Ramayana, the source of Hindu family values
By Satish Chandra
I got a call from the president of a local mosque recently for participating in the first anniversary of the Muslim Family Day. Besides the metro Sheriff as the chief guest, the head of Las Vegas FBI office and two US House representatives were present. I accepted to go there as a member of the American Hindu Association whose main mission is to explore and project Hinduism in the context of life in USA.
On arriving at 6 p.m. in the mosque, I was suddenly asked to speak on family values as an inter-faith leader. There is a national inter-faith organisation but it only includes believers in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As the president was from India and had known me for over 30 years, I was perhaps included to represent the Hindus and Muslims of India having similar family values. It turned out that I was the only non-Muslim speaker.
The toastmasters? training in extemporaneous speeches proves very helpful on such occasions. The challenge was to identify Hindu family values to the non-Hindu audience. In fact, I alone was a Hindu in a gathering of nearly 80 Muslims of various national origins.
I divided my remarks in three parts. On probing the meaning of the word ?family?, I explained that a family based on the notion of ?blood is thicker than water? alone does not elevate human beings above other species. The familial bonds are also developed by common lifestyles like place, language, food and dress. Finally, the common religious belief systems generate a larger family of believers. The smaller the set of common beliefs, the greater is the number of its followers!
What is the source of Hindu family values? I pronounced that the source of Hindu family values is the Ramayana. All the lofty ideals of human bonds?whether of a husband, brother, father, mother and son?are drawn from it. That is why most Hindu names are taken from this scripture.
Finally, I brought my remarks on family values to ground zero by telling specific instances on how father'syounger brother, older brother, sister, and likewise mother'sbrothers and sisters and so on are addressed. It highlights the importance of various levels of ties in a family. Respect for elders and love for children are unconditional.
After I returned to my seat, a related question started churning my mind: In what respects are Hindu family values unique? It is time to share your thoughts on it.