I was surprised when one of my friends said that Hinduism is similar to paganism. I found it to have a negative shade because as I understand paganism is associated with the worship of many gods and their many idols. Except a sign that the belief does not belong to three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), many distinctive signs are here but the most important was whether or not someone worshipped the one and only Supreme. In other words being Monotheist or to have belief in one personal and transcendent God.
Hinduism is different in that sense, How???
It is true that there are many gods, but while these various gods are considered different gods in paganism, in Hinduism they represent the various forms of the one and same God. This plurality in other words is that the one God appears in various forms. Even a seeker who is in the initial stage of spirituality when asked about this complicated theme will reply “Bhagavan Ek Hai” meaning God is one. He may not be able to comprehend in theological terms the concept of so many Gods becoming one or even he may not be sure about the hierarchy of manifestation, but he does know that ultimately there is only One and that the many somehow merge into the One. And his opinion does not differ from our sacred books which say the same as told in Rig Veda “Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vadanti” Truth is one; Sages call it various names.
It so happened once in a Religious Leaders Meet one evangelist wanted to pull the leg of a Hindu Baba. He chooses this subject. He asked “We Christians have faith in Jesus, Muslims pray to Allah and Buddhists have Buddha but you Hindus worship so many Gods, why is it so?”
The Meet was organised by an international organisation for the welfare of mankind but these kind of talks did not go well with Baba. In that event there were many stalls selling merchandise and in one particular stall Baba had seen a person selling “Multipurpose Scarf.” Baba requested that sales person to come on stage with the scarf. He requested him to show in how many ways the scarf could be used. The sales person took that opportunity to showcase the different way his scarf could be used. He gleefully showed how one little scarf can become a neckerchief, mask, balaclava, headband, blind chicken, foulard and alice band...and the variety went on and on.
Baba appreciated the salesperson by clapping the hand and recommended the gathering to purchase it. Turning towards the evangelist he said “You must have observed my friend how the same cloth acquires different names while performing different functions. So also water can be a cloud when in sky; when it falls to earth it is termed rain; when it is flowing it is called river, it is ice when it freezes, if it evaporates it is vapour. God is one but is called by different names by different people. We name things according to our own perceptions. It is important to bear in mind that the name is not the thing named. Just as map is not the territory it refers to. Sometime it is useful to think and view a thing in entirety apart from its name or utility. As far as the God is concerned we give forms to Him according to our perception.”
Evangelist remained silent…….