Meet a Guru: Bharati Tirtha

Sri Bharati Tirtha is my parents’ guru. He is a Shankaracharya, which means a teacher of the way of Shankara. There are four seats in India for Shankaracharyas, one for each cardinal direction. The seats are not always filled. Sri Bharati Tirtha currently holds the seat in the south of India.

A couple of years ago my family and I went to India to visit his ashram in Sringeri.

He is quite a young man for a guru, but has gained great respect the world over. I heard a funny story that one of the people who does the accounting for several different ashrams and gurus recommends Sri Bharati Tirtha. Apparently, his taxes don’t reveal a hypocritical lifestyle as some do!

I found being in his presence to be very intense. I felt uncomfortably as though he could see straight through my skin and into my heart.

Though pictures of him often show a serious looking man, in person he is bright and cheerful with a ready smile.

A biography of the guru is at

He teaches Advaita/Smartha tradition, which is the branch of Hinduism my family and I follow.  Adi Shankara was a great philosopher who revolutionized Hinduism two thousand years ago. His commentaries on the scriptures are the basis for Advaita today.

What is Advaita Vedanta? 

The doctrine of advaita vedanta as expounded by Sankara can be summed up in half a verse: “Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithya Jivo Brahmaiva Na Aparah — Brahman (the Absolute) is alone real; this world is unreal; and the Jiva or the individual soul is non-different from Brahman. This is the quintessence of his philosophy.

According to Sri Sankara, whatever is, is Brahman. Brahman Itself is absolutely homogeneous. All difference and plurality are illusory.

* I am not endorsing any of the teachers highlighted in this feature

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About Ambaa Choate

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Stephanie Ellison

    Whoa!!! Hold up, hold up, hold up! I was afraid of this… You said above, ”

    What is Advaita Vedanta?

    The doctrine of advaita vedanta as expounded by Sankara can be summed up in half a verse: “Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithya Jivo Brahmaiva Na Aparah“ —
    Brahman (the Absolute) is alone real; this world is unreal; and the
    Jiva or the individual soul is non-different from Brahman. This is the
    quintessence of his philosophy.

    According to Sri Sankara, whatever is, is Brahman. Brahman Itself is
    absolutely homogeneous. All difference and plurality are illusory.”


    Here again, as in other parts of the spiritual spaces, we see whites coming in to ruin things for the rest of us who would like to see the real thing. I see this in regards to Cherokee Nation issues because of the infiltration of WHITES into Indian affairs – namely that the vast majority of Cherokee Enrollees with the Cherokee Nation are overwhelmingly Baptist and not of Traditional, Pre-Contact Cherokee beliefs. Again, white infiltration into other people’s affairs. What you have to be careful of is how much of what you know about Hinduism is influenced by colonialization of India by the British Empire to subvert anything that might resist Christian Ideals of the Empire. Please understand clearly that Asian Indians are merely slightly younger victims of Christianity’s spread than the Native Americans. What people overlook is that while six million Jews were killed by Germanic white people, HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS were killed in the New World by Whites of Europe, resulting in the theft of land and resources from the Native Americans. This is what the founding of America is based on.

    Please advise on the following, because I need to know CLEARLY what true, traditionalist Hinduism is like and based on… If you discover that what you know is a product of British Empire efforts to destroy anything that is not Christian (remember that Christianity is not a pluralist religion, as defined by Hindu American Foundation), you need to acknowledge this, to yourself as well as your readers, and then explain why you are or are not like the born-Hindus in terms of what you believe and whether Hindus of the pre-colonial period would have agreed with you. I am white, just like you, Ambaa, and yet I am willing to say that we are a destructive race, and we must be ever watchful of our tendency to push our way around in intrusive ways. I MUST know what is truly traditionalist Hinduism, for if I cannot find that out, I will not participate in neo-Hinduism because I do not want whites co-opting my own efforts to end anything that is not white. I will end it right here, RIGHT NOW, and start again, back-tracking and determining where whites found their way in, and strip off their tracks out of any recent information I’ve added to my body of knowledge.

