This is wrong in so many ways

How not to use Hindu Symbolism

How not to use Hindu Symbolism

A recent comment from Karol referred to a message that she had written on tumblr saying “.. I am wearing that bindi! AND THAT KURTI! And the rudraksha and the shri yantra.I AM WEARING ALL OF THEM, SOCIAL JUSTICE BLOGGERS! AND I AM NOT CULTURALLY APPROPRIATING BECAUSE I AM HINDU, FUCKERS“. A quick search found the original message. My first thought was not to post the comment or to respond as this would just be giving attention to an attention seeker.  After further consideration I decided that I should say why I as a Western Hindu thinks that this is wrong.

Firstly, though I don’t see the use of Hindu symbolism in genuine worship and devotion is cultural appropriation, we should be sympathetic to Hindus (or others) who feel that we are appropriating their culture. We should explain that it is through genuine belief and with great respect that we use their symbols. We should certainly not use symbols normally associated with other cultures, then insult people from that culture.

Secondly we should realise that some Hindus believe that any religious conversion is wrong, and therefore it is impossible to become a Hindu. We should see this as a reasonable reaction to the proselytising and forced conversion of Hindus by Christians an Muslims in the past. Though I disagree with this view I recognise that it is a genuinely held belief of some Hindus. We can often find common ground with Hindus believing this. Even those who believe that it is impossible for a non-Hindu to become a Hindu can often accept a simple “I worship Shiva, the label does not matter”. Again it is totally wrong to insult someone who genuinely believes that becoming a Hindu is impossible or wrong.

Thirdly, a Westerner wearing traditional Hindu symbols can be seen as representing Hinduism. If an Indian wearing Hindu symbols swears and insults others people could assume that they mainly wear the symbols as part of their culture and that their Hindu belief is not very strong. On the other hand why would a Westerner wear Hindu symbols if they did not have a strong faith? Though I am far from perfect, and do swear at times, I take extra care not to do so when wearing Hindu symbols. I certainly wouldn’t swear in a blog or tumblr post that positively drew attention to my Hindu beliefs.

I just had to say, this is wrong in so many ways. It disrespects Indian culture, Hindu beliefs, and does not reflect well on Westerners either.

69 responses to “This is wrong in so many ways

  1. Absolutely agree. Because we stand out so very much, we must be always mindful to be good neighbors and shine strongly in the light of our beliefs. We must always try to be the very best ambassadors for Beloved Bhagawan.
    Hari Om ❤

  2. I am with you, Tandava-ji. I am a Western “European-American” and I do consider myself a Hindu. Or one who “worships Narayana” if you please. Thought I certainly can put myself in her place and understand how there is a time when you are very excited about your new-found faith/belief/world-veiw/dharma, there is a difference between (a) helping those around you who are unfamiliar to understand what it is all about, and (b) being showy.

    In a way I was proud of her for putting herself out there and saying “I am Hindu!”. Because even Indian Hindus could be wrong about whether or not one can “become a Hindu”. But yes, the very next WORD kind of deflated that feeling for me. I swear too. We are human. But I was uncomfortable with this for the same reasons you were. It was an uncomfortable juxtaposition of terms, shall we say. It contradicted it self.

    I find myself overly aware at times as to how my words about my Hindu beliefs are being received by Indian Hindus. Maybe because I dont fully feel that it is “Mine”. Not sure why. Maybe it is because I know there are some who dont accept my “transition” and I dont know which people feel that way when I go to temple. I don’t wear a tilak. So again I admire her full commitment to her faith. But this DOES, indeed make things more difficult for us “white-Hindus” who do want to be embraced into our new-found communities of aspirants and devotees.

    • In a way I was proud of her for putting herself out there and saying “I am Hindu!”.

      That’s a good point treadmarkz, she at least puts her faith out there

  3. Well, I myself have blogged using “swears” but in regard to karma, maya and ego. I can’t deny I do that. But that is just me fighting the battles of life, you know? Your post has provided a perspective for me on what I am doing. I do maintain that words are just words until you put intention behind them, but I think the part that was so jarring about this woman’s words was that it seemed directly confrontational to other Hindus, and inconsiderate of Hinduism itself.

  4. I call myself a Hindu and I am from the west.It resonates with me and has done all my life .Well I was aware of my reaction to first seeing the Om symbol in my teens and I was fascinated.It took me a long time to get to where I am now .I work for a charity that promotes the advancement of Hinduism and also promote our Guru who effortlessly translates sacred text.So it kind of exciting and a challenge to put her translations out their,she is white and English.We are not accepted my all Hindus but some are welcoming and helpful.I am in a process of accepting my own Hindu status and I find that a challenge .It can be easy for me to put that negativity on other Hindus and not own my own inadequacies .I love God and also want to be myself .I get angry sometimes in my work because of lack of support from the wider Hindu community and i have to keep letting go and say to myself that its Gods will and it will make me stronger ,wiser snd help me to persist ,as im not going away. The initial comment was about standing up and saying I wear the clothes of a Hindu and I am a Hindu ,I worship God.Who told you that God does not swear?

    In a sense I do feel it’s too late in life ,embracing Hinduism in my 40’s.It’s not too late for my children who will live the stages of life and as students their educated at home and learn so much about Hinduism ,fire rituals and puja.I guess I don’t feel good enough to fully embrace the path of devotion .Maybe one day I will get their ,to that place of acceptance of my beliefs.
    What I don’t understand is why is it not possible in some people eyes for a person to take on Hinduism coming from another faith? Where does that leave someone with no previous religious background?why is it not just plain old Karma to find the Hindu path?

    My last remark is theirs a war im sure (well that what the ramayana says)and it’s an internal battle and I need to remember this ……

    • Hi Anand,
      Thank you for your comment. I only have time for a quick response now:

      In a sense I do feel it’s too late in life ,embracing Hinduism in my 40′s.

      Too late for what? To show devotion to God? To follow a Guru? To reach moksha in this life? To become a Guru? Undoubtedly it is too late for some things and not others.

      What I don’t understand is why is it not possible in some people eyes for a person to take on Hinduism coming from another faith? Where does that leave someone with no previous religious background?why is it not just plain old Karma to find the Hindu path?

