White Hindu Conversations Part Six

White Hindu Conversations Part Six November 10, 2015

Someone on Facebook in a Hindu group posts a chart of Hinduism and for modern philosophies it includes only Advaita. A man comments that he’s a born Hindu and doesn’t see himself represented. I note that the chart seems to be missing quite a few sects, branches, and philosophies.

His response?

Hindu is group of sects and sect are not rigid like abrahamic religions

So I’m agreeing with him that he doesn’t seem to be represented but his response is to make enormous assumptions about me and my knowledge and my background based on my name. What does any of this have to do with abrahamic religions?

This is why I get sick and tired of being white in an Indian religion. To most people my perspective will never be more than outsider who couldn’t possibly know anything.

 

White Hindu Conversations Part One

White Hindu Conversations Part Two

White Hindu Conversations Part Three

White Hindu Conversations Part Four

White Hindu Conversations Part Five


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  • SE

    Namaskāra Ambaa,

    I’m not sure what to say, except the inclusiveness gaze has been returned upon you in exchange for the western gaze that has been put upon them for so long? I don’t know if it helps, but I have gained respect from quite a few people at my temple just from going just about every Sunday when I’m not traveling somewhere. Then my spiritual advisor’s wife gifted me two sets of kurtis with dupattas to go with them. I wear these to temple, and only recently did I happen to be in the neighborhood of Indian stores, where I bought a salwar to go with the dark blue/teal kurti, and I wore jeans with the white one (as I didn’t want to mix three colors like dark red, white, and black, but I fixed that at temple during Divali Mela on Sunday!). I also picked up a longer top, a kurta, of a combination of black and darker warm colors with a thicker material for cooler weather along with a churidār to go with it.

    Do you think it has to do with the level of dress you take it to? Because you are Sanātani and have known to be for quite a few years, it comes naturally for you. I mean, you take it all the way like fish takes to water, and that’s only natural for you. People who don’t know you, upon seeing you for the first time, probably think you are appropriating the culture, like actresses would be by wearing Indian clothing at a movie function only, when it’s clear that they are not Sanātani. I think that once they know you, they will warm up to you. You present an enigma to them because it’s not a usual experience. At most, they’re probably run into someone from an ISKCON temple with their usual interaction behaviors (not always), but you’re not one of them… Neither are you someone who would go all the way and then do a U-turn, and then pick up on Japanese clothing next month, and then some other “ethnic” clothing month after month, with a house stacked to the ceiling with clothes you’ll never wear again. (“ethnic” – read; something that isn’t white. Why isn’t white “ethnic?”)

    Anyway, I’m gradually expanding over time, and the temple goers see me growing in time. I don’t know what it is, except that I exhibit something unknown to me to them. It probably has to do with my Ancient upbringing and how that affects my personality and ways that I interact with people. There is one elder lady there whom I see practically every Sunday, and though we can’t speak each other’s language (I wish I did!), we have clasped hands and given hugs from time to time. She seems to have taken to me.

    I have volunteered at the temple from time to time, helping with prasāda, and picking up chairs and trash after the mela was over on Sunday. They also have seen me participate in the Garba dance for Navratri as well as a dance with sticks. I guess what it is, because I always wear my hair in a pony tail, they can see my large hearing aids, and they see me do all these things, they probably wonder “Wow, she really tries hard!” Several of them do know that I have written articles on Sanātana Dharma and read extensively on it.

    I’m grasping at straws as to the reason for our different experiences in American Saṃskṛti, but there seems to be something they sense in you that is absent in me because of my deafness and being Ancient. I don’t know if it might have to do with their experiences of disabled people in America, as I have heard the treatment there is a lot worse for them in India. I don’t know if guilt is involved with that, and they’re making up for it with better behavior in the US (I hope that’s not the case). See, Americans, even then, don’t experience people like myself very often, so it’s a bit of a surprise for them to see me do what I do in spite of my deafness. I wonder how that is for Indians who is used to not seeing much in the way of education and services for deaf Indians, resulting in lower-functioning Indians (as far as ability to verbally communicate and interact with the hearing world in general, as well as their emotional and social development within). They probably don’t expect much from deaf people because of their experience in India. I feel like sometimes, I’ve stepped back into an India where America was 35 years ago, when I was one of the first deaf American musicians (or probably THE first) to tour Europe as an orchestra/symphony percussionist. I’m probably surprising the temple goers today like I did American strangers 35 years ago, especially when I pronounce Saṃskṛta words almost natively (I wish I could learn a single language fluently, though, but I get stopped out at grammar and shut down).

    What are your thoughts on this? Praṇāma

    • Ambaa

      Yeah, I understand. Some part of me thinks if I’m in it long enough then I’ll prove myself but there’s always new people I encounter and I have to start over from the beginning.

      I feel like you are better at humility than I am! It’s hard to know from just our written conversations but I do still struggle with humbling myself and being open to being taught. Something I’m definitely working on but is continuing to be a challenge.

    • surya

      Let me start by saying that many born hindus are ignorant of their own religion. As such it is the new hindus (like you all) who have a better handle on hindu philosophy as well as the doctrines. Now, since they have cultural differences with caucasian hindus they may not quickly become pals with you all. Especially the first generation gang (Iam one of them). The second and later generation ones must be easy to get chums with. The latter ones usually dont attend mandirs, sadly they are way too americanized.

      I would rather spend time reading blogs like these than spend time with, what I call, my BMW crowd. As already said above if you go frequently to mandirs you will be winning hearts there. But still the indians are not expressive, sure they will all miss you if they dont see you ladies and gents for a couple of sundays. Indians are very warm and very affectionate once the ice is broken. There is this white girl who used to attend saint Louis mandir very regularly, and she stopped coming suddenly. She was the topic of the town, everyone asking if she is Ok , has someone offended her or some such. It so happened she got married and left town.

      Also beyond religion folks do indulge in community talk a bit on the side, alas you all have got not much to share in that realm. Next. Within hindu fold, we have our own language blocks in the mandir, as you might have noticed this scenario- some attendees suddenly switch to mother tongue and a guy from neighboring indian state would walk away, as he has no clue what the people are talking about.

      The guy who wasnt friendly on a hindu blog to Ambaa is a male authoritarian pig, as many indian hindu men are. In the matters of faith the same male dominance prevails. That said he was correct, the sects or sampradayas are of very little importance to born hindus. Only orthodox hindus are particular about sects. Anyway, I dont understand the context Ambaa was talking about, so cant comment about ti, I’m afraid.

