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Hindu and Westerner

Discussion in 'Hinduism DIR' started by nancycosmo, Jun 14, 2015.

  1. nancycosmo

    nancycosmo New Member

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    hello,

    I am very new to hinduism but its always been something I was interested in after visiting a local temple for a school trip 10 years ago.
    I have been practicing Wicca for going on three years now but I wanted to see if this would be a better fit. Wicca has a lot of similarities like karma, reincarnation, etc.
    I am a caucasian female though and Ive read viewpoints that you are only considered Hindu if you were born into it and if you are Indian and I want to understand how I would truely be viewed if I do decide to live this life including such things as wearing a Sari/Saree & bindi, going to temples etc.

    Even though ive read that id be looked at as a fake, or a mockery, I dont understand why a loving religion would not appreciate someone of a different culture believing that this is the perfect way to live. I almost feel like its a form of racism itself.
    Is there a particular sect that I should research, as a "westerner"

    Can I get your opinions on this? I would love to hear honesty and not what the morally correct answer is.

    thank you!
     
  2. spiritualhitchhiker

    spiritualhitchhiker neti, neti, neti

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    I don't know anything about Wicca, what is Karma called in Wicca? You should visit ISKCON temple or something, they'll tell you or convert you into Hindu.
     
    #2 spiritualhitchhiker, Jun 14, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2015
  3. nancycosmo

    nancycosmo New Member

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    Karma in Wicca is the threefold law...what you put out there(good or bad) comes back to you times three! :)
     
  4. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Dear Nancycosmo,
    1. I suggest that you go to a main-line Hindu temple, that would mean not Hare-Krishna, not Swaminarayan and not Arya Samaj. It could be a North Indian temple, could be a South Indian temple or could be a Sri Lankan, Fijian, Jamaican Hindu temple; that does not matter.
    2. The first step in knowing about Hinduism is to read about it. You can get the initial information in Wikipedia, BBC or About.com pages on Hinduism. Read the mythological stories, Ramayana, Mahabharat and many others in Bhagawat Purana. After that read the Upanishads and BhagawatGita. The Upanishads are short treatises on Hindu philosophy.
    2a. Don't be bewildered by various different views given in the books. Hinduism is a very flexible, free-form religion and its adherents have the right to have or form their own views. For example, I am an strong atheist but still very much a Hindu.
    3. It is not true that you have to be born a Hindu. Millions of people all over the world have come to Hinduism from other faiths. If you know a little about Hinduism then you will be able to adjust more easily among the Hindus. Sari, bindi, temple going is common among Caucasions who have adopted Hinduism.
    3a. If you know about Hinduism, then no one will think that you are a fake or mocking us. Whether the Hindu way to live is perfect or not, do not decide just now. First experience Hinduism. Many of the members here are Westerners. See the topics mentions at the bottom. There will be some which may interest you.
    4. I think you should not do that at the moment. Just be non-sectarian for the moment. That may come in time, but is not compulsory. Regards,
     
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  5. Fireside_Hindu

    Fireside_Hindu Jai Lakshmi Maa

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    Like Aup says I would do more reading and also, if you can, visit the nearest temple and ask questions. That may seem intimidating but I've found that people are very open to answering questions, very friendly and truly welcoming. You may get some stares but understand that many time westerners come to temples to "gawk at the weird Hindoos", not to learn anything. Also, a lot of the time westerners call themselves Hindu without knowing what that really means or they only take bits and pieces from Indian culture and Eastern religions and mash them together, only to find out a year or two later it's not right for them and then leave. But by then they've already spread a false perception of what Hinduism is among their family and friends, and thus this misunderstanding turns into a negative thing for a lot of Indian Hindus. So, it may take tie for other Hindus t warm up to you. Just be patient and humble and learn all you can.
     
  6. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita Vedanta, Theosophy, Spiritualism
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    I see no problems for you and just don't feel self-conscious if just a few people look at you inquisitively. In my books you are a Hindu to you if you say you are Hindu; nobody holds authority over you but you.

    If you are in the west 99% will be positive anyway; for the 1% I suggest the middle finger ritual.:)
     
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  7. Satyamavejayanti

    Satyamavejayanti Well-Known Member

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    Namaste,

    and welcome, ill give my opinion but its coming from a Indian Hindu and please don't judge all Indian Hindus as having the same opinion as mine.