      I agree, it is where your karma brought you. It is also karma that had you born as a Westerner and embrace Hinduism in your 40s. So it is not too late, or too early, but just right


      • Good point …….. I was speaking with someone about this post and they mentioned competition.people born into a religion compete with converts and visa versa.The lady I was talking with mentioned the catholic church and how her local congregation felt better than the converted .It was better to born into a faith than to convert,so it not just a Hindu things and I have experienced it with in the Muslim community also.

        • Anand, I came across your post by chance and I felt like replying even though the original post is a bit old. I am a “born hindu(I believe thats the term used for people born to “hindu” parents)” from the South Eastern state of Kerala and is residing in US
          (Pleasanton,CA) for past 10 years.

          I see that you have problems being “accepted” by a wider Hindu community. I will try to explain this “phenomenon” to the best of my experience and knowledge.

          I call myself a hindu but I don’t follow Hinduism.

          Now, why do I call myself a hindu ? Here are some of the reasons why :

          I voluntarliy or involuntarily follow the customs and traditions that have defined my homeland as a land of Hindus. These include the very simple act of getting up when an elder enters a room, to being a dutiful son and
          brother to very complex things like you don’t clap your hands when they are wet.

          I am the only son and according to hindu culture and tradition, I am supposed to light the funeral pyre of my parents(no many follow all these because of the obvious constraints). My dad passed away in 2007 and mom
          in 2012. Both the times, I was not with any of them,which is not an act of a dutiful son. I hopped on to the next flight hearing the news and spent 60 days each(my job was at risk) to perform the rituals that lasts for 41
          days (this include getting up early in the morning, take a cold shower,cook the gruel by yourself (it has to be outside the house) and the ritual of feeding it to the departed soul – we call it “bali”.One has to be vegan and
          abstitent during this time). Once the parents are gone, making sure my sister lands on her feet is my duty and I spent all my savings so far and gave the only house along with the piece of land we ever had to her – she
          now works for a university and her husband is a well placed civil engineer. I did it because that is what my tradition says and what my parents would want. No one was going to judge me or persecute me had I not done
          any of the above – even my sister, and I am not going to be “punished” by God.
          I am not tooting my own horn here and will explain more to the bottom. I did all this just because I knew my parents wanted me as a “dutiful” son and brother, although they never compelled me into doing anything. My
          wife completely understands and she supported me all along even though we are broke to the core and limping back up. As my culture says, there is only “karmam”(deeds) and “phalam”(results) and its up to us to
          decide what “karmam” you want to perform being fully aware of its “phalam” (This is not the good karma – bad karma thing).

          And there are numerous such other things(some may sound silly and irrelevant, but there are reasons that we follow them, however trivial they may be, behind them) that I believe makes me a hindu. But if you ask someone from my
          neighboring state or from any other parts of the country, he would probably have a totally different answer to the question of “Why are you a hindu?”. I have read some liberal Pakistani Muslims saying that they are
          Hindu but follow Islam as a religion.

          All of above are some of the reasons when some say you cannot “convert” to Hinduism.

          Now, why don’t I follow Hinduism ? Hinduism – the word to me and several other like me is just a made up word to group the folks from Indian sub-continent under a religious umbrella, a necessity brought forth by the
          onslaught of Abrahamic religions. I don’t go to temples or perform rituals just to please god. I haven’t read Gita or any other “sacred books”, although I am familiar with all these because I grew up listening to stories
          from all these “books”. I have never felt the need to seek god nor do I take part in any of the festivals like Diwali, Navami etc. I know I am not going to be “punished” for not doing that unlike other religions. I know I am
          not “sinned” and I know I don’t need routine cleansing.That doesn’t mean that I am athiest, I do like to believe there is an intelligence that is higher that human being(we can’t be the best in the universe ! – this is a
          very interesting topic to mull over) and I do go to temples (very limited ones). I grew up in the city of Thiruvananthapuram (city dedicated to Lord Sri Padmanabhan). The temple of Sri Padmanabha is one of the temples
          where I go to. Whenever I am confused, at the crossroads I just go there and sit along the “1001 kaal mandapam” and I leave later feeling much better. I don’t necessarily pray when I am at temples, but just sit and feel the ambience getting me. Temples, at least in my place (there are very few left like that), are built strictly under Vaastu and they have a very unique set of plants and trees around it. The result is just a re-juvenating
          experience if you just be there for a while. There are many who go and do that – even Christians and Muslims.

          So enough about me, coming back to the problem of acceptance, when you tell someone, especially an Indian, that you are a hindu, each person perceives it differently. The ones who you think don’t accept you can be someone like me because he/she would say you are not a hindu,but you are a follower of Hinduism(I absolutely don’t mean to demean or denigrate you in any manner or consider any less than I am. I humbly and sincerely seek your forgiveness if I you think I did. I just wanted to say its just the way I or someone like me would think).I guess we have terms like devout hindu, cultural hindu etc these days to differentiate. And its not a matter of acceptance, its just a matter of confusion (one would think like “What do you mean by you are a hindu ?Like, you read Gita and stuff ?” etc )Its not because one thinks you are a lesser hindu. Its just because you are different and probably too different that ones he/she would have seen. Remember, there is no hindu brotherhood nor there is a better or worse hindu.Its just that you are a hindu or not. Each and every hindu is different from one another – we have from naked rishis who mediate all year long in the Himalayas and get out once in 12 years to fish
          eating Bengali Brahmins and beef eater like me. No hindu is going to treat another hindu specially (it gets different when it comes to the caste- but the topic and its geo-political reasons are irrelevant here). You have your own reason to consider yourself hindu . So when I said I consider you as not a hindu, but a follower of hinduism, it should mean nothing to you because you know who are and you know why
          you are where you are you don’t need anyone’s approval for that matter. Its as simple as that. So you won’t get the kind of “acceptance” you seek from Hindu community. Being a hindu is highly personal and one is a
          hindu in his/her own way. The reason I think is, you are comparing it with Abrahamic religions where converts are treated as VIPs. Just be yourself and you will be fine. Remember, you do something because you think
          that is the right thing to do.

