Deepavali is a special time for me, and I am not Hindu. But that's a story for another day.
I don't have much to say. I studied Hinduism on a whim. Love the God concept, the creation myths and flood myth.
When I was younger, I borrowed from the library a book about the South-East Asian version of the Ramayana. It was called Hikayat Seri Rama dan Sita Dewi.
There are many changes from the original. Hanuman is the bastard child of Seri Rama and Sita Dewi when they were cursed to become white gibbons.
My favourite characters were of course Lakshamana and Hanuman. Hanuman could jump and stay afloat for 40 days and 40 nights. And Seri Rama was so powerful, he could release an arrow and it would go through what, 44? 66? betel-nut trees.
Ravana had 44 heads, with the 44th head a small one inside his ear. To kill him, you need to lob off that 44th head.
I didn't get why Sita Dewi had to go through a trial of fire at the end of the story. I truly didn't know.
I also read about Ganesha and Murugan - the two brothers. A huge statue of Murugan - who oversees infants and pregnant women, I think - is at Batu Caves. Or so I was told.
Ganesha is the God of Wisdom.
Brahma is the Creator. Vishnu is the preserver and Siva is the destroyer. The Hindu trinity.
Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu, unless you are a Hare Krishna and believe Vishnu to also be an avatar of Krishna.
Krishna was a paramour (lover) to the gopis (milkmaids). In some traditions, he was born on Dec 25, to a virgin. Later he was crucified and then resurrected a few days later, witnessed by some women.
Steeped in ritual, a lot of the core philosophies of Hinduism is lost to outsiders.
In school, Malaysians learn of the Bhagavad Gita, the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda and the Atarva Veda. But we never learned the contents of those holy scriptures.
In my travels, I have found some text and readings of the Bhagavad Gita and Rig Veda in English, by Alan Watts.
Some Hindu gurus taught across Europe, and the philosophy lingered.
"The mind is maya (virtual, untrue)," is a quote from one of those teachers.
It embodies the view that our minds can deceive us with many things. Illusions and images and phantom emotions.
That the path to The Truth is beset on all sides by lies and shadows.
Oh well. I'm getting back to work now.