Am I Proud To Be ……?

Recently a Facebook post asked with some derision
Are you Proud To Be Hindu ?…..
Proud To Be Muslim or for that matter…. Proud to be an Indian ?
The responses swung between embarrassing soppy-ness & belligerence. Between declarations of patriotism nationalism & sheer illogical bile….
If nothing else it set the cat among the pigeons ….

Shorn of any labels as an individual & as a human I was born into a family that lived in India who had the privilege of food on the table, a roof over their head and access to education.
I was told I was an Indian around the age of 4 when my father went to War. I remember hoping that the Indians on whose side I found myself to be on, were winning this War.

It was much later when I was in a school that I came home and asked – What was I ?
And the response was – Indian.

The question is deeper I thought & these people are just fobbing me off with Panchantara Tales & stories of this obedient man who had a horrible step mother but kept his fathers word & left with his wife & younger brother for the jungle.
The ten headed Ravan who was burnt down once a year which meant that cracker season & Diwali was on its way.
The story of a carpenter & his pregnant wife who sought shelter in a manger and…. the bald old man in a dhoti who without picking up a gun threw out the British & while in his youth he got thrown out of a train coach meant for white people.

A grandmother taught me to say the Gayatri Mantra at night before bed & patiently heard me recite the school prayer Our Father Who Art in Heaven thereafter.

Yes I was an Indian.
Till one day an uncle came visiting & showed us a handful of photographs of a beautiful home, a big red car, a pretty garden & a family with blonde hair.
Why, I asked my father, weren’t we Germans ?

So coming to the question am I proud to be an Indian ?
The response would be – Frankly I had no choice.
But true to the traditions I grew up with –
We make the best of what we have.
We love it. We enjoy it.
We learn & experience whatever we can about it.
We take pride in its progress & are saddened & angered at its missteps.
Because it belongs to us we want those who betray it & cause it harm to be punished.
But most important – We take Naam Namak Nishaan to heart.

Now to the identity that I discovered later.
Am I proud to be a Hindu ?
Hand on my heart – I had no choice in this matter too.

But as I have grown older & as I have seen & experienced the world around me.
As I have studied read & discovered –
I thank and I’m eternally grateful to That Being who was distributing babies all over the world on that given day that he chose to give me to a set of people who follow the Hindu faith.
So rather than- Am I proud to be a Hindu ?
I would say I’m grateful for being one.
It allows me to waver, falter, digress & return without fear. It allows me to question & to reject. And above all it allows me the Freedom To Be.

So with no hesitation I salute with great pride a land that made me who I am & gave me what I have – & a faith that holds me in good stead.

16 thoughts on “Am I Proud To Be ……?

  1. Sudhanshu S. Singh

    It is a powerful article which echoes my sentiments too, but I couldn’t have articulated it as powerfully as you did. I am also of the belief that religion and nationality are outcomes of accident of birth. We don’t decide it; we don’t have a hand in it. But ain’t we lucky that this was not an accident but a gift for us. We could have taken birth in some unfortunate lands too where survival would have been the sole objective of life.

    This is why it is saddening that some people from amongst us, fail to see what we have been gifted with. Thy try to find all sorts of problems in our motherland and in our religion. Fortunately, people like you and me, who were so far timid considering ourselves inferior to these pseudo seculars, have found our confidence to challenge them. Ours is not a jingoism, but a logical conviction that neither our motherland nor religion is as bad ay they try to project.

    More power to your pen.

    Reply
    1. NBD Post author

      Thank you Sudhanshu. Much appreciated. And yes – the time to keep quiet is long gone. Future generations will not forgive us for our timidity & this ‘political correctness’ that has become quite the norm with us.

      Reply
  2. s r Jayanth

    We are all products of our times and victims of our circumstances. When times are conducive and circumstances play ball, We grow up to be the best of what we desire.

    Reply
  3. Veeresh Malik

    I, I am proud to be part of the New India that my parents came to way back in 1947 with nothing.

    Reply
  4. Kavita

    As a child, I resented the fact that our festivals were so HEAVY and not filled with light-hearted good CHEER like Christmas – but that’s because I grew up in a school where this fact was dinned into me – a few years later, I began to appreciate the fact that Hinduism, and other religions that originated in India, were steeped in spirituality, didn’t care about conversion, and were much more than a set of commandments on how to be a good human – there was no food for the craving of the soul.

    Reply
    1. NBD Post author

      Yes we saw it through another’s eye. But when ours opened we began appreciating it….Never too late as they say 🙂

      Reply
  5. Narendra Kumar

    Very well written. As you rightly say, being a Hindu is being in a religion and yet not being bound by anything. Those few of us who don’t appreciate are wandering only on periphary.

    Reply
  6. DK Cooper

    Perhaps digressing a bit, I find the way so many people ask the question of country(nationalism) and faith – so seriously and passionately – that I doubt their sanity and upbringing. Its like asking a child as to which is their favourite parent. Both don’t deserve an answer. It reflects more on those who ask, rather than those who answer. If people asked the question of themselves, I think they would stumble over their answer.

    Both give us a sense of belonging, comfort, emotional & physical support and joy. So whats the difference? How does it matter which comes first? For many they are inseparable. For some others they may be separate entities and yet not in conflict. The problem arises when either or both become political ploys. We are getting there, slowly but surely.

    It is not too late. All faiths teach us that we make choices all the time, take either the right or the left fork. Perhaps a little further down the road we realise we have taken the wrong one. Our faith enjoins in us that we turn around, retrace our steps and take the the right path.

    DKC

    Reply
    1. NBD Post author

      Very true.
      That is why the question catches one unaware. And the more one thinks – the only conclusion one reaches is that both country & faith are simply a matter of fate.
      Having said that for most of us the country comes first & foremost.Our pride in it is manifested quietly or exuberantly & publicly.
      Whereas Faith is a private matter between Man & Maker

      Coming from an irreligious family, being Indian came first. In time we learnt that ‘folks like us’ can visit withdraw & revisit our faith as we deemed convenient. That freedom led to relief & gratefulness.

      Reply

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