      Yes, the ancient sages had noticed this annoying male dominance. So they have promoted one entire sampradaya and kept a female deity as its figure head and called it ‘shaktas’. How about that she standing shoulder to shoulder with shiva and vishnu..cool isn’t it. The same sages also allowed Draupadi to marry 5 husbands ( the pandava brothers) in Mahabharata. She remains the strongest female character in the epic.In the epics ,men, especially kings had had more than one wife, so the example of Draupadi is a corrective and compensatory measure of sorts. Cheer up, you dont need any authentication certificate from anybody. Chin up, no one owns hinduism, we are all equal partners in this crime : )

  • Aizlyne

    I understand how you feel and I encounter it too, but I try to look at it this way. Hinduism is so vast, that not even born, Indian Hindus can grasp it all. (I have been told this several times be said Indian Hindus). So I always go into situations like this with humility. Even if I think I understand a concept completely, I come at it with the frame of mind that maybe this person explaining it has a new twist on it – new information. There is always something to learn. Also, try to keep in mind that a lot of “know it all” western scholars have really taken over the discussion and even botch the facts sometimes. This man’s defensiveness (even if it is miss-directed) comes from a place of cultural and historical marginalization by people who have names that sound like yours and mine. It’s not fair, but it helps to remind myself that it actually has nothing to do with me personally. For many, there will never be anything we can say or do, no amount of knowledge we can have, that will make us “real Hindus” in their eyes. We have to get to a point where we’re okay with that, while also keeping our ears open to the their concerns. (Listening does not = agreeing). The best we can do is show we are genuine by our actions.

    • SE

      Aizlyne, assuming that we eventually resurrect Dharma, I think that what you are saying is that this is an awkward and sometimes painful transition period where white and non-white Dharmis are encountering each other more and more, especially with Breaking India forces very much active in India (I’m referring to Muslim minority agitators, Christian missionaries, and Maoist/Naxalite communists trying to tear apart or “balkanize” India). It is just not normal right now for Indians to encounter white Sanātanis (I can count all the white temple goers on one hand for every 200+ goers at my temple, and usually, I’m one of two, maybe three on a normal Sunday). That will change over time, a few decades maybe?

      • Aizlyne

        Yes, SE, that certainly plays a part in it. I am the only caucasian at my temple that I have ever seen and I try to go weekly if not bi-weekly. I think we’re reaching a point where Indians are both just starting to challenge Western Scholarly work on Hinduism and also where they are encountering Caucasian Hindus for the first time outside an ISKCON setting and for many it is a welcome site, bot for some it is concerning. And that’s okay. I understand their concern. That’s why I think the best response is humility and rising to the challenge of acting out our divine nature rather then getting defensive. Anger only pushes people away form us.

        • Vivek Vikram

          I see white hindus in temples in new jersey every once in a while. many of them know their way around. some come in sari some in regular american attire. I think more and more indians are used to having western hindus seen in temple.

          I am sure lot of them congregate with their kind in kirtan and satsangs around the world but I want to encourage them to come to temple and participate more and more. their mere presence is a contribution.

      • Dispal

        As per you all non-Hindus are adharmis!!!!!! What a joke…and also you are saying that all non-Hindus are breaking India!!!!! This is a serious allegation…Have you practically seen any non-Hindu indulging in anti-national activity or just by hearsay you are saying this? Don’t try to break the peace and harmony of our country by this baseless allegation..I am an Indian and a Christian..I seriously condemn such an allegation…Please keep religion and nation separate..

        • Exactly where did I say that all non-Hindus are adharmis? There are many people who are not part of any organized religion or way of life officially, yet they know to do good. Please look at the card provided below, which is about Rajiv Malhotra’s works on the topic of Breaking India forces. All documented with real individuals and real NGOs who do this work to westernize and Christianize or Islamize (depending on who is first in succeeding) India.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bb1772026415a5793024a0beddbdcfa13a2b5e9bdae866c0293a3c8f18edf54f.png

          • Dispal

            You depend on second hand information…Have you ever visited India and seen how Christian NGOs have transformed lives of poors and downtrodden thru’ their services at education and medical fields? If NGOs are breaking the fabric of India, do you thing Govt. of India will keep quiet? All NGOs are closely monitored by the Government..
            If Rajiv Malhotra is concerned about India, why he himself is not doing anything? He too can serve people especially the poor , homeless or untouchables..(untouchability is still prevalent in India…It is the fact)..Elsewhere I had read that you want to come to India and serve in a temple..You are welcome..Alongwith serving in a temple why don’t you serve the poor and untouchables also? This will really bring change in their lives and it is like serving the Almighty..
            My humble request to you is – if you do not have any first hand knowledge of Christianity and Christian practices, please do not comment on Christianity…Be at peace with Sanatana Dharma.

          • You did not answer my question. “Exactly where did I say that all non-Hindus are adharmis?” Answer it… This is not second hand information because it is documented extensively as a matter of public record. You do not know of Rajiv Malhotra’s works. He has spent over 20 years researching India’s situation and the roles of players in the situation. You obviously do not know the depth of his work, nor his history of having been in India during his sādhanā in the early years before his guru determined that he was of sufficiently clear mind to be able to pursue this work. I am repeating this exact same thing, only a year and a half into this process, and yet, I stand on his shoulders along with many others.

            Here’s what you don’t know about me. Even though I have a master’s degree, I am deaf, an Ancient (deaf person who wasn’t able to speak, read, or write until I went into a school for the deaf at seven and a half years old). As an Ancient, I am an outsider in my own culture. I have fought against being proselytized by Christians all around me all my life. They won’t leave me alone and leave me be, instead saying that I’m going to go to hell. People accosting me on the street in some of these east Texas towns for no particular reason, trying to drag me into a Jesus session and berating me for my beliefs. That is why I hide out in the country or stay with people of my beliefs or those who are aware enough of this business to not get sucked into this thing, where people think, “God created the Remington bolt-action rifle so man could kill the dinosaurs and the homosekshuals. (amen)” You have no idea what we have in our neck of the woods out here in a country that is largely Christian.

            My stepmother is a Christian and tried to get me into Bible School at the Baptist church in my town when I was growing up, and I could not mesh with it successfully because of my sense of awareness as a result of my rare opportunity at mental isolation via deafness. Two years ago, while I was living on the road (after having been forced out by my company through pay cuts and loss of access to health insurance), my stepmother put a brochure from her Methodist church in front of me and asked me to consider it, KNOWING FULL WELL MY POSITION.

            During that time, I hadn’t had full awareness that I am Sanātani and was learning about Paganism to see if it was a fit for me. I told my stepmother about it, and she said, “Why do you want to learn that crap? Look for something more respectable than that, like your Daddy’s Cherokee beliefs?” I had to tell her it was impossible, because it is largely gone, THANKS TO CHRISTIAN EFFORTS TO WIPE IT OUT. There are no Cherokees save for a small unknown handful who practice the true, Pre-Contact version of beliefs (and we, being outside of the shaman circles, do not know what is the real set of beliefs, only what has been documented by Christian missionaries) with no public acknowledgement to keep such people from seeking them out and rooting it out. It went underground, and because I look white, I will never be trusted with the knowledge of the Cherokee practices. 85% of the Cherokee enrollees of the Western Nation (those in Oklahoma state) are Baptists and live like white people in American-style houses (American property-deed laws instead of town communal standards of a Cherokee village), and the rest are some other denomination of Christianity, and a small handful in some other category. This is what YOUR Christianity has done in America. They are trying to do the same thing in India. So YES, I HAVE first-hand experience at this in the Deep South of the United States of America, in Texas of all places. My Dad sided with the Native American Church (I have Cherokee ancestry), and he told me stories of evangelical or revival trips by my Christian minister Grandfather through towns as a child (Grandma was the one with Cherokee ancestry). I was born so late in Dad’s life that I missed meeting my Grandfather altogether.

