This was my first visit to Nepal, and truly a momentous one. Nepal has one of the most ancient cultures on this planet. Through all the ages this little Himalayan country has never been conquered, and hence all its rich traditions and culture has been preserved in pure form.
Unfortunately with the spread of urbanization the Nepalese tradition together with human values is rapidly eroding. The Nepalese culture has a very strong family values and structure, where as the western society is more individualistic. The rampant idolizing of western lifestyle has led to erosion of human values at large in the Nepalese society. A balance of modern outlook with ancient roots is possible if we follow Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s dictum – “Broaden your vision and deepen your Roots.”
It is good to learn from the West, but disastrous to ape it blindly. What use is being very prosperous at the cost of our peace, health or happiness.. Blind aping of western lifestyle leads to complex issues such as depression and distrust as well. Only when society is peaceful, prosperity will have any value. And peace in society can only be achieved when the individual becomes peaceful. My experience with Art of Living has convinced me strongly that Spirituality is the way to peace within. Pranayama, Meditation and Sudarshan Kriya (a powerful rhythmic breathing technique) all help in no small measure.
During my stay in Nepal, I was dismayed to discover that many people, especially Hindus in poor and tribal areas, were being converted to Christianity with promises of monetary gain or their free education for children at Christian schools. Initially people make a gain, but after a year or two, the education is no longer for free and they are also asked to make donations and contribute to the church.
Often people who get converted are neither grounded in their original belief, nor do they fully understand the religion they got converted to. So they end up being more confused and unstable than before. Sadly, today religious conversion has become a major cause for separation and conflict within families and communities all over Nepal.
If you look at the core of any religion you will see that they all aim to bring peace and happiness to the individual and society at large. To instill and nurture values in society and to offer a path to liberation. So every religion is good, but conversion is not.
As a westerner, practising Christianity, my request to Nepalese people is, “Please know that Hinduism is the most ancient tradition on this planet. Knowing this, dive deep into your own tradition and culture and do not exchange it for short-term gains.”