Hinduism is one of my favourite religions in the world. For a few years I’ve been looking into it, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen.
For starters, Shiva (also known as Rudra, Isana, Mahadeva, Maheshvara, Mahakala etc.), who I sometimes refer to as the greatest god. He is such a rich character. He has such a great aesthetic. He is insanely powerful. He embodies both light and dark qualities. He is associated with fire. He has material and earthly qualities, as well as cosmic, spiritual, and divine qualities. He is fierce, and somewhat laid-back. He is a warrior, and yet somewhat philosophical. He is ferocious in his justice and power, and great in his other virtues. He has intimate connection with creation and destruction, and primal forces. He has access to great pleasure, and is associated with said pleasure. Infinite is his freedom and his free spirit. And as I said in my post The Joy of Chaos, he qualifies as a god of chaos, due to these amazing qualities. With the exception of his ascetic persona, he is everything I could admire. I can relate to him as a being who reminds me of my alter ego. And there are other deities in Hinduism I like, especially goddesses. The Hindu philosophy of god is also quite cool. I’ll try to sum it up without grossly oversimplifying it. There’s the Great Spirit, the Brahman, and it’s a cosmic force or principle that pervades all of existence, and the millions of deities (Shiva, Vishnu, Durga, Ganesha, Brahma, Lakshmi, etc.) are different aspects of the Brahman, or ways of worshipping that god, and even worshipping deities is just a different way of being spiritual.
The other source of my admiration is Hinduism’s flexibility. For a while, I thought that, based on the stories, Hinduism was, in some ways, just like the Abrahamic religions. I realize now that I am only partly right. Hinduism, or Hindus, have interacted with Christianity and Islam, and as such have adopted their ideas. British censures have also damaged Hinduism to a considerable degree. I heard from a Hindu friend of mine that the stories in Hindu texts aren’t what matters. They’re not important. They’re just allegories meant to convey various ideas. When I told that my philosophy is heavily based on freedom, personal power, and individual responsibility, and wondered if I could find something in Hinduism that was in sync with it, he told me that not only is it very much in sync, but it is a conclusion of that philosophy. He said “You are in charge of your life of (Karma) making sense of the world that you live in (Dharma), not some God or planet. YOU are the Spirit/God you are searching for in the highest heaven (Advaita Vedanta)”. Hinduism is a religion in which you can do anything you want and follow any spiritual path, in both cases suiting you, and this flexibility is derived from its nature as a pluralistic religion and spiritual philosophy.