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9 years ago  ::  Jan 23, 2009 - 12:19PM #1
Posts: 21

Four years ago, I was flying from JFK NY Airport to SFO  Monterey, CA. An American girl was sitting on the right side, near window seat. It indeed was a long journey - it would take nearly seven hours.

I was surprised to see the young girl reading a Bible unusual of young Americans. After some time she smiled and we had few acquaintances talk. I told her that I am from India

Then suddenly the girl asked: 'What's your faith?' 'What?' I didn't understand the question.

'I mean, what's your religion? Are you a Christian? Or a Muslim?'

'No!' I replied, 'I am neither Christian nor Muslim'.

Apparently she appeared shocked to listen to that. 'Then who are you?' 'I am a Hindu', I said.

She looked at me as if she was seeing a caged animal. She could not understand what I was talking about.

A common man in Europe or US knows about Christianity and Islam, as they are the leading religions of the world today. But a Hindu, what?

I explained to her - I am born to a Hindu father and Hindu mother. Therefore, I am a Hindu by birth.

'Who is your prophet?' she asked.

'We don't have a prophet,' I replied.

'What's your Holy Book?'

'We don't have a single Holy Book, but we have hundreds and thousands of philosophical and sacred scriptures,' I replied.

'Oh, come on at least tell me who is your God?'

'What do you mean by that?'

'Like we have Jesus and Muslims have Allah - don't you have a God?'

I thought for a moment. Muslims and Christians believe one God (Male God) who created the world and takes an interest in the humans who inhabit it. Her mind is conditioned with that kind of belief.

According to her (or anybody who doesn't know about Hinduism), a religion needs to have one Prophet, one Holy book and one God. The mind is so conditioned and rigidly narrowed down to such a notion that anything else is not acceptable. I understood her perception and concept about faith. You can't compare Hinduism with any of the present leading religions where you have to believe in one concept of god.

I tried to explain to her: 'You can believe in one god and he can be a Hindu. You may believe in multiple deities and still you can be a Hindu. What's more - you may not believe in god at all, still you can be a Hindu. An atheist can also be a Hindu.'

This sounded very crazy to her. She couldn't imagine a religion so unorganized, still surviving for thousands of years, even after onslaught from foreign forces.

'I don't understand but it seems very interesting. Are you religious?'
What can I tell to this American girl?

I said: 'I do not go to temple regularly. I do not make any regular rituals. I have learned some of the rituals in my younger days. I still enjoy doing it sometimes.'

'Enjoy? Are you not afraid of God?'

'God is a friend. No- I am not afraid of God. Nobody has made any compulsions on me to perform these rituals regularly.'

She thought for a while and then asked: 'Have you ever thought of converting to any other religion?'

'Why should I? Even if I challenge some of the rituals and faith in Hinduism, nobody can convert me from Hinduism. Because, being a Hindu allows me to think independently and objectively, without conditioning. I remain as a Hindu never by force, but choice.' I told her that Hinduism is not a religion, but a set of beliefs and practices. It is not a religion like Christianity or Islam because it is not founded by any one person or does not have an organized controlling body like the Church or the Order, I added. There is no institution or authority.

'So, you don't believe in God?' she wanted everything in black and white.

'I didn't say that. I do not discard the divine reality. Our scripture, or Sruthis or Smrithis - Vedas and Upanishads or the Gita - say God might be there or he might not be there. But we pray to that supreme abstract authority (Para Brahma) that is the creator of this universe.'

'Why can't you believe in one personal God?'

'We have a concept - abstract - not a personal god. The concept or notion of a personal God, hiding behind the clouds of secrecy, telling us irrational stories through few men whom he sends as messengers, demanding us to worship him or punish us, does not make sense. I don't think that God is as silly as an autocratic emperor who wants others to respect him or fear him.' I told her that such notions are just fancies of less educated human imagination and fallacies, adding that generally ethnic religious practitioners in Hinduism believe in personal gods. The entry level Hinduism has over-whelming superstitions too. The philosophical side of Hinduism negates all superstitions.

'Good that you agree God might exist. You told that you pray. What is your prayer then?'

'Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavantu. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti,'

'Funny,' she laughed, 'What does it mean?'

'May all the beings in all the worlds be happy. Om Peace, Peace, Peace.'

'Hmm ..very interesting. I want to learn more about this religion. It is so democratic, broad-minded and free' she exclaimed.

'The fact is Hinduism is a religion of the individual, for the individual and by the individual with its roots in the Vedas and the Bhagavad-Gita. It is all about an individual approaching a personal God in an individual way according to his temperament and inner evolution - it is as simple as that.'

'How does anybody convert to Hinduism?'

'Nobody can convert you to Hinduism, because it is not a religion, but a set of beliefs and practices. Everything is acceptable in Hinduism because there is no single authority or organization either to accept it or to reject it or to oppose it on behalf of Hinduism.'

