As Patheos celebrates its 5th anniversary, I went down memory lane to pick a few to highlight. I started with my first piece for the site written in early 2010, and probably my briefest ever, about God in 100 words, followed by one in June where I was invited to write on the future of Hinduism. I was placed alongside my friend Suhag Shukla, Executive Director of the Hindu American Foundation, and academics and scholars I revere, such as Gavin Flood and David Frawley and some whom I am now honored to count as advisors, such as Vamsee Juluri and Ramdas Lamb. The rigor and self discovery of having to write about what happens when we die, was done after critical and moving discussions with my mom (who is both my first guru, as per the Hindu tradition, and the first fan of my writing). This helped me realize the importance of having a more disciplined approach and make a commitment to Patheos to blog at Seeking Shanti: A Hindu Path to Peace and Pluralism. It is a testament to my interfaith activism that my first post was published on Christmas Day in 2010, about yoga’s Hindu roots and the universality of its application, and that my first book review still gives me heartburn because author Stephen Prothero didn’t answer the second question I posed to him – a question that is relevant even today:
As a Hindu American who has continuously advocated for my faith and especially for pluralism and inter-religious understanding, how do I ensure that the voices of Wendy Doniger, Prema Kurien and Nicholas Kristoff don’t speak for what a Hindu is, especially what a Hindu American is?
My Five Faves
While I have written more recently on passing on the Hindu faith, it is my essay Tiger Children on the Path of Dharma that speaks of what is important to me as a mother. Written about Amy Chua’s Wall Street Journal article about her book The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, the responses it generated had me examining what it means to raise a happy and motivated child.
In The Path of Dharma and Just War, I juxtapose two Hindu American Perspectives to answer the question “Can violence coexist with non-violence in our pursuit of dharma?” Not sure your opinion, but read the essay to see how I prefer to pursue a path of peace and nonviolence. As I reread it, it reaffirms my commitment to Peace Action – and reenergizes my hope that the pen is mightier than the sword
I considered my son’s upcoming initiation into the study of the Vedas, in The Gift of the Upanayanam – nicknaming it a Hindu Bar Mitzvah. Call it divine coincidence: I wrote it a month before I went to India for my son’s upanayanam, and it was published on the exact day of the event.
As a bookworm firmly entrenched in teenage fantasy fiction, it was easy to fall in love with Rowling’s Harry Potter series. And one of my favorite books was the source of my favorite essay about it, Albus and Harry, Guru and Sishya. The final question Harry poses Dumbledore, and Dumbledore’s brilliant answer, is a testament to the beauty and complexity of what a disciple can learn from the guru.
But it is this I hope to leave as my legacy of writing at patheos: an awareness about the Asymmetry of Power: Proselytization, Poverty and Pluralism are closely intertwined. As long as evangelism is complicated by contexts of imbalance, we will continue to have concern, hostility, and even conflict.
Peace and Pluralism go hand in hand. I’m a peace activist, advocating for pluralism – how about you?