Response to post on “Trans-National” Hindus

Ganesh in London

Ganesh in London

Today I read a blog-post which criticised the Hindu American Foundation’s statement on caste. Though I disagreed with a lot of what the post said I found it to be a well thought-through and clear expression of an opposing view. I wrote a comment in response to the post which I will expand on here.

First a brief background. The Hindu American Foundation published a report on caste, which basically said that caste-based discrimination is not intrinsic to Hinduism and that it was a problem that is being addressed in India. The blog-post I am responding to is by Sandhya Jain. She sees this report as part of an attempt to “recast Hinduism as an International faith” and set up a canon of Hinduism, one defined set of sources and beliefs. The article has comparatively little to say about caste, except that it is part of a dynamic system that has positive virtues. The article should certainly not be seen as an endorsement or acceptance of caste-based discrimination. Here is my response, together with some expansions and comments.

I am a Western devotee of Shiva and follows the practice of Sanatana Dharma to the best of my ability. Whether you would class me as a Hindu or not does not really matter. I found your article very interesting and thought provoking.

I would add here that I do refer to myself as a Hindu, but since that is irrelevant to the post and the point I am making I wanted to avoid getting sidetracked into that discussion. Ultimately labels are not important, it is what you do that is.

Hinduism is a diverse systems of beliefs, and every now and then someone will make a statement which they attribute to all Hindus but actually ignores the beliefs of many lineages. For example the statement of the Jewish-Hindu Summit claiming that “The Hindu relates to only the One Supreme Being when he/she prays to a particular manifestation” is at odds with probably most Hindus’ beliefs about Ishvara and Devas. I see the HAF statement on caste in that light rather than any attempt to define a One True Hinduism. I think that perhaps this article falls into the same trap.

Firstly, if you are going to criticise movements that deny the relevance of caste then this applies to many people and movements within India as well as outside. There are many Hindu schools that deny caste, such as the Arya Samaj and the Veerashaiva, I work in the IT industry, and have worked with many representatives from Indian off-shoring companies. They tell me that within the high-tech enclaves in Hyderabad, Deli, and many other Indian cities Hinduism is alive and well but the jati and varna systems have no relevance – technical education, skill and experience are all that matter here.

Secondly, what is “outside Bharat”? Would you include those who were born in Bharat but now find themselves in Pakistan among the Trans-national Hindus? What about their children? Also what about Hindus living in places such as Nepal and Indonesia, where there is and historically has been a strong Hindu culture? There is some evidence that in ancient times India was seen as a religions centre over large parts of the world. The Irish-Celtic story of Ethne tells of a queen (or goddess in some versions) who does not eat and only drinks milk from a cow from India, which is the land of righteousness. I certainly feel that some ancient sites in England are holy places, inhabited by the devas.

I think that India is certainly the home of Hinduism, but Hinduism is not confined by it. Once much of the world followed sanatana dharma and God has dominion everywhere.

Thirdly, I find the assertion that karma is not possible outside India strange. Surely this is contradictory to the universality of karma, and the concept that every living soul is on a journey to moksha? It is true that the path through samsara is not as clear, but even without a formal Jati and Varna system it is clear that people have different inclinations and positions in society.

I find this idea so strange that I am not completely certain that I understand what Sandhya Jain is saying here. Is she really claiming that Karma is not a universal law? I will be interested to hear the response.

I have thought about where I would fit in the varna system. I am a skilled IT professional and take great pride in producing high-quality systems. I see myself as a skilled artesan, which would make me a Shudra, which if it was good enough for Tiruvalluvar is good enough for me. I think that there is plenty of scope for karma to work outside India. I have also thought about how much easier it would be to follow and understand dharma if I was born into a Hindu family. I wonder if maybe the destiny of many of those souls outside India who try to live Hindu dharma is to be born in a Hindu family in India in a later life.

When I started to follow Sanatana Dharma I thought that anyone searching for God would be of the Brahmin varna. Having read the Tirukural, written by Thiruvalluvar, a weaver, I realised that it has more to do with your role in society, and that all may study and reach for God. As a computer specialist I feel that I am really a skilled artisan. True I am involved with management and informing others of what to do, but my heart is really in delivering a high-quality product with the team of developers. Working for a salary and doing this puts me in the position of a shurdra. I am not sure that this view will be popular with the many IT professionals in India who have left their caste occupations to work for multinational companies, but I believe it to be correct.

I will finish by saying that I totally agree with you that Hinduism is a flowing river, that changes but stays the same. For good or ill people have now diverted part of the river, irrigation channels taking its waters to regions where it may not have flowed for millennia. This water will take a different course to that of the main stream, but it is still undeniably the same water. Hindus outside India have the same respect and love for God and the Devas, the same duties and dharmas, are bound by the same yamas and constrained by the same niyamas.

Thank you for this food for contemplation.

You will notice I did not say anything about the HAF caste report itself. That is because the post istelf does not give much detail on this. I think the main jist of the post was that there is a difference between Hindus living in India and “transnational” Hindus. Whereas I agree that the free-flowing river of Hinduism will change and there will be differences, the essence – the water and deep currents of the stream – remain the same.

Image from victoriapeckham, made available under the creative-commons attribution license.

64 responses to “Response to post on “Trans-National” Hindus

  1. I agree with your observations and think it’s great you also looked into how a westerner would fit into varna. Varna seems to be a slippery slope as it gets confused with jati and gotra, especially amongst westerners. Varna it its strictest sense is a part of Hinduism, Krishna says so 😀 My understanding of Varna from Krishna’s lips is nothing like caste as it is equated to today. Varna could be changed as your station of life and realization of God changed. We were all born Hindu’s with no varna, but what we do with our lives dictates our varna (in my narrow understanding of true varna. I know there are some Brahman communities that say a westerner could never be Hindu, because we are “avarnic” but truth is we are not.

