All Religions Are Not The Same

All religions are not the same.

We Hindus are in general an open minded bunch. We don’t make strict rules and we don’t try to make anyone follow our way of life.

“There are many paths up the mountain,” we say. “The Truth is one, the paths are many.”

Hinduism is great, but it’s not going to be the right path for everyone. And that’s fine. That’s great. We all get to choose the path that gets us to our goal in the best way.

The problem comes when someone else’s religion includes the mandate of destroying ours.

We’re trying to live in peace and be kind and accomodating to other’s beliefs. But only sometimes do we get that same respect back.

I do believe that different religions should exist. I do believe that there is at least a nugget of Truth to be found in all of them. Personally I think the Truth is clearest in Hinduism, but hey, that’s why I’m a Hindu!

Despite that, my tolerance for the religious beliefs of others ends when they think it is part of their religious freedom to manipulate and even force my fellow Hindus to convert to their religion.

As a saying here in America goes, your freedom ends at the beginning of my nose. You can do whatever makes you happy so long as you aren’t hurting me or others.

All religions are not the same.

They idealize different goals, different ideas of what the purpose of human life is, and different ideas of what is appropriate behavior.

I do think that Christianity can be practiced in such a way that it clarifies the soul and brings people closer to God. I think the same of Islam. The people who find the path of light and Truth in those religions are people I respect and admire. But their path towards that light and Truth is not my path. I am entirely unsuited to either Christianity or Islam. What their preachers say about what the goal of human life is often does not line up at all with what I believe it is. As one of the articles at the end says, we can believe that religions are good without believing they are the same.

I believe that people have the freedom to choose whichever religious path works best for them. (Of course I think mine is best, don’t we all?)

But your freedom to pursue your religious path ends where my freedom to pursue my religious path begins.

I will say upfront that not all Muslims and not all Christians, but there are Muslims and Christians in the world today working hard to erradicate my religion; trying to wipe it out.

That is unacceptable.

Forced conversion of any kind needs to stop. We have the right to exist in peace. The Hindu religion is a great gift to humanity and Hindus should be proud and unafraid to declare themselves Hindus.

People are free to choose how they follow God and you cannot make them choose your way.The Gods gave us free will, how dare men try to take that away from us? 

“The case of six year-old Jumna and her ten year-old sister, Pooja, is typical of the untold plight of young Hindu and Christian girls in Pakistan. The two young sisters, from the country’s rapidly shrinking Hindu community, were abducted earlier this year in the Sindh province while selling clay toys and utensils door to door to help their impoverished family. They were subsequently taken to a mosque and forcibly converted to Islam before being found by police living in the home of a Muslim man. Only six year-old Jumna has been returned to the parents. The family sobs at the mention of their other daughter, who still remains separated from them.”
http://hafsite.org/HAF_10th_Annual_Human_Rights_Report_Urges_Action

I think the Himalayan Academy has the right idea with their guide to ethical conversion. They have a seven step process to make sure that a conversion to Hinduism is happening with consent and joy. All conversions to any religion should go through their process. It’s a great method to ensure that converts are enthusiastically consenting and truly choosing the religion.

And my fellow Hindus, I hope that you take great pride in your religion. It’s one of the greatest in the world, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Take the time to learn about it and if you need help with what to say when people try to lure you away from it, here are some ideas: How To Explain Hinduism And what is it that makes Hinduism awesome? Here are some of my favorite things about Hinduism: Why I Am A Hindu

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Hindu Human Rights: If we don’t, who will?

More on this subject:

All Religions Not the Same

Bringing Up Hindu Kids

“To deny the uniqueness and greatness of Hinduism leads, in turn, to a very unhealthy psychological state of self-loathing, a sense of unworthiness and a schizophrenic confusion on the part of anyone who wishes to consider themselves Hindu.

Please Don’t Say “All Religions Are The Same”

 


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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.

  • Asmya

    Forced conversion of hindus in Pakistan is a problem of gigantic proportions. So is “Love Jehad” in India. It’s akin to what is being done with Sikh girls in UK.

