In a display of religious tolerance that is an example to the whole world, the Oklahoma legislature recently approved the establishment of a Lord Hanuman temple on the state Capitol grounds. Oh, they don't have any idea that they did this, but they may be admired for their accomplishment just the same. Sometimes wonderful things arise from stupidity, like flowers blossoming from a big pile of manure under Oklahoma's endless blue skies.
Once erected, the Lord Hanuman shrine will become a place of pilgrimage and worship for Hindus everywhere, and is expected to grow into a major architectural project within a very short time. It isn't at all certain that the Capitol grounds are spacious enough to accommodate what's coming.
This gift from the GOP-dominated Oklahoma legislature came about very quietly, with the erecting of a monument listing the Ten Commandments of the Christian religion on a granite slab, right on the Capitol grounds. Then came word that a local group of Satanists also wanted a monument to their religion added to the scene. There were some national headlines about that. But the arrival of Lord Hanuman on the scene is going to become lasting national news in more ways than anyone in the state's government even begins to suspect.
Follow on over the squiggle and hear the four very Hindu problems that are about to be of intense concern for Oklahoma, and our nation.
It should be pointed out that by approving the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds the Oklahoma legislature violated the First Amendment of our national Constitution and also their state Constitution, which insists on "perfect tolerance" of all religious expressions. But they did it anyway, and called it a good day's work.
When a local Satanist group applied to put up a monument to their beliefs, talking right up front about going to court to ensure they get the "perfect tolerance" of their religious views that is their right under Oklahoma law, this so discomfited the GOP-dominated legislature that the resounding Harrumph's and Well I Never's being sounded in the chambers of the Capitol building can be heard for miles. Some say the GOP's howling has the haunting tremolo of a wounded moose. Some say it's just like a submarine klaxon as it sinks during an old Ronald Reagan movie. Others can't tell the difference between GOP outrage and cow farts.
The thing is, them folks in the legislature ain't seen nothin' yet. There's real trouble brewing for the Tea Party Christianists who came up with the dumb idea of violating the state Constitution on behalf of their religion:
local Hindus want a big statue of Lord Hanuman on Capitol grounds.
This is not at all as simple as it sounds. There are four major problems arising out of this seemingly simple request that the state legislature doesn't even suspect yet.
One -- devotees of Lord Hanuman are not the gentle sort of Hindu you might have in mind. They are 'heroic' people, industrious and no-nonsense doers who make it a point of honor to never quit at anything they begin. They do their best to exhibit the absolute courage, strength of will and indomitable spirit of their favorite deity, Hanuman.
Once a Hanuman devotee says they will do something they do it no matter the obstacles or cost. It's a matter of personal honor to them that they keep their word. Fair warning to the Oklahoma legislature -- these people are not going to take no for an answer. Saying no to them just means the fight is on, and oh my how they love a good fight.
In particular, if any Hindu nationalists with sympathies for the RSS are behind this Hanuman "statue" project in Oklahoma, then they will already be planning to take it all the way to the Supreme Court, then the United Nations, and gathering the funds and people to do it right. RSS folk are very aggressive people -- organized and well funded champions of Hinduism.
The only way to stop this Hanuman "statue" from happening is to remove the Ten Commandments monument right now, this afternoon, and let it be known that absolutely no one gets to have a religious marker of any kind on the Capitol grounds.
Two -- there is no such thing as a "statue" of a god in Hinduism. There are no idols in Hinduism -- it is just cupidity on the part of Christians or Muslims to think or say that. All "statues" of Hindu gods are called murthis in Hinduism, and are seen as instruments, as a reliable means of calling forth the living god in the same way you might call a dear friend in another country on your telephone so you can enjoy their presence for a while. The stone or bronze representation of the god is not worshipped. The murthi is just a tool for contacting the god in the inner worlds where he or she dwells.
Other religions like to insult Hinduism by calling this idol worship, but it is no such thing. Hindus see worship of the murthi as a proven technology, a technique that works just as reliably as a telephone does to contact unseen beings and enjoy their company.
By the way, Christians do the exact same thing when they hang Jesus on a cross front and center in their churches, and then enjoy his presence by worship and prayer.
It's all about contact with the divine realms within each of us.
That should help you to understand the problem a Hanuman "statue" actually presents to the unsuspecting Oklahoma legislature. The Lord Hanuman "statue" will instantly be seen by Hindus as a murthi and will overnight become a place of daily worship, daily offerings of fruit, flowers, food, milk, melted butter, puja, chanting of Vedic hymns, offerings of coins, and a lot of Hindus sitting about singing songs in praise of Hanuman, Rama, Krishna, and Vishnu as Hindus practice their religion in perfect tolerance. In every way, it will be a budding Hanuman temple by the next morning.
Only it won't have a roof.
For the moment.
Which is problem number three -- a Hindu murthi is treated with the utmost respect and sanctity. In no time at all, Lord Hanuman's devotees will insist that their murthi have a roof for proper respect and worship. After a while they will explain that they need proper walls around the inner sanctum. Then a hallway out in front with a roof for all the devotees who come to worship. Then a small house for the priests of the temple. Then a grand hall for weddings, religious festivals and such. All part of their religion. And they will pay for all of this, no questions asked. Any amount of money needed will be forthcoming, from India and elsewhere in the world. After all, this will be a world famous temple from the moment the Hanuman "statue" goes up. Donations in the millions upon millions of rupees will come flooding in to pay for all the construction required to do it up right.
Lord Hanuman's new temple will grow, year after year, and eventually they will have to ask the state to move the Capitol building somewhere else so there is room for a wall around Lord Hanuman's shrine. This is the normal course of events once a murthi of a Hindu deity is set up. Some of the most enormous temples of India started as a roadside shrine originally. The devotees come, the temple flourishes and grows, and this process continues through the centuries. Some Hindu temples in India are small cities in and of themselves.
And this all falls under the normal practice of Hinduism, so if any of these things do not come to pass then the state of Oklahoma is violating the right of Hanuman devotees to practice their religion with perfect tolerance from the state.
Problem number four -- when Christians see Hindus 'worshipping' their Hanuman "statue" they will call it idol worship. And they will (very predictably) go absolutely bonkers and attack it.
Don't worry. Lord Hanuman's religious warriors have no doubt considered this already, and will have armed devotees at the new Hanuman temple every moment of the day and night. Not rent-a-cops like they have at the mall. Real Hanuman devotees on religious vigil, ready to fight to the death before anyone dares offer insult to the shrine they guard.
So everything is set for this to become a grand Hindu temple in no time. You'll be amazed at how quickly it comes together.
May the blessings of Lord Hanuman be ever forthcoming to his servants in the Oklahoma legislature.
Well done, ladies and gentlemen. Well done, indeed.