    I think this is a "typical", way of "westerners", to get introduced to Hinduism, It is something different and exotic, something quite apart from the usual religions of the west. Can i ask how you felt or if you can recollect the feeling when you first encountered a Hindu temple? Was temple etiquette explained to you as a visiting student? if you cant remember, then i think the first step in your journey would be to visit a Temple a couple of times to get a picture of the community and the way people worship in Hinduism.

    I saw your reply about the Wicca three fold Law, but i would be hesitant to equate it to Karma. What about re-incarnation in Wicca, if you can give a brief explanation?, and how is the re-incarnation of Wicca linked to the three fold Law?

    I think wearing a Sari, Bindi and going to temple is only a superficial part of Hinduism, even Indian Christians can wear a Sari, Bindi or go to a Temple, there is really not much "Hindu" about these cultural things, and it could probably be seen as mockery especially if you are a westerner because of this reason.
    I suggest leave the Sari and Bindi part for much later, visit the temples as who you are, not pretending to be someone who you are not (obviously modesty at temples are a must for both Men and Women). Did you know that in some places in India Mother Mary wears a Sari and a Bindi, people also do Hindu style prayers to her, but obviously the metaphysics are not compatible and generally this in-culturation is done for the purpose of converting. This is probably one reason that many Indian Hindus would be hesitant in accepting non Indians.

    Well it seems that you want some sort of acceptance from Hinduism, something akin to what other "loving", religions require. If Hinduism did not appreciate other cultures then how did it spread all across south east Asia, from (now) Afghanistan to Bali?

    Can i ask, why do you think Hinduism and Hindus should appreciate new comers? Why cant those interested new-comers appreciate Hinduism and Hindus?

    This is probably another reason many Hindus a weary of westerners, its like as if you are doing us a favor by putting on a Sari and Bindi and calling your self a Hindu and therefore we must accept you because you have legitimized the culture. (Note: Not you personally but a general observation).

    Well, may I ask what do you mean by "Westerner", are you going to be less westernized if you join Hinduisms many non sect related systems?

    I hope this was as honest as possible.

    Dhanyavad
     
  8. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    It is knowledge which makes one Hindu. And when a caucasian has that, he/she is considered even better than a native Hindu. Many of the people here belong to that category. The two people from Hawaii Hindu Monastery have world-wide following:

    [​IMG] Late Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami & his successor Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami.
     
  9. Makaranda

    Makaranda Active Member

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    nancy, as one of those "western" Hindus, my first advice to you is to slow down.

    Ask yourself, why would you want to become a Hindu? What is the motive? If you are very new to Hinduism, is it not a good idea to spend a lot of time researching the religion first? Otherwise you might find yourself disagreeing with it later down the line, when you have already set your display picture to a Hindu God or Goddess- and nobody wants that! Joking aside, its important to understand your own motivations. There are many who become Hindu for the blink of an eye - because it looks exotic, because I will stand out amongst my peers, because it kind of sort of resembles ideas that I believe or I think are cool- all bad reasons without a fundamental grasp of the basics. Commitment based on any of the above reasons is superficial and liable to disintegrate quickly. Remain as just nancy and study. Hinduism is vast and deep, you must go beyond the mere surface of how it looks and seems to an outsider, and investigate the truth claims made by the religion itself. What does Hinduism say about the world, the self, and God? What do the core concepts found in the scriptures teach? Do they challenge my current world-view? Am I prepared to change my behaviour, my life, in accordance with the teachings? Am I willing to look to authority figures- such as a Guru? Am I willing to transform, and be transformed, utterly by the import of its teachings? These are all important questions which you should have answers to before you even consider Hinduism seriously. Anything else, including wearing a Sari, is just window dressing.

    You hinted that you want to see which religion is a "fit" for you. Why is it important to you that a particular religion "fits" you? Are you looking for a sense of belonging? Should it be, perhaps, more pertinent to inquire into yourself as to why you are feeling the need to belong?

    I was interested in Wicca in my teenage years, and, on reflection, the resemblance to Hinduism is only superficial. I would not use Wicca as a measure for how Hinduism is. Rather, start fresh and study, study, study. First read introductory books on Hinduism.
     
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  10. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    We have coined a nice word here for a non-sectarian Hindu - the 'Village Hindu'. So be a 'village Hindu' for a while. :D
     
    #10 Aupmanyav, Jun 15, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
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  11. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise
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    I am a whitey Caucasian Westerner born into Hinduism (my mother's side.) So I know where you're coming from.