            I have had only office and retail jobs. I never had a professional job, as most deaf people in the US are underemployed. Economically, I am in the bottom 20% of America. I have worked at renaissance faires working hard, physical jobs like a bar back in pubs and a dishwasher in a kitchen of 18 cooks (no automatic dishwashing machines). I have never married nor had children because I never successfully integrated in my own culture. I’ve always been at odds with it. Even though I am poor economically, I will serve all people, poor or not. Sometimes, I volunteer at my temple as a cook assistant or picking up trash and chairs/tables at the end of events. That is all I know how to do in the practical world of work. I live on disability, and have for a very long time. I have wanted to figure out a self-sufficient way of getting off of it.

            A lot of Christian NGOs that I’ve read about in the news have a habit of offering services in EXCHANGE for attending bible studies and not respecting the needy people’s beliefs and ways of life. It is simply what Christians do. It is an imperialist, expansionist religion. They want everyone else to be like them. They want this world to be a Christian world. The Muslims do the same thing. I have experienced this myself in east Texas as a temporarily-homeless woman. The shelter requires one to attend bible studies twice a day, regardless of the beliefs of the person needing help. The person doesn’t need bible lessons… S/he need shelter, food, and a way to get back to work. Period. Religion is a personal thing, and yet, you think you have a right to dictate the conditions of assistance?? Whatever happened to the idea of service to people in need simply because it is the right thing to do, not because “I want to feel good about myself and look good in front of other people, and maybe wrangle a good job or position in hand with such observers,” and not because you need to be worthy as a Christian to receive my services? Service without expectation of anything in return. That is REAL SERVICE. The shelter I was at was obviously not an example of that. Look at several Hindu temples in my area; how many of them require that you have to attend temple in the morning before you can be served prasāda (lunch)? NONE! They will not require that you adhere to our beliefs in exchange for food, if you are so hungry.

            If you want to be more educated as a Christian and not simply blindly following what someone at the pulpit is saying (which is what most people have to do to swallow the Abrahamic Grand Narrative), then go to the list of 74 articles as instructed in the card and read all of the articles from a comparative studies perspective. Then make up your mind. At least you will have the ability to understand better the issues arising in interfaith dialogs and conduct yourself accordingly. You have no idea what you got yourself into. You have been tricked into changing sides in a civilizational battle for control over individual rights, sovereignty. I did “whiteness studies” on myself in order to understand my own potential biases as a white westerner, lest they trip me up and cause me to misunderstand something of an Indic nature.

            EDIT:

            I want to go to India, but because of my country’s biased views against gender-variant people, I am unable to obtain a passport to travel. My personal papers, which I have changed, does not match my birth record, since my state will only do an amendment to the birth record, not change the gender marker in the record itself. I have to see a doctor next month to get her to write a letter to the US Dept of State explaining my progress so that I can be given a passport. The best I can do until this is resolved is to do service at my temple. So yes, I know how Christians view LGBTQIA people.

            EDIT:

            This STILL goes on in the United States of America:

            http://deadstate.org/man-commits-suicide-after-court-ordered-christian-drug-treatment-program-tried-to-un-gay-him/

          • Vivek Vikram

            Steph, great writing. I pray the god to bless you and make your life better. you seem eloquent and knowledgeable. Keep chanting and meditating.

          • Sadanand Bhat

            I have seen the NGO missionary activity first hand in Andhra, the going rate last year to convert 70K for a family if brahmins it can be 2 lakhs, part initially and the remaining one year later. (A group of 5 people from Mizioram got caught in MP red handed 2 years ago and only one news paper reported develops the 3 monkey disease in matters of Christian or muslim misdeeds). Christians practise untouchability too (yes the media doesn’t talk about it) they used to sit seperate in the churches in Manglore. After elevating the Blacks in Africa by making them slaves of the white folks now they have descended on India to liberate the Untouchables!!

        • Sadanand Bhat

          Really!! what was all the drama and false allegations of church burnings done last year, you guys even dragged Obama into the debate and he was lecturing India on Religous tolerance! If patriots would you insult your country like that. Agree most of Christians are not anti Nationals in India, but they are hand in glove or silent when the missionaries are playing the dangerous game of soul harvesting and breeding hatred using the Dalit card nowadays. Once they are in Majority like in Nagaland Mizoram etc they want to break away from India.

    • Ambaa

      You are so right. I do try to keep my ego in check and remember that I don’t know everything. I don’t even know most things!

      But every once in a while it just really gets under my skin that I’ll never be an equal in conversations. Which is fine, really. Just reminds you that you’re different, that you’re still an outsider and always will be. (And yet people on Twitter continue to tell me that Hinduism views everyone equally and I need to stop calling myself “white Hindu”)

      • Aizlyne

        And there’s the duality too. That’s the space you have to get to. The space where it’s about your relationship with God at the source of everything. No one can separate you from God and he/she/it does not care what your body looks like. God wears many clothes, appears as many actors (we being some of them) and those actors have roles and personalities and most of all, EGOs. But divinity resides in even those who claim to be separate from us. It can also help to feel compassion for those that think we are somehow separate. It’s terrible to feel like you have to be on the defense all the time. Don’t get me wrong – when I encounter it my natural reaction inside is to be angry or sad because I so badly want to be accepted. But I try to remember, for every person who has said to me “You are and never will be a “real” Hindu” there are a hundred others who have welcomed me with open arms. Take strength from those who really see you for who you are.

        • Ambaa

          I take so much solace in this blog. This is where I first found people who told me I could be and was Hindu. I come back and read the positive and supportive comments when I need a pick-me-up 🙂

        • Vivek Vikram

          You put eloquently what I wanted to say. Well done. Thanks.

      • LOL, I recently had a conversation with a Hindu who iimmigrated to the US who said he will always be reminded that he is an outsider and different (because of the color of his skin / racism in the US), and how he wishesiI could walk in his shoes for a moment and see as he does.

