I’m really big on respecting every individual’s choice to practice the religion that makes him happy. Hinduism is my home and it is the religion that I love, but I am well aware that my experience of life is far from average. I’m more than a bit odd. So I have lots of practice in knowing that what works for me, and what is good for me is not what is going to work for everyone.
There are many, many people who feel fulfilled by Christianity or by Islam or by another religion. I don’t begrudge them that. I respect their right to worship in a way that makes them happy and I hope that they will do the same for me (certainly there are mixed results on that one).
But it makes me sad when people act as though when you pick one religion, you cannot appreciate and enjoy things from others.
What I mean is that as deeply ingrained in Hinduism as I am, there are some beautiful poems written by Sufis like Rumi and there are amazing hymns written by Christians. I don’t see my loyalty to Hinduism meaning that I cannot enjoy, respect, and admire these contributions of art and worship from other perspectives. They are all pointing towards the same Truth and the same God, if you ask me.
One of the great beauties of the Hindu idea that there are “many paths up the mountain” is that we can enjoy spiritual advice, actions, and ideas from different sources and see them as ways of helping people up that mountain towards samadhi.There is no need to become so militant that one can only find value in things from one’s own religion.
I see the same thing in Christians who won’t do yoga. There are so many yoga classes that are almost, if not completely, devoid of spirituality. Many have nothing more than some deep breathing and calming/centering practices. It’s hard for me to understand how participating in this practice that came from another religion endangers your relationship with your own.
I hope that we as Hindus don’t become that way. I hope that we can see the beauty and value in practices or prayers that come from other religions and to feel the presence of the Atman within us when we interact with them.