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Why the Westerners are attracted to Hinduism? Find Out!

Hinduism is practised widely in countries like Fiji, United Kingdom, Canada, Nepal, the United States, and other countries as well

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Representational Image. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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Hinduism is considered to be the oldest faith to have ever existed on this Earth, and it draws the curiosity of people worldwide because of its rich culture, customs and intellectual fulfilment that this religion has to offer. It cannot be termed as a religion, but can be best defined as a way of life.

Hinduism is analogized as a tree- where the roots are symbolic of the Vedas and Upanishads, where the trunk has thickened with ‘tapasya’ or meditations of sages and gurus, its branches are the traditions of Hinduism and the fruits are the sects of the faith. This tree is unique in itself but bears a very sweet fruit, mentioned Subhamoy Das, a Hinduism expert on hinduism.about.com.

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Hinduism has so much to teach – both to Hindus and Non-Hindus. Hinduism is practised widely in countries like Fiji, United Kingdom, Canada, Nepal, the United States, etc. It has given the world spiritual assets like Yoga and ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness).

The U.S. Army prac
The U.S. Army practising yoga with Indian soldiers. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hinduism, or Sanatan Dharma as it is called, also invites acceptance of people from all walks of life. It teaches one about Moksha and Mukti, Hindu terms for liberating or transcending the soul from worldly material possessions.

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Globalisation also plays an important role in the increasing interest of the West in Hinduism. Cross-cultural interactions and Indian diaspora in the West has resulted in their attraction to Hindu culture.

With vegetarianism becoming a ‘trend’ in the West, the fact that Hinduism preaches ‘ahimsa’ and discourages the consumption of meat is another reason why it is grabbing the attention of Westerners.

Krishna temple in the United States. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Krishna temple in the United States. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hinduism has been repeatedly discussed in European literature since time immemorial. It is lesser known that literature’s finest piece ‘The Wasteland’ by TS Eliot has undertones of Hinduism. The poem ends with ‘shaantih, shaantih, shaantih..’ Besides this, the Romantic Age has been highly influenced by Bhagavad Gita. Poets like William Wordsworth, John Keats and many others have shown the impact of Bhagavad Gita and Shaivism in their poetry.

As a result, many Sanskrit words like dharma, moksha and nirvana have been added to English dictionaries. Hinduism has served the purpose of reformation and liberation of the Western mind, and shall continue to do so.

– prepared by Chetna Karnani, at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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Puja for The Spiritualism, Not for Vulgar Entertainment

The westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures" and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those "holy books" only in the drawers of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods' idols !!!

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Hinduism
he westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures"

By Salil Gewali

Any auspicious days in Hinduism are expected to be observed with a complete purity of action and thought. The same holds true for other religions too. As per the Hindu scriptures, the believers are required to stay away from any kind of sense gratifications, particularly when the specific days are dedicated to Gods and Goddess such as Navratri, Laxmi Puja, Krishna Janmashtami, Shivaratri, to name a few. The pathway to devotion and spiritualism should not be “desecrated” by the blot of the brazen entertainment. The scriptures logically explain why it is antithetical, and its adverse consequences.

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Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.

 But, what a huge irony, rather a blasphemy that many people these days have started to choose the auspicious days of Gods to satisfy their base senses. Without a wee bit of regret, a certain class of people holds almost every auspicious day as the most “unmissable” occasion to booze with the friends, and what not, and stagger back home, lol! Such bizarre practices are fast catching now than ever.  Sadly, hardly any conscious people and spiritual organizations stand up and take the right measures to check such godless deviations.

What is quite unpleasant is that such a kind of unholy practices are often being facilitated by certain “Hindu intuitions” as well. On this past Laxmi Puja, the “propitious time” to perform the ritual had fallen between 6 PM to 7:53 PM. Yours truly decided to use that span of time for meditation. But hell broke loose. Apart from fireworks around, the Bollywood songs in high decibel burst forth from a certain Hindu institution quite frustrated the mission.

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Sadhu Sanga Retreat, 2016

 One senior citizen laments – “Nothing could be irreligious than the fact that a favorable time for “puja” is also being used for the wrongful purposes. We rather expect the “Hindu institutions” to teach our children Bhajan, Kirtan, and other spiritual activities, not the loud and feverish parties and disturb others.”

Another college student adds “Having been much disturbed by the noise pollution, I have persuaded my parents to shift our place of residence to elsewhere, not at least near holy places with an unholy mission. I have started to see such institutions with the eyes of suspicion these says.” Is it that our institutions are unable to use their “discretion”, and as a result, they fail to differentiate between right and wrong?  One is deeply apprehensive that Bollywood songs and vulgar dances might as well be included as a part of the “puja ritual” as we have long accepted the fun of fireworks bursting as an integral part of Laxmi Puja which in fact is just an entrenched “misconception”.

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Hinduism is expected to be observed with a complete purity of action

Needless to say, our roar for consumerism has almost drowned the whisper of inherent spiritualism. We are only just sending out the wrong messages. I’m afraid, the whole culture itself might be looked down with derision by other faiths. It might just become a subject of ridicule! It is no exaggeration, such negative notions against the “wrong practices” are all what we often read these days in several newspapers and social media. Do we want others to demean our profound spiritual heritage thus?  I believe it calls for a serious soul-searching.

Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.  It warns in the strongest terms that mankind should absolutely be careful not to fall under the influence of any short-lived sense gratifications. Or else, our endeavor to “practice and preserve” the sanctity of a religion/spiritualism will be a futile exercise.

However, on the other hand, the westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our “scriptures” and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those “holy books” only in a drawer of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods’ idols !!!

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.

Twitter:@SGewali.