        I’m not sure where irony ends and farce begins anymore. In some ways Ispeak from privilege since I’m a white American. But, I’ve been places where I am the minority and discriminated against for my skin, I’ve been in fear of my safety because of my gender. And I’ve had similar experiences to you and other responders, both here and on FB. I’ve been embraced as a sister and ridiculed to my face and behind my back. Accepted and welcomed and invited, and also literally walked through as if Iwwasn’t there and tisked at. I had one woman attempt to take the Aarti plate from me as I was offering the flame and only a few moments after it was passed to me, only to be forcibly waved back by other regulars. I’ve been told Iaabsolutely had to take part in a procession carrying Ganesha or visarjan wouldn’t be complete, only to have an elder woman publicly berate her husband for encouraging me and letting me finish the procession after I reluctantly agreed -he is a pujari at my temple.
        I have been hit on my married elder men who think I’m there for fun or too dumb to know better. After being tonsured for a children’s cancer charity -which many at my temple knew about – I was approached by an elder who started to talk to me then paused and said he had thought I was a boy. Never mind the Shalwar Kameeze or anything. =)
        I’ve got a friend who has been told Westerners who ‘attempt to be Hindu’ are trying to ‘cut in line’, as if there is some queue for God and realization. And, I too have had almost the exact same conversation you post about here, usually on Facebook though not always, usually with someone who has sought friendship or acquaintance with me, and usually ending with my spewing a ton of info back at them in a well-meaning attempt to prove myself, which only ends in apologies and the other person saying Iknow more than they do – which makes me unutterably sad because that couldn’t be further from the truth.

        What have I taken from all this… ?
        None of it matters. It’s all a big distraction from what is really important, which is the path to realization.
        Those farther along the path will recognize me for what I am, a fellow seeker in life, only. I must do my best to drop all of this drama and recognize all those around me as that as well, regardless of where they are on the path themselves.
        The cycle of struggle and repression is unending in the world as it is today. It would be great if we can all move past skin and shape and appreciate each other as living beings, but that has to start with each one of us, and fretting about these things is just giving them the attention they need to continue.
        These events and what others thinkof me have no bbearing AT ALL on my faith or on my learning or on my practice. People will see what they want or what they are able to when they look at me. I am not Hindustani, and while I dress traditionally for temple and sometimes outside of temple because I love the comfort of the clothes and the materials, I am not trying to be anything but what I am: Hindu, born into a western body this time around.

        • Ambaa

          Beautifully put!

        • Vivek Vikram

          Keep it up. There are lot of ignorant people around. I am not surprised if people like you had a better knowledge of hinduism because you guys start from scratch and critically examine the whole religion compared to guys like me who were born in india and grew up learning religion through hearsay and stuff. Plus lot of abrahamics put hindus in defensive especially with casteism as a key handle. So many hindus are ashamed of their faith and some even call themselves atheist or something just to not own up anything related to hinduism rather than fighting the incorrect blame.

          when i was in the dorm, in india, i knew christians gather in someones dorm room and pray and lecture how false evil hinduism that we can hear through the doors while passing through the aisles. yet we never belittled them. we started our kirtan chorus and they had to shut up.

          • There is a lot of context and cultural understanding that comes with being raised within a certain system that someone coming from outside will never really appreciate, no matter how hard we try or how much we learn. But thank you very much for your kindness. =)

            Similarly, being raised within a primarily Abrahamic culture and system, there is an apprehension of some of the deeper hypocrisies and ugliness that we see in that system and makes us reject it perhaps more forcefully than those currently being victimized. Indian culture has so much wonderful open-hearted understanding and tolerance for all views within it, you like to see that same understanding and tolerance in other systems. The problem is that these other systems really only preach and practice it when they are the minority, and even then it’s a back-handed kind of “tolerance” and co-existence. Once they reach majority, even slightly, the story begins to change. The core of their belief system doesn’t truly allow for co-existence because they are commanded to spread their beliefs and “save” all others. They truly believe their own ignorance that if you aren’t “saved” then you are a sinner, cursed, evil, perhaps a witch, and will burn in hell for all eternity. They take it personally and as a personal mission that they must save others.

            I know what you describe from your college. I have personally experienced Christians weeping for my “lost soul” in front of me, and others getting verbally abusive, when they couldn’t convince me of their faith. It’s unpleasant, though really I feel sorry for them that they must feel such a burden for the beliefs of others. I’m very sorry you had to go through that, though I’m happy you drowned them out with your Kirtans. ^_^ And good for you for never feeling you had to convert and for taking pride in your heritage and spirituality! More Hindustanis should, and I hope as time goes on more will.

          • Vivek Vikram

            i can totally understand what you say being raised in a system and how to try to remove those from yourself when you embrace a new thought. I can see that in western hindus and buddhists staunchly say it is a religion although I view it as non religion but encourage them to see it their own way.

            Even in india no two people see spirituality or philosophy or religion for that matter in the same way. I read somewhere that you should see god through yourself rather than through someone’s view. I totally agree with that. Religion or not is their personal matter. I don’t proselytize because i am not brought up that way. in fact i don’t cooperate much with to reveal about hinduism to western seekers because I am always afraid that i might over inform and confuse them. so I take it easily on them. indian hindus born in the USA perform stuff little uninformed e.g. they go around dieties in anti clockwise direction instead of clockwise. although i have seen temples where you are told to go anti clockwise.

            i like how you beautifully explained how people act when they are in minority and show a different face when they are in majority.

            i think hinduism is very aligned and based on human psychology and main reason for that is it has evolved with humanity and constantly debated philosophy choosing not to disregard other’s belief system by force. along with ahimsa, I think this feature gave it a tolerant skin.

            expanding more on the topic of white hindu. while there are tonne of white hindus with scholarly degrees but one of white hindu is mother in aurobindo ashram in Puducherry who is originally a french lady , came and settled in the ashram. Lot of worship her as a holy mother Mirra. There are many white hindu devotees in himalayas and throughout india at any given time. those who say whites or any non indian race cannot be hindu don’t know their history or current affairs. It is unfortunate you met an ignorant indian. forgive them and move on.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirra_Alfassa

      • Neocommunist

        I understand your dilemma,but one should always remember that in Hinduism,there is no pope,no bible,no church to certify someone as Hindu!
        We have to differentiate between Hinduism as greater cultural shelter which consists of all sects(or now called as religions) like Shaiva,Nyaya,Advaita,Dvaita,Buddhism and a specific religion within India in modern sense just like Islam,Christianity etc.
        So,when we look at it in a cultural way,there is no religion such as Hinduism and its spiritual aspect is inward looking and thus it does not concerns with your race,color,language etc.Thus,nobody can certify you as Hindu or non Hindu.Even the “shuddhi” movement of Arya Samaji was specifically to reconvert the converted Christians and Muslims.It was a practice,though necessary for those times,has no basis in Hinduism.
        Even historically,we had Indo-Greek kings like Saka,who adopted Sanskrit names and were staunch devotees of Shiva or Vishnu.We have tribes all over country that have wide divergences in their traditions and still are as Hindu as anyone else.

