Hindu Mythbusters

Meet Hindus who debunk Western misconceptions about caste, cows, karma and more.

jnarayan

08/18/2011 06:01:22 PM

im surprised at the level of peoples ignorance, yet i will say that snakes are offered milk in their respective temples and that all the horrible things like honor and dowry murders do happen. but murder happens in america too and extortion and its terrible but imn large societies these realities occur. that doesnt mean the entire society is like that. india has the largest middle class on earth. that means comfortable soap watching people concerned with their bread. their beliefs are snigly nestled in their culture. my guju best friend told me that cows were included in her family's pooja. does that constitute cow worship? well kinda. but theres nothing to be ashamed about. cows are holy because they power your home, give you light give you milk and protein and curd and everything. cow dung is used for fuel and there are other things besides. cows are holy in india and i dont think indians should be ashamed of this. nor should they deny it and claim its sensationalized. indians are 70 percent vegetarian in india. and beef is absolutely forbidden. cows are sacred for a reason, and i hope modern indians dont forget it.

joane666

06/27/2011 08:11:23 PM

It would be interesting, however, if you had added more on mythbusting customs such as snake worship and milk offerings. you can read it here

mmorgan0678

08/12/2010 01:42:17 PM

I would like a resource to learn more about Hinduism. Can you provide a link to Menon's Q&A? Or just some other resource? Thanks.

kpelley

05/08/2005 05:15:59 PM

Reading these--thank each one of you, I am learning more about the religion I adopted. I belong to Self Realization Fellowship [SRF] begun by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1920 to bring westerners back to the true roots of Christianity. We consider ourselves Hindus and Christians. I love the beauty of logic of true Hinduism. Each of your comments have helped me further understand my path which I have followed since 1976. And, yes we are not supposed to prosthelytize, which I did not realize comes from Hinduism. It certainly does not come from the Christianity, where I began my life. Thanks again for all of the great posts.

tonygalli

02/11/2005 06:18:35 PM

Where is differs from the traditional Abrahamic monotheism is that it does not hold that the good God (Ahura Mazda) created everthing, including the head demon, and is therefore stronger, but that good and evil are equally strong and, consistent with the Vedic religion it is related to, one should follow good in order to reach the state of purity prior to good and evil (originally both gods were united, and there was no duality, nor a need for good or evil). Rather than grace, Zoroastrianism holds a higher place for free will in following good and evil (and obviously one should follow the path of goodness as it benefits oneself and the human race).

tonygalli

02/11/2005 06:18:01 PM

As for Zoroastrians, I believe there are about 100,000 worldwide, the majority in India. They moved there to flee persecution after Arabs conquered Persia over about a thousand years ago. For this reason they are known as "Parsis" meaning "Persian." It is an ancient religion that one is born into, and it is very difficult to convert or marry into a Zoroastrian family, which is one reason why their numbers have declined. Also, to note, while Zoroastrianism may not have originated the concept of monotheism per se, there is evidence that it had a great impact on Judaism (starting when the Hebrews were in captivity in Babylon). The dual concept of good and evil, represented by opposing spiritual forces, certainly had an effect on Christian development as well.

tonygalli

02/11/2005 06:15:33 PM

I find that Westerners, at least ones who are probably sexually repressed to begin with, seem to get really obsessed and attached to the sexual aspect of Tantra. They get excited because they can't fathom a spiritual path that actually celebrates and utilizes the sensual and the sexual. But the point is to NOT get attached, as sexuality is one of the most common activities that binds our egos (leading to self-obession and gratification for an illusory self, rather than dedication to reality). It might disappoint some, but most true Tantrics are in fact celebate. Here's two good websites in case you are interested: http://www.yrec.info/yoga-vidya-cat-8.html http://swamij.com/tantra.htm

tonygalli

02/11/2005 06:13:42 PM

rabbit-usa, I'm not sure where you get the idea that the western perception of Tantra is "prurient." Indeed, I find it just the opposite -shallow and superficial. Tantra is mystical through and through, and sex is, at most, a means to an end. The end, if you can really posit an "end," is enlightenment, and usually sexuality is considered more of a metaphor - the union of shiva (male) and shakti (female). It is nondual, uniting form (manifest reality, or creation) and emptiness (pure Spirit, the Witness, Atman/Brahman).

rabbit-usa

01/25/2005 06:51:02 PM

Back on topic, can we talk about Tantric Hinduism? I get so sick of the prurient western perception of Tantra. I'd love to hear about it from other Hindus.

rabbit-usa

01/25/2005 04:04:28 PM

I'd always heard a much earlier date attached to archaeological evidence of Zoroastrianism. The earliest form of the religion was supposedly encountered by Alexander and persists in some of the mountain tribes.