    I have a HUGE investment in ridding myself of as much white, Christian influences, hooks, machinations that try to creep into my human interface as possible, as I am mixed-blood Cherokee and very resentful at being partly-this, and partly-that, not being wholly one or the other, with a confused identity, and worse of all, being robbed of a language, a belief system, and a way of life of my Cherokee ancestors. I can’t even find my ancestors on the Dawes Rolls because they didn’t trust the government not to use the information against them! I’m very upset about that. Imagine how much more anger Native Americans living as westernized Americans and Hispanics are because they have had EVERYTHING stolen from them. No wonder they have so much anger when they protest at immigration rallies! I do not see them protesting in native tongues, wearing the clothes of their ancestors, and consecrating the rallies in the tradition of their ancestors. Instead, they “ask for immigration rights” as español-speaking Catholic Hispanics, those three identifying characteristics of their CONQUERORS. They’ve lost their voices, and they have every right to be upset about it. Instead of asking for their rights, they ought to be demanding just who the US government is to say that the Native Americans must “ask for immigration rights” from the position of one who doesn’t make the rules and own the land they must hazardously cross to a better life. In fact, the tables should be turned on the US Government and the people involved in its power to keep the status quo.

    That is off my chest, because this has INTERFERRED with my attempt to see if there is anything in Traditional Cherokee beliefs that I could use in my Ancient ways. By the late 1800s, much of the Old Ways were forgotten, save for documentation that was written down by missionaries. I have to wonder how much of it is true and how much was altered by missionaries with an intent to destroy the culture. I guess we will never know. In the event my worse fears are confirmed by you and others, I will have no choice but to start over from last Thursday, before I found your blog, and stick with my own observations that I earned with my own effort. We have approached the point where I have no choice but to retreat to a space where whites have not infiltrated, and that is that space where I was during the Deaf Years, and continue from there.

    The following is an excerpt from an entry on Hinduism written for the peer-reviewed
    Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy by Shyam Ranganathan

    4. Stage Three: Neo-Hinduism

    The term “Neo-Hinduism” refers to a conception of the Hindu religion
    formed by recent authors who were learned in traditional Indian
    philosophy, and English. Famous Neo-Hindus include Swami Vivekānanda
    (1863-1902) the famous disciple of the traditional Hindu saint
    Rāma-Kṛṣṇa, and India’s first president, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
    (1888-1975) a professional philosopher who held academic posts at
    various universities in India and Oxford, in the UK.

    A famous formulation of the doctrine of Neo-Hinduism is the simile that
    likens religions to rivers, and the oceans to God: as all rivers lead to
    the ocean so do all religions lead to God. Similarly, Swami
    Nirvenananda in his book Hinduism at a Glance writes:

    All true religions of the world lead us alike to the same goal, namely,
    to perfection if, of course, they are followed faithfully. Each of them
    is a correct path to Divinity. The Hindus have been taught to regard
    religion in this light. (Nivernananda, p.20.)

    Frequently, Neo-Hindu authors identify Hinduism with Vedānta in their
    elaboration of Neo-Hindu doctrine, and in this formulation we find
    another tenet of Neo-Hinduism: Hinduism is not simply another religion,
    but a meta-religion, or the philosophy of religion. Hence, we find
    Vivekānanda writes:

    Ours is the universal religion. It is inclusive enough, it is broad
    enough to include all the ideals. All the ideals of religion that
    already exist in the world can be immediately included, and we can
    patiently wait for all the ideals that are to come in the future to be
    taken in the same fashion, embraced in the infinite arms of the religion
    of Vedānta. (Vivekānanda, vol. III p.251-2.)

    Similarly, Radhakrishnan holds “[t]he Vedānta is not a religion, but
    religion itself in its most universal and deepest significance”
    (Radhakrishnan, 35).

    The view identified as Neo-Hinduism here might be understood as a form
    of Universalism or liberal theology that attempts to ground religion
    itself in Hindu philosophy. Neo-Hinduism must be distinguished from
    another theological view that has a long history in India, which we
    might call Inclusivist Theology. According to Inclusivist Theology,
    there are elements in any number of religious practices that are
    consonant with the one true religion, and if a practitioner of a
    contrary religion holds fast to those elements in their religion that
    are correct, they will eventually attain the Ultimate. Often, this view
    finds expression in the widespread Hindu view that all the various
    deities are really lower manifestations of one true deity (for example, a
    Vaiṣṇava who held an Inclusivist theology might interpret all deities,
    in so far as they are consonant with the qualities attributed to Viṣṇu,
    to be lower manifestations of Viṣṇu, and thus good first steps to
    conceptualizing the Ultimate). Neo-Hinduism, in contrast, makes no
    distinction between deities, religions, or elements within religions,
    for all religions operate at the level of the practical, while the
    Ultimate, ex hypothesi, is transcendent. There is no religion, or no
    portion of any religion, which is incorrect, on this view, for all are
    equally human efforts to strive for the Divine. Neo-Hindus do not
    typically regard themselves as forming a new philosophy or religion,
    though the doctrine expressed by Neo-Hinduism is characterized by theses
    and concerns not clearly expressed in classical Hindu philosophy. As a
    rule, Neo-Hinduism is a reformulation of Advaita Vedānta, which
    emphasizes the implicit liberal theological tendencies that follow from
    the two-fold account of Brahman.

