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Switch to Forum Live View Hinduism without Indian culture?
6 years ago  ::  Dec 05, 2007 - 8:18PM #1
Kullervo
Posts: 10
I think there's probably a lot of truth to Hinduism (I'm no expert on the religion, but I'm interested, and I"ve done some reading), but it seems like for all practical purposes it's so embedded in Indian/South Asian culture that it could never be a good cultural fit for a Westerner like me.  In the end, I'd be adopting the faith of another people, not finding a faith that is universal enough to fit me.

Or am I wrong?
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 30, 2007 - 2:52PM #2
krishna_devotee
Posts: 22
I've had the same issue about Indian culture and Hinduism for a number of years, since I was denied entry to a temple in India, because I am a white woman. I've debated briefly about this issue a few years back, and I've found that there will never be an easy answer to this question. When I raised this issue before another poster replied, fairly, that us white Hindu converts or "wanna-bes" should stop expecting the red-carpet welcome and being hailed as visiting royalty. I agree, but that wasn't my point.

The most orthodox Hindus will deny your being Hindu. You are not Indian, you are not, therefore, able to understand the depths of Hindu culture, Other Hindus will give you openly curious glances at temples and Hindu religious functions, but will not deny you the right to be present and participate in religious functions. Some Hindus will go out of their way to welcome you and you will feel as if your soul had always been Hindu.

Hinduism is a product of the Indian subcontinent, and so a strong tie to the culture is understandable. But times are changing. We in the West are learning more about Hinduism, and we find it attractive. We come from a different culture, but we want to convert. So it is too late to put the genie back in the bottle: Hinduism cannot be an Indian-only religion. And, throughout history, other non-Indian cultures adopted Hinduism, and no one seems to be able to respond to the Indian culture question then: the Balinese, the Nepalese, and possibly the Laotians and Cambodians going far back in history.

Because there is no single controlling Hindu authority, no one can technically deny you the right to call yourself a Hindu, and if you believe that the truths you find in Hinduism are universal and resonate within you more deeply than anything else, then you are not necessarily accepting the faith of another people's. You are acknowledging a truth that most Hindus, Indian or otherwise, would argue are Universal, not mean only for the people of the Indian subcontinent. But, you may be like me in that you will always have that feeling, more or less, of being an outsider.

Peace,

K-D
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 31, 2007 - 12:46AM #3
kpelley
Posts: 2
I am very confused about this discussion because I belong to two churches who describe themselves as Hindu/Christian.  Both Self Realization Fellowship and Ananda are followers of Paramahansa Yogananda who came to the United States from India to bring true Christianity to westerners.  The worship involves very little cultural "baggage" from India.  That is not to put the cultural part of Hinduism as negative, but Yogananda basically removed most of the cultural from the yoga practices.  For example, during Kriya initiation some women wear saris, but it is not encouraged or discouraged.  I never have.  There are many members of the church from India.  I have not been to India so I do not know how it is practiced there.
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 31, 2007 - 8:38AM #4
TinaRao
Posts: 261
Kullervo

If hindus could change their religion to christianity during the portuguese time and
the mughal time, where in they had to eat beef and pork (which is a taboo in hinduism.  Why is  it so  difficult for whites to adopt hinduism.  Its an easy religion.
No baptism etc. Just think hindu and you become a hindu but when you learn
about hinduism you feel satisfied that you are a hindu.

According to me its, WHERE THERE IS A WILL THERES A WAY
.
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 31, 2007 - 9:18AM #5
krishna_devotee
Posts: 22
[QUOTE=TinaRao;175921]Kullervo

If hindus could change their religion to christianity during the portuguese time and
the mughal time, where in they had to eat beef and pork (which is a taboo in hinduism.  Why is  it so  difficult for whites to adopt hinduism.  Its an easy religion.
No baptism etc. Just think hindu and you become a hindu but when you learn
about hinduism you feel satisfied that you are a hindu.

