Last updated on 3rd Dec. 2017
Recently, the Congress vice-president Shri Rahul Gandhi who has been visiting many temples lately with pics of these visits being shared on social media and perhaps mainstream media as well, came under some criticism that he is not a Hindu and that he signed some register in Somnath Temple in Gujarat as a non-Hindu.
Here is a video published by the Times of India where Rahul Gandhi says in Hindi, that his grandmother (Indira Gandhi) and his family are Shiv bhakts (devotees of Lord Shiva), but that he (usually) prefers to keep such matters related to religion as private: Somnath row: Rahul Gandhi breaks silence, says he is Shiv bhakt, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAqIu43g3mU, 2 min. 17 secs. Note that the clip is repeated in the video with the repeat part not having any audio.
As a Hindu and an Indian citizen, I accept Rahul Gandhi's statement that he and his family are devotees of Lord Shiva, and so Hindus. I should also say here that it would not have mattered much to me if Rahul Gandhi claimed to be of another religion so long as he was respectful of Hinduism and similarly respectful of other religions in India.
But some criticism is being leveled against Rahul Gandhi that he is not a Hindu (or a Shiv Bhakt) implying that he is saying an untruth when he claims to be a Hindu. So I felt it appropriate to put up this public post where, as a Hindu, an Indian citizen and a social media writer on spirituality and religion, I accept Rahul Gandhi's statement that his family, including his grandmother, former Prime Minister of India, the Late Shrimati Indira Gandhi, are devotees of Lord Shiva, and so Hindus, and wish Rahul Gandhi all the best in his spiritual and religious journey as a Hindu.
Given below are my comments (slightly edited) from my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2027049364178297, associated with this blog post :
[In response to a person's comment claiming that there is conflicting information on this matter and that he (Shri Rahul Gandhi) should deny published assertions of his other religious associations, I (Ravi) responded] :
I personally am a multi-faith person. I was born and raised in a Hindu Brahmin family and retain some aspects of that Hindu Brahmin spiritual and religious view though I do not practise the Hindu Brahmin rituals now. However, I also am a lover, admirer and worshiper of Lord Jesus Christ as described in the canonical gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John.
Rahul Gandhi may be associated with the Christian Catholic faith as his mother, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi was raised in a Christian Catholic faith, and even though she married Shri Rajiv Gandhi in a Hindu ceremony in 1968 (ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonia_Gandhi), she perhaps retains her Christian Catholic faith. So it is possible that Rahul Gandhi has some association with Christian Catholic faith.
Even if Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is currently a Christian Catholic, she has been respectful of Hindu traditions. I will not forget that when she was in a very powerful political position (perhaps the most powerful political leader in India then) when Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba gave up his physical body in April 2011, she, along with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, came to Puttaparthi and paid respects to Bhagavan sitting for quite some time next to his body in the casket. As a Hindu and a devotee of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, I am deeply grateful to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi for that vital gesture of support for the Sathya Sai fraternity at our time of grief and need for support.
Rahul Gandhi's possible association with the Christian Catholic faith because of his mother possibly being a Christian Catholic even today, does not mean that Rahul Gandhi cannot be viewed as a Hindu! I think that's what some people are saying. Note that his father was a Hindu and his grandmother Smt. Indira Gandhi wore a Rudrakshamala!
In any case, today's early 21st century Hinduism in India, and around the world, in my view, welcomes people of other faiths, some of whom consider themselves to be Hindu as they follow Hindu traditions. Rahul Gandhi visited Hindu temples as a humble devotee of the Hindu God/Goddess in the temple. Why should people object to that? He has every right to worship in Hindu temples. And as he says he is a Hindu, I accept his statement. Even if a Westerner who followed Christian traditions started worshiping in Hindu temples and/or followed Hindu religious traditions of worship at home/elsewhere, and wanted to be viewed as a Hindu due to such worship I would accept his/her statement. Further, I would be fine if such a person took a multi-faith approach of worshiping Christian deities and saints as well as Hindu deities and saints. In my view, Hinduism does not prevent a Hindu from worshiping deities of other faiths.
My view is that the house of worship of God in Hinduism today (as well as most other religions today) is open to private citizens as well as prominent public figures. God loves the private citizens as well as the prominent public figures (like Shri Rahul Gandhi) who worship God.
Please note that I have a PUBLICLY NEUTRAL role in these social media posts that I put up related to Indian political leaders which include leaders in government currently and those not in government. I do vote in Indian elections but I keep who I vote for as a private matter.