Ariafan

01/24/2005 07:51:42 PM

Another small note in gentle correction to the previous Zoroastrianism reference. Zoroastrianism seems (according to various Interenet timeline references) to have been founded in about the year 650BCE. Abraham is listed as one of hisotry's earliest monotheists about 1850BCE. Thus Judaism seems to greatly predate Zoroastrianism.

sgarg

01/24/2005 03:41:17 PM

Both Christiantity and Islam, the great bloody religions, regarded Hinduism as superstitious idol-worshipping paganism, to be eradicated. Muslims and Christians ruled over Hindus for 700 years, due to the latter's pacifism and fun-loving nature. Thus condescending prejudice against Hinduism is pretty deep-seated. If you are a Hindu explaining your precepts to a class, you must talk about this historical and political reality. Persistent prejudice is the reason there are far more negative press stories about India than positive ones. It's probably also the reason why the Islamic state that sold nuclear secrets to terrorists and sponsored terrorism against India for 40 years is America's No. 1 ally in the war against terrorism. Prejudice is emotional, it works subconsciously in subtle but powerful ways.

JRT

01/23/2005 02:29:55 PM

Some years ago I visited a Hindu temple. I stood before the altar area staring in silent amazement at the multitude of images of various deities, some of them very bizarre indeed. I had been there several minutes when I heard a gentle voice behind me say "God is One." I turned to meet the pundit or priest of the temple. As he escorted me around the altar area he explained that while God is One, we in our finitude are unable to comprehend the fullness of God in a single "take". Each one of the "deities" before us was simply a different manifestation of God's Oneness. We Christians have done much the same with our trinity theory.

hindushanti

01/22/2005 08:29:54 PM

"People who teach others about their religion, especially without proselytizing, are quite valuable." Minor point--I generally agree with the substance of this idea. However, typically Hindus don't "proselytize"--we aren't seeking converts to the religion. (Some people even argue you *can't* convert to Hinduism). The motives of those such as myself is to clarify gross misunderstandings of the religion which, in turn, promote discrimination, bad policy, and general confusion. Yes there is a sense in which "no religion is perfect." There is also a sense in which most major religions, with very few exceptions I know of, *are* perfect. The difference has to do with those adherents of all belief systems who are misguided or acting in bad faith.

rabbit-usa

01/22/2005 06:22:14 PM

Technical point, ED VIS: Zoroastrianism is the monotheistic parent religion which pre-dates Judaism. Durga Bless You!

hindushanti

01/22/2005 05:22:27 PM

"I think a religion should be judged on how much it tends to promote bigotry, abuse of women, or other social problems..." And I have yet to find a religion in which the best examples of its adherents promote any of this.

nnmns

01/21/2005 03:54:40 PM

People who teach others about their religion, especially without proselytizing, are quite valuable. We need to understand those around us better and we need to realize there are lots of religions out there, some quite "large". Hinduism, like perhaps all religions, has serious problems. I think a religion should be judged on how much it tends to promote bigotry, abuse of women, or other social problems, and on how actively its adherents fight these problems.

jinxcat

01/21/2005 09:22:16 AM

re: cows Besides the symbolic aspect of the cow, there are practical reasons for them not to be eaten. The cow in India provides milk, an important part of the Indian diet; fuel for fires in the form of dried cow dung; and the labor needed to till the fields. If, during a time of famine, everyone ate their cows, they would be out of luck the next time they needed to start a fire, make dinner, or farm. The people to cow ratio is such that, if everyone ate cows when there was a time of hunger, no cows would be left, and the people would be worse off in the long run. Eating cows in India to satisfy hunger would be like setting your house on fire to keep warm - a short-term solution with long-term negative effects.