      • Vivek Vikram

        Ambe, I wouldn’t characterize Hinduism views everyone equal in an active speech. Because I think such a speech requires proof. But rather say it in passive speech that no body can say that someone else cannot be a hindu. if you are a human who can think, then you have views about life, past – present and future. then you have a philosophy. if the philosophy is covered in one of the hindu philosophies then you are hindu. that is why there is no body that can deny you are not a hindu. One who says so is only seeing in a narrow point of view of how you worship a diety and how you go to temple and perform your pooja etc. which are external showcase of how hindu you are. Plus there is an internal part to hinduism which is your philosophy part.

        You can be a Vishnu worshipper outside be a advaitin inside. etc although strictly by tradition shiva worshippers are advaiting as followers of Adi Shankara………. etc. etc.

        There is a reason Lord Krishna’s avatar is a mark of a perfect being. THere was a time Arjuna was in trouble and did not call Krishna to help learning Krishna would come to his rescue since Krishna knows everything. But Krishna came late and Arjuna asked him ” Krishna, I have been in trouble for quite a while and you didn’t come to rescue me. I thought you knew everything” . Krishna replied ” I did k now that you were in trouble but I had to tend a frog which was in need of my help”. Arjuna’s ego was hurt and said “Krishna how come you not help your nephew first and help a simple frog”. For this Krishna replied ” Arjuna, the frog was chanting my name “Krishna Krishna” and seeking my help. I could not ignore my bhakta even if it is a frog. Arjuna’s ego was once again demolished by The Lord Krishna.

  • Amar

    most of us Hindus when immigrate to US, usually encounter with Christian fellows who read Bible with them in a cohesive manner, at some point ask us to convert, during all that most of Hindus hear this phrase “the idolaters will be thrown in an bottomless pit”, & when they see a Caucasian in a temple, we get defensive. Getting offensive of the basis of faith isn’t possible for Hindus.
    as far as being unrepresented is concerned- it might be a concern in the past but now it isn’t the case, specially Ambaa is here,
    rest is just initial hiccups.

    • Ambaa

      And I am right there with them. I HATE being coerced by Christians and other exclusive religions. I get super defensive when I get proselytized to!

      • Throwaway

        I do not think Christianity is an “exclusive” religion, especially in its monastic form. Human interpretation is responsible for much of the bad parts. The following 2 books helped me very much in understanding this:

        1) “The Practice Of The Presence of God” (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/13871) a very short book of letters by a Christian monk, as well as

        2) the much longer and more involved “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It contains beautiful scenes dealing with a Russian Orthodox monastery, reminiscent of a guru and his disciples.

        • Dispal

          Rightly said…Christianity is not an exclusive religion…Christians are not there to convert whole globe!!! What is wrong in spreading the message of love of Jesus Christ? It is upto you to accept it or not…

          • Your statement belies a lack of knowledge of the bloody history of the Church. What you don’t seem to understand is that while the Spanish Inquisition ended hundreds of years ago, the day that killing heretics was banned, the Inquisition had to change tactics. This is the Modern Inquisition, where once killing people for refusal to convert is no longer allowed, the next best thing is going after the children through the parents. These are the soft techniques, including what is called “soul harvesting,” which is what you seem to have experienced. Read further down my direct response to your question about serving in India.

            You don’t seem to realize that you traded a way of life based on extensive experience with different modes of life having arrived at a nuanced, balanced way of life as a civilized person in balance with nature, for a desert-dwelling culture that is not based on knowledge, but based on exclusiveness. The latter civilization is a wood-burning civilization, burning everything around it instead of learning to make garlands from it. It is a destructive civilization (ask me how many trees are left in Christian-dominated Texas) arising from a hostile natural environment, the desert, where resources are scarce and people don’t trust one another for survival because there isn’t enough for everyone.

            That was not a very smart thing to do, because modern Western civilization is an example of a civilization where while it is very advanced technically speaking, it has no inner science to help control the behaviors that result in injured manufacturing employees, injured/poisoned consumers, and a damaged environment. Don’t forget the aggrandizement of the people who own and run the companies at the expense of everyone else.

            Western civilizations are “grabbing,” selfish ones. I mean, think about it. Who has most of the wealth today? How much does the rest of us have? What is our position relative to animals and nature? Dharmic civilizations tended to be inclusive and generous ones, such that everyone had a place within society, because the mindset of a Dharmi (person who lives within a dharmic civilization like India, Nepal, Himalayas, etc.) is very different. For the most part, because of the giving nature of the culture in a provident natural environment as opposed to the hostile environment of the desert regions, where Western civilization got its start, people are giving of one another, people know how to conserve resources, such that people feel secure and rarely run into shortages of anything, and have mastered the ability to live as civilized beings while living within nature in a sustainable way, a fine balance to maintain that western civilization has not managed to master to this day. Please note that I’m recalling Dharmic civilization at its height or Golden Age before the Mughal invaders showed up.

            You must learn this history in order to understand why I say that you traded an advanced mode of civilization for a spiritually-stunted one. The latter is like a child who gets ahold of matches and plays with them in the closet, and ends up setting the whole house on fire. The child did not know the power of fire once it got out of control. Our Western civilization is very dangerous as it is. Just watch the world being destroyed without some Indic-origin means of damage mitigation.

            I would suggest that you read the papers here:

            http://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/indic_mandala_frameset.htm

            Hover over Outer, then click on Overview and Essays in order to realize that much of our knowledge we have today in the Western world came from INDIA… Algebra didn’t originally come from the Arabs. It came from India by way of the Arab traders, who brought it to Europe later on. While India was in a golden era before the Mughal invasions, MY European ancestors were mired in barbarism, warring with one another, stealing from one another, and being uncivilized.

            I have worked through enough of my biases to come to accept that my Western civilization is not the apex of human civilization today, but a corruption of what could potentially be. Let’s see you work through your biases as an Indian with a colonized mind beset with an inferiority complex. I would love you to be able to see this clearly and understand the potential your Indic civilization has to offer for solutions to today’s problems (the 74 articles and the Mandala of Indic Studies web site is a good place to start).

          • Throwaway

            Indeed, one does not ever know what the next step on their spiritual pilgrimage may come from. I am a Hindu but went to a convent school growing up, and that experience – believe it or not – made me a much better Hindu. The nuns at the school were very understanding and never tried to convert ANYONE regardless of their beliefs. They actually encouraged us to learn about each others beliefs. Seeing such wonderful character from people who wholeheartedly dedicated their lives to Jesus and God without harming others… it made me realise the true greatness of God and how he transcends all boundaries.

          • Ambaa

            I’m happy to hear about good experiences with Christians. However, 80% of Christians I meet absolutely do want to convert the whole globe. Their work is not done until every person believes only in Jesus and no one else. They have seminars about how to reach more people and what tactics to use to insist that they have to become Christian. It is not all Christians but it is a majority of them.

