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A Hindu was flying from JFK New York Airport to SFO San Francisco Airport CA to attend a meeting at Monterey, CA. An American girl was sitting on the right side, near window seat. It indeed was a long journey - it would take nearly seven hours. He was surprised to see the young girl reading a Bible unusual of young Americans. Some TRUE Christians do you read Bibles on the planes; young and old alike. Also there is not standard of usual or unusual for Americans. American religion, culture, and ethnicities is broad and not uniform. After some time she smiled and we had few acquaintances talk. He told her that I am from India Then suddenly the girl asked: 'What's your faith?' 'What?' He didn't understand the question. 'I mean, what's your religion? Are you a Christian? Or a Muslim?' 'No!' He replied, 'He am neither Christian nor Muslim'. Apparently she appeared shocked to listen to that. 'Then who are you?' “I am a Hindu�, He said. She looked at him as if she was seeing a caged animal. She could not understand what He was talking about. I believe many people have an idea of Hinduism, especially in America, where there are many Hindu Temples with the increase of Indian population. Hindi is one of top 5 spoken languages in America. However, there can be people who do not know anything about it. A common man in Europe or US knows about Christianity and Islam, as they are the leading religions of the world today. But a Hindu, what? He explained to her - I am born to a Hindu father and Hindu mother. Therefore, I am a Hindu by birth. 'Who is your prophet?' she asked.

'We don't have a prophet,' He replied. Prophets in Christianity are men of God, who brought to the public revelation. The Sanskrit equivalent of word prophet is Rishi. With this meaning there are many prophets in Hinduism. Each prophet aided in developing different sects in Hinduism. Examples are Anamya, Ramadas, Thyagaraja, Ramanuja, even Valmiki who pend the Ramyana. For a more technical answer read carefully Hinduism recognizes and reveres thousands of Rishis, who can be thought of as the collective founders of the Hindu religion over many millennia. Of these, special importance is given to the Saptarshi (the Seven Sages), widely regarded as Patriarchs of the Hindu religion, whose listing is different according to different texts. The Saptarshi and their clans are believed to have composed the hymns of the four Vedas by entering into communion with the Supreme Cosmic Spirit through meditation. For instance, Rigveda 1.1 is attributed to Rishi Madhucchandā Vaishwāmitra (i.e. Madhucchandā of the clan of Vishwāmitra). Most Rishis were male, but there were some female Rishikās too. Lopāmudrā is the authoress of one hymn in the Rigveda, and Gārgī Vāchaknavī is described in the Brihadāranyaka Upanishad as a highly respected woman in the field of Brahmajñāna. Apart from the Vedas, various Rishis are also credited with composing the several Smriti texts, like Vedavyāsa who composed the Mahābhārata.

'What's your Holy Book?' 'We don't have a single Holy Book, but we have hundreds and thousands of philosophical and sacred scriptures,' He replied. Correct Hinduism has many books, but for mainstream Hinduism it is Śruti and Smriti, which contains many books within it. Then for each sect there are other books. Similarly there is the Bible and many books within it. 'Oh, come on at least tell me who is your God?' 'What do you mean by that?' 'Like we have Jesus and Muslims have Allah - don't you have a God?' He thought for a moment. Muslims and Christians believe one God (Male God) who created the world and takes an interest in the humans who inhabit it. Her mind is conditioned with that kind of belief. Actually the Christian thinking of God is very similar to mainstream Hinduism. Where there is one Para-Brahma, manifested

in form of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva in Hinduism. Likewise in main stream Christianity there is God, who is expressed in three persons: Father, Jesus, Son. So both religions have a trinity with different understanding. According to her (or anybody who doesn't know about Hinduism), a religion needs to have one Prophet, one Holy book and one God. The mind is so conditioned and rigidly narrowed down to such a notion that anything else is not acceptable. He understood her perception and concept about faith. You can't compare Hinduism with any of the present leading religions where you have to believe in one concept of God. Most religions have many prophets, not just one. They may have a major prophet, but there will be many other prophets. He tried to explain to her: 'You can believe in one God and he can be a Hindu. You may believe in multiple deities and still you can be a Hindu. What's more - you may not believe in God at all, still you can be a Hindu. An Atheist can also be a Hindu.' Yes this is true, however most Indian Atheists would not consider themselves Hindu. Also to Hinduism, everyone is born a Hindu, and a apart of god. Technically a Christian, Muslim, Atheist are all Hindus in this mind set; but considered Dalit status‌ almost sub human. This sounded very crazy to her. She couldn't imagine a religion so unorganized, still surviving for thousands of years, even after onslaught from foreign forces. 'I don't understand but it seems very interesting. Are you religious?' What can He tell to this American girl? He said: 'I do not go to Temple regularly. I do not make any regular rituals. I have learned some of the rituals in my younger days. I still enjoy doing it sometimes'. 'Enjoy? Are you not afraid of God?' 'God is a friend. No- I am not afraid of God. Nobody has made any compulsions on me to perform these rituals regularly.' She thought for a while and then asked: 'Have you ever thought