hindushanti

01/20/2005 08:02:47 PM

Also the texts argue there is no caste in realized people (i.e. Hindus are supposed to live life in stages--in the last stage of life, there is no caste distinction. Also true for those who choose a religious life). I think *nonreligious* Hindu texts (i.e. texts on politics that Hindu people happened to write) believed that caste was the only way to organize society so that there would be no social upheaval. This is simply wrong. But it also a nonreligious concept. Further, just because a sociopolitical idea happens to a group of people who share a religion, doesn't make it a *trait* of that religion. Christian societies typically eat meat, yet the eating of meat doesn't have a particularly *religious* significance (it wouldn't make someone less Christian if they were vegetarian). True also for the caste system: nonadherence to it is, in fact, seen by many religious texts to be, in fact, a step in the right direction!

hindushanti

01/20/2005 08:02:35 PM

"If anyone were to go to India, they would notice that society really divides itself based on caste, and that it is one of the defining characteristics (if not THE defining characteristic) of Hindu society" I wouldn't say it's THE defining characteristic. Indian society also divides itself linguistically (i.e. Tamils in Bengal form an enclaved, and so on), as well as across religions. "I mean, just go to a temple, and see how the different castes separate themselves: the brahmins at the front and the sudras at the back. " Happens in Christian churches too. Look, while I think this practice is wrong, I don't think it's inherently Hindu: for the above reason, and for the fact that plenty of Hindu texts show God punishing upper caste people for being discriminatory.

ED VIS

01/03/2005 07:40:18 AM

Hindus DO NOT worship IDOLS. They use IDOLS to concentrate on a GOD who has NO NAME and NO FORM. Hindu scripture Yajurveda 32: 2 states "Na tasya Pratima asti" [There is no image of him]... amiahindu.com Hindu scripture Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:19 states "His form is not to be seen; no one sees Him with naked eye."

ED VIS

01/03/2005 07:38:03 AM

1 Hindus worship ONE & ONLY GOD - Brahman which expresses in trillions of forms like Christians worship ONE & ONLY GOd Jehowah in THREE PERSONS. amiahindu.com

ED VIS

01/03/2005 07:32:48 AM

WHAT IS HINDUISM? It is the true culture of Indians in India. Many call it A WAY OF LIFE. It is not an organized religion like Christianity or Islam. It has no founder. It has no Pope. It has no hierarchy. Just a lot of scriptures. In Hindu scriptures, you are actually studying about the HISTORY AND CULTURE OF INDIA, like in 66 books of the Holy Bible you are actually studying about the CULTURE AND HISTORY OF JEWS. All religions in the west came from JUDAISM. All religions in the east came from HINDUISM. amiahindu.com

dpatel1511

12/31/2004 04:03:19 PM

BBuckle: I wish all Christians could be like you and be tolerant. I live in the South (Tennessee) and it is hard having other faiths besides Christianity. Many people here are very intolerant. As a Hindu who believes in Christ, it is even hard to admit to people that I am a Hindu and believer of Christ. It takes a tolerant person from a certain faith to say that there is nothing wrong with other religions. I went to school here in the South and many people had said I worshipped statues, cows, and going to hell. In the Bible, there is no such thing as hell. As of statues, it is the same thing in a church of having Jesus on the crucification, and cows are represented to be purity. These people do not see that way here in the South. That is the problem. Christians are becoming more intolerant than ever. I am worrying.

buckle

12/18/2004 02:32:40 PM

I believe that Krishna is god, but have to admit that I like debating the christians on this site, about there religion as it was once mine. I wonder why they have such a problem with other religions ? there culture is so confused and negative, and yet they find time to complain about others. They think that hinduism and Indian culture is weird, but when they are faced with the ugly part of there own, they say : well thats the world and when jesus comes he will make it right. and you better join soon or your going to burn in hell. so nice, so friendly, such an inspiring mindset. believe and you will live, disbelieve and you will die in a fiery hell. I will contemplate on Krishna, and listen to my breath, and here his name, and see his light. god is love. Peace buckle

BBarton

12/03/2004 03:06:07 PM

Of course, these are but things I've learned. Every conflict is an opportunity for self to be put down and the Christ to rise in me. Jesus lived and showed "a way" for many including me; who'd lost their way, folk who'd otherwise be like Zombies. His name is my mantra. The first time I say it, it goes out to every corner of my universe, the second -he is on his way, and the third he rises in me. He is my Champion and like a big brother. His recorded words tell me I am a son of God. It doesn't matter that I'm a woman, it means I've the same spiritual inheritance. His teachings do not instruct me to think of others as being damned, but to love, love more, and love anyway. I have studied with Hindues and love the concepts and scriptures and am forever endeared to those loving souls of all religions who shared with me, uplifted the best in me, and encouraged me. May I be so wise to my fellow beings of all creation.