          About the shrinking of the “fan-base” – Hindus and the culture were through a lot(probably no other culture or people have been through this much- jews come close) and have been tested for its resilience over the past
          couple of millennia. It’s still there because it is serving a purpose to the ones who follow them. According to the culture, everything must cease to exist once it has served its purpose. If the culture has served its
          Purpose, it will die out. It’s natural. That understanding is the reason why Hindus seem to be not bothered about it.

          I don’t know if I made much sense. But like Lord Krishna said – Whatever happened is for good, whatever happens is for good, whatever about to happen is for good.Sorry for loooong post !

          • Thank you for your post I believe in God basically .I went to a temple the other day and they basically said we do not have time for anyone outside of our temple community .I took 5 children with me, who go to our ashram school .It was a chance to see another temple other than the shrine room we have on the Ashram .The children sang some bhajans and i was constantly corrected on my pronunciation of words .At the end of the day i might not know everything their is to know about Hinduism as it would probably take a few life times anyhow but my heart is in the right place, when i sing i feel as much devotion as any other man towards God .I did not go looking for Hinduism ,it found me at the lowest time in my life.A time that Jesus or ,Mohamed just didn’t have what i needed .I found a book called “a guide to getting free” by Bo Lozoff from the Human Kindness foundation in America.It help me so much and isnt that what life is about becoming free and realizing ourselves .I live simply ,serve God and practice my daily sadhana .Bo is an American who spent time in India and had a Guru,he shared what he knew with others and has recently passed away.I also have a Guru and she is from the west called Satguru Sri Ramana .I could argue with people about this or that, but it will not help the man or woman who is suffering without this wonderful message of Hinduism.Our guru has translated some Upanishads text and when we read it it is so soothing.It so real for us here and we just want to share it with who ever will listen .Its a process and things change and in a years time things may be different form me and my thoughts about being a Hindu because ultimately “I am Atman”

  5. Tandava, I fully agree with you. Hinduism is very ill understood by its adherents, which is another cause of its slowly shrinking base. But it can’t be uprooted because its roots are too deep and its spiritual base too strong. In fact it is its spiritual base that has kept it vibrantly alive despite so many assaults historically. I won’t bother for such detractors.

    Again its spiritual conceptions do not delve in conversion because Hinduism consider everybody as brothers and sisters, hence where is the question of conversion?

  6. Hi!!!!
    Great to see a western follower of Hindu…Needless to say Hinduism has a lot to offer to each one of its followers.

  7. Osudrania, you mentioned the slowly shrinking base of Hinduism. I am sad to hear this is true. Though I do recognize that even at my temple I sometimes explain a concept from the Gita to an Indian Hindu which he/she was not familiar with, so it does show that interest may be waning amongst Indians. I find it hard to believe that some adherents to a faith would rather see it shrink than accept “outsiders.” Glad to see so much acceptance of us Western Hindus on the part of many commenters here.

  8. I am a Hindu and Indian. I disagree with the author. Born Hindus or Indians have no special right than other humans on Hindu scriptures,philosophy or symbols. The right of each one of the 7 billion humans on Hinduism is the same.
    I am surprised that such a strong Hindu like you would give special concessions to ‘cultural Hindus’.

    • Namashkar Hari,
      I wasn’t making special concessions to ‘cultural Hindus’, I was just saying that I think that if someone sees an Indian with Hindu symbols they don’t know if they are a cultural Hindu or a devout Hindu. This means that if they behave badly it won’t necessarily be seen as a Hindu behaving badly, people would assume that they are only culturally Hindu. On the other hand a Western Hindu acting badly will be seen as a devout Hindu and it is more likely to reflect badly on Hindism

  9. Have no doubts .Converts are always better than born Hindus. Most born Hindus don’t even care about Hinduism and God. For them visiting temples for worldly gain is all religion is. As a born Hindu, I am not only happy but thankful to naya(new) Hindus for revitalizing Hinduism. I think Hinduism is in a phase of opening up to the world. Soon converting to Hinduism will be a normal thing.Beautiful Mongol people coming to Sanatana Dharma.

    • “Converts
      are always better than
      born Hindus”
      if u think thats true then u r 1 of those “hindus” who were born with inferiority complex or most probably got it from their parents or teachers.

  10. @ treadmarkz,
    There is nothing sad about it. If one look at it historically, about 3,000 years ago perhaps there was only Hinduism on the planet as a most vibrant religion. Rest all we see today have sprung up later on. Abrahamic religions are mostly about a couple of millennia old and yet Christianity and Islam together make up about half of world’s population of about 7 billion odd.

    The reasons are multiples and there is no need to go in details here. Not that Hinduism has lost its glamour but this still remains as the most disorganised religion in the world where Christianity and Islam are fiercely competing to proselytise the masses, both by predatory techniques as well as propaganda machinery. Lately Buddhism is also engaged in fast socio-political organisation to spread its message by proselytisation.

    Hence its shrinking mass is both a good as well a bad news. Good that despite its so much of competition in religion market, it is still a very vibrant and thriving third largest religion in the world. Bad in the sense that it has splintered due to both internal as well as extreneous factors leading to its shrinking base.

    During the British colonial rule and Macaulay’s English Language policies, it was a deliberate attempt by British to infuse a sense of inferiority in Hindus to spread their Empire to exploit economically as well as to proselytise. This sense of inferiority in English educated Hindus is still persisting, although slowly this virus of Macaulay is now dieing out. But Christian missionaries are still very active and the average INdian Hindu politician is unfortunately hardly bothered for such national issues than their personal selfish moto of votebank politics. This scenerio has been rendered worst after the rise of Ms Sonia Gandhi, who is a diehard Catholic from Italy. Hence my that small passing comment has a deep rooted past and present socio-political implications.