    I have always wondered why, if varna is so important to some, why not allow westerners into the varna system. There are some rituals the priest perform that they must know our varna. Historically speaking westerners were accepted into the varnic fold. Alexander and his men were welcomed into the Kshatriya fold, Portuguese sailors were considered shudra, early English and Dutch merchants were considered Vaishyas etc. etc. I know out of curiousity I have asked friends and co-workers what varna I would be considered and have gotten mixed results. Some said due to my work (at the time) I was Vaishya, but my boss at that job said I would firmly be a Kshatriya, because he knew my family history and lineage.

    So as a westerner, I welcome varna, it is a part of hinduism. But what would be the paradigm to make such a classification? many westerners adopt the varna and gotra of their Guru, but that would make 99% of westerners brahman, which isn’t right. Do we go by family lineage? not many people can trace their family history back to 400 CE Ireland like I can. Then would it be based upon skills and education? this could prove to be unfair to devout western Hindus that were not blessed with an education, be it from lack of money or having to start a trade early due to unforeseen circumstances.

    In the end, it may all be about labels that really don’t matter. But sometimes labels give us a sense of place in a foreign world to our own. I did not choose to devote my life to Sri Ram, I was grabbed and shown and with this I surrendered to him, absolute and without question. As such, I expect native Hindu’s to respect this, if I am good enough for God, than I should be good enough to be considered their brother.

  2. It is really a strange coincidence,that you Have written on this topic as Ihad just read another’s opinion on the same topic. I will read Sandya Jain’s report also. All together ,you have written a veritable feast for Thought,not just a simple meal. And it might take several posts over several days as I had promised myself I WILL NOT sit in Front of the Computer for more than an hour.It is very difficult to keep resolutions in face of such temptation..
    On Your Particular Gothra: I think that Sivaya Subramunya Swami’s name is the Last name on the string of names that follow the Gothra name. ItYour Gothra will probably be the name of the Person who propounded the Philosophy that your Guru chose to follow. For example ,when my Son/Husband tells their name during “Abhivadaye” it goes like this: Angirasa,Ayasya,gauthamagOthraha,Apasthamba sUtraha,yajushAkAdhyayi ————sharmanAma aham asmi boho. [ The Gothras are spread across the three Vedas-rg,yajur and Sama and atharva; So depending on the Veda the rituals/mantras change. These Rishis had various disciples who had set their own paths[of interpretation/reccension of the Vedas]For us it is Apasthamba’s recenssion of the Taitriya section of Krisna Yajur Veda. I have pasted the following links to give more understanding to that of Gothras[you might have your own view ,of course;But your post made me look up these,which were only vague ideas /knowledge, initially, in my mind]. veda.;
    I think that the Rishi’s name in independent of the Veda we follow[i may be wrong].The Veda we follow is also not dependent on our Varna . It seems that Lord Rama ‘s lineage followed Shukla Yajur Veda-thus it follows that they also followed a particular Rishi’s version of it and In Rama’s case the Rishi Vasishta and his descendants. Sita’s family Followed Gauthama’s guidance. This makes it obvious that ever one of us who calls ourselves hindu do have a Gothra already. It is only that out of ignorance,or lack of practice[trdition;i.e. giving up on one’s tradition ,that we became lost to our Gothra mnames. It is still extant with the brahmins because they have preserved that tradition,by using it when doing Sandhya Vandanam etc. The others also had Sandhya vandanam prescribed to them,which ,because of Times,they were unable to preserve.This will deal with those who are native Hindus. How will this system work for those who take up hinduism ,as you have done? Then you only have to see the lineage of your Gurus.SivayaSubrahmanya Swamy got his Knowledge from somebody,So on. This way of getting our Gothra name is valid. But I don’t think it will be valid to have a Gothra named After your Guru. We all have our Gurus,For example,we follow the Shringeri Acharya,while My parents follow the Kanchi Acharyas;that does not mean,that we take up the Acharya’s name as Gothra. Even if we had lost our traditional gothra,it would come back to the Rishi whom our Guru followed,not the Guru’s name itself. I hope I made sense. I did not mean any offence,;but thought,that I had to share.

  3. Sandhya Jain seem to be talking from a Political ,Historical and Social point of view;not the Spiritual.This is because majority of us in India happen to be Hindus. And as Hindus,we are bearing the brunt of the blatant Minoritism with which we are governed.Believe me, it is very frustrating. This “Caste” is used as a Whip to cow us ,Hindus,down. What ever happens it is looked at through the prism of caste by the media and the Political parties.
    I am not saying that there are not any atrocity done on a fellow citizen because he/she was/is considered beneath Human dignity. That is because of entrenched thinking on the perpetrators part, that some are superior and others are inferior.This has to be tackled with a judicious mix of education and Punishment. But what happens is that ,here we have political parties siding up to the victim in such a way as to estrange the entire community the the oppressor belonged to,not just the Oppressor;even if the others who 1) because of their circumstance of dependence or lack of knowledge,had not stopped the atrocity;2) had in fact spoken against it. Then the English Language Media Gives extensive coverage to the incident,in such a way that instead of soothing and educating ,fans animosity; the conversion Mafia does not lag behind in beating their drum that this kind of Discrimination is not their in their religion; and this leads to a religious conflict. If the Political parties or media were even handed in the coverage of the incidence of atrocities-any atrocity by any one,then it won’t be a problem ;but they tend to highlight only if the perpetrator was a Hindu .The Caste-based discrimination in Churches is ignored.There are even Cemetries for different castes.I can tell you in Hinduism,as practiced in India today,Whatever our caste we are all burned at the same spot under the shed in our Crematoriums;And no one fights or exhumes the bodies of those who are buried ,if they were of different castes. So it is a very complex issue, and generally some of us[not me] have become extremely sensitive to talking about the issue.This was what I had read ,just before clicking on your site,earlier: It gives a different and opposing view to Sandya Jain’s ;and I tend to agree with it.The comments are interesting ,too.

