There are Westerners following sampradayas in the Saiva, Shakti, Vaishnava, Smarta, and Neo-Hindu sects.
I have come across a number of blogs by other Western followers of Hinduism, and I thought that putting a page listing them by sect would be a useful resource. I chose a page rather than a post because I see this as something that will develop over time rather than a journal entry. The page can be accessed by the “Westerners Following Hinduism” tab below the header image.
A Western Ramanandi blog
I have come across two more blogs belonging to Westerners who have taken the path of Hinduism. The first is “A Western Ramanandi” , written by Kodanda who is following the Ramanandi sect. This is a relatively new blog, but Kodanda, the author, has already written some very insightful posts about how he came to follow Sanatana Dharma.
The Ramanandi sect is widespread in India, though has comparatively few Western followers. I found it interesting that Kodanda initially found the Ramanandi sect, started to follow another path, then came back to it. This is very like my experience with the Himalayan Academy.
"Bamboo Thoughts" Blog
I have come across the blog of another Westerner following Sanatana Dharma. He has a new blog, “Bamboo Thoughts“. He follows “Sri Eknath Easwaran’s Eight Point Program of passage meditation“, which I don’t know much about but sounds like a form of neo-Hinduism. Again, another Westerner following another path, showing again the great diversity of Hinduism.
The colourful site "Adorations to Amma"
Having previously written about Western followers of Hinduism choosing different paths, I was interested to receive a comment from another Westerner who is following the Shakti path of Mātā Amritanandamayī Devī, known as Amma, the hugging saint.
Stacy, or “Amma’s Child” has created an amazing page dedicated to Amma. It is easy to see the depth of her devotion to Kālī Mā (mother Kali), and Amma her Satguru. Part of her comment on this site says:
When I read up on this Goddess, Kali felt very familiar to me, like someone I already knew. Once I chanted her mantra “om kali ma”, I felt my heart go deeper, aching for her more.
This feeling of familiarity, already knowing what you are reading for the first time, is something I experienced also. Often when reading Saivite Scriptures I feel that it is just reminding me of something that I already know in my heart. Continue reading
I have copied this title from a post from The White Hindu blog. I have had a number of comments left here by Aamba, the blog’s owner, another Western convert to Hinduism. As she says in the linked post, it is interesting how we have taken different paths. She first found the Himalayn Academy’s “Dancing With Shiva”, but found the Saivite philosophy too devotional, and is now embarking on a study with the Chinmaya Mission.
I studied the Chinmaya Mission West’s e-vedanta course, but felt that its emphasis on meditation rather than devotion did not suite me, nor did Shiva being yet another layer of illusion, with God ultimately being impersonal brahman. I then started on the Himalayan Academy Master Course, which felt right at every level.
This illustrates how different people have different paths to God, and how Hinduism caters for everyone. How magnificent that we can all approach God in different directions, wherever we are at the moment Hinduism has a path for us.
the hindu temple of shri venkateswara (balaji) in tividal, birmingham.
I have been rather lax about posting recently, and it is several weeks since we visited the Venkateswara mandir in Birmingham, UK. This is a very impressive temple, as can be seen in the picture (courtesy of San Sharma, released on the creative commons license). The main temple is fronted by two smaller temples, one dedicated to Shri Ganesha and one to Shri Murugan (Kartikaya). The The main temple has Venkateswara at the centre, and also had other deities including Lakshmi and Hanuman.
Like all the other Mandirs I have visited, we were all made welcome. I mention this again, because I think it important that westerners know that they will be welcomed, many are worried as I was before my first visit to a Hindu temple. We received a blessing and Jal (holy water). Unlike the gulab jal (sweet rose-flavoured water) that I have received in other temples, this jal was spiced with what I thought was a hint of ginger. A commenter has since told me that it was not ginger,but thulasi (tulsi) leaves, cardamom and saffron.
