I have been asked why I am became a Hindu. In one way this is simple to answer, God called me to this path. What people really want though is a description of the manner and the process of this calling. I will attempt to describe this, though in some ways it is quite difficult. Writing things down makes it appear as though they are an ordered set of steps, one leading to another. In reality I am not certain which thoughts and ideas occurred before others, and many things happened concurrently. I have also left out certain influences and events concerning other people. Anyway, I will start at the beginning and end at the present, and even if the order in the middle is a little uncertain the gist will be correct. Continue reading
I have been thinking about fundamentalists’ claims that everyone apart from “true Christians” will go to hell and be eternally tortured. They often try to reconcile this with a good, merciful and loving God by saying “it is written, it is the Law, and God cannot disobey the Law”. Unlike Christianity Hinduism does not have a definitive book. There are the Vedas of course, but these are more works of praise to God than Law or rules, and these are supplemented by agamas from each school. Christians, like Hindus, believe that God is omnipotent. It seems to me that if God writes the Bible as a definitive book that he must follow from that point until eternity then this is limiting his omnipotence. Metaphorically speaking God has created a rock so heavy that he can’t lift it; the Bible.
That is fair enough, but if God creates this rock which is so heavy that even he cannot lift it so that it will crush most of humanity forever then this cannot be an all-loving and good God. The God who would do this is not the God that I worship.
This post is a follow on from the previous post If Christianity were like Hinduism. It will make more sense if you read that post first.
If Christianity were like Hinduism people would criticise protestants for the pronouncements of the Pope. They would criticise Catholics for the practices of the early Mormons and Mormons for the beliefs of the ancient Mithras cult.
If Christianity were like Hinduism peope would point to the Nazis as an example of Christian culture. Some would say that the cross should be banned, because Hitler gave out iron crosses. They would look at gang violence in inner cities and say “that’s what happens when you have Christianity”.
If Christianity were like Hinduism people would say that they knew about Christianity because they had read about Rasputin. They would ask you how a religion could claim that it was good to sin because then you could be forgiven, because forgiveness was divine. Continue reading
When Christian missionaries target India they are bringing discord to a highly religious and spiritual country, where most people believe in God and at least value a moral life. They bring division to a society where generally religions are inclusive and accepting.
In Britain a small number of people are religious. The exact number is hard to say, when asked if they “know that God exists without a doubt” 23% say yes, but when asked “which comes closest to your belief” 56% responded with an answer that indicated that they had some belief. Even if this number have some belief, most don’t act on it, regular religious involvement is only 7.5%. You only have to go to a city centre in Britain at night to see that many young people regularly get drunk and live only for sensual pleasure.
A few weeks ago my wife and I attended a “Gouanga (ISKCON) festival” at our Hindu temple. There we met a young woman who had joined ISKCON after attending one of these festivals, where she realised that there was more to life than getting drunk. She now works for ISKCON in the UK. She said a couple of years ago she would have probably been drunk in the gutter. At the festival she contemplated Krishna for the first time, and felt that there was something spiritual inside her.
Why, with so many people living a non-spiritual life, don’t Christian missionaries target the UK? Surely this is a country where spirituality could bring great benefit?
I believe that it is because they know that they cannot easily offer bribes and inducements in a relatively rich country. This is the reason that they oppose laws in India that ban forced religious conversions. They know that this is their easiest way to success. For them religion is not about improved behaviour, spirituality or social adhesion, they would willingly sacrifice those to win in the numbers game. All that matters is the number who say they are Christian. That is enough. The fact is that despite the lack of belief, 71% of the British population say they are Christian is enough for them.
A Christian who is violent to members of other faiths, rarely thinks about God, acts immorally and is drunk in the city centre every night is saved. There is no point in missionaries taking notice of them where there are peaceful and tolerant members of other faiths to target. If only they could get them all to be like the Christians!
I read the article “Interview of an Evangelist” today. It graphically illustrates the motives, techniques and billion dollar industry of Christian evangelists. The worst thing is many people donate money to charities thinking it is to help the poor rather than funding a divisive crusade. It is interesting that areas of India where missionaries are successful suffer increases in rates of AIDS, though perhaps not surprising given the “convert and you will be forgiven anything” message given by the Christian right.
I am reading Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi”, and in it he relates a discussion with Mahatma Ghandi. Ghandi discusses the virtues and effectiveness of ahimsa and non violence.
Ghandi told the Paramahansa that an early example of the effectiveness of non violence was in the settling of the state of Pennsylvania, where the settlers had no soldiers or forts but did not suffer from attacks by the (Native American) Indians that other settlers did. I had not heard of this and decided to look up and see if it was a historical fact. A small amount of research shows that it is basically true.
Pennsylvania was formed by William Penn, who was a Quaker, as were the first colonists. As a Quaker they believed in non violence and fairness. He allowed complete freedom of religion for people of all faiths, and insisted on fairness in dealing with Native Americans. Land was purchased from them at a fair price rather than been taken by force as happened elsewhere. Penn introduced laws saying that if a European did an Indian wrong, there would be a fair trial, with an equal number of people from both groups deciding the matter. Eventually under a perceived threat from the Spanish and the French the people of Pennsylvania (who were no longer mostly Quakers) did vote to form a militia, but for a time Pennsylvania was a model of peaceful cooperation.
Quakers, or the “Religious Society of Friends” were formed by George Fox, who believed that “everyone can see God directly”, and that it is possible to see God in everyone. This was referred to as “the inner light” or “truth” or “the pure principle”. He believed that the message from God within was more important than creeds or the bible.
Quakers have a history of being persecuted by the main Christian denominations. It seems to me that George Fox was one of those people who have had no contact with Hinduism but through spiritual awareness have come to know some of the truth of Sanatana Dharma (the eternal truth of Hinduism).