Category Archives: other religions

A picture

The Religions of Man

The Religions of Man

I received an email the other day from Peter Reynosa, sending me a picture of his painting. The painting comprises of a swastika made up of religious symbols.

I have previously written about the Swastika as a symbol of dharmic religions. This picture is a reminder that the swastika was used by many religions through the whole world. A form of Swastika even appeared in Jewish Kabbalistic texts.

The Left-Hand Swastika

Another interesting thing about this picture is that it is of a left-facing swastika. Continue reading

Anna is now Shiva Setep-en Het-Heru. What does “following Sanatana Dharma” mean?

The laketi kamaat blog

The laketi blog

I received a message from Anna, who was the author of the Divya jñāna blog. She said that she is no longer practising  Sanatana Dharma, though she is still a devotee of Shiva. She is now using the name Śivā Setep-en Het-Heru, which for convenience I will shorten to Shivheru (this seems etymologically correct, it is combining the name Shiva with Heru).

She did not know whether I would want to remove her blog now that she was following an eclectic path rather than a purely Hindu one. Her Divya jñāna blog now directs followers to her new blog, Laketi. I have not decided whether to remove her blog, but this raises the broader question, what is “following Sanatana Dharma”?

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Was C. S. Lewis right about Hinduism?

C. S. Lewis

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

Sparks from a fire

Sparks from a fire

Sparks from a fire

Yesterday on the way to work, I listened to the “Thought for the day” on Radio 4. This program allows people with a variety of beliefs to give a three or four minute talk on a subject of their choosing.  This particular talk was by the Rabbi Lionel Blue, and he talked about what a Kabbalist had told him about his view of God. The image he used was of God being nothing in the beginning, then withdrawing part of himself to leave a void. Into this void he sent divine sparks of himself.

According to the Kabbalist, the purpose of our creation is to allow these divine sparks to find their way back to God, to make him whole again.

It struck me how similar this is to the symbolism of the Mundaka Upanishad: Continue reading

Point Counterpoin: Saivite Hinduism, The Church of England, and UK Unitarianism

The Nandinatha Sampradaya has a process of ethical conversion. Part of the process is to write a point and counterpoint comparison between Saivite Hinduism of the Nandinatha Sampradaya and previous religions or world-views that you have had. This ensures that you are converting with a full understanding of what this entails.

I have written a comparison with the Church of England, the Anglican Christian denomination I was brought up in, and with the UK Unitarians who I followed for a while. I have been given permission to publish it on my blog. Sannyasin Saravananathaswami has only given it a quick look so there may be further amendments.

I would also be interested in any comments or corrections from readers who are Unitarians or Church of England members.

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The Shatkona blog is back!

GaneshaThe Shatkona blog is back in the list of blogs by Western Hindus. I had previously removed the blog when the blogger announced that he was returning to Catholicism, Those of you who have been following his blog will know that he has come to realise that this was attached to both Catholicism and Hinduism, and later discovered that his attachment to Catholicism is more nostalgia than true spiritual feeling.

I have been wondering whether to add his blog back for a while. A few days ago I emailed the author and said that I would leave it up to him, when and if he felt ready I would add it back to the list. Today I received a simple email saying “Please re-add my blog, my path is Sanatana Dharma”. I feel that its very auspicious that he made this decision on Ganesha Chaturthi.

The image of Ganesha is from the collection of images from “What is Hinduism” released rights-free by the Himalayan Academy.

A “Western Hindu” blog removed; regret and celebration.

The Shatkona blogI have just had to remove a blog from my page describing blogs by Westerners following Hinduism. The author of the blog recently posted that he felt that his heart was not in Hinduism, and then made it clear that he is no longer following Sanatana Dharma in a post “Charting a New Course“. He intends to keep many elements of Hinduism but primarily return to Christianity.

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Virtuous followers of all religions should be respected

Tariq Jahan calls for peace after the  murder of his son

Tariq Jahan calls for peace after the murder of his son

In my previous post I concluded that we should respect virtuous people of all faiths. Unfortunate circumstances have shown us such a person, Tariq Jahan. He and other shop keepers in Birmingham went out to defend their shops from the mindless thugs who are looting and causing trouble in some of England’s cities. On seeing opposition one of the looters deliberately drove his car at speed into the crowd, killing three men. One of the men killed was Haroon Jahan, Tariq’s son

Shortly after this, Tariq spoke publicly on television. He said:

Today, we stand here to call to all the youth to remain calm, for our communities to stay united.

I have lost my son – if you want to lose yours step forward, otherwise calm down and go home.

Later he added

As we stand here today, this is not a race issue. The families have received messages of sympathy and support from all parts of the communities – from all faiths, all colours and backgrounds.

I applaud and respect him for calling for peace and unity at a difficult time. My heart goes out to him and his family

Low resolution image captured from video on BBC site, considered fair usage for copyright purposes.

