What We’re Up Against

What We’re Up Against September 11, 2019

A friend shared this image of a deleted tweet in a group I’m in on Facebook.


It’s so staggeringly ignorant that I’m at a loss for words (which doesn’t often happen to me). It’s easy for me to forget that many, many people, even people who are connected to India or live in India, see Hinduism as this backwards gross belief system. Which is bizarre.

This is the religion that inspired Emerson and Thoreau, the religion that inspired Martin Luther King Jr., the religion that gave us Gandhi. Far from being backwards and base, it has one of the most scientifically advanced methods of thought in the entire world. It has given us meditation and yoga.

People in the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have a hard time comprehending it because it is a radically different way of thinking about divinity. Based on her last name, this woman has a background in Islam.

What people who know little about Hinduism should realize is that it is very similar to its sister religion of Buddhism. It has much more in common with Buddhism than with the Abrahamic faiths. Many seem not to realize that Buddhism was founded by a Hindu. There are a significant number of Hindus who view Buddhism as a branch of Hinduism.

Hinduism can be confusing, strange, and dramatically different from anything you are used to. I’ve written before about how Hinduism should not need to be sanitized for a western audience and I must amend that to say that it should not need to be sanitized for a non-Hindu audience. If you don’t understand Hinduism, then take a step back and observe. Learn and set aside your biases. Don’t go spreading absurd accusations. If you don’t understand it, keep your mouth shut.

The one good thing I can say about this is that it’s eye opening. Hindus are dealing with a lot of prejudice against our faith and it seems like most of the western world doesn’t believe that. They see Hindus being the majority in India and assume that means that they have all the power. But there is frightening misunderstanding of Hinduism all over the world including in India.

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  • Agni Ashwin

    Many seem not to realize that Buddhism was founded by a Hindu.

    I wouldn’t go that far.

    • Jeff Messer

      I dont see how this is “too far” to go at all. It’s rather accurate.

      • Agni Ashwin

        By the time Gautama awakened, he had been a Shramana for quite some time.

        • Jeff Messer

          the sramana were vedic weren’t they? I thought it was well settled that he studied with the ascetics before reaching enlightenment. like for 7 years right?

          • Some Shramanas were Vedic. But the Shramanas that Siddhartha studied under were non-Vedic.

          • Jeff Messer

            Well, I agree with you and I don’t agree with you. I recognize the sramanistic differences noted between buddhist and hindu thought. As a former buddhist I’ve just always viewed that difference as hinduism being the more advanced version of a similar overall philosophy. The dhammapada and many of the koans originate from vedic thoughts and are contained within the upanishads. BUT the differences you are pointing to are the very reasons I moved past buddhism to advaita vedanta. The rituals of early vedic writings represent (to me) the same types of actions as the asceticism practices learned by the Buddha before he reached clarity under the bodhi tree. I am not a practitioner of bhakti as I believe in a jnana path to moksha vice actions. But I don’t talk those down because that is merely MY path. I see the actions and practices as aligning people’s universes and influences and personal endeavors in a fashion similar to that of the deities or mentors they wish to emulate. I don’t believe it’s necessarily some mystical thing – just more like following examples from the past that we consider successful. It’s just not the way that I follow. Now the issue of the self was my lynchpin to leaving my old buddhist beliefs. I believe in the self as brahman. SO there i have a clear divergence from my old buddhist brethren, but I still claim buddha never said there was no self. He merely said it was an illusion. much like saying “jagat mitthya”. So I agree with you in some parts, and disagree about others. I think ancient buddhists were influenced by the philosophies that would shape sanatana dharma.

  • paul nicholas

    Found that comment about the “sanitizing” of Hinduism especially in regards to the Krishna West project of ISKCON.

    Probably the strangest text message I’d ever received was from a devotee who’d just gotten out of a planning meeting with Jiva Goswami to take that project world wide. She thanked me for inspiring her to spearhead that work,,, had no clue whatsoever that my refusal to submit to her school of thought or teachers had nothing to do with a bigoted discomfort for the murtis or idols.

    In regards to the initial bigoted commentary,,, it’s reveals far more about the person who penned it than it does Hindu practices. The question in the moment is how to respond to such a thing. As a young man in a state of disturbance I sought the counsel of an older man. I told him of my honestly found distress and his response was simply “when engaged with a fool make sure the fool is not likewise engaged”. Regards P