Machel seeks more than money and fame

It is regrettable that Hindus can invoke the deceased Osama bin Laden as a role model to correct the perceived transgression of soca artiste Machel Montano. It only demonstrates that some Hindus, in their haste to gain an education, have ignored learning of their dharma, history and tradition. Not surprisingly Sai Baba has described an academic certificate as a begging bowl. Lamenting the ignorance of Hindus of their dharma, Sai remarked that “we are like beggars living in a house of gold.”

This controversy with Machel Monatano chanting a Sanskrit verse in a fete last weekend stirred up mixed reaction. I welcome all arguments put forward as I believe that there is no absolute right or wrong and there is always room for compromise. Sadh Guru, a global mystic, always says that India is a land of seekers, not believers and made reference to Arjuna and Mother Parbatie who asked Bhagavan Krishna and Shiva respectively so many questions in their search for the truth.

What baffles me is that a few Hindus are using an Islamic yardstick to resolve conflict within the Hindu community. Circulating on What’s App is a picture of Osama bin Laden with the expression-“if that Machel guy utter one Salah on a fete…BOOM!” What utter shame!

Don’t Hindus have their judicial system to resolve conflict? Why do Hindus have to think of a foreigner in the person of bin Laden to resolve a conflict and more so to present him as the final arbiter? Hindus who share such sentiments are confused and may be better off living in a polity where wrong doers are stoned to death or have their limbs amputated!

I want to state categorically that I support Machel Montano chanting of mantras at the fete. It demonstrates that in the midst of that bacchanal Machel Montano was conscious of the divine. As an artiste he was only doing his job and uttering a prayer at that moment is consistent with the Hindu scriptures. In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 9 Verses 27:  Whatever thou doest, whatever thou eatest, whatever thou offerest in sacrifice, whatever thou givest away, whatever austerity though practisest, O son of Kunti, do that as an offering unto me) Sri Krishna enjoins devotees to dedicate all their actions to Him. I sincerely wish that all of us can, in the midst of everything happening around us, think of the divine as Machel Montano did.

Hinduism, like Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, is a dharmic pathway. This means that the entire universe is filled with divinity. It is unlike the Sematic tradition that divides the world into the Sacred and the Profane or God and the Devil. This ideology explains why the Sematic traditions speak so much of a heaven and a hell.

Machel is a practicing Hindu and has been recording musical videos with chanting of mantras. He is part of a growing community of seekers joining the faith. Krishna Das and David Frawley are two long standing seekers. So is Hollywood actress Julia Robert and Alfred Ford, head of Ford Motors. Machel has every right to explore Hinduism to find fulfilment and happiness.

Strangely, a minority of our orthodox Hindus believe that Hinduism is a racial identity and non-Indians have no place in it. The reality is they see the religion as a cash cow for them to exploit. Not only are non-Indians denied entry but also Indians who are born in the faith. Today some of our orthodox pandits seek status by upholding false caste identities.

Most of the taboos associated with caste have their origin in 19th century colonial history to divide and rule.  The cleaning of filth was never part of Hindu society but was brought by the Islamic invaders. Many of the warriors defeated by the Moghuls were made cleaners of filth and labeled outcastes. In our desperation to acquire a “begging bowl” most Hindus regurgitated whatever was read in the texts. In this haste for a doctorate we never questioned the vicious propaganda; we readily sacrificed knowledge for a certificate.

Bigotry and fanaticism which are alien to our dharma have now poisoned our psyche. This has led to unjustified attacks on fellow Hindus whose views may differ. On the said Marchel debate one Prashuti Maharaj referred to the “Secretary General of the SDMS as a senile ass” and Suruj Rambachan as “Carnival Baba.”  Hinduism is about debate, a search for the truth. It is not a linear search like Christianity; it is a circular search, one question bringing forth an answer which give rise to another question and another answer and on and on.

Marchel Montano is on a search for the divine.  He is certainly not enticed by our paratha, masala mango and sweet rice. He is definitely not seeking an audience or monetary gains. As such, those who have “intellectual property rights” should not fear him. Marchel Montano is among a growing group of seekers who wants more than money and fame.