    • Sita,
      I have discussed this with other people studying with the Himalayan academy, and they tell me that Western converts to the Nandinatha Sampradaya do belong to a new gotra, the Subramuniya gotra. This is a very short lineage compared to born Hindus; Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami was the founder and Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami is the current satguru. One comment I to my question about the long lineages of born Hindus was “Isn’t Gurudeva (Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami) enough for you. When put like that the answer is obvious, he is!

  4. Correction : I tend to agree with the Pioneer Article’s view,not S.J’s

  5. I love Sita and her posts. I secretly hope she posts on my blog every time I write something hehe.

  6. Thanks Kothanda and a very Happy new year to you.May all your wishes get fulfilled.
    Tandava, I am currently reading a Tamil Weekly which takes the trouble to translate from Manus Smriti and also explain it.I will try and post some of the things that are relevant here LATER.
    Personally,[my and my husband’s view]If we are Teachers or in Research or work involving our intellect,then we can call ourselves brahmins,If we are in Business/Marketing /sales then we are Vaishyas. and so on.All of us have to draw salaries now adays.So in that respect we are all Shudras.This apart, I find that the present situation calls us to be of ALL varnas simultaneously,viz. When we teach our Child /our community something we are Brahmins,When we Speak out as in writing letters to the editor or take part in Street Protest over some issue,ewe become Kshatriyas,when we trade our skill/knowledge/or other comodities,or when we buy things in the market,comparing costs/prices,we are all vaishyas,and when we do the Physical work needed to get by everyday,we all become Shudras. So What are We?

    • Dr. O. P. Sudrania

      Sita, your thoughts are as pious as your name. God bless.
      May I respectfully take a liberty of suggesting you to read, “Religion and society” by Dr. S Radhakrishnan, late President of India. He is real doyen and compendium of knowledge. If you have read it already, then you will know what I mean.

      God bless you and your great husband,

      Dr. O. P. Sudrania

  7. Thank you Sita,
    This is a very interesting comment – that has left me more confused. Even in my job I fulfill roles that would cover several varnas, research into new products and methods, managing staff, evaluating products and dealing with suppliers!

    I have thought about this before regarding Tiruvalluvar. Was he a Shudra because of his occupation as a weaver, a Vaishya because he gave advice on fair rules of trade to merchants, a Kshatriya because of his advice to kings, ministers, spies and soldiers, or a Brahmin because of his writings on spirituality?

    I look forward to hearing what the Manus Smriti says about varna.

  8. In Thiruvalluvar’s times, life was according to ones varna in which one was born.Their occupation was also so.Valluvar was considered to be an Agriculturist who was also a weaver..This comes under vaishyas. I will do the manu smriti a litte later as I have to look up many issues to find the relevant ones. Right now,there is a lot of mischief afoot as some organisation called Lord’s salvation Army has called for a BURN Bhagavad Gita Day on 2nd.Jan. We don’t know how serious this is as this has not been reported on the Mainstream Media which is quite Biased against Hindus. and we have no way of verifying the Truth.We really don’t know which anti national group is behind this,so it is worrisome.This blogger who is News -Savy has reported it. ,we’ll all hope that this does not come to pass,as it will tear the fabric of Indian Soceity.Happy New Year

    • Sita,
      Thank you for letting us know about this mischief. I think that the best thing would be for it to blow over without much fuss. It is in the interests of the fundamentalist Christians to tear Indian society apart, not only does this make it easier for them to convert people than when there is a unified society, but they would use out of context news reports of “victimization” to get more money from the bank-rollers in the West.
      Aum Shivaya

  9. Wish you a Happy New Year .

  10. Regarding Thiru-Valluvar,
    In Tamil, Thiru means respected
    Valluvar – means of the Valluvan caste
    The Valluvans are brahmins for the untouchables.
    They are vegetarian for 3 months of the year and eat mutton, fish, chicken the other 9 months
    They dont eat beef.
    However, they are classified as untouchables, but the top level of untouchables.
    The story behind them is that they were born of a union between a brahmin man and an untouchable woman,

    The Thirukural is considered to be a Jain document.
    Thiruvalluvar, goes much beyond regular valluvars in demanding full vegetarianism.

    Alexander, did a lot of deliberate large scale civilian massacres, and he massacred thousands of brahmins, Indian record call Alexander, the great murderer. He definitely was not accepted as a Kshatriya.

    Many of the greeks converted to Buddhism.
    A greek Heliodorus, converted to Hinduism and built a column honoring Krishna.

    The Maurya dynasty was of backward caste origin, but it is reported that the Brahmin minister Chanakya got the Mauryas recognised as Kshatriyas.

    Caste rank to a great deal depends on following brahminical rules – such as no beef, being vegetarian, no drinking.

    In most cases, being vegetarian would take someone into Vaishya level.

    Until recently, all standard meat eating christian europeans were classified as Mlecha, which means foreign barbarian. Portuguese, Dutch, English, French were all Mlecha. which is one step below untouchable,

    However, people like Hinduism Today, who took up Hindu Culture, became vegetarian, and other hindus like yourself, who take up Hindu culture are considered, Upper caste.

    David Frawley , Hinduism Today monks are considered Brahmin, whereas a standard vegetarian white hindu would be considered a Vaishya, a white Hindu who was in the military would be considered Kshatriya.

