by Kishan Parekh
Let me begin by introducing myself, my name is Kishan Parekh and I am in my 2nd year of Computer Science with Software engineering. I was born in India, but have been living with my parents in Zimbabwe (yes, that’s right, in Africa) ever since we moved in 1991. Using my extraordinary mathematics, that gives me a good 17 years in that problematic, yet beautiful country; the remaining 2 years in Canada of course.
I am a somewhat religious Hindu, with some interesting views I will share later on as I write. I was always raised as a Hindu by my more devout parents, but went through very Christian (Anglican) schooling. Apart from trying to explain to the class why Hindus have so many gods when I was only in 5th grade (and stuttering embarrassingly with no answer), I have never had the chance to express my views on the religion I follow. I guess that’s the reason I am now writing for this blog.
It was always assumed in my previous school that everyone who was enrolled was a Christian, and that meant knowing all the church activities. Being the only Hindu in my year didn’t help at all when I went for my first ever Sunday Mass, another awkward encounter. But that was also one of many experiences that helped me better understand how my religion allows me to be more accepting of others.
As a Hindu, I believe I am able to comfortably coexist with and respect people of other religions, race and colour, and at the same time follow my religion. I have started to perceive my religion as more of a set of moral values that are common to all, a religion that gives you the freedom within these values to act as you may. No restrictions, no commandments, just belief in the existence of a sovereign power over us all.
So with much more knowledge and confidence, I can now answer the question of why we as Hindus have so many gods. The biggest mistake to start with is that they are not gods, but all deities – manifestations of the Supreme Being we call Brahma or Bhagwan (God). All these deities are aspects of Brahma, and ultimately lead to the same thing. Think of it as the sun and its rays, we cannot experience the full power of the sun, but through its rays we can feel the warmth and light from it. In the same way, all these deities are like the rays, we pray to them to reach Brahma. The many different deities are basically what people have perceived the image of them to be.
I cannot say much more than that at this stage because I still have much more to learn. Hinduism is ancient and many people spend years trying to understand it as a religion, but as one of my very close friends once told me, it’s a lifestyle not a religion. I hope to share more in the coming posts I write, but for now, I will leave it at this.