    Recall that on Śaṅkara’s account a distinction is to be drawn between a
    lower and higher Brahman. Higher Brahman (nirguṇa Brahman) is impersonal
    and lacks much of what is normally attributed to God. In contrast,
    lower Brahman (saguṇa Brahman) has personal characteristics attributed
    to deities. While the higher Brahman is the eternally existing reality,
    lower Brahman is a result of the same creative error that results in the
    construction of normal integrated egos in bodies: superimposition.
    Neo-Hinduism takes note of the fact that this account of lower Brahman’s
    nature implies that the deities normally worshiped in a religious
    context are really natural artefacts, or projections of aesthetic
    concerns on the Ultimate: they are images of the Ultimate formulated for
    the sake of religious progress. Neo-Hinduism thus reasons that no one’s
    personal God is any more the real God than another religion’s personal
    God: rather, all are equally approximations of the one real, impersonal
    Brahman that transcends the domestic qualities attributed to it. While
    personal deities are considerably devalued on this account, the result
    is a liberal theology that is closed to no religious tradition, in
    principle, for any religion that personalizes God will be approaching
    the highest Brahman through the lens of superimposed characteristics of
    object-qualities on Brahman.

    Critics of Neo-Hinduism have noted that while Neo-Hinduism aspires to
    shun the sectarianism that characterises the history of religion in the
    West through a spirit of Universalism, Neo-Hinduism itself engages in a
    sectarianism, in so far as it identifies Hinduism with the true
    perspective that understands the quality-less nature of the Ultimate
    (cf. Halbfass, Tradition and Reflection pp. 51-86). In defense of
    Neo-Hinduism, it could be argued that it is a genuine, modern attempt to
    re-understand the philosophical implications of earlier Hindu thought,
    and not an attempt to reconcile the various religions of the world.

    Critics might also argue that Neo-Hinduism is bad history: many
    philosophers that we today regard as Hindu (such as Rāmānuja or Madhva)
    would not accept the idea that all deities are equal, and that God is
    ultimately an impersonal entity. Moreover, Śaṅkara, the commentator on
    the Brahma Sūtras did not argue for the type of Universalism
    characteristic of Neo-Hinduism, which regards all religious observance
    as equally valid (though this arguably is an implication of his
    philosophy). Neo-Hinduism, the critic might argue, is historical
    revisionism. In response, Neo-Hinduism might defend itself by insisting
    that it is not in the business of providing an account of the history of
    all of Hindu philosophy, but only a certain strand that it regards as
    the most important.


    The source of this text came from this very long thread on the discussion of neo~ versus traditionalist Hinduism

    Again, please advise…

    • HARRY

      @ Steph

      Yes, you are some what right above on what you said.

      The Hinduism that is practised even in India today is influenced by British or should I say more in line with Christians ideals. We know this ( those who were born In India like my self ). The Hinduism that is practised today is more based on western ways. What you said above is nothing new and most Hindus knows this.

      Hinduism is like water ( fluid ). which ever the contraption ( vessel ) you put it in it’s still water. Both traditional Hindus as well as neo-Hindus both will accept this. Therefore this is not new to us. But you are right on one thing, where we are now told how to practice our faith by some one who doesn’t practice our faith and tell us what’s wrong with it. And they getaway by being educated by modern universities who calls them expert. And the worst part is other educated people will back them, because they are educated in the so called same field and institution.