According to me its, WHERE THERE IS A WILL THERES A WAY
.[/QUOTE]

Greetings, Tina, and thanks for the encouraging words. My Indian born husband always says the same thing you do, if you think you are Hindu, then you are.

I subscribed to Hinduism Today for many years, and it pointed to a way that whites could be Hindus in the truest sense: if you believe, then you are. My sense of being an outsider comes from being barred from certain temples in India while the rest of my huysband's family went in, and from things I've read over the years. Even though I wear saris and a bindhi and a mangal sutra when I go into temples in India, I always have that shrinking feeling that I will be stopped.

But maybe that's not all there is to being a Hindu, going to pray at whatever temple I want, and that feeling I have of being an outsider is my own problem, and not something that's been imposed on me from the outside.

You're so right, Tina, where there's a will, there's a way!

Blessings to you,

K-D
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 01, 2008 - 3:30AM #6
TinaRao
Posts: 261
Dear Krishna devotee,

Today i will just wish you A VERY HAPY NEW YEAR

When i get some time, I will write more about acceptances to hinduism, ok.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 01, 2008 - 3:30AM #7
TinaRao
Posts: 261
Dear Krishna devotee,

Today i will just wish you A VERY HAPY NEW YEAR

When i get some time, I will write more about acceptances to hinduism, ok.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 01, 2008 - 6:04PM #8
kyliekatec
Posts: 2
What is the difference between calling yourself Hindu or hare Krishna?  How has the H Krishna movement changed since the early days and scandals of the 60's?

Thanks.

K
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 02, 2008 - 7:55AM #9
Maya3
Posts: 928
[QUOTE=kyliekatec;179657]What is the difference between calling yourself Hindu or hare Krishna?  How has the H Krishna movement changed since the early days and scandals of the 60's?

Thanks.

K[/QUOTE]

Hare Krishna's are a specific and small sect within Hinduism.

There are some major differences between "mainstream" Hinduism and Hare Krishna, I'm not an expert on the Hare Krishna but from what I understand they are much more conservative, they proselytize and they (in my opinion) seem to be more similar to Christianity than Hinduism and have taken many Christian concepts and refurbished them to a more Indian setting.

Maya
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 03, 2008 - 1:52PM #10
krishna_devotee
Posts: 22
Mohan,

Thanks for your thoughts. It's the temple admittance problem that has made me question whether or not I belong in this faith. I can tell you that when a temple priest in a pilgrimage town politely but firmly said to me, "You're not HIndu. You're not allowed in," I had to sit outside, away from the temple doors, and wonder where I fit in spiritually. Please understand that I didn't expect the red-carpet treatment. I just wanted to have darshan, and offer my prayers.

At other temples, I am shepherded through the queues with myin-laws speaking their language rapid fire to someone who appears to be guarding the doors, explaining about me, and I realize that I probably would have been told to stay out if it weren't for my in-laws. Experiences like that make me think this way: if I am not welcome to pray in the holy sites of my faith, then is this really MY faith?

Then I go looking for things that support my understanding that us westerners cannot, must not, should not be allowed to convert, and I find it - Gandhi himself said as much in his writings. Other learned figures who have written in Hinudism Today have said so. (Interesting, that, seeing as how the founder of the publication was a white Hindu...)

Back to the original question, can Hinduism be separated from Indian culture, yes, I think it can. I think if you look at the teachings of the faith and how they evolved - not eating meat, the cyclical nature of the universe, the ideas behind karma and what goes around comes around - then you can apply Hinduism to your Western life and it makes sense. To me, Hinduism is more than idols and colorful symbols and rituals, most of which I don't comprehend. I do appreciate hearing Sanksrit chants, becasue I believe the sound itself has healing properties. Hinduism gives me a way to understand the world around me and a way to approach the Divine in a way that is meaningful and satisfying, and I'm pretty sure that I don't need to be Indian to feel that way!

Again, Mohan, thanks for your thoughts.
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