But the number of people attending puts one in dilemma. But the bottom line appears to be that believers have immense faith, and it forces a borderline believer to rethink about the complete issue from rationality and faith aspects. I would like to go by faith as our frontiers of exiting knowledge may not be complete, thereby limiting the scope of rationality manifesting as serious errors of judgement.
It would be fair to presume that some way down the times the basic foundations of Sanatan Dharam were overtaken by rituals. Rituals are important part of all religions of the world. But the aim of rituals is akin to a child going to Pre/Nursery classes before going to school. This teaches basics to a child about the way of school. Thereafter, he progresses periodically till he reaches his final destination. Baths, conch, garlands, sindhoor, incense sticks, idol worship are akin to nursery or pre nursery training with the aim of leaning the way of religion.
As per the Hinduism (Sanatan Dharma), it involves living value-based life as useful member of the society, simultaneously spiritually, progressing towards divinity through numerous means. The terminal aim is divinity or moksha or unification with the originator. Somewhere, the religion for majority is stuck at the nursery/pre nursery level, that is, rituals and somehow expecting the terminal aim without striving for it. This just cannot happen.
Since one cannot graduate by continuing at nursery for equal amount of time, similarly, rituals cannot and will not deliver divinity. As the oldest, most liberal and founding father of all religions of world, the Santana Dharma is in decay. The reason may be two fold - one is the non-accessibility of ancient books in the language people understand. So the interpreters have taken charge and force rituals through fear of gods and show a way of appeasement through the medium of rituals. Second reason is little or no evolution of religious thought through scientific experimentation or intellectual discussion.
Old wisdom must give way to new, that’s the rule of life, and somehow this mighty religion has failed to keep pace, leading to other religions taking off by negating the ills which made the religion sickly. Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism and modern day Radha Swami and large number of sects teaching Raja yoga/Kundalini way of mind control and unification, having huge followings, are the modified versions of Santana Dharma.
Most of the believers follow the right way and do not care about the religion collectively as moksha is individual business. This perhaps is a defeatist approach and major reason of the rituals taking charge and basics forgotten.
What needs to be done?
Accept collective responsibility for awareness and change
Discussions during satangs or other meetings about the basic thought and what’s wrong
Social responsibility for uplifting the poor, feeding the hungry; cleaning the filthy temples
Religious leaders lead the social charge towards rivers cleaning; afforestation; saving girl child; planting trees etc. All these have religious sanctity and would be followed once positively connected with faith. Kar seva akin to Sikhsim is a great way of social integration and volunteering labour for a great cause.
Remove touchabilty from society and make it inclusive. Religious leaders have the moral authority to enforce this.
Wisdom of yoga/nature cure/ Ayurveda, Vedic maths and other experiential wisdom of trans-dental nature are subjected to validation as ascribed by the modern science. Swami Ramdev is doing a great job on this front.
Teach own lore and Indian religious/societal values in schools.
Knowledge and mind has been our forte. There is a need to inculcate martial arts/physical fitness through indigenous non equipment heavy games/sports.
Need to regain our position as the world leader in knowledge manifesting it as smart/soft power.
Need to scientifically validate the power of mantras and other indigenous teachings and wisdom.
Need to have research foundation experimenting with indigenous medicines and herbs.
The religion akin to other religions has been hijacked by radical elements with limited but vocal and visible following. The majority is either silently, helplessly watching or could not care less. This is leading to collision course with serious ramifications for everyone. Unless there is concerted effort to rejuvenate the religion and tuning the basic thought and validating the ancient knowledge with modern scientific means; a glorious religion will be dissipate because of inaction of the believers. Once the lead is taken over by the genuine leaders then things will fall in place as the inclusivity; logic; rationality and tolerance will become the harbinger of interaction thereby uniting the fragmented society.