of converting to any other religion?' 'Why should I? Even if I challenge some of the rituals and faith in Hinduism, nobody can convert me from Hinduism. Because, being a Hindu allows me to think independently and objectively, without conditioning. I remain as a Hindu never by force, but choice.' He told her that Hinduism is not a religion, but a set of beliefs and practices. It is not a religion like Christianity or Islam because it is not founded by any one person or does not have an organized controlling body like the Church or the Order, I added. There is no institution or authority. A religion is a set of beliefs and practices. According to religion is, “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices genera lly agreed upon by a number of persons orsects:� Christianity and Islam are not founded by one person. And there is not a controlling organization for Evangelical Christians. There may be a local church which provides some organization. Just as there are Hindu Temples which have organization to function, so do churches. For different Hindu sects and denominations there are places of institution and authority, such as Sai Baba, Swami Narayan, and many more. 'So, you don't believe in God?' she wanted everything in black and white. 'I didn't say that. I do not discard the divine reality. Our scripture, or Sruthis or Smrithis - Vedas and Upanishads or the Gita - say God might be there or he might not be there. But we pray to that supreme abstract authority (Para Brahma) that is the creator of this universe.' 'Why can't you believe in one personal God?' 'We have a concept - abstract - not a personal god. The concept or notion of a personal God, hiding behind the clouds of secrecy, telling us irrational stories through few men whom he sends as messengers, demanding us to worship him or punish us, does not make sense. I don't think that God is as silly as an autocratic emperor who wants others to respect him or fear him.' He told her that such notions are just fancies of less educated human imagination and fallacies, adding that generally ethnic

religious practitioners in Hinduism believe in personal Gods. The entry level Hinduism has over-whelming superstitions too. The philosophical side of Hinduism negates all superstitions. Hinduism does teach that God wants pure Dharma on the earth. Hence Para Brahma mainly through the form of Vishnu has come to earth to punish evil and restore Dharma. Also right now we are in the last Hindu Age, where Kalki will come to punish man and restore perfect Dhamara. It is apparent; God in the Hindu mind is personal, actually very personal. So much so that a Idol becomes god, and must be treated as so. Also God can poses and talk to its followers. God in the Christian mind only wants man to willingly love him and to do that which is righteous. Para-Brahma wants perfect Dharma for its follower to achieve moksha and mukthi through the ladder of the cast system. The last statement above indicates this Hindu does not agree… what is accepted by most Hindus and that most Hindus practices are for the ignorant. This statement is not good! 'Good that you agree God might exist. You told that you pray. What is your prayer then?' 'Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavantu. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti,' लोका समस्ता सखु िनो भवन्तु !!! ॐ शानन्तिः शानन्तिः शानन्तिः !!! 'Funny,' she laughed, 'What does it mean?' 'May all the beings in all the worlds be happy. Let there be Peace, Peace,and Peace every where.' 'Hmm ..very interesting. I want to learn more about this religion. It is so democratic, broad-minded and free' she exclaimed. 'The fact is Hinduism is a religion of the individual, for the individual and by the individual with its roots in the Vedas and the Bhagavad-Gita. It is all about an individual approaching a personal God in an individual way according to his temperament and inner evolution - it is as simple as that.' He said previously there is no personal God, is he changing his mind? The rest of the sentence applies to most faiths.