          • Throwaway

            I would say this is probably because of their spiritual upbringing and not reaching a certain level of openness in thinking that we want from them. This – as with all things – will come with time and experience. I believe that the main fault is probably that we ourselves get frustrated with how long this “enlightenment” seems to be taking. For me, that says more about us personally than it ever says about other people.

        • That is NOT correct, Throwaway. To say that Christianity is not an “exclusive” religion is to not understand the basis or foundation of Abrahamic religions (which include Christianity, Islam, and Judaism as the big three in this category).

          You have to consider the history-centrism of each of these religions. They ARE based on what they determine to be “historical” facts. A fact is like saying that my water bottle is some shade of pink, or that it measures 11.5 inches in height. These are material facts. History is looked at in the same way. Either it happened, or it didn’t happen. There is no “in-between.” This is part of the excluded middle mindset that doesn’t allow for alternatives. The reason we say exclusive is because it doesn’t allow for alternate versions of history. What? You think they’re going to put out several canonical versions of bibles of equal standing, called “Version 1,” “Version 2,” etc.? It would never work because history centrism requires a black-and-white view of history. It either happened this way, or it happened that way. Which is it? Such scholars want it nailed down as hard facts.

          The crux in the religious wars of Western civilization is that if one version of history is proven conclusively false, without a doubt. The side proven wrong doesn’t just lose a religion, it loses EVERYTHING. It loses the hold over the people’s minds, it loses access to the money given to it in support, it loses access to the armies that many followers belong in. Plain and simple, it loses the ability to exist in power, to enforce its beliefs and hold opposing sides at bay. Why do you think the wars between Christians, Muslims, and Jews continue to this day? Because beliefs, power, and civilizational existence is at stake in entirety.

          • Throwaway

            Madam while I respect your view, I think that you are confusing human interpretation with the actual religion itself. If you take the time to read at the least the two books that I mentioned in my post you will see that the core religion is remarkably similar to Hindu principles.

            I do not dispute that there is much that has been done wrong in the name of Christianity, as also in all the religions of this world. That does not mean that the actual CORE RELIGION ITSELF is exclusive or is not beautiful. I believe that it is eminently possible to be a Christian or of any other religion and yet not be exclusive.

          • Hinduism and Abrahamic religions are not the same at all. There is a completely different civilizational outlook on life between the two.

            Nature and Animals:
            Christianity – you can use the animals and nature as you see fit to the needs of civilization.
            Hinduism – all living beings are to be respected, and civilizational needs must be balanced with nature so as not to cause unnecessary destruction.
            Order and chaos:
            Christianity – order must prevail over chaos in this battle.
            Hinduism – there is a sense of “ordered chaos” that works, thusly a sense of comfort with chaos in an ordered manner.
            History-centrism:
            Christianity – history is based on what happened, when, and where, no exceptions.
            Hinduism – history is generally treated as part fiction and part fact, with no emphasis on “it happened on this exact day.”
            God:
            Christianity – God is jealous and vengeful, to be feared, and is separate from you (dualism). He created the universe, but controls it from the outside. He is not accessible directly to the follower, only through the prophet of several thousand years ago or through some intermediary. God’s intervention into the world from outside is required for man to reach God. He is basically a tribal god at this point.
            Hinduism – God is not jealous and vengeful, nor to be feared, and in the non-dualist sampradāyas, is not completely separate from you. In other words, you have the same substrata as God has, though at this time you have an identity that apparently separates you from him in the material, unenlightened state. Some people think that you will completely merge back into Brahman, and some think that while you will reach mokṣa, you will retain some individual identity in the liberated stage. He is immanent within the creation and yet transcends it (we call it manifestation instead, as you can’t create something from nothing; something has to come from something, which is reflected in modern science’s realization of that material fact).

            There’s much more to go into on a comparative basis. Sure, you could say that all religions have some common things, like being good, respect people, etc., BUT the similarities end there. You would need to read Rajiv Malhotra’s works in the business card I posted in this discussion, the 74 articles, in order to understand better the differences between Dharmic beliefs and Abrahamic religions. Completely different worlds, and I’m glad I escaped the latter.

            What you speak of is not Christianity, but supposedly Jesus’ personal views in the company of gamblers, harlots, gender-variant, and down-trodden people instead of the institutional nightmare that it has become, and hard-line Christians don’t even follow his word.

          • Throwaway

            God is one, not two. I would advise to look for unity, not division. When you get into comparing things, you subtly create division in your own mind.

            Madam, you say “Sure, you could say that all religions have some common things, like being good, respect people, etc.” but I would stop there and say here is all the evidence that you need of God’s existence in all religions. There is no need for any “BUT” or further analysis. It is on this basis that I say that I do not think Christianity is an “exclusive” religion.
            Indeed we can condemn the sins of the followers, but do not condemn the heart of the religious belief itself.

          • Dispal

            Good response..thanks..God is one..he is not jealous or vengeful..Christians do not consider Him so..In the Old Testament, the authors have contributed these attributes to Him to instill fear of God on the readers..These books were written around 3500 years ago….But, in the New Testament Jesus Christ showed us the true nature of God…i.e.merciful and compassionate..always ready to forgive our transgressions..
            As you have mentioned, we need to stop divisions..there are bad elements in each society..there are some right wing Christian groups who carry out conversions by unethical means..Catholic Church condemns such conversions..We do not believe such conversions..Conversion should be from the heart..A Christian may find Spiritual insights in Hinduism and become or lead a Hindu life and vice versa..
            Instead of creating divisions let us all work together for the betterment of the society..
            May God Bless you..

          • Throwaway

            May God bless you too my friend, and I pray for many more people such as you to come forward in the world.

          • No. You did not use the Old/New Testmament cop-out… Okay. Take a look at this article:

            http://spencerwatch.com/2011/05/22/the-%E2%80%9Cbut-that%E2%80%99s-just-the-old-testament%E2%80%9D-cop-out/

            In response, many Christians rely on a “fall back” argument: they claim that this “doesn’t count” since “it’s just the Old Testament!” and supposedly Jesus Christ rejected the violent legacy of the OT. It is of course of paramount importance to the anti-Muslim Christians–as well as to “culturally Christian” atheists and your run-of-the-mill Islamophobes who need to prove the “uniquely” violent nature of Islam’s holy book–to neutralize the Old Testament. After all, if the Old Testament “counts”, then it would be a case of Mutually Assured Destruction (M.A.D.) to attack the Quran for its alleged violence: the Old Testament is by far the more violent book.

            There are numerous reasons the “But It’s Just the Old Testament!” Defense doesn’t do the trick:

            1) There is no explicit or categorical textual proof from the New Testament that supports the idea that the Old Testament (or the Law) “doesn’t count”. For every verse cited to prove such a claim, there is another that can be cited for the opposite view. In fact, it seems that the textual proof for the opposite view is greater, even overwhelming.
            For example, Jesus says in the Gospels:

            Matthew 5:17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

            5:18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will
            by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

            5:19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these
            commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

            And Jesus also said:

            Luke 16:17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for one dot of the Law to become void.

