I 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.
Many paths to one destination
In the previous post I answered the main points in a comment by littleindian, about freedom to chose and following a guru. This post addresses the two questions at the end of the comment. Answering these questions has proved to be quite difficult, each question has subtle meanings which have made me think very hard about the nature of Hinduism, religions, conversion, and culture. The first question intrigued me because of the wording:
Why did you choose to learn to live like a Hindu?
Usually people just ask “why did you chose to become a Hindu?”, which I answered in my three “How I became a Hindu” posts. Littleindian’s question is subtly different, showing an understanding of Hinduism as a way of life as well as a belief. So to what does it mean to live like a Hindu? To what extent do I live like a Hindu? Continue reading
Hindus and Jews share more than just a symbol
A few days ago I read some comments that were rather disparaging of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The commenter was a Hindu who lumped all Abrahamic religions together as proselytising and intolerant. Of course there are many Christians and Muslims who are tolerant and accepting of other beliefs, but as far as Judaism is concerned the accusation misses totally, it goes against the faith’s basic teachings. Unfortunately the linked comments are not the only time I have seen this “lumping together” of Judaism with Christianity and Islam on the web.
Judaism is not a proselytising religion. Though accepting converts, Judaism does not actively seek them. In fact traditionally people wanting to convert are turned away three times before being accepted. Jews do not want everyone in the world to become Jewish. Just like Hindus they believe that this is their way, but others may follow a different path. But what do Jews think about Hinduism?
Having completed the first year of the Himalayan Academy Master Course, I have decided that the Nandinatha sampradaya is right for me spiritually. I asked Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami to choose a Hindu name for me. He gave me a choice of suitable names. I don’t feel it would be right to post about the names I did not choose, as they were all good names and for some people a different one would be the right choice. The name Tandava stood out though.
When is conversion Ethical?
To what extent should a religion welcome converts, and should a religion actively seek converts? There are many schools within Hinduism, and many different answers to this question.
I have previously written about Hinduism’s attitude towards newcomers, and how most typical Hindus don’t actively attempt to proselytise. This was illustrated in our mandir recently. We often have visits from school groups learning about religions practised in the city, and occasionally we have adult groups visiting. One day when I came to the mandir for arti there was a group from a nearby church. When the arti had finished some of the visitors came over and talked to us, and one of them asked if I was a convert. One of the other Hindus present said that he wanted the visitors to be clear that Hindus do not try to convert people. If people come and are interested they will welcome and help them, but they don’t actively seek converts. I have heard it said that Hinduism should be offered like sweets on a plate. If someone wants to take them then they are welcome, but they are equally welcome to decline the offer and move on. This is certainly far more restrained than the practice of religions which actively proselytise, but is it sufficient to ensure that people who convert have really accepted the faith and have positive reasons for joining? To answer this question I will take a side-step and look at the acceptance of converts in Judaism.
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
The Himalayan Academy master Course Books
I previously wrote that after completing the Chinmaya International Foundation’s “Foundation Level” e-vedanta course”, I was not going to continue with their advanced course but take the Himalayan Academy’s Master Course. I thought it might be useful to give some first impressions of the course, though I have been following it for just over two weeks, so it is a very early impression. I have not even completed my first self-assessment yet!
I ordered the books and the self-assessment PDFs, which are sent via email. When I ordered the books I had thought that they seemed rather expensive, but when they arrived the size, weight and sheer quality Continue reading
Posted in books, hinduism, religion
Tagged conversion, himalayan academy, hindu, master course, saiva, saivism, shaiva, Shaiva Siddhanta, shiva, spirituality
Many Christians are extremely insulting about Hinduism and other religions. They call us ignorant, dumb, followers of Satan and mock our beliefs and practices. They tell converts that they should not associate with non-Christians, and sometimes even incite violence, trickery, deception, and destruction of shrines. You only have to look at some of the comments by Christians on this blog to see the degrees of hatred. These Christians honestly believe that this is what their religion teaches.