    Lastly a word about the concern in the minds of Western Hindus, I don’t think any Hindu minds what they are doing as long their own conscience is clear. I have been very impressed by their zeal and enthusiasm over the indigenous Hindus except a few. Hence you should ignore such insinuations as long your own conscience is clear. I wish you all here good luck and a better and brighter future for the sake of you as well as your adopted belief. God bless you…I am sorry for a little long comment but it became necessary to clarify the issue raised which was important, I hope you will agree and appreciate it. Thanks for bearing with my longish comment. I love you all my western Hindus especially…

  11. Incidently it just clicked to me. You may look at the propagandas against Narendra Modi. All this hype is deliberate orchestrated by Ms Sonia Gandhi Inc for votebank cheap politics. Godhra was incited by Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed via his banned Lashkar-e Taiba in collusion with the local Muslim supporters. Gadhra is a known Muslim strong hold from the British period, which was utilised by them for ‘divide and rule’ moto. This Muslim behavior is well known as is exploited by Pakistani based terrorist outfits. Unfortunately like the partition of India, this current turmoil in South Asia has a vested interest of Western stronger nations made worst after loss of USSR empire. Now US is a single nation bully globally. Nobody dare talk of US tyrany for killing illegally both Saddam Husain and Osama bin Laden. It is not my present topic for discussion but all these factors have a hidden relation to what they pejoratively call third world nations. You can’t survive without their pleasure. It is shockingly true but one has to put up with and forge your way through.

    In the midst of this Middle East turmoil and the dirty Arab Spring, the Christian Churches have been very active to proselytise the Muslims. Vatican has been crying in low tone for their Catholics etc. Nobody can utter a word against them. Vatican is the richest monarch and it has been highly active against Sri Sathya Sai Baba through their anti- Sathya Sai industry operating through Europe and USA because of Baba, Catholic Churches had been adversely affected for its adherents loosing both its foot soldiers as well as their weekly contributions.

    I often feel amazed as to how even well educated are so ill informed on such serious issues of vital societal and national matters. One good example of such amnbesia was noted when Mr Prashant Bhushan made a silly comment on Kashmir. He is a very well educated person and was involved in the team of “India Against Corruption” with Anna Hazare group. Hence don’t be carried away with the reactions of India educated Hindus whose general knowledge may be far below par.

  12. Thus the vibes against Narendra Modi must be kept alive because it is politically productive. Same way the Kashmir Valley ethnic cleansing by Islamists trained by Pakistan is immaterial because Muslims take advantage of minority clause. This has been made stronger because of Western powers who back Pakistan and Muslim atrocity or Christian predatory proselytisation figure no where. Hence all these are deep rooted religious and socio-political causes behind these. Very complicated but this is the name of the game. Hence don’t worry, keep up your good work and your pristine contribution to Hindu society and this nation.

    • USA is one the greatest countries on earth. They are not a bully. Killing Saddam and Bin Laden was the right thing to do.It is not only wrong but evil to wish bad for USA. Hatred for USA and western countries is a Muslim thing . We Hindus need no part of it. I love USA.

      • I am sorry to strongly contest the argument blindly and this is evil in itself to use such word as evil while discussing issues here simply because someone has an alternate view. I post the extract here, “Killing Saddam and Bin Laden was the right thing to do.It is not only wrong but evil to wish bad for USA.”

        Who gave the power to USA to kill Saddam? At one time USA used both Saddam and Gaddafi for their personal economic gains and then subsequently branded them as evil to kill them in the name of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), which were never found in Iraq. Wherever USA and Western people went, colonised the places and left them in dire poverty and destitution. Hari, I think we must not mingle personal prejudices with a general historical perspective. Under these wars, the Christian proselytising industry becomes highly active under the protective shield of these Western armies. Get to know the facts before blurting out garbage of individualised vandettas.

        I should sggest that such garbage must not not permit the actual point to hijack the productive discussion. Unfortunate.

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  14. I think now the discussion has certainly gone haywire….what it started out from is certainly different from what people are discussing here.

  15. I am sorry Tandava but it is well known that Osama is a by-product of USA’s war against USSR in Afghanistan. India paid very heavy price from 1989 onwards after the conclusion and dessimation of USSR. Because all these murderous jihadis who were trained to fight USSR in Afghanistan were redirected to KASHMIR VALLEY to create havoc. Result: Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs have butchered there and GOI is having to spend billions of Indian taxpayers’ money to hold it. Who can one blame or point out this sinister strategy where a “People (Kashmiri Panun Hindus) have become homeless in their own home. It is shame to preach USA as a great country. I strongly refute such imbecile arguments and then proclaiming others as “Evil”. Simply stupid.

    • There is no need to apologise to me! Americans gave Al Quaida training and capabilities to wage war, but the intent to islamise Kashmir (and eventually the whole of India and the world) was already there

      • Tandava I fully agree with you. Reason to apologise to you was that I have usually been very soft in my deliberation in your posts and this is first time someone has used hard obtuse words as ‘evil’ needlessly out his ego problem. I had to reply in the same coin lest these pedantists misunderstand in their naivety.

        Thanks for your kind endorsement of my points. USA’s greatness is in their compilation of 24,000 nukes in their pile and keeping everybody frightening and plundering their legitimate states. US doesn’t want to dismantle her own nuclear pile and revoke her first use option, yet they want everybodyelse to sign their onesided stupid non-proliferation nuclear treaty. Why, this is USA’s greatness?

        Who has given these unlimited powers to USA? USA exploits everybody on the earth for her self interest. They have not done any charity to anybody. USA sucks economically Saudi Arabia and rest of Middle East including Baharain because of USA’s personal strategic geo-political interests. Whoever doesn’t listen to them is destroyed and certainly USA is great in that respect. Less one more is USA great…???

        I also disagree that the discussion is going haywires because it is still very much centered round the Hindu cause, which is what I understand is the theme if I understood it well enough. Please correct me if I am wrong.

        Instead of arguing relentlessly, I would like to contain it here at this moment. Thank you.

  16. Sita Shankar.

    Your post made me think about not only Hindus and Hinduism but also on ‘Indian’ness, which is what I think you mean by ‘Cultural Hindu’.The Tumbler poster seems to be ranting against someone who probablly ranted against her about cultural ‘appropriation’/rather misappropriation!The use of that particular swear word does jar on one’s eyes & ears!
    Indian Christians have taken to wearing rudrakshas in ‘Rosary’ form[I mean not the regular rudraksha mala we Hindu’s wear,but like the Roman Catholic prayer beads with its regular gaps etc].Some also use Tulasi beads in the Rosary -form! This is cultural Appropriation!.
    Many people wear Hindu Symbols even though they aren’t Hindu, like Muslim/Christian Women wearing Bindi,Christians /Muslims having Tali[Mangalsutra] etc. This is a form of Enculturation [that is modifying native culture to suit new faith! They have modified Hindu traditions to suit their faith.
    Many more people [both Indian & other nationals ,wear or posess Hindu traditional symbols for reasons other than Religious ;;Like the use of Rudraksha for fashion! or the Statue of a Hindu deity for non-religious purpose.This is also cultural appropriation as it is done without faith. But it is difficult to prove whether it is done ‘with’ faith or ‘without’,theiorby inviting rants from people who consider themselves as ‘guardians’ of the ‘Faith’. Usually hHindus ignore such rants as long as it is harmless!

