Realising that you are a Hindu

Typical Teasdale cottage

I was thinking about a story I heard in Teasdale, about why the cottages there are painted white. There are several versions of this story, but this is the one that I was told to me by a Teasdale  sheep farmer.

The Baron of Teasdale was out hunting and he got lost when the weather closed in. Even today Teasdale is wild and remote, its possible to walk miles from the nearest sign of human habitation. In those times it must have been a frighting place to be lost in. The Baron wandered in the rain and thick cold fog, until darkness fell,  and he could go no further. He came to a dry stone wall, lay down to shelter the best he could from the wind and the rain, and spent a very cold and uncomfortable night.

When daylight arrived the fog had lifted and he saw that he was sheltering against the garden wall of a farmer’s cottage, one which he actually owned. He sought help from the Tenant farmer, and was welcomed in to get warm and dry near the fire.  and he was given a warming meal.

Later he rewarded the farmer and his family, and decreed that all his properties should be painted white, so that if anyone was caught out in a storm they would be able to see nearby cottages and find refuge more easily.

That story may or may not be true; there are different versions of it on the internet. It struck me though that the Barron thinking that he was lost, then discovering that he was close to shelter is very like the feelings of people who convert to Hinduism. After searching for spiritual meaning we discover that we are already there. In our heart we are Hindu, and always have been. Things come into place, signs that this was meant to be. In our searchf or God we discover that God is inside, we were never parted. Many people who have come to Hinduism express this feeling, that they are discovering that this is what they already were.

I also wonder, should we “paint our houses white”, as a beacon to others? Hinduism has traditionally kept to itself. Though generally welcoming, it has done little to make its presence known to or understood by outsiders. It is like the grey stone house in the fog, you could pass by without knowing that shelter is at hand. Perhaps this is out of suspicion of other beliefs – who don’t only advertise their own houses but given half a chance will drag people from their existing homes and burn them to the ground! Certainly we want to avoid enticing people away from their own beliefs if they are happy and fulfilled in them, but I think that we should let people who search for us know of the great things we have to offer . Perhaps this blog is my attempt to paint my house white.


Image is “Cottage on north side of B6277, Teesdale“, © Copyright Trevor Littlewood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

25 responses to “Realising that you are a Hindu

  1. And a very good job of painting you have done! For if it were not for this coat I could have never found you in this vast vast sea of humanity.

    Beloved Everything<3

  2. Well written article Tandava!
    Hinduism’s beacon has always been lit for all who seek a refuge within. Over two hundred years of colonial rule in India (plus a total of a thousand years of Invasion wars) has left the Hindus under that thick blanket of the self-denial fog. The mental enslavement is still there in the guise of being tolerant and universal (and many other reasons). Seekers are either mis-led by cults or pushed back to the faith in which they are born into even if they do not have any roots there. So, Hinduism needs to perhaps advertise itself just as the Buddhists have over the last two decades. And perhaps not in the same trend as some of the other religions have. There is also an urgent need for Yoga teachers in the world make their students aware of yoga’s Hindu roots and it’s practical purposes of going within.

    Hinduism Today magazine has carried out an excellent task of accurately presenting this magnificent religion – and not the magazine will also be published and sold within India. Furthermore, the Indian government is introducing tourist packages for religious sites – since it will be a financial gain for them. It might just become an opening or an introduction for sincere seekers and on-lookers into Hinduism.

    • Thanks Niraj,
      I think the trick is getting the balance right. Hinduism should be presented as available to those who want to look, and misrepresentations should be countered. I think that advertising is maybe going too far, maybe getting a bit close to evangelical. Hinduism today does a wonderful service in presenting the religion, without pushing it on other

  3. You have done good job in painting. I don’t think we need to advertise, still the Hindu roots of yoga must shown.

  4. Priyank chauhan

    Your post is truly enlightening.
    You are painting wonderfully…keep the paint on. 😉

  5. Tandava, you have so beautifully and eloquently put into words my feelings on becoming Hindu…thank you:)

  6. Dear Tandava; author of ‘Western Hindu,’ thank you for this delightful reflection. The idea of being a moral beacon is so important to our faiths, in fact it is so central to all notions of goodness and morality. At homophilosophicus we are trying to enlist guest contributors from various faith traditions and from all walks of life to speak on matters of faith and its relationship with the world (or the marketplace). I was wondering if you might consider being a voice of Hinduism on this developing inter-faith blog. Please do come and take a look around.
    Jason Michael

    • I will take a look, though one thing that you need to realise is that nobody can be the “voice of Hinduism”. I am not even qualified to speak for my own sampradaya. If you can imagine someone trying to be the “voice of Abrahamic religions” and speaking on behalf of all Christian denominations, Mormons, Islamic denominations, all Jewish sects and movements, the Bah’ai, the Druze, Mandaeism, and secular Humanists who honour Abrahamic traditions then you will understand.

