Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Too many holy books, too confusing!

'Amma, what's the holy book of the Hindus?'

That was my daughter's question while studying for her last exam (G.K.) in this academic year. A little earlier she had asked me about the holy book of Sikhs and I told her, without any difficulty, that it is the Guru Granth Sahib. She already knew about The Bible and The Quran. So, coming back to her current question, I thought this is easy... and said the first thing that came to my mind - The Bhagavad Gita.

S: What is the meaning of holy?
Me: Holy is something that is divine, that is Godly.
S: Means?
Me: Hmmm... okay, we say the temple is a holy place because we believe God stays inside a temple. That means it's very divine and peaceful.
S: So everything about Gods will be holy?
Me: Yes, we can probably say that.
S: (asked hopefully) But what about the Ramayana and the Anjana?
Me: Anjana?
S: The story of Hanuman...
Me: (Ahhh, okay now I get it...) There is no such thing as 'Anjana'.
S: Then what about the story of small Krishna?
Me: (I don't like cartoon shows... Period!) That is Bhagavatam.
S: That is not a holy book?
Me: It is.
S: Then when Krishna becomes big also there are stories no? Peddi (aunt) told me many stories.
Me: That is the Mahabharata.
S: They are also about Gods, so they should also be holy no!
Me: If that's the logic we use, then yes they are also holy books.
S: Then the mantras they read in the temple are also holy books?
Me: Okay, the mantras used while worshiping Gods are written not just in one book but in many books. We find them in the Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads, etc.
S: We have so many holy books?
Me: Yes.
S: Amma, but Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs have only one holy book no.
Me: (my patience is totally running out) That's what I've told you in the beginning right!
S: But amma, why do we have so many holy books then? How can everybody read and remember so many things? They'll get confused no.
Me: (OH MY GOD, I've never thought about this in the past 30-plus years of my life) Maybe...
S: (In a conclusive tone of 'That's it') So we should also have only one holy book.
Me: (still shocked beyond words) Okay, but you better study now.

Nevertheless, once again, she got me thinking about the whole philosophy behind the holy books, the confused Hindus and the spirit of the religion. I felt sorry not only for myself but also for all my fellow Hindus for all the confusion that the many holy books must be creating in our minds as she has pointed out. How very sad indeed!


Bhavani said...

ha ha ha.. i can't stop laughing... Kids man.. i think they use 200% of their brain

Elke said...

You should just tell her that since we have millions of gods unlike other monotheistic religions, it takes more than one book to cover the stories of them!

Usha said...

No no, tell her it is a democracy! We can pick and choose but for her exam she should remember to write The Bhagvad Gita :D. BTW, I think she is brilliant.