  17. Sita Shankar.

    I suppose when we Indians wear Jeans/T-shirts or other western clothing, or even use English-medicines[traditional name for Allopathy or Western Medicine] we are also culturally appropriating!

    • Sita,
      Whether right or wrong the spread of fashions etc. from a dominant culture to others is seen as “cultural imperialism”, by the dominant culture rather than cultural appropriation by the other cultures. The rational is that it becomes “the accepted way”, you have to wear a suit to do business, jeans to fit in at a casual event, and so on.

      This is even seen in the UK, where some people object to the Starbucks and MCDonalds on every corner, though we have to remember that English cultural imperialism means that things like traditional Welsh costumes are not seen in Wales any more, and even regional English costumes (like Northumbrian Tartan) are only seen in historical plays, some weddings, etc.

  18. Karol, the woman at the top of the OP, has every right to say what she said. We need to closely examine the context that made her to utter those strong words. Presumably she was forced to say so by someone by discriminating her because of her race. Iam a born brown hindu and am familiar with the peculiar difficulties the new hindus face on a daily basis. A miniscule number of born hindus and some imposters (antihindus) get under their skin of the new hindus and abuse them on blogs. In fact some imposters actually try to rake up differences between different communities of hindus. It is but natural for a sincere and devout hindu to get mad at someone who doubts one’s sincerity towards one’s faith. A converted hindu doesn’t have to walk on egg shells, life is tough as is for them from their own relatives and friends. Be assertive and ask the born ones some direct questions. Like a non white American asking a white man,” Is this country only for white people?”. Put guilt in their minds, don’t hold back. After all a discrimination is a two way street. That said almost all born hindus embrace the new ones silently without any fanfare, for it a humbling experience for born ones to see newcomers walking in without any proselytization.

  19. “I get angry sometimes in my work because of lack of support from the wider Hindu community and i have to keep letting go and say to myself that its Gods will and it will make me stronger ,wiser snd help me to persist ,as im not going away”- Anand Ennis cole . That says it all. No need for anyone’s approval, those who were denouncing the new hindus are in the habbit of doing same to other born brown hindus with their’ they are fromm different community you know, they worship shva / Vishnu not Vishnu /shiva’ discrimination. They are the ones suffering from inferiority complex, paradox it may sound. “Cause a converted hindu going to mandir or performing puja ritual aat home reminds them their own inadequacies, or the inadequacies of their burger eating kids.
    “……even at my temple I sometimes explain a concept from the Gita to an Indian Hindu which he/she was not familiar with, so it does show that interest may be waning amongst Indians…..”- treadmarkz. Well said. Converted hindus go an extra mile to LEARN about their faith, whereas many born hindus delude themselves that thyey know it all. Probably the born ones are more cultural hindus and not knowledgeable or spiritual hindus.
    “….Born Hindus or Indians have no special right than other humans on Hindu scriptures,philosophy or symbols. The right of each one of the 7 billion humans on Hinduism is the same.”- hari. Absolutely, no where in the vedopanishads it was stated that a particular geographical origin or race has natural ownership of the faith. Balinese hindus will laugh hysterically if a Nepali makes such an ownership claim.
    “….Converts are always better than born Hindus…”-hari. Agree with that. They put in effort and stretch themselves to understand the new set of doctrins which are somewhat complex to understand. Smitten with curiosity and amazed with what they saw, they keep exploring. Most born hindus DON’T READ the texts in all their life, sad but true. “….They are not a bully. Killing Saddam and Bin Laden was the right thing to do…”- hari. Agree. ‘When adharma prevails it is the kartavya (responsibility) of a hindu to defeat it’, so convinces Krishna, in Gita, whilst encouraging a depressed Arjuna to fight a dharmic war with Kauravas. USA followed Gita’s teaching to eliminate evil. Hindus must side with USA. A justified war is a dharmic necessity at times.
    @ osudrania, please don’t derail threads, I know you have good intentions and all.

    • I am not sure what you are trying to say about part of my previous post .?All Hindus ,Muslims ,Christians etc are my brother and sisters .My children are vegan and do not eat burgers or anything from animals for that fact.I do feel anger sometimes which is something i feel and i have to overcome .Ahimsa Ahimsa Ahimsa

  20. “Anand Ennis cole:I am not sure what you are trying to say about part of my previous post .?All Hindus ,Muslims ,Christians etc are my brother and sisters .My children are vegan and do not eat burgers or anything from animals for that fact.I do feel anger sometimes which is something i feel and i have to overcome .Ahimsa Ahimsa Ahimsa”
    Iam sympathizing with you.Some born hindus may not embrace you wholeheartedly for some unfounded reasons, but then most would like to be on yourside. I have noticed on blogs like this some Indian christians and muslims with hindu screen names playing spoilsport by bringing up some rare and old traditions as the most important doctrins of hinduism. Their motives are ulerior and arent able to see that far off westerners are moving towards hinduism. As David Frawley said the doctinal strength of hinduism clearly convinces any westerner who cares to scrutinize one’s born faith. The doctrinal shortcoming of christians and muslims(‘ my way or highway’) is clearly unacceptable to the people of any faith.

  21. Surya,
    I agree with you that there is a vicious campaign by many anti forces who may belong to any group including some disaffected Hindus themselves hired by the powerful anti-Hindu Incs working hideously. I don’t want to name but there is a huge force. Even Sri Sathya Sai Baba had and these evil forces belonging to westerner groups are proped up by mostly christian houses who had become badly affected by diversion of western people of christian faith resulting in fall of weekly attendance in churches. This also meant diversion of money from christian industry to Baba’s organisation.