    • badtooth

      it is odd you don’t hear more stories like this out of pakistan or india or bangladesh. although i guess there aren’t many hindus left in bangladesh after the war in ’71?
      so what are they (and who is they) doing to sikh girls in the UK?

  • Samael_Wolf
    • Ambaa

      Absolutely not.

      Hinduism teaches that men and women are equally divine. Unfortunately, there are some cultural issues at play that makes life dangerous for women. This is not a part of Hinduism.

      I think we all know examples of people of various religions who do horrible things and don’t realize how contradictory it is to their supposed beliefs.

      • Agni Puthra
        • गजानांद बिहनी

          Hinduism do not mistreat women. Do not even differentiate any sort of power between men and women.
          Hinduism is a way of life, its a philosophy. It gives full respect to women.
          Now, why the RAPES?
          this is, as I think, complete destruction of the rituals of HInduism, forgetting its fundamentals.
          Only complete their duty by worshiping in temples etc. and praying God for their greed.
          This may be due to poverty, illitaracy, over-population. Slavery of 1000 year by Mughals and British destroyed the social and communal harmony of the country.
          and most of the all as per time cycle, The Kalyuga has to come, so actual fundamentals will be forgotten gradually and the all mortal things will take place…
          Please tell about your viewpoint.
          Gajanand Bihani.
          bgajanad@gmail.com

      • Kathy K-m

        So you’re saying the vast majority of Indian Hindu’s; those actually born and raised with it’s practices and attitudes, THEY have it wrong? While you, the Johnny-come-lately convert, have it right?
        We’re not talking the bad actions of a few (like the Boko Haram) we’re talking systemic anti-women practices…from aborting female fetus’, to the fact that 40% of forced child marriages are in India, by Hindu’s, to the fact that India is DEAD LAST when it comes to it’s treatment of women, in the G20, after Saudi Arabia and Indonesia (both Muslim countries)
        The rape situation speaks for itself, but it’s interesting to note the caste of many of the victims. Ah yes, another delightful feature of Hinduism. Illegal but still practiced.
        I guess we’ll just be grateful widows are no longer expected to toss themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre?
        You can, I suppose, attach or ignore, whatever features you choose. You don’t have to live with the implications of the way it’s actually practiced.
        But the reality is much different than what you naively like to pretend. No different than any other organized religion. Appalling.

        • Ambaa

          If you’d like me to provide the perspective of native Hindus, I have hundreds who will tell you that caste as it is practiced today is an abomination and not at all the orignal intention and that women are the manifestation of Goddesses to be treated with the utmost respect.

          Many of them have told me that they think influences of other cultures on Hinduism have caused the poor treatment of women today.

          I want women treated fairly and I will fight to see that happen. But I do not blame Hinduism for the actions of some misguided people.

          There is nothing in Hindu scripture that supports the mistreatement of women. It is not a part of the religion, period.

          • Suri Narayan

            Ok Enough said about child marriages and rapes.

            First: child marriages, Sati and dowry:

            Sometime in the history when muslims used to invade india; girl child and woman were kidnapped raped and butchered as mentioned in there holy scriptures which duty they were performing

            and this was not a one isolated event, this was recurring over the years , which made the wise man of that time to think and encourage a system called dowry, mind that before that there were no references of dowry and child marriages [sita and rukmani were not married as kids]

            muslim invasion went for over 600 years, during this time the few wise man’s timely wisdom translated into a custom which continued with the logic behind vanishing into thin air

            now coming to rape, go to crime by community statistics of india you will be better places with an answer after which i dont have to answer or think about the rapes.

        • IaMJ

          “The rape situation speaks for itself, but it’s interesting to note the
          caste of many of the victims. Ah yes, another delightful feature of
          Hinduism. Illegal but still practiced.”

          I absolutely hate that you’re associating Rape with religion and caste. If some lady gets raped in USA and she practices Christianity, what would you say ?? A rape is a rape it doesn’t matter if the victim is a Hindu, Christian, Muslim etc. Its the stupid news channels/media that brings up the caste issue.