In contrast, many Hindus believe that Jesus was a guru, and that his teachings do not incite this type of behaviour. I have looked at the teachings of Jesus and I have come to the conclusion that many Christians have misunderstood the real meaning of the teachings of Jesus. In short, what the many missionaries teach is not in accord with the true teachings of Jesus.
Jesus as a Guru
If Jesus is seen as a guru, and the gospels as the teachings of Jesus become clear. When Jesus says to Thomas In John 14:6-7
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.
This is an explanation of the Guru student relationship. Many gurus would say the same thing to their students, but this would not exclude the possibility of other gurus. Many sayings that are taken as instructions to be exclusive and divisive by the Christian Right are in reality simply instructions to keep firm to the guru-shishya relationship.
Jesus’s words on Other Faiths
From the way that many modern Christians behave you would expect Jesus to be full of condemnation, insults, and irreverence for the Roman and Greek gods. In fact, Jesus never said anything negative about these beliefs. Having queried this on a Christian board someone eventually came up with two passages from Jesus: Continue reading
I have recently received a number of scraps on my orcut profile from a Christian who seems to want to convert me. To do so he has posted inaccurate information. Now from his reaction I think that he was not aware that the information he was using was anything but genuine. I think there is a good chance that he had been conned himself. The person concerned keeps his scrapbook private, so I cannot see who else he is communicating with. I suspect he has been passing the same information to other non-Christians. I have written down the information that he passed in the hope that any other non-Christians who are told the same will be able to quickly see that it is not genuine.
Evidence based on the Bhavishya Purana
The following verse appears to predict Jesus Christ. There are also many other verses predicting Jesus. Continue reading
This post is really a summary of points made in various other posts. I have put it together becaus this is a question I often see asked in various forums. Also, it has been a while since I published anything, as I have been rather busy recently. This is also a question to which you will see several different answers, and I think it is useful to put them together in one post.
Some people say “No”.
There are a few people who say that you should never convert; whatever religion you are born into should be yours for life. I think that this is incorrect, if you have a strong feeling towards a religion and you feel that the religion you are born into is not for you then follow the path that you feel guided on. Hindus believe that people can be guided by gurus that are not physically present (see my post “Books, Leaves and Gurus“). If you are convinced that a path is right for you, and have seen signs that it is right then don’t worry about this argument. This argument also does not take into account people brought up with patently wrong beliefs; should the children that survived the Waco seige continue to follow the teachings of David Koresh?
I have had nothing but support from Hindus I have met, I have only read this point of view on a few blogs. I would not worry about conversion being opposed. As mentioned later there are many Hindu schools that openly accept conversion and have a process of accepting new membes.
Some say that “Hindu” does not refer to a Religion.
Some people may quibble that Hindu refers to origin (People beyond the river Indus) rather than belief. Continue reading
I came across a thread in Orkut discussing Westerners converting to Hinduism. One of the posters said that there was a danger in taking pride in Westerners converting, because it confirmed a “colonial mindset”, and an opinion that a Westerner being interested somehow validated Hindu beliefs. I can see that pride for this reason is a bad thing, but I don’t think it has to be for this reason. Here is an edited reply that I left on the thread:
There is an anecdotal story that someone asked a Hindu about converting to Hinduism. The Hindu replied that Hinduism would take more than a lifetime to learn.
I suspect that this story is just an urban legend, I have certainly never heard any Hindus say such a thing to me. Even so, is this true. If by “learning Hindusim” you mean attaining moksha then the answer is yes. Most Hindus do not expect to reach moksha in this life, so it is hardly a reason not to follow the path of Hinduism.
In any case, only very few people are aware of their previous lives. If someone feels a calling to the path of Hinduism, who can say whether it is a path that they are meant to return to, having followed it in previous lives. Even if someone has not followed Hinduism in previous lives then, to quote a Chinese proverb, “even the longest journey starts with a single step”.
I doubt if anyone ever will tell me that Hinduism will take more than a lifetime to learn, as I said I think it is an “urban legend” rather than something someone said. If anyone does say it to me, I know how I am going to answer!