Why Pushti Marg MUST support mainstream Hinduism
I was watching a fascinating programme on African lions. What really amazed me is, when a lioness hunted, she picked on a particular wildebeest and went for it with full gusto. Having pounced on it, the lions invariably went for the jugular. All other wildebeests, ran around, avoiding the obvious enemy within their midst. Drained of strength, blood and starved of oxygen, the animal would drop to the ground and soon, even cubs will rip it to pieces, often, they were being eaten alive, while still taking their last breath ! Saddest of all, even after the kill, other wildebeests carried on grazing within sight of their own race being devoured by the lions !!
On occasions, during a hunt, a singular wildebeest put up resistance or, a doting mother defended her baby by goring the attacker with her horns and the lioness would have to walk away empty handed. Once, a lioness, fully engaged in throttling a wildebeest, was knocked off by a passing wildebeest, making the lioness take a dangerous tumble in the stony savannah. The wildebeests than ran to safety !
I could not get this image out of my mind ! If and if only the wildebeests united, they could stand together as a unit and make sure every lion that tried to hunt them, got a horn full of wildebeests to contend with ! No one, not even lions can stand up to determined resistance !!
We as Hindus need to stand together ! We seem to have a wildebeest mentality - when another Hindu / Indian culture is attacked, we look on with passive eyes and silently pray "Thank god it wasn't me !" For centuries, this has happened to us and we have still not learned, like the unfortunate wildebeests of Africa !
While our temples in the North were being razed to the ground, South retorted by saying it wasn't there issue, they are Aryan, we are Dravidian ! While our Sanskrit schools were being closed down, we said we did not need them, as the language of commerce was Urdu or English and who needs them anyway ? While brahmins are being unfairly derided as greedy and lazy, we sanctimoniously blame the evils of the caste system. While one sect was being reviled, others closed their eyes and said it was nothing to do with them, as Vishnu / Shiva / Shakti have nothing to do with us - its their issue not mine !!
For centuries, we have let others dominate us by letting them divide and rule over us. We allow this by putting our heads in the sand and ignoring the fact that what our enemies have done to one group, they can easily do to us ! When will this wildebeest mentality stop ?
Lately, I have been noticing how some of our erstwhile gosvami balaks and leaders are reasserting and insisting on uniqueness and separateness of Pushti Marg. They are insisting that to honour anyone of the Hindu Gods is such a terrible sin, that it can never be washed away. This causes terrible rifts between Hindus and Pushtimargiya vaishnavs.
In an age when we are being attacked so strongly by Islam and Christianity, surely, this is a time for all of us to unite rather than fight amongst ourselves. In an age when the Hindus are being reduced to minority status within parts of India (Kashmir and NE states), and where we have to fight for our very survival in others, surely, we have to stand united.
This is even more of an issue outside India, where our fledgling communities need to act in concert for political, social and spiritual recognition. Our children in far flung corners of the world need the security of knowing that a billion people share their faith and culture. To insist that they are somehow superior to everyone else and have the only monopoly on the TRUTH, only alienates them. All they can see is, like all orthodox sects, Hindu or otherwise, we too are preaching that we have an exclusive relationship with GOD.
It is a great shame that old philosophical and ideological differences between our Hindu sects are allowed to embitter relationships between friends, relations and communities today. Gosvami balaks do not seem to understand that their insistence on excluding all other Gods of the Hindu pantheon only ends up splitting us up, especially at a time when we need to work together.
Throughout the world, all universities have a chair for Christian and Islamic studies. Why is there no chair for Hindu studies in most universities ? Our in-fighting and age old habit of spewing bile over other's ideas has resulted in Hinduism being sidelined as a subject too unclear for most universities to contemplate having a department for. We have to unite. We have to work together to promote our Vedic heritage. This is not an option we can consider or decline at our leisure. It is imperative we do this if Hinduism is to survive in to the next millennium.
Relying on old rhetoric is not a solution. The gosvami balaks of today need to think of today's issues and find solutions that fit the modern situation. Like Shri Vallabh and Shri Vitthalnathji, they have to be bold, modern and inclusive. These great leaders found consensus where ever they went. They took the best ideas from different temples, sects and cultures to create a new order, a new sect, that re-established people's faith in Hinduism. many of rituals, festivals, modes of dress, items of prasad etc used in Pusthi Marg are borrowed from scores of different religions / cultures.
To stand together and be strong, we have to loose the stigma attached to "anyashraya" - the ultimate sin of worshipping anyone other than Krushna as envisioned by Pushti Marg. As I have already said in my other article on this site, it is impossible to slip in to anyashraya if you have absolute belief in Shri Vallabh's Shudhhadvitya - pure monism. If there is no "other" and the omnipotent, omnipresent universal spirit pervades everything, how can you worship anything / anyone other than that universal spirit ?
Ignoring the above point, even if you accept, as some people insist, that all other Hindu Gods are simply "inferior relatives" of the Lord, it would be an insult to your Lord not to pay due honour to His relations ! A wife, no matter how dedicated to her husband, must recognise the importance of all His relatives and be courteous to them ! Surely, by paying due homage to other gods, we are only honouring their relation to our Lord !!
We have to accept our Vedic heritage and accept that the One can easily manifest as the Many ! We have to work together.
For sake of our glorious heritage, Pushti and Vedic, we have to work together.
For the sake of our children and their future in Pushti Marg, we have to work together !!!
Bhagwat Shah ©
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