    Gotra was formed in pre-historic times to prevent in-breeding, thats all

    Many castes have many different types of Gotras
    Jat Gotra list is far different from Brahmin Gotra list

  11. Sir i think u should pursue ur grihasta life for now . After u have ur grand kids n when u feel that u dont have much contribute 2 this world, then u turn towards path of moksha guided by ur spiritual guru. dont be too focussed on ur spiritual journey during ur grihasta life .dont do injustice 2ur wife n kids pls. Dont try to ride 2tigers 2gather.focus on dharma artha kama. & kama is not just sex its also love, attachment , family bonds, friendship etc . Hope u understand what i mean to say. I think this applies to all white/western hindus who try to focus too much on moksha/spiritual path.

    • Thanks Kinda,
      Don’t worry, the Himalayan academy clearly teaches that family is most important for those on the grihasta path. The more intense yogas and practices are reserved for sanyasins.

    This article has a different/interesting perspective on the issue.

    • Yes, there are a lot of good points in it. I think that there is probably some misunderstanding between what the HAF mean by people being born equal and the way the commenter interpreted it.

      Obviously people are born in many different circumstances and with differing natures and abilities. I am sure that the HAF were not denying that. I think that what they meant by being born equal is being born with equal rights and to some extent opportunities. The use of the term being “born equal” to mean this stems from the wording of the American declaration of independence (and from earlier writings of Thomas Paine, and others. The use of “born equal” in this way differentiates the American founding father’s vision from that of Britain, which they were breaking away from. At that time it was believed that the aristocracy in the UK had the god-given right to govern. Only (male) members of the aristocracy were allowed to vote, hold certain high positions (judges, etc.), or to sit in Parliament. The monarch had real power, and it was assumed that the head of the country would be an inherited position (it still is in theory – the Queen is head of state and refers to the elected government as “her parliament”). At the time this meaning of being “born equal” was obvious, and it is made clear to anyone in the American school system.

      I do think the points about whether the HAF wants to interfere with the management of temples is valid. I also think that it 160 pages is excessive. It would have been better to have a clear concise statement that they were opposed to caste-based discrimination, as mentioned. On the whole I think that the Hindu Council UK’s statement on caste is better, confining itself to caste-based discrimination rather than the system of varnas and jatis itself, and concentrating on the affect of caste (or large lack of affect) in the UK rather than sounding as though they are making a pan-Hindu statement.

  13. Dr. O. P. Sudrania

    My dear Western Hindu,
    I am with your sentiments fully and this row of “not cast in caste” by anybody is unfortunate and it shows to me a cry of society being threatened but finds herself weak enough to rebounce. The Western Society is teasing them and the
    Hindus are not well armed to reply them back. This is a psychological warfare in ‘America which has become synonymous for West’, which is indulging in this mud slinging. But which society does not have divisive forces in one pretext or the other, be it caste or colour or poverty or ethnicity and etc.

    America has been founded on the coffins of the millions of what one calls them, “West Indies”. If you take the origin of the word – Indies itself, it is a blasphemous connotation. I would be even prepared to say that it is a slur on the Western society itself which has been teaching the bad colour and creed based education in their schools. It is well known. But blaming others is easy.

    This is what the Hindu philosophy teaches through the “Science of Yoga” where the Great Rishi or Sage Patanjali expounded the “Eight-fold path of Yoga” starting with “Yamas” as restraints and the “Niyamas” as the paths or duties to follow.

    Unfortunately this is a venomous controversy started by some vestedly interested group of people in US society who are finding themselves threatened by the spread of the Yoga science. It is this group who is spreading these mean propaganda with the hope of creating division between the Hindus as per the old policy of divide and rule.

    You as a Hindu have nothing to fear on this account regarding your own class of caste. I would rather advise you to keep your whatever faith you find best for you. But you must get hold of one book by late Dr. S Radhakrishnan, Ex-President of India called “Religion and Society” and several other books by him on Hindu and comparative philosophies he has dealt with in his different works. A man of great vision and an extra-ordinary philosopher of his time with a rare blend of humanism and philosophy.

    I should not worry for these petty propagandas by the people with their ulterior motives. These are indirect manifestation of an ailing society which needs treatment. That treatment is Yoga based on Patanjali philosophy. I have written a couple of columns on it and my series continues.
    God bless
    Dr. O. P. Sudrania

  14. I’ve read ur views on christian missionaries n evgls n their tactics to seek converts. But u never coment on ugly tactics used by ISkCon to seek new converts to hinduism. They work in same way as christn missns. work in india.

    • Like what? Have you examples of ISKCON telling starving people that they will only be fed if they convert? Or perhaps some falsified Christian scriptures that say that Krishna is the true God? Perhaps you have evidence of them using violence and threats?

      ISKCON are undoubtedly much more evangelical than most Hindu groups, and even deny that they are Hindu. In many ways they are unorthodox, and have less respect for the plurality of Hinduism than some. They certainly don’t act like some of the Christian missionaries though.

  15. Iscon wins a battle on Krishna

    A nun in Warsaw, Poland, filed a case against ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness). The case came up in court.
    The nun remarked that ISKCON was spreading its activities and gaining followers in Poland. She wanted ISKCON banned because its followers were glorifying a character called Krishna “who had loose morals,” having married 16,000 women called Gopikas.

    The ISKCON defendant to the Judge: “Please ask the nun to repeat the oath she took when she was ordained as a nun.”

    The Judge asked the nun to recite the oath loudly. She would not.

    The ISKCON man asked whether he could read out the oath for the nun.

    Go ahead, said the judge.