'How does anybody convert to Hinduism?' 'Nobody can convert you to Hinduism, because it is not a religion, but it is a Culture, a way of leaving life, a set of beliefs and practices. Everything is acceptable in Hinduism because there is no single Authority or Organization either to accept you or to reject you or to oppose you on behalf of Hinduism.' This is partly true, for instance the Agori people who eat dead corpses by Ganga consider themselves as Hindu, but mainstream Hinduism looks down upon them. Another example is the Hijra community, but they are not welcomed. Yes Hinduism is accepting but in a discriminating way accepts all. Yes there is technically a conversion process, otherwise how can non-Indian-Hindu communities been established in Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and etc exists, having a cast system and etc. It is because Brahmins from India were invited to convert and establish Dharma. In addition the form of Hinduism is more loving towards Dalits, unlike in India. Furthermore in Hinduism, everyone is a Hindu, and anyone not born in a non-Hindu home belongs to Dalit like status, because based on that person previous life’s karma he was not worthy to born into a Hindu home. He told her - if you look for meaning in life, don't look for it in religions; don't go from one cult to another or from one Guru to the next. For a real seeker, He told her, the Bible itself gives guidelines when it says ' Kingdom of God is within you.' I reminded her of Christ's teaching about the love that we have for each other. That is where you can find the meaning of life. There is no verse in the Bible saying “Kingdom of God is within in you.” The meaning of life for Christians is love; more specifically to love God first and love mankind second. How we love various from religion to religion. Also no one is born Christian; a person must decide if he wants to be a Christian, this applies for those born in a Christian home as well. Loving each and every creation of the God is absolute and real. 'Isavasyam idam sarvam' Isam (the God) is present (inhabits) here everywhere - nothing exists separate from the God, because

God is present everywhere. Respect every living being and nonliving things as God. That's what Hinduism teaches you. This is only one aspect of Hinduism, the Main objective is to escape reincarnation and obtain salvation. How one chooses to do this varies from sect to sect. Hinduism is referred to as Sanathana Dharma, the eternal faith. It is based on the practice of Dharma, the code of life. The most important aspect of Hinduism is being truthful to oneself. Hinduism has no monopoly on ideas. It is open to all. Hindus believe in one God (not a personal one) expressed in different forms. For them, God is timeless and formless entity. Ancestors of today's Hindus believe in eternal truths and cosmic laws and these truths are opened to anyone who seeks them. But there is a section of Hindus who are either superstitious or turned fanatic to make this an organized religion like others. The British coin the word 'Hindu' and considered it as a religion. Hindu is not a British term but a Persian term. And Fanatical Hindus can be from organized and unorganized situations. Although Hinduism teaches Sanathana Darma, there is more violence amoung Hindus and Hindus against other faiths. This happens daily in India, killing of little children and women because they are in the way. We can see this in Hindi movies, one example is Aakrosh. Another instance a whole Zorastrian community whipe-out in a Hindu community in 1996. Indian culture is beautiful, I am proud to be a part of this culture. But Hindu India has many problems and many innocent people lose their lives under Hinduism today in India. Much due to racism, sexism and discrimination amounst Hindus. Even in cities we see women being raped on busses; the same Hindus who worship Mata Devi. Why the inconsistencies in its followers especially in the commoners? He said: 'Religions have become an MLM (multi-level- marketing) industry that has been trying to expand the market share by conversion. The biggest business in today's world is Spirituality. Hinduism is no exception' He said "I am a Hindu primarily because it professes Nonviolence - 'Ahimsa Paramo Dharma' means - Non violence is the highest duty. I am a Hindu because it doesn't condition my mind with any faith system.

A man/woman who changes his/her birth religion to another religion is a fake and does not value his/her morals, culture and values in life. This is false. If one is searching for truth and if his faith does not give him the faith he wants, what is wrong? The purpose is to form a relationship with God? Hinduism is the original rather a natural yet a logical and satisfying spiritual, personal and a scientific way of leaving a life.. Hinduism has good aspects, I cannot say it logical. Where Vishnu is held to be Para-Braham and by others Shiva, and by some other deities. Where human dung is holy by the Agori and unholy by others. Where Dalits are mal-treated, but in Hinduism teaches non-violence? Where there are Humans, and Humans considered lower than Humans. Where widows are to abandon the joys of life and much more are recorded in the Hindu Scriptures. However the normal Hindu has probably not even read one Holy Book in its completion. Simply to them it is a lifestyle in ignorance of the reasons why they do certain things. With knowledge comes the escape of salvation. What is mentioned in the article is rather wishy-washy Hinduism, with a brief explanation of what he thinks it means to him. Not even one quote from the scriptures except one prayer? I challenge my Hindu brothers to read your scriptures for yourself and find out what it means, you will be questioned! Read and study and find the truth to salvation that is the goal of a Hindu! -By Rajsingh Ramanjulu P.S I do not intend to bash Hinduism, but to bring to focus the lack of knowledge most have of it and the inconsistencies in the article. Asatoma Sadhgamaya, Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya, Mrutyoma Amritamgamaya‌ Jai Hind


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