            There are other verses that similarly seem to affirm the importance of keeping the Law. On the other hand, the evidences used to counter this view are less explicit and less direct.

            2) Both the Old and New Testament are considered by all mainstream branches of Christianity to be“just as inspired as the New Testament.” The New Testament itself affirms the accuracy of the Old Testament:

            2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

            3:17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

            “All Scripture – This properly refers to the OldTestament… it includes the whole of the Old Testament, and is the solemn testimony of Paul that it was all inspired.” More importantly, as Catholic.com says (emphasis is ours): “Scripture — all of Scripture — is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16). This means that the Old Testament is just as
            inspired as the New Testament and thus an expression of the will of Christ.”

          • HARRY

            I am truly and honestly left speechless, slow clapping. I would never have guessed that a white woman (and a deaf one ) would know so much about the culture and historical facts about India. My one thousand naman. Still clapping. 😀

          • HARRY

            You told them what they didn’t wanted to hear. 🙂 Harry

          • Throwaway

            Sir, I for one have not responded to this because in my personal experience this whole path of reasoning is spiritually unproductive and leads more to frustration and disillusionment and despondency and division than anything else. I have literally been there and done that. An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.

          • HARRY

            An eye for an eye is truly Christian concept and a true Hindu will never use.

          • Throwaway

            Perhaps sir, but what would you call this fighting if not “an eye for an eye”?

          • HARRY

            Just simple discussion, and the difference between two religions and the under hand tactics used by Christians for means of conversion.

            People who comes to sanatan dharma comes with their own choice, but this is not the same when it comes to Christianity, they are converted.

          • Throwaway

            But sir, there is definitely a very negative slant to the Christian side of the differences. I would call that “going for the eye”.

            Also, with regards to people coming to Christianity (or any other religion) “not of their own choice” I most definitely disagree with you. Ultimately it is COMPLETELY their own choice even if we may not like it. Nobody can change your mind for you, you have to change it yourself, and live with the decision.

          • HARRY

            With only certain percentage that may be their choice but for majority it’s not. The people I am talking about are the ones that are given incentives to be part of Christianity and I have witnessed this first hand with my own eyes in 2012.

            I am not trying to give you hard time.

            your choice may be out of free will but what I witnessed was a travesty. This is what we are taking about. No Hindu will do what Christian do today.

          • Throwaway

            Sir I would argue that your argument about forced conversion would apply rather to the minority, else there would be a much greater outcry than there currently is, even among the Hindu population. When I say forced conversion here I am talking about things like conversion on pain of death. Anything else can be placed under conversion because of free will. We may not like it, but that is what it is.

            Sir I do not dispute that you have witnessed “encouraged” conversions, but I would never call them “forced”. Some of my own family converted to Christianity because of reasons of poverty and despair with their situation in life. They were promised help by the Church if they would convert. I would never say that their conversion was forced. They saw Christianity as a viable option, so they took it. After a while they rejected Christianity because they saw through the motives of the pastor, but ultimately it was all their own choice, and they were the ones who had to live with it.

          • HARRY

            Yes, you are right at some extent, but the biggest problem and issues are once you rejecte something you can not go back to either. This normally leaves people isolated and rejected from the very concept once they loved. I don’t think it is possible for people to go back to what it was. This is same as repairing a thread, you will get a knot in it, and it will not be like before .

            When you are a child this is fine but as an adult it is not possible. I think Ambaa’s parents will tell you this from what they know, and the the things they have faced.

          • Throwaway

            Sir, I can tell you that these days nobody even really remembers that my family converted; it’s like it never happened. But I will also agree with you to some extent. Where I live there is no stigma in going back to a previous religion (or at least not much), but I can definitely see that in many countries it may be that “you cannot go back”.

            I would lay the fault of this “hesitation to go back” squarely at the feet of the original religious community. They should make greater efforts to reduce the social “stigma” of reverting to your previous religion.

            I must thank you for a stimulating conversation.

          • HARRY

            I come from humble background but my biggest questions is this, what made you and your family choose Christianity, just for curiosity . What ever you decide to tell me I will not judge you because we all have needs. So why? Why not any other.

          • Throwaway

            Sir, first let me say that I am a Hindu and have always been one. The conversion was my aunt and her family, but I was living with them at the time. They are not well off at all and my uncle’s business was struggling, and things were looking very bad. They are Hindu but believe in things like animal sacrifice. The church promised them some help and hope that “God would help them” and that their lives would be better. For some reason they accepted the priest’s words, but things really did not change. In fact the priest started to demand tithes from them on an already meagre income. After a few months of this my uncle realised that the Church there just wanted his money and didn’t really care about his family’s material or spiritual welfare. He thought about what he had done, and realised that he had made a mistake. So he went back to being Hindu.

          • After independence, the hand of Christian missions has
            been manifest in violent secessionist uprisings in Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura. Christian missions in these areas have not been loathe to join hands with the Communists who have pursued the same aim in cooperation with Red China. It has cost India vast sums of money for meeting the menace militarily. Thousands of lives have been lost. And the fires lighted by the Christian missionaries are still smouldering under the surface in spite of concessions made in the shape of several Christian majority States.

            Source: HISTORY OF HINDU-CHRISTIAN ENCOUNTERS AD 304 TO 1996 Sita Ram Goel Voice of India, New Delhi

          • Throwaway

            Madam I understand where your points are coming from. I have been down this road of inquiry, and personally it led me to more frustration and anger and hatred and division than anything else in my life. I do not deny that there are bad people in the world or bad things. I have experienced conversion and underhand Church practices personally in my family. However thanks to the grace of God I eventually managed to overcome my bad feelings to some extent and realise that there is a core of goodness in all religious traditions. It is this core goodness that I speak of, and not the twisted views which seem so common. The mere fact that this core goodness exists, shows me that any differences and any bad things attributed to religion are actually all because of humans, because God is perfect and good and therefore it is him that shines through in this common goodness.

          • Ambaa

            But human interpretation is exactly the problem :-/

          • Throwaway

            I think where we are disagreeing is in what we name as “Christianity”. I name the core religion as “Christianity” and not any bad actions of the followers (which we can lump under human interpretation).

          • Ambaa

            But that’s the core religion as you define it with your own biases. Others define the core of Christianity very differently than you do.

          • Throwaway

            Perhaps. I do not look at it in an exclusive way. Swami (Sathya Sai Baba) said we have to have a big mind (vishal) not a narrow one. In that context, I believe that taking the “big” view of Christianity is correct, especially because it’s consistent with the “big” view of all other religions. Technically I guess it is my bias.

          • Ambaa

            I feel like just because I can find a way to interpret Christianity in a way that fits with my beliefs doesn’t mean I’m more right about “true Christianity” than people who identify as Christians.

