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Thursday, July 25, 2024

4 New Year resolutions for every Hindu

What’s a new year without resolutions? Here are 4 resolutions that every Hindu should consider keeping in 2019:

1.) Ask yourself – why do I call myself a Hindu? Just having a Hindu name or celebrating festivals like Diwali, Holi is not enough. Yes, Hindu Dharma celebrates plurality and offers various paths to self-realization, but it’s not a buffet where you can pick & choose as you wish or just skip everything and still smugly call yourself a Hindu.

Understand the basics of Hindu Dharma, so at least you can explain to your kids if they ask why we worship a ‘stone idol’, or why we ‘worship’ an animal like the cow, or what the shiv ling represents. You personally might not believe visiting temples is important, but as a Hindu who respects all paths you should be able to explain what a temple and the murti established their represent. And most importantly, practise what you say – if you are a Krishna bhakt, follow the practises associated with that path, and if you believe in jnana marg, then meditate regularly as per the teachings you follow. And don’t be shy of sharing what you believe and know.

The hostility towards Hindus in today’s mass media is such that if we don’t give a grounding in Dharma to our kids by the time they are 12, they will likely turn into deracinated, self-alienated adults. So it’s absolutely essential that we have the ability to explain Hindu Dharma to a 5-year-old.

Some more tips can be seen in this list of 10 simple things all Hindus can do to keep their Dharma alive.

2.) Get involved with a Hindu charity, preferably by donating your time and skills, but at least by donating money.

One of the core ideas of Hindu civilization is that we share the same divine consciousness i.e. atma. Hence, dana (giving) has been central to our way of life – our ancestors built community wells, schools & universities, dharamshalas (pilgrim rest areas), water harvesting structures, huge temple complexes which served both spiritual & material needs of people apart from doubling up as centers of arts & learning. Our history is replete with examples of kings and commoners donating all their wealth and retreating to the mountains and jungles in the last stage of life. Both wealth creation and sharing of wealth are considered important as per the 4 purusharthas (aims of human life) – artha (wealth), kama (fulfilling desires), dharma (performing your duty towards society), moksha (liberation).

But somewhere down the line, especially in the last few decades, that spirit of giving for Dharma has diminished. It could be down to increasing consumerism or the negative connotations around Hindu Dharma that left-liberals have managed to create. But this spirt needs to be revived. Ideally, one should do both things – do hands-on seva with a local charity, orphanage in your area AND also donate to a more established organization working at a higher level.

Many urban Hindus working in MNCs these days contribute to well-marketed international charities – likes of Oxfam, World Vision etc. While some of their projects are indeed beneficial to the needy, these groups often carry hidden agendas, have high administrative overheads and fuel a sort of neo-colonialism in which Bharat’s sovereignty & development is secondary.

If you believe in sharing your Hindu values, then give to organizations which work under a Dharmic framework. Some examples are Akshay Patra, Seva BharatiYouth for SevaSeva SahayogBharat Sevasharam Sangha, AIM for Sewa etc. Many of these organizations work in social areas like children’s welfare, tribal upliftment, disaster relief, while some of their other projects could be more religious in nature – all of this work needs support. They might not be as slick and savvy as some of the more networked NGOs, but they are run by passionate individuals aware of local conditions, who will ensure far better utilization of your contributions.

If you want to support Hindu teaching, or research & advocacy for Hindu studies & issues, there are some excellent organizations you can support like Infinity Foundation, People for Dharma, Chinmaya Mission etc.

Do your due diligence, engage & share your ideas with the Hindu charity of your choice…and if you prefer doing something hands-on and there really is no organization where you live, start something of your own or just decide to do something for needy Hindus around you – distribute clothes, food, school supplies, or just help people avail of Government schemes through the Self4Society initiative.

But do something…other than moaning that Hindus don’t do enough charity! That’s just a copout and reflects on YOU, not the wider Hindu society where giving & sharing is still a way of life.

3.) Make an effort to understand the challenges facing Hindus.

DO NOT blindly swallow whatever the English-language media (newspapers and TV) is narrating to you – question everything. This is not just about politics, but something far more important – leaving a country for future generations where they can live with dignity as Hindus.

Consider this – Hindus are a global minority, we are the majority in only one large nation (Bharat) and two smaller countries (Nepal, Mauritius). There is a lot of ignorance and negative stereotyping around Hindus across the world, largely due to our own ignorance and inability/hesitation in articulating crisply about Hindu Dharma. Hindus are looked down upon as ‘idol-worshippers’ by fundamentalists of the two largest Abrahamic religions in the world, i.e. Christianity & Islam. You might be an atheist Hindu who thinks the world has moved on from such religious ‘fundoos’, but these people have a highly committed, well-funded set up and are pouring millions into Bharat to convert Hindus or break the nation. This is not a conspiracy theory, but easily provable fact for anyone who cares to find out what is really happening across the length & breadth of Bharat and other countries where Hindus live as minorities.

Efforts like the Hindu Charter are not the work of some fringe activists who are out to divide society and create a fear psychosis – these are basic demands to create a level-playing field for Hindus, and to allow us to live with dignity in the one nation that we can call home.

So understand these issues, and resolve to discuss them with at least 10 Hindus in your immediate circle.

4.) Vote and get 10 others around you to vote. 

Yes, politicians are hated everywhere and our media has successfully created this ‘they are all crooks’ narrative. But in a democracy, not voting or becoming apathetic to the political process is not an option. NOTA is an exercise in absurdity, and it’s utopian to think that political parties will change their candidate choices based on NOTA voters.

Politics is all about choosing the best option at any point of time. If voters keep doing this consistently and vote for the right issues, then all parties are forced to shift in that direction.

Bharat missed the bus in 2004 when we voted out a government that was delivering on the development front – we had to endure 10 years of decay, scams and institutional damage. In 2014, we made a decisive change and the Government we chose has gone a long way in repairing the damage done. We might have valid grievances with the current Government on many issues, but it is imperative for the nation that the current dispensation continues and the work done in this term is allowed to bear fruit in the next. 2019 is also a civlizational battle, for those who are aware of the not-so-obvious issues at play.

So make sure your name is there on the voter list, help those around you to get registered, mark the voting day on your calendar once the 2019 LS election dates are announced, and go out to vote bright & early on D-day.

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