          Sati is a highly misunderstood practice, Such practices were only meant for highly spiritual people. NOT for ordinary men. Unfortunately in ancient times people had a tendency to follow spiritual leaders, prophets etc blindly without understanding the essence of such practice. You may also search for Jal Samadhi, which was practiced by many saints when they had to end their lives.

        • Amin King

          What a ignorant comment ! This is the problem with people who pretend to know everything. 1) Hinduism is not a organized religion which means you can’t compare it with “any other organized religion” 2 ) You don’t seems to know the difference between religious sanction and specific practices which are independent of religious sanction. Your comment reminds me of the time in India when foreign and Indian marxist economists draw correlation between India’s low economic growth rate and Hinduism. They said India is poor because of Hinduism. They even coined a term “Hindu rate of growth” to describe low growth rates. But they intentionally misrepresent the fact that India’s low growth rates are due to Nehruvian Socialism and not because of Hinduism. When India attained high growth rates later on , the same people did not attribute those to Hinduism but to Free enterprise and economic liberalization. Any Hindu who practices un-Hindu things like caste discrimination or mistreatment of women is not doing it because of Hinduism but in spite of it. When a Islamic terrorist perpetuate violence or Christian missionary destroys a native culture or discriminates against heathens or gays, both of them do it in the name of their religions and draw inspiration from it. That is the not the case with the examples you cited. They are social issues independent of Hinduism and not done in the name of Hinduism.

        • Madhavan Charles

          I am an Indian and a Hindu (though I have been an atheist for most of my life). My grandparents are from India(so even though I was an atheist, I was shared with knowledge of Hinduism and sometimes forced to study certain scriptures) while I am born in Singapore. It’s been about 6 years since I have truly accepted and embraced what I was meant to be..a Hindu. I am currently teaching Hindu studies to teenagers in Sri Sivan Temple of Singapore under Project Bhakti.

          Well indeed there are a few verses where being a woman is deemed to be less desirable than being a man but I will not put it as under anti-women section. You are confused with culture and religion. You have to remember other countries like for Saudi Arabia for an example have a stricter control over media, that is why many maybe including yourself not know the bad things that are happening in those countries.

          Rape is not a practice or a feature of Hinduism..that’s like saying just because I don’t eat pork, I am automatically deemed as a Muslim, hell I just don’t like bacon. Just because rape is happening in that country does not mean that it is due to the majority of the citizens religion. In actual fact, America has the highest rape count (do some research) but I am not going to blame Christianity for that..that’s just stupid. What you did here is confusing culture and religion again..it is unfortunate but you will learn once you open that closed mind of yours.

          Ah yes, the act of Sati (it is no stated anywhere that such an act is necessary in the Vedas though purana was different)..yes it’s been banned in India but I agree it was a practice then. But people learnt eventually. In fact, if you had read up or researched about this, you would find out that it was actually Hindu men that actually eventually protested and rebelled against the Sati practice. If it is truly anti women, why would they care right?

          I am a man who have given effort and fight for woman rights (well except for defending nosy feminists because I think they are no better than chauvinists) I do this not for my religion, I do this not for the women, I do this not for the world, I do this for Dharma but following Dharma is doing for them all.

          So yes, reality is that you are confused with culture and religion. In Singapore, you don’t see Hindu men doing the same things as you have stated above, why is there a difference? Culture.

        • ॐ Richie ॐ

          Hindu religious literature does NOT propagate any of the societal ills you have described. I am not denying that they haven’t happened, but a gentle reminder, that Correlation is not Causation. Unless you are bent on demeaning Hinduism by using western-media sound-bytes, that is…

        • Sucheta

          You might search that while West gave property owning rights to women in recent century it was exactly opposite in India – inheritances taken away in absence of male cold and even denying rights to adopted, something allowed by religion but not british administration is initiator of female abortions.
          Second is education those castes which could continue female education at home still have a different picture of who leads and controls home. But peasants whose trade was stolen and then even land; could not do this. In India in Hindu law ‘stridhan’ dowry is still woman’s property. Of course tradition of seeing english kings ‘gifting’ mumbai islands has more glamor.