    I have been a victim myself for being a devotee of Baba. One fellow is still very much fancied to a point of inabriation that he keeps writing against me without fail. Only once did I write a scathing article in one magazine to shut up their nefarious injurious designs and that did quiten them but this rogue still writes on his multiples of blogs in my name. It doesn’t bother me. Yes, these cancers can be really bothersome at times. One should not get scared nor get too much involved with them.

    I won’t try to talk of original versus converted Hindus because this is a common average human instinct which is true for every society globally. Nothing new with Hindus. I have lived in Western society and have plenty of such experiences, both pleasant as well as bitter, perhaps more later ones. Just learnt to get along…

  22. Not posting any new blogs lately?????
    Anyways here is my take on Holi
    The United Colors of Holi-One of the biggest cultural extravaganza of India

  23. Hi! This is Karol – the woman who posted that post!

    Most people only see the post and not the reason behind it. I have been on Tumblr for little over a year and recently started delving into the Hindu tag. There was on blogger on there, another western convert who lives in India and is remarkably humble, who was constantly getting called out and was pretty much always on the receiving end of some rather nasty comments.

    It made my blood boil. My experience with Hindus is person has always been positive. ALWAYS. I attend temple every week and I have been embraced by the community there, especially the children. But I find on Tumblr so much hatred for converts. We are constantly told that we are culturally appropriating and that we are racists and the worst of the worst.

    So the post was a spur of the moment thing before I went to temple to celebrate Mahashivratri. I was angry, my blood was boiling, because how dare these people – American born for the most part – tell me that the only person who can follow Sanatan Dharma are those that are born Indians. If they follow that logic than they can’t follow Dharma because they’re NOT born Indians. They were not born in Bharat therefor they are not Indians.

    We all make mistakes and I haven’t been replying to anything written about that post since the morning after Mahashivratri as I spent that night letting go of some of my anger and asking Shiva for forgiveness.

    But, hey, it served another purpose! It kept me up the entire night!

    • Hi,
      I understand your frustration, though I have had hardly any negative comments myself. Maybe the people on WordPress are different from those on tumblr.

      Samskara is learning from mistakes, and as George Bernard Shaw said “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing”. I certainly make many myself!

      • People on tumblr are definitely different to people on WordPress! There is a very big influence of people on Tumblr who are rabidly against anyone, anywhere doing or using anything that cannot be easily attributed to their original society. I’m sure I could find someone on Tumblr who would insist that the use of something as basic as … oh, I dunno, let’s say pillows… is cultural appropriation.

        I wear the clothes to inspire bhav in myself. I don’t wear them every day but when I do I am much more conscious of my behaviour, of my language and of other things. I wear the Shri yantra every day – she only comes off now so I can sleep – and the rudraksha NEVER comes off. I wear them 24/7. Even with this reminders I still slip up! But that is why I am still on the path and not a liberated soul!

        • Karol,

          Rudraksha has very deeper significance in Hinduism. Rudra=Shiva; aksha = tear drops. They originated from His tears. I don’t exactly remember the detailed story behind this. I also acquired them recently at the suggestion of a pandit in Kali Mandir. I didn’t know anything about them and wore them twentyfour hours as you suggest.

          One day during discussion, he said to me the basic formalities for its all potency. 1. Not to wear during defecation but no problem for the urination. 2. Not to be worn during sexual activities, hence a married person btter avoid during sleep hours. Not otherwise. 3. Avoid during going to attend any inauspicious occasions like funerals, mournings etc. This reduce their potency.

          These rudrakshas are of different kinds depending upon their “mukhas or mouths”. These are counted by the vertical deep grooves they have. Commonly they have either four or five “mukhas or mouths”. It ranges from one to seven or eight mukhas. Each has their separate significance. Confering boons from longivity to self protection to wealth to marital life to the health of family and children and spouses.

          There is a myth of ‘one mukhi rudraksha’ as the best. Nothing like it. It ia a rare piece (hence costly) and is said to confer ‘immortality or protection’ from any accidental mishap but not the destined demise, which a perennial truth for every material thing, animate or inanimate.

          These should be bathed in “Shiva’s water” in a temple either at home or in a temple to purify of such impurities that we may subject them inadvertently during our routine life. Secondly it increases their potency, thereby efficacy for the purpose you wear them. Hence it may be preferably discussed with a knowledgeable person for their best use and energisation. Shiva’s Mantra, “Om Namah Shivaya” is used in this process to invoke the blessings of the Lord. Hope it may help.

          • Osudrania,
            I have just checked the Siva Purana and there are no injunctions within it about when not to wear Rudraksha. It goes on to say that they should be worn at all times and those who wear them are ever blessed.

            • Karol, thanks for your kind response. As I said, I recently got them and what the Pandit said to me, I just expressed and exchanged. However, I shall again check with him next time I visit in next few days. I shall bear it in mind.

              Just a word for caution if you forgive me. You may be aware of the fact that Hindu scriptures have been plagiarised and kindly see that the copy of Shiv Purana is genuine one, while I check with the Pandit further. He may be wrong, I can beleive it as there are so many variants in Hinduism on a single theme.

              Thanks again for your discussion.

          • For some reason I cannot reply to your last response so I shall post it here. The copy of the Shiva Purana I have was published by Motilal Banarsidass Publishers and was edited by J. L. Shastri and is very extensive.

            But we do have to remember that there are many Shaiva sects and some use the agamas and some don’t, some use the Shaiva puranas and some don’t, some reject the Vedas, some don’t etc. So there are bound to be some sects that have very strict rules about wearing rudraksha and some that don’t.

            I am fairly certain that the Virasaivas (Lingayats) only take off their personal lingam to perform pooja to it. That is the only time I take off the rudraksha. I keep Shiva as close as possible until I can realise, properly, that He is within me as well as without.

            • Karol, I agree with what you say and I would agree that your contention is wiser one. Thanks and I am enlightened by your arguments. This subject is perhaps very vast one. If I get more information than your’s, I shall get back. So long…

  24. Dear sweet Miss Chayya? From hdf? This is NS the other Chaaya from hdf and i did not know this could be you until i thought about it last night. 😛

    When others are mean or even glare at you…or say you can’t. You can always yell at them, jump up an down or be vulgar but this will never change them. (i doubt much will) It may even make them say…SEE??? Look at them!

