As a Hindu Nepali, what I have seen and experienced is that Nepali Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims are extremely tolerant of new believers. This religious, social and political tolerance has kept us in relative peace. This is our biggest strength.
We are people who accept and adopt new ideas and new thinking very easily. I do not think any other country is this much open about anything new. Maybe this is the main reason we are in relative peace and have a lower crime rate compared to other least-developed countries.
Then why are some of us making huge issues when a temple is established in Nepal? I am here referring to the Linga Bhairavi temple established by the controversial religious figure Sadhguru.
Embracing diversity and changing beliefs
For those who are making an issue out of the Linga Bhairavi temple, this is a serious threat. Not something you want to argue about often, but when you feel your beliefs are threatened and your gods are challenged by something new, you just do not talk about it but come to action immediately.
Of course, religion and beliefs are embedded in everyone’s life. You do not have to read any heavy textbooks or do long-term research to give the gods a place in your life. You are experiencing it everywhere every time. You even wash your face as per your religious belief; no wonder you do not eat food if not prepared in certain ways.
But even in Hinduism, for some, Lord Shiva is the supreme power while for others it is Lord Bishnu or some other god. Each human being is very different from the others; even congenital twins have different personalities. So, it’s inevitable that each of you has different belief systems.
Beliefs are never universal truths, they can change, and your own belief systems change as you are growing older every day. It is not like we do not understand it; we have lived on this earth for thousands of years understanding this truth. We have tolerated each other’s different viewpoints and we have tolerated contrasting beliefs, be they political or religious.
Someone might be born into a family of orthodox Christians, yet they might choose to become a Muslim or someone who is a hardcore Muslim at a younger age might start believing in Hinduism at a later age. Someone who has grown up worshipping a certain temple might start visiting a very different temple in adult life. We have seen it; we have experienced it, the changing belief systems.
Hence, the Linga Bhairavi temple is not the first case of a new temple or church or monastery established here. Even the old Hindu temples or Buddhist monasteries that we worship regularly today were new at some point in time. Imagine some people opposing Buddha’s teaching or building of Stupas some hundred years ago.
A few hundred years ago, things which were very alien to us are a part of life today. Today Buddha is our pride, Christ who was crucified is now followed by the largest population of people on earth.
Belief in Linga Bhairavi
Let’s put the Linga Bhairavi issue plain and simple: some people do believe in Linga Bhairavi, and that is why a temple is established here, and some people do go there to worship her.
Many of you have not visited the temple because you believe in other gods. Each of you prefers visiting different temples, stupas, churches and mosques. As someone cannot force you to believe in something, you also do not and cannot be forced to visit certain religious places. You also cannot force someone not to believe in something that they do believe in.
We should fear extremism. We should fear the insecurity that we have in our own minds that might germinate that same extremist thought.
But, we should not fear a god such as Linga Bhairavi. We do not need to worry that a simple new idea can destroy our age-old traditions and culture.
No, we have not.