Friday 21st October 2016,
Hindu Human Rights Online News Magazine

“ What’s this man, you turning into a priest or something? ”

“ What’s this man, you turning into a priest or something? ”

When I used to study for exams at university I sometimes kept a copy of the Gita on the table with me. I’d read a page or two now and again, for example during breaks. Straight away I would begin to feel more focused and positive. The Gita certainly was an important companion for me through my exam periods.

Noticing that I kept a copy of the Gita, a bunch of friends (all of whom were themselves Hindus) found it comical and said something along the lines of, “Raj man, what’s this, you turning into a priest or something?” It was neither the first nor the last time that I got funny comments like this.

It was quite discouraging to find so many people, supposedly Hindus themselves, find it strange that a Hindu below the age of 30 should actually read and practice his or her religion. Furthermore, it reflected such ignorance about the contents of the Gita. In the first instance, the Gita does not advocate everybody “turning into a priest” or anything like that.

There was another friend in our group who used to do the same as me, only he was a Muslim and used to keep a copy of the Quran. These same people who found it comical that I used to read the Gita never made comments about his use of the Quran.

I reflected about the difference in attitude displayed here, and have never come to a fully satisfactory answer to explain it. I guess that people expect most Muslims to have a degree of religiosity, and therefore do not find it strange to witness a Muslim having a copy of the Quran with them. On the other hand with supposedly modern Hindus of our generation, beyond calling ourselves Hindu and celebrating Navratri and Diwali, any display of religiosity (especially by a guy – girls are excused for fasting) is out of the norm and something that is not witnessed regularly and hence becomes a spectacle.

Over time, I have spoken to many (practicing) Hindus who have narrated similar experiences. A friend at uni who had Hindu tattoos and once in a while wore a tilak got a reputation as a “militant Hindu” and there was a rumour that he belonged to a underground extremist group! All this for just wearing a tilak!

Another girl told me how none other than her mum and dad reacted negatively when she asked them for an English translation of the Bhagavad Gita. “You shouldn’t be reading the Gita at your age (17), you should be studying hard.” As if knowing anything about Hinduism is going to necessarily detract from your studies! These same parents would complain and lament if their daughter married someone non-Hindu, but discourage their children from knowing about their heritage in the first place.

Its a fallacy that Hindu teachings would detract from success in worldly pursuits – nothing will help a person more through the highs and lows of life than the equanimity of mind that Hinduism can impart; helping a person keep their feet on the ground when things are going well and hold one’s head up high when things are going badly. Be it in one’s career, relationships or any other part of life, the teachings of Hinduism provide the tools to help you enhance it.



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About The Author

British born Hindu writer and activist twho lives in London..He also writes for The Hindu Perspective Online magazine ( www.