Though Venkateswara is associated with Vishnu as the destroyer of sins, the layout, ambiance and association made me think of Lord Shiva. Continue reading
Continued from How I became a Hindu – part one.
Having been brought up in a small town that was almost exclusively white and Christian, at University I met a number of people from all over the world and of all religions. In fact I have lived in ethnically diverse cities since then.
A mela in the UK
This in itself had a major impact on my understanding of Christianity as “the only way to salvation”. One of my closest friends at University was a Sikh, and whereas it is one thing to theoretically hear that people you don’t know will be destined for hell, it is quite different if you know this is talking about friends, fellow students, work colleagues, etc. It is obvious to anyone who meets people from many different religions and cultures that if God is loving, then it can’t be true that only those from one particular religion will be saved.
The strength of atheists’ arguments
I also met many articulate atheists. These were in general sincere, people of integrity and they had very logical arguments. Continue reading
Posted in hinduism, other religions, religion
Tagged agnosticism, atheism, caucasian hindu, christianity, hindu, unitarian, universalism, western hindu, white hindu
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 decided that I need to change my blog title from “Westerner interested in Hinduism”. I am more than just interested in Hinduism now, I am a follower of Sanatana Dharma. I have to say a follower at the beginning stages, and perhaps not a very good one. But what should I change it to? Well, it should reflect that I am ethnically Western, and that I am following Hinduism. The obvious title is “Western Hindu”, and that is actually the title that I have decided to use.
Why have I bothered to write this article then? Because there are very good arguments that the title “Western Hindu” is not accurate and some would argue incorrect. This article explores the alternative titles that I have considered, and why I have chosen a title that is not the most accurate. I will start by looking at why the term “Western” is could be misleading, and then look at why some people would claim that my use of the word “Hindu” is wrong.
It is now over a year since I wrote about my first visit to a Hindu temple. Since then I have been attending regularly with my family. I now feel accepted by the Indian Hindus, and one incident more than anything else brought this home to me.
A new mandir has been constructed in our city, and will soon hold rituals to consecrate the deities and the building. This is a very important event, which we are looking forward to very much. One of the people I meet there regularly asked me if I had been given a personal invitation. I told him no, but I had seen the public invitation on the noticeboard. He called over our pundit (priest), and asked whether I could be given an invitation. Pundit ji said “of course not”, then quickly smiled and gave me an envelope with the personal invitation for me and my family
Now he is comfortable enough to joke about me being accepted, I have absolutely no doubt that my family and I have been! I am very privileged to be at the opening of the magnificent new building. This purpose-build mandir will show the presence of Hinduism to everyone in the city. I have great affection for the old building, which is I believe had previously been a club, but at times it was limiting, with some people having to listen through the doors of the prayer hall during well-attended events.
I wrote before that I was worried about visiting a Hindu temple, because I did not know what the “real Hindus” would think . Well, thanks to Deepak on the Orkut site, I finally got the courage to visit. Deepak reminded me of the story of the father, the son and the donkey. This story reminded me that if we always worry about what others think we will end up doing nothing.
Anyway, I need not have worried. I arrived at the temple at a quiet time and the only person there was a priest who was looking through some papers. I performed a namaste to the deities and then sat down and meditated for a while. The priest finished his papers and asked whether he could help me. I asked him about some of the deities that I did not recognise and he told me about them. He then offered me prashad and some holy water, which I took. A younger man came in and told me that they were preparing for a function so the priest could not talk to me for long. The priest said that he was going to perform a short puja before the function and asked whether I would like to stay. During this time several other people came an went, and all greeted me in a friendly manner.
What struck me was how I really felt at home in this place, there was an atmosphere of holiness, peace and friendliness. As I left the priest asked me if I would come again, and I told him that I would. He said that he would tell me more about Hinduism but would also learn from me. He was a very approachable, peaceful and humble man, I know from the website that he has a Phd. and he still said that he wanted to learn from me. And to think that I was worried about being thought of as an ignorant non-Hindu!