    I suggest studying Hinduism or even other religions first. See how you feel about it, follow your heart and all that mushy stuff.

    You have to understand that Hinduism is as much culture as it is religion. Probably even more cultural. I tend to drift in and out religiously as the mood strikes me, but I cannot escape from it culturally, for example. And there is quite the bloody history, Indians have a complicated relationship with the "white man" because colonization and mass conversions were/are a thing. So there is a certain amount of distrust, that's all. We had a very devout lady a while back come to our local Temple, before she went to live in India. She was actually Irish and she was welcomed with open arms. She was quite well respected for her devotion and many spoke highly of her.
    Just be respectful, be earnest and honest. The temple goers will warm up to you and I have found that Indian people are very welcoming, always ready to shove a drink in your hand and feed you until you burst. :p:D
     
  12. Kirran

    Kirran
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    I'm also a non-Asian Hindu. I'm disinclined to use terms like 'white' and 'Caucasian'.

    I would say, what's important in knowing whether you are a Hindu is first, whether there is a school of philosophy in Hinduism you agree with. Remember, Hinduism is ridiculously variable.

    Second, and just as crucially, it'd be good to see whether you then think the practices found in Hinduism are suitable for you.

    For example, myself: I agree entirely with the Advaita Vedanta philosophy of Shankara and Gaudapada. It fits entirely with my intellectual understanding of the world, and extends it. But after that what solidifies me as a Hindu is that I feel that it is right for me to follow dharma, it is right for me to practice yoga in a Hindu framework, it is right for me to articulate ideas using Hindu terminology. It makes sense for me to go to temple (although not all Hindus do) and it makes sense for me to refer to myself as Hindu after all this. Also, I feel right now that I've settled into Hinduism. It is where I need to be.

    So relax, take your time. Look at some philosophy.

    If you decide 'yes, I am a Hindu' then I, for one, will welcome you with open arms. As most Hindus will. But I'll support you equally in deciding, upon reflection, inspection and introspection, that you're not a Hindu.

    Whatever path works best for you to become happier, right down into your being, is the perfect path for you.

    EDIT: Also, I have been accepted very well at temple here. A couple of people were a little bemused for a while, but there was never hostility. Many older Indians are a bit gruff, but don't mind that, they're usually smiling inside.
     
    #12 Kirran, Jun 15, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
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  13. ShivaFan

    ShivaFan Satyameva Jayate
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    There are Christian sects that reject other Christians because they were not born into their sect, or because they do not come from the same background. Likewise, if you are an experienced Wicca, well there are some Wicca groups that reject others who are seeking Wicca because they are not exactly like them, there is even a level of paranoid mistrust.

    I could go on and on, but why write a lecture? No matter what, if you are coming from the "outside", you might encounter some from the "inside" who not only are like that, but considering that there are "bad people" among all humans, sometimes those who discriminate have encountered others who mistreated them or even cheated them and they become hesitant over time.

    As far as being a Hindu, the only place I encountered as a non-native born Hindu were I ran into obvious attack and discrimination was on the internet. So if it happens to you, then it will happen on the internet from some members. I remember one internet character who, frankly, was viciously almost evil in such hate, long story short I found out from direct sources who knew this person that he (1) really wanted a girlfriend but had personal issues and so many rejections that he hated all women as a result, and (2) he was literally a pervert and molester type. This person was always going on about having to be born a Brahmin and stuff, really the person was odd and was so defective personally that he would jump on such ideas so that he could feel superior, he was also self-delusional as the person wasn't actually a "Brahmin" anyway.

    So.... don't become an "internet Hindu". Be careful - they are out there.

    Rather be a "Village Hindu". Like me. That means just go to some temples, you will "figure it out" and will find lots of loving people who will help.

    If you live in California, I am surprised if you have not already acclimatized to Hinduism one way or another. Almost everyone is a "closet Hindu" and many are "open about it" but use terms such as "yoga" instead of Hindu, most employees in corporations are taught yoga lessons, and about 5% to 10% are full fledged Hindu and use the term viz "I am a Hindu".

    You are not going to have a problem finding Hindus and some temple that will be glad to have you visit anywhere in America or Canada, even in the most sectarian States, it could be Utah or the backwash someplace in Louisiana, anyplace. One of the States that has seen the most highest number of "new Hindus" in the last couple years has been Texas.

