So the other day i was wondering what is a Hindu? Until recently people of the Indian sub continent were Vaishnavites, Shivaites, Shuktos etc... etc... but not Hindu. Every one had their own religion and we happy enough. The idea of having millions of gods and goddesses was so right back then.
But some where down the line we clubbed ourselves or were clubbed by some one else into a unified religion call Hinduism. Weather it was done to facilitate census by the British or by the Indian's them selves for political gains, or both is not very clear. What is clear is that this miss-appropriation or usurping of the religions of the past into a unified religion has resulted in a less tolerant and assimilative society. A culture of many religions could have diluted the fanatic zeal with witch we practice (or protect) Hinduism today.
My biggest problem with Hinduism is that its supposed to be a way of life. What does that mean? Other religions are not a way of life? Hinduism has create a huge number of un-necessary contradictions in our society which are often reflected in riots and pogroms. If Hinduism is an absence of any specific teaching/preaching/practice/etc... then how do we justify hindu crowds rioting, raping, gaping etc... in the name of protecting the Hindu thing - the hindu culture etc? Further, Hinduism has centralized the religious power to a few fanatics. Had we retained the diversity of, lets say, hindu religions the power of religion fanatics would have been diluted, more people would have had retained their historic identity and we would have been more tolerant lot.
I belive, when we say were are a tolerent society we actually refer to the non-hinduism dominated past, where the absense of one big shot religion made us tolerant to other, new and old faiths to live under one roof. The consolidation of religions has not been a good thing, except of course for the few religious/political zealots. Imagine, Hinduism tried to appropriate religions like Sikhism as a part of itself! Good thing the Sikhs protested. Alas, not every religion/sect could do the same.
I do not want to be called a Hindu, as I do not practice any of the religious templates that are available under shop Hinduism, but hinduism has not left any space for people like me to be anything other wise. If Hinduism is not a religion then why am I forced to identify myself as so. Hope we loosen up and get rid of this Hinduism thing. I am tired of filling in my religion as Hindu can we please have more options?
I just hope we realize this, and try to live in peace.