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Hindus must ditch the itch to reform and instead practice their faith

Hindus must ditch the itch to reform and instead practice their faith

The dark ages have descended upon the Hindus in full glory. While we can take comfort in the fact that this is not a new phenomenon, it is tiring nevertheless to see the same script play, again and again. This time it is the liberal tent of political Hindus and another child of right-wing politics’ success since 2014, weighing upon whether women can recite the Vedas, or not. A similar argument broke on Twitter recently, with several “liberal reformers” sharing their deep insights on how Hinduism should allow women to recite the Vedas. These self-indulgent Jnanis of Twitter are so self-absorbed in the luminous orb of their own self-importance, that they are too blinded to see the irony in their proclamations, when most of these Jnanis are themselves not eligible to study the Vedas. Even if they were, hardly anyone among this group could claim to have studied the Vedas for at least a decade under a competent Guru, to make the recommendations that they so confidently made.

We say that the phenomenon or the itch to reform Hinduism is not new, because we’ve seen several attempts in the past resulting in various degrees of disaster. From the Arya Samaj experiments which started with destruction of Hindu idols not unlike the Christian inquisition of Goa and Muslim raids on Somnath and appears to be ending with Kadai Yajnas along the roadside, to the secular state reforming the abodes of our Lord via a secular constitution, if only to corner what goes into the Hundis and not what happens in the sanctum sanctorum, we’ve tolerated assault after assault in the name of reform, but gotten a little weaker after every assault. However, like everything else, the internet/COVID era seems to have spread this itch to reform their religion far and wide among ordinary Hindus.

The complete deracination of the urban Hindu has led to a situation where he does not know who his Kula devata, Kula Guru, or Sampradaya is, and is forced to get his daily dose of spiritual but not religious wisdom from neo-Gurus who on occasion dress up like the mythical Santa Claus or worse, themselves have a deep urge to reform the very religion they claim to be serving. This has led to tragicomic situations where new Gods are invented, fantastic claims made, the neo-Guru himself claims to be God, claims false equivalences between a living, Idol-worshipping pagan religion and plagiarized, intolerant, eternal-hell cults.

The reform itch usually falls into 3 buckets: 1. Dissing regressive practices like ‘caste’ system 2. Questioning rationale behind every ritual or do and don’ts (ex: do not visit a temple during periods, do offer milk to a Shiva linga) and 3. Picking a standalone line from a scripture quote and applying it to all Hindu schools (ex: Ahimsa paramo dharma so animal sacrifice is anti-Hindu). We have written elsewhere about some of these diseases plaguing Hindus, and will continue to do so in the future.

The Oxford English dictionary defines reform as “make changes in order to improve it” – Hindus must realize that their religion has existed forever (Sanatana) and stands of the shoulders of giants like our ancient Rishis, Yogis, and uncompromised practitioners of Dharma in each age. So, the next time we suffer the itch to reform our religion, it is appropriate that we first weigh ourselves against Rishis such as Vāsiṣṭha and Visvāmitra, yogis such as Swami Sivananda, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Jnanis such as Ramana Maharshi, and Guru paramparas of several schools of philosophies which continue to exist today – and ditch the itch. The only thing that requires urgent reform today is the Hindu’s attitude towards his religion.

A tale of Bhakti – Sri Krishna and the thief

A tale of Bhakti – Sri Krishna and the thief

A Brahmin (Priest), whose profession was singing the glories of the Lord, was once reciting Srimad Bhagavatam in the house of a patron. A thief broke into the house where the recital was going on and hid himself in the deep corner. Perforce, he had to listen to Srimad Bhagavatam (Beautiful stories & Miracles of Lord Krishna). The singer was now describing the ornaments worn by little Krishna. He described the various ornaments Mother Yasodha decorated on little Krishna before sending Him out with the cows. The thief was excited and thought that he should meet that lad and rob all the ornaments at one stroke instead of struggling every day with petty stealing. He waited till the entire chapter of Srimad Bhagavatam was recited and left the place. The thief wanted to know where this boy was. He, therefore, followed the Brahmin and waylaid him. The Brahmin was frightened and feared that he would lose even the small amount he had received as dakshina and told the thief, “I do not have anything with me”.