      Many people who have not come across Hinduism underestimate the diversity of belief, mainly because Hindus are instinctively inclusive rather than exclusive. Whereas followers of Abrahamic religions are likely to argue that Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses are “not true Christians”, or that Ahmadiyya are “not true Muslims”, Hindus are more likely to argue that Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are all really part of Hinduism!

      • ” I am proud to be from a religion that has taught world both Tolerance and Universal acceptance. We not only teach universal Tolerance but we also accept all religions to be true”
        – Swami Vivekananda,
        Chicago

        • syamukamath,
          I can’t help thinking that Swami Vivekananda overplayed the “accept all religions to be true”. It would be better to say “accepts that there is some truth in all religions”. If we say all are true then we have to believe that “Jesus is the only way”, “Non-Muslims should not practice their religion openly” and all sorts of obviously wrong things. It also aids evangelists, who say “If you believe all religions are true why not be a Christian – that way you will be saved whoever is right”.

      • Yes Tandava, you are quite correct. No one can be ‘the’ voice of any faith tradition. It is for this reason that I had asked you if you would consider being ‘a’ voice of Hinduism on homophilosophicus. Over the coming year it is hoped that we will look at the trends of secular public opinion and thought and give voice to religious considerations of these ideas. So I would be honoured if you would consider being a contributor in this project. I shall send you an invitation – so have a peek at your email (as I think that this is where it will go), and the decision is all yours.
        I wish you peace and every blessing,
        Jason Michael

  7. Tandavji,
    New WESTERN HINDU.
    Mahaprana- Joshua Michael jordan
    http://mahaprana.wordpress.com/about/#
    This is an American Hindu, shaiva. He is a yoga and sanskrit expert. He is also my fb friend.

  8. Pingback: Another Western Hindu Blog- MAHAPRANA: SANSKRIT, YOGA PHILOSOPHY & TRANSPERSONAL COUNSELING | Western Hindu

  9. He might have meant religion in pure form. We accept all as ways to God thats why Hindus accepted missionaries, and arabs to propogate religion. Portughal, England all were initially welcomed for Trade. They spread their belief , we didnt object,.
    ‘ATHITHI DEVO BHAVA’.
    Though they misused it.

  10. At the time of his famous speech in Chicago, he wasn’t that familiar with Abrahamic religions. If you read Ramakrishna Vachanaamrutham(a.k.a Gospel of Ramakrishna) you can see christian Sadhana as one among the different sadhana practised and successfull, by Bhagavan Ramakrishna. Swamiji was familiar with this not evangelist. He also Lashes out at bigotry, fanaticism, and persecution of Jews and Zorastrians. And how India loved jews and jews lived happily in India.
    He has also criticised these aspects highlightened by you in his later works.
    Hari Aum

    • It seems to me that sometimes when we talk about truth in a religion we are talking about truth in a religion as understood through Hinduism. We see Christianity as God’s path for the Jews, spread by Jesus either as a guru or avatar.We say that when he said “there is no way to the Father except through me” he was talking as a guru to a sishya, and would have recognised other gurus.

      There is some value in this, it aids understanding. We should recognise though that this view is not accepted by any major Christian denomination. Most Christians would say that anyone believing this is not a Christian.

      With Islam it becomes even more problematic, Unless you can find some way that “kill the polytheists wherever you find them” was misunderstood you have to say that the Qur’an itself is wrong, not just misinterpreted by nearly all followers of the religion.

      • Yes, Tandav. I have read much of Quran.
        In the Chapter Al khafiroon its said to ‘smite the head’ of all kafirs ie, non believers. And not just those who are polytheist but all those who don’t believe in Allah and the book(Quran) given to the prophet. More violence can be seen, which i dnt want to mention.
        But majority of muslims, christians are peaceful. And neither our dharma asks us to fight them. So for maintaining peace we can adopt, or view it through Our Dharma,. Bhagavan Ramakrishna again asks muslims, that Jehad inside. And fight the Kafir inside. And some Indian muslims are there who accept it.:-)
        former Indian Primier and great scholar A.B. Vajpayee in on of his books addressed muslims” you cant make all indians muslim. And we have to integrate all, for the growth of our nation. So you have to give up the Thoughts against disbelievers”.

  11. I love this story and it is exactly what I experienced when I searched for something and found Hinduism. THank you.

  12. Pingback: Some news about blogs | Western Hindu

  13. Hinduism is in fact a way of life; a spiritual code. This spiritual code or Dharma is at the heart of Hinduism and governs the moral and spiritual practices of its believers.
    Nice topic and given very good information. Thanks,

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