I told her - if you look for meaning in life, don't look for it in religions; don't go from one cult to another or from one guru to the next.

For a real seeker, I told her, the Bible itself gives guidelines when it says ' Kingdom of God is within you.' I reminded her of Christ's teaching about the love that we have for each other. That is where you can find the meaning of life.

Loving each and every creation of the God is absolute and real. 'Isavasyam idam sarvam'… Isam (the God) is present (inhabits) here everywhere - nothing exists separate from the God, because God is present everywhere. Respect every living being and non-living things as God. That's what Hinduism teaches you.

Hinduism is referred to as Sanathana Dharma, the eternal faith. It is based on the practice of Dharma, the code of life. The most important aspect of Hinduism is being truthful to oneself. Hinduism has no monopoly on ideas.- It is open to all. Hindus believe in one God (not a personal one) expressed in different forms. For them, God is timeless and formless entity.

Ancestors of today's Hindus believe in eternal truths and cosmic laws and these truths are opened to anyone who seeks them. But there is a section of Hindus who are either superstitious or turned fanatic to make this an organized religion like others. The British coin the word 'Hindu' and considered it as a religion.

I said: 'Religions have become an MLM (multi-level- marketing) industry that has been trying to expand the market share by conversion. The biggest business in today's world is Spirituality. Hinduism is no exception'

I am a Hindu primarily because it professes Non-violence- 'Ahimsa Paramo Dharma' - Non violence is the highest duty. I am a Hindu because it doesn't conditions my mind with any faith system.
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9 years ago  ::  Jan 24, 2009 - 10:28AM #2
Posts: 261
Why am I a hindu, if anyone asks me, my answer would be
that I am most comfortable in what are my beliefs. 
According to my guruji, religion is just a path, dharma
is the end of it.  And they all sum up the same.   I love my
God, and even if he had to say LET GO OFF THEIR HOLD,
i would  not.  For me my god is the one with whom i felt
safe and happy. 

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9 years ago  ::  Jan 25, 2009 - 7:08PM #3
Posts: 373
Good post DharmaRakshak. Your point about God being an emperor was spot on and that is why they teach this fear. I think easter and western religions can be broadly classified as Parent/Teacher and King religions.

When terrorists shoot or bomb innocents, they shout that they are doing this in the name of their God. One must understand that these are King Religions, God made in the image of a King. If a king orders his soldiers to kill women and children, then so be it. In the olden days, most kings were mostly men, so God must be a man. When men were brought before the King, they fell to their knees and shook with fear, hence "Fear of God". Easier to rule subjects when they debase themselves as sinners. The King was judge and jury, "salvation" was within his hands. A King does not share his throne; there can be only one King. Every Country’s history is littered with stories of Kings who murdered their own Kith and Kin; even children were not to be spared. In such a brutal world, loyalty was the highest virtue. Loyalists were rewarded and disloyal ones, even good people, abused, threatened and put to death. Hence a segregated heaven, where entrance is limited to followers, with non-followers cast into hell. Doomsdayers, terrorists and cults mostly arise from these King religions who claim to be following the King's orders. When one is just a subject or soldier in the king's army, personal responsibility is abdicated.

The Hindu/Buddhist God is a Parent/Teacher God. A Hindu/Buddhist should never, never, fear God. To Hindus/Buddhists the ultimate goal is not a flesh-happy heaven but Moksha or Enlightenment. God is our teacher in this journey towards enlightenment. A teacher wants his students to ask questions, explore fresh & different ideas, be open-minded and respect differing ideas. A teacher does not simply give the answer to a student but will point the student to the right path. Hence there is no “King” to simply wash away all our “sins”, but a journey thru several life times in search of truth and enlightenment.  Karma and rebirth do away with a King “God” who runs a hell and would inflict physical pain on people, instead asking us to take personal responsibility for our actions, and take steps to better ourselves. Let’s teach that there is no such thing as Hell, a place where “God” tortures humans. Karma and rebirth is the better way.

I ask that Hindus/Buddhists should stop kneeling in front of God. A subject/slave kneels before his master or King. We are devotees/children/students of God not his slaves/servants/subjects. I believe that God wants devotees; she does not want a slave quaking in fear.
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9 years ago  ::  Feb 01, 2009 - 2:51PM #4
Posts: 1
Oh...How Glorious It Is To Be Hindu.  I walk this path for many reasons...For Me...It Ignites the Light of God Within...I become balanced and Whole...Completley Responsible For All My Thoughts and Actions under the Universal Law of Karma.   I Surrender Completley Not Only to Myself but to This Life...This Wonderful Journey that sometimes can Challenge you in ways you couldnt even begin to comprehend...until you walk through it and rise above!