    The oath said in effect that ‘she (the nun) is married to Jesus Christ’. The ISKCON man said, “Your Lordship! Lord Krishna is alleged to have ‘married’ 16,000 women. There are more than a million nuns who assert that they are married to Jesus Christ. Between the two, Krishna and the nuns, who has a loose character?”
    The case was dismissed.

  16. missionaries and evangelists are next only to jihadists and islamists in spreading hatemongering. They both complement eachother very well. Hinduism and Buddhism on the other hand spread tolerance and mutual respect and interfaith amity. Time to call a spade a spade.

  17. Greetings Tandava

    As always, I find interesting debates on your blog.

    I would like to add my perspective on this topic.

    Both the caste and gotra system were brilliant concepts when first introduced. But the world as our fore-fathers who devised the system knew, has changed, we have to change with the times.

  18. I am totally against westerners abandoning their centuries old culture, tradition and values to jump at Hinduism. This is pretty much what happens in India where Christian converts abandon the ways of their ancestors and start acting all Christian overnight! Hope you continue respecting your nation, your people and culture while being an active Hindu. And Hinduism doesnt frown on you when you still are a Christian. Hope you take my message in the right spirit!

    • Lalitaditua,
      The “centuries old traditions” are largely gone, replaced by a sort of lowest common denominator consumerism. The few people who do the morris dance, singing round the maypole, etc. see it as a quaint rustic tradition rather than a way of life. I respect the many traditions that I come across. The I fully respect Christians who do not try to impose their beliefs on others.

      In many ways Hinduism is closer to the original tradition of Britain than later religions, something that I feel when I am at ancient Celtic sites.

      • Tandava ji, I see your point but then again, why not also go back to your original Celtic religion and revive the ancient religion and its glory apart from being a Hindu? You wud be following the glorious ways of your ancestors. On that note, do check out my video here –>

        • Lalitaditua Ji,
          There are all sorts of practical reasons, but in the end it comes down to Shiva wanting this path for me. I have given an extended answer in the post Why don’t you follow the Celtic religion?
          Aum Shivaya

          • Even many of the Christians I knew never tried to convert me, but, I understand what you are getting at. Of all the Christians I knew since 1992, only 5 tried to sway me away from Hinduism. The rest accepted me for who I am and never tried to change my beliefs. Thank God I live in Canada! Even though I usually did not keep Jesus on my altar or even at home, I always respected Him as a guru and I have been in several Indian and Sri Lankan Hindu homes where they kept Jesus’ picture alongside pictures of Hindu Deities.

            But going back to what you said, I completely understand it. While Hindus are generally tolerant and acceptimg of others, many Christians are not. (I have heard horror stories of people being abused/discriminated against even after they turned Christian. ie: Children getting beaten for speaking in their native language or singing their traditional songs at school.)

            While in Hinduism, one is free to approach and worship God as they wish, in Christianity, they are not.

        • Lalitaditya,

          In all due respects, I think you should just let people do whatever they want. I have read your blog and I can see that you hate the idea of non South Asian people following Hinduism.

          I am a a Westerner become Hindu and I have Jesus on my altar alongside pictures and murtis of various Hindu deities, but, at the same time, I do not force other Hindus to follow suit.

          The beautiful thing about Hinduism is if one wants to keep pictures of Jesus, Mary, Buddha etc on their altar alongside pictures and murtis of various Hindu deities, that is totally allowed and on the same nonte, if they prefer to keep only pictures and murtis of Hindu deities, that is also allowed.

          I do believe in the old Celtic saying, “An it harm none, do what thou shalt be it the whole of the law.”

          Basically that means so long as one is obeying the law and they are not huting/endangering themselves or others, then, they are fre do do as they choose.

          • I think Lalita is a baiter, he has no clue. Honestly he seems to have never even read the Gita. So it is a lost cause to keep talking to him.


            Do as you wish. I personally see placing Jesus next to Krishna an insult and incompatible on so many different levels. I’m sorry mate but you can not row two boats at the same time, especially when each boat is facing a different direction. But please continue as you wish, I’m just tired of taking flack from the Hindu orthodoxy as when they say the majority of westerners are going to muck it up and either new age or dilute the faith, they are absolutely right.

            Finally, “An it harm none, do what thou shalt be it the whole of the law.” is actually Wiccan and comes from Gerald Gardner, which can be traced back to the Thelemic teachings of Alistair Crowley. Nothing Celtic about that.

            So please everyone, shut up, stop pointing fingers and read a book. PLEASE! If you want to be Hindu, be bloody hindu, if you want to be Christian, be bloody Christian, this fence hopping just makes us westerners look bad and uneducated.

            • Dear Tandava,

              For one thing, I am not “fence hopping”. I am quite happy and confident in the Hindu faith. But many of my Indian and Sri Lankan friends have pictures of Jesus and other non Hindu figures on their altars alongside pictures of Krishna, Rama, Shiva, Durga etc. and that does not make them any less Hindu.

              Did I say Celtic? Sorry! I meant Wiccan.

              Lastly, instead of telling Hindus that keeping a picture of Jesus next to a picture of Krishna or any other Hindu deity should be avoided, why not suggesting to those of us who want to keep Jesus’ picture to keep His picture on a seperate altar?

            • Oops, sorry! I meant Kodanda.

