“Who is a Hindu?”, a pundit once asked me. I knew he had a quest for knowledge about divergent sects, cults, and religions. Before I spoke, he fired another question, “How did the word Hindu come?” I wondered at him as he was himself better at the answers. I returned home to consider them in a silent corner. I noticed that my wife meditated and chanted mantras, practised fasting, made charities, and offered us tika in honour of gods and goddesses every morning. I acknowledged there is at least one member in the family who prays and meditates. If anyone asked why she does so, her reply could be anything like, for health or peace of the family. I linked her practice to places far and near, and with acquaintances and women, doing the same though somewhat differently. All this gradually led me to see Hinduism as the privileged faith. I am its middle level, free-mood practitioner away or near Gita and Ganga. I believe the soul never dies or perishes although isolated from the body, and is never literally a ‘departed soul’. Hinduism believes regimentation is a fact of fundamentalism. A Hindu is free to attend or not to attend satsang, and has freedom to study or not the Vedas and Purans. A Hindu is not a commodity to buy or sell, nor defensive, nor suicidal. He visits Pashupatinath for peace or bliss but not as a regimented activist. I was eventfully able to define the pundit’s questions some years later (during late Man Mohan Adhikari’s premiership). I was then like a cultural ambassador, in a jumbo team of thirty-two Nepalis, in the newly emerged country of South Africa. The event was the World Fair of Hindus organised by the locals at a stadium in Durban. It had drawn tens of thousands from across Asia, Europe, and America. Even Latin Americans were attending. The South African president, Dr. Nelson Mandela, had graced its formal opening. Soon in the address, he claimed, “Hinduism is the only ancient religion in the world” that was followed by a sky-breaking applause. The address put me on cloud nine because my country was a Hindu nation. In this context, I felt proud of Nepal for having Everest and the Buddha. Mandela’s claim had washed out my untold travel and visa hassles (from New Delhi) indeed, when Nepal had no ice breaking diplomacy with South Africa. The stadium had a second round of applause too breaking the skies.
Hindu cap of Nelson Mandela
Published: 01:02 am Sep 01, 2015