        • Sucheta

          By the way I just love romance stories by american / uk romance writers. Specially historical stories are so well researched: rakws going after rich widows, heroes agreeing for marriage for baronet, wives doping duties of giving heirs and then indulging in free sex. Real case for women not used for money or male heir.
          And come to modern series you will have trophy wives and corporate wives who help husband showcasing themselves?
          But my personal ideal after this timepass reads is “Rani Ahilyabaai” who lost her husband in young age and did so much for her people. Please do read about it you may know what Hindu woman is.

        • spv

          You talk of position of women in Hinduism. First learn to stop talking down to people. Get off your high horse of superiority that you amply display in the above tasteless comment. Second, stop reading outdated and pitiful trash that is routinely regurgitated in your media by your helpful christian brethren.

          As for the status of women, does your US boast of a woman head of state? India does. It had a woman head of state for many years. At the moment, we have at least 3 women heads of provinces (we call them states in India). Can you boast of even one woman Governor? The new Government that has just been sworn in has 6 women in its cabinet of ministers. 6 out of 23 which means 25% of the key ministries are held by women. Can the US come anywhere close to that? We dont tom tom this fact too much for it has always been this way. We respect our women (yes, there are lumpen elements but then aren’t they there everywhere. Its curious that your media wishes to pick on only these news events as if it is all hunky dory in your exalted land). However, our version of respecting women is quite different from yours and that is what you find difficult to stomach. You can only understand it if you can learn to celebrate differences. But that is too much to expect since you believe only your version of feminism is the right and true one. Thank God, India hasn’t yet adopted your version large scale else like your society we will end up as a society which lives only for its individual, selfish self.

          Finally, if you can try and understand the different woman power in India and indeed Hinduism, here are two videos that you can try to watch. But I believe it would be beyond you and your ilk because you are the ones who practise intolerance while preaching about it loudly from your deceitful pulpits.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTGKzrlNJAc

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcB96DRiWXs

        • Patrick Hall

          I’ll agree that India has a huge amount of sexism, but none of it is justified with Hinduism. Learn a bit about Hinduism first. ‘Rape’ is not practiced by Hindus, rape is practiced by rapists.

        • abhimanyu sirmaur

          the language in which you have written sends a signal that you are still living in 19th century–and still thinking of a “white race superiority”.

          Certainly any rape in India is a blot on the country but your accusation that the whole country is sexist is certainly tells the dogma of a “white man’s saviour syndrome”.

          India is sexist in western eye’s because the “morality system” of both the civilisation works in a different way. e.g–In your country a person can marry many times and is ok.But in India a man who is divorced is seen as a corrupt because he failed in his duties.

          Do you remember what your ancestors said about the “Native American’s”(or american indians)—they said they are sub-human,savage specie and need to be civilised.
          and they civilised native american’s in such a way that only a few of them are alive—–where was your morality then.
          You are now saying the same thing about Indians.
          Do you think you are any different from your white brother Nazis.

          Get out of this mindset–world is changing fast—if you don’t,you will perish.change is the law of nature.

    • Amit

      Rape stats (annual):

      USA: 90,000 (pop: 300 mil)
      UK: 50,000 (population: 70 mil)
      India: 27,000 (population 1.25 billion)

      Worst city in India, Delhi: 3.57 rapes per 1,00,000 people
      The safest city in the US, New York: 10.48 rapes per 1,00,000 people

      Should I use these stats to say that Rape and Child Molestation (recent UN warning to Vatican) is a normal practice in Christian West?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram/ A Witch’s Ashram

      Gang rape occurs in all places. That is not religion that is misogyny at its worst. No religion has the monopoly on that.

