While I may have been glamorizing the idea of Hindu paganism last month, mostly due to the relation between some Hindu practices, the almost timeless status of the god Shiva, and the relation between the divine pair of Shiva and Shakti and the pagan cult of Bel and Astarte/Ishtar, I’m starting to think I am still unworthy of identifying as a Hindu.
For starters, I don’t believe in reincarnation, and if the Indian faiths are right, then I wouldn’t really want to reincarnate. I’d rather be in a heaven of my own. Then there’s the more serious problem, Hinduism, or at least religious Hinduism (or perhaps just Hinduism in its current form), places too much emphasis on renunciation, altruism, and merging oneself with God for me to want to identify with it. Despite the supposed flexibility of Hinduism, the goal is eventually to merge with Brahman/God, and this is not my goal. And I don’t much care for the whole renunciation ideal.
Then there’s Buddhism, which is similar to Hinduism or at least has similar ideas. Like Hinduism, Buddhism seems to value renunciation, the rejection of desire, and believes that all desire and craving must be eliminated before one can escape a seemingly endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth. And their idea of Nirvana is described as ultimate liberation through complete extinction (probably the extinction of the self).
To be honest, in my personal practice, I use Hindu, Buddhist, and other Asian deities, names, symbols, and sometimes terms and ideas, but in the end I don’t fully identify with the Hindu and Buddhist teachings (and I don’t really follow Hindu texts or believe in the authority of the Vedas), and those can’t really call myself either.
In the end, I’m a pagan, or a Satanic Pagan, not Hindu. And actually, I’m alright with that. Besides the downsides of the Hindu and Buddhist labels I already mentioned, I find the label I have more flexible and comfortable, more allowing of my practice.
I still think there can be a connection between the pagan and the Hindu. For instance, Shiva is a Hindu deity, my favorite deity in mythology, and I see some connections with the god Baal (or Bel), due to his association with masculine power, fertility, and the phallic object of worship (the lingam is the closest Hindu equivalent to an obelisk), his divine animal vehicle (or vahana) is the bull, and his roots are a horned god (his crescent moon still calls to the horns of old). Baal has horns, he is linked with male fertility and power, and his animal is the bull. His wife, Shakti, is female power and fertility is also associated with love, and her divine animal vehicle is a lion or female tiger. Astarte/Ishtar is also associated with female power and sexuality, and is associated with the lion or lioness. It might be coincidence, but it seems to me like there might be a connection.
Anyway, going back to the point, as a Satanic Pagan who loves Asian myth, I pretty much uses Asia deities, symbols, often ideas as a part of my practice. Shiva and Shakti are not the only Hindu deities. Two examples include Agni and Kartikeya, and another example is an appropriation of Asura as an individual deity. Buddhist entities I incorporate include Mahakala and Mara. There is probably more, but I just wanted to list generic examples. With both Hinduism and Buddhism, there are entities I may not venerate or work with, but still appreciate.
In the end, this doesn’t make me a Hindu. It just makes me a pagan and Satanist who uses stuff from Asian religion.
However, I would like to add that if I engage in Tantric practice alongside Satanism and Pagan, and incorporate it as a major element, then I can probably add Tantric to the Satanic Pagan label. It’d still count for something, though either way, it’s hard for that label to account for the Chaos part of my beliefs (unless what I said about Satanism and Chaos counts for something), or for the fact that my own instincts and gut beliefs are very much at play. Truly, it is difficult for one label to account for everything.