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 Blooming Stars

Defective Humanity – 2

            2. The Myth of Inter-Birth Sin (Janmanthara Papam): Hinduism is a way of life more than a religion. As a way of life it is the eternal religion or righteousness (Sanatana Dharma) or right living. Nothing related to life and living is excluded in Hinduism. Sages and Rishis through ages of relentless sadhana (ascetic practice) naturally developed, systematized, and codified some of the most sublime philosophy and theology related to the Supreme Being (God) and humans in history. While the Hindu Scriptures (especially the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita) embody some of the most sublime human thoughts, Hinduism institutionalized some of the most bizarre and inhuman and cruel practices such as caste system, sati (the self-immolation of a wife on the funeral pyre of her husband), human and animal sacrifices. Mind-boggling myths, stories, and legends abound in Hinduism. Even the most famous exponent of Advaita Hinduism, Sankara, was tainted by the curse of caste system until he got freed from it through miraculous intervention on the bank of the river Ganga in Kashi. In modern times, Mahatma Gandhi, the most well-known representative of Hinduism and a true saint in practical life in every way, and, above all, a lover of humanity believed in Varnasrama (caste division and function related to each stage) seemingly in his self-abnegation, while Narayana Guru, a great teacher of humanity, denied caste distinctions and advocated total religious reform. Sri Narayana Guru went to the extent of saying that the human needs to be good and right, no matter what one’s religion.

            In Hinduism one’s salvation or liberation depends on the law of karma (deed). By the mere fact a human is born into the world, he or she is in the bondage of sin which in turn is due to one’s karma in the past life. Liberation takes place after a series of births, deaths, and re-births. Good deeds lead to one’s birth in a higher state of life while bad deeds lead to births in a lower state. Births and deaths go on until one is fully purified and returns to the final godly stage which is one’s true nature to begin with. There is no explanation as to why one lost one’s true and original God nature. That one who has the nature of God in the beginning can do something wrong that will pave the way to descent into the realm of imperfect humanity is totally absurd. Like the myth of Original Sin that makes humanity in Christianity defective right from the beginning, the mere fact of being born makes humanity defective in Hinduism. The series of births are due to bad karma or sin. Thus we find a parallelism between the myth of Original Sin and the myth of Inter-births Sin. I contend that both myths and speculations, to use a socially desirable term, do no service to humanity. Both speculative streams lead to the same conclusion that there is something substantially wrong with humanity in its origin.

            All except human beings in nature are what they are supposed to be. The human, the only one endowed with freedom, is defective right from the start according to Christianity and Hinduism. This is unacceptable as well as absurd. We need to do some re-working of our speculations so humans are all right from the beginning. Why did our own speculations lead to our own self-condemnation? God alone knows. As we made ourselves unwholesome through our creative and life-denying speculations we can make ourselves wholesome through our no-less creative and life-giving speculations. Our belief systems generate our speculations that imprison and program us. What we have for sure is this life. And in this life what we have really is the present. The past and the future are well taken care of when we live well in the present. By living well in the present, eternal life is also secured.

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