BBarton

12/03/2004 02:47:53 PM

I think if one can get past the mental perceptions restraining thought and to the mystic level of any religion, one might find them the same. There is awareness to the oneness of being and appreciation for all, including the prophets who endeavored to wake the sleeping. It never was about indoctrination into "behaving", but rather freedom to "be", which religion or people sometimes have difficulty coming to comprehend.

mightymountaingorilla

12/03/2004 01:34:52 PM

AAAAAAH! Bring out the restraining jacket! (: O

idbc

12/03/2004 10:41:21 AM

A really interesting article. That comment about Hinduism being "a way of life" sounds awfully familar. Religions always sound better when their adherents explain it. For Sidhaye, excitement comes from conveying that Hinduism is the only religion not out to convert people: So far as I know the Jews do not go in much for converting or proseltizing people either, unlike some of their younger Abrahamic Brothers. Mighty Are cows sacred ? ;-)

windbender

12/02/2004 03:29:48 PM

comparelite - what do you mean, you are a "total racist"?

mightymountaingorilla

11/24/2004 04:54:26 AM

However, I swear I'm going to go insane if one more person comes up to me and asks, "Cows are sacred, right?"

mightymountaingorilla

11/24/2004 04:53:40 AM

Well, the big problem with trying to explain the caste system in a way that is sensitive to Hinduism just isn't correct--by trying to be politically correct, we forget reality. If anyone were to go to India, they would notice that society really divides itself based on caste, and that it is one of the defining characteristics (if not THE defining characteristic) of Hindu society--I mean, just go to a temple, and see how the different castes separate themselves: the brahmins at the front and the sudras at the back. Now, of course, there are many different facets of Hinduism and society, and there should be much more about these things. In that way, the author is correct. However, there is also a need to bring to light the great evils that are associated with Hinduism and are practiced on a daily basis--the main one being the caste system.

comparelite

11/07/2004 04:41:24 PM

i am not a total hate monger but i think i would be if it was not for krishnas grace in my life. hinduism has saved my life many times. people need to try to understand hinduism as it have kept my life in check in so many ways. i have fought drinking and my anxieties and my hinduism has kept same, my psychlogical doctor says your love of god is what is keeping you together. and yes he knows my feelings about race and politics. he said you were raced to by a nazi and you can remove it from your self as it is what you are but your still a hindu and you cannot let you hard feelings contorl your life. the only real advice he gave me is move out of the city LOL. all and all people need to understaqnd hinduism as it can makea huge difference in all ways in your life.

comparelite

11/07/2004 04:41:02 PM

yes i am an extremely far-far-leftwing, ultra concervative and just to the right of communism, ultra nationalist and my hinduness keeps me from being spitefull and angary with people. knowing that lord krishna has control of the situation. my extreme love and devotion to my peoples and of the german ways,culture and national socialist politics is only kept in check by the firm belief in vishnus plan. in the artical it speaks of anti-semitism. i am a pure anti-semite as i have a hard core dislke of islam and jewish and christian bible based religions but i am a pasifist vishnava. yes i am a total racist but i am polite to all peoples.if not for my extreme devotion to krishna i would not have a firm grasp on my angar for liberials and socialist/communists. people may hate me because of my beliefs and politics but i truely love them and worry about them no matter what race religion and creeds they follow.

comparelite

11/07/2004 04:40:37 PM

you know reading this i think about my hinduness. i have no doubt about the divinity of hindu religion and its extreme laws of social conduct and my total faith in vishnu since i am a monothiest that was raised by a buddhist mother and deist father. i was raised by a ultra-nationalist european family with many nazis and czarists i read mein kamph in 3rd grade and was 100% convinced in hitlers dogma. so i read about religion and politics and moral issues and social issues often, even in this article, hinduism has keeped me sane in a insane world.

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