            • //Do as you wish. I personally see placing Jesus next to Krishna an insult and incompatible on so many different levels. I’m sorry mate but you can not row two boats at the same time, especially when each boat is facing a different direction. But please continue as you wish, I’m just tired of taking flack from the Hindu orthodoxy as when they say the majority of westerners are going to muck it up and either new age or dilute the faith, they are absolutely right.//
              I have never seen Jesus’s Picture in a Hindu Home. I completely agree with Tāṇḍava. Those Abrahamic Beliefs are like virus(HIV). It can’t live/mingle with other Beliefs. so it is better to keep that aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaway…

            • ..Keep away…

              Or I will not keep Jesus’ picture on my altar or even in my home for that matter. Thank you, S, Kodanda and Tandava for opening my eyes. But how about Buddha or Guru Nanak? They both came from Hindu traditions and the religions centred around their teachings have elements from Hinduism. Can we keep their pictures on our altars if we desire to?

            • @Skanthavelu said:

              But how about Buddha or Guru Nanak? They both came from Hindu traditions and the religions centred around their teachings have elements from Hinduism.

              Personally I see no harm in this, as you will not get Buddhists or Sikhs actively trying to convert you or your descendants. The Budha can be seen in an entirely Hindu way as an avatar of Vishnu, in fact our Mandir has a picture of the avatars in a circle around Narayan including Buddha.

              I think that if you do have a picture of the Buddha or Guru Nanak in your shrine you should understand and be able to explain what they mean from a Hindu perspective to your children and others, just to avoid any confusion.

            • Kodanda, no need to make things personal, we may disagree on things but why resort to abuse? I am coming up with a follow-up write-up on Tandava’s thoughts. It is not that I am not following whats going on in this blog. I am upset you called me baiter, for after all, you seems to be an intellectual person and not one of those internet warriors who start everything with personal abuses. Please desist from that.

            • Lalita,

              I only call things as I see them. I always make a rule to say what I mean, and mean what I say. I hope this is a trait that you would appreciate. I have nothing to hide nor no reason to hide.

              My apologies if you took it personally, but you do come off as a baiter. If this is not your intent, then please understand where this misunderstanding comes from. In the past you have said many things that are either hurtful or fiery and offer little or no proof to substantiate your claims. It is almost lie you are trying to get us all worked up and make us sound our conchs and roar like lions just to point a finger and say “Look how barbaric these mleccha’s truly are!”. That Sir, is baiting.

              Fact of the matter is Sir, that you know my position in this, you know I will not hesitate to even tell other western Hindu’s they are making our community look bad, especially since we are under a very watchful eye by those who wish to discredit us and use our mistakes as fuel for their agendas which has more to do with Nationalism than about Faith.

              With this said, you also know that I understand your concerns and realise why you are doing what you do. My only problem with what you are doing is that is seems a little halfcocked and misdirecting your frustration towards people whom you do not know, never met, and have absolutely NO impact on your daily life.

              Lalita, you want a crusade to take upon? then look within Bharata’s borders. India is rife with corruption, filth where people defecate in the streets and Muslim tanneries dump chemicals into Maa Ganga. Now those are noble causes to fight for!

  19. Celts/ Druids has swastika , and many sculptures have been found in yogic postures.

    Hill of Tara ( Ireland) has the shiva lingum, when you look at wiki!

    Tara is another name of Goddess Shakti, the wife of God Shiva.

    Celts and Druids were converted to Christianity in middle ages “Forcefully” by “Roman Catholic church.

    Answer is simple, they are us to begin with.

  20. Correct Abhishek!

    Also remember Sanatana dharma is eternal, transcends borders, cultures and nationalistic thoughts. Though I do appreciate what Lalita states, I do not recall anywhere in the 1008 names of Sri Vishnu where it says he is Bharatanatha, but there are hundreds of names stating his expansive nature, names that reflect how he created and maintains the universe. If he can create, maintain and destroy the Universe… then couldn’t someone from outside Bharat be his devotee? One would think logically that if God created the Universe then a martian could be a devotee.

    Not trying to make light of the topic, but Genetics, Linguistic and Archaeology all show we are the same people. A people who once had a continuum from the Indus Valley to Ireland. We lost our way in Kaliyuga, but by God’s good grace we are slowly being pulled back.

  21. There are 108 names of God Vishnu,and its more about looking at the truth that has been warped by “groups” with vested interests.

    Every one has the right to search for the truth, and the ultimate truth is God,

    Kaliyuga is nothing more than the old age of the universe.

    • Guys lets understand what is Bharath :-
      “Bha” means Light and Knowledge,
      “rata” means “Devoted”.
      Bharat means “devoted to light as against darkness”. So basically it is nonsense and foolishness if someone talk about and try to limit Santan Dharma to India by making such foolish statements…And Regarding what the piece of land is called at that time there was No civilistaion other than Santan Dharma ancient times it was called as “AryaVrat” (The land of Aryas(Noble People). .(No ancient scriptures mentions country called as Bharath however some where it was mentioned because of above meaning but Not as Country).However even at that time Aryas were the sovereign rulers of the earth here is an portion from Mahabharat.

      “The perusal of the Mahaabhaarata proves that the Aryas were the sovereign rulers of the earth till the coronation of EmperorYudhisthtira and the Great War of Mahaabhaarata, for we read in that book that King Bhaagadatta of China, Babruvaahan of America, Vidalakha* of Europe, the Ruler of Greece, King Shalya of Persia and various other rulers came as ordered to take part in the Great War and in the coronation of Emperor Yudhishthira.

      Whe the house of Raghu held paramount authority (in this country), even King Raavana of Ceylon acknowledged its suzerainty. Later when he revolted against its authority, Prince Ram Chandra having vanquished and dethroned him placed his younger brother Vibhishana on the throne instead. Since the time of Swyambhava to that of the Paandavas the Aryas were the paramount power throughout the whole world. ”

      A good read from this post

  22. Sri Vishnu Sahasra Namaavali 😀

    Hmmm, always thought Kaliyuga represented a time of disintegration and moral depravity in addition to being an epoch of time. Though some of these attributes were in the Mahabharata.

