I still swear by Bhagavad Gita, and pick it every time I am in doubt. Interestingly, I get all my answers from it.
Over the years, I realised that these are the essence of Hinduism:
1. Karm (work) is the only thing that a human being is supposed to be bothered about. "Karm kiye ja, phal ki chinta maat kar." This made sense to my impressionable young mind, and since then, it is the duty, the work that I focus on, without bothering about the result. And, it so happens that if you put your heart and soul into the work, you will get the result invariably.
2. Karma comes biting. And that too instantly. Sometimes, you don't really need another birth to see the consequences of your acts. Sometimes, it just happens at the next moment. Keep your acts clean, that's what I learnt over the years.
3. Serving humanity is the biggest service one could render. An ardent follower of Swami Vivekananda, I truly believed in his words, "Jibe prem kore jei jon, sei jon sebichhe Ishwar." It literally translates to, "People who love fellow human beings are the ones who serve God." It became the core essence of my life too. Kindness, charity and love, that's what Vivekandanda's Hindutva taught me.
4. God is formless, omnipresent and non-judgmental. Over the years, the religious texts and spritiual figures taught me that you don't need to necessarily go to the temple to pray. You could find the God in the inner 'you'. Each one of us has a divine spark, which makes each one of us 'God' as well. And, if we want to explore our divinity, we got to love ourselves and each other. Lord Krishna taught me that the beautiful nature (mother Earth) we have is what translates into God. As humans, we need to preserve it. He also taught me to love. Don't we still celebrate Raas Leela? Lord Shiva taught me that it is okay to be in your own skin, be a madcap, imperfect. After all, he smokes weed!
5. Creation is nothing without women. The divine feminine is revered and worshipped. Shiva is not complete without Shakti, nor is Narayana without Laxmi. In fact, at times, Hindu mythology taught me that women have superior powers than men, and only she could defeat monsters like Mahishasura. On the other hand, the concept of Ardhanarishvara taught me about the perfect combination of opposites in nature, creating a cosmos. One is incomplete without the other.
'Strangely', none of my learnings from Hinduism taught me to hate another religion, be intolerant to someone else based on their choices, think of women being inferior to men, consider romantic love as sin, live as per the dictum of the society, and many other 'modern-day Hindutva' principles. Wondering, if all that I learnt for so long was futile or should I hope that someday they will understand what it really means to be a Hindu!