      • Santosh Aryal

        Hindusim means love, respect, peace, meditation so rape, child marriage, murder, terrorism, thief, etc are not the culture inside hindusim. You know this world was very peace in the vedic vedic era. But after christ, to gain power some people discovered, murder, loot and used this horror thing as the main weapon to spread Christianity which is still present and the is Muhamad dicovered rape, terrorism to spread the islam.
        So, at the time of mugal invasion in south asia, they invaded the hindu kingdom, forcefully converted the hondus, buddhist to islam. They raped the unmarried girl but they never touched the married women. So, to protect the daughters, people started child marriage as a only option to escape muslims brutality. And later on it became a social culture . well, it was started with a reason in the past and continued due to theilletracy. Its been eradicated from Nepal, i think it has little remaning i India which too will b clean thanks

    • Deana

      To label gang rape as a Hindu problem because India has a large percentage of Hindus would be akin to labeling mass shootings a Christian problem because the US has a large percentage of Christians.

      I abhor gang rape (any rape!) and commend the millions of Indian women who have taken to the streets in the past few years to protest.

      Rape is a misogyny problem; not a spirituality problem. Victims as well as attackers have also often been Muslim and Sikh. It’s not surprise that the perpetrators are members of the religions common to their country.

      The US leads the world in serial killers. I’ve seen that types of crimes follow patterns in different cultures. American crimes are often a lone person attacking groups of people or victimizing one person after another. Indian crimes are often a group of people attacking one person. Neither is ok, nor is either condoned by any religion.

  • murasaki

    What really boggles my mind is the contradiction between the forced conversion where a child is essentially “adopted” into a family, and the fact that actual legal adoption is rejected by the Islamic system in favour of more of a temporary foster-parenting situation. Before taking a child from someone else’s family into their own, a Muslim family would do everything possible to make sure someone in that child’s family takes care of it, and barring that, make it perfectly clear that the child is a long-term guest and not a true part of the family. It’s a last resort. But it seems like all bets are off when it comes to children coming from other religions because of the God points they perceive to be earning with the conversions.

    • Ambaa

      Interesting insight. Another thing is that it could be different people, you know? Those who think it’s okay to kidnap children and force them to convert probably aren’t really following Islam’s rules and so they might be more likely to accept adoption? Maybe?

      • badtooth

        http://islamic-e-books.com/mh/pdf/6)%20Mashari%20Al-Ashwaq%20ila%20Masari%20al-Ushaaq%20%5bRevised%20Edition%5d.pdf

        “Jihad is a cure for the individual and the society. It cures the individual by delivering him from the sickness of disbelief to the wellbeing of Islam. Disbelieving in Allah is the greatest disease of all and the most destructive on all humanity, while Islam is the complete cure. Jihad cures the society by eliminating the source of corruption and oppression. Leaving the disbeliever unharmed increases the disease and strengthens it and allows the cancer to spread. Therefore Islam cannot flourish and Muslims cannot live in peace unless the disease is cured. If it is possible to cure the disease by using a medicine then be it. Otherwise the infected portion must be amputated even though the amputation could cause pain and suffering for the body. But then no one could claim that the amputation cruel or inhumane. It was necessary for the survival of the body. That is precisely the role of Jihad in Islam. First the message should be conveyed through peaceful means. If the peaceful course is exhausted and it did not bear its fruits, the bearers of the truth would need to draw their swords and fight in order for the word of Allah to prevail.”

      • murasaki

        That’s plausible, but in my mind, clearly it wouldn’t happen without the silent consent of the people around them. “Oh, look, the neighbours have a new child and she’s grown! They said they are looking after her for their cousin who is poor and the cousin has loose morals and isn’t practising anyway so they are doing the child a service by taking over and raising her right! I’m so proud of them!” That naïve point of view shouldn’t be happening anymore now that forced conversion has become a “thing”. It takes a village to abduct a child long-term. As for badtooth’s assessment, I don’t want to use very strong language but yes, there is a big distinction made between “people of the book” and people of other religions; Hindus are counted as idolaters and therefore worthy of the most serious punishment.

        • Ambaa

          You’re right. I look at things too individually sometimes!

