Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
Thank you for the A2A.
As I do not wish to be a voice for other Hindus, I shall say only what I think about it…on a very personal front. And as I do not consider my faith to be an ‘ism’, I shall refrain from using the word ‘Hinduism’ and use the word ‘Sanatana Dharma’ instead.
Being a non-Abrahamic faith, Sanatana Dharma offers ample freedom to those who follow it (and to those who don’t) to interpret it in whichever way they please. It does not lay down strict guidelines that dictate terms to those who chose to follow it. It is free to be questioned, it is free to be followed in many ways, it is open to change, it is free to be interpreted in a million ways. I could go on.
What I meant to say is that just like each one of us have our own notions about our faith, Mr. Naik has arrived at his own conclusions based on his understanding. That does not mean that what he says is the absolute truth. There is no absolute truth that a single person can perfectly define in Sanatana Dharma. We all have our own definitions. What God means to me may not be what God means to another person. And we’re okay with that. In many other ‘isms’, there is a definitive idea of God, His tenets, rules laid down and everyone is expected to strictly adhere to those. Sanatana Dharma has none of those. And because of this freedom, anyone and everyone thinks that it is okay and justified to talk about their own interpretations and try and find ‘faults’ with a faith that gives so much freedom to those who follow it. A lot of people find this unsettling.
How can so many millions of people follow a faith that has been on this earth since forever, a faith that does not bind its people with invisible chains, a faith that does not demand its people to live their lives in a certain way, a faith that does not threaten its people with dire consequences if they fail to adhere to its rules…and yet be so happy. Surely, there must be something dirty about it. We’ll study it in detail and find out something and then tell people about it so that they know that even Sanatana Dharma is flawed.
Unknown to many, every one of our scriptures is written in a cryptic way. They are not straightforward texts. Every phrase and every word had deep inner meanings besides the literal one. So a 10 year old child would interpret it from a literal point of view, while a deep-thinking 40 year old reading the same text would see much more than those mere words. This was to ensure that people who read them would think about them deeply and arrive at more questions and even more answers. Those who go by merely the literal meanings of the texts are missing much.
So, I would say that like any individual, Mr.Naik has all the freedom to arrive at his own conclusions based on what he has understood. But the word ‘reality’ in the question is nothing but an illusion 🙂 Great saints and thinkers who have studied every aspect of Sanatana Dharma have spent their entire lifetime trying to arrive at this so called ‘reality’ and they are still seeking answers.
As long as we understand that we are all children of the same Power, what does it matter who thinks what anyway? Like Sai Baba of Shirdi used to say…
Sabka Malik Ek Hai!
God is One!