Most urban Hindus, mainly the youth, really don’t care much about their religion. This is especially true for those who have been brought up in a more “Western/Scientific” culture.
In a certain way, I feel this is a good thing as modern scientific education prevents blind belief, unnecessary fear. Not constraining the mind by blind superstitious beliefs and fear also promotes reasoning and the attitude of questioning (which has been primarily responsible for all inventions and discoveries).
But modern education should also promote open-mindedness.
This attitude of urban Indians toward their religion is very understandable. Worshiping “idols”, “monkeys”, “birds”, don’t make much sense in today’s age of science and reasoning.
However, discarding everything religious or ancient as blind superstition is also dangerous as one might throw away much needed wisdom. Indian cities like Varanasi, Madurai and even Patna have been continuously inhabited for thousands of years – and that too following almost exactly the same traditions as today. It is difficult, if not impossible, for civilizations to exist that long without some practical wisdom. And it would certainly help if some of that wisdom could be useful in modern times. So it might not be wise to throw everything about the religion or culture as blind superstition.
Blind disbelief, to me, is just as limited as blind belief. In both cases, one is close-minded to the other possibility.
While reasoning should be encouraged, being open-minded about all possibilities (whether it is scientific or outside the domain of today’s science) should also be encouraged.
As Yogananda Paramhamsa says beautifully in “Autobiography of a Yogi“, even miracles have perfect reasoning behind them, but only those with enhanced perceptions can see the reason.
In the pages below, author Linda Johnsen, beautifully describes the aspect of Idol-worship as well as formless-worship in Hinduism.
It is important to note that worshiping here does not mean bowing down in fear and respect to some superior power (who would kick our butt if we do not bow down to “Him”). Worshiping here means intense, causeless, irresistible, crazy or mad love towards all life and the source of life.
The book from which the below pages have been taken is “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism” by Linda Johnsen. A must read book for every spiritual seeker from India. It explains Hinduism in a way that makes perfect sense to today’s urban Indian.
Not my intention to violate any copyrights! You can purchase the book here.
Below excerpts (and some portions of the book) might be demeaning to Westerners or followers of Abrahamic faiths, however in my opinion, the intention of the author was to address the notion of Hinduism being primitive, superstitious and a religion of pagans, rather than claim superiority of one religion/culture over another.
In another beautiful story of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (posted at the end), she does illustrate that all religions, spiritual paths lead to the Truth/God/Self. The religion, per se, does not matter but what matters is the sincerity and intensity of the devotee.
Read and enjoy.