    I ran into the same problem on the forum. We can not change others, only our reaction to them. I had one individual at my temple on Mahashivratri who was glaring at me all night. Her face twisted into this hateful look. She never took her eyes from me in all those hours…even during the abhishekam! My husband on the way home mention this woman who did this to me…he say did you see this one so intently with much hatred?

    I tell him that i pray for her during that abhishekam.

    Sometimes the internet make people say things they would never say to another to their face. Sometimes others will do it right to your face. But, what if we treated everyone as if they were Mahadeva right in front of us? Let them sort out the hate…you keep on being Goodly! ❤

    • Mahalaya,
      Excellent thought, very few can develop this equanimity which is the very essence of Hinduism. Sri Sathya Sai Baba used to say, “Everybody wants to correct others but not themselves. If they all corrected themselves, nobody would need correcting others. Nobody will be left to correct, what a wonderful thought. Not easy, is it?

      • Everybody wants to correct others but not themselves.

        So very true, I’m guilty of this. Correcting ourselves is difficult – we have to be watchful for our own faults and even then miss many. Why then are faults of others so obvious and jump out at us?

        • “Why then are faults of others so obvious and jump out at us?”
          This “I”, “You”, “We”, “Them” is the problem, Tandava. We are highly clever and pedantic if asked to lecture, but miserable when it comes to practice. We all forget when it when comes to practice.

          Again please permit me to quote Sathya Sai Baba, who used to say that in the pursuit of spirituality, too much theory can be even an obstacle because it creates hubris and bloats the ego. That feeling is a non starter for any spiritual aspirant.

          Take for example the tribal low caste woman, Sabri in Ramayana. She was completely illiterate and even devoid of any manners. She gave Ram to eat the berries after tasting herself. A bad manner… yet Ram relished it and granted her liberation with His bountiful love. Ram did not ignore her, instead Lakshman couldn’t get her reason for first tasting them. Unfortunately there is no instrument till date that could tell us, “How tasteful is a particular berry”?

          Hinduism is based on very solid spiritual foundations, so much so that its depth is difficult to gauge. I am not a Pandit who is competent to discourse on such subtle matters. But let us contemplate, “Which other faith dwells on the concept of “Vasudev Kutumbakam”, universal brotherhood? It is for this reason that Hinduism abhors religious conversions or proselytisation, even worst – predatory proselytisation.

          You may see advertisements for being a Muslim or Christian on various places or sites including internets, like a Walmart commodity but I have not seen any such ads for Hinduism so far because of the very basic philosophy of universal brotherhood.

          Once I commented that I am the best Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or any tag you wish to label on my forhead, because I think I am a good human being – the essence of “Eternal Religion or Sanatan Dharma”. If I am not a good human being, then all else is irrelevant, if I am not wrong? Today the problem is a corporate shop of “Organised Reliogion” vis a vis “Religion”, all materialism… bereft of spirituality.

  25. I feel very depressed when I see these polemical arguments of local, indigenous or Western Hindus and blah blah. This is not the Hinduism one ought to think or talk of. Every living being in the Universe is a born Hindu if S/He is a good person. Hence please instead of such wasteful needless arguments, discuss some spiritual thoughts that could help clean our hearts and minds to elevate us spiritualy. Let it make a “Spiritual Jihad”… as opposed to physical one…

  26. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, was very wise indeed! The only time i can see correcting another is when it falls upon us as our duty, such as our own child. I love the story of Sabri, it shows that even a lowly fool, such as myself…when truly devoted…Bhagavan does know our heart. Thankfully.

  27. Namaste!!

    Why do people make a big deal out of people who were not born Hindu being Hindu??
    Its childish! Then people who convert to Hinduism are the ones who respect the religion the most. I see many Hindu born people saying how they hate their religion and never visits temples unless they are forced by parents. The fact is most Hindus who are born Hindus do not even want to be Hindus.
    I, myself didn’t belong to any religion before being an Hindu. Actually since childhood I was Hindu but didn’t tell anyone because the people I was around, they was Christians.
    But yeah once I get married to my boyfriend ( I hope) Then some people will not have anything to say about it.
    Also some people believe that becoming an Hindu after marriage is wrong. But Oh well. I was Hindu before marriage and will be during marriage.

    • “Also some people believe that becoming an Hindu after marriage is wrong. But Oh well. I was Hindu before marriage and will be during marriage.”

      “And will be a Hindu even after the marriage.” Esha, don’t worry. It like I said earlier, if you are a good person and believe that all are creation of ‘one God’ then all are a universal family. We are all we, no them. This is what makes Hinduism an “Eternal and Perennial Religion”.

      Just a word of caution for your boyfreind and that God bless your marriage lasts perennially, discuss it openly with Him so that there is no hitch about it.

      I have always asked this, “It is only the human beings who think in terms of religion”. Why do we not think that a goat or a cow or a lion or elephant have a religion? They are also living being! Isn’t it surprising? That is why, it is because the humans alone have been bestowed with an articulated voice and a discriminatory faculty which no other living being has? This is because God wants us to become a “Human Being” first from this anthropod ‘homo sapiens’ and thenafter “Realise” its innate divinity and liberate itself from the continued pangs of “Life and Birth”.

      Who wants pain and suffering, enlist your names here? Also enlist here names who wants happiness and pleasure only? I may request here to tandave to kindly arrange for this listing, so that we can proceed further for our spiritual discourse. So long…

  28. Tandava, please forgive me for spelling your name wrongly and starting with a lowercase. My apology, no disrespect, just a haste…

  29. Hari Om
    Thank you for posting. Think this brings up so much. Trying to even get a tiny sense of power and responsiblity of www. Still see those who interact with on net, via forum as friends. Know Karol like rest of us, who working on remembering on more continual level who we are. Through interaction and sharing and learning with her, know that she is devotee for sure, and loves and searches and grows like we all do.
    Think also, some of side issues brought up by Tandavas thread are good to see discussed. Think MahalayaJi’s offerings perhaps in being mindful of, would be most beautiful cure for any and all of this. Confession though for all, this here Jiva, trips up, continually.

    Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti


  30. Hinduism(or say dharma) will lose its base it will get corrupted from within & from outside. & the downfall of dharm has already begun.
    adharma will spread rapidly. thats what will happen in the kalyuga. its in nature of kaliyuga & nobody can stop that from happening . may be they can slow down spread of adharma for sometime but can’t stop it until adharma reaches its peak value & goal of kayug is met

  31. indian,
    you are not a hindu, either you are a christian or a muslim, camping here with one purpose-to smear hinduism. keep trying, but then if you want it, your misery will end if you embrace hinduism, take the leap. Read David Frawley get wiser.

    • You definitely are not a antaryami 🙂
      i don’t know which narrow interpretation of Hinduism u believe in, where a simple disagreement from your views means that one is smearing Hinduism or is a anti Hindu or Muslim / christian.
      since you talked about wisdom please read this what our great leader Mahatma Gandhi said-
      “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.”

      also Wise men don’t make judgement without know of truth/facts
      please don’t jump to conclusions without knowing the truth about someone or their intentions.
      you can dispute my views with your views / arguments,but labeling people for defense of your views is the weakest kind of defense.

    • Very good welcome to true ancient path of hinduism.hinduism is for mankind not only for indian

  32. Hello i totally agree, i call myself a western hindu. i need alot of work and guidance but these horrible people go on about westerns been able to be Hindu has blocked by spiritual path. I live in Bradford and even tho i have been told by hindus you can convert and been invited by a Indian Hindu to attended the temple i still do not go because i don’t want to offend . these girls are very horrible they bully western hindus and say they can be hindu and try to shame them. i have try to talking to them but all i get hate and swearing. they posted a picture of my girlfriend and bullied her for her believes. i don’t know if these are the same girls who have done this to you.

  33. I think it is important not to dwell on the negativities constantly. I, as a born Hindu and Indian, perhaps can not fathom the difficulties one faces while embracing a new faith. Especially one like Hinduism where there are no rigid rules (or rather one can choose the level of rigidity depending on one’s comfort-level).
    I have felt nothing but admiration for the new entrants to our faith; most of them are extremely sincere in their beliefs and value it more since they have actively sought this path after experiencing others. I have been to many local temples in the DC region and have seen whites and occasionally people from other races coming there. Not even once did I see anybody illtreating them. Not to say that it doesn’t happen.
    The gist of what I’m trying to say is that the hate-mongers are in minority. Let’s better utilize our time and energy for something constructive. As an example, the Holi mela ( I recently attended had a lot of people from different races. Some were whites, some blacks, some Koreans/Chinese. None of them seemed to be treated any differently by the majority of Indian hindus present there and everybody was having a good time.

  34. There is no record of Christians ever forcing Hindus to convert.

    • I expect you are using the very narrow definition, which doesn’t count supplying converts with food in times of famine, bribes, promises of jobs, etc. as forced conversion. Even by this definition you are wrong, Christians have both historically and recently forced Christians have used violence to force conversion.

    • Ashish Pandey

      i think , you have not heard about Goa inquisition.

  35. @ Jon X,
    “There is no record of Christians ever forcing Hindus to convert.” there is a famous saying hindus repeat on a daily basis- ” a truck load of rice is followed by a jeep load of bibles”. Money –>Christianity is the formula there if I may sum it up for you. I didnt see any well placed hindu, like a scholar, scientist,celebrity performer for example embracing the faith. Uniformly it is dirt poor or the gullible who fall in this trap called illegal conversions in the 3rd world. Goa inquisition is just one watered down version of such forced conversions reported, there are all shades of ‘forced conversions’ involved in the equation. Constant pressure applied on the poor and gulllible is witnessed as you walk in the run down areas of the towns. And why should someone make a false promise of heaven to anyone which is not there anyways? On the other hand you explore the hindu doctrines you willl be soon convinced how narrow your definition of reigion becomes, I like David Frawley among others, please try him, thanks for reading and good luck..

  36. Today the developed Western world is sole domineering master. English monarch perhaps controlled the largest chunk of territory in the world. India is still controlled by UK/USA allies. Whatever happens there, descends in India tomorrow to lead them.

    Christians are working hard through Anglicised christian missionaries, who have a huge constant research project, I believe as evidenced from their all round attacks on Hinduism. They do not leave any stone unturned including their propaganda war in media also. The best or worst example is here for all to peruse this link:

    Please note how I have been hounded here against my innocuous lamenting comment. It took me couple of days to reply. There was a feedback in my inbox twice to chase for reply. After my last night reply, it hasn’t come back. I hope it is not repeated.

    How the West is making Yoga an issue to target Hinduism to malign. This will make it easier to proselytise the poor gullibles. It is for the same reason, these Christian missionaries keep the pot of caste boiling in Hinduism because it this trump card for their predatory proselytisation by hook or crook. It is sad but an inevitable cosequence of physical religious conversion to harvest the bodies (foot soldiers) as opposed to soul conversion. The Western Hindus should not get trapped by some people to hurt them. The reasons are many and I have been told recently by another Hindu convert from West that some clergies are using inculturation technique whereby these christian clergies are masquerading as Hindu preists, even worshipping Shiva Lingam but with a Jesus statue in the background. This is a trap for the unwary. Hindus are a highly vulnerable unsuspecting society. Even the educated class are not bothered for these petty matters of religious problems. For them these are least important issues. Unfortunate apathy. In this situation, I shall not be surprised if some local Hindus misbehave. This is true even with us as well, I am personally a witness to such indescency.

  37. “Tamil Eelam: A Church-funded political project – Shenali Waduge” read this article by Shenali Waduge(sri lankan rightwing jurno) which was also reposted on a hindu website which puts some light on church’s activity in indian state of tamil nadu

  38. indian hindus please watch & spread these videos on twitter Facebook these videos reveal how christians use various media & other methods to fool indian hindus & also christians try 2 fool hindus by adopting hindu customs rituals & sanskrit(& other local languages) & converting hindus in mass please watch

    [Tandava: I have rejected copies of this comment on other posts – one is enough!]

  39. People have a different concept of hinduism these days. Hinduism is a search for the freedom of soul. It is quite vast and even born hindus dont know the real meaning of hinduism. i am glad that you have tried to open your heart for a religion like hinduism. check my blog.

  40. Pingback: hinduism | Western Hindu - Global Hindus

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