Sometime around the 27th of December, I came across this piece online about “How Movies Embraced Hinduism: Without You Even Noticing.”
I read it, and recall being a little disappointed in the actual content – I think, based on the headline / title, I expected there might be a little more substance to it, but whatever. In my opinion, pieces like this are good for getting people interested in Hinduism, or – for those already interested but perhaps not sure where to start – for giving a snipit of some of Hinduism’s foundational and shared beliefs. I recall first learning about Hinduism and almost immediately finding parallels between learning about Hinduism and how I learned the German language.
You see, I studied German formally for a number of years, and quite soon tested out every level offered by my school. After demonstrating my proficiency and speaking to the board, I even taught it for a little over two years – allowing me to watch my peers catch up.
I started by taking the “first year” German class. It wasn’t terribly challenging, but I think most year one classes aren’t meant to be. Then, that following summer between school years, I spent the whole school break out by my family’s pool soaking in the sun’s rays and reading a German-English dictionary. Yes, I read the dictionary. It had been a gift to me from a woman who worked for my mother at the time. She’d married a soldier (now deceased) she met while he was stationed in Germany decades earlier, and the dictionary she gave me was a “German” German-English dictionary – this meant that even the English side of the dictionary was in German. That’s fine and dandy until you find yourself looking up 17 words in order to learn the one you originally set out to learn.
But it was actually real fun for me, as I’ve always loved language. I drank up everything that Woerterbuch could offer as quickly as I soaked up the many goldening rays of the sun. That much explains why I returned to school knowing vocabulary that was light years ahead of myclassmates, but something I’m still unable to explain is the grammar. I started second year also knowing, almost fully, German grammar. It must have been something I picked up unknowingly while making a deliberate effort to add words to my vocab list. Half way through that year I tested out of everything, as I have mentioned and the rest is history.
But that story parallels my own process and experience of learning about Hinduism. I often set out to learn one thing or another and in the process of fully learning about and understanding that one thing, I almost HAVE to learn about the 500 things that are in some way related to it. It can make learning a bit slower, but the thoroughness and depth cannot be matched.
And so, despite being somewhat disappointed in the article from The Guardian that I linked to earlier in this post, I also find value in it. It doesn’t actually explain much, in my opinion. But it explains much more than the vast majority of movie watchers would otherwise ever be aware of and might somehow spark an interest they didn’t know they even had.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha – Aum Shanti