          • murasaki

            I have huge blind spots in the way I look at things as well sometimes…which is why I appreciate this kind of open discussion where people can agree or disagree in the spirit of acceptance and validation. I really appreciate the way that you participate in and moderate discussions with differing viewpoints so even-handedly…when I am wrong, I can feel it without feeling attacked or coerced, only opened to a new viewpoint. And when my point is valid, I don’t feel resented for it. These things happen a lot in other forums because I happen to be an extraordinarily sensitive person (I don’t want to say oversensitive, because that is non-accepting of myself, but many would say this.) Thank you for these enlightening discussions! I am expanding my view quite a lot.

          • Ambaa

            Oh! You’re so kind! I really appreciate your feedback. It is so tough to moderate comments appropriately and I try hard to make the right call. I do want this to be a place of discussion even when I don’t agree with something! I’m glad to hear that you think it’s working.

            I too am a very sensitive person (and I think it’s good to be sensitive! I don’t want the world to wear me down or make me tough!).

            *Hugs*

    • badtooth

      you’re comparing apples to oranges. they “adopt” the non-muslim kids to make them muslims. the orphaned muslim kids are already muslims.
      i was on the website islam.com the other day and a person, iLOVE01, said that co-existence is a tool of satan. that islam is not here to co-exist with other religion but to dominate. check out this guy’s take on inter-faith relations. http://www.memri.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4263.htm and he is talking about “people of the book”. i can only imagine what he thinks should happen to hindus.

  • Amar

    when papisthaan was created Hindus were above 20%, now they are 1.2%.
    http://pakistanhindupost.blogspot.com/

  • Amar

    a classic text-book case of Hindus atrocities in papisthaan, even supreme court of that country denied justice to her.
    http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Hindu-girl-tells-Supreme-Court-she-would-rather-die-than-convert-to-Islam-24358.html

  • http://seymourresults.com Cynthia K Seymour

    Ambaa… Gratitude for a very thoughtful & insightful post. All religions are sullied by humans acting out of ignorance, fear & lack of respect. Perhaps, if we all agreed to be kinder and more respectful of each other then all of humanity would be lifted up on the common ground & return to the “Eden” we all are essentially seeking on a deeper level. All paths lead to one… :)

  • Cibi Singaravel S

    //I will say upfront that not all Muslims and not all Christians, but there are Muslims and Christians (and Jews) in the world today working hard to eradicate my religion; trying to wipe it out.//

    I would add Wendy Doniger to this list.

    “The Bhagavad Gita is not as nice a book as some Americans think…Throughout the Mahabharata … Krishna goads human beings into all sorts of murderous and self-destructive behaviors such as war…. The Gita is a dishonest book …”

    – Wendy Doniger, Professor of History of Religions, University of Chicago.
    Quoted in Philadelphia Inquirer, 19 November, 2000

    I dont want to develop an ugly fight there in Facebook. So, her thought on Bhagavat Gita, which the Hindus think is the holiest of holy scriptures is quoted above. This is the same with all her so called Scholarly Analysis made on Hinduism and this is reflected in all her books. Not only it stops with her alone. But it passes to Wendy’s generation of scholar children. Look at Kripal’s book on Ramakrishna and this is authorised by Wendy.

    People are free to give their own views on anything. But when it comes to religion and scriptures, it often makes one to think that rubbishes like these are written with a scholarly blanket but with the very definite, clear, only purpose of eradicating Hinduism through Western Supremacy and the mentality that, we are civilised and you are savages.

    By this, they also tend to mean ” We know more about your religion that what you know about yours. ” This is reflected in all her and her students’ works. As I being a Hindu, this is directly insulting me. You have written in facebook as the book is thoughtful. Thats why I said I feel so sorry that you have mentioned so. Because I dont wish a fellow Hindu, who writes wonderful things about Hinduism in blogs and doing lot other things, at the sametime praising people ( Wendy and her Parampara students ) who write unnumerable ugly things about Hindu Gods and Goddesses. You can Check it for yourself in the internet

    I dont know why did you ask me to ‘watch my tone.’ I still don’t get where I am wrong. Anyway, I am so sorry if I haven’t used the right word.


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