      • Stephanie Ellison

        Then Harry, what do you do? You’ve no choice but to acknowledge you are a Hindu with Christian influences. You see, Christianity, because of its exclusionary traits, found a way in by injecting itself into the body of Hinduism, and although Hinduism at the time appeared to remain unchanged or “reinterpreted” by students of the Traditional Hinduism during the time of colonialization, the injection caused contamination of the water in the vessel, and it was no longer pure in that sense. Eventually, Christianity injects itself more and more until it is Hinduism in name only. This is exactly what had happened to Traditional Cherokee beliefs. The best way that the traditionalists could continue was by looking at those missionary documentation of their ancestors, look at Christianity very closely, and perhaps say, “Well, it says here that Christians do this, but we don’t have documentation of our ancestor’s answer to this particular principle, therefore, we are going to do what Christians don’t do or don’t believe in. Anything to not be Christian.” Christianity has one objective ONLY, and that is TOTAL DOMINATION OF THIS PLANET! Don’t forget it! Look at what they’ve done in Africa. Now, you can be sentenced to death or even killed in the streets for being LGBT, especially in Nigeria and Uganda. I know of someone recently who admitted that in his younger life, he was a big rap music fan, and something snapped inside, so he started going to Christian church. He started to listen to Christian music. He was volunteering on the farm occasionally. Last I heard, he is in South America doing missionary work for the church. Missionary work, especially if Christianity is being spread like a virus, is plain and simple predatory proselytization, period.

        Yes, I will admit fully that there is open enmity between myself and Christians, which comes out openly at times between myself and my stepmother, and myself and those who force themselves upon me. I have a LOT of anger about this because I want to be LEFT ALONE, LEFT TO EXIST as I want to be.

        Reading your comment above, I feel like the surviving astronaut in the 1968 movie, “Planet of the Apes,” when he realizes that he is back on Earth when he sees the Statue of Liberty’s head on its side on the beach.

        Sigh… Every time I see this happen, the realization of Christian creep into areas I had thought were left alone, I feel a ball of protection go up all around me, and it gets real solid; nothing comes in, and nothing goes out unless I say so. The decades of experience I have with this is what caused me to form the idea of three parts of my world: the core Self, which only I see; my body, clothes, manners, memories, experiences, behaviors, which everyone in the world sees; and the world around me. What I learned is not just, “I am not the world, but even my body, my memories, and such are not even me,” but also “Regardless of what faith you are and your efforts to convert me, the message is plain and simple – YOU CANNOT HAVE ME. You cannot own me.” At times like this, it is freeing, very freeing to see that I am a people of ONE. No one out there is just like me. I am free to think what I think, I am free to experience the world in a language-less state, I do not have the fear that because I made a moral mistake, that god will strike me down. I do acknowledge that the lesson will manifest in a way that I will learn why it is a mistake and what it feels like to be on the receiving end of it.

        As I say to people who try to mess with me via conversion, “May the full horror of your actions be revealed to you:”

        • Stephanie Ellison

          Ambaa? The silence is disquieting, adding to the questions I have about “authentic” Sanatana Dharma. I’m trying to distinguish between the two, authentic or westernized SD.

          I sincerely hope that the silence means, “Whoops. Stephanie just alerted me to something. I need to read up on this before I can respond to her.” I’m up at 2-3 AM this morning, as I am tossing and turning from the anger and disappointment arising from this very unfortunate discovery of history (not at you, of course not).

          Did you go into Hinduism knowing this, or did you learn about this and take the necessary steps to re-examine traditional Advaida Vedanta? You said that when you were in college, you found that you were definitely not Christian. If you were studying neo-Hinduism, then your statement to that effect has been diminished by the degree of lack of awareness OR the acknowledgement of having fallen short of reaching the eastern side.

          I do not know where you stood on this in the beginning of your journey. I would like assistance with this. I had the idea that when you consciously learned that you were definitely not a Christian, you were going into a direction that took you away from Christianizing influences and towards eastern influences instead. I thought that was the whole idea. What I also do not know is whether you knew about this and realized that you had a choice of going to one of two places: one, going all the way to the eastern side; or two, arriving at a place where, because of your parents’ western upbringing, you reached a limit as to how far east you could go before it got to be too much, finding a comfortable zone within neo-Hinduism.