    Why do I get the feeling people just want to argue with me?

    • All names are made in a sequence of 108, then taken higher. I have a masters in Sanskrit, so i do not need to quote any one or any site. Thanks for the help.

      What happens in old age?

      Your body disintegrates and you run out of gas, hence i was saying the same thing. Is it not clear to you?

      There are nicer ways to say the same thing, try it for once.

  23. Abhishek, you are shaky, whats wrong with you, oh i see you have a computer and you know how to use key board, now I get it. The above Abhishek’s post anad alldumb ones like these should be deleted to keep it sanitized. stop writing stupid things like vishnu has 108 names (sahasra nama) and kaliyuga is old age of universe/earth. You could have wikied it or googled it, are you a hindu at all?

    • Lets cut the bullshit shall we?

      The names are made in the sequence of 108, and the combination can go up to infinity. That is how the first ultimate language was made. It can go up to infinity nonstop.

      As for Kali yuga , it is the last time phase of the universe similar to a old age of a human being when the energy runs out and the body starts feeding on itself.

      Do not worry i am far smarter than you Surya. Cut the crap.

      Wiki has all corrupted information about Sanatan Dharma, so it is you who are an absolute failure to even understand the true core. Don’t ever dare to spew your nonsense again.

      I just have a different perspective of things that have a common origin.

      • Abhishek , surya
        Lets keep it civil please! Describing the Kali Yuga as the old age of the Universe is a nice poetic analogy – it is the last stage before a fresh new “incarnation”. Like any analogy you can only take it so far, but there is no need to get upset about that.

        Hindus have a great tradition of debating Hinduism and philosophy civilly. Let’s uphold that tradition.

      • Abhishek,
        Wendy Doniger calls herself a Sanskrit scholar and we know how she maligned Hinduim in her latest work from her hometown Chicago, all by ‘translating scriptures’ in a ‘scholarly’ manner. Hope with your scholarly prowess you will be able to counter her stand and write a critique as to where she ‘misread’ the Sanskrit verses. Choose your equals in a war or debate, they say.
        When you write 108 number next time, then try to add a sentence more as to why it was misperceived for1000 names. Most hindus read 1000 names and not 108 names for vishnu. Similarly when you wrote old age the readers would have liked to know why that analogy for kaliyuga was brought in. The more one knows the more one explains, IMHO. You can be good to all, should you consider yourself a scholar, even to those who are not so good to you.
        Finally, spice up your future posts with relevant short Sanskrit verses and their translations for benefit of all, that way we can enjoy something different from the rest. On another hindu forum I see that all the time.

        Iam glad you are smarter than Iam. Good. Then Iam sure your family must be extremely proud of your accomplishments without a question. I shall keep away from talking about my own university qualifications and material accomplishments here. Nice talking to you.

  24. Pingback: Why don’t you follow the Celtic religion? | Western Hindu

  25. In kerala missionaries hold charismatic conventions , where they make fake claims and dramas of treating and curing illness with prayer. They say all other belief as fake. They gv 25-40 lac Indian Ruppee per doctor for issuing statement that this s true.
    They spread religion by bribing.
    We can’t say no if any1 comes to Hinduism by himself. But we dnt bribe and fool devotees.
    Bharat Mata ki jai.

  26. Thanks for defending Hinduism, which even Indian politicians and people dnt do.
    I welcome you and all other who join hinduism by will, IRRESPECTIVE OF RACE OR NATION.
    Its nt because we need more people bt we welcum all . Any1 can be a hindu, no matter he s white, black,brown or red or yellow.
    Thanks again brother.
    Thanx surya too.

  27. It is unfortunate fruitless discussion. This recent hue and cry on international front started by HAF should be taken in its right perspective and with a gesture of reality as faced by them in US today, as I believe. This is bound to spread across in different Christian nations also if not countered. I have read your blog and the Western Hindu, Transnational Hindus and etc whatever you like to call them. I have tended to ignore it simply because I dislike this subject ab initio.

    I just saw an entry of Transnational Hindus in my inbox and as per my usual curiosity, read it including the post and some comments. It baffles me to read them as a waste of time.

    HAF’s whole purport as I could understand, please correct me if I am wrong, on that report on Caste originates from their concern about their children going to Christian schools where these kids are subjected to humiliation by their christian teachers where none of you or us are there to defend those indefensibles. I think their concern is genuine. Had we been in their place, we would be equally concerned for our children.

    Now we may be making big noises but the fact is that Hindus in India have been marginalised by this sex and money industry. We all know it. How the Hindu elites are secularised by this “Indian Syndrome of Macaulayiitism” ever since it infested us since 1835.

    Respectfully if you all consider yourselves treasured Hindus, instead of mudslinging on each other, try to understand the real issue; which is not discussed by anyone here. It is a calculated missile fired at the peace loving Hindu community to first defame them and then subject them to proselytisation and conversions. I would respectfully request you all here to kindly put a coma if not the full stop to this fire cracker caste discussion and get real.

    Let us start by asking ourselves, “Do you consider the Hindus living outside India as Hindus or not”? Would you be happy if they left Hinduism? Think hundred times before answering these questions and how will it affect you?

    Lastly I read the post on Transnational Hindu and had made a small comment with request to some firebrand commentator viz Sita. Please do consult Dr S. Radhakrishnan and his collection of lecture series viz. Religion and Society, p 129 onwards published by Indus New Delhi 1995, first published in Great Britain by HarperCollins Publishers in 1947.

