Hinduism is about diversity, being inclusive

As a moderate Hindu, I consider the article "Killed for eating beef: Lessons for the world" (Nov 7), timely.

The notion that "eating beef is a taboo, therefore nobody should do it" is a totally misguided ideology of the Hindu hardliners.

Although Hinduism is the practice of hierarchical or caste-based social norms dictated by many differing Sanskrit scriptures, it has no single authority or tradition. The Hindus, on the other hand, differ with reference to their mother tongue and habits, such as eating, dressing, and in observance of various rites.

There are vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians among us.

Then there are those who will eat egg but not fish or meat, those who will eat fish but not meat, those who will eat meat but not beef, and those who will eat beef also.

We also differ in our devotion ("bakti" in Tamil); some are devoted to one and only one deity, some have faith in more than one deity, while some go to temples and some do not.

The firmly enshrined diversity in the practice of devotion is probably the reason for the Hindus to remain an inclusive community with reference to caste, gender, language, and sexuality.

Being a Hindu is about being privately at peace. Therefore, insulting - let alone killing - someone just because he ate beef is contrary to being a Hindu; in fact, it is deplorable.

I admire the writers, film-makers, scientists and academics in India who are for speaking up for multiculturalism. The murders of rationalist thinkers and activists who sought to promote scientific temper are acts of barbarism.

In Singapore, no one is above the law and secularism defines the nation's spirit.

And in the interests of Singapore's multiculturalism, we must respect the principle of equal rights, fill our hearts and souls with peace and keep the light of "inner happiness" turned on.

S. Ratnakumar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2015, with the headline 'Hinduism is about diversity, being inclusive'. Print Edition | Subscribe