          I realize that some people are unable to make it all the way east because of the Christian and/or westernized thought patterns, as they need a place where they feel comfortable as they move out of the comfort zone of the imperialist box. It just isn’t for me, I think. I’ve yet to examine traditional SD to see if it is something for me. Already, I have some issues in regards to the caste system and the worship of idols (like the multiple deities), which Christianity historically downplays while not looking at itself closely. However, my issue on this is really that worshipping of deities, period, is not for me, never has been. It’s just not what my world looks like. Christianity and I got off on the wrong foot for two reasons: one, they got to me way too late; and two, even worse was the fact that the very first day that I understood CLEARLY who Jesus was and why he died on the cross, that message was delivered to me by my nanny taking care of me, who was none other than POLISH-CATHOLIC! She tried to pull predatory proselytization on me, a very unconscionable thing to do to a child without MY parent’s permission, and I could read her intents VERY CLEARLY. My guard went up immediately, even though I was only eight or so and started learning English maybe a year before that. So, you can see how well that went.

          I recall one of the testimonies in the book, “How to be a [better] Hindu” – she recalled, “I went back to the Catholic Church that I had attended until nineteen years old. As I attended mass each Sunday for a couple of months, I recognized the comfortable and soft feelings of this huge church. I realized that I had been guided and nurtured by kind, inner plane beings, angels, all through my childhood.” I see none of this. I only see the physical world around me and this vague sense of knowing, which I cannot describe. I just know that when I project images, desires, and feelings about what it is I’m looking for or want to accomplish to the world outside of me, the Universe responds, depending on whether it is possible. Granted, without a job, connections, not even a Lottery ticket paid for, never mind any relatives who are loaded and almost dead, someone is not going to hand me $10m or an island in the Caribbeans, BUT I can try to accomplish things that are reasonably within reach, and it depends on all the factors in my world. I had money tied up in a vehicle that was misrepresented to me, I had contact with a TV station that would have been willing to expose the man had he not paid me back, I had already resigned from my job and packed/moved out of Houston and was living from place to place, now have a volunteer stipend from the farm and disability and a seasonal job at the Medieval faire. All of these things made it possible for me to get my home, paid for and owned outright without a payment. Sure, I did much of the work, but the Universe played a big part in ensuring that the pieces (people able to play their parts) were in place. I did not get robbed before buying my home, did not get killed by a drunk driver one morning nor a very unsafe driving situation, did not have the farm wiped out by a giant freak ice storm capable of killing everything and shutting the farm down for good, etc.

          I ask, and it responds. I just have to project those dreams and desires, as long as they are reasonable and doable in the context of all of the factors in my life, and the Universe responds. It’s strange, because I have often thought of inventions that I hadn’t seen anywhere, and yet, shortly afterwards, there it is, already made and ready for a price. I did not have to do the prototyping, design headaches, never mind patenting, factory tooling, staff hiring, safety testing, etc. ALL of that was done for me. Ask for it, and there it appears. Kings and Queens of the very distant past would have GIVEN AWAY their kingdoms for this kind of ability. The ability to fly anywhere within days, if not hours, to drive anywhere without feeding your horses or camels, to talk to anyone regardless of the distance, to listen to music and have it played the same without having to summon the band to play, say at 3 AM, half-asleep, to have a thousand books in your library in a home that measures 13 feet by 8 feet (PDF files on your computer in a travel trailer), and so on. I feel like the power generated from this time in history and the connections is very great, if not unparalleled (at any time in human history [that we know of]).

          This, I’m trying to make sense of in the context of a world driven insane by religious control from exclusionary religions or otherwise unfair dogmas, because it is hard to be the only one who sees this from my perspective. On a regular basis, I only see FOUR people on the farm plus the woman mail carrier who drops off mail in her Jeep every day. (interestingly enough, the couple who owns the farm are formerly Catholics who finally saw it for what it really is) Every once in a while, we get visitors, and it brightens my day. How much more it would brighten if I could find others like me! I’ve toughened up so much from this that I don’t cry about how it feels to be this isolated. The small number of people makes it easier, I guess. When I lived in the city, it was VERY HARD, because I could be in a crowd of 5,000-10,000 people, and yet, it felt very much like I was on the wrong planet. Like the old saying, “Water everywhere, and not a drop to drink…” It still feels like I’m on the wrong planet, that I made a hasty decision in selecting this place.

          • Ambaa

            I haven’t had a chance to read through all the comments yet! You’ll have to give me some time. My life is super busy! I will respond soon.

          • Ambaa

            Okay wait. I’m not sure how you went from the definition of Advaita Vedanta to white people ruin everything.

