Hindus in Hijabs or Showing Solidarity in Saris?

I recently watched a video of Hindu- and South Asian American activists showing their support for our Muslim American sisters by wearing hijabs and leading a protest against Islamophobia with strident voices. I was peeved and perhaps even perturbed: it’s an issue that has long sat on my mind, but the images pushed me to find my own voice, to think about attire, and specifically the parallels - or the lack there of - between a sari and a hijab. Donning a sari and the associated red bindi on one's … [Read More...]

Embracing a Hindu Life: Finding My Way Home (Part 2)

In my last blog post, I shared the beginning of Fred Stella’s journey to becoming a Hindu. Here we continue to travel with him, as he moves across the state of Michigan, goes deeper into Self-Realization, and into the heart of the Hindu community as Pracharak or spokesperson for the Western Michigan Hindu Temple. (Note: This essay appeared earlier in MyInd.net.) This is second part of Fred's story to embracing Hinduism, finding his way home. In my previous contribution we left off with my 15 … [Read More...]

Embracing a Hindu Life: One Journey to Becoming Hindu (Part 1)

I learned in conversation with Hindu American Foundation colleague, Fred Stella, how he came to embrace a Hindu way of life. His journey started in his teenage years, and has led him to be Pracharak (“outreach spokesperson”) for the Western Michigan Hindu temple – and an articulate Hindu whose interfaith advocacy I have valued for years. His story is so compelling that I thought it appropriate to share here. (Note: This appeared earlier MyInd)One thing I really don’t like being is cliché. I t … [Read More...]

Purushartha: Pursuing the Four Goals of a Human Life

My focus on doing the right thing(s) means that these days, my Facebook notifications and my newsfeed are filled to the brim with all of the things I should read, attend, sign on to, donate to and just do.  Sometimes its hard to know what to do, since the competing priorities of family, work and community responsibilities all can make you crazy with how much there is to accomplish. Turning to the Hindu ideals of human life helps simplify what to put on my plate, and how I should do it all, with b … [Read More...]

A Hindu’s Practice: Education, Meditation and Self-Realization

The recent vote by the Senate to confirm Betsy Devos as Secretary of Education bothered me - and not just because I felt she is grossly unqualified for the job. It reminded me that we are in a state of polarization, in partisan or left/right silos, where social media enables us to hear only voices that amplify our feelings. Fear of the “other side” is festered, along with an inability to achieve balance or promote pluralism. To find that equanimity, I realized that I needed not only to unplug fro … [Read More...]

Wisdom from More Than One Guru

Hinduism may not have been started by a single prophet like Christianity or Islam, and yet numerous Hindu gurus, saints and seers have been an inspiration to people around the world, and especially here in America.  My upbringing was imbued with Advaita Vedanta, with its foundations in the teachings of Adi Shankaracharya.  Yet the beauty of Hindu practice is that I need not approach the Divine from only one direction or the teachings of one guru: Hinduism is pluralism, and we are free to embrace … [Read More...]

The Story of God: The Proof is in Pluralism

The Story of God: Proof of GodIn the third and final episode of Season 2 of National Geographic’s The Story of God, Morgan Freeman starts in New York City, with this basic premise: humans desire proof that God exists. While I was challenged throughout the episode to stay connected with the various beliefs and practices that were presented from traditions around the world, my mind and heart kept straying to another city, Chicago, and another seeker’s quest: Swami Vivekananda, who became a dis … [Read More...]

The Story of God: Seeking Heaven on Earth

In Season 2, episode 2 of National Geographic’s The Story of God, Morgan Freeman seeks answers to those often-expressed questions, “What is heaven? and “What is hell?” Looking up at a star-filled night sky, he starts by sharing with viewers what his grandmother taught him: Heaven is where “...good people go when they die,” and how she “warned him about the other place - where you go when you are bad.” Through the episode Freeman investigates various faith and spiritual traditions of heaven and he … [Read More...]

The Story of God: The Chosen One(s), Parallels across Traditions

In the first episode of Season 2 of National Geographic’s The Story of God, Morgan Freeman explores the idea of The Chosen One, seeking out those believed to lead and guide humanity. Morgan Freeman goes in search of the chosen people walking the earth today, ranging from a 9-year old boy in the heartland of America who is believed to be the reincarnation of a Buddhist lama who has been returning in different bodies for almost five hundred years, to Sioux Chief Arvol Looking Horse, a leader of t … [Read More...]

A Holiday Season to Give the Gift of Listening

Modern Woman magazine’s issue ran an article entitled "Peace on Earth," on how interfaith families celebrate the December holiday season.  In it, journalist Oona Goodin-Smith quoted me, drawing from the interview she did on my interfaith activism in metro-Detroit: In the Hindu faith, we have a saying: ‘The truth is one, the wise call it by many names.’ I think it's very applicable, learning more and embracing others’ truth, especially around holiday celebration. The idea of embracing each othe … [Read More...]