The thief replied that he was not keen to have any of his possessions but wanted some information about that lad he claimed to have the best ornaments and who used to go out for grazing the cows. He beseeched him to take him to that place where the lad was grazing those cows . The Brahmin was in a fix now. He said, “In the town of Brindavana, on the banks of Yamuna river, in a green meadow, two boys come every morning. One is dark like the clouds with a flute, and the other fair, clad in white silk. The dark one will have all the ornaments I had described.” The thief believed the brahmin and set out for Brindavana immediately.

He located the beautiful place, climbed up a tree and waited for the boys to arrive. The sun rose. Faint melody of the flute wafted along the morning breeze. The enchanting music could then be heard closer and the thief spotted two boys coming. He got down from the tree and went near them. The moment he saw the most beautiful appearance of the little Krishna, he forgot himself, folded his hands and shed tears of joy. The tears were from his heart and it was chilling . He wondered which wretched mother had sent these radiant boys, chiseled to perfection, loaded with ornaments to the riverbank. He could not take his eyes off from the divinity .The transformation started.

He approached the boys …..shouting, “Stop,” and held Krishna’s hand. The moment he touched Lord Krishna, all his previous karmas were wiped out like a ball of cotton getting burnt in fire …. and with all humility he inquired lovingly, “Who are you?” Krishna looked at him, innocently and said, “I am frightened by your looks. Please leave my hands ..”. The thief, now full of remorse, said to Krishna, “It is my evil mind which is reflected in my face. If you are frightened, I shall go away. Please don’t say I must leave you”.

The Natkhat (Divinely naughty) Krishna reminded the thief the purpose of his coming there and mocked him, “Here, take these ornaments”. Confused, the thief replied, “Will not your mother scold you if you gift away all your ornaments to me?” Krishna with a smile said, “Do not worry about that. I have plenty of them. I am a bigger thief than you. But there is a difference between you and me – however much I steal, the owners do not complain. I am lovingly called “Chitta Chora”. Though you are not aware of it, you have a precious ornament in your possession, the “Chitta (Heart) ”. I shall steal it now and take the same with Me.” So saying both the boys vanished.

To his surprise, the thief found a bag full of ornaments on his shoulder. He brought it to the Brahmin’s house and told him what had all happened. The Brahmin was now frightened and took the thief inside and opened the bag. To his utter amazement he saw all the ornaments described by him as being worn by Krishna in the Bhagavatam, in the thief’s bag. Shedding tears of joy, the Brahmin asked the thief to take him to the place where he saw the dark boy. The thief obliged and both of them waited in the same place where the thief accosted the boy the previous day. Suddenly the thief exclaimed, “Look, here they come!” However, the Brahmin could not see any one. Stricken with disappointment, he said, “Lord, when You decided to give darshan to a thief, why not me?

Lord Krishna, out of abundant compassion, replied, “You are reading Srimad Bhagavatam just as another story, whereas the thief actually believed what you told him about me. I manifest only for those who have full faith in Me and surrender to Me.”

We offer this beautiful story on the occasion of Sri Krishna Jamnashtami. May Lord Krishna bless us all!

The Panchatantra – Story 64a


There was once in a dreadful forest a terrible demon called Chandakarma. On one occasion, when he was wandering in the forest, he came upon a Brahmin. He at once got upon the Brahmin’s shoulders and said, ‘March!’. The Brahmin was terribly afraid and obeyed the command. Seeing the beautiful feet of the demon, as delicate and soft as the inside of a lotus, the Brahmin asked the demon, ‘How is it that your feet are so tender and beautiful ?’ The demon replied, ‘I observe a vow. I will never tread on the earth with wet feet. So this favour has been conferred upon me.’ Hearing this reply, the Brahmin thought of a way of saving himself. Soon they arrived at a lake. 

The demon told the Brahmin. ‘I shall bathe in the tank and worship God and return. Remain here and don’t stir from this place.’ When the demon had got into the lake for bathing, the Brahmin thought to himself, ‘Sure as anything, this demon will eat me up after he returns from his bath and prayers. So I must run away forthwith. As he cannot tread on earth with wet feet by his vow, he will not pursue me if I run away now. and I can make good my escape’. Thinking thus, the Brahmin took to a precipitate flight and escaped, the demon not daring to break his vow and pursue.