            Hinduism is many many many different traditions. There is no one single Hinduism. As I’ve pointed out before, some Hindus are polytheistic and others are monotheistic. The monotheistic interpretations are not new, are not from Christianity (I’d argue it’s the other way around actually).

            The guru that I follow is from a tradition that goes back to the sage Shankara. It does emphasize unity (the word Advaita means non-duality). Adi Shankara’s interpretations of scripture were not influenced by western thought. They are purely Hindu as are many other interpretations.

            Please note that I did not grow up in western religion. I was raised as a Hindu. It’s not a reaction against Christianity, it’s just what I am.

          • Stephanie Ellison

            Thank you for your answer and your assurance. I was not familiar with the name Adi Shankara. His time was long before the British Empire showed up.

            I now remember your first posts relating to your childhood. Thanks for reminding me.

            What I was afraid of was someone taking the traditional text and reinterpreting it into something else for westerners, such that the end result sold to people in the western world wouldn’t match the traditional text, which is what I heard has happened. In that case, it would be important to locate the traditional text left intact and study from that.

            There are many, MANY things that make up Sanatana Dharma, and I will look at your private messages to determine where to start.

            I am reading a short book, “Indian Philosophy at University of Hawaii by Shruti.”

            I want to jump into the GIANT book I downloaded last night, all eighteen books of Mahabharata. Do you feel I must read something else first? I recall that your parents read this story to you as a bedtime story in your childhood.


          • Ambaa

            I can understand wanting to make sure you’re not getting something that’s been processed through Christianity. Shankara wrote many commentaries that you can read. I hate to say it, but you might have to learn Sanskrit to make sure that you’re really getting it pure! My parents have been studying Sanskrit for nearly forty years and it’s a noble pursuit.

            The version of the Mahabharata that my parents read me was one designed for children. It was much shorter than the full story!

            I did take a class in college on The Mahabharata and we studied the first couple of books over the course of a semester.

            It’s a great place to start, though it isn’t purely philosophy. There’s a lot of legend and story in there too. I wouldn’t look at it as a Hindu equivalent to a Bible. The Vedas might be more that.

          • Stephanie Ellison

            Well, Sanskrit is one of the six languages that I have decided to study for the rest of my life, even if I never end up mastering one of them (actually, one of them is my own, Galeh Yuvo). To me, it’s the journey of learning them, not the end-result of sounding like a native, which is not going to happen, simply because I can’t put myself in the culture of the language being spoken.

            I agree that if you want to know what you’re really reading, then knowing the language is really key (which I don’t see happening in Christianity because I don’t see anyone down the road from me or in town reading books from 2000 years ago to attest for sure that what was in there during those times is indeed what King James said). They just say, “The bible says…” “So-and-so sez…,” not “On this particular scroll, which is written in this language, over here on this second and third line, it says…” So, they really don’t know what it really said.

            Yes, I figured you would say that about the Mahabharata, so that’s one of the books I’ll start reading, to try to get a sense of the people, the times, the thoughts.

          • Ambaa

            I actually have known Christians who dive into real text. From my point of view their findings are still clouded by a bias and a need to find what they already believe being correct. The opposite of the scientific method!

      • Ambaa

        Harry, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think you’re saying that the Advaita Vedanta tradition is one of these things that is academic and comes from outside of India and Hinduism.

        • HARRY

          No, that’s not what I am saying. Advaita Vedanta tradition is not academic and it’s certainly doesn’t comes from outside of India and Hinduism. It was originated in India. The true Idea of Advaita Vedanta is from Vaishnava tradition. The word Vedanta means End of Veda, which is the best refined philosophy of the Vaishnava tradition. Vashnava tradition is like a best vehicle parts shop and Sankrachariya build the best vehicle to reach the goal of moksa from it.

          Your question should be, is it influenced by western ideas? then the answer is YES to my knowledge.

          Lets take sex as an example, which Christianity think it’s bad and you go to hell for it, if it’s outside certain domain. This is one of the Christian idea. If you look at Hinduism it’s different altogether. How can an act of procreation be bad when entire universe depends on it from an animals to plants included. This is same as saying one should not eat when your life depends on it. If you look at Rishi Munis they were married with children s that doesn’t mean they were not enlighten when they wrote our philosophy. If you are an engineer and you have certain sexual orientation that doesn’t make you a bad engineer.