    Just relax and adventure is your heart because if that is true, you are a Hindu which is the greatest adventure. And even the non-mainstream sects have their little gems that act like flashlights in the cave portions of your great adventure.

    Have you tried to talk a bit with Hanuman?

    Your well wisher, and remember to take your shoes off in the temple watch what others do.
     
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  14. ratikala

    ratikala Istha gosthi

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    Namaskaram Nancy ji

    I too am born in the west , to western parents , ....in otherwords I am white on the outside , ....but in my heart I am not western .
    I dont feel any kinship to western culture , ...I dont like the majority of western values , ....I didnt like the way this society here was structured and long before I even heard of Hinduism I had started forming my own oppinions about how life should be veiwed and how we should conduct our selves , .....

    it was only later that I met with Dharmic thought (through Buddhism) then through Buddhism I began to examine Hindu thought and Culture , ....

    what to me would be the most important thing , would be to familiarise oneself with the basic principles , if you feel comfortable with these then it is time to go to a temple to learn more , ....to me Hinduism isnt just about worshiping a chosen form of God , it is an entire life style , to me choosing a tradition seems very strange , I just went to the nearest temple , ..after all a naturaly born Hindu does not choose a tradition he follows in his or her family tradition in other words that tradition is chosen by dint of ones birth ,

    how we instinctively feel is very important ...it might start with Ahimsa ; 'non harming' , for me this was the first descision that I made as a young adult , then it became nececary to seek out the company of likeminded people , ...it is also important to consider how one instinctively feels about subjects like reincarnation and ones relationship to others ? ..how one veiws our interconectedness with the nature of the universe , ...what ones veiw as Moral principles , ...all these things are very important examining these will tell you if you are Hindu at heart , ...

    having met some wiccans , I have found that there are pre ocupations amongst some to take aspects and principles from other traditions (like the beleif in Karma) and a facination for certain Deities), yet in the process of doing so very much change their nature to fit their own understanding , this could be a hinderance , ...it might be good to start at the begining reading up on Hindu principles and dissregarding what one might have learnt from non Hindus .
     
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  15. Kirran

    Kirran
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    I'd like to point out, belief in reincarnation in a typical sense is not compulsory :) Myself and @Aupmanyav ji both, in our own ways, are thought to have unusual takes on reincarnation, I think.

    Dharma, dharma. All comes back to dharma.
     
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  16. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Nancycosmo has not posted. ;)

    Yes, 'dharma' is the least common denominator of Hinduism. And I have found no line better than:

    "Paropakaram punyaya, papaya parapeedanam." (To help others is merit, to give pain to others is sin)
     
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  17. ratikala

    ratikala Istha gosthi

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    Namaskaram Aupmanyav ji

    Jai Jai , ....Ahimsa ; .Nonharming , ....leads to Daya ; ..Compassion :)
     
  18. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    The full verse:

    "Ashtādasha purāneshu Vyāsasya vachanam dwaya;
    Paropakāram punyāya, pāpāya parapīdanam."


    (In eighteen puranas (histories), two sayings of Sage Vedavyasa are the essence;
    To help others is merit, to give pain to others is sin.)
     
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  19. Kirran

    Kirran
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    Where's this one from Aup?
     
  20. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Most probably 'Hitopadesha - (that means advice for your benefit, Hita - benefit, Upadesha - advice, the page lists some other interesting verses also). And curtesy Scribd, some of them are here. :) Could I say that I have stumbled upon a gold mine?



    "Hitopadesha (Sanskrit:हितोपदेशः Hitopadeśa) is a collection of Sanskrit fables in prose and verse meant as an exposition on statecraft in a format easily digestible for young princes. It is an independent treatment of the Panchatantra, which it resembles in form.

    The only clue to the identity of the author of Hitopadesha is found in the concluding verses of the work, which supply the name Narayana and mention the patronage of a king called Dhavalachandra. As no other work by this author is known, and since the ruler mentioned has not been traced in other sources, we know almost nothing of either of them. Dating the work is therefore problematic. There are quotations within it from 8th century works, but the earliest manuscript dates from 1373. Internal evidence may point to an East Indian origin during the later Pala Empire (8th-12th century)."
    Hitopadesha - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
    #20 Aupmanyav, Jun 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
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