Another Rite of Passage: Celebrating a Decade of Interfaith Activism

A week ago the Troy-area Interfaith Group celebrated its 11th annual National Day of Prayer event. I helped start this community organization over a controversy - the contentious history is here, and also taught as a case study in pluralism by Harvard University's Pluralism Project - but it was a very peaceful, harmonious group that gathered to celebrate unity in diversity, with prayers from many people, from many traditions. I was honored that I was invited to share the reflection below on the … [Read more...]

Rites of Passage: A Hindu American Experience

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on Rites of Passage. Read other perspectives here.A few years ago, the temple in the metro-Detroit area that my family goes to most often started conducting a special puja to mark graduation. I was fascinated. A puja is a religious rite, where Hindus worship through devotion to God, offering prayers and food, often to a specific deity, performed daily or on special occasions, on holy days.  Pujas are done to mark rites of pa … [Read more...]

The Good of Hinduism: A Solid Foundation of Pluralism

Editors' Note: This post is part of a Patheos symposium —What Good Is Religion? Read more here.In trying to understand or discuss the “good of Hinduism” - how faith has, in big and small ways, theoretical and very concrete, served humanity and the world for good – one can simply state the obvious. A Hindu can do good by serving others, as indicated in the oft repeated “Manav seva, Madhav seva.”  A loose translation – Service to humanity is service to God  - doesn’t capture the selfless nature … [Read more...]

Freedom to Choose: Conversion to Hinduism

At a recent HAF Awareness Event, a group of people came to learn about the work of the Foundation, and I was asked a seemingly simple question, with an underlying challenge to prove my point: Do you think that conversion to Hinduism is allowed?  Since I usually am vocal about the challenges caused by conversion away from Hinduism, answering the question was an ideal way to explain the difference between conversion to Hinduism and conversion to Christianity (or also to another faith which seeks … [Read more...]

Religious Diversity Journeys: How a Visit to a Temple Can Reveal that Hindus don’t Worship Idols.

During my early days of blogging at Patheos, I loved the title and the one liners that Kathleen Mulhern,  my editor at the time, pulled to the top of my essays. (Perhaps they were one of the reasons I wrote so frequently - a quick way to see what an open minded reader got from my few hundred words on a topic!)  One of the best summaries was this one on how Language Matters: [about] Deities and Darshan: "Idols" is the wrong term to use to describe our temple deities; Hindus are not ido … [Read more...]

Hinduism and Caste: Explaining Caste-Privilege and Ending Caste-Based Discrimination

My fellow Hindu American Foundation member, Raman Khanna, recently posted on the subject of caste at Aerogram, refuting yet another piece that was written that equates Hinduism and caste. During my early years as a leader at the Hindu American Foundation, when I joined the Executive Council, the Foundation published a report entitled Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste, in order to seek an end to caste based discrimination. That caste is not equal to Hinduism cannot be said enough, and as my co-blogger A … [Read more...]


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