    In its Chapter III on Hindu Dharma, Dr SR mentions under the subhead: Caste and Untouchability, I quote – “Caste divisions are based on individual temperaments (quotes a slok in Sanskrit in footnotes), which is not immutable. In the beginning there was only one caste. We were all Braahmins (quotes another Sanskrit slok in footnote) or all Sudras. A smrti text says, that one is born a Sudra, and through purification he becomes a Braahmin (quotes a sanskrit slok in footnote)…” The description continues.

    In my personal opinion as a commoner, Dr SR has been the most reliable and an authentic source to refer to on Hinduism. I call Him the largest institution on Philosophy, Eastern and Western taken together. It is a pity that Hindus have slowly lost their bearings. I don’t know, if HAF had considered and refered to Dr. SR in their discussion or not. If not, they should. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get to read that report.

    I have myself advised HAF on this messy issue to keep away from. But the Hindus should realise their sad plight. Today if we take a considered view on British Imperialism, they also came here for better pastures because they were suffering in poverty and inhabitated the North America and Australia as so many lands far away. If some Hindus went in search of some greener pastures, I don’t think there is anything wrong in it. They are as good a member of the world community as any other one. This just the history repeating itself. There is nothing called original British and the English Language as we read today, owes its basis to Latin and Greek languages because those empires ruled them at a time. English legal system is full of proud Latin maxims.

    The need is to enlighten the other Organised Religions on Hinduism that has a lot to contribute to the peace of in World today. It is the Abrahamic religions who are the real culprits. It was nauseating to see the news on vatican official exorcist holding a Holy Cross in his hand and openly abusing Hindus and Yoga as evil. I think he should be sued in the ICJ for his unbecoming filthy remarks against Hindus, unprovoked. But I doubt if we can do that.

    We as Hindus are finding difficult to save our head in India, that seems to be a far cry. Please be realistic. I also notice some South Indian groups wanting to make a big meal out of this caste puddle. I shall not spark any further issues but suffice to say, please inform yourself before you issue dictats on such sensitive matters. It is not my intention to hurt any section of society, be it a Hindu or non Hindu but the discussion must be constructive, informative and to the point to solve or help solve a theorem. Least of all, avoid complicating it if we can help it that way. God bless
    Dr. O. P. Sudrania

  28. My above comment has been partly published initially in Bharat Bharati blog in a post by Sandhya Jain on her column on Caste and HAF. Hence I apologise for some inconsistency in it. Since I thought that it is equally applicable here, I have also published it here for the readers of this post.

    I personally abhore such demeaning issues which are degrading, carrying no sense. But the unfortunate thing is that in IT era, the entire world has become so small that we cannot avoid the relevance of such irrelevant issues also. But a sense of pragmatism and a balanced view is required. God bless
    Dr. O. P. Sudrania

    • Everyone s brahmin ,none is inferior. All are welcome. Hindus are suffering in India from some pseudo secularists.

  29. Tandava,

    As we all understand that birthbased caste system is Not a Part of Hinduism and is a corrupted form which can be all but NOt Sanatan Dharma..All we have is Varna which are duty bound.or based on deeds .I disagree with your IT Engineer and Shudra Gotra remark but going to that point I want to explain some thing.However as your gotra(Which is linked to your lineage from Guru /Branch of Vedas or Group) which is “Subramanya” but it doesn’t make your Varna as Bhrahmin or Shudra”
    However your deeds decide your Varna.

    There are six Varnas
    1) Bhrahmin:- Those who are involved in intellectual activity.
    2) Shudra:- Not Knowledgeable person who does other support work.(However this doesn’t mean that scriptures shows any Insult to them but this is also an classification of the society)
    3) Vaishya:- Business men(doing buisness by following his dharma)
    4) Kshatriya:- Those who pick up arms
    5) Dasyu:-Involved in Un-Dharmic Acts(i.e terrorism)
    6) Arya :- Noble People( Those who are eager to knowledge and do whatever work but should be in dharmic way)

    More on Varnas :-
    ‘Varna’ means one that is adopted by choice. ‘Varna’ is our own choice.
    Those who choose to be Arya are called ‘Arya Varna’. Those who choose to be Dasyu become ‘Dasyu Varna’. Same for Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra.
    That is why Vedic Dharma is called ‘Varnashram Dharma’. The word Varna itself implies that this is based on complete freedom of choice and meritocracy.

    1) In Vedic culture, everyone is considered to be born as Shudra. Then based on his or her education, one becomes a Brahmin, Kshatriya or Vaishya. This completion of education is considered to be a second birth. Hence these three Varnas are called “Dwija” or twice-born. But those who remain uneducated for whatever reasons are not discarded from society. They continue as Shudra and perform support-activities for the society.
    Those involved in intellectual activities have chosen ‘Brahmin Varna’. Those into defense and warfare are ‘Kshatriya Varna’. Those in economics and animal rearing are ‘Vaishya Varna’ and those involved in other support functions are “Shudra Varna”. They refer merely to various choices of professions and have nothing to do with birth.

    2) A son of Brahmin, if he fails to complete his education, becomes a Shudra. Similarly, son of a Shudra or even a Dasyu, if he completes his education can become a Brahmin, Kshatriya or Vaishya. This is pure meritocracy. The way degrees are accorded today, Yajnopaveet was provided in Vedic system. Further, non-compliance with the code of conduct for each Varna could result in taking away of the Yajnopaveet.

    So as we are engineers( I am also one) who are actively involved in Intellectual activity and we are leading Dharmic way of life. so the Varnas that suited us should be either a) Bhrahmin b) Arya

    If someone ask I will tell I consider myself in Arya Varna.(However No body ask these days as no Importance it has left in present day society.)

    However I request you and others to read more about Varnas and How Corrupted Caste system is NOT part of Sanatan Dhrama.It has been described in depth with Vedas and other texts backing.

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