There are three things you should know about me before reading this blog.
First, I am not a spiritual person. I have not spent my life searching for enlightenment. Forty seven years with Gordon has been all the enlightenment I can take.
Next, I have a problem with religions that collect money and fill their own coffers with it when there are so many people desperately needing help. So that pretty much rules them all out for me.
Finally the older I get the more problems I have with absorption. My body will absorb a lovely bottle of bubbles without a problem, but my brain will not absorb the name. Ask me the next morning the name of the champagne and I will have forgotten it. Nothing to do with the amount I drank, I assure you. Just a really bad memory
So with that in mind I can tell you that I have tried to understand the basics of the Hindu religion. I really have. We have seen so many temples and each one is dedicated to a different god and each one has statues of numerous other gods. And everyone seems to pray to whichever god they fancy on that day. It is all very confusing.
We had a guide for a day who tried to give me the Hindu for dummies version. Here is what he said, assuming that I have remembered it correctly
In the Hindu religion there are three major gods that make the Holy Trinity. They are Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
They represent the circle of life in that they are the gods of Creation, Preservation and Destruction. So far so good. If only it was that simple. But it is not. Far from it in fact. There are hundreds of other gods too. This, our guide tells us, allows you to have a choice. You might get bored with one god, and if you do you can move on to another. You can move from one god to another as often as you like, until you find one that suits your needs and answers your prayers.
Those gods that promise much but deliver nothing should get a bad review on trip advisor which will hopefully put them out of business (OK, he didn’t say that). If none of the gods works for you, you always have the option of making up your own god. You certainly can’t ask for a more amenable religion. Finally, if you lack the creative skills to make your own god, you can actually be your own god.
Finally! I have found a religion that will work for me. I will be the god of my choice. I will write a good review of myself as an excellent god and soon I will be worshipped by many. It seems so perfect for me
Christianity on the other hand, only has one God. You can take Him or leave Him. That’s it. No wonder it’s not working for so many.
So having learned this, I have tried to understand and recognise at least a few of the gods and their stories. I grasped early on that Ganesha is the one that has an elephant’s head although I have no idea why, but it does make him easy to recognise.
I have also pinned down that his parents were Shiva and Parvati. Shiva, also known as Lord Shiva, I now learn is the Supreme being who creates, protects and transforms the universe. Pretty impressive. But very confusing. Our guide, in his Hindu for Dummies lesson said that he was the god of destruction, which sounds like a contradiction. They are not making this easy for me. And Parvati is the goddess of fertility, love and devotion. My kinda girl.
So it has taken me a couple of weeks, but I think I am making progress.
I even learned a great story about Pavarti. She was born with three breasts. Her family were rather concerned, which I can understand. You can have too much of a good thing.
They took her to a doctor who examined her carefully and then uttered the phrase that all doctors learn
“It is nothing to worry about”
I am not sure if Pavarti saw it like that, but the doctor went on
“When you meet the man of your dreams, your one true love, the third breast will drop off”
I would think that gave Pavarti plenty of reason to go explore the market, but for years, despite trying hard, she never met the right man. Then one day she met Shiva who happened to be in one of his many disguises (OK, I haven’t quite got the disguise thing yet). He is so handsome, she thought. Perhaps because he had a third eye in the middle of his forehead which made her three breasts seem quite insignificant. She immediately blushed terribly. It was love at first sight. And to prove it, she demurely dropped her eyes and then her third breast.
What a lovely story. If only it hadn’t ended with them giving birth to a son with an elephant’s head.
So, are you impressed, dear reader, because I am. I am almost fluent in basic Hindu! But just as I begin to feel proud of myself, things get tricky. All of a sudden I discover Ganesha has several different names. He is also called Ganapati and Vinayaka. Maybe I can handle that. But wait, there’s more. In Tamil he is known as Pillai or Pillaiyar. This seems complicated, but it is nothing to what I am learning about Shiva. You would think as the Supreme Being he would only need one name, but apparently he goes by many. I don’t have a hope of remembering them all but a few of them are Viswanathan , Mahadeva, Mahesha, Maheshvara, Shankara, Shambhu, Rudra, Hara, and on and on.
Good God, this is difficult.
And talking of Good God, maybe the Christians have it right after all. One God makes life so easy. All I have to remember is Him, His son who is pretty famous anyway, and the Holy Ghost. And that’s it. Even I can remember that – even after a bottle of bubbles…………….
But wait a minute – isn’t that another Holy Trinity.
Coincidence? How spooky!
Stay tuned for the next blog on sex, marriage and death. Now there’s a good hook for you.