          Our religion is highly influenced by western ideas regarding what’s bad and what is good according to Christian values which was a bench mark introduced at the time of British in India and it kind of stayed with us. If you read any write-up written by Rajiv Malotra He will tell you same and this is not a lie.

          The problem which we have in India at present time is when our own people who are graduate from western university who doesn’t practice our faith who tells us what’s wrong with our faith because he is conditioned by western ideas and it’s values. I am not saying that western ideas and values are wrong or bad rather what I am saying is that the mould used to mould our faith by them using the Christian model is wrong. Any one who reads our original texts will tell you same.

          What I really want to know is what is on your mind?

          • Ambaa

            I completely agree that there is Christian influence. It’s hard to avoid in the world today. It makes me really sad when I see a Hindu talking like a Christian.

            I see it on message boards all the time and it makes me want to weep.

            The western model should be there for those who want it, but I hate to see it creeping into the eastern traditions. Particularly the worst parts of the western model like puritanical sex values, devaluing of women, rigid black and white viewpoints, and insistence that hell will punish anyone who doesn’t believe and practice exactly like you do.

          • Stephanie Ellison

            I am rereading this here. I need to slow down so I don’t miss important things!

            A Hindu talking like a Christian is EXACTLY what I want to avoid. The worst parts of the western model is what has stolen, potential friends, lovers, even entire communities by the billions from my life. The insistence about hell was EXACTLY what I experienced in the homeless shelter in Nacogdoches. Hence, the warning about STFU, gas up, eat, and get out ASAP, especially if you are visibly dressed as non-Christian, never mind as a Muslim. You never know when some of these people will try to aggressively proselytize you. I’ve had it happened in east Texas, Lousiana, I don’t know about Mississippi (I managed to do the STFU and get in-out quickly there). I skirted around Topeka, KS on my way back from Ohio one summer. I didn’t even stop. I just gassed up an hour out of it and went at least an hour and a half south of it.

            The mind control factor of Christianity is why the creep into eastern traditions must be stopped at all costs, and I will not contribute to that. Do you know of Rajiv Malhotra? What is your opinion of him?

          • Ambaa

            I was on a message board yesterday where someone asked if other people were Hindus and ate meat if they were going to hell.

            I was like, mind your own life and stop worrying about other people’s karma.

            I speak with Rajiv Malhotra and his fans on Twitter frequently. They keep recommending his book and I do really want to read I but I haven’t bought it yet.

            I’ve really respected what he’s had to say from what I’ve seen. I’ve also written about avoiding trying to sterilize or “clean” Hinduism for western consumption. Some have a desire not to be seen as “weird” or “exotic” by their fellow Americans and so they tone down Hinduism’s differences. I think that’s a mistake, but I can’t know what it’s like to be non-white in America, so I also can’t blame them.

          • Stephanie Ellison

            I have trouble knowing which PDF books to download because I don’t know who falls into which camp, traditional

            Hinduism or neo-Hinduism. I’m having to do research just to download a book. How do I go about doing this so I don’t have to ask every time I want to download a book? There’s a lot of them out there.

          • Ambaa

            I would have some trust in your own ability to discern. Read lots, read wide and far, keep reading and listening and it will start to fall into place. I don’t think you need to worry this much about whatever “neo-Hinduism” is. Read the Vedas, read the Upanishads, read The Gita. Read the commentaries that gurus of old have given on them.

          • Stephanie Ellison

            That is WEIRD… I don’t get this toning down… I found out about Ravij in my looking into what is and isn’t neo-Hinduism. He’s funded the University of Hawaii on things related to Sanskrit and Indian philosophy.

            Edit; I think I must be as far out there as I can be without a “religion” so to speak, simply because there are VERY FEW people out there like myself. I cannot ID as agnostic, atheist, maybe Pagan (but nothing there fits), as what I have is without language. Children are simply not afforded the chance to go without language, social skills, and religion in modern civilization. It just doesn’t happen except in rare cases. I feel like I’m stuck because I don’t know of anyone else like myself.

            I’m going to finish reading through that long, long thread, and then finish reading that article that was referenced somewhere in that thread, so see if it answers any or some of my questions and go from there.