          • Throwaway

            But are we not supposed to try and be more like God? Is God biased? Does God believe in subterfuge, lies, and deceit? Does God do underhanded things? Even according to Jesus, God condones none of those negative things. Perhaps I am not right, but then these Christians are less right than I might be.

        • Ambaa

          I agree that Christianity does not have to be exclusive. There are ways to interpret it that are very dharmic. But most people are not interpreting it that way. To me that is human error. But it is very prevalent human error and the Christians who are causing problems in the world are the ones who believe that one MUST be Christian. If you don’t call God Jesus then you are doomed for all eternity.

          • Throwaway

            For me personally, those who believe that one MUST be Christian are not true Christians. As far as I know Jesus never qualified anything he said as applying to “Christians” only (I might technically be wrong here, but I do not think I am wrong in spirit).

          • Ambaa

            I agree! But then all the Christians who believe in exclusivity (usually quoting Jesus saying “no one comes to the Father but through me” ) say those who don’t think Jesus is the only way aren’t real Christians.

            I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I appreciate my Christian friends who don’t see it as exclusive. It’s great for us each to enjoy our respective religions. But my experience has been that the many Christians who do see it as exclusive are causing a lot of suffering and hurt in the world.

            I don’t blame jesus for that but I think it’s important to be aware of the agenda many of his followers have to destroy all religion that isn’t their exact brand of Christianity.

            I’ve been present at meetings where Christians discussed the best strategies for luring people away from their own faith (“act interested”, “pretend to care”, “learn about their faith so you know its weaknesses and can tear it apart”)

          • Throwaway

            In context, Jesus said he was going away, and someone asked him how they would find the way to him, and he said the way was through him. I believe he was just emphasising that they needed to follow his teachings to “find” him and God and not stray to their old beliefs.

            I had a discussion with a Christian friend once, where he said that he had brought many people to Jesus. I told him that it was not actually him that brought anyone to Jesus. People make up their own minds, nobody can change your mind for you. Every action that a person takes, is according to a decision that they have made in their own mind. The action must have been consistent with their own beliefs at the time for them to have made it. If they made the decision out of ignorance, then so be it. Every step they make is on their own spiritual path, and all paths eventually lead to God. Maybe the path will take many lives to get through, nobody knows.

            That being said, you are right in saying it’s good to be aware of the agenda of these underhand Christians. I just don’t think that we should tar Christianity with the same brush as its bad followers.

          • Ambaa

            You make great points and I admire your ability to maintain a view of unity instead of division. I strive for that myself (and don’t always succeed!)

            I struggle with how to speak about the problems that these “incorrect Christians” cause in the world without becoming anti-Christian, which is not my intent.

            It’s similar, I think, to how we struggle to talk about what Islamic terrorists do without turning anti-Muslim.

            How can we discuss these people who seem to have gotten their own religion so very wrong? I’m not sure that I as an outsider can say that they are not really of the religion that they themselves identify as being, you know?

            How can I condemn the actions of conversion-obsessed exclusivists without being anti-Christian or anti-Muslim? I am very interested in your thoughts on this!

          • Throwaway

            Personally I don’t think there are any easy answers. To start with, the only way to approach is from a position of knowledge, so I suppose the first step is to become knowledgeable about the religion in question. But to actually really be able to tackle the issues, you have to have some passion for that religion itself, I think. Surface debating won’t accomplish anything. Having said that, seeing the essence in your own religion will make it much easier to see the real essence in another religion, which will give a good basis for dialogue.

            Ever since I read the life of Mahatma Gandhi, I cant help but think of how he resolved conflicts. He did his best to understand both sides of the situation. And he used to say “hate the sin and not the sinner”. As an example, he tried very hard to encourage the spinning of Indian cloth to fight British industry that was killing the village industries. This severely impacted the Lancashire textile mills. Yet, when he went to England, he went to Lancashire and tried to understand the view of the very mill workers whose work his movement was destroying. Above all, he was honest in his intentions. He went merely to seek truth.

            I don’t have any clear answer, but I guess what I am saying is: What is most important of all is your intention. Go in seeking truth, and leave the outcome to God. Everything else will work itself out in time.

          • Ambaa

            “leave the outcome to God.” Now where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, from Sri Krishna. lol. Wise advice, my friend.

      • Amar

        HATE on the basis of faith is the thing we do not like, but it too isn’t liked that someone tries to tell us what is good for us and what not. Hate is your personal thing.

  • Throwaway

    Sometimes things happen that affect us very much in a bad way, and we find ourselves experiencing them time and again. I have often wondered why this is, and for me there could be two reasons:

    1) Every occasion is an opportunity for you to confront and get over some problem or issue inside yourself that you are struggling with on your spiritual path (a swami I once heard called it “sandpapering”).

    2) If this issue does not personally affect you any more and yet you still experience it, then perhaps God has brought the situation about so that your (proper) response to it is a lesson to someone else watching, possibly even the instigator.

    • Ambaa

      I do really hope that my experiences will help others, which is a big reason why I blog.

      I point out these little moments and highlight them because I think it’s important to know that there are issues for a non-Indian Hindu and not try to gloss over it all. I try to highlight the good stuff too. But I want people to get a chance to sort-of walk in my shoes and see through my eyes. We all have so much to learn about one another’s experiences!

  • HARRY

    The problem is very simple. Hinduism comes with cultural and historical baggage and those who are missing this are seen as not real because Hindus have been persecuted by all those who have ruled India for 1000 years and the struggles they’ve faced. Even though they said that they will be fair with them they soon changed and that is why people find this difficult to digest the sincerity of the outsiders. This is the main reason.

    • Ambaa

      Absolutely.

  • Lokesh

    I’m an Indian living in India and an american couple living here taught me Yoga, Meditation. I’ve found Western Hindus more spiritual compared to the Indian Hindus, simply for the reason it was philosophy that drew them to Hinduism in the first place. Where as most of the Hindus in India do not know their scriptures or philosophy, they mistake it for culture (which is an effect not cause), only if Indians knew the content of their scriptures:(

    Such a shame, especially when the Abrahamic religions are all out on converting the whole globe. Hindus are content with being frogs of the well

    • Ambaa

      Interesting! I think we converts can be more interested in the spiritual world because we’ve had to fight to get access to it, you know? We’ve had to put work in to find this Truth. I think people who are born with access to it don’t always realize what they have.

  • Amith Malik

    This happens among Indian people as well. People always have something to say. Its human nature. People believe they do it right and everyone else does it wrong. Heres a picture to explain it : https://lssundar.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/opinions-dont-stop.jpeg

    So don’t let that get to you.

  • I can understand your frustration. You should not allow the prejudiced behavior of some fools to disturb you. I read your blog because I see Hinduism from a new perspective.

  • Vivek Vikram

    Ambaa you must understand that there are lot of empty vessels and don’t take them seriously. sometimes it is like blind men feeling and elephant and describing it.