach everyone. Not unlike an amazing product with world-changing potential, that stays unsold without marketing. There are obvious examples to follow. Christianity rediscovered its true form after Luther translated the Latin to German, shaking up its priests and practices. The Arabic Quran can be understood by the Middle East and Northern Africa, its most fervent bases. Language can empower religion, a quest pursued even by Mahatma Gandhi.
Hindu philosophies can uplift our intellect and maturity. These thoughts have global potential, transcending the labels of religion. Let us consider ourselves Hindus only when we prioritize its rationale over rituals.