The chances are that if you ask most people today about rituals, you would either draw a blank, get a stare or a raise of eyebrows to signify that the person thinks you are crazy or even a long explanation about how rituals are completely useless. A lot of this has to do with the way modern Hinduism came to be identified with Advaita Vedanta, especially the one which is seen to be propounded by Shankaracharya sect.
There is also the fact that Hinduism which has always been seen as an Eternal faith is going through a long phase of churning which started from the time of the first Mughal invasions. These invasions which were especially brutal in their character and resulted in a huge disruption to the Hindu way of life for around 600 years only to be followed by British rule and a fight for independence. A large percent of Hindus were involved in this movement which finally resulted in the especially violent partition of undivided India. The monotheistic nature of the faiths of those ruling India also resulted in this prejudice which has always existed anyway in a small portion of mankind.
Since then the collective consciousness of Hindus was allowed to relax for a relatively short period of 65 years. But the ritualistic nature of Hinduism expressed through its many festivals became especially redundant during this time. There were a few more reasons for this. The primary and most important reason for this is that money (Artha) became a prime focus of Hindu society.
Previously Hindu society was governed on the idea of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. This society became a society primarily governed through Artha, whereas largely it can be accepted that Dharma and Moksha went for a toss. As the 1990’s dawned the advent of a new privatised media meant that Kama or “Desire” came into the picture and gradually dominated discussion in its most coarse form.
Brahmins who would previously remain truly celibate until the age of 24 years of age while studying the Vedas became engrossed in studying Western ideas of living life and knowledge which may be essential for filling your stomach but had very little use in building a society whose prime basis was Dharma. However another change was taking place at the same sort of time and this was the growing acceptance by Western people (though this did not translate into acceptance by the Western media or academia) that ancient Hindu principles were indeed “lofty and great” and embodied the highest pinnacle of any civilization. This movement became mainstream in the West primarily because yoga in its most physical form had already reached most homes in the West. As Westerners grew up with yoga, so too did the thoughts of various elevated Hindu souls reach Western homes.
The upside of yoga as taught by Iyengar was that people in the West started to learn about the consciousness which ultimately underpins creation. But there was a downside as well. While Iyengar et al did not teach that Yoga was postures alone, eventually however, the perception that Yoga was postures alone started to dominate people’s consciousness. This latter perception came to people’s minds through their eyes primarily through the media. There were some other factors involved in the “Rituals are nonsense” idea too.
The net result of all this was that eventually ideas of “God being one does not need rituals”… “I am already enlightened and don’t need rituals” and eventually “I am God and therefore too elevated to do these rituals” came to predominate the Hindu consciousness.
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