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|| आ नो भद्राः क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वतः || Let nobel thoughts come to us from everywhere, from all the world || 1.89.1 Rigveda ||
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Jeyamohan On The Question Of Being A ‘Cultural Hindu’-1
 
there is a place for Hindu faith beyond mere mental comfort.

By Jeyamohan




Tamil writer Jeyamohan’s mail exchange with a reader who wanted to know if one could be a ‘cultural Hindu’ and what that meant. Jeyamohan traces the history of Hindusim through the colonial era and explains how the term came about.

Dear Jeyamohan,

I read that the Turkish writer and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk calls himself a ‘Cultural Muslim’. That is, someone who does not necessarily follow the rules of Islam, but continues to maintains his cultural and historical connection with it. There seems to be an equivalent term for Christians as well. But I’ve never heard the term ‘Cultural Hindu’ being used.

Despite my family background of deep religiosity, I have never been much of a practicing Hindu. I do not avoid going to temples or applying the Sacred Ash but my rational brain is always on the alert to seek those false comforts. I have never thrust my thoughts on believers, and I do see that there is a place for Hindu faith beyond mere mental comfort.

I wouldn’t go so far as to identify myself as an Atheist, probably because I am worried about cutting myself off from the tradition. I am afraid that the egotistic side of such an identity will land me in a cultural hell without any connection to the tradition that nurtured great art, literature, temples and sculpture and music over thousands of years.

Whether we like them or not, our society makes us wear religious and caste labels,. I’m just trying to stay clear of false identities, be it ‘Atheist’ or ‘Hindu’.

I think ‘Cultural Hindu’ is a good label for people like me to adopt, but I am also confused. What do you think?

Sivendran

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