“A Modern Hindu Reveals” blog
I recently received an email from “Shree”, a Hindu in Singapore, who has just started a new blog “A Modern Hindu Reveals”
Shree was inspired by my article “Questioning your faith“, and the “Modern Hindu Reveals” blog certainly tackles some controversial issues and comes to thoughtful conclusions. Even if you disagree with the views expressed you will understand how Shree has come to them through genuine thought and compassion.
I particularly enjoyed the post “The Demigod Paradox“, which explains why devotees of guardians, local Gods, and other Gods that are sometimes considered as inferior or on a lesser path. Continue reading
C.S. Lewis aged 50
I have read and enjoyed a number of C. S. Lewis’s stories. I remember being read the Narnia series of stories by my father when I was small. Though you can tell that they have a Christian analogy this does not get in the way of them being good stories.
I cannot say that I have read much of his non-fiction work, but I know that he was renowned as a Christian writer. I was reminded of this by a post from the myownashram blog.
C. S. Lewis is still often quoted by Christian evangelists. As he was an atheist who converted to Christianity he is seen as validating their beliefs. One quote that I have seen used a lot is this one:
There is no question of just a crowd of disconnected religions. The choice is between (a.) The materialist world picture: wh. I can’t believe. (b.) The real archaic primitive religions; wh. are not moral enough. (c.) The (claimed) fulfillment of these in Hinduism. (d.) The claimed fulfillment of these in Xianity. But the weakness of Hinduism is that it doesn’t really merge the two strands. Unredeemable savage religion goes on in the village; the Hermit philosophizes in the forest: and neither really interfaces with the other. It is only Xianity which compels a high brow like me to partake of a ritual blood feast, and also compels a central African convert to attempt an elightened [sic] code of ethics.
Some Christian sights embellish the quote, this is an example from a Catholic site, which gives no reference . Searches fail to find a corresponding original text!:
Religions are like soups, he said. Some, like consomme, are thin and clear (Unitarianism, Confucianism, modern Judaism); others, like minestrone, are thick and dark (paganism, “mystery religions”). Only Hinduism and Christianity are both “thin” (philosophical) and “thick” (sacramental and mysterious). But Hinduism is really two religions: “thick” for the masses, “thin” for the sages. Only Christianity is both.
I think in dismissing all religions apart from Christianity and Hinduism he does a disservice to many; I am sure that Taoism, Judaism, Sikhism and many more are practiced by both the highly sophisticated and the simple country village folk. I will leave that point for followers of these religions to answer though. I will answer one question: Is his comment on Hinduism true though? I don’t believe it is. Continue reading
The many comments on my previous article “Questioning your faith” made me think a lot. I will try to answer the questions “what is the value of questioning your faith?”, “when should you question your faith?”, and “how should you question your faith?”.
The Value of Questioning
As a Hindu we see a human as made of several parts. There are various ways of looking at this, but one is as an emotional mind (manas), an intellect (buddhi), and the spiritual mind (atman). Questioning and reasoning can help bring the intellect and atman in line, understanding what your spirit tells you.
A teacher once told me “facts are friendly”, meaning that you should not ignore facts. If a fact seems to be at odds with your belief then either your belief is wrong or your understanding is. If a religion has to ban certain questions, or statements of fact then it is wrong, and its followers cannot have mental peace – they will forever be guarding against people speaking the truth. At extremes they kill people who do to avoid others questioning.
Hinduism is very lenient about questioning – but still we have to remember that “facts are friendly” includes all facts. We have to accept things like some Hindus eat meat and sacrifice animals, some Hindus treat others as untouchables, and even that some Hindus see the shivalinga as a phallic symbol. Continue reading
Bbrhaspati's 4th pilgrimage to india blog
This blog by brhaspati, who is a follower of Advaita Vedanta philosophy. He wrote to me recently telling me of his blog. He has travelled extensively in India and this blog is about his pilgrimage in 2010.
I have added his blog to my page listing blogs by Western converts to Hinduism.
Other news in blogs by Westerners Following Hinduism
Fourth anniversary of the Shree Lakshmi Narayan Temple
This week is the fourth anniversary of the dedication (patotsava) of my local mandir, the Shree Lakshmi Narayan Temple. It doesn’t seem anything like four years since the opening of our mandir!
I attended the evening celebrations and the feeling of having hundreds of people present to worship God and the devas was incredible.
I speak virtually no Hindi, I can respond to greetings and that’s about all. Someone asked me whether it was boring to attend when most of the speech is in Hindi. Continue reading
Rigveda (padapatha) manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century
I was asked about the Hindu understanding and interpretation of scriptures, and what they mean to me. I decided that I would answer this in a post rather than as a comment reply.
There are various types of Hindu scripture, the oldest of which are the Vedas. All orthodox Hindus regard the vedas as the divine word of God. The vedas are mostly songs of praise, and so are open to a number of different interpretations. Some of these are resolved by the Upanishads, philosophical discourses on the vedas. Again these texts are regarded as sacred by all orthodox Hindus.
