Friday, May 27, 2016

Hindu Religious Rituals - Are Changes Required?

It is interesting to note that Sociology says most of the present day practices of societies are functional. They came into existence to serve some purpose of the society. Even Vedas, the foundation of all knowledge of Hinduism have functional utility for the society. As society evolves, certain practices may not give the benefits which they were giving earlier and hence get modified. Many such changes occurred in Hinduism.

I am looking at two issues first.  One the cost involved in rituals. Two, the cleanliness involved in the rituals. Should Hindu religious leaders have a fresh look at these two issues and modify the rituals.

Regarding cost aspect, the after death rituals are costing a cool packet coming to around  Rs.30,000 to 50,000 for a middle class family. Normally, the medical expenses are also involved in the period before. Is such an expense required? Will it not strain the family members unnecessarily? Already education is so much commercialised in this country that people are now forced to spend lakhs of rupees even at high school level. Should religious leaders say, religion also requires expenditure, so strain yourself and spend? You are paying taxes to government, incurring various expenses for unwarranted things and services under the spell of advertisment. You should pay to the religious establishment also. Should it be the line of religious leaders?

Rituals after death: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar said just dispose my dead body. No further rituals are required. Is there a need for making daan after death of a persons. Will it give punya to him? After punya is earned by the man by his deed during his life time. Why trouble people already troubled by death of a family member for more expenses?

Gift of clothes:  Are people having  trouble to clothe themselves? Why insist on compulsory gifts of clothes on various occasions? Already marriage of a girl is made costly by various customs and rituals connected to the bridegroom's family which they demand as right? Why expenses on bride's family also. Probably these are vestiges of a society that lived on agricultural land. Basically the customs of rich people are foisted upon poor people. In modern days where boy and girl work and earn income, the customs need change. But religious leaders are not taking enough interest in changing and moulding social customs. They and their followers are more concerned with using imaginary powers to increase their wealth further or punya with rituals. If present religious leaders do not take interest in social affairs, the vacuum will be filled by others.

Purohit system: Purohit system is an established practice that can be used by religious leaders, social leaders, and government for changing the culture of people. But there does not seem to be a good system in place to provide inputs to purohits in the modern practices that help to increase welfare of families, villages and towns. Purohit system is a stable system even now and it has to be used imaginatively so that it genuinely contributes to the progress of the family and society.

While Hindu religion emphasizes cleanliness in general, the present scientific practices of cleanliness have advanced and the religious practices have lagged behind. There is a need to have fresh look at some of the practices that only trouble a person's stomach and chest. Modification of such rituals to incorporate scientific cleanliness is warranted. The psychological satisfaction of a person should not lead to physical debility.

Readers are requested to give their comments.

Shodasha Samskars

Updated 27 May 2016,  25 Jan 2012

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