Many people believe that Hindus worship many gods and therefore, are fundamentally opposed to the idea of there being One God. Umm… True. And false. I will try to explain.
Let us gather together a bunch of people. One loves money more than her life. Another is forgiving to the extreme. Still another lives off the anger that is within him. There is another who doesn’t want anything to do with the affairs of world and just wants to be left alone.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to imagine a scenario where these people might disagree with each other. Heck, I’ll bet some of them will come to blows as soon as we look the other way.
Now let’s say they all follow the same religion and know God to be either merciful, or war-like, or pro-prosperity, or something, or the other.
Assuming they are all believers, most of them will wonder if they belong in the company of the others. If God symbolises peace, the angry dude is a heretic. If God wants us to fight, the peace-lover is a heretic. No matter which way you slice it, someone or the other is always excluded.
It is impossible for the line connecting God and man to be a straight, strong, and unbroken one. God isn’t one thing. God is everything. Just like we are.
Hinduism allows every one of us to choose a god that suits him best. There are proactive gods and there are lazy gods. There are wise gods and there are fighter gods. Gods that are lusty and gods that spend entire lifetimes without touching a member of the opposite sex. An estimate says the Hindu pantheon consists of more than 33 crore gods, goddesses and other minor deities. That’s plenty of options!
O son of Pritha! Whoever worships me, in whatever way, I entertain them in that way. Everywhere, men follow along my path. — (Bhagwad Gita, Chapter 4, Verse 11)
Everyone, in one way or another, is following God’s way. Hence nobody is, so to speak, outside the fold. We are all, no matter how different from each other, in this together.