Should we respect all religions?

Medieval Crusader sees it as a God-given right to kill unbelievers in the Holy Land

Medieval Crusader

This post looks at how we can reconcile extremist destructive religions with the instruction to respect all people who believe in God. Interestingly a fellow Saivite has just published a post looking at the issues at the other end of the spectrum, In “Devas on the head of a pin?” he asks how can we give enough credit to the beliefs of other religions where the teachings appear to be different but the truth behind must be the same.

I have been prompted to think about this by an interesting comment by Kodanda,  where he talks about sattvic and non-sattvic religions. He asserted that the Hindu proclamation “Ekam sat, viprah bahudhaa vadanti” or “There is one truth (God), but sages describe it differently” could only be applied to sattvic religions. Religions that promote violence, conversion by force, threats, bribes or deceit, that subjugate unbelievers should not be included in this. It is certainly possible that the sages who first wrote this had only come across Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism and not the exclusive religions who would like to see an end to all other beliefs.

At first I was worried that this would contradict the teachings of my sampradaya (Hindu schdenominationool) as Gurudeva says:

How Do Saivites Regard Other Faiths?

Religious beliefs are manifold and different. Saivites, understanding the strength of this diversity, wholeheartedly respect and encourage all who believe in God. They honor the fact that Truth is one, paths are many. Aum.

His Nandinatha Sutras also say:

Siva’s devotees properly respect and address virtuous persons of all religious traditions. They may support and participate in interfaith gatherings from time to time with leaders and members of all religions. Aum.

Siva’s devotees do not speak disrespectfully about other Hindu lineages, their beliefs, Gods, sacred sites, scriptures, or holy men and women. Nor do they disparage other religions. They refuse to listen to such talk. Aum. Continue reading

Why don’t you follow the Celtic religion?

Picture of neo-druids in their robes at Stonehenge

Neo-druids at Stonehenge

Lalitaditua, asked me in a comment “why don’t I follow the Celtic religion?” It is clear from his comments and his blog articles that he does not like Westerners following  Sanatana Dharma, which he sees as “turning their backs on their own religion and culture”. At the time I gave the quick response that I am on the path of Shiva, and know that this is the path I am meant to be on. I will expand on this a little more, because in a way I feel that I am following the tradition of my ancestors.

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Has “multiculturalism failed”? What this means for Hindus.

Islamic protesters call for those who insult Islam to be killed

Is this what multiculturalism means?

Last week the Prime Minister, David Cameron said that “multiculturalism has failed“.  This raises a number of questions:

  • What does he mean by this?
  • Is he right?
  • What does this mean for Hindus?
  • Does David Cameron expect Hindus, Jews, Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Buddhists all to abandon their individual cultures and beliefs?

Understanding this is important, because similar statements have been made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia’s ex-prime minister John Howard,  and Spanish ex-premier Jose Maria Aznar.  First of all, I will look at this question: “what is multiculturalism?”.

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Hinduism, a model for inter-religious respect

Islamic "Christmas is Evil" poster

Islamic group launched "Christmas is Evil" poster campaign

Just before Christmas an Islamic group in the UK launched a poster campaign. Mr Rumaysah, a spokesman for the group, told the Mail that he was unconcerned about offending Christians. He said: “Christmas is a lie and as Muslims it is our duty to attack it”.

This sort of attitude is seen in fundamentalists followers of all exclusive religions, not just Islam. Showing equal disregard for other faiths, the Christian fundamentalist Pat Robertson said “Siva [is] the God of Destruction, and his consort, the Goddess of death [Kali] — that black, ugly statue there with all those fierce eyes”. [This is wrong in almost every way, Saivite Hindus Immanent love and transcendent reality]. He also said that Islam is “…motivated by demonic power. It is Satanic and it’s time we recognize what we’re dealing with”. Not all Christians and Muslims are extreme like this; I have written previously about Muslims and Christians who acted with friendship towards Hindus. The attitude that it is acceptable to insult other faiths is one of the dangers of exclusive religions though, the religions that teach that they have the only right way.

Celebration of Lord Krishna's birthday as Srijayanthi in an Iyengar's house in South India

Celebration of Lord Krishna's birthday

This contrasts with those who follow inclusive religions: Hindus, Sikhs, Taoists, Buddhists, and many more.  I am a Saivite Hindu and attend a temple in the UK where most of the other attendees are Vishnavas. I see Shiva as the ultimate God, whereas Vishnavas see Vishnu or one of his avatars as the ultimate God. Vishnavas believe that Shiva is a created demigod, and I believe that Vishnu is just one of the five actions of Shiva, which are creation, preservation, destruction, veiling and revealing. Many Vishnavas see Krishna as the ultimate God, but as a Saivite I don’t believe in full avatars. To people following exclusive religions these might seem like unsurmountable differences, but I and many other Saivites worship next to Vishnavas regularly. Continue reading