        • Stephanie Ellison

          I did not mean to imply that, but rather that westerners or someone connected to them was taking the Advaita Vedanta text and reinterpreting them for the western audience from the time of the British intrusion into India. People here and in other Anglo countries end up not realizing that there would be two or more versions of the Advaita Vedanta. I’m trying to avoid expending the effort of learning a westernized version of Sanatana Dharma without realizing it, and then having to start over and watch for differences the second time around. With the vastness of Hinduism, as you have given me just a glimpse of it, it would be a very expensive mistake, time-wise to find this out the hard way after months or years of reading the wrong materials. I’m nearing 50, so not only do I not have a lot of money, I don’t have my young adulthood to devote to learning intimately the differences in both versions of the text (and many others that supposedly have been reinterpreted for these people), except perhaps to be aware of the differences. But right now, I want to get busy with researching this body of knowledge without Christian interference so that I can decide for myself if this is indeed for me. I live in an isolated situation, with no personal contact with Hindus like yourself (except for a handful – one at a grocery I lived near by in Houston, who doesn’t use a computer, and a small number of people I met at the Houston Mandir who never did answer my personal request for assistance in this endeavor to find out more), and I’m surrounded by Christians EVERY DAY on the farm, though the farm staff under the bosses know they have no control over my receptivity to Christianity. They’ve found that out after knocking on the titanium-clad shell that I have around me. I have NO ONE to talk to in person, since I cannot talk on the phone.

          • HARRY

            No matter which ever Advaita Vedanta branch or sect Hinduism you pick, I know you don’t want to pick the western one, but it will still bring you to the original one when you seek truth just like Ambaa. It’s not important how your journey begins, but it’s how it ends, and it all depends on you and your choices. Sanatan Dharma is eternal truth and it will always bring to it if you truly believe in it. Pure and Simple.

          • HARRY

            correction!! I should have said it will bring you to it, if you believe in it. Da**m I can see load of typos and errors. Not to worry.

          • Ambaa

            Beautifully put!

          • Stephanie Ellison

            I want to do it ONCE, and do it right.

    • Ambaa

      Adi Shankara is the real thing. He’s not a white guy.

      The people at that forum can be a little rigid in their definitions because of fear of dilution. Nonetheless, Adi Shankara is not a “neo-Hindu.”

      • Stephanie Ellison

        Thank you for clearing that up.

    • Brad Choate

      Forgive me, in reading your response to Ambaa’s piece, specifically the quote you mentioned, I do not see where your questions arise from.

      From my studies, I believe that the Adviata Vedanta was heavily influenced by a non-white proselytizing religion, namely Buddhism.

      Further, I think your insistence on purity is a very western idea which you may wish to reflect on.

      • Stephanie Ellison

        Is it? The reason being is I want to see what Hinduism is like without the Christianizing effects.

        • Brad Choate

          I think it is. Western religion is exclusive. Either one is Christian, or Jewish. Jewish or Muslim. Muslim or Christian. These religions have litmus tests like the nicene creed and other dogmatic means of exclusion.

          What makes one am member of one of these religions or not is what one believes. So yes, that search for purity is a very western idea.

          In Japan there are Shinto shrines in the paths to Buddhist temples. There is a saying that Japanese people are born Shinto and die Buddhist. because so many people are both.

          In China Many people identify as Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian.

          Perhaps Ambaa could speak to the non-exclusiveness of the religions in India.

          • Stephanie Ellison

            I realize that there is non-exclusiveness of these religions in India. The point is, I want to see Hinduism before exposure to the western world. I’m speaking of the difference between eastern thoughts of pre-British colonization and those during the British colonization. I don’t know how else to explain it. I don’t want to blindly accept something only to find out Christians managed to rope me in.

          • Ambaa

            That’s certainly fair. Shankara lived long before the British occupation and Advaita Vedanta, a philosophy of unity, is one of many authentic traditions of Hinduism. 788 AD is when Adi Shankara was born.

          • Brad Choate

            Well the East India Company opened in 1600. Adi Shankara lived 800 years earlier. I would imagine that the influence of the British and Christianity was severely limited in the 800’s. The silk road had just opened 100 years earlier.

            That is beside the point though. Even if Christians have had an influence on Hinduism; throwing out years, decades, or even centuries of Hindu thought seems wasteful. If you want to get to the source read the primary texts then read the interpretations of the guru and you can determine for yourself what is pure, or not.

          • Stephanie Ellison

            Thank you.