My first book contains Mathematical Reflections; the second one is a compilation of Reflections that are historical in nature; the third one has Reflections that are of philosophical types. Finally, in this fourth book, they are all topped by religious Reflections. At places, it may read like a personal manifesto, rather than Preface. It happens when you pour into an activity every ounce of your energy……..
Let me emphatically state that for me the terms - Hindu faith, Hindu religion, Hinduism, Sanatan Dharma, or Vedic religion, are all one and the same. No longer, do I like to quibble or argue about linguistic differences. The reason is simple: the non-Hindus do not care about these differences! Actually, ‘MY’ applies to HINDU FAITH and PERISCOPE both. In other words, 'PERISCOPE' is ‘MY HINDU PERISCOPE’. The articles, essays, or Reflections that are included in this book would be different, if a non-Hindu would ever strive to write them……
One unique feature of every religion is that it begins to make impressions on the minds of the young and adults very early on in life, while one has to wait for 10-20 years to be proficient in math, history and sciences etc. Throughout life, religious rituals, festivals, gatherings continue to mold the individuals and societies. My point is that one does not have to have any degree in divinity or priesthood license to understand the mechanics of religions. …..
In fairness, my ‘authority’ on religions grew out in the complement of my life where I was not actively engaged in Hinduism during early adulthood. It made me academically open and receptive to other religions. Christian thoughts were splashed all over in my college curriculum. My maternal uncle, Swami Deekshanand Saraswati (1920-2003), an Arya Samaj preacher and scholar, often engaged us in discussions on religious issues - both internal and cross religions. During my visits to India, I always spent a week with him. In Malaysia, I read through Quran one and a half times during Ramadan month of fasting in Jan 1993. Also, I have gone through many portions of the Bible. Likewise, significant tracts on Sikhism and other religions have been studied. It does not make me an expert on religions, but I am genuinely open and receptive towards religions……
Personally, I have never been inclined to study Hindu mythology in depth, as Hindu scriptures are in Sanskrit language that I missed learning it formally. Also, having been raised in Arya Samaj culture with dominant emphasis on the formlessness of God and then mostly living off mathematical and scientific thinking in my profession, religious rituals have remained distant from me. However, I have no disrespect for those who observe religious rituals and worship deities through mediums of their idols. In fact, that is the strength of Hinduism. My independent studies of religions, interaction with people of different faiths, and my ability to observe and analyze an issue have given me confidence to penetrate into religious domains. My approach is neither scholarly nor full of abstraction. It is always story telling - starting around a point or two….
A religion gives identity to an individual and a society. In this respect, the Sikhism is at the top, as its one single follower in any scenario is described as sava lakh - meaning equal to 125,000 non-Sikhs! On a ten-point scale, if Sikhism gets 10 points, then Islam gets 9.7, Judaism 8.3, Christianity 7, Buddhism 5, and Hinduism 1.3. Obviously, the ranking is reversed, if a religion is measured by the freedom granted to an individual! A lesson of Indian history is that any two non-Hindus will take down any one strong and smart Hindu. The essential purpose of any religion is to organize its followers in the largest number. Often, I compare religions with soft drink companies. For example, look at the way - the giants like Coke and Pepsi affect the nations worldwide…..
The eighty-one Reflections are divided into four sections. The Reflections in the first section are more directed towards Hinduism, the second one has socio-politico touches of Hinduism, the third one has topically educationals, and the fourth one has smorgasbord of Reflections transversal to Hinduism. It is to be understood that Hinduism, as treated here, includes Hindu mindset, Hindu men and women of significance, Hindu events and rituals. It would be interesting to notice that here are three Reflections where mathematical thinking gets closer to Hindu thinking without any bounds! At the end, a composite picture of Hinduism does emerge - both absolute and relative to other religions. Of course, it is an outcome of my approach and perspective. ……….
Who will benefit from this book?
Every author believes that his/her book is meant for everyone. In this respect, however, I am the biggest beneficiary. In the process of writing these Reflections for over ten years, and lately compiling and editing them, I have finally understood my faith deeply. Consequently, confidence that I lacked about Hinduism during adult years has been replaced with pride in greying years!
At times, it has taken me to such a height that in a few Reflections I have propounded a thesis that India will be a true secular country only when it will be constitutionally a Hindu state. The practice of secularism in India since 1947 has been reduced to anti-Hinduism and Hindu bashing – paradoxically more so by Hindus than by non-Hindus. It is making India porous for attacks by the terrorists, who are both homegrown and foreign-based. History is repeating itself!
The Hindus remain totally divided in half a dozen political parties. A sterling lesson of India’s history is that traders, preachers, and persecuted humanity of every foreign faith were permitted, sheltered, and welcomed by the Hindu kings whose kingdoms stretched from the coasts of Malabar in Kerala to Kuchh in Gujarat to Karachi in Sindh – starting more than 1000 years ago. Doesn’t it make pristine Hinduism akin to Humanism? What an incredible journey of this realization to dawn after nearly six decades!.......
Yes, there is no one person who has inspired me to write this book. At the same time, it is not all internally motivated. However, Hindu philosophical mind is religious and Hindu religious mind is philosophical. In eastern cultures, there are large intersections between philosophical and religious thoughts. The two are not as mutually exclusive, as they tend to be in western cultures.