In addition to these universally accepted scriptures, each sect has agamas, which detail the worship of the deity or deities worshipped by that sect. These are regarded as sacred by the followers of the sect, though they see them as only applicable to sect members. The vedas and agamas are known as Shruti, meaning “that which is heard”.
There are also scriptures known as Smriti means “that which is remembered”. These include the Itihasas, the great epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Some sects may take these literally, others symbolically, and others as just moral stories which teach the concepts of Dharma. Continue reading
The ardhanarishwar blog
The ardhanarishwar blog by Dhrishti clearly describes the concepts behind the non-dual Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism. He has an interesting style, not writing directly about himself but relvealing a lot indirectly by the way he describes things. He is clearly influenced by “The Seven Stars of Hinduism” by Dileep Thatte.
I have added this blog to my list of blogs by Western followers of Hinduism.
The other day in our mandir, Pandit ji gave a nice analogy to explain why we sound the conch and ring the bells before arti. He likened it to the police siren. He said that if there are any unsavoury people hanging around a street corner and they hear a siren of a police car approaching they disappear. They know that the police will be following soon. Similarly when we hear the sound od the conch and the ringing of the bell our bad thoughts disapear. They know that the darshan is coming!
Rajanaka Sammelana blog
Thank you to Dhyan, who left a comment, telling me about this blog. The Rajanaka Sammelana blog is an established blog by Douglas Brooks, am a professional scholar and a teacher of the traditions of Rajanaka Yoga. He explores the path of Tanric yoga, as taught by Rajanaka Gopalaiyar Sundaramoorthy. He discusses many subjects in depth, including Sanskrit, the Gita, Kashmiri Saivism.
I have added this blog to my list of blogs by Western converts to Hinduism.
This is the final part of a series of three posts starting with “Time: past, present, and future“. The previous articles looked at God being within us all, and God not needing to forgive, as he always shows mercy and love.
Toy dealer's pet dog 'ate Batman'
The picture to the right is from a news story about a dog, Lola, who chewed a rare vintage Batman toy which was worth £1,000. Lola’s owner is a collectable toy dealer, who was valuing the toy for a client.
The story starts with the words “She is out of the doghouse and already forgiven“. Nobody would be surprised if the Lola’s owner was initially cross, but quickly forgave her. The anger would be a typical emotional response, but forgiveness would come easily, because everyone knows that the dog did not understand what she was doing. She was left on her own with something chewable and interesting, and followed her nature. Even if she knew that she was not supposed to chew the toys, she would have had no idea of the value of them, or that she had picked the most valuable toy in the collection.
Its possible that if her owner is someone in control of his emotions and of a generous disposition that he never got angry, and that understanding the situation would see that there was nothing to forgive.
However, forgiveness is not always that easy. People may have done something deliberate to take advantage of us, or hurt us. Some people even delight in causing pain to others.
Because Hindus believe that we are all divine at heart, we believe that every transgression is ultimately caused by our ignorance of our true nature. Continue reading
This is the second in a series of posts, which follows on from the post “Time: past, present, and future“. In the first post I described how God is inseparable from us.
Lord Shiva bestows blessings on a devotee
Since God is within us all, he cannot help but show us mercy. When we are devoted to God we are rewarded by kripa (IAST: kṛpā), which can be translated as grace, or kindness. This amounts to removing karma that we have accrued, so that we do not have to face the consequences.
This is part of a post that I have been asked to write for the homophilosophicus blog. I have decided that rather than write the whole article at once and post it on both blogs, I will write it in stages here. One reason for this is that I find it easier to write smaller direct posts, and I imagine that many readers will also find this easier to read. The second reason is that I can add details here that would probably be too much for a general audience. Thirdly, I can get feedback as I write. This topic fell naturally into different sections, giving me the idea. The sections in this coloured text are extras for this blog only!
Shiva the creator
Hinduism teaches that the past is infinite, as is the future. Though there was a creation of the universe and there will be an ultimate destruction, these mark one of many cycles. Many Hindus also believe that there are other parallel physical universes, though Hindu texts are largely agnostic on this. The duration of each cycle is measured in billions of years. The late Carl Sagan, an agnostic astronomer and astrophysicist commented:
But the main reason that we oriented this episode of COSMOS towards India is because of that wonderful aspect of Hindu cosmology which first of all gives a time-scale for the Earth and the universe — a time-scale which is consonant with that of modern scientific cosmology. We know that the Earth is about 4.6 billion years old, and the cosmos, or at least its present incarnation, is something like 10 or 20 billion years old. The Hindu tradition has a day and night of Brahma in this range, somewhere in the region of 8.4 billion years.
As far as I know. It is the only ancient religious tradition on the Earth which talks about the right time-scale. We want to get across the concept of the right time-scale, and to show that it is not unnatural. In the West, people have the sense that what is natural is for the universe to be a few thousand years old, and that billions is indwelling, and no one can understand it. The Hindu concept is very clear. Here is a great world culture which has always talked about billions of years. Continue reading