I beleive Hinduism is an all-encompassing faith...nurturing and free...always allowing room for independent paths and truth seeking without control and fear of suffering or punishment.  My Heart and my Home is Hindu...It has Always been this way...Yet for years I was lost...

My Parents were never into any type of Faith and barely Spoke of God to Us...I studyed religion and the Great Saint Jesus on My own beginning the age of 4...I went to Christian church when I could until my teens which I then studyed and converted myself to Roman Catholic.  Due to m,y traumatic and abusive childhood...I desperatley had to find "God" and Myself.  I had my first child very early and unmarried at the age of 17...I wanted to baptize her in the was this preperation that pushed me on my spiritual journey.

These priests and nuns...who so many look to as people of God...were so harsh and could this be?  I knew God nor Jesus was this way...and when the Nun stated that I would have to live my life in total sin and repent for the remainder of my years and I may still Not enter the Kingdom of Heaven...All Because I had a child out of wedlock...Showed me that Religion is Not always right and was quite Fear Based. life is Glorious and always the best that God has to offer...

I then went through severe trials that tested the core of my existence...there was even a time when I didnt believe there was a God...Then I began studying Wiccan and Other Faiths...which slowly restored my faith in God. Then one day everything changed.  My partner who in no way was spiritual...cut an article out of the paper and gave it to me...he insisted that I attend this event...after much hesitation...I went alone...and here is where my Path to Enlightenment Opened before me...With the Embrace of A Mother...The Divine AMMA!!!

I have never felt more loved and accepted unconditionally as I do when Im in her Embrace...Which is every moment now...although she states that her religion is "LOVE"...Hinduism is deeply reflected in her teachings...I became a sponge for spiritual information...I began the rituals that I love so much...Four years into my devotion Amma blessed me with my name...Nishkama...when the beautiful young indian girl told me what my name meant...I literally dropped to my knees and cried for while...Nishkama means Selfless...To be named that by Know she saw something in me that I struggled to see for myself meant so much to me and changed my life...I strive to be pure of heart...Like Amma...Seeing God in Everyone and Everything.  See...In Hinduism Creater and Creation are no different...It Is ALL God...Everything is God...and Must be Treated as Such.

With Hinduism I was able to regain Unwavering Faith in God and The Universe...Life became fulfilling and for once in My life i was Hungry for True Happiness...My Lotus Flower Had Finally Bloomed...I Was Home!

Hinduism is so much more then a faith...It is a Way of Life! It is a Glorious journey that will guide you...nurture you...sustain your very existence if you let it.  Being a Hindu for me is Truly an Honor and I am Grateful for every experience that unfolds before me.

May You Be As Well!

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu...Om Shanti...Shanti...Shanti!!!

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9 years ago  ::  Feb 01, 2009 - 3:04PM #5
Posts: 928
Welcome home!
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9 years ago  ::  Feb 02, 2009 - 12:20PM #6
Posts: 31
How wonderful for you-- that you are feeling the love through your faith.. it is the essence of all true is the gauge that reveals how close one is to God..the closer we are to God the greater is our expression of love...
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9 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2009 - 6:24PM #7
Posts: 21
Thank you all for you opinions:D
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9 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2009 - 6:29PM #8
Posts: 57
Good Post DharamRakshak

But I personally don't believe in Ahimsa. I wont wait for my enemies to come cut me down. If the enemies of Hinduism don't believe in Ahimsa WHY SHOULD I? Yet I don't think EVERYTHING IS ACCEPTABLE IN HINDUISM. There are certain rules and regulation a Hindu must follow. And any Hindu who doesn't even follow one of these rules or regulation is an INFIDEL in my opinion. Anyways nice post :).
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9 years ago  ::  Feb 14, 2009 - 4:24PM #9
Posts: 786

you're right. Ahimsa doesn't refer to no self-defense and no dharma defense. This is obvious from Mahabharata, Ramayana, etc.

Neither everything is acceptable in Vedic sastras. They are very strong against adharma. Therefore an atheist can't be recognized as a their follower.
Bg. 16.8-9:

asatyam apratistham te
jagad ahur anisvaram
kim anyat kama-haitukam

They say that this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control. They say it is produced of sex desire and has no cause other than lust.

etam drstim avastabhya
nastatmano 'lpa-buddhayah
prabhavanty ugra-karmanah
ksayaya jagato 'hitah

Following such conclusions, the demoniac, who are lost to themselves and who have no intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world.

So this refutes the idea of: 'Our scripture, or Sruthis or Smrithis - Vedas and Upanishads or the Gita - say God might be there or he might not be there. But we pray to that supreme abstract authority (Para Brahma) that is the creator of this universe.'

Para Brahma is abstract only in some schools, not in major traditions which are all theistic. And what purpose would be in praying to some abstraction?

Hope this helps. Hare Krishna

"This Krishna Consciousness is a science to understand what is the difference between a dead body and a living body". (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)

Your servant, bh. Jan
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